Wednesday, 12 June 2019

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 Science Foundation Ireland funded Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has hosted artist residencies in its laboratories. In partnership with the Galway City Arts Office, we are now inviting proposals from artists who are interested in working as part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme, which supports Science Foundation Ireland’s objective of ‘having the most scientifically informed and engaged public’. We invite artists to propose ideas for an ambitious and contemporary permanent artwork in Galway’s Eastside community in Ballybane and Doughiska. The budget for this project is €10,000. The artist will work with one of the following three themes:    •    Cardiovascular research – Researcher: Professor William Wijns    •    Soft and hard tissue regeneration – Researcher: Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis    •    Biomaterials and the body – Researcher – Dr Manus Biggs 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 Eastside community to realise the project.  The artist will be required to undergo Garda vetting. Applications must be received with all material by 5pm, June 21st.  Please email all submissions to curam@nuigalway.ie.  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.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

New facilities established in NUI Galway to accelerate the development of next generation biomaterials and advanced manufacturing technologies Researchers at NUI Galway launched on (12 June 2019) two new facilities, a Pilot Line for Bio-microsystems Development and an Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory, as part of the University’s ever expanding biomedical research and advanced manufacturing infrastructure. Pilot Line for Bio-microsystems Development This integrated advanced manufacturing testbed is the first of its kind globally and will accelerate the translation of laboratory-based research concepts towards pilot production. The printed electronics and printed biomaterials advanced manufacturing facility complements the University’s existing expertise and investments in biomaterials and stem cell manufacturing. The testbed will be used to evaluate advanced manufacturing of two types of biomedical product concepts – smart medical devices and tissue-engineered organs on a chip device. Smart medical devices are of particular relevance to the medical device industry in Galway; these devices are empowered with diagnostic and therapeutic functionalities. An example is a smart woundcare device that enables future smart wound dressings to sense the status of the wound and administer a drug accordingly. The manufacturing testbed enables Galway researchers to demonstrate how scalable printed technologies can be used to realise such devices, customised for each patient’s individual needs, on an economic scale. The manufacturing testbed can also generate arrays of artificial tissue know as tissue scaffolds. These structures are being developed to fully mimic different organs in the body. The ability to produce tissue scaffolds on a scalable platform are of increasing importance in the development of new advanced therapeutic medicinal products. For example, new cell based therapies to cure chronic illnesses can be efficiently evaluated using arrays of tissue scaffolds which mimic disease states in the human body. For example, mesenchymal stromal cells can be used to regenerate damaged tissues. The testbed was developed by Dr Gerard O’Connor, Head of the School of Physics at NUI Galway, over the last five years in partnership with UK manufacturing system integrator *M-Solv (Oxford) Ltd. Dr O’Connor leads the *NCLA Laser Laboratory at the School of Physics. He believes having the ability to integrate electronic, optical, and thermal stimuli in flexible medical devices “will be transformative - changing the way we connect with, and use, future healthcare products.” Dr O’Connor, said: “The new facility enables the NCLA Laser Laboratory to investigate the versatility of using multiple laser patterning, inkjet printing and spray deposition tools in the advanced digital manufacture of next generation smart medical devices and therapeutic devices.” The contribution by M-Solv Ltd., an advanced manufacturing systems company located in Oxford, UK, is very significant. Dr O’Connor and M-Solv have collaborated for 10 years, resulting in several publications, patent filings, and commercial contracts. The company’s CEO, Dr. Phil Rumsby, is excited by applying their significant expertise in hybrid electronics manufacturing to the biomedical sector using the three interconnected manufacturing modules which comprise the testbed. Dr Rumsby said: “The first module, a laser-based micro-machining module creates structured surfaces for microfluidics and embedded electronics. The second module uses laser, inkjet and spray tools to create structured conductive/non-conductive printed electronic features. Finally, a third bio-printing module applies living cells and other life-supporting biomaterials to structured surfaces. This is a major research platform with significant innovative potential, we are pleased to have been able to rise to the challenge.” The testbed is funded by Science Foundation Ireland under the Infrastructures Programme. SFI Research Centres *I-FORM (advanced manufacturing) and CÚRAM (medical devices) are available to provide support for enterprises and academics seeking access to the manufacturing platform. Speaking at the launch of the new testbed, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “This manufacturing testbed will significantly increase our ability to lead research in the development of novel technologies. CÚRAM will work closely with the NCLA and I-Form to harness this unique platform and continue creating next generation biomaterials that will play a critical role in the treatment of a host of chronic ailments.” The laboratory in which the testbed is located was developed with funding provided under the Atlantic Area Interregional (INTERREG) EU programme under a project entitled AtlanticKETMed. The project is also led by Dr O’Connor and has established an international community of first adopters for the testbed comprising of hospitals, networks of industries, and international research centres. The testbed and its ancillary laboratories are located in the School of Physics. The School’s MSc in Medical Physics is the first European MSc programme to be awarded accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programmes (CAMPEP), the second only programme worldwide outside the USA to do so. Dr O’Connor is keen to recognise the many contributions made by graduate students and technical staff throughout the School of Physics in realising this development. The School has established an MSc programme in Key Enabling Technologies to provide graduate training on the manufacturing testbed. Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory Dr Noel Harrison from the College of Engineering at NUI Galway also launched on (12 June 2019) the new Advanced Manufacturing Lab (AML) in the Alice Perry Engineering Building, which houses a suite of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) technologies. The lab has been developed by Dr Harrison (Mechanical Engineering and I-Form Funded Investigator) to advance teaching, fundamental research, and industry collaboration on future sustainable manufacturing technologies, materials and product design. With NUI Galway’s first metal powder bed fusion printer (3D Systems DMP ProX 100), the AML offers new capability for in-house prototyping and experimental manufacturing. Last month, an AM cementless orthopaedic device technology developed and patented by Dr Harrison was licenced to the medtech company Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, also based at NUI Galway. Dr Noel Harrison from NUI Galway, said: “Multiple industries now demand engineering graduates with knowledge and experience in 3D Printing process hardware, software, materials and design. The AML lab is an invaluable resource for our Degree and Masters students and is a state of the art research facility for our PhD student and Postdoctoral researchers.” “Manufacturing is the second largest employer in Ireland and accounts for 36.5 percent of GDP”, said I-Form Director, Professor Denis Dowling. “These new testbeds at NUI Galway are key pieces of infrastructure for the manufacturing research community, and they will ensure that Irish manufacturers continue to have access to leading edge technology for the development of world-class products.” Speaking about the awards supporting both of these facilities, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the launch of this state-of-the-art manufacturing testbed, which is funded through our Research Infrastructure Programme. The programme specifically seeks to support researchers by ensuring there are superb technologies and supports in place for them, ultimately facilitating excellent and impactful scientific research. The testbed is a great reflection of collaboration between different stakeholders in the ecosystem, with SFI Research Centres CÚRAM and I-Form collaborating with NUI Galway to enhance our understanding of advanced manufacturing.”

Thursday, 16 May 2019

‌NUI Galway researcher develops a new bioengineered cardiovascular stent A new type of cardiovascular stent, coated in antibodies to improve its incorporation into blood vessels, has been developed by scientists and engineers in Ireland and Poland. Professor Gerard Wall, a microbiologist and investigator of the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), based at NUI Galway, led the EU-funded project which has designed and produced a novel stent. Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaques on their inner walls. This can lead to stenosis, or narrowing of coronary arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. This is the most common cause of death in Europe, resulting in approximately two million deaths each year. While surgical insertion of stents to re-open arteries is now commonplace, arteries can become re-blocked over time when cells such as macrophages and smooth muscle cells from the patient’s blood grow over the stent surface. It is this problem that the new stent design addresses: steel stents produced by the manufacturing partner in Poland are coated with human antibodies, produced in the NUI Galway laboratory, to capture endothelial cells from the patient’s blood and the surrounding artery. This leads to stents becoming rapidly “camouflaged” within the walls of the native blood vessels, enabling them to avoid rejection by the patient’s immune system while providing the mechanical strength necessary to keep the artery open. Professor Gerard Wall, Head of Microbiology and CÚRAM Investigator at NUI Galway, explains: “The prototype stent arises from the combined expertise of stent manufacturers, protein engineers and interventional cardiologists. It has demonstrated its effectiveness in preclinical studies and is now under development by the manufacturer in Poland with a view to reducing restenosis (reoccurrence of a narrowing of a blood vessel) events in patients and improving the long-term outcome of surgical interventions.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “The development of this new cardiovascular stent addresses a critical patient need, which drives all research at CÚRAM. By partnering with leading research institutions in Europe, this unique team brought together a critical skill set to design and produce a real solution that will have a very significant impact for those who urgently need it. The outcome of this partnership is a testament to the power of collaborative research.” The stent is the first of its kind to use human antibodies for cell capture, to avoid activating the patient’s immune response. The antibodies are isolated in the laboratory using phage display technology, a genetic engineering approach that mimics the human immune system, followed by production in E. coli bacteria for tethering onto the lattice structure of the stent under sterile manufacturing conditions. The work, published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, was carried out at NUI Galway, Poland’s Wrocław University of Technology and Wrocław Medical University, and Comenius University in Slovakia, as well as stent manufacturer Balton in Warsaw. It was funded under the EU’s Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) scheme and provided cross-sectoral research training for researchers from the three participating countries.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

‌Three MedTrain research projects at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway have been selected for inclusion in the European Commission's Innovation Radar as ‘Key Innovators’. The aim of the Innovation Radar platform is to make information about EU-funded innovations from high-quality projects visible and accessible to the public in one place on a new platform. This will show citizens the many excellent technological and scientific advances being delivered by researchers and innovators around Europe, funded on their behalf by the European Commission. This initiative has the support of EU Members States and so far Ministers from 21 countries have signed the Innovation Radar declaration confirming their support for this initiative. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “The Innovation Radar platform presents a valuable opportunity for our researchers to highlight the potential impact of their work. Making research information accessible to a wide public audience is a core element of the CÚRAM ethos. We welcome the inclusion of three of our research projects in the platform and hope to contribute more widely to the space in future.” The first of the awarded projects is being carried out by Dr Elaine Waters, supervised by Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, and will address the issue of biofilm infections of medical devices which resist antibiotics, causing devices to be replaced, thereby increasing hospital stays. It will develop new tissue-friendly carbohydrate coatings to prevent biofilm infections of implanted devices. The second project, led by Dr James Wilson, supervised by Dr Andreas Heise, will design a flexible, yet strong soft tissue implantable wet adhesive for tissue repair and regeneration. This technology represents the next generation of fully biodegradable bioadhesives with enhanced wet adhesion properties for the development of new clinical materials and advanced approaches in healthcare. The third of the awarded projects is led by Dr Tania Hidalgo Crespo, supervised by Dr Caitriona O’Driscoll, and will develop a novel, safe and effective drug delivery system. Successful delivery of therapeutic levels of siRNA to the brain, using this novel system, will facilitate the treatment of a wide range of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and brain tumours. The projects are being developed under the Horizon 2020 project MedTrain, a new Industry-Academia Training, Career Development, and Mobility Fellowship Programme in Medical Device Research and Development at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway. MedTrain offers two-year fellowships to experienced researchers in the broad area of Medical Device Research and Development, including: tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, biomaterials and drug delivery, glyco and protein engineering and neuromodulation. Information about each of the three MedTrain projects at CÚRAM included on the platform are accessible to the public via the new Innovation Radar platform, (accessed via a website or a smartphone app - iOS or Android).

Monday, 4 February 2019

Engineering and Physical Science Research Council Centres for Doctoral Training to link world-leading SFI Research Centres and UK Higher Education Institutions  CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, is one of seven SFI Research Centres to have received funding for Doctoral Training as part of a UK-Ireland joint initiative to invest €38.6 million in training future innovation leaders.  The award has been made under a new partnership between Science Foundation Ireland and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation. The investment funding was announced today (4 February 2019) by Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD. CÚRAM will work in collaboration with University of Glasgow, Aston and Birmingham, to establish lifETIME: an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Doctoral Training in Engineered Tissues for Discovery, Industry and Medicine.  lifETIME will train future Engineering and Physical Science innovation leaders for the non-animal technology and regenerative medicine sectors. Those trained will possess multidisciplinary, high-value skills in the design, creation and application of new non-animal technology platforms to accelerate therapeutic discovery. The lifETIME Centres for Doctoral Training will train 84 engineering and physical science scientists, clinical fellows and cell engineers across three world-leading centres that specialise in: fundamental bioengineering (Glasgow); microscale bioprocess translation/application (Birmingham and Aston); and medical devices (CÚRAM). 25 of these will be CÚRAM based. The first intake of students will begin in September 2019 with CÚRAM enrolling five students each year. Globally, a strong industrial and clinical need exists to create humanised, non-animal technologies, which are bioengineered, cellular, scaffolds/on-chip systems that can be used in therapeutic discovery, safety testing, functional validation and in some cases in the production of cellular therapies. To meet this need, there is an urgent need to train Engineering and Physical Science students to communicate effectively with, and work alongside, biomedical scientists, and vice versa, and such training will also drive innovation and contribute to the Irish and UK bioeconomy. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “The establishment of this Centre for Doctoral Training in collaboration with colleagues at University of Glasgow, Aston University and University of Birmingham will produce the next generation of doctoral level researchers across engineering and physical sciences. This unique programme will train leaders who will possess multidisciplinary, high-value skills in the design, creation and application of new non-animal technology platforms to accelerate therapeutic discovery.” Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: “I am pleased to announce this new collaboration that will provide training opportunities for doctoral students in both the UK and Ireland. These new PhD training initiatives will provide opportunities for talented students in SFI Research Centres across Higher Education Institutions. Cultivating and maintaining positive research and development collaborations between the Ireland and the UK, as well as the rest of the world, is a priority for the Irish Government, and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is thrilled to be working with the EPSRC on this programme.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to collaborate with EPSRC on this excellent programme. Ireland and the UK are key drivers of impactful, world-leading research and it is important that we continue to strengthen our partnerships. The level of investment in the Centres for Doctoral Training is significant, and represents our commitment to prepare graduates for careers in research and beyond, and the emphasis we place on progressing international alliances and global opportunities for our researchers. I would like to congratulate the seven SFI Research Centres on their success in this programme and look forward to working with EPSRC over the coming years.” The Centres for Doctoral Training represent one of the UK’s most significant investments in research skills, supporting over seventy centres that will equip the next generation of doctoral level researchers across Engineering and Physical Sciences. The seven joint awards between Ireland and the UK will enable doctoral students based in Irish institutions to benefit from training opportunities and collaboration with Higher Education Institutions in the UK.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

NUI Galway has been awarded almost €420,000 in funding for developing new technology for faster clinical detection and diagnosis of bacterial infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a key cause of mortality in Cystic Fibrosis patients. Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway received his award as part of a government investment of €10.8 million in Irish research funding through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG), announced by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD. With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 PhD students in the research areas of health, energy, environment, materials and technology. Many disease-causing bacteria produce proteins, which are known to interact with sugar molecules. These interactions will allow the design of useful sensors. Dr Byrne’s research will develop novel devices that will indicate the presence of specific bacteria through colour changes, caused by the interactions of their proteins with laboratory-produced sugar-based chemical compounds on the surface of newly-designed materials. This will provide a convenient visual strategy to identify disease-causing bacteria. 3D-printing will be used to create these compact diagnostic devices, which will benefit patient outcomes and quality of life. This new technology could also be deployed in other scenarios such as detecting bacterial contamination of water supplies. Speaking about his funding award, Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway, said: “Rapid diagnosis of bacteria is vital to inform appropriate medical treatment strategies and combat increasing antibiotic resistance globally. By providing a new methodology for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection, my work will facilitate quicker decision-making on targeted medical treatment strategies for patients. In Ireland this would be particularly valuable for rapid diagnosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a significant risk factor for cystic fibrosis patients (as well as others with compromised immune systems). More generally, helping clinicians avoid the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics would help combat the global challenge of increased antibiotic resistance.”    Speaking about the awards, Minister Breen said: “I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.” Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research. A native of Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Dr Joseph Byrne joins the School of Chemistry and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, following a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at Universität Bern, Switzerland. His main research focus is developing new technology for faster clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections by exploiting interactions between biomolecules and the innovative sensor materials, which will be designed during the course of this SIRG project. The research will be multidisciplinary, building on fundamental chemistry and biochemical interactions to develop diagnostic devices using 3D-printing technology.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway will be involved in three key industry projects worth almost €5 million (€4.8 million) following the recent announcement of the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. CÚRAM teams, in collaboration with industry partners, will be driving disruptive innovation on the key areas of medtech and connected health. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “This funding of €4.8 million to CÚRAM research labs is a strong recognition of our pivotal role in the development of the next generation of medical devices and implants that target chronic illnesses. This funding is also a reflection of the close collaborative relationship we have with key industry partners with whom we will continue to work closely with on the development of these disruptive technology projects.” Partnered with industry, the AURIGEN project will see €5.9 million being invested in a solution for persistent Atrial fibrillation of the heart. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance in the US and Europe, significantly affecting the lives of those afflicted, causing symptoms that range from palpitations to fatigue, weakness and activity intolerance, and substantially increasing the risks of stroke, congestive heart failure, dementia and death. The consortium of AuriGen Medical (a BioInnovate Ireland spin out based at NUI Galway), the Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab at NUI Galway and Tyndall, UCC have unique experience, expertise and proprietary technologies, which place this group in an unprecedented position to deliver a uniquely effective therapy capable of addressing both the stroke and arrhythmia risk associated with Atrial fibrillation.  The second project also sees the TMD-Lab partnering on the SMART CARDIO research project with AtriAN Medical who are also based at NUI Galway. The team will seek to develop and optimise ablation technologies for the minimally invasive treatment of particular cardiac disorders.   Dr Martin O’Halloran, Director of the TMD-Lab at NUI Galway, said: “These exciting research projects with a combined value to the TMD-Lab of almost €2 million are further evidence of NUI Galway establishing itself as a world-leader in ablation medical technology. The funding will bring an additional 10 senior post-doctoral ablation engineers to Galway, and in collaboration with our industry partners, will drive significant employment in the sector. The research will draw on expertise from both Engineering (Dr Adnan Elahi) and Medicine (Dr Atif Shahzad and Dr Leo Quinlan) from NUI Galway to deliver these disruptive technologies.” The third project, ARDENT II will create a new therapy for patients suffering from rhinitis, an inflammatory disease which presents as nasal congestion, rhinorrhoea, sneezing and nasal itching. Congestion and rhinorrhoea are the two most impactful symptoms on a patient’s quality of life, which are usually present lifelong. Affecting tens of millions of patients worldwide, an effective treatment does not exist for moderate or severe suffers, creating a multi-billion-euro opportunity for disruptive technologies. A consortium of Neurent Medical Ltd (a BioInnovate Ireland spin out) and the Biggs lab at CÚRAM will benefit from the €2.8 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Funding which will be invested in the development of a new medical device technology, to address this inflammatory nasal condition through an innovative neuromodulation approach. Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “We are excited to work with Neurent Medical on the development of a novel approach to a significant global medical challenge. The commitment of the Irish government to the development of forward thinking disruptive technologies has the potential to place Ireland at the forefront of biomedical engineering research and development.” The Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, setup as part of the Project Ireland 2040 capital investment plan, aims to provide finance to projects that tackle national and global challenges in a way that will create and secure jobs into the future.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

‌CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre’s 2018 ‘Science on Screen’ documentary, A Tiny Spark will have its world premiere at Pálás Cinema in Galway on Saturday, 1 December at 1pm. Directed by Niamh Heery and produced by Caroline Kealy of Swansong Films, A Tiny Spark examines the effect of cerebrovascular illness and stroke on people’s lives and specifically looks at research into the blood clots that cause stroke. With a mixture of dramatic first person accounts and beautiful animation sequences highlighting the functions of the various parts of the brain, A Tiny Spark is a film about science’s ability to affect real change for human life. A Tiny Spark focuses on stroke and cerebrovascular research being led by Neuroscientist, Dr Karen Doyle from CÚRAM and Galway Neuroscience Centre in NUI Galway, which involves analysis of removed blood clots to see what information they may yield. This is the first study of its kind in the world and is an international collaborative study between NUI Galway, hospital partners in Beaumont Hospital and throughout Europe, and the Mayo Clinic in the US. The research is carried out in partnership with Cerenovus. This documentary highlights the groundbreaking research being carried out by Dr Doyle and her research team at NUI Galway. For the first time ever they are analysing thousands of stroke-causing blood clots collected from patients around the world. These little bundles of cells could carry a wealth of information, which could point to big improvements to people’s lives by improving stroke prevention and treatment. In the film we meet three incredibly brave stroke survivors who show us that it is sometimes the little things that people miss in life after a stroke, or the small victories during recovery that mean so much. Contributors to the documentary feature individuals who have had a stroke: Rebecca Slattery from Limerick, who had a stroke shortly after she turned 30 and became a new Mum; Trevor Neville from Limerick, a father of two who had a stroke aged 31; and Helen Liddy from Clare who suffered a stroke aged 63 in 2016. Dr John Thornton, Consultant Neuroradiologist, Beaumount Hospital, and Helena Heffernan, Stroke Group Coordinator, Irish Heart Foundation also feature in the documentary. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “This year’s film will focus on stroke and clot research which is yet another area of research which will have a significant impact on audiences all over the country. These stories, narrated through our Science on Screen documentaries, show the real challenges that people face when living with chronic illness but also how we are trying to address them here at CÚRAM, to improve quality of life for all.” Galway Film Centre Manager, Alan Duggan, said: “The Science on Screen commission scheme shows the real human side of the application of science. We are delighted to continue working with CÚRAM on this scheme and we will be supporting Niamh, Caroline and the filmmaking team in bringing ‘A Tiny Spark’ to the screen this year.” The 2018 ReelLife Science primary school winning videos will be screened before the world premiere of A Tiny Spark, followed by a Q&A with Dr Karen Doyle and her research team, and with documentary producer, Caroline Kealy and director, Niamh Heery. To view a short trailer of A Tiny Spark, visit: https://vimeo.com/291731458/072c556b3d To book free tickets for the world premiere on Saturday, 1 December at Pálás Cinema, Spanish Arch, Galway, visit: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/a-tiny-spark-premiere-screening-tickets-52811744349 The Science on Screen scheme has been running since 2016 and has awarded €35,000 each to three previous documentaries on topics such as Parkinson’s disease (Feats of Modest Valour), tendon injury (Mending Legends) and diabetes (Bittersweet: The Rise of Diabetes). The films have reached audiences of over half a million people and have received success at festivals internationally. Full details on all previous Science on Screen films can be found here: www.galwayfilmcentre.ie/category/science-on-screen and http://curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/science-on-screen/. -Ends- For more information about Science on Screen 2018 contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Notes to Editors Niamh Heery is an award-winning Irish filmmaker. Her film work with diverse communities and international NGOs often inspires the range of themes and subjects she explores as a director, in both fiction and documentary. Caroline Kealy is a producer, coordinator and researcher for films and television. She has produced a number of short films, documentaries and music videos which have been shown at festivals worldwide. Dr Karen Doyle is a Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Principal Investigator at CÚRAM and Galway Neuroscience Centre in NUI Galway. Her research involves studying neurovascular stress, the causes of neuronal loss and investigating novel strategies to protect brain tissue from damage. Dr Doyle’s focus is on understanding the pathophysiology of occlusive stroke, the characteristics of human blood clots that cause occlusive strokes and also the effect of cerebral hypoperfusion and reperfusion strategy on the survival of brain tissue. Dr Doyle is the founder leader of Galway Neuroscience Centre, is a former Vice President of Neuroscience Ireland and Vice Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway. To see Dr Doyle’s talk about her research into removing blood clots that can lead to stroke in a study that is the first of its kind in the world, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXZjRI6dfqM  

Thursday, 8 November 2018

CÚRAM’S award winning Science on Screen documentary, Bittersweet – The Rise of Diabetes will broadcast on RTÉ 1 on Wednesday, 14 November at 11.10pm on World Diabetes Day. CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre together run the partnership project Science on Screen, which aims to facilitate, promote and increase the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) content in Irish film and TV production. Bittersweet 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 Irish 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, it highlights the ground-breaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science at NUI Galway and other universities to treat diabetes, 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. The documentary also gives an insight into the treatment and management of diabetes featuring expert clinicians Professor Derek O’Keeffe and Helen Burke from NUI Galway, who use cutting edge technology to care for young people with diabetes, helping them to manage their chronic condition, through diabetes clinics at Galway University Hospital. 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 the Irish Film and Television Awards (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 IFTAs, 2014 for her sensitive portrayal of sexuality and disability in the RTÉ documentary Somebody to Love. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “One of the key goals at CÚRAM is to provide easy access to our latest research findings and emerging technologies, so that the Irish public can stay informed about advances in science and healthcare. Science on Screen and our partnership with Galway Film Centre is one of our core public engagement programmes. It is really important for us to ensure that there’s a two-way flow of information happening between our researchers and members of the public, and the filmmakers have succeeded brilliantly in helping us do just that.” Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician, University Hospital Galway and NUI Galway, said: “This innovative diabetes documentary “Bittersweet” shows the silent burden of chronic disease on patients and their families. As a clinician my role is to help patients on this journey and to empower them to manage their medical conditions by harnessing the latest innovations, to allow them to live their best life. CÚRAM through its world class disruptive technologies program and public education partnership with Science on Screen and Galway Film Centre has again demonstrated the best of Irish research which will improve clinical care for all of our benefit.” Alan Duggan, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said: “We are delighted to facilitate the Science on Screen documentaries and to help CÚRAM showcase the incredible work and research carried out at the centre in NUI Galway. Hugh, Anna and Zlata did an incredible job in giving an insight into the research, treatment and management of diabetes through their wonderful film Bittersweet.” In 2015, CÚRAM joined forces with Galway Film Centre and Galway UNESCO City of Film, to invite filmmakers to make 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 in 2016 that incorporated areas of research currently taking place in CÚRAM: Feats of Modest Valour and Mending Legends, followed by Bittersweet in 2017. Later in November the 2018 Science on Screen documentary will be announced and will have its world premiere in Galway in December. The award of €35,000 for the Science on Screen commission is funded by CÚRAM, and 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 and radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illness. Bittersweet will broadcast on RTÉ 1 on Wednesday, 14 November at 11.10pm. To view a short video on Bittersweet, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3zMT_Te_Ys -Ends- For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Photo Science on Screen.png: Suvi and Rosie Coffey who feature in the Science on Screen documentary, ‘Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes’. Photo: NUI Galway Notes to Editors Further success of Feats of Modest Valour and Mending Legends Science on Screen films 2016 Science on Screen films, Feats of Modest Valour and Mending Legends 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 also 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. About World Diabetes Day World Diabetes Day is commemorated yearly by the International Diabetes Federation; an umbrella organization of over 230 national diabetes associations in 170 countries. It represents the interests of the growing number of people with diabetes and their vision to live in a world without the disease and they work to promote diabetes care, prevention and cure worldwide. 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 performance in international rankings. The University is one of the few Irish Universities to have risen in the rankings in four of the last five years including the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings. 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, Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environment, 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, 24 September 2018

The Companion Diagnostics Codex4SMEs Roadshow took place on Tuesday 18th September in Galway. The event was hosted by CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices and WestBIC. Speakers included Dr Elaine Kenny (CEO of Elda Biotech) on the impact of developing a cancer diagnostic in the Irish setting, and Diarmuid Cahalane (Metabolomic Diagnostics) on the impact of the new regulations on companion diagnostics. The Interreg North-West Europe project Codex4SMEs (Companion diagnostics expedited for small and medium-sized enterprises) aims at improving healthcare by the enhanced adoption of Personalised Medicine. The objective is to establish a network, which supports SMEs along the value chain of companion diagnostics development. Companion diagnostics (Cdx) are an indispensable tool for optimum application of Personalized Medicine: they enable the determination of the molecular causes of a disease before starting a treatment. However, thus far the development of Cdx has been highly time-consuming and costly. As a result, at present these tools are only used in the context of very few treatments. Codex4SMEs will establish a transnational network of nine partners and two sub-partners from seven countries and expedite the development of the SMEs’ products in the field of Cdx. There is a need to improve the innovation capabilities and raise the international competitiveness of North-West Europe SMEs in a global market currently dominated by US companies - Codex4SMEs will directly address this challenge. To join the Codex4SMEs network and get involved visit: www.nweurope.eu/codex4smes

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, are teaming up with the National Aquarium, (Galway Atlantaquaria) to showcase the science behind the shores of Galway Bay for Culture Night 2018. The event, ‘Sea-search: Marine Inspired Research’, will take place in conjunction with both Culture Night and Galway's first ‘Loving Galway – Celebrating our Green and Blue Spaces’ festival at Galway Atlantaquaria on Friday the 21st of September. The Sea-search event will be an interactive, educational science investigation of the links between marine science and medical devices. Researchers taking part in the event will talk about a range of research across these two fields currently underway in Galway, from microplastics and animal regeneration, to drug delivery and barnacle inspired glues! “Research at CÚRAM aims to radically improve quality of life for people living with chronic illness by developing new medical implants and devices” said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. “We are designing materials systems that engage the body at a cellular and molecular level to control chronic conditions like heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. We take a great deal of inspiration from nature for our work, for example, we try to mimic nature’s own adaptive systems and often use natural materials including marine resources to develop the next generation of medical devices. Sea-search gives us an ideal opportunity to show the public how marine resources are used in medicine today.” The ‘Loving Galway – Celebrating our Green and Blue Spaces’ festival, held for the first time in Galway this year, celebrates our natural heritage, under wide ranging themes including Climate Change, Energy, Biodiversity, Mobility, Water, Air and Waste. The walk through the Salthill seascape will be followed by a trip to the Galway Atlantaquaria to learn about how marine life has inspired modern advances in medicine and technology. Participants will meet at 5:45pm on Grattan beach. Sea-search is an ideal family event where participants of all ages get to experience the worlds of medical and marine science and discover amazing facts and experiments designed to inspire the next generation of ‘Sea-searchers’. All events are free for the public to attend, although parental or guardian guidance is required. For further information please visit www.seasearch.ie or email info@seasearch.ie.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices (CÚRAM), at NUI Galway is now enrolling for its third Teachers in Residence Programme, with applications being accepted up to October 19th 2018. During the residency, teachers work directly with world class researchers and get private tours of CÚRAM laboratories to learn about the medical device research and its impact on healthcare in Ireland and globally. The residency runs from October 2018 until March 2019 for nine evenings. As part of the residency, teachers and their students are invited to attend interactive workshops run by CÚRAM, and participants of the programme will be granted a small honorarium to assist with any travel costs. Teachers from all disciplines are invited to participate, in support of encouraging multidisciplinary approaches to teaching science. CÚRAM’s Teachers in Residence has ten places available for five primary and five secondary school teachers this year, with priority placement given to teachers from DEIS schools.  Participants will learn about and receive resources for the classroom including science engagement activities, science capital teaching approaches, and lesson plan kits developed by teachers for teachers, that are linked with the primary and junior cycle science curricula. Teachers in residence work with CÚRAM researchers to develop high quality content for the classroom that is relevant, exciting, practical and easy to use. Lesson plan kits developed from previous years’ teachers can be downloaded at: http://www.curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/teachers-in-residence/. “We have been delighted with the innovation and creativity shown by the primary and secondary teachers who have participated in the first two years of the programme” says Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, “The lesson plans and resources developed for both primary and secondary school classrooms have now been fully evaluated and are available to primary and secondary teachers nationwide. If we can inspire our teachers by providing access to current, cutting edge Irish research and work with them to incorporate it into classroom activities, our hope is that they in turn can inspire their students for years to come”. In 2018, CÚRAM has also partnered in the Department of Education and Skills’ Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) STE(A)M in Junior Cycle initiative, to develop a CPD workshop for Junior Cycle teachers around MedTech research and career opportunities. The JCT STEAM workshops will allow for interdisciplinary responses to societal challenges in subject-specific and cross-curricular contexts. To apply for a place in the Teachers in Residence Programme or find out more information, please contact sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

CÚRAM Investigator Prof Afshin Samali, with a team of scientists from the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway have found that targeting the IRE1 stress response pathway may improve the response to chemotherapy and reduce relapse for patients with triple negative breast cancer. These first in world research findings were published today (15 August 2018) in the internationally renowned Nature Communications journal. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the most aggressive and difficult to treat forms of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for around 15% of all breast cancers diagnosed and occurs more frequently in younger women. Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there are no targeted therapies available for triple negative breast cancer. Currently, chemotherapy is the mainstay treatment, and although initially successful, a large percentage of TNBC patients relapse within one to three years of treatment and have a poor long-term prognosis. The exact mechanism of the tumour relapse post chemotherapy remained unknown until now. In this study, the research team, led by CÚRAM Investigator Professor Afshin Samali at NUI Galway, have shown for the first time that IRE1, which is a cellular stress sensor that normally acts to alleviate short-term stresses within cells, such as lack of nutrients or oxygen, is a central driver of treatment-related relapse. Professor Afshin Samali, Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre and CÚRAM Investigator at NUI Galway, said: “This study is the result of extensive laboratory experiments, analysis of breast cancer patient samples, testing pre-clinical models of triple negative breast cancer and collaboration with our international and industry partners. The new era of precision oncology aims to tailor treatments to individual cancer patients and here at NUI Galway, we are excited to identify a new therapeutic strategy for triple negative breast cancer patients who are most in need of better treatment options. Furthermore, this strategy may benefit many other cancer patients whose cancer cells rely on activated cell stress responses to survive.” Dr Susan Logue, SFI Starting Investigator and first author of the study at NUI Galway, said: “This work has uncovered a previously unknown role for IRE1 and suggests that it may represent a good therapeutic target for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. While further research is needed, this work is a great example of how curiosity-driven basic research can lead to translational outcomes with real potential to impact on patient treatment.” The team discovered that chemotherapy can activate the IRE1 stress response in triple negative breast cancer, leading to the production of survival signals that are pumped out of the cell to support the growth of new cancer cells. Most importantly, the study showed that this process can be halted by specifically inhibiting IRE1 using a clinically-relevant, small molecule drug called MCK8866 that not only improves the effectiveness of the initial chemotherapy treatment, but also reduces relapse of this aggressive form of breast cancer.   Using triple negative breast cancer cells treated with chemotherapy, the research team found that blocking IRE1 activity reduced the production of survival signals, and in turn reduced the growth of new cancer cells by 50%. Furthermore, in a pre-clinical model of TNBC, the drug increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment, leading to regression of 8 out of 10 cancers compared to regression of just 3 out of 10 cancers using chemotherapy alone. The combination of the MCK8866 drug with chemotherapy also reduced tumour relapse in this pre-clinical model of triple negative breast cancer. In addition to these laboratory-based experiments, an analysis of 595 patient tumours revealed that triple negative breast cancer tumours displayed the highest IRE1 activity compared to other subtypes, suggesting that IRE1 may be of particular importance in TNBC. This discovery suggests that combining chemotherapy with IRE1 inhibitors could offer substantial benefits for triple negative breast cancer patients.  The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Cancer Society and Horizon 2020 with initial funding from Breast Cancer Now. To read the full study in Nature Communications, visit: http://www.nature.com/ncomms -Ends- For more information about the study contact Professor Afshin Samali at afshin.samali@nuigalway.ie or Dr Susan Logue at susan.logue@nuigalway.ie. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Notes to Editors Apoptosis Research Centre, NUI Galway The Apoptosis Research Centre is located in the Biomedical Sciences Building at NUI Galway, is an interactive network of researchers investigating cell stress responses and cell death and their relationship to cancer. It is the only Cell Death Research Centre in Ireland. Led by Professor Afshin Samali, the goal of the Centre is to understand how cancer cells have adapted to promote their own survival, and using this knowledge, to uncover new ways to combat cancer progression. For more information, visit: http://www.apoptosis.ie About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow on Twitter @curamdevices.  

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

New film will focus on research into removed blood clots that can lead to a stroke which is currently underway at NUI Galway and the first study of its kind in the world Wednesday, 4 July, 2018: CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre are delighted to announce A Tiny Spark as the recipient of the 2018 Science on Screen scheme. The selected film, A Tiny Spark, to be directed by Niamh Heery and produced by Caroline Kealy of Swansong Films, will examine the effect of stroke on people’s lives and will specifically look at research into clots. This year’s Science on Screen applicants were invited to submit ideas for a documentary that engages with research into cardiovascular illnesses and stroke, currently underway at CÚRAM. A Tiny Spark will focus on research, being led by Dr Karen Doyle from the Discipline of Physiology at NUI Galway, which involves analysis of removed blood clots to see what information they may yield. This is the first study of its kind in the world and is an international collaborative study between NUI Galway, hospital partners in Beaumont Hospital and throughout Europe and the Mayo Clinic in the US. Contributors to the documentary will include individuals who have had a stroke, as well as the scientists and clinicians who work in the stroke area in Galway and Dublin. Filming will take place in Dublin, Limerick and Galway throughout July 2018. The Swansong Films team has an adventurous plan to 3-D animate the brain highlighting the functions that the various parts serve such as the Amygdala, which is the emotional part of the brain and is responsible for affection. They will also use this method to highlight the journey of blood clots and their potential for destruction. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said “This year’s film will focus on stroke and clot research which is yet another area which will have a significant impact on audiences all over the country. These stories, narrated through our Science on Screen documentaries, show the real challenges that people face when living with chronic illness but also how we are trying to address them here at CÚRAM, to improve quality of life for all.” Galway Film Centre Manager, Alan Duggan, said: “The Science on Screen commission scheme shows the real human side of the application of science. We are delighted to continue working with CÚRAM on this scheme and we will be supporting Niamh, Caroline and the filmmaking team in bringing A Tiny Spark to the screen this year.” The Science on Screen scheme has been running since 2016 and has awarded €35,000 each to three documentaries on topics such as Parkinson’s disease (Feats of Modest Valour), tendon injury (Mending Legends) and diabetes (Bittersweet: The Rise of Diabetes). The films have reached audiences of over 0.5 million and have received accolades at festivals internationally. The 2017 Science on Screen film, Bittersweet: the Rise of Diabetes, directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread films will be screened at the Galway Film Fleadh on Wednesday, 11 July at 11am in the Town Hall Theatre.   A Tiny Spark will premiere in Galway in November 2018. Video of Dr Karen Doyle speaking about her stroke research: https://youtu.be/vXZjRI6dfqM -Ends- For more information on Science on Screen 2018 contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Manager, 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 Follow Science on Screen on Twitter at: #ScienceOnScreen @curamdevices @galwayfilmcentr @GalwayCityFilm @niamhzer @carolinekealy About Dr Karen Doyle, Discipline of Physiology, NUI Galway Dr Karen Doyle is a Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Investigator with CÚRAM. Her research involves studying neurovascular stress, the causes of neuronal loss and investigating novel strategies to protect brain tissue from damage. Dr Doyle’s focus is on understanding the pathophysiology of occlusive stroke, the characteristics of human blood clots that cause occlusive strokes and also the effect of cerebral hypoperfusion and reperfusion strategy on the survival of brain tissue. Dr Doyle is the founder leader of Galway Neuroscience Centre, is a former Vice President of Neuroscience Ireland and Vice Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway. About the Swansong Team: Caroline Kealy is a producer, coordinator and researcher for films and television. She has produced a number of short films, documentaries and music videos which have been shown at festivals worldwide. Follow on Twitter @carolinekealy Niamh Heery is an award-winning Irish filmmaker. Her film work with diverse communities and international NGOs often inspires the range of themes and subjects she explores as a director, in both fiction and documentary. Follow on Twitter on @niamhzer About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow on Twitter @curamdevices About Galway Film Centre 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 and community and youth groups through education and training, equipment provision, funding schemes and information. The Film Centre also runs the UNESCO City of Film designation on behalf of Galway City and County Councils. We are a member of Screen Talent Europe, an international network of support centre for filmmakers across Northern Europe. More information at www.galwayfilmcentre.ie or follow on @galwayfilmcentr or @GalwayCityFilm 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, Whitaker Institute, 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, 12 June 2018

David Mooney Interview: June 12th 2018 Prof. Mooney is the Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He plays an active role in the major biomedical and chemical engineering professional societies, serves as an editorial advisor to several journals and publishers, organizes and chairs leading conferences and symposia, and participates on several industry advisory boards. His current projects focus on therapeutic angiogenesis, regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues, and cancer therapies. In 2009, his team developed the first vaccine ever to eliminate melanoma tumors in mice. It is a tiny bioengineered disc filled with tumor-specific antigens that can be inserted under the skin where it activates the immune system to destroy tumor cells. While typical tissue engineering involves growing cells outside the body, his novel approach reprograms cells that are already in the body. How did you choose and start off your career? Early on I had some people who were influential and at least explained to me what the possibilities were. I do not come from a technical background. My parents did not attend college, but all my siblings did, but when I went to college I had no idea what I wanted to do. I did not have one of those planned out careers. I went to a large public university, the University of Wisconsin and I had a great advisor in first year and on the tests he said ‘well you did really well in chemistry and math and have you ever thought of chemical engineering?’ At that stage I did not really know what that was, but his question led me down that path and I ended up realising that I really enjoyed chemical engineering, learning chemistry and particularly how to apply the sciences which I found very exciting. In my undergrad I was a co-op student, which means that you alternate semesters spending one going to school and the next working for a company. I did that also for financial reasons, I needed to pay my own way through college. I had planned to go to work for the company that I was co-op for, but in my last year one of my professors asked me to stay after class one day and asked if I had thought about graduate school. He explained what it was and said that he thought that I might enjoy it. He convinced me to apply and so that led to me enrolling at MIT. I originally intended just to stay for a Masters, but in that time I got exposed to a lot of research and in particular learned of this emerging field of tissue engineering, that was really just getting started and I got really enthused about the possibility of working in that space. The idea of being able to use my engineering background not to just make some product maybe faster and cheaper, but to actually have an impact on people’s lives was very compelling to me. So I decided to go into that research area.  I still had no intention of becoming a professor at that time, I assumed I would just go and work in industry when I was done, but near that end of my time at graduate school I got a couple of phone calls from Universities that were interested in my general research space had heard me give a talk at a conference. They wanted to know if I would be interested in applying for a faculty position. I did apply but was also looking at positions in industry because I had really enjoyed my time in industry, but I decided that the freedom to pursue my own ideas in academia was the main draw for me. I have stayed in an academic position where I do a lot of teaching because I found that I really enjoy engaging with the students. One of the things I like about academia is the diversity of activities, so I will walk into a classroom for an hour, engage with brilliant undergraduates and get a chance to see their excitement and enthusiasm and help them see some opportunities, and then you might engage with your PhD students and talk about the research projects you have underway, or talk to collaborators,  do some consulting for governments, have a chance to learn what is happening in other universities, companies and settings, so the diversity of experiences and the ability to work with young people and to teach, has been a lot of fun. Tell us a little about the research you are currently working on? We work in a lot of different areas but what holds all the work together is that we design materials that act to control biology in the body. At the end of the day we are trying to direct biology down certain pathways and we use these materials as our tool to try and achieve that goal. It ends up taking a lot of different directions and themes. One theme that has been very important in the laboratory for the last several years has been the idea of being able to pursue cellular therapies and the ability of cells to be very potent agents to address disease and to do this where we interface with those cells directly in the body. Really we’re trying to bypass the need to do ex-vivo cell manipulation which is a big issue in terms of cost and complexity and in making cell therapies broadly useful in the treatment of disease. So we are trying to simplify that by using materials to do that in-vivo. One way to think of it is as making cell factories within the body where we have a material and we bring in cells that already exist in the body and we manipulate those cells and then let them loose to go someplace else and do something useful. A big context for this has been in the area of immunotherapy, particularly cancer immunotherapy, where we’ve been trying to develop materials that can function as therapeutic vaccines to generate immune responses against pre-existing cancer. In that activity we are really targeting a particular kind of immune cell called the dendritic cell and now, we are increasingly beginning to target T-cell biology as a means of regulating immunity.  Another theme that’s been in existence in the laboratory for quite a while is the use of stem cells in trying to induce regeneration. We are now beginning to look at the intersection of immune cells and stem cells and how cells of the immune system, T cells, regulate regeneration. Another prominent area that we do research in is what I would call ‘mechano-regeneration’, which is where instead of using chemical cues or signals like drugs, we use mechanics to drive regeneration. So we are studying how mechanical properties of tissues vary in disease and how we can then make materials that have specific types of mechanical properties to enhance regeneration. These studies look at the intrinsic mechanical interaction between a cell and a material, how when a cell attaches it pulls and feels how stiff its surroundings are, but we are also then using materials to impose forces on cells to try to induce regenerative situations. How do you see it developing in the future? In ten years, the ideal scenario is that some of our immunotherapies, in the context of cancer will be established as effective means to treat cancer in patients. We’re at the very early stages of that now, at first clinical trials at this point in time. In ten years hopefully that’s enough time for us to understand if these really are effective in humans. For some of our stem cell therapy approaches, my hope is that in ten years we would be in the midst of clinical trials, evaluating. We will not know in ten years, but at that point we are at least on the path to figuring that out. What do you see as the key strength of a centre like CÚRAM? I’ve been really impressed with the ability to couple an understanding of biomaterials and fundamental biological principles with medical devices. It’s very exciting and clearly where the field is headed. I think CÚRAM has also done a wonderful job of bringing together the right players, many places cannot do that because they don’t have such a strong medical device industry presence or they do not have the combination of engineering, life sciences and clinical sciences but here you have all of the different facets you need to have an impact. I have been really impressed with the leadership at CÚRAM in terms of its vision of where this field can go and how you bring people together to make it happen.  So the intellectual part is there, the different players are there and then it seems that the infrastructure both in terms of facilities and the financial part has come together with the Irish Government engaged and recognising the importance of the work. I have been very enthused about how all the different components you need for a recipe to be successful are here and I think CÚRAM is seeing a lot of success. I have also met with some of the students and they are doing some really exciting projects that have both a lot of basic science implications but which could also potentially lead directly to new types of medical devices and therapies. What do you think is the key to successful collaboration? Finding common goals, often different types of researchers have very different objectives for their research. For collaboration to work you need to find a common ground where there’s something everyone is excited about, for example a new materials system being developed here, that then allows different applications and needs to be met depending for a variety of perspectives. I think this ability to bring people together and find common interests is really important and then having a forum to train the students in the different fields is critical. If the students aren’t appropriately exposed and trained in a multidisciplinary style approach, then it’s not going to work for the future as they are the ones doing the research. What is the greatest challenge in your area of research? The biggest challenge is that there are a lot of things you could do and so it’s trying to figure out what the most important thing to do is and where you should really invest your time. A very important skill to learn as part of that is learning to fail quickly. It is impossible, at least for me, to predict what’s going to be the most important thing to do, but if we can learn to quickly screen ideas to figure out which ones are not going to be useful , do the definitive experiment quickly, fail that and then know to move on and spend your time someplace else. What areas of research would you like to see tackled in the future? We’ve come a long way in translational research but there is still a long way to go. I think the funding mechanisms are not that well aligned and perhaps even the reward structure in academia is not set up to allow people who spend all the time and effort in translational work, collaborative work in these teams, to get the credit that they need to get. At this point in time this research in the US anyway, is largely a luxury for senior faculty members. Junior faculty members have to be very careful, because it does not result in papers or publications and that’s what the academic reward structure is set up around. We need to find the right way to not only foster but reward people who do this type of collaborative, multidisciplinary research. What advice would you give to a secondary school student who is unsure what career path to choose? There are two things I would say. The first is to do what you are excited about. Don’t do what people tell you is the right thing to do just because this area or that area will be important in the future. At every stage of my career I have just done what I was excited about at that stage and at least for me it’s worked out OK. The second is to realise that you are not making an irrevocable choice! You are probably going to go in a lot of different directions in your career, so do not get too worried or stressed about making this choice.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

‌On Tuesday June 12th, CÚRAM the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre in Medical Devices will be hosting Professor David Mooney as part of its Distinguished Seminar Series at NUI Galway. Prof Mooney is the Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute. The basic question that drives Mooney's research is: how do mammalian cells receive information from the materials in their environment. He studies the mechanisms by which chemical or mechanical signals are sensed by cells and alter their development to either promote tissue growth or destruction. Results from these studies are to design and synthesize new biomaterials that regulate the gene expression of interacting cells for a variety of tissue engineering and drug delivery projects. His current projects focus on the therapeutic development of blood vessels, regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues, and cancer therapies. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors and has won numerous awards, including the Clemson Award from the SFB, MERIT award from the NIH, Distinguished Scientist Award from the IADR, Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard College.  His inventions have been licensed by numerous companies, leading to commercialized products, and he is active on industrial scientific advisory boards “We are delighted to be hosting a speaker of David’s caliber” said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. “We are continuously building our research, industry and clinical networks at CÚRAM and David’s work aligns perfectly with our aim to translate exciting work in the laboratory to raise quality of life for people living with chronic illness.” The seminar, entitled ‘Building Immunity with Biomaterials’ will take place at 4.00pm, Tuesday, 12th June, 2018 in the Seminar Room in Biomedical Sciences, NUI Galway. Ends About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow on Twitter @curamdevices.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

CÚRAM PhD graduates, Dr Dilip Thomas and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa have both been awarded the 2018 Julia Polak European Doctorate Award, as part of the 29th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials in Maastricht, the Netherlands in September. They are the fifth and sixth CÚRAM graduates to receive this distinction.  The award is given by the European Society of Biomaterials Council and is presented annually at the event. Candidates nominated for the award must demonstrate that they have received a high standard of research education and training at a European level in the fields of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, and that they have also made significant scientific contributions having their research published in high impact journals, and accepted to present at top tier conferences in the field. Dr Mohd Isa’s PhD research focused on developing a potential new hydrogel treatment for lower back pain caused by disc degeneration, using a substance called hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid). Her research was recently published in the journal Science Advances. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a common reason for lost work days. Over 48% of Europeans and 80% of US citizens experience lower back pain due to degenerative intervertebral discs at some point in their lives, with associated healthcare expenditure estimated over $100 billion annually in the US and €5.34 billion in Ireland alone.  Commenting on her award, Dr Mohd Isa from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “I’m delighted to receive this award from the society. Our hope is that the success of this research could have an impact in the spinal research community and lead to potential treatment for people suffering degenerated discs and chronic back pain.” Dr Thomas’ doctoral research focused on the development of a microgel-based cell delivery device for the treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia (a severe obstruction of the arteries). The research adds to the current knowledge on cell encapsulation strategies (where transplanted cells are protected from immune rejection by an artificial membrane) by investigating the potential of biomaterials for this therapy. As a therapy, microgels would not only help faster tissue repair but also provide treatment for more patients. Dr Thomas is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Cardiovascular Institute at Stanford University where he currently works on disease modelling using stem cells. Speaking about his award, Dr Thomas from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “It is an honour to receive such a prestigious award from the European Society of Biomaterials and it is a testament to the excellent training I received from my advisors, Professor Abhay Pandit and Professor Timothy O’Brien, and my colleagues at NUI Galway.” The theme of this year’s European Society of Biomaterials conference will be ‘Materials for Life’, which expresses the challenge the field of biomaterials is currently facing, which is to provide effective and affordable biomaterials-based methods to repair and regenerate damaged and diseased tissues and organs. -Ends-

Thursday, 10 May 2018

CÚRAM Investigator Dr Martin O’Halloran, Director of the Lambe Translational Medical Device laboratory at NUI Galway is the only Irish scientist among fifty in Europe awarded European Research Council top-up funding, through a Proof of Concept Grant, to develop a novel hydrogel to treat chronic pain. The Proof of Concept grants, worth €150,000 each, are part of the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The top-up funding award will allow Dr O’Halloran to develop the results of his scientific hydrogel concept to file patent applications and attract capital to make the research marketable, and explore the commercial and societal potential of the product. Chronic nerve pain can significantly worsen people’s quality of life. According to international studies, one in five adults in Europe suffers from chronic pain which amounts to 95 million people. The novel gel being developed during this project can be used to treat many different types of peripheral nerve pain. One common type of chronic pain is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), a prolonged debilitating condition caused by a trauma to the trigeminal nerve, resulting in sudden attacks of excruciating shooting facial pain. It is infamously called the “suicide disease” due to the high number of suicides associated with it. Dr Martin O’ Halloran will use his Proof of Concept Grant to seek to develop this novel hydrogel, which aims to provide long-lasting and drug-free treatment for this condition and other areas affected by chronic nerve pain. Speaking about the project, Dr Martin O’ Halloran, Techrete Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding for our chronic pain project, given the tremendous impact the condition has on patients in Ireland. This project concept was co-developed with Dr Alison Liddy, an engineer-chemist at NUI Galway with a particular expertise in chronic pain. Given that this project marks our fourth European Research Council grant in four years, it is a great testament to the quality and hard work of the researchers in our laboratory.” A recently released independent review of this European Research Council innovation scheme showed that the initiative is “sound in concept and effective in practice”, helping ERC-funded scientists set up new companies, file patent applications and attract capital to make their research marketable. The new grants were awarded to researchers working in 12 countries: Austria (2 grants), Finland (3), Germany (7), Ireland (1), Israel (8), Italy (3), Netherlands (3), Norway (1), Spain (5), Sweden (3), Switzerland (3) and the UK (11). The grant scheme is only open to European Research Council grantees who can apply for funding in one of the three rounds of the call every year. The results of this first round of 2018, in which the European Research Council evaluated 114 applications. The budget of the 2018 competition is €20 million. For more information about the funded projects, visit: https://erc.europa.eu/erc-proof-concept-grant-2018-project-examples and to read the independent review of the ERC innovation scheme, visit: https://erc.europa.eu/news/review_praises_erc_poc_scheme   -Ends-  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway together with the Galway City Arts Office, have launched a new Community Art-Science exhibition in the Westside community in Galway City. By award winning art duo, Cleary Connolly (Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly), ‘AFTERIMAGE’, shows portraits of 19 people who live or work in the Westside of Galway, and reveals the remarkable diversity of contemporary Irish society. The exhibit, now permanently housed in the Westside Resource Centre, consists of 19 portraits, each composed of a black and white portrait accompanied by a colour negative mapping. Each portrait is set against a background of images drawn from science and research, which are highly aesthetic images that warrant a second look to decipher their content. Each participant is a researcher, either in real life or in their imagination, and so while the CÚRAM researchers appear against images drawn from their own work, the local community are set against images referring to their preferred area of research, in response to the question; “If you were a researcher what would you research?” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “We aim to inspire and engage all communities with current and cutting edge research that’s happening here in Ireland. 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.” Commenting on the project, artist Anne Cleary, said: “We were really interested in CÚRAM’s work on corneal implants and also in advanced biomimicry. Our work is all about perception, how people see the world, how they adapt. We were privileged to work with such a diverse and interesting group of people from the Westside community and have been greatly inspired by all of the participants and their ideas.” Participants who featured in the project include Suriya, originally from India. If she was a researcher her main area of research interest would be genetics, in particular stem cells and stem cell treatments, which she thinks have the potential to treat an enormous range of diseases and conditions that plague millions of people around the world. Mary, originally from Roscommon and now living in Westside, became interested in the effects of salt intake on the body, having participated in a sodium clinical trial at University Hospital Galway. Francis, who currently lives in Galway having returned from overseas, works in social care, youth, community and social services. He is interested in exploring the metaphor of “all persons as scientists” and would like to see science used more to understand issues that really affect us personally and societally. Precious is originally from Zimbabwe and would like to learn more about the environment, soil improvement and agriculture. She is also interested in the Natural Sciences, and is particularly interested in research at CÚRAM related to developing medical adhesives derived from marine life. According to James Harrold, Arts Officer, Galway City Council, the project has very successfully brought the worlds of art and science together. “I am delighted to see how positive an experience this has been for all involved and we look forward to deepening connections between these communities in the coming year.” 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. “It has been hugely rewarding to be part of the process and bring different parts of the community together. I think we have all learned something new and it’s definitely created a great deal of curiosity about the research that’s happening right here on our doorstep” he says. 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.  It has a strong focus on empowering diverse communities with knowledge and providing new ways for people to engage and interact with its cutting edge research. The exhibit is now installed at the Westside Resource Centre. The project team will be showing the exhibit at various events around the country throughout the year.   For more information on the artists and their work please visit www.connolly-cleary.com Cleary and Connolly’s work is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. To view ‘AFTERIMAGE’ by Cleary Connolly, visit: https://youtu.be/_p-Qg3koPCA To view videos from the Art-Science Exhibition launch, see links below: Claire Riordan, CÚRAM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U2Wen6beZM Abhay Pandit, CÚRAM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4Z05BFxcLQ James Harrold, Galway City Council: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-mK0mF2JgU James Coyne, Westside Resource Centre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhXHRwY4Mw4 Andrea Fitzpatrick, CÚRAM and Denis Connolly, Cleary Connolly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUqdMTduMww -Ends- For more information about the exhibit contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow 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 NUI Galway.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway has been elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)College of Fellows. The honour comes in recognition of his outstanding contributions to establishing a national centre which will develop transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. AIMBE is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., representing the most accomplished individuals in the fields of medical and biological engineering. Prof Pandit built a critical mass of biomaterial expertise in Ireland through the establishment of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials, a strategic cluster that developed implantable materials for cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and soft tissue repair. Building on this critical mass of expertise, he now leads the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) based at the National University of Ireland Galway. CÚRAM brings together 510 researchers with synergistic expertise in biomaterials, biomechanics, regenerative medicine, glycobiology, drug delivery and medical implant design, in addition to 27 industry partners. Commenting on his election to the College of Fellows, Prof Pandit said “I am delighted and honoured to be recognised by such an esteemed group. Our goal at CÚRAM is to radically improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness and through our work here I look forward to contributing to AIMBE’s critical mission of advancing excellence and advocating for the fields of medical and biological engineering” Prof. Pandit has already been inducted as an International Fellow in Biomaterials Science and Engineering and a Fellow of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society.– the first Irish academic to receive both these honour. Prof. Pandit has co-ordinated four EU projects worth € 14.1 million and is a Senior Associate Editor of Biomaterials and an Executive Editorial Board member for Tissue Engineering journals. He has also developed an education and public engagement programme at CÚRAM to create innovative ways for communities to engage with STEM and to increase the visibility of Irish research in the biomedical engineering field, both nationally and internationally. The goal of the programme is to build and maintain strong relationships with key community partners to bring outputs to under-represented and under-engaged communities to increase diversity of researchers within the field. Prof. Pandit was peer-nominated, peer-reviewed, and peer-elected and will become a Fellow of this prestigious group of medical and biological engineers that includes Nobel laureates, Presidential Medal of Science winners and members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, at an induction ceremony in Washington, D.C. today, April 9, 2018. The organization brings together academia, industry, government, and scientific societies into a highly influential community in medical and biological engineering. AIMBE is a non-profit, honorific society of the most accomplished individuals in the fields of medical and biological engineering. AIMBE's mission is to advocate for biomedical engineering innovation through public policy initiatives. AIMBE’s Annual Meeting and Induction Ceremony brings together the most accomplished researchers, innovators, and clinicians. This gathering is the only biomedical engineering conference combining scientific lectures with public policy discussions. AIMBE’s achievements and program of work can be viewed at www.aimbe.org. ENDS Image:  Dr Gilda Barabiono, President of AIMBE with Prof Abhay Pandit, CÚRAM and Prof Anthony Guiseppi-Elle, AIMBE College of Fellows Chair at the 2018 Induction Ceremony in Washington this week. About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow on Twitter @curamdevices.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Professor Abhay Pandit and his research team at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has just published their research into a potential new treatment for lower back pain in the prestigious journal Science Advances. A biomaterial-based therapy developed by the researchers can be adapted to an injectable system which is far preferable to surgical intervention. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a common reason for lost work days. Over 48% of Europeans and 80% of US citizens experience lower back pain due to degenerative intervertebral discs (IVDs) at some point in their lives, with associated healthcare expenditure estimated at over $100 billion dollars annually in US and €5.34 billion in Ireland alone. The prevalence of back pain is set to increase substantially in the coming years due to our ageing population. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc results in the compression of the spinal nerves and adjacent vertebrae. Recently, as an alternative to the current conservative treatment or surgical interventions for lower back pain, which are non-regenerative in nature, researchers have started to investigate whether regeneration of the inflamed disc is possible. In the clinic, a substance called hyaluronan (also known as hyaluronic acid) has been shown to facilitate long-term functional improvements by reducing inflammation and pain in a number of clinical conditions, including osteoarthritis surgeries. Hyaluronan is a structural component of tissues in the body, providing strength, lubrication and hydration within the cell’s environment. It also regulates cell movement and behaviour making it an important, active molecule for cell communication. The multidisciplinary research team working on this project included Professor Abhay Pandit, Professor Peter Dockery, Professor David Finn and Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, with researchers Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa and Dr Sunny Abbah, based at NUI Galway, as well as Dr Daisuke Sakai from the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tokai University School of Medicine in Kanagawa, Japan. Lead author of the study, Prof. Abhay Pandit from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The mechanisms by which hyaluronan targets inflammatory pain in disc degeneration had never been assessed. Our research focused on assessing whether a hyaluronan hydrogel has the ability to reduce inflammatory pain and promote disc repair. The results now suggest that it does indeed have a potential therapeutic application for the treatment of back pain associated with disc degeneration.” Implantation of the hyaluronan hydrogel alleviates pain by favourably modulating cellular processes, suggesting promise as a potential therapy in the treatment of back pain. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The hyaluronan formulation we have developed can be adapted to an injectable system which is far preferable to surgical intervention in these cases. We are delighted to see this research being acknowledged in a top journal like Science Advances. Our aim at CÚRAM is to radically improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness and this research takes us a step forward toward to doing just that for sufferers of disc degeneration and lower back pain.” Interest in this technology has already been expressed by CÚRAM’s industry partners and has resulted in further collaborative work in this area. To read the full study in Science Advances, visit: http://advances.sciencemag.org/ Science Advances is a prestigious journal from American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that publishes innovative original research across all disciplines of science freely to a global audience. -Ends- For more information about the research contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate at CÚRAM, NUI Galway at 091 494414 or claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Image: Anatomical representation of the spine where intervertebral discs are located between the vertebral bones. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow 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 NUI Galway.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, Investigator at CÚRAM the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices and Director of the Regenerative, Modular and Developmental Engineering Laboratory (REMODEL) at NUI Galway, has published an innovative new laboratory method to analyse materials used in implants in the prestigious Nature Protocols Journal. Nature Protocols is an online journal publishing high-quality, citable, peer-reviewed protocols from the leading laboratories in all fields of biological and biomedical science. The journal includes both classical methods and cutting-edge techniques relevant to the study of biological problems. Dr Zeugolis and his research team have developed a ‘toolbox’ for the characterization of mammalian collagen (type I) in biological specimens. In vertebrates, collagen is the major component of connective tissues, for example making up 75% of human skin, 80% of the organic matter in human bone, 90% of human tendon and 90% of human cornea. It is primarily responsible for the mechanical integrity and specific function of these tissues. This abundance of collagen in human tissues has triggered scientific research into its use as a raw material for implant fabrication. Collagen type I is the most abundant protein found in the cell environment, and collagen type I tissue grafts, biomaterials are used extensively in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. “Many studies however, for convenience or economic reasons, do not accurately determine collagen type I purity, concentration or solubility which can frequently result in incorrect conclusions in the lab” explains Dr Zeugolis. “We have developed this protocol to provide a comprehensive, yet fast and readily implemented toolbox, for collagen type I characterization in any biological specimen.” Despite the substantial strides in extraction, purification and characterization of collagen, issues such as batch-to-batch variability, reproducibility and accurate characterization, in both tissue context and cell culture environment, remain a problem. These inconsistencies can result in erroneous experimental conclusions, which may lead to unnecessary preclinical testing and failure in clinical setting trials. Thus, there is a pressing need for standardization of procedures for the extraction of collagen so as to standardize quality and therefore increase reproducibility of experimental results.  The Nature Protocols publication can be accessed at https://www.nature.com/articles/nprot.2017.117. CÚRAM Investigator Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis is Director of the Regenerative, Modular and Developmental Engineering Laboratory (REMODEL) at NUI Galway. ENDS ABOUT CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow on Twitter @curamdevices.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Medical device research in cardiovascular illnesses will allow surgeons to support minimally invasive procedures and improve outcomes for patients. Washington D.C., 14th March 2018 – An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, today announced a new research project between CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at National University Ireland (NUI) Galway, and Boston Scientific. The research will enhance medical devices that allow surgeons to support minimally invasive procedures when carrying out life-saving repairs for aneurysms and aortic valve repair. It is one of several new research projects emerging from the collaboration between CÚRAM and Boston Scientific. Speaking at a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) event in Washington DC to celebrate and build scientific collaboration between Ireland and the United States as part of the St Patrick’s Day Festival, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said, “These new research projects are further evidence of the high calibre of our research talent and the continued growth of the medical devices sector in Ireland.”   “Thanks to significant Government investment in R&D through Science Foundation Ireland, we have built a world-class research ecosystem, and Ireland is now recognised as a global leader in creative, innovative technologies. By collaborating with industry on innovative research, I hope we can look forward to the development of new and affordable solutions for chronic diseases, which can have a transformative effect on people's lives.”   Boston Scientific products touch the lives of more than 25 million patients each year. Its Galway facility, which focuses on cardiovascular devices, is the company’s largest facility in Ireland. Key product lines include drug-eluting stents, biliary stents, and catheters.   This new project, led by CÚRAM Principal Investigator (PI) Dr Niamh Hynes, offers the exciting potential to develop new devices by bringing together clinical and industry expertise and experience with biomedical and scientific research excellence.   “This unique, multi-disciplinary, specialist environment is key to CÚRAM’s success in developing strong programmes of work with our industry partners; in this case bringing substantial investment from Boston Scientific,” said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM. “This project is in addition to three other ongoing research projects with Boston Scientific.”   Interventional cardiology is a branch of cardiology dealing specifically with catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. Minimally invasive transcatheter procedures for aortic valve repair, which involve inserting a replacement valve are being used more frequently, reducing the risk of surgery for patients. Research is now focusing on the development of novel interventional solutions, which allow blood to flow in the correct direction through the heart. CÚRAM Principle Investigator, Dr Faisal Sharif, in collaboration with Boston Scientific, is developing technology to further reduce risk and improve outcomes for patients undergoing these surgeries.   Another research project, led by CÚRAM Investigator Prof Tim O’ Brien, is carrying out a preclinical evaluation of a catheter device to support muscle and vascular regeneration in patients suffering from critical limb ischaemia; a severe obstruction of the arteries which reduces blood flow to the extremities. CÚRAM investigators Prof Gearoid Ó Laighin and Dr Leo Quinlan are also collaborating with Boston Scientific on the development of a novel implantable electrical stimulation device to improve cardiovascular circulation.   Prof Mark Ferguson, Science Foundation Ireland Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said “The significant work being carried out by the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM continues to position Ireland at the forefront of the world medical device industry. I am delighted with the announcement of this new research partnership, which highlights the world-class reputation of Ireland as an important centre for R&D. The deepening of CÚRAM’s industry research collaborations is a testament to the research talent and collaborative environment which companies can access in Ireland. I am also confident that the project outcomes have the potential to positively transform human health across the world.”    “CÚRAM’s goal is to establish long-term strategic relationships with our industry partners, to complete projects that advance medical device technologies and inventions and convert these into products and services that benefit the patient,” said Prof Pandit. “Our Industry Programme Team facilitates and supports collaborations such as the projects we are working on with Boston Scientific; from the initial enquiry right through to knowledge transfer and the identification of future projects.”   CÚRAM is a world-leading SFI Research Centre that brings together researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick. Its overarching aim is to radically improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. CÚRAM’s clinical targets include cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, neural disorders, musculoskeletal issues, soft tissue repair and renal and urological disease. ENDS Image:  Pictured at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC (left to right): Carmel McGroarty Mitchell, CÚRAM Industry Programme Manager, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, and Dr David Knapp, Vice President, Corporate Research, Boston Scientific.   ABOUT CÚRAM:   CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre network. It aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illnesses, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include the National University of Ireland Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick and Clinical Research Development Ireland. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing. CÚRAM brings together clinical, industry and research teams with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow on Twitter @curamdevices.

Monday, 12 March 2018

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, will partner with five other European institutions to develop new advanced therapies and technologies in skin regeneration for the treatment of burns and chronic wounds. The €4 million NanoGrowSkin project will involve a multidisciplinary healthcare approach to develop an improved chronic wound therapy. The goal of this project is to develop a bioengineered human skin substitute, improving the manufacturing process, shortening the production time, and enhancing its treatment effectiveness. Director of CÚRAM, Professor Abhay Pandit, who will lead the research project from NUI Galway, said: “The skin is the main protective barrier the body has against any external attack. Any skin disease or injury needs to be treated immediately. The most common conditions are wounds, pressure ulcers and burns, and current treatments based on the use of skin grafts, or even on implanting skin originating from a donor, are associated with several problems. In this project we will be investigating the development of a bioengineered human skin substitute that would be a suitable option for treating patients.” Until now, different types of artificial skin covers have been designed, although none of them has successfully reproduced the accurate structure and functions of the native human skin. Moreover, they can also present some disadvantages, such as a high bacterial infection risk, low biological activity and low regenerative effectiveness. “We aim to overcome the two major drawbacks of severe skin wounds, the urgent need of an effective skin implant in life-threatening situations and to avoid/counteract usual bacterial infections”, added Professor Pandit. The international research team will take advantage of their combined expertise on tissue engineering, to manufacture an autologous (from the patient’s own body) skin substitute comprised of materials whose safety and efficacy have already been proven in humans. The first milestone of the NanoGrowSkin project will be the optimisation of human artificial skin models by using pharmaceutical quality products and the implementation of novel methods, such as nanomedicine technologies. Nanotechnology is technology that works at the nano scale (one nanometer is one billionth of a metre). Nanomedicine is utilising nanotechnology for medical purposes. This will allow the development of biomaterials with improved and suitable biomechanical and antimicrobial properties for use in patients with burns and chronic wounds. The second aim of NanoGrowSkin will be to adapt the production of these new tools towards an optimal regulatory framework, including Good Manufacturing Practice regulation and European Medicines Agency guidelines. Finally, the project will include the development of a market access approach in order to estimate the benefits of this treatment for the entire society. The envisaged model will include the calculation of cost per patient as well as potential cost-savings and/or cost-effective measures for the affordable introduction of the tissue-engineered treatment. The project team, led by Professor Miguel Alaminos, Health Research Institute in Granada and the University of Granada, Spain, with partners from the Italian Biochemical Institute, the University of Bordeaux and the University of Technology of Compiègne in France, CÚRAM at NUI Galway and the company OSI Health XXI in Spain.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Calling all documentary makers, can research cure a broken heart? This year, CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre are offering funding to filmmakers interested in producing a documentary that engages with research into cardiovascular illnesses and stroke, currently underway at CÚRAM. The ‘Science on Screen’ scheme, a funding strand for creative documentaries set in the world of science, is now in its third year. The scheme will 100% fund one 26 minute film with a budget of €35,000 that promotes the public understanding of science. The scheme forms part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme which supports the Science Foundation Ireland objective of having the most scientifically informed and engaged public. The Science on Screen Information Day will take place on Friday 9th March for filmmakers and producers. A range of top researchers and clinicians will give an overview of their work, followed by a Q&A and opportunities to discuss ideas with the speakers. The schedule for the day will include: 10.45: Welcome by CÚRAM 11.00: William Wijns – Professor in Interventional Cardiology 11.15: Niamh Hynes – Vascular & Endovascular Surgical Registrar at the Galway Clinic 11.30: Abhay Pandit – Scientific Director, CÚRAM, SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices 11.45: Karen Doyle – Lecturer in Physiology and Principal Investigator at CÚRAM 12.00: Martin O’Halloran – Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics and Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab 12.15: CROÍ – Fighting Heart Disease & Stroke 12.30: Galway Film Centre – Application Guidelines for Science on Screen Science on Screen is a Galway City of Film initiative between Galway Film Centre and CÚRAM. Since 2016, three Science on Screen films have been produced that have achieved success both nationally and internationally. What: Science on Screen Information Day When: Friday 9th March Time: 10:45am – 1.30pm Where: Seminar Room, CÚRAM, SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Biomedical Sciences Building, Newcastle Rd, NUI Galway Registration: Through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/science-on-screen-information-day-tickets-43031026960 Trailers for previously funded commissions are available here: Science on Screen 2016 ‘Feats of Modest Valour': https://vimeo.com/184564095 ‘Mending Legends': https://vimeo.com/189779551 Science on Screen 2017 ‘Bittersweet': https://vimeo.com/242714712 For more information on Science on Screen see: www.galwayfilmcentre.ie and www.curamdevices.ie ENDS About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway is part of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre Network, and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic Illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. Clinical targets include cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, musculoskeletal and respiratory illnesses as well as soft tissue and wound healing.  Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow us on twitter @curamdevices.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Professor John Laffey, Investigator at CÚRAM and Professor of Anaesthesia at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway was one of five recipients of the Science Foundation Ireland ‘President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Awards’, honoured by President Michael D. Higgins at a special ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin. Professor Laffey is also a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospital. His basic and translational research is focused on critical illnesses, particularly sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome. His major research focus is the investigation of the therapeutic potential of cell therapies for these devastating illnesses. He also has a longstanding interest in the effects and mechanisms of hypercapnic acidosis (hypoventilation that increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood and decreases the blood’s pH) in acute respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis. Commenting on his award, worth €1.54 million, Professor John Laffey, said: “This Future Research Leaders Award will enable me to relocate my research group to CÚRAM, joining a dynamic group of researchers with leading edge expertise in regenerative medicine, immunology and tissue engineering. This world class environment will facilitate the discovery of the potential for stem cells to enhance the response of the immune system to severe sepsis.” Prior to his recent move to Ireland, Professor John Laffey was Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, co-director of the Critical Illness and Injury Research Centre at the Keenan Centre for Biomedical Research of St. Michael’s Hospital, and Professor of Anesthesia, Critical Care Medicine and Physiology at the University of Toronto. Congratulating Professor Laffey on his award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have someone of John’s calibre join the team at CÚRAM. His experience and expertise will help drive the research agenda at the centre and fits exactly with the strategic aims of CÚRAM, to improve quality of life for patients living with chronic illness.” Congratulating the awardees, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award is designed to attract to Ireland outstanding new and emerging research talent. In supporting these talented and innovative individuals, we are delighted to recognise early career researchers who have already displayed exceptional leadership potential at the frontiers of knowledge. The development of leadership skills in these researchers early in their careers is vital to ensure research and innovation in Ireland continues to progress. Our investment highlights the importance that Science Foundation Ireland places on supporting all stages of academic careers, and on the attraction and retention of star researchers.” CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners, and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. -Ends- For more information 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: Professor John Laffey, Investigator at CÚRAM and Professor of Anaesthesia at  Notes to Editors About The President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme The President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme recruits and retains outstanding new and emerging early career research leaders in both scientific and engineering domains, with a focus on research excellence with impact to Ireland. The award also aims to attract early career researchers from Ireland that are working abroad, to carry out their research in Ireland. Awardees are selected on the basis of exceptional accomplishments in science and engineering in all areas covered by Science Foundation Ireland’s legal remit and on the basis of creative research plans that are built on work that has attracted international attention. Dr Tomás Ryan was awarded under the President of Ireland Young Researcher Award (PIYRA) Programme which preceded the President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Programme. These five awards represent an investment of €7 million and will also cumulatively support the additional employment of six postdoctoral researchers, seven PhD students and two research assistants. Visit the Science Foundation Ireland website for more information. About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway is funded by SFI and industry partners and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic Illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. Read more at www.curamdevices.ie or follow us on twitter @curamdevices.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Research at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has been featured on the cover of the prestigious journal ‘Advanced Materials’. The image, created by CÚRAM Graphic artist Maciek Doczyk was used by the journal which has an impact factor of 19.79.  The cover of Advanced Materials is highly coveted, instantly recognisable and associated worldwide with the highest quality research from the top researchers in the field. The cover image was published in association with a paper entitled “Engineering Customized Niches through Cell Encapsulation” written by Dr Dilip Thomas, Prof Abhay Pandit and Prof Tim O’Brien. This paper reports on cell entrapment methodologies, using biomaterials that have been used in the field of tissue engineering, with both clinical and preclinical application to regenerate or restore tissue function and homeostasis. The need to understand cell- matrix interactions in a problem solving manner, moving forward from a device that simply protects the cell environment to a biomimetic, interactive tissue-like device that can provide cell-instructive cues is elucidated in this paper. Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said ‘We are delighted to see our research being so prominently displayed, especially in such a prestigious journal and I’d like to congratulate Maciek Doczyk who does excellent work in illustrating the research so well.” CÚRAM’s scientific research programme addresses key problems, technical challenges and the current limitations in medical device design and functionalisation, focusing on improving existent devices, developing convergent technologies into clinical solutions and establishing quality systems of standardisation. ENDS  

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, is part of a network of nine partners and two sub-partners from seven countries involved in the newly launched ‘Codex4SMEs’ project (Companion Diagnostics expedited for small and medium-sized enterprises) to assist companies with the development of such services, in the field of ‘personalised medicine’. The aim of this project is to build a transnational network to accelerate the development of companion diagnostics for small and medium-sized businesses. The project is part of the Interreg North-West Europe programme. Interreg forms part of the structural and investment policy of the European Union, supporting cross-border cooperation between regions and cities. Companion diagnostics are essential to the field of ‘personalised medicine’. They allow tests to determine the molecular causes of a disease before treatment is started. This allows every patient to receive personalised medication in the correct dosage and at the right time. However, to date the development of companion diagnostics has been time-consuming and costly, and used in very few treatment scenarios. Led by German partner BioRegio STERN Management GmbH, the three year project has a total budget of over €3 million as part of the Interreg North-West Europe programme. The initial meeting with all of the partners will take place on 29 and 30 January 2018 in Stuttgart. Project leader, Dr Margot Jehle of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH, said: “The combination of regional economic development organisations and biobanks creates the ideal conditions to provide companies with direct access to specific expertise such as the verification of biomarkers, in other words parameters of biological processes as indicators of diseases.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The development of transformative, affordable solutions for patients with chronic illness is a key goal at CÚRAM and we’re delighted to be partnering with such a strong network on this project. We work closely with academics, industry and clinicians and this project will only further enhance our networks across Europe, which are critical for driving medical device research and development.” CÚRAM, along with WestBIC (EU Business and Innovation Centre for Irelands Border, Midlands and Western Region) are the two Irish partners involved in the project. Other partners include the University of Leicester, with Medilink Midlands as a regional sub-partner from the UK; from France, the Medicen Paris Region cluster; from the Netherlands, BOM Holding BV and the Innovation Quarter; with a regional sub-partner from Luxembourg, the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg, IBBL; and from Austria, the Biobank Graz at the Medical University of Graz. CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners, and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. -Ends- For more information about the project contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. 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.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has formalised an agreement for academic collaboration with representatives from the Biomedical Manufacturing Technology Centre (BMTC) at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH).   The joint Memorandum of Understanding will see KITECH and CÚRAM establish a programme for academic cooperation to jointly organize conferences and workshops on topics of mutual interest and to exchange faculty and students for limited periods of time for purpose of education and /or research. Commenting on the agreement, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said “Both organisations have significant mutual interests that include advanced material research, biomedical technology and the development of efficient manufacturing processes for tissue applications, chronic wound management applications and therapeutics for various diseases. I’m delighted to have progressed this relationship and look forward to the benefits of sharing expertise and training opportunities for our researchers”. It is expected that the first researchers from KITECH will be visiting Ireland and CÚRAM in mid-2018. The agreement provides an excellent forum to create and develop synergistic academic projects that will benefit both countries. According to Dr Woo Jong Lee, a head of BMTC, “We expect Ireland, as a global leader in the Medtech industry, to be an excellent partner and gateway to the EU market. We, KITECH and BMTC, are delighted to be able to establish this collaborative partnership with CÚRAM, a world leading biomedical research centre, based on the MoU signed in December 2017. We believe this MoU will be a cornerstone for establishing collaborative relationships in the future between the biomedical ecosystems of our two countries.” “Our confidence in the future of the MedTech sector in Ireland is largely based on the talent and skills of our young researchers and at CÚRAM and training and development of our students to the highest level, in a multi-disciplinary environment is a priority” adds Prof Pandit. CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is funded by SFI and industry partners and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic Illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. KITECH (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology) is government-funded research institute and drives the nation's industrial advancement by the development and commercialization of fundamental technologies and technology support for SMEs. BMTC (Biomedical Manufacturing Technology Center), an affiliated research center of KITECH, has established R&BD supporting system for medical device manufacturing, especially in intervention and minimally invasive surgery fields.    Ends

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

Contact CÚRAM

+353 (0) 91 495833