October 2017 | Deireadh Fómhair 2017

2017 Student Summer Research Awards

Sat, 7 October 17 14:42

Now under new academic leadership, our Student Summer Research initiative has confidently entered its second decade with an impressive array of 125 research projects competing for the 2017 awards.  Dr Noreen Sheehy has assumed the chair of the Student Summer Research Awards (SSRA) committee from Associate Professor Amanda McCann who established this highly successful initiative in 2006. 

The purpose of the initiative is to give our students an early exposure to research methods, to instil an appreciation for the importance and relevance of research in medicine and indeed inspire them to consider a career as a clinical scientist.  The initiative has involved to encompass research by students from medicine, biomedical science, physiology, radiography, veterinary science and bioengineering.

Students undertake supervised eight-week laboratory, clinical or patient/advocate-centred research projects in Ireland or at one of our international partner institutions.  The programme brings to life the University’s commitment to foster in our students a passion for enquiry, discovery and investigative research. 

Students are required to summarise their research through a poster competition where they present their work to a faculty review panel.  The 2017 SSRA Poster Competition took place on Tuesday 26th September 2017 in the UCD Charles Institute with a palpable sense of excitement and nervous energy among the student presenters.  Eight posters were selected for oral presentation at the 2017 Student Summer Research Awards event on 4th October 2017 at the UCD Centre for Science.

Prof Stephen Gordon + Associate Professor Noreen Sheehy

The 2017 SSRA proceedings were chaired by Associate Prof Noreen Sheehy and Prof Stephen Gordon and we were delighted to welcome Mr Ron Bolger, Irish Honorary Consul to Singapore who came to support finalist Ms Rathakrishnan who undertook her research at the National University of Singapore.

2017 Student Summer Research Award Finalists

Finalists in the 2017 Student Summer Research Awards

Top, Left to Right - Eunie Lim, Sharmini Rathakrishnan, Ruky Agbahovbe, Amy Hassett

Bottom, Left to Right - Sian Kneafsey, Alice O'Brien, Dermott McMurrough, Ellen O'Rourke

Oral presentations were given by the eight finalists which included:

  1. Amy Hassett (Stage 3, Physiology)  HRS STABILISES THE HTLV-2 ANTISENSE PROTEIN APH-2 AT THE PROTEIN LEVEL
  2. Eunice Lim (Stage 3, Medicine)  THE ROLE OF VISCOSITY IN DETERMINING PERFORMANCE OF EX VIVO LUNG PERFUSATE
  3. Ellen O’Rourke (Stage 4, Medicine)  BURKITT LYMPHOMA/LEUKAEMIA IN CHILDREN & YOUNG ADOLESCENTS: SINGLE CENTRE/COUNTRY EXPERIENCE [2000-2017]
  4. Sharmini Rathakrishnan (Stage 4, Medicine) EVALUATING THE POTENCY OF TOCOTRIENOL AGAINST α-TOCOPHEROL ON THE RECOVERY POTENTIAL OF RETINAL PIGMENT EPITHELIAL (RPE) CELLS IN AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)
  5. Sian Kneafsey (Stage 4, Medicine)  DO ALL SOLID PALPABLE BREAST MASSES IN YOUNG WOMEN REQUIRE BIOPSY?
  6. Dermott McMurrough (Stage 1, Medicine)  QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF CHONDROGENESIS OF EMBRYONIC LIMB BUDS IN MICROMASS CULTURE.
  7. Ruky Agbahovbe (Stage 3, Medicine)  UTILIZING DETAILED PHENOTYPING TO INTERPRET VARIANTS IN PATIENTS WITH RARE OVERGROWTH SYNDROMES.
  8. Alice O’Byrne (Stage 4, Vet Medicine)   MOLECULAR EPIDEMIOLOGY OF SARCOCYSTIS NEURONA FROM LAND-TO-SEA: DETECTION AND MOLECULAR CHARACTERIZATION IN OPOSSUMS AND MARINE MAMMALS FROM WESTERN WASHINGTON

The students gave highly impressive and assured presentations to the assembled audience and to a high powered adjudicating panel which comprised:

  • Prof Marguerite Clyne, Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Impact, UCD School of Medicine (Chair)
  • Prof Patrick Murray, Dean/Head of School of Medicine, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, UCD School of Medicine
  • Dr Claire O’ Connell, Science Writer and Contributor to Silicon Republic and The Irish Times
  • Prof Michael Doherty, Full Professor of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Head of School
  • Dr Cillian De Gascun, Director, National Virus Reference Laboratory
  • Dr Jonathan Mc Nulty, Associate Dean, Graduate Taught Studies, UCD School of Medicine
  • Prof Madeline Lowry, Professor UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University College Dublin
  • Prof Alexander Evans, Head of School, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science
  • Prof Ronan Cahill, Professor of Surgery, Mater Misericordiae Hospital, UCD School of Medicine
  • Prof David Fitzpatrick, Dean of Engineering, Principal, UCD College of Engineering and Architecture

Medal Winners

Ms Ellen O'Rourke 2017 SSRA Gold Medal Winner

Ms Ellen O'Rourke 2017 SSRA Gold Medal Winner

The judges awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to the following three students:

  • Ms Ellen O’Rourke (SSRA Research Excellence Gold Medal)
  • Ms Sharmini Rathakrishnan (SSRA Research Excellence Silver Medal)
  • Ms Alice O’Byrne (SSRA Research Excellence Bronze Medal)

Prizes were also awarded to students for the best poster presentations including:

  • Ms Leslie Saba (First Place) for her presentation entitled TESTING THE ROLE OF VISUAL SYSTEM CONNECTIVITY IN THE ONSET OF CDKL5 DISORDER: DEPTH PERCEPTION IN CDKL5 MICE
  • Mr Ashish Patel (Second Place) for his presentation entitled ULTRAVIOLET-C (UVC) LIGHT DURING EX-VIVO LUNG PERFUSION (EVLP) TO TREAT INFECTION IN DONOR LUNGS
  • Mr Michael Keane (Third Place) for his presentation entitled A FEASIBILITY STUDY OF ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAM (EEG) NEUROFEEDBACK TRAINING IN THE TREATMENT OF CHRONIC MIGRAINE

In addition to the SSRA projects hosted in Ireland, our international SSRA programme has continued to grow each year. In 2017, 32 of our students were hosted in International Institutes including Texas Children's Hospital, Washington University St Louis, Sick Kids Toronto, American University Beirut Medical Centre, Penang General, Simon Fraser University (SFU) Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, University of Buffalo NY and Rosewell Park Cancer Institute Buffalo, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute Vancouver, Peterborough Regional Health Centre Canada, Texas Children's Hospital and the Centre for Applied Health Research St. Joseph’s Care Group Thunder Bay ON Canada. This is testament not only to the support of UCD Alumni around the world but also to the incredible links that our students have made with International hosts. With the funding this year of The Dean’s SSRA 2017 International Research Scholarships, these prestigious and competitive scholarships will continue to support students on future International Placements in the years ahead. The establishment of further SSRA Scholarships also continues to develop with the creation this year of the W.G. Powderly SSRA - Partnership Award for International Research (PAIR) reflecting the dual support of Washington University Saint Louis USA and our UCD SSRA programme. 

SSRA17 Finalists with the Dean

As in previous years, the 2017 Summer Student Research programme engaged with Irish charities and organisations (IPPOSI and MRCG) as part of our Patient & Advocate Centred Education & Research (PACER) initiative included in 2017, MS Ireland and Dyspraxia Ireland. These projects enhance our student’s awareness of social responsibility, and the important role of voluntary organisations in advocacy and healthcare research. Establishing such a link at an early stage in their careers impacts not just on the professionalism of our graduates but also on their lifelong engagement with patients, carers, patient advocates and charitable organisations.  Our medical education research projects continue to develop and have introduced our students to the rigour of both quantitative and qualitative research, with some developing e-learning tools and products which can be used for the future benefit of both our students and wider society.

SSRA owes its success to the enthusiastic participation of colleagues as supervisors, mentors and administrators, our affiliated teaching hospitals, our international hosts and Irish patient advocate organisations.

We extend our sincere thanks to all who have supported SSRA17 including our students, our academic and clinical faculty, administrative staff, our international affiliates and Irish patient organisations for their support to the SSRA initiative.