June 2020 | Meitheamh 2020

UCD School of Medicine launch popular annual Student Summer Research Awards (SSRA) initiative

Thu, 18 June 20 18:00

PRESS RELEASE (Issue 18 June)

111 students started an eight week elective and supervised research project from the beginning of June 2020 with the potential of gaining five ECTS (1) credits towards their degrees in Medicine, Radiography, Biomedical Engineering, Veterinary Medicine and BHLS (Biomedical Health and Life Sciences). These laboratory, clinical and patient-advocate projects take place in UCD, an affiliated hospital or at one of the School of Medicine partner institutions abroad. Participating students will complete the SSRA programme through poster and oral presentations which are adjudicated by a committee of Principal Investigators from across the School and beyond. The students include 40 medicine, 42 GEM (Graduate Entry Medicine), three radiography, three Biomedical Engineering, four Veterinary Medicine, eight VGEM (Veterinary Medicine Graduate Entry) and two BHLS students.


Speaking about the launch of the SSRA programme, Professor Peter Doran, Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Impact, UCD School of Medicine said ‘This programme invites all of our undergraduate students to engage in research practice at the earliest stage of their career in tandem with our commitment to fostering a culture of enquiry and investigation across the School. Participation provides students with invaluable experience in investigative medical science and sets the foundations for life-long learning and future careers as world clinician-researchers.’


This year UCD students from 12 countries, including Ireland will be completing research within the SSRA programme and will be assigned to laboratory, clinical and patient-advocate settings in Ireland and partner institutions, where they will work with PIs (Principal Investigators) and Scientists. Some of the partner institutions where SSRA programme students have been placed in previous years include the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas and Texas Children’s Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin and Hospice Africa Uganda. This year, despite the COVID-19 related restrictions, students will be working remotely on many international projects and SSRA project work will be completed at the University of Calgary, Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, Toronto General Hospital and the Cancer Institute of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research.


Reflecting on their experiences of participating on the 2019 SSRA programme, some of the undergraduates said;

·         I started off my research journey on the SSRA programme with a view to getting a taste of what research is like. I am glad that I participated in the programme because I have learnt so much from my involvement in the projects

·         I truly believe that this experience has been a landmark for me. I have gained insight and understanding into the field of paediatric oncology, enhanced my practical research skills and development as a scientist and also have gained exposure to the medical and research environment

·         I cannot express enough how grateful and privileged I feel to have been selected for this wonderful, career-defining placement

·         I would recommend this opportunity to anyone who is considering supplementing their future career with molecular or biochemical research of any kin

·         It felt very gratifying knowing that the work you do contributes to further understanding and maybe one day changing the way people with COPD are treated

·         I worked in in the area of circadian biology which was interesting as it is a relatively young field and thus presents an opportunity for significant amount of lateral thinking and is exciting due to the sheer opportunity available as so much of the detail of the molecular clock remains to be elucidated.


Following their SSRA programme placement, each student submits an abstract and competes for the SSRA Gold Medal.


The UCD School of Medicine, as one of the Ireland’s leading medical schools, offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate, research and professional programmes which are delivered by specialist staff across an extensive network of academic and clinical locations. The School also represents a community of researchers, scientists, clinicians, students and graduates, committed in its dedication to society and determined in its mission to improve the lives and the health of our patients. The School teaches, researches and delivers healthcare in Ireland and across the world. Please see the School of Medicine website.


(1)      ECTS - European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System