Postgraduate Researchers at NUI Galway Receive Presentation Awards

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Two Postgraduate Researchers at Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) in NUI Galway recently won awards for presentations related to their ongoing projects. Andrew English won the Best Poster Award at the Surface Science of Biologically Important Interfaces (SSBII) conference which was hosted by Ulster University, Belfast. Bill Daly, was awarded the Best Podium Presentation at the Neuroscience Research Day meeting in Galway recently. This is the second award Bill has won for this particular project. His first award was for the Best Podium Presentation at the European Society of Biomaterials in Finland in September. Both students are supported by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis and Professor Abhay Pandit at the NFB. Professor Pandit who is Director of the NFB says, "These awards demonstrate the quality of research conducted at NFB and the high calibre of training we are providing researchers." Andrew English's award-winning poster demonstrated an ongoing project entitled, "Topographical Cues for Cellular Guidance". During the project Andrew is producing synthetic nano-textured scaffolds for cells, through incorporation of spatiotemporal and biological signals, aiming to favourably control cellular functions. Creating tissue-engineered structures or scaffolds that mimic the complex architectures of native tissues could potentially be used as therapy for injured or degenerated tissues. In order to promote functional neo-tissue formation, these scaffolds should support cellular attachment and proliferation, maintain cell phenotype and facilitate directional growth. This work is conducted in co-operation with Proxy Biomedical Ltd, a leading biomaterials manufacturer and Research and Development service provider based at Spiddal, Co Galway. Proxy Biomedical's involvement in this project ensures immediate translation of the work from the lab-bench to clinic. Bill Daly is developing a biomaterials-based technology in the area of peripheral nerve regeneration. The project aims to improve current clinically approved conduit systems to repair critical nerve gap damage in peripheral nerves. A critical nerve gap injury is one where the distance is too great for the nerve to reconnect naturally, preventing regeneration. Bill is developing an implantable system which not only physically bridges this gap but will also provide stimulatory support. An additional interesting component of this work is his focus on the molecular interactions during the regeneration process. The information obtained can provide improved treatments and better patient recovery in peripheral nerve repair operations in the future. Systems currently available do not repair injuries beyond this critical gap.
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