Professor Rachel McKendry was awarded the UCL Provost Spirit of Enterprise Award at this year’s eighth annual UCL Awards for Enterprise.
The award was in recognition for her outstanding track record of partnerships with industry to tackle infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance, which have led to new antibiotics, mobile diagnostic devices, apps and mapping systems to nowcast outbreaks using symptoms reported online.
Throughout her research career, Rachel has championed collaboration and engagement with industry in order to bring her research to the people that matter- patients and the public. She has also strived to provide her students and postdocs with valuable exposure to the clinical and commercial world, teaching and encouraging them to work across, and beyond traditional research boundaries.
Rachel’s work with industry partners Targanta Therapeutics (now the Medicines company) helped to unravel the mechanism of action of oritavancin, a new antibiotic, which was recently FDA approved. Rachel also led a major NIHR Innovation for Invention award with industry partner OJ-Bio to develop a mobile phone-connected diagnostic test for HIV, which has now successfully passed early clinical pilot studies.
Together with her i-sense colleagues, Rachel has secured Google funding for a postdoctoral researcher to work with Google Flu Trends on their modeling techniques and, with UCL Professor Ingemar Cox, helped seed a partnership with Microsoft to track the spread of infectious diseases at music festivals using Twitter and search engine queries. Through the collaboration with OJ-Bio, a student and postdoc from Rachel’s research group were able to gain industrial experience at Japan Radio Company, OJ-Bio’s Parent Company in Fujimino, Japan.
Rachel McKendry spoke of how important these partnerships are to her research:
"I think it’s crucial to work with our industry partners to translate some of our exciting discoveries in the lab into products and practices that can ultimately benefit patients”
The UCL Provost Spirit of Enterprise Award recognises the achievements and attitude of an academic at UCL that has demonstrated a willingness to engage with business in multiple ways that have enhanced their core research and teaching activities.
Winners of the 2015 UCL Awards for Enterprise were announced on Wednesday 10 June, at a ceremony held at UCL Advances’ new incubator space for product and creative businesses at King’s Cross, BASE KX.