Queen’s Belfast scientist named Innovator of the Year

Dr Ryan Donnelly wins two national awards for his research on microneedles

A Queen’s University scientist has won two national awards for his research on microneedles, which deliver drugs without causing pain or bleeding.

Dr Ryan Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics at Queen's School of Pharmacy, has been named BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2013. He also won the Most Promising Innovator of the Year title.

From Castleblayney in Co Monaghan, Donnelly will receive £15,000 to support his research and Queen’s School of Pharmacy will also receive £15,000.

Dr Donnelly won the awards for his work on microneedles, which take the sting out of injections. The tiny needles pierce the skin without pain or bleeding and are applied using a skin patch. They then swell, allowing controlled administration of even large medicines such as insulin, as well as vaccines. They can also be used in minimally invasive patient monitoring applications.

Dr Donnelly was also named the GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist in 2012 for this research.

Our next step in moving towards commercialisation of this research is to scale up production to industrial levels

Commenting on his latest awards, Dr Donnelly said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to win both of these prestigious awards, especially considering the extremely high level of competition. My group’s microneedles research has attracted interest and substantial funding from some of the world’s biggest companies over a wide range of applications. That we have come so far in only five years in this field is testament to the hard work and innovation of the members of my group.

‘Our next step in moving towards commercialisation of this research is to scale up production to industrial levels. We will do this over the next two years thanks to a £710,000 award from BBSRC that came through last month. The first patients will benefit from our microneedle technology in three to five years from now.

‘The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has a long and successful track record of innovation, taking our research from the laboratory to the patient. This history and experience has helped me to develop the impact of my research programme, making it relevant to the market and, ultimately, to patients.’

The UK government’s Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: ‘The UK is at the forefront of bioscience, thanks to the pioneering work of BBSRC and continued investment in our world-class research base. These awards recognise how we are fostering innovation and working closely with industry. This will ensure our cutting edge research brings benefits to the economy and society.’

The two competitions form part of BBSRC’s Fostering Innovation initiative. They encourage research in biosciences to cross the gap from academia to tangible economic and social benefits.

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