A BRADFORD-based professor has won a prestigious research prize, and is now in the running for a £10 million fund that he could use to help solve one of the biggest issues in modern medicine.

Professor Stephen Rimmer, of the University of Bradford, was one of just 12 people in the world awarded the Longitude Prize Discovery award as part of a hunt to make sure antibiotics remain effective and to tackle drug resistant bacteria.

The £10,000 award is a stepping stone to further developing research work to compete for the Longitude Prize, a £10 million pot of funding that will reward a competitor who can develop a point–of–care diagnostic test that will conserve antibiotics for future generations.

Strains of bacteria that become resistant to common medical treatments are considered to be among the biggest problems in healthcare today.

Prof Rimmer is Head of School of Chemistry and Forensic Sciences at the university.

It called for scientists to create a cost-effective, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections, that would allow health professionals to administer the right antibiotics at the right time.

Prof Rimmer leads a research team focused on translating new technologies developed at the university in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Its work is primarily based around smart materials responsive to specific pathogens. The technology has the potential for simple measurement while maintaining “high diagnostic sensitivity and specificity.”

He collected the prize with colleague Dr Tom Swift at the Royal Society in London on Monday.

Professor Rimmer said: “Six years ago we made a very important breakthrough when we discovered that we could synthesise polymers that would respond to bacteria. Of course, since then, we have been developing ways to use this to detect infections. This is a really useful award for us that will take us closer to producing a cost-effective device that anyone can use to detect infection and importantly to determine the type of infection.”

Since the first publication of these materials, Professor Rimmer has undertaken several successful collaborations with the University of Sheffield and LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India. Further publications and announcements from the Polymer Biomaterials group will follow in the New Year.

Daniel Berman, Longitude Prize lead, said: "We are delighted to be able to recognise the work of Professor Rimmer and the team at AMR Bradford through the Longitude Discovery Awards.

"We hope that the grant that they, and all of the other programme's awardees, receive will help them realise their vision for a transformational rapid test to diagnose infections and resistance to antibiotics. 

"Professor Rimmer’s team is showing enormous creativity in applying their lab research to practical applications that will improve health peoples' health."