Students Staff

16 March 2015

Essex blood substitute expert among finalists of Innovator of the Year competition

Colchester Campus

Professor Chris Cooper

Professor Chris Cooper.

Essex blood substitute expert Professor Chris Cooper is a finalist in the Innovator of the Year 2015 competition, organised by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Biochemist Professor Cooper, from the University of Essex’s School of Biological Sciences, is among nine finalists who will compete to be named Innovator of the Year 2015 at an awards event in London on 31 March 2015 in recognition of their efforts to take their innovation beyond the lab to deliver social and economic benefits.

Professor Cooper is leading a team of scientists at Essex who are hoping to develop a one-size-fits-all artificial blood substitute that is a safe, long-lasting, virus-free alternative to current blood transfusions available to all countries and immediately accessible at the site of natural disasters.

Haemoglobin is the key protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around our bodies. The Haem02 project team, led by Professor Cooper, aims to create an artificial haemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC) that could be used as a substitute for blood lost in surgery or trauma.

Attempts so far to make a safe and effective HBOC have proved problematic as outside the protective environment of the red cell, haemoglobin can be toxic. The beauty of the product being engineered at Essex is that it is detoxified by the body’s own defences.

Professor Cooper is one of three finalists in the Most Promising Innovator category. One of the three category winners will then be chosen as the overall Innovator of the Year.

The finalists will be judged by an expert independent panel. The judges will be looking to recognise those innovators who have worked the hardest and gone the furthest to take their science out of the lab to deliver impact.

Innovator of the Year is one of BBSRC's Fostering Innovation competitions that aim to promote excellence amongst researchers, knowledge exchange practitioners, departments and institutions by recognising successful approaches to innovation and impact in the biosciences.


Note to editors

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 872400 or email

More information about Innovator of the Year can be found at:

For more details about Haem02 please visit:


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