Wednesday, 13 December 2017

‌Dr Shane Browne, postdoctoral fellow at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, (CÚRAM) based at NUI Galway, has just been awarded a prestigious American Heart Association (AHA) fellowship to continue his postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkley. The AHA is the largest source of funding for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke research next to the US federal government. The mission of the AHA is to fund cutting-edge science and build careers in science and research that impact every aspect of CVD and stroke prevention and treatment. This fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding young researchers in the field of CVD and will fund Dr. Browne’s research at UC Berkeley for two years. Dr Browne’s research focuses on the development of biomaterial-mediated induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based therapies to revascularize ischemic tissues. This work will be conducted with Prof. Kevin Healy at UC Berkeley. The Healy Laboratory focuses on the interface between biology and materials science to develop engineered systems to explore both fundamental biological phenomena and new applications in translational medicine. The group is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating researchers from the fields of bioengineering, materials engineering, medicine, and molecular biology ‘This AHA award will allow me to build on the expertise in biomaterials and iPSC technology that I have previously developed at UC Berkeley and CÚRAM. Cardiovascular disease is a major problem worldwide, and I believe that stem cells and biomaterials will play a key role in the development of effective treatments for patients.’ Congratulating Dr Browne on his Fellowship, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM said “We’re delighted to see more and more of our students progress and be recognized for the caliber of work that they are achieving here at CÚRAM. I wish Dr Browne every success in his work at the Healy Lab in Berkley. Training and building the capacity of our researchers to take leading roles in biomedical sciences in the future is extremely important to us and we are extremely proud of this achievement”. CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. CÚRAMs key strength lies in its ability to establish unique networks of synergistic national and international collaborations, integrating world class clinical, academic and industrial partners. CÚRAM supports industry from basic scientific research, through translational preclinical and clinical development, into regulatory and commercialisation readiness. Find out more at www.curamdevices.ie and follow us @curamdevices. Ends

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), based at NUI Galway has just been awarded the Academic Contribution to Medtech Award by the Irish Medtech Association, the IBEC  group that represents the sector, at the Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards Ceremony in Galway City. The event, jointly hosted by the Irish Medtech Association, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, recognises and celebrates companies that have played a leading role in making Ireland a location of choice for global Medtech.  Congratulating CÚRAM on the award, acting Irish Medtech Association Director Eoghan Ó Faoláin said: “The reason Ireland is in a position to compete with major Medtech hubs such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, is thanks to the diversity of the sector here and the collaborative innovation that takes place on a regular basis between Irish SMEs, FDI multinational companies, and top universities, as well as other strategic sectors such as ICT, design and manufacturing. With Ireland ranked first for labour productivity, flexibility of talent, as well as attracting and retaining talent, it’s no surprise that Medtech growth is underpinned by job creation, with 38,000 people working in the sector now and an additional 4,000 jobs to be added by 2020.”  Commenting on the Award, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said: “We are delighted to receive this award and I would like to congratulate all who were shortlisted for these awards this evening. We are very proud to be a research partner to 27 MedTech companies currently and we look forward to growing and enriching these networks and helping the Irish MedTech sector develop a solid research base here in Ireland so as to continue to lead the field as one of the top five global MedTech hubs.” The diversity of the Irish Medtech sector was reflected in the six award categories of the awards, namely; the Academic Contribution to Medtech Award, the Medtech Company of the Year, Emerging Medtech Company of the Year, eHealth Innovation of the Year, Medtech Partner/Supplier of the Year and the Best European Medtech Week Campaign Award. IDA Ireland Head of Life Sciences, Engineering and Industrial Technology Division Michael Lohan said: “It is clear from the list of finalists that Ireland is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Medtech with everything you need to take medical technology from concept to market here. We are not only the second largest exporter of Medtech products in Europe, but the number one location for Medtech FDI. The Irish Medtech Awards are great way to celebrate the sector’s achievements and bring people together.” Ends Image: Group photo L- R Michael Lohan, Head of Life Sciences, Engineering and Industrial Technology Division, IDA Ireland; Deirdre Glenn, Director, Lifescience and Food Commercialisation and Manager,  Lifesciences Sector, Enterprise Ireland; Dr Steve Griffin, Scientific Associate, Centre for Research in Medical Devices; Carmel McGroarty-Mitchell, Industry Liaison Officer, Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Dr Eoghan Ó Faoláin, Acting Director,  Irish Medtech Association, IBEC Sector Group.  

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Dr Martin O’Halloran from NUI Galway was announced as the winner of the inaugural Irish Research Council ‘Researcher of the Year’ award for his outstanding research in medical electronics. Dr O’Halloran is a Techrete Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics at NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics and College of Medicine, and a Founder-Director of the Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab at Galway University Hospital. The awards were presented as the Council marks 15 years of the Irish Research Council and its forebears, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology. Commenting on receiving his award, Dr Martin O’Halloran from NUI Galway, said: “This award is a reflection of the quality and ambition of the broader research team in the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, and validates the close collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering and Informatics, and Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences. By embedding our engineering lab within the hospital, we get a greater understanding of the real clinical need, and can shorten the time required to translate technology out of the lab and into the patient clinic.” The Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab now hosts 24 world class researchers from Europe, the US and Asia, including engineers, physicists, veterinary surgeons and doctors. The team are developing medical devices to address problems ranging from new ways to reliably detect fetal distress during delivery, to novel treatments for lung cancer. Dr Paola Rivetti, Dublin City University, was awarded the ‘Early-Career Researcher of the Year’ award for her research in politics of the Middle East and international relations. Her research interests focus on the government of societies and politics in the Middle East and North Africa from a comparative perspective. The two Council-funded researchers received their awards for having made a highly significant and valuable contribution to research in Ireland over their career to-date in their respective fields. Congratulating the awardees, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, Mr John Halligan, TD said: “I would like to warmly congratulate Dr Martin O’ Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year awards. Their exceptional careers are a testament to the quality of the people in Ireland’s research environment and I would like to commend them on their hard work and dedication to their chosen field.” Chair of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, congratulated the two awardees: “I am delighted to congratulate Dr Martin O Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Researcher of the Year awards. We received many nominations of current and previously Council-funded researchers. Dr O’Halloran and Dr Rivetti were selected for their outstanding track records to date and I would like to wish them all the very best in their future research careers.” Ends Image:  L-R: Mary Doyle, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills; ‘Researcher of the Year’, Dr Martin O’Halloran, NUI Galway; and Mr Peter Brown, Director of Irish Research Council. Photo: Irish Research Council

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Professor John Laffey, Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway, has published a paper in The British Medical Journal outlining strategies to improve recognition, awareness and diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is an acute inflammatory lung injury, often caused by infection, which can result in respiratory failure. Around 40% of patients with ARDS do not survive, and others experience serious long-term health consequences. No drug treatments exist for ARDS, however good supportive management and careful support of organ function reduces harm and improves outcomes for patients. ARDS is incorrectly considered to be rare, in particular by clinicians less familiar with intensive care units. Delayed or failed recognition of ARDS leads to delayed treatment or no treatment at all and under-recognition is linked to under treatment. The LUNG SAFE study (29,000 patients in 459 intensive care units in 50 countries), which was jointly led by Professor Laffey, allowed for retrospective diagnosis of ARDS by researchers using clinical data, independent of the treating clinicians. The study reported that 40% of cases of ARDS were not recognised at any time during a patient’s stay in the intensive care unit. Delayed diagnosis was the norm, with less than 30% of patients diagnosed on the first day that criteria were present. Although this evidence is new and compelling, the issue is not new, Professor Laffey, explains: “Failure to recognise ARDS leads to failure to use proven treatments, and this translates into higher chances of death, and a worse quality of life for patients who survive. Issues such as cognitive impairment, muscle wasting, and functional limitation in patients are some common consequences.” Diagnosis of ARDS relies on recognising patterns in patients with evolving illness and receiving complex care. The interpretation of chest radiography in ARDS can be poor, and substantial inter-observer variation has been documented. Further difficulties arise with the lack of consensus around a definition of ARDS.  “Increased awareness of the condition among clinicians, patients and their relatives raises the likelihood of diagnosis. Over 20% of ventilated patients in intensive care units have ARDS, but it should be considered in any sick patient with respiratory distress, whether in the community, in an emergency department, or hospital ward. If we can detect these patients earlier, ideally on first presentation to the hospital, we can intervene earlier, and potentially improve outcome,” added Professor Laffey. The co-authors of the study from the University of Toronto were Professor Brian Kavanagh, and Professor Cheryl Misak, an ARDS survivor. Evidence based strategies for improving outcomes for patients with ARDS are outlined in the paper, which is available at http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.j5055.  Ends For further information about the study please contact Professor John Laffey, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway at john.laffey@nuigalway.ie or 091 495438. Image 1.jpg: Chest radiograph from a patient with acute respiratory distress syndrome, showing bilateral airspace opacities diffusely spread over both lung fields. This is a classic chest radiograph for ARDS. Photo courtesy of Professor Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 35985 About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. CÚRAM supports industry from basic scientific research, through translational preclinical and clinical development, into regulatory and commercialisation readiness. Find out more at www.curamdevices.ie and follow us @curamdevices. About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Neuroscientists at NUI Galway and CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, have made a breakthrough in regenerative medicine approaches to the neurodegenerative condition Parkinson’s disease. The research was published today (22 November) in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports. Parkinson’s is a condition that primarily affects a person’s ability to control movement leading to a progressive deterioration in ability. The symptoms of the condition are caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells that regulate movement. Brain repair for Parkinson’s involves replacing the dead cells by transplanting healthy brain cells back into the brain, but the widespread roll-out of this therapy has been hindered by the poor survival of the implanted cells. The research, carried out by a team at the Galway Neuroscience Centre and CÚRAM, has shown that the survival of the transplanted cells is dramatically improved if they are implanted within a supportive matrix made from the natural material collagen. Commenting on the research, lead author of the research paper, Dr Eilis Dowd at NUI Galway, said: “The collagen provides the cells with a nurturing, supportive environment in the brain and helps them to survive the aversive transplant process.” The work will be presented at the upcoming Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration (NECTAR) conference which is being hosted by Dr Dowd in Dublin from the 6–8December 2017. The event will feature leading scientists from the US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, who will present their latest research on brain repair for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. This NUI Galway research was also presented recently at the International Neural Transplantation and Repair (INTR) conference in Port Douglas, Australia by Niamh Moriarty, the PhD student working on the project. Niamh was awarded a highly competitive Travel Award from the Campaign for Alzheimer’s Research in Europe which enabled her to present her work at this leading international event. The research was recently featured in the short documentary Feats of Modest Valour produce through CÚRAM’s Science on Screen programme with Galway Film Centre.  The film won the coveted Scientist Award at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York in October, and was screened on RTÉ One for Science Week 2017. Feats of Modest Valour is available to watch on the RTÉ Player until 11 December 2017. This research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and a Government of Ireland Irish Research Council PhD Scholarship to Niamh Moriarty. To read the full Scientific Reports paper, visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-15970-w Ends Photo Moriarty Dowd.jpg: Picture depicts brain repair in Parkinson’s: transplanted brain cells survive better when implanted in collagen. Photo: NUI Galway For more information about the research contact Dr Eilis Dowd, Galway Neuroscience Centre, NUI Galway at eilis.dowd@nuigalway.ie or 091 492776.

Monday, 20 November 2017

November 20, 2017The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) has elected Professor David Brayden as a Fellow at its annual conference in San Diego on November 12th, 2017.  "AAPS Fellow" is one of the highest honours given to members of the association and Prof Brayden is the first Irish scientist to be conferred with this honour. The AAPS elevates a few members to Fellow each year in recognition of their professional excellence in fields relevant to the Association’s mission: to advance the capacity of pharmaceutical scientists to develop products and therapies that improve global health. Each Fellow has demonstrated a sustained level of superior and distinguished professional achievement and contributions in fields related to this mission. Fellows are nominated by supporters, selected by a committee of their peers and elevated by the AAPS Executive Council. Professor Brayden is co-lead Principal Investigator of Science Foundation Ireland’s Centre for Medical Devices (CURAM) and Professor of Advanced Drug Delivery at the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and the UCD Conway Institute. Professor Brayden has spent over 25 years in drug delivery research. He also worked for 10 years as a senior scientist at Elan Corporation before moving to UCD in 2001. His research focuses on how to deliver poorly permeable macromolecules across the intestinal epithelium in order to guide formulation of oral dosage forms. Large molecules, such as macromolecules, cannot easily pass through biological barriers such as epithelial tissues – tissues that line the surfaces and cavities of vessels and organs in the body. Professor Brayden’s work involves devising solutions to make the macromolecules in oral drug doses pass more easily across the gut barrier. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles of which 10 have been cited over 100 times as author or co-author. He is also a Fellow of the Controlled Release Society and was recently elected to the EU Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1986, AAPS is a professional, scientific society of approximately 20,000 members employed in academia, industry, government, and other research institutes worldwide. ENDS

Monday, 20 November 2017

Research will help to better understand the mechanisms of immune regulation and can contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rejection of transplants CÚRAM Investigators from NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) have been working together to examine how carbohydrate molecules attached to the surfaces of immune cells participate in the normal protective functions of those cells. The groups have published two new studies in the leading open access journal Frontiers of Immunology, which demonstrate that chains of carbohydrate molecules, referred to as glycans, attached to proteins and other components of the cell surface, play an essential role in the function of two very important cells of the immune system. In the first study, PhD student Joana Cabral with principal investigators Professor Matthew Griffin and Professor Lokesh Joshi, discovered that a specialised type of immune cell, the regulatory T cell (or T-reg), has a distinctive pattern of glycans on its surface compared to other T cell types. T-regs are known to play a policing role in the immune system that prevents inappropriate activation that can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and juvenile diabetes or to rejection of transplants. By using enzymes to ‘trim away’ the carbohydrate molecules from the surface of T-regs, Dr Cabral, in collaboration with Dr Jared Gerlach of AGRC, observed that the ability of T-regs to suppress strong immune activity was heavily dependent on their normal glycan pattern. Insights from the research help to better understand the mechanisms of immune regulation and can contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for a range of diseases that involve over- or under-activity of the immune system. Drs Cabral and Gerlach are now part of the CURAM team of researchers In the second study, PhD student Kevin Lynch, working with CÚRAM Investigator Professor Thomas Ritter and Dr Aideen Ryan from REMEDI, together with Professor Lokesh Joshi investigated how a commonly used steroid medication alters the pattern of carbohydrate molecules on immune cells known as dendritic cells (or DCs). The main function of DCs is to stimulate T-cells to act against foreign molecules (antigens) associated with infectious microbes or, alternatively, to prevent T-cells being activated against harmless antigens, a process known as immune tolerance. Mr Lynch, in collaboration with Dr Jared Gerlach, found that after steroid treatment, DCs develop an increase in specific surface glycans that make them more likely to cause immune tolerance, a finding that may help to design new treatment approaches to prevent or treat autoimmune diseases and rejection of transplants. The group also found that when the same carbohydrate molecules are removed from the surface of DCs, they become more powerful at stimulating active immune responses. This insight may be of particular relevance to cancer treatments which aim to increase T cell activation against antigens contained in tumours. Commenting on the publication of the studies, Professor Matthew Griffin, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM, said: “The fascinating results we observed by manipulating the surface glycan patterns of T-reg are a beautiful example of the complexity of molecular interactions between different cells of the immune system. The work could not have been successful without a close collaboration between researchers from two very different disciplines. These collaborations have been built, in particular, on NUI Galway’s investment in infrastructure for Biomedical research and on Science Foundation Ireland’s funding support for research clusters in regenerative medicine and glycoscience and, more recently, the CÚRAM centre for research in medical devices.” Professor Thomas Ritter at NUI Galway, commented: “These results could have important implications for both the field of immunotherapies and cancer treatment. The importance of carbohydrate residues in controlling how immune responses occur is under-studied and warrants further investigations.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Co-Lead at CÚRAM and Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “In contrast to the current state of gene and protein biology, many of the details of carbohydrate-based structure and function throughout biology remain mysterious. The results of these studies underscore the importance of understanding complex glycans and their specific cues within the larger mechanisms of cellular interaction. This work provides new avenues for potentially enhancing or regulating elements of immune function. These findings could only have been made possible through collaboration with Professors Ritter and Griffin and the persistence of our respective research teams, all made possible by Ireland’s continuing support of high quality scientific research.” Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Consultant Haematologist at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital, and an internationally recognised expert in blood cancers commented: “I am very excited about these results regarding the restoration to immunity after removal of carbohydrate residues on antigen-presenting cells. I am currently working with Professor Ritter and Dr Ryan to investigate the role of glycans in the immune response to blood cancer. The exciting findings of this work, which show that the manipulation of carbohydrate residues on stem cells helps to restore anti-cancer immune response, will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Haematology Society.” The research studies were supported by individual and centre grants from Science Foundation Ireland as well as a PhD fellowship to Dr Cabral through the Irish Government’s PRTLI5 initiative. -Ends- To read the Regulatory T-cells study in Frontiers of Immunology, visit: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00987/full To read the dendritic cells study in Frontiers of Immunology, visit: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01427/full For more information about the studies contact Professor Matthew Griffin at matthew.griffin@nuigalway.ie and Professor Thomas Ritter at thomas.ritter@nuigalway.ie.  About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. CÚRAM supports industry from basic scientific research, through translational preclinical and clinical development, into regulatory and commercialisation readiness. Find out more at www.curamdevices.ie and follow us @curamdevices. About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based at NUI Galway include the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.  

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Two science documentaries produced through Galway UNESCO City of Film and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, have achieved great success in reaching numerous audiences in Ireland and internationally, with a third documentary, Bittersweet – the Rise of Diabetes, scheduled to premiere during Science Week this November, as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival 2017. Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes is a half-hour documentary directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by both Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films. The film captures the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients, and warns against this troubling epidemic facing our population. It follows the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it. Over the course of the documentary, we also discover ground-breaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Professor David Brayden and his team at UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body. In 2015, CÚRAM joined forces with Galway Film Centre and Galway UNESCO City of Film, to invite filmmakers to make two science films. The pilot of the ‘Science on Screen’ initiative, funded through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme, resulted in two high quality 26-minute science documentaries that incorporated areas of research currently taking place in CÚRAM: Feats of Modest Valour and Mending Legends.  These two films have gone from strength to strength, scooping broadcast slots with both TG4 and RTÉ, screening at numerous film festivals in Europe and the US and are being used extensively and continuously as part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme. Screenings have taken place at community events and schools, as well as at academic conferences both in Ireland and abroad. The filmmakers have been invited to represent Ireland at festivals overseas including dokumentART in Germany, and have been nominated for awards like the Short Lens Competition, Guth Gafa. Over 200,000 people have viewed the films and over 40 screenings have been held to date. Feats of Modest Valour recently won the AAAS Scientist Award as well as the runner up People's Choice Award at the prestigious Imagine Science Film Festival in New York City. Professor Abhay Pandit, Centre Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The films have had an incredibly broad reach and a significant impact on audiences all over the country and beyond. We have been hugely impressed with how these filmmakers have taken on the scientific information and woven together stories that have a powerful impact on their audiences, showing not only what a difference a career in research can make, but showing the real challenges that people face when living with chronic illness that we are trying to address. “Given the huge success of the programme to-date, not only in terms of how far the films have travelled, but also audience feedback, the enthusiasm of researchers to share their stories and the skill and initiative shown by the filmmakers in engaging with scientific information and getting right to the heart of the story, we plan to continue the initiative with our partners at Galway Film Centre who have excelled in guiding the filmmakers through the process each year.” Commenting on the success of the films, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to see how well these high-quality documentaries have been received and commend CÚRAM on their success. Science Foundation Ireland is committed to making science accessible to all. Through our Discover Programme we are delivering scientific programmes which inform the public about the work they are funding, and will also inspire the next generation of scientists, those who will drive Ireland’s future economy and shape our society.” In Feats of Modest Valour, viewers meet three individuals living with the physical challenges of Parkinson’s disease. Brian Carney from County Mayo works on the family farm, while Milena Lulic who lives in Galway City recounts her days in World War II in Croatia. Tom Hickey, an Irish actor who recently received a lifetime achievement award at the Abbey Theatre from President Michael D. Higgins, talks about how suffering for his art takes on a whole new meaning with the disease. Meanwhile, researchers on the ‘BrainMatTrain project led by CÚRAM and Dr Eilis Dowd at NUI Galway, are searching for a way to halt the disease. The film is co-directed and co-produced by Mia Mullarkey and Alice McDowell of Ishka Films. Directed by Paul Webster and produced by James Ryan of StationHouse Media, Mending Legends explores the physical and psychological impact of tendon injuries amongst athletes and visits the team of Galway-based scientists, led by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis in CÚRAM at NUI Galway, who are designing a new type of tendon implant, in the form of the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype. Declan Gibbons, Manager of Galway Film Centre and Director of Galway UNESCO City of Film, said: “We are very proud of the two Science on Screen films and how well they have travelled. It is testament to the work of the filmmakers and the exciting scientific research that takes place in CÚRAM. We look forward to the next Science on Screen film, Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes, this November and rolling out the scheme again in 2018.” To register and attend the free screening of Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes at An Taibhdhearc in Galway on 25 November, visit: https://science-on-screen-2017.eventbrite.ie Feats of Modest Valour will screen on the 12 of November at 10.35pm on RTÉ 1 coinciding with the start of National Science Week. Mending Legends was aired on TG4 on 24 September and is still available to view on the TG4 Player. -Ends- For further information contact Claire Riordan, CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or Mary Deely, Galway Film Centre / Galway UNESCO City of Film at education@galwayfilmcentre.ie. For further information contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway. Established in 2015, our aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We intend to do this by developing and enhancing the next generation of medical devices that target chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease. See www.curamdevices.ie for more information or follow us on Twitter @curamdevices. About Galway Film Centre Founded in 1989, Galway Film Centre is a non-profit, members based organisation dedicated to the development of film as an artistic medium in the West of Ireland. To this end, we support filmmakers, community and youth groups through education and training, equipment provision and information. In 2014 Galway was awarded the prestigious title of UNESCO City of Film as a result of a bid led by Galway Film Centre in partnership with both local authorities and over 50 local companies involved in the audiovisual sector. Since gaining the designation Galway City Council, Galway County Council, Bord Scannán na hÉireann / The Irish Film Board, Údarás na Gaeltacht and TG4 have all been involved in setting up a governance structure whereby the UNESCO City of Film offices are now housed within Galway Film Centre. This initiative is also supported by Galway Picture Palace, Galway Film Fleadh, Telegael, Eo Telifís and all of the main production companies and filmmakers based in Galway city and county. Further information on the Science on Screen Initiative can be found at:  http://www.galwayfilmcentre.ie/category/science-on-screen/ About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based at NUI Galway include the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.  

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

CÚRAM PhD Candidate Kieran Joyce has been selected as the First Prize winner in the undergraduate poster session at the Sir Peter Freyer conference in NUI Galway which was held on Friday 1st ad Saturday 2nd September 2017. Kieran graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Sciences as part of an integrated MB PhD program in NUI Galway, and now at CÚRAM, is investigating the glycoprofile of the intervertebral disc in regeneration under the supervision of Prof. Abhay Pandit. The Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture & Surgical Symposium is hosted annually on the first weekend of September by the Department of Surgery, NUI Galway. Professor Sean O'Beirn established this conference in 1975 and was succeeded by Professor HF Given. It is currently hosted by Mr Oliver McAnena and Professor Michael Kerin. It is the largest surgical conference in Ireland and is open to all surgical disciplines both nationally and internationally. The Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture & Surgical Symposium provides a platform for healthcare professionals to present their research and clinical work and allows for the merging of both scientific and clinical information. Abstracts are published in a supplement to the Irish Journal of Medical Science. Congratulating Kieran on his achievement Prof Pandit said “One of CÚRAM’s key strengths is the collaborative nature of our research, involving academics, industry partners and clinicians and its critical for our students to gain experience in presenting their work in these multi –disciplinary environments”. Kieran will also be presenting at the Atlantic Corridor Medical Student Research Conference 2017 in Cork on Thursday next, the 2nd November. This is an intervarsity undergraduate research day showcasing a diverse range of clinical and translational medical research projects. CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, aims to improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness, through the development of smart implantable medical devices. Ends

Monday, 23 October 2017

After eight days of science films from all over the world, the Irish Parkinson’s disease documentary, Feats of Modest Valour, a Science on Screen documentary by CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, won the prestigious Scientist Award at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York last week. The Scientist Award is awarded by the leading international science journal, Science, and its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), to a film that portrays in an accurate and inventive way the life of a scientist. The select jury included Nobel prize-winning scientist, Professor Martin Chalfe, and award-winning science columnist for the New York Times, Professor Carl Zimmer. In Feats of Modest Valour, three individuals live clockwork existences, dictated by a strict regime of medication to manage the physical reality of living with Parkinson’s disease. Brian Carney is a farmer from County Mayo whose son had to take over the running of the family farm from a very young age; Milena Lulic is a Croatian World War II survivor who faces her condition head-on with great dignity; and Tom Hickey, the Irish actor, talks about how suffering for his art takes on a whole new meaning with the disease. Interwoven with their stories, we see researchers from CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, led by Dr Eilís Dowd, who are developing a novel therapeutic approach which they hope will revolutionise treatment of the condition. Guided by stunning animated sequences, it delves into the brain of someone with Parkinson’s disease, and shows how dying cells can be replaced by stem cells supported by a natural biomaterial ‘scaffold’. Speaking about the film, Dr Dowd, who is currently President of both Neuroscience Ireland and the Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration (NECTAR), said: “This is a film about science and medicine, about scientists and patients, about art and music, but most of all, about hope. It was a genuine privilege to work on this project with such talented filmmakers and such inspirational patients.” Feats of Modest Valour was produced through the ‘Science on Screen’ initiative between CÚRAM, Science Foundation Ireland, and the Galway Film Centre who manage Galway’s UNESCO City of Film designation. Science on Screen was conceptualised as part of CURÁM’s Public Engagement Programme, and aims to facilitate, promote and increase the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) content in Irish film and TV productions. Other productions from the initiative include Mending Legends directed by Paul Webster and produced by James Ryan of Stationhouse Media, and BitterSweet - the Rise of Diabetes directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread  films.Commenting on the initiative, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “Together with Galway Film Centre we could see the potential of the film for bringing science to life, and we are very proud of Feats of Modest Valour, for winning this major international award.” The film is co-directed and co-produced by Mia Mullarkey and Alice McDowell of Ishka Films, and is due to be screened on RTÉ 1 on Sunday November 12 at 10:30pm. The film has already been screened at numerous community events and at film festivals both here in Ireland and across Europe. To find out more about the film, see www.featsofmodestvalour.com   -Ends-

Thursday, 19 October 2017

New research by CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, will allow for improved treatment options for patients with nerve damage. The study was recently published in the prestigious Advanced Functional Materials journal. Treatment of peripheral nerve injuries that can result in the loss of motor or sensory function remains a major problem worldwide. In recent years, different strategies have been used in an attempt to improve regeneration and functional recovery in the injured peripheral nervous system, which consists of the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, using artificial nerve grafts. However, there has been little investigation into changes that occur at the molecular level as a result of these interventions. The study explored the differences in peripheral nerve repair that result from using biomaterial conduits (artificial nerve grafts)to support recovery, compared with the use of two different types of conduit-materials, namely collagen and the chemical compound, polymer PLGA, in an effort to understand fundamental differences in their repair mechanisms at the molecular level in the early stages of repair. Both collagen and PLGA have previously provided the desired result for the repair of damaged nerves. Past attempts to improve artificial nerve grafts have often failed to translate to the clinic, due to this limited understanding of the biological response. Recovery of damaged nerves in the peripheral nervous system is quite robust with the use of suturing, and nerves are known to be able to regenerate across relatively short distances, less than 0.5 mm. For treatment of larger gaps between damaged nerves however, the primary treatment methods used are auto/allograft or the use of hollow artificial nerve grafts. Autograft (the use of the patients own tissue), despite being the gold standard for repair, has a number of limitations. These include limited supply of donor tissue, risk of neuroma formation (a disorganised growth of nerve cells at the site of a nerve injury), mismatch in size, and the distribution of nerve tissue in the central nervous system between the donor nerve and the injury site. The results presented in the study support the hypothesis that regeneration in large peripheral nerve injuries is affected by the material used. The team found that each material selectively activates different regenerative pathways and alters different biological functions throughout the artificial nerve grafts. The analysis also highlights some of the existing deficiencies in conduit-mediated repair in comparison to the use of the patients own tissue.  Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific director of CÚRAM and lead author of the research paper, explains: “Numerous studies have identified that the choice of conduit material used can have an influence on the level of nerve regeneration. We now have a clearer understanding of how the body responds to the use of these two biomaterials, which paves the way for the development of specific peripheral nerve regeneration strategies using biomaterial conduits, based on the biomaterial used. Our findings suggest that by supplementing the expression of certain proteins on the biomaterial of choice, we can potentially attain the regeneration equivalent or even superior to autograft using biomaterial conduits.” This study focused on a non-critical nerve injury and did not incorporate the effect of increasing gap distance on the regenerative response. To address this question, further research on the effect of increasing gap distance on the regenerative response is underway at NUI Galway, which will be published at a future date. To read the full study in Advanced Functional Materials, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adfm.201702170/abstract -Ends- For more information contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM  at  claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie  or 091 494414. Artwork: Conduit-Mediated Repair by Maciej Doczyk    

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

CÚRAM PhD graduates Estelle Collin and Yvonne Lang have both been awarded the Julia Polak European Doctorate Award, at the 28th European Conference on Biomaterials (ESB) Athens, Greece. They are the third and fourth CÚRAM graduates to receive this acknowledgement. The award is given by the ESB council and presented annually at the event. Candidates nominated for the award needed to demonstrate that they have received high standard research education and training at a European level in the fields of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, and that they are also able to produce scientific results deserving recognition by being published and accepted in high quality journals and conferences. Dr Lang's PhD research focused on using diatoms as biotemplates to generate structures with elaborate hierarchical architecture. Diatoms are ubiquitous in freshwater and seawater environments and to date over 100,000 different species have been identified, each with its own unique architecture. The potential applications of these ornate algae range from roles in photonics to separation science to catalysis to drug delivery. Dr. Lang is currently a Principal Investigator and Lecturer in the Nanotechnology and Bioengineering Division at IT Sligo.  Dr. Collin’s doctoral research focused on the glycobiology of the intervertebral disc and potential tissue engineering approaches for nucleus pulposus regeneration. During her studies, she developed an injectable hydrogel mimicking the native tissue for cell delivery. Dr. Collin is currently working as a Preclinical Scientist at Gecko Biomedical in Paris, France. To this end, candidate will have had to spend at least one month of research work in a country outside the country of their home institution, have produced at least two peer reviewed international publications as first author and have participated at least twice, at an international scientific meeting as presenting author, during their PhD.  The Conference was held in Athens 4 - 8 September 2017. Since its establishment in 1976, the conference has been a major event for the biomaterials science community. ESB 2017 brought together all major disciplines of biomaterials science, and enabling participants to network with colleagues, establish new collaborations, exchange knowledge, and discuss recent advances in emerging biomaterials-related topics. Ends

Friday, 6 October 2017

‌Following a hugely successful pilot year of its Teachers in Residence Programme, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, is now enrolling for the second year of the programme with applications being accepted up to October 20th 2017. The Teachers in Residence programme supports both primary and secondary school teachers in science education and promotes equal opportunities in science for all students in the classroom. The programme has ten places available annually, for five primary and five secondary school, with priority placement given to teachers from DEIS schools. The residency runs for 10 evenings over six months from October to March. As part of the residency, teachers and their students get to attend educational workshops run by CÚRAM, during the Galway Science and Technology Festival in November 2017 and participants of the programme will be granted a small honorarium to assist with any travel costs. Teachers will work directly with researchers  to develop content for the classroom, while learning about the medical device research being carried out at CÚRAM that will improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s and heart disease. “We were really impressed with the level of dedication and creativity shown by the primary and secondary teachers in the pilot year of the programme” says Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, “We now have a suite of excellent resources developed for both primary and secondary school classrooms which will be built on year by year by these teachers, who are the real experts when it comes to engaging the next generation of scientists and engineers. Our goal is to provide inspiration for teachers by providing access to current, cutting edge research happening here in Ireland and working with them to incorporate it into classroom activities. If we can inspire and excite the teachers, our hope is it passes onto their students for years to come”. During the residency, teachers are introduced to and linked to the range of educational resources provided by Science Foundation Ireland and to the ReelLife Science video competition for primary and secondary schools. A guest speaker will also lead a workshop around encouraging equal opportunities in STEM careers for both boys and girls.  Lesson plans and classroom activities developed during the pilot programme will be made available online at the end of October and participants in this year’s programme will evaluate and develop these further. The resources developed through the programme constitute a ‘learning module’ about CÚRAM and MedTech in Ireland that links with multiple streams and themes in the primary and junior cycle curricula. To find out more, please contact sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie. Expressions of interest forms are available to download here.  To apply for a place, please email the completed TIR 2017-2018 Expression of Interest form to sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie by Friday 20th October 2017. Lesson plan kits developed during last year’s residency programme are also available in the Public Engagement section of the website.  About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. CÚRAM supports industry from basic scientific research, through translational preclinical and clinical development, into regulatory and commercialisation readiness. CÚRAM has developed a robust education and public engagement programme called ‘Breaking Barriers’ in support of the Science Foundation Ireland goal of ‘having the most scientifically informed and engaged public’.  The programme revolves around three core residency programmes, for artists, filmmakers and teachers, which create innovative ways for communities to engage with STEM. Outputs to date include the development of MedTech lesson plans and activity kits by the Teachers in Residence that fit with both the primary and secondary school curricula, the production of three short documentaries that focus on research into Parkinson’s disease, tendon repair and diabetes which are being broadcast nationally, touring film festivals in Europe and the US and being used as educational tools in community events, and the development of art-science projects with under—represented communities that offer an alternative ‘way in’ to the world of science for those who have not had an opportunity for STEM engagement in the past.  As well as promoting the wide range of STEM educational and career opportunities, the goal of the EPE programme is to build awareness of the cutting edge research that is happening in Ireland and to help to create a sense of ownership and pride in Irish STEM expertise and the impact on healthcare that Irish researchers are having on a global level. The programme is building relationships between researchers and key community partners who invest in the programme and help to disseminate outputs of the programme, in particular to under-represented and under-engaged communities.

Monday, 18 September 2017

TG4 to Screen ‘Mending Legends’ on Sunday 24th September As the GAA season comes to a close for 2017, CÚRAM and Galway UNESCO City of Film with Galway Film Centre, in association with Science Foundation Ireland are delighted to announce that Mending Legends, a sport and science documentary,will get a national broadcast screening on TG4 on Sunday 24th September at 5.45pm. What happens when scientists and filmmakers collide and what stories emerge? This was the question posed by ‘Science on Screen’, a CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre initiative supported by Science Foundation Ireland. Mending Legends is one of two documentaries that were commissioned as part of the Science on Screen project in 2016, which features the groundbreaking world of medical device research taking place in CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway. Directed by Paul Webster and produced by James Ryan of StationHouse Media, the documentaryexplores the physical and psychological impact of tendon injuries amongst athletes and visits the team of Galway-based scientists, led by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, who are designing a new type of tendon implant, in the form of the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype. Sports fanatic and seasoned sports presenter, Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, presents a number of informative interviews with scientists involved in this field of research and through the personal experiences of amateur and professional sports people. Contributors include Galway footballing legend, Pádraic Joyce, Denis Leamy, former Ireland & Munster Rugby player and former Ireland and London 400 metre relay runner and London 2012 Olympian, Jessie Barr. The documentary highlights the progressive attitudes towards scientific research in Ireland and what it could mean to the world of sport. The documentary premiered at the Galway Science & Technology Festival in November 2016, in conjunction with SFI’s National Science Week. This new Irish language re-version of the film is funded by TG4 and will screen directly following the TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Senior All Ireland Final. Bigí linn on TG4 on Sunday 24th September at 5.45pm. #ScienceOnScreen #CeantarScannán #CÚRAM --------------- Mending Legends is directed by Paul Webster. Most recently, Paul directed ‘Let Those Blues In’, which had its premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2015 and was the winner of Best Short Documentary in association with RTE at The Sky Road Film Festival, Clifden, Co. Galway in October 2015. Paul is also a previous ‘Físín’ award winner from the Dingle International Film Festival. James Ryan of County Galway-based StationHouse Media is producing Mending Legends. James has previously worked freelance as Co-Producer on TG4’s Garraí Glas, as well as Production Manager on the IFTA-winning Fleadh TV coverage and on numerous documentary series, such as ‘Guth’, ‘Mobs Cheanada’, and ‘Éalú’.  

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Dr Manus Biggs, Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has just published two separate research papers in top tier international journals, one in the Nature journal Nature Biomedical Engineering and another in the prestigious materials journal, Advanced Materials. Both research papers by Dr Biggs describe advances made in the fields of biomaterials and engineered bioreactor systems to direct the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), in the laboratory. Advances in stem cells, gene therapy, biomaterials, medical device technology, growth and differentiation factors, as well as biomimetic environments have created unique opportunities to fabricate tissues in the laboratory from combinations of engineered extracellular matrices (scaffolds), cells, and biologically relevant stimulation or cues. In the study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the researchers from NUI Galway and University of Glasgow describe how they have used measurement technology, based on the sophisticated laser interferometer systems built for gravitational wave detection of astrophysical objects, to grow three-dimensional samples of mineralised bone in the laboratory for the first time. These 3D living bone grafts, when implanted into patients in the future, will be able to repair or replace damaged sections of bone. Mesenchymal stem cells, which are naturally produced by the human body in bone marrow, have the potential to differentiate into a range of specialised cell types such as bone, cartilage, ligament, tendon and muscle. Using patients’ own mesenchymal cells means surgeons will be able to prevent the problem of rejection, and can bridge larger gaps in bone. Dr Biggs describes his research into the stimulation of bone formation from stem cells using a nanovibrational bioreactor. This study, conducted in conjunction with Professor Matt Dalby, at the University of Glasgow, was focused on identifying the roles of high-frequency, low-amplitude mechanical stimulation in inducing mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into bone cells (the process by which a cell becomes specialised in order to perform a specific function, as in the case of a bone cell). “After blood, bone is the most transplanted tissue used in patients in the form of bone graft. Autologous graft (bone grafts taken from the patient’s own body and commonly employed for the treatments of bone cancer, trauma or infection) is in short supply and can be associated with pain and donor site morbidity. Tissue engineered bone-like graft would help meet this clinical demand as well as provide researchers with a potential tissue model for drug screening”, Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM explains. Dr Biggs research showed for the first time, that high-frequency vibrations of nanoscale amplitude alone can be used to differentiate patient derived stem cells, to form mineralised tissue in 3D. To achieve this, Prof Dalby designed and developed a totally new genre of vibrational bioreactor (a bench-top cell conditioner, which constantly vibrates lab-grown cells). Using this bioreactor, Dr Biggs and the team from the University of Glasgow demonstrated that vibrations which produce tiny nanoscale deformations (1 millionth of a millimetre), to stem cells encapsulated in a collagen gel - a process termed “Nanokicking”  can induce these stem cells to become bone-like cells without any further conditioning. By doing this they have provided a scalable pathway to control the differentiation of stem cells to bone cells for the generation of lab-grown bone tissue. In his second study published in Advanced Materials, Dr Biggs and his team collaborated with Professor Shalom Wind at Columbia University. Speaking about the study, Dr Biggs said: “Pervious studies indicate that stem cells can be easily persueded to become bone-like cells when grown on a material which physically and chemically resemble bone tissue. In particular, substrates posessing a rigidity similar to that of bone have been shown to be favourable in inducing stem-cells to become bone cells in the lab. But although tissues can easlily be classified as rigid i.e. bone tissue or easily deformable i.e. brain tissue, microscopically, tissues are comprised of a variety of micron and nanoscale elements (such as fibres, cells, crystals) with widely differing rigidity. In this way an individual cell carrying out its work in a specific tissue is subjected to many kinds of small structures, some of these small features are rigid, like the mineral deposits found in bone, while some of these features are very elastic such as neighbouring cells.” Dr Biggs and his team investigated whether a fine beam of electrons could be used to alter the rigidity at discrete regions on a soft polymer, thereby enabling the development of a new class of 2D materials possessing patterned features of increased rigidity, ranging from the micron to the nanoscale level. Electron-beam patterning allows for the fabrication of devices with nanoscale features, and has been used extensively in the microelectronics industry for the production of integrated circuits or microchips. In this work, the team showed for the first time that a beam of electrons can significantly alter the rigidity of an elastic polymer. The team then went on to investigate the response of human mesenchymal stem cells when grown on electron-beam patterned polymers, which posessed millions of ordered dots of increased rigidity. Interestingly it was observed that cells were able to percieve the tiny “rigid” features beneith them and responded by changing their function – becomning more bone and cartillage like when grown in the lab. Commenting on Dr Biggs success, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “This work will establish the groundwork for a new generation of biomimetic materials. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is a key area of research at CÚRAM with a goal of finding solutions to chronic health problems and addressing unmet medical need and the use of these technologies to develop clinically translatable reparative and regenerative approaches to chronic illnesses is a major goal.” To read the Advanced Materials paper in full, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201702119/full To read the Nature Biomedical Engineering paper in full, visit: http://rdcu.be/vMwt -Ends- For more information about the papers contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway. Established in 2015, our aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We intend to do this by developing and enhancing the next generation of medical devices that target chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.  See www.curamdevices.ie for more information or follow us on Twitter @curamdevices. About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway. Visit: www.nuigalway.ie  

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway together with Galway City Arts Office have commissioned a new Community Art-Science project for Westside community in Galway City. Award winning artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly, who live and work between Paris and Ireland, have been selected to develop an art-science project with the Westside community using the research being carried out at CÚRAM as their inspiration. Their highly engaging artworks focus on vision, perception of space and the relationship with the public. They design interactive environments that often integrate new technologies and with this project, aim to create a permanent artwork which acknowledges the various communities of Westside and celebrates their connection to CÚRAM and the MedTech Industry.  “We are really interested in CÚRAM’s work on corneal implants and also in advanced biomimicry, which is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems”, says Anne Cleary. “This project provides us with an opportunity to become familiar with CÚRAM’s research, potentially leading to new avenues for our own work and also to highlight CÚRAM’s work to the local community and through future art events. Our work is all about perception, how people see the world, how they adapt, how they react to a situation, and in fact the success of any medical device or implant is all about adaptation and reaction in the body, so our work has some good parallels with CÚRAMs research.” CÚRAM’s public engagement programme, which incorporates artist-in-residence projects, supports the Science Foundation Ireland objective of having the most scientifically informed and engaged public. “We aim to inspire and engage all communities with current and cutting edge research that’s happening here in Ireland”, said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. “Unfortunately chronic illness such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease are familiar to most Irish communities and it’s important that we provide opportunities for people to find out more about our work in finding solutions to these illnesses and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. That can be through the work of filmmakers, teachers or artists such as Cleary Connolly who use the research as inspiration and break barriers to provide another ‘way in’ to the world of science.” According to James Harold, Galway City Arts Officer, the project is a new and exciting opportunity to bring the worlds of art and science together. “I’m particularly delighted to be able to support this project which will bring a whole new world of creativity and innovation in the sciences to the Westside community. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme has a strong focus on empowering communities with knowledge and providing new and novel ways for people to engage and interact, and I am excited to see what results from the combination of science and art through such a contemporary visual art project.” James Coyne, CEO of Westside Resource Centre and Community Partner on the project says that the Westside community is a strong and vibrant one with its own annual community Arts Festival. “Westside Resource Centre is committed to providing an extensive range of activities for people of all ages. This new Art and Science Project, supported by CÚRAM and Galway City Arts Office, will add a new dimension to our programme and we’re looking forward to working closely with the artists and researchers in the coming months. We will be encouraging local people to get involved and to contribute to this interesting collaboration.” The project will be officially launched in Westside Library on Culture Night 22 September at 6pm. All are welcome to attend and find out more. Refreshments will be served at the launch and will be followed by a screening of CÚRAM’s Science on Screen documentaries. The artists will also be running public workshops later in November at the Westside Resource Centre during Science Week as part of the project. For more information on the artists and their work please visit www.connolly-cleary.com Cleary Connolly’s work is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. -Ends- For more information about the project contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Photo image001-5: Award winning artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly who will be working with CÚRAM and the Westside community. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway. Established in 2015, our aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We intend to do this by developing and enhancing the next generation of medical devices that target chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.  See www.curamdevices.ie for more information or follow us on Twitter @curamdevices. About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pioneering project to determine the potential of a synthetic product to advance the study and treatment of respiratory disease CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Factor Bioscience, a US based biotechnology SME that is pioneering nucleic-acid and cell-based technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease, including respiratory disease. This is the US company’s first collaboration in Ireland. The project goal is to determine the translational potential of a synthetic product from Factor Bioscience for use in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS often affects the elderly and occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs in the lungs and prevents them from filling with enough air. This means less oxygen is available to reach the bloodstream which deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function properly. ARDS typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries, and many people who develop ARDS don’t survive. Those who do can experience lasting damage to their lungs. "By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field" says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “Factor engages in research collaborations to advance and deploy our technologies as quickly and broadly as possible”, says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “We are an early-stage biotechnology company based in the Boston area with an Irish subsidiary, and we are looking to grow our operations in Ireland. By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field, which will hopefully allow us to progress much faster in finding a better solution for patients suffering from ARDS. Currently we are developing synthetic protein-encoding RNA therapeutics using our patented and patent-pending chemistries and sequences. In the near term, we are interested in expanding our technology in the area of delivering these therapeutics to various tissues and organs in the body.” Dr Daniel O'Toole, a CÚRAM collaborator in the School of Medicine will coordinate the collaborative laboratory research at NUI Galway, said: “Factor Bioscience has an exciting panel of innovative and highly promising therapeutics that we feel have real potential to address unmet clinical needs. We’re looking forward to developing and testing these for treatment of a range of inflammatory and infectious diseases.” CÚRAM is working to develop a positive, long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and both clinical and economic needs have to be met. CÚRAM’s goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. The project was developed following an introduction to both partners, facilitated by IDA Ireland in Boston. “I am delighted to have been able to make the introduction between CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience and to hear it has resulted in an exciting new research partnership”, said Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of IDA Ireland, Boston. “Making connections and facilitating introductions between companies and third-level institutions and research centres is a key function of IDA Ireland, we try to ensure the necessary skills, experience and research capabilities exist to drive their business forward.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “Key to our success is our collaboration with industry partners to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application. Through collaborations such as these we can strengthen the R&D capability in Ireland to support the growth of a vibrant start up community within the MedTech ecosystem.” -Ends-

Friday, 11 August 2017

Catalina Vallejo, PhD candidate at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently published the results of her work in the prestigious journal; Advanced Functionalised Materials (AFM), with an impact factor of 12.12. Catalina’s research focuses on the modification of implantable electrode systems to improve their performance when used, for example, in neural recording and in deep brain stimulation in patients with neurological disease such as dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting stimulating electrodes into brain. Catalina’s work explored the development of a coating for these electrodes, using a bench-top electrochemical process to formulate anodized indium tin oxide (ITO) films with altered roughness, conducting profiles, and thickness. In addition, she examined the influence of these anodized films on neural cell adhesion, proliferation, and function, and showed that the compatibility of the coating with brain tissue can be altered by varying the anodization current density. She also showed how the films produced with a specific current density, increased primary neural cell survival, modulation of glial scar formation, and promotion of neural network activity when in situ in the brain. The modification of implantable electrodes for neural stimulation has been a major focus of neural engineering over the past five years. “A common occurrence following electrode implantation is the formation of a glial ‘scar’ around the implant” explains Catalina. “This can accelerate neural loss, increase the barriers to the flow of the electrical signal to where it’s needed in the brain and so compromises the efficacy of a stimulating/recording system in the brain. My research aimed to develop a way to improve the efficacy of these devices, resulting in a better outcome for patients.” Traditionally, chemically inert conductors such as gold, platinum, and iridium, as well as semiconductors such as silicon, have been widely employed as electrode systems in both clinical and research settings. Recently, however, nonmetallic electrically conducting biomaterials, including inherently conducting polymers and polymer composites have been explored as neuroelectrode alternatives in an effort to promote chronic functionality and enhanced biocompatibility. Catalina’s journey through her PhD was not without its challenges. “During my first year, I was learning the basics of electrochemistry and electrodeposition and I initially intended on making electrodeposited conducting polymer films onto the surface of the ITO. I was using a very old Potentiostat, a Princeton Applied Research electrochemical Potentiostat / Galvanostat model 263A running Verastudio software. After almost a full years work, I came to understand that Potentiostat had reversed the electrode configuration/connections. This resulted in the anodization of the ITO films and not in the electrodeposition of the conducting polymer – the opposite of what I wanted to achieve!” Commenting on her work, Catalina’s supervisor Dr Manus Biggs, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM said “Catalina is extremely dedicated and at the time the ITO process was confusing, frustrating and quite demotivating for her, but in the end we have learned a lot from this. A research career is full of enlightening errors, and this process was crucial in helping to illuminate some of the bases of her work in conducting polymers, and eventually resulted in the development of a process to formulate these anodized ITO films.” This work provides a useful benchmark for anodization conditions for further studies with neural microelectrodes, micropatterning, and biochemical functionalization. Catalina’s research has shown that anodization offers the ability to modify ITO films and may provide an easier approach to the generation of electrode coatings with differential regions of charge conductance and cellular function capacities. It can be hypothesized that anodization with varying current densities may be employed to deposit insulator and charge carrier regions on a single electrode system, providing cytocompatible and functional coatings for implantable thin-film ITO devices. Congratulating Catalina on her work, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said “Ultimately, what we are trying to do at CÚRAM is to improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses through the development of new and enhanced implants and devices. It’s fantastic to see how our PhD candidates are contributing significantly to the knowledge base in this area.” Catalina’s paper; Preparation of Cytocompatible ITO Neuroelectrodes with Enhanced Electrochemical Characteristics Using a Facile Anodic Oxidation Process was been published in the Advanced Functionalised Materials Journal earlier this year. ENDS  

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Galway Film Centre and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research into Medical Devices are pleased to announce Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes as the recipient of the 2017 Science on Screen Commission.   Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes will be a half hour documentary directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by both Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films. The film captures the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients, and warn against this troubling epidemic facing our population, as well as following the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it.   Over the course of the documentary, as a backdrop to these personal stories, we also discover the groundbreaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Professor David Brayden and his team at UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body.   We also gain an insight into the treatment and management of diabetes through expert clinicians such as Dr. Derek O’Keeffe, Professor Seán Dineen and Mary Clara O’Hara, who run special weekly clinics for young people, helping them to manage their condition.   The award of €35,000 for the Science on Screen commission is funded by CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Medical Device Research in NUI Galway. CÚRAM is helping to establish Ireland as a global hub of research expertise in medical device technology. CÚRAM aims to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illness.   The Science on Screen commission scheme was first piloted in 2016 with the support of Science Foundation Ireland and resulted in the production of two documentaries Feats Of Modest Valour and Mending Legends. Both documentaries were premiered in November 2016 in Galway and have gone on to screen at the Galway Film Fleadh and are due to be broadcast nationally in 2017.   Hugh Rodgers is an award-winning director based in Dublin. In 2016 he directed The Story of Yes, a documentary on the marriage referendum, and it went on to be nominated for Best Single Documentary at IFTA 2016 and was commended at the prestigious Radharc Awards 2016. His work is notable for its emotive quality, finding the personal and engaging stories even within the most unexpected of topics.   Anna Rodgers is an IFTA award winning director and producer, and has worked in documentary film and television for over 16 years. She won Best TV Director at the 2014 IFTAs for her sensitive portrayal of sexuality and disability in the RTÉ documentary Somebody to Love.   Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes will premiere in Galway in November 2017 during the Galway Science & Technology Festival as part of National Science Week.   Full details of screenings will be available through www.galwayfilmcentre.ie and www.curamdevices.ie.   #ScienceonScreen #GalwayCityofFilm

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

CÚRAM investigator Professor Paul Murphy with researchers from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, have been featured on the front cover of the international journal Synthesis. Their research involved the development of a strategy to convert biomass to high value molecules for investigation in new drug discovery projects such as Type-2 Diabetes, Gaucher’s disease and Fabry disease. Synthesis is devoted to the advancement of the science of synthetic chemistry and papers featured in the journal are noted as being ‘original papers of exceptional high quality and significance to the scientific community’. Professor Murphy, Head of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, and a PhD researcher from the School, Rekha Chadda from Co. Sligo, worked together to develop a new strategy to convert mannose, a naturally occurring sugar manufactured from wood-based or other biomass, into higher value chemicals, called glycomimetics, that can be useful in drug discovery. Professor Patrick McArdle from the School of Chemistry, performed X-ray crystal structure analysis, which helped them confirm the molecular structure of substances produced in the research. Some glycomimetics are in clinical use and are used for the treatment of patients with Type-2 Diabetes, Gaucher’s disease (a genetic disorder) and Fabry disease (an inherited disorder that results from the build-up of a particular type of fat). A glycomimetic (UV4) is currently in clinical trials with a view to the therapy of infection caused by the Dengue virus and there is potential in treatment of other infections.   Professor Murphy, said: “The research demonstrates the value of Synthetic Chemistry. We used a renewable molecule, the sugar mannose, from biomass as a basis for generating higher value molecules that have potential in drug discovery projects. In future we would like to expand the application of the strategy to make other important molecules for drug discovery projects as well as see if the approach can have application in synthesis of pharmaceuticals.”   The team used a new strategy, not investigated previously, to produce the glycomimetics. These new agents are now available for evaluation of their potential in drug discovery and this will be shortly investigated. Synthesis is a practice used by chemists to discover and manufacture drugs in everyday clinical use. It is also used to produce materials, such as plastics, which find everyday applications in people’s lives. In this research, Rekha Chadda took a substance prepared from mannose and subjected the substance to two old chemical reactions combined in a novel way. The reactions are known as allylic azide rearrangement and Huisgen cycloaddition, and were originally developed more than 50 years ago by US and German scientists. This research study was funded by NUI Galway (PhD scholarship to Rekha Chadda), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the European Regional Development Fund. ENDS

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The winners of the 2017 Irish Laboratory Research Awards were announced on the afternoon of Thursday, May 25th at The Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, with hundreds of industry figures in attendance. CÚRAM PI Dr Fergal O’Brien and the Tissue Engineering Research Lab at RCSI were awarded Research Laboratory of the Year, while a second CÚRAM PI, Dr Martin O’Halloran and his team at the Translational Medical Device Lab were awarded Start-Up Laboratory of the Year. We would like to congratulate both teams on the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve this recognition and wish them further successes in the future. Congratulating both teams on their awards, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, said “It’s clear that there is a very high quality of research and innovation associated with these awards. We’re delighted to have such high calibre researchers as part of our network and we look forward to celebrating their continued success”. Launched in 2013, The Irish Laboratory Awards are the benchmark for those demonstrating excellence, best practice and innovation within Ireland’s lab industry and recognise the successes and achievements of Ireland's internationally renowned scientists in areas including innovation, leadership and collaboration. The awards focus on the ongoing work of Irish scientists to grow and develop a sustainable, globally competitive science research. ENDS

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

CÚRAM’s Art and Science programme creates links between the scientific and artistic communities to support the art-science discipline while increasing interest in science and current research. Since 2015, CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has hosted artist residencies in its laboratories and also in artist studio spaces situated near the beautiful Aula Maxima. In partnership with the Galway City Arts Office, we are now inviting proposals from artists across Ireland who are interested in working as part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme, which supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of ‘having the most scientifically informed and engaged public’. We invite artists to propose ideas for an ambitious and contemporary permanent artwork in the Westside community in Galway, for display in the Library, Boxing Club or similar location specified by the artist. The budget for this project is €10,000. The artist will work with one of the following three themes: Biomimicry How to Fix a Broken Heart Biomaterials and the Body The chosen artist will work within the CÚRAM laboratories to learn about CÚRAM’s research and will then spend a period of time working with the Westside community to realise the project. Applications must be received with all material by 5pm, June 19th. No submissions will be accepted after this date.  All eligible applications will be considered by a selection panel, appointed by Galway City Council and CÚRAM. For more information on the current call and to apply visit: http://www.curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/artists-in-residence/ CÚRAM’s Education and Public Engagement Programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ aims to inspire and engage the next generation of Irish scientists and engineers and to forge collaborations between our researchers and the community. The programme is based around three core residency programmes for Filmmakers, Artists and Teachers. Researchers also engage directly with the community through public lectures, film screenings, workshops and at national events.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Dr. Emily Porter, researcher at the Translational Medical Device Lab (TMD-Lab) under the supervision of CÚRAM PI Dr. Martin O’Halloran, has recently been awarded a prestigious URSI (International Union of Radio Science) ‘Young Scientist’ Award for her work exploring the electrical properties of tissues. Each year, the URSI identifies key international scientists working on electromagnetic research, who have a track record in research excellence and high-quality technical outputs. This is the third time that the TMD-lab has received this award, with Dr. O’Halloran receiving the same award in 2011 and 2013. Dr. Porter works alongside a European Research Council funded team and her research investigates the development of novel medical technologies based on knowledge of the dielectric properties of healthy and diseased tissues. The Young Scientist Award will support dissemination of work on the effect of tissue composition on measured properties and will enable collaborative meetings with global leaders in this growing field of study. Dr. Porter will attend the 32nd International Union of Radio Science Assembly & Scientific Symposium in August to present her research and receive the award. ENDS

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Cancer Discovery review article, “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Activated Cell Reprogramming in Oncogenesis” published by Prof. Afshin Samali has become the most highly cited article published by the Cancer Discovery journal in 2015. Prof. Samali, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is based at NUI Galway where he is Professor of Biochemistry and Director Apoptosis Research Centre (ARC). Prof Samali’s research is focused on the fields of cell stress and cell death. His work asks fundamental scientific questions pertaining to ER stress signaling, its role in the life/death decisions that a cell makes and the associated implications for human disease. “Cellular stress responses are mechanisms activated by cells in response to stressful stimuli, including extremes of temperature, exposure to toxins, and mechanical damage and are crucial in determining cell fate in response to the stress” he explains.  “My research goal is to uncover the signalling pathways that are activated during endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) and to understand the links between these stress response pathways and cell death and how these processes contribute to human diseases”. Currently Prof Samali’s team is working on describing ER stress signalling in health and disease and investigating the role of the IRE1 enzyme, one of three major ER stress sensors in breast cancer and targeting IRE1 in pre-clinical models of breast cancer. The team are also investigating how the unfolded protein response (UPR) controls cell death and survival, and how it is regulated and how cell stress responses influence pro-inflammatory processes and the tumour microenvironment in cancer. “We are interested in identifying and validating new ER stress and cell death related targets for drug discovery efforts. The goal is to develop approaches and compounds that have therapeutic potential for use in number of different cancers, for example breast cancer, colorectal or paediatric cancers” said Prof Samali. Cancer Discovery is the premier cancer information resource published by American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Prof Samali’s publication will be highlighted in a special print collection which will include the four most highly cited original research articles and the single-most highly cited review article from each of AACR’s journals.  

Friday, 7 April 2017

Professor David Finn, CÚRAM Investigator and Co-director of the Centre for Pain Research and Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, has spoken in Dáil Éireann this month (April 2017) and emphasised the need to consider people living with chronic pain in the ongoing debate on the status of medical cannabis and cannabinoids in Ireland. Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, has announced that he has decided to establish an access programme for cannabis-based treatments in Ireland. The announcement followed the publication of a report from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) entitled Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review.   The HPRA report advised that, if a policy decision was taken to permit cannabis under an access programme, it should be for the treatment of patients with spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis resistant to all standard therapies and interventions whilst under expert medical supervision; intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, despite the use of standard medicine that is effective against vomiting and nausea whilst under expert medical supervision; and severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy that has failed to respond to standard anticonvulsant medications whilst under expert medical supervision. The HPRA report also advised that patients accessing cannabis through the programme should be under the care of a medical consultant and that medical information and utilisation data should be kept on a central register. Controversially, the report recommended against the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, despite an acknowledgement within the report that chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids and despite the fact that the majority of clinical studies, meta-analyses and systematic reviews cited in the report conclude that cannabis or individual cannabinoids afford benefit to chronic pain patients.  Three of the most thorough and exhaustive scientific reviews to have been published on the subject in recent years all concluded that there is good or substantial, high-quality evidence that medical cannabis or cannabinoids are effective in treating chronic pain in adults (Hill, 2015; The National Academies of Sciences, 2017; Barnes & Barnes (UK Barnes Report), 2016). Chronic pain conditions that are responsive to cannabinoids include, but are not limited to, neuropathic pain and cancer pain.    The striking fact and reality is that despite the availability of current pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for chronic pain, 13 to 35 per cent of the population still suffer from chronic pain at a cost of €5.34 billion per year to the Irish economy, 2.86 per cent of GDP and, in the largest study ever to look at the prevalence and impact of chronic pain in Europe (46,394 patients), 40 per cent of patients reported that the management of their pain is inadequate (Breivik et al., 2006).  Professor David Finn from the Centre for Pain Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Chronic pain represents a very significant unmet clinical need, particularly conditions such as lower back pain, neuropathic pain, rheumatic conditions, post-surgical pain, arthritic pain and severe cancer pain. Chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids, and the majority of clinical studies, combined data analysis from multiple studies, and systematic reviews conclude that there is a good or substantial body of evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids afford benefit to patients with chronic pain. The evidence suggests that medical cannabis and cannabinoids, introduced in a careful, controlled, well-regulated manner as per the other three indications in the HPRA report, could alleviate some of the unmet clinical need in chronic pain.”   Importantly, the HPRA report was very supportive of further research within Ireland and internationally on medical cannabis and cannabinoids, including for chronic pain, and this support is welcomed by Professor Finn. Over the past 12 years, the Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway has developed a very active research group with a focus on cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. In work funded from a variety of peer-reviewed grant sources including Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board, the Irish Research Council, the International Association for the Study of Pain and others, the researchers have published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications demonstrating a key role for the endocannabinoid system in stress-induced modulation of pain, descending control of pain, cognitive and affective aspects of pain, and neuroimmune signalling and its relevance to pain, affective disorders and neurodegenerative disease. Continued support of such research into cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system alongside the careful, controlled and regulated introduction of medical cannabis in Ireland for chronic pain for which there is a strong evidence base, will be key to ensuring that we move forward in an informed manner and can lead internationally in this area.   Ends  

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

An Taoiseach announces transatlantic collaboration partnership to provide entrepreneurship training for SFI researchers that includes NUI Galway-based CÚRAM Investigator and Translational Medical Device Lab Director  Tuesday, 4 April, 2017: Dr Martin O’Halloran, Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) and Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, has been announced as one of the first twenty Irish researchers funded through Science Foundation Ireland’s new I-Corps programme. The researchers will travel to the US to undertake entrepreneurship training as part of the NSF I-Corps Curriculum. Dr O’Halloran, Mr Atif Shahzad and Dr Neil Ferguson from NUI Galway will work alongside their clinical lead, Dr Conall Dennedy, Consultant Endocrinologist and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at NUI Galway. The researchers will travel to the US this summer as one of the first Irish teams to receive training on opportunity-discovery and business model development. This applied training course is based on the ‘Lean LaunchPad’ methodology, developed by renowned Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur, Steve Blank of Stanford University.  The programme will involve teams participating in an intensive and immersive boot camp, delivered at some of the most prestigious universities in the US. This will be followed by a mentored programme that will see teams interview up to 100 potential customers over a six-week period, using collected observations to arrive at a viable and validated business model for a proposed technology. Announcing the investment in Washington DC on the 16 March, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, said: “I am delighted to announce this international collaboration led by Science Foundation Ireland, which will support and cultivate entrepreneurship in the research community in Ireland. This is a significant step towards achieving the innovation and entrepreneurship skills outlined in the Irish Government’s science strategy, Innovation 2020. “This programme aligns well with our commitment to having one of the most highly skilled and innovative workforces in the world. By fostering increased entrepreneurship, we will also see greater commercialisation of cutting-edge research, giving us a globally competitive advantage.” Dr O'Halloran’s Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway explores the use of low-power electromagnetic waves for medical imaging and therapeutic applications, and his research ranges from basic science to the clinical evaluation and commercialisation of novel medical devices. Speaking about the award, Dr O’Halloran said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to develop new skills within our team, to facilitate the efficient translation of our research into viable commercial products that ultimately improve quality of life for patients.” The NSF’s ground-breaking I-Corps Curriculum will prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broaden the impact of research projects. The announcement marks Science Foundation Ireland becoming the first European Funding Agency to implement the highly regarded NSF entrepreneurship programme. Speaking at the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “This extremely prestigious programme builds on Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence, and on the long-standing relationship that exists between Science Foundation Ireland and the NSF. It will greatly enhance Ireland’s innovation potential, with SFI-funded researchers receiving immersive, real-world training in bringing scientific and technological research to market.” “The NSF I-Corps program has already enabled researchers to expand their horizons far beyond the lab into the marketplace, and has bolstered the US national innovation ecosystem,” said Barry Johnson, acting NSF Assistant Director for Engineering, which oversees the NSF I-Corps program. “The new SFI-funded teams will contribute to the global innovation environment, providing new opportunities for international collaborations and helping to provide novel approaches to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.”  -Ends- For further information about the I-Corps project contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Acting Press & Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Photo: Dr Martin O’Halloran, Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) and Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway.  Photo: NUI Galway Notes to Editors About I-Corps@SFI I-Corps@SFI is a pilot programme which sees the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) collaborate to support participation of Irish researchers in the NSF’s Innovation Corps. As part of this new pilot programme, Irish teams comprising a lead investigator (academic), entrepreneurial lead (postdoctoral researcher) and a mentor (entrepreneur) will participate in the NSF I-Corps Curriculum which is an immersive entrepreneurial training programme based on the Lean LaunchPad methodology developed by Steve Blank of Stanford University, for the NSF I-Corps. This training will be undertaken at one of the NSF’s seven I-Corps Nodes in the United States. The I-Corps Nodes include some of most prestigious universities in the United States such as Berkeley, Stanford and Caltech. An important feature of the programme is that it promotes interaction between researchers and entrepreneurs within teams as well as supporting researchers to discover economic and societal impact opportunities for their research by engaging with the market and industry. For more information visit: http://www.sfi.ie/ About the U.S. National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly. About Science Foundation Ireland Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy.    Science Foundation Ireland has launched the #BelieveInScience campaign to promote the potential that science and discovery offer Ireland, today and in tomorrow’s world. The #BelieveInScience campaign will see Science Foundation Ireland work in partnership with the Irish research community to share a mutual passion for science with the public; to promote an understanding of the ability of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to create positive change in the world and to drive a sustainable economy in Ireland. For more information visit: http://www.sfi.ie/  About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.

Monday, 3 April 2017

On the 31th March 2017, the Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds was launched at the 3rd Transatlantic Wound Science and Podiatric Medicine Conference in Galway, Ireland. The alliance was borne out of the need to bring together the expertise in research, education and clinical practise in NUI Galway, Saolta and among private healthcare partners into one unit that will strive to further develop and expand wound care in Ireland and Internationally. The Alliance is supported by CÚRAM with two PIs, Georgina Gethin and Ger O'Connor, in directorship roles. The work of the Alliance links in with CÚRAM’s research into soft tissue repair. The Alliances mission statement is “to strive to improve the lives of people impacted by wounds and champion evidence based, innovative care”. CÚRAM PI’s and NUI Galway has a long tradition in wound related research through tissue engineering, microbiology, biomechanics, stem cell therapies, health service research, medical devices, practise development and programme offering at MSc and PhD level. The Alliance now unites this expertise and will strive to improve the lives of people impacted by wounds and champion evidence based, innovative care. The goals of the Alliance will be: To conduct high quality, collaborative, translational and clinical research informed by key stakeholders. To foster innovation and inspire people to create solutions. To enhance graduate education and future employability. To be an international leader in the field of wound care. To inform national and international policy and practise. To create economic and social prosperity by turning ideas, innovations and technologies into reality. Through strategic collaborations and enterprise develop technological solutions to wound prevention and management The Alliance will build on five key pillars Emerging technologies and innovation Patient orientated Health systems/services/economics and policy Patient and society impact Education Membership of the alliance is open to all healthcare professionals and academics with an interest in this field. The development group crosses disciplines and practise settings and includes; nursing, podiatry, physics, medicine, microbiology and medical devices. You can join the mailing list through the website: http://www.nuigalway.ie/ariw/, follow the group on twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/ariw_1 and you can email the group on: ariw@nuigalway.ie

Thursday, 30 March 2017

CÚRAM are delighted to be partnering with Hotel Meyrick for a Children’s Workshop on ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ and Afternoon Tea on Thursday April 13 at the hotel as part of this year’s Galway Food Festival. A highlight of the Festival, CÚRAM scientists will become masters of the molecular wacky, and the children will become their willing assistants. All while parents relax and enjoy an Easter afternoon tea at Hotel Meyrick. The workshop is a fun way for young people to explore how natural materials are used in medicine, and how they are designed to deliver biomolecules. The children will then participate in a hands-on activity creating their own flavoured ‘energy spheres’ alongside our own CÚRAM scientists. After all that work, hard earned hot chocolates and cupcakes will finish off their experience. Speaking about the event, Dr Sarah Gundy, Project Officer at CÚRAM said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Hotel Meyrick in this event and look forward to creating an exciting experience to bring the world of science and food together for children.” The event is suitable for children between the ages of 8-12 only. Pre booking is essential as spaces are limited. Tickets including Afternoon Tea, are priced at €15 per adult and €9 per child. To book email reshm@hotelmeyrick.ie or phone 091 564041. Galway Food Festival will run from the 13-17 April and full programme details can found www.galwayfoodfestival.com

Monday, 27 March 2017

Dilip Thomas, Doctoral Candidate at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, has just been awarded first place in the category of the Best Preclinical Study at the Journal of Wound Care Awards 2017. The Awards recognise the hard work done by health care professionals in all fields of wound care, to benchmark standards within wound care and to highlight the great contribution that nurses, clinicians, scientists, researchers and academics make to the development of wound-care research and practice. Winners are chosen by a prominent panel of expert judges that is representative of the diversity of disciplines and organisations that make up the sector. The judges assess each entry according to its objectives and available resources and budget. Laboratory studies shortlisted for the Best Preclinical Study award represent a vital first step in evaluating wound care interventions and form the base of the evidence pyramid on which all other research is built. This category recognises the efforts of those researchers who have provided strong, evidence-based studies in wound care. Congratulating Dilip on his award, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said; “I’m delighted to see our researchers recognised for their hard work.  Wound healing is an important area of research at CÚRAM and I’d like to congratulate Dilip on his project and the development of new knowledge in this area”. The research for which Dilip was awarded focussed on the development of a microgel-based cell delivery device for the treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia. The research adds to the current knowledge in cell encapsulation strategies by highlighting the preconditioning or priming capacity of biomaterials through cell-cell and cell-material interactions. One of the significant and clinically attractive aspects of the preclinical study was the use of a low-cell dose (up to 20 times lower that pre-clinical gold standard) in the microgels for tissue repair. Hence as a therapy, microgels would not only help faster tissue repair but also provide treatment for more patients.  ‘I’m delighted to receive the award for Best Preclinical Study’ said Dilip, ‘it definitely serves to boost confidence in my work and to motivate further studies. It’s always nice to have your achievements recognised, particularly as I finalise my PhD this year’ Dilip received a BSc Biotechnology, University of Mumbai, India and a MSc Biochemical Engineering, University College London, UK. His research interests include the development of novel functionalised biomaterials, microencapsulation and transplantation of progenitor cells to promote angiogenesis in ischemic animal models. He is currently working under the supervision of Prof. Abhay Pandit and Prof. Timothy O'Brien at CÚRAM in NUI Galway. In 2015 Dilip was awarded the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) fellowship to further his research through training in MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS) at Marchetti-Deschmann’s analytical laboratory, Technical University Vienna and in 2016 he was elected to the position of Chair-Elect for the EU Student and Young Investigator section (SYIS) of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). JWC award finalists were invited to attend an evening gala dinner and awards ceremony on Friday 3rd March 2017 at The Banking Hall in London. The full shortlist of finalists for the awards is available at www.jwcawards.com/shortlist-2017

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

International collaboration will support ground-breaking research on the blood clots that cause stroke and drive significant improvements in outcomes for patients in the future Tuesday, 21 March, 2017: CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) today announced an agreement with Mayo Clinic in the United States to collaborate on research into blood clots that cause ischemic stroke.  As part of this agreement, researchers will work at CÚRAM and Mayo Clinic, to analyze and characterise clots from stroke patients in both Europe and the United States. The goal of the research is to advance and improve therapies for stroke patients in the future.   An estimated 15 million strokes occur worldwide each year. Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Ischemic stroke can be caused by clots that come from the heart, or from the carotid artery, or from other parts of the body. The characteristics of these clots can vary widely, which has implications for what therapy is given to patients.   This unique collaboration brings together clinicians, scientists and engineers from academia, stroke centers, and industry to drive innovation through targeted research. With funding support from both Neuravi, an Irish biomedical company experienced in endovascular device development, and from Science Foundation Ireland, the collaboration reflects the commitment of a diverse group of experts to advancing the understanding and treatment of stroke. An NUI Galway post-doctoral fellow will perform research on secondment at Mayo Clinic to facilitate collaboration on standardising protocols and setting up an international database. Mayo Clinic’s Applied Neuroradiology Lab is initiating a nationwide effort in the US to retrospectively and prospectively collect samples of clots removed from patients who have suffered a stroke in order to analyze them to inform treatment in the future. Through CÚRAM, NUI Galway will be establishing a dedicated clot pathology lab to conduct parallel clot research in Europe.     Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, commented: “With this partnership and postdoctoral fellow program with Mayo Clinic, we’re excited by the opportunity to advance research in this area. Researchers at CÚRAM have been working on the analysis and characterisation of clots through collaborative arrangements with Neuravi, and we’re delighted that they and Science Foundation Ireland are funding this postdoctoral fellow program. This convergence of interests and expertise has enabled us to structure a unique collaboration with Mayo Clinic. We hope this will lead to ground-breaking research and drive significant improvements in outcomes for stroke patients in the future.” David Kallmes, Director of Mayo Clinic Applied Neuroradiology Lab, said: “We’ve come a long way in treating stroke, but we’re just beginning to tap the surface when it comes to understanding the occlusive clots that cause acute ischemic stroke. It is not an insignificant challenge, and so this kind of multinational public-private research collaboration puts us in a unique position to make real progress. Working together with motivated stroke experts in the US, we’ve started the Stroke Thromboembolism Registry of Imaging and Pathology (STRIP) to analyze actual clots retrieved via thrombectomy (the surgical removal of a clot from a blood vessel), and to use that learning to inform treatment. This program with CÚRAM will help us make this into a world-class research effort.” For more information about CÚRAM visit: http://www.curamdevices.ie/ and for Mayo Clinic visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/   Ends

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