The University of Western Australia might be the oldest university in the State, but its researchers are leading the way in new technologies, taking out major prizes in the 2014 WA Innovator of the Year Awards for inventions that will improve the health of millions of people worldwide.
Resonance Health, a start-up company which began at UWA, in collaboration with researchers from the School of Physics, was named overall Innovator of the Year. The Claremont-based ASX-listed company was presented with the top prize of $75,000 for its HepaFat-Scan, a non-invasive technology that enables magnetic resonance imaging scanners to measure the concentration of fat in the human liver.
The HepaFat-Scan technology was developed out from research by Associate Professor Mike House and Professor Tim St Pierre in the School of Physics. The technology has already received regulatory health authority approvals in the USA, Europe and Australia clearing, the way for its routine use in clinical practice.
And the world's smallest microscope - which can fit into a needle and is capable of detecting cancer cells often missed by surgeons - earned its UWA inventors the Innovator of the Year Award in the emerging innovation category.
The microscope in a needle, which may be used during surgery to help in the removal of breast cancer tumours, was developed by a team from UWA's Optical + Biomedical Engineering Laboratory, in collaboration with clinicians from Royal Perth Hospital and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and with support from Cancer Council WA, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Raine Medical Research Foundation, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council.
The breakthrough technology, which has already won recognition around the world, is perfecting microscopic resolution to aid surgical intervention - by putting a microscope inside a standard hypodermic needle to enable 3-D scanning. In principle, it should allow surgeons to locate very small tumour elements, avoiding the need for further surgery and improving the prognosis of the patient. The awards were announced yesterday by the Department of Premier and Cabinet. They reward exceptional innovators in WA who have developed an outstanding product, technology or service which is of benefit to WA.
The awards are administered by the Department of Commerce with support from Mitsubishi Corporation, Woodside, Amcom, Cisco, Perth Convention Bureau, Watermark Intellectual Asset Management, Wrays, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Hatch and Murfett Legal.
Professor David Sampson (Head of UWA Optical + Biochemical Engineering Laboratory) (+61 8) 6488 7112
Associate Professor Robert McLaughlin (UWA School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering) (+61 8) 6488 3105
Simon Handford (UWA Office of Research Enterprise) (+61 8) 6488 8187
Professor Tim St. Pierre (UWA School of Physics) (+61 8) 6488 2747
David Stacey (UWA Media Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716