The Science on Screen film, A Tiny Spark, featuring the research of Galway Neuroscience Centre PI Dr Karen Doyle, has won its first film festival award. On May 6th 2019, the Sci On! Festivalin Reno, Nevada awarded “A Tiny Spark” with the 2019 Best Medical Documentary Award after screening it in the stunning Fleischmann Planetarium.
A Tiny Spark is a documentary directed by Niamh Heery, produced by Caroline Kealy with animations by Eric Dolan about stroke research and survivors. It has just started its international festival run and so far it has had screenings in Ireland, Australia, Oregon and Nevada.
The judging panel had the following to say about the film, which was funded by CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre’s Science on Screen Award:
Absolutely superb and engaging documentary, with an excellent and sensitive blending of interviews with animated scenes. Such a powerful and perfectly-made film. The subject matter is so vital and relevant. It’s hard to find the words to describe such a meaningful and compassionate treatment of a condition that has impacted so many of us directly or indirectly, personally or through a friend or family member. Thank you for helping raise awareness — and to show that there is hope.
Congratulations to Prof. David Finn on becoming President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS)
David is Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at NUI Galway and was Galway Neuroscience Centre Director from 2012-2015. The overall aim of David’s research is to increase our understanding of the neurobiology of pain and psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. See more here.
The ICRS is an international organisation dedicated to scientific research in all fields of the cannabinoids, ranging from biochemical, chemical and physiological studies of the endogenous cannabinoid system to studies of the abuse potential of recreational cannabis. In addition to acting as a source for impartial information on cannabis and the cannabinoids, the main role of the ICRS is to provide an open forum for researchers to meet and discuss their research. See more here.
The next Annual Symposium of the ICRS, the 30th Symposium, will be held in NUI Galway from 4th – 9th July 2020! http://www.icrs2020.org/
Dr Eilís Dowd, Senior Lecturer at NUI Galway and president of Neuroscience Ireland, has been awarded funding of US$300,000 from The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to develop a novel approach to brain repair for Parkinson’s disease.
Click here to view Dr Dowd’s interview about the research funding on Ireland AM
Parkinson’s is a condition that primarily affects a person’s ability to control movement leading to a progressive deterioration in ability. The symptoms of the condition are caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells that regulate movement.
Brain repair for Parkinson’s involves replacing these dead cells by transplanting healthy brain cells into the brain, but the widespread roll-out of this therapy has been hindered by the poor survival of the implanted cells.
In research that made global headlines recently, Dr Eilís Dowd’s research team demonstrated that the survival of the cells was dramatically improved when they were implanted into the brain within a supportive gel made from the natural material collagen. The funding from The Michael J Fox Foundation will allow Dr Dowd to take this research to the next level where she will test if the collagen gel can also improve the survival of healthy brain cells generated from adult stem cells.
Commenting on the funding award, Dr Eilís Dowd at NUI Galway, said: “In our previous research published in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports, we showed that collagen provides the cells with a nurturing, supportive environment in the brain and helps them to survive the aversive transplant process. This funding from The Michael J Fox Foundation will allow us to test if this approach can also improve survival and reparative ability of healthy brain cells derived from adult stem cells. If so, this could lead to a dramatic improvement in brain repair approaches for Parkinson’s – a field that has been hampered for years by poor transplant survival.”
The Michael J Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.
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.
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.
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.”