Simon Malpas awarded Pickering Medal by RSNZ

27 November 2014

Pioneering work on wireless implantable devices to monitor the functions of the human body has been awarded one of the year’s top honours from the Royal Society of New Zealand.


Professor Simon Malpas of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and the Department of Physiology at the University of Auckland has been awarded this year’s Pickering Medal for excellence and innovation in the practical application of technology.
Professor Malpas has developed implantable wireless sensors that can measure a wide range of functions in the human body. These include lung function, heart and brain function, nerve activity for the body’s fight-or-flight stress response as well as measuring oxygen levels in the body.
His work utilises major improvements in technology, including telecommunications, battery technology and miniature sensors, to put him at the forefront of international research and science in the field. Under the scientific programme he leads, Professor Malpas’ work has advanced our knowledge on the effects of high blood pressure, heart failure and injury to the brain and spinal cord.
The medal selection panel cited Professor Malpas’s remarkable record of scientific entrepreneurship in awarding the medal.
The implanted devices that have been developed have been commercialised through spin-out companies and are now in use in 35 countries and major pharmaceutical companies around the world in safety and toxicology testing. Revenue is approximately NZ$20 million annually.
The ability to record physiological parameters has a wide range of uses, expanding our knowledge considerably about how the human body works and the effects of disease and injury. The ability to monitor through implantable devices also improves efficiency and has been recognised as reducing the number of animals used in medical research.
The technologies also significantly reduce the risk of infection because the wireless capability removes the need to implant a cable to power the devices. This has been particularly useful for patients with an artificial heart pump for example.
The current research being undertaken within the programme led by Professor Malpas is focused on improving the lives of people with hydrocephalus, or ‘water on the brain’, which results in a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid.

For more information contact:
Anne Beston  I  Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland
Email:, Tel: +64 9 923 3258, Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089

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