News and events

PhD student is first in Europe to win prestigious chemistry award

A PhD student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has received a prestigious award from the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS).

James Hands, from the Bioanalytical Sciences Research Group in the Centre for Materials Science, has received the 2014 FACSS Student Award, who will provide free travel to SciX 2014, one of the premier conferences in the area of analytical chemistry. Here, James will be recognised for his achievements and will also deliver a presentation to an international audience of eminent academics.

The former BSc (Hons) Forensic Science student was selected for the award on the strength of his abstract submission, “Illuminating the Future of Cancer Diagnosis via Serum ATR-FTIR Spectroscopy.” In doing so James achieved the proud record of being the first student from a European institution to win the award since its inception in 1988.

He said: “It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award at an international conference which is well respected within the field of biomedical spectroscopy.

“I’ll have the opportunity to present my research among colleagues from around the world and to gain an insight and understanding into other research fields within spectroscopy. This award will enable me to network with professionals and vendors within industry which will no doubt benefit my future career within a spectroscopic field.”


FACSS Student Award winner 2014, James Hands

James will attend the conference in Reno, Nevada from September 28- October 3 where his presentation will be included in a session highlighting developments in Spectral Pathology.

He explained: “My presentation will focus on diagnosing brain tumours using light. Attenuated total reflectance Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy measures the molecular vibrations of the molecules within the serum samples; molecules vibrate at characteristic frequencies when exposed to infrared radiation.

“The exploitation of this principle has allowed for the development of a rapid, robust and reproducible objective diagnosis using spectroscopy. The FACSS Student Award has given me the opportunity to share with the research community, my ability to diagnose and distinguish between cancer, organ origin (breast, skin, lung etc.), tumour severity and non-cancer samples using one microlitre of human serum and ATR-FTIR.”

James joined the Bioanalytical Sciences Research Group on a funded PhD from the Brain Tumour North West grouping and this is not the first time the impact of his research has been recognised. He has previously been awarded a personal travel grant from the RSC-NWAD to attend an FTIR workshop in Germany, was awarded Best Clinical Poster at the British Neuro-oncology Society Annual Meeting and a poster prize at the National Health Service (NHS) Roadshow.

Alongside this James has published four papers. His work has also been highlighted on the BBC website, BBC Radio, BBC TV News and many specialist websites.

James added: “I would like to acknowledge the support of my research group, the Bioanalytical Sciences Research Group in the Centre for Materials Science and supervisor Dr Matthew J. Baker and also Brain Tumour North West, Royal Preston Hospital, Walton Centre and Sydney Driscoll.”