Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn


31 December 2013

December: TERG recaps year at Christmas Symposium

The TERG held its annual Christmas Symposium in early December with three minute talks being presented by a number of group members. The two categories of talks included ‘first year group members' and ‘publication showcases'. The talks were judged by a number of PIs and winning talks included those by Mr. Tomas Gonzalez Fernandez (1st, first years), Mr. William Whyte (2nd, first years), Dr. Tanya Levingstone (1st, showcases) and Dr. Andrew Cameron (2nd, showcases). The talks were followed by group festivities including an exhibition of Christmas jumpers.

TERG members celebrate after Christmas Symposium

Members of the TERG after the 2013 Christmas Symposium, wearing traditional Christmas jumpers. 

October: Opening of Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research Centre (AMBER)

On the 24th of October, members of the TERG joined researchers from Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, as well as a host of industry representatives, journalists and politicians, for the opening of the €58 million Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research Centre (AMBER). The Opening Day, which was held at Croke Park, included addresses from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, and the Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock. A showcase of the research from the various factions of AMBER was also on display. AMBER is being funded by Science Foundation Ireland together with 18 industry partners.

Ministers with Prof. O'Brien

Prof. Fergal O'Brien (centre) explaining the type of research being conducted with the TERG to Minister Bruton (left) and Minister Sherlock (right).

October: Orthopaedic surgeon gives prize winning presentation at surgical meeting

On the 19th of October, Mr. Emmet Thompson, an orthopaedic surgeon completing his PhD in the TERG, was awarded 1st prize at the 23rd Waterford Surgical October Meeting, which was held in conjunction with the Surgical Section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland and in association with the Irish Association of Vascular Surgeons (IAVS). The theme of the meeting was Vascular Surgery and Trauma. Mr. Thompson's award winning presentation was entitled "The In Vivo Ability of Tissue Engineered Cartilage to Promote Bone Regeneration in Weight-Bearing and Nonweight-Bearing Sites" and this work was funded by the Health Research Board.

October: Otolaryngologist surgeon gives prize winning presentation at surgical meeting

Ms Phoebe Roche, an Otolaryngologist surgeon completing her MD within the TERG, was awarded Best Research Paper Presentation at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Irish Otolaryngology Head and Neck Society. Ms Roche’s prize winning presentation was entitled “Tissue regenerative potential of olfactory neuro epithelial derived stem cells”. The conference was held on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th October at the Ashford Castle in Cong, Co. Mayo.

October: The TERG highlighted in interview with Medical Independent

An article describing some of the work carried out by the TERG was featured in the October 10th issue of the Medical Independent. In an interview with Bette Browne, Prof. Fergal O’Brien gives an overview of the different areas of regenerative medicine research within the TERG, including bone, cartilage, cardiovascular and nerve applications. 

October: Accolades continue for undergraduate work in the TERG

Following his recent achievement of winning the Medical Sciences category of The Undergraduate Awards, Mr Joseph Sweeney has received the Servier Medal 2012/2013 for the best final year project in Pharmacy at RCSI. This was awarded on the basis of assessment of the research project entitled "Investigation of the influence of Aquamin on bone strength following oestrogen deficiency in a rat ovariectomy model of osteoporosis", which was conducted under the supervision of Prof. O'Brien & Dr. Orlaith Brennan.

Joseph Sweeney Servier Award 

Prof. Fergal O'Brien (left), Prof. Hannah McGee (Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, centre) and Mr. Joseph Sweeny (right).

October: Successes at RCSI Medical Sciences Course

The Department of Anatomy recently held a two week long, intensive Medical Sciences Course. In addition to members of the TERG helping to organise and run the course, a number of recent additions to the group, Mr William Lackington, Ms Rukmani Sridharan, Ms Tatiane Eufrásio and Mr Tomas Gonzalez Fernandez, also completed the course. William, Rukmani, Tatiane and Tomas are all new PhD students who have started in the TERG.

Medical Sciences Course 2013

Organisers, teachers and participants of the RCSI Medical Sciences Course 2013.  

September: TERG PhD student claims prize in Thesis in 3 competition

Mr Alan Ryan, a PhD student in the TERG, has taken 2nd place in the inter-institutional (AMBER) round of the Thesis in 3 competition. This competition requires students to convey the concept of their thesis to a lay audience in 3 minutes or less using only limited, pre-timed visual slides. Mr Ryan will be now be presenting his talk, “Growing blood vessels: Not just a pipe dream?” at the national Thesis in 3 final in Smock Alley theatre on the 30th of October at 7pm.

September: Undergraduate student takes out international prize

Mr Joseph Sweeney, an RCSI undergraduate student in the School of Pharmacy, has been awarded first place in the Medical Sciences category at The Undergraduate Awards for work he conducted in the TERG. The Undergraduate Awards is the only international pan-discipline academic awards programme in the world. Mr Sweeney's essay, entitled "Investigation of the influence of a mineral supplement on tissue level bone density and mechanical strength following estrogen deficiency in a rat ovariectomy model of early stage postmenopausal osteoporosis", was selected as the winning piece of work from almost 4000 submissions hailing from 182 third-level institutions internationally. This work was carried out under the supervision of Dr. Orlaith Brennan and Prof. Fergal O'Brien of the TERG. 

September: TERG research features on RTE One

On the 13th of September, the TERG was featured on the television show The Science Squad, shown at 7.30 pm on RTE One. The Science Squad is a show that explores the contributions that Irish researchers are making to international scientific advances. In the latest show, which was the second episode in an eight part series, Prof. O’Brien and members of the TERG demonstrate some of the work that is being carried out in the group, specifically relating to the healing and regeneration of bones. In addition to being shown on The Science Squad, this work was also highlighted in the Irish Daily MailIrish Daily StarIrish Examiner and Metro Herald 

July: TERG PI awarded prestigious Fullbright Scholarship 

On July 12th, Dr. Garry Duffy of the TERG was one of 37 recipients presented with a prestigious Fullbright Award. Fulbright Awards are given annually by the Irish and U.S. governments and provide Irish students, scholars, and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture, and research at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. With this award, Dr. Duffy will undertake research on developing restorative therapies for acute myocardial infarctions at Harvard University. What makes this award even more commendable for Dr. Duffy is that this is the 2nd time he has been granted a Fullbright Award, with his first being awarded in 2006 when he carried out research in cardiovascular tissue engineering and stem cell biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Prof O'Brien, Dr Duffy and Prof Lee at Fullbright Awards

 From left to right: Prof. Fergal O'Brien, Dr. Garry Duffy and Prof. Clive Lee from the RCSI Department of Anatomy at the 2013 Fullbright Awards Ceremony held in Dublin Castle.

July: Feature article in the Irish Times

Work from within the TERG was recently featured in the Irish Times Business section. The article focused on the newly developed TheraColl technology, which consists of a porous, collagen-based scaffold that is capable of delivering drugs via micro-particle systems for enhanced bone and blood vessel tissue growth. While bone regeneration is the initial application of interest, the versatility of this platform means that the technology could be used to target the regeneration of numerous other tissues, such as cartilage.

July: Successes at Anatomical Society Summer Meeting

On the 4th and 5th of July, RCSI played host to the Anatomical Society Summer Meeting with the topic "Form and Function in Regenerative Medicine". The meeting, which was Chaired by Dr. Garry Duffy and Co-Chaired by Prof. Fergal O'Brien of the TERG, was a resounding success with over 120 high calibre national and international delegates presenting their work. Congratulations to two PhD students from the TERG who were awarded prizes for their presentations. Mr Alan Ryan was joint winner of the SurgaColl Technologies Award in Regenerative Medicine for best oral presentation with his presentation entitled "Development of Bilayered Tubular Collagen-Elastin Scaffolds for Vascular Tissue Engineering", while Ms Elaine Quinlan won the Cave Young Investigator Award for best poster with her presentation entitled "Growth Factor Eluting Microparticle Loaded Collagen-Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds".

 Prof. Clive Lee Anatomical Society Meeting lecture

Prof. Clive Lee from the Department of Anatomy in RCSI presenting at the Anatomical Society Summer Meeting in 2013.

June: PhD student awarded prize at international conference

TERG PhD student, Mr Cian O'Leary, was recently awarded 2nd Place in the poster competition at the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS)-European Conference, which was held from 17-20 June in Istanbul, Turkey. Mr O'Leary's poster was entitled "Collagen-Based Scaffolds for Three-Dimensional Airway Models". This was a great achievement given the fact that TERMIS-EU is one of the largest conferences in its field with over 750 scientists attending from around the world.

June: TERG PhD student graduates 

Congratulations to Dr. Erica Tierney who passed her PhD viva on the 6th of December 2012 and graduated on the 6th of June 2013. Dr. Tierney's thesis was entitled "Non-viral gene-activated matrices for bone repair applications" and her external examiner was Prof. Todd McDevitt, Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.

 Erica Tierney graduation

Dr. Erica Tierney (centre) with supervisors Dr. Garry Duffy (left) and Prof. Fergal O'Brien (right). 

May: Feature article in The Irish Times

Prof. Fergal O'Brien and SurgaColl Technologies, which is a spin-out company from the TERG at RCSI, were recently featured in the Science & Technology section of The Irish Times, in an article entitled "Wider research and career paths as industry meets academia" (Tuesday 21st of May). The article discusses the emergence of new career opportunities that have evolved with increased engagement between industry and academic sectors. Furthermore, the article describes how the merging of traditionally separate disciplines, such as engineering and medicine, has also led to novel research and career opportunities.

April: Anatomical Society Summer Meeting

The RCSI will soon host the Anatomical Society (AS) Summer Meeting. The topic of this year's meeting is "Form and Function in Regenerative Medicine" and it will be held on the 4th and 5th of July. The meeting is currently open for registration, while the deadline for abstract submission, for oral or poster presentations, is the 3rd of June. Registrations costs are €270 for AS members, €300 for general registrants (up until June 3rd), €160 for AS student members and €180 for non-member students and this price also includes the conference dinner on Friday the 5th of July. For more information on the conference and a full list of the excellent line-up of invited speakers, please see the Anatomical Society Meeting website.  

April: TERG member wins prize at surgery conference

Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh, an orthopaedic surgeon currently undertaking a Master of Surgery (MCh) within the TERG, recently presented his work at the Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) Conference, held in Manchester from the 5th-7th of April. His presentation, entitled "An in vivo study of bioactive multilayered scaffolds for regeneration and repair of osteochondral defects", was awarded the Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS)/ASiT Academic & Research Surgery Prize. As a result, Mr. Ramesh has now been invited to present his prize winning presentation at the prestigious Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) International Congress held in Glasgow on the 2nd of May.  

April: Research impact case study published

Prof. Fergal O'Brien has published an online case study that is included in a series of case studies as part of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Impact website. These case studies aim to showcase how Irish researchers have used their ideas to impact the world. Prof. O'Brien's case study, entitled "Know the funding resources available", discusses the value of utilising different funding supports for technology innovation.

April: Group leader awarded a Personal Chair in RCSI

Prof. Fergal O'Brien has been awarded a Personal Chair in RCSI as Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine. Prof. O'Brien was initially appointed at RCSI in 2003 as a Lecturer in Anatomy and now heads one the largest tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research groups in Ireland.

March: Postdoctoral position available

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Fellowship position available in the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) at RCSI. The project related to this position is entitled "Cellular responses to biophysical stimuli: flow perfusion bioreactor culture of stem cell-seeded scaffolds for bone tissue engineering". For more details of the position and directions for applications, please visit the Anatomy Research Vacancies website.

March: New journal launched

Prof. Fergal O'Brien has been appointed to the editorial board of a new journal, Bioengineering. Bioengineering is an international, open access journal that focuses on the science and technology of bioengineering topics. Articles within this journal include reviews, regular research papers and communications.

March: Success at RCSI Research Day

Miss Irene Mencia Castano, a PhD student in the TERG, was awarded Best Postgraduate Poster Presentation at the RCSI Research Day on the 5th of March. Irene's poster, entitled "Nano-hydroxyapatite Particles as microRNA Delivery Vectors to Enhance Osteogenesis for Bone Tissue Engineering Applications", was selected as the winning poster from a large number of high quality posters demonstrating the broad range of research conducted across the different departments at RCSI.

Irene RCSI Research Day poster winner

Prize winner Irene Mencia Castano (centre front) pictured with her supervisors; Dr. Caroline Curtin (left), Dr. Garry Duffy (centre back) and Prof. Fergal O'Brien (right).

March: TERG researcher receives prize at sugery meeting

Mr Emmet Thompson, an orthopaedic surgeon who is completing his PhD in the TERG, was awarded 2nd prize in the orthopaedic category for his presentation at the 21st Sylvester O'Halloran Meeting, held at the University of Limerick on the 2nd-3rd of March. Emmet's presentation was entitled "Vascularisation of tissue engineered collagen-based scaffolds for bone repair and regeneration: mimicking nature's way".

Emmet Thompson receiving SOH prize

Mr Emmet Thompson (centre) receiving 2nd prize in the orthopaedic presentation category at the 21st SOH Meeting.

March: TERG launches Twitter account

The Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) has launched its very own Twitter account. Updates on news and events relavent to the group can be accessed by following @TissueEngDublin. 

March: TERG researcher wins image competition at RCSI Research Day

Dr. Ryan McCoy has been voted the winner of the Best Image Competition for this year's RCSI Research Day, held on the 5th of March. Dr. McCoy's image has previously been given recognition when it featured on the cover of the Journal of Biotechnology and Bioengineering where he and Prof. Fergal O'Brien had published an article on the influence of scaffold pore size and perfusion flow-rate on cell behaviour (Volume 109, Number 6, June, 2012, pages 1583-1594), . The image depicts cells adapting both flat and bridged morphology types within a collagen-GAG scaffold.

February: Honour bestowed upon TERG group leader

Prof. Fergal O'Brien was recently elected to the Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (FIEI), which is the highest grade of membership of the professional body representing engineers in Ireland. His appointment was made in recognition of "significant achievement in engineering and contribution to the profession".

Prof. O'Brien receiving FIEI recognition

Prof. Fergal O'Brien (right) receiving official recognition of his FIEI title from Michael Phillips (left), president of Engineers Ireland.

February: TERG welcomes landmark funding announcement

The recent announcement of €300 million in funding for Irish scientific research, comprising €200 million from Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) Research Centres Programme and €100 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners, has come as welcome news to the TERG. It was announced that part of the funding from the new scheme will be put towards the development of the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research Centre (AMBER), a collaborative project between RCSI, CRANN at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. Prof. Fergal O'Brien, who will be the RCSI lead Principal Investigator in the project, said "This centre provides a great opportunity to bring together CRANN's expertise in materials science with our capabilities in tissue engineering, which will significantly impact the medical devices sector in Ireland". It is envisaged that research at AMBER will utilise nanoscience to develop new materials for use in information and communications technology (ICT), medical devices, energy and pharmaceuticals manufacturing. This landmark funding announcement has been reported in numerous media outlets including the RCSI website, Business & Finance and the Irish Times.

February: TERG features in Irish Times article

The Tissue Engineering Research Group was recently featured in an article published in the Irish Times. In the article, titled "Building scaffolds and growing organs for the body", Prof. Fergal O'Brien discusses the potential for using biomaterial scaffolds to assist the body in regenerating tissues and organs. To view the full article, click here.

January: Tissue Engineering Research Group claims top prizes at Bioengineering In Ireland (BinI) Conference

The 19th Annual Conference of the Section of Bioengineering of RAMI was held in Enfield on the 18th-20th of January. This year there were 120 papers presented at the meeting, including papers from across Ireland, as well as a number of international papers. The Tissue Engineering Research Group proved to be one of the most successful groups attending the conference, with two of the group's postdocs taking the two top prizes. Congratulations to Dr. Tanya Levingstone and Dr. Caroline Curtin who were both award winners. Dr. Tanya Levingstone won the Best Paper by an Established Researcher Award, with a paper entitled "The regenerative potential of multi-layer collagen-based scaffolds in a caprine osteochondral defect model". Dr. Caroline Curtin won the RAMI Bronze Medal for the best paper of the entire meeting, with a paper entitled "Highly efficient non-viral gene delivery collagen nano-hydroxyapatite scaffolds for stem cell-mediated bone formation".

Prize winners at BinI 2013

From left to right: Dr. Caroline Curtin, Professor Fergal O'Brien, Dr. Tanya Levingstone.

January: Video highlight features on Biotechnology and Bioengineering website

Work led by Dr. Ryan McCoy has recently been given further recognition with the publication of a video abstract that features on the front page of the Biotechnology and Bioengineering website (click here). The featured video highlight follows the publication of an article entitled ""Visualizing feasible operating ranges within tissue engineering systems using a "windows of operation" approach: A perfusion-scaffold bioreactor case study" (Biotechnol Bioeng. 2012 Dec;109(12):3161-71). This work aims to use a "windows of operation" tool, commonly employed in the bio-processing field, to identify optimal ranges of operating parameters for a perfusion bioreactor system. While the focus of the work is on a perfusion-scaffold bioreactor system for bone tissue engineering, it has far-reaching implications in its validation of the "windows of operation" tool for tissue engineering applications. Click here to access the video on the Video Highlights archive.