Heriot-Watt academic shortlisted for ‘Driving Global Impact’ award

A Heriot-Watt academic has been shortlisted for the Nature Research Awards for Driving Global Impact.

Professor Alan Gow, of the university’s Department of Psychology, is one of ten people to be shortlisted.

Nature Research, part of Springer Nature, in partnership with Tencent established the awards to celebrate “researchers whose work has made, or has the potential to make, a positive impact on society”.

The annual award focusses on a different area of research each year. Brain sciences is the topic for 2019, recognising “researchers who are revolutionising our understanding of the brain and translating this understanding into real-world impact”.

Professor Gow’s research focusses on the lifestyles and behaviours that promote brain health in old age.

In launching the call for nominations last year, Sir Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Springer Nature said: “I am very excited by the focus this year on brain science. We have strikingly few approaches for treating the devastating brain disorders which pose a challenge to the wellbeing of individuals, the strength of our social networks and our global economies. This award, for candidates performing exciting research across a broad spectrum of brain research, will promote a deeper understanding of what makes us human and advance global health and well-being.”

Applications were assessed by an expert judging panel from Nature Research and independent experts to create the shortlist. The criteria for assessment included the scientific achievements of the candidates in the field of brain research, their research programme and its potential for scientific and societal impact, and their planned communications and outreach around the research programme to maximise impact on society.

Later in the year, the judging panel will announce a winner and two runners up.

On hearing of his shortlisting, Professor Gow said: “It was a genuine surprise, but I was very happy to receive the news. I’ve been fortunate to have developed my ideas to where they are now with the support and encouragement of so many colleagues and collaborators, both at Heriot-Watt and elsewhere”.

“The specific focus of this award on research that might impact people and society means a lot to me. As my work concerns what we might do to protect our thinking skills as we age, it is something that touches almost all us. Speaking to people about brain health directly is one of the most rewarding aspects of what I get to do, as well as working with our partners such as Age UK and Age Scotland to get those positive messages to as many people as possible.”

You can read more about Professor Gow’s research through his Ageing Lab at www.healthyageing.hw.ac.uk. He is also appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe next month with ‘This Show Will Make You Sharper!’, where the audience will explore what might keep the brain healthy.

Details of all those shortlisted can be viewed at, https://www.nature.com/collections/ccjnyjxvmp/shortlist. The winner and runners-up will be announced in November.