Mar 09 2021 Posted: 07:00 GMT

Three CÚRAM PhD graduates; Paolo Contessotto, Juhi Samal and Mark Fernandez, have been awarded the Julia Polak European Doctorate Award 2021 of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) and will be presented with their awards at the General Assembly of the next ESB conference to be held from 5-9 September 2021 in Porto. They are the latest CÚRAM graduates to receive this acknowledgement, following in the footsteps of six earlier CÚRAM alumni.

The award is given by the ESB council and presented annually at the conference event. Candidates nominated for the award needed to demonstrate that they have received high standard research education and training at a European level in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and that they are also able to produce scientific results deserving recognition by being published and accepted in high-quality journals and conferences.

To this end, candidates will have had to spend at least one month of research work in a country outside the country of their home institution, have produced at least two peer-reviewed international publications as the first author and have participated at least twice at an international scientific meeting as presenting author, during their PhD.

Dr Contessotto's PhD research focused on developing an injectable hydrogel to repair the heart muscle after a heart attack. His research has recently been published in the prestigious Science Translational Medicine Journal and has received extensive media coverage. Dr Samal's research focused on investigating several biomaterial constructs for therapeutic delivery and enhanced graft survival in the brain, which resulted in three research publications and grant funding success. Both were supervised by Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. Dr Manus Biggs supervised Dr Fernandez's doctoral research that focussed on developing a synthetic fibrous scaffold to promote tendon repair. The technology developed was specifically designed to address the biological, mechanical and adhesions issues in rotator cuff tendon repair and used electrospinning to generate a highly structured and porous scaffold made from an inert synthetic polymer.

"It is very gratifying for any researcher to have their work recognised in this way, and I'm extremely proud that CÚRAM graduates continue to be acknowledged for the quality of their training and research outputs. All of our researchers put extraordinary amounts of energy, time and effort into their work, and I'd like to congratulate Paolo, Juhi and Mark on this award which they richly deserve," said Prof Pandit.

Since its establishment in 1976, the ESB conference has been a significant event for the biomaterials science community. ESB 2021 will once again bring together all major disciplines of biomaterials science and enabling participants to network with colleagues, establish new collaborations, exchange knowledge, and discuss recent advances in emerging biomaterials-related topics.

CÚRAM's research focuses on developing diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. The recent announcement of a €46M reinvestment in CÚRAM by Science Foundation Ireland in February 2021 demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations and the education and training of high-quality graduates for the sector. For more information, follow us on Twitter @CURAMdevices or visit www.curamdevices.ie

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