October 2013

Brendan Kelly, Graduate Entry Medicine, Wins Gold Medal in 2013 Student Research Awards

Wed, 16 October 13 10:42

Image: Brendan Kelly, presented with SSRA gold medal by Dean of Medicine, Prof Patrick Murray

Congratulations to Brendan Kelly, graduate entry medical student, who was awarded the coveted SSRA (Summer Student Research Awards) gold medal for his research project, entitled: the development of diagnostic accuracy and search pattern behavior in the interpretation of chest radiographs. The School extends its sincere congratulations to the silver (Harmony Uwadiae) and bronze (Ju Vern Ew) medallists, and to each of the eight finalists, who were selected from more than 70 entrants.

SSRA Collage 1

Image: L-R clockwise, (1) SSRA final 2013 at student debating chamber, (2) jazz performer at SSRA welcome reception, (3) Brendan Kelly, (4) Ju Vern Ew, (5) Harmony Uwadiae, (6) adjudication panel

SSRA 2013 Finalists & Medal Winners

Megan Brophy 
Vascular tissue engineering: endothelial cell-mediated effects on extracellular matrix synthesis by arterial smooth muscle cells in culture
Rachel Dilworth
The role of srf in epithelial to mesenchymal transition (emt) in advanced prostate cancer
William Courtney
Analysis of caesarean section rates in gestational diabetes: use of the robson groups to allow meaningful examination of data
John Nealon
Identification of a gene causing epileptic encephalopathy in a single Irish family
Harmony Uwadiae -- Silver
Role of hypoxia inducible transcription factors hif-1 and hif-2 in macrophage differentiation towards pro-inflammatory m1 or pro-resolution m2 phenotypes
Brendan Kelly -- Gold
The development of diagnostic accuracy and search pattern behavior in the interpretation of chest radiographs
Ju Vern Ew -- Bronze
Bioinformatics analysis to identify processed pseudogenes in breast cancer
Brian Gaffney
Ezh-2 expression is inhibited in prostate cancer cell lines by microrna mir-124 overexpression

Reacting to the win, Brendan said:

This was my second time to take part in the SSRA. Each experience was incredible - I learned so much about my chosen field but also about the importance of research, resilience and organisation. I was surprised but honoured to win the competition this year. I couldn't have done so without my supervisors Dr Rachel Toomey and Dr Louise Rainford, and also Dr Eoin Kavanagh.

I was taken aback by the excellent level support I received from the School of Medicine throughout the programme. I am particularly grateful to Dr Amanda McCann, the communications team who helped us to improve our messages and presentations, and to all in the hospitals who assisted me with this project. It was also great to work with and get to know the other SSRA students, I think we all learned a lot from each other and benefitted from working as a team. The research I did as an undergraduate helped me in the decision to study graduate medicine, and now I hope that research, evidence and accuracy will help shape the doctor that I become.  To those considering it, I would absolutely recommend the student summer research programme - it was a fantastic experience

SSRA Collage 2

Image: L-R clockwise, (1) Megan Brophy, (2) Rachel Dilworth, (3) William Courtney, (4) John Nealon, (5) Brian Gaffney, (6) SSRA Medal Winners

Prof Michael Keane, chair of the SSRA adjudication panel, described Brendan's project as "outstanding".

I've chaired the SSRA for seven years, and the standard from this years group was incredibly high. Brendan's project encompassed all of the values and characteristics that we look for in a gold medal winner - he demonstrated an in-depth understanding of and appreciation for methodological process, the science was solid and clearly communicated, and - crucially - his research will have a life beyond the competition, it is a translational research project.

Dr Amanda McCann paid tribute to each of the eight finalists, and thanked all those who helped make SSRA 2013 such a success.

To reach the final eight from an entrant pool of more than 70 young investigators is an exceptional achievement. As chair of the student summer research awards committee, it's been a privilege to witness the commitment, enthusiasm and dedication from this year's group. I also want to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to the academics, researchers, clinicians, media / NGO professionals and support staff who lent their time and expertise to the programme. I'm particularly grateful to our judging panel, and to the Dean of Medicine, Prof Patrick Murray, for his continued support and encouragement.

You can SSRA 2013 Abstracts - Finalists. From Brendan's abstract:

Five Consultant Radiologists, deemed the reference expert group, four Radiology Registrars, five Senior House Officers (SHOs) and six Interns formed four clinician groups. Participants were shown 30 chest radiographs, 14 of which had a pneumothorax and were asked to give their level of confidence as to whether a pneumothorax was present. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Analysis was carried out on diagnostic decisions. Eye movements were recorded by a Tobii TX300 eye tracker. Four Eye-tracking metrics were analysed. Variables were compared to identify any differences between groups.

All data were compared using the Friedman non-parametric method. The average area under the ROC Curve for the groups increased with experience (p=0.009). Statistically significant difference in diagnostic accuracy was found between Consultants and Registrars (p=0.046). All four eye-tracking metrics reduced with experience, this was statistically significant for Registrars compared with SHOs. The total reading time reduced with experience; significantly for Registrars compared to SHOs (p=0.046) and between SHOs and Interns (0.025).

Reader performance increased with experience. The level of experience at which there was a statistically significant difference was higher for diagnostic accuracy than for eye-tracking metrics. This data would suggest that specific training is needed to improve radiology expertise and that the development of an “expert” search pattern predates the development of “expert” levels of diagnostic accuracy.

More Information

The summer student research programme encourages, supports and rewards excellence in student research. The initiative enables students of Undergraduate Entry Medicine (UEM), Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)Radiography and Biomedical Health and Life Sciences (BHLS) to undertake structured, voluntary research during the summer months, under the guidance and supervision of an academic or clinician. The programme is one of the highlights of the School calendar, and brings to life the School's commitment to foster in our students a passion for enquiry, discovery and investigative research.

Students undertake eight-week supervised laboratory or clinical-based projects in Ireland or overseas at one of our partner institutions. Students may also select projects with an approved charity or patient-advocate partner. Participation provides students with invaluable experience in the area of investigative medical science, and is consistent with the School's ambition to produce not just exceptional healthcare practitioners, but also life-long learners and world-class medical researchers.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

The School and the SSRA committee are very grateful to the adjudication panel:

Prof Michael P. Keane (Chair)
Chair of Medicine and Therapeutics
UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science
University College Dublin, St Vincent’s University Hospital

Mr Paul Harkin
Director of Strategic Development
UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science

Dr Paddy Mallon
Associate Dean for Research and Innovation
UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science
Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician

Prof Geraldine McCarthy
Clinical Professor of Medicine, University College Dublin
Consultant Rheumatologist,
Mater Misericordiae University Hospital

Mr John McCormack
Chief Executive Officer
Irish Cancer Society

Prof Pat Murray
Dean of Medicine/ Head of School
UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science

Dr Claire O'Connell
Science writer and contributor to The Irish Times

Dr Cecily Quinn
Consultant Histopathologist Irish National Breast Screening Programme
St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin.
Senior Clinical Lecturer, University College Dublin