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Regius Professor Chris Toumazou Mamed 1st Ever UK Winner of the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences

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Professor Christofer Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMedSci Imperial College London’s Regius (Royal) 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 Chris Toumazou has been recognized by a distinguished international jury panel for his innovations in bio-inspired technology and personalized medicine that have revolutionized 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 honor was conferred upon Professor Toumazou at a special prize-giving ceremony at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on March 14th, 2022.

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 personalized 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 centers of excellence in the life sciences.

Commenting on his honor, Regius Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMedSci said: “I am deeply honored 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 democratizing 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 personalized, 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 honor, 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 realization 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 behavior to improve public health. The DnaNudge service analyses and maps users’ genetic profiles 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 bloodstream 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.


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