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Posted 13 July 2010

UCD scientist wins European Young Researcher Award at Euroscience 2010

In recognition of outstanding work in the early stages of his scientific career, Dr Donal Brennan, a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCD Conway Institute, has been awarded the European Young Researcher Award at the Euroscience Open Forum 2010. This is the first time that an Irish based researcher has won the award.

The award acknowledges Dr Brennan’s work on the identification and validation of breast cancer-associated biomarkers, and his strong motivation to translate this research into clinical reality.

A specialist registrar in obstetrics & gynaecology at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Dr Brennan has been using the latest in high-throughput protein screening technology to identify and validate new biomarkers of breast and ovarian cancer as well as trying to improve how assay data is interpreted in clinical laboratories.

Dr Brennan exemplifies a new generation of scientists who recognise the importance of the translational aspect of their research. He believes that there is ‘a pressing need for improved and innovative strategies to expedite the translation of cancer biomarkers from the discovery phase into the clinical setting in order to inform therapeutic decisions’.

With their principal investigator, Professor William Gallagher and collaborators in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, Dr Brennan and Dr Elton Rexhepaj have used image analysis in conjunction with the IHC assay to provide pathologists with an automated, analytical approach to interpret and quantify data. This has far greater potential for increased accuracy of analysis and interpretation of the results. The research is primarily funded by the Health Research Board of Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the European Commission. 

“This award speaks to the quality of Dr Brennan’s research and his ability to communicate his findings, which is at the heart of Euroscience 2010," said Professor Des Fitzgerald,
Vice-President for Research at UCD.

"The work by Dr Brennan and Professor Gallagher is difficult and ambitious. On the one hand it requires a technology that can detect tens of thousands of proteins, and on the other keen insight into one of the most common and intractable of human diseases. If it pans out, it will help in detecting the disease early on and to better tailor therapy to the individual patient.”

Dr Brennan has more than 20 peer reviewed research articles in leading scientific journals and is named on 7 patents. He has received many awards to date including the 2010 St Luke’s Young Investigator Award, the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland Registrar’s Prize (2009) and the O’Connell Medal for Oncology Research (2006). A medical and PhD graduate of University College Dublin, Dr Brennan is a member of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

Euroscience promotes a strong and open European society through science and technology. It is an independent grassroots voice for research–based knowledge in Europe that brings together people working or interested in science, technology and the humanities through communication, open discussion and collaboration between them.

The next Euroscience Open Forum will be held in Dublin in 2012. According to the Office of the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland, up to 8,000 international delegates are expected to attend the event which will run from 12 – 16 July 2010.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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UCD scientist wins European Young Researcher Award at Euroscience 2010