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UOC researcher Associate Professor Khoon Lim, from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine, has been awarded the European Society for Biomaterials' coveted Jean Leray Award for 2022 – rarely granted to researchers outside Europe.

The Jean Leray award was established by the European Society for Biomaterials in 1985 to recognize, encourage and stimulate outstanding research contributions to the field of biomaterials by early-career scientists. The awardee must have contributed significantly to the knowledge in the field of biomaterials through basic, experimental and/or clinical research.

Associate Professor Lim, who currently directs the department's internationally-recognised Light Activated Biomaterials (LAB) group, says he's honoured to receive the award, especially from a society of this calibre.

“This award will absolutely further my momentum to help generate more scientific breakthroughs in the super-exciting field of biomaterials. I am very thankful to my collaborator who nominated me, my mentors, as well as the past and present members of my group.”

Associate Professor Lim says he has a passion for biomaterials, which he considers the foundation and core of many other scientific disciplines in human health.

“Biomaterials are pivotal and essential as bioinks in the field of bio fabrication/3D bioprinting and provide the essential cues and signals for cells in the field of regenerative medicine. They're also the underlying platform technology allowing spatial control over mechanical cues presented to cells in the field of mechanobiology.”

He says the next exciting frontier in the field is translating technologies in biomaterials and tissue engineering into use in human patients to treat specific diseases and improve quality of life.

“Clinical translation of research here at LAB and by others internationally is the ultimate goal. I firmly believe that by collaborating efforts and relationships with other disciplines, cutting-edge advances in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering will enable us to transfer our findings into human medicine, bringing us one step closer to goals such as the 3D-bioprinting of functioning organs in the laboratory.

This award comes after Associate Professor Lim was presented with a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship by the Royal Society Te Apārangi late last year – one of three University of Otago researchers to receive a fellowship worth $800,000 over five years.

The Jean Leray award consists of a plaque which will be presented to Lim when the Society covers his expenses to attend the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Society of Biomaterials in Bordeaux, France in September.

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