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Queen's scientist is named Emerging Scientist 2012

Queen's University scientist, Dr Ryan Donnelly, has been named the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist for his research on microneedle-based systems which deliver drugs without causing pain or bleeding.

Dr Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy at Queen's, beat off competition from around the world to scoop the award for his work which has taken the sting out of medicine delivery and monitoring.

The award is presented annually to scientists from across the globe who have demonstrated a substantial advancement in the application of scientific knowledge within the pharmaceutical sciences through published work over the last five years. The winner is chosen by a Panel of Senior Staff from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and work is judged on scientific quality and the actual or future applicability to industrial practice.

Dr Donnelly was presented with the accolade by GSK Vice President Jo Craig and delivered his award lecture at the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences UKPharmSci 2012 conference, which was held in Nottingham.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, Professor James McElnay, said: "This award is further recognition of the quality and impact of Dr Donnelly's work. It demonstrates the high regard with which the ground-breaking research being conducted at Queen's is held on both a national and global level.

"Dr Donnelly's research on microneedle-based systems has the potential to change the future of drug delivery and monitoring. I am pleased to congratulate him on his award as the GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist of 2012."

Speaking about his research, Dr Donnelly said "If you look at a microneedle patch with the naked eye, you can see that it is slightly rough. If you run your finger across it, it feels like Velcro. However, when properly applied, the microneedles puncture the outer layer of the skin without causing pain or bleeding. These tiny needles then swell, allowing controlled administration of even large medicines like insulin, as well as vaccines. Skin fluid can also be collected and we believe that analysis of this fluid will enable frequent, accurate, pain-free monitoring of the levels of medicines in the body. This application could prove to be particularly important in enhancing medical care for premature babies".

Speaking about his award, he said "This award is a nice recognition of the hard work my Group has put in over the past few years. We have secured a number of significant grants from BBSRC, EPSRC, The Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and Action Medical Research and have contributed numerous publications to the microneedle field, including the first textbook on the subject, published this year by Wiley. Our microneedles technology is attracting considerable interest from industry, with a number of co-development projects already underway in a wide range of fields of use."

Contact: Claire O'Callaghan
Queen's University Belfast

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