School of Pharmacy Pharmabees Project wins Da Vinci Innovation and Impact Award

6 December 2017

Da Vinci Awards 2017

Dr James Blaxland of the School of Pharmacy has won a Da Vinci Innovation and Impact Award. The awards, now in their fifth year, were the brain child of Professor David Barrow of Cardiff University’s School of Engineering, who wanted to bring together scientists from different fields to share ideas in a social setting.

Each of the seventeen competitors were given three minutes to pitch their idea to the audience and the winners were awarded funding to develop their ideas.

James’ presentation introduced the idea of microwaving honey to produce nano-particles which can be used in inhalers as aerosols for patients suffering from lung infections. As antibiotic-resistant strains of infection threaten to become more robust, the search for new solutions to the coming crisis is paramount. The anti-bacterial properties in a certain honey discovered by Cardiff University in a beekeeper’s back garden in Tywyn, north-west Wales has been shown to kill microorganisms and combat MRSA. The team’s idea is to microwave its own honey into particulate form, then coat that with the antibacterial honey, which can be inhaled safely into the lungs where it can attack the infection. The idea could particularly help sufferers of cystic fibrosis, who are more likely to contract lung infections than healthy people, because mucus in their lungs becomes heavy with bacteria.

After all of the pitches were finished the 183-strong audience voted for the winners, one of whom was James. His prize was £2,200 towards further research.

The event was attended by the BBC, who reported it on the BBC Radio Wales show, Science Café.

James’ three minute pitch can also be seen on the Pharmabees’ YouTube channel:

The project is being run in collaboration with the School of Engineering and goes to show how cross-discipline conversations can lead to innovative ideas.