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Rolex Laureate for Nanopatch Researcher's Pioneering Efforts

June 14, 2012

Biomedical engineer Professor Mark Kendall is one of only five recipients of a prestigious Rolex Laureate, recognising pioneering efforts to expand knowledge and improve human life. A researcher at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at The University of Queensland, Prof. Kendall is the driving force behind development of needle-free vaccine delivery device the Nanopatch™.

Prof. Kendall received the accolade and $100,000 in prize-money at a gala 2012 Rolex Awards for Enterprise ceremony in London on June 13.

He said the accolade is an honour and is welcomed encouragement for people to tackle the "big problems" that often do not come neatly packaged within their strand of science or formal training.

Prof. Kendall welcomed recognition of the innovation that underlines development of the Nanopatch™ along the pipeline towards becoming a product that can improve the reach of improved vaccines to people.

His research aims to replace the traditional needle and syringe with a patch smaller than a postage stamp to deliver vaccines painlessly and more efficiently.

The Nanopatch™ has thousands of small projections designed to deliver the vaccine to abundant immune cells in the skin, whereas the traditional syringe hits the muscle, where there are few immune cells.

Prof. Kendall co-founded Vaxxas in late 2011 with a $15 million investment to advance the Nanopatch™ towards clinical testing and product development. Complementary and distinct to Vaxxas, he will use his Rolex prize to progress the Nanopatch™ use for developing world use – including a usability trial in Papua New Guinea.

It is intended that the award will be matched dollar by dollar by The University of Queensland – to further the reach of the Nanopatch™ to improve vaccines in low-resource regions. The project will be led by Prof. Kendall in collaboration with Darin Zehrung and his technical colleagues at the Vaccine Technologies group of PATH in Seattle; Professor Glen Mola at the Papua New Guinea Medical Research Institute; Professor Robert Booy at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance; and epidemiologist Dr Julia Brotherton at the Victorian Cytology Service.

The Rolex Awards are bestowed biennially and aim to foster a spirit of enterprise around the world. There were only 115 awarded between 1978 and 2011.

Recipients are recognised for work in areas of science and medicine, technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, the environment or cultural heritage.

The announcement was made at the British Academy, following a year of in-depth research by Rolex of 3,512 applications.

The Laureates were announced at the British Academy, at a function together with members of the international jury of 12 eminent scientists, explorers, environmentalists and other experts who chose them.

This will be followed by a gala event celebrating the work of the new Laureates to be held in India in November. Further details are found at www.rolexawards.com/profiles/laureates/mark_kendall.