Strathclyde academic honoured with prestigious science award

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor

A Strathclyde University academic has been awarded a science prize for her pioneering work in biomedical imaging.

Professor Gail McConnell, Chair of Biophotonics at Strathclyde’s Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences department, will be hounoured this year’s Tom Gibson Memorial Award, in recognition of her research into developing faster and more detailed biomedical imaging technology.

The Award selection panel said that McConnell “has shown her ability to combine physical technologies and biological sciences. She has shown outstanding accomplishment in her career to date.”

Professor McConnell’s work involves leading a Strathclyde team- which won last year’s £1.7 million Medical Research Council award-to create a prototype of a unique lens which can produce laser-scanned 3D images of disease tissues, with enough detail to view the inside of individual cells.

The Mesolens can pick up detail in organisms which are too big to be viewed by existing microscopes, meaning it can give deeper insight into areas of the body including the brain cortex and cancerous tissues.

Since the Mesolens can give results in seconds as opposed to hours, it may also speed up the drug development process.

Professor McConnell said: “The work in my research group involves the design, development and application of new imaging technologies for biomedicine. The Mesolens is an excellent example of current work, where we have brought together at Strathclyde innovations in optics, engineering and software to give biologists more detailed images of large tissue specimens.

The award was created in 1996 by the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow with the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow and the British Association of Plastic Surgeons, to pay tribute to Professor Tom Gibson

Professor Gibson was known for his successful work in plastic surgery and bioengineering and co-founded Strathclyde’s bioengineering department in the 1960s.

The prize is awarded every two years between the two universities, and showcases the outstanding achievements of young medics or scientists under 40.

Previous Strathclyde winners have included Dr Christine Dufes, Professor Ravi Kumar, Dr Ijeoma Uchegbu, and Dr M Helen Grant.