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Professor's groundbreaking work results in prestigious $121,000 innovation grant

Dr. Ed Waller will further develop mask designed to detect human radiation contamination

OSHAWA, ON. - A University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) professor has been awarded UOIT's first-ever Idea to Innovation grant, a prestigious and competitive award that will allow Dr. Ed Waller to further advance a radiological triage mask he has developed that holds great potential for being able to quickly identify the victims of radiological dispersal devices, also known as dirty bombs.

Dr. Waller, an associate professor in the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, has received a grant of $121,500 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to further develop the mask, which features an LED display screen that when fully developed will indicate to emergency medical services personnel if a person has been exposed to airborne radiation, the specific isotope and an approximate dose.

"I'm very excited to be receiving this Idea to Innovation grant as it will allow me to take another important step toward having the mask ready for broad commercial use," said Dr. Waller. "When dealing with radiation poisoning, it is imperative that treatment begin within hours of contamination in order to be effective. The radiological triage mask will play a significant role in saving time in the diagnosis of contamination and providing treatment."

The grant will be used in part to purchase a lung simulator that will be exposed to different levels of radiation for researching greater accuracy of dose measurement. By detecting and accurately measuring contamination for review on the display screen, medical personnel can separate the victims of radiological attacks from those who have not been impacted and quickly focus their attention on patients in need of care. When dealing with incidents involving large numbers of people, it could have a significant impact on the number of people unnecessarily routed to hospital emergency rooms. In addition, results could be printed and sent with the patient or communicated electronically to hospitals so health-care personnel are prepared to respond.

NSERC's Idea to Innovation program is designed to accelerate the pre-competitive development of promising technology and promote its transfer to Canadian companies. The program provides assistance to college and university faculty members in the early stages of technology validation and market connection. Dr. Waller has begun attracting attention from industry and potential partners interested in commercialization of the mask, given the potential it holds, particularly for medical and military personnel.

"UOIT is committed to pursuing research of global importance that when applied will significantly impact and positively change lives. Dr. Waller's mask holds that type of vast potential," said Dr. Ronald Bordessa, president of UOIT. "Given the nature and requirements for earning this award, we are delighted to recognize and congratulate him on this significant achievement."

Along with being the recipient of the university's first Idea to Innovation grant, Dr. Waller achieved another UOIT first when he received a prestigious invitation to take part in the 2009 World's Best Technologies (WBT) showcase in Arlington, Texas. The showcase is recognized as the largest forum in the world for providing emerging organizations with the opportunity to present their innovative technologies to hundreds of venture capitalists and Fortune 500 companies as a critical step in bringing their concepts to commercialization.

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