NUI Galway Students Win Biomedical Awards

Monday, 21 February 2011

Two Biomedical Engineering PhD Students at NUI Galway recently won prestigious research awards at both national and international level. Enda Dowling, third year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, is the 2011 winner of the Engineers Ireland Biomedical Research Medal. Enda is the first ever NUI Galway student to win this award. This prestigious medal won by Enda, who is from Kilkenny, is awarded annually to a PhD student deemed to be making a significant contribution to the field of biomedical engineering research and at an advanced stage in their studies. The national competition attracted a record 40 entrants and is sponsored DePuy Orthopaedics. Engineers Ireland is a representative body for all sectors of engineering since 1835. Enda's winning paper was entitled Influence of Actin Cytoskeletal Remodelling on the Shear Resistance of Single Chondrocytes: A Computational and Experimental Investigation. It uncovers the role of active remodelling and contractility of chondrocyte cell substructures in response to shear deformation using experimental and computer modelling techniques. The winning paper was co-authored by Dr. Patrick McGarry and William Ronan of NUI Galway and collaborator Professor Kyriacos Athanasiou from UC Davis in California. Emer Feerick, third year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, was recently awarded the prize for Best Presentation at the 19th Annual Symposium on Computational Methods in Orthopaedic Biomechanics, held in Long Beach, California. It is the premier international forum on the use of a new breed of computer-based tools in orthopaedic biomechanics. This award is an acknowledgement of the internationally leading research being performed by Emer, who is from Milltown, Co Galway. Emer's winning paper was entitled Computational Investigation of Cortical Bone Failure Mechanisms during Screw Pullout. Advanced computer simulations were performed to uncover the process of bone failure due to stresses caused by orthopaedic fixation devices. The analysis techniques can be used to predict and prevent mechanical failure of orthopaedic devices and offers a powerful tool for future device design. Dr. Patrick McGarry, of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway and PhD supervisor of both successful students says, "Emer's computational predictions of the mechanisms of bone failure can now be used to design improved orthopaedic devices and will be of significant relevance to the medical device industry. Enda's research improves our understanding of the role of mechanical loading in development of degenerative disease in cartilage. Both students demonstrate the high standard of research within the school of Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway and the importance of continued support for such research." Both Enda and Emer are funded by Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) scholarships. Enda's work is also supported by Science Foundation Ireland (Research Frontiers Programme and a Short Term Travel Fellowship). Dr McGarry also acknowledges the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) for the provision of internationally leading computing resources, without which, such advanced computational modelling would not be possible.
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