Obesity and diabetes research case studies runners-up in 2020 UCD Impact Competition


Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe from UCD School of Medicine and UCD Perinatal Research Centre and the researchers of the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre have been named runners-up in the 2020 UCD Research Impact Case Study Competition.

Professor McAuliffe’s case study ‘Right technology, right time: how the PEARs app is improving pregnancy outcomes’ details the impact of her app-based study to improve the diets and activity levels of women at risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy. The National Maternity Hospital has developed an app based on Professor McAuliffe’s findings, making it freely available to all pregnant women worldwide. It will improve health outcomes for mother and baby. Hollestic: Recipes for pregnancy and beyond is available from the Apple and Google stores.

Conway Fellow, Professor McAuliffe said: “The competition and workshops were valuable resources for UCD Perinatal Research Centre and taught our team how our research findings can improve health of mothers and babies through improved nutrition in pregnancy.”

UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre (UCD DCRC) was commended for their case study ‘Addressing the stigma faced by people living with obesity.’ Researchers at the UCD DCRC have been at the forefront of exploring the causes, consequences and treatment of obesity. They include Conway Fellows, Professor Carel Le Roux, Professor Catherine Godson and Dr Neil Docherty.

The UCD CCRC findings have helped reduce the stigmatisation of obesity and increase the number of patients seeking treatment. The Centre was also instrumental in resuming treatment for obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research leader at UCD DCRC, Professor Carel le Roux said: “The impact of the research has been that obesity is now being viewed as a chronic disease and no longer the fault of the patient.”

The annual UCD Research Impact Case Study Competition encourages researchers, of all disciplines, to write a case study that tells the story of how their work has made a positive difference.

Despite the challenges of the year, UCD Research received more entries than ever before in 2020. Commenting on the results, Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely said: “The volume of entries we received last year is a testament to the high-impact work going on across the university and to our researchers’ dedication to making meaningful contributions to the world. Research at UCD continues to improve health and wellbeing, protect the environment, influence policy, stimulate economic growth, enrich people’s lives, and inspire the next generation.”

The winner of the UCD 2020 Research Impact Case Study Competition is Associate Professor Catherine Cox. Her case study, entitled ‘Out of sight, out of mind: changing public perceptions of the mental health crisis in Irish prisons,’ details the significant impact of her project exploring the history of prisoner health.

There seven other runners-up in the 2020 competition are:

• Associate Professor Ainhoa González
Planning for sustainability through Environmental Sensitivity Mapping

• Professor Cal Muckley, Dr Gaurav Kumar, Linh Pham and Darragh Ryan
Protecting older adults against financial exploitation

• Assistant Professor Jennifer Keenahan
Protecting the built environment from the effects of wind

• Associate Professor Marie Keenan
Reimagining justice and healing after sexual violence

• Dr Kevin Nolan
Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in hospitals

• Associate Professor Francesco Pilla
iSCAPE: improving the smart control of air pollution in Europe

• Dr Heidi Riley
Promoting women in peace mediation across the island of Ireland

Professor Feely added: “I would like to personally congratulate our finalists and to thank them, not only for their hard work on these case studies, but for their commitment to ensuring people benefit from their research. I encourage all researchers to consider entering this year’s competition when it launches this spring.”

To help researchers think more deeply about their impact and write a compelling impact case study, UCD has developed a new impact toolkit website which will also be launched this spring, funded by the Higher Education Authority and produced by UCD Research Analytics and Impact team.