October 2015 | Deireadh Fómhair 2015

Student Summer Research 2015 Awards

Wed, 7 October 15 23:42

Image: Ms Eimear Flanagan (Silver), Mr Tiarnán Byrne (Gold) and Ms Yaesshna Pillay (Bronze)

Congratulations to Mr Tiarnán Byrne who was awarded the SSRA 2015 Gold Medal for his research project which involved the development of a new airway simulation model for endotracheal intubation in emergency medicine training.

In a closely fought competition, Tiarnán saw off strong oral presentations by Ms Eimear Flanagan who took the silver medal ahead of bronze medal winner Ms Yaesshna Pillay. Ms Flanagan investigated the molecular mechanisms linking genetic variants to the invasiveness of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis. Ms Pillay undertook an evaluation of PCL-TCP tissue construct combination with cells for rabbit mandibular and calvarial bone tissue engineering.

Each year over 90 undergraduate students from across our programmes undertake 8-week supervised laboratory, clinical or patient-centred research projects, working with research groups in UCD, at clinical sites or with one of our international affiliates.
At the end of their projects, students present their findings through poster presentations to our academic and clinical faculty. Eight projects were selected for oral presentation at the 2015 Summer Students Research Awards which took place in FitzGerald Debating Chamber in UCD Student Centre.

The finalists gave 7 minute presentations to an audience comprising fellow students, staff and visitors, defending their work in subsequent questions and answers from an adjudication panel.

Molecular Mechanisms Linking Genetic Variants to the Invasiveness of Rheumatoid Arthritis Synovial Fibroblasts in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Flanagan E, Dorris E, Peltea A, Linehan E, Creevey K, Galligan M, Fearon U, Veale D, Wilson G
Ms Eimear Flanagan's research investigated the molecular mechanisms linking genetic variants to invasiveness of Rheum Arthritis. Looking at RA synovial fibroblasts, the results demonstrated that a particular genotype is associated with increased invasiveness. Eimear was challenged to explain how such a biomarker might have clinical utility given its high prevalence in patients with RA. Eimear showed how genetic research can help clinicians stratify patients to prioritise early intervention of aggressive forms of RA.

Impact of Mechanical Stretch on Cell Growth and Migration in Vitro

Mohan C, Alvey L, Pickering M

Mr Cormac Mohan's project involved the development of a novel tool to assess the impact of mechanical stretch on cell growth/migration. Using 3D printing technology, this project demonstrated the iterative process involved in device development. Cormac's test application on cell growth in neural tissue engineering drew considerable discussion around repairing clean cut versus crush injuries. He was questioned on the benefit of this tool over existing devices.

3D Printed Airway Model for Simulation Training in Endotracheal Intubation in the Emergency Department

Byrne T, Jones JFX, Michelle S, Breslin T
Tiarnán Byrne also deployed 3D printing technology to develop a new airway model for training in endotracheal intubation in emergency medicine. Addressing the fidelity of existing simulation tools, he showed how the challenge facing inexperienced practitioners. The model has potential for further medical education research as well as product development to offer more sophisticated simulation of real world scenario.

Exploring Perspectives on the Introduction of a Mentoring Programme at an Irish Medical School

Sugrue DD, Jones-O’Connor M, Last J and Carberry C
Mr Diarmuid Sugrue's research explored perspectives on the introduction of a Medical School student mentoring programme. He explained how his research revealed different expectations of mentoring between students and staff, and how student needs change throughout their studies. He highlighted how mentoring of high and low performing students were well established within UCD but deficit exists for students who sit between these extremes. Diarmuid was challenged to defend his conclusions given the low survey response rate and potential for bias.

Tomosynthesis: A New Radiologic Technique for Rapid Diagnosis of Scaphoid Fractures

Compton N, Murphy I, Lyons F, Jones J, MacMahon P, Cashman J
Niall Compton's work examined an alternative radiologic technique to better improve scaphoid fractures. Using tomosynthesis, Niall argued that a more rapid and accurate diagnosis could be achieved with lower radiation exposure. His work also optimised patient positioning to improve the detection of these fractures which are 71% of all carpal bone fractures. He was asked if this technique could be made available nationally and if it could change current conservative treatment practices.

Carbon Dioxide Levels Impact Virulence in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection

Cassidy S, Schaible B and Taylor CT
Sheena Cassidy outlined the global issue of antibiotic resistance and her work to look at the micro-environment which impacts on virulence. Using pseduomonas aeruginosa, Sheena assessed the impact of carbon dioxide levels on a known virulence factor, pyocyanin. Showing that CO¬2 levels regulate virulence, it is thought this might open up a potential target to improve current antimicrobial treatment. Sheena was questioned on if a dose response relationship existed between her experimental normocapnia and hypercapnia test points.

Reliable Identification of Pulmonary Blood Vessels for Stereological Analysis using Immunofluoroscent Techniques in Lung Tissue

Kaur G, Fenton L, Whelan S, Rochfort K, Coleman E, McLoughlin P, Howell K
Gulshan Kaur's work investigated the identification of pulmonary blood vessels for stereological analysis using immunofluorescent techniques. Ireland has a particularly high burden of COPD and the reliable assessment of disease & progression is key to effective therapy. Gulshan was questioned on the loss of lung vasculature as a mechanism of disease progression or as a consequence thereof. This project exposed her to a number of immunohistochemistry and molecular cell biology techniques and to stereological analysis.

Evaluation of PCL-TCP Tissue Construct Combination with Cells For Rabbit Mandibular and Calvarial Defect Study

Pillay Y, Teoh SH, and Feng Wen
Ms Yaesshna Pillay reported on research work undertaken at the Nanyang Techological University in Singapore. The work evaluated various modified 3d constructs as scaffolds in rabbit mandibular and calvarial defects. She aimed to optimise the scaffold to improve cell growth for use with bone tissue engineering.

Thanking all students, staff and supporters for another great competition, the Dean of Medicine Professor Patrick announced the prize winners before awarding medals to Mr Tiarnán Byrne, Ms Eimear Flanagan and Ms Yaesshna Pillay. He complimented all student participants on their participation in the programme and noted the emergence of 3D printing technology and biomedical engineering projects among the contestants.

Gold Medal Winner, Mr Byrne has participated in our Student Research initiatives in previous years. He gave a confident, articulate delivery which was well received by all. We were delighted to meet his proud family who were also present to witness his success.
Our SSRA programme supports the School’s strategy of early exposure of our undergraduate students to research methods. Many students will use this research experience to present at national and international meetings. In continued evidence of the programme’s success, it is was announced that Ms Emily Pender and Mr Rory Plant have both been invited to give oral presentations at Ottawa Conference in Perth Western Australia, next March.

Attention will now turn to the 10th anniversary of the Student Summer Research programme which will kick off with a call to investigators for research projects for the 2016 SSRA programme.