Robert McLaughlin

Professor Robert McLaughlin

Chair of Biophotonics

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

I am head of the Bioengineering Imaging Group at The University Adelaide, and am also Managing Director of the medical device start-up company, Miniprobes. I currently lead a research team developing highly miniaturised imaging probes, small enough to be encased within hypodermic needles. My team of engineers, physicists and computer scientists is based in the Centre for Nanoscale Biophotonics and is part of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.

After three years as a researcher at the University of Oxford, I spent five years in the medical imaging industry, including as a Product Manager with Siemens Medical Solutions. I was responsible for the development of three medical devices, two with FDA regulatory approval.

Returning to academia in 2007, I have focused on the development of optical imaging technologies, particularly optical coherence tomography and fluorescence. I have been awarded over $5M in research grants. With 12 years of research experience, I have a Google Scholar h-index of 27. I have co-authored 2 book chapters, 7 patents and 66 journal papers. I received the 2014 WA Innovator of the Year Award, and the 2015 Australian Innovation Challenge. In 2016, I was awarded the prestigious South Australian Premier’s Research and Industry Fund Research Fellowship.

In 2014, I was appointed as a Councilor of the Australian Optical Society. In 2016, I was appointed Chair of Biophotonics at the University of Adelaide.

  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2015 Award The Australian Innovation Challenge
    2014 Award Western Australian Innovator of the Year, WA Department of Commerce
    2014 Award UWA Vice-Chancellor’s Mid-career Research Award
    2014 Award UWA Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Impact and Innovation
    2014 Award 1st prize, SPIE Start-up Challenge, San Francisco United States
    2013 Award Finalist, Australian Museum Eureka Prizes: “Innovative Use of Technology”
    2012 Award Finalist, Australian Museum Eureka Prizes: “Innovative Use of Technology”
    2012 Award Finalist, Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize
    2011 Award National Breast Cancer Foundation Patron’s Award: “Innovation and Vision in Research”
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2000 University of Western Australia Australia PhD (Electronic Engineering)
    1993 University of Western Australia Australia Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • Research Interests

Grants: TOTAL: $5million

2016-2019 South Australian Premier’s Research and Industry Fund Fellowship



2016-2018 ARC Discovery Grant (DP160104175)

“Visualising vascular adaptation at the micro-scale in humans”

(Green, McLaughlin)


2016 Photonics Catalyst Program, South Australian Govt.

“Image-guided surgery for safer and faster glaucoma treatment”

(McLaughlin, Casson, Previn)


UWA NHMRC Equipment Grant, “Philips Premium Portable CX50 Ultrasound System”

(Noble, Pillow, Gill, Laing, Nowak, McLaughlin, Kennedy, Hodgetts, Pinniger)


2015-2017 ARC Discovery Grant (DP150104660)

“Quantitative multi-modal optical imaging of deep tissue – a new window onto disease”



UWA Research Collaboration Award 2015-2016



SPIE Education Outreach Grant 2015



2015 Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund (MHRIF), Round 18, Dept. Health.



2014-2016 Chevron Australia / Fiona Wood Foundation

“Measuring airway capacity using optical coherence tomography”

(McLaughlin, Sampson)


2015 Intuitive Surgical Technology Research Grant (San Francisco, USA),

“Smart biopsy needles for real-time tissue assessment in lung cancer”

(McLaughlin, Sampson)


2015 Breast Cancer Research Centre WA (BCRC_WA 201406),

“Fluorescent biomarkers for improved breast cancer surgery”

(McLaughlin, Fuller)


2014-2016 NHMRC Development Grant (APP1076050),

“Development of microscope-in-a-needle devices for improved clinical diagnostics”

(McLaughlin, Sampson, Noble, Yeoh, Olynyk)


2014 Commercialisation Australia (CAU06334), Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE)

“Business plan for microscope-in-a-needle imaging technology”

(McLaughlin, Sampson)


2014 Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund (MHRIF), Round 17, Dept. Health.



2013 UWA Research Collaboration Award

“The next generation microscope-in-a-needle: Fluorescence + optical coherence tomography to find cancer”

(McLaughlin, Boudoux)


2013 Cancer Council WA Research Project Grant (ID 1057820),

“Intra-operative assessment of lymph node metastasis in breast cancer with optical imaging”

(McLaughlin, Saunders, Sampson)


2013 UWA Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

Research Development Grants,

“Optical coherence tomography for quantitative assessment of burn scars”



2012 Cancer Council WA Research Project Grant (ID 1052459),

“Pre-operative assessment of neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer using optical

coherence tomography”

(McLaughlin, Saunders, Sampson)


2012 Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation,

“Early detection of pathological scarring using 3D optical imaging”

(McLaughlin, Wood, Kennedy, Sampson)


2012-2014 NHMRC Development Grant (APP1038871)

“Development of a new surgical-guidance tool for intra-operative tumour margin assessment in breast cancer”

(McLaughlin, Saunders, Sampson)


2012 National Breast Cancer Foundation Novel Concept Award,

“A new tool for intra-operative tumour margin assessment”.

(McLaughlin, Saunders, Sampson, Kennedy)


2011-2013 Cancer Council WA Research Fellowship

“Improved intra-operative breast cancer imaging with OCT”



2010 UWA Safety Net Award,




2010 Perpetual Ltd., “Better imaging to improve cancer surgery”

(McLaughlin, Kennedy, Saunders, Sampson)


2009 Perpetual Ltd., “A new breast cancer imaging probe: combining ultrasound with optical biopsy”.

(McLaughlin, Saunders, Sampson)


2008 National Breast Cancer Foundation Novel Concept Award,

“Steps towards an in vivo optical biopsy: Assessing lymph node metastasis using Optical Coherence Tomography”.

(McLaughlin, Saunders, Sampson)


2008 UWA Research Grants Scheme, “Improved Breast Cancer Surgery with Optical Imaging”.



2007 Raine Medical Research Foundation, “Bringing Optical Imaging into clinical practice for breast cancer and breathing disorders”.



  • Position: Chair of Biophotonics
  • Phone: 83139942
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: The Braggs, floor 3
  • Room: 3 17
  • Org Unit: Adelaide Medical School

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