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Prof Edirisinghe scoops third Royal Society innovation award for new healthcare implant breakthrough

11 November 2013

UCL Professor Mohan Edirisinghe completed a ‘hat trick’ of wins yesterday as he collected a 2013 Brian Mercer Feasibility award in a ceremony at the Royal Society.
The prize was awarded at the Society’s annual ‘Labs to Riches’ event, which was attended by HRH the Duke of York, to celebrate and support innovation in science and technology.

A SEM of biomaterial patterning developed by Prof Mohan Edirisinghe (UCL Mechanical Engineering), which could be added to medical implants to improve healing

A Scanning Electron Micrograph of the patterned surface that could be used in implants: in this case of ceramic and metal

Professor Edirisinghe received the £30,000 award for his team’s work in developing a new method to coat medical implants, such as hip-joints.The technique, which involves patterning with biomaterials, improves the assimilation of replacement parts into the patient’s body compared to current treatments. For patients, this means shorter recovery times and fewer corrective surgeries. The Royal Society’s endorsement aims to help take this fully-patented process forward to full commercial realisation, as a major breakthrough in the manufacture of healthcare implants and inserts.

This is the third Brian Mercer award for the Bonfield Chair of Biomaterials, who works within UCL Mechanical Engineering, following previous prizes in the same category in 2005 and 2009.

New Head of Department Professor Yiannis Ventikos said: “Mohan is rightly considered a world-leading innovator in drug delivery and micro-particles. I do not know if this third award is a record, but I would not be at all surprised if this puts him on the gold medal podium! We congratulate him and his team for an outstanding and much-deserved honour.”

Prof Mohan Edirisinghe receives the Brian Mercer Feasibility award at the Royal Society's 'Labs to Riches' event

Prof Mohan Edirisinghe receives the Brian Mercer Feasibility award at the Royal Society’s ‘Labs to Riches’ event

Professor Edirisinghe said:

“It feels really good to be honoured by Fellows of the Royal Society and have your work endorsed by external experts in the field. Of course I have to acknowledge the contributions of the team, including Dr Jie Huang, Dr Sunthar Mahalingam, and in particular, PhD student Ms. Anouska Nithyanandan.

“The challenge now is to transform our research into a fully-automated manufacturing process for modern healthcare implants and inserts, especially for orthopaedics. A British company, JRI Orthopaedics Ltd, will be supporting us to realise this dream.”

In addition to the Royal Society awards for innovation, Professor Edirisinghe has received much recognition for his research, including the 2012 UK Biomaterials Society President’s Prize, 2010 Materials Science Venture Prize and the 2009 Kroll Medal & Prize of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining.

The Royal Society’s Brian Mercer Awards were established in 2001 from a bequest from the late Dr Brian Mercer, an enthusiastic inventor, entrepreneur and former Society fellow. The awards aim to encourage innovation and enterprise in successive generations of scientists.

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