Clunies Ross Awards

Clunies Ross Award winners 2015

Associate Professor Leigh Ward

ImpediMed Limited is an Australian medical device company commercialised as a result of collaborative research led by Associate Professor Leigh Ward, School of Chemistry and Bioscience, The University of Queensland.

The company’s core technology is used for the early detection and monitoring of unilateral lymphoedema of a limb, harnessing a technique known as bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS).

Due to the pioneering and entrepreneurial work of Associate Professor Ward and his colleagues, assessment of unilateral lymphoedema now has a standardised, specific, accurate tool that allows for repeatability of measurement.

It also offers the advantages of delivering rapid results, being relatively inexpensive to produce and use, minimises inconvenience for the patient and is easily mastered by medical technicians.

ImpediMed is a global company with offices in Australia and the USA. Revenue has grown from approximately AUD 1.2 million (30 June 2008) to AUD 1.9 million (30 June 2013).

Associate Professor Ward is the named inventor on a number of patents that protect the company’s core technology. He has worked closely with ImpediMed from its inception to the present day and continues to collaborate with the company on its next-generation device.

Professor Zhiguo Yuan AM FTSE

Professor Zhiguo Yuan has developed a suite of innovative technologies to revolutionise the science and practice of integrated water management for Australian water utilities.

“Putting science in sewers” has fundamentally changed industry’s understanding and practice for sewer corrosion and odour management, generating economic benefit in excess of $400 million.

Professor Yuan’s training in aeronautic engineering provided him with strong expertise in modelling and control engineering, which he applied with great effect while working with Dr Keshab Sharma to develop the SeweX model.

Professor Yuan personally solved a problem that for more than 20 years was acknowledged as a bottleneck in sewer modelling. The new kinetic expressions he developed increased the simulation speed more than 100-fold and made the dynamic simulation of large sewer networks possible.

Additionally, Professor Yuan and his team discovered that free nitrous acid has a strong biocidal effect on microorganisms, particularly for the organisms that convert sulfate to sulfide.

This patent-pending invention has been licensed to start-up company Cloevis Ptd Ltd, which has established a partnership with US Peroxide to jointly commercialise the technology.

Professor Yuan has also developed world-leading, advanced control algorithms for all standard chemicals currently used for sulfide control in sewers.

Dr Catherine Foley PSM FTSE
Dr Keith Leslie

Dr Cathy Foley and Dr Keith Leslie are highly worthy recipients of the Clunies Ross Award by virtue of their long-term commitment to undertaking fundamental physical research, developing the outputs into workable, practical innovations, and successful commercialisation of these.

The basis of this nomination is their development of the LANDTEM device for mineral exploration, now manufactured and distributed by a successful Australian company and responsible for the discovery of over $6 billion in ore deposits worldwide.

Dr Foley has led high-performing teams in CSIRO that have explored fundamental processes of superconductivity and its applications, pioneered the use of new materials and applied these in new ways to solve some fundamental problems related to use of superconductors in magnetic detection devices, in particular in the mineral exploration area.

Dr Leslie is an accomplished engineer and developer who spearheaded the translation of LANDTEM from laboratory to commercial product. His engineering expertise was central to solving the many problems associated with developing a robust, easy-to-use, portable device for field operation.

His commercial and industry knowledge was also vital to securing a path to market and industry uptake, while his dedication and customer focus has provided the support, essential for users and partners to adopt and successfully apply the technology.

LANDTEM has benefited the minerals industry through access to a lower cost, more effective technology for mineral exploration. It has benefited the Australian economy through increased economic activity, exports and support for an innovative Australian company. It also has environmental benefits as it reduces the need for invasive, exploratory drilling and attendant energy and water usage.

A user has described LANDTEM is the most sensitive tool for exploration on the market. It is used heavily in Western Australia for nickel exploration and other base metals. Clients have indicated that operational exploration costs have been reduced by as much as 30 per cent.

Dr Foley is a leading physicist and has held a range of leadership roles in CSIRO, currently as Deputy Director of the CSIRO Manufacturing Flagship. In this role she is responsible for the science underpinning a broad spectrum of mission-directed research in the areas of cleaner advanced materials and technologies to enable manufacturers to secure a competitive and sustainable future.

Dr Leslie continues to lead the SQUIDS research in CSIRO and has contributed significantly to recent developments in the field.

Professor Jim Patrick AO FTSE

Professor Jim Patrick, one of the original engineers pioneering the development of the multi-channel cochlear implant with Professor Graeme Clark, is recognised as a world authority on cochlear implants.

He joined Professor Graeme Clark’s research team at Melbourne University in 1975. With training in physics and communications engineering, and an interest in how electrical stimulation might be used to help people hear, he led the successful development of “UMDOLEE”, the 10-channel cochlear implant developed by the Departments of Otolaryngology and Electrical Engineering.

When initial proof of concept generated Federal Government support for commercial development in 1981, Jim moved to Sydney as a member of the Cochlear “Tiger Team”, established by Paul Trainor inside the Nucleus group to develop a ‘clinically applicable’ cochlear implant.

Jim was responsible for systems engineering, and the digital aspects of the implantable stimulator, playing the key leadership role in the development of the commercial medical implant.

Since 1981 he has been a member of Cochlear’s senior management team, holding a number of technology management roles, including responsibility for R&D, Quality and Manufacturing. Currently, Jim is responsible for Cochlear’s global research programme, exploring how novel forms of signal processing can improve the performance of the cochlear implant, and how advances in biology and electro-neural interfaces can be applied to future implant designs.

Jim has also been involved in several projects that seek to use Cochlear technology in other medical bionics fields. These include the treatment of spinal cord injuries , the use of an implanted stimulator to provide sensory feedback for people using artificial hands, and the use of an implanted stimulator to provide “pacing” vestibular stimulation to relieve Menieres symptoms.