RCSI research and innovations on concussion and balance rehabilitation to feature on RTE science show

Sports performance is on the agenda for evening’s episode of RTE One programme, “10 Things to Know About…”, and research into concussion, human movement, balance and dizziness by RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) experts will be at the forefront of this programme. This episode, featuring Dr Dara Meldrum of RCSI’s School of Physiotherapy and Professor John M. O’Byrne, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, RCSI, the sixth in the series, will broadcast on RTE One at 8.30pm tonight.

Ireland is a nation of sports lovers, both watching and playing, but playing high energy sports can come with its own dangers. Tonight, the presenters of “10 Things to Know About…”, will look at some of the advances in science and technology which are helping sportspeople to limit, prevent or recover from injury, and improve sports performance.

Presenter of “10 Things”, Jonathon McCrea speaks to Dara Meldrum about inner-ear balance

Dr Dara Meldrum, Lecturer in RCSI’s School of Physiotherapy is collaborating with Kitman Laboratories and they are seeking to use technology to improve motion monitoring and data collection methods to further the understanding of the increased risk of lower muscle injuries after concussion. In the episode, presenter Jonathon McCrea visits RCSI to see how Dara’s research and work into vestibular rehabilitation is informing the development of a digital health platform which will aim to rehabilitate inner-ear symptoms of concussion such as dizziness and imbalance

Dara will also test Jonathan with the Equitest machine housed in the physiotherapy department at Beaumont Hospital which is a high end computerised platform that measures balance. Can Jonathon maintain his balance on the machine that is used to monitor and treat or reduce symptoms of imbalance?

Prof John O’Byrne talks about pitchside and surgical treatment of concussion

Professor John M. O’Byrne, an Orthopaedic Surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at RCSI will also inform viewers on the dangers of concussion and speak on how concussion in sport is treated from pitch side right through to if the patient needs to undergo surgery.

“10 Things to Know About…”, is presented by Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, Kathriona Devereux and Jonathan McCrea, who investigate some of the most exciting and ground-breaking science projects underway in Ireland. Each episode is themed on a certain scientific topic which gives ten key learnings to viewers on that research area.

RCSI will also feature in the series’ final episode next week:

“Virtual Reality” -Monday 19th December 2016 (8.30pm – RTE One)
In the seventh and final episode of the series, Kathriona Devereux visits RCSI and speaks to Donncha Ryan (Department of Surgical Affairs) about his recently-developed virtual reality app which is the world’s first fully interactive virtual reality medical training simulator, allowing users simulate emergency room management of a patient following a road traffic accident.

RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide and joint 1st place in the Republic of Ireland 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.


Healthcare Experts to Discuss Treatment, Recovery and Life after Stroke at RCSI MyHealth Free Public Lecture

Revolutionary clot retrieval procedure now being performed on patients at Beaumont Hospital dramatically improves patient outcomes

People who suffer a stroke can face a number of challenges in how it will impact their everyday lives. However, the quicker patients receive immediate treatment for stroke, in terms of early identification and medical procedures, the less damage it can do the patient in the long term. Additionally, there are a variety of rehabilitation options and community services available to stroke patients and their families in the aftermath that can improve the quality of life for stroke patients. 


These will be the focus of a free public lecture taking place as part of the RCSI MyHealth Lecture Series in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) this evening, Wednesday, 30 November 2016. The lecture, entitled ‘Living with Stroke – Advancing Patient Care in Ireland’, will be held from 6.30-8.30pm at RCSI, 123 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

The lecture will give information to members of the public on a recently opened thrombectomy (clot retrieval) services centre at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. A thrombectomy is a novel clot retrieval procedure used to treat stroke patients which has been found to dramatically improve patient outcomes and reduce disability and deaths from stroke. Research from RCSI and Beaumont Hospital found that a thrombectomy reduces overall stroke patient mortality rate by 50%, and is therefore leading the way in revolutionising how stroke is being treated in Ireland.

A thrombectomy is performed by inserting a thin tube into the artery in the groin, through the body, and into the blood vessels in the brain to remove the clot. This is done under image-guided care using an X-ray. The clot is then removed by a retrievable stent and pulled out, restoring blood flow to the brain. When compared with the process of thrombolysis, the current standard treatment which involves administering ‘clot busting’ medication to dissolve the blood clot, thrombectomy was found to reduce overall patient mortality by 50%. The study also found that this procedure increased positive outcomes for patients from 30% to 55% as compared with current standard treatment.

Speaking ahead of the lecture, event chair, Professor David Williams, Associate Professor in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, RCSI and Consultant Stroke Physician at Beaumont Hospital said, “Stroke is a major health issue in Ireland, and although deaths from stroke are down by a quarter*, one in every five people in Ireland will suffer a stroke in their lifetime**. A ground-breaking international clinical trial, which was led in Ireland by RCSI and Beaumont Hospital, found a marked reduction in disability and death among patients who receive thrombectomies for acute ischemic stroke****. This led to the establishment of Beaumont Hospital’s thrombectomy services centre which is leading the way in improving care for stroke patients throughout the country. The aim of this RCSI MyHealth lecture is to give attendees some useful information on the current and future landscape of stroke treatment in Ireland, while giving an insight into some of the research taking place which is looking at advancing healthcare for all stroke patients all over the country. We want to get the message across that getting quick and early access to treatment is vital for all types of stroke”.

The event will consist of four speakers and will be chaired by Professor Williams, who will speak about stroke in Ireland and discuss stroke services at Beaumont Hospital. Professor Anne Hickey, Associate Professor in Psychology at the Department of Psychology, RCSI, will then speak about the ways in which stroke affects patients in terms of their mood and cognition, as well as detailing a study which she is leading, called StrokeCog, which involves examining the consequences of stroke-related cognitive impairment and developing an intervention for rehabilitation of cognitive problems after stroke.

Professor Frances Horgan, Associate Professor in Physiotherapy, RCSI will then talk about life after stroke for patients in Ireland. Outlining the various types of rehabilitation many patients will go through, Professor Horgan will give some practical advice for those who have, or know someone who is living with stroke. She will also discuss some research she has conducted with the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) that investigates the factors affecting patients who wish to return to work after their stroke.

Finally, Helena O’Donnell of IHF will talk about patient advocacy and the F.A.S.T stroke awareness campaign, as well as two stroke audits the IHF have worked on recently which aim to improve access to stroke services for patients and will provide information on IHF’s stroke support groups which are growing all around Ireland.

This event is part of the RCSI MyHealth public lecture series which is free of charge; however registration is essential in order to guarantee a place. Register at www.rcsi.ie/myhealth. For those who are unable to attend on the night, the lecture will also be live streamed at www.rcsi.ie and you can join the conversation online, on the night, on Twitter at #RCSIMyHealth.

900 healthcare and research professionals to graduate from RCSI at November Conferring Ceremonies

Celebrations commenced with Conferring Dinner and President’s Teaching Awards

15 November 2016

RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) conferred 200 candidates with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at two conferring ceremonies at the College on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. These are the first of four November conferring ceremonies, which will see a total of 925 candidates graduate from RCSI this week.

The first ceremony saw the graduation of 99 candidates from full-time undergraduate programmes including BSc Pharmacy, BSc Physiotherapy and medicine (MB, BCh, BAO (NUI, RCSI), LRCP&SI).

In the afternoon ceremony, 101 candidates were conferred at the Diploma, Masters and Doctoral Degree ceremony. During this ceremony, Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates in Health Professions Education, Postgraduate Diplomas in Human Factors in Patient Safety were presented to 36 candidates. A further 65 candidates were awarded doctoral and masters degrees at this event. These were conferred with Masters of Surgery (MCh) and higher degrees by research including MSc, MD and PhD; and MSc in Healthcare, Ethics & Law and Human Factors and Patient safety.

Congratulating all those graduating on their success, Professor Cathal Kelly said: “The November conferring ceremonies are a fitting recognition of our graduate’s accomplishments as all of their years of hard work and dedication  came to fruition. These future healthcare and research professionals will now leave RCSI, to continue on their exciting and varied career paths, all with the common goal of improving human health. I would like to congratulate everyone who will graduate today on their achievements and wish them success in their careers as healthcare professionals and I look forward to seeing them back at the College as Alumni of RCSI.”

The celebrations began yesterday evening with the conferring dinner for pharmacy and physiotherapy undergraduates and higher degree candidates from the School of Postgraduate Studies. More than 130 candidates and guests attended the dinner which took place in the College Hall. The President of RCSI, Professor John Hyland announced the winners of the President’s Teaching Awards for pharmacy and physiotherapy as Dr Sam Maher, Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy and Dr Dara Meldrum, Senior Lecturer at the School of Physiotherapy.

The November Conferrings will conclude with two further ceremonies, for the School of Nursing & Midwifery and Masters Degree candidates, on Thursday, 17 November ceremony which will take place at The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD). Once again, these events will be live-streamed from the RCSI website. At this ceremony, the seventh Honorary Doctorate will be bestowed on Professor Áine Hyland, Emeritus Professor of Education and former Vice-President of University College Cork.

RTE science show “10 Things to Know About…” to explore RCSI bone regeneration research

RCSI research to feature three episodes in current series

Research from RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) will feature prominently in the television programme “10 Things to Know About…” which kicks off on RTE One at 8.30pm this evening. RCSI will feature in three of the six episodes in this; the second series of the show. Tonight’s episode, titled “Staying Young”, will feature cutting-edge research on bone regeneration, conducted by Professor Fergal O’Brien and his team, including Dr Sara Barreto and Dr Arlyng Gonzalez at the College.

Pictured (l-r) is Prof Fergal O’Brien, Dr Sara Barreto, Dr Arlyng Gonzalez and Jonathon McCrea

The programme is once again fronted by Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, Kathriona Devereux and Jonathan McCrea, who will investigate some of the most exciting and ground-breaking science projects underway in Ireland. This time around each episode is themed on a certain scientific topic which gives ten key learnings to viewers on that research area. Tonight’s episode, will investigate some of the new ways in which Irish science is trying to help people stay young.

Pictured (l-r) is Prof Fergal O’Brien, Dr Sara Barreto, Dr Arlyng Gonzalez and Jonathon McCrea 

Presenter Jonathan McCrea comes to RCSI to meet Professor Fergal O’Brien and his Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) which is part of RCSI’s Department of Anatomy, who are conducting exciting new research that shows that what we can learn from children’s genes about their amazing capacity to create and repair bone could hold the key to a cure for Osteoporosis.

Here is a brief rundown of how RCSI has contributed to other episodes in the series:

“Sports Performance” – Monday 12th December 2016 (8.30pm – RTE One)
Episode six of “10 Things To Know About…” features RCSI’s Dr Dara Meldrum (School of Physiotherapy) who is collaborating with Kitman Laboratories who are seeking to improve motion monitoring and data collection methods to further their understanding of the increased risk of lower muscle injuries after concussion. Dara’s research and work into developing an app to rehabilitate inner-ear imbalance – a common symptom of concussion.

“Virtual Reality” –Monday 19th December 2016 (8.30pm – RTE One)
In the seventh and final episode of the series, Kathriona Devereux visits RCSI and speaks to Donncha Ryan (Department of Surgical Affairs) about his recently-developed virtual reality app which is the world’s first fully interactive virtual reality medical training simulator, allowing users simulate emergency room management of a patient following a road traffic accident.

New programme to Advance Clinical Research Capability

A team of Irish clinical academics have secured one of seven major awards that have been made across the UK and Ireland by the Wellcome Trust as part of an initiative to increase clinical research capability.  The scheme, which will be known as the Wellcome – HRB Irish Clinical Academic Training Programme, will support the intake of eight postgraduate trainee doctors a year for a five-year period, providing fully integrated clinical and research training up to consultant level.

The award represents an overall investment of almost €13 million with €7.5 million coming from Wellcome and the Health Research Board (HRB) matched with a further combined contribution of €5.5 million from the Health Service Executive and the Health and Social Care Research and Development Office, Northern Ireland, and the partner Universities.  The partner universities involved in the programme include Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, NUI Galway, University College Cork, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Queen’s University Belfast.

Lead investigators within each institution include:

  • Professor Michael Gill (Trinity College Dublin, Director & Co-Investigator)
  • Professor Paddy Mallon (University College Dublin, Deputy Director & Co-Investigator)
  • Professor Conall Dennedy (NUI, Galway, Co-investigator)
  • Professor Joe Eustace (University College Cork, Co-investigator)
  • Professor Ray Stallings (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Co-investigator)
  • Professor Peter Maxwell (Queen’s University Belfast, Co-investigator)
  • Dr Mark Watson (Molecular Medicine Ireland, Co-ordinator)

The programme will be open to applications in autumn 2016 for an intake beginning in July 2017 and is being coordinated through Molecular Medicine Ireland, an inter-University collaborative entity owned by NUIG, RCSI, TCD, UCC and UCD.

Announcing the programme today, Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris TD noted that

A research-active health system is proven to have better outcomes for patients.  Patients will be the long-term winners as this collaborative investment will fundamentally improve both the number and calibre of Clinician Scientists working in our universities and health services.  I’m really pleased to announce this significant investment in the future of the health service, and I know the positive impact for patient care is going to be very real.  I very much look forward to seeing this important programme in action over the next few years.  I welcome the strong collaboration that is core to this research award, and I am particularly pleased that Northern Ireland is part of it, making this an all island and multi-institutional Programme.

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Ms Michelle O Neill MLA said;

This is the largest ever investment in academic medicine through an all island collaborative partnership and it will make a real difference to the health of people across the island of Ireland and further afield.  I want to congratulate all those involved in securing this programme and in particular pay tribute to the role played by Professor Peter Maxwell, from Queen’s University in Belfast.   This initiative demonstrates what can be achieved through collaborative working across the whole island of Ireland.

Professor Michael Gill, Principal Investigator and Director of the Wellcome-HRB Irish Clinical Academic Training Programme said,

Our goal in securing this award was to enable a fundamental change in the training of future academic clinicians on an all-Ireland basis. At its core is a fully integrated clinical and research programme that will provide seamless, supported and mentored training of the highest standard, targeting future clinical academic leaders in the universities and health care system.

The programme will identify, recruit, and mentor doctors during their postgraduate training who have the potential to become future academic leaders. They will be supported through a structured career pathway, aligned with our national research strengths and postgraduate specialities. In doing so, this programme will position Ireland well to meet future challenges in clinical innovation and excellence in healthcare.

Our application has the full support of all major stakeholders; the Postgraduate Forum representing specialist training bodies, the Health Services North and South, the Universities and the Health Research Board.  Trainee Clinician Scientists will be based at six major Irish universities in Belfast, Cork, Dublin and Galway, and will be able to take advantage of existing clinical research infrastructures and supports in their associated hospitals, many of which have been funded by the HRB.

Deputy Director of the Programme, Professor Paddy Mallon, Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Impact at the UCD School of Medicine commented,

This exciting programme represents real systems change in how we train clinician scientists in Ireland and is designed to attract the very best physicians and support them in pursuit of the research excellence. This programme would not have been possible without the investment in national structures for clinical research and training that has been committed over the past decade or more. Funding of this prestigious programme reflects international recognition of the sound infrastructure available within Ireland to conduct the highest quality clinical research.

According to Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board,

We are committed to fostering a research-active culture among health professionals so they can continually evolve and improve care.  It is great to see that the ongoing collaboration between the HRB and Wellcome Trust continues to extend new opportunities to researchers in Ireland.

Dr Anne-Marie Coriat, Head of Research Careers at Wellcome said;

This is one of seven new clinical PhD programmes across the UK and Ireland that Wellcome has funded.  Training small groups of PhD students in programmes provides an opportunity to develop cohort focussed training opportunities and further embed clinical academic training within universities and university hospitals.


Brief overview of Programme Structure

Wellcome – HRB Irish Clinical Academic Training

Year 1

Clinical (70%) Academic (30%) Accredited for clinical training. Fellows appointed as Clinical Lecturer and allocated to clinical positions in a university affiliated hospital with protected time to participate in education/research. Three core modules and one elective module will be taken, chosen from an existing Clinician Scientist Curriculum at Molecular Medicine Ireland or from additional modules in any partner institution. Fellows will be supported to make their final choice of supervisor and will submit their research proposal. Progression to PhD will follow independent review of the proposal and interview. With extensive support, we expect low drop-out rates.

Year 2-4

Joint clinical (10%) / Academic (90%). One year accredited for basic or higher specialist training (BST or HST). Continue as Clinical Lecturer. Fellows will complete their research under supervision and will take additional taught components relevant to their PhD. They will maintain limited clinical activity approved by the relevant training body that does not disrupt research.

Year 5-7

Joint clinical (80%) / Academic (20%). Accredited for HST. Continue Clinical Lecturer appointment. Fellows will return to training positions in hospitals aligned with their host university under the guidance of their supervisor and Mentors. Fellows will complete requirements for clinical training while continuing to participate in research, working with their supervisors and mentors to apply for suitable post-doctoral fellowships.

About the Funders


Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.

Health Research Board

The Health Research Board (HRB) is the lead agency in Ireland responsible for supporting and funding health research, information and evidence. We are motivated and inspired by our vision; Healthy people through excellent research and applied knowledge (www.hrb.ie)

Celebration to mark 10 years of Graduate Entry Medicine in Ireland takes place in RCSI

Doctors who completed the Graduate Entry Medicine programme in RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) return to the College today to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the introduction of this innovative new approach to educating doctors.

In 2006, RCSI became the first medical school in Ireland to admit students to a four-year Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programme and since then, 415 doctors have graduated from the programme. Graduate Entry Medicine offers students with a degree in another discipline the opportunity to study medicine at an accelerated rate of a four year programme instead of the more traditional five- or six-year (direct entry) programme.

The GEM programme has allowed RCSI to broaden access to medical education, having admitted students with a broad range of primary degrees from nursing to aeronautical studies, from music to neuroscience. The diversity of background has enriched the educational experience for the entire cohort including the direct entry students.


Shane Farrington (3rd year Graduate Entry Medicine student), Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, RCSI, Minister Richard Bruton, Minister for Education, Professor Seamus Sreenan, Director of the Graduate Entry Medicine, RCSI,  Sinéad Spencer (final year Graduate Entry Medicine student) and Dáire O'Haodhagain (final year Graduate Entry Medicine student)


Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO/Registrar RCSI, speaking before the event said “The Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programme was the first of its kind in Ireland when it was founded in 2006. It is now a well-established and highly successful programme with recent research showing that its students achieve standards of excellence at least equivalent to students training in the longer traditional medicine programme.”

“As Ireland’s only health sciences focused institution, Ireland’s largest medical school and one of the leading health sciences institutions in the world, RCSI has a long track record of pushing boundaries and leading the way in healthcare education. The introduction of GEM in Ireland was another example of the College’s pioneering approach to education and we are proud that the graduates of the programme have gone on to become well rounded healthcare professionals, who are making a difference to the delivery of healthcare in Ireland and around the world,” concluded Professor Kelly.

Minister for Education, Richard Bruton TD, stated: “The Graduate Entry Medicine programme is an innovative approach to educating new doctors, allowing people from diverse backgrounds with different degrees enter medical training and bring that prior learning and experience to their new career. This approach is an excellent example of innovation in education.”

For the last 10 years, the Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programme has offered an accelerated course with dedicated facilities for the first two years which enables the students to attain the level achieved by their counterparts in the more traditional five or six year (direct entry) programme prior to the two groups joining together for their senior clinical years. The focus of the GEM programme on innovative teaching methods, small group teaching and a strong emphasis on early clinical contact has enabled RCSI to achieve this goal.

RCSI is ranked in the top 250 institutions worldwide and joint 1st place in the Republic of Ireland 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

Bruin Biometrics and RCSI Partner on Pressure Ulcer Prevention Research

In a search for new ways to attack pressure ulcers – a persistent, £2 billion-plus (stg) problem throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom — Bruin Biometrics LLC (BBI, LLC), a developer of innovative sensor-based diagnostic products, and RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) announced today that they have agreed to undertake a number of collaborative projects that will employ BBI’s proprietary bioimpedance technology, the SEM Scanner, for the early detection and prevention of pressure ulcers.

Pictured (l-r) is Dr Tom O’Connor, Prof Zena Moore and Dr Declan Patton of the RCSI School of Nursing & Midwifery
The research programme aims to explore bioimpedance science as a novel methodology for the early detection and monitoring of pressure ulcer development. It seeks to radically alter the progression of the disease while contributing to the biological understanding of pressure ulcer development, the underlying pathophysiology and biomarkers, such as sub-epidermal moisture (SEM). The ultimate aim is to prevent pressure ulcers and reduce the prevalence of this persistent public health problem.

In order to maximize the collaborative nature of these projects and accelerate translation into the clinic, the partnership includes several educational grants designed to support a series of research projects with the SEM Scanner to be conducted by RCSI’s School of Nursing & Midwifery under the direction of Professor Zena Moore, Head of the RCSI School of Nursing and Midwifery, Dr. Declan Patton, Senior Lecturer and Director of Nursing & Midwifery Research and Dr. Tom O’Connor, Director of the School’s Academic Affairs.

Planned studies will explore the use of BBI’sin vivo bioimpedance device across a variety of patient settings (acute care, community care and home care). The data will assess the impact of real-time tissue health data on clinicians’ ability to introduce targeted pressure ulcer prevention strategies and ultimately improve clinical effectiveness and patient outcomes. These results have the potential to fundamentally shift the current standard of care for pressure ulcer prevention.

“This collaboration will harness BBI’s expertise in bio-sensors and bioimpedance and RCSI’s expertise in research and clinical patient care,” said Professor Zena Moore. “This engagement is another example of how RCSI can bring together the best of industry, academia and the clinical community to improve healthcare outcomes for patients in Ireland and beyond.”

“RCSI and BBI share a vision of transforming care for patients with pressure ulcers, so we can precisely detect earlier and, with targeted interventions, reverse the progression of damage to ultimately prevent pressure ulcers from occurring. This research will improve our understanding of the cascade of biological events leading to pressure ulcer development, and how to use that knowledge to diagnose and intervene earlier and more effectively than we can today,” said Colin Priestley, EMEA Managing Director for BBI.

“Today’s healthcare research involves a wide array of disciplines. At RCSI, we focus on harnessing cross-disciplinary approaches and fostering collaboration between RCSI researchers and faculty and industry to address needs for medical research. We are excited to expand our collaborative relationship with BBI, whose SEM Scanner represents an opportunity for dramatic improvement over today’s standards of care. Through this engagement, we hope to address one of the toughest medical challenges and public health issues – pressure ulcers – which is costing health services over £2 billion per year,” said Dr. Declan Patton.

About Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers are a common medical problem that can lead to pain, disfigurement, infection and death. Also known as bedsores, pressure sores or decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers are an area of localized damage to the skin and underlying tissue – usually around an area of bony prominence, such as the sacrum, coccyx, heels, and hips – that results from pressure involving shear and/or friction. Across Europe and the United States, it is estimated that 18%-25% of patients in both acute care and long-term care settings suffer from pressure ulcers, disproportionately impacting the elderly and patients with limited mobility. There are some 2.5 million pressure ulcer cases annually in the European Union, and nearly 500,000 in the United Kingdom, which spends £2.1bn, or 4% of the NHS budget, on the condition. In the U.S., some 2.5 million Americans develop pressure ulcers annually in acute care facilities, and 60,000 Americans die annually from pressure ulcer complications such as cancer, sepsis, cellulitis, and MRSA.

RCSI is ranked 46th in the world for ‘International Outlook’ and #251 – 300 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2015-2016). 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.

Former RCSI Anatomy postdoc wins prestigious stem cell award

A former postdoctoral researcher at the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) Department of Anatomy, Professor David Hoey has been named as one of three recipients of prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND award for work done during a fellowship at RCSI. These prizes reward excellence in research by selecting the most promising scientists who received funding under the MSCA COFUND Schemes for their respective projects carried out between 2008 and 2015.

Prof David Hoey

The award was given, from the Horizon 2020 programme, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to research into how stem cells within our bones can sense physical activity when we exercise and then start to regenerate new bone. Professor Hoey received his grant while registered through RCSI with Professor Fergal O’Brien (Professor of Bioengineering & Regenerative Medicine, Department of Anatomy) as his Principal Investigator.

Professor Hoey, now Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, said “My research focused on a hair-like antenna on a cell surface called the primary cilium which I believe is critical for this exercise induced bone formation. With approximately 200 million people suffering from this disease worldwide, this research could potentially be used to develop new treatments for bone loss diseases such as osteoporosis by mimicking the beneficial effects of exercise.”
He was honoured on Thursday 11th December by the European Commission at a ceremony in Luxembourg, where he was joined by the two other MSCA fellows, Julien Meyer (Laboratoire Gipsa, Grenoble, France) and Aiden Doherty (University of Oxford, UK).

Speaking on this award, Professor Fergal O’Brien said, “I am delighted for David and I am proud to have worked with him on this hugely successful project. The MSCA funding has provided David with a platform that enabled him to enhance and diversify his research expertise and skillset to the highest international level and it is clear that his is conducting ground breaking research that will have a meaningful impact on human health. I wish David even further successes in the future.”

The MSCA COFUND is named after the Polish-French scientist and twice Nobel laureate, known for her work on radioactivity. The COFUND action is meant for organisations that fund or manage doctoral programmes or fellowship programmes for researchers. Each COFUND proposal should have a sole participant, which could be a government ministry, regional authority, funding agency, university, research organisation, research academy or enterprise.

Professor Hoey was based at Columbia University in New York from 2009-2011 where he held the COFUND postdoctoral fellowship that was funded jointly by the Irish Research Council (IRC) and the Marie Sklodowska Curie COFUND International Mobility Fellowship in Science, Engineering and Technology called INSPIRE. The funding, worth €227,577 over three years, was designed to facilitate early stage researchers to gain international experience at top institutions in the world. He returned to RCSI for a year to work in the Tissue Engineering Research Group with Prof O’Brien before being appointed as a lecturer in biomedical engineering in University of Limerick where he started his independent research career in 2012. Dr. Hoey continues to expand on this ground-breaking blue-sky research with a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant and he has recently moved to Trinity College Dublin as an Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering.

RCSI is ranked 46th in the world for ‘International Outlook’ and #251 – 300 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2015-2016). 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.

New RCSI Research finds High Prevalence of Risk Factors for Patients Post Stroke

A new research study has found a high prevalence of risk factors for patients at six months post stroke, despite the widespread prescription of secondary preventative measures.  The ASPIRE-S research study was carried out by researchers from RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and funded by the Health Research Board (HRB).  The research set out to assess whether patients who experience an ischaemic stroke (IS) receive the necessary secondary preventative therapy which aims to reduce the risk of future stroke following discharge from hospital.
Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked.  The brain depends on its arteries to bring fresh blood from the heart and lungs. The blood carries oxygen and the necessary  nutrients to the brain, and takes away carbon dioxide and cellular waste.
According to the research, a number of important targets for preventative therapy were not being met in Ireland. These included 68% of patients with a BMI greater than 25 (in other words overweight or obese); 16% of patients still smoking; 63% of patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure, 23% with high cholesterol levels; and 28% of diabetic patients with poor control of their condition.
Commenting on the research, Professor David Williams, Head of the RCSI Department of Geriatric Medicine & Consultant Stroke Physician said “Our research highlights the need to improve the management of preventative interventions for patients after ischaemic stroke to ensure patients lower their risk of another ischaemic stroke. We can do this by streamlining the management of patients, incorporating guidelines into quality assurance cycles in stroke care, educating patients and providing risk management programmes for patients.”
The ASPIRE-S study also found that 57% of patients had cognitive impairment, such as difficulties with memory, visual and executive functioning (published in BMC Neurology, 2015). Many patients reported psychological distress. Despite this high prevalence of cognitive and mood difficulties, almost two-thirds of patients did not receive any form of psychological service either in hospital or in the community. A related paper published in the International Journal of Stroke (2015) examined the impact of stroke on family carers of people with stroke. Substantial levels of dissatisfaction with community and hospital services were reported, as well as notable levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms among caregivers, with caregiver and stroke patient well-being found to be strongly interdependent.
Professor Anne Hickey, Head of the Department of Psychology, RCSI said “Cognitive impairment is associated with a poorer quality of life for patients following stroke and is a significant impediment to patients returning to their activity and engagement levels pre-stroke. The high levels of anxiety and emotional challenges reported by patients’ and caregivers highlights the need for access to psychological services post-stroke as part of routine stroke rehabilitation.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Ireland (1). The WHO estimates stroke is the second most common cause of death and the fourth leading cause of disability.
The research was led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and conducted in collaboration with Beaumont Hospital, Connolly Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. The research was published in BioMedCentral Neurology.
Editors Notes
  • Data from 256 patients was used in the study over a six month period.
  • 34% of patients were under 65years of age and 66% were over 65.
  • 43% of patients were female and 57% were male.
  • The average age for patients presenting with stroke was 69.