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September 2015 CÚRAM PhD Student Awarded First Prize for best Podium Presentation at European Biomaterials Conference
NUI Galway student wins award for research presentation on modifying brain dysfunctions in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease
CÚRAM PhD student Juhi Samal has been awarded first prize out of 300 entries, for her presentation on ‘Delivery of Neurotrophic Factors to the Brain using Fibrin-based Hollow Microsphere Reservoirs'. The prize was awarded at the 27th European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) Conference held in Krackow, Poland this month. ESB conferences attract over 1,000 delegates every year.
The annual conference allows scientists and engineers from different disciplines to discuss current issues concerning the latest research in the field of biomaterials. The conference sessions included topics ranging from biomaterials for regenerative medicine, nanotechnology to stem cells application and smart systems for various therapies.
Juhi Samal was awarded the Hardiman Fellowship in 2013 and is undertaking her PhD at the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM), based at NUI Galway under Professor Abhay Pandit and Dr Eilis O’Dowd. One of CÚRAM’s key research areas focuses on developing solutions for neurodegenerative disease. Juhi’s research is investigating delivery of neurotrophic factors to modify neuronal dysfunctions in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
“Neurotrophic factors are proteins that can promote the initial growth and development of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems and have also been shown to be capable of slowing, halting or reversing neuronal degeneration in laboratory and pre-clinical settings” explains Juhi Samal. “However their therapeutic potential is limited by their short half-life. My research has been investigating a biomaterials-based intervention, which protects these proteins, allowing them to survive for longer and be released where and when needed in a more controlled fashion.”
Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, congratulated Juhi on her award and commented, “CÚRAM has attracted a wide pool of talented researchers. With the talent and technical tools we have at our disposal, our aim is to take the fruits of our research and develop it to the stage where these medical device products can be brought to clinical trial in Ireland. We want to see results, not only for healthcare, but also for job creation and the economy.”
Supported by Science Foundation Ireland and industry funding, CÚRAM aims to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing implantable ‘smart’ medical devices. It will develop these devices through strong clinical collaborations with industry partners and hospital groups to enable their rapid translation to clinics.