Skip to main content

DPhil student wins Jenner Institute prize for best short talk

IBME doctoral student Joel Balkaran was recognised for his outstanding research on needle-free transdermal drug delivery applications by The Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford

Joel Balkaran, DPhil Student

Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) doctoral student, Joel Balkaran, was awarded the prize for the best short talk presented at The Jenner Institute early career symposium on 7 June, 2024. His presentation titled 'Ultrasound and Biodegradable Cavitation Nuclei for Needle-Free Vaccination' was one of fourteen short talks showcasing the cutting-edge research of early career researchers in the field of innovative vaccine development. The Jenner Institute actively supports scientists and research collaborations to develop new vaccines for human and veterinary use, with a focus on infectious diseases, emerging pathogens, and non-communicable diseases.

Joel’s research conducted at the IBME laboratories is well aligned with the aims of the Jenner Institute to generate scientific know-how and critical mass around new vaccine technology to improve global health. Joel’s research is centred on novel vaccine and drug delivery applications, especially minimally invasive transdermal delivery. Current research aims to fabricate biodegradable sonosensitive cavitation nuclei that can be exposed to focused ultrasound to facilitate transdermal drug and vaccine delivery without the need for needles.

Needle-free vaccination technologies can offer a pain-free, more patient acceptable and lower risk vaccine delivery method with reduced generation of hazardous waste that may help to address global health crises more effectively in the future. Joel’s research is supervised by Professor Robert Carlisle, Director of MSc in Nanotechnology for Medicine and Healthcare and Oxford Director of the CDT in Engineering Biology and by Professor Constantin Coussios, IBME Director.

Joel joined the IBME in 2020 as a doctoral student after graduating cum laude from Harvard College with an SB in Engineering Science. Joel’s studies at Oxford have been supported both by the All Souls College’s Hugh Springer Memorial Scholarship, and the generous benefaction of Mr. Donald Porteous. He says, “The talk was well received, and I was able to speak with many people who are interested in trying out the technology in the future for various vaccines. I am grateful to my supervisors for their guidance and support in this important area of research.”