39 – Professor Heinz Wolff
Discovery Trail 39 (Heinz Wolff Ground Floor, video)
Famed for popularising science on UK television, Professor Wolff presented hit BBC TV programmes such as The Great Egg Race, Young Scientists of the Year and Great Experiments Which Changed the World. Professor Wolff is probably best known for inventing the term Bio-engineering in 1954 and has also been an honorary member of the European Space Agency since 1975, for which he was Chair of the Advisory committee looking at the uses of micro-gravity for scientific research. He was also scientific director and co-founder of Project Juno, the private British-Soviet joint venture which sent Helen Sharman to the Mir space station, becoming Britain’s first astronaut in 1991.
Brunel Institute for Bioengineering (BIB)
Founded in 1983 by Professor Wolff, BIB is a multidisciplinary innovative research and development organisation, which is now closely aligned to the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences. Working at the interface of medicine, biology and engineering, the Institute has developed from a renowned space research facility into an organisation that can respond professionally and quickly to clients’ needs over a wide range of disciplines. It has four major research areas: Bioprocess Engineering; Biosensors; Medical Engineering; and Rehabilitation Engineering.
Professor Wolff retains a multi-purpose Laboratory, which is devoted to his research projects in the general area of Care in the Community. The Institute also includes an Advanced Bioprocessing Centre, as well as laboratories for cardiovascular engineering. Other research projects conducted at BIB include design and development of new devices for spinal bracing and the management of incontinence.
Professor Wolff’s Accolades
During his life, Professor Wolff has also been director of the Division of Biological Engineering at the National Institute for Medical Research and of the Clinical Research Centre of the Medical Research Council and he has received numerous Honorary Doctorates from Universities including the Open University (1993), De Montfort University (1995), Middlesex University (1999) and Oxford Brookes University (1999), as well as Brunel University (2003).
He also received a number of Fellowships including University College, London (1987) and Biological Engineering Society (1994), and he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (1999).
Professor Wolff was given the Harding Award for 1989, awarded alternately by Action Research and RADAR. In 1992, he was the recipient of the Edinburgh Medal, awarded in recognition of an outstanding contribution by a scientist to society.