Thursday, 19 October 2017

New research by CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, will allow for improved treatment options for patients with nerve damage. The study was recently published in the prestigious Advanced Functional Materials journal. Treatment of peripheral nerve injuries that can result in the loss of motor or sensory function remains a major problem worldwide. In recent years, different strategies have been used in an attempt to improve regeneration and functional recovery in the injured peripheral nervous system, which consists of the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, using artificial nerve grafts. However, there has been little investigation into changes that occur at the molecular level as a result of these interventions. The study explored the differences in peripheral nerve repair that result from using biomaterial conduits (artificial nerve grafts)to support recovery, compared with the use of two different types of conduit-materials, namely collagen and the chemical compound, polymer PLGA, in an effort to understand fundamental differences in their repair mechanisms at the molecular level in the early stages of repair. Both collagen and PLGA have previously provided the desired result for the repair of damaged nerves. Past attempts to improve artificial nerve grafts have often failed to translate to the clinic, due to this limited understanding of the biological response. Recovery of damaged nerves in the peripheral nervous system is quite robust with the use of suturing, and nerves are known to be able to regenerate across relatively short distances, less than 0.5 mm. For treatment of larger gaps between damaged nerves however, the primary treatment methods used are auto/allograft or the use of hollow artificial nerve grafts. Autograft (the use of the patients own tissue), despite being the gold standard for repair, has a number of limitations. These include limited supply of donor tissue, risk of neuroma formation (a disorganised growth of nerve cells at the site of a nerve injury), mismatch in size, and the distribution of nerve tissue in the central nervous system between the donor nerve and the injury site. The results presented in the study support the hypothesis that regeneration in large peripheral nerve injuries is affected by the material used. The team found that each material selectively activates different regenerative pathways and alters different biological functions throughout the artificial nerve grafts. The analysis also highlights some of the existing deficiencies in conduit-mediated repair in comparison to the use of the patients own tissue.  Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific director of CÚRAM and lead author of the research paper, explains: “Numerous studies have identified that the choice of conduit material used can have an influence on the level of nerve regeneration. We now have a clearer understanding of how the body responds to the use of these two biomaterials, which paves the way for the development of specific peripheral nerve regeneration strategies using biomaterial conduits, based on the biomaterial used. Our findings suggest that by supplementing the expression of certain proteins on the biomaterial of choice, we can potentially attain the regeneration equivalent or even superior to autograft using biomaterial conduits.” This study focused on a non-critical nerve injury and did not incorporate the effect of increasing gap distance on the regenerative response. To address this question, further research on the effect of increasing gap distance on the regenerative response is underway at NUI Galway, which will be published at a future date. To read the full study in Advanced Functional Materials, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adfm.201702170/abstract -Ends- For more information contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM  at  claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie  or 091 494414. Photo: Conduit-Mediated Repair 6D. Photo: Maciej Doczyk    

Friday, 6 October 2017

‌Following a hugely successful pilot year of its Teachers in Residence Programme, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, is now enrolling for the second year of the programme with applications being accepted up to October 20th 2017. The Teachers in Residence programme supports both primary and secondary school teachers in science education and promotes equal opportunities in science for all students in the classroom. The programme has ten places available annually, for five primary and five secondary school, with priority placement given to teachers from DEIS schools. The residency runs for 10 evenings over six months from October to March. As part of the residency, teachers and their students get to attend educational workshops run by CÚRAM, during the Galway Science and Technology Festival in November 2017 and participants of the programme will be granted a small honorarium to assist with any travel costs. Teachers will work directly with researchers  to develop content for the classroom, while learning about the medical device research being carried out at CÚRAM that will improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s and heart disease. “We were really impressed with the level of dedication and creativity shown by the primary and secondary teachers in the pilot year of the programme” says Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, “We now have a suite of excellent resources developed for both primary and secondary school classrooms which will be built on year by year by these teachers, who are the real experts when it comes to engaging the next generation of scientists and engineers. Our goal is to provide inspiration for teachers by providing access to current, cutting edge research happening here in Ireland and working with them to incorporate it into classroom activities. If we can inspire and excite the teachers, our hope is it passes onto their students for years to come”. During the residency, teachers are introduced to and linked to the range of educational resources provided by Science Foundation Ireland and to the ReelLife Science video competition for primary and secondary schools. A guest speaker will also lead a workshop around encouraging equal opportunities in STEM careers for both boys and girls.  Lesson plans and classroom activities developed during the pilot programme will be made available online at the end of October and participants in this year’s programme will evaluate and develop these further. The resources developed through the programme constitute a ‘learning module’ about CÚRAM and MedTech in Ireland that links with multiple streams and themes in the primary and junior cycle curricula. To find out more, please contact sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie. Expressions of interest forms are available to download here.  To apply for a place, please email the completed TIR 2017-2018 Expression of Interest form to sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie by Friday 20th October 2017. Lesson plan kits developed during last year’s residency programme are also available in the Public Engagement section of the website.  About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. CÚRAM supports industry from basic scientific research, through translational preclinical and clinical development, into regulatory and commercialisation readiness. CÚRAM has developed a robust education and public engagement programme called ‘Breaking Barriers’ in support of the Science Foundation Ireland goal of ‘having the most scientifically informed and engaged public’.  The programme revolves around three core residency programmes, for artists, filmmakers and teachers, which create innovative ways for communities to engage with STEM. Outputs to date include the development of MedTech lesson plans and activity kits by the Teachers in Residence that fit with both the primary and secondary school curricula, the production of three short documentaries that focus on research into Parkinson’s disease, tendon repair and diabetes which are being broadcast nationally, touring film festivals in Europe and the US and being used as educational tools in community events, and the development of art-science projects with under—represented communities that offer an alternative ‘way in’ to the world of science for those who have not had an opportunity for STEM engagement in the past.  As well as promoting the wide range of STEM educational and career opportunities, the goal of the EPE programme is to build awareness of the cutting edge research that is happening in Ireland and to help to create a sense of ownership and pride in Irish STEM expertise and the impact on healthcare that Irish researchers are having on a global level. The programme is building relationships between researchers and key community partners who invest in the programme and help to disseminate outputs of the programme, in particular to under-represented and under-engaged communities.

Monday, 18 September 2017

TG4 to Screen ‘Mending Legends’ on Sunday 24th September As the GAA season comes to a close for 2017, CÚRAM and Galway UNESCO City of Film with Galway Film Centre, in association with Science Foundation Ireland are delighted to announce that Mending Legends, a sport and science documentary,will get a national broadcast screening on TG4 on Sunday 24th September at 5.45pm. What happens when scientists and filmmakers collide and what stories emerge? This was the question posed by ‘Science on Screen’, a CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre initiative supported by Science Foundation Ireland. Mending Legends is one of two documentaries that were commissioned as part of the Science on Screen project in 2016, which features the groundbreaking world of medical device research taking place in CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway. Directed by Paul Webster and produced by James Ryan of StationHouse Media, the documentaryexplores the physical and psychological impact of tendon injuries amongst athletes and visits the team of Galway-based scientists, led by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, who are designing a new type of tendon implant, in the form of the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype. Sports fanatic and seasoned sports presenter, Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, presents a number of informative interviews with scientists involved in this field of research and through the personal experiences of amateur and professional sports people. Contributors include Galway footballing legend, Pádraic Joyce, Denis Leamy, former Ireland & Munster Rugby player and former Ireland and London 400 metre relay runner and London 2012 Olympian, Jessie Barr. The documentary highlights the progressive attitudes towards scientific research in Ireland and what it could mean to the world of sport. The documentary premiered at the Galway Science & Technology Festival in November 2016, in conjunction with SFI’s National Science Week. This new Irish language re-version of the film is funded by TG4 and will screen directly following the TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football Senior All Ireland Final. Bigí linn on TG4 on Sunday 24th September at 5.45pm. #ScienceOnScreen #CeantarScannán #CÚRAM --------------- Mending Legends is directed by Paul Webster. Most recently, Paul directed ‘Let Those Blues In’, which had its premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2015 and was the winner of Best Short Documentary in association with RTE at The Sky Road Film Festival, Clifden, Co. Galway in October 2015. Paul is also a previous ‘Físín’ award winner from the Dingle International Film Festival. James Ryan of County Galway-based StationHouse Media is producing Mending Legends. James has previously worked freelance as Co-Producer on TG4’s Garraí Glas, as well as Production Manager on the IFTA-winning Fleadh TV coverage and on numerous documentary series, such as ‘Guth’, ‘Mobs Cheanada’, and ‘Éalú’.  

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Dr Manus Biggs, Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has just published two separate research papers in top tier international journals, one in the Nature journal Nature Biomedical Engineering and another in the prestigious materials journal, Advanced Materials. Both research papers by Dr Biggs describe advances made in the fields of biomaterials and engineered bioreactor systems to direct the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), in the laboratory. Advances in stem cells, gene therapy, biomaterials, medical device technology, growth and differentiation factors, as well as biomimetic environments have created unique opportunities to fabricate tissues in the laboratory from combinations of engineered extracellular matrices (scaffolds), cells, and biologically relevant stimulation or cues. In the study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, the researchers from NUI Galway and University of Glasgow describe how they have used measurement technology, based on the sophisticated laser interferometer systems built for gravitational wave detection of astrophysical objects, to grow three-dimensional samples of mineralised bone in the laboratory for the first time. These 3D living bone grafts, when implanted into patients in the future, will be able to repair or replace damaged sections of bone. Mesenchymal stem cells, which are naturally produced by the human body in bone marrow, have the potential to differentiate into a range of specialised cell types such as bone, cartilage, ligament, tendon and muscle. Using patients’ own mesenchymal cells means surgeons will be able to prevent the problem of rejection, and can bridge larger gaps in bone. Dr Biggs describes his research into the stimulation of bone formation from stem cells using a nanovibrational bioreactor. This study, conducted in conjunction with Professor Matt Dalby, at the University of Glasgow, was focused on identifying the roles of high-frequency, low-amplitude mechanical stimulation in inducing mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into bone cells (the process by which a cell becomes specialised in order to perform a specific function, as in the case of a bone cell). “After blood, bone is the most transplanted tissue used in patients in the form of bone graft. Autologous graft (bone grafts taken from the patient’s own body and commonly employed for the treatments of bone cancer, trauma or infection) is in short supply and can be associated with pain and donor site morbidity. Tissue engineered bone-like graft would help meet this clinical demand as well as provide researchers with a potential tissue model for drug screening”, Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM explains. Dr Biggs research showed for the first time, that high-frequency vibrations of nanoscale amplitude alone can be used to differentiate patient derived stem cells, to form mineralised tissue in 3D. To achieve this, Prof Dalby designed and developed a totally new genre of vibrational bioreactor (a bench-top cell conditioner, which constantly vibrates lab-grown cells). Using this bioreactor, Dr Biggs and the team from the University of Glasgow demonstrated that vibrations which produce tiny nanoscale deformations (1 millionth of a millimetre), to stem cells encapsulated in a collagen gel - a process termed “Nanokicking”  can induce these stem cells to become bone-like cells without any further conditioning. By doing this they have provided a scalable pathway to control the differentiation of stem cells to bone cells for the generation of lab-grown bone tissue. In his second study published in Advanced Materials, Dr Biggs and his team collaborated with Professor Shalom Wind at Columbia University. Speaking about the study, Dr Biggs said: “Pervious studies indicate that stem cells can be easily persueded to become bone-like cells when grown on a material which physically and chemically resemble bone tissue. In particular, substrates posessing a rigidity similar to that of bone have been shown to be favourable in inducing stem-cells to become bone cells in the lab. But although tissues can easlily be classified as rigid i.e. bone tissue or easily deformable i.e. brain tissue, microscopically, tissues are comprised of a variety of micron and nanoscale elements (such as fibres, cells, crystals) with widely differing rigidity. In this way an individual cell carrying out its work in a specific tissue is subjected to many kinds of small structures, some of these small features are rigid, like the mineral deposits found in bone, while some of these features are very elastic such as neighbouring cells.” Dr Biggs and his team investigated whether a fine beam of electrons could be used to alter the rigidity at discrete regions on a soft polymer, thereby enabling the development of a new class of 2D materials possessing patterned features of increased rigidity, ranging from the micron to the nanoscale level. Electron-beam patterning allows for the fabrication of devices with nanoscale features, and has been used extensively in the microelectronics industry for the production of integrated circuits or microchips. In this work, the team showed for the first time that a beam of electrons can significantly alter the rigidity of an elastic polymer. The team then went on to investigate the response of human mesenchymal stem cells when grown on electron-beam patterned polymers, which posessed millions of ordered dots of increased rigidity. Interestingly it was observed that cells were able to percieve the tiny “rigid” features beneith them and responded by changing their function – becomning more bone and cartillage like when grown in the lab. Commenting on Dr Biggs success, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “This work will establish the groundwork for a new generation of biomimetic materials. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is a key area of research at CÚRAM with a goal of finding solutions to chronic health problems and addressing unmet medical need and the use of these technologies to develop clinically translatable reparative and regenerative approaches to chronic illnesses is a major goal.” To read the Advanced Materials paper in full, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201702119/full To read the Nature Biomedical Engineering paper in full, visit: http://rdcu.be/vMwt -Ends- For more information about the papers contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway. Established in 2015, our aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We intend to do this by developing and enhancing the next generation of medical devices that target chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.  See www.curamdevices.ie for more information or follow us on Twitter @curamdevices. About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway. Visit: www.nuigalway.ie  

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway together with Galway City Arts Office have commissioned a new Community Art-Science project for Westside community in Galway City. Award winning artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly, who live and work between Paris and Ireland, have been selected to develop an art-science project with the Westside community using the research being carried out at CÚRAM as their inspiration. Their highly engaging artworks focus on vision, perception of space and the relationship with the public. They design interactive environments that often integrate new technologies and with this project, aim to create a permanent artwork which acknowledges the various communities of Westside and celebrates their connection to CÚRAM and the MedTech Industry.  “We are really interested in CÚRAM’s work on corneal implants and also in advanced biomimicry, which is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems”, says Anne Cleary. “This project provides us with an opportunity to become familiar with CÚRAM’s research, potentially leading to new avenues for our own work and also to highlight CÚRAM’s work to the local community and through future art events. Our work is all about perception, how people see the world, how they adapt, how they react to a situation, and in fact the success of any medical device or implant is all about adaptation and reaction in the body, so our work has some good parallels with CÚRAMs research.” CÚRAM’s public engagement programme, which incorporates artist-in-residence projects, supports the Science Foundation Ireland objective of having the most scientifically informed and engaged public. “We aim to inspire and engage all communities with current and cutting edge research that’s happening here in Ireland”, said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. “Unfortunately chronic illness such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease are familiar to most Irish communities and it’s important that we provide opportunities for people to find out more about our work in finding solutions to these illnesses and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. That can be through the work of filmmakers, teachers or artists such as Cleary Connolly who use the research as inspiration and break barriers to provide another ‘way in’ to the world of science.” According to James Harold, Galway City Arts Officer, the project is a new and exciting opportunity to bring the worlds of art and science together. “I’m particularly delighted to be able to support this project which will bring a whole new world of creativity and innovation in the sciences to the Westside community. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme has a strong focus on empowering communities with knowledge and providing new and novel ways for people to engage and interact, and I am excited to see what results from the combination of science and art through such a contemporary visual art project.” James Coyne, CEO of Westside Resource Centre and Community Partner on the project says that the Westside community is a strong and vibrant one with its own annual community Arts Festival. “Westside Resource Centre is committed to providing an extensive range of activities for people of all ages. This new Art and Science Project, supported by CÚRAM and Galway City Arts Office, will add a new dimension to our programme and we’re looking forward to working closely with the artists and researchers in the coming months. We will be encouraging local people to get involved and to contribute to this interesting collaboration.” The project will be officially launched in Westside Library on Culture Night 22 September at 6pm. All are welcome to attend and find out more. Refreshments will be served at the launch and will be followed by a screening of CÚRAM’s Science on Screen documentaries. The artists will also be running public workshops later in November at the Westside Resource Centre during Science Week as part of the project. For more information on the artists and their work please visit www.connolly-cleary.com Cleary Connolly’s work is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. -Ends- For more information about the project contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM, NUI Galway at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Photo image001-5: Award winning artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly who will be working with CÚRAM and the Westside community. Notes to Editors About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, located at NUI Galway. Established in 2015, our aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We intend to do this by developing and enhancing the next generation of medical devices that target chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.  See www.curamdevices.ie for more information or follow us on Twitter @curamdevices. About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pioneering project to determine the potential of a synthetic product to advance the study and treatment of respiratory disease CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Factor Bioscience, a US based biotechnology SME that is pioneering nucleic-acid and cell-based technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease, including respiratory disease. This is the US company’s first collaboration in Ireland. The project goal is to determine the translational potential of a synthetic product from Factor Bioscience for use in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS often affects the elderly and occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs in the lungs and prevents them from filling with enough air. This means less oxygen is available to reach the bloodstream which deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function properly. ARDS typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries, and many people who develop ARDS don’t survive. Those who do can experience lasting damage to their lungs. "By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field" says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “Factor engages in research collaborations to advance and deploy our technologies as quickly and broadly as possible”, says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “We are an early-stage biotechnology company based in the Boston area with an Irish subsidiary, and we are looking to grow our operations in Ireland. By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field, which will hopefully allow us to progress much faster in finding a better solution for patients suffering from ARDS. Currently we are developing synthetic protein-encoding RNA therapeutics using our patented and patent-pending chemistries and sequences. In the near term, we are interested in expanding our technology in the area of delivering these therapeutics to various tissues and organs in the body.” Dr Daniel O'Toole, a CÚRAM collaborator in the School of Medicine will coordinate the collaborative laboratory research at NUI Galway, said: “Factor Bioscience has an exciting panel of innovative and highly promising therapeutics that we feel have real potential to address unmet clinical needs. We’re looking forward to developing and testing these for treatment of a range of inflammatory and infectious diseases.” CÚRAM is working to develop a positive, long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and both clinical and economic needs have to be met. CÚRAM’s goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. The project was developed following an introduction to both partners, facilitated by IDA Ireland in Boston. “I am delighted to have been able to make the introduction between CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience and to hear it has resulted in an exciting new research partnership”, said Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of IDA Ireland, Boston. “Making connections and facilitating introductions between companies and third-level institutions and research centres is a key function of IDA Ireland, we try to ensure the necessary skills, experience and research capabilities exist to drive their business forward.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “Key to our success is our collaboration with industry partners to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application. Through collaborations such as these we can strengthen the R&D capability in Ireland to support the growth of a vibrant start up community within the MedTech ecosystem.” -Ends-

Friday, 11 August 2017

Catalina Vallejo, PhD candidate at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently published the results of her work in the prestigious journal; Advanced Functionalised Materials (AFM), with an impact factor of 12.12. Catalina’s research focuses on the modification of implantable electrode systems to improve their performance when used, for example, in neural recording and in deep brain stimulation in patients with neurological disease such as dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting stimulating electrodes into brain. Catalina’s work explored the development of a coating for these electrodes, using a bench-top electrochemical process to formulate anodized indium tin oxide (ITO) films with altered roughness, conducting profiles, and thickness. In addition, she examined the influence of these anodized films on neural cell adhesion, proliferation, and function, and showed that the compatibility of the coating with brain tissue can be altered by varying the anodization current density. She also showed how the films produced with a specific current density, increased primary neural cell survival, modulation of glial scar formation, and promotion of neural network activity when in situ in the brain. The modification of implantable electrodes for neural stimulation has been a major focus of neural engineering over the past five years. “A common occurrence following electrode implantation is the formation of a glial ‘scar’ around the implant” explains Catalina. “This can accelerate neural loss, increase the barriers to the flow of the electrical signal to where it’s needed in the brain and so compromises the efficacy of a stimulating/recording system in the brain. My research aimed to develop a way to improve the efficacy of these devices, resulting in a better outcome for patients.” Traditionally, chemically inert conductors such as gold, platinum, and iridium, as well as semiconductors such as silicon, have been widely employed as electrode systems in both clinical and research settings. Recently, however, nonmetallic electrically conducting biomaterials, including inherently conducting polymers and polymer composites have been explored as neuroelectrode alternatives in an effort to promote chronic functionality and enhanced biocompatibility. Catalina’s journey through her PhD was not without its challenges. “During my first year, I was learning the basics of electrochemistry and electrodeposition and I initially intended on making electrodeposited conducting polymer films onto the surface of the ITO. I was using a very old Potentiostat, a Princeton Applied Research electrochemical Potentiostat / Galvanostat model 263A running Verastudio software. After almost a full years work, I came to understand that Potentiostat had reversed the electrode configuration/connections. This resulted in the anodization of the ITO films and not in the electrodeposition of the conducting polymer – the opposite of what I wanted to achieve!” Commenting on her work, Catalina’s supervisor Dr Manus Biggs, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM said “Catalina is extremely dedicated and at the time the ITO process was confusing, frustrating and quite demotivating for her, but in the end we have learned a lot from this. A research career is full of enlightening errors, and this process was crucial in helping to illuminate some of the bases of her work in conducting polymers, and eventually resulted in the development of a process to formulate these anodized ITO films.” This work provides a useful benchmark for anodization conditions for further studies with neural microelectrodes, micropatterning, and biochemical functionalization. Catalina’s research has shown that anodization offers the ability to modify ITO films and may provide an easier approach to the generation of electrode coatings with differential regions of charge conductance and cellular function capacities. It can be hypothesized that anodization with varying current densities may be employed to deposit insulator and charge carrier regions on a single electrode system, providing cytocompatible and functional coatings for implantable thin-film ITO devices. Congratulating Catalina on her work, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said “Ultimately, what we are trying to do at CÚRAM is to improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses through the development of new and enhanced implants and devices. It’s fantastic to see how our PhD candidates are contributing significantly to the knowledge base in this area.” Catalina’s paper; Preparation of Cytocompatible ITO Neuroelectrodes with Enhanced Electrochemical Characteristics Using a Facile Anodic Oxidation Process was been published in the Advanced Functionalised Materials Journal earlier this year. ENDS  

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Galway Film Centre and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research into Medical Devices are pleased to announce Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes as the recipient of the 2017 Science on Screen Commission.   Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes will be a half hour documentary directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by both Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films. The film captures the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients, and warn against this troubling epidemic facing our population, as well as following the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it.   Over the course of the documentary, as a backdrop to these personal stories, we also discover the groundbreaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Professor David Brayden and his team at UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body.   We also gain an insight into the treatment and management of diabetes through expert clinicians such as Dr. Derek O’Keeffe, Professor Seán Dineen and Mary Clara O’Hara, who run special weekly clinics for young people, helping them to manage their condition.   The award of €35,000 for the Science on Screen commission is funded by CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Medical Device Research in NUI Galway. CÚRAM is helping to establish Ireland as a global hub of research expertise in medical device technology. CÚRAM aims to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases to radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illness.   The Science on Screen commission scheme was first piloted in 2016 with the support of Science Foundation Ireland and resulted in the production of two documentaries Feats Of Modest Valour and Mending Legends. Both documentaries were premiered in November 2016 in Galway and have gone on to screen at the Galway Film Fleadh and are due to be broadcast nationally in 2017.   Hugh Rodgers is an award-winning director based in Dublin. In 2016 he directed The Story of Yes, a documentary on the marriage referendum, and it went on to be nominated for Best Single Documentary at IFTA 2016 and was commended at the prestigious Radharc Awards 2016. His work is notable for its emotive quality, finding the personal and engaging stories even within the most unexpected of topics.   Anna Rodgers is an IFTA award winning director and producer, and has worked in documentary film and television for over 16 years. She won Best TV Director at the 2014 IFTAs for her sensitive portrayal of sexuality and disability in the RTÉ documentary Somebody to Love.   Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes will premiere in Galway in November 2017 during the Galway Science & Technology Festival as part of National Science Week.   Full details of screenings will be available through www.galwayfilmcentre.ie and www.curamdevices.ie.   #ScienceonScreen #GalwayCityofFilm

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

CÚRAM investigator Professor Paul Murphy with researchers from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, have been featured on the front cover of the international journal Synthesis. Their research involved the development of a strategy to convert biomass to high value molecules for investigation in new drug discovery projects such as Type-2 Diabetes, Gaucher’s disease and Fabry disease. Synthesis is devoted to the advancement of the science of synthetic chemistry and papers featured in the journal are noted as being ‘original papers of exceptional high quality and significance to the scientific community’. Professor Murphy, Head of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, and a PhD researcher from the School, Rekha Chadda from Co. Sligo, worked together to develop a new strategy to convert mannose, a naturally occurring sugar manufactured from wood-based or other biomass, into higher value chemicals, called glycomimetics, that can be useful in drug discovery. Professor Patrick McArdle from the School of Chemistry, performed X-ray crystal structure analysis, which helped them confirm the molecular structure of substances produced in the research. Some glycomimetics are in clinical use and are used for the treatment of patients with Type-2 Diabetes, Gaucher’s disease (a genetic disorder) and Fabry disease (an inherited disorder that results from the build-up of a particular type of fat). A glycomimetic (UV4) is currently in clinical trials with a view to the therapy of infection caused by the Dengue virus and there is potential in treatment of other infections.   Professor Murphy, said: “The research demonstrates the value of Synthetic Chemistry. We used a renewable molecule, the sugar mannose, from biomass as a basis for generating higher value molecules that have potential in drug discovery projects. In future we would like to expand the application of the strategy to make other important molecules for drug discovery projects as well as see if the approach can have application in synthesis of pharmaceuticals.”   The team used a new strategy, not investigated previously, to produce the glycomimetics. These new agents are now available for evaluation of their potential in drug discovery and this will be shortly investigated. Synthesis is a practice used by chemists to discover and manufacture drugs in everyday clinical use. It is also used to produce materials, such as plastics, which find everyday applications in people’s lives. In this research, Rekha Chadda took a substance prepared from mannose and subjected the substance to two old chemical reactions combined in a novel way. The reactions are known as allylic azide rearrangement and Huisgen cycloaddition, and were originally developed more than 50 years ago by US and German scientists. This research study was funded by NUI Galway (PhD scholarship to Rekha Chadda), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the European Regional Development Fund. ENDS

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The winners of the 2017 Irish Laboratory Research Awards were announced on the afternoon of Thursday, May 25th at The Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, with hundreds of industry figures in attendance. CÚRAM PI Dr Fergal O’Brien and the Tissue Engineering Research Lab at RCSI were awarded Research Laboratory of the Year, while a second CÚRAM PI, Dr Martin O’Halloran and his team at the Translational Medical Device Lab were awarded Start-Up Laboratory of the Year. We would like to congratulate both teams on the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve this recognition and wish them further successes in the future. Congratulating both teams on their awards, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, said “It’s clear that there is a very high quality of research and innovation associated with these awards. We’re delighted to have such high calibre researchers as part of our network and we look forward to celebrating their continued success”. Launched in 2013, The Irish Laboratory Awards are the benchmark for those demonstrating excellence, best practice and innovation within Ireland’s lab industry and recognise the successes and achievements of Ireland's internationally renowned scientists in areas including innovation, leadership and collaboration. The awards focus on the ongoing work of Irish scientists to grow and develop a sustainable, globally competitive science research. ENDS

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

CÚRAM’s Art and Science programme creates links between the scientific and artistic communities to support the art-science discipline while increasing interest in science and current research. Since 2015, CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has hosted artist residencies in its laboratories and also in artist studio spaces situated near the beautiful Aula Maxima. In partnership with the Galway City Arts Office, we are now inviting proposals from artists across Ireland who are interested in working as part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme, which supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of ‘having the most scientifically informed and engaged public’. We invite artists to propose ideas for an ambitious and contemporary permanent artwork in the Westside community in Galway, for display in the Library, Boxing Club or similar location specified by the artist. The budget for this project is €10,000. The artist will work with one of the following three themes: Biomimicry How to Fix a Broken Heart Biomaterials and the Body The chosen artist will work within the CÚRAM laboratories to learn about CÚRAM’s research and will then spend a period of time working with the Westside community to realise the project. Applications must be received with all material by 5pm, June 19th. No submissions will be accepted after this date.  All eligible applications will be considered by a selection panel, appointed by Galway City Council and CÚRAM. For more information on the current call and to apply visit: http://www.curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/artists-in-residence/ CÚRAM’s Education and Public Engagement Programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ aims to inspire and engage the next generation of Irish scientists and engineers and to forge collaborations between our researchers and the community. The programme is based around three core residency programmes for Filmmakers, Artists and Teachers. Researchers also engage directly with the community through public lectures, film screenings, workshops and at national events.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Dr. Emily Porter, researcher at the Translational Medical Device Lab (TMD-Lab) under the supervision of CÚRAM PI Dr. Martin O’Halloran, has recently been awarded a prestigious URSI (International Union of Radio Science) ‘Young Scientist’ Award for her work exploring the electrical properties of tissues. Each year, the URSI identifies key international scientists working on electromagnetic research, who have a track record in research excellence and high-quality technical outputs. This is the third time that the TMD-lab has received this award, with Dr. O’Halloran receiving the same award in 2011 and 2013. Dr. Porter works alongside a European Research Council funded team and her research investigates the development of novel medical technologies based on knowledge of the dielectric properties of healthy and diseased tissues. The Young Scientist Award will support dissemination of work on the effect of tissue composition on measured properties and will enable collaborative meetings with global leaders in this growing field of study. Dr. Porter will attend the 32nd International Union of Radio Science Assembly & Scientific Symposium in August to present her research and receive the award. ENDS

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Cancer Discovery review article, “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Activated Cell Reprogramming in Oncogenesis” published by Prof. Afshin Samali has become the most highly cited article published by the Cancer Discovery journal in 2015. Prof. Samali, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is based at NUI Galway where he is Professor of Biochemistry and Director Apoptosis Research Centre (ARC). Prof Samali’s research is focused on the fields of cell stress and cell death. His work asks fundamental scientific questions pertaining to ER stress signaling, its role in the life/death decisions that a cell makes and the associated implications for human disease. “Cellular stress responses are mechanisms activated by cells in response to stressful stimuli, including extremes of temperature, exposure to toxins, and mechanical damage and are crucial in determining cell fate in response to the stress” he explains.  “My research goal is to uncover the signalling pathways that are activated during endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) and to understand the links between these stress response pathways and cell death and how these processes contribute to human diseases”. Currently Prof Samali’s team is working on describing ER stress signalling in health and disease and investigating the role of the IRE1 enzyme, one of three major ER stress sensors in breast cancer and targeting IRE1 in pre-clinical models of breast cancer. The team are also investigating how the unfolded protein response (UPR) controls cell death and survival, and how it is regulated and how cell stress responses influence pro-inflammatory processes and the tumour microenvironment in cancer. “We are interested in identifying and validating new ER stress and cell death related targets for drug discovery efforts. The goal is to develop approaches and compounds that have therapeutic potential for use in number of different cancers, for example breast cancer, colorectal or paediatric cancers” said Prof Samali. Cancer Discovery is the premier cancer information resource published by American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Prof Samali’s publication will be highlighted in a special print collection which will include the four most highly cited original research articles and the single-most highly cited review article from each of AACR’s journals.  

Friday, 7 April 2017

Professor David Finn, CÚRAM Investigator and Co-director of the Centre for Pain Research and Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, has spoken in Dáil Éireann this month (April 2017) and emphasised the need to consider people living with chronic pain in the ongoing debate on the status of medical cannabis and cannabinoids in Ireland. Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, has announced that he has decided to establish an access programme for cannabis-based treatments in Ireland. The announcement followed the publication of a report from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) entitled Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review.   The HPRA report advised that, if a policy decision was taken to permit cannabis under an access programme, it should be for the treatment of patients with spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis resistant to all standard therapies and interventions whilst under expert medical supervision; intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, despite the use of standard medicine that is effective against vomiting and nausea whilst under expert medical supervision; and severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy that has failed to respond to standard anticonvulsant medications whilst under expert medical supervision. The HPRA report also advised that patients accessing cannabis through the programme should be under the care of a medical consultant and that medical information and utilisation data should be kept on a central register. Controversially, the report recommended against the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, despite an acknowledgement within the report that chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids and despite the fact that the majority of clinical studies, meta-analyses and systematic reviews cited in the report conclude that cannabis or individual cannabinoids afford benefit to chronic pain patients.  Three of the most thorough and exhaustive scientific reviews to have been published on the subject in recent years all concluded that there is good or substantial, high-quality evidence that medical cannabis or cannabinoids are effective in treating chronic pain in adults (Hill, 2015; The National Academies of Sciences, 2017; Barnes & Barnes (UK Barnes Report), 2016). Chronic pain conditions that are responsive to cannabinoids include, but are not limited to, neuropathic pain and cancer pain.    The striking fact and reality is that despite the availability of current pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for chronic pain, 13 to 35 per cent of the population still suffer from chronic pain at a cost of €5.34 billion per year to the Irish economy, 2.86 per cent of GDP and, in the largest study ever to look at the prevalence and impact of chronic pain in Europe (46,394 patients), 40 per cent of patients reported that the management of their pain is inadequate (Breivik et al., 2006).  Professor David Finn from the Centre for Pain Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Chronic pain represents a very significant unmet clinical need, particularly conditions such as lower back pain, neuropathic pain, rheumatic conditions, post-surgical pain, arthritic pain and severe cancer pain. Chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids, and the majority of clinical studies, combined data analysis from multiple studies, and systematic reviews conclude that there is a good or substantial body of evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids afford benefit to patients with chronic pain. The evidence suggests that medical cannabis and cannabinoids, introduced in a careful, controlled, well-regulated manner as per the other three indications in the HPRA report, could alleviate some of the unmet clinical need in chronic pain.”   Importantly, the HPRA report was very supportive of further research within Ireland and internationally on medical cannabis and cannabinoids, including for chronic pain, and this support is welcomed by Professor Finn. Over the past 12 years, the Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway has developed a very active research group with a focus on cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system. In work funded from a variety of peer-reviewed grant sources including Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board, the Irish Research Council, the International Association for the Study of Pain and others, the researchers have published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications demonstrating a key role for the endocannabinoid system in stress-induced modulation of pain, descending control of pain, cognitive and affective aspects of pain, and neuroimmune signalling and its relevance to pain, affective disorders and neurodegenerative disease. Continued support of such research into cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system alongside the careful, controlled and regulated introduction of medical cannabis in Ireland for chronic pain for which there is a strong evidence base, will be key to ensuring that we move forward in an informed manner and can lead internationally in this area.   Ends  

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

An Taoiseach announces transatlantic collaboration partnership to provide entrepreneurship training for SFI researchers that includes NUI Galway-based CÚRAM Investigator and Translational Medical Device Lab Director  Tuesday, 4 April, 2017: Dr Martin O’Halloran, Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) and Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, has been announced as one of the first twenty Irish researchers funded through Science Foundation Ireland’s new I-Corps programme. The researchers will travel to the US to undertake entrepreneurship training as part of the NSF I-Corps Curriculum. Dr O’Halloran, Mr Atif Shahzad and Dr Neil Ferguson from NUI Galway will work alongside their clinical lead, Dr Conall Dennedy, Consultant Endocrinologist and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at NUI Galway. The researchers will travel to the US this summer as one of the first Irish teams to receive training on opportunity-discovery and business model development. This applied training course is based on the ‘Lean LaunchPad’ methodology, developed by renowned Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur, Steve Blank of Stanford University.  The programme will involve teams participating in an intensive and immersive boot camp, delivered at some of the most prestigious universities in the US. This will be followed by a mentored programme that will see teams interview up to 100 potential customers over a six-week period, using collected observations to arrive at a viable and validated business model for a proposed technology. Announcing the investment in Washington DC on the 16 March, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, said: “I am delighted to announce this international collaboration led by Science Foundation Ireland, which will support and cultivate entrepreneurship in the research community in Ireland. This is a significant step towards achieving the innovation and entrepreneurship skills outlined in the Irish Government’s science strategy, Innovation 2020. “This programme aligns well with our commitment to having one of the most highly skilled and innovative workforces in the world. By fostering increased entrepreneurship, we will also see greater commercialisation of cutting-edge research, giving us a globally competitive advantage.” Dr O'Halloran’s Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway explores the use of low-power electromagnetic waves for medical imaging and therapeutic applications, and his research ranges from basic science to the clinical evaluation and commercialisation of novel medical devices. Speaking about the award, Dr O’Halloran said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to develop new skills within our team, to facilitate the efficient translation of our research into viable commercial products that ultimately improve quality of life for patients.” The NSF’s ground-breaking I-Corps Curriculum will prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broaden the impact of research projects. The announcement marks Science Foundation Ireland becoming the first European Funding Agency to implement the highly regarded NSF entrepreneurship programme. Speaking at the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “This extremely prestigious programme builds on Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence, and on the long-standing relationship that exists between Science Foundation Ireland and the NSF. It will greatly enhance Ireland’s innovation potential, with SFI-funded researchers receiving immersive, real-world training in bringing scientific and technological research to market.” “The NSF I-Corps program has already enabled researchers to expand their horizons far beyond the lab into the marketplace, and has bolstered the US national innovation ecosystem,” said Barry Johnson, acting NSF Assistant Director for Engineering, which oversees the NSF I-Corps program. “The new SFI-funded teams will contribute to the global innovation environment, providing new opportunities for international collaborations and helping to provide novel approaches to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.”  -Ends- For further information about the I-Corps project contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate, CÚRAM at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or 091 494414. For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Acting Press & Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 091 495695. Photo: Dr Martin O’Halloran, Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) and Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway.  Photo: NUI Galway Notes to Editors About I-Corps@SFI I-Corps@SFI is a pilot programme which sees the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) collaborate to support participation of Irish researchers in the NSF’s Innovation Corps. As part of this new pilot programme, Irish teams comprising a lead investigator (academic), entrepreneurial lead (postdoctoral researcher) and a mentor (entrepreneur) will participate in the NSF I-Corps Curriculum which is an immersive entrepreneurial training programme based on the Lean LaunchPad methodology developed by Steve Blank of Stanford University, for the NSF I-Corps. This training will be undertaken at one of the NSF’s seven I-Corps Nodes in the United States. The I-Corps Nodes include some of most prestigious universities in the United States such as Berkeley, Stanford and Caltech. An important feature of the programme is that it promotes interaction between researchers and entrepreneurs within teams as well as supporting researchers to discover economic and societal impact opportunities for their research by engaging with the market and industry. For more information visit: http://www.sfi.ie/ About the U.S. National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly. About Science Foundation Ireland Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy.    Science Foundation Ireland has launched the #BelieveInScience campaign to promote the potential that science and discovery offer Ireland, today and in tomorrow’s world. The #BelieveInScience campaign will see Science Foundation Ireland work in partnership with the Irish research community to share a mutual passion for science with the public; to promote an understanding of the ability of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to create positive change in the world and to drive a sustainable economy in Ireland. For more information visit: http://www.sfi.ie/  About NUI Galway The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement. Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education. NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy. NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here. *The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.

Monday, 3 April 2017

On the 31th March 2017, the Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds was launched at the 3rd Transatlantic Wound Science and Podiatric Medicine Conference in Galway, Ireland. The alliance was borne out of the need to bring together the expertise in research, education and clinical practise in NUI Galway, Saolta and among private healthcare partners into one unit that will strive to further develop and expand wound care in Ireland and Internationally. The Alliance is supported by CÚRAM with two PIs, Georgina Gethin and Ger O'Connor, in directorship roles. The work of the Alliance links in with CÚRAM’s research into soft tissue repair. The Alliances mission statement is “to strive to improve the lives of people impacted by wounds and champion evidence based, innovative care”. CÚRAM PI’s and NUI Galway has a long tradition in wound related research through tissue engineering, microbiology, biomechanics, stem cell therapies, health service research, medical devices, practise development and programme offering at MSc and PhD level. The Alliance now unites this expertise and will strive to improve the lives of people impacted by wounds and champion evidence based, innovative care. The goals of the Alliance will be: To conduct high quality, collaborative, translational and clinical research informed by key stakeholders. To foster innovation and inspire people to create solutions. To enhance graduate education and future employability. To be an international leader in the field of wound care. To inform national and international policy and practise. To create economic and social prosperity by turning ideas, innovations and technologies into reality. Through strategic collaborations and enterprise develop technological solutions to wound prevention and management The Alliance will build on five key pillars Emerging technologies and innovation Patient orientated Health systems/services/economics and policy Patient and society impact Education Membership of the alliance is open to all healthcare professionals and academics with an interest in this field. The development group crosses disciplines and practise settings and includes; nursing, podiatry, physics, medicine, microbiology and medical devices. You can join the mailing list through the website: http://www.nuigalway.ie/ariw/, follow the group on twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/ariw_1 and you can email the group on: ariw@nuigalway.ie

Thursday, 30 March 2017

CÚRAM are delighted to be partnering with Hotel Meyrick for a Children’s Workshop on ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ and Afternoon Tea on Thursday April 13 at the hotel as part of this year’s Galway Food Festival. A highlight of the Festival, CÚRAM scientists will become masters of the molecular wacky, and the children will become their willing assistants. All while parents relax and enjoy an Easter afternoon tea at Hotel Meyrick. The workshop is a fun way for young people to explore how natural materials are used in medicine, and how they are designed to deliver biomolecules. The children will then participate in a hands-on activity creating their own flavoured ‘energy spheres’ alongside our own CÚRAM scientists. After all that work, hard earned hot chocolates and cupcakes will finish off their experience. Speaking about the event, Dr Sarah Gundy, Project Officer at CÚRAM said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Hotel Meyrick in this event and look forward to creating an exciting experience to bring the world of science and food together for children.” The event is suitable for children between the ages of 8-12 only. Pre booking is essential as spaces are limited. Tickets including Afternoon Tea, are priced at €15 per adult and €9 per child. To book email reshm@hotelmeyrick.ie or phone 091 564041. Galway Food Festival will run from the 13-17 April and full programme details can found www.galwayfoodfestival.com

Monday, 27 March 2017

Dilip Thomas, Doctoral Candidate at the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, has just been awarded first place in the category of the Best Preclinical Study at the Journal of Wound Care Awards 2017. The Awards recognise the hard work done by health care professionals in all fields of wound care, to benchmark standards within wound care and to highlight the great contribution that nurses, clinicians, scientists, researchers and academics make to the development of wound-care research and practice. Winners are chosen by a prominent panel of expert judges that is representative of the diversity of disciplines and organisations that make up the sector. The judges assess each entry according to its objectives and available resources and budget. Laboratory studies shortlisted for the Best Preclinical Study award represent a vital first step in evaluating wound care interventions and form the base of the evidence pyramid on which all other research is built. This category recognises the efforts of those researchers who have provided strong, evidence-based studies in wound care. Congratulating Dilip on his award, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said; “I’m delighted to see our researchers recognised for their hard work.  Wound healing is an important area of research at CÚRAM and I’d like to congratulate Dilip on his project and the development of new knowledge in this area”. The research for which Dilip was awarded focussed on the development of a microgel-based cell delivery device for the treatment of Critical Limb Ischemia. The research adds to the current knowledge in cell encapsulation strategies by highlighting the preconditioning or priming capacity of biomaterials through cell-cell and cell-material interactions. One of the significant and clinically attractive aspects of the preclinical study was the use of a low-cell dose (up to 20 times lower that pre-clinical gold standard) in the microgels for tissue repair. Hence as a therapy, microgels would not only help faster tissue repair but also provide treatment for more patients.  ‘I’m delighted to receive the award for Best Preclinical Study’ said Dilip, ‘it definitely serves to boost confidence in my work and to motivate further studies. It’s always nice to have your achievements recognised, particularly as I finalise my PhD this year’ Dilip received a BSc Biotechnology, University of Mumbai, India and a MSc Biochemical Engineering, University College London, UK. His research interests include the development of novel functionalised biomaterials, microencapsulation and transplantation of progenitor cells to promote angiogenesis in ischemic animal models. He is currently working under the supervision of Prof. Abhay Pandit and Prof. Timothy O'Brien at CÚRAM in NUI Galway. In 2015 Dilip was awarded the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) fellowship to further his research through training in MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS) at Marchetti-Deschmann’s analytical laboratory, Technical University Vienna and in 2016 he was elected to the position of Chair-Elect for the EU Student and Young Investigator section (SYIS) of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). JWC award finalists were invited to attend an evening gala dinner and awards ceremony on Friday 3rd March 2017 at The Banking Hall in London. The full shortlist of finalists for the awards is available at www.jwcawards.com/shortlist-2017

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

International collaboration will support ground-breaking research on the blood clots that cause stroke and drive significant improvements in outcomes for patients in the future Tuesday, 21 March, 2017: CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) today announced an agreement with Mayo Clinic in the United States to collaborate on research into blood clots that cause ischemic stroke.  As part of this agreement, researchers will work at CÚRAM and Mayo Clinic, to analyze and characterise clots from stroke patients in both Europe and the United States. The goal of the research is to advance and improve therapies for stroke patients in the future.   An estimated 15 million strokes occur worldwide each year. Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Ischemic stroke can be caused by clots that come from the heart, or from the carotid artery, or from other parts of the body. The characteristics of these clots can vary widely, which has implications for what therapy is given to patients.   This unique collaboration brings together clinicians, scientists and engineers from academia, stroke centers, and industry to drive innovation through targeted research. With funding support from both Neuravi, an Irish biomedical company experienced in endovascular device development, and from Science Foundation Ireland, the collaboration reflects the commitment of a diverse group of experts to advancing the understanding and treatment of stroke. An NUI Galway post-doctoral fellow will perform research on secondment at Mayo Clinic to facilitate collaboration on standardising protocols and setting up an international database. Mayo Clinic’s Applied Neuroradiology Lab is initiating a nationwide effort in the US to retrospectively and prospectively collect samples of clots removed from patients who have suffered a stroke in order to analyze them to inform treatment in the future. Through CÚRAM, NUI Galway will be establishing a dedicated clot pathology lab to conduct parallel clot research in Europe.     Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, commented: “With this partnership and postdoctoral fellow program with Mayo Clinic, we’re excited by the opportunity to advance research in this area. Researchers at CÚRAM have been working on the analysis and characterisation of clots through collaborative arrangements with Neuravi, and we’re delighted that they and Science Foundation Ireland are funding this postdoctoral fellow program. This convergence of interests and expertise has enabled us to structure a unique collaboration with Mayo Clinic. We hope this will lead to ground-breaking research and drive significant improvements in outcomes for stroke patients in the future.” David Kallmes, Director of Mayo Clinic Applied Neuroradiology Lab, said: “We’ve come a long way in treating stroke, but we’re just beginning to tap the surface when it comes to understanding the occlusive clots that cause acute ischemic stroke. It is not an insignificant challenge, and so this kind of multinational public-private research collaboration puts us in a unique position to make real progress. Working together with motivated stroke experts in the US, we’ve started the Stroke Thromboembolism Registry of Imaging and Pathology (STRIP) to analyze actual clots retrieved via thrombectomy (the surgical removal of a clot from a blood vessel), and to use that learning to inform treatment. This program with CÚRAM will help us make this into a world-class research effort.” For more information about CÚRAM visit: http://www.curamdevices.ie/ and for Mayo Clinic visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/   Ends

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Sarah Jarrin, Doctoral Candidate at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway was awarded first prize for her poster presentation at the 9th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, which took place in Dublin on Feb 10th-11th 2017. The research poster presentations were judged by a panel of experts who commended the high quality of the research. Researchers from the Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway have had an excellent record of success in this competition over recent years. Sarah is a second-year Doctoral Candidate in the Discipline of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at CÚRAM, under the supervision of Professor David Finn, Dr Michelle Roche and Professor Abhay Pandit. Her winning poster presentation was entitled ‘The effects of optogenetic stimulation of glutamatergic neurons in the rat anterior cingulate cortex on locomotor activity and nociceptive behaviour’. Sarah’s research involves using optogenetic methodology to investigate the role of specific populations of neurons within discrete brain regions in regulating pain.  Optogenetics is a novel methodology that allows the activity of specific populations of neurons to be controlled with light. Professor David Finn, Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research and primary supervisor of Sarah’s project within CÚRAM, said: “We are delighted to see NUI Galway researchers win these prestigious prizes for their work. Our pain research aims to advance the understanding and treatment of chronic pain, a major unmet clinical need affecting at least 20% of the population.”    Ends

Friday, 24 February 2017

24 February 2017 – New findings on how communication is coordinated between the inside and outside of a cell is set to open up new avenues for further research into treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. PERK, an enzyme known to detect protein folding errors in the cell has now also been revealed to coordinate the communication between the inside and the outside of the cell. The discovery was made by researchers at the Laboratory of Cell Death Research & Therapy at KU Leuven in Belgium on a project funded through H2020 Project TrainERS, which is coordinated by Prof Afshin Samali, CÚRAM Researcher and Professor of Biochemistry and Director Apoptosis Research Centre (ARC) at NUI Galway. Proteins such as insulin are properly formed in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), one of the biggest membrane structures in the cell. The ER works like an assembly line and folds the proteins into a three-dimensional shape that is essential for them to function. When there is a problem in the ‘protein folding assembly line’, the accumulation of misfolded proteins can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes. An essential component of this protein folding factory is PERK. “This protein is known to play a crucial role in maintaining ER functions and restoring them if necessary,” explains Patrizia Agostinis, head of the KU Leuven Laboratory of Cell Death Research & Therapy. “When PERK detects protein folding errors in the ER it prompts the nucleus of the cell to take action.” Patrizia Agostinis, Alex van Vliet, and other team members at KU Leuven discovered an additional function of PERK. Agostinis “We found that PERK also coordinates the communication between the protein folding factory (the ER) and the skin of the cell (the plasma membrane). When the protein folding factory detects low calcium levels, the plasma membrane needs to let calcium flow back in. After all, calcium is crucial for the proper functioning of the protein folding factory – the ER, where the calcium is stored – and for the overall health of the cell. And this is where PERK comes in: the protein establishes contact between the two cell components so that they can work together to restore the calcium level.” “This entire process, which is regulated by PERK, takes place in a matter of minutes or even seconds,” Alex van Vliet adds. “That’s one of the reasons why it went unnoticed until now. We used a new method to reveal the underlying mechanism, and were surprised to find that PERK can control the movement of the ER towards the plasma membrane by modifying the skeleton of the cell.” “This is an extremely exciting step forward for any researcher involved in understanding the ER stress response mechanistically and quantitatively” said Prof Afshin Samali, “I would like to congratulate the researchers involved and look forward to more exciting developments to come out of the TrainERS programme”. More information This project is funded by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and by TrainERS, an innovation training network funded by Horizon 2020 and coordinated by CÚRAM at NUI Galway.  Alex van Vliet received funding from the Flemish government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT). About TrainERS: The TrainERS consortium is coordinated by NUI Galway with partners University of Bordeaux, Goethe-University Frankfurt, University of Leuven, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Medical University of Vienna, Imperial College London, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, University of Gothenburg, Randox Teoranta. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is emerging as a common feature in the pathology of numerous diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, metabolic syndromes and inflammatory diseases. Thus ER stress represents a potential therapeutic intervention point to be exploited to develop novel therapies, diagnostic tools and markers for these diseases. However, exploitation is hampered by the shortage of scientists with interdisciplinary training that can navigate with ease between the academic, industrial and clinical sectors, and that have the scientific and complementary skills, together with an innovative outlook, to convert research findings into commercial and clinical applications. This project brings young researchers together with world-leading academics, clinicians and industry personnel, who are united in 1) their goal of forming a network of excellence aimed at understanding the ER stress response mechanistically and quantitatively and 2) applying this understanding to identify and validate the most suitable intervention points in order to provide innovative knowledge-driven strategies for the treatment of ER stress-associated diseases.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

CÚRAM Investigator Dr Martin O’Halloran has recently been awarded a second European Research Council (ERC) grant. ERC grants are Europe's most competitive and prestigious research funding, and in this case will support the development of a new medical device for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). The project is a collaboration between CURAM Investigators Dr O’Halloran and Dr Conall Dennedy, who aim to bring the novel medical device towards first-in-man trials within the lifetime of the project. Since hypertension is such a major population heath problem, the team expect the project to have very significant societal and economic impact. Hypertension is a global health problem affecting a large population of patients. The prevalence of hypertension in European countries is 28-44%5. This amounts to between 200 and 327 million Europeans. Excess production of the hormone aldosterone by the adrenal glands (also known as Primary Aldosteronism) is the most common endocrine cause and accounts for 8-20% of all hypertension. Current treatment regimens are dissatisfactory and costly, involving either surgery or lifelong drug therapy. Therefore, a cost-effective, minimally invasive & definitive management approach for this underlying cause would present a potential cure for an often undiagnosed and unmanaged disease. This is what is being proposed with the new ERC “REALTA” project. Dr. O’Halloran secured his first ERC Starting Grant in 2015 to examine the electrical properties of human tissue, as a platform for novel medical device development in Europe. Supported by a Science Foundation Ireland ERC Support Grant, he established the Translational Medical Device Lab in Galway (http://www.tmdlab.ie), the first medical device lab in Ireland to be embedded in a regional hospital (UCHG), and co-located with the HRB’s Clinical Research Facility. Working closely with Dr. Conall Dennedy, Consultant Endocrinologist at NUI Galway, he began to examine the potential of new technologies to treat Primary Aldosteronism and consequently, hypertension. “This REALTA project plan is very similar to that of a start-up medtech company, where as well as technology development, the team will also examine the competitive landscape, the clinical and regulatory pathway, and reimbursement opportunities” said Dr O’Halloran. “The overarching goal is to gather sufficient technical, clinical, regulatory and commercial evidence over the course of the next 18 months to be able to spin-out a company that is attractive to external investors. Such investment will be required to take the technology through to FDA approval and clinical trials.” Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said “The objectives of CÚRAM are to carry out research on the development of innovative ‘smart’ implantable medical devices, which will benefit patients with chronic ailments such as cardiovascular diseases. I would like to congratulate Dr O’Halloran and Dr Dennedy on their continued research success, which is supported by the excellent multidisciplinary team of clinicians, translational scientists and engineers here at CÚRAM and NUI, Galway and which reflects the interests and expertise of investigators in CÚRAM.”   Ends

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What: Science on Screen Information Day When: Friday March 10th 2017 Time: 11am – 1.30pm Where: CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Biomedical Sciences Building, Newcastle Rd, NUI Galway Registration: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/science-on-screen-information-day-2017-tickets-32095204621 Galway Film Centre and CÚRAM, Centre for Research in Medical Devices, are pleased to announce the return of Science on Screen, a funding strand for creative documentaries set in the world of science. The Science on Screen project will 100% fund one 26 minute film with a budget of €35,000. The film will be based around an area of research currently underway in CÚRAM and this research will be presented at an information session on Friday March 10th in NUI Galway. Following presentations, there will also be a short networking session where filmmakers and scientists get to meet informally and begin the journey telling stories through science. In 2016, the Science on Screen scheme, supported by the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) Discover Call, enabled the production of two films, Feats of Modest Valour, a touching portrait of three individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and the scientists who are developing a new medical device, which could potentially halt or even cure the disease; and Mending Legends, which looks at the devastating effects of tendon injury on sports people and the team of scientists who are working to form the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype. (Film trailers below). The information session for the 2017 Science on Screen Fund will take place from 11am to 1.30pm in CÚRAM, at the Biomedical Sciences Building at NUI Galway. As well as pitches from the scientists and information on how to apply for the scheme, it will also include a panel with speakers from RTÉ, TG4, the Galway Film Fleadh and the SFI discussing avenues of distribution open to these films. Interested filmmakers are invited to register for this event via Eventbrite. ***Please note Parking Permits for CÚRAM, NUIG will be issued on registration*** For further information, please email scienceonscreen@galwayfilmcentre.ie or call 091 770 748 Visit Science on Screen See the trailer for Mending Legendshere. See the trailer for Feats of Modest Valourhere. #ScienceonScreen               

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

€945,000 funding over four years through Horizon 2020 programme Industry-academia research consortium will enhance intersectoral and transnational cooperation CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway is one of the partners involved in a new international industry-academia consortium. The 3D-NEONET consortium aims to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions for cancer and eye disease through enhanced intersectoral and transnational research cooperation. The consortium is bringing together a unique group of microbiologists, cancer biologists, chemists, material scientists, mechanical engineers, ocular pharmacologists, geneticists and toxicologists from nine academic and nine non-academic partner organisations in seven countries. Through staff exchanges of periods ranging from one month to one year, participants will learn new skills, share knowledge and have the opportunity to work on joint research and innovation projects in oncology and ophthalmology in academic and commercial institutions across Europe. The aim is to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions for oncology and ophthalmology. The Drug Discovery and Delivery Network for Oncology and Eye Therapeutics (3D-NEONET) consortium has been awarded €945,000, over four years, under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (MSCA-RISE). Dr Breandán Kennedy, Associate Professor in the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and a Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute will lead the 3D-NEO-NET consortium. Dr Kennedy said: “Through 3D-NEONET, we will address key challenges facing research and innovation in Europe today. University graduates can struggle to transit smoothly into industry employment; research SMEs may have limited capacity to capitalise on new technology or find suitably experienced staff; and there is often unnecessary duplication of resources across Europe due to individual institutions working in isolation.” He added: “This programme is a fantastic opportunity to enhance career development, facilitate knowledge sharing and enable new skills acquisition. Ultimately, this will form a sustainable network of academics and SMEs who can collectively overcome obstacles in the development of therapeutics for oncology and ophthalmology.” Spanish consortium partner ZeClinics will exchange staff with QUB and CÚRAM at NUI Galway, providing these two academic partners with tools and expertise to test in vivo efficacy and safety of their drug delivery systems. Dr Javier Terriente, CSO, ZeClinics, said: “The goal of all 3D-NEONET institutions is to have an impact on people’s health. This initiative will allow sharing knowledge and bridging experts from areas and sectors that otherwise would never meet. We are eager to share our experience in drug discovery with top students in the ocular and oncology fields. For ZeClinics students, it will be great to learn from the best minds in these relevant therapeutic areas.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, NUI Galway, said: “Our goal at CÚRAM is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We are delighted to be part of this consortium and we hope that the continued sharing of expertise and knowledge will lead to efficient translation of research results that benefit the patient as well as upskilling Irish researchers involved in developing the next generation of medical devices.” Over the next four years, the proposed programme of work will include multiple staff exchange interactions among the 18 partners. Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said: “This new pan-European ophthalmic and oncology research consortium, which UCS is leading, will not only provide individual researchers with skills that can improve their career prospects, both in and outside academia, but will also boost research and innovation capacity and output among participating universities and industry partners, and ultimately impact Europe's economy and society.” Professor Feely added: “It is very encouraging to see the involvement by UCD researchers from across so many disciplines in the College of Science, College of Health and Agricultural Sciences and College of Engineering and Architecture in this new consortium.”  ENDS

Monday, 30 January 2017

CÚRAM Investigator, Dr Manus Biggs, is one of three Irish researchers to receive a newly launched Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - Science Foundation Ireland joint research grant of over €1 million, awarded between NUI Galway and the University of Glasgow. The BBSRC and Science Foundation Ireland have entered an agreement to welcome, encourage and support research applications that cut across national boundaries involving collaborative teams led by researchers from the UK and Ireland. Dr Biggs will co-lead a research programme in conjunction with Professor Matthew Dalby, Professor of Cell Engineering (Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology) at the University of Glasgow. The programme will focus on the development of nanobiomimetic electrically active scaffolds for bone regeneration, with an aim of producing rapid, large area bone grafts in the laboratory environment. Bone tissue regeneration remains an important challenge in the field of tissue engineering and sees a transplantation frequency second only to that of blood. Bone grafting is the current standard treatment; however, given the inherent limitations of this approach, bone tissue engineering and advanced biomaterials that mimic the structure and function of native tissues hold potential as alternative strategies to regeneration. Current studies in regenerative bone scaffolds suggest that further biomimicry is required before a complete solution to bone regeneration can be delivered. Further evidence has been gathered on the importance of minute electrical and mechanical cues on cell differentiation and function. “This project will further our current understanding of the joint role of electromechanical stimulation on stem cell function. We need to focus on understanding the cellular response to these subtle electrical and mechanical cues,” says Dr Biggs “We can then understand more fully how these influence cell function and tissue regeneration.” This joint programme will focus on combining piezoelectric regenerative scaffolds, (piezoelectric materials have the ability to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress) with nano mechanical stimulation to develop new bone cells from stem cells. CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway. Supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partners, CÚRAM’s goal is to radically improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. The Centre’s innovative approach incorporates biomaterials, drug delivery, cell based technologies, glycosciences and device design to enhance, develop and validate both traditional and new combinational medical devices, from molecular design stage to implant manufacturing. CÚRAM's devices are being developed with strong clinical collaborations to enable rapid translation of research findings to clinical application. ends For further information contact Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate on 091 494414 or claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie

Monday, 16 January 2017

For the second year running NUI Galway will host a regional heat for FameLab 2017, one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world. If you think you can explain a scientific concept to a general audience, in just three minutes, then why not enter? You could become the new face of science, represent Ireland at the 2017 FameLab International finals in the UK, and open doors to global opportunities in science communication. The competition is open to: people who apply science, technology, engineering or mathematics in industry or business; those who work on applying science, engineering, technology or mathematics (e.g. patent clerks, statisticians, consultants to industry); lecturers and researchers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, including specialist science teachers with a science degree; university students of science, technology, mathematics or engineering aged 18 and over; and those who apply science, technology, mathematics or engineering in the armed forces or government bodies. Training for entrants will take place in Galway on Tuesday, 31 January, with the regional heat scheduled for Tuesday, 21 February. The event will be held at the Taibhdhearc Theatre, Galway. The application deadline to enter the competition is Tuesday, 7 February, 2017. Successful candidates who make it through the initial regional heat stage, will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid ‘Communication Masterclass’, which will take place in Dublin on the 25-26 March, to help develop invaluable STEM media and presentation skills. The FameLab Ireland Final will be held at the Science Gallery, Dublin on Thursday, 13 April 2017. The aim of each presentation is that the audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it. To see terms and conditions and to register your interest and take part in the Famelab Galway competition please visit http://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab/enter-competition/apply Please contact famelab@ie.britishcouncil.org if you are unsure about your eligibility and check http://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab/prepare-heats/regional to learn more about regional heats. Follow Famelab Galway on twitter @FameLab_Gaway.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Professor William Wijns, an expert in cardiology, has joined NUI Galway as Professor of Medical Devices. He will spearhead a €5 million research project, which will develop wearable sensors to alert patients at high risk of heart attacks to triggers such as stress or high blood pressure. Professor Wijns joins the University through the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, which supports national strategic priorities by recruiting world-leading research and leadership talent to Ireland.  “The medical technology sector in Ireland is recognised as one of five global emerging hubs,” explains Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway. “Eight of the world’s top ten med-tech companies are based here, and the West of Ireland in particular is at the heart of the Irish med-tech system. NUI Galway is the powerhouse for much of this progress and we have developed a range of interdisciplinary research centres and initiatives, working closely with partners in industry, healthcare and government agencies. We welcome Professor Wijns with great anticipation of the opportunities his transformative approach brings to the translation of research into practice to ultimately deliver better health outcomes for patients.” In recent years Professor Wijns has held board memberships in the European Society of Cardiology and the World Heart Federation. He is currently Chairman of PCR, co-Director of Africa PCR and EuroPCR, the official congress of the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions. Professor Wijns previously worked at the Thorax Center in Rotterdam, where he was actively involved with the first applications of nuclear cardiology, thrombolysis and coronary dilatation, and the University of Louvain in Brussels, where he was Clinical Professor of Cardiology. At NUI Galway, Professor Wijns’ programme of work will focus on interventional cardiology, more specifically on reducing the number of adverse cardiovascular events (heart attacks) in patients. His focus is consistent with the strategic research goals of the University, the Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Galway and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, also based at NUI Galway. “I am extremely delighted to be awarded this Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship at NUI Galway where there exists excellent facilities and world-class researchers in this field. I am also excited by the potential to further my research and to work with such a strong network of academic, clinical and industrial partners in the course of my appointment,” said Professor Wijns. Professor Wijns’ research focuses on heart attacks and sudden death caused by unexpected blockage of arteries supplying the heart with blood and oxygen. This occurs in people exposed to risk factors such as family history, hypertension, smoking, diabetes or high cholesterol, who exhibit a vulnerable narrowing in the walls of their arteries, without being aware of it. Trigger mechanisms like anger, mental stress, high blood pressure, strenuous exercise and sleep disorders cause the narrowing to rupture inside the conduit, obstructing the artery.  His work will look at developing medical devices that can monitor these “trigger” activities electronically, at a distance, using wearable sensors in high-risk subjects who are known to carry this vulnerable narrowing of the artery, and in doing so, anticipate and prevent heart attacks. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Professor Wijns to NUI Galway through the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme. Professor Wijns is a world-class researcher dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of people by the invention and application of new technologies. His appointment epitomises Science Foundation Ireland’s commitment to fund world class research with impact in the health and medtech sector. I believe that great new research advances of real value to people and the economy will result from the combination of Prof Wijns’ expertise, the exceptional research teams in NUI Galway and the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre , and the cluster of both multinational and indigenous Medical Device companies in Ireland.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, said: “The research community here at NUI Galway is delighted to welcome Professor Wijns. We recognise the immense impact that he has had to date in cardiology research and we look forward to future collaborations and to supporting him in his research in the coming years.” Professor Wijns will also join the Cardiology Department at Saolta University Healthcare group, where he will collaborate with other clinicians engaged in translational cardiovascular research.  Professor Tim O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences said, “Professor Wijns will enable essential collaborations between investigators at CÚRAM and the Lambe Institute for Translational Research and clinician researchers at the HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway, ensuring that basic research will be translated to new medical devices which will benefit patients globally.” -ends- Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research.  SFI invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive enterprises in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). www.sfi.ie The SFI Research Professorship Programme is intended to support national strategic priorities by assisting research bodies in the recruitment of world-leading researchers for Professorial Chairs, or similar research leadership positions in targeted scientific areas in all areas covered by SFI’s legal remit. The programme may also act as a mechanism to support the recruitment of individuals who possess a strong industry background, as well as for directorship roles in established research centres within eligible research bodies in Ireland. www.sfi.ie/funding/funding-calls/open-calls/sfi-research-professorship-programme.html      

Friday, 9 December 2016

CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, joins the Druid Theatre’s FUEL programme, Galway Simon Community and Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation under St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union (SACU) Community Engagement Programme. Inspired by similar successful credit union projects internationally, SACU’s funding programme supports long-term projects in five key areas, namely arts, education, sport, community development, and international aid. Improving the quality of life for patients with chronic illness, supporting artists in their career development, providing access to finance in developing countries, and reducing social isolation are some of the initiatives that form part of St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union’s new Community Engagement Programme. Speaking about the benefits of the SACU funding, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said “Our aim is to radically improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and diabetes. With the support of St Anthony’s and Claddagh Credit Union, our public engagement programme will forge collaborations between our scientists and the wider community, inspire the next generation of Irish scientists and engineers and raise awareness about the cutting edge research happening here on our doorstep." According to SACU CEO Gerry Joyce, the aim is to develop a more strategic approach to funding as the organisation "understands the importance of supporting our community and this has always been demonstrated through our donations to, and sponsorships of, a wide range of groups here in the city over the past 50 years". Louise Shields, risk and compliance manager at SACU, said by providing funding to various organisations over five years, it allows partners to engage in long-term planning and seek matching funding for specific projects, something they often found difficult in this current economic climate," she explained. The programme was launched this week by Senator Alice Mary Higgins at the Mick Lally Theatre, Druid Lane, Galway. Video Link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSjge2xqeX4

Friday, 2 December 2016

Galway City of Film and CÚRAM in NUI Galway are delighted to announce a FREE screening of the ‘Science on Screen’ documentaries this December. What happens when scientists and filmmakers collide and what stories emerge? This was the question posed by ‘Science on Screen’, an initiative from Galway UNESCO City of Film with Galway Film Centre, CÚRAM at NUI Galway and with the support of Science Foundation of Ireland. The result has been two documentaries, which feature the groundbreaking world of medical device research taking place in CÚRAM. ‘Feats of Modest Valour’, is a touching portrait of three individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and the scientists who are developing a new medical device, which could potentially halt or even cure the disease; and ‘Mending Legends’, looks at the devastating effects of tendon injury on sports people and the team of scientists who are working to form the world’s first 3D cell assembled tendon prototype. Storytelling through science was the ethos that underpinned these films and this is apparent from the rich characters that we encounter in both documentaries. In ‘Mending Legends’, presented by Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, we meet Jessie Barr who just missed out on the Rio 2016 Olympics due to tendon injury, made all the more bittersweet by her brother’s fourth placing in the 400m hurdles at those very same events. Pádraic Joyce, Galway football legend, also recounts playing through the pain for the love of the game. The exciting research led by Dr. Dimitrios Zeugolis that is taking place at CÚRAM, in NUI Galway, could make huge differences to sports people of the future. The film is produced by James Ryan of StationHouse Media in Kilbannon, Co. Galway and directed by Paul Webster. In ‘Feats of Modest Valour’ we meet three individuals living with the physical challenges of Parkinson’s. Brian Carney from County Mayo works on the family farm, while Milena Lulic who lives in Galway city recounts her days in World War II in Croatia. Also Tom Hickey, Irish actor who recently received a lifetime achievement award at the Abbey Theatre from the President Michael D. Higgins, talks about how suffering for his art takes on a whole new meaning with the disease. Meanwhile, scientists led by Dr. Eilis Dowd continue searching for a way to halt the disease. The film is co-directed and co-produced by Mia Mullarkey and Alice McDowell of Ishka Films. The ‘Science on Screen’ screenings will take place at 2.30pm on Thursday 8th December in the Institute for Lifecourse and Science (ILAS Building), on the NUI Galway campus and both documentaries are 26 minutes in length. The screening will also include a showing of the 2015 and 2016 primary school winners of the ReelLife SCIENCE Schools Video Competition. This year’s winners are GAELSCOIL RIABHACH from Loughrea, Co. Galway with their video ‘Life in Space’, while the 2015 winners were SCOIL AONGHUSA SENIOR, Tallaght, Dublin 24 with their video ‘Scoil Aonghusa Rocket Launch’. Both of these videos are approx. 3 minutes in length. This is a FREE screening with a suggested voluntary contribution to the Galway Parkinsons Association. ALL WELCOME!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

 CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway has this week been announced as a finalist for the tenth Irish MedTech Excellence Awards. The awards are organized by IBEC's Irish MedTech Association, in association with Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.  The MedTech excellence Awards, along with the Irish Medtech CEO Forum, will take place on 7-8 December, in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway, and will be attended by up to 500 key business leaders in the MedTech industry.  This year's finalists have been announced under the following categories:    Medtech Company of the Year Emerging Company of the Year Academic Contribution to Medtech eHealth Innovation of the Year Medtech Partner/Supplier of the Year CÚRAM has been announced as a finalist in the Academic Contribution to MedTech category Prof. Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said “We are absolutely delighted to be in the running for this IMDA award. We feel that with the establishment of CÚRAM we have a tremendous opportunity to develop a positive long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and we at CÚRAM understand that both clinical and economic needs have to be met. Our goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. We look forward to even greater collaboration with industry partners in the future to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application” Irish Medtech Association Director Sinead Keogh said: "Ireland's medtech sector is innovating future healthcare and economic growth. The Irish Medtech Excellence Awards brings the industry together to learn from international best practice and celebrate the strength of the sector in Ireland. With medtech businesses in every constituency, it's a major driver of regional growth. A survey conducted by RED C for the Irish Medtech Association showed that 28% of people know someone working in the sector. We expect this to grow and more jobs to be created with Ireland well placed to become a leader in connected health. The new eHealth Innovation Award recognises the huge opportunity this area presents for the medtech sector and the ongoing work by businesses here”.      Enterprise Ireland Manager of Lifesciences Sector Market Department Deirdre Glenn, said: “"Enterprise Ireland’s focus is on helping companies to start, scale and innovate and this work is strongly reflected in Ireland’s medtech sector. The emergence and dynamic evolution of our own medtech industry is down to innovation, collaboration and the global ambition of our indigenous companies.  The recent launch of the Health Innovation Hub highlights the value of facilitating the commercialisation of new medtech technologies and solutions across the academic-clinical-industry interface. That's why the Academic Contribution to Medtech category is a key part of these awards as it recognises leadership in innovation and we're delighted to have such strong finalists for this award". IDA Ireland Head of Medical Technologies Michael Lohan said: "Ireland's collaborative medtech community is part of what makes it a location of choice for foreign direct investment and for starting and sustaining a medtech business. Last year we saw €309 million in investment into the medtech industry in Ireland. This trend has continued over the past twelve months with investment announcements from established clients including BD, Medtronic, Stryker and Fort Wayne Metal while first time investments were secured from Surmodics, Zeltiq and Fazzi Healthcare. The finalists for the Company of the Year, Emerging Company, and Partner/Supplier Awards highlight how Ireland has become a true global hub by growing both homegrown and foreign direct investment businesses.  You can find out more about the Irish Medtech Awards by visiting www.irishmedtechassoc.ie/awards and the Irish Medtech CEO Forum by visiting www.irishmedtechassoc.ie/ceoforum.  Sponsors of the event include KPMG, Teleflex, AIB, Bemis, SteriPack Contract Manufacturing and IMDA Skillnets. ENDS  About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the National Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway and funded through Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners. CÚRAM’s goal is to radically improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart implantable medical devices. CÚRAM’s academic partners include NUI Galway, UCD, UCC, TCD, UL and RCSI.  Years of strategic planning and investment have made Ireland a global hub for medical technology. To ensure that the sector continues to grow, CÚRAM’s researchers are developing partnerships with Ireland’s 400-strong MedTech industry base to discover new technologies for global use. Our key strength lies in our ability to create synergistic networks across industry, academic and clinical institutes, bringing together a comprehensive set of tools, expertise and perspectives to progress medical device research and its clinical application and to ensure that we meet both clinical and economic needs. Together with our academic and industry partners CÚRAM also aims to create a sustainable future for the MedTech sector in Ireland by training the next generation of world class MedTech scientists and entrepreneurs.  ENDS

Contact CÚRAM

+353 (0) 91 495833