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

RCSI Medical Students’ Research Successful in the HRB Watts Poster Awards2006.

12 February 2006

RCSI M RCSI Medical Students’ Research Successful in the HRB Watts Poster Awards2006. edical Students’ Research Successful in the HRB Watts Poster Awards2006.


Maureen Clarke, fourth year medical student at The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, accepts third prize in the Health Research Board’s annual Watts Poster Competition from Dr. Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board.


Dervla Connoughton, third year medical student at The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, accepts fourth prize in the Health Research Board’s annual Watts Poster Competition from Dr. Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board.

The HRB annually funds students at institutions across Ireland to carry out research over the summer period. As part of the Watts medal and poster competition fifty students from across Ireland received funding in the summer of 2005. The HRB then invited students to submit a poster presentation of their research findings and selected eight of the best of these to give an oral presentation. Prizes were awarded for the top three posters and the best oral presentation.

Dervla Connoughton, from third year and Maureen Clarke, fourth year were awarded second and third prizes respectively. Dervla’s research on ‘The role of angiogenin in motor neuron degeneration,’ found a possible course of treatment, which may slow the course of Motor Neuron Disease (MND). MND is a fatal progressive and highly debilitating neurodegenerative disease, which affects the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, causing progressive weakness and wasting of the voluntary muscles. There is currently no cure for the condition, which affects up to 250 Irish people and carries a life expectancy of three to five years.

Dr. Dairin Kieran; Research Fellow, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI and Dervla’s research supervisor said, “Dervla was a joy to work with in the lab, and is a very talented student. She was thoroughly deserving of second prize last week.”

Third prize in the poster competition went to Maureen Clarke for her research entitled ‘Breaking up is hard to do’-Perspectives on removing patients from GP lists. Maureen was also a finalist in the HRB Watts Medal Competition for this research, which was carried out in the Department of Family Medicine and General Practice, RCSI. The fourth year student was also awarded a certificate for her oral presentation.

“Maureen’s research on perspectives of GPs and patients on removals from GP lists was a first in Ireland and is likely to inform changes to this process by the Health Service Executive (HSE),” said Dr. David Whitford, Acting Head of the Department of Family Medicine and General Practice; who along with Dr. Fiona O’Reilly, HRB Research Fellow in Primary Care, supervised Maureen’s research. “This exemplifies the value of students undertaking research projects over the summer and I hope it will encourage more students to do likewise in the future,” he added.

Speaking at the award ceremony Dr. Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive of the HRB said, “we should never underestimate the profound potential of research students who are coming up through the system. This is why the HRB will continue to fund and encourage student research and support research and support researchers to become leaders in research for health.”

The Watts Medal is named after Professor William Watts, former Chairman of Board of the HRB and Provost of Trinity College Dublin.