London, United Kingdom, 14 March 2022 – DnaNudge CEO and co-founder Regius (Royal) Professor Christofer Toumazou has been announced as a laureate of the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Science – the first UK winner.
Professor Toumazou has been recognised by a distinguished international jury panel for his innovations in bio-inspired technology and personalised medicine that have revolutionised healthcare and pushed the boundaries of biomedical engineering.
His work has culminated in the DnaNudge technology that is now providing world-first consumer genetics services and lab-free, rapid point-of-care diagnostics for COVID-19 and other viruses.
The honour was conferred upon Professor Toumazou at a special prize-giving ceremony at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on 14 March 2022, by the President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea His Excellency Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Audrey Azoulay, the Director General of UNESCO.
Commenting on his honour, Regius Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMedSci said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled to be named the first ever UK winner of the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences.
“My life’s work has been dedicated to democratising healthcare and bringing the economies of scale of the semiconductor industry to diagnostics and treatment, particularly in the areas of early detection, diagnostics and prevention. The vision that drives my research is that one day, healthcare will be truly personalised, and that health professionals everywhere will look not just at your medical history, but also your medical future.
“I would like to thank the people I have worked with over the years for their support and collaboration, and those who co-founded DnaNudge, Dr Thaksin Shinawatra and Dr Maria Karvela, to make it a reality for global health. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize jury for this incredible honour, which I will devote to continuing to develop technology solutions to our biggest global health challenges – from lifestyle-related disease epidemics to viral pandemics.”
The prestigious UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize rewards significant efforts of individuals or institutions through scientific research towards improving the quality of human life and is awarded annually to a maximum of three laureates.
The Prize is funded by the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, with a monetary award of USD 350,000 divided equally among laureates to help further their research. The Prize was established by UNESCO’s Executive Board in 2012, to support the achievement 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as UNESCO’s global priorities to encourage research, enhance collaboration amongst researchers and reinforce networks of centres of excellence in the life sciences.
Sir Richard Sykes, DnaNudge Chairman said: “Through Chris’s innovation and vision, DnaNudge is a world-class technology platform improving genetic testing services in both the medical diagnostics sector and the consumer arena. This technology knows no limits and will continue to help drive personalised medicine forward. I cannot think of a better recipient for this prestigious award.”
Dr Thaksin Shinawatra, one of the co-founders of DnaNudge, said: “I am delighted that UNESCO has recognised Chris’s research that led to the creation of DnaNudge. I am extremely proud to have played a part in the development of this important technology and offer business insight that enabled us to bring it to market and to then adapt it to help fight the global COVID-19 pandemic. I am looking forward to continuing to work with Chris and the team as we continue to tackle the important field of personalised medicine.”
Professor Toumazou is a Regius Professor of Engineering, Chair in Biomedical Circuit Design, Director of the Centre for Bio-Inspired Technology, and Founder and Chief Scientist for the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London.
The realisation of Professor Toumazou’s work is a complete Lab-in-a-Cartridge technology that delivers consumer genetics services to identify genetic risk factors and “nudge” everyday shopping behaviour to improve public health. The DnaNudge service analyses and maps users’ genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, enabling customers to be guided by their DNA plus lifestyle towards healthier eating.
The platform was successfully adapted into a transformative, lab-free RT-PCR COVID-19 test (“CovidNudge”), which returns results in just over an hour and is now in use in UK hospitals and healthcare settings worldwide. CovidNudge offers the ability to test for FluA, FluB and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on the same testing cartridge – a major advantage as the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates and multiple variants need to be accurately screened for globally.
Professor Chris Toumazou holds the 2014 European Patent Office European Inventor Award, the Royal Society Gabor Medal and the prestigious IET Faraday Medal for his pioneering work in the field of microchips for healthcare and the co-invention of semiconductor genetics. In 2020, Professor Toumazou was named as a recipient of the President's Special Award for Pandemic Service by the Royal Academy of Engineering, honouring his exceptional engineering achievement in developing CovidNudge.
Notes to editors