News

New Study Highlights Need for a Weight Loss Surgery Strategy

Data from a recent study carried out by the ESPRIT (Evidence to Support Prevention, Implementation and Translation) research group led by Professor Patricia Kearney at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork (UCC), estimate that current weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery) provision in Ireland meets less than 0.1% of the need.

Bariatric surgery is an intervention for patients with severe obesity. The study, funded by Prof Kearney’s Health Research Board Research Leader Award and published in the journal Surgery of Obesity and Related Disorders, estimates the number of older Irish adults who are potentially eligible for and likely to benefit from weight loss surgery.  It calls for a strategy to develop and expand the provision of bariatric care.

The prevalence of severe obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) is rising, which poses a major challenge for public health in Ireland. While public health strategies focus on the prevention of obesity and lifestyle interventions, the treatment of morbid obesity needs to be recognised as a fundamental aspect in tackling the obesity epidemic. Bariatric surgery is a treatment option as it improves life-expectancy and increases the odds of diabetes remission, leading to a reduction in direct healthcare expenditure. However, bariatric surgical procedures are not commonly performed in Ireland. Only two public bariatric centres exist nationally and between them fewer than 50 procedures are performed annually, meeting less than 0.1% of the need for service provision.

The findings of the study show that 7.97% of older Irish adults are potentially eligible for bariatric surgery according to recent guidelines. This represents approximately 92,500 adults in Ireland.  It is estimated that 12% of these adults have T2D and related complications. The study suggests that focusing the provision of bariatric surgery on this population cohort would potentially improve both patient outcomes and reduce healthcare expenditure. Dr Francis Finucane, Consultant in endocrinology at Galway University Hospital, states that “It is important that this intervention becomes an accessible treatment option for those in greatest need. We sought to estimate the number of people potentially eligible for bariatric surgery in Ireland based on established clinical criteria and then to refine the number of potentially eligible patients by identifying those who suffer from diseases with high morbidity, mortality and healthcare cost, that respond best to bariatric surgery.”

Data for the study was collected from a cross-sectional analysis of the first wave (2009-2011) of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) to estimate the proportion of people eligible for bariatric surgery. TILDA is a nationally representative cohort study of community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and over.

Ms Kate O’Neill from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCC states that “Our findings ought to be considered by policy-makers and should be used to guide resource allocation. One strategy to limit the budget impact is to focus on the patients with T2D and related complications. The provision of bariatric surgery to those in greatest need has the potential to improve both patient outcomes and reduce direct healthcare expenditure quickly.”

My Elective Experience – Ms Laura Dugan

During the summer of 2016, Ms Laura Dugan undertook a clinical elective at the Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia.  The four-week elective was possible through the Dr Nicholas and Mrs Maura Martin Scholarship.  Laura describes her experience below:

In June 2016, I was awarded the Dr Nicholas and Mrs Maura Martin Scholarship, a huge honour that allowed me to complete a four-week elective in cardiology in Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia in Canada. The elective was completed under the supervision of cardiologist Dr Victor Huckell.

The experience was exceptional. In North America, students are given a higher level of individual responsibility than students tend to be given in Ireland. As a result, after two days of intense training, in how the outpatient clinic operated, I was seeing all of my patients entirely on my own.

Every morning before clinic began, we received one hour of teaching. This involved Dr Huckell choosing one aspect of cardiology and finding innovative ways to teach it to us. The morning sessions were always very interactive and questions and comments were actively encouraged. Every day we were assigned some reading material and we were expected to complete this assignment before the next session. Reading assignments usually included journal articles on the topic of the day’s discussion and/or articles that caught our attention, for either a good or a bad reason. The following morning, these topics were then discussed.

When the morning teaching session ended, clinic began and we would start seeing our patients. Before seeing a patient, I would first read their file and any previous letters from the clinic to their GP regarding their care. Then I would call the patient in and take their full history with a focus on their cardiovascular symptoms and needs. After this I would discuss any of their previous test results with them and then perform a complete examination of the cardiovascular system on each patient. Once this was concluded, I would then decide on their treatment plan including what tests I would propose, if any, what medication changes I would recommend and what lifestyle changes I would advise them to make.

Once this was completed, I would call Dr Huckell. Dr Hucknall would then briefly examine the patient and run through the full history and the proposed plan.  Dr Huckell would at that point comment on the plan and make any necessary changes as well as advising me on my history taking and delivery skills, and my exam findings –  he would always find a key learning point in each patient for me. After he left, I would go through the recommended treatment plan with the patient and make sure they were fully informed. I was also responsible for booking any tests that needed to be booked and dictating the appropriate letter to the patient’s GP.

Working like this gave me the opportunity to get some real experience about what it would be like to work as a doctor. It taught me not to look at a patient as a series of systems but to think of the patient as a whole and accordingly consider their holistic care.

The amount of practical experience I obtained during this elective was invaluable and will stand to me throughout my career. Furthermore, I gained some very useful practical cardiological skills such as evaluating murmurs, listening for added heart sounds and taking and evaluating ECGs.

Ms Laura Dugan at Vancouver

Laura Dugan [second from right] with colleagues from Vancouver General Hospital

Overall it was a wonderful personal and professional experience, none of which would have been possible without the Dr Nicholas and Mrs Maura Martin Scholarship. I wish to thank the donors so much for providing me with this opportunity – an experience I will always treasure.

Yours sincerely,

Laura Dugan

RCSI to Introduce Measures to Address Major Gender Imbalance Among Surgeons

RCSI is implementing a series of measures to encourage more women to become surgeons following the launch of a report today by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD and RCSI President, Professor John Hyland highlighting a series of barriers to female entry into and progression in surgical careers.

 

While more than 50% of medical graduates are female, just 34% of surgical trainees are women, while less than 7% of consultant surgeons are women. The report, by a working group established by RCSI, identifies the lack of access for women to high quality surgical fellowships, working conditions during pregnancy and supports available to those returning to work after absence as among the barrier to female progress in the profession.

 

The report was produced by RCSI’s Working Group on Gender Diversity which reviewed extensive literature in the area, held a national consultation and examined international best practice. According to the chair of the Working Group Ms Deborah McNamara, Consultant in General and Colorectal Surgery, Beaumont Hospital, “If surgery is less appealing to women than to men, we need to know why and remove the obstacles.

 

“There is a striking absence of female surgeons in senior academic positions. We also need career structures that enable surgeons to vary the tempo of their professional life during different periods.

 

“This is a fundamental matter of gender equality but it is also a question of ensuring we provide the best patient care. There is research evidence suggesting male and female doctors practice differently and that the needs of patients are more likely to be met by a diverse profession.” concluded Ms McNamara.

 

The working group investigated barriers to recruitment and retention which resulted in this gender imbalance. The report strongly recommends the publication of an annual report on gender diversity in surgery, recording the progress being made as a result of these measures in a transparent way.

 

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, said “I welcome the publication of this report today. The implementation of its recommendations should make a significant contribution to tackling the barriers to gender equality in surgery. I am delighted to see that RCSI is committed to and actively addressing the current gender imbalance.”

 

Speaking before launch RCSI President, Professor John Hyland said “RCSI has been at the forefront of developing selection processes for future surgeons, and we are proud of our tradition of supporting women in surgery that began with the conferring of our first female Fellow Dr Emily Winifred Dickson in 1893. The publication of this report and implementation of the findings demonstrates RCSI’s commitment to addressing this imbalance in the profession.”

 

“RCSI is a powerful voice in setting standards and influencing surgical culture in Ireland and it must take the lead and show results from this initiative” concluded Professor Hyland.

 

The key recommendations are:

  • Measures to encourage female medical students considering a career in surgery through better promotion of surgical careers to schools and young women
  • Building a culture supporting female surgical trainees including mentoring and improving fellowship options for women
  • Consideration of the needs of trainees who are parents to ensure training time is flexible and evaluation of trainee wellbeing during pregnancy
  • Encourage diversity through part-time surgical appointment options, specific programmes for female Fellows and research funding ring-fenced for female fellows

 

The RCSI Equality & Diversity Unit underlines the College’s commitment to nurturing and supporting equality and diversity. This Unit also leads the RCSI Athena Swan Gender Diversity Bronze Award application.

 

RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2016-2017). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.

 

Download the report by clicking here.

 

The ASSERT Centre Together with Foundation Partner Mentice Introduce a State-of-the-Art Training Solution for Stroke


International Faculty and course attendees at the Mechanical Thrombectomy for Acute Stroke training program held at the ASSERT Centre today. The program provides a close to reality replica of the environment experienced by physicians when performing the procedure.  The program was held in conjunction with our foundation partner Mentice and is kindly sponsored by Stryker NV.

The ASSERT Centre at University College Cork in Ireland recently conducted a new simulation-based training for Mechanical Thrombectomy of acute ischemic stroke, featuring Mentice’s high-fidelity endovascular training solution.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in the Western world. Ischemic stroke is accountable for 80% of all strokes. During an ischemic stroke the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain is blocked due to the formation of blood clots in an artery in the brain, or due to narrowing of the arteries (stenosis) which blocks or impedes blood flow.

Mechanical Thrombectomy is an endovascular procedural treatment for stroke which has been proven to save lives and reduce disability in patients with large vessel occlusion strokes. Access to this treatment is limited due to lack of interventional neuro-endovascular specialists, doctors specially trained in performing this procedure. To address this deficit, the ASSERT Centre at University College Cork, in conjunction with industry partners Mentice AB (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Stryker Neurovascular (Fremont, CA) hosted a pioneering training course to help train doctors in this life saving technique.

ASSERT Director/ Clinical Lead, Professor Barry O Reilly, welcomed the faculty and attendees to the Centre for the two-day course at the state of the art facility in Ireland stating that “in an age when stroke is one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability this pioneering course provides structured training in life saving techniques”. Professor O Reilly added “we are privileged to have the course facilitated by leading Interventional Neuroradiologists at the ASSERT Centre and are confident that this programme will be the first of many”.

The two-day programme, utilized a new training solution for thrombectomy, based on world-leading endovascular simulation developed and provided by Mentice. The solution offers metrics which objectively measure every step a trainee takes, providing direct guidance and assessment of performance. The Mentice technology delivers a close-to-reality replica of the environment experienced by physicians when performing such procedures.

Neuro-endovascular specialists from Germany, Denmark & the UK guided doctors step-by-step through the procedure on the Mentice simulator. The course is based on a proficiency based progression method which requires the trainee to demonstrate a validated and quantitatively defined aptitude of the procedure.  Professor Tony Gallagher, Director of Research and Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning at the ASSERT Centre pioneered this method of training which utilizes baseline simulation training of a procedure prior to clinical training.  Previous clinical trials in surgery have demonstrated that doctors who completed simulation-based training prior to clinical training perform 40 – 70% better than doctors trained in the traditional way.

“Mechanical thrombectomy for acute stroke”, says Professor Gallagher of ASSERT, “is a life-changing treatment for many gravely ill patients.  The success of the treatment is determined, in no small part, by the skills of the clinician performing the procedure”.

“We are proud to partner with the ASSERT Centre at University College Cork and are happy that our state-of-the-art technology is being implemented for this course,” says Mentice CEO Göran Malmberg. “Our aim has been to build a simulation-based training system that uses validated performance metrics to perform and assess training to proficiency. In this structure, leveraging the principles of proficiency based progression, physicians are trained until they demonstrate a validated and quantitatively defined skills level.”

Mr Ghislain Gackiere, Vice President, International of Stryker Neurovascular, sponsors of the course stated that “This state of the art training course combining high-fidelity simulation with a ‘proficiency-based progression’ training method will, in our opinion, contribute to making the training of existing and new operators more effective, therefore allowing more stroke patients access to endovascular treatment”.

Academic-industry Collaboration Aims to Regenerate Damaged Nerves

A new collaboration between researchers at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) as part of the AMBER, SFI funded materials science centre in conjunction with Integra LifeSciences, a world leader in medical technology, aims to develop, and bring to the market, a new product to facilitate the repair of large nerve defects in the body. This €1.4 million research programme will run for three years.

This project is led by Prof Fergal O’Brien (Dept. of Anatomy, RCSI & Deputy Director in AMBER) in partnership with Prof Conor Buckley from the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering (TCD)

Peripheral nerves link the brain and spinal cord to the other parts of the body, such as the muscles and skin. They can be damaged through disease, trauma and burns resulting in interference with the brain’s ability to communicate with tissues resulting in the loss of motor or sensory function to muscles and skin. This can have significant deterioration in a patient’s quality of life.

Peripheral nerve injury is a major clinical problem and is known to affect more than 5 million people worldwide every year. It is estimated that five percent of multiple trauma patients have peripheral nerve injuries. Prompt surgical intervention is needed but if the injury size is larger than five millimetres, the primary treatment option available in most cases is by autograft which involves removal of nerve tissue from another part of the patient’s body and transplantation to the site of injury.  Unfortunately, autografts are hampered by a number of issues including the limited availability of donor tissue and often functional recovery for patients can be poor. As a result the RCSI & TCD team in AMBER are working with Integra LifeSciences to develop a next generation nerve graft capable of repairing large nerve defects without the need for invasive secondary surgeries.

RCSI’s collaboration with Integra began in 2005 and has deepened in the intervening years through the AMBER Centre.  This current project marks the second engagement in the area of peripheral nerve repair between the parties. The first project was successfully completed at the end of 2016 and resulted in a patent being filed on technology generated under the project.  This current engagement builds on this research.

Dr. Simon Archibald, Vice President and Chief Scientist from Integra LifeSciences said, “The demand for nerve repair biomaterials is increasing due to the aging population and rising number of nerve injuries and nerve surgeries. Our aim is to treat largescale nerve defects in the body and introduce this new technology to our portfolio of existing nerve repair products.”

Professor Fergal O’Brien, Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine & Deputy Director of AMBER said “Building on a wealth of expertise in biomaterials development from the Tissue Engineering Research Group at RCSI, our hope is to work with Integra to see this new technology translate to the benefit of patients and society.”

‘Edison of Medicine’ delivers Bernal Distinguished Lecture at UL

Researchers from around Ireland gathered in University of Limerick (UL) on Friday morning to listen to one of the world’s top engineers discuss his work in the area of biomaterials and biotechnology.

Pictured with MIT’s Professor Robert Langer on his recent visit to UL to deliver the second in the Bernal Distinguished Lecture Series, is Dr Sarah Hudson.

Described by Harvard Business Review as the ‘Edison of Medicine’, Professor Robert Langer is credited with improving the lives of more than two billion people worldwide through his work in developing novel drug-delivery systems.

The David H Koch Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was in UL as part of its Bernal Distinguished Lecturer Series at the university’s Bernal Institute. The university’s new president Dr Des Fitzgerald described Professor Langer as an “outstanding academic” and a “great educator”.

“Professor Langer’s career is not just about his exemplary track record in multidisciplinary research, it is also about his success in bringing his research from the lab to the market and his innovation in the design of novel therapies for treatments with high societal impact,” Dr Fitzgerald stated.

Chair of Friday’s event and lecturer in chemistry at UL, Dr Sarah Hudson was a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Langer’s lab from 2006 to 2008.
“While working in Professor Langer’s lab at MIT, I saw how he was able to pinpoint the crux and/or the potential of your work or ideas immediately. I discovered that innovative science comes from the unexpected – you can plan your experiments but you cannot plan your results but that by looking at things from different angles, unexpected ideas and solutions will evolve,” Dr Hudson said.

At the recent visit of Professor Robert Langer to UL were Dr Philip O'Regan, Dean KBS, Dr Sarah Hudson, Professor Robert Langer from MIT, Professor Des Fitzgerald, President of University of Limerick, Dr Mary Shire, VP Research at UL, and Professor Edmond Magner.

“Professor Langer is an inspirational speaker and his work is an exciting example of what can be achieved when you integrate medical doctors, engineers, physicists, biologists, histologists, vets, pharmacists and chemists together in a research environment. The Bernal Institute and UL has created a similar cross-disciplinary research environment and I believe listening to how Professor Langer’s work came about, his numerous inventions and discoveries for new therapies to treat disease, will demonstrate just how much can be achieved in such an environment.

“I believe it will inspire many people here and also reassure the public that we, as researchers, are concerned with the same things that worry them and that we are pulling together to combat many of the health and environmental issues we face worldwide today,” Dr Hudson concluded.

Professor Langer’s lecture at UL was entitled “Biomaterials and Biotechnology: From the discovery of the first angiogenesis inhibitors to the development of controlled drug delivery systems and the foundation of tissue engineering”. The lecture included discussions on Professor Langer’s research, how it led to new drug delivery technologies including nanoparticles and nanotechnology that are now being studied for use treating cancer, other illnesses and in vaccine delivery. It also touched on ways of developing systems for treatment of brain cancer and other diseases and new approaches for engineering tissues such as cartilage, skin and blood vessels.

New RCSI Study Identifies Effective Rule for Melanoma Diagnosis in Primary Care Setting

A new study carried out by the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) Department of General Practice and the HRB (Health Research Board) Centre for Primary Care Research has identified the most effective clinical prediction rules (CPRs) that aim to assist health professionals in the diagnosis of malignant melanoma. This study has been published in the BMJ Open.

This systematic review of 24 unique CPRs (identified from 51 individual studies) used to assist in distinguishing malignant melanoma from benign pigmented skin lesions aimed to quantify the diagnostic accuracy of CPRs in primary care and specialist outpatient settings.

CPRs may be for use in clinical (i.e. naked eye) examinations, or in conjunction with dermoscopy (the examination of pigmented skin lesions using surface microscopy). The research showed that the ABCD rule for dermoscopy was the best performing CPR in a primary care setting to assist General Practitioners (GPs) in differentiating patients with clinically significant lesions requiring referral to specialist care from those who can be treated and monitored in primary care. The ABCD rule reaches 85% sensitivity and 72% specificity, which is reasonably effective at ruling out melanoma. This CPR involves a GP checking a pigmented skin lesion for, Asymmetry, irregular Borders, more than one or an uneven distribution of Colour, or a large (greater than 6 mm) Diameter.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, is one of the most common cancers in Ireland and is a condition that is increasing its incidence rapidly amongst the Irish population, with 984 cases diagnosed in 2013 alone .

The methodology of the study involved a literature search on a range of scientific databases, including PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS, PROSPERO and the Cochrane Library.

Speaking on the findings from the systematic review, Professor Tom Fahey, Principal Investigator of the study and Professor & Head of the Department of General Practice at RCSI said: “Early detection of malignant melanoma improves prognosis for patients. As the rates of melanoma rise internationally, GPs are increasingly required to assess pigmented skin lesions. Differentiating between a benign and malignant lesion can be a difficult task, particularly at an early stage of presentation in primary care settings. Being able to categorise patients with a skin lesion into the probability of having melanoma is helpful in ensuring only those patients who require further investigation and specialist care receive it. The results of our research show that using CPRs such as the ABCD rule enhance diagnostic accuracy and improve appropriate referral to specialist dermatology care.”

The article is available online here.

RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2016-2017). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.

For more information on the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, based at RCSI, visit www.hrbcentreprimarycare.ie.
ENDS


Journal Reference:

Harrington E, Clyne B, Wesseling N, Sandhu H, Armstrong L, Bennett H, et al. Diagnosing malignant melanoma in ambulatory care: a systematic review of clinical prediction rules. BMJ Open. 2017;7(3):e014096.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014096 

Ireland’s first Brain Tumour Biobank will lead to increased cancer research opportunities

Researchers from RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), with support from the Department of Neurosurgery and Neuropathology in Beaumont Hospital, have begun collecting samples from brain tumours for inclusion in Ireland’s first Brain Tumour Biobank.
Professor Jochen Prehn, Professor of Physiology at RCSI, said “The launch of this Brain Tumour Biobank is a fantastic development for cancer research in Ireland. It is the first biobank of its type in Ireland and one of only a small handful that exist in Europe.”
“In recent years much progress has been made in the treatment and diagnoses of brain tumours however future advances are likely to be made through a greater understanding of the underlying biology.”
“To conduct studies and research into brain tumours it is vital to have access to a wide range of samples from various different types of brain tumours and a brain tumour biobank gives us the opportunity to do that for the benefit of patients,” Prof Prehn continued.
A biobank is a large collection of biological, medical data and tissue samples, collected for research and diagnostic purposes. A patient who is having brain surgery as part of their clinical treatment will have the tumour removed, examined and diagnosed. After this the excess brain tumour tissue will be stored in the biobank.
The brain tumour biobank will become a repository for brain tumour samples which will enable researchers use samples for future clinical studies, to identify and diagnose tumours in other patients and help develop cancer treatments. All samples included in the biobank are anonymised and patients consent is sought in advance of treatment.
“The structure of biobanks fosters cross-collaboration between disease advocacy organisations and research scientists.  They produce a synergy that hastens the research process, making treatments or cures to genetic conditions attainable in the near future. Other biobanks in Ireland for other forms of cancer, such as the breast and bowel cancer have proved to be invaluable to research and developing new cancer treatments,” concluded Professor Prehn.
The Brain Tumour Biobank is part funded by Brain Tumour Ireland.
Natasha Smith, Chair of Brain Tumour Ireland, said “Aside from providing support and information to brain tumour patients, one of our chief goals as a charity is to fund brain tumour research. That’s why we are delighted to provide funding for this new Brain Tumour Biobank.
We know that progressing brain tumour research is really important to many of our donors and supporters.”
“This Biobank is a really important development in brain tumour research here in Ireland and for the future development of novel therapeutics. Brain Tumour Ireland is delighted to support this fantastic initiative and we look forward to continued partnership with RCSI and Beaumont Hospital.”
RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2016-2017). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.
Brain Tumour Ireland is a national registered charity working to inform and support brain tumour patients and their families. Brain Tumour Ireland also fundraises for brain tumour research.

UL team wins US-Ireland Research Innovation Award

University of Limerick, 3D4Medical and IBM Research were the winners of the 2017 US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards, jointly presented by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner in the Clayton Burlington Hotel, Dublin.

The team from UL led by Dr Eamonn de Barra, in collaboration with Stryker Orthopaedics, received the award for developing a new type of bioactive bone cement for neurosurgery, which has advantages over existing products on the market in terms of ease of use, speed of surgical placement and reduced workload on the OR team which is a positive outcome for all.

Dr de Barra said, “We are proud to reach this milestone and to continue to assist our research partner Stryker in their corporate mission, via the exchange of ideas, technology and people. We at the University of Limerick are delighted to have our collaboration recognised by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy in their Innovation Awards 2017”.

Among the 700 strong audience at the awards ceremony were leaders of many of the US companies in Ireland, representatives from academia and a range of innovation stakeholders. In addition to hearing from the President of the American Chamber James O’Connor and President of the Royal Irish Academy Professor Michael Peter Kennedy, the event was also attended by US Chargé d’Affaires Reece Smyth and Conrad Tribble, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department in Washington DC.

Speaking about the need for Ireland’s innovative approach, James O’Connor, President of the American Chamber said: “To be successful in the digital age, we need to continually upgrade and invest in our physical infrastructure.  We need to increase the supply of residential and commercial accommodation for the current and next generations who want to come to work and live here.  We need to seize the opportunity to develop cloud technologies.  And most importantly, we need to continue to invest in our skills and talent. The battle for FDI will centre on digital skills that are needed to unleash innovation in our 21st century data-driven economy.  A key part of producing the best graduates is ensuring that our young people are equipped with the skills that enable them to participate in a digital world. Whether working in a medical field, as a fashion designer, architect, the arts, the ability to harness digital technology will help them to do more and achieve more”.

“Ireland, through the government’s policies and the approach of its agencies, has constantly embraced innovation. It is this innovative approach to doing business which has ensured the strength of the US-Ireland business relationship over the 55 years since the foundation of the American Chamber of Commerce. The work we are celebrating tonight continues to be done through amazing collaboration built over many decades of US companies investing in Ireland, companies who constantly reinvent themselves and move up the value chain to provide high quality products and services for customers around the world. We can all be incredibly proud of the work of tonight’s award winners and indeed all those who entered this year’s awards.

“Through the efforts of this Chamber and State Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the IDA, Ireland is the place to ‘make it happen’. This is a message that is clearly understood by our members here tonight and in boardrooms throughout the US.  The potential of over 150,000 of Ireland’s best educated and highly talented innovative people is being realised daily by over 700 US companies that are invested here.  Every day, they work at the leading edge, producing the goods and services that are transforming our world today, and imagining and developing the goods, services and ideas that will change our world tomorrow.  I am very proud of the powerful reputation we have built as a country that delivers for the companies who have invested here,” he continued.

According to Anna Scally, Partner, KPMG in Ireland: “These awards are a great opportunity to showcase innovation in Ireland today. Companies all over the world are looking for competitive advantage, and innovation is critical to that. If Ireland can be at the forefront of innovation, then that will help us to retain our place as the leading location in the world for FDI. KPMG works with innovative companies in every sector of Irish business and we strongly believe in supporting innovation at every opportunity. We are delighted to support these awards”.

Stephen Masterson, Ulster Bank Head of Corporate Banking and Markets said: “We know the tangible benefits US multinationals bring to Ireland in terms of investment, expertise and talent. But what the awards really shine a light on, is highlighting a less known benefit for the SME sector which is the lifeblood of the Irish economy. The awards show how this community has embraced innovation and technology and collaboration with the FDI sector. That is why we at Ulster Bank are delighted to support the initiative”.

The evening also saw the presentation of the American Chamber Special Recognition Award to CoderDojo, the global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs now available in 63 countries for young people founded in 2011 by Bill Liao and James Whelton in Cork.

Ireland’s first space satellite to be developed by UCD

  • Satellite will detect most powerful explosions in the universe

University College Dublin will lead the development of Ireland’s first space satellite after the European Space Agency gave the green light to its EIRSAT-1 project.

The Education Irish Research Satellite (EIRSAT-1) will be launched from the International Space Station in 2019 once final approval is received from the ESA.

It will be managed and controlled from a command centre in the UCD School of Physics. Known as a CubeSat because of its size – around that of a shoebox – it will orbit the Earth for approximately 12 months.

A major part of its mission will be to gather data on the most powerful explosions in the universe – gamma-ray bursts.

 

“Despite its small size, EIRSAT-1 will detect the biggest explosions since the Big Bang and pave the way for future space science missions,” said Professor Lorraine Hanlon, UCD School of Physics.

“Our students will have an amazing opportunity to learn, not only from the wealth of expertise at ESA, but also from the other excellent teams participating in the programme from across Europe. This hard work will prepare them very well for future careers in the space sector.”

Five Irish companies will work with University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast on the project. The companies include Resonate, ENBIO, SensL, Parameter Space and MOOG Dublin.

Parameter Space is a UCD spin-out and ENBIO was previously based at NovaUCD, the university’s Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

The collaboration of student teams, researchers and high-tech companies is part of the ESA’s Fly Your Satellite programme. It will provide training and education to graduates and undergraduate students in all major aspects of satellite development, under guidance from academic and industry mentors and the ESA.