Representatives of Oxford University visited Buckingham Palace yesterday (25 Feb) to receive the Queen's Anniversary Prize, awarded for the University's pioneering work in biomedical engineering.
Awarded every two years, the Queen's Anniversary Prizes recognise universities and colleges which have demonstrated excellence, innovation, impact and societal benefit.
Oxford's Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME), a research institute in the Department of Engineering Science, has been at the forefront of innovation in medical technology for the past seven years, hosting world-leading projects such as the first human liver to be kept alive at body temperature outside the body.
Eight members of the IBME, along with the University's Chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, attended the ceremony at the Palace. The award was presented to Professor Richardson and Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Head of the Department of Engineering Science and Director of the IBME when it opened in 2008, by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Professor Alison Noble, the current Director of the IBME, said: 'The Queen's Anniversary Prizes ceremony was a delightful event, and all the attendees thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Prince of Wales and discussing their work and interests with him after the main ceremony.
'It was very special for our still relatively young institute to be recognised in this way. No other award has quite the same remit of recognising academic excellence in research, innovation and impact, and we are proud to have received it.'
Research carried out at the IBME has led to the establishment of ten commercial spinout companies, including OxSonics (ultrasound therapy), Oxehealth (cameras as health monitors), Intelligent Ultrasound (quality assurance of imaging services), and CN BioInnovation (fast-tracking of new drugs).
Speaking when the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for 2016 were announced, Professor Tarassenko said: 'The move of engineering faculty to the IBME on the medical campus in Headington in April 2008 has been the catalyst for a remarkable period of innovation in medical technology in Oxford.
'Oxford is leading the world in showing how engineers can work together with clinicians to address unmet needs in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of major diseases and conditions.'
Professor Noble added: 'Since the opening of its building, the IBME has more than doubled in staff, having raised over £50 million in research funding. The 16 academic staff and the 200 researchers working with them have completed more than 20 clinical trials, from pregnancy screening and diabetes self-management to organ preservation, and have spun out a new medical technology company each year.
'We also have some exciting new initiatives under way that are underpinned by international collaborations, for example a Regenerative Medicine Technology Centre with China, and the Oxford Biodesign programme in collaboration with Stanford University.'
In the 11th round of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes, 21 UK universities and colleges were awarded Prizes recognising a wide range of innovative work across a host of disciplines.
Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: 'The UK is a world leader in science and research, and the Queen's Anniversary Prizes celebrate the achievements of our universities and colleges. The outstanding academics recognised with these awards bring benefits to the everyday lives of millions of people in the UK and deserve this high honour for their work.'
Kieran Poynter, Chair of the Royal Anniversary Trust, said: 'The Prizes in this biennial round again illustrate the variety and quality of innovative work being done in our universities and colleges. They encourage our institutions to think about what they are doing in terms of practical benefit as well as intrinsic quality. The work being recognised combines a track record of outstanding achievement with the promise of future development.'
More than 100 new companies – more than any other UK university – have been spun out from Oxford research in the past 25 years via the University's technology transfer arm, Isis Innovation, with over 500 licences and consultancy agreements being signed in the last financial year alone.