Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Archived News



3U Partnership conference held to advance teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering & mathematics

A conference was held in RCSI, 13th December 2013, to showcase the joint research projects from the 3U N-STEP initiative. The 3U N-STEP is a national initiative established by the 3U Partnership between DCU, NUI Maynooth and RCSI to advance teaching and learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The aim of the first strand of the 3U N-STEP initiative is to support research into teaching and learning practices of STEM subjects at university level. The collaborative research projects, which were supported by the 3U Partnership, were showcased in RCSI today.

Eight research projects were undertaken, involving 25 researchers from across the three partner institutions: Dublin City University, NUI Maynooth and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Each successful project involves researchers from at least two of the partner institutions.

Speaking at the conference Dr Ruth Davis, Director of the 3U Partnership, said "The 3U N-STEP initiative goes to the heart of what our three Partner Institutions are about - educating students. Through the 3U Partnership, we are seeking to be the very best at educating all of the students that come through the doors of each of our institutions."

The diverse range of research across the 3U N-STEP projects includes interdisciplinary communication, cultural intelligence, attendance, opportunities for creative reasoning, building mathematical knowledge for teaching, exploring student expectations, the use of smart devices, and the role of metacognition in mathematical problem solving.

Prof Teresa Pawlikowska, Professor of Health Professions Education RCSI, gave the keynote address at the conference, highlighting the potential benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration in research.

Further information is available at





RCSI hosts International Conference on Epithelia and Smooth Muscle Interactions in Health and Disease Dublin Convention Centre, 11-13 December 2013

A Joint Meeting of The Physiological Society and RCSI has brought together scientists and clinicians from USA, Canada, Chile and Europe to discuss recent advances in epithelia and smooth muscle interactions in health and disease. Conference organiser, Professor Brian Harvey, Department of Molecular Medicine RCSI, said the focus on Epithelia and Vascular diseases which affect both epithelial ion transport and smooth muscle contractility is unique in the international conference circuit and will shed new insights into understanding common mechanisms of diseases and their relevance in co-morbidities. Disease areas covered in the conference are Cystic Fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, COPD and arterial hypertension. (December 2013)





New Gastroenterology Research Uncovers New Route for the Development of Anti-diarrhoeal Drugs

New gastroenterology research carried out by the RCSI in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland has uncovered a new route for the development of anti-diarrhoeal drugs. The new route directly targets cells and molecular processes that control water movement into the intestine and may help with the development of a new class of anti-diarrhoeal medication.

The research found that drugs which act on a protein called Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) in the tissue of the intestine can stop water moving in to the gut. By switching off the water movement in to the gut, this can prevent diarrhoea occurring.

Dr Stephen Keely (pictured), Associate Director of Molecular Medicine, RCSI and lead researcher, said ‘Diarrhoeal diseases are common and debilitating but safe and effective drugs for their treatment are still lacking. Our research has found that FXR is an important regulator of intestinal function and has excellent potential for the development of a new class of anti-diarrhoeal drugs."

In Ireland, diarrhoea is the main reason for approximately 40,000 visits to gastroenterology clinics annually. Epidemics of acute infectious diarrhoea are common, and many illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, digestive disorders and irritable bowel syndrome cause disruptions to the normal functioning of the intestine and lead to diarrhoea. These conditions have a large financial burden to society both in terms of healthcare and lost hours of work.

The research found that drugs which target the FXR protein, target the cells lining the intestine, and because of this they may have broader efficacy and fewer side effects than many anti-diarrhoeals currently available on the market.

The research was published in Gut, a leading international journal in gastroenterology. These findings support an RCSI patent for treating diarrhoeal diseases recently granted by the European Patent Office. The research was a collaborative research project between the Department of Molecular Medicine, RCSI; the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA and the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. (December 2013).



RCSI led EU consortium receives €8.7 million funding to develop materials to regenerate cardiac tissue following heart attacks

Irish led Advanced Materials for Cardiac Regeneration (AMCARE) brings together ten European industry and academic partners to tackle the number one cause of death globally


Pictured are the RCSI and 3U AMCARE team (l-r) Dr. Tom Farrell, Dr. Andreas Heise, Dr. Conn Hastings, Prof. Sally Ann Cryan, Dr. Janice O'Sullivan, Dr. Helena Kelly, (Deputy Coordinator), Dr. Garry Duffy (Coordinator AMCARE) and Ms. Laura Gallagher. (Dec 2013)

Wednesday, 4th December: Major new EU funding for research into heart disease was announced by a group led by RCSI and AMBER. The AMCARE (Advanced Materials for CArdiac REgeneration) consortium involves ten partners from five European countries and has received €8.7 million funding (€6.8 million EU contribution) as part of the European Union's Framework Programme 7, Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies.

AMCARE is co-ordinated by Dr. Garry Duffy, Department of Anatomy and Tissue Engineering Research Group, RCSI and AMBER Investigator. AMBER (Advanced Materials for Bioengineering Research), the newly established Science Foundation Ireland funded research centre will lead specific tasks in the consortium, tackling surgical device design, nanotechnology safety and drug delivery.

The AMCARE programme, which will create ten new positions, will carry out research to develop natural materials and new surgical devices to enhance the delivery of the body's own stem cells to the heart to promote healing after a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and prevent premature death. The therapies being developed will replace heart cells that die due to the reduced blood flow that occurs during a heart attack, with new healthy cells derived from stem cells that come from the patient's own bone marrow.

The European Society of Cardiology estimates that one in every six men and one in every seven women in Europe will die from a myocardial infarction and according to the Irish Heart Foundation, approximately 10,000 people die in Ireland every year from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) including heart disease, stroke and other circulatory diseases. The most common cause of death in Ireland (33%), CVD is the number one cause of death globally, killing an estimated 17 million people each year according to World Health Organisation.

Dr. Garry Duffy commented on the research funding: ‘We are delighted to lead the AMCARE programme and to translate new collaborative research for the benefit of patients with heart disease. Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of patients who have suffered a heart attack, and through AMCARE we will develop new technologies to enhance stem cell therapies for these patients by increasing targeting and ease of delivery using advanced biomaterials.'

The AMCARE Consortium represents a major interdisciplinary effort between stem cell biologists, experts in advanced drug delivery, research scientists, clinicians and research-active companies working together to develop novel therapeutics to address the challenges of treating acute heart disease. The researchers will optimise adult stem cell therapy using smart biomaterials and advanced drug delivery, and couple these therapeutics with minimally-invasive surgical devices.

RCSI researchers involved in the consortium include Dr Helena Kelly (Deputy Co-ordinator) and Professor Sally-Ann Cryan, RCSI School of Pharmacy and will work with Drs Garry Duffy, Bruce Murphy and Adriele Prina-Mello from AMBER.

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research at RCSI said: ‘RCSI's leadership of the AMCARE consortium builds on the College's expertise in regenerative medicine and industrial collaboration. This new programme will help accelerate the development of new treatments for the benefit of patients, in keeping with our strategy of bench to bedside translational research.'

Dr Sergio F. Ceballos, National Contact Point for FP7 NMP in Enterprise Ireland commented: 'The 'AMCARE' project represents one of Irelands biggest successes for the NMP FP7 programme. The EU funding intake for Ireland Inc. represents over €2.3M and the research plans to deliver medical solutions to cardiovascular diseases, identified as one of the main causes of death across the EU. It was the first time Dr Duffy applied to European Research & Development Programmes and this achievement underlines the quality of research carried out in Ireland. We hope more applicants will be encouraged to apply under the new Horizon 2020 Framework programme which will replace FP7.'

The programme is an SME (Small Medium Enterprise) targeted collaborative project and the consortium members include a number of European SMEs; AdjuCor GmbH (Germany), Cardio3Biosciences (Belgium), Contipro (Czech Republic), Explora BioTech (Italy), INNOVA (Italy). In addition the consortium includes a number of other leading academic institutions; Trinity College Dublin, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology and the Eberhard Karls Universitat Tübingen in Germany and the multinational company Boston Scientific based in Galway, Ireland.

The project is funded by the European Union's ‘Seventh Framework' Programme (FP7/ under Grant Agreement n° NMP3-SME-2013-604531 from November 2013 to October 2018.

For further information about AMBER see (December 2013)



Dr Karen Morgan, PU-RCSI (Perdana University-RCSI), Psychology, has been awarded 46,534 USD as part of a 5 country HPV Vaccine Acceptability Study led by University of North Carolina and funded by GSK. The Malaysia team also includes Anne Jamaludin (Epidemiology and Public Health) and Amuthan Ganesh (Pharmacology). (December 2013)




Irish Cancer Society Research Fellowship for RCSI Dr. Amanda Tivnan

Dr. Amanda Tivnan has recently accepted the Irish Cancer Society Research Fellowship for work which she will be carrying out in RCSI with Professor Jochen Prehn (Dept Physiology and Medical Physics). Dr. Tivnan's research will be on a form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

For further information on the work which Dr Tivnan will be undertaking see (November 2013)



PIP Meeting 2013

The HRB Centre for Primary Care Research ( hosted an international collaborative Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination meeting on: "Potentially Inappropriate Prescribing: Epidemiology, Interventions and Policy Implications" on Tuesday 26th November in RCSI. The meeting summarised recent activities in the area of potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) and consisted on a number of focussed presentations from researchers at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, Queen's University Belfast and the Universities of Nottingham, Manchester and Dundee. These talks related to the development of prescribing indicators to enhance quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of prescribing, practice based interventions including academic detailing and decision support for clinicians, and health policy implementations to reduce PIP. The meeting was attended by national and international academics, clinicians and policy makers with an interest in effective medicines monitoring.

Speakers at Tuesday's meeting on potentially inappropriate prescribing, hosted by the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research.

Left to right: Professor Tony Avery, Head of School of Community Health Sciences, Division of General Practice, University of Nottingham. Professor Carmel Hughes, Professor of Primary Care Pharmacy, Queens University Belfast. Professor Bruce Guthrie, Professor of Primary Care Medicine, University of Dundee. Professor Susan Smith, Associate Professor of General Practice, RCSI. Professor Tom Fahey, Professor of General Practice RCSI and Principal Investigator for the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research.


Front Row: Professor Tony Avery, Head of School of Community Health Sciences, Division of General Practice, University of Nottingham. Dr. Ronan Mc Donnell, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research RCSI. Professor Rachel A Elliott, Lord Trent Professor of Medicines and Health, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham. Dr. Rachel Spencer, Academic GP, PhD Candidate in the Primary Care at the University of Nottingham, Professor Carmel Hughes, Professor of Primary Care Pharmacy, Queens University Belfast. Professor Susan Smith, Associate Professor of General Practice, RCSI. Dr. Janine Cooper, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast. Barbara Clyde, PhD Scholar in Health Services Research, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research RCSI. Dr. Dan Morales, CSO Clinical Academic Fellow, University of Dundee.

Back Row: Xinyu Zhang, PhD Student, University of Dundee, Ning Yu, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Dundee. Professor Tom Fahey, Professor of General Practice RCSI and Principal Investigator for the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research. Dr. Tobias Dreischutle, Research Fellow(Pharmacy), University of Dundee. Professor Bruce Guthrie, Professor of Primary Care Medicine, University of Dundee. Dr. Sarah Rodgers, Senior Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham. Dr. Patrick Redmond, General Practicitioner, Lecturer & PhD Scholar in Health Services Research, HRB Centre for Primary Care, RCSI.



Front Row: Professor Tony Avery, Head of School of Community Health Sciences, Division of General Practice, University of Nottingham. Dr. Ronan Mc Donnell, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research RCSI. Professor Rachel A Elliott, Lord Trent Professor of Medicines and Health, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham. Dr. Rachel Spencer, Academic GP, PhD Candidate in the Primary Care at the University of Nottingham, Professor Carmel Hughes, Professor of Primary Care Pharmacy, Queens University Belfast. Professor Susan Smith, Associate Professor of General Practice, RCSI. Dr. Janine Cooper, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast. Barbara Clyde, PhD Scholar in Health Services Research, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research RCSI. Dr. Dan Morales, CSO Clinical Academic Fellow, University of Dundee.

Back Row: Xinyu Zhang, PhD Student, University of Dundee, Ning Yu, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Dundee. Professor Tom Fahey, Professor of General Practice RCSI and Principal Investigator for the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research. Dr. Tobias Dreischutle, Research Fellow(Pharmacy), University of Dundee. Professor Bruce Guthrie, Professor of Primary Care Medicine, University of Dundee. Dr. Sarah Rodgers, Senior Research Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham. Dr. Patrick Redmond, General Practicitioner, Lecturer & PhD Scholar in Health Services Research, HRB Centre for Primary Care, RCSI.



No Rebound Effect after Clopidogrel Cessation in Stable Patients

After planned clopidogrel cessation, platelet reactivity soon returns to baseline levels, showing no evidence of a rebound effect in patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) or peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a study published online November 6, 2013, ahead of print in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

RCSI Professor David Williams (Consultant Stroke Physician, Beaumont Hospital) participated in this important study, with colleagues of the University of Aberdeen School of Medicine and Dentistry (Aberdeen, Scotland), before joining RCSI.

For further information, see Ford I, Scott NW, Herd V, Mitchell LR, Williams DJ, Brittenden J. A randomised controlled trial of platelet activity before and after cessation of clopidogrel therapy in patients with stable cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Oct 22. Doi:Pii:S0735-1(13) 05754-9.10.1016/j.jacc.2013.10.018 [Epub ahead of print] (November 2013)



School of Postgraduate Studies Host Prof Vanessa Abilio's (Federal University of São Paulo, UNIFESP) visit to Ireland

The RCSI School of Postgraduate Studies hosted Prof Vanessa Abilio's (Federal University of São Paulo, UNIFESP) visit to Ireland in November 2013. The visit, sponsored by Research Brazil Ireland (RBI), an International Strategic award funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), will explore new opportunities for scientific research collaborations.

Photo L-R Prof Niamh Moran, RCSI School of Postgraduate Studies, Ms Tatiane Eufrásio, RCSI Postgraduate student, Prof Vanessa Abilio, UNIFESP, Brazilian Ambassador in Ireland Mr Pedro Fernando Brêtas Bastos, Prof John Waddington, RCSI Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, Prof Fergal O'Brien, RCSI Anatomy) (November 2013)



Irish Institute of Metal-Based Drugs

Professor Celine Marmion, Department of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry, hosted the 6th Meeting of the Irish Institute of Metal-Based Drugs in RCSI on Friday, 1st November. This brought together delegates from RCSI and our 3U Partners, NUI Maynooth and DCU, as well as from UCD, NUI Galway, DIT, ITT Dublin and the University of Reading, UK in which they presented their research in the exciting field of metallodrug design and action.

Photo of some of the speakers attached. (November 2013)



RCSI Student wins top Undergraduate Award in Medical Sciences

Joseph Sweeney, RCSI BSc in Pharmacy graduate, has been awarded the winning prize in the 2013 Undergraduate Awards Medical Sciences category. Pictured (l-r) is Prof Fergal O'Brien, Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine; Joseph; and Dr Orlaith Brennan, Lecturer in Physics. Orlaith and Prof O'Brien supervised Joseph in his research. The Undergraduate Awards are an international academic awards programme that identifies top students across the globe through their innovative undergraduate research. (November 2013)


ICGP, Research and Education Grant 2013.

An ICGP, Research and Education Grant 2013 of €10,000 for work in General Practice in Disadvantaged Areas in Ireland, was awarded to Professor Susan Smith, Department of General Practice and HRB Centre for Primary Care Research. (November 2013)



HRB Cochrane Fellowship 2013

A HRB Cochrane Fellowship of €90,000 for Antiviral therapy for infectious mononucleosis was awarded to Dr Muireann de Paor, Department of General Practice and HRB Centre for Primary Care Research. (November 2013)



Molecular Medicine Success at 6th Annual IEPG Meeting

Natalia Lajczak (Dept. of Molecular Medicine, RCSI) won Joint 1st Prize presentation at the 6th annual Irish Epithelial Physiology Group (IEPG) Meeting which took place at the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny on October 24th-25th 2013.


Pictured left to right: Keynote speaker, Jonathan Kaunitz, presenting the winners, Jerzy Woznicki (Alimentary Pharmacobiotic Centre, UCC) and Natalia Lajczak (Dept. of Molecular Medicine, RCSI), with their prizes.


Pictured Left to right: prizewinners with their Principal Investigators, Ken Nally, Jonathan Kaunitz (UCC), Natalia Lajczak and Stephen Keely (RCSI). (October 2013)




Minister Bruton launches new €58 Million SFI Research Centre- AMBER

Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research (AMBER) Centre positions Ireland as a global leader in the areas of materials and medical device development for industry

Thursday 24th October, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, together with the Minister for Research & Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, launched the Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research Centre (AMBER).

The Centre is funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) in the amount of €35million. This funding is leveraged with an additional €23million from 18 industry partners. AMBER will directly support 99 jobs and there is potential for further job creation.

The AMBER Research Centre is led by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with University College Cork and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Bruton said: "Almost 50% of IDA jobs wins are connected to SFI research projects - that's almost 6000 jobs per year over recent years. Therefore, if we are to achieve the level of job-creation we need, we must ensure that our science and research spending is properly targeted at employment opportunities. As part of the Action Plan for Jobs we are making a series of changes to achieve this, including the new SFI centres programme which will focus our spending in this area on 7 large-scale research centres which can attract industry funding and compete with the best in the world.

"The establishment of AMBER is a key part of this plan. Nanoscience and materials science are areas where we rank well inside the top ten internationally for research. The scale and ambition of this centre means that we can attract 18 industry partners and leading international researchers who can turn these good ideas into good jobs. I commend all involved and wish them every success with this crucial project".

Minister Sherlock stated that, "With nanoscience linked to €15 billion or 10% of Irish exports and 250,000 jobs in sectors like technology, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, energy and more, the importance of AMBER as a driver of future materials science research is clear. As a national centre, AMBER will play a key role in growing and retaining existing companies, providing world-leading research, increasing the level of foreign direct investment and enabling job creation in Ireland."

AMBER will work to translate science into new discoveries and devices for a range of sectors, particularly ICT, medical devices and industrial technologies. It is an academia-industry research consortium dedicated to developing new materials and medical devices which includes the development of novel silicon and magnetic memory devices which will impact communication devices like mobile phones; medical implant coatings which will improve patient care, for example hip implants and other products such as thermoelectric devices.

Professor Fergal O'Brien, Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine in RCSI and Deputy Director of AMBER said "AMBER presents a unique opportunity to develop advanced next generation materials and medical devices. It brings together world class scientists in bioengineering and nanotechnology in addition to the Tissue Engineering Research Group and clinicians based at RCSI thus ensuring that the biomaterials and medical devices developed are informed by clinical need. The level of investment is at a scale comparable to leading research centres worldwide and will ensure Ireland is a global leader in materials science and medical device technologies"

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI said, "The SFI Research Centres Programme represents the largest ever state industry co-funded research investment of its kind in Ireland. The programme will see €200 million of Irish exchequer funding matched by €100 million in support from industry invested in seven world class research centres of scale, one of which is AMBER. AMBER has the potential to impact positively on Ireland's future, not only in terms of the research outputs and resulting economic gain, but also in terms of creating and maintaining a strong pool of excellent talent within our shores. The foundation of AMBER has already delivered tangible economic benefits that include productive engagement with industry collaborators and the creation of new jobs."

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research at RCSI said "We are delighted with the launch of AMBER, which will help accelerate the development of new materials for the benefit of patients, in keeping with our strategy of bench to bedside translational research. " (October 2013)




2013 RCSI Seed Funding

The successful candidates to the RCSI Seed Funding 2013 Call where as follows:


Dr Niamh Humphries: Project Title: Failure to Retain: The health workforce implications of the emigration of Irish trained doctors and nurses 2008-2012 (F2R Project)

Dr Suzanne Miller-Delaney: Project Title: Elucidating the potential of miRNAs as biomarkers of multi-drug resistance in neuroblastoma - towards the development of a sensor platform capable of identifying patients at risk.

Dr Frank Doyle: Project Title: Determining rates of smoking cessation advice delivered during hospitalisation and smoking cessation rates 3-months post discharge: a two-hospital pilot survey

Dr Markus Rehm: Project Title: Development of a systems medicine platform to predict therapy responsiveness of colorectal cancer patients from quantitative histopathological immunofluorescence data

Dr Alex Eustace: Project Title: Novel Kinome Aberrations in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Therapy Resistance

Dr Annette Byrne: Project Title: ‘TKI Colo-Predict': Validation of a Patient Derived Colorectal Cancer Xenograft ‘Avatar' Discovery Platform for the Integrated Systems Based Identification of Predictive Biomarker Sigantures for a Lead Optimised Panel of Targeted Therapies.

Dr Orlaith Brennan: Project Title: Investigation of the influence of a natural marine derived calcium supplement and vitamin D on the prevention of bone loss following estrogen deficiency in a rat ovariectomy model of osteoporosis

(October 2013)






Prof Dermot Kenny Wins Innovation Award

Prof Dermot Kenny, Professor of Cardiovascular Biology, Beaumont Hospital and RCSI, won an Enterprise Ireland Med In Ireland Award for his work to develop a diagnostic for Cardiovascular disease using platelet stickiness. Prof Kenny will receive Feasibility funding from Enterprise Ireland to investigate the commercial potential of this idea. (October 2013)




Junior Investigators Award at 2013 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference

Dr. Kerstin Pohl from the Dept. of Medicine won the Junior Investigators Best Abstract in Basic Science Award at the 2013 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Utah. The study, led by Dr. Emer Reeves and Prof. Gerry McElvaney, was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Dublin City University and King's College London and examined the effect of ivacaftor treatment on neutrophil function in individuals with cystic fibrosis. (October 2013)


Ciara O'Dwyer from the Dept. of Medicine was awarded a travel grant from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for attendance at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in October (16th-19th) 2013 at Salt Lake City, Utah. Ciara is in the third year of her PhD studies and she presented her results on the effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin on leukotriene B4 associated pulmonary disease. Ciara's project is funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation and is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney. (October 2013)




Dean's Award winners 2013

The annual Dean’s Awards were announced at the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences on Friday 18th October, 2013. The winners are staff proposed by colleagues for their ongoing contribution to the core values of RCSI - Respect, Collegiality, Scholarship and Innovation. (October 2013)

Aidan Bradford, Associate Professor from the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, was the Academic recipient of the 2013 Dean’s Award.

Highly valued by students, Prof Bradford, who has recently returned from Perdana University as the Foundation Lead in Physiology in the RCSI programme and the most senior of the RCSI discipline leads in the Junior Cycle curriculum, is seen as both a committed teacher and researcher. (October 2013)



Deirdre Hyland, Senior Research Nurse/Director of Research Nurse Education at RCSI’s Clinical Research Centre in Beaumont Hospital, is the administrative Dean’s Award winner for 2013. Deirdre is responsible for the standard operating processes in clinical studies conducted in the CRC; standards that are highly praised at regulator visits such as those of the Irish Medicines Board. In addition to this service, to our researchers and through them to the public and patients who participate in research for RCSI, Deirdre has innovated educationally. She has developed a postgraduate certificate in clinical research nursing for RCSI. Five cohorts have now completed this NUI registered certificate course in association with our School of Nursing at RCSI. These nurses comprise the leadership in clinical trials management in the CRC networks across the country, and increase our national capacity to run good clinical trials. Her work brings great credit to the RCSI research and nursing communities. (October 2013)

Pictured above (l-r) is Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO; Ms Deirdre Hyland, Dean's Award winner; Prof. Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences; and Professor Patrick Broe, President.


Launch of DOCTRID Conference in Assistive Technologies for people with Autism and Intellectual Disability

The first structured research programme in Europe to develop Assistive Technologies for People with Autism and Intellectual Disability was launched in Dublin on the 15th October 2013. The ASSISTID EU Marie Curie COFUND programme will promote research into the development and application of assistive technologies for the practical benefit of carers and individuals to enhance the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities.

The National Disability Authority Ireland (NDA) published a recent report which stated ‘Assistive Technologies is centrally important for disability policy as it is one of the more concrete ways that the barriers to participation in society can be overcome for people with disabilities'

The ASSISTID programme will be supported by the EU and the charity RESPECT Ireland and coordinated by the DOCTRID Research Institute which was established by The Daughters of Charity Service (DOC) in 2010. The DOC provides daily support to over 2,500 people with an intellectual disability both in specialist centres and full time care in Ireland. The DOCTRID Research Institute is a collaborative research partnership of all the universities on the island of Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and US universities including Michigan State University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School together with associated partners in Europe, Japan, Canada and South America.

At the conference, Professor Brian Harvey from RCSI and Director of Research for DOCTRID highlighted the importance of the research, "DOCTRID and ASSISTID are positioned in a unique place and time-frame to undertake and support research and technologies to address critical needs in the area of autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities in order to make important, meaningful and sustainable impact on the quality of life of individuals with these disabilities on a global basis" (October 2013)


Infant Centre Launch
The launch of the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) has taken place, of which Professor David Henshall, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, is a co-Principle Investigator. The new €13.6 million research centre, based at Cork University Maternity Hospital, will aim to improve treatment and care for pregnant mothers and new-born babies. (October 2013)


A tool for predicting drug-specific cell death responses in melanoma

Dr Markus Rehm and his team published a new study in the Journal "Cell Death and Differentiation" (Cell Death Differ. 2013 Nov;20(11):1521-1531). In this study, they were successful in predicting the best treatment option for individual melanoma cell lines by using a novel systems modelling approach. The elimination of cancer cells by a process called Apoptosis is a mainstay of anti-cancer chemotherapies. Markus Rehm and his team used quantitative data of proteins that regulate this cell death mechanism together with information on their interactions and regulatory functions to predict the treatment outcome for individual cell lines to different apoptosis-inducing drugs. Using these information they were able to select the best treatment option in up to 91% of the cases. Additionally, the investigators could identify optimal co-treatment strategies to overcome resistance in melanoma cells. Their novel approach may contribute to the development of personalized cancer treatments in the future.

The systems model was co-developed and implemented by Dr Maximilian Würstle, a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Dr Rehm. A poster designed by Dr Würstle won the "best poster" price at the European Cell Death Organisation annual conference in Paris in late September. Oral presentations of the study results were given in guest seminars and conference talks in recent months (Dermatology Clinics, University of Dresden; Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; 3U Cancer Conference, Dublin; CSHL Cell Death meeting, Cold Spring Harbor). (October 2013)

In further news from this group:

Insight into intracellular protease activities during cancer cell death

Caspases are proteases crucial for the elimination of cancer cells by apoptotic cell death. Eugenia Delgado, a PhD student in the team of Dr Markus Rehm, has now published the first study in which the contribution of caspase-2 to apoptosis initiation and execution was analysed inside individual living cells by highly sensitive biophysical FRET reporter assays (Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Oct;1833(10):2279-92). So far, approaches towards measuring caspase-2 activity were restricted to analyses in cell homogenates and extracts, yielded inconsistent results, and were often limited in sensitivity, thereby contributing to controversies regarding the role of caspase-2 during apoptosis. Furthermore, caspases overlap in substrate specificities, and caspase-8 as well as effector caspases may cleave optimal caspase-2 recognition motifs. The study found that limited proteolysis of caspase-2 substrates during extrinsic apoptosis initiation was attributable to caspase-8 rather than caspase-2. The contribution of caspase-2 to proteolytic activities during apoptosis execution was insignificant. In contrast to several previous studies, the authors demonstrate that caspase-2 substrate is predominantly cleaved by caspase-8 and effector caspases during canonical apoptosis signalling. (October 2013)



RCSI hosts third Annual International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students

The third International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students (ICHAMS) took place at RCSI last week. This conference was attended by more than 100 undergraduate students from Ireland, UK, USA, Middle-East and South-East Asia. The event also saw 90 students present on a variety of topics of healthcare research.

The conference was organised by RCSI undergraduate medical and healthcare students for students worldwide: ‘A conference for students by students'. This year's tag line was Explore, Evolve, Excel - Advancing Biomedical Research, seeking to provide opportunities to further develop the biomedical research skills of undergraduate students.

Dr Sarah O'Neill, MCT, Chair of the Scientific Committee said ‘I am proud that the ICHAMS Conference is entering its third year which is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our student organising committee. By providing healthcare students with the opportunity to develop their research skills and interests at an early stage in their career, it gives students an insight into the world of scientific research and a better understanding of how research can be translated from the bench to the patients' bedside.'

Professor Graham McMahon, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Dr. Orina Belton, lecturer at UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, give the keynote addresses at the conference. (October 2013)


ERS Funding
Dr Catherine Greene from the Department of Medicine in ERC Beaumont has recently been awarded €10,800 award from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) for her research in the area of rare pulmonary diseases. This funding will support further research in this field. (October 2013)




European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA)

Dr. Emmet O'Brien was the successful recipient of the European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA), received at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Barcelona in September 2013. The eALTA is a European research initiative coordinated by Grifols and the primary goal of the eALTA program is to identify research projects aimed at enhancing the understanding of disease mechanisms of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and associated disorders.

Emmet's project aims to fully characterise the effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin (alpha-1) on neutrophil function within the circulation. The potential benefits to patients include an investigation into whether alpha-1 augmentation therapy corrects the accelerated rate of neutrophil activity in deficient individuals. The long-term objective of this research is to develop the means to control lung disease associated with alpha-1 deficiency and the potential ramifications of alpha-1 as a modulator of neutrophil function will add a new dimension to its role in health and disease.

Emmet's project is entitled ‘Neutrophil degranulation in individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency' and is currently being carried out in the Department of Medicine, under the supervision of Prof Gerry McElvaney, Dr Emer Reeves and Dr David Bergin. (October 2013)



Tokyo Invitation Fellowship
Professor John Waddington, MCT, received a second invitation Fellowship by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to visit and lecture at Japanese Universities. John will visit Osaka University and Nihon University in Tokyo on the 16th of October. (October 2013)

In further news:

Schizophrenia Bulletin
Professor John Waddington has also been invited by Schizophrenia Bulletin to co-edit a theme section on Psychotic depression: an under-appreciated window to explore the dimensionality and pathobiology of psychosis. In the most recent issue of this publication, Olabisi Owoeye, MCT, contributed an article based on work undertaken in collaboration with Cavan-Monaghan Mental Health Service. (October 2013)



Irish Society Of Immunology
Siobhan Smith, MCT, was awarded the prize for Best Postgraduate Poster Presentation at the recent Annual Meeting of the Irish Society of Immunology, on the role of estrogen in regulating TRIM21 expression and its implications for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). (October 2013)



One in Five young people in ireland IS experiencing A mental disorder: RCSI PERL Group Mental Health Report

According to research published by RCSI in October 2013, one in five young Irish adults aged 19-24 and one in 6 young people aged 11-13 were experiencing mental disorder at the time they took part in two HRB-funded studies on mental disorders among Irish youth. The research also found that experiencing mental ill-health in early life places young people at increased risk of further episodes of mental ill-health during their adult years.

‘The Mental Health Of Young People in Ireland' report prepared by the RCSI Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan (PERL) Group was launched in October by Kathleen Lynch, TD, Minister of State, Department of Health and Department of Justice, Equality & Defence with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality & Mental Health and provides valuable, clinically-validated, data on the rates of mental disorder among Irish youth and factors contributing to mental-health. This is the first time such comprehensive, longitudinal data about mental health disorders among young people in Ireland have been published.

The PERL Group research findings combine two research studies carried out with young people in Ireland - the Adolescent Brain Development Study and the Challenging Times Two Study. The research, involved surveying and interviewing more than 400 young people between the ages of 11 and 24 to assess them for the presence of mental disorders and to examine their overall level of functioning.

Commenting on the report Professor Mary Cannon, PERL Group Leader & Associate Professor, RCSI, said: "Our research shows that high numbers of teenagers and young adults in Ireland are experiencing mental ill-health at any given time. For the first time in Ireland, we have evidence showing that young people who experience mental ill-health during adolescence have higher rates of mental disorders and substance misuse during their young adult years and are three times more likely to be unemployed than young adults who did not experience mental ill-health during their adolescence. Compared to similar international studies, the findings suggest that Irish youth may have higher rates of disorder than their peers in Europe and the USA."

The findings of the report also indicate that high numbers of young adults aged 19-24 are engaged in the misuse of alcohol and drugs. Over 1 in 5 met criteria for a diagnosable substance use disorder over the course of their lives and 1 in 20 met criteria for an alcohol use disorder at the time of the study. Of particular concern is that 3 out of 4 young adults (75%) met lifetime criteria for binge drinking. The research also reveals that almost 1 in 5 (19%) had thought about suicide.

Speaking at the event, The Minister of State at the Department of Health & Department of Justice, Equality & Defence, Ms Kathleen Lynch T.D. said: "We, as a society, have a collective duty to foster a culture whereby all those in difficulty, and young people in particular, do not hesitate to seek help when needed. We should, for example, be alert to the signs and signals of distress, promote good coping skills, embrace difference and exclude stigma. The fundamental solution to meeting mental health needs, regardless of age, lies in effective partnerships where professionals, service users, families and the wider community work together. Obviously, the Government will continue to play its part in terms of promoting policies, services and investment for this important sector. Above all, no one should have to suffer a mental illness alone. I would appeal to any young person who thinks they may have a mental health issue not to suffer in silence and to seek help from the many sources available."

Speaking at the conference guest lecturer Professor Pat McGorry, Professor of Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne warned: "This research should be the only wake up call that people need. This research tells us very clearly that there is an urgent need to enhance the services, supports and policies which underpin the mental health services available to young people in Ireland. There is a need for specialist mental health services catering to young people between the ages of 15 and 25. These young people do not fit well into the current adult services. Without access to appropriate support services at the right time, a young person's chances of operating and functioning well in society as adults are severely limited."

This report and fact sheets are available for download on The preparation of the Report and Fact sheets were funded by a Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Award from the Health Research Board (HRB). (October 2013)


RCSI launches CyberPsychology Research Centre The RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre was launched by the RCSI Institute of Leadership on October 3rd. Coinciding with the European Union's Cyber Security Month (ECSM), the new centre will focus on the key areas of child safety online, cyberbullying, and human trafficking & technology. The Centre will also investigate the impact of technology on leadership, while developing national and international partnerships between academia, government, law enforcement and industry and will serve as an Irish centre of excellence for cyberpsychology research.

Speaking at the launch, Michael Moran, Assistant Director of INTERPOL said that ‘Robust law enforcement is informed by robust research; effective partnership between frontline police investigators and academics can only be a positive thing. This centre is welcomed by global law enforcement agencies as a resource to aid appropriate and informed policy development, training and response. The launch of the centre formalises a productive partnership that will undoubtedly continue to grow and deliver results.'

Through international collaborations, the CyberPsychology Centre has already developed a substantial research network. As well as liaising with the European Commission and the White House, research collaboration has been established with institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and Columbia Universities, INTERPOL, the Garda Síochána, Metropolitan Police Service of London, Los Angeles Police Department, the Australian Federal Police,

Speaking at the launch Professor Ciarán O'Boyle, Director of the RCSI Institute of Leadership, said: ‘The CyberPsychology Research Centre has been established to provide analysis, insight and leadership in understanding the benefits, risks and applications of current and emerging human-technology interfaces.'

Also speaking at the launch was Mary Aiken (pictured), RCSI Research Fellow and Centre Director who said: ‘Our vision is that the Research Centre will become a global leader in producing research and supporting education and intervention at the intersection of psychology and technology.'

For further information on the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre visit: (October 2013)





RCSI led consortium receives €11.5 million funding by EU to uncover effects of microRNA in epilepsy

Major new funding for research into epilepsy was announced in September 2013 by a group led from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). The EpimiRNA Consortium, which is co-ordinated by Professor David Henshall (pictured), Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, RCSI, involves 16 partners from eight European countries, the USA and Brazil has received €11.5 million funding from the European Union's Framework Programme 7 to investigate molecular mechanisms, diagnostics and treatments for epilepsy.

Over 50 million people across the world suffer from epilepsy, making it the most common serious neurological disorder for which there is no cure. The causes for epilepsy are insufficiently understood with currently available treatments being sub-optimal and with a significant proportion of patients not responding. Recent discoveries have identified a new type of molecule in cells called microRNA which may be critical to controlling the changes in brain chemistry that accompany the development and course of epilepsy. The EpimiRNA Consortium represents a major interdisciplinary effort between epilepsy researchers, geneticists, clinicians, experts in advanced molecular sciences and research-active companies working together to understand molecular mechanisms, diagnostics and developing novel microRNA-based therapeutics to prevent the development of epilepsy, the occurrence of seizures or reverse epilepsy once established.

Co-ordinator of the EpimiRNA consortium, Professor David Henshall commented on the research funding, ‘Improved understanding of the causes of epilepsy is critical to the development of more effective treatments and, hopefully, a cure. The EpimiRNA consortium will build on recent scientific breakthroughs that identified a new family of molecules controlling brain cell structure and function - microRNAs. We will now take the first ever large-scale international effort to uncover the complete spectrum of effects of microRNA in epilepsy, from designing drugs of the future to genetic tests and diagnostics.'

The consortium features a number of RCSI researchers as it is coordinated by Professor David Henshall and consists of, academic partners, Professor Jochen Prehn, Head of the Department of Physiology & Medical Physics; Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos (Physiology & Medical Physics); Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri (Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics Department); and consultant neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, Professor Norman Delanty.

The consortium is also accompanied by experienced companies: DIXI Microtechniques (France), Cerbomed GmbH (Germany), InteRNA Technologies (Netherlands), Bicoll GmbH (Germany-China), BC Platforms (Finland) and GABO:mi (Germany).

The project is funded by the European Union's ‘Seventh Framework' Programme (FP7/ under Grant Agreement n°602130 from September 2013 to August 2018.

For a more detailed description of the project see:


Cardiology Study Publication in Nature Genetics

Professor Alice Stanton (MCT) participated in an important international collaborative study genome-wide study, the results of which have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics. In the research, 268 researchers from 211 institutions joined forces, allowing data from 181,171 participants to be studied. In all 14 new gene variations were found to be associated with heart rate. Since heart rate is a marker of cardiovascular health, it is anticipated that these discoveries will lead to new drugs for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders, and other forms of cardiovascular disease. (September 2013)


Nature Publication for Professor Norman Delanty

Professor Norman Delanty, Department of Neurology, RCSI and Beaumont Hospital, was co-author on a paper published in Nature in August 2013. The study looked at role of genetic mutations in severe childhood epilepsy disorders. The research was carried out in conjunction with a team of international collaborators from the US, UK, Canada and Austria. (September 2013)


Multi-drug Pills Help People Stick to Heart Disease Prevention Regimens

People are much more likely to take preventive medicines if they are combined in one pill, an international study has found. These findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association September 2013. In the first study to test the impact of a fixed-dose combination pill - called a polypill - in people with cardiovascular disease, 2,004 participants in Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and India were randomly assigned either the polypill, or their normal combination of medicines. After an average of 15 months' follow-up, the proportion of participants in the polypill group who were taking medications regularly was a third higher than in the group receiving usual care. The polypill group also had lower blood pressure and cholesterol measurements.

Irish author Professor Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Beaumont Hospital Dublin, said: "We know that the majority of people who suffer a heart attack or stroke, either never take the correct protective medications, or stop taking them within a year of the event. The findings of this study suggest that providing the four drugs in a single pill is a very helpful preventive step."

The study was funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research. (September 2013)



World Congress of Biological Psychiatry

Professor John Waddington (MCT) spoke at the recent World Congress of Biological Psychiatry in Kyoto, Japan, on studies undertaken in collaboration with the Cavan-Monaghan Mental Health Service. These collaborative studies on psychotic illness are now cemented within the recently formed Dublin North East Hospital Group, in which RCSI is the academic partner. (September 2013)



IUPS Award

Dr. Joseph Ward, Molecular Medicine, won the postgraduate Epethilia & Membrane Transport theme at the Physiological Society Poster Competition at IUPS (International Union of Physiological Sciences) 2013 held in July in Birmingham, UK. (September 2013)



RCSI/IT Tralee IMCP Research Project Publication

Ms. Helen Kelly, RCSI Lecturer in Communications, and colleagues from the Institute of Technology in Tralee; Kristin Brogan & Prof Muiris O’Laoire, have published findings from their educational research study on the joint RCSI/IT Tralee IMCP (International Medical Commencement Programme). The article is entitled ‘Intercultural Awareness and Sociolinguistic Competence and Their Impact on Students‘ Second Language Acquisition in a Study Abroad Context’ and was published in July 2013. (September 2013)


3U Recognition

The 3U Partnership (between RCSI, DCU and NUI Maynooth) has been recognised as a ‘centre of excellence' in Neurodegeneration as part of the CoEN initiative (Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease). Professor Jochen Prehn, Physiology, has received funding for the NEURO-MIR project under this scheme, with partners in Belgium, Germany and Spain. This project is being funded under the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) aligned CoEN initiative (Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease). (September 2013)


RCSI Research Day 2014

Our Annual showcase event for all of our researchers to give oral presentations and exhibit posters of their work will take place on Thursday March 20th 2014.

Read more about our research day »



RCSI contributes to the autumn series of RTE’s ‘The Science Squad’

Showcasing the excellent research at RCSI, the series will air on Friday 6th September at 7.30pm, and thereafter weekly for 7 weeks. Below are details of the programmes which feature the RCSI teams:


PROGRAMME 2 - Growing Bones - Friday 13th September

An Irish team of researchers led by Prof Fergal O'Brien at RCSI, have made an exciting breakthrough, having developed a new organic material which harnesses the body's own regenerative power to repair damaged bones and cartilage. Fergal's company Surgacoll can demonstrate some great advances in both animal and human health care, and we will also meet Ireland and Leinster rugby star Gordon Darcy who discusses the potential impact of this ground-breaking research in elite sports.

PROGRAMME 4 - Do you have what it takes to be a top surgeon? - Friday 27th September

It has been acknowledged that certain natural abilities and personality characteristics can influence surgeons' performance. At the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, new technologies have allowed for a move towards more skills lab training involving simulators, where students can learn skills in a controlled environment, allowing for safer and accelerated learning. We test our presenter Jonathan's natural suitability to a surgical profession, highlighting both the new technology being used in skills labs and the human factors modules that are transforming surgical training. Does Jonathon have the natural physical and cognitive skills suited to a career in surgery?

PROGRAMME 7 - Malaria - Friday October 18th

Malaria is a huge global public health problem, killing over 1 million people each year. Recent attempts at a new vaccine, including Bill Gates and GlaxoSmithKline world's largest malaria vaccine trial, have proven unsuccessful. However, all is not lost, as a new vaccine developed in Ireland is now undergoing clinical trials. Kathriona meets Prof Sam McConkey, Head of International Health and Tropical Medicine at RCSI and a Principal Investigator on the trial to find out about the development of this potential vaccine, and speaks to some of the volunteers who are involved in the clinical trials. In Oxford, Kathriona meets Irish researcher Adrian Hill who is conducting Phase II of the trial which will test whether the vaccine(now proven safe in Phase I) produces an immunological response to Malaria in the body...



JNPD success (a European-wide consortium to combat neurodegenerative diseases) and first success of 3U-COEN (Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease)

The Health Research Board, in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, is leading Ireland's involvement in the Joint Programming initiative on Neurodegenerative Diseases (JPND) which aims to increase coordination of European research efforts in this area. To date Irish researchers are now leading, or involved in, projects worth more than €16 million in total through JPND initiatives.

Under this scheme, Professor Jochen Prehn, Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI, is coordinating the NEURO-MIR project, with partners in Belgium, Germany and Spain. NEURO-MIR is taking a 'high-risk, high-pay-off' approach to developing new therapeutic approaches to a number of neurodegenerative diseases.

Prof Jochen Prehn, is one of five new innovative pathfinder projects being funded under the JPND-aligned CoEN initiative for the project ‘microRNA as novel therapeutic targets and disease biomarkers in Alzheimer's Disease, Frontotemporal dementia and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (NEURO-MIR)' Jochen Prehn (Ireland), Andre Fischer (Germany), Pierre Lau (Flanders), Jose Lucas (Spain). Other RCSI funded investigators include Dr Tobias Engel, Prof Michael Farrell, and Prof David Henshall.

The Centres of Excellence in neurodegenerative disease (CoEN) initiative, launched in 2010, is an international initiative which funds collaborative research in the field of neurodegenerative disease, spanning disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Motor Neurone Disease. (August 2013)

For further information please visit the links below:[tt_news]=186&cHash=8f836540873f13856b5018cc877717ff

RCSI achieves major funding success in HRB Health Research Awards

RCSI has achieved major funding success in the latest round of Health Research Awards announced by the Health Research Board (HRB) August 2013. The eight successful RCSI projects will examine a range of health issues including doctor emigration, psychotic illness, link between blood group and risk of heart attacks, epilepsy, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma and Motor Neuron Disease. Today’s announcement represents a €12.3 million investment by the HRB across 40 projects.

Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research said: ‘RCSI welcomes the announcement made by the HRB to fund eight of RCSI’s research projects as part of the Health Research Awards. I congratulate the Principal Investigators on their awards, which are major accomplishments in this era of reduced public research funding, and wish them the best of luck as they undertake their new projects. Today’s announcement supports RCSI’s commitment to world-class research to improve human health through clinical and laboratory-based research informed by bedside problems, societal and global health challenges’.

The successful RCSI Principal Investigators and projects are:

  • Professor Ruairi Brugha: Doctor Emigration Project
  • Professor David Cotter: A metabolomic study of subjects in the at risk mental state; a longitudinal biomarker study with discovery and validation components
  • Professor David Henshall: MicroRNA-134 as a target for the prevention and treatment of epilepsy
  • Dr David Hughes: The influence of interactions between selenium supply biomarkers and genetic variation and gene expression in the selenium pathway on CRC risk and survival
  • Professor Dermot Kenny: Why is blood group a risk marker for myocardial infarction? (investigating the role of blood groups as a risk for heart attack.)
  • Dr Marie McIlroy: An investigation into the utility of prosaposin as a marker of PI3K inhibitor responsiveness in aromatase inhibitor resistant breast cancer.
  • Professor Jochen Prehn: Angiogenin as a therapeutic for the treatment of ALS (Motor Neuron Disease)
  • Dr Markus Rehm: A translational systems medicine approach to provide predictive capacity for DTIC-based chemotherapy responsiveness in metastatic malignant melanoma

A total of 40 projects were selected from 209 applications. These were assessed by international peer review panels who believed the nature, scope and relevance of the proposals demonstrated great ambition and innovation that would lead to results that are relevant both nationally and internationally.

'This funding will address a wide range of subjects, including mental health, cancer, diabetes and arthritis, says Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB. 'It will support health professionals and researchers to examine pressing research questions that will deliver strong evidence to enhance patient care, improve people's health or lifestyle and positively influence how we deliver our health services'.

Each project will receive up to €330,000 over the next three years.

'I believe we will see an excellent return on this investment. No one is better placed to understand the needs of patients, or identify how we can improve their care, than people involved at the coal face in hospitals and across the health services. We are supporting experts who have clearly demonstrated they are dedicated to turning good ideas into research discoveries that can transform policy and practice,' concludes Connolly. (August 2013)



Dr Warren Thomas (Molecular Medicine) was awarded the Zachary Johnson Prize Medal at the Summer Scientific Meeting of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland. Dr Thomas gave a presentation entitled: “A sustained increase in the incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma in the Republic of Ireland over the period 1994 to 2010”. This was a collaborative study with colleagues in Molecular Medicine, RCSI (Dr Cormac Jennings and Prof. Brian Harvey) and with the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (Dr Paul Walsh and Dr Sandra Deady). (August 2013)



Dr. Steve Kerrigan (Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator in the School of Pharmacy & Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics) recently edited a book entitled “Recent Advances in Infective Endocarditis”. This book is co-authored by several world leaders in the field and provides the latest information on advances made in the surgical management, new treatment guidelines and molecular interactions in the area of Infective Endocarditis and Cardiovascular Infection. Book reference : Recent Advances in Infective Endocarditis. Edited by Steven W. Kerrigan, InTech Publishers, 2013, ISBN 978-953-51-1169-6, Hard cover, DOI: 10.5772/46221 (July 2013)



RCSI hosts International Consortium to discuss genetic causes of schizophrenia in 22q11 deletion syndrome patients

On 22nd July 2013, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) played host to a two day International Brain and Behaviour Consortium meeting on Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS). Patients with this genetic disorder have high rates of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. This meeting brought together leading researchers from around the world to examine how the study of this genetic condition can increase our understanding of the causes of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11.2DS) is a syndrome caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22. The International Consortium has recently received grant funding of US$12 million from the National Institutes of Health (USA) to examine the genetic reasons for the high rates of schizophrenia and other disorders in people who are affected with 22q11.2DS.

Professor Raquel Gur, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Consortium Lead said: ‘On behalf of the International Brain Behaviour Consortium and many individual and families affected by 22q11.2DS, we are deeply grateful to our hosts in Dublin. The funding from the National Institutes of Health in the US will provide us with the opportunity to advance the understanding of this under-recognised neurogenetic condition. The knowledge generated can provide a window to the brain that will benefit millions throughout the world.’

The conference discussed the goals of the International Brain and Behaviour Consortium in planning to implement genetic strategies to identify the causes of schizophrenia in 22q11.2DS and in the general population.

Professor Kieran Murphy, Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine, RCSI and member of the Consortium said: ‘I am delighted to welcome delegates from around the world to Dublin for this important meeting. By helping to discover the causes of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in people with this genetic condition, we hope to be able to develop new and better treatments for schizophrenia and other severely disabling psychiatric disorders.’

The effects of 22q11.2DS vary from person to person and is not always diagnosed quickly. Common side effects of this condition can include heart, eye and kidney issues, learning difficulties, cleft palate as well as emotional and mental health concerns, particularly schizophrenia. (July 2013)



Dr. Garry Duffy wins Fulbright Award


Dr. Garry Duffy has won a prestigious Fulbright Award. Fulbright Awards are given annually by the Irish and U.S. governments and provide Irish students, scholars and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture and research at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. Garry will undertake research on at Harvard University. Pictured (l-r) are Prof Fergal O’Brien, Anatomy, Dr Garry Duffy and Prof Clive Lee, Anatomy (July 2013)


Dr. Joseph Ward and Dr. Magda Mroz from the Dept. of Molecular Medicine have had two recent publications of their research describing new roles for the bile acid receptors, TGR5 and farnesoid X receptor, in regulating fluid and electrolyte transport in the intestine. The studies, led by Dr. Stephen Keely, were carried out in collaboration with researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the Johns Hopkins Medical University and were published as a Hot Topic article in Neurogastroenterology and Motility and in the prestigious speciality journal, Gut. (July 2013)


Pressure Ulcer Prevention Paper

Congratulations to Professor Zena Moore & Professor Seamus Cowman on the publication of the first ever economic analysis of pressure ulcer prevention within the Irish healthcare context. Their paper entitled ‘An economic analysis of repositioning for the prevention of pressure ulcers' was a component of a randomised controlled trial exploring the pressure ulcer incidence and costs associated with repositioning older individuals in long term care using two different repositioning regimes. (July 2013)



New evidence shows link between childhood trauma and psychotic experiences

Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have demonstrated that exposure to childhood trauma (physical assault and bullying) is linked to psychotic experiences, (such as hearing voices), and in turn the cessation of traumatic experiences led to a significant reduction in the incidence of psychotic experiences. The findings are being presented today at the European Society for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Congress taking place in Dublin and appear in this month's edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

This was a collaborative project between the National Suicide Research Foundation (Cork) and RCSI with funding from the Health Research Board (HRB) and the European Union Framework 7 Programme. The researchers undertook a nationally representative prospective cohort study of 1,112 school-based adolescents aged 13-16 years, and assessed them at baseline, three-months and 12-months for childhood trauma (defined as physical assault and bullying) and psychotic experiences.

Professor Mary Cannon, HRB Clinician Scientist and Senior Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, RCSI said "Our findings are the first to show there is direct evidence between exposure to childhood trauma and psychotic experience. Furthermore, it showed that the cessation of traumatic experiences was associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of psychotic experiences. These findings place new weight on calls for more comprehensive preventions and intervention strategies against childhood trauma in the community from abuse at home and bullying in schools.

The study aimed to determine whether childhood trauma could be considered a cause of psychotic experiences. In order for something to be genuinely considered 'a cause', it has to show a number of characteristics such as, a strength of association - namely the stronger the association the more likely that it is causal; a dose-response relationship - as the dose increases, so should the odds of the outcome or cessation of exposure - if exposure ceases or decreases, then the odds of the outcome should also cease or decrease.

Professor Cannon, continued "Our findings showed a clear relationship between exposure to childhood trauma and the onset of psychotic symptoms because the strength of the relationships was large in terms of odds ratios. We also saw a dose-response relationship with the odds of psychotic symptoms increasing in line with increasing levels of bullying."

Dr Ian Kelleher, Lead Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, RCSI said "Our analysis shows, we believe for the first time, that cessation of traumatic experiences predicted a significantly reduced incidence of psychotic experiences compared to individuals for whom the traumatic experiences continued. This is a very encouraging finding and suggests that population based approaches could have a large impact reducing the prevalence of psychotic symptoms."

"The research found that 'classmates' were the largest group inflicting physical harm. Additionally, as most bullying taking place within the school, teacher training could have a very important role to play in reducing this harm," said Dr Kelleher.

The full paper is available from the American Journal of Psychiatry at the link below. Dr Helen Keeley and Dr Paul Corcoran of the National Suicide Research Foundation were co-investigators on this research. (July 2013)


TERG Feature Article in the Irish Times

Work from within the TERG was recently featured in the Irish Times Business section. The article focused on the newly developed TheraColl technology, which consists of a porous, collagen-based scaffold that is capable of delivering drugs via micro-particle systems for enhanced bone and blood vessel tissue growth. While bone regeneration is the initial application of interest, the versatility of this platform means that the technology could be used to target the regeneration of numerous other tissues, such as cartilage. (July 2013)


RCSI Hosted the Anatomical Society (AS) Summer Meeting

On the 4th and 5th of July, RCSI, through the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and the Department of Anatomy played host to the Anatomical Society Summer Meeting with the topic "Form and Function in Regenerative Medicine". The meeting, which was Chaired by Dr. Garry Duffy and Co-Chaired by Prof. Fergal O'Brien of the TERG, was a resounding success with over 120 high calibre national and international delegates presenting their work. Two PhD students from the TERG who were awarded prizes for their presentations. Mr Alan Ryan was joint winner of the SurgaColl Technologies Award in Regenerative Medicine for best oral presentation with his presentation entitled "Development of Bilayered Tubular Collagen-Elastin Scaffolds for Vascular Tissue Engineering", while Ms Elaine Quinlan won the Cave Young Investigator Award for best poster with her presentation entitled "Growth Factor Eluting Microparticle Loaded Collagen-Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds".

Mr Harold Browne retired surgeon from the Richmond Hospital and long-standing Anatomy Prosector was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Society, on his ninetieth year. (July 2013)


Professors Fergal O'Brien and Professor Hilary Humphreys have been appointed as Deputy Directors of Applied Research and Clinical Research, respectively. These appointments are very important for RCSI as they will provide leadership and support for clinical and applied research, which are priorities in the institutional and the national research strategies. Professors O'Brien and Humphreys will be working with Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research, to further develop and implement RCSI research strategy and to enhance RCSI competiveness both nationally and internationally. (June 2013)



RCSI Researchers find bowel cancer screening process can detect one third more cancers

Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)'s Centre for Systems Medicine have found that a new two-test bowel cancer screening process can detect up to one third more colorectal cancers.

This new study by led by Dr David Hughes, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI, was recently published in the online journal Colorectal Disease. The research involved using a new two-part screening test called an Immunochemical Faecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT (FIT) instead of the original Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) which is a widely used screening tool for colorectal cancer used to detect blood in a person's stool.

The FIT test, when used twice over consecutive days, is used to indicate the presence of both pre-cancerous growths and cancers in the colon by detecting a minute sample of blood in the stool at a cut off of 100 nanograms of blood per millilitre of stool (100 ng/ml). When compared to a one-test FIT, researchers found that the duplicate FIT screening test detects presence of up to one third (27.5%) more significant colorectal neoplasis (advanced colorectal growths and cancers).These precancerous growths can advance to cancerous stages if they are not detected early. Just one of the two FIT tests needs to be positive for the patient to be referred for a colonoscopy.

They also discovered that a cut-off threshold of 100ng/ml is suitable to optimise colorectal cancer screening in Ireland and any lower cut-off would increase the required colonoscopy numbers to a rate that would over-burden capacity in the Irish health system.

The two-test protocol had a positivity rate of 10.2%, which means that approximately one in ten people tested positive for cancer. One third had screen relevant growths in the colon and the remainder had minor issues such as haemorrhoids or else had no abnormalities.

Principal Investigator of this study, Dr David Hughes said, ‘The miss rate estimated for a single test (FOBT) of nearly 30% is unacceptably high when the goal is to maximize the discovery of advanced lesions in an initial population screening round. The FIT test is vital for the detection of pre-cancerous growths in the colon and is cost-effective. However, the rates from this study have found that additional colonoscopy services will be required for a national screening programme'

The Adelaide and Meath hospital, incorporating the National Children's hospital/ Trinity College Dublin Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme (TTC-CRC-SP) has used the two sample FIT protocol for colorectal cancer screening on residents aged between 50-75 years within the AMNCH hospital catchment area of Dublin 24 since 2008. (June 2013)


Dr David Bergin of the Department of Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, was invited to present his research findings at the annual European Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA) meeting held in San Cugat, Barcelona on June 11th 2013. This annual meeting provides a platform for young researchers to present data to internationally renowned experts in the area of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The title of David's presentation was "Dysregulation of neutrophil degranulation in Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency leads to autoimmunity". (June 2013)


Mr Éanna Forde, BioAT PhD student, is the recipient of the 2nd Prize for best oral presentation in the Organic Chemistry category, at the 65th Irish Universities Chemistry Research Colloquium (27-28 June 2013, Trinity College Dublin). (June 2013)





The 3rd Annual Research Summer School (RSS) began on 12th June 2013.

The programme, run by Dr Sarah O'Neill, MCT, includes a number of workshops on research topics and lectures in Project Management for Research, Health and Safety in Research Laboratories, Dealing with Experimental Data, Scientific Writing Skills, and many others and includes an exciting Friday Discovery Series. The RSS is going from strength to strength with over 75 RCSI undergraduate health sciences students from the Junior and Intermediate Cycles of the Medical School, School of Pharmacy and the School of Physiotherapy, taking part in this years programme. (June 2013)


Dr Colm O'Tuathaigh, Dr Lieve Desbonnet and Professor John Waddington (MCT) have been invited to review for a volume of Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology on Novel Antischizophrenia Treatments. The Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology is one of the most authoritative and influential book series in pharmacology. It provides critical and comprehensive discussions of the most significant areas of pharmacological research, written by leading international authorities; each volume in the series represents the most informative and contemporary account of its subject available, making it an unrivalled reference source. (June 2013)


Jennifer Byrne and Siobhán Smith (MCT) have been awarded travel grants from the European Federation of Immunological Sciences to present their work at the European Congress on Immunology, Glasgow. (June 2013)

Claire Wynne (MCT) has won a prize for Best Oral Poster Presentation at the meeting of the Irish Society for Immunology; Claire presented work she carried out both in RCSI and at Brown University, Rhode Island. (June 2013)


Dr Niamh Cooke won the Barcroft Medal Competition at the Annual Biomedical Sciences Meeting of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, held in University College Cork (June 20th 2013), for her oral presentation entitled 'Platelets enhance invasion of ovarian cancer cells in an experimental metastasis model'. This study is a collaborative project between the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and The Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, funded by an SFI CSET grant (10/CE/B1821). (June 2013)



Professor John Waddington (MCT) was invited to join the faculty for a workshop organised by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology; 100 young neuroscientists, selected from across Europe to be potential future leaders, were invited to Nice for three days of lectures, discussion groups and networking to help foster their careers over the critical early phase. He received a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to deliver neuroscience lectures at Nihon University and Hoshi University, Tokyo, and at the universities of Osaka, Niigata and Nagoya. Subsequently, he was invited to organise and speak in a symposium at the World Congress of Biological Psychiatry, Kyoto. (June 2013)


Women and cholesterol: The beneficial effects of estrogen on liver metabolism explained in Science paper from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University of California.


Pictured L-R: Prof Brian Harvey, Harry Harvey and Dr Paola della Porta.

The female hormone estrogen tends to protect women against high cholesterol and heart disease during the child-bearing years. This may help explain why premenopausal women are usually protected from developing heart disease and cirrhosis. The molecular mechanism for the beneficial effect of estrogen on liver metabolism was unknown until a joint study between RCSI and the University of California at Irvine published last month in the Science Journal, Science Signaling, revealed the type of estrogen receptor, the targeted genes and the cellular processes involved in this metabolic response in the liver. The research team led by Dr Ellis Levin at UC Irvine and Prof Brian Harvey at RCSI showed that estrogen binds to a new type of estrogen receptor at the cell membrane (membrane ER) to activate a network of enzymes which inhibit a regulator (SREB) of genes that drive the synthesis of cholesterol . The researchers also found that estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis including harmful triglycerides. The team at RCSI included father and son, Brian and Harry Harvey, and post-doctoral fellow Fiona O’Mahony who identified the estrogen-responsive genes. The UC Irvine team developed a transgenic mouse which expressed only the membrane estrogen receptor which allowed its role in liver metabolism to be understood at the patho-physiological level. From these experiments, the two teams were able to provide important insights about how estrogen and membrane ER signalling may suppress the expression of some genes and produce beneficial changes in liver metabolism. The researchers concluded that their results provide the impetus to develop and test new forms of pharmacological agonists that only engage the membrane ER and avoid the cancer-producing side-effects of estrogen in the nucleus, and which could contribute to favourable lipid homeostasis, including preventing excessive harmful cholesterol and triglyceride content in the blood that can progress to heart disease and cirrhosis. (June 2013)


Dr Stephen Keely Features on Austrian TV Programme
Dr Stephen Keely, Molecular Medicine, recently attending a Bile Acid Symposium in the Hartmann Hospital in Vienna which subsequently featured on Austrian TV Programme called “Heute Mittag”. The programme showcased a mini-symposium run by Dr. Wolfgang Tillinger at the Hartmann Hospital in Vienna. The topic of the symposium was exploring how bile acids are being targeted as new medicines to treat intestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (May 2013)


Professor Brian Harvey receives Honorary Doctorate from Michigan State University

Pictured is Lou Anna K. Simon, President of Michigan State University (MSU), presenting an honorary doctorate of science to Professor Brian Harvey, Professor of Molecular Medicine, RCSI at a ceremony that took place at MSU on 3rd May. (May 2013)


Honorary DSc citation



You are a renowned scholar, scientist, and international research leader. Your accomplishments as a professor of molecular medicine and research director for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have earned you significant recognition throughout Europe, including your election to the European Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Royal Irish Academy, and your being awarded the Chevalier de L'Ordre National du Mérite by the President of France.

As a trained physiologist with a primary degree in physics and physiology and a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the National University of Ireland, you have focused on molecular and cellular endocrinology, including the physiology of rapid responses to steroid hormones, and particularly, the female-specific effects of oestrogen in epithelial tissues of the lung, kidney, and intestine. Another major area of your research concerns the rapid actions in the kidneys of the blood-pressure-regulating hormone aldosterone.

Your tireless work and passion for the Daughters of Charity Technology and Research into Intellectual Disabilities (DOCTRID) program, seeking technological solutions for those with intellectual disabilities and autism, resonates with those who share Michigan State University's commitment to solve humanity's most challenging problems. In your role as director of research for DOCTRID, you have brought together ten Irish Universities and MSU to collectively address, through interdisciplinary research, some of the barriers to greater use of assistive technologies by people with disabilities.

For your tireless dedication to improving the lives of those among us who may not have a voice to tell us their needs, I am pleased to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Michigan State University.


Lupus research identifies Irish patients most likely to benefit from new treatment
It has been over 50 years since a new drug has been approved to treat the chronic autoimmune condition Lupus or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), a disease whereby a persons immune system becomes over-activated, attacking any organ in the body. Excitingly in the past year the first drug approved specifically to treat SLE has been licensed for use in both America and Europe. This medication, Belimumab (Benlysta) targets a specific chemical messenger called B Lymphocyte Stimulator (BLyS) that has been shown to promote disease activity in SLE. This new treatment has not as yet been licenced for use as first-line treatment but instead is prescribed for patients who respond poorly to conventional immunosuppressive medication aimed at dampening down the immune system. Belimumab has advantages over traditional immunosuppressive agents such as steroids which are accompanied by side effects including infection and metabolic disturbances. However, not all patients respond equally to this new drug and due to the high cost associated with its long term use, it is imperative to assist treating physicians in identifying patients who would most benefit from its use.

Research carried out by Dr. Eoghan McCarthy under the supervision of Prof. Caroline Jefferies at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has identified disease types in Irish SLE sufferers that are associated with high levels of BLyS. The research carried out in collaboration with the rheumatology departments of both Beaumont and St. James's hospitals, and recently published in Rheumatology, has demonstrated that over a follow up period of 5 years, patients with high levels of BLyS at baseline were more likely to have active disease and suffer increased organ damage from their lupus as the disease progressed suggesting that the use of Belimumab in these patients may improve their long term outcomes.

Commenting on the work Professor Jefferies stated that "In the last ten years patients with rheumatoid arthritis have benefited greatly from the development of new treatments and Belimumab offers the same hope to Irish SLE sufferers. However it is important to be able to recognise which patients will benefit the most from this new treatment. Our research will assist treating doctors to identify patients who are more likely to benefit from the addition of Belimumab to their current regime and hopefully will lead to improved outcomes for Irish SLE sufferers" (May 2013).


Harry Harvey Best Student Poster at the Irish Association of Cancer Research

Harry Harvey (MCT) received the prize for Best Student Poster at the Irish Association of Cancer Research, Dublin, for 'Analysis of miRNA in chemotherapy resistant neuroblastoma' and Federico Sukno (MCT & DCU) received the Best Paper Award at GRAPP 2013: 8th International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications, Barcelona, for 'Rotationally invariant 3D shape contexts using asymmetry patterns'. (May 2013)


Dr Oliver McElvaney was invited to present his research findings at the 2013 American Thoracic Society International Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 22nd 2013. Session D21-CYSTIC FIBROSIS: NEW INSIGHTS INTO AIRWAY INFECTION AND INFLAMMATION. The title of Oliver's discussion was "The Effect Of PA401 On Interleukin-8 Levels In Airway Samples Of Adult Patients With Cystic Fibrosis". (May 2013)


Professor Celine Marmion, Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, was admitted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Chemistry in May 2013.

Professor Marmion, is one of two Irish National Delegates on the Management Committee of European Science Foundation COST CM1105 entitled 'Functional Metal Complexes that Bind to Biomolecules' and also an elected member of its Steering Group. (May 2013)

Also, in news from Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry, two of of Professor Marmion's PhD students were awarded funding to attend international training schools through European Science Foundation within the framework of COST Action CM1105 - Tadhg McGivern attended a Training School in the University of Debrecen Hungary from the 24th to the 29th March entitled 'Solution equilibrium (speciation) studies on metal complexes' and Ziga Ude attending a Training School in the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium from the 12th to the 19th May entitled 'Summer School Chemistry on Metals in Biological Systems'.


Dr Patrizia Baldwin and Professor John Waddington (MCT) have participated in an international collaborative study on the epidemiology of schizophrenia, led by Maastricht University and involving 54 investigators across the globe under the auspices of the Research Initiative into Schizophrenia Epidemiology (RISE). This collaboration has yielded the largest dataset yet reported, namely 133,693 incident cases, the initial results of which have just been published in the leading journal Psychological Medicine (May 2013)

Dr Stuart Lee's research was chosen for a podium presentation at this year's annual Irish Heart Foundation's annual stroke study day on April 12th. This research which is being conducted in collaboration with Professor Niamh Moran and Professor David Williams is examining the use of a novel platelet assay in patients with stroke.

Dr Melanie Föcking, Young Investigator Award RCSI was well represented by MCT and Psychiatry at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, held in Orlando, Florida. Dr Melanie Föcking, Department of Psychiatry, received the Young Investigator Award of the International Congress of Schizophrenia Research. She was among 27 out of 140 applications to receive this prestigious prize. Melanie was invited to present the results of her work at the international scientific meeting in Orlando/Florida that took place from the 21st to the 25th of April.

Professor John Waddington (MCT) was invited to organise and speak in a symposium at the congress; John is a member of the Advisory Board that helps steer and evolve this biennial event. Mary Cannon and David Cotter (Psychiatry) also presented in symposia; furthermore, members of Mary's and David's groups, Drs Mary Clarke and Jane English, presented their work at the congress. These activities and recognitions re-affirm RCSI as an internationally recognised 'centre of excellence' in psychosis research. (April 2013)


Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh awarded Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS)/ASiT Academic & Research Surgery Prize

Mr. Ashwanth Ramesh, an orthopaedic surgeon currently undertaking a Master of Surgery (MCh) within the Tissue Engineering Research Group, recently presented his work at the Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) Conference, held in Manchester from the 5th-7th of April. His presentation, entitled "An in vivo study of bioactive multilayered scaffolds for regeneration and repair of osteochondral defects", was awarded the Society of Academic & Research Surgery (SARS)/ASiT Academic & Research Surgery Prize. As a result, Mr. Ramesh was invited to present his prize winning presentation at the prestigious Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) International Congress held in Glasgow on the 2nd of May. (April 2013)



RCSI was the local organiser of BioPIC 2013, a BioPhotonics and Imaging Conference, which took place in Castleknock Hotel and Country Club from 25-27th March. More than 120 international delegates attended conference hosted by the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform(NBIP) Ireland in association with the Royal Microscopy Society, Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland. Congratulations to Professor Brian Harvey, Conference Convenor, and Dr. Sheeona Gorman, Programmes Manager, for their successful organisation of this event.

Pictured (l-r) are Professor Brian Harvey, Co-ordinator NBIP Ireland and Professor of Molecular Medicine at RCSI, Dr Sheeona Gorman NBIP Ireland Programmes Manager, Professor Peter Dockery, NUI Galway; Professor Noel McHale, Dundalk IT.


Professor Mary Cannon was awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland Doctor Award in Psychiatry at the 2013 RAMI Doctor Awards ceremony held in the Royal College of Physicians on 21st March 2013. Professor Cannon won the award for her submitted paper which was published in Archives of General Psychiatry in December 2012 (Ref: Kelleher I, Lynch F, Harley M, Molloy C, Roddy S, Fitzpatrick C, Cannon M. Psychotic symptoms in adolescence index risk for suicidal behaviour. Findings from 2 population-based case-control clinical interview studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry; 2012 Dec 1:69(12) 1277-83.) (March 2013)

The photo shows (left-right), Professor Tom Walsh, RAMI, Professor Mary Cannon, RCSI and Eithne Boylan, Managing Director, Lundbeck Ireland.



Professor Brian Harvey Addresses EU Parliament

Professor Brian Harvey shared the podium with An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, in an address to the EU Parliament on the topic of Assistive Technologies on Thursday, 7th March. The address followed the Assistive Technologies Symposium which was hosted by RCSI together with the seven Irish Universities at the EU Parliament on 5th March. The event was convened by Professor Harvey in his role as director of research of the Doctrid programme for the disability charity Respect Ireland. (March 2013)



Annual Research Day 2013

The annual RCSI Research Day took place on the 5th March, 2013. As with previous years, the emphasis was on oral and poster presentations by Investigators early in their career, Post-doctoral Fellows, Post-graduate & Undergraduate Scholars and Academic Staff. 186 abstracts were submitted this year.

Photos from the day can be viewed at

During his Opening Address, Professor Raymond Stallings, Director of Research, spoke about the high standard of research and the critical role that research plays within the College. Prof Stallings also acknowledged and extended thanks to the sponsors and the many people who contributed to the day.

There then followed an exciting series of oral presentations:
• Postgraduate: RCSI MSc, MCH, MD and 1st year PhD students
• Undergraduate: all students who undertook research projects in summer 2012 (Research funded by RCSI Alumni, HRB, CITC, Assoc. Phys.),
• PhD Scholars: RCSI 2nd, 3rd and 4th PhD students
• Early Career Investigators: RCSI postdoctoral fellows

Late afternoon, Prof Raymond Stallings and Dr John McDermott, introduced Professor Timothy O'Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway, who delivered this year's John J Ryan Distinguished Lecture.

The talk title was: "Translating Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy to the Clinic: Challenges and Opportunities".

The day came to a close with a presentation of the following awards by Professor Cathal Kelly CEO:

‘Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery',
This prize is presented to pay special tribute to the memory of Mr Kamal Sayed, a graduate of RCSI (Class of 1960). A solid silver College medal will be awarded to a neurosurgery trainee to reward outstanding work and excellence in the field of neurosurgery. This is a prestigious award of RCSI and is run in conjunction with the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience (IICN). Recipient: Mr Philip O'Halloran. Title : Anti-angiogenic Efficacy of Bevacizumab alone and in combination with a dual P13K/Mtor inhibitor in a reproducible orthotopic explant, using a multi - modality molecular imaging approach. Presented by Dr's Jacintha and Safia Sayed, both daughters of Mr Kamal Sayed and graduates of RCSI & Professor Cathal Kelly CEO

The prize for ‘Front Cover Illustration' was presented to Dr Ryan McCoy.

Early Career Investigator Category
The Barnes Medal - Dr Barnes was a founding member of ICROSS, the "International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering", a small international charity fighting poverty and disease and is noted for his work on Hansen's Disease (leprosy). Presented by Dr Barnes wife Mrs Betty Barnes and his son Matthew Barnes & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Kirsten Pohl. Title: Altered cytosolic ion concentrations impact upon Rab27a activation in cystic fibrosis neutrophils.

The prize for best Early Career Investigator Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Bojana Mirkovic. Title: Role of Short Chain Fatty Acids, Produced by Anaerobic Bacteria, in the Cystic Fibrosis Airway.

PhD Scholars Category
This category was open to all 2nd, 3rd and 4th year PhD Scholars.
This is an important award to acknowledge the excellence and quality of on-going research within Ireland. The winner received the Roche Gold medal and €500. Presented by Mr Simon Thorpe of Roche Diagnostics & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Jennifer Lynch. Title: MiR-335 suppresses neuroblastoma disease pathogenesis.The prize for best

PhD Scholars Poster Presentation was presented to Amos Matsiko, Dept. of Anatomy.

The prize for best PhD Scholar Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Irina Babina. Title : Palmitoylation of CD44 regulates breast cancer cell migration via alterations in its lipid raft affiliation.

Port-graduate Category:
This category was open to MSc, MCH, MD and 1st year PhD Scholars. The recipient will received a silver College medal and a prize fund of €1,000 to pay for attendance at a conference. Presented by Mr Bernard Kennedy of Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals & Professor Cathal Kelly. Recipient: Pathma Ramasamy. Title: Proteomic Analysis of Uveal Melanoma.

The prize for best Post-graduate Poster Presentation was presented to Recipient: Irene Mencia Castano. Title : Nano-hydroxyapatite particles as novel non-viral microRNA delivery vectors for bone tissue engineering applications.

Undergraduate Research Category - The Dr. Harry O'Flanagan Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research
This category was open to all Summer Students who completed a research project in 2012.
This award, a solid silver College medal, was created by Dr. Yacoob Kadwa, RCSI graduate (Class of 1965) to pay special tribute to the memory of Dr. Harry O'Flanagan, former Registrar of the RCSI. Recipient: Ayman Saeed. Title : Effect of synthetic retinoic acid derivatives in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Multiple Myeloma cells.

Organising Committee: Prof. Kevin McGuigan, Stephanie O'Connor and Cathy Priestley.

Sponsors: Roche Diagnostics, Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals.



Professor Aidan Bradford, Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam and Dr Brian Kirby (left to right) from Perdana University/ Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland have recently been awarded research funding totalling 1.4 million Malaysian Ringgit to carry out collaborative research with the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute. The project will examine the potential therapeutic effects of phytonutrient formulations in cardiovascular disease, cognitive dysfunction and diabetic disorders utilizing nutrigenomic and in vivo techniques. The three researchers would like to acknowledge the major role played by the Dean, Prof Anthony Cunningham, as well as the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) in supporting this collaboration. (March 2013)

Picture : Professor Aidan Bradford (Dept Physiology & Medical Physics, RCSI & RCSI Lead in Physiology at PU-RCSI)

Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam (Snr lecturer in physiology, PU-RCSI)

Dr Brian Kirby (School of Pharmacy & RCSI Lead in Clinical Pharmacology at PU-RCSI).


Impact Through Collaboration - problem solving by accessing knowledge from other domains.

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) and The Biomedical Diagnostic institute (BDI) came together to solve a technology roadblock in interpreting new data derived from an advanced diagnostic for platelet function. Platelets are blood particles that clump together and cause heart attacks. The BDI device uses a sophisticated imaging and computer platform to measure how platelets behave in a system that mimics a damaged artery. The BDI investigators needed to know how to interpret that data to define when platelets were "sticky" and thus an individual was at increased risk of a heart attack.

Professor Dermot Kenny (RCSI) leads the research programme, Functional Diagnostics in Platelet Biology, in the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI). He is a cardiologist and expert in thrombosis (the formation of blood clots). He approached ICHEC to address this challenge. Read more.... (March 2013)



Professor Fergal O'Brien elected to the Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (FIFE)

In February, Prof Fergal O'Brien was elected to the Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (FIEI), which is the highest grade of membership of the professional body representing engineers in Ireland. His appointment was made in recognition of "significant achievement in engineering and contribution to the profession". (February 2013)


Federico Sukno (MCT) and the Centre for Image Processing and Analysis, (DCU) received the Best Paper Award at GRAPP 2013: International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications, Barcelona, February 2013. Federico's joint appointment with DCU gives this award additional significance in relation to 3U. (February 2013)


Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative (DBERI)
RCSI, TCD AND UCD recently launched a biomedical engineering collaboration to accelerate innovative health care technologies. Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative (DBERI) builds on over 20 years of collaboration between the three institutions in bioengineering research and education. Stem cell based tissue engineering, regenerative therapies for orthopaedic medicine, valve repair devices for damaged hearts and imaging systems for neurology are among the innovations that the new initiative will lead on. RCSI researchers involved include Professor Fergal O'Brien, Head of the Bone and Tissue Engineering Research Group and Dr. Garry Duffy. (February 2013)


Pictured at the launch of the Dublin Biomedical Engineering Research Initiative are (l-r) Professor Fergal O'Brien, RCSI; Dr. Daniel Kelly, Director of the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering; and Dr. Liam Breen, TCD.


Colorectal cancer study published in Cancer Research

A team led by Professor Jochen Prehn, Director of the Centre for Systems Medicine and Professor of Physiology and Medical Physics have developed a new method of predicting which patients with bowel (colorectal) cancer will respond effectively to chemotherapy. The results of this study were published in the prestigious Cancer Research journal. The first author on the study is Andreas Lindner, a PhD researcher who carried out the research with Professor Prehn and RCSI colleagues (Dr. Caoimhin Concannon, Dr. Gerhardt Boukes, Dr. Suzanne Hector, Dr. Heinrich Huber) in collaboration with clinicians (Deborah Ryan, Mary Cannon, Karen Boland, Ms. Deborah McNamara, Professor Elaine Kay, Professor Frank Murray) and research nurse Joan Kehoe at Beaumont Hospital, and collaborators at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. (February 2013)


Irish discovery challenges international practice for predicting risk or complication for small babies in the womb

New findings by Perinatal Ireland, a HRB-funded initiative to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies, are challenging currently accepted international practice in relation to identifying which babies are at risk from growth restrictions in the womb, medically referred to as Intrauterine Growth Restriction or IUGR. Lead researchers from Perinatal Ireland, which is coordinated by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), will present their discovery at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine in San Francisco.

‘The challenge to distinguish small but normal babies from small at-risk babies, is one of the most common, controversial and complex problems in modern obstetrics,' says lead researcher Julia Unterscheider, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. ‘Standard international practice has been to consider those babies in the bottom 10% by weight to be at the highest risk of developing complications. These mothers and babies usually receive increased surveillance and monitoring. However, our study questions whether this is necessary for all cases'.

The majority of babies whose weight falls into the bottom 10% from a weight perspective go on to be a healthy baby that is simply small for its gestational age. However, some develop serious health complications, and possibly even die. And there is recent evidence to suggest that unfavourable conditions in the womb may increase risk of diseases in adulthood such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke. So it is believed that close monitoring of this 10 per cent is necessary.

‘However, we conducted a study involving over 1,100 pregnant women at seven maternity hospitals across Ireland using state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment supplied by the Health Research Board (HRB), which allow very detailed monitoring of babies in the womb. We took a set of in-depth ultrasound measurements normally at two-weekly intervals, or more frequent if deemed appropriate, and recorded the baby's medical status and condition following delivery.

The findings revealed that the highest risk for adverse outcomes are in the group of babies that fall into the bottom three per cent by weight and who have an abnormal reading on the ultrasound test that measures arterial blood flow in the umbilical cord.

‘In fact, the measurement of blood flow in the umbilical cord was the strongest and most significant predictor of an increased likelihood of complications,' explains Dr Unterscheider. ‘Our data calls into question whether monitoring all of those in the bottom 10% by weight alone is necessary when predicting adverse outcomes'.

Prof Fergal Malone, RCSI Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology & Chairman of the Perinatal Ireland Research Consortium commented; ‘The major benefit of this study is the potential to radically change the focus and intensity of current assessment for the apparently small baby in the womb.'

The findings will also be published in full in the March edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. (February 2013)


Professor Caroline Jefferies (MCT) is first member of RCSI academic staff to go on sabbatical leave under the newly constituted scheme. Caroline is spending January - August 2013 as a Visiting Scientist in the Medical Science Department of AMGEN, a US company located in California. While there, she will enhance the research programme of her group, engage in collaborations with AMGEN and foster links between RCSI and Medical Schools in Southern California and other US locations. (January 2013)



Dr Tidi Hassan together with her colleagues in the Dept. Medicine, RCSI and Dept. Clinical Microbiology, TCD has published a paper in Nucleic Acids Research. The work describes a novel microRNA affinity capture technology which is also the subject of the group's recent European PCT patent filing (PCT/EP2012/070037).
Hassan T, Smith SG, Gaughan K, Oglesby IK, O'Neill SJ, McElvaney NG, Greene CM. Isolation and identification of cell-specific microRNAs targeting a messenger RNA using a biotinylated anti-sense oligonucleotide capture affinity technique Nucleic Acids Research 2013 Jan 15. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:23325846 (January 2013)

A paper entitled "Targeted antimicrobial peptides" by Dr Marc Devocelle in Frontiers in Molecular Innate Immunity on 5th October 2012 has received 685 total views, making it among the highest-performing articles in all Frontiers journals. This has resulted in Marc being invited to serve as Topic Editor of a Frontiers Research Topic - a collection of papers selected to provide an encyclopaedic, open access snapshot of the current state of the art on his chosen research area. This will create an online dialogue on a focused research area, with manuscripts encompassing recent advancements by various groups, the latest methods, opinions and commentaries, reviews, and more. (January 2013)


Dr. Tanya Levingstone won the Best Paper by an Established Researcher Award with a paper entitled: The regenerative potential of multi-layer collagen-based scaffolds in a caprine osteochondral defect model . While Dr. Caroline Curtin won the RAMI Bronze Medal for the best paper of the entire meeting with a paper entitled:Highly efficient non-viral gene delivery collagen nano-hydroxyapatite scaffolds for stem cell-mediated bone formation.
They both gave superb presentations, but 70% of the weighting for the awards was for their research, as opposed to just the presentation, which makes the awards a true indication of the quality of their science. Congratulations to all who took part in Bioengineering in Ireland and particularly to Tanya, Caroline and their co-authors on their success. A great start to 2013! (January 2013)

Picture : Dr. Caroline Curtin (on left) & Dr. Tanya Levingstone (on right) with Tissue Engineering Research Group awards from Bioengineering in Ireland Conference


Professor David Henshall and his lab have recently published a new piece of epilepsy research in the journal PLoS One.
Their study used a genetic technique to increase levels of a particular protein involved in signaling and responses to stress in brain cells and demonstrated this could protect against epileptic brain injury. The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and involved collaboration with cancer scientists in the USA. (January 2013)


Professors Kieran Murphy's (Psychiatry) (L) and John Waddington's (MCT) (R) participation in an international collaboration on the genetics of schizophrenia involving colleagues across the globe, has led to a publication in the leading journal Biological Psychiatry under the auspices and collective authorship of the Irish Schizophrenia Genomics Consortium [of which Kieran and John are members] and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2: Genome-wide association study implicates HLA-C*01:02 as a risk factor at the major histocompatibility complex locus in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry 2012; 72: 620-628. This study involved a discovery sample of 1,606 patients and 1,794 control subjects across the island of Ireland and an independent, international replication sample of 13,195 patients and 31,021 control subjects. (January 2013)


Professor David Williams was awarded Fellowship of the British Pharmacological Society for his contribution to pharmacology in Jan 2013.






PhD student Catherine Coughlan published her project within the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. This project involved a 3U partner collaboration with Dr Kevin Kavanagh, Medical Mycology Unit, Department of Biology, National Institute for Cellular Biotefchnology, NUI Maynooth. Catherine Coughlan was funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease. She was co-supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor McElvaney and graduated on November 15th 2012.  The reference is as follows:

The effect of Aspergillus fumigatus infection on vitamin D receptor expression in cystic fibrosis. Coughlan CA, Chotirmall SH, Renwick J, Hassan T, Low TB, Bergsson G, Eshwika A, Bennett K, Dunne K, Greene CM, Gunaratnam C, Kavanagh K, Logan PM, Murphy P, Reeves EP, McElvaney NG. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 Nov 15;186(10):999-1007. PMID:22904183 (November 2012)


Drs Kerstin Pohl and Nessa Banville were awarded travel grants from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for attendance at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in October 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.

The title of Dr Kerstin Pohl's oral presentation was "Impaired neutrophil bacterial killing in cystic fibrosis with particular reference to activation of proteolytic enzymes by vacuolar pH".  This project was funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease and Kerstin graduated with her PhD on November 15th 2012. 

The title of Dr Nessa Banville's oral presentation was "Intrinsic cholesterol depletion disrupts lipid raft structure in neutrophils of individuals with cystic fibrosis". This project was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, grant 11/RFP/BMT/3094 (November 2012)


Dr Emer Reeves, of the Department of Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, was an invited speaker at The Alpha-1 Foundation Investigators Scientific meeting, Miami, Florida, US (Oct2012). Title of presentation: New perspectives on basic neutrophil mechanisms and protease release in cystic fibrosis.




Raphael Rapetti-Mauss (Dept of Molecular Medicine) won the prize for best presentation by a PhD student at the recent meeting of the Irish Epithelial Physiology Group (IEPG) which was held at the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny (Oct 25-26th). Raphael is in his final year and presented his project entitled "Estrogen regulation of K+ channel trafficking in colonic epithelial cells". Pictured with Raphael is Dr. Ann-Marie Byrne (Trinity College Dublin) who won the prize for best presentation by a Postdoctoral Researcher (Oct 2012).   


Ian Kelleher, Department of Psychiatry, has had a second paper this year accepted for publication in Archives of General Psychiatry, which is one of the highest-ranking psychiatry journals with an Impact Factor of 12.02. The paper is entitled "Psychotic symptoms and population risk for suicide attempt: a prospective cohort study" (Oct 2012)



Deirdre Hyland and Elaine MacHale from the RCSI Clinical Research Centre, with Mary McGrath, Nurse Manager of the UCD CRC in St Vincent's Hospital, co-presented a symposium on The Evolving Roles of Clinical Research Nurses in Ireland at the 4th Annual Conference of the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN) in Houston, Texas in October. The theme of the conference, which was attended by research nurses from throughout the USA, as well as delegates from the UK, China, Japan, and Canada, was ‘Helping Tomorrow's Patients Today' (Oct 2012) more...


Dr Killian Hurley won the William Stokes Award at this year St Luke's Day Symposium in the Royal College of Physicians. The award, established in honour of Dr William Stokes, an eminent Dublin physician in the 1800's, was set up to support and recognise the highest standard of research by Specialist Registrars. Killian's presentation entitled ‘Alpha-1 antitrypsin modulates TNF-alpha signalling' details elements of a translational project carried out in the Department of Medicine, under the supervision of Prof Gerry McElvaney and Dr Emer Reeves. Killian is in the third year of his PhD, the focus of which is the investigation of the immunodulatory effects of alpha-1 antitrypsin (Oct 2012) 


The HRB have awarded Meave Corcoran (A student of the Institute of Leadership) a Cochrane Fellowship, to explore the Impact of Nutrition on the Healing of Diabetic Foot Ulcers, Meave is Supervised by Dr. Zena Moore, Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery (Oct 2012).




Dr Zena Moore, Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery is leading a research team exploring "Pressure ulcer prevalence and prevention strategies - a comparison between Ireland AND Norway", the team have successfully received research funding from the Norwegian College of Nursing (Norsk Sykepleierforbund NSF), 2012 (Oct 2012). 




Prof. Brian J. Harvey is the invited speaker at the Experimental Biology 2013 Meeting in Boston next April with his talk entitled 'Sex-specific estrogen regulation of ion channels in intestine, kidney and airway epithelia' (Oct 2012) More...



Dr Declan Gaynor and Dr Darren Griffith have just had the perspective "The prevalence of metal-based drugs as therapeutic or diagnostic agents: beyond platinum" published in Dalton Transactions (2012, 41 (43), 13239 - 13257). The article is currently the most downloaded Dalton Transactions article over the last 14 days. Drs Gaynor and Griffith also provided the artwork for the front cover (Oct 2012) 

Congratulations to Raquel Fernandez, Isabella Bray and Prof Ray Stallings (MCT) on their participation in an international collaboration involving colleagues in the Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, and the Children's Hospital, Essen, the results of which have just been published in Nature Genetics entitled "LIN28B induces neuroblastoma and enhances MYCN levels via let-7 suppression" (Oct 2012) More...


Prof John Waddington (MCT) has recently returned from a lecture tour of Japan under a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He delivered lectures at Nihon University and Hoshi University, Tokyo, and at the universities of Osaka, Niigata and Nagoya. Pictured with Prof Waddington are members of staff of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Osaka (Oct 2012).



A three year HRB funded award to develop, implement and evaluate best practice for day surgery in Ireland has been granted supplementary research funding award under the Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme (KEDS) from the HRB. The project PI is Prof Seamus Cowman of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery. This funding will support a project to develop patient information in paper and on-line format and will be conducted through a unique collaboration between the RCSI, ICGP and the National College of Art and Design. One MSc research student is currently working on this project under the supervision of Dr. Georgina Gethin. Patient information is often taken for granted, but many of the leaflets do not pass a basic readability score and up to 30% of Irish adults cannot read simple medical instructions, thus supporting the need for further work in this area. In addition, the project seeks to maximise the use of internet and smart phones to provide patient information. Congratulations also to Prof David Williams, Prof Mary Cannon and Prof Ruáirí Brugha who also received supplementary research funding for ongoing projects under the KED Scheme. (Oct 12).

Professor Raymond Stallings has been appointed as the new RCSI Director of Research. Professor Stallings, having completed his Undergraduate Degree and Masters studies at Texas A&M University, carried out graduate studies in Genetics at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas.

Ray is an internationally recognised leader in the field of cancer genetics, with a particular expertise in mRNA. He has held academic research positions in the University Texas System Cancer Centre Genetics: M.D. Anderson Hospital, Houston, TX; the University of California Los Alamos National Laboratory; the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health Pittsburgh, PA; the National Centre for Medical Genetics Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children Dublin; and the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin.

He served as Professor of Paediatrics at the Children's Cancer Research Centre/ Department of Pediatrics University of Texas Health Science Centre San Antonio, TX, prior to taking up his current post as Professor of Cancer Genetics, RCSI and Programme Leader, Cancer Genetics, at the Children's Research Centre, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin Dublin.

Ray is widely published and has received many Research awards and peer review grants (including the NIH, National Cancer Institute, Science Foundation Ireland, Children's Medical and Research Foundation). He is also actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and his current research is focused on the development of novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of neuroblastoma (Sept 2012).

The second international workshop of COST-Africa took place over 5 days from Monday 3rd September to Friday 7th September at Mika Lodge, Lusaka, Zambia. This five year collaboration (2011-15), which will evaluate the health impact of surgical training of Clinical Officers in Africa, is funded by the European Union under its FP7 and is led by Professor Ruairí Brugha, Head of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at RCSI. The purpose of COST-Africa is to demonstrate that life-saving emergency and basic major surgery is a cost effective intervention that can be made available at district hospitals in Africa, thereby serving the essential needs of the rural poor. The four-country collaboration includes two African and two European institutions: College of Medicine Malawi (CoM), Surgical Society of Zambia (SSZ), University of Nijimegen Netherlands (RUNMC) and RCSI (Oct 2012). More...   

The HRB have awarded Professor David Cotter, Dept of Psychiatry, a Clinician Scientist Fellowship for a study entitled ‘Biomarker Discovery in Psychosis; a longitudinal plasma proteomic and lipidomic study of subjects in the ‘at risk Mental State'. Co-applicants on the the are study Professors Mary Cannon, RCSI and Professors Ger Cagney and Helen Roche of UCD, and Patrick Dicker of RCSI (Sept 2012).



Emmet Power, RCSI medical student (IC3), won the Eadbhard O'Callaghan Poster Prize from the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the 3rd National Research Conference in Youth Mental Health which was held in Limerick on Friday 28th September. Emmet carried out his research as part of an RCSI Summer Studentship supervised by Dr Mary Clarke and Professor Mary Cannon from the Department of Psychiatry. Emmet received his prize from Mrs Virginia O'Callaghan (Sept 2012).


Professor Kevin Nolan, Head of Department of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the School of Postgraduate Studies, has received an individual award at the 2012 NAIRTL National Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) was established in 2007, and its vision is one where research and teaching go hand in hand. Kevin plans to use his award towards the funding of undergraduate summer research studentships. (Sept 2012) More...  

Congratulations to Dr. Stephen Keely and the Technology Transfer Office on receipt of a formal intention from the European Patent Office (EPO) to grant the RCSI a patent describing a new use for agonists of Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) protein in the treatment of diarrhoeal diseases. Dr Keely, with researchers from Trinity College Dublin and a number of interested commercial partners, have identified a new role for the FXR in preventing the cellular processes that cause fluid accumulation in the intestine, and which lead to the occurrence of diarrhea. There are few therapeutic options available for treatment of these common and debilitating diseases and the College is already in discussions with potential market partners to ensure these advances are brought into clinical care as efficiently as possible. (Sept 2012) More... 

The dataset from the First Wave of TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing) has now been lodged in the Archive in UCD. TILDA is a major inter-institutional initiative led by Trinity College Dublin which aims to produce a massive improvement in the quantity and quality of data, research and information relating to older people and ageing in Ireland. This rich dataset is available to all Irish and International researchers (Sept 2012). More...   

A review article entitled "The role of TIM-containing molecules in airway disease and their potential as therapeutic targets" published online in the Journal of inflammation Research four weeks ago by Isabel Vega-Carrascal, Emer P Reeves, and Noel G McElvaney has received an incredible 446 hits. The first author on the Review is Isabel Vega-Carrascal who was funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease, co-supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Prof Gerry McElvaney in the Dept of Medicine (Sept 2012). More...  

Debating Science Issues, an all-Ireland schools debating and mentoring programme was recently awarded a Discover Science & Engineering Award of €7,000. This funding will secure the workshops for the 2012-13 academic year. The programme is led by NUIG and coordinated by 9 research, medical and science centres in Ireland including RCSI, where it is managed by Dr. Maria Morgan (MCT) and Maria Kelly (REACH). Debate judges for the coming series are now being recruited; if you're interested please contact (Sept 2012) More...


A publication in PLoS entitled on lipoxin and Cystic Fibrosis entitled "Lipoxin A4 stimulates calcium-activated chloride currents and increases airway surface liquid height in normal and cystic fibrosis airway epithelia" has been highlighted in Key Scientific Articles by Global Medical Discovery. This study was a collaboration between Dept Molecular Medicine RCSI and the National Children's Research Centre, OLCH Crumlin Hospital (Sept 2012). More...


HRB Centre for Primary Care Research in the Department of General Practice:

Managing patients with multimorbidity: systematic review of interventions in primary care and community settings. Susan M Smith, Hassan Soubhi, Martin Fortin, Catherine Hudon, Tom O'Dowd. BMJ 2012;345:e5205 (Published 03 September 2012) Further details available on: (Sept 2012).


The RCSI Solar Disinfection Research Team of Dr Kevin McGuigan (Physiology and Medical Physics) and Prof Ronan Conroy (Epidemiology and Public Health) have co-authored a review paper titled "Solar water disinfection (SODIS): A review from bench-top to roof-top " which was recently published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. The paper is co-authored by two former RCSI PhD students (Dr Eunice Ubomba-Jaswa and Dr Martella du Preez) as well as colleagues from the SODISWATER project. In addition to summarizing the SODIS project over the past 20 years, the review describes in full all the developments in laboratory studies, field trials and psychological factors influencing up-take of the technology which is in everyday use throughout the developing world (Aug 2012) More...


A 3U Partnership delegation (Dr Kevin McGuigan, Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, RCSI; Dr Sandra O'Neill, an immunolgist from the School of Nursing, DCU; and Dr Thomas Strong, Dept. of Anthropology, NUI Maynooth), has visited the SODIS (solar water disinfection) projects in the Makondo District of Masaka Province in Uganda. The aim of the field trip was to examine the possibility of future research collaborations in the region as part of research opportunities in the Joint Institute of Global Health funded through the 3U Partnership. The SODIS (solar water disinfection) method, used by over 5 million people worldwide, works by exposing contaminated water to sunlight. The UV-radiation of the sun kills the organisms that cause waterborne disease and helps save lives throughout the developing world (Aug 2012) More...

Dr Melanie Focking, Lecturer in Psychiatry, has been awarded a prestigious ‘Young Investigator Award' from North American Society for Affective Disorder and Schizophrenia (NARSAD).  Her funding will allow her to continue her ongoing work with Professor David Cotter and Dr Gerard Cagney (Conway Institute, UCD) on the postsynaptic density in schizophrenia. The project was entitled ‘Proteomic investigation of the postsynaptic density in the major psychoses@ (Aug 2012).



Congratulations to Prof Mary Cannon, Prof Leonie Young, Dr Brona Murphy, Prof David Cotter, Dr Eoghan O'Neill, Dr Bryan Hennessy, Prof Jochen Prehn, Dr Sally-Ann Cryan and Prof David Henshall on their successful applications to the 2012 HRB Health Research Awards. This scheme aims to fund researchers and research teams to conduct internationally competitive and innovative research that will create new knowledge and evidence of benefit to health through investment in patient-oriented research, population health sciences and health services research.  Prof Mary Cannon and Dr Mary Clarke from Department of Psychiatry were also awarded an Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Award from the HRB for a research programme entitled "Youth Mental Health - a population based research programme". Co-applicants on this award were from the National Suicide Research Foundation, Inspire Ireland Foundation and the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne (July 2012).


Dublin recently hosted the City of Science 2012 ‘Science in the City' public engagement festival in association with the five-day Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2012 conference. Congratulations to Maria Morgan (MCT), Maria Kelly (REACH), Yvonne Smith (MCT), Marc Devocelle (Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry) and RCSI medical students Sean Egan, Elizabeth Ahern-Flynn and Allan Jenkinson, who ran a science workshop for 40 local children aged 7-12. This Small Science, Big Ideas programme involved workshops designed specifically for younger children, introducing them to ways scientists work and allowing them to conduct simple experiments (July 2012). 


Over 100 researchers, health service managers and policymakers attended a meeting in RCSI on Friday 29th June 2012 entitled Patient Safety in Hospital Settings: The implications of hospital organisation and physician burnout. This conference, co-hosted by the Irish Society of Quality and Safety in Healthcare (ISQSH), sought to highlight the role of hospital organisational culture and physician burnout in promoting patient safety and quality of care. The meeting featured 13 presenters including 2 keynote speakers, Professor Aidan Halligan, Director of Education at University College London Hospitals and Mrs. Margaret Murphy, WHO Patients for Patient Safety. The meeting was organised as part of the ORCAB project in which RCSI is a partner and is funded under the 7th European Research Framework Programme (July 2012) More...


Conn Hastings, a HRB PhD Scholar, has been awarded an Albert Renold Travel Fellowship for Young Scientists by the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes. This award will facilitate a research placement in Prof. David Mooney's laboratory in Harvard University. Conn is a student in the Dept. of Anatomy supervised by Dr Garry Duffy & Prof Fergal O'Brien. (July 2012)



Congratulations to Raphael Rapetti-Mauss (PhD scholar) on winning Best Oral Presentation at the Physiology 2012 Meeting in Edinburgh. In his presentation ‘17β-estradiol rapidly induces KCNQ1 internalization and post-endocytic  trafficking in HT29 colonic epithelial cells' Raphael presented the findings of a collaborative project between RCSI and the National Children's Research Centre, Crumlin Hospital (July 2012).


Congratulations to HRB Scholar Aine Nolan who was awarded a prize for her poster presentation ‘Novel oestradiol-sensitive microRNAs may contribute to colon carcinoma tumour promotion after loss of oestrogen receptor beta' in the Metabolism & Endocrinology Theme at Physiology 2012 in Edinburgh. This is a collaborative project between Molecular Medicine and Cancer Genetics (July 2012).



The Annual UK Clinical Research Facility (UKCRF) Network Conference was hosted by the Dublin Clinical Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin on July 5-6 this year. The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly TD, opened the meeting, which had its largest attendance in its eight-year history. RCSI was very well represented at the meeting (July 2012). More...



In a ground-breaking new study, neuroscientists from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland published a major new study in the July edition of Nature Medicine. The study explores the cause and treatment of epilepsy, a neurological disorder affecting ~37,000 people in Ireland. The research involved an international collaboration between researchers in the Departments of Physiology & Medical Physics, Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics, and the Cancer Genetics team in RCSI, Clinicians at Beaumont hospital and experts in brain structure analysis from the Cajal Institute in Madrid. The team focused on a new class of gene called "microRNA" which controls which proteins are made inside cells. The authors discovered that levels of microRNA-134 are much higher in the part of the brain that causes seizures in patients with epilepsy. Using a new type of drug-like molecule called an antagomir they showed they could almost completely prevent epileptic seizures from occurring in models of epilepsy. Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos is first author on the paper and Professor David Henshall, senior author on the paper, added "The study is important because it establishes for the first time a completely new gene target underlying epilepsy and shows how we can target this using new drug-like molecules" (June 2012). More... 


The AIB Seed Capital Fund, co-managed by Enterprise Equity Venture Capital, has completed an €500,000 equity investment in a new Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) spin-out, SurgaColl Technologies Limited, a tissue regeneration company based in the Rubicon Centre in the Cork Institute of Technology. SurgaColl Technologies is a venture capital backed start-up company established in 2010 to commercialise a portfolio of implantable orthopaedic products developed by Professor Fergal O'Brien's Tissue Engineering Research Group at RCSI. The products are highly innovative and formulated, using naturally derived materials, for the regeneration of human tissue, including bone and cartilage (June 2012). More... 


Congratulations to Professor Fergal O'Brien (Dept of Anatomy) and Professor John O'Byrne (Dept of Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery) on receiving a prestigious HRB-SFI Translational Research Award (~€1.3m), one of only three grants awarded in the country. The initiative focuses resources in areas which offer the greatest potential for translation into impacts and benefits for health and long term economic development, as well as for more efficient and effective collaboration between researchers based in an academic setting and those working in a service delivery/clinical setting (June 2012).


Tara McFadden, a PhD HRB Scholar in the Department of Anatomy was awarded best overall presentation at the MSC Galway 2012 International Mesenchymal Stem Cell Conference held last week. Her talk was entitled ‘In vitro engineered microvessels formed by a co-culture of human mesenchymal stem cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cell results in functional anastomosis and increased vascularisation in vivo'. Tara is co-supervised by Dr Garry Duffy and Prof Fergal O'Brien (June 2012).


Dr Emer Reeves, of the Department of Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, has been an invited speaker at the following events and venues this June 2012:

  • Infection and Innate Immunity in Chronic Respiratory Disease Research Symposium, School of Pharmacy/Centre for Infection & Immunity, Queen's University Belfast. Title of presentation: Alpha-1 antitrypsin a natural modulator of leukotriene B4 and tumour necrosis factor-   alpha induced neutrophil degranulation.
  • The European Cystic Fibrosis Conference, Lisbon Portugal. Symposium 22- Altered host defense function in CF. Title of presentation: Altered immune cell function.
  • Comprehensive Center for Infection, Immunity, and Transplantation, Department of Hygiene, Microbiology and Social Medicine Division of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology Innsbruck Medical University Fritz-Pregl-Str. 3 A-6020 Innsbruck / Austria. Title: Defending the airways. A balance between neutrophil proteases and anti-proteases. (June 2012)


On June 8th 2012 the RCSI Research Staff Association (RRSA) was formally re-established in a meeting held at RCSI St. Stephens Green and kindly sponsored by the Research Office. Committee members elected were: Isabella Bray (Chair), Suzanne Miller-Delaney (Secretary), Silvia Napoletano (Treasurer), Joan Ni Gabhann, Olga Piskareva and Jennifer Byrne (General Committee Members). The official RRSA also have representation on the Irish Research Staff Association (IRSA) who, since 2007, have been engaged with government bodies, funding agencies, professional organizations and other relevant parties to advocate for improvements in policies affecting research staff. RRSA representatives on the IRSA committee are Isabella Bray and Suzanne Miller Delaney. The main aim of the RRSA is to positively influence and enhance the research staff experience, by representing research staff in a range of activities including interactions with institutional management and administration, informing institutional policy, facilitation of career development activities, and overall providing support for fellow researchers. The association thanks the School of Postgraduate Studies and the Research Office for their support in encouraging the establishment of the RRSA (June 2012)


Business EI 5.jpgProfessor Ruairi Brugha, Dr Annette Byrne, Dr David Davila, Professor Fergal O'Brien and Professor Jochen Prehn, were among those honoured by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins for their work as leaders of major EU research projects at an event in Dublin this month. Their achievements were recognised at 'Ireland's Champions of EU Research' which took place on 8th June 2012 and was attended by President Higgins in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The aim of the event was to recognise the immense contribution of the 275 research project leaders from Ireland to our national success in the €50 billion EU research fund known as the Seventh EU Framework Programme for Research (FP7).

President Higgins also presented 'Outstanding Achievement Awards' to researchers whose projects were ranked 1st in the EU in their respective research areas. As leaders of major research projects in the EU FP7 programme, the RCSI researchers were among those from academic institutions and companies in Ireland deemed to have reached the pinnacle of the European research system; a testament world-class research that is ongoing in Ireland and to the robust research infrastructure that has been built in Ireland over recent years. Since the EU programme commenced in 2007 over 1,200 applicants from Ireland have won €384 million in FP7 funding, the equivalent of €1.5 million per week. The national target is to secure €600 million by the end of 2013. The final call for applications which will open in July 2012 has the largest budget to date at an estimated €9 billion (June 2012).


New €1 million HRB grant awards for The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing - TILDA. Researchers in TILDA will study the role of autonomic function in the development of cardiovascular disease in adults thereby creating new biomarkers and opportunities for intervention. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in western cultures and a significant cause of major disabilities such as stroke and dementia. The new HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) award will enable applied health research and implementation science to rapidly translate policy relevant findings from the cardiovascular domain into policy and practice. The research will be lead by Prof. Rose Anne Kenny (TCD/TILDA) with collaboration from Dr. Emer Shelley (HSE), Prof. Tom Fahey (RCSI), Prof. Charles Normand (TCD), Prof. Ciarán O'Neill (UCL) and Prof. Alan Barrett (TCD/TILDA).
A further population health sciences award was made to study type 2 diabetes and its relation to cardiovascular function, cognitive function, mental health and socioeconomic factors. The burden of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its complications are immense and disproportionately affect the older population and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. By 2030 diabetes will have increased by 135% in the over 65 years and older worldwide. The Principal Investigator, Prof. Rose Anne Kenny (TCD/TILDA) said that "The study will advance the science of population health by using biological and demographic data from TILDA to address several limitations in the current knowledge of diabetes and cardiovascular brain health in Ireland." Co-applicants are Dr. George Savva (TCD/TILDA), Prof. Brian Lawlor (TCD/SJH), Prof. Joe Barry (TCD), Dr. Jean O'Connell (UCD) and Dr. Siobhan Maty (TCD/TILDA) (June 2012).


A new e-book edited by Dr Catherine Greene, Dept. Medicine has been published entitled "Toll-like Receptors in Diseases of the Lung" (eISBN: 978-1-60805-362-9, 2012). The book reviews current understanding of the role of TLRs in the lung in health and disease. Topics covered include 1) the expression, function and activation of TLRs during bacterial, viral and fungal infection of the airways, 2) the role of TLRs in the pathogenesis of genetic and environmental pulmonary disorders, and 3) TLR biology in lung transplantation. Each chapter highlights recent advances in a selected domain in lung disease research (June 2012). More... 


New research involving a multidiciplinary approach to investigating the mechanisms of bone loss and bone destruction as a result of infection was recently published in PLoS ONE. The research was carried out as a joint venture between the group's of Dr. Steve Kerrigan (School of Pharmacy & MCT) and Prof. Fergal O'Brien (Dept of Anatomy). This recently accepted paper builds on observations published by the same group in PLoS ONE which has resulted in more that 2000 downloads in the 12 month period since it was published in 2011. Mr Amro Widaa, first author and final year PhD student, presented the findings of the study at the annual meeting of the Biomedical section of the Royal Academy of Medicine and won the prestigious Donegan Bronze Medal for his work. Collectively the work identifies the mechanism through which Staphylococcus aureus binds to bone cells and triggers destruction and loss. Identification of this interaction provides new insight into a potential novel drug target which may prevent our over-reliance on antibiotics to treat this disease. Bone infection, or osteomyelitis, affects 1 in 5,000 people around the world. It can occur at any stage in life and attack any bone in the body, where it leads to progressive bone destruction. The research was funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland Research Frontiers Programme (June 2012).


Ziga Ude, a PhD student supervised  by Dr Celine Marmion (Dept of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry), was awarded first prize for best oral presentation in the ‘Bioinorganic Chemistry' section at the 64th Irish Universities Chemistry Research Colloquium 2012 hosted by the Department of Chemical & Environmental Sciences at the University of Limerick in June.  Ziga, who is funded through an SFI Research Frontiers Programme, joined Dr. Marmion's group in December 2011 and had to compete against researchers with two and three years research experience. Ziga, who obtained his primary degree from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia also conducted his Erasmus placement with Dr. Marmion from Oct 2010 - Jan 2011. (June 2012).    


Kerstin Pohl, HRB PhD Scholar in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease was awarded the 2012 European Cystic Fibrosis Society (ECFS) Young Investigators Award. The ECFS Award is given annually to individual researchers who made an outstanding contribution to the basic understanding of cystic fibrosis or to the treatment or care of people with cystic fibrosis. Kerstin who is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney (Dept of Medicine) was presented with her award at the annual ECFS conference which was held in Dublin on June 7th-9th, 2012. In her study, Kerstin identified an intrinsic functional difference of circulating white blood cells in people with cystic fibrosis (June 2012).     


A special issue on Tissue Engineering in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, co-edited by Prof Fergal O'Brien, Dept of Anatomy and Brendan Harley from the University of Illinois, has just been published.  The issue contains contributions from some of the world's leading research groups including papers from RCSI researcher's Amos Matsiko, Ciara Murphy, Conor Buckley & Danny Kelly (May 2012) More...  Prof O'Brien also gave a public Lecture in the Alchemist Cafe on the multi-disciplinary effort involved in researching and engineering new biomedical products (May 2012). More...


Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have discovered how a protein secreted in the body protects motor neuron cells from degrading. This is the first time that the mechanisms behind these protective qualities of the protein, known as angiogenin, have been understood, which may lead to new therapeutics for the treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (May 2012). More...




Members of the Centre for Systems Medicine and Department of Physiology and Medical Physics have published a review article which describes key molecular processes and signaling network topologies coordinating apoptosis signal transduction. Christian T Hellwig and Markus Rehm published a review on synergistic TRAIL-based multidrug treatments in the AACR journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. TRAIL and agonistic TRAIL receptor antibodies are the only therapeutically relevant anti-cancer death ligands. Synergies have been reported in various scenarios of TRAIL-based multidrug treatments, and these can be used to potentiate the efficacy of therapies targeting TRAIL death receptors. The review structures the current knowledge on the diverse molecular mechanisms that are thought to give rise to these synergies and describes how different signaling features evoking synergies can be associated with distinct classes of drugs used in TRAIL-based combination treatments (May 2012). More... 


In a recent review article, Maximilian L. Würstle, Maike A. Laussmann, and Markus Rehm (Centre for Systems Medicine and Department of Physiology and Medical Physics) describe the latest developments in the understanding of caspase-9 activation. Caspase-9 is an essentially required cell death protease mediating apoptosis execution through the mitochondrial pathway. The review discusses recent structural and kinetic studies on caspase-9 signaling, and describes an emerging model for the regulation of caspase-9 activation and activity that arises from the complexity of multi-protein interactions at the apoptosome. This review is available through the journal Experimental Cell Research, and is part of a special edition on cell death signaling. (May 2012). More...


An experimental systems biological study entitled "Proteasome inhibition can impair caspase-8 activation upon sub-maximal stimulation of apoptotic tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) signaling" by Maike Laussmann, Egle Passante, Christian Hellwig, Bartolomiej Tomiczek, Lorna Flanagan, Jochen Prehn, Heinrich Huber, and Markus Rehm (Centre for Systems Medicine and Department of Physiology and Medical Physics) has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The study takes advantage of a combined approach of mathematical modelling and quantitative experimental measurements to investigate TRAIL-mediated caspase activation kinetics in living cells (May 2012). More... 


Congratulations to Professor John Waddington (MCT) on receiving the inaugural Basic Science Award of the Schizophrenia International Research Society from Professor Sir Robin Murray, FRS, President of the Society, at their recent conference in Florence; John received this award for outstanding achievement during his 30-year career (May 2012).



Congratulations to Nina McCarthyUrsula Quinn and Alice Brennan (MCT) on receiving Young Investigator Awards to present their work at the recent meeting of the European Society of Hypertension in London; Alice Brennan won the prize for Best Poster in her section (May 2012).



Well done also to Seamus Allen, Ana Lopez-Alonso and Thea Tilley (MCT) on receiving Young Investigator Awards to present their work at the forthcoming meeting of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis in Liverpool (May 2012).



Dr Karen Morgan PU-RCSI (Psychology) is a co-researcher on a recent award by the Universiti Malaya Research Grant Scheme. The programme ‘Falls and Frailty in Older People' is a three year programme (RM 850,000) led by Associate Professor Dr Tan Maw Pin, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Universiti Malaya (UM). Other co-researchers are from the Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Design and Manufacturing Engineering UM, Newcastle University, UK and Curtin University, Perth, Australia. The programme will comprise of a number of sub-programmes starting with an evaluation of characteristics of falls in older patients presenting to the emergency room. Exercise therapy and home hazards interventions will be tested. Diagnostic markers of frailty will be assessed and the psychological impact of falls and perceptions of mortality will be explored (May 2012).  


New research carried out by researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), NUI Galway and the Health Service Executive (HSE) has found that a national screening campaign for chlamydia in young people would not prove cost effective. The research also explored the attitudes, fears and preferences of young Irish men and women aged 18-29 years old towards accepting tests to detect chlamydia (May 2012). More...



Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Donnelly, (Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow, RCSI Rotunda and Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital) on her recent award of second place at the Junior Obstetrics & Gynaecology Society (JOGS) "IPSEN Travelling Fellowship" Awards Dinner at One Pico. Dr. Donnelly presented a very entertaining talk on her imminent fellowship year in New York, where she will continue her Maternal Fetal Medical (MFM) training at Columbia University (May 2012).



The Pulmonary Division of the Department Medicine, RCSI has published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Effect of Estrogen on Pseudomonas Mucoidy and Exacerbations in Cystic Fibrosis". This paper has been hailed as a major breakthrough in understanding why females with cystic fibrosis do worse than males. It shows for the first time that the female hormone estrogen promotes the presence of the mucoid form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lungs of women with CF. Mucoid Ps. aeruginosa is more difficult to treat and causes significant lung inflammation, explaining, in part, why females with CF, have a worse outcome.  This study opens the way to new understanding and potential therapeutic approaches in CF. It is also the first report describing an effect of a gender hormone on infections and, as such, has major implications for conditions extending beyond CF. The paper is an excellent example of the translational research presently underway in RCSI and illustrates interdepartmental and inter-institutional links.  Professor Gerry McElvaney and Dr. Catherine Greene are the senior authors on the paper. The first author, Dr. Sanjay Chotirmall, is a Molecular Medicine Ireland (MMI) Clinician-Scientist fellow. Co-authors on the paper include colleagues from the Depts. of Medicine (Dr. Sonya Cosgrove), General Practice (Dr. Borislav Dimitrov)  and Molecular Medicine (Prof Brian Harvey) in RCSI, Beaumont Hospital (Dr. Cedric Gunaratnam, Prof Shane O'Neill) and the School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin (Stephen Smith) (May 2012). More...


The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is leading an international team of scientists on a major research study which aims to predict colorectal cancer patients' response to the ‘angiogenesis inhibitor' class of anti-cancer drug which prevents growth of tumour blood vessels. The study will facilitate a more focused therapeutic approach thus limiting side-effects in patients. The researchers have secured approximately €6 million in competitive non-exchequer funding for the "AngioPredict" project which is supported by the European Commission's Seventh Framework ‘Health' Programme (FP7). The project is led by Dr Annette Byrne, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics & Centre for Systems Medicine, RCSI. "The ability to predict response will mean that more focused and personalised therapies can be delivered to cancer patients. Non-responding patients will be thus spared the side-effects of therapy and are more likely to receive optimal treatment with a minimum of delay," Dr Byrne commented. (May 2012) More...


New research from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) published in Nature Publishing Groups Neuropsychopharmacology entitled "Chronic Adolescent Exposure to Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in COMT Mutant Mice: Impact on Indices of Dopaminergic, Endocannabinoid and GABAergic Pathways" has shown physical changes to exist in specific brain areas implicated in schizophrenia following the use of cannabis during adolescence. Dr Áine Behan, who did this work as a member of the Department of Psychiatry, RCSI and lead author on the study said "This is the first study to show that the combined effects of the COMT gene with adolescent cannabis use cause physical changes in the brain regions associated with schizophrenia." (May 2012). More...


Research Day 2012: The latest research on breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, bone tissue engineering, cyberpsychology and sexual health were just some of the topics featured in studies which were presented at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)'s Annual Research Day which took place on Wednesday, 25th April. Over 300 researchers attended this annual forum which provides RCSI scientists with the opportunity to showcase their most recent research findings and emphasises the importance of research within the College (Apr 2012) More...

Research Day 2012 Awards: This year's Research Day saw a new Health Professions Education Award presented for the first time. The award, which acknowledges the importance of a robust research and development approach to all of RCSI's educational programmes was presented to Ms Theresa Keane, Institute of Leadership.

Dr Killian Hurley, who is preparing for an MD at the Department of Medicine, was the post-graduate oral research prize winner. He received the Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals Prize of a silver medal and a prize fund of €1,000 to attend a conference.  The post-graduate poster prize went to Alba Jimenez-Pacheco, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics.

The PhD scholars oral research prize was awarded to Sudipto Das, Cancer Genetics, who received the Roche Gold Medal and will go on to represent RCSI in the Roche Researcher of the Year 2012. Erica Tierney, Department of Anatomy, received the PhD scholars poster presentation award for the best poster presentation.

There were two winners from the Department of Molecular Medicine in the early career investigators category. The oral research prize (The Barnes Medal) went to Dr Magdalena Mroz and the poster award was presented to Dr Vinciane Saint-Criq.

Other awards on the evening included the Mr Kamal Sayed Prize in Neurosurgery, which is supported by Dr Yacoob Kadwa, Class of 1965. This prestigious award of RCSI is run in conjunction with the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience and this year was awarded to Mr.Chandrasekaran Kaliaperumal FRCSEd (Neuro.Surg), Specialist Registrar in Neurosurgery at Cork University Hospital.

Aine McCarthy received the Dr. Harry O'Flanagan Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Research  and William Leitch was winner of the Undergraduate Poster Prize. Both Aine and William are medical students.

Dr Kevin McGuigan, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics was recognised for his research photograph of bottles of water set out in direct sunlight for solar disinfection (SODIS) by Ugandan primary school pupils which was the front cover illustration of this year's abstract book.

Finally, in appreciation of all her Alumni work in support of undergraduate student research, a presentation was made to Ms Louise Sherwin, Alumni/Fellows and Members Office.


Irish Aid has awarded funding for a new 3-year research programme in Zambia and Malawi to a team of researchers led by Professor Ruairí Brugha, Dr Elaine Byrne and Aisling Walsh from the Population Health Sciences Division. 

'Community Systems Strengthening for Equitable Maternal and Child Health' (COSYST-MCH) is a partnership of development researchers and practitioners, whose Irish partners are in DCU and Concern Worldwide.  The aim of the research is to strengthen community systems and increase health equity so as to achieve better maternal and child health (MCH) outcomes, focusing especially on vulnerable mothers and children in the first 1,000 days of life.  The hypothesis to be explored and tested is that Irish Aid's hunger, HIV care and support, and poverty-focused strategies are contributing to the achievement of the Health Millennium Development Goals for mothers and children (Apr2012) More... 


DSI_26.jpgRCSI were proud hosts of the fifth All Ireland Final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition which welcomed secondary school students from across Ireland to the event which took place in the Albert Lecture Theatre on Thursday, 19th April. Dr Terry McWade, Deputy Chief Executive of RCSI and Chairman of the REACH RCSI programme, welcomed the participants to the College and was also a member of the judging panel. After several closely contested debates, Clonakilty Community College, Co. Cork (Paul Harte (researcher), and debaters Conor Ryan and Philip Poillot, above) emerged victorious to become the 2012 Debating Science Issues winners.  St. Catherine's Vocational School, Killybegs, Donegal (Gráinne Nielsen and Deanne Gallagher) were the Runners Up. 

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the workshop series and debating competition is coordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with eight science research and discovery centres throughout Ireland, including RCSI. This year the RCSI-mentored schools included Loreto College Crumlin, Warrenmount Secondary School, CBS James Street and CBS Westland Row. Students from RCSI's Debating Society and MCT (Elizabeth Ahern Flynn, Eoin Kelleher and Rachel Cox) helped facilitate the workshops. The programme is managed within RCSI by Dr. Maria Morgan, MCT and Maria Kelly, REACH programme (Apr2012) More...


The Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research ( in collaboration with the School of Pharmacy, at Queens University, Belfast, has recently published two population studies, examining the prevalence, predictors and costs of potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) in older people, in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (NI). Medications deemed potentially inappropriate are those which lack evidence-based indications, pose a higher risk of adverse effects and/or are not cost effective. Older people are particularly vulnerable to inappropriate prescribing because of their multiple drug regimens, co-morbid conditions and age associated physiological changes.Inappropriate prescribing in older people is associated with increases in morbidity, adverse drug events, hospitalization and mortality and therefore optimising prescribing in this population is a priority due to the significant clinical and economic   costs of drug related illness (April2012) More...


Gerard Higgins (CMRF PhD scholar) has won the Best Presentation Prize at the European Cystic Fibrosis Basic Science Annual Meeting, St. Maxime, France. Gerry presented his work on novel actions of lipoxin on bacterial infection in CF, a collaborative project between RCSI and the National Children's Research Centre, Crumlin Hospital (Apr2012).


Congratulations to Gianpiero Cavalleri (Department of MCT), Christopher Whelan, Saud Alhusaini, Norman Delanty and their international collaborators on publication of the article 'Identification of common variants associated with human hippocampal and intracranial volumes' in Nature Genetics (Apr2012).



Congratulations to Ana Lopez-Alonso, Thea Tilley, Seamus Allen and Alice Brennan on receiving Young Investigator Awards to present their work at the meeting of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis in Liverpool; Alice Brennan has just heard that her presentation at this Meeting received the prize for Best Poster in her section (Apr2012)



Congratulations to Dr Frank Doyle and colleagues in the Department of Psychology who recently had a healthcare professionals education paper accepted in a special issue of the Journal of Health Psychology on health literacy. They assessed medical and physiotherapy students' ability to appraise the readability, psychology theory content and quality of nine international smoking patient information leaflets (PILs). Readability scores ranged from standard to fairly easy. Importantly, student-proposed additional theory-based content had no detrimental effect on readability scores. Overall quality scores indicated low-moderate quality. This assignment helped students critically evaluate the utility of PILs for communication (Apr2012) More...


An RCSI project on sexual health, being led by Dr. Karen Morgan (Psychology), is currently being featured as a research showcase on the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) website. Funded by IRCHSS and the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, this project is a comparative secondary analysis of data from three comprehensive national sexual health surveys that have been conducted in Ireland over the last decade: the 2003 and 2010 Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Surveys (ICCP-2003/2010) and the 2006 Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships (ISSHR). As well as aiming to deliver at least four key peer-reviewed papers from this work, the project team (Karen Morgan, Orla McBride, Caroline Kelleher, Ashling Bourke and Daniel Boduszek)  will also be organizing and delivering a conference and data workshop at the end of the project (Apr12) More...


Congratulations to Alexandra Skorupa and Matthew King (Department of Physiology & Medical Physics) on their joint publication in the Journal of Neuroscience entitled "Motoneurons Secrete Angiogenin to Induce RNA Cleavage in Astroglia". A news article on the publication also featured on the Alzheimer Research Forum (Apr 2012). More...




Research led by Dr Tobias Engel from Prof. David Henshall's laboratory, along with collaborators in Madrid, recently reported the identification of a new type of anticonvulsant drug. The work showed inhibitors of the ATP-activated P2X7 receptor potently suppressed seizures, possibly opening up new avenues for anti-epileptic drug development. The study also showed that specific populations of excitable cells begin to over-produce the protein after injury to the brain which may contribute to a lasting predisposition to seizures. The work, funded by the Health Research Board, is published in this month's edition of the FASEB Journal (Apr2012) More...


An international drug discovery research partnership initiated by Prof. Mauro Adamo (RCSI Department of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry) with the Institute of Chrystallography of the Italian National Council of Research in Bari, the Department of Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry of the University of Naples "Federico II", the AIRI (the Italian Association for Industrial Research), the Gianni Benzi Pharmacological Research Foundation, and the Italian Consortium DFM scarl has been successful in securing funding (€570k) to support a multidisciplinary research programme in the area of MicroRNA therapeutics applied to the treatment of Neuroblastoma. The programme will bring together experts in drug design (biocomputing, molecular modelling and structural biology) and synthesis (organic and oligomer synthesis) and will be supported by the Italian Foundation "Fondazione con il Sud" over a period of 3 years (Apr2012).


Congratulations to Dr Tomas Carroll and Dr Emer Reeves on their paper "Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency - A Genetic Risk Factor for COPD" which has achieved impressive readership results. The chapter published with InTech in the book "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - Current Concepts and Practice" has already been accessed 200 times in the 2 months since it became available (Apr2012) More...



The researchers at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research ( have conducted a number of studies examining methadone use and pregnancy outcomes including NAS. In a project co-funded by the School of Pharmacy, RCSI and the Friends of the Coombe charity, Dr Brian Cleary led a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the relationship between the mother's methadone dose and the chances of developing neonatal abstinence syndrome (March2012). More...



Jean McBryan a postdoctoral researcher  from Prof Leonie Young's Endocrine Oncology Research Group was one of just four scientists shortlisted for the 9th St Luke's Young Investigator Award, 2012. This award is presented by Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland  to researchers in their early years of oncology research.  Congratulations also to Jean on her recent publication in the prestigious journal Cancer Research entitled "Metastatic progression with resistance to aromatase inhibitors is driven by the steroid receptor coactivator SRC-1" .  Cancer Research is the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world (March2012).


Jarlath Bolger also Endocrine Oncology Research Group won the overall prize for best paper at the Sylvester O'Halloran meeting 2012. Jarlath's work in collaboration with Damian McCartan was also published in Cancer Research in January; "Global characterization of the SRC-1 transcriptome identifies ADAM22 as an ER-independent mediator of endocrine-resistant breast cancer" (March2012).




Christopher Byrne, also in the Endocrine Oncology Research Group was the recipient of the Young Scientist Award at the Irish Association of Cancer Research conference in Belfast in March.  This award was sponsored by the European Association of Cancer Research and the prize included registration and travel to the EACR's conference in Barcelona in June where Christopher will have the opportunity to present his work (March2012).



Dr Eva Jimenez-Mateos in the lab of Professor David Henshall was the only Ireland-based neuroscientist to win a travel grant to present her research at this year's Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) meeting in Barcelona (July). She will present her findings on a novel gene which regulates seizures and brain injury in epilepsy (March2012).



Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the University of Bristol have discovered that oral bacteria that escape into the bloodstream can cause blood clots and trigger life-threatening growths on heart valves. Further research arising from this study could lead to new drugs to tackle infective heart disease. Dr Steve Kerrigan, School of Pharmacy, was the RCSI collaborator on the study which is being presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Conference which takes place in the Convention Centre Dublin this week (March2012) More...


Congratulations to Ms. Irina Babina, a PhD student under Dr Ann Hopkins, Department of Surgery, who recently won an oral presentation award for best proffered paper at the Irish Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Belfast, for her work entitled: "Modulation of CD44 sub-cellular localization decreases breast cancer cell motility" (March2012)



The first malaria vaccine clinical trial to be carried out in Ireland is currently underway. It is the only clinical trial of an interventional vaccine currently being carried out in Ireland, and is the first clinical trial of its kind to be conducted in Ireland. The aim of the trial is to determine whether the vaccine is safe and produces an immunological response to malaria. The clinical trial is being led by Prof Samuel McConkey and his team (RCSI) in collaboration with the Jenner Institute at Oxford University in the UK. It is funded by the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI), a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) (Feb2012) More... 


The European Molecular Imaging Doctoral School (EMIDS) 1st Task Force meeting took place in VUB Brussels, 28th February 2012. Pictured left: Prof Brian Harvey and  Dr Ruth Dooley, Molecular Medicine RCSI, with EMIDS partners  from the Universities of Brussels, Crete, Turin, Paris, Utrecht, the French Atomic Energy Commission and the European Society of Molecular Imaging (Feb 2012). More... 


Further success for Dr Suzanne Miller-Delaney from Prof. Henshall's lab who recently won Neuroscience Ireland's Publication Award for best new paper for her study on DNA methylation in epilepsy that appeared in the February issue of the Journal of NeuroscienceProfessor David Henshall's team, led by Dr Suzanne Miller-Delaney in collaboration with Ray Stallings' group, reported the effects of prolonged seizures on DNA methylation - a chemical change to DNA which can determine whether or not particular genes can be switched on or not. The study analyzed over 34,000 sites and found methylation was changed for over 300 genes suggesting this may be an important mechanism regulating which proteins are produced in the brain in conditions such as epilepsy. In a paper also published in the February issue of the Journal of Neuroscience by Prof Jochen Prehn's group and Ph.D. student Bea D'Orsi, a new role for a family of enzymes, the calpains, was demonstrated in the destruction of neurons, a finding that may deliver novel treatment strategies for the treatment of ischemic stroke and neurodegenerative disorders. Both studies were supported by funding from Science Foundation Ireland (Feb 2012). More...


Congratulations to Dr. Aoife Murray (RCSI Clinical Tutor, Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology/SpR Obstetrics, Rotunda Hospital) on her recent award at the RAMI Obstetrics Section - Registrars Prize. Dr. Murray presented her work on ‘Platelet reactivity in hypertensive pregnancies' and was awarded a silver medal. This research is funded by the ‘Friends of the Rotunda' and is a collaborative project with Prof. Dermot Kenny (RCSI) (Feb 2012).



Congratulations to Dr. David Bergin who was awarded first prize within the PhD category of the Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize which was held on February 21st 2012. David was awarded the prize for his project entitled "The inhibitory effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin on TNF-alpha signaling". Pictured left to right are; Dr. David Bergin, Dr. Sinead McNicolas, Prof. Arnold Hill, Prof Gerry McElvaney and Barry Morris (Astra Zeneca) (Feb 2012).



Congratulations to Aine Nolan (HRB PhD scholar) on winning the Sheppard Prize for Best Poster at the Annual Beaumont Hospital Scientific Meeting.  Aine's presentation on the '"Role of novel oestrogen-sensitive microRNAs in  colon carcinoma tumour promotion" is a collaborative study between Molecular Medicine and Cancer Genetics (Feb 2012).




Congratulations to Kerstin Pohl who was awarded second prize in the PhD poster category at the 2012 Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize for her project entitled "Decreased Rab27a activation and impaired release of secondary and tertiary granules from neutrophils in cystic fibrosis". Kerstin is funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease (Feb 2012).



A research paper "Sexual dimorphism and oestrogen regulation of KCNE3 expression modulates the functional properties of KCNQ1 K+ channels"  published by Prof Brian Harvey was the  most downloaded paper from the November 2011 issue of The Journal of Physiology  during the first three months of its publication.  Brian also presented this work at the International Meeting on Optimization of Mouse Models in Human Disease, held this month in Chile (Feb 2012). 


The HRB Centre for Primary Care Research offers elective research placements to RCSI and other university undergraduate medical students. Students are facilitated to engage in research in a supportive environment. This process allows students to develop their research skills and nurture an interest in evidence-based medicine. Dr. Rose Galvin, a physiotherapist and post-doctoral researcher at the HRB Centre, was responsible for the supervision of two such students who conducted research into musculoskeletal disorders (Feb 2012). More...


Two RCSI undergraduate medical students who successfully secured HRB summer studentships to carry out research projects last year were amongst eight HRB Watts Medal finalists chosen to present their work as oral presentations in The Coach House, Dublin Castle on January 24th. Fatema Mewa carried out a project entitled "Knockdown of IL-8 in bronchial epithelial cells" under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Greene in Dept Medicine, and Lizi Smith worked with Prof Dermot Kenny, MCT on the project "A novel risk marker for rheumatoid arthritis". The judging panel highly commended both students and congratulated them on the high standard of their research and presentation skills (Feb 2012).


Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD today addressed over 200 delegates at the Irish Forum for Global Health Conference in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). The two day international conference addresses one of the greatest challenges facing global health - the critical shortage of skilled health personnel, especially in poorer countries and populations and in remote areas of the world (Feb 2012). More...



Congratulations to Prof Fergal O'Brien and his team in the Tissue Engineering Research Group who have had a remarkably successful run over the last short period of time. They have had confirmation of 5 successful grants over the past 6 weeks (3 in the past 2 weeks alone). The Principal Investigator on the biggest of them (Enterprise Ireland) is Dr. Garry Duffy with Fergal as co-applicant. Congratulations also to Claire Brougham and Rosanne Raftery who were both award winners at the 18th Annual Conference of the Section of Bioengineering of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (RAMI) which took place in Belfast on the 27th-29th. Claire won the De Puy sponsored prize for the best presentation by a new researcher with a talk entitled "Investigation of a New Material for Heart Valve Tissue Engineering". Claire is currently undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Fergal O'Brien. Rosanne was awarded 3rd place in the same category for her talk entitled "Chitosan Nanoparticles as a Gene Delivery Vehicle to produce SMART Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering". This project is a collaboration between the Anatomy department and the School of Pharmacy in RCSI and Rosanne is co-supervised by Dr Sally-Ann Cryan and Prof. O'Brien (Jan 2012). More...

Many congratulations to Dr Maria Morgan, MCT and her colleagues on four successful proposals to Dublin City of Science 2012 Public Engagement and on receiving in collaboration with seven higher Education institutions, a People Award from the Wellcome trust for Debating Science Issues. These are important achievements in relation to the College's outreach mission (Jan 2012).




In a new study published in this month's edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from Professor David Henshall's laboratory led by Dr Suzanne Miller-Delaney, in collaboration with members of Ray Stallings' team, reported the effects of prolonged seizures on DNA methylation - a chemical change to DNA which can determine whether or not particular genes can be switched on or not. The study analyzed over 34,000 sites and found DNA methylation was changed for over 300 genes suggesting this may be an important mechanism regulating which proteins are produced in the brain in conditions such as epilepsy (Jan 2012).


Dr. Darren Griffith, Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, has had his research findings published in a Young Investigator Award Special Issue of Inorganica Chimica Acta. The issue is devoted to young independent European, American and Japanese inorganic chemists. The research article is entitled "Synthesis and solution behaviour of stable mono-, di- and trinuclear Pd(II) complexes of 2,5-pyridinedihydroxamic acid: X-ray crystal structure of a novel Pd(II) hydroxamato complex". In his research article Dr Griffith demonstrates that a hydroxamic acid ligand, 2,5-pyha, is a versatile and excellent chelator of Pd(II) across the pH range. There may therefore be a potential role for derivatives of 2,5-pyha or alternative hydroxamic acid containing compounds as important scavengers of residual Pd(II) catalysts used in the synthesis of drug molecules destined for market (Jan 2012). More...

The researchers at the Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research have prepared a research brief on a peer-reviewed paper entitled "The Alvarado score for predicting acute appendicitis: A systematic review" published in BMC Medicine (Jan 2012). More...




Investigators in RCSI have participated in an unusually broad and fruitful inter- and intra-institutional collaboration. The contribution of mutations in genes underlying brain development is increasingly recognised for a number of neuropsychiatric disorders. Now, in a study led by SFI investigator Kevin Mitchell (Genetics, TCD), fellow SFI investigators David Henshall (Physiology & Medical Physics), John Waddington (MCT), Derek Morris (Psychiatry, TCD) and their teams have studied brain connectivity and neurodevelopmental deficits following mutation of the gene Semaphorin-6A; the important biological findings make this family of genes plausible candidates to explain human findings in schizophrenia and autism, as published recently in the journal PLoS One (Jan 2012). More...


RCSI has been awarded major funding for research to improve the treatment of epilepsy. The research aims to explore how individual patients react to different epilepsy drugs on the basis of their DNA so that the most effective medication can be prescribed safely to treat them. RCSI is one of 15 partner institutions from eight countries to receive almost €6 million funding from the European Union FP7 programme to investigate this genetic basis of responses to antiepileptic drugs as part of the EpiPGX Consortium. Dr. Norman Delanty, is Consultant Neurologist and the RCSI clinical lead and Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Biomedical Research Lecturer, will lead the RCSI genetics team. (Jan 2012) More... 


A new 'Centre for Systems Medicine' launched at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), aims to employ mathematical and statistical models in combination with large-scale data gathering to develop novel systems biology tools to predict treatment responses in patients with conditions such as colorectal cancer, brain tumours, melanoma, stroke, neurodegenerative  disorders and diabetes. The centre also aims to develop new prognostic tools for more ‘targeted' treatments for these patients, and aims to inform clinical decision making and improve patient care (Jan 2012). More...


Congratulations to Dr Cora McGreevy and Prof David Williams, Department of Geriatric Medicine, on their current publication "New Insights About Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Disease: A Narrative Review" in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Their paper was also discussed in an article in the Cardiology Today Journal (Jan 2012). More... 




A new study led by Prof Matthias Ebert (University Hospital Mannheim and Technical University, Munich, Germany), collaborators based in Germany, and Dr David Hughes at the Centre for Systems Medicine in the RCSI has found that an epigenetic change common in colorectal cancer predicts poor response to chemotherapy. The study published in the January 5th 2012 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine shows that TFAP2E gene hypermethylation (i.e., highly methylated gene sequences) was associated with clinical non-responsiveness to chemotherapy in colorectal cancer (Jan 2012). More... 


Researchers within the Department of Anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have developed innovative collagen nano-hydroxyapatite (coll-nHA) scaffolds that act as highly efficient non-viral gene delivery platforms for stem cell-mediated bone formation. The research is the result of a successful collaborative project carried out between the Tissue Engineering Research Group led by Prof. Fergal O'Brien and Dr. Garry Duffy in RCSI, Prof. Kazuhisa Bessho, Kyoto University, Japan, and Dr. Glenn Dickson, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland and consists of a multi-disciplinary research effort between cell biologists, clinicians and engineers.  Results of this study were recently published in the esteemed materials science journal Advanced Materials with Dr. Caroline Curtin, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Anatomy, as first author (Jan 2012) More...

Ian Kelleher, PhD student in the Department of Psychiatry, has had a paper entitled "Psychotic symptoms in adolescence index risk for suicidal behaviour - findings from two population-based case-control studies", accepted to the prestigious journal Archives of General Psychiatry. Congratulations to Ian who has now had 4 papers accepted for publication in 4 consecutive months - a new record for Department of Psychiatry! (Jan 2012)






Dr Karen Morgan, Dr Frank Doyle, Prof Hannah McGee, and Ms Janet O'Farrell from the Department of Psychology have recently completed a report for CARDI (Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland) entitled "Physical activity and core depressive symptoms in the older Irish adult population" (Dec 2011). More...


 The researchers at the Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research ( have conducted a number of studies examining medication use in early pregnancy. Recent publications have explored the prevalence of medication use in early pregnancy and determinants of peri-conceptional use of folic acid in pregnant women (Dec 2011) More...


The EU Commission recently approved funding for the establishment of the European Molecular Imaging Doctoral School (EMIDS), an Erasmus network co-ordinated between Prof Brian Harvey, RCSI and Universities in Belgium, France, Netherlands, Italy and Greece. EMIDS will involve RCSI staff across several departments including Prof Jochen Prehn and Drs Ruth Dooley, Tytus Bernas and Eadaoin McKiernan funded over a four year period to provide doctoral training in molecular imaging having an impact on the development of future drugs and diagnostic imaging agents (Dec 2011).


Over the summer and autumn, Prof John Waddington (MCT) was invited to participate in an EU COST SYSGENET workshop and discussion forum, involving leading basic and clinical neuroscientists from several European countries, to debate, formulate and prioritise a strategy for future research on models of psychotic illness and antipsychotic drug discovery. The yield from this process has just been published in the new, prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine (Dec 2011) More... 


Congratulations to Profs Mauro Adamo, David Henshall, Fergal O'Brien, Leonie Young and Dr Stephen Keely on their SFI/Enterprise Ireland Technology & Innovation Development Awards (TIDA). The TIDA 2011 Feasibility Study award is designed to enable researchers to focus on the first steps of an applied research project which may have a commercial benefit if further developed. The RCSI success rate was 12.5% above national average (Dec 2011). 


The Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery in collaboration with St. Luke's Hospital has recently completed a mixed methods research study to describe the role of the nurse in radiation oncology. Internationally, variability exists in the educational requirements, tasks, functions, skills and working environments of nurses working in radiation oncology and this has contributed to a lack of clarity and definition on this role. (Dec 2011) More.... 


Congratulations to Dr Sfuzanne Miller-Delaney who won the basic Science prize at the UK meeting of the International League Against Epilepsy in York in November for her work on "DNA methylation changes in epilepsy" (Dec 2011).



The Health Research Board (HRB) launched its annual ‘Picture of Health' publication on 1st December 2011, which highlights recent and exciting developments arising from Irish health research it has funded. Picture of Health 2011 outlines the findings and achievements of more than 40 out of 105 HRB-grants ended in 2010, including nine researchers from RCSI. (Dec 2011). More...


The inaugural International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students (ICHAMS) was held on November 4th and 5th. The conference was organised by RCSI undergraduate medical and healthcare students for students worldwide: ‘A conference for students by students' under the umbrella of the RCSI Research Summer School. The conference endeavoured to provide opportunities to further develop the biomedical research skills of the delegates and to cultivate the exchange of research knowledge. (Nov 2011). More...  


The very first Young Life Scientist Ireland (YLSI) Symposium took place on 12th November 2011 in University College Dublin. The day was a great success with over 110 delegates from Ireland and abroad. The day consisted of parallel sessions in various themes covering 24 oral communications accompanied by interactive workshops and a keenly contested poster session. (Nov 2011). More...


In a  study published in this month's Journal of Physiology, researchers in the Department of Molecular Medicine in collaboration with the Centro de Estudios Científicos Chile, identified the molecular target of oestrogen action in fluid retention. High levels of oestrogen are known to cause fluid retention in fertile females and it is thought that the increase in body fluid volume is necessary for proper implantation of the fertilised egg in the uterus. The study led by Profs Brian Harvey and Francisco Sepulveda was highlighted in an Editorial Perspective as the first to show that the activity of a potassium ion channel (KCNQ1), which drives salt and water movement across the cell membranes of epithelial tissues, is the target for oestrogen. This effect of oestrogen on KCNQ1  ion channels and electrolyte secretion is only found in females and is maximal during the peak phase of oestrogen in the oestrous cycle (when fertilization and implantation occur). These findings help us to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the fluid retention effects of oestrogen in health and the potential adverse effects this response may have in exacerbating disease where fluid secretion is compromised such as in cystic fibrosis (the so-called CF ‘gender gap'). (Nov 2011)


Dr Frederick Sundram, Senior Registrar and Honorary Lecturer in Psychiatry at RCSI, in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry and at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, has published a paper entitled "White matter microstructural abnormalities in the frontal lobe of adults with antisocial personality disorder" in Cortex (Nov 2011). More... 


Congratulations to Jennifer Lynch, Department of MCT, on receiving the Children's Cancer and Leukemia Group McElwain Award for her presentation at the recent National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool. Jennifer's work is focused on eludidating the mechanism by which microRNA-335 contributes to the paedatric cancer neuroblastoma. The study has identified specific genes and pathways regulated by microRNA-335 that play a role in tumour metastasis. Jennifer works under the supervision of Professor Ray Stallings. (Nov 2011). More...

Congratulations to Rebecca Wolfe, overall winner for Best Oral Presentation in the Dermatology, Gastroenterology & Respiratory session at the International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students (ICHAMS) held in Dublin (5th November 2011) and Best Poster presentation at the Irish Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting (11th November 2011) with her poster entitled: "Alpha-1 Antitrypsin: A Novel TNF-Alpha Blocker?" Rebecca was funded by a HRB Summer Research Studentship under the supervision of Dr Emer Reeves and Dr David Bergin. (Nov 2011) 


Ian Kelleher, PhD student in the Dept of Psychiatry has had a paper accepted for publication in Schizophrenia Bulletin ( one of the "top five" psychiatry journals in terms of impact factor). Ian's paper, which he carried out with his supervisor Prof Mary Cannon and colleagues Dr Mary Clarke (Depts Psychology and Psychiatry, RCSI) and Drs Aileen Murtagh, Charlene Molloy and Michelle Harley is entitled "Identification and characterization of prodromal risk syndromes in young adolescents in the community: A population-based clinical interview study". This paper shows that up to 8% of adolescents in the community could fulfill criteria for prodromal risk syndromes for psychosis. This issue has never been examined in a community sample before and this paper will contribute significantly to the debate on the proposed inclusion of such risk syndromes in the upcoming revision of psychiatric diagnostic systems - DSM-V (Nov 2011).


Congratulations to Cormac Jennings and the Molecular Medicine team on their recent publication "Sustained Expression of Steroid Receptor Coactivator SRC-2/TIF-2 is Associated with Better Prognosis in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma" in Journal of Thoracic Oncology, which has been highlighted on the "Surviving Mesothelioma: A Patient's Guide" website. (Nov 2011). More...



Researchers at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research investigate the utility of clinical prediction rules in respiratory illnesses. Clinical prediction rules (CPRs) are designed to assist clinicians in stratifying patients according to their probability of having a specific target disorder based on the patient's history and clinical examination. The HRB Centre for Primary Care Research ( has recently published two systematic reviews that examine the predictive value of CPRs in respiratory illnesses (Nov 2011). More...   


An Irish research team lead by Dr Norman Delanty and colleagues at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) will be one of many research teams all around the world who will come together to collaborate on a large new worldwide study looking at the genetic basis of epilepsy (Nov 2011). More... 


Dr. Gianpiero Cavalleri, from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics has just launched an All-Ireland project to create a collection of DNA samples from individuals of Irish origin, which will be used to explore human genetic variation in the Irish population. The project is a joint collaboration with the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The collection and scientific analysis of the data may make it possible to identify genetic risk factors for disease and with this information, improve the nature of future treatments, including drug design or lifestyle decisions on how to prevent the development of disease in the first place (Oct2011). More...


Congratulations to Stephen Sheridan, a PhD student of Dr Garry Duffy and Dr Bruce Murphy (TCD) who was recently selected to educate and entertain at the Workman's Club in Dublin. Stephen is enrolled in the UCD-TCD Innovation Academy which provides an exciting intellectual space where students and academics interact in multi-disciplinary groups with mentors from the public and private sector to develop and nurture creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and teamwork. As part of this, Stephen created a 3 minute video describing his research in a way that was comprehensible to a general audience. The video is available online on the Innovation academy's Youtube channel (click here to view the video). Comedian, Maeve Higgins came across these videos and asked Stephen to talk at her Enlightenment Night in the workman's club. Once a month Maeve presents two hours of intense fun and learning. She selects a person, a place, a time, a situation, a something she wants you to know about, then makes you know about it in great ways.


Two PhD students of the Peptide Laboratory in the Department of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry, supervised by Dr. Marc Devocelle, were recently awarded prizes for the presentation of their research. Ms Lorraine Blackmore won second prize for poster presentation at the COST D39 Final Whole Action Meeting which took place in RCSI this summer. Lorraine's PhD is funded by the HEA and co-supervised by Prof. Tia Keyes in DCU (Department of Chemistry); she is developing novel imaging agents to assess the function of proteins.

Mr Graeme Kelly won second prize for the Young Investigator Poster Competition at the recent American Peptide Society Symposium, San Diego. Graeme is funded by SFI (Research Frontiers Programme) for a project aiming at combining classical and novel anticancer agents, to synergise their activities and overcome the resistance of cancer cells to classical therapeutic agents.


Professor David Henshall, Department of Physiology & Medical Physics,  Dr Norman Delanty at Beaumont and Dr Suzanne Miller-Delaney, also  Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, have received a research grant from Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Society. The collaborative research project which commences at the end of the year will look at the role of epigenetic changes to genes (i.e. changes to DNA caused by environment/lifestyle) in human epilepsy (Oct2011).


Congratulations to the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research who have had two peer-reviewed papers recently published entitled "Prognostic value of the ABCD2 clinical prediction rule: a systematic review and meta-analysis" (Family Practice) and "Validation of the CHADS2 clinical prediction rule to predict ischaemic stroke. A systematic review and meta-analysis" (Thrombosis and Haemostasis) (Oct2011). More... 

Congratulations to the Dept.of Psychiatry, Dr Oliver Schubert, Dr Melanie Focking and Prof David Cotter, in conjunction with Prof Jochen Prehn, Dept of Physiology & Medical Physics on their latest article which has been published in an advanced online publication in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the highest impact journal in Psychiatry and the 4th best in the field of Neurosciences (Oct 2011). More...


Congratulations to Dr Sanjay Chortimall, Department of Medicine, who won the Young Clinician Scientist Award at the Dublin Centre for Clinical Research 2011 Scientific Day on Friday 14th October in TCD. Dr Chortimall's presentation was entitled "The Role of Estrogen in Cystic Fibrosis". This award was given following an oral presentation where he successfully competed with researchers from UCD and TCD (Oct2011).


Congratulations to Dr Tomás Carroll, Prof Gerry McElvaney and their colleagues in the Department of Medicine in the ERC Centre who recently successfully collaborated with Trinity College Dublin to conduct a study which found that Ireland has one of the highest incidences in the world of a genetic condition that causes severe hereditary emphysema. More...  

Dr Tomás Carroll, associate lecturer in the Department of Medicine at RCSI, Beaumont Hospital, has also been awarded an American Thoracic Society Foundation/Alpha-1 Foundation Research Grant to study the effect of a genetic protein deficiency on the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  The grant provides $80,000 in funding over two years  (Oct 2011). More...


The Eadbhard O'Callaghan Annual Youth Mental Health Prize has been set up in honour of Professor O'Callaghan, an RCSI graduate, Professor of Mental Health Research at University College Dublin and Director of the DETECT Early Intervention service in psychosis who sadly died on May 2nd  2011. The first recipient of the Award was Ian Kelleher, a HRB-funded PhD student with Prof Mary Cannon's team in the Department of Psychiatry, RCSI, for his poster entitled: "What is the clinico-pathological significance of psychotic symptoms in young people. Converging evidence from 4 population-based studies.". The prize was presented by Professor O'Callaghan's godson, Robert Murphy, an RCSI medical student, during the First National Research conference on Youth Mental Health held in RCSI, Dublin on October 14th. The conference was organized by the Special Interest Group on Youth Mental Health of the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) (Oct2011).


On Friday October 7th 2011, our undergraduate students from the Schools of Medicine, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy presented the findings of the research they carried out during the summer months under the auspices of the RCSI Research Summer School, which is coordinated by Dr. Sarah O'Neill. A total of 37 students presented their work this year. 26 of these were poster presentations, with 11 oral presentations (Oct2011). More...

Congratulations to Dr Karen Morgan who has been awarded an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) Research Fellowship. The project starts in Oct 2011 and is entitled ‘Exploring trends in sexual activity, contraceptive use, and pregnancy experiences in Ireland'. (Oct2011)



Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn T.D. today formally launched BioAT - a unique PhD collaboration between Dublin City University, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), NUI Maynooth and Institute of Technology Tallaght - which will add strength and depth to Ireland's important biopharmaceutical and biomedical device industries. One of the first significant university collaborations in this area, BioAT (BioAnalysis and Therapeutics Structured PhD Programme) will help drive Ireland's push for cures to diseases like Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis and cancers (Oct 2011). More...  


Congratulations to Dr Kevin McGuigan whose final SODISWATER Field Study has been accepted for publication this week. The article (du Preez M, Conroy RM, McGuigan KG, et al. Solar disinfection of drinking water (SODIS) in the prevention of dysentery in Kenyan children aged under 5 years. Environmental Science & Technology. Sept 2011. DOI: 10.1021/es2018835. PMID:21936492) reports the first ever benefit in child development associated with provision of Household Water Treatment in the developing world. The 12-month Kenyan SODIS study observed a 45% reduction in rates of dysentery and a 0.8cm increase in median height for children under age 5yrs drinking SODIS compared to children in the control group. This is third SODISWATER field study we have published in a 12 month period (South Africa, Cambodia and Kenya). All reported dramatic reductions in dysentery and childhood diarrhoeal disease rates for children using SODIS and confirms that SODIS is an extremely effective low cost water treatment for the most vulnerable communities without reliable access to safe drinking water (Sept 2011). 

Professor David Williams (Geriatric Medicine) and Dr Anne Hickey (Psychology) with colleagues, Professor Hannah McGee, Dr Emer Shelley (Epidemiology) and Dr Frances Horgan (Physiotherapy) have recently received a research award by the Health Research Board of Ireland to conduct a two-year Health service Research Study entitled ASPIRE-S (Action on Secondary Prevention Interventions and Rehabilitation in Stroke): adequacy of secondary prevention and rehabilitation intervention six months post-stroke, which will provide important information, currently unavailable in Ireland, on the management of stroke patients at home and will help to inform a future strategy on the management of stroke in the community. It is hoped that this work will lead to the development of a similar model which can be implemented across Europe (Sept 2011).


Prof. Fergal O'Brien, at the invitation of Science Foundation Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy, represented the Irish scientific community at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions (‘Summer Davos') held in Dalian, China. This is the foremost global business gathering in Asia and provides an unparalleled platform for global leaders to address the major drivers of growth in the 21st century. 40 young scientists (under 40 years) from around the world were invited to attend and interact with international business and political leaders.

Prof. O'Brien was also an Invited Plenary Keynote Speaker at the European Symposium on Biopolymers Conference (ESBP2011) which was held in Dublin in September, 2011. His talk was entitled ‘Advanced collagen-based scaffolds for tissue engineering applications' (Sept 2011).

Well done to Aine Nolan, a HRB PhD scholar in the Department of Molecular Medicine. who won first prize in the oral presentation category at the Advanced Summer School on Nuclear Receptor Signalling in Physiology and Disease held in Spetses Greece August 28 - September 2, 2011. The summer school was organised by the Karolinska Institute under the auspices of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies with the aim to bring together outstanding young investigators, PhDs and Post-docs, with senior scientists working in the field of steroid hormone nuclear receptors.
Aine delivered a lecture on her first year PhD work investigating the role of estrogen modulated microRNAs in colorectal cancer. Aine's supervisor Prof Brian Harvey commented "this is an exceptional achievement by such a young PhD scholar in the face of competition from more senior PhDs and postdocs from among the best labs in Europe. The award is not only a credit to Aine but also to her co-supervisors Dr. Warren Thomas and Dr. Isabella Bray and the inter-disciplinary collaboration they have developed between Molecular Medicine and Cancer Genetics." (Sept 2011).


Prof David Henshall has received an RO1 grant from the National Institutes for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA. The study is entitled "MicroRNAs as molecular effectors of epileptic tolerance". The study will be conducted jointly between the laboratory of Prof. Roger Simon in Atlanta, USA with the Henshall lab at RCSI and in conjunction with Prof. Ray Stallings group (Sept 2011).


Congratulations to Eugenia Delgado, from Dr Markus Rehm's group, on being awarded a European Cell Death Organisation Scholarship Award. She presented her research project "Measurements of caspase-2-like activities in intact living cells" at the ECDO conference in Stockholm this September. (Sept 2011)


Congratulations to Dr Caroline Jefferies, Claire Wynn & Rowan Higgs on their recent article "Antiviral TRIMs: friend or foe in autoimmune and autoinflammatory disease?" published in this months Nature Reviews in Immunology.  The article presents evidence for the involvement of TRIMs in autoimmune and autoinflammatory conditions and highlights a role for these TRIM proteins as emerging targets in autoimmune and inflammatory disease (Sept 2011). More... 


The first results of a major all-Ireland study of twin pregnancies, led by Perinatal Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and funded by the Health Research Board, has shown that a major difference in the birth weights among a pair of twin babies results in an increased risk of health complications for both twins. 1001 women in Ireland with twin pregnancies between 2007 and 2009 participated in this study (Sept 2011). More... 


Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Beaumont Hospital have conducted a study which has found striking brain similarities in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The research has also pinpointed for the first time that a process which controls how information is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain is altered in both conditions and may potentially contribute to the developments of improved treatments in the future (Aug 2011). More... 


The RCSI Technology Transfer Office has successfully completed a commercial deal with Shire Pharmaceuticals for the development of a new treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the US and Motor Neuron Disease (MND) in the UK. The novel treatment approach, discovered and developed by Prof. Jochen Prehn's research group, aims to deliver a functioning version of the angiogenin protein to ALS patients. The original discovery of angiogenin's importance in ALS was made by Dr. Matthew Greenway, Dr Dairin Kieran, Prof. Orla Hardiman and Prof. Jochen Prehn in February 2006 and was published in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics. The commercial deal with Shire provides upfront and intellectual property maintenance payments to the College in return for the provision of an exclusive option right for Shire to negotiate a full license agreement in due course. Congratulations to all those involved (Sept 2011).


Congratulations to Profs Fergal O'Brien, Jochen Prehn, David Henshall, David Williams, Richard Costello and Dr Valerie Urbach who were recently awarded the prestigious HRB Health Research Award 2011. This scheme provides funding for clearly defined research projects in areas of patient-oriented research, health services research and population health sciences research (August 2011).

In the most recent edition of Heart News, the newsletter of the Irish Hearth Foundation, there is a feature on Dr Garry Duffy and the Microbubble technique being employed by his group. This treatment involves targeting cardiac tissue at the onset of heart failure with Microbubbles which are loaded with therapeutic molecules. These molecules can then begin to repair the damage and reduce cardiomyocyte hypertrophy (August 2011).

A review of Tissue Engineering featured in the August Edition of Irish Medicines Board, Medical Devices Newsletter. This article details the current state of the art of tissue engineering and identifies RCSI's central role in the area of bone, cartilage and cardiovascular regenerative medicine. The article was written by Prof Fergal O'Brien, Dr Tanya Levingstone, Dr Ciara Murphy and Dr Orlaith Brennan (August 2011). 

Congratulations to Heinrich Huber, Heiko Dussmann, Sean Kilbride, Markus Rehm, and Jochen Prehn who have conducted a study which reveals new insights into how cancer cells can maintain a resistance to chemotherapy. Their findings show that when cancer cells are exposed to elevated glucose levels, mitochondrial function can be restored and osmotic homeostasis can be maintained. Their research was covered in a number of online media outlets. More...
(July 2011)

Clinician Scientists pursuing research training in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) won the top prizes at the recent Molecular Medicine Ireland (MMI) Clinician Scientist Annual Meeting which took place on 1 July 2011. More...

Congratulations to Mauro Adamo, Celine Marmion, Fergal O'Brien and Emer Reeves who are the recipient of this year prestigious SFI Research Frontiers Programme (RFP) awards
RFP awards may be up to €200,000 and are up to 4 years duration. (June 2011)

New research from the RCSI has identified a novel drug target for the treatment of infection in bone. The research was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE and won the prestigious Donegan Bronze Medal at the annual meeting of the Biomedical section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. More...
(June 2011)

Researchers in Prof. Adamo's group have recently discovered a new chemical reaction that permits the formation of carbon-sulfur bond in selective and quantitative manner. The carbon-sulfur bond is a critical chemical entity present in aminoacids, vitamins, co-factors and in many drugs. The breakthrough discovery has been just published on Angewandte Chemie, the world leading journal in chemistry. Prof. Adamo's synthesis of Baclophen was also published in the same journal as "Editor choice hot paper" in late 2009. Experts at Science Foundation Ireland who funded the follow up of this research have marked this discovery as "an outstanding breakthrough discovery capable of transforming the synthetic approach to current top-ten pharmaceuticals." (June 2011)


Sanjay Chotirmall was awarded the Respiratory Medicine Prize at the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland Doctor Awards 2011 on Thursday May 26th, at a reception in the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in Kildare Street. He was awarded the prize for his paper entitled "17Beta-estradiol inhibits IL-8 in cystic fibrosis by up-regulating secretory leucoprotease inhibitor. This paper was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in July 2010. Dr. Chotirmall is a clinical-scientist funded by Molecular Medicine Ireland. He is jointly supervised by Catherine Greene, Brian Harvey and  Noel G. McElvaney.(May 2011)

Theo Ryan, Final Year Pharmacy student, was awarded the Servier Medal for the Best Senior Cycle Pharmacy Research Project 2010-2011. He completed his project entitled 'Towards a Bifunctional Platinum (IV) Anti-Cancer Agent: Synthesis of the CarboxySAHA Ligand' under the supervision of Celine Marmion. (May 2011)

Congratulations to  Anne Hickey, Karen Morgan, Helen Burke and Hanna McGee who are part of the first publication from TILDA (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing). The publication, called "50 Plus in Ireland in 2011", was launched in the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin, by Minister James Reilly on the 9th of May.

Congratulations to Melanie Focking, Jane English, Patrick Dicker, Oliver Schubert, Mike Dunn, and David Cotter who just published a new paper in Archives of General Psychiatry, which is the highest impact journal in the field of Psychiatry. Their work describes a proteomic study showing that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia share a common pathophysiology involving altered membrane trafficking. (May 2011)

Congratulations to Geraldine McCarthy, Consultant in Rheumatology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University College Dublin and Honorary Associate Professor Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, RCSI, who was awarded the Dr. Jacques Servier Scholarship. More... 
(20th April 2011)

Congratulations to Catherine Coughlan, third Year HRB PhD student, Department of Medicine, who won First Prize for Best Oral Presentation with her project entitled "Gliotoxin is responsible for vitamin D receptor down-regulation and induced T-helper 2 response in Aspergillus fumigatus colonized cystic fibrosis airway disease" at the British Society for Medical Mycology Annual Scientific Meeting held in Glasgow this month. Catherine's project has been co-supervised by both Noel G. McElvaney and Emer Reeves; the project has been carried-out in collaboration with Dr Kevin Kavanagh, NUI Maynooth . (20th April 2011)

Researchers from the RCSI and Beaumont Hospital have conducted the first study of its kind to examine in detail, the basis of psychiatric disorders which occur in people with epilepsy. More...
(19th April 2011)

Congratulations to MA Laussmann, E Passante, H Dussmann, JA Rauen, ML Würstle, ME Delgado,M Devocelle, J Prehn  and M Rehm  who just published a new paper in Cell Death and Differentiation, which is the highest impact journal in the field of cell death research. Their work describes a new strategy to eliminate highly resistant cancer cells through a combination of proteasome inhibitors and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein  (XIAP) antagonists. (11th April 2011)


Celine Marmion and Darren Griffith, Department of Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Chemistry, RCSI, have discovered a new innovative class of platinum drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, which has recently been licensed to a pharmaceutical company for further development. More...
(7th April 2011)

A multinational team of scientists led by the RCSI and the University of Liverpool has identified a gene that could indicate if epilepsy patients starting a common drug treatment are likely to experience side-effects ranging from a mild skin irritation to the potentially fatal Steven-Johnson Syndrome. More...
(25th march 2011) 

New research from the RCSI has discovered why people with heart stents can suffer heart attacks when medication is withdrawn after one year. The research was carried out in Beaumont Hospital and recently published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis. More...
(22nd March 2011)

The Sheppard Prize research competition was held at the Beaumont Hospital on the 22nd of February 2011. Congratulations to the Prize winners Dr Mark Hanon,  Academic Department of Endocrinology, Dr Sanjay Chotirmall and Dr Tidi Hassan, Department of Medicine,  and Mr Cormac Jennings, Molecolar Medicine Research Laboratories. (February 2011)

Congratulations to Ruairi Brugha, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences at RCSI, who has recently been awarded an important FP7-Africa-2010 award (Ca. 3M€). The five year project entitled "Clinical Officer training in Africa" (COST-Africa), is partnered with the Surgical Society of Zambia, the College of Medicine of Malawi and the Stichting Katholieke Universiteit,Netherland. (February 2011) 

 Congratulations to Noel G. McElvaney, Emer Reeves and Isabel Vega-Carrascal, who have successfully published their research entitled "Dysregulation of TIM-3-Galectin-9 Pathway in the Cystic Fibrosis Airways" within The Journal of Immunology.
Isabel Vega-Carrascal is a final year HRB PhD scholar; her research will appear within the March 2011 issue and will be featured in "In This Issue" of The Journal of Immunology. "In This Issue" highlights articles that are among the top 10% of articles published in the journal. (16th February 2011)

Caroline Jefferies' research focuses on the role played by innate immune mechanisms in response to viral infections on the initiation and pathology of the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythrematosus (SLE). Research in the area was recently successful in securing funding support by the Alliance for Lupus Research which is a very prestigious award. More...
(February 2011)

Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Beaumont Hospital have made a breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms behind the most severe form of hereditary emphysema and how protein treatments can improve the condition. More...
(January 2011)

Important new findings on the genetics of schizophrenia were recently published in the leading scientific journal PLoS Genetics by scientists and clinicians from Harvard University and the International Schizophrenia Consortium; involved in the study was RCSI's Professor John Waddington, Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics, More...
(January 2011)


Congratulations to Stephen Keely, Molecular Medicine Research Laboratories RCSI, who was successful on the last round of the prestigious SFI Principal Investigators award. The five years project will study the mechanisms by which bile acids regulate epithelial transport function. (10th December 2010) 

Congratulations  also to Bryan Hennessy who was recently successful in the joint bid to the Health Research Board (HRB) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), with the project entitled 'Inhibition of PARP in women with sporadic ovarian cancer'.  Only four researchers were awarded under this funding scheme. Dr Hennessy's group has published recently that BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene somatic mutations and other abnormalities occur commonly in sporadic ovarian cancers. This project aims to investigate these newly described molecular abnormalities as novel therapeutic targets in ovarian cancer using PARP inhibitors. (December 2010)

Professor Hilary Humphreys, RCSI Department of Clinical Microbiology and Dr Stephen Daniels from Dublin City University were recently successful in a joint bid to the Health Research Board (HRB) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for funding to enhance the detection of environmental reservoirs of healthcare-associated infections (HCAI). More...
(December 2010)

The notifications of the results for the Technology and Innovation Development Award (TIDA) Feasibility 2010 have been released today. Congratulations on their awards to: Dr. Ann Hopkins, Prof. Jochen Prehn, Prof. Fergal O'Brien, Dr. Celine Marmion, Prof. Niamh Moran, Dr. Stephen Keely, Dr. Caroline Jefferies. (2nd December 2010) 

RCSI a partner in the recently funded European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research (COST) in Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Congratulations to Prof Brian Harvey on securing funding from Brussels for the CF COST Network. Brian is the Irish representative on the management committee. The EU Commission established the Cystic Fibrosis research network under its COST Award programme. The network is funded for four years to stimulate and support European-wide research. (December 2010)

A study by Dr. Stephen Keely  and a team of researchers in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has uncovered a potential new target for the treatment of a range of intestinal diseases that are associated with diarrhoea. More...
(29th November 2010)

Prof. Prehn and a team of researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital have gained new insights into the mechanisms at work in diabetes which may lead to the development of new treatments for the disease. More...
(8th November 2010) 

Department of Neurodegeneration - New Brain Injury Laboratory

A significant development in the Department of Neurodegeneration has been the construction and opening of the new Laboratory of Brain Injury. This new facility will allow our researchers use novel brain imaging techniques and develop novel treatment strategies for stroke, brain trauma, and cerebral haemorrhage.
Well done to Nikolaus Plesnila, Chair of Neurodegeneration and his team for this achievement.


RCSI researchers featured in ‘SFI - celebrating 10 Years of Discovery

Fergal O'Brien, Jochen Prehn and Dermot Kenny have all been featured in Science Foundation Ireland - celebrating 10 Years of Discovery'.
Fergal O'Brien from the Department of Anatomy has been featured as one of ten Rising Stars in research in ‘Science Foundation Ireland - celebrating 10 Years of Discovery'. He has been featured for his research relating to collagen for regenerative medicine applications including, most notably, bone. His work on a new bone graft substitute, HydroxyColl is one of a number of products from Fergal's lab that are being commercialised with the support from Enterprise Ireland building on SFI funded research. More...
Dermot Kenny was also featured for coming up with a novel test for blood cells that can open up new research into the field of cardiovascular diseases. This is a collaborative research between RCSI and the DCU Biomedical Diagnostics Institute. More...
Congratulations to Fergal and Dermot and their teams for this achievement.



MCT - Article published in ‘Nature Reviews in Drug Discovery

Well done to Dermot Cox and Niamh Moran from MCT who have recently had an article published in ‘Nature Reviews in Drug Discovery'. The article entitled ‘Integrins as therapeutic targets: lessons and opportunities' reviews recent developments in the area of drug development for cardiovascular disease, auto-immune disorders and multiple sclerosis. The article highlights how work at RCSI has impacted on these critical areas of disease treatment and elaborated on how continued research in this area will yield even better therapeutic agents for future treatments. It was an invited review reflecting the status of the RCSI team as experts in this area of biomedical research.


Dept of Physiology & Dept of Psychiatry research confirms link between stress in the womb and depression in females in later life

A study by David Cotter, Department of Psychiatry, joint lead author and Áine Behan, Department of Physiology, joint senior author in this study has shown an increased risk of depressive behavior in females in later life whose mothers experienced stressful events during pregnancy. Their research has shown long-lasting physical changes are present in the brain of female offspring. This work was published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology Journal in August 2010. Congratulations to David and Áine on their success.


RCSI cancer research study gains insights into predicting severity of a childhood cancer (posted 06/09/10)

A recent study by the RCSI Cancer Genetics Research Group, headed by Professor Ray Stallings, has revealed insights into neuroblastoma, the leading cause of childhood cancer deaths. The findings may enable clinicians to predict the severity of the tumour, allowing them to devise customised treatments, which could potentially help children to avoid unnecessary chemotherapy.The study has been highlighted in this month's edition of the high impact journal Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.

Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer which manifests in tumours than can occur throughout the body, outside of the brain. The Research Group examined micro RNAs (miRNA) which are tiny regulatory molecules that have a major role in the progression of the cancer. By looking at the pattern of miRNAs, the team was able to identify patients with high risk neuroblastoma, a disease associated with 15% of childhood cancer deaths(1) By identifying the most aggressive tumours, the researchers were able to predict neuroblastoma patient survival and this is expected to lead to more optimised therapy for patients(2).

The identification of the miRNA which results in the aggressive tumors has also revealed a new potential treatment for neuroblastoma. If the aggressive miRNA is removed from the tumour (chromosome 11q deletion) this may result in the tumor dying off. This type of therapy would be targeted and potentially less toxic than existing treatment.
Professor Stallings said, "having our research highlighted by the internationally renowned journal Nature Reviews was very satisfying and confirms the importance of RCSI's translational research strategy in the global research environment"

The international research study was funded in part by the Children's Medical and Research Foundation at Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin and Science Foundation Ireland. The research team included Dr. Patrick Buckley, an IRCSET sponsored post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Isabella Bray, Dr. Kenneth Bryan and Leah Alcock from the RCSI Cancer Genetics Research Group as well as a team of collaborating scientists from universities in Belgium and Germany.
The RCSI Cancer Genetics Research Group is one of the world's leading research groups in neuroblastoma research.
1. Buckley PG et al., Clinical Cancer Research, 2010
2. BrayI. et al, PLoS ONE, 2009



RCSI researchers make breakthrough in understanding gender gap in cystic fibrosis
(posted 09/08/10)

Irish Times: Dr Sanjay Chotirmall, specialist registrar in respiratory medicine at Beaumont and joint lead author of the research
Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Beaumont Hospital have made a major breakthrough in understanding how female sufferers of cystic fibrosis (CF) fare worse compared to male sufferers, due to higher levels of the hormone oestrogen. The new insights into the mechanisms at work in CF revealed from this research, may lead to new treatments for the disease.

Cystic fibrosis is a life threatening inherited disease which primarily affects the lungs and the digestive system. A build up of mucus can make it difficult to clear bacteria and leads to cycles of lung infections and inflammation, which can eventually lead to damage of the lungs.
The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that oestrogen limits the lung's ability to respond to infection. Oestrogen was found to prevent the release of a chemical signal (IL-8) that triggers the influx of white blood cells (neutrophils) into the lungs to fight the infection when cells are attacked by bacteria.

Ireland has both the highest incidence of CF in the world at 2.98 per 10,000 and the highest carrier rate in the world with 1 in 19 individuals classed as carriers. The incidence of cystic fibrosis in this country is almost 4 times the average rate in other EU countries and the USA.
It has long been observed that female CF patients have poorer survival rates, poorer lung function and are more susceptible to lung infections than male CF patients.

In the lungs, a protective layer of fluid known as the airway surface liquid (ASL) keeps the lung's lining hydrated and defends the lungs from infections. In CF sufferers this layer is thinner and previous research demonstrated that this protective layer is reduced even further at times of elevated levels of oestrogen during the menstrual cycle, so the likelihood of acquiring an infection is increased during this period.

Joint lead author of the paper, Dr Sanjay Chotirmall, Specialist Registrar in Respiratory Medicine in the Respiratory Research Division of RCSI, Beaumont Hospital commented: ‘This reduced response to infection combined with a greater likelihood of acquiring an infection in the first place, both caused by high oestrogen levels, goes a long way towards explaining how females with cystic fibrosis have more aggressive disease, particularly with the onset of puberty'.

‘Our research may contribute towards narrowing the gender gap in cystic fibrosis by identifying new potential targets for treatment, such as stabilisation of oestrogen levels, or more aggressively employing preventative strategies against infection during the one week of the four week menstrual cycle where oestrogen levels are at their highest. Our ultimate aim would be improving the quality of life and survival rate for female sufferers of cystic fibrosis,' Dr Chotirmall continued.

The research has additionally been recognised by the Faculty of 1000 Biology, an online research service that highlights the most interesting papers published in the biological sciences as recommended by distinguished faculty. In their assessment, this novel work may reveal insight into why trials of most anti-inflammatory medications in cystic fibrosis patients have been unsuccessful with one large trial requiring premature termination due to the increased numbers of infections observed.

‘Although uncontrolled chronic inflammation over a prolonged period can be damaging to the lungs, some degree of inflammation is required to fight off bacterial infections. Surges of acute inflammation during times of infection are fundamentally a protective response from the body,' Dr Chotirmall concluded.
The research team from the Respiratory Research Division, Department of Medicine, RCSI Beaumont Hospital and RCSI Department of Molecular Medicine, included Dr Catherine Greene (joint lead author), Ms Irene Oglesby, Dr Warren Thomas, Prof Shane O'Neill, Prof Brian Harvey and Prof Gerry McElvaney.
The research was funded through support from the Higher Education Authority PRTLI Cycle 4, through a Molecular Medicine Ireland Clinician-Scientist Fellowship Programme.

In the News: Irish Times; Irish Examiner



RCSI shares largest ever funding award from Science Foundation Ireland (posted 22/07/2010)

The DCU- RCSI partnership in the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI) has successfully secured €14.8 million in direct funding as part of the largest award ever granted by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). The investment will support research and innovation at the BDI, a Centre for Science, Engineering & Technology (CSET). Established in October 2005, BDI is an academic, industrial and clinical partnership based at DCU that carries out cutting-edge research programmes focussed on the development of next-generation biomedical diagnostic devices. This award from SFI represents a renewal of funding for the Institute for a further 5 years. Prof Michael Berndt, the incoming Biomedical Diagnostics Institute Director and RCSI Professor of Experimental Medicine, will lead the programme. This is a major achievement for the DCU- RCSI science and clinical partnership.


Irish scientists uncover genetic secrets of human adaptation to high altitude (posted 09/06/10)

A group of top international scientists including geneticists from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has made a breakthrough in understanding human adaptation to high altitude environments.
The new study identifies a gene in Tibetan highlanders, who live high in the Himalayas, which allows them to thrive at altitudes more than two miles above sea level which induce serious altitude sickness in other populations. The findings are published in the prestigious science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week.

The study also has implications to a wider understanding of human health and fitness. Low oxygen levels (hypoxia) is a common problem in patients both at home and in hospital. The new research is a step towards understanding how an indigenous population deals with hypoxia. By identifying genes that have helped Tibetans adapt to hypoxia we can potentially develop new approaches to dealing with low oxygen in for example, intensive care patients.

People who live or travel at high altitude respond to the lack of oxygen by making more haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of human blood. Athletes often train at high altitude to increase haemoglobin concentration in order to process more oxygen when competing. However, high levels of haemoglobin at high altitude can cause altitude sickness. Tibetans have evolved physiologically to avoid altitude sickness by maintaining low haemoglobin concentrations.

To pinpoint the genetic variants underlying Tibetans' relatively low haemoglobin levels, the researchers collected blood samples from nearly 200 Tibetan villagers living in three regions high in the Himalayas.
A senior author of the study, Dr. Gianpiero Cavalleri, Biomedical Research Lecturer, RCSI, explains: "when we compared the DNA of the Tibetans to lowland Chinese we saw a genetic signature that was carried by almost all of the Tibetans but by very few of the Chinese. This same type is linked with low haemoglobin."

The study findings are particularly significant because they are the first to show evidence for natural selection (evolution) at high altitude for a specific genetic site. The research highlights the effect of having, or not having, this gene on individuals attempting to live or travel at high altitude. The implications also extend to cardiovascular health and fitness: "physiologists have known that high altitude populations in South America, Africa and the Himalaya have adapted in different ways to low oxygen environments. It seems nature has come up with different solutions to the same problem - there are probably many more genetic signals to be characterized and described", Dr. Cavalleri says.

The team's findings will be published the week of June 7th in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences