Monday, 17 June 2019

Three NUI Galway Academics Among Fulbright Irish Awardees 2019-2020

Ireland-US education exchange programme supports innovative and diverse research Three academics from NUI Galway were among the recipients of the Fulbright Irish Awardees 2019-2020, covering expertise in treating heart disease, Irish studies and foreign language translations. The Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Niall Burgess and Chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy in Ireland, Mr Reece Smyth, announced the 36 awardees. The Fulbright Programme in Ireland was established in 1957 and annually awards grants for Irish citizens to study, research, or teach in the U.S. and for Americans to do the same in Ireland. Academics, professionals and students from 13 Higher Education Institutions and organisations in Ireland will go to 30 leading US institutions to study and collaborate with experts in their fields. This year’s Fulbright recipients are from disciplines spanning technology, science, language, medicine and the arts. The Fulbright Awards celebrate diversity across topics, geography and backgrounds. Increased funding from both the Irish and US Governments has allowed the Fulbright Commission in Ireland to support a wider range and number of exciting study and research awardees than ever before.  David Monahan: Fulbright-Enterprise Ireland Student Awardee from NUI Galway to MIT David Monahan is a PhD student in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway. His research focuses on the development of minimally invasive delivery strategies incorporating medical devices, biomaterials, and drugs to treat heart disease. As a Fulbright Awardee, David will visit the Therapeutic Technology, Design, and Development lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While there he will develop a smart medical device containing a responsive biomaterial that will release drugs in response to heart damage and aims to help patients suffering from heart disease as a result of cancer therapy. Ellen Corbett: Fulbright FLTA (Foreign Language Teaching Assistant) Program from NUI Galway to University of Montana Ellen Corbett is currently completing her BA International with German and Léann an Aistriúcháin at NUI Galway. She has a great interest in translation - one of her translations from German to Irish will shortly be published in An Reiviú academic journal. Ellen is also currently completing an Dioplóma sa Ghaeilge with Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, OÉ Gaillimh. She will be a Fulbright Irish FLTA to the University of Montana. Áine Ní Chonghaile: Fulbright FLTA (Foreign Language Teaching Assistant) Program from NUI Galway to Catholic University of America, Washington DC Áine Ní Chonghaile is completing her PhD in Irish history at NUI Galway where she was awarded both BA and MA degrees in history. She has extensive experience in teaching the Irish language and other aspects of Irish Studies. She is looking forward to sharing that experience with the students of the Catholic University of America in Washington DC and adding further to her own learning by availing of the opportunities presented by the Fulbright FLTA allocation. Niall Burgess, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “I am delighted to extend my warmest congratulations to the Irish Fulbright Awardees for 2019–2020. Exchanges like the Fulbright programme play a crucial role in sustaining the unique and very close relationship that Ireland and the United States share. The Fulbright Commission and Fulbrighters, past and present, are testament to the best traditions of academic and cultural exchange and have an outstanding track record in representing Ireland. Every year Fulbright awardees have the exciting opportunity to study, work, and experience life in the US, to forge new relationships, and to represent the best of contemporary Ireland to the United States. I wish this year’s awardees every success for their time in the United States.” The next round of applications for Fulbright Irish Awards will open on 28, August 2019, and interested candidates should visit http://www.fulbright.ie/ for more information.  -Ends-


News Archive

Thursday, 13 June 2019

New facilities established in NUI Galway to accelerate the development of next generation biomaterials and advanced manufacturing technologies Researchers at NUI Galway launched on (12 June 2019) two new facilities, a Pilot Line for Bio-microsystems Development and an Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory, as part of the University’s ever expanding biomedical research and advanced manufacturing infrastructure. Pilot Line for Bio-microsystems Development This integrated advanced manufacturing testbed is the first of its kind globally and will accelerate the translation of laboratory-based research concepts towards pilot production. The printed electronics and printed biomaterials advanced manufacturing facility complements the University’s existing expertise and investments in biomaterials and stem cell manufacturing. The testbed will be used to evaluate advanced manufacturing of two types of biomedical product concepts – smart medical devices and tissue-engineered organs on a chip device. Smart medical devices are of particular relevance to the medical device industry in Galway; these devices are empowered with diagnostic and therapeutic functionalities. An example is a smart woundcare device that enables future smart wound dressings to sense the status of the wound and administer a drug accordingly. The manufacturing testbed enables Galway researchers to demonstrate how scalable printed technologies can be used to realise such devices, customised for each patient’s individual needs, on an economic scale. The manufacturing testbed can also generate arrays of artificial tissue know as tissue scaffolds. These structures are being developed to fully mimic different organs in the body. The ability to produce tissue scaffolds on a scalable platform are of increasing importance in the development of new advanced therapeutic medicinal products. For example, new cell based therapies to cure chronic illnesses can be efficiently evaluated using arrays of tissue scaffolds which mimic disease states in the human body. For example, mesenchymal stromal cells can be used to regenerate damaged tissues. The testbed was developed by Dr Gerard O’Connor, Head of the School of Physics at NUI Galway, over the last five years in partnership with UK manufacturing system integrator *M-Solv (Oxford) Ltd. Dr O’Connor leads the *NCLA Laser Laboratory at the School of Physics. He believes having the ability to integrate electronic, optical, and thermal stimuli in flexible medical devices “will be transformative - changing the way we connect with, and use, future healthcare products.” Dr O’Connor, said: “The new facility enables the NCLA Laser Laboratory to investigate the versatility of using multiple laser patterning, inkjet printing and spray deposition tools in the advanced digital manufacture of next generation smart medical devices and therapeutic devices.” The contribution by M-Solv Ltd., an advanced manufacturing systems company located in Oxford, UK, is very significant. Dr O’Connor and M-Solv have collaborated for 10 years, resulting in several publications, patent filings, and commercial contracts. The company’s CEO, Dr. Phil Rumsby, is excited by applying their significant expertise in hybrid electronics manufacturing to the biomedical sector using the three interconnected manufacturing modules which comprise the testbed. Dr Rumsby said: “The first module, a laser-based micro-machining module creates structured surfaces for microfluidics and embedded electronics. The second module uses laser, inkjet and spray tools to create structured conductive/non-conductive printed electronic features. Finally, a third bio-printing module applies living cells and other life-supporting biomaterials to structured surfaces. This is a major research platform with significant innovative potential, we are pleased to have been able to rise to the challenge.” The testbed is funded by Science Foundation Ireland under the Infrastructures Programme. SFI Research Centres *I-FORM (advanced manufacturing) and CÚRAM (medical devices) are available to provide support for enterprises and academics seeking access to the manufacturing platform. Speaking at the launch of the new testbed, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “This manufacturing testbed will significantly increase our ability to lead research in the development of novel technologies. CÚRAM will work closely with the NCLA and I-Form to harness this unique platform and continue creating next generation biomaterials that will play a critical role in the treatment of a host of chronic ailments.” The laboratory in which the testbed is located was developed with funding provided under the Atlantic Area Interregional (INTERREG) EU programme under a project entitled AtlanticKETMed. The project is also led by Dr O’Connor and has established an international community of first adopters for the testbed comprising of hospitals, networks of industries, and international research centres. The testbed and its ancillary laboratories are located in the School of Physics. The School’s MSc in Medical Physics is the first European MSc programme to be awarded accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programmes (CAMPEP), the second only programme worldwide outside the USA to do so. Dr O’Connor is keen to recognise the many contributions made by graduate students and technical staff throughout the School of Physics in realising this development. The School has established an MSc programme in Key Enabling Technologies to provide graduate training on the manufacturing testbed. Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory Dr Noel Harrison from the College of Engineering at NUI Galway also launched on (12 June 2019) the new Advanced Manufacturing Lab (AML) in the Alice Perry Engineering Building, which houses a suite of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) technologies. The lab has been developed by Dr Harrison (Mechanical Engineering and I-Form Funded Investigator) to advance teaching, fundamental research, and industry collaboration on future sustainable manufacturing technologies, materials and product design. With NUI Galway’s first metal powder bed fusion printer (3D Systems DMP ProX 100), the AML offers new capability for in-house prototyping and experimental manufacturing. Last month, an AM cementless orthopaedic device technology developed and patented by Dr Harrison was licenced to the medtech company Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, also based at NUI Galway. Dr Noel Harrison from NUI Galway, said: “Multiple industries now demand engineering graduates with knowledge and experience in 3D Printing process hardware, software, materials and design. The AML lab is an invaluable resource for our Degree and Masters students and is a state of the art research facility for our PhD student and Postdoctoral researchers.” “Manufacturing is the second largest employer in Ireland and accounts for 36.5 percent of GDP”, said I-Form Director, Professor Denis Dowling. “These new testbeds at NUI Galway are key pieces of infrastructure for the manufacturing research community, and they will ensure that Irish manufacturers continue to have access to leading edge technology for the development of world-class products.” Speaking about the awards supporting both of these facilities, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the launch of this state-of-the-art manufacturing testbed, which is funded through our Research Infrastructure Programme. The programme specifically seeks to support researchers by ensuring there are superb technologies and supports in place for them, ultimately facilitating excellent and impactful scientific research. The testbed is a great reflection of collaboration between different stakeholders in the ecosystem, with SFI Research Centres CÚRAM and I-Form collaborating with NUI Galway to enhance our understanding of advanced manufacturing.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Barry McDermott, a PhD student with the Translational Medical Device Lab in NUI Galway, was awarded a prestigious Dobbin Atlantic Scholarship from the Ireland Canada University Foundation, provided with support from the Irish Government. The award aims to cultivate a new generation of academic links between Ireland and Atlantic Canada in areas including scientific and technological innovation. Barry’s scholarship to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia allowed him to work with the *Moyer Lab for Clinical Biomechanics and Rehabilitation* on the development of MRI derived computational models of knee osteoarthritis. This work will feed into overall research conducted by Professor Moyer and her group into the development of clinically relevant biomarkers of osteoarthritis as well as therapeutic interventions designed to optimise joint health and reduce disease progression. This trip has opened a new set of academic links between NUI Galway and Dalhousie University in the area of Biomedical Engineering. The research collaboration between the Moyer Lab and NUI Galway, plans to refine and further extend the models, validate them with real patient data, apply machine learning techniques and ultimately be able to objectively use MRI images of arthritic knees to identify patients at risk, indicate patients who would benefit from surgery, and optimise physical activity for patients. The goal is to develop between the two universities a technology that will aid in preserving and keeping affected knees as healthy as possible for as long as possible. While in Canada, Barry developed a procedure to segment out the knee joint anatomies of normal and osteoarthritic patients from MRI images. These patients ranged in the severity and nature of the disease. The segmentation process involved using a computer to extract out tissues of interest from the MRI images which included the femur, the tibia, and the various cartilage layers. These segmented models had anatomically accurate 3D representations of the patient’s bone and cartilage tissues. At the same time an “ideal knee” was developed using computer aided design (CAD). This knee could be modified to flex or extend the joint, damage the cartilage, introduce abnormal rotation into the joint and to perform corrective surgery. The anatomically accurate models of real patient data were then used to modify the ideal knee to be a CAD model of the patient’s joint. This CAD model was then divided into smaller parts which then can have simulated physical forces applied and the outcome calculated using the computer. The applied forces mimicked joint loading under different conditions with the stress and strain on the joint calculated and visualised. Using these techniques, the stress and strain on a damaged joint can be assessed under a particular loading and it can be seen if the stress and strain reduces if a different pattern of loading is used or indeed if surgery is performed. The preliminary results generated correlated well to real world patients. Barry was also awarded Winner of ‘Best Paper: EMF Dosimetry - in silico tools and measurements’ at the first EMF-Med World Conference on Biomedical Applications of Electromagnetic Fields in Croatia last September. This was in relation to work on the development of 3D printable tissue mimicking materials and was in collaboration with Drs Anup Poudel and Manus Biggs in CÚRAM at NUI Galway and Dr Austin Coffey from WIT.  Supervised by Dr Emily Porter and Dr Martin O’Halloran from the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, a cross disciplinary group that combines medicine, science and engineering to help advance medical technology in a wide variety of areas, Barry’s main project is focused on the development of a novel device for ambulance-based brain imaging, as a low-cost and reliable method to classify strokes as either ischaemic or haemorrhagic. However, his multidisciplinary background allows him to contribute to a range of medical device and related research as evidenced by his two recent awards. Speaking about his scholarship award, Barry McDermott, said: “I feel honoured to have received this scholarship and been given the chance to visit Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. My visit has given me the opportunity to initiate a unique collaboration between our two groups to develop innovative medical technologies, and to support a stronger understanding of orthopaedics for my future work at NUI Galway.” Martin O’Halloran, Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, said: “Barry is a truly stellar PhD student, with a unique background in both Pharmacy and Veterinary medicine. Having that varied academic background allows him to contribute to a variety of medtech projects, and this award is a testament to both his research excellence and ambition.” Barry McDermott is an Electronic and Computer Engineer, graduating from NUI Galway in 2016. He has a uniquely multidisciplinary background being also qualified as both a Veterinary Surgeon (MVB, UCD) and Pharmaceutical Chemist (B.Sc. (Pharm), TCD). For more information about the Translational Medical Device Lab, visit: www.tmdlab.ie and for more about the Ireland Canada University Foundation, visit: http://www.icuf.ie/  -Ends-

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Community partners and NUI Galway researchers working together to improve the health of people living with chronic fatigue syndrome, aphasia and cardiac rehabilitation A new education and training initiative, the Community Engaged Scholars Programme (CES-P), is taking place at NUI Galway. The aim of the CES-P is to support the development of partnerships between researchers and community organisations interested in conducting research together that aims to improve the health of their community and that is driven by public and patient involvement (PPI) principles. Best summarised by the slogan Nothing about us, without us, PPI means that the voice of the public or patient guides and influences all stages of research, and that those likely to benefit from new treatments or services arising from research are involved in the decision-making that leads to their development. The CES-P was developed initially at the Medical University of South Carolina, international partners of the PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme. The programme is successfully delivered across a number of universities in the US and in Africa. Following a competitive selection process, three community-academic partnerships were recently chosen by a panel of academics, with input from public reviewers, to be part of the first roll-out of the CES-P in Ireland. The three partnerships will complete an intensive training programme over the coming months, a mixture of face-to-face workshops and online learning. Each partnership will then co-design and co-produce research addressing an agreed research question that is of interest to both the community and the researchers. The partners will then work together to share the research results with the public, as well as with researchers, health care professionals and policy makers. In the longer term, the partners will work together to apply for further research funding and to continue to work together to improve the health of the relevant community. The three successful partnerships represent very different communities and divergent academic backgrounds and there is great breadth in the health conditions of interest. One group is focused on Chronic Fatigue Syndome (CFS), with the Irish CFS Association represented by Orla NíChomhraí and Tom Kindlon, partnering with Dr John Cullinan, a health economist at NUI Galway who is already working with EU colleagues in the area of CFS. This partnership is interested in gathering data related to the impact and burden of CFS for Irish people living with the condition. Dr John Cullinan says: “For far too long the voices and experiences of Irish CFS patients have been missing from research and policy”,while Orla NíChomhraí adds:“This collaboration is an attempt to put the patient perspective front and centre in developing evidence that helps improve the lives of those living with ME.” Dr Ruth McMenamin, a lecturer in speech and language therapy at NUI Galway has many years’ experience of collaborating with people with aphasia (aphasia is an acquired language disorder experienced by up to one-third of the stroke population) in teaching, research and practice. The Irish Heart and Stroke Foundation, represented by Martina Greene and the Ballinasloe Stroke Support group are partnering with Ruth on the CES-P programme and together with people with aphasia they will co-design and co-implement research to raise awareness of aphasia. Ruth McMenamin and Martina Greene point out that: “People living with aphasia are one of the most marginalised groups in our communities. Our goal is to work with people living with stroke and aphasia to promote inclusion through a targeted national aphasia awareness campaign. We want to make Ireland an ‘aphasia friendly’ country.”  The third successful partnership sees Croí, represented by Irene Gibson and Denise Dunne, partnering with a group of health psychologists, led by Dr Oonagh Meade from NUI Galway. This partnership is interested in exploring the potential of delivering cardiac rehabilitation programmes electronically (via web sites, videos etc.) rather than the traditional face-to-face rehabilitation programmes.   Irene Gibson from Croí, says: “We are delighted to be part of this innovative program which will give the public and those affected by cardiovascular disease the opportunity to have their voice heard and be actively engaged in driving areas of research that are vital to them. As a heart and stoke charity our work is driven by the needs of the communities we serve and therefore being part of this initiative is a perfect fit. We believe that by adopting this participatory approach to research there is a real potential to influence policy and change how we deliver prevention in Ireland for the better.” For more information about the PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway programme, visit:   https://www.nuigalway.ie/ppi/ -Ends-


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