Issue 35

19 November - 2 December 1996

IC Reporter


Imperial honours long-serving member of College

Professor Bruce Sayers at Commemoration Day, held in the
Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 31 October. Photography by Neville Miles, College photographer.

Professor Bruce Sayers at Commemoration Day, held in the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 31 October. Photography by Neville Miles, College photographer.

Professor Bruce Sayers has already devoted over 40 years of his life to finding solutions to medical problems and carrying out other invaluable research. The award of an IC fellowship this year goes a little way towards acknowledging the vast extent and breadth of his achievements.

Professor Sayers first came to Imperial College in 1954 as a research assistant to Professor Colin Cherry. "I worked on speech and hearing in communication." Together they wrote a paper which has often been reprinted. Their research also led to a new approach to the treatment of stammering.

Professor Sayers joined the academic staff in 1958 as a lecturer in electronics. "My first academic responsibility was to gain industrial and research experience on nuclear reactor instrumentation and then develop a lecture/practical course for the IC MSc course on nuclear power," he said.

In 1968 he was made a professor of electrical engineering applied to medicine. Since then, he has held professorships in computing applied to medicine and the management of information technology. In the 1960s Professor Sayers spent a great deal of effort developing biological engineering around the world, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and Israel. He has also spent much time developing the field of biomedical research in the UK.

As head of two IC departments, Professor Sayers' achievements at Imperial have included re-organising the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and putting it on to a sound financial footing. He also doubled the size of the Computing Department, added a new building, introduced a new advanced MSc course and made many other changes for the better. "One of the more useful things I have done at the College is inhibit the march of a management culture," he said.

Professor Sayers has also been elected dean of the City and Guilds College three times and is a director of Imperial College Technology Ltd. He is also emeritus professor at the Centre for Cognitive Systems and a senior research fellow at IC-Parc (Centre for Planning and Resource Control). "I'm attempting to steer its applications into the health service," he said.

He acts as a consultant for several companies and has been an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) since 1981, as well as for the period from 1970 to 1976. "More recently I am concerned with the research strategy of WHO and with improving global health," he said.

One of his current projects is to develop effective techniques for recognising distress in the unborn child. When the cord supplying blood from the mother is restricted, the foetus can not get enough oxygen. "If it continues, it will lead to a brain damaged baby. It is very important for obstetricians to recognise this and do something about it quickly," said Professor Sayers. "The Department of Health has had some new ideas about how this can happen and hence I have been asked to be the leading consultant."

The research is being carried out in association with Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham and is commissioned by the Department of Health. It is just one example of Professor Sayers' many roles.

Not surprisingly, his achievements have left little time for anything else, although Professor Sayers has spent the last few years renovating a fortified manor house in France where he now spends much of his time when he is not travelling. "I have had a marvellous life really because this is my hobby, and when your hobby is your work you are made," he said. He is also extremely happy to have based his career at Imperial: "This is one of the finest institutions in the world and it is a marvellous place to be."

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(c) Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, 1996
Last Revised: 20 November 1996