The ACS Award for Creative Innovation Symposium in honour of Chad Mirkin was a who’s who of clever nano chemistry with bio applications.

John Rogers presented his flexible circuits and you can read my story here. But the flexible circuits are also being used in a way I didn’t mention in the story – for imaging the brain during epileptic fits. With patients with extreme epilepsy, surgery is sometimes used. Surgeons open up the skull, cover the brain in electrodes and then provoke a seizure to see where to cut. Rogers’ group has developed their circuits for this as well, and he showed an amazing video of the repeating waves that pulse through the brain during a fit. So what looks like very applications based science has now given new insights into epilepsy:

I luckily got to chat to David Walt after the session about creative innovation and how spin outs can amplify the impact of science. Obviously, being the founder of Illumina, Walt has an interesting perspective. ‘A lot of scientists don’t realise that the real impact is when you grow a technology to when it’s commercially successful,’ he says. He urged people not to focus on the ‘quick buck’ but focus on creating a lasting, long-term company. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but Walt does believe that the entrepreneurial side of science then pushes you to do better fundamental research. At the symposium today, that was a heady and enticing prospect.

Laura Howes

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