Tuesday, 28 September 2021

CÚRAM launches new exhibit showing how medical device research is aided by marine resources  CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has launched a new public exhibition showcasing how marine resources can aid medical device research. Guest speakers attending the launch were Mayor of Galway City, Collette Connolly and Filmmaker Ken O'Sullivan. The marine-inspired display at Galway Atlantaquaria, the National Aquarium of Ireland, shows how scientists are studying sponge slime to fight cancer and harmful microbes; using algae for controlled release of medicine; and copying barnacle glue to create surgical glue. Visitors can browse information panels, tanks and models of marine resources that are used in medical device research. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Galway Atlantaquaria to showcase an exciting aspect of medical device research and we look forward to continuing the collaboration and developing the exhibit and associated educational resources for schools and families over the coming years.” Liam Twomey, Director at the National Aquarium, said: “Galway Atlantaquaria continues its collaboration with state and semi-state organisations. Our technical know-how and good design links with Anchor Studios have resulted in a superb new exhibit that has already started to draw attention from aquarium visitors. We look forward to continued engagement with CÚRAM over the coming years.” CÚRAM’s research is focused on developing innovative and smart medical devices and implants that will benefit patients with chronic ailments such as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and neural diseases. This new exhibit investigates how marine-inspired medtech research can heal the body. It also ties in with Galway Atlantaquaria’s education programme and reinforces the message of the importance of ocean health and conservation. The exhibit is located on the upper floor of the National Aquarium and is fully accessible. Dr Sarah Gundy, CÚRAM’s coordinator of content development for the exhibit, said: “If we lose the biodiversity of our oceans, we also lose potential ways to help fight diseases. Keeping our oceans healthy helps us discover new ways of developing medical therapies, which, in turn, keeps us healthy.” Dr Nóirín Burke, Director of Education at Galway Atlantaquaria, said: “Working with the team at CÚRAM on this exhibit has been such as positive experience. The oceans are part of our lives, from the air we breathe, the water we need to survive, and the food we eat. The connection between the ocean’s health and our health cannot be overstated and launching an exhibit which helps people explore this relationship is so important for the aquarium team.” Ends For media contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 087 6601592. For further information about the exhibit contact Claire Riordan, Public Engagement Manager at CÚRAM at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or Dr Noirín Burke, Director of Education at the National Aquarium at noirin@nationalaquairum.ie.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

SFI/CURAM backed piimpact.com to help academics focus on impact and public good  CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway has launched a new website and online toolkit to support researchers in developing a more holistic view of the impact of their work. piimpact.com has been designed to help both experienced and early-career academics gain a better awareness of how the work will benefit the public and what difference it has the potential to make.  Dr Brendan Dolan, lead postdoctoral researcher on the Principal Investigator Impact project, said: “We wanted to identify the strategies and approaches of our individual scientists, and PIs in particular, to enhance the impact potential of their work, including how they engage and collaborate with various stakeholders who could benefit from the research undertaken. “Our aim is to use these findings to inform and assist new principal investigators taking on this role by providing practical learning tools and resources for learning and professional development training.” One of the research themes within CÚRAM since 2015 has focused on translation and impact of research in medical devices. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “At CÚRAM, we are focused on designing the next generation of ‘smart’ medical devices. We want to provide our researchers with extensive pathways or routes to impact, through the productive and focused industry, clinician and public engagement and collaboration. “This website and toolkit offer a fantastic opportunity to begin to prepare for and plan one’s journey as a successful Personal Investigator and plan for impact. Moreover, the toolkit offers a novel approach to planning for impact, wherein one can plan one’s collaborations to maximise impact.” The piimpact.com online resource and toolkit was developed on the back of the Principal Investigator Impact project and feedback from almost 600 principal investigators across Ireland. It highlighted the need for increased support structures to enable researchers to work more effectively and efficiently towards impact, while taking on the ever increasing responsibilities. The project aims to support research relating to the development of medical devices, and in academia in general. It will allow researchers to more effectively plan for, monitor and evaluate the broader, non-academic impact – the benefits to society beyond traditional metrics such as journal publications and citations. A white paper on preparing medical device scientists for the PI role and impact, developed by the Principal Investigator Impact project is available here: http://www.piimpact.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/curam_whitepaper_spreads.pdf. -Ends- For media contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 087 6601592. Notes to Editor ABOUT CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, is developing the next-generation of medical devices and training a highly-skilled workforce. Set up in 2015, CÚRAM is now a world-leading Irish Medical Device R&D Centre based out of NUI Galway. The Centre is focused on the development of biomedical implants, therapeutic and diagnostic devices that address the needs of patients living with chronic illness. They also partner with local small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs), and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. Located in Galway, one of the top five global hubs for MedTech development, the Centre has completed 150 projects since it began. This has resulted in 43 patent applications, more than 1,700 journal publications, 10 licence agreements and five spin-outs. The Centre has seen numerous scientific breakthroughs, as researchers focus on improving the quality of life for patients living with long-term chronic conditions such as diabetes, back pain, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Our researchers focus on engineering approaches for repair and remodelling, improved drug delivery solutions and superior medical implant designs to treat chronic diseases. CÚRAM was created because of the need for clinicians, industry and researchers to collaborate in developing medical devices which will not only create jobs, but also develop a global hub for MedTech. Follow us @ CURAMdevices or visit www.curamdevices.ie  

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

The first episode of ‘Science Waves’, a new podcast series led by primary school children as part of a public engagement project at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, will air next Friday, (September 17th) as part of Culture Night. CÚRAM’s Science Waves project is a series of science radio shows and podcasts made by children for children, in partnership with Foróige and NUI Galway’s Alternative Radio Station, FLIRT FM and with input from researchers at CÚRAM and NUI Galway. The first episode will air at 11 am on 101.3FM, FLIRT FM. Science Waves was awarded funding through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme in 2021. The Discover Programme funds projects dedicated to inspiring and empowering members of the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. “The children have worked with CÚRAM researchers and other contributors to co-create a series of five radio shows since returning to the classroom in March this year” explains Andrea Fitzpatrick, project lead. “The themes chosen for the podcasts include the brain, heart health, diabetes and sugar and the immune system. There is a big emphasis on creating questions and explanations using ‘everyday’ and accessible language and we are excited for the first of a series of these podcasts to air this week.” “The aim is to create content which is accessible to everyone and gives clear information about science. The radio shows will broadcast later this year on the NUI Galway student radio station, Flirt FM, and will also be released through the CRAOL network of community radio stations” she says. ‘It has been a significant achievement for all involved to get the podcasts produced, given the challenges the children, teachers and project team have faced this year, and we have been delighted by the way these children have taken the subject matter and made it their own. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the project team, the teachers, group leaders and guest contributors who gave their time to work with the children to make this project happen” said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. Other researchers and contributors who have given generously of their time include Professor Sean Dineen, Consultant Endocrinologist and Senior Lecturer in Medicine at NUI Galway, Dr Eilís Dowd, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology, NUI Galway and President of Neuroscience Ireland, Dr Robert McEvoy, Specialist Registrar, Diabetes and Endocrinology, CÚRAM researchers Liam Fitzgerald, Gillian Murphy, Daniela Costa, Yagmur Bozkurt and Dr Sarah Gundy, Aisling Harris, a dietician with CROÍ, the West of Ireland Heart and Stroke Charity, and YAP member, Síofra Kelleher. The students also worked with local rapper and producer, Touché, to create a rap about the brain which is also included in the episode. The project team includes creative producer Alice McDowell and technical producer Alan Meaney who have assisted the children in every step of the project from initial research through preproduction and postproduction. In light of the current COVID health crisis, production has been a combination of remote and in-person. The project is also supported by Flirt FM at NUI Galway. Each episode is 30 minutes long, with the first episode focusing on the brain model produced with children from Educate Together Primary School in Newcastle school. Special guests on this episode are Dr Eilis Dowd, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology at NUI Galway and former President of Neuroscience Ireland, and CÚRAM researchers, Daniela Costa and Yagmur Bozkurt. Further episodes have been created with Scoil Croí Íosa, (Presentation Primary School), St. Pats Primary School in Galway City and Galway based Foróige groups supported by Tusla. Listen to the first episode of Science Waves, called the Brain, which will be broadcast on NUI Galway’s Alternative Radio Station, FLIRT FM, 101.3FM, at 11 am on September 17th. All episodes will be made available after broadcast on the CÚRAM public engagement website www.curamdevicesengage.ie.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Implantable stimulator device combines with body power to treat disease, damage and sports injury Researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, have shown how the simple act of walking can power an implantable stimulator device to speed up treatment of musculoskeletal diseases. The results of have been published in the prestigious journal Advanced Materials. The research establishes the engineering foundations for a new range of stimulator devices that enable control of musculoskeletal tissue regeneration to treat tendon damage and disease and sports injuries, without the use of drugs or external stimulation. Lead researcher on the study, CÚRAM Investigator Dr Manus Biggs, said: “One of the most exciting parts of our study is that these implantable devices may be tailored to individual patients or disorders and may show promise in accelerating the repair of sport-related tendon injuries, particularly in athletes.” The study investigated whether electrical therapy, coupled with exercise, would show promise in treating tendon disease or ruptures. It showed that tendon cell function and repair can be controlled through electrical stimulation from an implantable device which is powered by body movement. Dr Marc Fernandez, who carried out the principal research of the study at CÚRAM, said: “Successful treatment of tendon damage and disease represents a critical medical challenge. “Our discovery shows that an electrical charge is produced in the treatment target area - the damaged or injured tendon - when the implanted device is stretched during walking. The potential gamechanger here is like a power switch in a cell - the electrical stimulus turns on tendon-specific regenerative processes in the damaged tendon.” The stimulator device uses a fabric like mesh - known as a piezoelectric material - that produces electricity when stretched or put under mechanical pressure. It is made using a scaffold of nano-fibres which are one-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair Dr Fernandez added: “We presented an implantable, electrically active device capable of controlling tendon regeneration and healing. Importantly, our research improved the therapeutic performance of the device by enhancing its structure, piezoelectric characteristics, and biological compatibility. “We also evaluated the individual influence of mechanical, structural, and electrical cues on tendon cell function and were able to show that bioelectric cues contribute significantly in promoting tendon repair.” Dr Biggs added: “This unique strategy of combining a device which is powered through body-movement and which can induce accelerated tendon healing is expected to significantly impact the field of regenerative devices, specifically in the area of sports or trauma associated injuries. “These devices are cost-effective, relatively easy to implant and may pave the way for a whole new class of regenerative electrical therapies.” The research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and in particular the SFI-BBSRC Partnership programme. Read the full study in Advanced Materials here: https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202008788 CÚRAM’s research focuses on developing diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. The recent announcement of a €46million reinvestment in CÚRAM by Science Foundation Ireland in February 2021, demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations that are central to CÚRAM's work.

Monday, 30 August 2021

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway is now enrolling for its Teachers in Residence Programme for the sixth year, with applications being accepted up to Friday, 24 September 2021. The programme, which will be taking place online, has places available for five primary and five secondary school teachers and will run from October 2021 over ten evenings until March 2022. The online sessions will be held twice a month, from 7-8pm. Teachers will receive 10 ECTS through NUI Galway's Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development, fully funded by CÚRAM. As part of the programme, teachers will have the opportunity to develop a science-inspired mural for their school. During the residency, teachers will speak directly with world-leading researchers to learn about medical device research at CÚRAM to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Teachers from all disciplines are invited to participate, to support and encourage multidisciplinary approaches to teaching science. Participants will learn about and receive resources for the classroom including science engagement activities, science capital teaching approaches, and lesson plan kits developed by teachers for teachers, that are linked with the primary and junior cycle science curricula. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, said: "We are delighted with the innovation and creativity shown by the primary and secondary teachers who have participated in this programme. If we can continue to support and inspire our teachers by providing access to current, cutting edge Irish research and work with them to incorporate it into classroom activities, our hope is that they, in turn, can inspire their students for years to come. We also want to provide practical support through resources that can be used in classrooms and online.” Teachers will work directly with CÚRAM researchers to develop high-quality content for the classroom that is relevant, engaging, and practical to use. The material generated during the residency will be shared with all participants and their schools. Lesson plan kits developed from previous years' teachers, including Irish language versions, can be downloaded at https://curamdevicesengage.ie/teachers-in-residence/. CÚRAM is a partner in the Department of Education and Skills' Junior Cycle for Teachers STE(A)M in Junior Cycle initiative. The goal of the initiative is to provide Professional Learning Experiences for Junior Cycle teachers that allow for interdisciplinary responses to societal challenges in subject-specific and cross-curricular contexts. To apply for a place in the Teachers in Residence Programme or to find out more, please contact sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Monday 28 June 2021: CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, together with partners Galway Film Centre, are delighted to announce that the latest documentary produced through the Science on Screen public engagement programme will be broadcast on TG4 on Thursday, 1 July at 10.30pm. Written and directed by Karen Coleman and co-produced by Leeona Duff with SkyeByte Productions, the documentary 'Off The Bench' In am an Ghátair' focuses on the response of the Irish MedTech community to Covid-19 and the unprecedented collaborations that have taken place across academic, industry and clinical partners in Galway and beyond to create innovative solutions that have helped cope with the pandemic as it evolved. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, says: “These collaborations between academics, clinicians, and industry partners in the MedTech sector have been in place since before the pandemic hit Irish shores. But the value of this network and the infrastructure that exists became obvious when it was needed the most. We knew it was important to document what was happening, and these stories illustrate the unique nature of the MedTech sector in Ireland. We hope it will build confidence in the expertise we have to hand and highlight some of the reasons why Ireland is regarded as a global hub for MedTech research and development.” The documentary focuses on several key innovations developed early in response to the pandemic, including establishing the INSPIRE project, an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway designed to deliver fast-to-clinical medical devices to support the Covid-19 effort. CÚRAM Investigator, Professor Martin O’Halloran coordinated the INSPIRE project with physician and CÚRAM Investigator Dr John Laffey and his colleagues at University Hospital Galway. The INSPIRE network brought researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and others in the MedTech space together to collaborate in exceptional ways to design and develop medical devices that could be used for both healthcare workers and patients on Covid-19 hospital wards both in Ireland and abroad. This collaboration led to the VentShare project that developed a safe way to ventilate two patients from a single ventilator, led by Tim Jones (a graduate from the BioInnovate Ireland programme) amd Jack Connolly, graduate from the College of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, and Dr David Hannon and Professor John Laffey (Critical Care) with technical support from Aerogen.  Other projects featured in the documentary include developing a transparent plastic helmet (C-PAP Hood) that can administer oxygen to patients in ways that reduce healthcare workers being exposed to the virus and the INSPIRE Guard - a shield that patients could use to mitigate the spread of the virus. Alan Duggan, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said “We are incredibly proud to be able to continue to work with CÚRAM, this time on the creation of the Science On Screen feature documentary 'Off The Bench: In am an Ghátair'. The impact that science has on our lives has never been more present than in the last year and this documentary highlights this in a very real and practical way. To have the documentary broadcast on national television on TG4 is a reflection of the hard work put in by all of the production team involved in bringing it to life. We are excited to see the audience’s reaction to it.” Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, says: “Our MedTech ecosystem in the West of Ireland has long been recognised as a global hub of excellence and innovation. This has never been more true than in its inspirational and speedy response to providing healthcare solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway and I congratulate CÚRAM, Galway Film Centre and the production team on this important and timely Science on Screen documentary. As a research-led University, this documentary captures the very essence of how the MedTech community comes together to develop life saving devices, animating our university values of respect, openness, sustainability and excellence. This documentary allows .people to better understand how important public research and innovation is to the fabric of our lives and in particular when confronting global challenges like the pandemic.” 'Off the Bench: In am an Ghátair' was funded through the Science on Screen public engagement programme, a partnership between CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre. The programme has produced six science documentaries to date and aims to raise awareness of the impact of medical device research in society. The documentary was written and directed by the award-winning journalist and broadcaster Karen Coleman at SkyeByte Productions (www.skyebyteproductions.com), which makes documentaries and multi-media content for online platforms and broadcast outlets, and co-produced by Leeona Duff of Up on Blue Bridge Productions.  An English language trailer can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/515300175. For media please contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 087 6601592. About CÚRAM CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, is developing the next generation of medical devices and training a highly skilled workforce. Set up in 2015, CÚRAM is now a world-leading Irish Medical Device R&D Centre based out of NUI Galway. While led by the National University of Ireland Galway, CÚRAM’s partner institutes include University College Dublin, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Dublin City University, Athlone Institute of Technology and National Institute Bioprocessing Research and Training. The Centre is focused on developing biomedical implants, therapeutic and diagnostic devices that address the needs of patients living with chronic illness. They also partner with local small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. The Centre has seen numerous scientific breakthroughs, as researchers focus on improving the quality of life for patients living with long-term chronic conditions such as diabetes, back pain, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Our researchers focus on engineering approaches for repair and remodelling, improved drug delivery solutions and superior medical implant designs to treat chronic diseases. CÚRAM was created because of the need for clinicians, industry, and researchers to collaborate in developing medical devices that will create jobs and develop a global hub for MedTech. Follow us @CURAMdevices or visit www.curamdevices.ie or follow on social media @CURAMdevices.  About Galway Film Centre Founded in 1989, Galway Film Centre (GFC) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the development of film, TV, animation and games as an artistic medium in the West of Ireland. To this end, we support creative talent, industry progression and community through mentoring, education, workshops, conferences and information. For more information visit www.galwayfilmcentre.ie or follow on social media @galwayfilmcentre.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has announced a new research partnership with B. Braun, one of the world's leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions. The partnership will see the development of a novel drug delivery system for cannabinoids for more effective treatment of wound pain and improved wound healing, and the development of a device for the management of wound odour. Chronic wounds affect up to 4% of people over 65 years, with venous leg ulcers being the most prevalent of these, accounting for approximately 70% of all ulcers of the lower limbs. Chronic wounds are associated with reduced quality of life and affect the individual in physical, psychological and psychosocial domains. This in turn can impact family members and the individual’s ability to contribute to society fully. Among the many symptoms associated with chronic wounds, pain is cited as one of the worst aspects. While multiple forms of pain relief exist, these do not provide relief for all patients, and people with chronic wounds regularly state they do not wish to take more medication and have a fear of addiction. Professor Georgina Gethin, CÚRAM Investigator, project co-lead, and Director of the Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds, explains: “Members of our patient panel in Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds have recounted using a trial and error process to alleviate pain and often take to resting until the pain goes away. They have identified that research to develop interventions to relieve pain is a priority for them. The endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system plays a key role in pain modulation and also regulates wound healing. It represents a novel target for more effective dual management of both pain and wound healing.” Professor David Finn, an Investigator in CÚRAM, Head of Pharmacology, and Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research is a co-lead on the project. He brings over 20 years of expertise in cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system and pain to the project. His group will play a key role in advancing understanding of the endocannabinoid system in wound pain and healing, and in preclinical testing of the novel cannabinoid-eluting delivery system for more effective treatment of wound pain and improved wound healing. Professor Finn says: “This project is a clear example of our commitment to addressing pain and wound healing, two of the world's major health challenges, by translating cutting-edge biomedical research into new and effective treatments.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Stokes Professor of Glycosciences at NUI Galway and a collaborator on the project will be leading the management of wound odour in the device design. A novel component to wound dressing will lead to modified dressing to remove or to minimalise wound odour during wound healing. Professor Joshi says: “This project exemplifies our commitment to addressing major health challenges by translating cutting-edge biomedical research into new and effective treatments to have a positive impact on both the physical and social implications of chronic wounds.” Mr Pat McLoughlin, Site Director of B. Braun Hospicare, said: “B. Braun, a company that prides itself on “Sharing Expertise”, is delighted to work with and learn from this research project with CÚRAM. The project's main goal is to produce quality new products in the management of chronic wound pain and odour for the B. Braun portfolio. This is an exciting time in wound care production in Ireland. As we embark on this journey with CÚRAM, we hope to develop innovative solutions to make chronic wound care easier to manage at home for patients and practitioners. As a company, B. Braun aims to protect and improve the lives of people around the world. This project allows us to both gain insight and helps improve patient outcomes.” Mr McLoughlin added: “B. Braun recognises that most innovation in the chronic wound care sector focuses on management of wound exudate (fluid) and may not focus on other aspects of how the patient manages their conditions. The most exciting aspect of this research will be patients’ perspective of how they can best live self-determined lives and how we can help meet those needs.” Susan O’Mahoney, who leads the development of new products at B. Braun Hospicare, adds that CÚRAM has recognised how the industry works and has tailored the way they work to “make things easy for the industry” by providing “an up-front statement of work with clear timelines and deliverables, and quarterly updates which can be used to update steering committees on our side.” CÚRAM's strategic mission is to establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device Research and Development Centre to develop diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. In doing so, the Centre partners with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. The recent announcement of over €46 million in funding for the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to reinvesting in the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations central to CÚRAM's work.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Students at St. Nicholas' Parochial School in Galway will imagine, design and create new medical devices inspired from marine life that may aid human health CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Atlantaquaria have been delivering engaging virtual workshops with St. Nicholas’ Parochial School in Galway, together with teaching artist Alison Mac Cormaic. The “Tiny Sea Life, Big Cures” project will culminate in the creation of a large-scale mural on the school building that will be completed this summer. An understanding of the role of marine life in human health is at the heart of the workshops. Educators are discussing marine life in Ireland and the importance of conservation from Galway Atlantaquaria, while CÚRAM researchers are teaching students about marine sources of biomaterials and how they can heal the body. Inspired by the scientific material investigated from the aquarium and CÚRAM, artist Alison Mac Cormaic will teach the students how to imagine, design and create models for devices that may aid human health and recovery. In addition, guest Lecturer Enda O’ Dowd will introduce the Medical Device Design course that he coordinates in the National College of Art and Design Dublin (NCAD). Teaching artist Alison Mac Cormaic explains: “We designed the workshops to encourage maximum creative input from the 5th and 6th class students at St. Nicholas’ Parochial School. In the art section of the workshops, they draw for design, using their imaginations to think like medical device designers and develop different ideas. Their drawing and design skills are used to imagine brand new products that have never been designed before - who knows where all this creativity might lead!” Alison will create a permanent mural on the outer school wall incorporating students’ designs. Through this cross-curricular co-creation process, students will become aware of their locality and its link to scientific achievements, conservation, and the role of the artist and scientist in our community. Project collaborator Dr Nóirín Burke from Galway Atlantaquaria, says: “The research and innovation happening in CÚRAM is truly fascinating. Working with everyone in this programme, exploring ways in which our health can benefit from the ocean, and considering our role in the ocean’s future has been a pleasure. This is also of particular interest now as we begin the UNESCO Decade of the Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. We are also super excited about seeing the student’s final art piece, which will help share this project with the wider community, through families and the public.” Ms Deirdre Grace, 5th and 6th class teacher at St. Nicholas’ Parochial School, says: “This project has been a real learning experience for the students, they are highly engaged and motivated to learn more about the topics, and they are thoroughly enjoying the experience.” CÚRAM is focused on creating devices that help patients living with chronic illness and runs a very active and varied public engagement programme called 'Breaking Barriers' that aims to engage artists, filmmakers, teachers and the general public in creating new ways of accessing scientific knowledge and research.  Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: "We are always looking for ways for our researchers and members of the public to collaborate and create a better understanding and awareness of our research and its importance for society. This collaboration with the National Aquarium, National College of Art and Design Dublin, Alison Mac Cormaic and the wonderful staff and students of St Nicholas’ Parochial School has been hugely successful and is something we will be building on in the future and hoping to replicate with numerous schools around the country." For more inforamtion about CÚRAM visit: www.curamdevices.ie.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Professor Abhay Pandit (NUI Galway) and Professor David Brayden (UCD), Scientific Director and Co-Director of CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, have been appointed to Ireland’s first National Research Ethics Committees in the areas of Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (NREC-CT) by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly. Ireland’s first NREC was established in March 2020 as part of the national coordinated response to COVID-19. The new NRECs announced this week will address the important area of clinical trials of medicinal products for human use and clinical investigations of medical devices. The establishments of these NRECs will create a national system for research ethics review, which will cultivate the benefits of health research for patients and the public and build a transparent and cohesive research ethics review system that strengthens the national research infrastructure. Professor Abhay Pandit is Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway. His research integrates material science and biological paradigms in developing solutions for chronic diseases. “I am delighted to be appointed to this critical committee and to have the opportunity to help shape the research ethics framework that will support more clinical trial work in Ireland that prioritises patient interests.” he commented. Prof Pandit has received numerous awards and distinctions, being inducted as an International Fellow in Biomaterials Science and Engineering by the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering and elected as a Fellow of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative International Society. He was also elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows in recognition of his outstanding contributions to establishing a national centre which will develop transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases.  He is the first Ireland-based academic to be bestowed with these honors. He has also been an elected member on the Council for both the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society and European Society for Biomaterials Society. Professor David Brayden is Co-Director of CÚRAM and a Full Professor of Advanced Drug Delivery at the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Veterinary Medicine and a Senior Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute. He has established a critical mass of drug delivery expertise in Ireland and led the SFI Irish Drug Delivery network from 2008-2013. His major research interests are in oral, buccal, and intra-articular peptide delivery using permeation enhancers, nanotechnology, and drug-device combinations. “I’m honoured to be appointed to the NREC, it’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to and support Irish health research and have a role to play in ensuing that the interests Irish patients and contributors to clinical trials are protected. Ireland is a global hub for MedTech R&D and it’s vital that we have a strong clear ethical framework in place to support further growth” he said. Prof Brayden has also received numerous awards for his work including a Distinguished Service Award from the Controlled Release Society for services to its Board of Scientific Advisors. In 2012, he was the first Irish academic to be inducted into the College of Fellows of the Controlled Release Society. In 2014, he received an award for service to research from the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2017, he became the first Irish academic to be elected as a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who®. In total, 18 members have been appointed to three NRECs – two in clinical trials and one in medical devices. These Committees will be responsible for reviewing the ethics underpinning research proposals in the area of health research. These committees will be tasked with providing expert ethical guidance for the research process that will protect the safety, dignity and well-being of health research and clinical trial participants in Ireland. The remit of the NREC-CTs is to review the submission of ethics applications related to Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (CTIMP). This includes interventional studies and low-interventional studies involving medicinal products for human use. The NREC-CTs will initially run concurrently with many local recognised RECs to review CTIMP ethics applications for a defined transition period. This approach will collectively support this important area of research and ensure a smooth transition ahead of the EU Clinical Trial Regulation. The full announcement with details of all 18 nominees is available at https://www.nrecoffice.ie/members-appointed-to-irelands-first-nrecs-for-clinical-trials-and-medical-devices/

Thursday, 1 April 2021

CÚRAM project one of three NUI Galway based programmes funded to engage more than 385,000 members of the Irish public with science in 2021 Three NUI Galway public engagement and education outreach initiatives have been awarded funding of more than €339,000 through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme. It will fund projects dedicated to inspiring and empowering over 385,000 members of the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The funding awards were announced by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, as part of a national investment of €5.2 million through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. NUI Galway Funded Projects CÚRAM ‘Science Waves' Project (€43,719 funding award) CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices will run an education and public engagement programme that aims to raise awareness of its research and increase understanding of preventative behaviours which can reduce the incidence of chronic illness.  The current Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for members of the public to better understand science and its impact on their lives. More than ever, there is a greater need for clear science communication. However, the pandemic has exposed the existing divide amongst children who have access to learning material online and those who don't. CÚRAM’s Science Waves project led by Andrea Fitzpatrick, aims to create content which is accessible to everyone and gives clear information about science. Science Waves is a series of six science radio shows co-created by children and scientists for children. CÚRAM will work with children from underrepresented communities to create accessible, engaging, and fun radio shows, which are aimed at children aged 10–12 years old. The radio shows will broadcast later this year on the NUI Galway student radio station, Flirt FM, and will also be released through the CRAOL network of community radio stations. See www.curamdevices.com. Cell EXPLORERS (€267, 636 funding award) Cell EXPLORERS is a successful science education and public engagement programme locally delivering educational science outreach activities to school children and the Irish public. Led by Dr Muriel Grenon, College of Science and Engineering, the programme has the dual benefit of engaging children and the public, while developing graduate student and researchers’ public engagement skills in a way and at a scale that is unique in Ireland. It has reached more than 38,500 members of the public and involved more than 2,250 team members since its creation in 2012. In 2021 and 2022, the programme will run school visits and tailored activities nationally, through its network of 13 teams based in 15 institutes of technology and universities. New partnerships will include the Galway STEAM Project (a joint TUSLA and Foróige project) to provide better reach to those who do not typically engage with STEM.  The programme‘s research shows that many children (aged 10-12 years) have narrow and stereotypical views of what a scientist does and have had few opportunities to meet a scientist. Drawing from these findings and others Cell EXPLORERS will revise both its activities and practices by applying the Science Capital Teaching Approach, a specific way of teaching that employs social justice methods designed to both broaden young peoples’ views of what it means to be a scientist, and widen participation in Science. See www.cellexplorers.com. ReelLIFE SCIENCE (€27,987 funding award) ReelLIFE SCIENCE is a nationwide science video competition, which encourages young people and the general public to discover more about STEM and its impact on individuals, society and the environment, while developing their creativity, communication and digital skills. Young people from schools and youth organisations are challenged to research a STEM topic and communicate it to the public through an engaging and educational three-minute video. Led by Dr Enda O’Connell, College of Science and Engineering, ReelLIFE SCIENCE has enabled more than 16,000 young people from 500 schools and youth organisations all over the country, to engage with STEM in a novel way. In 2021, ReelLIFE SCIENCE will continue to engage students and teachers in primary and secondary schools across Ireland, while also specifically targeting, training and empowering youth workers and leaders in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon youth organisations.  The deadline for submitting this year’s three-minute video entries is Friday, 15 October with the best videos awarded €1,000 and will be screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in NUI Galway. See www.reellifescience.com. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway. Engagement is a feature of all stages of research, and we value the insight we derive into the pressing scientific and social questions from our partners. Openness is one of our core strategic values. Open research is a proven path to inspire young minds to take on the challenges posed by the sciences and to creatively approach the evident social issues of the moment. These excellent and innovative programmes will create new energy, inspire young people to aspire to careers in the sciences, and broadcast the standards of excellence the community expects of us. I thank Science Foundation Ireland for their support of these programmes and look forward to the events and activities that are planned.” Speaking about the announcement Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to announce the 49 projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme. As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the issues that impact our collective future, and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions. These projects will play a role in starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. I wish all the recipients every success in the roll out of their projects.” Science Foundation Ireland has invested in public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach a wide audience of people in STEM Topic, while 49 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme, with successful awardees being carefully selected through international peer-review. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

CARE CONNECT project aims to build on the successful 'ICU FamilyLink' platform in the absence of healthcare face-to-face support during the pandemic Children in Paediatrics have already nicknamed the social robot "SuperMario!" Platform aims to provide support to critical care settings, end-of-life situations, and vulnerable patients that rely on family for support Researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, supported by global technology company, Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration programme, are launching the CARE CONNECT project that will see social robot 'MARIO', used alongside a video-conferencing platform to improve patient-family communications in Paediatrics. During the first wave of Covid-19, a bespoke video-conferencing platform called 'ICU FamilyLink' was successfully implemented at University Hospital Galway to connect patients in critical care to their families. The CARE CONNECT project aims to build on this successful pilot and extend beyond the Intensive Care Unit to other health care settings impacted by Covid-19 while also looking to the future use of telemedicine in Ireland post-pandemic. Existing technology, including teleconferencing platforms, social robots, and digital tools, have been rapidly adopted since Covid-19. Due to Covid-19, visiting restrictions were introduced in healthcare settings worldwide. These pandemic-related restrictions create a problem as regular face-to-face communication is severely impacted. This problem will likely last for months, even years, due to the unpredictable nature of Covid-19. While restrictions may fluctuate, physical visiting will probably be limited in comparison to pre-pandemic times. Therefore, the need to create effective alternative modes of communication across multiple healthcare settings is immediate, urgent, and, unfortunately, a long-term need. Professor Derek O'Keeffe, CÚRAM Investigator and project lead at NUI Galway explains: "The Covid-19 pandemic has restricted patient's families from visiting them in hospital and healthcare settings and therefore isolating them from their loved ones. Communication is a vital part of providing medical care and addressing patients' biopsychosocial needs and their families. This is particularly important in critical care settings, end-of-life situations, and vulnerable patients who rely on family support. It is widely accepted in clinical care that effective communication is key to reducing the psychological burden for patients and their families and patients. "This CARE CONNECT project also builds on our NUI Galway experience in healthcare robotics using the MARIO platform, which was an EU funded project led by my collaborator Professor Dympna Casey. Our first study will be using social robot MARIO with our video-conferencing platform to improve patient-family communications in Paediatrics, where the children have already nicknamed him "SuperMario"! We will examine the efficacy of using our system to remotely educate parents and family members about the management of newly diagnosed acute medical conditions, such as Type 1 Diabetes." Dr Aoife Murray, clinician-researcher and a NUI Galway BioInnovate Ireland alumna, who was part of the ICU FamilyLink core team, says: "The key to the successful implementation of telemedicine and digital solutions is tailoring the solution to meet patient's and healthcare provider's needs. The Medtech and Technology ecosystem in Galway and longstanding relationships with University Hospital Galway create the perfect environment to develop and test technology to ensure it is effective and appropriate for a healthcare setting." Shane Heraty, Cisco Country Manager, Ireland and Scotland, said: "Helping people remain connected throughout this unprecedented time, and in these challenging circumstances, is something that we are incredibly proud of. This project and our partnership with CÚRAM brings the perfect blend of expertise together to enable us to have a direct and significant impact on patient wellbeing. "We are committed to building a digital and inclusive society, and having successfully implemented the ICU FamilyLink project at the start of the pandemic, we welcome the opportunity to build on it to bring the platform to a broader patient group." For more information on CÚRAM visit www.curamdevices.ie or Follow on Twitter @CURAMdevices.  -Ends-   For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 087 6601592. Photo AMM-210217-1688.jpg: Social robot 'MARIO' pictured with the CARE CONNECT project team from l-r: Dr Aoife Murray, CÚRAM at NUI Galway, Professor Derek O'Keeffe, CÚRAM at NUI Galway, Mr Frank Kirrane, University Hospital Galway, and Mr Hemendra Worlikar and  Mr Vijay Vadhiraj, CÚRAM at NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon Photo CARE CONNECT.jpg: Social robot 'MARIO' pictured with the CARE CONNECT project team from l-r: Dr Aoife Murray, CÚRAM at NUI Galway, Professor Derek O'Keeffe, CÚRAM at NUI Galway, Mr Frank Kirrane, University Hospital Galway, and Mr Hemendra Worlikar and  Mr Vijay Vadhiraj, CURAM at NUI Galway. Photo: Aengus McMahon   Notes to Editor About CÚRAM CÚRAM's strategic mission is to establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device Research and Development Centre in the development of diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. CÚRAM is also engaging patients and their families in the use of medical devices and technologies that can impact their quality of life. By partnering with local Small and Medium Enterprises and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. The recent announcement of over €46M in funding for CÚRAM demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to reinvesting in the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of strong academic, industry and clinical collaborations that are central to CÚRAM's work. About The HIVE Lab The Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE) Lab at the Lambe Institute for Translational Research NUI Galway was established in 2019 (@HIVE_Lab). It aims to deliver novel health solutions through interdisciplinary collaboration. It is led by Professor Derek O'Keeffe (@Physicianeer), a dual-trained Physician/Engineer whose research work encompasses digital health and clinical care domains. It recently launched the world's first delivery of insulin by drone and several technological innovations during the first wave of COVID19. About Cisco Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide technology leader that has been making the Internet work since 1984. Our people, products, and partners help society securely connect and seize tomorrow's digital opportunity today. Since 2015, Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program has been developing trusted relationships worldwide. Now active in 34 countries, CDA projects align with a nation's priorities and bring digital solutions to unique societal challenges. By mixing network and technology expertise with partnerships based on trust and close collaboration, CDA helps countries stimulate economic growth and create an inclusive digital future that leaves no one behind. For more information about Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration programme, visit: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/about/country-digital-acceleration.html.  

Friday, 19 March 2021

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has announced two new tripartite partnerships as part of the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. These partnerships will develop new technologies to treat cardiovascular disease and create new mechanisms for large-scale transport of high-quality therapeutic cells. The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across three jurisdictions: the United States, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the goal of increasing collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry across the three jurisdictions. This collaboration aims to generate valuable discoveries and innovations that are transferable to the marketplace or lead to enhancements in health, disease prevention, or healthcare. Dr Siobhan Roche, Director of Science for the Economy at SFI, said: "I am delighted to announce these two new partnerships involving CÚRAM. Our national SFI Research Centre network puts Ireland in a firm position to meet and respond to global challenges. International collaborations between leading research institutes such as these can accelerate innovation and create valuable global healthcare advances. We look forward to sharing their successes." The first partnership is the Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership, driven by a shared understanding of the fundamental need to develop regenerative medicine technologies to treat cardiovascular disease. The primary approach of cardiac tissue engineering is to create cardiac grafts that can be efficiently implanted, regenerating the tissue and giving rise to a fully functional heart without causing side effects. Recently, there has been considerable effort to develop functional scaffolds that are designed for cardiac repair. These scaffolds help recreate or mimic the body's environment to allow cells embedded in the scaffolds to reach their full biological potential. Beyond developing engineered scaffolds for repairing cardiac tissue, the ability to scale-up the fabrication of these scaffolds is critical to their successful translation into everyday clinical practice. Professor David Bishop, Director of the CELL-MET ERC at Boston University, said: "The creation of functional engineered cardiac tissue with electromechanical properties that mimic the human heart on a scalable platform has the potential to transform the treatment of chronic heart disease. The fabrication of scaffolds is an interdisciplinary challenge combining chemical, biological, and physical properties." Professor Gerard O'Connor, School of Physics, NUI Galway, explains: "Of all of the causes of cardiovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease remains a major cause of death worldwide. Cardiac tissue and cells damaged during a heart attack, for instance, cannot regenerate and are usually replaced by fibrotic scar tissue, which means that the only option for patients with end-stage heart disease is whole heart transplantation. Tissue engineering holds enormous promise for restoring functionality in these scarred regions of the damaged heart." The Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership is a collaboration between the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Cellular Metamaterials (CELL-MET), headquartered at Boston University, CÚRAM the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queens University Belfast. The Global Cell Manufacturing and Delivery Partnership is the second new collaboration for CÚRAM under the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. For this three-year project, CÚRAM is collaborating with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), headquartered at Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queens University Belfast. The aim of this research team's partnership is to use their combined expertise in biomaterials, characterisation and production of clinically-relevant cell types, to develop the technology to allow for the transport of high-quality, therapeutic cells at room or ambient temperature. The partners will scale-up, model and test a hydrogel-based system and make it clinical trial-ready. Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM project lead and Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, NUI Galway, said: "Cell therapies represent the next generation of therapeutic products that have the potential to regenerate damaged or degenerating tissues and treat a broad range of chronic illnesses. One of the global challenges that need to be resolved in order to make these therapies broadly available is the challenge of how to transport and distribute these cells. The key aim of this partnership is to develop a system that will allow us to transport cells for several days in ambient conditions, eliminating the need for cryopreservation for transport." Cryopreservation, which is currently required to transport cells, can negatively affect cell potency. Ultimately this partnership aims to solve a critical challenge of transportation and distribution to improve access to and reduce the cost of these therapies globally. Professor Krishnendu Roy, Director of the NSF ERC, Georgia Institute of Technology, said: "This partnership builds on CMaT and CÚRAM’s complementary expertise and brings together existing industry and academic networks and infrastructure to address a significant unmet need in cell therapy manufacturing and supply-chain. Low-cost, ambient temperature transport of cellular therapies with minimal cold-chain requirement is a global grand-challenge, and by coming together under this partnership, we hope to develop the technical and regulatory knowledge required to address it and improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness worldwide." This unique partnership's broader implications will be the stimulation of an innovation network between the US, Ireland, and the UK in cell manufacturing and cell therapies transport. This project will provide the groundwork for the realisation of greater access to cell therapies and nurture a climate of innovation and creativity in research-led, clinically informed, and industry influenced problem-solving for cell manufacturing. -Ends- For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 087 6601952. Photo C2C Partnership.jpg: Pictured l-r: Professor Gerard O'Connor, School of Physics, NUI Galway and Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM and Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, NUI Galway. Photo: NUI Galway   Notes to Editor More about the Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership This interdisciplinary research team will bring together experts in biomaterials, tissue engineering, nanofabrication and stem cell reprogramming from CELL-MET at Boston University, CÚRAM and WWIEM at Queens University Belfast, will enable breakthrough research in understanding and controlling the directed assembly of cardiac tissue. Professor David Bishop, Director of the CELL-MET ERC at Boston University, will be the project's Principal Investigator, Professor Gerard O'Connor from CÚRAM and Andriana Margariti, Professor of Vascular and Regenerative Medicine at Queen's University Belfast, will be project co-Principal Investigators with Professor Alice White providing support to Professor Bishop and leading the direct laser writing aspects of the project at Boston University. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, will provide biomaterials support to the project with Dr Nazar Farid, leading the materials processing programme using advanced laser technology at CÚRAM. More about the Global Cell Manufacturing Partnership Project leads at each institute include Professor Krishnendu Roy, Director, NSF ERC /n CMaT and Johanna Temenoff, Deputy Director of CMaT at Georgia Institute of *-chnology, Garry Duffy, Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine and CÚRAM Funded Investigator at NUI Galway and Professor Reinhold Medina, WWIEM, Queens University Belfast.

Monday, 15 March 2021

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has announced a new research partnership with US-based biotechnology company, Factor Bioscience Inc., to develop and test a new cell therapy for people with severe COVID-19 infections and other serious respiratory illness.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in resurgent waves globally, and effective therapies are urgently needed. Most people who die from COVID-19 die of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This devastating inflammatory condition causes the lungs to fill with immune cells and fluid, ultimately making oxygen transfer to the blood impossible. "In recent years, stem cells have been rapidly advanced to testing in clinical trials as a way of treating ARDS caused by, for example, a bacterial infection. However, because of the way these stem cells are prepared from adult human tissues and because there is a limit to the volume of cells that we can produce, the consistency of these cell products and the availability of large doses has always remained a challenge until now" explains CÚRAM Investigator and project lead, Prof John Laffey.   "Our partners, Factor Bioscience, a long-time collaborator of CÚRAM, has developed a novel type of stem cell with almost unlimited production potential. As part of this project, these stem cells will be produced at the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI), at NUI Galway, and then tested in CÚRAM laboratories. Ultimately we hope to bring this exciting new cell therapy to a clinical trial for severe cases of COVID-19 and other ARDS patients within the next year." Matt Angel, co-founder and CEO of Factor Bioscience, leads the development of their core technologies. "Building clinical and academic partnerships like this one is critical to our mission. We have an excellent relationship with CÚRAM, and this project brings the perfect blend of expertise together enabling us to have a direct and significant impact on patient health. Factor Bioscience has developed a fast, highly-efficient method for reprogramming somatic cells to a pluripotent stem-cell state, a key invention now recognized by several patents. This technology, which enables the production of patient-specific cells for transplantation, has wide-ranging applications in personalized regenerative medicine." said Dr Angel. Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, welcomed the partnership, saying: "The SFI Research Centres programme positions Ireland as a global leader in innovative scientific research. Investment in centres like CÚRAM has ensured that Ireland is well positioned to respond to the COVID-19 challenge with agility and speed. This sector will be greatly strengthened by the level of cooperation and new partnerships that have been built as a result." The Centre for Cell Manufacturing  at NUI Galway is the only licensed cell manufacturing site in Ireland. Within this custom-built centre, the CCMI team produce stem cell products that are used in human clinical trials designed to test their effectiveness in a range of life-limiting medical conditions. Prof Frank Barry, a collaborator on the project at the CCMI, with over 25 years of experience in cell therapy, says, "This project is a clear example of our commitment to addressing the world's major health challenges by translating cutting-edge biomedical research into new and effective treatments."  The current project is CÚRAM’s second collaboration with Factor Bioscience Inc. CÚRAM's strategic mission is to establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device Research and Development Centre to develop diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. In doing so, the Centre partners with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland.  The recent announcement of over €46M in funding for the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre  demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to reinvesting in the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations central to CÚRAM's work. ENDS For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, National University of Ireland Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or +353 87 6601592. About CÚRAM CÚRAM is the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices,based at NUI Galway. It is a national centre bringing together experts from Ireland's leading universities and research institutes. Our academic partners led by the National University of Ireland Galway includes University College Dublin, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and Clinical Research Development Ireland. For more information, visit www.curamdevices.ie. Find CÚRAM on Twitter, @CURAMdevices. About Factor Bioscience Factor Bioscience is a privately held biotechnology company that develops mRNA, cell-reprogramming, and gene-editing technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease. Factor collaborates with academic and industrial partners to develop therapeutic products based on its technologies. For more information, visit www.factorbio.com.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Three CÚRAM PhD graduates; Paolo Contessotto, Juhi Samal and Mark Fernandez, have been awarded the Julia Polak European Doctorate Award 2021 of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) and will be presented with their awards at the General Assembly of the next ESB conference to be held from 5-9 September 2021 in Porto. They are the latest CÚRAM graduates to receive this acknowledgement, following in the footsteps of six earlier CÚRAM alumni. The award is given by the ESB council and presented annually at the conference event. Candidates nominated for the award needed to demonstrate that they have received high standard research education and training at a European level in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and that they are also able to produce scientific results deserving recognition by being published and accepted in high-quality journals and conferences. To this end, candidates will have had to spend at least one month of research work in a country outside the country of their home institution, have produced at least two peer-reviewed international publications as the first author and have participated at least twice at an international scientific meeting as presenting author, during their PhD. Dr Contessotto's PhD research focused on developing an injectable hydrogel to repair the heart muscle after a heart attack. His research has recently been published in the prestigious Science Translational Medicine Journal and has received extensive media coverage. Dr Samal's research focused on investigating several biomaterial constructs for therapeutic delivery and enhanced graft survival in the brain, which resulted in three research publications and grant funding success. Both were supervised by Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. Dr Manus Biggs supervised Dr Fernandez's doctoral research that focussed on developing a synthetic fibrous scaffold to promote tendon repair. The technology developed was specifically designed to address the biological, mechanical and adhesions issues in rotator cuff tendon repair and used electrospinning to generate a highly structured and porous scaffold made from an inert synthetic polymer. "It is very gratifying for any researcher to have their work recognised in this way, and I'm extremely proud that CÚRAM graduates continue to be acknowledged for the quality of their training and research outputs. All of our researchers put extraordinary amounts of energy, time and effort into their work, and I'd like to congratulate Paolo, Juhi and Mark on this award which they richly deserve," said Prof Pandit. Since its establishment in 1976, the ESB conference has been a significant event for the biomaterials science community. ESB 2021 will once again bring together all major disciplines of biomaterials science and enabling participants to network with colleagues, establish new collaborations, exchange knowledge, and discuss recent advances in emerging biomaterials-related topics. CÚRAM's research focuses on developing diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. The recent announcement of a €46M reinvestment in CÚRAM by Science Foundation Ireland in February 2021 demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations and the education and training of high-quality graduates for the sector. For more information, follow us on Twitter @CURAMdevices or visit www.curamdevices.ie

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Call for researchers, at undergraduate or early postgraduate level, to apply for the first All-Ireland MS Research Network Research Summer Scholarships Researchers in NUI Galway, Queen’s University Belfast and RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have launched the All-Ireland MS Research Network today (24 February 2021). The All-Ireland MS Research Network will join together the largest number of scientists, clinicians, healthcare professionals and people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to accelerate collaborative research across the island of Ireland. Going from the patient to the bench and bringing discovery research forward to the patient, the network holds potential to limit the progression of multiple sclerosis, to train future generations of researchers and to contribute to global multiple sclerosis research. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, immune-mediated condition of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerve). In multiple sclerosis, myelin damage results in a range of symptoms including impairment of mobility and vision as well as cognitive difficulties and severe fatigue. As one of the most common causes of neurological disability in young people, multiple sclerosis is increasing in incidence and prevalence around the world. Currently, there are approximately 13,500 people on the island of Ireland living with multiple sclerosis (4,500 in Northern Ireland and 9,000 in the Republic of Ireland). The goals of the All-Ireland MS Research Network are to: Deliver cutting-edge research in multiple sclerosis that focuses on limiting disease progression Train the next generation of leaders in multiple sclerosis research Communicate multiple sclerosis research activities and discoveries to the public, research community and key stakeholders Collaborate on multiple sclerosis research programmes nationally and internationally to achieve the mission of the network Founding investigators Professor Denise Fitzgerald, Dr Alerie Guzman de la Fuente and Dr Yvonne Dombrowski (Queen's University Belfast), Dr Claire McCoy (RCSI) and Dr Una FitzGerald and Dr Jill McMahon (NUI Galway), reached out to dozens of multi-disciplinary multiple sclerosis researchers across the island of Ireland, North and South. Network members are drawn from hospitals, multiple sclerosis day-care centres, Universities, and from those who have multiple sclerosis. Dr Una Fitzgerald, Biomedical Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, NUI Galway, said: “The founding members have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to define the All-Ireland MS Research Networks's goals, aspirations and research mission. We firmly believe that closer collaborations and sharing of ideas and expertise across the network will lead to exciting discoveries that better explain multiple sclerosis pathology and symptoms, and that could be the basis of new approaches to MS disease management. The network will facilitate excellence in new multiple sclerosis research discoveries that might otherwise not happen.” Dr Chris McGuigan, consultant neurologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, UCD Clinical Professor, and a network participant, said: “The formation of All-Ireland MS Research Network is an exciting new venture that will promote and accelerate  research into multiple sclerosis on the island of Ireland, enhancing our reputation for research excellence worldwide. It will provide coordinated information on developments in multiple sclerosis research nationally including the latest laboratory research outputs and novel technical advances. The network is multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-community, and will partner with global collaborators to ensure continued opportunities to participate in the latest bench-to-bedside studies to improve care for people living with multiple sclerosis and inspire, engage and train a new generation of clinical and academic researchers in Ireland.” Alexis Donnelly, has lived with progressive multiple sclerosis for nearly 30 years, and is excited by the formation of All-Ireland MS Research Network. “This network will facilitate multiple sclerosis researchers throughout the island to cooperate across institutional and disciplinary boundaries, linking them not only with each other but with international colleagues and allowing fresh results and insights to flow back and forth. This can only accelerate the pace of research into progressive multiple sclerosis both nationally and internationally. “I am reminded of the story of Professor Alan Thompson, Professor of Neurology in University College London and chair of the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Progressive MS Alliance, of which I am a member. Alan's interest in progressive multiple sclerosis was piqued initially by the discovery, in the basement of a Dublin Hospital, of an empty room labeled ‘MS research’. This network promises to replace that empty room with a vibrant community of multiple sclerosis researchers. It will hasten the day when no more people have to bear the burdens of progressive multiple sclerosis. I am also impressed by the equal status that people with multiple sclerosis themselves will enjoy in that effort. Our own experiences and perspectives will enrich this initiative and the focus of its work.” MS Research Summer Scholarships Coinciding with the launch, the network is opening a call for budding multiple sclerosis researchers, at undergraduate or early postgraduate level, to apply for the first All-Ireland MS Research Network Research Summer Scholarships. Following a generous donation from Eamonn Haughton and Declan Smith, of Chemical Systems Control Ireland, the first scholarship will be awarded in 2021 to a successful candidate who is considering a multiple sclerosis-focused research career. Eamonn Haughton, Chemical Systems Control Ireland, said: “New therapies for multiple sclerosis will be built on state-of-the-art research. Funded junior researchers will spend time in research groups based in at least two of the participating organisations. It is hoped that the seeds sewn by this research will help to bring multiple sclerosis treatments to the next level.” For more information visit www.aims-rn.org and for more details about the scholarship call see www.aims-rn.org/funding or follow on Twitter @aims_rn. -Ends-

Friday, 19 February 2021

Researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, and BIOFORGE Lab, at the University of Valladolid in Spain, have developed an injectable hydrogel that could help repair and prevent further damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack event. The results of their research have just been published in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine. Myocardial infarction or heart disease is a leading cause of death due to the irreversible damage caused to the heart muscle (cardiac tissue) during a heart attack. The regeneration of cardiac tissue is minimal so that the damage caused cannot be repaired by itself. Current treatments lack an effective method to prevent death and subsequent cardiac tissue repair following a heart attack. "This project involved the development and testing of an elastin-based hydrogel derived from a naturally occurring biomaterial in the human body", explains Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and project lead. The hydrogel is based on a family of unique biomaterials, called elastin-like recombinamers, that BIOFORGE-UVa had developed in the search for advanced hydrogels for regenerative medicine. "The hydrogel was developed to mimic the environment around the heart following an infarction and then customised to have the ability to protect and promote regeneration of the cardiac tissue", he explains. The therapeutic effect of multiple injections of this hydrogel into the cardiac tissue was assessed during the first-ever preclinical study of its kind, demonstrating its efficacy for cardiac tissue remodelling following a heart attack. The international research team, which included researchers from Ireland, Spain, Sweden, France and Italy, were able to show that if their hydrogel was injected into the heart muscle shortly after a heart attack, it resulted in less fibrosis (scarring of the cardiac tissue) and an increase in the generation of new blood vessels in the area. They were also able to observe the rise in the preservation and survival of cardiomyocytes, a type of cell that allows the heart to beat, in the affected area. Professor Pandit added: "This project demonstrates the efficacy of a unique biomaterial-only system able to induce a positive healing effect on cardiac tissue following a heart attack event. The functional benefits obtained by the timely injection of the hydrogel supports and highlights the potential use of this treatment in the clinic. The next step will be to develop a prototype for a delivery system for the hydrogel." Professor Mark Da Costa, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and senior co-author of the study, said: "In this study, we employed a model to specifically look at a type of heart attack that has increased in incidence and is not often treated until the acute phase resolves. Scar tissue that forms after the heart attack often remodels negatively, causing future problems like heart failure. The timely injection of this hydrogel appears to change the way the heart muscle heals after a heart attack. There is a significant positive histological, biological and functional recovery of the injured heart muscle. Work is progressing now to deliver this to the sites of injury in different clinical settings and will be followed with translation into a clinical trial.” The full research team also involved John Newell, Michelle Kilcoyne, Peter Owens and Peter Dockery from NUI Galway, CÚRAM PhD graduate Paolo Contessotto, Doriana Orbanić and José C. Rodríguez-Cabello from the BIOFORGE Lab at the University of Valladolid in Spain, Chunsheng Jin and Niclas G. Karlsson from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Sandrine Chantepie and Dulce Papy-Garcia from the Laboratory Cell Growth, Tissue Repair and Regeneration at the University Paris Est, Créteil, France, and Clizia Chinello and Fulvio Magni from the University of Milano-Bicocca, Vedano al Lambro, Italy. CÚRAM's research focuses on developing diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. The recent announcement of a €46M reinvestment in CÚRAM by Science Foundation Ireland in February 2021, demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations that are central to CÚRAM's work. To access the full paper, visit https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/13/581/eaaz5380 -Ends- For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, National University of Ireland Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or +353 87 6601592. Follow us on Twitter @CURAMdevices and visit www.curamdevices.ie

Friday, 12 February 2021

CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at National University of Ireland Galway, will present a webinar and series of panel discussions with EU policy makers and MedTech industry leaders in the European Union. The event takes place online, on Tuesday, 16 February. The webinar will bring together leading researchers from industry and academia, along with policymakers and regulators to consider a consolidated research agenda for medical devices within the context of the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme, which began in January 2021. The titled webinar 'A Research Agenda for Medical Devices in the EU' will present key recent developments in next-generation medical device technologies and their potential to impact health outcomes and improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. It will also consider the enabling policy and the regulatory environment necessary to sustain the competitiveness of this highly innovative European sector. The webinar will be hosted by Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. High profile speakers attending the event include Sean Kelly MEP, Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP, Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI Director General, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland and Chair of the European Innovation Council Advisory Board and Karina Angelieva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Bulgaria. The webinar will consist of eight panel sessions led by research and industry leaders across US and EU and will be attended by MEPs. The panel topics include ; Medical Device Research in Europe, Artificial Intelligence Medical Devices, Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products, Global Perspectives: Medical Devices for the Sustainable Development Goals, Regulation, Research, Data Infrastructures and Science Capacity Building for Medical Devices, Skills and Education for a Competitive Future. In advance of the webinar, CÚRAM has launched a consultation White Paper providing stakeholders with the opportunity to contribute to a medical devices research agenda for the European Union. This research agenda aims to help inform EU level decision-making, such as the implementation of Horizon Europe (the research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027), as well as national and regional research agendas. It will also serve as a reference document to advance partnerships and innovative collaborations to address pressing global challenges. CÚRAM aims to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing ‘smart’ medical devices and implants. It develops these devices through collaborations with industry partners and hospital groups to enable their rapid translation to clinics, positioning Ireland as the driver in developing medical device technologies that will provide affordable transformative solutions for chronic diseases. CÚRAM’s researchers are designing and manufacturing implants to respond to the body’s environment and delivering therapeutic agents exactly where they are needed. CÚRAM’s outputs will particularly benefit patients with chronic ailments such as heart disease, wound healing, diabetes and musculoskeletal diseases. For full agenda and speakers details, visit: https://cordis.europa.eu/event/id/148320-a-research-agenda-for-medical-devices-in-the-eu -Ends- For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, National University of Ireland Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or +353 87 6601592. For more information about the webinar contact Claire Riordan, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie.

Monday, 1 February 2021

CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway has received a significant funding award of €46,372,380 from Science Foundation Ireland. The investment was announced today (1 February 2021) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD.     150 projects to date completed by CÚRAM, resulting in 43 patent applications     CÚRAM has published 1,712 journal publications, secured 10 licence agreements and five spin-outs     CÚRAM researchers have matched over €40 million in EU grant funding in its first six years The announcement demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to reinvesting in CÚRAM and the MedTech industry in the West and Ireland, supporting the continuation of strong academic, industry and clinical collaborations that are central to CÚRAM's work. The investment will support up to 520 researchers at CÚRAM over the next six years. CÚRAM's strategic mission is to establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device Research and Development Centre in the development of diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. In doing so, the Centre partners with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. CÚRAMs Research Programme aims to enhance researchers' creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative potential and focus on the translation of key CÚRAM technologies into clinical devices. Research is focused on three clinical areas of chronic cardiovascular, neural and soft tissue pathologies. These pillars have been structured to meet patients' current clinical needs with the aim of developing devices to improve daily management of chronic conditions. Research activities are enhanced through entrepreneurship and public engagement programmes and are informed by market, patient and clinical needs. Centre Growth The first phase of CÚRAM, established in 2015, has positioned the Centre well to exploit its innovation and commercial potential. The centre has had many significant scientific accomplishments in Phase one that contribute to advances in knowledge and the development of medical devices for the treatment of unmet clinical needs. Based at NUI Galway, CÚRAM is becoming recognised globally as a 'go-to' Centre for undertaking medical device research. The collaborative partnerships established to date indicate the value that the industry is already seeing in its partnerships with CÚRAM. CÚRAM currently employs 190 researchers in 10 partner institutes and to date has 38 industry partners that include 15 multinational corporation partners and 23 SME's . A total of 150 projects to date have been completed resulting in 43 patent applications; 1,712 journal publications; 10 licence agreements; and five spin-outs. In addition CÚRAM’s funding has been matched by its researchers securing over €40 million in EU grant funding in its first six years. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: "I'm delighted to be attending today's Government announcement and would like to congratulate Professor Pandit and his excellent team at CÚRAM on being awarded this significant funding from Science Foundation Ireland. This reinvestment to sustain CÚRAM in the next phase recognises and respects our standing as a global leader in medical device research in and for the world. We know now more than ever that research in health and wellbeing is critical to our humanity. The values of excellence, openness, respect and sustainability are strategic values to which we aspire at NUI Galway. CÚRAM's dedication to world class research and development of medical devices to treat a diverse range of health needs in society is testament those values." Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director, CÚRAM, NUI Galway, said: "We are very much looking forward to the next stage of CÚRAM's journey. The Centre has matured significantly over the past six years and the foundation which has been laid down over that period now positions CÚRAM well for making a continued global impact and developing novel and innovative medical devices to meet clinical needs. The transition from a Centre having a highly diverse set of projects, to a focused Centre with a balanced portfolio of prototype devices will be exciting, challenging and rewarding to our ecosystem." Today's Government announcement sees an investment of €193 million in five SFI Research Centres that includes CÚRAM for a further six years. This investment by Science Foundation Ireland will support approximately 1,060 graduate and Post-Doctoral students and Research Fellows employed by the Centres. Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to announce this significant Government investment in five SFI Research Centres, which reflects Ireland’s position as a world leader in research and innovation. The investment will ensure that we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we are facing in addressing global societal and economic challenges. “The five centres will also work to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to the wider public through extensive Education and Public Engagement outreach. These initiatives include summer computer camps, developing secondary school education modules, and residency programmes for filmmakers, artists and teachers to forge collaborations between researchers and the community. “ "SFI Research Centres promote discovery and impact, as well as collaboration between academia, government and industry across the Island of Ireland and internationally. This support will further enhance the important work these Centres have already achieved, so they continue to play a pivotal role in the years ahead in protecting the wellbeing of the population and the economy."  A panel of stakeholders attended today's launch including Cameron Keighron, an NUI Galway student and member of the young adult panel with the Public Patient Involvement research programme, PPI Ingite@NUIGalway, who took part in CÚRAM's 2020 Science on Screen documentary, The Patient Effect. Mr Keighron, said: "CÚRAM's work in opening up their research to the public raises awareness about the world class research happening right here on our doorstep. The Centre's public engagement programme invites participation and contributions from community members and patient groups which have been empowering for audiences, and I really look forward to staying involved as the Centre continues to grow" he commented." Michael Gilvarry, General Manager at the Neuro Technology Centre in Galway for CERENOVUS, part of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, also spoke at today’s event about the industry benefits of partnering with CÚRAM. "We began our collaboration with CÚRAM in 2017 and the partnership has had a significant impact on our ability to grow and scale our centre of excellence. I’d like to wish CÚRAM every success in the next stage of its evolution and look forward to continued partnerships and collaborations in the future" he said. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “To maintain and build on Ireland’s global standing in research, innovation, and discovery, it is crucial that we invest in excellent ideas and research with impact. SFI Research Centres support both basic and applied research, spanning a wide range of sectors at varying levels and stages, and as a country we have benefited from their considerable contributions in the recent Covid-19 pandemic. “They have made transformational progress in just six years, with increased academic and industrial collaboration, extensive training of PhD students for future skills needs, winning competitive funding from the EU, producing excellent scientific results and driving vital public engagement. We look forward to further strengthening our ability to positively impact our society and economy through excellent scientific research, with continued support from the Government and industry in the years ahead.” For more information about CÚRAM visit: www.curamdevices.ie or follow on twitter @CURAMdevices -Ends- For Press contact Gwen O'Sullivan at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie or 087 6601592. For more information about CÚRAM, contact Claire Riordan, Public Engagement Manager, CÚRAM at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie. Photo 0Abhay Pandit  CUüRAM  (4).jpg: Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director, CÚRAM, NUI Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes Xposure.ie Photo 0Abhay Pandit  CUüRAM  (9).jpg: Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director, CÚRAM, NUI Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes Xposure.ie   About NUI Galway Established in 1845, NUI Galway is a bilingual university comprised of four colleges, 19 schools, five research institutes, 19,070 students, 3,308 international students, 2,200 staff, research collaborations with 3,267 international institutions in 114 countries, 110,000 alumni, while 98% of graduates are in employment or further study within six months.  For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie or view all NUI Galway news here.        

Monday, 1 February 2021

Dr. Georgina Gethin, a Funded Investigator at CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Director of the Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds, has recently been appointed as the new Editor of the Journal of the European Wound Management Association (EWMA) www.ewma.org, a leading and globally recognised organisation for the advancement of wound care. The EWMA is a European not-for-profit umbrella organisation, linking national wound management organisations, individuals and groups with interest in wound care. Central to EWMA’s objectives is to support implementation of interdisciplinary and cost effective wound care of high quality. EWMA works to reach its objectives by being an educational resource, organising conferences, contributing to international projects related to wound management, actively supporting the implementation of existing knowledge within wound management and providing information on all aspects of wound management. As Editor, Dr. Gethin’s role will be to support the development of the journal, which provides a platform to share up to date developments in research, education, practice, organisation of care, economics and policy change. A key priority being the continued development and promotion of the journal. As such, Dr. Gethin is calling on CÚRAM researchers to consider submission of a manuscript to the journal. Currently the journal is freely available through our website and is listed in CINAHL and Google Scholar with plans to have the journal MEDLINE indexed. The journal has a double-blind peer review process and once a manuscript is accepted with aim to make this available early on-line. As Dr. Gethin explains: “We accept all types of manuscripts including protocols and original case reports of unusual case presentations. In particular I would really like to see more basic science articles or articles that explain basic science to a more general audience, in addition to some articles around medical devices and their pathway to approval.” Full details of the submission process are available on the EWMA website (www.ewma.org) The journal does not have any publication charges and is distributed at the EWMA annual conference. The journal is also circulated electronically to a vast mailing list with articles promoted across the organisations social media platforms thus ensuring high visibility of published work.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, was awarded the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) Youth Arts Explorer Grant to develop and deliver a STEAM Fashion project aimed at young people aged 10-12 in Galway City. For 8 weeks, artist Andrea Fitzpatrick, who runs CÚRAM’s Artist in Residence programme, worked with a group of young people at Foróige, Ballybane to introduce them to medical devices as a point of inspiration to create fashion works influenced by research being carried out the CÚRAM. CÚRAM researchers, Jack Schofield, Chris Lally, Maura Tilbury, and Delphine Antoine, created videos talking about their research which were then played during workshops.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a blended in-person and online method was used for the workshops. A video containing footage and photographs taken by the young people was created and was launched as part of this year’s Galway Science and Technology Festival programme.  You can see the video here. STEAM Fashion was one of 16 successfully funded Youth Arts projects from 11 counties across Ireland and began in September. The project was carried out alongside Foróig youth worker John Rooney, and Colette Green, a youth worker in training. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway has released a short film documenting the CÚRAM community art science commission by artist, Karen Conway for Ballybane and Doughiska. The film, created by the filmmakers, Alice McDowell and Julie Flavin, features the artist, Karen Conway, CÚRAM researchers, Dr Pau Redon Lurbe, and community member, Liam Boyle.  The commissioned works will be installed in their permanent locations in the Ballybane Library, the Ard Family Resource Centre, and the Merlin College school, in 2021.  See the film here. Images of Karen’s work were projected onto Comerford House, the Spanish Arch, and at the Castle Building, Brothers of Charity, Ballybane as part of National Science Week and the Galway Science and Technology Festival on November 14th. Award winning artist, Karen Conway, was selected in 2019 to create the CÚRAM community art science commission for the east side communities of Ballybane and Doughiska. Karen worked closely with Dr Pau Redon Lurbe, a CÚRAM researchers working with Professor Williams Wijns. Prof Wijns is an expert in cardiology and is leading a research project to develop wearable sensors to alert patients at high risk of heart attacks to triggers such as stress or high blood pressure. In addition to cardiovascular research, Karen also looked at staining techniques with Dr Jill McMahon, while Dr Olena Kudina helped Karen with research in the CÚRAM labs. As part of the community art science commission, Karen delivered workshops at the Ballybane Library, Ard Family Resource Centres and at Merlin College School. Karen also incorporated the theme of active travel into her work for the commission following a meeting with community representatives. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most engaged and scientifically informed public. For more information please visit www.curamdevicesengage.ie or follow us on twitter @CURAMdevices

Thursday, 19 November 2020

A new collaboration between researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre based at NUI Galway and Industry partner Aerogen, a world leader in high-performance aerosol drug delivery, has recently gotten underway. The project, costing over €400,000, is focused on optimising the Aerogen Solo nebulizer for the delivery of Heparin into the lung of patients with COVID-19 induced Acute Respiratory Failure (ARDS). Heparin is a compound that occurs in the body, which prevents blood clotting. The project will run until September 2021 and clinical patient trials are due to commence in December 2020. Led by Professor John Laffey at CÚRAM, NUI Galway and Dr Ronan MacLoughlin at Aerogen, the project will determine the safety, efficacy and mechanisms of action of nebulized heparin in COVID-19 induced Acute Respiratory Failure. The Aerogen Solo converts the liquid drug into a nebulised mist of consistently sized droplets that enable medication to get deep into the patients’ lung. Recommended by multiple international COVID-19 guidance documents, Aerogen is the only globally available closed circuit aerosol drug delivery system that mitigates the transmission of patient generated infectious aerosol and delivers effective aerosol treatment. Professor John Laffey, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Galway University Hospitals and CÚRAM Investigator, said: “Disordered clotting in the lungs is a feature of COVID-19 induced ARDS. Heparin has specific potential benefits in COVID infection. It inactivates the SARSCoV-2 virus and prevents its entry into mammalian cells and appears likely to have a beneficial effect in these patients too, provided it can be safely and effectively delivered to the lungs.” Standard treatment to reduce the risk of the formation of blood clots in the lungs can have substantial associated risks and side effects, such as major haemorrhage and intracerebral haemorrhage. Nebulising heparin directly into the lung may improve the clotting disorder seen in COVID-19 induced severe respiratory failure, while potentially reducing the risk of serious side effects seen when heparin is given by traditional routes. Effective heparin delivery is critically dependent on the efficiency of the nebulizer, and the deposition patterns produced by that device suggests it can deliver effective quantities of heparin directly to the areas of the lung where the disordered clotting is seen. A recent study completed with 256 mechanically ventilated patients with or at risk of developing ARDS showed that nebulized heparin delivered by the Aerogen Solo device,reduced the development of ARDS and increased the number of surviving patients discharged home at day 60. Dr Ronan MacLoughlin, Senior Science Manager at Aerogen, said: “Not all nebuliser technologies are created equal, and here we are looking forward to bringing the inherent safety and performance advantages of Aerogen’s devices to bear in this important program. With the current focus on new and repurposed therapies for ARDS and COVID ARDS, it has never been more important to ensure that these therapies are screened effectively whilst ensuring that they are challenged robustly.” Dr McLoughlin added: “In this project, we are looking at repurposing an existing drug with proven potential, but ensuring that enough is delivered to the patient, all whilst keeping the clinical team safe. Aerogen’s closed circuit nebulisers do not require circuit breaks during mechanical ventilation, and have been shown to deliver the highest levels of therapies to the ventilated patient’s lung and our aim is to ensure that this combination of drug and device provide maximum benefit, under the most critical conditions. “Building on long standing collaborations with both the team in CURAM, and Professor Laffey, we look forward to advancing the state of the art in what have become some of the highest burden respiratory diseases, and provide a roadmap for future programs looking to optimise and exploit the advantages of aerosol-mediated drug delivery to the lung, with a focus on the critical care setting.” This is the third collaboration between CÚRAM and Aerogen. Earlier collaborations focusing on understanding the fluid mechanics of droplets and exploring enhancing the delivery of existing small molecule therapeutics worth over €1 million have resulted in  a significant number of co-publications with Aerogen that have being highly cited. CÚRAM researchers on these collaborations have gained relevant industry training, improved scientific and technical skills and have gone on to secure roles in industry. For more information about the research project contact Claire Riordan, Public Engagement Manager, CÚRAM at claire.riordan@nuigalway.ie or Ciara Power, Global Customer Marketing Manager, Aerogen at cpower@aerogen.com. -Ends-

Monday, 16 November 2020

Hand-held, battery-operated device will carry out rapid detection of the virus using a laser in approximately 15 minutes Device will also test for antibodies to the virus in human samples Device could carry out rapid on-site tests in airports, workplaces and schools Test can be administered by anyone, without medical or scientific training Researchers from NUI Galway and the University of Wyoming have received a grant of €199,720 from the Health Research Board to develop a handheld device for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The device, which they aim to have available early next year, will also test for antibodies to the virus in human samples. The test device is already being sold and the research team are currently developing a COVID test to work with it in order to produce and distribute large quantities within a short period of time. The rapid test will be capable of being administered by anyone, such as airport officials or school principals. Professor Gerard Wall, of Microbiology, College of Science and Engineering and SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, is leading the research along with Professors Patrick Johnson and Karen Wawrousek from the University of Wyoming’s Department of Chemical Engineering. Professor Wall will employ a laboratory-based technique that mimics the human immune response “in vitro”, or in a test tube, to produce antibody fragments for use in the detection of the virus. The antibody fragments will enable high sensitivity and reproducibility of the device, and can be produced in large quantities in bacterial cells. Professors Johnson and Wawrousek will attach the antibody fragments to nanoparticles for incorporation into a hand-held, battery-operated device that will carry out rapid detection of the virus using a laser, in approximately 15 minutes. Professor Gerard Wall, NUI Galway, said: “Rapid detection of the virus on-site will allow potentially infectious people to be identified so that decisions on isolation and treatment can be made immediately. There are clear applications for this type of device in airports, workplaces or schools, among other locations.” Professor Patrick Johnson, University of Wyoming, said: “Our test will have higher sensitivity than other rapid tests and will not require any sample preparation. The idea is to have an accurate, portable, on-site test with results within 15-20 minutes. This will allow rapid answers while the person is still present, enabling immediate intervention and treatment.” Samples can be collected from saliva, nasal swab or blood. The samples will then be placed in glass vials and inserted into hand-held instruments, called Raman spectrometers, for analysis. The project team plans to use Raman spectrometers developed by entrepreneur Keith Carron, CEO of Metrohm Raman in Laramie, Wyoming and will work with Noah Hull, Microbiology Laboratories manager at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory to validate the assay against known positive and negative samples. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices based in NUI Galway, together with the Galway Arts Office will launch a new community art science project in Ballybane this week. Images by the commissioned artist, Karen Conway, will be projected onto the Castle, John Paul Campus of the Brothers of Charity, Castlepark Road, Ballybane, between 9pm and 10pm on November 14th. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, says: “The Artist in Residence programme at CÚRAM provides a wonderful opportunity for our researchers to work with new audiences through the medium of art. It exemplifies CÚRAM’s commitment to developing relationships with the community through art and science, and we welcome the opportunity to display Karen’s work in this captivating way.” Award winning artist, Karen Conway, was selected in 2019 to create the CÚRAM community art science commission for the east side communities of Ballybane and Doughiska. Karen worked closely with CÚRAM researchers Dr Pau Redon Lurbe, a member of Professor William Wijns research team, on the area of cardiovascular research. Professor Wijns is an expert in cardiology and is leading a 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. In addition to cardiovascular research, Conway also looked at routine laboratory techniques with Dr Jill McMahon and Dr Olena Kudina in the CÚRAM laboratories where she completed extensive photographic research. Artist Karen Conway says: “It was a wonderful opportunity to work with all the CÚRAM/NUI scientists in the laboratories and learn about their research. This enabled me to promote their scientific work through engagement with the local communities of Galway's Eastside. It was especially inspiring to explore this Art/Science connection through engagement with all the amazing students of Merlin College, with the young people in the Ard Centre, Doughiska and all the children who attended the Ballybane Library workshop”. Karen has created a series of drawings using pencil and ink inspired by her work with CÚRAM researchers and members of the communities of Ballybane and Doughiska. The theme of active travel for heart health was incorporated into the work following a meeting with a community liaison panel made up of community representatives. CÚRAM will also project the community art science project AfterImage at the Westside and both projects will be projected at the Spanish Arch Galway on November 14th. Timings are as follows: · 6-7pm - North Galway CAMHS, Ballard House, Bothar le Cheile, Westside, Galway- Cleary Connolly’s After Image project · 7.30 – 8.30 – Comerford House, Spanish Arch – Karen Conway and Cleary Connolly · 9pm – 10pm – Castle, John Paul Campus of the Brothers of Charily, Castlepark Road, Ballybane A film documenting Karen Conway’s Pressure project will be released in November on our website, https://curamdevicesengage.ie CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most engaged and scientifically informed public. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the three permanent pieces will be installed in Ballybane Library, the Ard Family Resource Centre, and Merlin College School later in 2020/21. The full exhibition of work, ‘Pressure’ can be viewed here https://karenconway.work/#/pressure/ For more information, please contact Andrea Fitzpatrick, andrea.fitzpatrick@nuigalway.ie

Monday, 9 November 2020

Boston Scientific are collaborating with CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, on their innovative Teachers in Residence Programme for 2020-2021. This is the fifth year of the residency, during which teachers work directly with world-leading researchers over six months to learn about medical device research at CÚRAM and create practical lesson plans and activities for both primary and secondary school classrooms, based on cutting edge Irish research. Teachers from all disciplines are invited to participate, in support of encouraging multidisciplinary approaches to teaching science. “We are delighted to be able to collaborate with Boston Scientific on this programme. Having them on board adds significant value for our teachers and gives them an opportunity to get an even broader perspective on the MedTech Industry and the opportunities that are there for their students” say Dr Sarah Gundy, Teachers in Residence Programme Manager at CÚRAM. Boston Scientific is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world and is one of CÚRAM’s long term Industry partners. At present Boston Scientific and CÚRAM’s researchers are working together on research into cardiovascular disease. “It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk about the medical device design collaborations that exist with CÚRAM and Boston Scientific. Similarly so, we look forward to discussing in this forum some of the diverse technical and social aspects of working within Boston Scientific and the Medtech industry in general” – Fergal Horgan, R&D Manager, Boston Scientific. This year’s Teachers in Residence programme kicked off in October and will provide and develop resources to help teachers overcome the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's programme will use a blended learning approach with online sessions held twice a month, from 7pm to 8pm until March 2021. Teachers will receive 10 ECTS through the NUI Galway's Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development fully funded by CÚRAM. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most engaged and scientifically informed public. For more information about the programme, please contact Dr Sarah Gundy at sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie ENDS

Monday, 2 November 2020

A new film festival – Science on Screen Film Festival Ireland – runs from this Thursday November 5th to Sunday November 8th. The festival, hosted by CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre, will show the best of science films – shorts and features - from around the world and will include a world premiere, a European premiere and lots of Irish premieres. Films that will take you to interstellar space, and across the Atlantic from fishing villages in Scandinavia to Nova Scotia and to scientific bases in the Antarctic - this festival offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy great stories from the comfort of your home. The festival will take place online and all events are free, but tickets are limited and registration is necessary to reserve your seat. The festival began as in an idea in 2016, when CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre partnered to create the Science on Screen film fund with support from the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. After a national call-out to filmmakers, this led to the production of two documentaries – Feats of Modest Valour, directed and produced by Mia Mullarkey and Alice McDowell of Ishka Films, which follows three individuals with Parkinsons and the scientists working to find a cure, and Mending Legends, directed by Paul Webster and produced by James Ryan of Station House Media, which looks at the impact of tendon injury on sports people and research to create the world’s first 3D cell-assembled tendon prototype. These films travelled the world and achieved broadcast on RTÉ and TG4, as well as winning many awards. Feats of Modest Valour will screen on Sunday November 8th at 4.00pm and Mending Legends will screen at 2pm on Friday November 7th. Since the scheme began in 2016, three more documentaries have been produced funded principally by CÚRAM. Bittersweet, directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films and screening Saturday November 7th at 5pm, follows the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it. It also follows the work that CÚRAM have been doing in treating diabetes. A Tiny Spark, produced in 2018 by Caroline Kealy of Swansong Films and directed by Niamh Heery, examines the effect of cerebrovascular illness and stroke on people’s lives and specifically looks at research into the blood clots that cause stroke. This film screens on Friday November 6th at 5pm. Most recently, The Patient Effect which was produced by Alice McDowell and directed by Mia Mullarkey, and funded by the Health Research Board in collaboration with the Health Research Board Primary Care Clinical Trials Network and PPI Ignite at NUI Galway, tells the story of public and patient involvement in research – how tapping into the lived experience of patients, their families and carers, has the potential to hugely enhance the quality and relevance of health and medical research. This will screen Saturday November 7th at 2pm. The festival has three short film programmes which will be a great opportunity to get bite-sized stories from around the world. Two of the programmes are in partnership with the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York and will include ‘I am a Mobile Element’ which is a conversation with recent Nobel prize winner, Emanuelle Charpentier. There is also an ‘In Competition’ programme which has 7 short films shortlisted for the Judges’ Award. These films from Canada, Finland, India, the US and Ireland cover stories such as that of Dr Andrew Rynne, Ireland’s first Vasectomy doctor and the day someone walked into his surgery with a rifle, the rewilding of a city river in Vancouver and the search for a vaccine for rubella using fetal cells. There are 5 fantastic features on show including two recent Irish success stories. The Farthest, the Emmy-winning documentary by Emer Reynolds, is a witty and fascinating film which documents the story of Voyager 1 and 2, heralded as one of humankind’s biggest achievments to date, and resulted in the first manmade object reaching interstellar space. This beautiful film will have viewers on the edge of their seats and space as it traverses from Jupiter to Uranus and beyond. Atlantic, the multi- award winning documentary, by Risteard Ó’ Domhnaill, is cinematic storytelling at its finest and looks at the story of three fishing communities from Scandinavia to Ireland to Nova Scotia, as they struggle to survive in the face of big business. Narrated by Brendan Gleeson, it shows our most valuable natural resource, the ocean, in all its glory and vulnerability. The opening feature is the Irish premiere of Picture a Scientist, the new US documentary, directed by Ian Cheney and Sharon Shattuck, chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries - including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists - who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all. The festival also includes a new feature from Luxembourg, Tune Into the Future, directed by Eric Schockmel. The colourful film shines the spotlight on the forgotten and often misunderstood man, Hugo Gernsback, who invented the term ‘science-fiction’ and some say lay the foundations for social networks. His goal was to inspire and to stimulate young minds into speculating about how science would shape our future and to come up with tomorrow's new inventions. Lastly, ‘The Inventor; Out for Blood in Silicon Valley’, directed by Oscar-winning director, Alex Gibney, tells the fascinating story of Elizabeth Holmes, once touted as ‘the next Steve Jobs’ and who was the founder of the one-time multibillion-dollar healthcare company, Theranos which subsequently collapsed as a massive fraud. The festival will also include many Q & A’s and live panel discussions, all streamed to the Science on Screen Film Festival Ireland Facebook page. Topics covered will include – Diversity and Participation in STEM and Ireland as an Island of Storytellers and Scientists. The Science on Screen Festival Ireland will be an annual event and is part of the public engagement programme at CÚRAM which supports the Science Foundation Ireland objective of having the most engaged and scientifically informed public. Find out more at www.scienceonscreen.ie It runs from November 5th to 8th and all events are free but registration is necessary as tickets are limited. Twitter: @screenscience Facebook: Science on Screen Film Festival Ireland

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

A recent study from researchers at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, explores the use of optogenetics as a method to relieve chronic pain. Optogenetics uses genetically-encoded proteins that change position and shape in the presence of light to turn brain cells on or off.   Pain is comprised of both sensory (physical intensity) and affective (emotional distress) components. A part of the brain involved in the emotional component of pain is called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Dr Sarah Jarrin, CÚRAM, NUI Galway and first author of the paper, said: “There is significant overlap in the neural circuitry of pain and anxiety in our brains. Sensory pain is our body’s natural alarm system, it is an important mechanism that alerts us to injury and danger. So rather than turning off that alarm system, we are targeting the distress component of pain, a promising target for chronic pain relief that is not addressed by current treatments. “The technique of optogenetics is opening up lots of possibilities for further neuroscience research. With the use of light-activated proteins called opsins, optogenetics allows us to switch on or off a selective population of neurons that control this affective component of pain.” The study, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), focused on the two components of pain (physical and emotional), the distinct roles they play in the pain experience, and how they can often influence one another. Chronic pain and anxiety frequently go hand in hand. People with chronic pain are also more likely to have anxiety and depression than the general population. The research looked specifically at the role of glutamatergic neurons of the ACC (glutamatergic neurons release the chemical transmitter glutamate, responsible for signalling between nerve cells) and changes in a protein marker of neuronal activity, known as c-Fos, in the ACC. The study was able to show that when the glutamatergic neurons in the ACC were silenced, it is possible to abolish the aversion to pain without affecting the sensory component of pain. The study also showed that optogenetic activation of glutamatergic neurons of the ACC has a differential effect in males and females in terms of pain response. Dr Jarrin added: “The inclusion of both sexes in pain studies is critical, because of differences in pain that have been observed between the sexes. Little is known about differences in the regulation of the physical and emotional components of pain in the male and female brain. Studies have found differences in the functional connectivity between the ACC and other brain regions of important regulating pain in males and females, which may account for differences in the effect of optogenetic treatment." Being able to target the emotional component of pain specifically could be therapeutically beneficial for patients with chronic pain, however further research to better understand the neural circuitry is required to develop these improved treatments. Professor David Finn, Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research and principal investigator on the published study, said: “We are excited to publish these interesting data which advance our understanding of how the brain regulates pain, and how this may differ between males and females.” The study was carried out as part of Dr Sarah Jarrin’s PhD project, jointly supervised by Dr David Finn, Dr Michelle Roche and Dr Abhay Pandit at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Ireland’s first science film festival asks audiences to ‘Join the conversation’ in a time when the public rely heavily on accurate and sensitive scientific facts and research Wednesday, 21 October, 2020: Today marks the official launch of the ‘Science on Screen Film Festival Ireland’ an exciting new annual Irish Film Festival, running from the 5-8 November 2020 online. The free online Festival will showcase the best of science in film and this year incorporates themes of representation and diversity in science and the value of art-science collaborations. The Festival tagline, ‘Join the conversation’ invites audiences of all types to immerse themselves in scientific storytelling, hear from filmmakers and researchers on critical topics such as climate change and health research, and take the opportunity to question leading scientists on cutting-edge research. The Festival is hosted by CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, and Galway Film Centre who established the successful Science on Screen scheme in 2016. The Festival programme will be announced at the end of October 2020 and will include science themed feature films and short film programmes, as well as all of the original Science on Screen documentaries. These documentaries tell the stories of patients living with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s, diabetes and stroke recovery and the Irish researchers working to improve their quality of life. Over 200 primary school children from around Ireland have submitted their questions for the ‘Ask A Scientist’ panel session, to be broadcast online on Friday, 6 November at 11am, following a selection of three minute science films created by school children for ReelLIFE SCIENCE’s programme in recent years. The Ask A Scientist session will be chaired by two sixth class students from Gaelscoil Riabhach in Loughrea, Co Galway, who will put the questions to a panel of three top researchers in biological, engineering and environmental sciences. The opening feature for the Science on Screen Film Festival, called ‘Picture a Scientist’ will be hosted as part of the Science Foundation Ireland Annual Summit. Picture a Scientist chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries - including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists - who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all. The film will be followed by a panel discussion on representation and diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director, CÚRAM, NUI Galway, said: “We are very proud to be launching the first Science on Screen Film Festival this year. Ireland really is a nation of scientists and storytellers, something that has been illustrated particularly well through the award winning documentaries produced through the Science on Screen programme in recent years. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme aims to provide easy opportunities for the public to ‘join the conversation’ about Irish research and the role of science in society generally. This year the programme will focus on themes of representation, diversity and public trust in science, as well as looking at ideas and opportunities for greater collaboration between science and the arts to create better access to and awareness of research that impacts us all.” Alan Duggan, Manager, Galway Film Centre, said: “We are delighted to be launching Ireland’s first Science Film Festival in partnership with CÚRAM. Building on the success of the Science on Screen documentaries, which have reached an audience of over one million worldwide, the festival will showcase the engaging and thought provoking content that is born from collaboration between our industries. In a time when our reliance on the accurate and sensitive portrayal of scientific facts and research is more important than ever, there is no better moment to ask audiences to join the conversation.” Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), said: “SFI has been developing initiatives to improve the participation of women in STEM careers for some time, as well as funding projects that can help to ensure inclusivity and a diversity of voices in STEM research. There is still much collective work to be done however, to address bias, harassment and the lack of opportunity, diversity and equality for underrepresented groups, such as people of colour, those with disabilities, migrants, those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and the LGBTQ+ community. “I am particularly pleased to see the Science on Screen Festival promote the ‘Join the conversation’ hashtag, as it is only through multiway dialogue, and by actively listening to those impacted, that we can really improve institutional and toxic workplace culture. The ‘Picture a Scientist’ film is a powerful example of courageous individuals breaking barriers, which in turn can create lasting cultural and political change, which I believe will prove to be both inspirational and motivational to the research community here.” The Science on Screen Film Festival forms part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’, which aims to forge collaborations between researchers and the community to support the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most informed and scientifically engaged public. ‌ View the Festival Trailer here: https://vimeo.com/470302101 Further information on the film programme, speakers and themes will be released on the Festival website at the end of October at www.curamdevicesengage.ie. For more information contact sosfestival@galwayfilmcentre.ie. The Festival is free to attend, but ticket numbers are limited and registration is essential. -Ends- For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at gwen.osullivan@nuigalway.ie.

Monday, 21 September 2020

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, will once again collaborate with artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly to create interactive art and science workshops for children. Having participated in CÚRAM’s Artists in Residence programme in 2017-2018, Cleary Connolly developed AfterImage, an art-science project with Galway’s Westside community. The Baboró International Arts Festival for Children is a welcome opportunity for further collaboration between CÚRAMs researchers and award-winning artists. The project, Wavelengths will enable school children to meet the artists, Cleary Connolly over Zoom, and be shown their exciting Science Foundation Ireland supported exhibition, Invisible Light, at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. Participants will see fantastic artworks and Cleary Connolly will introduce the electromagnetic spectrum, using every day and familiar objects to help demystify each type of light. “We are very excited to be working once again with Cleary Connolly on this talk and seeing their new work at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.  Anne and Denis have an amazing way of connecting art and science while making complex scientific ideas accessible and fascinating to any audience,” says Andrea Fitzpatrick, Artist in Residence programme manager at CÚRAM.  Like the visible spectrum, the electromagnetic spectrum is divided into seven sections or types of lights, most of which we cannot see. Although most of this light is invisible to the naked eye, scientists have devised many ways of seeing them and using them in medicine, astronomy, meteorology, security, etc. Now Cleary Connolly explores these invisible forms of light as art. Researchers from CÚRAM, SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, Dr Vijaya Krishna Kanala and Vaishali Chugh, will be participating in the online experience to explain how they use ultraviolet light and fluorescence in the laboratory for the imaging of cells in their research. Funding for the project has been provided by NUI Galway to celebrate Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, says: “This project is another great opportunity for our researchers to communicate their work to new audiences. It exemplifies CÚRAM’s commitment to developing relationships with the community through art and science, and we are delighted to partner with talents such as Cleary Connolly.” CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most engaged and scientifically informed public. Wavelengths will take place online over Zoom on Monday, October 12th and Tuesday, October 13th and is suitable for 5th and 6th class students.  Full details, including how to book, are available on the Baboró website at https://www.baboro.ie/festival/programme/wavelengths

Friday, 21 August 2020

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway is now enrolling for its Teachers in Residence Programme for the fifth year, with applications being accepted up to 28th September 2020. This year the programme will provide and develop resources to help teachers overcome the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, this year's programme will use a blended learning approach. The online sessions will be held twice a month, from 7pm to 8pm. Teachers will receive 10 ECTS through the NUI Galway's Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development fully funded by CÚRAM. During the residency, teachers will speak directly with world-leading researchers to learn about the medical device's research at CÚRAM to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Teachers from all disciplines are invited to participate, in support of encouraging multidisciplinary approaches to teaching science. Participants will learn about and receive resources for the classroom including science engagement activities, science capital teaching approaches, and lesson plan kits developed by teachers for teachers, that are linked with the primary and junior cycle science curricula. "We are delighted with the innovation and creativity shown by the primary and secondary teachers who have participated in this programme", said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. "If we can continue to support and inspire our teachers by providing access to current, cutting edge Irish research and work with them to incorporate it into classroom activities, our hope is that they, in turn, can inspire their students for years to come. We also want to provide practical support through resources that can be used in classrooms and online to cater to current challenges that teachers will face as schools reopen in September". The programme has places available for five primary and five secondary school teachers and will run from October 2020 over ten evenings until March 2021. Teachers will work directly with CÚRAM researchers to develop high-quality content for the classroom that is relevant, engaging, and practical to use. The material generated during the residency will be shared with all participants and their schools. Lesson plan kits developed from previous years' teachers, including homeschooling resources, can be downloaded here.  CÚRAM is a partner in the Department of Education and Skills' Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) STE(A)M in Junior Cycle initiative. The goal of the initiative is to provide Professional Learning Experiences (PLEs) for Junior Cycle teachers that allow for interdisciplinary responses to societal challenges in subject-specific and cross-curricular contexts. To apply for a place in the Teachers in Residence Programme or find out more, please contact sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie.