Medical Students Test their Clinical Skills at SimWars

The School of Medicine at University College Dublin hosted ‘SimWars’, a medical simulation competition for medical and nursing students in Ireland on 25th February.

The event was organised by members of the Emergency Medicine Student Society of Ireland EMSSI and saw students work in teams of five to manage a number of simulated medical emergency scenarios which included using medical mannequins, actors and digital technologies. Together these provided students with a realistic and immersive learning experience.

The event represented an opportunity for students to test not only their clinical skills, but also their ability to work as a team and perform under pressure. Expert emergency doctors and advanced paramedics from Loughlinstown Ambulance Station provided feedback on their collective and individual performances throughout the day, as well as delivering teaching sessions on topical issues within emergency medicine.

A judging panel of Professors and Doctors oversaw the capabilities and decisions of forty students who participated in the competition, representing the medical schools of University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, The Royal College of Surgeons, NUI Galway and University College Cork. Judges included Professor John Ryan, Dr. David Menzies, Dr. Alan Watts, Dr. Lisa Guthrie, Dr. David Monks and Dr. Eimhear Quinn.

After managing both a polytrauma and a peri-arrest simulation that morning, teams from Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway were put forward as the highest performing teams to participate in the SimWars Grand Final, which took place that afternoon in the Garret Fitzgerald Debating Chamber in UCD. In front of a live audience, both teams performed a tight battle with NUI Galway coming out on top to scoop the SimWars Cup for its first year and taking the competition to the West for 2018.

Two final year medical students at UCD, Jamie Condren and Tiarnán Byrne both organised the event. Jamie stated

It is really encouraging to see healthcare students around the country training together alongside doctors and pre-hospital practitioners who have given up time to teach them in the evenings after classes and shifts are done. It’s clear that students recognise the real value of simulation training in terms of bridging the gap between theory and clinical practice.

Dr. David Menzies, a consultant in emergency medicine at St. Vincent’s University Hospital said

Imulation education plays a key role in the training of emergency physicians. The ‘SimWars’ competition represents a unique opportunity for students to consolidate important clinical and interpersonal skills using this immersive style of learning.

Congratulations to all who organised and attended this successful event!

UCD – Drug can reduce risk of developing diabetes by 80 per cent, study shows

  • Drug reduces chances of developing diabetes by 80 per cent
  • Pre-diabetes also reversed in 60 per cent of those on trial

An injected drug that lowers blood sugar levels can reduce the chances of those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 80 per cent, according to new research led by a scientist at University College Dublin.

The drug, liraglutide, promotes weight loss by interacting with the areas of the brain that control appetite and energy intake.

The study involved a major international trial conducted over three years in which 2,254 adults with pre-diabetes participated at 191 research sites in 27 countries. The findings of the study were published in the medical journal, The Lancet.

The aim of the trial was to evaluate whether liraglutide can safely delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in participants with pre-diabetes.

The trial results show that continuous treatment with the drug over three years helped to prevent the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in participants by 80 per cent when combined with diet and exercise.

In 60 per cent of those patients, pre-diabetes was completely reversed and patients returned to healthy blood sugar levels.

Of those patients who went on to develop diabetes, those who had been taking the drug took three times longer to develop the disease than those in the placebo group.

Liraglutide also helped to sustain greater weight loss when compared to the placebo.

Pre-diabetes is a metabolic condition that is closely tied to obesity. If undiagnosed or untreated, it can develop into type 2 diabetes, which is treatable, but not reversible.

In Ireland, one in ten of the population have pre-diabetes, and pre-diabetes and obesity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes and its complications. Pre-diabetes progresses into type 2 diabetes in five to ten per cent of sufferers within ten years.

These individuals are at risk of a range of conditions that can affect their overall health, including type 2 diabetes and its complications, as well as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Professor Carel le Roux from the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre, UCD School of Medicine and Fellow, UCD Conway Institute is an obesity specialist and the corresponding author on the study.

“In this study, we wanted to see if this drug in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and lifestyle intervention could delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in a high-risk population with obesity and pre-diabetes,” he said.

“On the basis of our findings, liraglutide 3.0 mg can provide us with a new therapeutic approach for patients with obesity and pre-diabetes to substantially reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its related complications.”

The study is entitled: 3 years’ of liraglutide versus placebo for type 2 diabetes risk reduction and weight management in individuals with prediabetes: a randomised, double-blind trial

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations

Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe features two UCD students

  • LGBTQ+ activist is one of youngest to be recognised
  • PhD researcher honoured for efforts to bring disruptive tech to developing world

UCD students Sam Blanckensee and Colin Keogh have been named in Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list of people “who will impact Europe for the next 50 years.”

The listing features 300 young leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs under the age of 30 who are transforming areas including business, technology, media and culture.

22 year-old activist Blanckensee was named in the Law and Policy and Youngest categories.

He is National Development Officer at Transgender Equality Network Ireland and Education Officer at Irish Trans Student Alliance.

Forbes described him as “an outspoken voice for the trans community across Irish media and politics.”

Blanckensee was part of the lobbying effort that helped pass legislation to allow people to self-declare their gender and receive new birth certificates.

He is a student in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine and was LGBT Coordinator with UCD Students’ Union.

Blanckensee received a UCD President’s Award in 2014 for work advocating for the rights of transgender students inside and outside the UCD community.

PhD student Keogh was featured for his work towards “using low-cost disruptive technologies to help improve the world.”

He was named in the Science and Healthcare category.

Keogh is a research engineer at UCD College of Engineering and Architecture and founder of Rapid Foundation.

It aims to put “technology such as 3D printers and low-cost electronics in the hands of people who need it most in developing countries.”

The Rapid Foundation was a recipient of the 2016 Fritz Schumacher Award.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations

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 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.