Recognition opens new networks

May 18, 2007

Irwin McLean, whose genetic research team at Dundee University was named The Times Higher 's 2006 Research Project of the Year, has just returned from the annual Society for Investigative Dermatology conference in Los Angeles where he spent much of his time accepting congratulations from complete strangers.

"There were people I hadn't met, not in my immediate field, who had heard about the award and were very excited by it. Clearly, it has very broad recognition," he said.

Professor McLean and his team isolated the principal gene behind eczema and the often related condition, asthma.

"The whole project is moving on, and it's very nice to be able to say as an opening gambit in grant applications that this project won The Times Higher award," he said. "The award is hanging on the wall, and it is good for visitors coming in to see. It is recognised within the university as a big deal."

Danielle Turner, named The Times Higher Young Researcher of the Year in 2006, was also delighted by her institution's response, and she has no hesitation in encouraging her contemporaries to apply in the hope of boosting their career prospects.

Dr Turner, a psychopharmacologist at Cambridge University, impressed the judges with her pioneering research into the effect of brain-boosting drugs on patients with schizophrenia. The judges were particularly impressed by her "cutting-edge but responsible science".

Dr Turner said: "The main thing for me is the recognition that I got within the university. It was obviously highlighted by our department, and the university wrote an article about it in the alumni magazine."

Since then, she has been approached by a number of academics whom she would not otherwise have met, who could be potential collaborators.

The young researcher award is open to academics aged under 40 in any discipline.

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