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IRR Early Career Innovator 2021

May 2021: Douglas Gibson wins 2021 IRR Early Career Innovators Competition

Image of Douglas Gibson with IRR trophy

Dr Douglas Gibson has been named the winner of this year's IRR Early Career Innovators Competition.

Douglas is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Centre for Inflammation Research. His winning proposal is to develop a better diagnostic test for endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a hormone dependent disorder caused by tissue lesions in the pelvic cavity. It affects 176 million women worldwide; however it can currently only be diagnosed via surgery, with an average diagnosis time of eight years. Douglas hopes to develop a non-invasive data-driven diagnostic test.

The annual competition was open to all early career researchers across the Institute for Regeneration and Repair, who were invited to submit innovative project proposals which would translate their basic research into new research or diagnostic tools or treatments.

Douglas and fellow finalists (Graham Anderson, Shyam Sushama Jose and Laura Wagstaff from the Centre for Regenerative Medicine) were then invited to pitch their project ideas to a panel of industry experts. The panel were impressed by all four pitches, but felt Douglas' proposal had the most potential to capitalise on the prize fund.

The judging panel comprised of Dr Mary Canning, Principal at Epidarex Capital; Dr Sally Mardikian, Business Development Manager at AstraZeneca; and Professor Neil Carragher, Director of Translation at the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine (CMVM). The competition was overseen by Dr Andrew McBride, Translator in Residence for CMVM; and Dr Lysimachos Zografos, Entrepreneur in Residence, who helped the finalists to develop their pitches.

Dr Andrew McBride said:

The finalists did a fantastic job presenting engaging pitches, impressing the panel with the potential for future development of their innovations towards commercialisation and patient benefit.

Douglas has won funding of £5,000 to further develop his idea. Along with the other finalists, Douglas will also receive support from the University's research translation and commercialisation team to develop his project plan and explore alternative funding opportunities.

Reflecting on the competition, Douglas said:

Taking part in the IRR innovation competition has been a great experience and one I would highly recommend. It allowed me to change my perspective and explore the commercialisation potential of my research which was helpful for gaining a better understanding of how ideas can be transformed into products with real-world applications.

All the finalists gave great pitches and it was testament to the range of innovative research taking place in the IRR. I look forward to progressing my idea which aims to develop a non-invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis.