Pioneering mental health eye test nominated for Scottish Life Sciences award

Pioneering mental health eye test nominated for Scottish Life Sciences award

An eye movement test to assist diagnosis of major adult psychiatric disorders has been nominated for a Scottish Enterprise Life Sciences Award.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen have developed the test which recognises unusual eye movements to help clinicians identify illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression.

Their company, SACCADE Diagnostics - which will spin out from the University next year - is shortlisted in the Innovation category of the awards which recognise the ongoing work of Scottish Enterprise and its partners in growing and developing a sustainable life sciences sector in Scotland.

They will compete against Toshiba Medical Visualisation Systems Europe and clinical stage biotechnology company Edixomed Ltd., for the honour.

The nomination adds to two earlier commercial accolades awarded to the SACCADE team for the innovation.

Earlier this month scientists behind the test - Dr Philip Benson, a senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen's School of Psychology and Professor David St Clair, Chair of Mental Health at the University of Aberdeen and a consultant psychiatrist at NHS Grampian - and Mr Madhu Nair, a technology entrepreneur and Saltire Fellow,   received the first prize of £4000 through the Converge Challenge Open Innovation competition.

They triumphed over companies in Belgium, England, Germany and Ireland in the contest which took place at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and involved firms pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges.

In September they were awarded £60,000 in the 2013 Converge Challenge, the largest business competition and entrepreneurial training programme in Scotland that recognises Scotland’s entrepreneurial innovations.

Professor David St Clair said: “We as a team are delighted that the importance of our efforts to translate our research into a technology to help with the diagnosis and management of individuals with major mental illness is being recognised by the life sciences community in Scotland and internationally.”

The Scottish Enterprise Life Sciences Awards will be presented to recognise excellence in companies and individuals who are making a significant contribution to the industry and will showcase exceptional talent in Scotland.

The winner will be announced at the Scottish Life Sciences Annual Dinner on Thursday February 6, 2014 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.