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

RCSI Student wins top Undergraduate Award in Medical Sciences

28 November 2013

Joseph Sweeney, RCSI BSc in Pharmacy graduate, has been awarded the winning prize in the 2013 Undergraduate Awards Medical Sciences category. The Undergraduate Awards are an international academic awards programme that identifies top students across the globe through their innovative undergraduate research. 

Pictured (l-r) is Prof Fergal O'Brien, Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine; Joseph Sweeney, Undergraduate Award Winner; and Dr Orlaith Brennan, Lecturer in Physics.
Joseph was outright winner in the Medical Sciences category for his 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'. Joseph was joined by Roya Hassanzadeh from the University of Glasgow, who was named as the international programme winner in the Medical Sciences category.
Joseph conducted his research as part of his fourth year undergraduate studies at the RCSI School of Pharmacy under the supervision of Professor Fergal J. O Brien, Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine and Dr Orlaith Brennan, Department of Anatomy, RCSI.
Additionally, a further six RCSI BSc in Pharmacy graduates: Linda Connolly, Shane Cullen, Aoife Higgins, Martin Lanigan, Joanne O'Dwyer, and Owen Sullivan, were highly commended in the Undergraduate Awards 2013 Medical Sciences category.

Panels of international academics assessed almost 4000 coursework entries that were received from students attending 182 third-level institutions internationally, and selected two winners - an Irish winner and international winner - per academic category.

Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences RCSI said ‘I would like to congratulate, Joseph on his fantastic achievement on winning the much coveted Undergraduate Awards. These awards recognise critical thinking and innovation within coursework and it is a great testament to the School of Pharmacy that seven of its students were shortlisted for these awards. The importance of research cannot be underestimated in the quest to advance understanding and treatment of disease, which in turn leads to better clinical care and best practice patient care.'

The winners were presented with their awards at Dublin City Hall as part of the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit which took place in Dublin from November 13-15th. There was also a ceremony for those who were Highly Commended, which took place in Trinity College's Long Room. The winners and highly commended attendees also had the opportunity to meet with An Taoiseach at Government Buildings as part of the Summit.

For further information on the UA Summit and the results of the 2013 Undergraduate Awards, please see

Founded in 1784, RCSI's mission is to develop healthcare leaders who make a difference worldwide. RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences organisation which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland.