Innovation Fellow: Prof David Russell

Professor David RussellProf David Russell’s research is within the field of bioanalytical chemistry, particularly in the development of nanoscale technologies for diagnostic and bio-medical applications. Prof Russell has been recognised for his research by the Royal Society of Chemistry through the SAC Silver Medal award.


Prof Russell joined UEA in 1991 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer (1997), Reader (1999) and then to a Chair in 2002. He was the Associate Dean for Research for the Faculty of Science (2008-2010), and Head of the School for Chemistry (2011-2014). 


Whilst maintaining his academic duties and publishing regularly in prestigious journals, Prof Russell took the lead on translating his research through the development of diagnostic devices, undertaking collaborative projects and licensing his technology to industry. Prof Russell’s research at UEA has resulted in six patent families and distinct novel technologies, each with its own potential to revolutionise the field to which it applies. This research has resulted in two spin-out companies – Intelligent Fingerprinting Ltd and Iceni Diagnostics Ltd (co-founded with Prof Rob Field) – as vehicles to take the inventions to market. 

From its foundation in 2007, Intelligent Fingerprinting now employs more than 30 staff, and has its own manufacturing facilities, R&D laboratories and office space. The company has recently launched the Intelligent Fingerprinting product range consisting of two cartridges each for the detection of four classes of drugs of abuse, together with a bespoke fluorescence based cartridge reader. These products are a world first. Each finger of an individual is pressed on the cartridge for five seconds. The sweat deposited in the fingerprints is used to detect the drugs taken by the individual. Results are available within 10 minutes of obtaining the fingerprint samples. Such a rapid, non-invasive, and dignified method of sample collection and processing has applications in multiple sectors. The products are being marketed and sold within the criminal justice arena, drug rehabilitation services, workplace and occupational health services. Since launch in August 2017, products have sold in countries worldwide, in particular the UK, USA and Australia. 

Prof Russell has played an instrumental role in the success of Intelligent Fingerprinting, which has gone from strength to strength over the years, securing over £18million from private US and UK investors. The company has created significant impact within the high-tech enterprise arena by bringing a novel product to market, providing highly skilled jobs, bringing foreign venture capital into the UK and generating revenues from product sales. 

Professor David Russell receiving his Impact and Innovation Award from UEA's Chancellor Karen Jones CBE, Professor David Richardson (Pro-Vice-Chancellor) and Professor Fiona Lettice (Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation).

Professor David Russell receiving his Impact and Innovation Award from UEA's former Chancellor Dame Karen Jones DBE,  former Pro-Vice- Chancellor Professor David Richardson and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Fiona Lettice.

In partnership with Prof Rob Field (now Director of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology), Prof Russell founded a second spin-out company, Iceni Diagnostics Ltd in 2014, which is taking the lead on developing carbohydrate based diagnostic platforms for infectious diseases especially influenza. Based on the Norwich Research Park, Iceni Diagnostics has won a number of prestigious awards in recognition of their R&D, including: an international Longitude Prize Discovery Award for its work on diagnostics to tackle anti-microbial resistance (November 2016); the EDP ‘Knowledge Catalyst’ business award (November 2017); and the South Norfolk Business Awards ‘Excellence in Life Sciences’ award (February 2019).

Prof Russell was made an Innovation Fellow at UEA’s inaugural Innovation & Impact Awards in 2018.

For more information on Prof Russell’s research, or to find out more about UEA spinouts and licensing opportunities, please email:


Innovation Fellows and Awards

School of Chemistry