Sep 11 2014 Posted: 11:03 IST

Dr Manus Biggs, a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigator at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway has won the Larry Hench Young Investigator Award. The award was presented at the United Kingdom Society for Biomaterials (UKSB) division of the 26th Annual Conference for the European Society for Biomaterials, held in Liverpool, UK from 31 August–3 September 2014.

The prize is awarded to a promising young research scientist in recognition of outstanding and innovative contributions in a selected field of biomaterials research. The judging criteria includes evidence of peer reviewed publications, outstanding contribution and demonstrable research in the field of biomaterials. Additionally, the researcher must be at an early stage of his career having no more than seven years of experience after his PhD was awarded.

Dr Biggs’s research focuses on developing electrically active polymers for musculoskeletal and neural applications. His research group creates nanoscale fibres from piezoelectric polymers and incorporates them into a mesh-like scaffold that mimics the natural bone matrix. The scaffold materials can be utilised for the regeneration of large bone defects, which do not undergo spontaneous regeneration normally. Also, his group is improving long-term function of implanted microelectrodes being used for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders by using conducting polymers to coat the implanted electrodes. The aim of the coating is to reduce the inflammatory response around the electrode interface to prevent neural loss and instability of the electrodes at the implantation site.

Seven researchers from the NFB presented at the European Society for Biomaterials conference. The conference brought together experts and scientists from academia and industry, and also those involved in funding regulatory and commercial enterprises related to biomaterials science, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, commented: “The award is further indication of the competitiveness of the NFB’s research at an international level.”

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