A microscope-in-a-needle to detect breast cancer and investigations into autism and the sustainable processing and use of natural gas are three projects at The University of Western Australia that have earned researchers a place on the shortlist of the Australian Museum's annual Eureka Prizes - the most prestigious prizes in Australian science.
Winthrop Professor David Sampson, Research Associate Professor Robert McLaughlin and Winthrop Professor Christobel Saunders are shortlisted as finalists for the 2012 ANSTO Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology.
Their project is the development of the world's smallest hand-held microscope in a needle to display 3D images detailed enough to detect cancer cells. This discovery will help guide surgeons to perform better and safer breast cancer surgery.
Last year, Research Associate Professor McLaughlin was awarded a Cancer Council WA Fellowship while Professor Saunders is President of the Cancer Council of WA. The multi-disciplinary group hopes the microscope-in-a-needle will be ready within two years to help surgeons identify the margins of breast tumours to prevent women from needing secondary procedures.
The collaboration is based in the Optical + Biomedical Engineering Laboratory in UWA's School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, led by Winthrop Professor David Sampson who has pioneered the use of light in non-invasive medical diagnostic and treatment techniques.
National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellow, Research Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse, is shortlisted as a finalist in the Outstanding Young Researcher category.
Based at UWA-affiliate, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Associate Professor Whitehouse has been recognised for his autism research.
Autism is a debilitating developmental disorder affecting around one per cent of Australians. Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse is an international leader in autism research. His work has spanned the areas of behaviour, cognition, neuroscience and genetics, and has made a significant contribution to creating a better life for people with autism and their families.
UWA's Chevron Chair in Gas Process Engineering, Winthrop Professor Eric May, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Emerging Leader in Science category.
Professor May is a leader in the processing and use of natural gas. His research addresses two major challenges associated with the production and distribution of natural gas, efficiently processing the resource into a useable product, and reducing the environmental impact of doing so.
The winners will be announced in Sydney on Tuesday, 28 August.
Winthrop Professor David Sampson (Head, UWA (+61 8) 6488 2770 / (+61 4) 14 239 586
Optical + Biomedical Engineering Laboratory)
Research Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse (TICHR) (+61 8) 9489 7770
Winthrop Professor Eric May (UWA Centre for Energy) (+61 8) 6488 2954
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716