Dr Robert Hammond named one of five Young Engineers of the Year

Thursday 7 July 2022

Dr Robert Hammond, Lecturer in Infection and Global Health at the School of Medicine will be named as one of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s five Young Engineers of the Year next week. He will receive the award at the Academy Awards Dinner in London on Tuesday 12 July 2022.

Dr Hammond’s research and translational activities have led to development of a tool that quickly enables antibiotic resistance and antibiotic susceptibility to be determined and the spin out of a company employing 25+ workers and valued at approximately $35 million USD.

His work is highly innovative and is focused on early diagnosis of bacterial and fungal infections in humans and animals. An important force at the interface between engineering and medicine, a device that he conceived, developed and engineered during his PhD can identify which antibiotics are effective against a particular bacterial infection. His device is a gamechanger for the industry -at present the standard techniques take between 4 to 12 and 24 to 48 hours but Robert’s new technique can produce a result in as little as 37 seconds. The commercial test in development will, if successful, revolutionise an important area of clinical diagnosis. It could transform care and potentially change the course of the antimicrobial resistance pandemic by reducing the use of inappropriate antibiotics.

Dr Hammond said: “I was thrilled to be nominated for this prestigious award. I see myself as a Biomedical Engineer and to be named one of the 5 Young Engineers of the Year, joining others in the engineering space, is really an honour. I look forward to further work and collaborations in this arena”.

Dr Hammond has previously credited much of his success to the mentorship of Professor Stephen Gillespie, Professor Matt Holden of the School’s Infection and Global Health Division and Professor Rebecca Goss of the School of Chemistry, as well as the opportunity for interdisciplinarity across the Schools in St Andrews.
Professor Gillespie noted “Robert is a rare individual able to bring his engineering skill to bear to solve complex biological problems. It is through such cross-disciplinary thinking that has enable this major technical leap forward in microbiology.”

This RAEng Award follows other notable accolades including in 2016 when Dr Hammond won a Discovery Award from the Longitude Prize and was shortlisted as one of their 20 “groups to watch”, winning the Scottish Life Science Innovation of the Year award in 2018.

Professor Goss FRSE, Lead of Engineering at St Andrews commented: “Dr Robert Hammond is a member of the St Andrews Engineering community on an exciting career trajectory. Although Robert is at an early stage of his career, his engineering of diagnostic devices has already had a significant impact on company creation and employment in Scotland and is making a difference to how the informed use of antibiotics can be enabled internationally.”

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