23 March 2017 09:49

Lancaster University has appointed a director to lead its Materials Science Institute, which will be officially launched this summer.

Professor Robert Short FTSE, who has a background in Chemistry and whose field of research concentrates on wound healing, tissue regeneration and latterly cancer, joins Lancaster from the University of South Australia.

Under Professor Short’s leadership the Materials Science Institute brings expertise together across a range of disciplines with a focus on the research areas of health, the environment and manufacturing.

He said: “We look at a huge variety of materials, from the ridiculously large-scale in the construction of houses and roads, through advanced materials for airplane wings to the very small 2-D materials with unique electronic properties for the next generation of electronic gadgets.

“Four themes are being developed at the Institute which encapsulate our research: active surfaces and interfaces; advanced manufacturing; health – building upon the work which will happen at the Health Innovation Campus; and materials in the context of global sustainability.”

These themes will pull together around 60 academics, or 200 researchers, working at the Materials Science Institute.

“As we develop each theme we will look for opportunities to work with others, whether it be the university’s Institute for Social Futures, the Data Science Institute and the Lancaster Environment Centre, or any other partners,” said Professor Short. “That’s one of the best things about Lancaster, and one of the things that attracted me to the role, that we cut across boundaries not just across the Faculty of Science and Technology, but across the whole of the university.

“At Lancaster, Materials Sciences is a much broader discipline than you would find in a single focus department and our focus will be on achieving not just impact in manufacturing and in healthcare and aging, but in the longer term address the key issues of materials and the environment and sustainability, and even human interaction with materials.”

Professor Short has been working at the materials/biology interface for about 20 years. He looks at advanced materials which promote wound healing as well as how patients’ own cells and electronic gases interact directly with human tissues, or with these materials. One of the major things he is working on at the moment is a jet technology to reduce the size of cancer tumours.

He has a strong track-record in converting research developments into successful products.

“Over my career I’ve helped develop 11 products – nine of which are on the global market and two more which are used nationally. One such product he helped co-develop was the MyskinTM patch which helps on the healing of severe wounds and was first approved by the Medical Health Regulatory Authority and NICE for use in burns in2008,” he said.

Professor Short has a degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Physical Chemistry, both from Durham University. He has held various roles in the UK and internationally and while in Australia he led an advanced materials and manufacturing research institute for ten years.

For his contribution to Australian Science and Engineering, Professor Short was elected to the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2013.