A Dundee-based biomedical scientist has won the 2020 Bernie Benson Prize for his science writing.

The Bernie Benson competition sought to promote the understanding and exploration of blood viscosity testing – an affordable and reliable test that is currently receiving a lot of interest due to its potential to identify Covid-19 patients who are at risk of fatal blood clots.

The competition was run by Bernie’s company, medical equipment manufacturer Benson Viscometers. This year it invited entrants to provide an essay or presentation discussing the uses of blood plasma viscosity testing for diagnosis, monitoring and screening.

Chris Bell, a Biomedical Scientist in Haematology for NHS Tayside, was picked as this year’s winner. Bernie Benson travelled to Dundee to present Chris with his prize – a Acer Chromebook 15.6” touchscreen laptop with 64gig SSD.

Bernie said: “It was a delight to be able to present this prize to Chris because we were so impressed with his entry. He submitted an excellent synopsis of plasma viscosity, took a broad-minded approach to the topic and ensured his entry was up to date, including Covid-19 within his submission. An excellent bit of writing.

“Chris highlighted the advantage of the plasma viscosity (PV) test in relation to Covid-19 but also referenced the long-standing benefits which have been recognised by PV missionaries for many years. The judges also appreciated the use of references to back up the statements and arguments presented.”

Chris said the competition gave him a chance to put into writing much of what he has learned about the PV test during his career.

“Prior to becoming a biomedical scientist, I was a Band 3 Medical Laboratory Assistant for over ten years,” he said. “As a part of that job I spent a long time using the Benson Viscometer’s clinical analyser and as such have developed an interest in the test. I thought the competition was a perfect excuse to do some further research on PV usage, in particular its use in the current fight against Covid-19.

“I am very proud of being selected as the winner of this competition. I found it particularly difficult to trim my piece to 800 words, but I am glad that it was recognised with such an honour. I have recently begun my IBMS Specialist Diploma and I intend to include my piece in the portfolio I am creating for this award. I am also pleased for our laboratory, given all the hard work we’ve been doing this year through the pandemic – it’s a testament to a great team and workplace, across all disciplines.”

Notes to editors

  • Benson Viscometers, based in Pembrokeshire, is a manufacturing company specialising in the design, development and manufacture of high-quality clinical plasma viscometers and blood coagulation equipment.
  • Founded in 1999, the family-run company has established itself as the leader in the provision of sophisticated clinical plasma viscometers. Most of their analysers have been installed across the National Health Service (NHS) and private pathology laboratories. Benson Viscometers also have a growing presence in laboratories located in Europe and the USA.
  • https://www.bensonviscometers.com/
  • The competition, which closed on July 30, invited entrants to submit an essay or presentation on the following subject: “Construct and present an argument as to why the plasma viscosity test is such a useful inflammatory marker for diagnosis, monitoring and screening.” Entries of no more than 800 words needed to address the importance and relevance of plasma viscosity testing and to engage non-specialist readers as well as scientists. The winning entry and runners up will be published on the company’s website.
  • The competition terms and conditions are here: https://www.bensonviscometers.com/competition-2020/
  • For further information, interviews and images, please contact Jenny White as detailed below.