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Prof Dermot Kenny Wins Innovation Award
Prof Dermot Kenny, Professor of Cardiovascular Biology, Beaumont Hospital and RCSI, won an Enterprise Ireland Med In Ireland Award for his work to develop a diagnostic for Cardiovascular disease using platelet stickiness. Prof Kenny will receive Feasibility funding from Enterprise Ireland to investigate the commercial potential of this idea. (October 2013)
Junior Investigators Award at 2013 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference
Dr. Kerstin Pohl from the Dept. of Medicine won the Junior Investigators Best Abstract in Basic Science Award at the 2013 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Utah. The study, led by Dr. Emer Reeves and Prof. Gerry McElvaney, was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Dublin City University and King's College London and examined the effect of ivacaftor treatment on neutrophil function in individuals with cystic fibrosis. (October 2013)
Ciara O'Dwyer from the Dept. of Medicine was awarded a travel grant from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for attendance at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in October (16th-19th) 2013 at Salt Lake City, Utah. Ciara is in the third year of her PhD studies and she presented her results on the effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin on leukotriene B4 associated pulmonary disease. Ciara's project is funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation and is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney.
Dean's Award winners 2013
The annual Dean’s Awards were announced at the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences on Friday 18th October, 2013. The winners are staff proposed by colleagues for their ongoing contribution to the core values of RCSI - Respect, Collegiality, Scholarship and Innovation.
Aidan Bradford, Associate Professor from the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, was the Academic recipient of the 2013 Dean’s Award.
Highly valued by students, Prof Bradford, who has recently returned from Perdana University as the Foundation Lead in Physiology in the RCSI programme and the most senior of the RCSI discipline leads in the Junior Cycle curriculum, is seen as both a committed teacher and researcher.
Deirdre Hyland, Senior Research Nurse/Director of Research Nurse Education at RCSI’s Clinical Research Centre in Beaumont Hospital, is the administrative Dean’s Award winner for 2013. Deirdre is responsible for the standard operating processes in clinical studies conducted in the CRC; standards that are highly praised at regulator visits such as those of the Irish Medicines Board. In addition to this service, to our researchers and through them to the public and patients who participate in research for RCSI, Deirdre has innovated educationally. She has developed a postgraduate certificate in clinical research nursing for RCSI. Five cohorts have now completed this NUI registered certificate course in association with our School of Nursing at RCSI. These nurses comprise the leadership in clinical trials management in the CRC networks across the country, and increase our national capacity to run good clinical trials. Her work brings great credit to the RCSI research and nursing communities. (October 2013)
Pictured above (l-r) is Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO; Ms Deirdre Hyland, Dean's Award winner; Prof. Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences; and Professor Patrick Broe, President.
Launch of DOCTRID Conference in Assistive Technologies for people with Autism and Intellectual Disability
The first structured research programme in Europe to develop Assistive Technologies for People with Autism and Intellectual Disability was launched in Dublin on the 15th October 2013. The ASSISTID EU Marie Curie COFUND programme will promote research into the development and application of assistive technologies for the practical benefit of carers and individuals to enhance the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities.
The National Disability Authority Ireland (NDA) published a recent report which stated ‘Assistive Technologies is centrally important for disability policy as it is one of the more concrete ways that the barriers to participation in society can be overcome for people with disabilities'
The ASSISTID programme will be supported by the EU and the charity RESPECT Ireland and coordinated by the DOCTRID Research Institute which was established by The Daughters of Charity Service (DOC) in 2010. The DOC provides daily support to over 2,500 people with an intellectual disability both in specialist centres and full time care in Ireland. The DOCTRID Research Institute is a collaborative research partnership of all the universities on the island of Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and US universities including Michigan State University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School together with associated partners in Europe, Japan, Canada and South America.
At the conference, Professor Brian Harvey from RCSI and Director of Research for DOCTRID highlighted the importance of the research, "DOCTRID and ASSISTID are positioned in a unique place and time-frame to undertake and support research and technologies to address critical needs in the area of autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities in order to make important, meaningful and sustainable impact on the quality of life of individuals with these disabilities on a global basis" (October 2013)
Infant Centre Launch
The launch of the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) has taken place, of which Professor David Henshall, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, is a co-Principle Investigator. The new €13.6 million research centre, based at Cork University Maternity Hospital, will aim to improve treatment and care for pregnant mothers and new-born babies. (October 2013)
A tool for predicting drug-specific cell death responses in melanoma
Dr Markus Rehm and his team published a new study in the Journal "Cell Death and Differentiation" (Cell Death Differ. 2013 Nov;20(11):1521-1531). In this study, they were successful in predicting the best treatment option for individual melanoma cell lines by using a novel systems modelling approach. The elimination of cancer cells by a process called Apoptosis is a mainstay of anti-cancer chemotherapies. Markus Rehm and his team used quantitative data of proteins that regulate this cell death mechanism together with information on their interactions and regulatory functions to predict the treatment outcome for individual cell lines to different apoptosis-inducing drugs. Using these information they were able to select the best treatment option in up to 91% of the cases. Additionally, the investigators could identify optimal co-treatment strategies to overcome resistance in melanoma cells. Their novel approach may contribute to the development of personalized cancer treatments in the future.
The systems model was co-developed and implemented by Dr Maximilian Würstle, a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Dr Rehm. A poster designed by Dr Würstle won the "best poster" price at the European Cell Death Organisation annual conference in Paris in late September. Oral presentations of the study results were given in guest seminars and conference talks in recent months (Dermatology Clinics, University of Dresden; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; 3U Cancer Conference, Dublin; CSHL Cell Death meeting, Cold Spring Harbor). (October 2013)
In further news from this group:
Insight into intracellular protease activities during cancer cell death
Caspases are proteases crucial for the elimination of cancer cells by apoptotic cell death. Eugenia Delgado, a PhD student in the team of Dr Markus Rehm, has now published the first study in which the contribution of caspase-2 to apoptosis initiation and execution was analysed inside individual living cells by highly sensitive biophysical FRET reporter assays (Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Oct;1833(10):2279-92). So far, approaches towards measuring caspase-2 activity were restricted to analyses in cell homogenates and extracts, yielded inconsistent results, and were often limited in sensitivity, thereby contributing to controversies regarding the role of caspase-2 during apoptosis. Furthermore, caspases overlap in substrate specificities, and caspase-8 as well as effector caspases may cleave optimal caspase-2 recognition motifs. The study found that limited proteolysis of caspase-2 substrates during extrinsic apoptosis initiation was attributable to caspase-8 rather than caspase-2. The contribution of caspase-2 to proteolytic activities during apoptosis execution was insignificant. In contrast to several previous studies, the authors demonstrate that caspase-2 substrate is predominantly cleaved by caspase-8 and effector caspases during canonical apoptosis signalling. (October 2013)
RCSI hosts third Annual International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students
The third International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students (ICHAMS) took place at RCSI last week. This conference was attended by more than 100 undergraduate students from Ireland, UK, USA, Middle-East and South-East Asia. The event also saw 90 students present on a variety of topics of healthcare research.
The conference was organised by RCSI undergraduate medical and healthcare students for students worldwide: ‘A conference for students by students'. This year's tag line was Explore, Evolve, Excel - Advancing Biomedical Research, seeking to provide opportunities to further develop the biomedical research skills of undergraduate students.
Dr Sarah O'Neill, MCT, Chair of the Scientific Committee said ‘I am proud that the ICHAMS Conference is entering its third 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.'
Professor Graham McMahon, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Dr. Orina Belton, lecturer at UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, give the keynote addresses at the conference. (October 2013)
Dr Catherine Greene from the Department of Medicine in ERC Beaumont has recently been awarded €10,800 award from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) for her research in the area of rare pulmonary diseases. This funding will support further research in this field. (October 2013)
European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA)
Dr. Emmet O'Brien was the successful recipient of the European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA), received at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Barcelona in September 2013. The eALTA is a European research initiative coordinated by Grifols and the primary goal of the eALTA program is to identify research projects aimed at enhancing the understanding of disease mechanisms of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and associated disorders.
Emmet's project aims to fully characterise the effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin (alpha-1) on neutrophil function within the circulation. The potential benefits to patients include an investigation into whether alpha-1 augmentation therapy corrects the accelerated rate of neutrophil activity in deficient individuals. The long-term objective of this research is to develop the means to control lung disease associated with alpha-1 deficiency and the potential ramifications of alpha-1 as a modulator of neutrophil function will add a new dimension to its role in health and disease.
Emmet's project is entitled ‘Neutrophil degranulation in individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency' and is currently being carried out in the Department of Medicine, under the supervision of Prof Gerry McElvaney, Dr Emer Reeves and Dr David Bergin. (October 2013)
Tokyo Invitation Fellowship
Professor John Waddington, MCT, received a second invitation Fellowship by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to visit and lecture at Japanese Universities. John will visit Osaka University and Nihon University in Tokyo on the 16th of October. (October 2013)
In further news:
Professor John Waddington has also been invited by Schizophrenia Bulletin to co-edit a theme section on Psychotic depression: an under-appreciated window to explore the dimensionality and pathobiology of psychosis. In the most recent issue of this publication, Olabisi Owoeye, MCT, contributed an article based on work undertaken in collaboration with Cavan-Monaghan Mental Health Service. (October 2013)
Irish Society Of Immunology
Siobhan Smith, MCT, was awarded the prize for Best Postgraduate Poster Presentation at the recent Annual Meeting of the Irish Society of Immunology, on the role of estrogen in regulating TRIM21 expression and its implications for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). (October 2013)
One in Five young people in ireland IS experiencing A mental disorder: RCSI PERL Group Mental Health Report
According to research published by RCSI in October 2013, one in five young Irish adults aged 19-24 and one in 6 young people aged 11-13 were experiencing mental disorder at the time they took part in two HRB-funded studies on mental disorders among Irish youth. The research also found that experiencing mental ill-health in early life places young people at increased risk of further episodes of mental ill-health during their adult years.
‘The Mental Health Of Young People in Ireland' report prepared by the RCSI Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan (PERL) Group was launched in October by Kathleen Lynch, TD, Minister of State, Department of Health and Department of Justice, Equality & Defence with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality & Mental Health and provides valuable, clinically-validated, data on the rates of mental disorder among Irish youth and factors contributing to mental-health. This is the first time such comprehensive, longitudinal data about mental health disorders among young people in Ireland have been published.
The PERL Group research findings combine two research studies carried out with young people in Ireland - the Adolescent Brain Development Study and the Challenging Times Two Study. The research, involved surveying and interviewing more than 400 young people between the ages of 11 and 24 to assess them for the presence of mental disorders and to examine their overall level of functioning.
Commenting on the report Professor Mary Cannon, PERL Group Leader & Associate Professor, RCSI, said: "Our research shows that high numbers of teenagers and young adults in Ireland are experiencing mental ill-health at any given time. For the first time in Ireland, we have evidence showing that young people who experience mental ill-health during adolescence have higher rates of mental disorders and substance misuse during their young adult years and are three times more likely to be unemployed than young adults who did not experience mental ill-health during their adolescence. Compared to similar international studies, the findings suggest that Irish youth may have higher rates of disorder than their peers in Europe and the USA."
The findings of the report also indicate that high numbers of young adults aged 19-24 are engaged in the misuse of alcohol and drugs. Over 1 in 5 met criteria for a diagnosable substance use disorder over the course of their lives and 1 in 20 met criteria for an alcohol use disorder at the time of the study. Of particular concern is that 3 out of 4 young adults (75%) met lifetime criteria for binge drinking. The research also reveals that almost 1 in 5 (19%) had thought about suicide.
Speaking at the event, The Minister of State at the Department of Health & Department of Justice, Equality & Defence, Ms Kathleen Lynch T.D. said: "We, as a society, have a collective duty to foster a culture whereby all those in difficulty, and young people in particular, do not hesitate to seek help when needed. We should, for example, be alert to the signs and signals of distress, promote good coping skills, embrace difference and exclude stigma. The fundamental solution to meeting mental health needs, regardless of age, lies in effective partnerships where professionals, service users, families and the wider community work together. Obviously, the Government will continue to play its part in terms of promoting policies, services and investment for this important sector. Above all, no one should have to suffer a mental illness alone. I would appeal to any young person who thinks they may have a mental health issue not to suffer in silence and to seek help from the many sources available."
Speaking at the conference guest lecturer Professor Pat McGorry, Professor of Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne warned: "This research should be the only wake up call that people need. This research tells us very clearly that there is an urgent need to enhance the services, supports and policies which underpin the mental health services available to young people in Ireland. There is a need for specialist mental health services catering to young people between the ages of 15 and 25. These young people do not fit well into the current adult services. Without access to appropriate support services at the right time, a young person's chances of operating and functioning well in society as adults are severely limited."
This report and fact sheets are available for download on www.rcsi.ie/perl. The preparation of the Report and Fact sheets were funded by a Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Award from the Health Research Board (HRB). (October 2013)
RCSI launches CyberPsychology Research Centre
The RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre was launched by the RCSI Institute of Leadership on October 3rd. Coinciding with the European Union's Cyber Security Month (ECSM), the new centre will focus on the key areas of child safety online, cyberbullying, and human trafficking & technology. The Centre will also investigate the impact of technology on leadership, while developing national and international partnerships between academia, government, law enforcement and industry and will serve as an Irish centre of excellence for cyberpsychology research.
Speaking at the launch, Michael Moran, Assistant Director of INTERPOL said that ‘Robust law enforcement is informed by robust research; effective partnership between frontline police investigators and academics can only be a positive thing. This centre is welcomed by global law enforcement agencies as a resource to aid appropriate and informed policy development, training and response. The launch of the centre formalises a productive partnership that will undoubtedly continue to grow and deliver results.'
Through international collaborations, the CyberPsychology Centre has already developed a substantial research network. As well as liaising with the European Commission and the White House, research collaboration has been established with institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and Columbia Universities, INTERPOL, the Garda Síochána, Metropolitan Police Service of London, Los Angeles Police Department, the Australian Federal Police,
Speaking at the launch Professor Ciarán O'Boyle, Director of the RCSI Institute of Leadership, said: ‘The CyberPsychology Research Centre has been established to provide analysis, insight and leadership in understanding the benefits, risks and applications of current and emerging human-technology interfaces.'
Also speaking at the launch was Mary Aiken (pictured), RCSI Research Fellow and Centre Director who said: ‘Our vision is that the Research Centre will become a global leader in producing research and supporting education and intervention at the intersection of psychology and technology.'
For further information on the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre visit: http://www.cypsy.com/ (October 2013)
RCSI led consortium receives €11.5 million funding by EU to uncover effects of microRNA in epilepsy
Major new funding for research into epilepsy was announced in September 2013 by a group led from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). The EpimiRNA Consortium, which is co-ordinated by Professor David Henshall (pictured), Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, RCSI, involves 16 partners from eight European countries, the USA and Brazil has received €11.5 million funding from the European Union's Framework Programme 7 to investigate molecular mechanisms, diagnostics and treatments for epilepsy.
Over 50 million people across the world suffer from epilepsy, making it the most common serious neurological disorder for which there is no cure. The causes for epilepsy are insufficiently understood with currently available treatments being sub-optimal and with a significant proportion of patients not responding. Recent discoveries have identified a new type of molecule in cells called microRNA which may be critical to controlling the changes in brain chemistry that accompany the development and course of epilepsy. The EpimiRNA Consortium represents a major interdisciplinary effort between epilepsy researchers, geneticists, clinicians, experts in advanced molecular sciences and research-active companies working together to understand molecular mechanisms, diagnostics and developing novel microRNA-based therapeutics to prevent the development of epilepsy, the occurrence of seizures or reverse epilepsy once established.
Co-ordinator of the EpimiRNA consortium, Professor David Henshall commented on the research funding, ‘Improved understanding of the causes of epilepsy is critical to the development of more effective treatments and, hopefully, a cure. The EpimiRNA consortium will build on recent scientific breakthroughs that identified a new family of molecules controlling brain cell structure and function - microRNAs. We will now take the first ever large-scale international effort to uncover the complete spectrum of effects of microRNA in epilepsy, from designing drugs of the future to genetic tests and diagnostics.'
The consortium features a number of RCSI researchers as it is coordinated by Professor David Henshall and consists of, academic partners, Professor Jochen Prehn, Head of the Department of Physiology & Medical Physics; Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos (Physiology & Medical Physics); Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri (Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics Department); and consultant neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, Professor Norman Delanty.
The consortium is also accompanied by experienced companies: DIXI Microtechniques (France), Cerbomed GmbH (Germany), InteRNA Technologies (Netherlands), Bicoll GmbH (Germany-China), BC Platforms (Finland) and GABO:mi (Germany).
The project is funded by the European Union's ‘Seventh Framework' Programme (FP7/ http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/home_en.html) under Grant Agreement n°602130 from September 2013 to August 2018.
For a more detailed description of the project see: http://www.epimirna.eu/.
Cardiology Study Publication in Nature Genetics
Professor Alice Stanton (MCT) participated in an important international collaborative study genome-wide study, the results of which have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics. In the research, 268 researchers from 211 institutions joined forces, allowing data from 181,171 participants to be studied. In all 14 new gene variations were found to be associated with heart rate. Since heart rate is a marker of cardiovascular health, it is anticipated that these discoveries will lead to new drugs for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders, and other forms of cardiovascular disease. (September 2013)
Nature Publication for Professor Norman Delanty
Professor Norman Delanty, Department of Neurology, RCSI and Beaumont Hospital, was co-author on a paper published in Nature in August 2013. The study looked at role of genetic mutations in severe childhood epilepsy disorders. The research was carried out in conjunction with a team of international collaborators from the US, UK, Canada and Austria. (September 2013)
Multi-drug Pills Help People Stick to Heart Disease Prevention Regimens
People are much more likely to take preventive medicines if they are combined in one pill, an international study has found. These findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association September 2013. In the first study to test the impact of a fixed-dose combination pill - called a polypill - in people with cardiovascular disease, 2,004 participants in Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and India were randomly assigned either the polypill, or their normal combination of medicines. After an average of 15 months' follow-up, the proportion of participants in the polypill group who were taking medications regularly was a third higher than in the group receiving usual care. The polypill group also had lower blood pressure and cholesterol measurements.
Irish author Professor Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Beaumont Hospital Dublin, said: "We know that the majority of people who suffer a heart attack or stroke, either never take the correct protective medications, or stop taking them within a year of the event. The findings of this study suggest that providing the four drugs in a single pill is a very helpful preventive step."
The study was funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research. (September 2013)
World Congress of Biological Psychiatry
Professor John Waddington (MCT) spoke at the recent World Congress of Biological Psychiatry in Kyoto, Japan, on studies undertaken in collaboration with the Cavan-Monaghan Mental Health Service. These collaborative studies on psychotic illness are now cemented within the recently formed Dublin North East Hospital Group, in which RCSI is the academic partner. (September 2013)
Dr. Joseph Ward, Molecular Medicine, won the postgraduate Epethilia & Membrane Transport theme at the Physiological Society Poster Competition at IUPS (International Union of Physiological Sciences) 2013 held in July in Birmingham, UK. (September 2013)
RCSI/IT Tralee IMCP Research Project Publication
Ms. Helen Kelly, RCSI Lecturer in Communications, and colleagues from the Institute of Technology in Tralee; Kristin Brogan & Prof Muiris O’Laoire, have published findings from their educational research study on the joint RCSI/IT Tralee IMCP (International Medical Commencement Programme). The article is entitled ‘Intercultural Awareness and Sociolinguistic Competence and Their Impact on Students‘ Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context’ and was published in July 2013. (September 2013)
The 3U Partnership (between RCSI, DCU and NUI Maynooth) has been recognised as a ‘centre of excellence' in Neurodegeneration as part of the CoEN initiative (Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease). Professor Jochen Prehn, Physiology, has received funding for the NEURO-MIR project under this scheme, with partners in Belgium, Germany and Spain. This project is being funded under the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) aligned CoEN initiative (Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease). (September 2013)
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.
RCSI contributes to the autumn series of RTE’s ‘The Science Squad’
Showcasing the excellent research at RCSI, the series will air on Friday 6th September at 7.30pm, and thereafter weekly for 7 weeks. Below are details of the programmes which feature the RCSI teams:
PROGRAMME 2 - Growing Bones - Friday 13th September
An Irish team of researchers led by Prof Fergal O'Brien at RCSI, have made an exciting breakthrough, having developed a new organic material which harnesses the body's own regenerative power to repair damaged bones and cartilage. Fergal's company Surgacoll can demonstrate some great advances in both animal and human health care, and we will also meet Ireland and Leinster rugby star Gordon Darcy who discusses the potential impact of this ground-breaking research in elite sports.
PROGRAMME 4 - Do you have what it takes to be a top surgeon? - Friday 27th September
It has been acknowledged that certain natural abilities and personality characteristics can influence surgeons' performance. At the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, new technologies have allowed for a move towards more skills lab training involving simulators, where students can learn skills in a controlled environment, allowing for safer and accelerated learning. We test our presenter Jonathan's natural suitability to a surgical profession, highlighting both the new technology being used in skills labs and the human factors modules that are transforming surgical training. Does Jonathon have the natural physical and cognitive skills suited to a career in surgery?
PROGRAMME 7 - Malaria - Friday October 18th
Malaria is a huge global public health problem, killing over 1 million people each year. Recent attempts at a new vaccine, including Bill Gates and GlaxoSmithKline world's largest malaria vaccine trial, have proven unsuccessful. However, all is not lost, as a new vaccine developed in Ireland is now undergoing clinical trials. Kathriona meets Prof Sam McConkey, Head of International Health and Tropical Medicine at RCSI and a Principal Investigator on the trial to find out about the development of this potential vaccine, and speaks to some of the volunteers who are involved in the clinical trials. In Oxford, Kathriona meets Irish researcher Adrian Hill who is conducting Phase II of the trial which will test whether the vaccine(now proven safe in Phase I) produces an immunological response to Malaria in the body...
JNPD success (a European-wide consortium to combat neurodegenerative diseases) and first success of 3U-COEN (Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease)
The Health Research Board, in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, is leading Ireland's involvement in the Joint Programming initiative on Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND) which aims to increase coordination of European research efforts in this area. To date Irish researchers are now leading, or involved in, projects worth more than €16 million in total through JPND initiatives.
Under this scheme, Professor Jochen Prehn, Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI, is coordinating the NEURO-MIR project, with partners in Belgium, Germany and Spain. NEURO-MIR is taking a 'high-risk, high-pay-off' approach to developing new therapeutic approaches to a number of neurodegenerative diseases.
Prof Jochen Prehn, is one of five new innovative pathfinder projects being funded under the JPND-aligned CoEN initiative for the project ‘microRNA as novel therapeutic targets and disease biomarkers in Alzheimer's Disease, Frontotemporal dementia and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (NEURO-MIR)' Jochen Prehn (Ireland), Andre Fischer (Germany), Pierre Lau (Flanders), Jose Lucas (Spain). Other RCSI funded investigators include Dr Tobias Engel, Prof Michael Farrell, and Prof David Henshall.
The Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease (CoEN) initiative, launched in 2010, is an international initiative which funds collaborative research in the field of neurodegenerative disease, spanning disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Motor Neurone Disease. (August 2013)
For further information please visit the links below:
RCSI achieves major funding success in HRB Health Research Awards
RCSI has achieved major funding success in the latest round of Health Research Awards announced by the Health Research Board (HRB) August 2013. The eight successful RCSI projects will examine a range of health issues including doctor emigration, psychotic illness, link between blood group and risk of heart attacks, epilepsy, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma and Motor Neuron Disease. Today’s announcement represents a €12.3 million investment by the HRB across 40 projects.
Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research said: ‘RCSI welcomes the announcement made by the HRB to fund eight of RCSI’s research projects as part of the Health Research Awards. I congratulate the Principal Investigators on their awards, which are major accomplishments in this era of reduced public research funding, and wish them the best of luck as they undertake their new projects. Today’s announcement supports RCSI’s commitment to world-class research to improve human health through clinical and laboratory-based research informed by bedside problems, societal and global health challenges’.
The successful RCSI Principal Investigators and projects are:
Professor Ruairi Brugha: Doctor Emigration Project
Professor David Cotter: A metabolomic study of subjects in the at risk mental state; a longitudinal biomarker study with discovery and validation components
Professor David Henshall: MicroRNA-134 as a target for the prevention and treatment of epilepsy
Dr David Hughes: The influence of interactions between selenium supply biomarkers and genetic variation and gene expression in the selenium pathway on CRC risk and survival
Professor Dermot Kenny: Why is blood group a risk marker for myocardial infarction? (investigating the role of blood groups as a risk for heart attack.)
Dr Marie McIlroy: An investigation into the utility of prosaposin as a marker of PI3K inhibitor responsiveness in aromatase inhibitor resistant breast cancer.
Professor Jochen Prehn: Angiogenin as a therapeutic for the treatment of ALS (Motor Neuron Disease)
Dr Markus Rehm: A translational systems medicine approach to provide predictive capacity for DTIC-based chemotherapy responsiveness in metastatic malignant melanoma
A total of 40 projects were selected from 209 applications. These were assessed by international peer review panels who believed the nature, scope and relevance of the proposals demonstrated great ambition and innovation that would lead to results that are relevant both nationally and internationally.
'This funding will address a wide range of subjects, including mental health, cancer, diabetes and arthritis, says Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB. 'It will support health professionals and researchers to examine pressing research questions that will deliver strong evidence to enhance patient care, improve people's health or lifestyle and positively influence how we deliver our health services'.
Each project will receive up to €330,000 over the next three years.
'I believe we will see an excellent return on this investment. No one is better placed to understand the needs of patients, or identify how we can improve their care, than people involved at the coal face in hospitals and across the health services. We are supporting experts who have clearly demonstrated they are dedicated to turning good ideas into research discoveries that can transform policy and practice,' concludes Connolly. (August 2013)
Dr Warren Thomas (Molecular Medicine) was awarded the Zachary Johnson Prize Medal at the Summer Scientific Meeting of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland. Dr Thomas gave a presentation entitled: “A sustained increase in the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma in the Republic of Ireland over the period 1994 to 2010”. This was a collaborative study with colleagues in Molecular Medicine, RCSI (Dr Cormac Jennings and Prof. Brian Harvey) and with the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (Dr Paul Walsh and Dr Sandra Deady). (August 2013)
Dr. Steve Kerrigan (Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator in the School of Pharmacy & Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics) recently edited a book entitled “Recent Advances in Infective Endocarditis”. This book is co-authored by several world leaders in the field and provides the latest information on advances made in the surgical management, new treatment guidelines and molecular interactions in the area of Infective Endocarditis and Cardiovascular Infection. Book reference : Recent Advances in Infective Endocarditis. Edited by Steven W. Kerrigan, InTech Publishers, 2013, ISBN 978-953-51-1169-6, Hard cover, DOI: 10.5772/46221 (July 2013)
RCSI hosts International Consortium to discuss genetic causes of schizophrenia in 22q11 deletion syndrome patients
On 22nd July 2013, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) played host to a two day International Brain and Behaviour Consortium meeting on Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS). Patients with this genetic disorder have high rates of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. This meeting brought together leading researchers from around the world to examine how the study of this genetic condition can increase our understanding of the causes of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS) is a syndrome caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22. The International Consortium has recently received grant funding of US$12 million from the National Institutes of Health (USA) to examine the genetic reasons for the high rates of schizophrenia and other disorders in people who are affected with 22q11.2DS.
Professor Raquel Gur, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Consortium Lead said: ‘On behalf of the International Brain Behaviour Consortium and many individual and families affected by 22q11.2DS, we are deeply grateful to our hosts in Dublin. The funding from the National Institutes of Health in the US will provide us with the opportunity to advance the understanding of this under-recognised neurogenetic condition. The knowledge generated can provide a window to the brain that will benefit millions throughout the world.’
The conference discussed the goals of the International Brain and Behaviour Consortium in planning to implement genetic strategies to identify the causes of schizophrenia in 22q11.2DS and in the general population.
Professor Kieran Murphy, Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine, RCSI and member of the Consortium said: ‘I am delighted to welcome delegates from around the world to Dublin for this important meeting. By helping to discover the causes of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in people with this genetic condition, we hope to be able to develop new and better treatments for schizophrenia and other severely disabling psychiatric disorders.’
The effects of 22q11.2DS vary from person to person and is not always diagnosed quickly. Common side effects of this condition can include heart, eye and kidney issues, learning difficulties, cleft palate as well as emotional and mental health concerns, particularly schizophrenia. (July 2013)
Dr. Garry Duffy wins Fulbright Award
Dr. Garry Duffy has won a prestigious Fulbright Award. Fulbright Awards are given annually by the Irish and U.S. governments and provide Irish students, scholars and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture and research at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. Garry will undertake research on at Harvard University. Pictured (l-r) are Prof Fergal O’Brien, Anatomy, Dr Garry Duffy and Prof Clive Lee, Anatomy (July 2013)
Dr. Joseph Ward and Dr. Magda Mroz from the Dept. of Molecular Medicine have had two recent publications of their research describing new roles for the bile acid receptors, TGR5 and farnesoid X receptor, in regulating fluid and electrolyte transport in the intestine. The studies, led by Dr. Stephen Keely, were carried out in collaboration with researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the Johns Hopkins Medical University and were published as a Hot Topic article in Neurogastroenterology and Motility and in the prestigious speciality journal, Gut. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23634890 (July 2013)
Pressure Ulcer Prevention Paper
Congratulations to Professor Zena Moore & Professor Seamus Cowman on the publication of the first ever economic analysis of pressure ulcer prevention within the Irish healthcare context. Their paper entitled ‘An economic analysis of repositioning for the prevention of pressure ulcers' was a component of a randomised controlled trial exploring the pressure ulcer incidence and costs associated with repositioning older individuals in long term care using two different repositioning regimes. (July 2013)
New evidence shows link between childhood trauma and psychotic experiences
Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have demonstrated that exposure to childhood trauma (physical assault and bullying) is linked to psychotic experiences, (such as hearing voices), and in turn the cessation of traumatic experiences led to a significant reduction in the incidence of psychotic experiences. The findings are being presented today at the European Society for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Congress taking place in Dublin and appear in this month's edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
This was a collaborative project between the National Suicide Research Foundation (Cork) and RCSI with funding from the Health Research Board (HRB) and the European Union Framework 7 Programme. The researchers undertook a nationally representative prospective cohort study of 1,112 school-based adolescents aged 13-16 years, and assessed them at baseline, three-months and 12-months for childhood trauma (defined as physical assault and bullying) and psychotic experiences.
Professor Mary Cannon, HRB Clinician Scientist and Senior Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, RCSI said "Our findings are the first to show there is direct evidence between exposure to childhood trauma and psychotic experience. Furthermore, it showed that the cessation of traumatic experiences was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of psychotic experiences. These findings place new weight on calls for more comprehensive preventions and intervention strategies against childhood trauma in the community from abuse at home and bullying in schools.
The study aimed to determine whether childhood trauma could be considered a cause of psychotic experiences. In order for something to be genuinely considered 'a cause', it has to show a number of characteristics such as, a strength of association - namely the stronger the association the more likely that it is causal; a dose-response relationship - as the dose increases, so should the odds of the outcome or cessation of exposure - if exposure ceases or decreases, then the odds of the outcome should also cease or decrease.
Professor Cannon, continued "Our findings showed a clear relationship between exposure to childhood trauma and the onset of psychotic symptoms because the strength of the relationships was large in terms of odds ratios. We also saw a dose-response relationship with the odds of psychotic symptoms increasing in line with increasing levels of bullying."
Dr Ian Kelleher, Lead Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, RCSI said "Our analysis shows, we believe for the first time, that cessation of traumatic experiences predicted a significantly reduced incidence of psychotic experiences compared to individuals for whom the traumatic experiences continued. This is a very encouraging finding and suggests that population based approaches could have a large impact reducing the prevalence of psychotic symptoms."
"The research found that 'classmates' were the largest group inflicting physical harm. Additionally, as most bullying taking place within the school, teacher training could have a very important role to play in reducing this harm," said Dr Kelleher.
The full paper is available from the American Journal of Psychiatry at the link below. Dr Helen Keeley and Dr Paul Corcoran of the National Suicide Research Foundation were co-investigators on this research. (July 2013)
TERG Feature Article in the Irish Times
Work from within the TERG was recently featured in the Irish Times Business section. The article focused on the newly developed TheraColl technology, which consists of a porous, collagen-based scaffold that is capable of delivering drugs via micro-particle systems for enhanced bone and blood vessel tissue growth. While bone regeneration is the initial application of interest, the versatility of this platform means that the technology could be used to target the regeneration of numerous other tissues, such as cartilage. (July 2013)
RSCI Hosted the Anatomical Society (AS) Summer MeetingOn the 4th and 5th of July, RCSI, through the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and the Department of Anatomy played host to the Anatomical Society Summer Meeting with the topic "Form and Function in Regenerative Medicine". The meeting, which was Chaired by Dr. Garry Duffy and Co-Chaired by Prof. Fergal O'Brien of the TERG, was a resounding success with over 120 high calibre national and international delegates presenting their work. Two PhD students from the TERG who were awarded prizes for their presentations. Mr Alan Ryan was joint winner of the SurgaColl Technologies Award in Regenerative Medicine for best oral presentation with his presentation entitled "Development of Bilayered Tubular Collagen-Elastin Scaffolds for Vascular Tissue Engineering", while Ms Elaine Quinlan won the Cave Young Investigator Award for best poster with her presentation entitled "Growth Factor Eluting Microparticle Loaded Collagen-Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds".
Mr Harold Browne retired surgeon from the Richmond Hospital and long-standing Anatomy Prosector was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Society, on his ninetieth year. (July 2013)
Professors Fergal O'Brien and Professor Hilary Humphreys have been appointed as Deputy Directors of Applied Research and Clinical Research, respectively. These appointments are very important for RCSI as they will provide leadership and support for clinical and applied research, which are priorities in the institutional and the national research strategies. Professors O'Brien and Humphreys will be working with Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research, to further develop and implement RCSI research strategy and to enhance RCSI competiveness both nationally and internationally. (June 2013)
RCSI Researchers find bowel cancer screening process can detect one third more cancers
Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)'s Centre for Systems Medicine have found that a new two-test bowel cancer screening process can detect up to one third more colorectal cancers.
This new study by led by Dr David Hughes, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI, was recently published in the online journal Colorectal Disease. The research involved using a new two-part screening test called an Immunochemical Faecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT (FIT) instead of the original Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) which is a widely used screening tool for colorectal cancer used to detect blood in a person's stool.
The FIT test, when used twice over consecutive days, is used to indicate the presence of both pre-cancerous growths and cancers in the colon by detecting a minute sample of blood in the stool at a cut off of 100 nanograms of blood per millilitre of stool (100 ng/ml). When compared to a one-test FIT, researchers found that the duplicate FIT screening test detects presence of up to one third (27.5%) more significant colorectal neoplasis (advanced colorectal growths and cancers).These precancerous growths can advance to cancerous stages if they are not detected early. Just one of the two FIT tests needs to be positive for the patient to be referred for a colonoscopy.
They also discovered that a cut-off threshold of 100ng/ml is suitable to optimise colorectal cancer screening in Ireland and any lower cut-off would increase the required colonoscopy numbers to a rate that would over-burden capacity in the Irish health system.
The two-test protocol had a positivity rate of 10.2%, which means that approximately one in ten people tested positive for cancer. One third had screen relevant growths in the colon and the remainder had minor issues such as haemorrhoids or else had no abnormalities.
Principal Investigator of this study, Dr David Hughes said, ‘The miss rate estimated for a single test (FOBT) of nearly 30% is unacceptably high when the goal is to maximize the discovery of advanced lesions in an initial population screening round. The FIT test is vital for the detection of pre-cancerous growths in the colon and is cost-effective. However, the rates from this study have found that additional colonoscopy services will be required for a national screening programme'
The Adelaide and Meath hospital, incorporating the National Children's hospital/ Trinity College Dublin Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme (TTC-CRC-SP) has used the two sample FIT protocol for colorectal cancer screening on residents aged between 50-75 years within the AMNCH hospital catchment area of Dublin 24 since 2008. (June 2013)
Dr David Bergin of the Department of Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, was invited to present his research findings at the annual European Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA) meeting held in San Cugat, Barcelona on June 11th 2013. This annual meeting provides a platform for young researchers to present data to internationally renowned experts in the area of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The title of David's presentation was "Dysregulation of neutrophil degranulation in Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency leads to autoimmunity". (June 2013)
Mr Éanna Forde, BioAT PhD student, is the recipient of the 2nd Prize for best oral presentation in the Organic Chemistry category, at the 65th Irish Universities Chemistry Research Colloquium (27-28 June 2013, Trinity College Dublin). (June 2013)
The 3rd Annual Research Summer School (RSS) began on 12th June 2013.
The programme, run by Dr Sarah O'Neill, MCT, includes a number of workshops on research topics and lectures in Project Management for Research, Health and Safety in Research Laboratories, Dealing with Experimental Data, Scientific Writing Skills, and many others and includes an exciting Friday Discovery Series. The RSS is going from strength to strength with over 75 RCSI undergraduate health sciences students from the Junior and Intermediate Cycles of the Medical School, School of Pharmacy and the School of Physiotherapy, taking part in this years programme. (June 2013)
Dr Colm O'Tuathaigh, Dr Lieve Desbonnet and Professor John Waddington (MCT) have been invited to review for a volume of Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology on Novel Antischizophrenia Treatments. The Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology is one of the most authoritative and influential book series in pharmacology. It provides critical and comprehensive discussions of the most significant areas of pharmacological research, written by leading international authorities; each volume in the series represents the most informative and contemporary account of its subject available, making it an unrivalled reference source. (June 2013)
Jennifer Byrne and Siobhán Smith (MCT) have been awarded travel grants from the European Federation of Immunological Sciences to present their work at the European Congress on Immunology, Glasgow. (June 2013)
Claire Wynne (MCT) has won a prize for Best Oral Poster Presentation at the meeting of the Irish Society for Immunology; Claire presented work she carried out both in RCSI and at Brown University, Rhode Island. (June 2013)
Dr Niamh Cooke won the Barcroft Medal Competition at the Annual Biomedical Sciences Meeting of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, held in University College Cork (June 20th 2013), for her oral presentation entitled 'Platelets enhance invasion of ovarian cancer cells in an experimental metastasis model'. This study is a collaborative project between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and The Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, funded by an SFI CSET grant (10/CE/B1821). (June 2013)
Professor John Waddington (MCT) was invited to join the faculty for a workshop organised by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology; 100 young neuroscientists, selected from across Europe to be potential future leaders, were invited to Nice for three days of lectures, discussion groups and networking to help foster their careers over the critical early phase. He received a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to deliver neuroscience lectures at Nihon University and Hoshi University, Tokyo, and at the universities of Osaka, Niigata and Nagoya. Subsequently, he was invited to organise and speak in a symposium at the World Congress of Biological Psychiatry, Kyoto. (June 2013)
Women and cholesterol: The beneficial effects of estrogen on liver metabolism explained in Science paper from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University of California.
Pictured L-R: Prof Brian Harvey, Harry Harvey and Dr Paola della Porta.
The female hormone estrogen tends to protect women against high cholesterol and heart disease during the child-bearing years. This may help explain why premenopausal women are usually protected from developing heart disease and cirrhosis. The molecular mechanism for the beneficial effect of estrogen on liver metabolism was unknown until a joint study between RCSI and the University of California at Irvine published last month in the Science Journal, Science Signaling, revealed the type of estrogen receptor, the targeted genes and the cellular processes involved in this metabolic response in the liver. The research team led by Dr Ellis Levin at UC Irvine and Prof Brian Harvey at RCSI showed that estrogen binds to a new type of estrogen receptor at the cell membrane (membrane ER) to activate a network of enzymes which inhibit a regulator (SREB) of genes that drive the synthesis of cholesterol . The researchers also found that estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis including harmful triglycerides. The team at RCSI included father and son, Brian and Harry Harvey, and post-doctoral fellow Fiona O’Mahony who identified the estrogen-responsive genes. The UC Irvine team developed a transgenic mouse which expressed only the membrane estrogen receptor which allowed its role in liver metabolism to be understood at the patho-physiological level. From these experiments, the two teams were able to provide important insights about how estrogen and membrane ER signalling may suppress the expression of some genes and produce beneficial changes in liver metabolism. The researchers concluded that their results provide the impetus to develop and test new forms of pharmacological agonists that only engage the membrane ER and avoid the cancer-producing side-effects of estrogen in the nucleus, and which could contribute to favourable lipid homeostasis, including preventing excessive harmful cholesterol and triglyceride content in the blood that can progress to heart disease and cirrhosis. (June 2013)
Dr Stephen Keely Features on Austrian TV Programme
Dr Stephen Keely, Molecular Medicine, recently attending a Bile Acid Symposium in the Hartmann Hospital in Vienna which subsequently featured on Austrian TV Programme called “Heute Mittag”. The programme showcased a mini-symposium run by Dr. Wolfgang Tillinger at the Hartmann Hospital in Vienna. The topic of the symposium was exploring how bile acids are being targeted as new medicines to treat intestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (May 2013)
Professor Brian Harvey receives Honorary Doctorate from Michigan State University
Pictured is Lou Anna K. Simon, President of Michigan State University (MSU), presenting an honorary doctorate of science to Professor Brian Harvey, Professor of Molecular Medicine, RCSI at a ceremony that took place at MSU on 3rd May. (May 2013)
Honorary DSc citation
You are a renowned scholar, scientist, and international research leader. Your accomplishments as a professor of molecular medicine and research director for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have earned you significant recognition throughout Europe, including your election to the European Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Royal Irish Academy, and your being awarded the Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Mérite by the President of France.
As a trained physiologist with a primary degree in physics and physiology and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the National University of Ireland, you have focused on molecular and cellular endocrinology, including the physiology of rapid responses to steroid hormones, and particularly, the female-specific effects of oestrogen in epithelial tissues of the lung, kidney, and intestine. Another major area of your research concerns the rapid actions in the kidneys of the blood-pressure-regulating hormone aldosterone.
Your tireless work and passion for the Daughters of Charity Technology and Research into Intellectual Disabilities (DOCTRID) program, seeking technological solutions for those with intellectual disabilities and autism, resonates with those who share Michigan State University's commitment to solve humanity's most challenging problems. In your role as director of research for DOCTRID, you have brought together ten Irish Universities and MSU to collectively address, through interdisciplinary research, some of the barriers to greater use of assistive technologies by people with disabilities.
For your tireless dedication to improving the lives of those among us who may not have a voice to tell us their needs, I am pleased to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Michigan State University.
Lupus research identifies Irish patients most likely to benefit from new treatment
It has been over 50 years since a new drug has been approved to treat the chronic autoimmune condition Lupus or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), a disease whereby a persons immune system becomes over-activated, attacking any organ in the body. Excitingly in the past year the first drug approved specifically to treat SLE has been licensed for use in both America and Europe. This medication, Belimumab (Benlysta) targets a specific chemical messenger called B Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS) that has been shown to promote disease activity in SLE. This new treatment has not as yet been licenced for use as first-line treatment but instead is prescribed for patients who respond poorly to conventional immunosuppressive medication aimed at dampening down the immune system. Belimumab has advantages over traditional immunosuppressive agents such as steroids which are accompanied by side effects including infection and metabolic disturbances. However, not all patients respond equally to this new drug and due to the high cost associated with its long term use, it is imperative to assist treating physicians in identifying patients who would most benefit from its use.
Research carried out by Dr. Eoghan McCarthy under the supervision of Prof. Caroline Jefferies at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has identified disease types in Irish SLE sufferers that are associated with high levels of BLyS. The research carried out in collaboration with the rheumatology departments of both Beaumont and St. James's hospitals, and recently published in Rheumatology, has demonstrated that over a follow up period of 5 years, patients with high levels of BLyS at baseline were more likely to have active disease and suffer increased organ damage from their lupus as the disease progressed suggesting that the use of Belimumab in these patients may improve their long term outcomes.
Commenting on the work Professor Jefferies stated that "In the last ten years patients with rheumatoid arthritis have benefited greatly from the development of new treatments and Belimumab offers the same hope to Irish SLE sufferers. However it is important to be able to recognise which patients will benefit the most from this new treatment. Our research will assist treating doctors to identify patients who are more likely to benefit from the addition of Belimumab to their current regime and hopefully will lead to improved outcomes for Irish SLE sufferers" (May 2013).
Harry Harvey Best Student Poster at the Irish Association of Cancer Research
Harry Harvey (MCT) received the prize for Best Student Poster at the Irish Association of Cancer Research, Dublin, for 'Analysis of miRNA in chemotherapy resistant neuroblastoma' and Federico Sukno (MCT & DCU) received the Best Paper Award at GRAPP 2013: 8th International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications, Barcelona, for 'Rotationally invariant 3D shape contexts using asymmetry patterns'. (May 2013)
Dr Oliver McElvaney was invited to present his research findings at the 2013 American Thoracic Society International Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 22nd 2013. Session D21-CYSTIC FIBROSIS: NEW INSIGHTS INTO AIRWAY INFECTION AND INFLAMMATION. The title of Oliver's discussion was "The Effect Of PA401 On Interleukin-8 Levels In Airway Samples Of Adult Patients With Cystic Fibrosis". (May 2013)
Professor Celine Marmion, Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, was admitted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Chemistry in May 2013.
Professor Marmion, is one of two Irish National Delegates on the Management Committee of European Science Foundation COST CM1105 entitled 'Functional Metal Complexes that Bind to Biomolecules' and also an elected member of its Steering Group. (May 2013)
Also, in news from Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry, two of of Professor Marmion's PhD students were awarded funding to attend international training schools through European Science Foundation within the framework of COST Action CM1105 - Tadhg McGivern attended a Training School in the University of Debrecen Hungary from the 24th to the 29th March entitled 'Solution equilibrium (speciation) studies on metal complexes' and Ziga Ude attending a Training School in the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium from the 12th to the 19th May entitled 'Summer School Chemistry on Metals in Biological Systems'.
Dr Patrizia Baldwin and Professor John Waddington (MCT) have participated in an international collaborative study on the epidemiology of schizophrenia, led by Maastricht University and involving 54 investigators across the globe under the auspices of the Research Initiative into Schizophrenia Epidemiology (RISE). This collaboration has yielded the largest dataset yet reported, namely 133,693 incident cases, the initial results of which have just been published in the leading journal Psychological Medicine (May 2013)
Dr Stuart Lee's research was chosen for a podium presentation at this year's annual Irish Heart Foundation's annual stroke study day on April 12th. This research which is being conducted in collaboration with Professor Niamh Moran and Professor David Williams is examining the use of a novel platelet assay in patients with stroke.
Dr Melanie Föcking, Young Investigator Award
RCSI was well represented by MCT and Psychiatry at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, held in Orlando, Florida. Dr Melanie Föcking, Department of Psychiatry, received the Young Investigator Award of the International Congress of Schizophrenia Research. She was among 27 out of 140 applications to receive this prestigious prize. Melanie was invited to present the results of her work at the international scientific meeting in Orlando/Florida that took place from the 21st to the 25th of April.
Professor John Waddington (MCT) was invited to organise and speak in a symposium at the congress; John is a member of the Advisory Board that helps steer and evolve this biennial event. Mary Cannon and David Cotter (Psychiatry) also presented in symposia; furthermore, members of Mary's and David's groups, Drs Mary Clarke and Jane English, presented their work at the congress. These activities and recognitions re-affirm RCSI as an internationally recognised 'centre of excellence' in psychosis research. (April 2013)
Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh awarded Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS)/ASiT Academic & Research Surgery Prize
Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh, an orthopaedic surgeon currently undertaking a Master of Surgery (MCh) within the Tissue Engineering Research Group, recently presented his work at the Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) Conference, held in Manchester from the 5th-7th of April. His presentation, entitled "An in vivo study of bioactive multilayered scaffolds for regeneration and repair of osteochondral defects", was awarded the Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS)/ASiT Academic & Research Surgery Prize. As a result, Mr. Ramesh was invited to present his prize winning presentation at the prestigious Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) International Congress held in Glasgow on the 2nd of May. (April 2013)
RCSI was the local organiser of BioPIC 2013, a BioPhotonics and Imaging Conference, which took place in Castleknock Hotel and Country Club from 25-27th March. More than 120 international delegates attended conference hosted by the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform(NBIP) Ireland in association with the Royal Microscopy Society, Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland. Congratulations to Professor Brian Harvey, Conference Convenor, and Dr. Sheeona Gorman, Programmes Manager, for their successful organisation of this event.
Pictured (l-r) are Professor Brian Harvey, Co-ordinator NBIP Ireland and Professor of Molecular Medicine at RCSI, Dr Sheeona Gorman NBIP Ireland Programmes Manager, Professor Peter Dockery, NUI Galway; Professor Noel McHale, Dundalk IT.
Professor Mary Cannon was awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland Doctor Award in Psychiatry at the 2013 RAMI Doctor Awards ceremony held in the Royal College of Physicians on 21st March 2013. Professor Cannon won the award for her submitted paper which was published in Archives of General Psychiatry in December 2012 (Ref: Kelleher I, Lynch F, Harley M, Molloy C, Roddy S, Fitzpatrick C, Cannon M. Psychotic symptoms in adolescence index risk for suicidal behaviour. Findings from 2 population-based case-control clinical interview studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry; 2012 Dec 1:69(12) 1277-83.) (March 2013)
The photo shows (left-right), Professor Tom Walsh, RAMI, Professor Mary Cannon, RCSI and Eithne Boylan, Managing Director, Lundbeck Ireland.
Professor Brian Harvey Addresses EU Parliament
Professor Brian Harvey shared the podium with An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, in an address to the EU Parliament on the topic of Assistive Technologies on Thursday, 7th March. The address followed the Assistive Technologies Symposium which was hosted by RCSI together with the seven Irish Universities at the EU Parliament on 5th March. The event was convened by Professor Harvey in his role as director of research of the Doctrid programme for the disability charity Respect Ireland. (March 2013)
Annual Research Day 2013
The annual RCSI Research Day took place on the 5th March, 2013. As with previous years, the emphasis was on oral and poster presentations by Investigators early in their career, Post-doctoral Fellows, Post-graduate & Undergraduate Scholars and Academic Staff. 186 abstracts were submitted this year.
Photos from the day can be viewed at http://staff.rcsi.ie/research/research-day-2013/research-day-2013-gallery
During his Opening Address, Professor Raymond Stallings, Director of Research, spoke about the high standard of research and the critical role that research plays within the College. Prof Stallings also acknowledged and extended thanks to the sponsors and the many people who contributed to the day.
There then followed an exciting series of oral presentations:
• Postgraduate: RCSI MSc, MCH, MD and 1st year PhD students
• Undergraduate: all students who undertook research projects in summer 2012 (Research funded by RCSI Alumni, HRB, CITC, Assoc. Phys.),
• PhD Scholars: RCSI 2nd, 3rd and 4th PhD students
• Early Career Investigators: RCSI postdoctoral fellows
Late afternoon, Prof Raymond Stallings and Dr John McDermott, introduced Professor Timothy O'Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway, who delivered this year's John J Ryan Distinguished Lecture.
The talk title was: "Translating Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy to the Clinic: Challenges and Opportunities".
The day came to a close with a presentation of the following awards by Professor Cathal Kelly CEO:
‘Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery',
This prize is presented to pay special tribute to the memory of Mr Kamal Sayed, a graduate of RCSI (Class of 1960). A solid silver College medal will be awarded to a neurosurgery trainee to reward outstanding work and excellence in the field of neurosurgery. This is a prestigious award of RCSI and is run in conjunction with the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience (IICN). Recipient: Mr Philip O'Halloran. Title : Anti-angiogenic Efficacy of Bevacizumab alone and in combination with a dual P13K/Mtor inhibitor in a reproducible orthotopic explant, using a multi - modality molecular imaging approach. Presented by Dr's Jacintha and Safia Sayed, both daughters of Mr Kamal Sayed and graduates of RCSI & Professor Cathal Kelly CEO
The prize for ‘Front Cover Illustration' was presented to Dr Ryan McCoy.
Early Career Investigator Category
The Barnes Medal - Dr Barnes was a founding member of ICROSS, the "International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering", a small international charity fighting poverty and disease and is noted for his work on Hansen's Disease (leprosy). Presented by Dr Barnes wife Mrs Betty Barnes and his son Matthew Barnes & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Kirsten Pohl. Title: Altered cytosolic ion concentrations impact upon Rab27a activation in cystic fibrosis neutrophils.
The prize for best Early Career Investigator Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Bojana Mirkovic. Title: Role of Short Chain Fatty Acids, Produced by Anaerobic Bacteria, in the Cystic Fibrosis Airway.
PhD Scholars Category
This category was open to all 2nd, 3rd and 4th year PhD Scholars.
This is an important award to acknowledge the excellence and quality of on-going research within Ireland. The winner received the Roche Gold medal and €500. Presented by Mr Simon Thorpe of Roche Diagnostics & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Jennifer Lynch. Title: MiR-335 suppresses neuroblastoma disease pathogenesis.The prize for best
PhD Scholars Poster Presentation was presented to Amos Matsiko, Dept. of Anatomy.
The prize for best PhD Scholar Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Irina Babina. Title : Palmitoylation of CD44 regulates breast cancer cell migration via alterations in its lipid raft affiliation.
This category was open to MSc, MCH, MD and 1st year PhD Scholars. The recipient will received a silver College medal and a prize fund of €1,000 to pay for attendance at a conference. Presented by Mr Bernard Kennedy of Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Pathma Ramasamy. Title: Proteomic Analysis of Uveal Melanoma.
The prize for best Post-graduate Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Irene Mencia Castano. Title : Nano-hydroxyapatite particles as novel non-viral microRNA delivery vectors for bone tissue engineering applications.
Undergraduate Research Category - The Dr. Harry O'Flanagan Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
This category was open to all Summer Students who completed a research project in 2012.
This award, a solid silver College medal, was created by Dr. Yacoob Kadwa, RCSI graduate (Class of 1965) to pay special tribute to the memory of Dr. Harry O'Flanagan, former Registrar of the RCSI. Recipient: Ayman Saeed. Title : Effect of synthetic retinoic acid derivatives in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Multiple Myeloma cells.
Organising Committee: Prof. Kevin McGuigan, Stephanie O'Connor and Cathy Priestley.
Sponsors: Roche Diagnostics, Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals.
Professor Aidan Bradford, Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam and Dr Brian Kirby (left to right) from Perdana University/ Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have recently been awarded research funding totalling 1.4 million Malaysian Ringgit to carry out collaborative research with the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute. The project will examine the potential therapeutic effects of phytonutrient formulations in cardiovascular disease, cognitive dysfunction and diabetic disorders utilizing nutrigenomic and in vivo techniques. The three researchers would like to acknowledge the major role played by the Dean, Prof Anthony Cunningham, as well as the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in supporting this collaboration. (March 2013)
Picture : Professor Aidan Bradford (Dept Physiology & Medical Physics, RCSI & RCSI Lead in Physiology at PU-RCSI)
Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam (Snr lecturer in physiology, PU-RCSI)
Dr Brian Kirby (School of Pharmacy & RCSI Lead in Clinical Pharmacology at PU-RCSI).
Impact Through Collaboration - problem solving by accessing knowledge from other domains.
The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) and The Biomedical Diagnostic institute (BDI) came together to solve a technology roadblock in interpreting new data derived from an advanced diagnostic for platelet function. Platelets are blood particles that clump together and cause heart attacks. The BDI device uses a sophisticated imaging and computer platform to measure how platelets behave in a system that mimics a damaged artery. The BDI investigators needed to know how to interpret that data to define when platelets were "sticky" and thus an individual was at increased risk of a heart attack.
Professor Dermot Kenny (RCSI) leads the research programme, Functional Diagnostics in Platelet Biology, in the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI). He is a cardiologist and expert in thrombosis (the formation of blood clots). He approached ICHEC to address this challenge. Read more.... (March 2013)
Professor Fergal O'Brien elected to the Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (FIFE)
In February, Prof Fergal O'Brien was elected to the Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (FIEI), which is the highest grade of membership of the professional body representing engineers in Ireland. His appointment was made in recognition of "significant achievement in engineering and contribution to the profession". (February 2013)
Federico Sukno (MCT) and the Centre for Image Processing and Analysis, (DCU) received the Best Paper Award at GRAPP 2013: International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications, Barcelona, February 2013. Federico's joint appointment with DCU gives this award additional significance in relation to 3U. (February 2013)
Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative (DBERI)
RCSI, TCD AND UCD recently launched a biomedical engineering collaboration to accelerate innovative health care technologies. Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative (DBERI) builds on over 20 years of collaboration between the three institutions in bioengineering research and education. Stem cell based tissue engineering, regenerative therapies for orthopaedic medicine, valve repair devices for damaged hearts and imaging systems for neurology are among the innovations that the new initiative will lead on. RCSI researchers involved include Professor Fergal O'Brien, Head of the Bone and Tissue Engineering Research Group and Dr. Garry Duffy. (February 2013)
Pictured at the launch of the Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative are (l-r) Professor Fergal O'Brien, RCSI; Dr. Daniel Kelly, Director of the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering; and Dr. Liam Breen, TCD.
Colorectal cancer study published in Cancer Research
A team led by Professor Jochen Prehn, Director of the Centre for Systems Medicine and Professor of Physiology and Medical Physics have developed a new method of predicting which patients with bowel (colorectal) cancer will respond effectively to chemotherapy. The results of this study were published in the prestigious Cancer Research journal. The first author on the study is Andreas Lindner, a PhD researcher who carried out the research with Professor Prehn and RCSI colleagues (Dr. Caoimhin Concannon, Dr. Gerhardt Boukes, Dr. Suzanne Hector, Dr. Heinrich Huber) in collaboration with clinicians (Deborah Ryan, Mary Cannon, Karen Boland, Ms. Deborah McNamara, Professor Elaine Kay, Professor Frank Murray) and research nurse Joan Kehoe at Beaumont Hospital, and collaborators at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. (February 2013)
Irish discovery challenges international practice for predicting risk or complication for small babies in the womb
New findings by Perinatal Ireland, a HRB-funded initiative to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies, are challenging currently accepted international practice in relation to identifying which babies are at risk from growth restrictions in the womb, medically referred to as Intrauterine Growth Restriction or IUGR. Lead researchers from Perinatal Ireland, which is coordinated by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), will present their discovery at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine in San Francisco.
‘The challenge to distinguish small but normal babies from small at-risk babies, is one of the most common, controversial and complex problems in modern obstetrics,' says lead researcher Julia Unterscheider, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. ‘Standard international practice has been to consider those babies in the bottom 10% by weight to be at the highest risk of developing complications. These mothers and babies usually receive increased surveillance and monitoring. However, our study questions whether this is necessary for all cases'.
The majority of babies whose weight falls into the bottom 10% from a weight perspective go on to be a healthy baby that is simply small for its gestational age. However, some develop serious health complications, and possibly even die. And there is recent evidence to suggest that unfavourable conditions in the womb may increase risk of diseases in adulthood such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. So it is believed that close monitoring of this 10 per cent is necessary.
‘However, we conducted a study involving over 1,100 pregnant women at seven maternity hospitals across Ireland using state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment supplied by the Health Research Board (HRB), which allow very detailed monitoring of babies in the womb. We took a set of in-depth ultrasound measurements normally at two-weekly intervals, or more frequent if deemed appropriate, and recorded the baby's medical status and condition following delivery.
The findings revealed that the highest risk for adverse outcomes are in the group of babies that fall into the bottom three per cent by weight and who have an abnormal reading on the ultrasound test that measures arterial blood flow in the umbilical cord.
‘In fact, the measurement of blood flow in the umbilical cord was the strongest and most significant predictor of an increased likelihood of complications,' explains Dr Unterscheider. ‘Our data calls into question whether monitoring all of those in the bottom 10% by weight alone is necessary when predicting adverse outcomes'.
Prof Fergal Malone, RCSI Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology & Chairman of the Perinatal Ireland Research Consortium commented; ‘The major benefit of this study is the potential to radically change the focus and intensity of current assessment for the apparently small baby in the womb.'
The findings will also be published in full in the March edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. (February 2013)
Professor Caroline Jefferies (MCT) is first member of RCSI academic staff to go on sabbatical leave under the newly constituted scheme. Caroline is spending January - August 2013 as a Visiting Scientist in the Medical Science Department of AMGEN, a US company located in California. While there, she will enhance the research programme of her group, engage in collaborations with AMGEN and foster links between RCSI and Medical Schools in Southern California and other US locations. (January 2013)
Dr Tidi Hassan together with her colleagues in the Dept. Medicine, RCSI and Dept. Clinical Microbiology, TCD has published a paper in Nucleic Acids Research. The work describes a novel microRNA affinity capture technology which is also the subject of the group's recent European PCT patent filing (PCT/EP2012/070037).
Hassan T, Smith SG, Gaughan K, Oglesby IK, O'Neill SJ, McElvaney NG, Greene CM. Isolation and identification of cell-specific microRNAs targeting a messenger RNA using a biotinylated anti-sense oligonucleotide capture affinity technique Nucleic Acids Research 2013 Jan 15. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:23325846 (January 2013)
A paper entitled "Targeted antimicrobial peptides" by Dr Marc Devocelle in Frontiers in Molecular Innate Immunity on 5th October 2012 has received 685 total views, making it among the highest-performing articles in all Frontiers journals. This has resulted in Marc being invited to serve as Topic Editor of a Frontiers Research Topic - a collection of papers selected to provide an encyclopaedic, open access snapshot of the current state of the art on his chosen research area. This will create an online dialogue on a focused research area, with manuscripts encompassing recent advancements by various groups, the latest methods, opinions and commentaries, reviews, and more. (January 2013)
Dr. Tanya Levingstone won the Best Paper by an Established Researcher Award with a paper entitled: The regenerative potential of multi-layer collagen-based scaffolds in a caprine osteochondral defect model . While Dr. Caroline Curtin won the RAMI Bronze Medal for the best paper of the entire meeting with a paper entitled:Highly efficient non-viral gene delivery collagen nano-hydroxyapatite scaffolds for stem cell-mediated bone formation.
They both gave superb presentations, but 70% of the weighting for the awards was for their research, as opposed to just the presentation, which makes the awards a true indication of the quality of their science. Congratulations to all who took part in Bioengineering in Ireland and particularly to Tanya, Caroline and their co-authors on their success. A great start to 2013! (January 2013)
Picture : Dr. Caroline Curtin (on left) & Dr. Tanya Levingstone (on right) with Tissue Engineering Research Group awards from Bioengineering in Ireland Conference
Professor David Henshall and his lab have recently published a new piece of epilepsy research in the journal PLoS One.
Their study used a genetic technique to increase levels of a particular protein involved in signaling and responses to stress in brain cells and demonstrated this could protect against epileptic brain injury. The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and involved collaboration with cancer scientists in the USA. (January 2013)
Professors Kieran Murphy's (Psychiatry) (L) and John Waddington's (MCT) (R) participation in an international collaboration on the genetics of schizophrenia involving colleagues across the globe, has led to a publication in the leading journal Biological Psychiatry under the auspices and collective authorship of the Irish Schizophrenia Genomics Consortium [of which Kieran and John are members] and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2: Genome-wide association study implicates HLA-C*01:02 as a risk factor at the major histocompatibility complex locus in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry 2012; 72: 620-628. This study involved a discovery sample of 1,606 patients and 1,794 control subjects across the island of Ireland and an independent, international replication sample of 13,195 patients and 31,021 control subjects. (January 2013)
Professor David Williams was awarded Fellowship of the British Pharmacological Society for his contribution to pharmacology in Jan 2013.
Annual Report (Research Section)
Annual Report (Research Section)