The fantastic news that Patrick Joyce and his co-inventors have won the 2015 Hackaday Prize for their ‘Eyedrivomatic’ invention is one of a number of research prizes announced this autumn.
At the beginning of November Prof Martin Turner was presented with the Graham Bull Prize for Clinical Science by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). The Prize is awarded to a member of the RCP under the age of 45 who has made a major contribution to clinical science.
The winner of the Graham Bull Prize is also invited to deliver the prestigious Goulstonian Lecture, an annual lecture given by a young RCP member that dates back to 1635 and the list of previous speakers reads as a ‘Who’s Who’ of the history of British Medicine!
Those of you who know Martin, in particular the many participants who volunteer for his BioMOx research programme will be pleased to see his new title: he was awarded the title of Professor by the University of Oxford in July this year. Aren’t Professors getting younger looking these days…!
Looking north, the pioneering work of Prof Richard Ribchester at the University of Edinburgh has been recognised through winning the Delsys Prize for Innovation in Electromyography. Funded by the MND Association, Prof Richester, Dr Rosalind Brown and colleagues have been developing a novel approach to examine changes to the connections between motor neurons and muscles as the disease progresses.
Prof Ribchester’s work was selected from a field of 75 entries from 26 countries, spanning diverse areas such as biomechanics, robotics, kinesiology, speech pathology and imaging, across the fields of biomedicine and bioengineering.
Further north still, Association-funded investigator Dr Gareth Miles of the University of St Andrews, was recently announced as the recipient of the 2015 Instituto Paulo Gontijo (IPG) Award for Medicine. This annual prize is given to a young investigator who has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other motor neuron diseases and in a small number of years has become one of the most prestigious awards in the MND research world.
Dr Miles was judged the winner from a very strong field for his work on characterising changes in human motor neurons created from skin cells of people with MND using induced pluripotent stem cell technology. Dr Miles and his team have identified subtle changes in the electrical properties of these motor neurons that appear to be associated with the disease and which may provide new approaches to treatment in the future. Dr Miles will be presented with his award in the Opening Session at the 26th International Symposium on ALS/MND on 11th December.
Of course, the ultimate prize – a cure for MND – still eludes us, but these awards do reflect the increasing prominence of MND research across the scientific world as well as the quality of both the research and the researchers whose work we fund.