The University of Melbourne’s Associate Professor Laura Downie has been recognised at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)’s annual awards for a device she has co-invented that could revolutionise dry eye diagnosis.
She was among some of Australia’s leading engineers and inventors who featured in the awards night in Sydney on 26 October, receiving the David and Valerie Solomon Award.
The award is given to an early-mid career award for a science or technology graduate working in academia/research or industry R&D who demonstrates substantial ability to foster research-industry collaboration and knowledge transfer for the benefit of Australia.
Downie received a cash prize of $15,000 and 12 months mentoring from a senior entrepreneur/industry fellow of the academy with $5000 travel expenses to enhance this mentoring experience.
The instrument she has helped develop is called the Acoustically-Driven Microfluidic Extensional Rheometry (ADMiER) device, which enables subtype specific diagnosis from a patient’s tear droplet, which means more well-informed treatment and better outcomes.
As many as one in five adults suffers from dry eye disease – a common condition that is difficult to diagnose.
“Our discovery research involves analysing very small volumes of people’s tears and using a cutting-edge approaches to gain unique insight into a person’s eye health, as well as their general health,” she said.
“I’m very much inspired by Professor Solomon’s leadership in innovation and also Mrs Solomon’s entrepreneurial journey and advocacy of women in science to pursue their business and commercial aspirations.
“It’s such an honour to be recognised with this award and it inspires me to continue to engage with industry to address important real world problems to translate our research into practice and, in the long-term, to deliver new solutions that benefit patients.”