UCD graduate elected first female President of Royal College of Physicians of Ireland


She will be the first woman to hold the post in the college’s 360-year history.

“Ireland is recognised globally for the high quality of its medical graduates and trainees,” said Professor Horgan on her election. “I am committed to ensuring that we continue to train our doctors to provide world class medical care and to provide leadership in our health service in these challenging times.”

Professor Horgan graduated from UCD School of Medicine, University College Dublin in 1986 and was awarded an MD by the university in 1995.

A consultant physician in infectious diseases and internal medicine at Cork University Hospital, she also serves as Dean of University College Cork (UCC) School of Medicine.

The last three Presidents of the RCPI have been UCD graduates. The serving Masters of Dublin’s three maternity hospitals also completed their medical studies at UCD.

RCPI is a postgraduate medical training college. It educates its students with the latest research and techniques to ensure they maintain best medical practices for current and future health needs.

UCD Medicine Alumnus Named IDSA President

Dr William G Powderly, former Dean of Medicine & Head, UCD School of Medicine, has been named as President of the Infectious Disease Society of America (ISDA), an organisation of physicians, scientists and other health care professionals dedicated to promoting health through excellence in infectious disease research, education, prevention and patient care.

In assuming the leadership role of this prestigious organisation with over 10,000 members across the United States of America, Dr Powderly pledge to continue the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s commitment to improving the health of all people, communities and society. Several new Board members were also announced bringing expertise in areas ranging from diagnostics and HIV to compensation, paediatrics and guidelines development.

“We are reaching out to the new presidential administration and Congress to help shape their understanding of critical health care challenges and opportunities, including efforts to improve patient safety, lead cutting-edge biomedical research, strengthen public health infrastructure, advocate for patients with HIV and other infectious diseases, and guide the development of critically needed new antibiotics and diagnostics,” said Dr Powderly.

“I look forward to working closely with my colleagues on the Board who embody strong representation from women and men whose experience and perspectives reflect the diversity of our field.”

Dr Powderly said he is energized to work with the Board to promote IDSA’s strategic priorities, which include:

  • Promoting the value of the infectious diseases (ID) physician
  • Attracting the best and brightest to the field of infectious diseases
  • Promoting leadership in antibiotic resistance and stewardship
  • Producing useful, timely and relevant guidelines
  • Promoting ID and HIV research and its clinical translation
  • Advocating for funding of prevention and public health programs in ID and HIV

About Dr William G Powderly, MD, FIDSA

A graduate of the UCD Medicine, Professor Powderly received his MB BCh BAO in 1979 and was awarded an MD degree by the University in 1987.  Bill undertook his basic medical and higher specialist training in Ireland and in the United States where he established himself as a distinguished academic clinician.  He was Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases until July 2004 when he returned to Ireland.

Prof Powderly was appointed as a consultant in infectious disease medicine and the UCD Professor of Medicine & Therapeutics at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.  He was appointed Dean of Medicine and Head of School at the UCD School of Medicine in 2005 and was re-appointed to this role in 2010, serving a total of 8 years as Head of Ireland’s leading Medical School.  In 2008, he was appointed as the inaugural Chief Academic Officer at Dublin Academic Medical Centre, Ireland’s first academic-led health centre.

Prof Powderly returned to the United States of America in January 2013 following his appointment as the J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine and co-director of the Washington University School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases in St. Louis.  He was appointed as the Larry J. Shapiro Director of the Institute for Public Health at the Washington University in July 2013 and is an attending physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Prof Powderly has held leadership positions throughout his career in UCD and at Washington University.  He was a member of the Irish Medical Council from 2006 until 2012, chairing their Professional Development Committee and was a member of the US Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group (including Vice-Chair of the Group and chair of its Scientific Steering Committee).  He has served on numerous advisory groups within the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA.  Prof Powderly was the inaugural chair of the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) in the US and was a founding member of the St. Louis Infectious Diseases Society. He is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Prof. Powderly is widely published in the areas of HIV and AIDS with over 300 original articles or book chapters.  Together with Prof. Jonathan Cohen, Dean of the School of Medicine at Brighton and Sussex in the UK, he has edited a major international textbook in Infectious Diseases.  His research interests include advancing care in HIV, focusing on long-term complications and antiretroviral therapy; fungal infections, especially cryptococcosis; and the translation of clinical advances to public health and public policy.  Professor Powderly has a special interest in HIV care and brings a global perspective to IDSA with more than 25 years of active engagement in research to improve treatments for patients with HIV.

Bill remains a strong supporter of Irish Medical Education and has established student elective exchanges between UCD and Washington University.  He and his wife Betsy are frequent visitors to Ireland and their daughter, Ailis is a second year UCD Graduate Entry Medicine student having graduated from UCD with a Bachelors of Business and Law degree in 2015.

About the Infectious Diseases Society of America

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is an organization of physicians, scientists, and other health care professionals dedicated to promoting health through excellence in infectious diseases research, education, prevention, and patient care. The Society, which has nearly 10,000 members, was founded in 1963 and is based in Arlington, VA. For more information see here.

New IDSA Board Members

Dr. Powderly is pleased to be working with those joining the IDSA Board, including:

  • Angela Caliendo, MD, PhD, FIDSA – Chair of the Microbiology Medical Devices Panel for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Caliendo is professor and executive vice chair of medicine and director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, R.I. She was the co-chair of the Clinical Laboratory & Standards Institute (CLSI) Subcommittee on Quantitative Molecular Diagnostics for Infectious Diseases, a member of the CLSI Subcommittee on Genotyping for Infectious Diseases and an advisor on the Subcommittee on Antiviral Susceptibility Testing. Dr. Caliendo is past president of both the Association of Molecular Pathology and Pan-American Society for Clinical Virology.
  • Joel Gallant, MD, MPH, FIDSA – A respected expert on HIV and AIDS, Dr. Gallant has published extensively on the topic, including authoring a book for consumers, “100 Questions and Answers About HIV and AIDS.” Currently he is medical director of specialty services at Southwest CARE Center in Santa Fe, N.M. and adjunct professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. Dr. Gallant also is professor of medicine at the University of New Mexico, Division of Infectious Diseases, Albuquerque.
  • Dan McQuillen, MD, FIDSA – Dr. McQuillen is passionate about documenting the value of infectious disease specialists at the national level. He is director of the Solid Organ Transplant Infectious Disease service and senior staff physician in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington, Mass. He is a former chair of IDSA’s Clinical Affairs Committee and current president of the Massachusetts Infectious Diseases Society. His interests include tick-associated infections, management of Clostridium difficile infection and HIV.
  • Larry Pickering, MD, FIDSA, FPIDS – Long dedicated to improving health in children including by promoting the benefits of vaccination, Dr. Pickering is adjunct professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta. He is the past senior advisor to the director of the National Immunization Program/National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Rejoining the IDSA Board after having previously served on it, Dr. Pickering also led or co-chaired panels that developed clinical practice guidelines for immunization programs and the management of infectious diarrhea. He is a past president of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.
  • Cindy Sears, MD, FIDSA – Dr. Sears is rejoining the Board, having previously served as treasurer. Professor of medicine and molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Dr. Sears also is an attending physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is dedicated to ensuring the publication of high-quality guidelines, and previously served as vice chair of the IDSA Education and Research Foundation. Dr. Sears is interested in research on the relationship of bacteria and the microbiome to colon cancer development.

They will join members continuing their service on the Board, including:

  • Paul Auwaerter, MD, MBA, FIDSA, president-elect, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore
  • Johan Bakken MD, PhD, FIDSA, past president, St. Luke’s ID Associates, Duluth, Minn.
  • Helen Boucher, MD, FIDSA, treasurer, Tufts Medical Center, Boston
  • Henry “Chip” Chambers, MD, FIDSA, University of California, San Francisco
  • Janet Englund, MD, FIDSA, Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • Thomas Fekete, MD, FIDSA, Temple University Medical School, Philadelphia
  • Lawrence Martinelli, MD, FIDSA, Covenant Health, Lubbock, Texas
  • Thomas Moore, MD, FIDSA, IDC of Kansas, Wichita, Kan.
  • Trish Perl, MD, MSc, FIDSA, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • David Kimberlin, MD, FIDSA, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Keith Kaye, MD, MPH, FIDSA, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Eight UCD research projects awarded Science Foundation Ireland funding grants

Pictured top: from left to right: Dr Angela Feechan; Dr Antonio Benedetto; Dr Liliana Pasquale; Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson; Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD; Dr Eoin Cummins; Dr Eoghan McGarrigle; Dr Yan Yan; and Professor Simon Kelly
  • Awards help early and mid-career researchers to develop essential skills
  • Grants will fund projects carried out by 100 researchers from seven countries
  • Gender initiative ensures maximum of six applicants at each institution were male

Research projects at University College Dublin have received eight of the 40 awards granted in the latest round of funding from Science Foundation Ireland.

The awards are allocated under the Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA) Programmes.

With grants ranging from €450,000 to €877,000 over four years, the projects will support nearly 100 researchers from seven countries.

The 40 research projects will be funded through nine research bodies: University College Dublin (8), Dublin City University (7), National University of Ireland Galway (3), National University of Ireland Maynooth (1), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (2), Trinity College Dublin (9), Tyndall National institute (2), University College Cork (3), University of Limerick (5).

The 40 research projects cover a diverse range of sectors, including health and medical, food and marine, energy and environment, manufacturing and materials and ICT and communications.

“This investment in the SFI SIRG and CDA Programmes allows researchers to advance their research investigations and continue developing their careers,” said Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, who announced the awards.

“The nine industrial collaborations linked with these awards provides industry with access to the emerging research expertise found throughout Ireland.

“Collaborations at these early career stages will help establish relationships which will advance Ireland’s economy, society and reputation for research excellence now and in the future.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said Science Foundation Ireland places a heavy emphasis on supporting researchers at every stage of their careers.

“The SIRG and CDA awards help early and mid-career researchers develop essential skills and track records necessary to become the next generation of research leaders in Ireland.  I have high expectations for these projects and look forward to these teams contributing to the advancement of Ireland’s international reputation in areas such as energy, materials, technology, and health,” he added.

A gender initiative was employed for the 2015 SIRG awards, ensuring out of the 12 eligible applicants from a research body, a maximum of six of the applicants could be male. In 2013, 27% of applicants and 27% of awardees (six out of 22) were female.

The 2015 gender initiative can be considered a success in that of the 94 eligible applications, 44 were from female applicants (47%) and 50 were from male applicants (53%).  Of the 20 proposals awarded, 55% of awardees (11 out of 20) are female.

Health & Medical

  • Developing our understanding of how nanoparticles interact with immune system, which will open new routes for designing nanoparticles for effective vaccine delivery; (SIRG awardee)

PI: Dr Yan Yan, School of Chemistry

  • Investigating how certain mechanisms underpinning the effects of higher than normal levels of carbon dioxide in the blood may affect the immune system; (CDA awardee)

PI: Dr Eoin Cummins, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine

  • Investigating how the management of sensory and reward information in the face of environmental demands is deficient in many major brain disorders; (CDA awardee)

PI: Professor Simon Kelly, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Food and Marine

  • Identification of the proteins used by bacteria to infect wheat, in order to re-establish immunity in wheat; (CDA awardee)

PI: Dr Angela Feechan, Assistant Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Science

Manufacturing & Materials

  • Developing the automated processes involved in manufacturing carbohydrates, which holds promise in speeding up the development of new vaccines and medicines; (CDA awardee)

PI: Dr Eoghan McGarrigle, Assistant Professor, School of Chemistry

ICT and Communications

  • Developing new software technology that will transform cyber and physical forensic investigations in the future; (SIRG awardee)

PI: Dr Liliana Pasquale, Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science

  • A study of the interaction between organic biomolecules, known as room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs), and biomolecules, that could open up new opportunities for applications in biomedicine, pharmacology and food science. (SIRG awardee)

PI: Dr Antonio Benedetto, Lecturer, School of Physics

  • Investigating the use sophisticated machine learning techniques (deep learning) for the detection of novel events in data streams, such as CCTV images or data from a wearable medical device; (CDA awardee)

PI: Dr Brian MacNamee, Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations

UCD cancer research to reduce number of patients exposed to excessive treatment

  • €2.5m funding will support more accurate breast and prostate cancer diagnosis
  • This will save patients from unnecessary chemotherapy or surgery

A UCD cancer research project that aims to reduce the harmful effects of over-treatment by more accurately diagnosing patients has received €2.5 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland.

OPTi-PREDICT will develop two biomarker panels to assess the risk of breast and prostate cancer progression. A biomarker is an indicator of the presence and severity of a disease. Examples include genes or proteins.

OncoMasTR will be used in breast cancer diagnosis and Pro-RISK CAL will be used for prostate diagnosis. Together they will reduce the number of patients who suffer the harmful effects of unnecessary chemotherapy or surgery.

The project will be led by Professor William Gallagher, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and Professor William Watson, UCD School of Medicine. Professor Gallagher and Professor Watson are also Fellows at UCD Conway Institute.

Pictured: Micrograph of signet ring cells (arising from breast). H&E stain. Nephron/Creative Commons.

“This highly interdisciplinary and translational research programme, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, will allow us to fast-track development of novel diagnostic solutions for two of the most significant cancer types to affect men and women,” said Professor Gallagher.

“A key element of our approach is comprehensive clinical validation of the new decision support systems developed, such that they can be provided in the short-term as useful aids to spare patients from unnecessary treatment.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, making up a quarter of all cancer diagnoses with approximately 1.6 million new cases each year.

In men, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin related cancer in developed countries with almost one million cases each year. Like breast cancer, current standard testing can result in over-diagnosis and excessive treatment.

The OPTi-PREDICT group will collaborate with digital healthcare company Optimata. They will develop two computerised systems to support decision making and provide more personalised treatment choice.

UCD leads €6m Horizon 2020 project to improve air quality in European cities

  • iSCAPE aims to develop sustainable strategies to treat and reduce air pollution
  • Study seeks to formulate policy interventions and implement behavioural change

Researchers at UCD will lead a consortium of international scientific institutions in a new €6m Horizon 2020-funded research project to improve the air quality of several European cities.

In the context of climate change, iSCAPE (Improving the Smart Control of Air Pollution in Europe) aims to develop sustainable strategies to treat and reduce air pollution in these cities and reduce their carbon footprint.

The results of the study will be used to inform policy interventions and implement behavioural change initiatives in this area.

The project is led by Dr Francesco Pilla, Lecturer at the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy. iSCAPE has been awarded €6m in funding by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Cities account for roughly 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and are crucial in the fight against climate change.

iSCAPE seeks to advance the control of air quality and carbon emissions in Dublin, Innovation-City Ruhr, Germany, Lazzaretto, Bologna, Italy, Vantaa, Finland, Hasselt, Belgium, Bologna, Italy, and Guilford, UK.

Pictured: Dr Francesco Pilla, Lecturer at the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, who will lead the iSCAPE project

Researchers will reduce air pollution in these cities’ urban spaces by using ‘Passive Control Systems’, such as trees, green urban spaces and green roofs, to disperse normal wind flow patterns and dilute pollutants.

iSCAPE will embrace the concept of “smart cities” and will have a particular focus on promoting the use of low-cost sensors in an attempt to engage citizens in the use of alternative solutions to environmental problems.

The scientists will carry out and measure the results of the research in ‘living labs’. Living labs are user-centred ecosystems, such as cities, where research and innovation processes are integrated within a public-private partnership involving the active contribution of the people living in the area.

The living labs will be used to foster innovation and showcase the products made by SMEs and iSCAPE’s academic partners, such as low-cost, high-quality air quality monitoring kits.

Citizens in living lab areas will, for example, be educated on the air quality monitoring kits, used to measure the effectiveness of the solutions implemented to improve air quality.

“The overall aim of iSCAPE is to develop and evaluate an integrated strategy for air pollution control in European cities grounded on evidence-based analysis,” said Dr Francesco Pilla.

“The project will develop the tools required to achieve an air pollution free/low carbon society by addressing air quality and climate change concerns together through the application of new smart and sustainable technologies for integration into urban design and guidelines.”

The project will also support sustainable urban development by promoting the sharing of results with policymakers and planners using local test-cases.

The other partners in the iSCAPE consortium are: Trinity College Dublin; Università de Bologna (Italy); University of Surrey (United Kingdom); Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland); Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt, University (Belgium); Technische Universität Dortmund (Germany); EC Joint Research Centre – Institute for Environment & Sustainability (European Commission); Fab Lab Barcelona (Spain); T6 Ecosystems srl (Italy); Pureti Spain, S.L. (Spain); Future Cities Catapult Ltd. (United Kingdom); Dublin City Counicl (Ireland); Comune di Catania (Italy); Agenzia regionale per la prevenzione e l’ambiete dell’ Emilia-Romagna (Italy).

University of Limerick appoints senior UCD academic as new president

Prof Des Fitzgerald’s appointment strong signal UL is seeking to move up in world rankings

Prof Fitzgerald, a clinical academic, has earned wide-spread recognition for his research into platelets and thrombosis in coronary artery disease. Photograph: UL press office
Prof Fitzgerald, a clinical academic, has earned wide-spread recognition for his research into platelets and thrombosis in coronary artery disease. Photograph: UL press office

Prof Fitzgerald, a clinical academic, has earned wide-spread recognition for his research into platelets and thrombosis in coronary artery disease.

Prof Des Fitzgerald, a vice-president of UCD and of the country’s highest paid academics, is set to be appointed as the new president of University of Limerick.

The appointment sends a strong signal that UL is seeking to boost its research capacity and move up in world university rankings.

Prof Fitzgerald playing a central role in transforming UCD’s research performance and helped develop a range of international partnerships, in particular in the US and China.

Announcing the appointment on Thursday, UL’s chancellor Mr Justice John Murray said Prof Fitzgerald was a widely-respected scholar with an enviable international research reputation and experience in a number of highly-ranked universities.

“I know I speak for the governing authority and the broader UL community in stating how much we look forward to working with Prof Fitzgerald to build on UL’s fine foundations as we realise the institution’s vision and objectives for the future,” he said.

In a statement, Prof Fitzgerald said he was honoured to lead UL and looked forward to working with colleagues and partners to secure a strong national and international academic profile.

“UL has unique strengths, its staff, students, alumni and friends; its powerful local, national and international partnerships; its stunning campus and its excellent reputation,” he said.

“I want UL to establish and lead pioneering initiatives that will deliver real impact in a range of important areas that are critical to Ireland’s future and the future of the mid west.”

Prof Fitzgerald, a clinical academic, has earned wide-spread recognition for his research into platelets and thrombosis in coronary artery disease.

He joined UCD in 2004 after being head-hunted by the college’s then president Hugh Brady from a senior leadership role in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

In 2009 it emerged that he was Ireland’s highest paid academic, with a salary of €409,000 per year.

However, his salary fell to just over €260,000 following cost-cutting and pressure from outside the college to reduce his salary.

UCD Research – Immune System Plays Major Role in Regulation of Body Weight

New research involving a team of Irish, American and Canadian researchers reveals that the immune system could be responsible for as much as 40% of our body’s ability to regulate weight.

UCD Clinical Professor, Prof Donal O’ Shea, Consultant Endocrinologist at St Vincent’s University Hospital and a Fellow in UCD Conway Institute is one of the lead authors on the research paper. Prof O’Shea explained,

“We know that once weight is gained, for the majority of people, it is very difficult to lose that weight. It is too simplistic to say eat less, move more and the weight will come off. It doesn’t actually work like that. The body has a very powerful reaction to defend against weight loss, which we now know involves the immune system.

We normally think of the immune system as something that guards against infection and diseases. However in evolutionary terms, a sudden or rapid weight loss could be a more immediate threat to survival. This immune system response contributes to why people really struggle to lose weight, despite their best efforts to control calories and do exercise. Our findings give us a much better understanding of why this is so and they illustrate the dynamic role that the immune system plays in regulating body weight”.

Dr Lydia Lynch, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Professor, Trinity College Dublin, and the first author on the study explains:

“We discovered that a very common immune cell, called the invariant natural killer T cell (iNKT cell), plays a key role in setting off a complex chain of events that regulate and enhance weight loss.

The iNKT cell is needed to help fat cells make a small protein called fibroblast growth factor-21, (FGF-21), which triggers the body to metabolise or turn white fat into a much healthier brown fat. This browning of white fat uses large amounts of energy, leading to increased metabolic rate and weight loss.

We know that people who are obese often have sluggish immune systems and a lower amount of these iNKT cells. With less iNKT cells, the body doesn’t make FGF-21, and this prevents the body from converting white fat to change it into brown fat.

So, if you stimulate the body to produce iNKT cells, you can increase the amount of FGF-21. This, in turn, leads to enhanced browning of white fat, and increased metabolic rate and weight loss.

This new knowledge opens up novel areas for treating weight loss, and will greatly enhance our ability to improve existing hormone treatments for weight loss.”

Graham Love, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board, who funded the Irish arm of the research said,

‘This is a highly significant breakthrough in understanding obesity, one of the global health challenges of our time. It will help change approaches we take to care for and transform many people’s lives’.

Professor O’Shea believes that these findings represent a significant step forward in our understanding of why people often find it so hard to lose weight, despite their best efforts.

“The findings should help break many of the stigmas associated with obesity, and most importantly, could dramatically improve outcomes for patients. Ultimately, this research underlies the absolute importance of prevention of weight gain in the first place. This work should be used by policy makers to prioritise obesity prevention strategies, especially childhood obesity’.

The research was funded by the Health Research Board in Ireland, the European Research Council and the National Institute of Health, USA.  The research has just been published in the journal Cell Metabolism and is available from their website at the link below.

Original Research Article


UCD and Ireland East Hospital Group: New cancer centre partnership to deliver improved treatment

Pictured top: Dr Eileen Furlong, Lecturer, UCD School of Nursing Midwifery and Health Systems, Professor Des Fitzgerald, IEHG Chief Academic Officer (CAO) and Vice President for Health Affairs at UCD, Mary Day, CEO IEHG, Prof Owen Smith (CBE) CaCAD Director IEHG, Dr Patricia Fox, Lecturer, UCD School of Nursing Midwifery and Health Systems, at the launch at UCD of the Clinical Academic Directorate for Cancer Care (CaCAD)


  • New cancer treatment centre will cater for a population of 1.1 million
  • Directorate will have clear focus on genetics for more targeted personalised therapies

The largest cancer treatment centre in Ireland has been launched in a partnership between University College Dublin and the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG).

The Clinical Academic Directorate for Cancer Care (CaCAD) will be the largest cancer treatment centre in the country and will serve a population of 1.1 million people.

The centre will treat more than 45 per cent of all breast cancer cases in Ireland and 25 per cent of all pancreas cancer cases. It will also account for 50 per cent of all breast cancer screening in Ireland.

The Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) is the largest of the country’s seven hospital groups and encompasses 11 hospitals, including the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital and its formal academic partner UCD.

The joint venture will deliver improved cancer care to patients, in terms of the range, depth and complexity of care required and the scientific discovery that underpins new and evolving treatments.

The Directorate will involve cancer experts at St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH) and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH) working together with research and teaching experts in UCD.

“This new single entity will mean larger departments, more sub-specialisation, an expansion in the range of services and more personalised medicine with a clear focus on genetics and translating research benefits into better patient care,” said Professor Owen Smith CBE, Clinical Director of the CaCAD.

Professor Smith is also Professor of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine at University College Dublin and Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin.

“We are developing an academic health sciences model for the Ireland East Hospital group by establishing Clinical Academic Directorates, beginning with a Clinical Academic Directorate for Cancer,” said Mary Day, CEO of IEHG.

“Using this internationally recognised model of best practice we aim to transform and improve the clinical services for the 1.1 million people served by the group.”

A framework document, ‘IEHG Cancer Review of Services’, has also been published. The document outlines how, through the CaCAD, multidisciplinary teams from MMUH, SVUH and across the group, will collaborate to provide diverse expertise for cancer patients.

The Directorate’s genetics programme will be supported by a next-generation gene sequencing laboratory recently established at UCD.

“More and more, the clinical care of patients with cancer relies on such technology, for diagnosis and more targeted therapy,” said Professor Des Fitzgerald, IEHG Chief Academic Officer (CAO) and Vice President for Health Affairs at UCD

“The university has developed clinical trials facilities so that new therapies can be brought to our patients quickly and will continue to expand the Directorate’s capacity for clinical research.”

UCD is also establishing a research imaging centre in partnership with St Vincent’s University Hospital, which will help in rapid diagnosis and monitoring of treatment.

The university will also contribute to the Directorate through its educational and training programmes for healthcare professionals who want to pursue careers in oncology.


UCD Graduate, Dr. Jenny Whelan, featured in cover story of Canadian Family Physician

Jennifer Whelan, MB, BCh, BAO, CCFP

My common-sense approach and laid-back Irish attitude are among my greatest medical strengths,” Dr Jennifer Whelan says in her soft brogue. “At least, everybody seems to like it. No matter what the problem, have a cuppa tea. Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”

Dr Whelan always thought she was destined to be an emergency department physician. After graduating from medical school in Dublin and completing her intern year in Ireland, she completed a 6-month rotation at a large tertiary trauma centre in Brisbane, Australia. There, she dealt with all kinds of exotic emergencies, from jellyfish stings to poisonous snake bites, in addition to the more mundane breaks, contusions, and cuts. “We had a whole row of dangerous creatures in jars lined up in the ER,” she laughs. “But curiosity really killed my career in emergency medicine. I kept wondering what happened to this patient, or how is that one doing now?”

So she and her family physician husband, Patrick, a former rugby player at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont, applied as a couple for the Queen’s residency program in family medicine back in 2006. Today, her primary practice is with the nearby Belleville Queen’s Family Health Team, but 2 days a week she works at a community health centre providing continuity of care for “some of the most complex and vulnerable patients in society.”

Family medicine is all about continuity, especially in a tight-knit community like Belleville. “I love living here. I run into my patients on, literally, a daily basis,” Dr Whelan says. “Just this afternoon at the market, I bumped into a woman with a new baby I’m scheduled to see for the first time next week. We also talked about her husband, a patient who’s also a chef at one of our favourite restaurants.”

While Dr Whelan, her husband and 2 young girls have put down deep roots in Belleville, they still get back to Ireland a couple of times a year. Her oldest daughter, 7-year-old Emily, has been 21 times, while her little sister, 4-year-old Isabella, has already visited 12 times.

Despite the repeat visits and the Irish dancing lessons and the favourite Irish television shows they screen online, “the kids are really growing up as Canadians,” Dr Whelan says. “I’m trying to fully embrace the Canadian lifestyle too. I’m learning to ski and I have my first skating lesson set for next week.” But don’t worry. Afterward, back at home nursing those inevitable bruises and aching ankles, she’ll have a cuppa tea and everything will be just fine.


  • Dr Whelan is a family doctor in Belleville, Ont, practising in an academic community-based practice and a community health centre.

  • THE COVER PROJECT Canadian Family Physician has embarked on a project to assemble the portrait of family medicine in Canada. Each cover of the journal features a family physician chosen at random from our membership list, along with a short essay—a brief glimpse of the person and the practice. Over time, the randomness will become representative and the differences, taken together, will define what it is that all family physicians have in common.


Canadian Family Physician, November 2015 vol. 61 no. 11 995-997

UCD Professor elected President of European Symposium of Organic Chemistry committee

UCD Professor elected President of European Symposium of Organic Chemistry committee
Professor Pat Guiry of UCD

Professor Pat Guiry has become the first Irish academic to be elected President of the International Scientific Committee of the European Symposium of Organic Chemistry (ESOC).

The pan-European committee is responsible for the biannual event that brings together hundreds of experts from academia and industry, and students whose research covers organic chemistry and related areas. ESOC also offers plenary and invited lectures, oral presentations and poster sessions.

The 20th ESOC, with an expected attendance of 1,000, will be held in Cologne (Germany) July 2-6, 2017, under the Chairmanship of Professor Hagga Schmalz from the University of Cologne. The first ESOC was held in Cologne in 1979.

Professor Guiry said: “It is a great honour to be elected to this position and to play a leading role in organic chemistry in Europe representing UCD and Ireland. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the International Committee and the local organisers in Cologne for the 20th ESOC in 2017.”

The conference aims at stimulating new emerging areas in organic chemistry, namely those related to organic electronics for chemical sensing, photo-pharmacology, vaccines, organic synthesis and catalysis.

Contributions to the areas of carbohydrates and proteins, natural product organic chemistry and materials, in particular those relevant to industry, e.g. to food and pharmaceutical industries are very welcome to the symposium, based on their usefulness for a healthy life and better ageing.

Professor Guiry, Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry at the School of Chemistry, University College Dublin, is Director of the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology, a collaboration between University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and is the Vice-Chair of its Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences Committee.

He was the Chairman of ESOC-15, which was held in UCD in July 2007 with 700 participants. He was elected as the Ireland-United Kingdom representative on the committee in 2013 and was Vice-President from 2013-15.

The International Scientific Committee includes:

  • President: Prof. Pat Guiry (University College Dublin, Ireland)
  • Vice-President: Prof. Adriaan Minnaard (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
  • Prof. Dr Helma Wennemers (ETH, Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Prof. Lise-Lotte Gundersen (University of Oslo, Norway)
  • Prof. Doron Shabat (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
  • Prof. Marek Chmielewski (Poland)
  • Prof. Dr Thorsten Bach (Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Germany)
  • Prof. Valentin Ananikov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)
  • Prof. Jean Rodriguez (University of Aix-Marseille, France)
  • Prof. Manolis Stratakis (University of Crete, Greece)
  • Prof. Ivo Stary (Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry ASCR, Czech Republic)
  • Prof. Jesús Jiminez-Barbero (University of Bilbao, Spain/Portugal)
  • Prof. Cinzia Chiappe (University of Pisa, Italy)