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Spinning the medical webs of the future

20 May 2014

A Macquarie University scientist, Dr Douglas Little, has been awarded the 2014 National Measurement Institute (NMI) Prize for ground-breaking measurement techniques developed to assess the potential of spider webs to be used for in vivo (in body) medical devices.

Announcing the award, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Bob Baldwin, said Dr Little’s efforts to measure very accurately the refractive index of spider silks resulted in a 20 fold improvement on previous work. 

“While this sounds a little like science fiction, Dr Little’s research opens the potential of using spider silks in future bio-inspired materials, for example as bio-compatible ‘scaffolding’ for new skin tissue,” Mr Baldwin said.

The NMI Prize and the Barry Inglis Medal are awarded annually by Australia’s National Measurement Institute (NMI) to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding achievement in measurement research and excellence in practical measurements in Australia.

Mr Baldwin announced the successful recipients of the two prizes on World Metrology Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875.  Metrology is the science of measurement.

Dr Bruce Forgan, of the Bureau of Meteorology, is the recipient of the 2014 Barry Inglis Medal for his instrumental role in the establishment of the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station on Tasmania’s north-eastern tip.

“Cape Grim is regarded as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch program,” said Mr Baldwin.

“Accurate and reliable measurements are fundamental and critical to the Bureau’s work and provide realistic assessments of whether any observed atmospheric changes are real.

“Each award recipient is an exemplary ambassador for the real-world application of measurements and techniques that are not only fit-for-purpose but are world-class innovations as well.”

Media Contacts: Mr Baldwin's office 02 6277 7400