Glasgow City of Science and Innovation are happy to report Glasgow bioscientist, Dr. Will Johnston from Glasgow Caledonian University has clinched the prestigious Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) ECR Prize.

SULSA only awards the ECR Prize to outstanding early career scientists whose work shows excellent potential to make an impact in the field of life sciences.

Dr Johnston, from the School of Health and Life Sciences’ Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, also received £1,000 to further his research into finding treatments for bacterial biofilms and a funded tour of three universities to help him make new collaborations.

SULSA was established in 2004 by the Scottish Funding Council and six Scottish Universities to encourage researchers across Scottish higher education to pool resources and collaborate in order to increase international competition. It is now a strategic partnership of 12 universities, including Glasgow Caledonian.

Dr Johnston, who has a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology and is an early career researcher in the Research Centre for Health (ReaCH) Molecular Mechanisms of Long-Term Conditions Research Group, was thrilled to win the award.

He has been working with supervisor Dr Ryan Kean as a postdoctoral researcher looking at new treatments for bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are communities of bacteria that stick to surfaces and create a slimy protective layer around themselves, and are responsible for a number of conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, chronic wounds and urinary tract infections.

Dr Johnston said: “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded the SULSA ECR Prize, which is hugely beneficial in my transition to an independent researcher. As my postdoctoral post at Glasgow Caledonian draws to a close, I am eager to launch my own research group that reflects my ideas.

“Winning this prize serves as a vital validation of the feasibility and relevance of my research vision, demonstrating that it is of significant interest to the life science community in Scotland.

“In addition to the personal validation that comes with winning this prize, the opportunity to visit some of the most prestigious departments in my field allows me to expand my footprint and connect with potential collaborators who share my research vision and aims.

“Ultimately, this prize accelerates my progress toward building an independent research group that makes a meaningful impact in the field, allowing me to network with world-leading scientists in Scotland.”

Dr David Welsh, Molecular Mechanisms of Long-Term Conditions Research Group Lead and Head of the Translational Science Research Group at the Biological and Biomedical Sciences’ Scottish Pulmonary Vascular Unit, congratulated Dr Johnston.

He added: “This SUSLA ECR Prize reflects Will’s outstanding work in this field of research. It’s of the greatest importance that early career researchers have a support network to allow progression and retention. This prize not only allows Will to raise his profile in the scientific community, but to visit other institutions and make new collaborations.

“Well done to Will and his supervisor, Dr Ryan Kean, who has been, and continues to be an excellent mentor. Thanks also to SULSA who are instrumental in supporting early career researchers.”