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Scot. Ent. grant for light in medicine project

A University of St Andrews physicist has been awarded Scottish Enterprise funding to develop advances in optoelectronics to use light in helping diagnose and treat disease.

Professor Ifor Samuel of the School of Physics and Astronomy has been awarded a grant from the Proof of Concept Fund to work with Professor James Ferguson of the Photobiology Unit at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

Medical applications of light are of increasing importance. For example, light has been successfully used to treat 30 different types of skin disease. Light can also be used in the diagnosis of a range of diseases. Optoelectronics involves the generation of light from electricity or of electricity from light. This project will explore how optoelectronics can be used in processes such as sensing and generating light which are of medical relevance. In particular it will investigate more effective ways of using light in the treatment and diagnosis of disease.

Professor Samuel said, “The harmful effects of sunlight are now well known. However, under suitable and carefully controlled conditions, light can also play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The project will develop the use of optoelectronics in medical applications with the aim of giving more effective treatment of disease. Further benefits of the work are likely to be that treatment would be more convenient for the patient and could avoid the need for surgery.”

Light not only illuminates the world around us, but has endless practical applications that can improve our lives ranging from communication to sensing. A wide range of optoelectronic devices such as lasers, light detectors and solar cells are important in everyday life. This project will explore the application of optoelectronics in the field of medicine. Light offers the prospect of improved treatment and diagnosis of disease. Indeed, by increasing the effectiveness of the use of light, this project aims to lead to improved treatment and quality of life. These developments will be of increasing importance as the population ages, and relevant to people across the world. In addition to improving the quality and convenience of treatment, the project aims to reduce costs, and give wide benefits to society.

The Proof of Concept Fund supports leading-edge technologies in Scotland’s academic institutions and aims to help export innovation from the lab to the global marketplace.

It was launched in 1999 as a three- year, £11m Fund; however, on the strength of its early successes and popularity, it has been trebled to £33m over a six-year period. Today, the Fund supports 82 groundbreaking projects worth £13m and has created 207 new jobs. It concentrates on early-stage ideas, which have typically reached patent level and could lead to the creation of new businesses, or licensing of innovative technologies. Successful bidders must demonstrate that their ideas have originality and true commercial potential.

It is recognised that the projects supported are high risk and will generally take several years to become commercially viable investments; thus the Proof of Concept Fund represents a powerful commitment to encouraging Scottish innovation and exploiting research know-how to maximum effect.

Further details on the Proof of Concept Fund and the projects that are currently supported can be found at http://www.scottish- enterprise.com/proofofconceptfund.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: proofofconcept.ifor.release/standre ws/chg/20march2002

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