NFB Researcher awarded Royal Academy of Medicine Ireland Donegan Medal
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Joint winners of the Donegan Medal 2014 Sinead Quinn (RCSI) & Catalina Vallejo Giraldo (NUI Galway) were presented with medals and prizes by Professor Aidan Bradford (President, RAMI Section of Biomedical Sciences).
Catalina Vallejo Giraldo, a PhD student at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway, has been awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine Ireland (RAMI) Donegan Medal.
She received the award for her presentation at the Section of Biomedical Sciences annual meeting held in UCD on Thursday, 19 June. The meeting featured a high calibre scientific programme covering novel biomedical research ongoing in Ireland.
The competition is open to students presenting research for the first time at a meeting or conference and the Donegan Medal is awarded to the best oral presenter. This year, 16 entrants entered the competition. Catalina won the competition for her research on improving the design of implanted microelectrodes used for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
At present, implantable, electrically stimulating systems consisting of a number of electrodes that transmit signals via electrical conduction in bodily fluids are being investigated to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. While implanted electrodes work reasonably well for short term applications, they have had limited success over longer implantation times. With current methods the inflammatory response around the electrode interface increases to such an extent that there is neural loss and instability of the electrodes at the implantation site.
It is this problem that Catalina’s research addresses by improving long-term function through use of conducting polymers to coat the implanted electrodes. Under the supervision of Professor Abhay Pandit, Dr Manus Biggs and Dr Eilís Dowd, she is developing polymeric neural probes for deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease. Current therapies for Parkinson’s only provide relief from the symptoms of the disease and do not offer a cure. Catalina’s research, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, offers the possibility of halting the degenerative process with potential to cure the disease.
Originally from Colombia, Catalina got her BSc with honours in Biomedical Engineering at Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia. After this, she was awarded her MSc in Biomedical Sciences from the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. She is starting her second year as a PhD student at NUI Galway.
Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway