Professor Achillefs Kapanidis with Malcolm Skingle and Melanie Welham
Professor Achillefs Kapanidis with Malcolm Skingle and Melanie Welham

Credit: BBSRC

Oxford scoops BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2019

Professor Achillefs Kapanidis from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics and Mr Bo Jing, CEO of Oxford Nanoimaging have been named as BBSRC’s Innovator of the year 2019 – an award celebrating excellent research which demonstrates impact.

Twelve finalists competed for the title at the Science Museum in London last night, 15 May 2019. The overall award was presented by Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

The awards, now in their 11th year, are made in a number of categories that include: commercial impact, social impact, international impact and early career impact. BBSRC is the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation.

Professor Achillefs Kapanidis said: ‘My laboratory - Oxford Gene Machines - develops novel ultrasensitive microscopy methods, and uses them to answer fundamental questions about molecular mechanisms of gene expression and DNA repair. Although our biological systems are bacteria and viruses, our studies are relevant to complex organisms, including humans. Our work is highly interdisciplinary, as witnessed by our diverse team and our collaborations with biomedical researchers.

‘The inspiration for my scientific journey came from my introduction to the wonders of molecular biology and protein engineering during my graduate education, and from exciting developments in biophysics in the late 90’s that permitted detection of single fluorescent molecules with unprecedented resolution. As a postdoctoral researcher in California, I combined these fields to uncover the complex sequence of events occurring during the initial transcription of DNA into RNA. Since these studies were done in the dawn of single-molecule biophysics, we innovated constantly to be able to examine delicate biomolecules in a sensitive yet robust fashion; those exciting years fully convinced me that innovation and cutting-edge research are inextricably linked.

‘When I started my own lab, I realised that, to enable our methods to reach biologists and clinicians, and fulfil their enormous potential, easy access to single-molecule imaging was paramount; I thus dedicated significant time towards this goal. The product of this quest, the Nanoimager, is driving further innovation in hundreds of academic and industrial labs worldwide, including my own: we are now developing novel methods for rapid detection of antibiotic resistance and viral pathogens.

‘Winning BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2019along with my co-inventor Bo Jing makes me proud and very happy, since it serves a tangible recognition of our long-term efforts and success of the spin-out company that commercialized our innovation. We are also excited about the opportunity to display, discuss and celebrate innovation at this fantastic BBSRC event.’

Find out more about BBSRC Innovation Awards.

Find out more about the work of Professor Achillefs Kapanidis.