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


31 December 2012

November: Grant Success

Dr. Garry Duffy received a Government of Ireland ‘New Foundations' Award to build on a transatlantic collaboration with the Harvard Biodesign Lab run by Prof. Conor Walsh

November: Prof. Fergal O'Brien Joins BioNanoMaterials Editorial Board

Prof. Fergal O'Brien has accepted an invitation to join the BioNanoMaterials Editoral Board. BioNanoMatierials is a new journal which aims to provide the rapid publication of reports on fundamentals and the clinical application of biomaterials, in particular nanobiomaterials. It is a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal, covering the fields of biomaterials and surface modification/functionalization, scaffold materials in tissue engineering, chemistry (nanoparticles and nanomaterials) and dental implantology/prosthodontics. For further information about the Journal please click here.

November: SurgaColl Technologies Features on Silicon Republic

The research conducted in Prof. Fergal O'Briens lab to create "HydroxyColl", a bone graft substitute that has subsequently been licensed to SurgaColl Technologies for commercialisation, was featured in the Innovation section on the Silicon Republic News Media Website in an article entitled "SurgaColl - a good idea takes shape for bone repair". Click here to read the full article.

November: PhD Graduations

Congratulations to Dr. Amro Widaa, Dr. Tara McFadden and Dr. Amos Matsiko who passed their PhD viva's on the 19th July, 4th October and 24th October 2012 respectively and graduated together on 17th November 2012. 

Dr. Amro Widaa's thesis was entitled "Staphylococcus Induced Bone Loss & Destruction in Osteomyelitis" and his external examiner was Professor Ross Fitzgerald, Centre of Infectious Diseases, University of Edinburgh.

Dr. McFadden's thesis was entitled "The vascularisation of collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds for bone tissue engineering" and her external examiner was Professor C. James Kirkpatrick, Professor of Pathology (C4) and Chairman, Institute of Pathology, The Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.

Dr. Matsiko's thesis was entitled "The development of a novel collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffold for in vitro mesenchymal stem cell chondrogenesis" and his external examiner was Professor Robert Brown, Professor of Tissue Engineering, Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science, University College London.

PhD graduates November 2012


From left to right: Dr. Amro Widaa, Dr. Tara McFadden, Professor Fergal O'Brien, Dr. Amos Matsiko.

September:  Award Success

Congratulations to Karen Jordan of the RCSI School of Pharmacy who won the Medical Sciences Category of the Undergraduate Awards (UA) 2012. Her research was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Garry Duffy from the Department of Anatomy. To read more click here.

September: Tanya Levingstone Features on Today FM

The Science Gallery based at Trinity College Dublin launched it's new exhibition entitled "Magic Materials" on the 15 Sep 2012, which seeks to explore some of the world's most magical materials. Dr. Tanya Levingstone a post doctoral researcher from the Tissue Engineering Group was interviewed by TodayFM at the exhibition and asked to describe some of the "magical materials" currently under development within our lab. To hear the full interview click here (Tanya features at 1min 10 secs into the interview).

August: HydroxyColl Features in The Irish Times

HydroxyColl the first scaffold developed by the group to be licensed to the spin out company SurgaColl for commercialisation was mentioned in an article entitled "Breakthroughs for better bones" in the business section of the Irish Times on the 13th August 2012. To read the article click here.

July: Grant Success

During the last 6 months Professor Fergal O'Brien and collaborators have been successful in obtaining ~€2m in grant funding for a range of interdisciplinary projects. These include:

Health Research Board - Science Foundation Ireland Translational Research Award (~€1.3m). Awarded to FJ O'Brien and J. O'Byrne for "Translation of novel strategies for joint repair from bench to bedside."

Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership (between RCSI & SurgaColl Technologies) (~€250k)
Awarded to FJ O'Brien and JP Gleeson for the "Development of novel collagen-based bone and osteochondral graft substitutes for new surgical indications of use."  

July: Gene Therapy Research Featured in The Sunday Times 

Work published by Caroline Curtin et al in Advanced Materials (click here for original research article) was highlighted in The Sunday Times on the 22nd July 2012 in a piece entitled " 'Scaffold' cells could trick body into replacing cancer-hit tissue". Click here to view The Sunday Times article. 

July:  Bone Research Group Featured in the Irish Times

The work being conducted within the group to generate bone graft substitutes and smart biomaterials was mentioned in an article entitled "Why is it so hard to grow bone in the lab?" in the society section of the Irish Times on the 17th July 2012. Click here to view the article.

July: Award Success at Conference

The International Mesenchymal Stem Cell Conference hosted by NUI Galway took place in Galway on the 2nd and 3rd of July. Congratulations to Tara McFadden who won the SFI Regenerative Medicine Prize for best presentation with her presentation entitled "In vitro engineered microvessels formed by a co-culture of human MSCs and human endothelial cells results in functional anastomosis and increased vascularisation in vivo".

Tara McFadden


June: SurgaColl closes €2 Million investment round

SurgaColl Technologies, a spin-out company from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, has closed a €2 million syndicated investment round involving AIB Seed Capital Fund, Harmac Medical Products, Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors. SurgaColl has licenced technologies for the regeneration of tissue, specifically for bone and cartilage formation, from the Tissue Engineering Research Group. Publication of this achievement has extensively reported in the media including articles in the Irish Daily Mail, Irish Examiner, The Sunday Business Post and The Irish Times. Additionally, the news has been widely reported on the web by Business World, Silicon Republic and Business and Leadership.  

June: Front Cover

An article by Dr Ryan McCoy and Prof. Fergal O'Brien was recently published in the Journal of Biotechnology and Bioengineering (Volume 109, Number 6, June, 2012, pages 1583-1594). Their article was on the influence of scaffold pore size and perfusion flow-rate on cell behavior. The front cover image selected for the July issue of the journal was taken from their article. The image depicts cells adapting both flat and bridged morphology types within a collagen-GAG scaffold.


Biotech and Bioeng Front Cover


June: Prof. Fergal O'Brien given award of recognition

Prof. Fergal O'Brien was presented with a certificate at the "Ireland's Champions of EU Research 2012" to recognise his leadership of a project in the 7th EU Framework Programme.

Award of recognition


April: Prof. Fergal O'Brien and Dr. Daniel Kelly bid to bring the World Congress of Biomechanics to Ireland in 2018.

Prof. Fergal O'Brien and Dr. Daniel Kelly with the support of Failte Ireland, hope to bring the World Congress of Biomechanics to Ireland in 2018. Their intention to bid was featured on the front page of the Business section of the Irish Times on April 12th 2012. A successful bid would be expected to bring €4.2 million to the Irish economy.

April: Limbal stem cell research mentioned in the Irish Times.

The work being conducted within the group to generate a carrier for limbal stem cell regeneration was mentioned in an article entitled "Bringing the product from basic research to reward" in the financial section of the Irish Times on the 9th April 2012. Click here to view the article.

April: Prof. Fergal O'Brien discusses "Regeneration: The future of medicine" on the Futureproof radio show.

Futureproof hosted by Jonathan McCrea and broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm discusses the latest developments from the world of Science and Technology from robotics in warfare to artificial lifeforms and beyond. In this episode Fergal O'Brien speaks about the ways to re-grow tissues like bone, using artificial scaffolds to guide them along. To listen to a podcast of the full Futureproof show ("Apr 7th: Tyrannosaurs and Science Denial") including Fergal's interview ( approx. 31 min 15 secs into the show) click here.

April: Prof. Fergal O'Brien features in "Scibernia podcast episode 29: The science of Sesame Street, LEGO and Audi"

This episode was a special show dedicated to the Atlantic STEM Conference 2012, held in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Ireland. Fergal O'Brien was interviewed with respect to the multi-disciplinary effort involved in researching and engineering new biomedical products. To listen to the interview click here. To listen to the full podcast including the other interviewees click here

March: Irish Times Article - "Dublin team creates collagen and stem cell barrier against blindness"

Research being undertaken within the group to create collagen-based carriers for limbal stem cell transplantation was featured in the Irish Times Newspaper. Click here to see the full article.

February: Irish Independent Article - "Can you mend a broken heart?"

Research being undertaken within the group that focuses on delivering therapeutic compounds to the heart in order to recruit the body's own stem cells, which then initiate repair of the damaged heart tissue, was featured in the Irish Independent Newspaper. Click here to see the full article.

January: Awards Success at Conference

The 18th Annual Conference of the Section of Bioengineering of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (RAMI) took place in Belfast on the 27th-29th. Congratulations to Claire Brougham and Rosanne Raftery who were both award winners. Claire won the De Puy sponsored prize for the best presentation by a new researcher with a talk entitled "Investigation of a New Material for Heart Valve Tissue Engineering". Claire is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Fergal O'Brien. Rosanne was awarded 3rd place in the same category for her talk entitled "Chitosan Nanoparticles as a Gene Delivery Vehicle to produce SMART Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering". This project is a collaboration between the Anatomy department and the School of Pharmacy in RCSI and Rosanne is co-supervised by Dr Sally-Ann Cryan and Prof. O'Brien.

  Claire Brougham, Rosanne Raftery and Prof. Fergal O'Brien

Pictured above are Rosanne Raftery (left) and Claire Brougham (right) along with Prof. Fergal O'Brien.

January: Grant Success

Dr. Garry Duffy, in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Murphy at the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering at TCD and Prof. Fergal O'Brien and Dr. John Gleeson at RCSI, has been successful in securing an Enterprise Ireland (EI) Commercialisation Fund grant entitled "CardioColl, a composite scaffold to promote and enhance healing in heart failure". This successful award is a follow on project to an initial EI Proof of Concept grant and builds on initial positive outcomes in targeted healing of the heart and will run over the next 24 months. The total funding award is €520,000.  

Prof. Fergal O'Brien and Dr Ryan McCoy in collaboration with Prof. Martin Clynes and Dr Finbar O'Sullivan from DCU and Prof. Conor Murphy and Mr Willian Power (clinicians) were recently awarded a Science Foundation Ireland/Enterprise Ireland Joint Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA). This will fund the "Development of a novel collagen-based film for corneal repair" with funding of €128,715.

Prof. Fergal O'Brien in collaboration with Dr Finbarr O'Sullivan (DCU) and Dr. Kevin Kavanagh (NUIM) were awarded a RCSI/DCU/NUIM Translational Research Hub Seed Fund Award. This Tissue Engineering/Stem Cell Research Consortium was awarded €150,000.

Prof. Fergal O'Brien (Co-applicant) and Dr Daniel Kelly from Trinity College Dublin were successful in an AO Foundation Exploratory Research Project. The research will examine the "Porous decellularized hypertrophic tissue engineered cartilage as a scaffold for large bone defect healing" and was valued at €196,750.

Prof. Fergal O'Brien and Claire Brougham were awarded an Irish Heart Foundation John Feely Bursary for the "Development of a bioreactor test platform to analyse performance of a novel heart valve scaffold". The bursary value was €3,000.