Six world-leading medical engineers shortlisted for £350,000 research prize

Six world-leading researchers who are pioneering medical research and developments – from wireless implantable devices for the human body to artificial intelligence that can ‘hear’ and diagnose diseases earlier – have been shortlisted as nominees for the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) prestigious £350,000 A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize.

The prize is awarded annually in recognition of an outstanding achievement in engineering research in the fields of medical, microwave and radar or laser/optoelectronic engineering, with the prize fund awarded to support further research led by the recipient. This year’s theme is medical engineering and technology.

Included in the 2023 shortlist are:

Professor Pedro Irazoqui is a pioneer in the development of wireless implantable devices with the potential to treat conditions, such as epilepsy and glaucoma. He is Professor in both Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Professor Rachel McKendry is Professor of Biomedical Nanoscience at University College London and Director of the i-sense EPSRC IRC in Early Warning Sensing Systems for Infectious Diseases. Her research lies at the cutting edge of nanotechnology, telecommunication, big data, infectious diseases, and public health. Research highlights include quantum spin-enhanced biosensing for virus detection, and mHealth and deep learning tools for public health, which have been used at scale in both developed and developing countries. 

Professor Franz Pfeiffer is a Professor of biomedical physics and director of the Munich Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich – he is a world-renowned physicist and has made significant contributions to the field of biomedical X-ray imaging. One of his most important discoveries is his novel method for dark-field contrast with X-rays, which has led to ground-breaking advancements in human lung imaging applications.

Professor Björn W. Schuller is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Imperial College London and a globally renowned pioneer that has brought repeated major breakthroughs to the field of medical engineering and technology. He is known as a world-leading individual in mobile health and Artificial Intelligence, especially Deep Learning for medical and health data analysis from multiple modalities such as audio, video, medical signals, and phone and IoT data to recognise and diagnose diseases earlier.

Professor Molly M. Stevens FREng FRS was appointed as the John Black Professor of Bionanoscience at Oxford University in April 2023, and she also holds part-time professorships at Imperial College London and Karolinska Institute. Her multidisciplinary research balances the investigation of fundamental science with the development of technology to address some of the major healthcare challenges. Her work has been instrumental in elucidating the bio-material interfaces. She has created a broad portfolio of designer biomaterials for applications in disease diagnostics and regenerative medicine.

Professor Dong Sun is a world-renowned scholar and scientist, a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, City University of Hong Kong. He is a pioneer in robotic manipulation of biological cells and robot control. His research has led to breakthroughs in combining robotics with various micro-engineering tools including optical tweezers, micro-needles and electromagnetic devices as special end-effectors to accomplish precise cell manipulation and delivery.

Sir John O’Reilly, Chair of the IET’s Search and Selection Panel for the Prize, said: “We’re incredibly proud, through the generous legacy from the late Dr A F Harvey, to be able to recognise and support the development of pioneering engineering research and the subsequent impact this has on advancing the world around us. I’d like to congratulate our six finalists for this year.”

The IET’s A F Harvey prize is named after Dr A F Harvey who bequeathed a generous sum of money to the IET for a trust fund to be set up in his name to further research in the specified fields.

The prize winner will be chosen from the shortlisted candidates and announced in January 2024 – the winning researcher will deliver a keynote lecture on their research in the spring.