Anglia Ruskin Professor named Healthcare Scientist of the Year

Published: 13 April 2017 at 11:12

Professor Paul White (right) receives his award from Professor Sue Hill OBE, NHS Chief Scientific Officer, and Professor Sir Jim Smith, Director of Science at the Wellcome Trust

Award recognises Professor Paul White's leadership and contribution to innovation

Professor Paul White, Chair in Clinical Engineering at Anglia Ruskin University, has been awarded Healthcare Scientist of the Year for his contribution to leadership, research and innovation.

Professor White, who is Head of Clinical Engineering at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), received the prestigious accolade at the Chief Scientific Officer’s Healthcare Science Awards in March which showcases the contribution that science makes to the NHS and public health.

Professor White manages a team of 52 in clinical engineering at CUH but sets aside one day a week for his passion in research. He has been looking into pioneering ways of assessing cardiac function in different diseases. 

This groundbreaking, internationally renowned research has been predominantly undertaken at Papworth Hospital.

During his 32-year career, Professor White has been involved in many projects and his research has been integral in improving patient results. 

The most significant breakthrough he has been involved in is the collaboration with Papworth Transplant Surgeons into the use of non-beating hearts as a source for transplantation. 

In 2015, the team at Papworth performed Europe’s first heart transplant using a heart that had stopped beating – known as a deceased circulatory donor (DCD). 

To date, Papworth have performed 28 DCD heart transplants and the programme has doubled the number of transplants undertaken at the hospital. 

The procedure involved re-starting the heart in the donor five minutes after death and supplying it and other vital organs with blood and nutrients at body temperature. 

The organ is then removed and transferred to a heart-in-a-box machine, where it is kept nourished and beating for a further three hours before the transplant surgery at Papworth.

A selection of other major projects Professor White has been involved in:

  • Measuring cardiac function using pressure in the left and right heart ventricle to understand the importance of the right ventricle and ventriculao-arterial interaction in heart failure and congenital heart disease
  • Retraining the right ventricular to function more like the left in patients with transformation of the great arteries, a form of congenital heart disease where the pulmonary artery arises from the left ventricle instead of the right, and the aorta arises from the right ventricle instead of the left.
  • Changing heart failure management 
  • Investigating the mechanism behind ischaemic preconditioning , a technique to produce resistance to the loss of blood 
  • Developing a novel ultrasound indicator to assess contractility. This is now used on many commercial ultrasound scanners.

Professor White said:

“Having my research recognised by the Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health for the impact it has had to patients and their families is a great honour. 

“I feel privileged to work in a multidisciplinary team. Without this unique collaboration none of this research would have been possible. 

"I would also like to thank patients and their relatives who have participated in many studies over the years. Without them we would not have been able to push forward the scientific and clinical boundaries.” 

Dr Mike Scott, Lead Scientist at CUH, said:

“This is a tremendous accolade for Paul. Healthcare Scientists not only contribute to more than 80% of diagnoses and clinical treatment decisions across the NHS, they are key to delivering innovation through research and development. 

“Paul has successfully combined both clinical and academic roles to facilitate significant improvements in diagnostics and in patient care. He is thoroughly deserving of this National award.”