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27 March 2007 PR 07/41

Regional health technology innovation awards announced

Three pioneering projects to improve patient care have been awarded £15,000 to accelerate their commercial development. The awards were made at a gala dinner on 19 March for over 100 researchers, clinicians and senior representatives from the region’s largest medicines research organizations, hospitals, universities and business development agencies.

Hollisphotography.com

Dr Jennette Smith presents the £10,000 first prize to Dr Richard Keal, Professor Roy Kalawsky,
John O'Brien
and Ian Holmes for their medical imaging breakthrough.

First prize of £10,000 was awarded to Dr Richard Keal, Consultant Radiologist, Glenfield Hospital, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Professor Roy Kalawsky, John O’Brien and Ian Holmes from Loughborough University’s Advanced Virtual Reality Research Centre, for a ground breaking technique to allow clinicians to remotely access superior quality 3D images of heart patients on palm pilots.

Second prize of £4,000 was awarded to Dr Philip Jaycock, Dr Nathaniel Knox Cartwright and Professor John Marshall of the Department of Ophthalmology, King’s College London and Dr John Tyrer and Dr Leon Lobo of Loughborough University for an innovative, non contact method of measuring strain in the cornea to detect patients at risk from post-operative complications after laser eye surgery.

Third prize of £1,000 was awarded to Professor Tom Spyt, Consultant Cardio-thoracic Surgeon, Glenfield Hospital and Dr Sijung Hu and Angelos Echiadis of Loughborough University’s Photonics Engineering and Health Technology Research Group for the first ever non-invasive method of measuring oxygen in the veins.

The awards evening was organized by the Da Vinci Network to stimulate dialogue between clinicians, scientists, engineers and health related industries and advance new developments in patient care. The awards were launched to honour the immense contribution in this area by the Network’s co-founder, Professor Peter Smith, who died in a tragic car accident in February 2006. Peter was the Professor of Photonics Engineering and the head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Loughborough University. The research group he led received numerous prestigious accolades including a Queens Anniversary Prize and a Medical Futures award for Best Medical Innovation.

Much has been done to build on the success of the Network Peter founded. Most notably a major grant from the Medical Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for an Interdisciplinary Bridging Award to strengthen the alliance of Loughborough University and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and create an interdisciplinary School of Health and Life Sciences. This links the scale and depth of the Loughborough culture of customer-driven applied science, engineering and industrial partnership with the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, one of the largest Trusts outside London.

The prize fund was donated by the Leicester Shire Economic Partnership, which also funded the growth of the Da Vinci Network, and NHS Innovations East Midlands. The gala dinner was sponsored by imago at Burleigh Court, Loughborough University’s international conference centre, Loughborough University and the Interdisciplinary Bridging Award.

ENDS

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Notes to editors

About Da Vinci http://www.davinci-net.org
Da Vinci encourages scientists, engineers and clinicians to engage in open discussion about health technology research innovations and clinical challenges. It embraces Leicestershire universities, University Hospitals Leicester and other regional health providers including the Leicestershire Primary Care Research Alliance. Colleagues in organisations in the East Midlands and further afield are always welcome to get involved in the network’s activities. The Da Vinci Network is now the clinical interface of the Interdisciplinary Bridging Award (IDBA), an initiative of Loughborough University and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. The IDBA is a key activity of the recently created interdisciplinary Research School of Health and Life Sciences at Loughborough University.

About NHS Innovations East Midlands
NHS Innovations East Midlands assists NHS organisations in identifying, protecting and managing Intellectual Property (IP) in response to the Department of Health’s published Framework and Guidance document and the requirements of the Research Governance Framework. The hub is also charged with providing guidance on business development, patenting, technology transfer, licensing, negotiating exploitation and spin-out company agreements and collaborations with industry.

About the University
Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough in the top five among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

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