Nanoscience pioneer McKendry wins £350k AF Harvey prize
14 Jan 2024
Infectious disease surveillance pioneer Rachel McKendry has won the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s A F Harvey Engineering Research Prize.
McKendry, professor of biomedical nanoscience at University College London and director of the i-sense EPSRC IRC in Early Warning Sensing Systems for Infectious Diseases plans to use the £350,000 prize money towards her research team’s work on utilising nanodiamond diagnostics to combat antimicrobial resistance.
She commented: “It is a tremendous honour. I would like to dedicate this prize to my wonderful team and i-sense collaborators.
“With this funding, we aim to develop proof-of-concept ultra-sensitive quantum-enhanced tests for antimicrobial resistance, and will explore novel advanced materials and device configurations for use in decentralised clinical settings. Antibiotics underpin modern medicine, but the rise of drug-resistance – the silent pandemic – is a huge clinical and public health concern.
McKendry’s research encompasses quantum technologies, deep learning and telecommunications, while her leadership has seen the i-sense team address infections from HIV to COVID-19, develop diagnostics and analyse data for public health.
Her work on nanodiamonds, offering heightened sensitivity to detect virus proteins in blood and urine, could advance the results of current PCR tests, said the IET.
Added McKendry: “There is an urgent need for new diagnostic tests that can detect early infections and to improve antibiotic stewardship. I am also really excited to lead a public engagement initiative to raise the visibility of the hidden heroes of diagnostics – the engineers and scientists behind diagnostic tests that have been so vital to the COVID-19 pandemic response.”