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2016 News Archive

Dearbhla Lenehan wins 2016 UCD Conway Festival gold medal

Monday, 03 October, 2016 


Pictured (L-R): Dr Gerard Manning, Genentech Inc.; Dearbhla Lenehan, Professor William Gallagher, Director, UCD Conway Institute.?

Pictured (L-R): Dr Gerard Manning, Genentech Inc.; Dearbhla Lenehan, Professor William Gallagher, Director, UCD Conway Institute.?

PhD student, Dearbhla Lenehan is announced as the 2016 UCD Conway Festival gold medal recipient for her research on the interactions between platelets and bacteria during the inflammatory response to bloodstream infections known as sepsis. This insight is vital to designing effective treatments to combat infections in future.

Escherichia coli (E.coli) is the most frequently isolated gram-negative organism in these infections. The bacteria can bind directly to platelets via lipopolysaccharide structures (LPS) found on their outer membrane. Dearbhla outlined the results of her research to provide a new insight into the mechanisms of direct E.coli platelet interactions that can cause life-threatening infections.

Dearbhla works under the supervision of Dr Jennifer Mitchell in UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science. Her results identified LPS regions vital for E.coli adhering to platelets as well as the receptors on platelets that recognise LPS and bind directly to it. Dearbhla explained how some antibiotic resistant, epidemic E.coli strains use LPS to conceal themselves from immune recognition, allowing them to survive and continue to cause infections.

Dearbhla received the gold medal from Dr Gerard Manning at the closing ceremony of the 2016 UCD Conway Festival of Research & Innovation on Thursday, 15 September. Dr Manning is Director of Bioinformatics & Computational Biology in Genentech Inc., a biotechnology company based in San Francisco, USA and one of the plenary speakers at the annual conference.

Professor William Gallagher, Director, UCD Conway Institute congratulated Dearbhla and more than one hundred other early career researchers from across UCD Conway Institute who presented their research during the three day event saying, “Your ability to articulate your work concisely, to competently field questions and to outline the potential applications of your research is testament not only to your ability but also to the quality of the training being delivered by your supervisors and other UCD faculty.”

The judging panel for the 2016 UCD Conway Festival gold medal sponsored by Cruinn Diagnostics comprised Professor Eleanor Maguire, University College London, UK; Dr Gerard Manning, Genentech Inc; Dr Margaret McGee, UCD and Professor William Gallagher.

The event also featured a Ulysses Medal lecture by Dr Leroy Hood, plenary lectures and a series of invited short talks from UCD academics and clinicians. Shaun O’Boyle from the Science Gallery facilitated a career discussion forum on the benefits and challenges of industry-academia collaborations with senior managers from Abbott, Alexion, Novartis, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board.

The moderated poster presentation category winners were:

Computational & Structural Biology
Bruce Moran (PI: Prof William Gallagher, UCD Conway Institute & UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science)

Cancer
Emma Kavanagh (PI: Dr Amanda McCann, UCD Conway Institute & UCD School of Medicine)

Mechanisms of Disease
Conor Daly (PI: Dr Breandán Kennedy, UCD Conway Institute & UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science)

Personalised Medicine
Fiona McCartney (PI: Prof David Brayden, UCD Conway Institute & UCD School of Veterinary Medicine)

Infection, Inflammation & Repair
Dearbhla Lenehan (PI: Dr Jennifer Mitchell, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science)

Cell Biology
Noemie Scheidel (PI: Dr Oliver Blacque, UCD Conway Institute & UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science)