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IoP experts win HEAL Award for autism scan

04 November 2010

Professor Declan Murphy, Dr Christine Ecker and colleagues, from Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London have won HEAL’s NHS Innovation of the Year Award for their MRI autism scan breakthrough.

Professor Murphy’s team developed the scan which will enable doctors to diagnose autism more cheaply and quickly. The rapid test has already proven more than 90 per cent accurate in adults and initial investigations show it also works well in children.

'What the computer can do very quickly is to see that a patient has autism,' said Professor Murphy, who supervised the research, “even though their brain, to the naked eye, looks very normal.”

Professor Murphy said the award was a fantastic reward to the team, and in particular Dr Ecker, who had worked so hard to research and develop the autism scan.

Professor Murphy said: 'We are pleased that this award for 'NHS Innovation of the Year' recognises the clinical benefits of the innovative work that the IoP has pioneered.'

'Our aim, together, is to pioneer more accurate, safe, and cost effective health innovations that meet the needs of service users and lead to more effective individualised diagnostic and treatment approaches.'

Professor Murphy is Head of Departments of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science at the IoP. 

Dr Christine Ecker, lecturer at the IoP, who pioneered the work with Professor Murphy on the scan, said upon receiving the award, 'I feel super. We never expected to win because with psychiatry, you’re working on something you can’t touch or can’t measure very well, so for us to win it’s so nice.'

To watch a video of Dr Ecker receiving the award visit the NHS Online site:

The Innovation of the Year Award, sponsored by Orana, was part of the NHS Healthcare, Excellence and Leadership (HEAL) Awards.

The awards were attended by over 250 healthcare professionals from across the country, as well as distinguished celebrities Barbara Windsor, Esther Rantzen, and Moira Stuart. The HEAL Awards aim to promote the NHS and its best practice and professionals.

The keynote speaker was Roy Lilley, founding member of the NHS Trust Federation and a distinguished writer, broadcaster, and commentator on health and social.

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