Travel Bursaries – Reports

Rachel Furlong – 2016 Awardee

I am a PhD student in University College Cork, funded by the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme. I received a Neuroscience Ireland travel bursary to attend the 13th International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases which took place in Vienna, Austria from March 29th to April 2nd 2017. At the meeting I presented a poster entitled “PINK1 activation of PI3-Kinase/Akt – understanding mechanisms which lead to Parkinson’s disease”.

Image Rachel Furlong AD-PD conference

This conference offered me a unique opportunity to present my work at an international level to both basic scientists and clinical investigators of all levels, from young upcoming researchers to established leaders of the field. This allowed me the opportunity to make some important connections with potential collaborators as well as getting real time peer reviews of my work which will be useful in the preparation for publication in addition to shaping my future research. A real highlight of this conference was attending the plenary talk by Virginia Lee, a pioneer of neurodegenerative research. This talk highlighted the major advances in Parkinson’s disease (PD) research as well as clearly identifying the major challenge that still lies ahead: to find a disease modifying therapy that can treat the cause of this disease. The most inspiring talk of the five days however, came from PD patient advocate Tom Isaacs. He highlighted the importance of communication and collaboration in science. His personal account of living with PD gave an insight into what it’s like to live with the disease not just the facts on paper, and for me it affirmed why we need to continue to work hard to find a disease modifying treatment that will make a real difference to the lives of both patients and their families.

The travel grant I received from Neuroscience Ireland was crucial to enable me to attend and participate in this great meeting and I am very grateful for this opportunity.

Giovanni Di Liberto – 2016 Awardee

I am a graduate student currently enrolled in the 4th year of a PhD program in Neural Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Edmund Lalor and Prof. Richard Reilly. As I approach the end of my studies, it’s important that I participate in international conferences in order to divulge my research and meet other researchers in the field. This may translate to future collaborations and job offers. To this end, I have participated in the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting (San Diego, USA), which is the largest annual gathering of neuroscientists from all over the World. One main benefit of this large event is that additional, more focused satellite conferences and workshops are made available, which provide a platform to interact with researchers in specific areas of interest.

During this trip, I had the opportunity to present my work on auditory neuroscience, which ranges from investigating the mechanisms that underline speech comprehension to the development of objective measures that, hopefully, one day may serve as diagnostic tools. My multifaceted research work allowed me to present a poster at the main meeting, entitled “Investigating the effect of perceptual enhancement on the cortical representation of speech using source space analysis with MEG”, a different poster at a satellite meeting (APAN), entitled “Investigating the cortical encoding of phonological features of continuous speech in dyslexia”, and to participate in a technical workshop (EEGlab workshop). Importantly, the work that I presented at the main meeting is the result of a collaboration that I made from the previous year’s meeting, which constituted another strong reason to show such work at that conference.

On the one hand, such an intensive research trip has indeed provided me with the excellent opportunity to discuss my new results with experienced researchers of the field and to improve my technical skills (e.g. connectivity analysis from non-invasive EEG data), which undoubtedly helped my research work and my recent publications. Importantly, I had the chance to interact with international colleagues on a more personal level and to have discussions about the life of a researcher and about my possible future in the field of neuroscience. I found these conversations very valuable and this helped me a lot during this inevitable thinking process that comes towards the end of a person’s PhD program. For this reason, I would definitely advise the participation in a large meeting in the two years of one’s PhD program.

I thank again Neuroscience Ireland for this travel award. Indeed, this is of great help as the cost of this type of research trips is very high.

Seán Anderson – 2013 Awardee

“I received a NI travel bursary to attend Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting Neuroscience 2013 this year in San Diego, California. The meeting took place over 5 days with over 30,000 attendees and more than 15,000 scientific presentations. As I am now in the final year of my PhD this provided an invaluable opportunity for me to discuss my work with a large number of fellow researchers, socialize and connect with many scientists from all around the world as well as to gain insight into how research and the academic system works in the USA. I got so much out of this meeting, both in terms of academic and professional development, and I am very grateful to Neuroscience Ireland for helping to send me there.”


Francesca Farina – 2013 Awardee

“I attended the 45th European Brain and Behaviour Society (EBBS) Conference, which was held on September 6-9, 2013 in Munich. I presented a poster entitled “Glutamate antagonism affects spatial learning and hippocampal immediate early gene expression in the rat brain”, which outlined my most recent PhD work. While in attendance at EBBS, I also had the opportunity to meet some of the senior researchers within my field, as well as my international peers. Overall, attending EBBS has been very beneficial to my research.”

EBBS 1crop3

Karen Ryan – 2013 Awardee

“I received a Neuroscience Ireland travel bursary to attend the 20th Annual Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) meeting in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5th-8th 2013. The PNIRS conference is the largest in the world dedicated specifically to the area of psychoneuroimmunology. At the meeting I presented a poster and also gave a data blitz presentation of my most recent post-doctoral work entitled “The hippocampal miRNome in the chronic corticosterone model of depression”. Participation in this meeting was of huge benefit to me and provided me with the opportunity to become informed of new research developing in the field of psychoneuroimmunology. It also provided me with the chance to gain feedback on my work and meet with senior scientists in my field. The abstract was published in Brain, Behaviour and Immunity in 2013 (Ryan et al., 2013; Brain Behav Immun 32:e33-34).”

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