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Swinburne researchers win the 2017 Australian Museum Eureka Prize

Tuesday September 12 2017

Professors Elena Ivanova and Saulius Juodkazis have been awarded the 2017 UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research at the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prize awards ceremony.

Their winning nomination is a team effort across biochemistry and nanotechnology resulting in a new nano-material that provides defence against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Their research is based on a fundamental study of the bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which has been named by the World Health Organization as the second-most urgent on its global list of antibiotic-resistant pathogens requiring a new form of treatment.

Through their research, Elena and Saulius observed that nano-pillars on the surface of cicada and dragonfly wings provided physical resistance to the bacteria. Based on this observation, they were able to develop a new form of nano-material that mimicked the surface of the insect wings, constructed out of metallic materials with tiny self-sterilising protrusions. The new material was successfully able to kill the bacteria with which it came into contact.

This discovery has resulted in a partnership with Global Orthopaedic Technology, an Australian-owned implant designer and manufacturer, and has the potential to further transform the medical industry by combatting the growing epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Commercial development of these antibacterial surfaces would potentially allow an antimicrobial nano-surface to be engineered onto existing medical devices, creating incredible social and economic impact.

Learn more about Elena and Saulius’ groundbreaking research in this short video

Access the Swinburne news release.