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

Research News

Research News 2014  

  

RCSI Launches New Research Strategy for Excellence in Translational Research

Pictured (l-r) is Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research and Minister Damien English T.D., Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation today at the launch of RCSI's new research strategy 'Improving Human Health – RCSI’s Strategy for Excellence in Translational Research 2014 – 2020'.
 

 Pictured (l-r) is Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research and Minister Damien English T.D., Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation today at the launch of RCSI's new research strategy 'Improving Human Health - RCSI's Strategy for Excellence in Translational Research 2014 - 2020'.

5th November 2014: Minister Damien English T.D., Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation today launched RCSI's new research strategy Improving Human Health - RCSI's Strategy for Excellence in Translational Research 2014 - 2020. The strategy will focus on innovative research that leads to better diagnostics, therapeutics and devices. It will also tackle important healthcare delivery issues, inform policy and clinical practice and enhance the quality of education of healthcare professionals.

Speaking at the launch Minister Damien English T.D. said "Ireland's position in the global research community continues to grow and it is an exciting time for research here. Together with my Government colleagues, we have an ambitious agenda for Ireland to become the best small country in the world in which to do business. This requires transformation in many sectors of our society and prioritised research areas have a key role to play in this change. RCSI's Strategy for Excellence in Translational Research supports the research priorities identified in the Report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group, and is in alignment with both national and European research funding strategies."

The plans for developing research and innovation at RCSI are based on RCSI's current strategic roadmap ‘Growth & Excellence 2013 - 2017'. As an exclusively health sciences focused institution with strong links to acute hospitals and institutions that reflect the wide diversity of healthcare facilities and needs, RCSI is uniquely placed to develop and enhance translational research for the benefit of patients and the healthcare system.

Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research, RCSI said "In alignment with RCSI's strategic roadmap and current national research funding strategies, our research strategy ‘Excellence in Translational Research' is aimed at bringing RCSI research closer to applications for the benefit of patients, the healthcare system and populations and to succeed in our mission to improve human health".

RCSI's Strategy for Excellence in Translational Research 2014 - 2020 priorities:

* Build capacity in translational research

* Promote applied research and knowledge transfer

* Promote population health and health services research

* Strengthen the intersection of research and education

* Develop human resources strategy for researchers

* Enhance research governance

* Deliver and disseminate impactful research

It was also announced today that a newly formed Office of Research and Innovation will provide an integrated service to researchers ranging from translational biomedical research to the commercialisation of research for the benefit of society.

  

  

RCSI Publication in top 10% of articles published in the Journal of Immunology

A study carried out by Dr Killian Hurley, RCSI Department Medicine, has been published in the Journal of Immunology and was featured by the "In This Issue" which includes the top 10% of articles published in the journal. The title of the publication is "Alpha-1 antitrypsin augmentation therapy corrects accelerated neutrophil apoptosis in deficient individuals". The project was supported by the MRCG/HRB scheme and was co-funded by the HRB and the Alpha One Foundation Ireland (grant # MRCG/2008/2) and was jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney. For more information see the "In This Issue" feature highlighting the article. (October 2014)

 

Four RCSI researchers among 36 awarded HRB funding

The Minister for Health, Mr Leo Varadkar TD has announced the award of funding of €13.5 million to support thirty-six new health research projects over the next three to five years. Projects from RCSI researchers Professor Richard Costello, Professor Jochen Prehn, Professor Fergal O'Brien and Dr Ann Hopkins were among those who were awarded funding provided by the Health Research Board (HRB). Read more... (October 2014)

 

RCSI research features on RTE ‘Science Squad'

The third series of RTE's The Science Squad returned to our screens this week and will feature innovative research from RCSI including SODIS water, surgical technologies and lung research throughout the series.

Presented by Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, Kathriona Devereux and Jonathan McCrea, the Science Squad will investigate some of the most exciting and ground-breaking science projects currently underway in Ireland. RCSI will feature in three of the six episodes in the new series which will be aired on RTE One on Monday nights at 8.30pm.

Episode 1 - Saving Lives with Sunlight - Monday 27th October  click here to view
Aoibhinn and the team, along with Professor Kevin McGuigan, Associate Professor of Medical Physics in the RCSI Department of Physiology and Medical Physics visit the Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) project in Uganda. Prof McGuigan has been working on this technique for the past 20 years, which involves exposing transparent plastic or glass containers filled with water to direct sunlight for six to 48 hours. This has a germicidal effect which is based on the combined effect of thermal heating of solar light and UV radiation, thus kills bacteria and disease-causing pathogens and disinfecting the water. This water purification project could save the lives of millions.

Aoibhinn also visits Kevin's PhD student Jacent Asiimwe in Uganda to find out about the science behind the process, and the team meets with lots of Ugandan schoolchildren who will directly benefit from the technology.

Speaking ahead of the airing of the programme, Prof McGuigan said, ‘It was fantastic for Jacent and I to be able to bring Aoibhinn and the crew out to Uganda and show them our research and work on the SODIS project. An important aspect on the future direction of SODIS is to get word on this out to wider audiences and it was great to see the warm welcome the local people and school children gave to the visiting crew.'

Episode 3 - Innovative Surgical Technologies Saving Lives - Monday 10th November
In this programme, Aoibhinn meets Dr Peter Naughton, Consultant General / Vascular Surgeon, and his RCSI team to learn about abdominal aortic aneurysms and how recent innovations in surgery in the form of a new procedure, Endovascular Aneurysm Repair, (EVAR) has drastically reduced mortality rates. The team run through preparations ahead of one of these EVAR operations. Aoibhinn meets one of Peter's former patients who underwent the successful surgery to find out how it saved his life.

Episode 6 - Lung Health - Monday 1st December
Jonathon McCrea wraps up the third series of The Science Squad by meeting with RCSI's Professor of Medicine, Professor Gerry McElvaney to talk about his team's research into Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is the term given to a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema and Ireland has the third highest death rate from lung disease in Europe. Prof McElvaney and his team have discovered that the high prevalence of COPD in this country could

These episodes will be available to view after broadcast via the Science Squad website.

 

 

5 RCSI researchers participate in new SFI Research Centre, CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices

RCSI welcomed the announcement that five new world-class SFI Research Centres are to be established on the back of a €245 million funding windfall from government and industry. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, announced the funding on Oct 20th.

RCSI are partners in CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices, led by colleagues in NUI Galway. The prime objective for CÚRAM is to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs and includes a multidisciplinary team of researchers. The multidisciplinary and translational nature of the work supported by CÚRAM is exemplified by the RCSI's contribution to and participation in the Centre, led by Prof. Sally-Ann Cryan, pictured, (School of Pharmacy) that includes four additional senior researchers from across Departments in RCSI; Prof. Fergal O'Brien & Dr. Garry Duffy (Dept of Anatomy), Prof. Gerry McElvaney (Dept of Medicine) and Prof. Marc Devocelle (Dept of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry) who will work on a range of projects within the Centre. These projects will see CURAM linking with the existing SFI Centre, AMBER, through the RCSI Tissue Engineering Research Group and the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering. Read more... (October 2014)

 

 

RCSI hosts fourth Annual International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students

The fourth International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students (ICHAMS) took place on 24th - 25th October the RCSI.  ICHAMS is a biomedical conference, aimed at students and run by students, that gives undergraduates an insight into the translation of research from bench to bedside. More than 100 undergraduate healthcare students from Ireland, the United Kingdom and as far as Russia, USA, The Netherlands and Poland, attended the conference to present oral and poster presentations on a wide variety of healthcare research.

Building on the outstanding success of the 2013 conference which was Winner of the Student Project of the Year category in last year's Irish Healthcare Awards, this year the conference was expanding to integrate the RCSI Schools of Pharmacy and Physiotherapy to deliver a wider multidisciplinary conference.  The theme of this year's event was ‘Advancing Biomedical Research: Passion for Progress'.

Dr Sarah O'Neill, Chair of the Scientific Committee said: ‘I am proud that the ICHAMS Conference is entering its fourth year which is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our student organising committee.   By providing healthcare students with the opportunity to develop their research skills and interests at an early stage in their career, it gives students an insight into the world of scientific research and a better understanding of how research can be translated from the bench to the patients' bedside.'

The keynote speakers at the event were Mary Aiken, Director, RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre and Professor Kieran Murphy, Director, University of Toronto Medical Imaging Research.

For further information visit the conference website http://ichams.org/    (October 2014)

 

 

RCSI Researchers Discover Clues to New Pathways for Treatment of Schizophrenia

In the brain's communication system, nerve cells transmit messages across the synapse, the minute gap between cells. On the receiving end, the postsynaptic density (PSD) is a network of proteins suspected of playing a role in causing psychosis and mood disorders. Melanie Föcking, Ph.D. & RCSI Lecturer in Psychiatric Neuroscience, pictured, led the first research to identify specific PSD-associated genes and proteins linked to schizophrenia. The study was published in the journal Molecular PsychiatryProfessor David Cotter was the senior author on the paper and Health Research Board grant PI. Additional authors on the paper were Dr Lorna Lopez, Dr Jane English, Annemarie Wolff, Elizabeth Brindley and Mr Patrick Dicker along with colleagues from UCD. Read more... (October 2014)

 

Official opening of the 3U Partnership's China Office

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ms Jan O'Sullivan T.D., officially opened 3U Partnership's China Office in Beijing's award winning Galaxy SOHO urban complex on Sunday 26 October 2014.  The event coincides with the Education in Ireland mission to China, organised by Enterprise Ireland and led by Minister O'Sullivan.

The 3U Partnership combines the complementary strengths of Dublin City University (DCU), Maynooth University and RCSI.

In keeping with the Irish Government's policy to encourage shared services, the 3U China Office brings these three distinctive and leading higher education institutions together to promote world-class education and research opportunities in Ireland to Chinese students. For further details on 3U Partnership see http://www.3u.ie/ (October 2014)

 

Breakthrough In Understanding of Impaired Bacterial Killing By Neutrophils In Cystic Fibrosis.

A study carried out by Professor Gerry McElvaney's research group has led to a breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms behind impaired bacterial killing by neutrophils in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). The research was carried out by the lead author on the study Dr Kerstin Pohl (Medicine), with collaborators based at the NICB in Dublin City University and King's College London and was published in the journal BLOOD. (September 2014)
 

 

 

RCSI Researcher Receives European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell Training Award

Dr Cormac McCarthy (CLAT) received the European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell Training Award (eALTA) at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Munich, Germany, on September 7th, 2014. Cormac's project is entitled 'Glycosylation modifies the anti-inflammatory effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin' and is currently being carried out in the Department of Medicine, under the supervision of Prof Gerry McElvaney and Dr Emer Reeves. (September 2014)
 

 

 

Cystic Fibrosis COST ACTION Training School

The Dept of Molecular Medicine hosted the Cystic Fibrosis COST ACTION Training School in the RCSI Education & Research Centre, September 2014. The training school, jointly by the Irish CF COST partners RCSI and ITT Tallaght, was aimed at early stage researchers with 50 participants from seven EU Countries and trainers from Beaumont Hospital, St James's Hospital and Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin (OLHSC). The school provided PhDs and post-docs with training through lectures and hands-on practical's in the latest advances of research into ion transport, air liquid dynamics and host-pathogen interactions in CF lung disease. Professor Brian Harvey, pictured, was course director. (September 2014)

 

 

Awards and Achievements Attained by the Staff of RCSI Molecular and Cellular Genetics - Update September 2014

Ms Amy Cole and Dr Mark McCormack pictured, respectively, received the prizes for Best Postgraduate Presentation and Best Postdoctoral Poster at the recent meeting of the Irish Society of Human Genetics.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Maria Morgan has been awarded a PhD Studentship from Breast Cancer Campaign UK to the value of  €104,962 over 3 years for her work 'Microcalcification in breast cancer: novel insights into molecular mechanisms and functional consequences'

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Dermot Cox has received an SFI Technology Innovation Development Award, €100,000, for his work 'Development of a proof-of-concept animal model for novel FcγRIIa antagonists'.

 

 

Dr Siobhan Smith has received the award of a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship, €91,790 over 2 years, for 'Investigation into the role of estrogen-regulated microRNAs in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus'.

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Conor Murphy pictured, (Ophthalmology) and Dr Joan Ní Gabhann (MCT) received an award under the HRB-MRCG Joint Funding Scheme, €40,000 over 15 months, for 'Restoring immune balance in patients with primary Sjogren's Syndrome (pSS) by modulating microRNA expression'.

 

 

 

 

Professors Kieran Murphy, (Psychiatry), pictured, and John Waddington (MCT) participated in an international study on the genetics of schizophrenia, the results of which have just been published in Nature under the auspices of the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, of which Kieran and John are members. This article, 'Biological insights from 108 schizophrenia-associated genetic loci', involves a global collaborative network that has conducted a multi-stage genome-wide association study of ultimately 36,989 cases and 113,075 controls; it is the largest molecular genetic study of schizophrenia (or indeed of any neuropsychiatric disorder) ever conducted to date.

Professor John Waddington was invited to speak in a symposium at the Society of Biological Psychiatry in New York and to deliver a Keynote Lecture to the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society in Las Vegas. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RCSI PhD Student wins Young Investigators Award

Michelle White, a PhD student in the Respiratory Research Division, RCSI Department of Medicine, was awarded the distinguished Young Investigators Award at the 3U Conference, Applications of Proteomics in Human and Infectious Disease. This event took place on the 16th September, 2014, in The Helix, Dublin City University. Michelle's winning oral presentation was entitled "Inflammatory induced plasma membrane alterations in neutrophils of individuals with cystic fibrosis corrected by CFTR potentiator therapy". This project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (11/RFP/BMT/3094) and is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney. (September 2014)

  

Discover Research Dublin to Illuminate the Fascinating World of Research & Researchers

Trinity College Dublin and the RCSI will offer the public a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the world of research - and researchers - at Discover Research Dublin on Friday, September 26th. This event, featuring more than 50 free and exciting interactive events and demonstrations will take place on Trinity College Dublin's campuses. Read more... (September 2014)

 

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Advance Award

Dr Catherine Mooney was announced as a recipient of the new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Advance award. This programme was introduced specifically to support female researchers and to enhance training where there was substantial industrial relevance.

Dr Mooney is a bioinformaticist who recently joined Prof David Henshall's epilepsy research group in the Department of Physiology & Medical Physics at RCSI. Her award will see further collaboration with Professor Geraldine Boylan's team in the SFI funded research Centre INFANT who are working on neonatal seizures. The 2 year project will focus on identifying disease markers in biofluids from babies at risk of seizures and aims to develop new computer algorithms that better incorporate very large datasets of molecules such as microRNA in blood. The programme features an industry mentorship with EKF Diagnostics which ultimately aims to apply these discoveries towards point-of-care and lab-on-a-chip diagnostics. (September 2014)

 

Early Career Investigator Prize at Annual Neuroscience Ireland Meeting

Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos, RCSI epilepsy research group in the Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, was awarded the Early Career Investigator prize at the annual Neuroscience Ireland meeting, which was held at Trinity College Dublin at the weekend. (September 2014)

 

 

RCSI researchers define and review Clinical prediction rules (CPRs) to improve patient care

A new study from RCSI has defined an international register of clinical prediction rules (CPRs) for clinician use in a primary care setting. These CPRs will help inform clinicians in making decisions regarding diagnosis, management and prognosis of specific conditions in patients. In a separate study, RCSI researchers have also reviewed how such CPRs are being used in clinical guidelines and by general practitioners (GPs) in the United Kingdom (UK). These studies were conducted by researchers based at the Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research at RCSI. Read more... (September 2014)

 

PNAS Publication on Drug Delivery

Dr Cathal Kearney, RCSI Department of Anatomy, co-authored a recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (PNAS). The paper describes a novel strategy for refilling drug delivery devices through the bloodstream by tagging the device at the treatment site (e.g., tumours) and the reloading drug with complimentary DNA so that the reloading drug can hone to the drug delivery depot. The research was carried out in collaboration with Harvard School of Engineering and the Wyss Institute in Boston, USA.  (September 2014)

 

 

Cystic fibrosis Paper Editor's Choice Article in the Journal Physiological Reports August Issue

 A paper describing the restoration of function in cystic fibrosis airway was selected as the Editor's choice article in the Journal Physiological Reports August issue. The research was carried out under the supervision of Professor Brian Harvey (pictured) by researchers in the RCSI Department of Molecular Medicine in collaboration with Professor Richard Costello, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Beaumont Hospital and Dr Paul McNally at the National Children's Research Centre, OLHSC Crumlin Hospital. The paper arose from work of PhD student Dr Mazen Al-Alawi, a recipient of a HRB Molecular Medicine Ireland clinician-scientist award. (September 2014)

  


RCSI Researchers Play Key Role in International Collaboration to Uncover the Genetic Mysteries of Epilepsy

RCSI researchers played a leading role in a study recently published in Lancet Neurology that has made an important step in discovering that whether we develop epilepsy or not may be determined by the combination of genes we inherit. More than 34,000 people were involved in this genetic study, of which more than 8,000 had epilepsy. The study participants were of European, Asian and African ancestry. Read more...

 Read the study here (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(14)70171-1/fulltext ) (September 2014)

 

RCSI study reveals 15% of older Irish people prescribed ‘inappropriate' medication

Lead researcher of the study, RCSI, Dr Rose GalvinResearch also discovered high levels of omission in patient prescriptions

A new study from RCSI and Trinity College Dublin, which examined the prevalence of potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) and prescribing omissions in older Irish adults, has found that 14% of people over the age of 65 has been prescribed at least one inappropriate form of medication in their lives and 30% have not been prescribed clinically indicated medications, at least once in their lives. The research was carried out by RCSI's Department of General Practice, the Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research and Trinity College Dublin, using data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), and was recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Lead researcher of the study, RCSI Dr Rose Galvin pictured. Read more.... (July 2014)

  

Advanced Online Publication in Molecular Psychiatry

Dr Melanie Focking (pictured), RCSI Department of Psychiatry, is primary author in the article "Proteomic and genomic evidence implicates the postsynaptic density in schizophrenia." which has been published in an advanced online publication in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the highest impact journal in Psychiatry.

To view please go to http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/mp201463a.pdf (July 2014)

  

RCSI Research Nominated for Academic Researcher of the Year Award 2014

Professor David Cotter, RCSI Department of Psychiatry, has been shortlisted for the Royal College of Psychiatrists Academic Researcher of the Year Award 2014. This is a prestigious and competitive award covering psychiatrists in UK and Ireland. (July 2014)

 

  

 

RCSI researchers awarded commercialisation funding from Enterprise Ireland

Three researchers from RCSI have been successful in receiving grants aimed at helping to commercialise four research projects being undertaken at the College. Professor Fergal O'Brien, Professor Mauro Adamo and Professor Caroline Jefferies have all received grants from Enterprise Ireland's Commercialisation Fund Programme.
 
Professor Fergal O'Brien (pictured left), Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine in RCSI's Department of Anatomy, has received funding for two separate research projects, one is for the development of a new collagen-based film for ocular repair, called OcularColl (for which he has been awarded €222,705). The second grant, for an amount of €554,264, will go towards his research on PanaColl, a Collagen-Scaffold Based Systems for the Delivery of Antibiotics for the Treatment of Microbial Infections & Enhancement of Tissue Regeneration.

Professor Mauro Adamo (pictured left), Professor of Organic and Medicinal Chemistry in RCSI's Department of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry received a grant totalling €193,310 for the development and scale-up of licensable processes to make Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

 

Professor Caroline Jefferies (pictured left), Associate Professor and Head of Biochemistry in RCSI Department of Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics (MCT) was awarded €324,810 for her research on TIL3A-100 as a novel therapeutic in SLE (lupus).

 

 

 

The Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund Programme aims to convert the outputs of state funded research into innovative new products, services and companies. The Programme supports researchers in Higher Education Institutions and Research Performing Organisations to undertake research that has the potential to result in the commercialisation of new innovations by way of licenses to improve the competitiveness of Irish Industry or through the spin out of new start-up ventures. (July 2014)

 

RCSI welcomes SFI funding to support early career researchers

On 7th July 2014, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Seán Sherlock, T.D. announced €23 million in new funding to help support 40 of Ireland's most promising young research talent to become fully independent researchers. The funding is being awarded through Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA) Programmes.

 

Pictured at the announcement are (l-r) Professor David Henshall, Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Professor Mark Ferguson (Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government) Dr Eva Jimenez Mateos and Dr Tobias Engel

Four RCSI researchers were among those to be awarded funding. Two senior post-doctoral researchers from RCSI were recipients of the Starting Investigator Grants: Dr Eva Jimenez Mateos and Dr Tobias Engel. Both work in the epilepsy research laboratory in the Physiology Department at the RCSI and are mentored by Professor David Henshall. Both projects focus on molecules called microRNAs which work to control of protein levels in cells.

Career Development Awards were announced for two RCSI Senior Lecturers: Dr Annette Byrne, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, for a project on metastatic colorectal cancer; and Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics (MCT), for research into genetic biomarkers for epilepsy. Read more.... (July 2014)
 

 

RCSI Scientist in Top World Rankings

Professor Mary Cannon will appear in the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers website and 2014 World's Most Influential Scientific Minds report which has been recently launched.


A total of 11 Irish researchers, including RCSI Professor Mary Cannon (pictured), Department of Psychiatry and Beaumont Hospital, have featured in the World's most influential scientific minds and  have been ranked among the world's top 3,000 by the multinational media body Thompson Reuters. Inclusion means the person's research is listed in the top 1 per cent for the number of times their work has been cited by other scientists.

All were gauged to be "highly cited researchers" who had had an "exceptional impact", Thompson Reuters said.

Their work "has consistently been judged by peers to be of particular significance and utility", the company said when releasing the list on the website highlycited.com.

Those selected will also be published in book form, the Thompson Reuters 2014 World's Most Influential Scientific Minds.  

Not only is Professor Cannon just one of 11 Irish academics to make this outstanding achievement, she is the only woman in Ireland to achieve this. About Professor Mary Cannon

Read more...

http://thomsonreuters.com/press-releases/062014/Scientific-Minds-2014

(July 2014)

  

New Irish study shows high alcohol consumption in older population on prescribed medication

Researcher warns of future increase in risk of alcohol related adverse drug events

Over half of all older Irish adults prescribed medications which have the potential to interact with alcohol, still regularly consume alcohol during the course of their prescription, a new study from RCSI's School of Pharmacy has found. Alcohol can interact harmfully with certain prescription medications, which are known as alcohol interactive (AI medicines).The research, developed in conjunction with the Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), has recently been published in the journal BMC Geriatrics. This study is based on data from The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

The study, led by Dr Gráinne Cousins (pictured), Lecturer in RCSI's School of Pharmacy, found that 72% of adults over the age of 60 residing in Ireland are prescribed AI medications. Of this figure, 60% of people reported consuming alcohol during the course of their prescriptions. Almost one in five older adults combined heavy drinking with cardiovascular agents and anti-diabetic agents, with 16% of the sample combining heavy drinking with central nervous system (CNS) agents. Read more.... (July 2014)

 

Expert group on Internet Content Governance publishes report

Group, including Director of RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre Mary Aiken, make recommendations to Minister for Communications

Ms Mary Aiken (pictured), Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre based in the RCSI Institute of Leadership, is part of the government Internet Content Governance Advisory (ICGA) Group which has produced 30 recommendations to be followed up by a team from five Government Departments. Minister for Communications Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, T.D recently launched this report, which will act as a new framework for the oversight of internet content. Read more... (July 2014)

 

 

New leukaemia drug boosts survival rate to 90% and could eventually replace invasive chemical treatment

Patients in Ireland have been involved in a breakthrough international trial of a new cancer drug which has given researchers renewed hope in the fight against leukaemia.  Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found Ibrutinib, an inhibitor of Bruton's Kinase, to have better rates of survival for patients with the commonest form of leukaemia than conventional therapy and is a breakthrough for people with resistance to chemotherapy.

The results of a trial on 391 patients showed the drug Ibrutinib gave patients fighting a type of slow growing blood cancer called Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) a 90 per cent chance of survival, compared to 81 per cent who survive on more conventional treatment. Read more.... (June 2014)

 

New Irish research affirms safety of flu vaccine in pregnancy and reveals uptake patterns in Irish population

A new study which examined Irish maternity hospital data during the recent flu pandemic has affirmed that the seasonal influenza vaccine is safe at any stage during pregnancy. The research, which was led by RCSI's School of Pharmacy and the Rotunda Hospital, also showed that vaccination uptake was influenced by sociodemographic factors such as age and country of origin of the mother. The research has been published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive BiologyLead researcher of the study, Prof Brian Cleary pictured. Read more... (June 2014)

 

 

RCSI Researchers Awarded Funding for SFI Industry Fellowship Programme

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD has announced the award of funding of over €1.7 million to support twenty new industry-academia partnerships through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Industry Fellowship Programme. The programme is funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through SFI.

RCSI researchers Dr Annette Byrne (right) and Professor Caroline Jeffries (left) were among those who were awarded funding through the programme. Dr Annette Byrne, Senior Lecturer, RCSI Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, received funding for a project in partnership with Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals for research on cancer biomarkers. Professor Caroline Jeffries, Associate Professor and Head of Biochemistry, RCSI Department of Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics (MCT), was awarded funding for research in partnership with AMGEN on biomarkers in lupus (SLE).

The SFI Industry Fellowship Programme provides researchers from academic institutions with the opportunity to gain important first-hand experience in a commercial research environment, while also providing industry with access to highly specialised trained researchers from academic institutions. The aim of the programme is to increase levels of collaboration between industry and academia.

These are the first twenty awards approved for funding under this new programme and involve research in key sectors such as animal health, smart grid, marine, solar energy, transport and mobility studies, and diagnostics in oncology with both multinational companies and SMEs participating. Read more.... (June 2014)

Waterford nurse wins CJ Coleman Award with research on Irish hip fracture care

 Louise Brent, RCSI Trauma and Orthopaedic Clinical Programme, (pictured 2nd from left) was awarded this year's CJ Coleman award. The title of her research project was ‘Improving Hip Fracture Care in Ireland: The collaboration of the Irish Hip Fracture Database (IHFD) and the Development of a National Integrated Care Pathway for hip fracture'. Read more.... (June 2014)

 

National Disability Authority Research Promotion Scheme 2014 Awards

Dr Frances Horgan (School of Physiotherapy) and Dr Rose Galvin (HRB Centre for Primary Care Research) have received a grant from the National Disability Authority Research Promotion Scheme 2014 to explore the factors related to return to work after stroke. The study will involve collaboration with the National Rehabilitation Hospital Vocational Training Unit, Baggot Street Community Stroke Unit and the Irish Heart Foundation Stroke Support group network. The study findings will be reported in Spring 2015. (June 2014)

Delivering drugs on cue

A new study from Harvard's University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has challenged current drug-delivery systems used to administer chemotherapy to cancer patients. These systems typically release a constant dose of the drug over a period of time. The new study challenges this "slow and steady" approach and offers a novel way to locally deliver the drugs "on demand," as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A co-lead author of this research is Cathal Kearney, Senior Research Fellow, RCSI Department of Anatomy. Read more... (June 2014)

  

Pfizer Prize for Best Oral Presentation

Ms Natalia Lajczak, PhD student in the Department of Molecular Medicine, won the Pfizer Prize for best oral presentation by a young researcher at the Annual Meeting of the Physiological Society, London on 1st June 2014. Natalia presented her PhD research on Protective anti-inflammatory effects of bile acids in colonic epithelia. (June 2014)

 

 

Alan Ryan wins Postgraduate Scholarship for an Outstanding Researcher & TERMIS EU Young Investigator Award

Alan Ryan, a PhD student in the Department of Anatomy, Tissue Engineering Research Group and AMBER, was awarded two distinguished awards. The first was the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Postgraduate Scholarship for an Outstanding Researcher. The Scholarship aims to help researchers to share advancing knowledge throughout the global Science, Engineering and Technology community to enhance people's lives around the world. The second, at the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) - European Conference, held in Genoa Italy in June 2014, Mr Ryan (pictured) beat over 500 other entrants to take out the TERMIS EU Young Investigator Award for Best Poster Presentation. Mr Ryan's prize winning poster was entitled ""A biomimetic tissue engineered vascular graft fabricated from collagen and elastin". (June 2014)

 

School of Physiotherapy - HRB Research Training Fellowships Success

Research Training Fellowships for Healthcare Professionals 2014 awards were awarded to Rory O'Sullivan to conduct a study on ‘The Progression of Crouch Gait in Diplegic Cerebral Palsy'. Rory will be supervised by Dr Frances Horgan and Dr Helen French as well as Professor Tim O'Brien from the Central Remedial Clinic during the research. Paul Kirwan, based in Connolly Hospital, was also awarded a fellowship for his study entitled ‘The use of eccentric exercises and topical glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) in the treatment of mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised placebo controlled trial'. (May 2014)


CSI: CYBER

American television network, CBS, has commissioned a primetime TV series CSI: Cyber, a programme based on RCSI Mary Aiken's work as a cyberpsychologist. Mary who is Director of RCSI's CyberPsychology Research Centre, will be a producer and consultant to the show, as well as heading up the RCSI CyPsy Research Centre in RCSI Institute of Leadership, Sandyford. (May 2014)

 

ENCALS Conference

Sinéad Kinsella was awarded the prize for Best Poster Presentation in the basic science research category at the ENCALS (European Network for the Cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) annual conference, held at the University of Leuven, Belgium May 22-24th 2014. Sinéad Kinsella and Dr. Hans-Georg König, both with the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, examined the role of the Bcl-2 protein Bid in Toll-like Receptor signalling (TLR). Mutant SOD1 protein, previously shown to be secreted and to induce TLR-signalling, is one of the pathogenic drivers that is characteristic of an inherited form of the devastating motor neuron disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The data presented on the prestigious international conference showed that deletion of the intracellular protein Bid in microglia attenuated activation and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines by these immune cells when exposed to the mutant SOD1 protein. These pathways may show new avenues for drug discovery aiming to abate the deleterious neuroinflammation in ALS. Sinéad is a BioAT PhD student under the guidance of Prof. Jochen Prehn at the Dept. of Physiology and Medical Physics. (May 2014)

EU Researchers Night

RCSI in conjunction with TCD have been selected by the EU Commission to host a European initiative called ‘Discover Research'. The Discover Research Night will take place on 26th September 2014 & 25th September 2015 and is open free of charge to the general public. The objective of the night, which will be hosted in cities across Europe, is open research up to the general public; to promote research as an exciting career option, to demonstrate creativity and innovation and to show how research can contribute to society. Researchers from RCSI will showcase research initiatives that have been developed in partnership with TCD. This includes work from the Tissue Engineering Research Group being carried out through partnerships, such as the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) Centre and FP7-funded Advanced Materials for Cardiac Regeneration (AMCARE) project and teaching initiatives such as Anatomy from the Outside In. (May 2014)


New European study aims to better understand child abuse online

Researchers from RCSI will undertake a new study which aims to achieve a better understanding of online child abuse, thereby preventing this abuse while identifying new strategies for law enforcement. This study will be run in collaboration with other institutes in the UK, Italy, and the Netherlands and is funded by the European Commission.

This project, entitled 'Developing research informed good practice policing and industry collaborative models in preventing online child abuse and profiling child victims', will use existing evidence of the online behaviour of perpetrators of crimes such as online grooming and accessing indecent child images which will inform policing and industry best practice in prevention of such crime. It will publish a set of good practice models and guidelines which will help in identifying potential child victims of grooming, while creating a safer online environment for children and young people.

The study is being undertaken by the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre, Tilburg University (Netherlands); Kore University of Enna in Sicily and is being led by Middlesex University, the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS).

Speaking on this cross-EU study, Mary Aiken (pictured), Director of RCSI's CyberPsychology Research Centre said, ‘Keeping vulnerable children and young people safe when online is a priority for our work. This new study will help us to further understand those who are preying on children across the globe. This is an issue that crosses borders and these findings will resonate across the globe. From our launch symposium last October, a central part of our vision for the CyberPsychology Research Centre has been to become an academic resource for law enforcement across the world and we are delighted to work with CATS and our EU partners in furthering that vision'.

Dr Ciarán Mc Mahon, Research & Development Co-Ordinator at the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre added, ‘This is an important first step in the growth and expansion of the Research Centre, not only with regard to strengthening existing collaborative relationships and developing new academic partnerships, but also in terms of adding high quality researchers to our team'. (May 2014)

 


Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn launches €9 million EU and Irish funded Assistive Technologies research project

RCSI co-ordinated research project into technologies for people with autism and intellectual disability

European Union Commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has launched a major Irish-led EU research programme in autism and intellectual disability. The research is co-funded (€9 million in total) by the EU Marie Curie ASSISTID Cofund and the Irish charity RESPECT. This wide ranging research project in this specific field is the first of its kind in Europe. Professor Brian Harvey, RCSI Professor of Molecular Medicine and Director of Research DOCTRID, (pictured right) will lead the research on behalf of the DOCTRID Research Institute, which includes the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services, all of the universities on the island of Ireland, RCSI, Dublin and Tralee Institute of Technology - and the US universities Michigan State University and the University of Massachusetts.

The programme will promote research into the development and application of assistive technologies to enhance the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities and autism, their carers and families. Read more.... (May 2014)


International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme

Dr Rose Galvin, Department of General Practice & HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, had be awarded a placement on the prestigious International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme 2014. This programme is hosted by the Nuttfield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford and is designed to develop future leaders in primary care research and assist participants in exploring different aspects of leadership in primary care research. (May 2014)

 

Doctor Emigration Project Survey

RCSI Professor Ruairi Brugha (pictured) and Dr Niamh Humphries, Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, have recently begun a HRB-funded research project into the emigration of doctors from Ireland, which will run until 2016. This study aims to improve our understanding of emigration, retention and the motivations of Ireland's doctors and will be used by other stakeholders to formulate strategies to improve the retention of doctors in the Irish health system and to attract back those who have left. (May 2014)

 

RCSI welcomes major Government investment in Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock TD have announced €47 million in funding for pioneering research initiatives, delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme. Three RCSI projects were among those announced as recipients of the funding to carry out research in the areas of epilepsy, colorectal cancer and medical devices.

The Programme will provide funding over a three to five year period, for a total of 36 research projects involving over 200 researchers. The projects were selected by competitive peer review by 400 international scientists, focusing on excellent research with potential impact.
 


Prof Jochen Prehn

Professor Jochen Prehn, RCSI Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, was awarded €2.2 million for his project ‘BCL-2 family proteins and cellular bioenergetics in the control of cell survival: Towards novel predictive and prognostic markers for disease progression and therapy responses in colorectal cancer patients'. Professor David Henshall, RCSI Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, was awarded €0.9million for research into ‘MicroRNA biofluid profiles as molecular diagnostics for epilepsy'. Professor Sally-Ann Cryan, RCSI School of Pharmacy, was jointly awarded €1.9 million for a collaborative project with Dr Andreas Heise, DCU entitled ‘Functional polymers for (nano)medical devices'.
 


Prof David Henshall

Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research said: "RCSI welcomes the announcement to provide major funding to three RCSI research projects through the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme. I congratulate the RCSI researchers involved; their success is a testament to the world-class, high-impact biomedical translational research being carried out here in the College which will ultimately lead to improved diagnoses and treatments for the benefit of patients and the community." 
 


Prof Sally-Ann Cryan

A fourth RCSI project proposed by Dr Ann Hopkins, RCSI Department of Surgery, for research into breast cancer, was deemed scientifically excellent and impactful by the International Review Panel and is on a reserve list to be funded in the future.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: "This investment through SFI helps to develop Ireland's international reputation for excellent research with impact. This allows us to continue to attract foreign-direct investment, as well as to support Irish companies, long-term economic competitiveness and most importantly ultimately job-creation."

Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD said: "This major investment will support world-class research in key priority areas that support economic and social development in Ireland. By concentrating on sectors of strength, the SFI Investigators Programme aligns funding to areas of increasing national and international importance. This will create many opportunities for successful collaboration between industry and Ireland's science ecosystem."

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: "The Investigators Programme will support Ireland's research community in developing projects that can lead and win in Horizon 2020. Not only will it provide direct support for over 200 researchers, the programme will also have an indirect impact on many other research programmes by allowing for the development of further research links with industry in Ireland and internationally." (May 2014)

 

RCSI Awarded Health Research Board (HRB) Student Summer Fellowships 2014

The Health Research Board (HRB) has awarded RCSI with 11 Student Summer Fellowships for summer 2014. The sucessful students are Yvonne Sweeney, Anthony Sharkey, Hannah Dunne, Caoimhe Gilmore, Nessa Walsh, Emmet Power, Nabila Boksmati, Ryan Fagan, Jane Marron, John Flanagan and Lorna Cummins. A special mention also goes to their respective sponsors: Professor Sally-Ann Cryan (School of Pharmacy), Dr Garry Duffy (Anatomy), Professor Dermot Kenny (MCT), Dr Frances Horgan (School of Physiotherapy), Dr Joanne Ramsey (School of Pharmacy), Professor Mary Cannon (Psychiatry), Dr Marian Brennan (MCT), Dr Helen French (School of Physiotherapy), Dr Brian Cleary (School of Pharmacy), Professor Peter Conlon (Beaumont), Dara Meldrum (School of Physiotherapy). (April 2014)

 

 From RCSI to CSI - exciting news for Cyberpsychology

Mary Aiken, Director CyberPsychology Research Centre, which is part of the RCSI Institute of Leadership, has been working with CBS on a 'CSI Cyber' pilot series.

The promo clip for the pilot episode, now on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK5Lfs0lDkM, airs on Wednesday, 30th April 2014, on CBS 10pm EST.

The CSI Cyber pilot series will explore technology and human behaviour. Actor Patricia Arquette's  character, Avery Ryan, plays Mary Aiken (inspired by Aiken, who is a producer on the show), a special agent in charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI.

Aiken is a cyberpsychologist and research fellow at RCSI's Institute of Leadership and Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre. Her research looks at the impact of emerging technology on human behaviour, including the negative aspects such as cyberbullying, criminal activities and anxiety. Her work has explored areas such as human trafficking, cybersecurity and online profiling.

It's not Aiken's first time to be involved in a TV series - she was a featured expert, writer and researcher on the TV3 series Crime in Mind.

Commenting on this exciting project Mary said "The US LE agencies that I work with are delighted with this opportunity as primetime television is a very important platform to provide cyber security and safety messaging to the general public". (April 2014)

 

 RCSI Malaria vaccine undergoes first human trial

European Vaccine Initiative to meet to mark World Malaria Day

A malaria vaccine developed by researchers at RCSI's Department of International Health & Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, has recently undergone its first human trials. The clinical and immunological responses to 24 volunteers have proved the vaccine safe, well tolerated and the immunology results are very promising. To coincide with World Malaria Day (Friday 25th April), scientific leaders in vaccine development from academia, industry and the public sector will meet at RCSI for the first meeting in Dublin of the board and scientific advisory committee of the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) where they will plan future funding and further research into the area of vaccine research.

This malaria vaccine is envisaged as a valuable addition to malaria control and forms part of the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s malaria control roadmap. During these trials, funded by the EVI, volunteers are exposed to malaria after vaccination to assess vaccine effectiveness. Combining this vaccine with others in development may lead to a vaccine that could prevent malaria, which will have a huge impact on human health as a result. The vaccine will now progress to phase two trials at the University of Oxford.

The WHO estimates that 207 million cases of malaria occurred globally in 2012 and 627,000 malaria deaths. Most cases (80%) and deaths (90%) occurred in Africa and most deaths (77%) were in children under five years of age. (i)

The EVI Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) will convene on Monday 28th April. This committee makes recommendations to the EVI Board on scientific direction and technologies as well as on the choice of vaccines candidates for funding. The EVI Board will subsequently hold their meeting on Tuesday 29th April. Both are being held at the RCSI campus on St. Stephen's Green.

Speaking about these meetings, Professor Sam McConkey, Head of the RCSI Department of International Health & Tropical Medicine and member of the EVI SAC (pictured) said, ‘These meetings provide an excellent opportunity to discuss current and future orientations for translational research, getting new ideas in a laboratory to safe effective products in human clinical trials, the core area that EVI works in, while making important strategic decisions on planning for funding. It will be a pleasure to welcome our European colleagues both to Dublin and to the College for this milestone event.'

Dr Odile Leroy, Executive Director of EVI, says ‘Nothing would have been possible without the support of Irish Aid. Since its inception EVI has contributed to the development of 32 malaria vaccine candidate formulations with 16 vaccine candidates being advanced into phase I clinical trials, three of which have been transitioned for further clinical development in sub-Saharan Africa.'

EVI was initially established in 1998 with seed funding from the European Commission and focused exclusively on malaria. Over the years EVI´s mandate has grown and has the principal objective to develop effective, accessible, and affordable vaccines against malaria and other diseases of poverty. EVI's vision is 'a world free of the intolerable burden of diseases of poverty within the coming decades'. RCSI is a constituent member of this organisation which is funded also by Irish Aid. Irish Aid is the Irish Government's programme for overseas assistance. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (April 2014)

References:

(i) World Health Organisation (WHO) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

 

 

Dr Lorna Lopez Awarded First Prize From the Schizophrenia International Research Society

Dr Lorna Lopez from Professor David Cotter's group in the Department of Psychiatry was awarded first prize from the Schizophrenia International Research Society for her poster at the 4th Biennial Schizophrenia International Research Conference held in Florence, Italy, early in April 2014.  This was an internationally renowned conference with over 1,700 delegates and 800 posters. Lorna was awarded 1st prize winner for her presentation of her work on "Integrated genomic and proteomic evidence for the postsynaptic density in schizophrenia" with the Cotter team including Melanie Focking, Jane English, Patrick Dicker, Annemarie Wolff, Elizabeth Brindley, Kieran Wynne and Gerard Cagney. Also from Professor Cotter's team, Dr Melanie Focking and PhD students Lorna Farrelly and Elizabeth Brindley presented posters and Dr Jane English presented exciting new findings implicating protein translation in schizophrenia in a symposium on stem cell biology in schizophrenia chaired and organised by Professor Cotter. (April 2014)

 

 

National Survey of Stroke Survivors in Ireland Report launched

Pictured at the launch are (l-r) Dr Rose Galvin, Dr Frances Horgan and Mary Walsh.

The National Survey of Stroke Survivors in Ireland Report was launched on 7 April at the National Disability Authority. The study was led by RCSI researchers Dr Frances Horgan and Mary Walsh, RCSI School of Physiotherapy, Dr Rose Galvin, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research and Chris Macey and Cliona Loughnane from the Irish Heart Foundation.

Approximately 11,000 people experience a stroke each year in the Republic of Ireland (Irish Heart Foundation, 2012). This research project aimed to describe the experiences and needs of people who have returned to live in the community after experiencing a stroke. The research was funded under the National Disability Authority's Research Promotion Grant Scheme. Almost 200 people responded to the survey.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Frances Horgan (PI) highlighted that ‘Stroke was found to have a personal, social and economic impact, and there were challenges that affected return to independence'.

The launch coincides with the start of Stroke Awareness Week, April 7th-11th 2014. For more information go to http://www.rcsi.ie/index.jsp?p=100&n=110&a=4470 (April 2014)

 

 

RCSI Researcher Council Member of the Irish Association for Cancer Research

Dr. Olga Piskareva (Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics) has been elected as council member of the Irish Association for Cancer Research at the annual IACR meeting's AGM in Galway. Olga will serve a three year term and is the fourth RCSI member on the council. The Irish Association for Cancer Research is an All-Ireland non-profit organisation for cancer researchers in the Irish biomedical community. (April 2014)

 

  

Research May Lead to a New Bowel Cancer Detection Method

New evidence that a common gut bacterium is involved in bowel cancer has been discovered by researchers from the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics in RCSI. The research is published in the April edition of the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases.

The HRB funded research, led by Dr David Hughes at the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI found a significantly increased presence of a common microbe Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) in tissue and stool samples of patients with colorectal cancers and colorectal benign tumours. Additionally Fn infection levels were related with benign tumour progression from early to advanced stages and the transition from a benign tumour to cancer.

Commenting on the research, Dr David Hughes, said "Our research found that cancer patients with low bacterial levels had significantly longer survival times than patients with moderate and high levels of the bacterium.  Also, for patients with a benign tumour, we found that the presence of Fn may be a risk factor for disease progression from tumour to cancer. This is a significant finding because it highlights the potential of Fn detection as a possible indicator of colorectal cancers."

The research highlights that screening for Fn levels may be used as a new bowel cancer detection method or to further inform existing screening strategies. Efforts to combat Fn infection could be considered for colorectal cancers patients with high levels of the bacterium to improve the survival prospects for these patients.

For patients with benign tumours, Fn levels may be used to classify the tumours that may have a higher risk of disease progression to colorectal cancers with implications for increasing follow-up and at the possible use of anti-microbial treatments.

Dr Hughes continued "Potentially, any impact of Fn infection on benign tumour development and progression to more serious stages will be considerable, because 95% of all bowel cancers arise from benign tumours, but only a small number of them become cancerous. Currently, there are no reliable predictive markers of whether a benign tumour will advance to cancer." (April 2014)

 

Epilepsy Research Publication in Nature Genetics

RCSI researchers have published a study on epilepsy in the journal Nature Genetics. The study, entitled ‘TDP2 protects transcription from abortive topoisomerase activity and is required for normal neural function' (NG 2014, doi:10.1038/ng.2929) has identified a novel gene for epilepsy and links a novel biological pathway to the condition, was co-authored by Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri (pictured), Dr Mark McCormack and Professor Norman Delanty (all of MCT). (March 2014)

 

Professor Brian Harvey Keynote Speaker at West Coast Salt & Water Club

Professor Brian Harvey (Molecular Medicine) delivered the Keynote Lecture on ‘Estrogen regulation of epithelial ion transporters in health and disease' at the 33rd annual meeting of the West Coast Salt and Water Club (WCSWC) held at Avila Beach, California in March this year. The WCSWC is an elite group of US scientists and physicians who share common interests in ion and solute transport, epithelial cell biology, and cellular regulatory mechanisms in a variety of systems. (March 2014)

 

Professor David Henshall Presented with Robert Bentley Todd Silver Medal

Professor David Henshall (Physiology and Medical Physics) was presented with the Robert Bentley Todd Silver Medal by the RCSI Neuroscience Society, in recognition of his contributions to teaching and research in neuroscience. This award was made during an undergraduate-hosted evening that focused on basic research and clinical aspects of epilepsy, held at RCSI on March 6th. (March 2014)

 

Perinatal Ireland Study Day

Professor Fergal Malone (Obstetrics and Gynaecology), Dr Elizabeth Tully (Perinatal Ireland) and Dr Julia Unterscheider (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) hosted the first Perinatal Ireland Study Day which took place on Thursday March 6th 2014 in the Rotunda Hospital. This open meeting was attended by clinicians, allied health professionals and members of the public and it showcased research in the areas of Multiple Pregnancy and Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR). (March 2014)

 

SODIS Project

The SODIS Project , which is the work of Professor Kevin McGuigan (Physiology and Medical Physics) and his team has received renewed and increased their funding through the Princess Haya Foundation for this initiative. This important award will fund the installation of harvested rainwater tanks in rural primary schools in Makondo in South Western Uganda as well as postgraduate research in the area. (March 2014)

RESEARCH DAY 2014
On 20th March 2014, the annual RCSI Research Day took place, showcasing the most recent, cutting-edge research findings across the College and emphasising the importance of research within the RCSI, particularly amongst early career researchers. The latest advances in biomedical sciences, clinical research, population health sciences and healthcare delivery were just some of the topics featured on the day.  This occasion was attended by more than 300 researchers.

The Annual John J Ryan Distinguished Guest Lecture was delivered by Professor Sir Stephen O'Rahilly who spoke of "Human metabolic disease: lessons from the extremes", in a fascinating lecture exploring his research into the genetic causes of extreme obesity and insulin resistance which have provided new insights into the physiology of energy balance and metabolism. A native of Dublin, Professor O'Rahilly is Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine the University of Cambridge. He is the Co-Director of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science and Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit.

Professor Sir Stephen O'Rahilly delivers the Annual John J Ryan Distinguished Guest Lecture

RESEARCH DAY PRIZE WINNERS

 

Pictured (l-r) are Bojana Mirkovic (Early Career Investigators Oral Research - The Barnes Medal); Tristram Hills (Undergraduate Poster); Natalia Rodriguez Alavarez (PhD Scholars Poster); Aoife McKeon (Front Cover Illustration Abstract Book); Prof Kevin McGuigan, Research Day Academic Coordinator; Yuan-Hsun Chang (Undergraduate Oral Research - The Dr. Harry O'Flanagan Prize), Mary Elizabeth Walsh (Post-graduate Oral Research - The Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals Prize); Ashwanth Ramesh (Post-graduate Poster), Ciara A. O'Dwyer (PhD Scholars Oral Research - The Roche Gold Medal); and Dr Alice Garvey (Health Professions Education Award)

Additional prize winners included Ian Miller (Early Career Investigators) and Dr. Kieran Sweeney was the recipient of the Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery.


Pictured (l-r) are Dr Camilla Carroll, daughter of Mr Kamal Sayed and graduate of RCSI who presented the Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery (Generously supported by Dr Yacoob Kadwa, Class of 1965) which was awarded to Dr. Kieran Sweeney; Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI; Dr Safia Sayed; and Dr Jacintha More O'Ferrall.


The successful event was organised by Co-ordinators Professor Kevin McGuigan (Academic Co-ordinator); Stephanie O'Connor and Cathy Priestley (Research Office Co-ordinators). (March 2014)

 

 

New Review Article from RCSI

Prof Kevin McGuigan in collaboration with researchers in I.T. Sligo, UCC, University of Ulster, Plataforma Solar de Almería, Spain, University of Cyprus, Florida International University and University of Cincinnati published a new review article on Solar photocatalysis for water disinfection: Materials and reactor design in the RSC journal Catalysis Science & Technology. This review addresses the fundamental reaction mechanism, advances in materials synthesis and selection and recent developments in the reactor design for solar energy driven photocatalysis using titanium dioxide. The major advantage of using photo-reactors is that they enhance disinfection by increasing photon flux into the photocatalyst. Other major factors affecting such efficiency of solar-based photocatalysis such as the illuminated volume/total volume ratio, catalyst load and flow rate, are discussed in detail. The article is available to download at http://xlink.rsc.org/?doi=C4CY00006D (March 2014)

 

RCSI Prize-winners at the Young Life Scientists Ireland 2014 symposium

RCSI had great success at the recent Young Life Scientists Ireland 2014 symposium, which was held at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Trinity College Dublin on the 1st of March. Naadiya Carrim (MCT) and Cormac McDonnell (School of Pharmacy & MCT) were awarded first and second prizes, respectively, for Best Oral Presentation in the Cardiovascular Biology section. Nicola Kavanagh (School of Pharmacy & MCT) received second prize in the general poster category for her presentation. Three PhD students from the TERG were also awarded with prizes. Mr Alan Ryan was awarded 1st prize in the Regenerative Medicine category of the oral presentations with his talk entitled "Generating Viable Tissue Engineered Vascular Grafts from Natural Polymers", while Mr Cian O'Leary received 2nd prize in the same category for his talk entitled "A Tissue-Engineering Approach to Improve Airway In Vitro Models: The Development of a Bilayered Collagen-GAG Scaffold". Ms Nicola Kavanagh, a recently appointed PhD student in the TERG, received a runner up prize for her poster presentation entitled "Development of a 3D Scaffold Based Model System for the Study of Bone Infection". (March 2014)

 

 

Professor Seamus Cowman Appointed to UK's Lancet Nursing Commission

Professor Seamus Cowman, Head of the School of Nursing & Midwifery is set to play a major role in deciding the future of nursing in the United Kingdom after he was appointed to the Lancet Commission in Britain.

The Commission plans to review the education, workforce, practice, image and future of UK nursing and to provide recommendations on each to the profession, the public and key decision-makers.

Taking into account international comparators, the Commission will then produce a report on its deliberations and proposals, which will be published both in The Lancet and as a separate booklet. (March 2014)

 

Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Article Highly Cited

Dr. Marcus Rehm (pictured) and Dr. Christian T. Hellwig are corresponding authors for the article, TRAIL Signaling and Synergy Mechanisms Used in TRAIL-Based Combination Therapies. Mol Cancer Ther. January 2012: 11:3-13 which was one of the most highly-cited Molecular Cancer Therapeutics articles published in 2012. (February 2014)

 

 

Perinatal Ireland

A delegation from the RCSI Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and the Perinatal Ireland Research Consortium recently participated in the 'Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine: 34th Annual Pregnancy Meeting' in New Orleans. Data and results from the recently completely PORTO study on the management of pregnancies affected by growth restriction were presented in both oral and poster format. In total, three oral presentations and 12 posters were presented by Professor Fergal Malone and his team.  The first ‘Perinatal Ireland Study Day' will take place on Thursday March 6th 2014 in the Rotunda Hospital. This is an open meeting for clinicians, allied health professionals and the public and will showcase the results of the ‘ESPRiT National Twin Study' and the ‘PORTO Study on the Management of IUGR pregnancies'. (February 2014) 
  
  


COPD Research

Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine, and his team of researchers from RCSI, the Alpha One Foundation and Harvard University have made a major breakthrough in identifying a significant proportion of the population who have an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to a combination of inherited genes and exposure to cigarette smoke. Their paper is entitled ‘Clari?cation of the Risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in a1-Antitrypsin De?ciency PiMZ Heterozygotes' (Vol 189, No 4 / Feb 15 2014) had been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and has  attracted widespread media attention in Ireland. (February 2014) 

 

RCSI's ‘Be a Cyber Pal!' initiative launched as part of Safer Internet Day 2014

The RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre, which is part of the RCSI Institute of Leadership, launched its ‘Be a Cyber Pal!' initiative as part of the Centre's participation in Safer Internet Day 2014 on 11th February 2014.  The 'Cyber Pal' concept, which is based on solid and established cyberpsychological research findings, is in line with the theme of Safer Internet Day 2014, ‘Creating a Better Internet Together' and aims to improve behaviour online, particularly amongst children and young people.

‘Be a Cyber Pal!' encourages young people to follow seven steps to improve safety online including: ‘Don't be a bystander: be a Cyber Pal' and ‘Reach out to a trusted Cyber Pal when feeling lonely or down.' The initiative was developed by Mary Aiken, Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre (pictured) and Dr. Ciarán Mc Mahon, Research & Development Coordinator, RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre.

Safer Internet Day which was launched by Ruairi Quinn TD, Minister for Education and Skills, is part of a global drive to promote a safer internet for all users, especially young people. The event is organised in Ireland by Webwise and aims to educate and raise awareness about protecting children online, so that they can responsibly enjoy the benefits of the internet, without compromising their safety and privacy.  The focus of Safer Internet Day 2014 is to reach out to young people and encourage them to address the issue of cyber bullying themselves by leading awareness raising campaigns in their clubs, schools, and communities.

Mary Aiken Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre said: ‘Youth empowerment and positive action lie at the centre of the ‘"Be a Cyber Pal!" protocol which aims to support the overall messaging of Safer Internet Day 2014 which is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.'

‘The RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre is delighted to partner with the Irish Safer Internet Day 2014 team to produce anti-cyberbullying messaging that is targeted, appropriate, empowering and most importantly academically grounded,' Mary concluded. 

‘Being part of this initiative reflects a central aim of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre, which is to produce evidence-based insight and advice in a fast-changing environment', added Dr. Ciarán Mc Mahon, Research & Development Coordinator, RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre.

At the launch event for Safer Internet Day 2014 Minister Quinn also unveiled a new anti-cyber bullying school's kit, the #UP2US Anti-Bullying Kit, containing awareness raising material, a new teaching resource for dealing with the issue of cyber bullying through the curriculum in post primary schools and an innovative interactive poster initiative. The pack will challenge young people to find new ways to use the internet and social media to stand up to bullying and show solidarity with victims.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Quinn said, ‘This innovative education resource will support the efforts of schools to prevent bullying behaviour through the fostering and development of a positive culture and climate that is based on inclusivity and respect both in schools and in the online communities where children spend time. Effective practice includes prevention and awareness raising measures across all aspects of bullying and involves strategies to engage pupils in addressing problems when they arise. In particular, such strategies need to build empathy, respect and resilience in pupils.'

The ‘Net Children Go Mobile' report also released at the event has revealed that increased use of mobile devices have created new areas of risks such as increased levels of bullying and exposure to potentially harmful Internet content. The report showed that girls are more likely to be bullied online than boys and that new strategies are needed to ensure young people's safety and welfare in a post-desktop internet environment.

Further information on ‘Be a Cyber Pal!' can be found at: http://webwise.ie/CyberPals.shtm (February 2014)

 


Human Disease Mapping Conference
PhD students Christopher Whelan and Annachiara Mitrugno (MCT) were Chair and Co-Chair respectively of the recent successful conference on Human Disease Mapping. This conference was organised by Christopher and Annachiara along with their postgraduate student colleagues in RCSI, under HRB support, for postgraduate students and postdocs nationally and internationally. Naadiya Carrim (MCT) received the prize for Best Oral Presentation.   (February 2014)

 

International Diabetes Federation Grantee
A study which examined the co-existence of two common diseases in Bahrain, diabetes and sickle cell, by Dr Ali Abdulnabi Mohamed in RCSI Bahrain, has been selected as one of 15 International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Grantees for the World Diabetes Congress (WDC) 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. The research was under the supervision of Professor David Whitford, Professor of Family and Community Medicine and now Head of School of Postgraduate Studies and Research. (February 2014)


 

RCSI Cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken inspires latest CSI TV spin-off

From RCSI to CSI - a potential new spin-off from the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has been inspired by the work of Irish cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken at the RCSI.

The planned spin-off will explore technology and human behaviour and will revolve around the character of Avery Ryan (inspired by Aiken, who is a producer on the show), a special agent in charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI.

Aiken is a cyberpsychologist and research fellow at RCSI's Institute of Leadership and Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre. Her research looks at the impact of emerging technology on human behaviour, including the negative aspects such as cyberbullying, criminal activities and anxiety. Her work has explored areas such as human trafficking, cybersecurity and online profiling.

It's not Aiken's first time to be involved in a TV series - she was a featured expert, writer and researcher on the TV3 series Crime in Mind. The pilot for the potential new series will air as a CSI episode in America this spring on CBS.

Commenting on this exciting project Mary said "I think it's a great opportunity to raise money for badly needed research into the impact of technology on child development, and to embed safety and educational messaging into a mass communication forum."

Reference and further information:

http://www.siliconrepublic.com/innovation/item/35864--wit2013/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2014/02/18/csi-spinoff-cbs/5583093/

(February 2014)

 

Endovascular treatment for Stroke patients.

The first European patient has been enrolled in the ESCAPE trial by the Neuroradiology team in Beaumont Hospital and the Mater Hospital Stroke service. The Principal Investigators for this study are Beaumont Hospital based Consultants, Prof David Williams Consultant Stroke Physician (pictured), and Dr John Thornton Consultant Neuroradiologist. They are working in collaboration with stroke services throughout the region in identifying eligible patients and offering participation in the trial.

This study compares standard thrombolysis therapy with thrombectomy, in patients with proximal vessel occlusion stroke. Its outcome has the potential to revolutionize the future management of stroke patients. The trial is sponsored by the University of Calgary, Canada and is being conducted across Canada, USA and more recently Europe. It is being coordinated by research nurses from the RCSI Clinical Research Centre. (February 2014)

 

Biostatistical Consulting And Support Service
A Biostatistical Consulting and Support Service (BCSS) is now available at RCSI. The service is funded by the College and aims to provide biostatistical support to researchers during the preparation and the implementation of project proposals. The introduction of this support will contribute to delivering a high quality of quantitative research and improve the statistical skills of researchers at RCSI. The BCSS is being rolled out across the college in phases. Initially it will be available to all Principal Investigators in RCSI and in the RCSI-affiliated Academic Group of Hospitals only. The team involved in implementing this service consists of Professor Ronán Conroy and Dr Patrick Dicker, of Epidemiology & Public Health Medicine, and Dr Fiona Boland, General Practice (pictured). (February 2014)

 

RCSI Library
Kate Kelly, Mercer Library, has been named as the incoming Chair of the Irish Consortium of National and University Libraries (CONUL) for 2014-2016. CONUL is a consortium of Ireland's main research libraries. (February 2014)

  

Launch of SPHeRE Programme heralds exciting era for Population Health Research
The Structured Population and Health-services Research Education (SPHeRE) programme was launched in RCSI in January 2014. Speaking at this well-attended event, Professor Anne Hickey (Director of SPHeRE and Associate Professor of Psychology at RCSI) highlighted that the objective of the programme is to 'create a network of highly trained researchers who can competently research aspects of the current Irish health system, making recommendations to inform policy and implement changes in practice, with the aim of improving population health and health service delivery for the people of Ireland'.



Pictured (l-r) is Mr. Enda Connolly, CEO, HRB; Prof. Reinhard Busse, Technical University of Berlin; Prof. Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI; Prof Patricia Kearney, UCC; Professor Anne Hickey, RCSI and Director of SPHeRE; Mr. Tony O'Brien, Director General of the Health Service; and Prof. Steve Thomas, Trinity College and Co-Director of SPHeRE

The SPHeRE Programme is a partnership between RCSI, University College Cork (UCC) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), expanding on the well-established and successful HRB structured PhD Scholars Programme in Health Services Research which commenced in 2007. The Programme aims to produce a national integrated faculty that meets the growing demand for high quality graduates in PHHSR and improves the quality and relevance of such research in Ireland by:
  • Expanding to a national programme, incorporating HEIs beyond the founding institutions (RCSI, TCD, UCC);
  • Encompassing population health research alongside health services research, through the expansion of current taught input and thesis topics;
  • Building a national knowledge translation network for better capacity and inter-connectivity;
  • Upgrading the national skills base, for example, through new initiatives in providing access to taught modules.

Supported by a €6.3 million investment from the Health Research Board (HRB), the new programme will provide education and training for five cohorts of PhD scholars annually (2013-2017). Dr Teresa Maguire (Head of Population Health and Health Services Research at the Health Research Board) noted: ‘The HRB has funded this programme because it directly supports our strategic objectives to build capacity in population health and health services research and develop strong evidence to drive positive changes in people's health, patient care, health policy and health service delivery'.

Other speakers at the launch included Mr Tony O'Brien (Director General of the Health Service), Prof Steve Thomas (Co-Director of SPHeRE and Associate Professor in Health Policy and Management, TCD), Prof Patricia Kearney (Research Professor, UCC), and Prof John Browne (Deputy Director of SPHeRE and Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCC). A keynote address on the topic of Universal Health Insurance (UHI) entitled: ‘Implementing competitive UHI: benefit basket, pooling, risk-related allocation and other important considerations', was delivered by Professor Reinhard Busse, Technical University of Berlin and European Observatory on Health Systems.

Applications for the next intake of scholars open at the end of February 2014. For more information about the Programme and details of the application process, please go to the SPHeRE Programme website at: http://www.sphereprogramme.ie/ (January 2014)

 

24th Sheppard Prize Winners
The RCSI Department of Pathology has announced the winners of the 24th Sheppard Prize, which is awarded to RCSI MDs and PhDs who have achieved excellence in research in their respective fields. This year's award winners were Dr Emmet O'Brien, who won the MD oral presentation prize; Dr Michelle White, who won the PhD oral presentation prize; Dr Colin Davenport, the winner of the PhD poster prize; and Dr Eoghan McCarthy who won the MD poster prize. Judging panel included a number of consultants as well as Professor Arnie Hill, Head of the School of Medicine & Chair of Surgery, RCSI and Professor Seamus Sreenan, Director of the Graduate Entry Medical Programme, RCSI.


Pictured (l-r) is Barry Morris, AstraZeneca Ireland; Dr. Colin Davenport, 1st place in PhD Poster Prize; Michelle White, 1st place in PhD Oral Prize; Dr. Emmet O'Brien, 1st MD Oral Prize; and Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine at RCSI, Beaumont Hospital. (January 2014)

 

TERG Researchers Win Awards

Researchers from the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) were awarded top prizes at the inaugural ‘Human Disease Mapping' conference held in RCSI late last month. Alan Ryan was awarded first place in the Student Oral category, Erica Tierney was awarded top place in the Post-Doctoral Researcher Oral category and Elaine Quinlan was awarded 2nd place in the student poster category. (January 2014)

 

RCSI attends ISCP-China

Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri and Professor John Waddington (MCT) have recently returned from representing RCSI and speaking at the SFI International Strategic Collaboration Programme (ISCP)-China Biomedical Workshop in Beijing, together with 3U colleagues from DCU and NUIM and additional colleagues from TCD. ISCP-China supports the development of new and existing collaborative research opportunities between Irish universities and partner organisations in China. The attached group photo shows the Irish and Chinese participants outside the Yingjie Exchange Center at Peking University; in the centre is the Irish Ambassador to China, Mr. Paul Kavanagh.

Also attached are photos of Gianpiero and John in discussions with Chinese colleagues. The hope is that these interactions will lead to new opportunities for research collaboration and enhance the attractiveness of grant applications to both national and international agencies. (January 2014)

 

 

 

ISFI ISCA-Japan

In relation to the successful SFI ISCA-Japan award, John Waddington (MCT) recently laid some 'groundwork' for research collaborations with Japanese investigators via visits to the Department of Pharmacology, Nihon University School of Dentistry, Tokyo, the Department of Psychiatry, Hamamatsu University, and the Department of Psychiatry, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine. The attached photo shows John with [left] Prof. Masatoshi Takeda, Osaka University, and [right] Prof. Noriaki Koshikawa, Nihon University, Tokyo. (January 2014)

 

Subsequently, Prof. Koshikawa and his colleague, Dr. Katsunori Tomiyama [left/right in the attached photo] attended the reception in Tokyo at which An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, during his recent visit to Japan, announced the ICSA-Japan award; as shown in the attached photo, Prof. Koshikawa toasted RCSI's success with a pint of Guinness! (January 2014)

 

 

RCSI Research Breakthrough in Understanding Hereditary Emphysema

13th January 2014: Researchers from RCSI and Beaumont Hospital have made an important breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of hereditary emphysema.  Their research findings were published in this month's edition of Science Translational Medicine, a prestigious journal that highlights medical advances resulting from scientific research, thus bridging the research-to-treatment gap. Their exciting findings show how the protein Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) plays an important role in controlling inflammation from white blood cells and its importance for good health.

The research found that Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) is an important protein produced by the liver which, when released into the bloodstream travels to the lungs to protect the lung tissue from disease. Patients deficient in AAT suffer from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1); a hereditary disorder that leads to the most severe form of hereditary emphysema.

Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine at RCSI and senior author on the study commented: "Our study is the first to reveal the mechanisms by which a lack of the Alpha-1 protein causes an increase in the release of white blood cell proteins into the blood stream. This leads to an autoimmune process in the body that mistakenly recognises these proteins as foreign and activates its own white blood cells to produce harmful oxidants"

"Our research also reveals how a treatment known as augmentation therapy, where Alpha-1 protein purified from blood, is given intravenously, leading to a decrease in the abnormal protein release thereby alleviating the disease associated autoimmunity. This research gives new hope for a better quality of life for sufferers of this chronic condition and may also be applied to other autoimmune associated diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Prof McElvaney continued.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein produced by the liver which, when released into the bloodstream travels to the lungs to protect the lung tissue from disease. Patients deficient in AAT suffer from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1); a hereditary disorder that leads to severe emphysema. Emphysema (otherwise known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)) is caused by inflammation of the alveoli, the sponge-like tissues that take oxygen into the lungs. The disease causes shortness of breath in its mildest form and in its severest form, patients must use an oxygen mask and may need a lung transplant. The first single lung and first double lung transplant recipients in Ireland were people with Alpha-1. 

Alpha-1 is much more common in Ireland than in most other countries. After cystic fibrosis, it is the most common fatal inherited lung condition in Ireland (1). Alpha-1 is estimated to affect more than 12,000 people nationally in its most severe form and the less severe form may affect as many as 200,000 individuals in Ireland. 1 in 25 Irish individuals carry the gene for the disease. (1).

In 2004, the Alpha One Foundation initiated the first national screening programme for Alpha-1. To date, more than 11,000 individuals have been tested and 28% were found to be at risk from the disease (1). The World Health Organisation recommends that everyone with COPD or emphysema should be tested for Alpha-1. For more information on how to get tested for Alpha-1, see http://www.alpha1.ie/ or contact the National Centre for Alpha-1 at Beaumont Hospital (alpha1@rcsi.ie).

The joint lead authors on the research are Dr David Bergin and Dr Emer Reeves from the Respiratory Research Division of RCSI's Department of Medicine based in the Education and Research Centre at Beaumont Hospital. The research was supported by the Medical Research Charities Group/ Health Research Board, the Alpha One Foundation (Ireland) and the Alpha-1 Foundation (USA). 

Editors Notes

  • (1) Carroll, T. P., C. A. O'Connor, O. Floyd, J. McPartlin, D. P. Kelleher, G. O'Brien, B. D. Dimitrov, V. B. Morris, C. C. Taggart, and N. G. McElvaney. 2011. The prevalence of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency in Ireland. Respir Res 12:91.

(January 2014) 

 

 

Anatomical Society honours two RCSI Staff

The Anatomical Society has honoured two members of RCSI Staff. Pictured (l-r) is Dr Garry Duffy and Prof Clive Lee. Based in London, the Anatomical Society promotes, develops and advances research and education in anatomy. At its AGM in Newcastle in December, Professor Clive Lee was elected President of the Anatomical Society for a three year term. He is the fourth Irish person to be elected President in the 127 year history of the Society. Each year, the Society awards four PhD studentships and, this year, Dr Garry Duffy received one for his project ‘Decoding the extrinsic regulation of cardiac stem cell fate in cardiovascular disease'. (January 2014)

 

RCSI Research Day 2014 Our Annual showcase event for all of our researchers to give oral presentations and exhibit posters of their work will take place on Thursday March 20th 2014. Read more about our research day »

 

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