UCD Professor commended by IRC for ‘exceptional contribution’ in pandemic
The Irish Research Council today (3 December) announced its 2021 Researcher of the Year awards. Professor of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin, Yvonne Buckley was named Researcher of the Year for work focused on the growth, reproduction and survival of plant and animal species.
UCD Chair of Critical Care Medicine, Professor Alistair Nichol received a special commendation for his ‘exceptional contribution’ in the field of medical research, specifically in critical care clinical trials and especially in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
On receiving the accolade, Professor Nichol said: “I am honoured that the IRC has recognised my work and that of my team over the last decade and particularly during the COVID pandemic, with their special commendation today. This represents many years’ work by a large team in Ireland and beyond. I am very grateful to my colleagues within UCD, the Irish Critical Care Community and our global network collaborators.
“Ireland’s Intensive Care Units continue to be the front line in our ongoing war against COVID. Our research collaborations have allowed us to understand the COVID waves during the pandemic – allowing us clinicians to identify patients at the highest risk of death, and the genetic factors associated with death in the ICU, so we can identify novel therapies.
Professor Nichol is Director of the Irish Critical Care-Clinical Trials Network (ICC-CTN), which runs, and builds capacity for running, clinical trials in Irish Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Funded by the Health Research Board, the ICC-CTN has also become a world-leading coordination centre for major global clinical trials, including REMAP-CAP.
REMAP (Randomised, Embedded, Multifactorial, Adaptive Platform trial) is a global trial that determines and continuously updates the optimal set of treatments for community-acquired pneumonia. REMAP-CAP has added trial domains so that the platform can respond rapidly to COVID-19, specifically (i) antiviral therapy and (ii) immune modulation therapy.
To date, REMAP-CAP has identified three safe and effective treatments that reduce death and organ failure in critically ill COVID patients, namely steroids, IL6 receptor antagonists and anticoagulation, in ward patients.
It has also determined that Hydroxychloroquine, Keletra, Hydroxychloroquine and Keletra in combination, convalescent plasma, Anakinra and anticoagulation do not improve outcomes in critically ill patients with COVID-19.
“Our global trial (REMAP-CAP) has already identified three highly effective and safe treatments that reduce death and organ failure in critically ill COVID patients and, equally important, six treatments that don't improve outcomes. In addition, we are examining the effectiveness of another 10 treatments in COVID and preparing for influenza, both seasonal and future pandemic. These findings help to save lives, continually optimize care of ICU patients with COVID and give a pathway forward out of the crisis facing our hospitals,” Professor Nichol said.
Professor Nichol’s team continue to address important evidence gaps, for instance whether or not Ivermectin improves outcomes in critically ill COVID patients. The Irish arm of this trial has started in St Vincent’s University Hospital last week.
There are currently (2 December 2021) 545 confirmed COVID cases in Hospital in Ireland and 117 in ICU, with six admitted to ICU in the last 24 hours and two discharged from ICU.
Speaking on the announcement of the awards, Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown said: “I would like to congratulate the awardees on their awards. The standard of nominations this year was extremely high, and each of the winners should be immensely proud of their achievements. It is great to see this year’s winners representing a diverse range of research interests, which reflects the creativity and dynamism of the research community here in Ireland. The Irish Research Council is equally proud to have supported the development of the work of these researchers through our funding.
“This year’s winners demonstrate how research helps society answer some of the big questions of our time and can make a significant and lasting impact. We look forward to continuing to cultivate a vibrant research community in which there are world-class researchers across disciplines.”
UCD’s Professor of Social Policy Michelle Norris was awarded the Impact Award for her proven record of research impact ‘beyond academia’ in the field of social housing policy.
Postdoctoral researcher in the School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Kathy Ruddy won the ‘Early Career Researcher of the Year’ award for her work using brain-computer interfaces to improve brain function.
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Sara Delmedico, UCD School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, was awarded the IRC Maurice J Bric Medal of Excellence, as the top-ranked Postdoctoral Fellow of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences under the Council’s 2021 Government of Ireland funding programme.
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Marco Timpanella, UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, was awarded the IRC Thomas Mitchell Medal of Excellence, as the top-ranked Postdoctoral Fellow in the domain of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the Government of Ireland scheme.
To learn more about all of the awardees see: https://research.ie/news/.