Dr Manus Biggs, a Science Foundation Ireland investigator with NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) is the recent recipient of two travel grants. Both travel grants will support his research to improve the design of implanted microelectrodes being used for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
Implantable, electrically stimulating systems consisting of a number of electrodes that transmit signals via electrical conduction in bodily fluids are currently being investigated to treat neurodegenerative diseases. Implanted electrodes work reasonably well for short term applications, but have had limited success over longer implantation times. Currently, 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. To address this problem, Dr. Biggs’s research aims to improve long-term function by using conducting polymers to coat the implanted electrodes.
Dr Biggs’ Ireland-France Ulysses research funding is designed to support new research collaborations between Irish and French researchers, after James Joyce’s famous novel to celebrate the Joycean links between Ireland and France. The funding will help establish a new collaboration with Professor Dulce Papy-Garcia at the University of Paris, an expert in the glycobiology of neurodegeneration. The use of Dr Biggs’s neuroelectrode technology to treat Parkinson’s disease is of high interest for the French research team and a new collaboration with Dr Biggs will allow the group to get new insights using biomaterials for the treatment of neurodegeneration.
Dr Biggs’ Royal Irish Academy Mobility grant that will support continuing research with Dr Mathew Dalby at the Centre for Cell Engineering, and Dr Nikolaj Gadegaard at the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, both at the University of Glasgow. The University of Glasgow is one of the few places in the world that can fabricate the high-resolution structures needed for Dr Biggs’s research. He also hopes the collaboration will provide a springboard for future student work placements.
Professor Abhay Pandit, Director at NFB, said: “The two travel awards are further indication of the relevance of NFB’s research within Europe and the importance of NFB’s translational research programmes. We will continue to initiate collabatory research, with partners from outside of Ireland and look towards funding opportunities within Horizon 2020.