Roger Ekins, PhD

1998 Edwin F. Ullman Award

Roger Ekins First to Receive Edwin Ullman Award

Roger Ekins received the first Edwin F. Ullman Award at the the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine (formerly AACC)’s Oak Ridge Conference in Raleigh, NC, April 23-24. The new award, sponsored by Dade Behring Diagnostics, was established to recognize outstanding contributions that advance the technology of clinical laboratory sciences. Dr. Ekins is head of the Department of Molecular Endocrinology at the University College London Medical School. Dr. Ekins was a pioneer in the development of competitive binding immunoassays. He published a radioisotope-based, protein-binding technique for hormone measurement in 1960, coinciding with Berson and Yalow’s groundbreaking report on the immunoassay of insulin. Dr. Ekins subsequently made fundamental contributions to the mathematical and statistical theory of competitive immunoassay design, as well as to the basic concepts and development of noncompetitive labeled antibody assays.

His recognition of the potential importance of monoclonal antibodies and high specific-activity nonisotopic labels led to a collaboration in the 1970s with the Finnish instrument manufacturer, Wallac Oy, on the development of labeled antibody immunoassays based on the use of lanthanide chelate labels and pulsed light, time-resolved methods of fluorescence measurement. This technology, subsequently named DELFIA, represented the first of the new generation of ultrasensitive nonisotopic methods that transformed the immunodiagnostic field during the 1980s.

Dr. Ekins also developed the first “direct” free hormone immunoassays, including the increasingly used labeled antibody methods. His current research involves collaboration with Boehringer Mannheim on the development of a miniaturized third generation ligand assay technology that will allow the simultaneous determination of perhaps thousands of analytes, including DNA segments, in a small biological sample, such as a drop of blood, using antibody or oligonucleotide “microarrays” on microchips.

Dr. Ekins presented a lecture, “Ligand Assay-From Electrophoresis to Miniaturized Microarrays”, in conjunction with his reception of the award at the Oak Ridge Conference.

The award, which includes a $5,000 honorarium, is named for a pioneer in immunoassay technology. Among Edwin Ullman’s accomplishments, which include more than 150 US patents, the most famous is the assay known as Emit, an advance that revolutionized testing for both abused and therapeutic drugs. Department of Clear Thinking “Fluvanna man fails in attempt to convince court he’s not himself”
Headline in The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia, February 29, 1998.