Galway Neuroscience Centre Director Awarded EU Funding for MS Research

Galway Neuroscience Centre Director Awarded EU Funding for MS Research

Congratulations to Dr Una FitzGerald, Director of the Galway Neuroscience Centre (GNC), on receiving an award of €4M from the EU Horizon 2020 programme for her project entitled: PMSMatTrain: Novel Biomaterial-based Device for the Treatment of Progressive MS. An Integrated Pan-European Approach

PMSMatTrain focuses on gaining a comprehensive understanding of the progressive phase of multiple sclerosis (PMS) from basics to translation, fully supported by eight beneficiaries (six research institutions and two SMEs).

The consortium will develop a multi-modal “tuneable” hydrogel-based medical device designed to bring about biphasic release of anti-inflammatory molecules and neuroprotective drugs as well as generating a clinically-relevant in silico model of drug elution and dispersal within the central nervous system. Using “state-of-the-art” 3D organotypic cultures and disease-relevant oligodendrocytes produced from MS patient-derived stem cells, the project will allow investigation MS pathophysiology as well as analysing the role of therapeutic molecules in combatting inflammation and promoting regeneration and neuroprotection. The industry partners will develop the end-device by providing standardised manufacturing protocols for scaled-up production and commercialisation of the final product.

PMSMatTrain is a multidisciplinary European Training Network that will educate and train 15 Early Stage Researchers in functionalised biomaterials, materials science, stem cell biology, in vitro and in vivo models, molecular biology, in silico modelling, functionalisation strategies and prototype design.
Programme fellows will experience both public and private sector research and development and will be best placed to secure employment as high calibre, innovative and well-trained graduates.

 

For more click here

Tomás Ryan elected FENS-Kavli Network Chair

Tomás Ryan elected FENS-Kavli Network Chair

Trinity neuroscientist, Tomás Ryan, has been elected as the new Chair of the European FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence.

Ryan is an Associate Professor in Trinity’s School of Biochemistry and Immunology and the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN). He is also Principal Investigator of a European Research Council-funded team that was established in 2017 and investigates the biology of memory engram storage in the brain.

Professor Ryan said: “I am very excited to have the opportunity to coordinate such a diverse group of highly motivated and talented individuals from across Europe. The FENS-Kavli Network functions to enable brain research and cross-disciplinary collaborations by putting early career scientists in the driving seat. But it also has an active role in communicating central issues in neuroscience with the public and with policy makers. I look forward to working with colleagues throughout Europe to develop and advocate for European brain research in the coming years.”

The FENS-Kavli Network is composed of 30 early and mid-career neuroscientists representing 16 European countries. The Network was originally established in 2014 through a collaboration between the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) and the Kavli Foundation. Up to 15 FENS-Kavli Scholars are chosen bi-annually by an international committee, and all Scholars serve an active membership term of four years.

The FENS-Kavli Network serves dual functions of furthering our understanding brain function through building research plans, training networks, and worldwide collaborations; and of engaging with society and policy makers on issues pertaining to neuroscience and mental health. Scholars participate in several meetings per year that enable new collaborations on frontier brain research questions as well as challenges and opportunities for European neuroscience. They collaboratively produce widely read opinion articles and white-paper recommendations to European stakeholders on funding schemes and other key issues for neuroscience development. They engage in outreach activities with the aim of informing the general public about brain research. The FENS-Kavli Network is also responsible for awarding a pair of prizes annually at Europe’s largest neuroscience meeting, the FENS Forum. The FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence Mentoring Prize honors a scientist who has demonstrated leadership in fostering the careers of neuroscientists. The FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence PhD Thesis Prize is awarded to a young neuroscientist for her/his outstanding PhD thesis in any domain of neuroscience. These prizes are unique in celebrating both excellent mentors and mentees.

 

Dr Kathy Ruddy awarded HRB Emerging Investigator Award

Dr Kathy Ruddy awarded HRB Emerging Investigator Award

Congratulations Dr Kathy Ruddy, the 2018 NSI Early Career Investigator Awardee, on being awarded a HRB Emerging Investigator Award. She is developing a new approach to stroke rehabilitation for the upper limb based on TMS neurofeedback.

By playing a simple computer game, we encourage stroke patients to reconnect with their paralysed limb. Magnetic brain stimulation is used to evoke small twitches in the stroke affected muscles. The game displays the size of these twitches to the patient, and trains them to make them larger. The patient gains a sense of control over their own recovery, by training to improve their brain’s output signals to the muscles using neurofeedback, which we predict may lead to better outcomes for regaining movement function.

Dr Ruddy said: “The HRB Emerging Investigator award will kick start my programme of research into how we can use magnetic brain stimulation in combination with neurofeedback, to promote better recovery outcomes for stroke patients.”

For more click here

Dr Áine Kelly, the Incoming NSI President

Dr Áine Kelly, the Incoming NSI President

We are delighted to announce the new incoming president for NSI will be Dr Áine Kelly. Aine will take up the position in September from the current president Dr Éilis Dowd, who has been a excellent leader and advocate of NSI over the past 2 years. As such would you like to thank Éilis for her contribution to the NSI and wish Áine the very best in her new role.

Áine graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1995 with a first class honours degree in Science, specialising in Physiology. She was awarded her PhD in Neuroscience in 1998 and was appointed to a lectureship in the Department of Physiology in 2002. She is currently Associate Professor in Physiology and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Science Education in Trinity College Dublin. Áine’s research expertise lies at the interface of exercise physiology and neuroscience and her laboratory assesses how modifiable lifestyle factors including physical activity can enhance and protect brain function throughout the lifespan. She is particularly interested in the cellular mechanisms by which interventions such as environmental enrichment and exercise both improve cognition and protect against neurodegeneration and cognitive decline in age by modulating neuroinflammation.

Áine has been an active and dynamic member of Neuroscience Ireland for many years, and as our current Outreach Officer, she is heavily involved in the promotion of public awareness and understanding of the brain in health and disease. Of particular note is the leadership role she played in the outstanding Public Programme at the recent BNA2019 Festival of Neuroscience.

 

Dr Áine Kelly’s review on the highly successful BNA2019 Public Programme

Dr Áine Kelly’s review on the highly successful BNA2019 Public Programme

The public programme of the BNA2019 Festival of Neuroscience comprised 16 events held in 9 venues around Dublin city centre, with a satellite ‘Brain Movie Night’ event in Galway. The programme had events to suit all tastes, from rap to classical music, from art to contemporary dance and drama, along with well-attended educational events focused on brain research and patient experience.

 

Numerous conference delegates mentioned the public programme as a particular highlight of the meeting, with many both attending and participating in events. While BNA organised 2 events at the main conference venue– Baba Brinkman’s high energy, entertaining and educational ‘Rap Guide to Consciousness’ and Prof. Ed Bullmore’s public lecture on ‘Inflamed Depression’, Neuroscience Ireland were the driving force behind the majority of the public programme.

 

The arts strand was a key feature, and award-winning creative artists generously shared their work with us. Fishamble Theatre Company helped us to stage Olivier-award winning actor and playwright Pat Kinevane’s stunning, hilarious and emotional one-man show ‘Forgotten’ at Trinity College’s Samuel Beckett Theatre. Writer-director Oonagh Kearney allowed us to show her Cork Film Festival and Dublin Film Festival award-winning short film “Five Letters to the Stranger who will Dissect my Brain” in the atmospheric Old Anatomy Theatre in Trinity College – all who attended will agree that it was a unique and special experience to view the film in one of the historic locations in which it was shot and to hear about Oonagh’s experience of making the film.  Joanna Hopkins developed a beautiful site-specific art installation on the theme of memory at the Accenture Gallery in the Science Gallery, while Jessie Keenan staged her exquisite contemporary dance piece ‘Fragments’ in the Samuel Beckett Theatre.

 

Perhaps nowhere was the crossover of the arts and sciences more evident than at “Cognitive Musicology Via Synaesthesia” at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Svetlana Rudenko arranged a beautiful event comprising classical performance of a piano, string  and flute ensemble accompanied by choreography and projected visuals, all preceded by a wonderful talk from Prof Anil Seth. Meanwhile, the importance of creativity and artistic expression to older people was evident  at the joyful and uplifting ‘Age of Arts’ event at the Science Gallery, featuring a very special performance by the choir of the Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing.

 

Patient outreach and education was another key theme of the programme – the public appetite for information on research into brain health and disease was such that the events on delirium, depression, Huntington’s disease, epilepsy, teenage mental health and patient advocacy all sold out. More public discussion of science happened over coffee and buns during the ”Ask the Scientist’ event at the Science Gallery, and over refreshments of another kind at ‘Neuroscience on Tap’ at the Ferryman pub – the presenters at  both events had to be on their toes to cope with the insightful and challenging questions from the public audience.

 

We would not have been able to stage such a diverse, creative and innovative programme without the hard work and inspiration of individual event organisers, and the heroic efforts of our student volunteers. Special thanks of course go to  our funders – BNA, Neuroscience Ireland, the Physoc, Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council – whose generous support meant that all events were free of charge.  It was an exhausting but unforgettable week of public engagement and outreach, but the enthusiasm and support of the general public made it all worthwhile.

 

 

BNA2019 Poster Prize winners

BNA2019 Poster Prize winners

We are delighted to announce that 2 Irish postgraduate students received poster prizes at the BNA2019 Festival of Neuroscience

  • Jonathan Smith from Tobias Engle’s group at RCSI
  • Luke Davison from Kumlesh Dev’s group TCD

Luke received an NSI travel bursary to attend BNA2019. Read more about Lukes experience at the BNA2019 conference here