London, United Kingdom, March 14 2022 – Imperial College London’s Regius (Royal) Professor Christofer Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMedSci has today been officially announced as a laureate of the 2021 UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences – the first UK winner. Professor Toumazou has been recognised by a distinguished international jury panel for his innovations in bio-inspired technology and personalised medicine that have revolutionised healthcare and pushed the boundaries of biomedical engineering – culminating in the DnaNudge technology that is now providing world-first consumer genetics services and lab-free, rapid point-of-care diagnostics for COVID-19 and other viruses. The honour will be conferred upon Professor Toumazou at a special prize-giving ceremony at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on March 14th 2022 by the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea His Excellency Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Audrey Azoulay, the Director General of UNESCO. The ceremony will be webcast live at 5pm CET via the following link: https://events.unesco.org/event?id=645741568&lang=1033
Professor Chris Toumazou – Regius Professor of Engineering, Chair in Biomedical Circuit Design, Director of the Centre for Bio-Inspired Technology, and Founder and Chief Scientist for the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London – is a pioneer of revolutionary near-patient diagnostic systems that are improving quality of life for people across the world. His innovations are enabling personalised healthcare, early detection and active prevention of disease, including sepsis, heart disease, obesity and diabetes – delivering life-saving impacts.
This prestigious UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize rewards significant efforts of individuals or institutions through scientific research towards improving the quality of human life, and is awarded annually to a maximum of three laureates. The Prize is funded by the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, with a monetary award of USD 350,000 divided equally among laureates to help further their research. The Prize was established by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 2012, to support the achievement 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as UNESCO’s global priorities to encourage research, enhance collaboration amongst researchers and reinforce networks of centres of excellence in the life sciences.
Commenting on his honour, Regius Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMedSci said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled to be named the first ever UK winner of the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. My life’s work has been dedicated to democratising healthcare and bringing the economies of scale of the semiconductor industry to diagnostics and treatment, particularly in the areas of early detection, diagnostics and prevention. The vision that drives my research is that, one day, healthcare will be truly personalised, and that health professionals everywhere will look not just at your medical history, but also your medical future. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize jury for this incredible honour, which I will devote to continuing to develop technology solutions to our biggest global health challenges – from lifestyle-related disease epidemics to viral pandemics.”
The realisation of his research work is a complete Lab-in-a-Cartridge technology that delivers consumer genetics services to identify genetic risk factors and “nudge” everyday shopping behaviour to improve public health. The DnaNudge service analyses and maps users’ genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, enabling customers to be guided by their DNA plus lifestyle towards healthier eating. This platform has been successfully adapted into a transformative lab-free RT-PCR COVID-19 test (“CovidNudge”) that delivers results in just over an hour, now in use in UK hospitals and healthcare settings worldwide. CovidNudge offers the ability to test for FluA, FluB and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on the same testing cartridge – a major advantage as the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates and multiple variants need to be accurately screened for globally.
Professor Toumazou’s career has long been distinguished for his ground-breaking research in bringing silicon technology to the field of medical devices for early detection, diagnosis and therapy. His co-invention of semiconductor-based genomics has transformed how clinicians detect and treat conditions – from cancer to bacterial and viral illness. Through his company DNA Electronics, this technology is poised to deliver fast and accurate diagnosis of blood stream infections and antimicrobial resistance in near patient settings, enabling early, targeted intervention crucial to preventing death from sepsis.
Professor Chris Toumazou holds the 2014 European Patent Office European Inventor Award, the Royal Society Gabor Medal and the prestigious IET Faraday Medal for his pioneering work in the field of microchips for healthcare and the co-invention of semiconductor genetics.
About Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMEDSci, NAE, FIET, FIEEE, FCGI, FRSM, CEng, DEng, PhD, BSc
Regius Professor of Engineering, Chair in Biomedical Circuit Design, Director of the Centre for Bio-Inspired Technology and Founder and Chief Scientist for the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London
Co-founder & CEO, DnaNudge
Co-founder & Executive Chairman, DNA Electronics
Professor Toumazou is Regius Professor of Engineering, Chair in Biomedical Circuit Design,
Director of the Centre for Bio-Inspired Technology and Founder and Chief Scientist for the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London. His co-invention of semiconductor DNA sequencing revolutionised genetic testing and, in recognition of this and several other major healthcare innovations, he has been honoured with the prestigious European Patent Office European Inventor Award, The Royal Society Gabor Medal, and the illustrious IET Faraday Medal.
He is the co-founder of two successful medical device companies – DNA Electronics (DNAe) and DnaNudge. With DNA Electronics, Professor Toumazou has pioneered rapid near-patient live diagnostics. His breakthrough silicon chip for DNA detection has transformed how clinicians detect and treat conditions – from cancer to bacterial and viral illness. His technology is poised to deliver fast and accurate diagnosis of blood stream infections and antimicrobial resistance in near patient settings, enabling early, targeted intervention crucial to preventing death from sepsis.
DnaNudge is now bringing the next frontier of genetics closer to the consumer – nudging consumers towards healthier choices while shopping, based upon their DNA plus lifestyle. His pioneering Lab-in-a-Cartridge testing platform and wearable device enables consumers with predispositions to nutrition-related conditions to shop more healthily. The service has now been extended to offer DNA-personalised skincare shopping. In 2021, DnaNudge was named as the winner of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s MacRobert Award – the UK’s longest-running and most prestigious prize for engineering innovation.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and global public health crisis, Professor Toumazou and his team successfully adapted this Lab-in-Cartridge technology to deliver, in record time, a rapid, lab-free COVID-19 RT-PCR test. This 90-minute, gold-standard RT-PCR test (‘CovidNudge’) is now in use in UK NHS hospitals and healthcare settings around the world. As a multiplex test, DnaNudge’s COVID-19 test offers the ability to test for FluA, FluB and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on the same testing cartridge – a major advantage as the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates and multiple variants need to be accurately screened for globally. In 2020, Professor Toumazou was named as a recipient of the President's Special Award for Pandemic Service by the Royal Academy of Engineering, honouring his exceptional engineering achievement in developing CovidNudge.
Throughout his career, Professor Toumazou’s work has been distinguished for its ground-breaking research in bringing silicon technology to the field of medical devices for early detection, diagnosis and therapy. In 1994, he became the youngest Professor ever to be appointed at Imperial College London, at age 33. In 2013, he became London’s First Regius Professor of Engineering, awarded to Imperial College London during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Toumazou’s earlier research include cochlear implants for born-deaf children, an artificial pancreas for Type 1 diabetics, wireless heart monitors for personalised ambulatory health monitoring, and inventing an intelligent neural stimulator as a drug alternative for obesity.
He is a recipient of the IEEE Field Medal in Biomedical Engineering for Outstanding Contributions to Biomedical Circuit Technology, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal for pioneering contributions to British industry, and the IET’s JJ Thompson Medal for Electronics. In 2013, he was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences – adding to his Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society – and became only one of very few people who are Fellows of all three UK national academies. In 2009, he received the World Technology Award (sponsored by Time Magazine) for Health & Medicine. In February 2021, Professor Chris Toumazou was elected to International Member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in the USA, which is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.
He has published over 750 research papers, holds over 80 patents and employs over 300 people in his combined medical device companies and Imperial College London’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering.
PRESS CONTACT for Professor Chris Toumazou:
Phone: +44 (0) 118 328 2782
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