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Professor Brian Harvey receives Honorary Doctorate from Michigan State University
Pictured is Lou Anna K. Simon, President of Michigan State University (MSU), presenting an honorary doctorate of science to Professor Brian Harvey, Professor of Molecular Medicine, RCSI at a ceremony that took place at MSU on 3rd May. (May 2013)
Lupus research identifies Irish patients most likely to benefit from new treatment
It has been over 50 years since a new drug has been approved to treat the chronic autoimmune condition Lupus or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), a disease whereby a persons immune system becomes over-activated, attacking any organ in the body. Excitingly in the past year the first drug approved specifically to treat SLE has been licensed for use in both America and Europe. This medication, Belimumab (Benlysta) targets a specific chemical messenger called B Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS) that has been shown to promote disease activity in SLE. This new treatment has not as yet been licenced for use as first-line treatment but instead is prescribed for patients who respond poorly to conventional immunosuppressive medication aimed at dampening down the immune system. Belimumab has advantages over traditional immunosuppressive agents such as steroids which are accompanied by side effects including infection and metabolic disturbances. However, not all patients respond equally to this new drug and due to the high cost associated with its long term use, it is imperative to assist treating physicians in identifying patients who would most benefit from its use.
Research carried out by Dr. Eoghan McCarthy under the supervision of Prof. Caroline Jefferies at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has identified disease types in Irish SLE sufferers that are associated with high levels of BLyS. The research carried out in collaboration with the rheumatology departments of both Beaumont and St. James's hospitals, and recently published in Rheumatology, has demonstrated that over a follow up period of 5 years, patients with high levels of BLyS at baseline were more likely to have active disease and suffer increased organ damage from their lupus as the disease progressed suggesting that the use of Belimumab in these patients may improve their long term outcomes.
Commenting on the work Professor Jefferies stated that "In the last ten years patients with rheumatoid arthritis have benefited greatly from the development of new treatments and Belimumab offers the same hope to Irish SLE sufferers. However it is important to be able to recognise which patients will benefit the most from this new treatment. Our research will assist treating doctors to identify patients who are more likely to benefit from the addition of Belimumab to their current regime and hopefully will lead to improved outcomes for Irish SLE sufferers" (May 2013).
Harry Harvey Best Student Poster at the Irish Association of Cancer Research
Harry Harvey (MCT) received the prize for Best Student Poster at the Irish Association of Cancer Research, Dublin, for 'Analysis of miRNA in chemotherapy resistant neuroblastoma' and Federico Sukno (MCT & DCU) on receiving the Best Paper Award at GRAPP 2013: 8th International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications, Barcelona, for 'Rotationally invariant 3D shape contexts using asymmetry patterns'. (May 2013)
Dr Melanie Föcking, Young Investigator Award
Dr Melanie Föcking, Department of Psychiatry, has received the Young Investigator Award of the International Congress of Schizophrenia Research. She was among 27 out of 140 applications to receive this prestigious prize. Melanie was invited to present the results of her work at the international scientific meeting in Orlando/Florida that took place from the 21st to the 25th of April. (April 2013)
Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh awarded Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS)/ASiT Academic & Research Surgery Prize
Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh, an orthopaedic surgeon currently undertaking a Master of Surgery (MCh) within the Tissue Engineering Research Group, 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 was 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 2013)
Professor Fergal O'Brien elected to the Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (FIFE)
In February, Prof Fergal O'Brien was 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". (February 2013)
Research Day 5th March 2013 - Update
The annual RCSI Research Day took place on the 5th March, 2013. As with previous years, the emphasis was on oral and poster presentations by Investigators early in their career, Post-doctoral Fellows, Post-graduate & Undergraduate Scholars and Academic Staff. 186 abstracts were submitted this year.
Photos from the day can be viewed at the link http://staff.rcsi.ie/research/research-day-2013/research-day-2013-gallery
During his Opening Address, Professor Raymond Stallings, Director of Research, spoke about the high standard of research and the critical role that research plays within the College. Prof Stallings also acknowledged and extended thanks to the sponsors and the many people who contributed to the day.
There then followed an exciting series of oral presentations:
• Postgraduate: RCSI MSc, MCH, MD and 1st year PhD students
• Undergraduate: all students who undertook research projects in summer 2012 (Research funded by RCSI Alumni, HRB, CITC, Assoc. Phys.),
• PhD Scholars: RCSI 2nd, 3rd and 4th PhD students
• Early Career Investigators: RCSI postdoctoral fellows
Late afternoon, Prof Raymond Stallings and Dr John McDermott, introduced Professor Timothy O'Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway, who delivered this year's John J Ryan Distinguished Lecture.
The talk title was: "Translating Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy to the Clinic: Challenges and Opportunities".
The day came to a close with a presentation of the following awards by Professor Cathal Kelly CEO:
‘Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery',
This prize is presented to pay special tribute to the memory of Mr Kamal Sayed, a graduate of RCSI (Class of 1960). A solid silver College medal will be awarded to a neurosurgery trainee to reward outstanding work and excellence in the field of neurosurgery. This is a prestigious award of RCSI and is run in conjunction with the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience (IICN). Recipient: Mr Philip O'Halloran. Title : Anti-angiogenic Efficacy of Bevacizumab alone and in combination with a dual P13K/Mtor inhibitor in a reproducible orthotopic explant, using a multi - modality molecular imaging approach. Presented by Dr's Jacintha and Safia Sayed, both daughters of Mr Kamal Sayed and graduates of RCSI & Professor Cathal Kelly CEO
The prize for ‘Front Cover Illustration' was presented to Dr Ryan McCoy.
Early Career Investigator Category
The Barnes Medal - Dr Barnes was a founding member of ICROSS, the "International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering", a small international charity fighting poverty and disease and is noted for his work on Hansen's Disease (leprosy). Presented by Dr Barnes wife Mrs Betty Barnes and his son Matthew Barnes & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Kirsten Pohl. Title: Altered cytosolic ion concentrations impact upon Rab27a activation in cystic fibrosis neutrophils.
The prize for best Early Career Investigator Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Bojana Mirkovic. Title: Role of Short Chain Fatty Acids, Produced by Anaerobic Bacteria, in the Cystic Fibrosis Airway.
PhD Scholars Category
This category was open to all 2nd, 3rd and 4th year PhD Scholars.
This is an important award to acknowledge the excellence and quality of on-going research within Ireland. The winner received the Roche Gold medal and €500. Presented by Mr Simon Thorpe of Roche Diagnostics & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Jennifer Lynch. Title: MiR-335 suppresses neuroblastoma disease pathogenesis.The prize for best
PhD Scholars Poster Presentation was presented to Amos Matsiko, Dept. of Anatomy.
The prize for best PhD Scholar Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Irina Babina. Title : Palmitoylation of CD44 regulates breast cancer cell migration via alterations in its lipid raft affiliation.
This category was open to MSc, MCH, MD and 1st year PhD Scholars. The recipient will received a silver College medal and a prize fund of €1,000 to pay for attendance at a conference. Presented by Mr Bernard Kennedy of Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Pathma Ramasamy. Title: Proteomic Analysis of Uveal Melanoma.
The prize for best Post-graduate Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Irene Mencia Castano. Title : Nano-hydroxyapatite particles as novel non-viral microRNA delivery vectors for bone tissue engineering applications.
Undergraduate Research Category - The Dr. Harry O'Flanagan Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
This category was open to all Summer Students who completed a research project in 2012.
This award, a solid silver College medal, was created by Dr. Yacoob Kadwa, RCSI graduate (Class of 1965) to pay special tribute to the memory of Dr. Harry O'Flanagan, former Registrar of the RCSI. Recipient: Ayman Saeed. Title : Effect of synthetic retinoic acid derivatives in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Multiple Myeloma cells.
Organising Committee: Prof. Kevin McGuigan, Stephanie O'Connor and Cathy Priestley.
Sponsors: Roche Diagnostics, Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals.
Dr Tidi Hassan together with her colleagues in the Dept. Medicine, RCSI and Dept. Clinical Microbiology, TCD has published a paper in Nucleic Acids Research. The work describes a novel microRNA affinity capture technology which is also the subject of the group's recent European PCT patent filing (PCT/EP2012/070037).
Hassan T, Smith SG, Gaughan K, Oglesby IK, O'Neill SJ, McElvaney NG, Greene CM. Isolation and identification of cell-specific microRNAs targeting a messenger RNA using a biotinylated anti-sense oligonucleotide capture affinity technique Nucleic Acids Research 2013 Jan 15. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:23325846 (January 2013)
A paper entitled "Targeted antimicrobial peptides" by Dr Marc Devocelle in Frontiers in Molecular Innate Immunity on 5th October 2012 has received 685 total views, making it among the highest-performing articles in all Frontiers journals. This has resulted in Marc being invited to serve as Topic Editor of a Frontiers Research Topic - a collection of papers selected to provide an encyclopaedic, open access snapshot of the current state of the art on his chosen research area. This will create an online dialogue on a focused research area, with manuscripts encompassing recent advancements by various groups, the latest methods, opinions and commentaries, reviews, and more. (January 2013)
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 . While 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.
They both gave superb presentations, but 70% of the weighting for the awards was for their research, as opposed to just the presentation, which makes the awards a true indication of the quality of their science. Congratulations to all who took part in Bioengineering in Ireland and particularly to Tanya, Caroline and their co-authors on their success. A great start to 2013! (January 2013)
Picture : Dr. Caroline Curtin (on left) & Dr. Tanya Levingstone (on right) with Tissue Engineering Research Group awards from Bioengineering in Ireland Conference
Professor David Henshall and his lab have recently published a new piece of epilepsy research in the journal PLoS One.
Their study used a genetic technique to increase levels of a particular protein involved in signaling and responses to stress in brain cells and demonstrated this could protect against epileptic brain injury. The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and involved collaboration with cancer scientists in the USA. (January 2013)
Many congratulations to Kieran Murphy (Psychiatry) and John Waddington (MCT) on their participation in an international collaboration on the genetics of schizophrenia involving colleagues across the globe, the results of which have just been published in the leading journal Biological Psychiatry under the auspices and collective authorship of the Irish Schizophrenia Genomics Consortium [of which Kieran and John are members] and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2: Genome-wide association study implicates HLA-C*01:02 as a risk factor at the major histocompatibility complex locus in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry 2012; 72: 620-628. This study involved a discovery sample of 1,606 patients and 1,794 control subjects across the island of Ireland and an independent, international replication sample of 13,195 patients and 31,021 control subjects.
Annual Report (Research Section)
Annual Report (Research Section)