Soapbox Science

Soapbox Science returned to the streets of Dublin on June 30th when 12 female scientists stepped onto their soapboxes to talk about their research in areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. RCSI was represented by Dr Joan Ní Gabhann from the Ocular Immunology Research Group (OIRG) and Remsha Afzal from the Mc Coy lab.

Soapbox Science is a global public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the science they do. Its aim is to bring scientists to the streets to interact with the public and increase the visibility of women working in science. It follows the format of Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London which is historically an arena for public debate.

Since it was established in 2011, Soapbox Science has grown from one event in London, to dozens of annual events around the world. Nearly 1,000 scientists have taken part and 140,000 members of the public have attended Soapbox Science events to date. This year over 40 Soapbox Science events, including the Dublin event, are planned across 13 countries.

Soapbox Science Dublin is supported by University College Dublin (UCD), through a UCD Research and Innovation seed funding programme, and is being organised by Dr Dara Stanley, UCD and Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, NUI Galway.

Speaking in advance of the event, Dr Dara Stanley, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, said, “Many people have not met a scientist before so Soapbox Science brings scientists to the city streets to interact with people going about their daily lives. As women, in particular, are under-represented at many career stages in STEMM subjects, Soapbox Science aims to break down stereotypes around who scientists are by featuring a number of female scientists speaking on a number of diverse topics.”

She added, “Soapbox Science Dublin is free to attend and is great fun so please do come along and hear about some amazing science being carried out by twelve fantastic female scientists.”

Remsha Afzal’s session was entitled “Those big eaters do damage.” During her presentation, Remsha spoke about the research being conducted in the Mc Coy lab which is part of a concerted global effort to identify novel therapeutics for multiple sclerosis (MS) which can both limit inflammation but more importantly promote repair and regeneration of the damaged neurons. Remsha used a PACMAN inspired prop to demonstrate the group’s research with nanoparticles that ‘flip the switch’ in inflammatory (M1) macrophages to turn them into tissue repairing anti-inflammatory (M2) phenotype macrophages.

Joan Ní Gabhanns session was entitled “Eye opening look at the role our immune system in dry eye disease.” During her presentation Joan spoke about the research being conducted in the OIRG which currently focuses on identifying novel regulators of inflammatory responses, particularly in the field of autoimmunity and Sjogren Syndrome (SS) related dry eye disease, as there are no diagnostic tests or effective therapies for SS. Joan used props constructed to demonstrate a functioning healthy eye and a model of autoimmune-mediated dry eye disease. She described the research the group is undertaking in novel microRNA (miR) based therapeutics that function like a ‘message in a bottle’ to change how cells communicate in autoimmune conditions to put the ‘brakes on’ the inflammatory process and restore normal immune function.

Joan Ní Gabhann

Dublin to Vietnam Cyclathon

Go all the way from Dublin to Vietnam on a bicycle? That would be a ‘Mission Impossible’. But impossible is a word that does not match well with the name of Christina Noble. Her life story was against all odds. And her Children’s Foundation (CNCF) continues to amaze. So it seems an appropriate idea for the CNCF to organize a fundraising cycle event under this motto. And several RCSI employees and members of MCT rose to the challenge! 

Saturday, June 8th, just after noon: six stationary bikes in King Street South were awaiting volunteer cyclists. The stakes were high: the Ireland Men’s and Women’s Seven Rugby Squad had spun the wheels, making over 53 km mileage in just half an hour. “Team RCSI” was in good mood to advance the peloton further and get the attention and support from Dubliners and tourists walking by. Taking over four bikes for one hour, we had great fun and a good workout, contributing many more miles and raising some spontaneous donations. Thanks to a generous gift from Niamh Moran, each of us went home not only with the feeling of having made a tiny contribution to a great cause but also with some delicious bread to replenish the burnt carbohydrates.

From left to right: Olga Piskareva, Maria Morgan, Niamh Moran, Ingmar Schoen, Orna Tighe, Sudipto Das

I would like to use this occasion to say ’Go raibh mile maith agaibh’ to all volunteers and supporters on the day, beforehand and beyond – you are fantastic! It is great that so many colleagues from MCT helped to make this day a success for the CNCF. The raised money will be help to continue the CNCF’s work in the Sunshine Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, providing a loving and caring environment for children that restores their dignity and trust.
For those who missed the opportunity: our Cyclathon fundraising website is still open for another two weeks https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/11377220_team-rcsi.html. And there will be more occasions coming up in the near future.
Ingmar Schoen

New Teaching and Research Opportunities At Soochow University, China

Just back from a very successful trip to Soochow University, China. We visited our colleagues/collaborators at the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences as well as the CAM-SU Genomic Resource Centre, Hematology Centre and the College of Nanoscience and Technology/FUNSOM centre to discuss a joint PhD programme. We were super impressed by the research and fabulous facilities.

Thanks to Darran O’Connor and John Waddington for organising. Some photos of the trip, with a little sightseeing thrown in at the end….

Tracy Robson

RCSI Lung Health Symposium 2019

8.45 COFFEE

Albert Theatre Foyer/Albert Lecture Theatre

9.00 Prof. Raymond Stallings Welcome

9.10 -10.50pm RESPIRATORY BASIC & CLINICAL RESEARCH: SESSION 1

9.10 Prof. Gerry McElvaney New therapies for alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency.
9.30 Dr. Emer Reeves Anti-inflammatory properties of alpha1-PI augmentation therapy.
9.50 Prof. Catherine Greene Non-coding RNA studies in the lung
10.10 Dr. Judith Coppinger Extracellular vesicles as mediators of inflammation in Cystic Fibrosis
10.30 Prof. Richard Costello Do I need to take all this stuff?
10.50 COFFEE BREAK

11.10-12.30 RESPIRATORY BASIC & CLINICAL RESEARCH: SESSION 2

11.10 Prof. Paul McNally Evolution of the lower airway microbiome in preschool children
11.30 Dr. Killian Hurley Modeling lung disease using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells
11.50 Prof. Brian Harvey The Microbiology of the CF Gender Gap: Estrogen modulation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence
12.10 Prof. Sally Ann Cryan Harnessing materials for the development of advanced respiratory therapeutics
12.30 Dr. Cian O Leary Bioengineered co-culture models of the airways: towards disease models in the upper and lower respiratory tract
12.50 LUNCH & POSTER SESSION

1.45-4.00 EXTERNAL SPEAKERS (National & International)

1.45 Prof. Edward McKone Beyond FEV1: Acute and long-term effects of CFTR restoration on the CF lung
2.15 Prof. Sarah Gilpin Milestones and challenges toward engineering functional lung tissue for transplantation
2.45 Dr. Jasper Mullenders Human colon organoids for cystic fibrosis research and personalized medicine
3.15-4.00 Prof Pradeep Singh Genetic Diversity of Cystic Fibrosis Infections: Barking Up Two Trees

4pm End of Symposium

Sponsored by: Vertex Pharmaceuticals Medical Education Grant, Molecular Cellular Therapeutics, National Children’s Research Centre

Please register by following the link:

 

New Players in Ubiquitination: Relevance to innate immunity and inflammatory diseases

MCT Research Forum – March 25th 2019 at Cheyne Lecture Theatre at 3.00pm – 4.00pm

Prof. Paul Moynagh – “New Players in Ubiquitination: Relevance to innate immunity and inflammatory diseases”
Prof. Moynagh obtained his B.A. (Mod) and PhD from Trinity College Dublin and took up a lectureship in UCD Department of Pharmacology in 1995. During his time in UCD Prof. Moynagh became Associate Professor of Immunology and held the position of founding Head of the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science. In 2006 he joined National University of Ireland, Maynooth as Director of its Institute of Immunology and currently holds the positions of Head of Department of Biology and Director of the Human Health Research Institute at Maynooth University. Prof. Moynagh has published extensively in the area of immunology-related research and in 2009 was awarded the NUI Centennial Prize for Academic Publishing in Medical and Health Sciences. He was also awarded the 2014 Irish Area Section Biochemical Society (IASBS) medal. This medal is awarded annually to an Irish-based researcher who has made an outstanding contribution during his/her career in the broad area of Biochemistry. Prof. Moynagh’s research focuses on innate immune signalling and the identification of novel regulators of inflammatory pathways with his most recent findings revealing immunomodulatory roles for the Pellino E3 ubiquitin ligases in inflammasome activation (Humphries et al; Nature Communications (2018), antiviral immunity (Siednienko et al; Nature Immunology (2012)), controlling intestinal homeostasis (Yang et al; Nature Immunology (2013)) and regulating insulin resistance (Yang et al; Immunity (2014)). He has generated >€10M of independent research funding and has directed a number of major research initiatives including the coordination of European Commission-funded research programmes. Prof. Moynagh has also played a leading role in the training of PhD students and directed 2 large structured PhD programmes

Dr. Stephanie Annett –“Unravelling the role of FKBPL in obesity”

Dr. Jennifer Dowling – “The Inflammasome: a novel therapeutic target of Hypoxic Brain Injury in Neonates”

All Welcome

Tea/Coffee and Cookies sponsored by

New Advances in Microscopy

MCT Research Forum – Monday 11th March 2019

Microscopic examination of cells

Prof. Judy Harmey: ‘Using in vivo imaging to evaluate a cancer therapeutic’

Dr. Olga Piskareva: ‘ Seeing is believing’

Dr. Ingmar Schoen: ‘Beyond belief: Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy’

Start Time: 12.00pm – 1.00pm

Chair: Dr. Cormac McDonnell

Sponsored by:

Translating Bio-Repositories into New Clinical Insights

MCT Research Forum – February, 25th 2019 at 12.00, Cheyne LT

Prof. Paul McNally – “Biorepositories in Childhood Cystic Fibrosis: A Journey of Discovery”
Paul graduated from the UCD School of Medicine in 1998. He completed his paediatric medical training in Ireland, and subsequently completed a 2-year MD in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) lung disease in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Paul undertook pulmonology fellowship training in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 2007 to 2009. He was appointed as a consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital (OLCHC) in 2009. In August 2015, Paul was appointed as Associate Professor of Paediatrics at RCSI. Paul is director of the CF centre in OLCHC and leads the CF research group at NCRC. Paul is clinical lead for Paediatric Respiratory Medicine in the Dublin Paediatric Hospitals. He is a board member of the CF Registry of Ireland and the National Children’s Research Centre. Paul is a member of the working group of the National Clinical Programme for Cystic Fibrosis and is a member of the advisory board for the National Clinical Programme for Paediatrics. Paul has recently been appointed as the director of research and innovation for Children’s Health Ireland (Dublin’s three children’s Hospitals). Paul’s main research interest is early CF lung disease, in particular around the question of why some children have more severe lung disease, and how we can detect these children earlier and modify their treatment.

Dr. Michelle Lavin – “The future of data repositories and e-Health in Irish clinical research”
Dr. Michelle Lavin is a Consultant Haematologist and the Clinical Lead for the Irish Personalised Approach to the Treatment of Haemophilia (iPATH) study, based in the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI. She completed her PhD in Trinity College Dublin, focused on the pathophysiology and clinical impact of Low Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) levels. Her research is centred on inherited bleeding disorders; developing insights into phenotypic variability and working to improve clinical outcomes. She serves a Co-Chair on the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) VWF Scientific Subcommittee and a clinical advisor to the World Federation of Haemophilia.

Chair: Soracha Ward
A light lunch will be served after the talks

Sponsored by Biosciences

Fantastic achievements of Lisa Dwane and Lauren Fagan

Dr. Lisa Dwane post doc with Prof. Darran O’Connor’s group, is Irish Cancer Society’s PhD Scholar of the Year 2019. She presenting her research in layman’s terms to compete for the prize at the ICS Research Awards held on Friday 15th February, at the House of Lords, Bank of Ireland College Green, Dublin 2.

Lisa also received the EACR Young Scientist Award, in the Junior category, for her research in cancer research. This Young Scientist award is granted to the two applicants with the highest scoring abstracts. This year, both recipients are RCSI researchers; the second applicant Dr. Sara Charmsaz, Dept. of Surgery, received the Senior award. Awards will be presented at the IACR Annual Conference, on Friday 22nd February, in Belfast.

Lauren Fagan (co-supervised by Dr. Oran Kennedy and Dr. Annie Curtis) was awarded Best Musculoskeletal Research Oral Presentation – Early Researcher Category for her early stage work on the chondrocyte clock and post-traumatic osteoarthritis at the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland Section of Bioengineering 25th Annual Conference (BinI 2019), UL, 18th – 19thJanuary 2019.

Hot Chocolate Morning for International Childhood Cancer Day

Dr Olga Piskareva’s team ran the Hot Chocolate Morning on February, 15th. Every year that day, we celebrate the International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) to raise awareness of childhood cancer, its consequences for children and their parents and make it as a priority for Governments and research.

Olga’s research is focused on neuroblastoma biology. This is a solid tumour of undeveloped nerves. Some forms of neuroblastoma spread quickly and become very aggressive and challenging to treat. Her team is searching for the weaknesses in cancer spread that can be targeted with drugs.

Ciara, John, Tom, Nele and Olga (l-r)

Olga teamed up with Amorino to offer authentic traditional Italian hot chocolate to raise funds for childhood cancer research charities – Children’s Medical Research Foundation/National Children’s Research Centre and the Conor Foley Neuroblastoma Cancer Research Foundation.  Research advances our knowledge and helps to develop new treatments.

A guessing game was a part of the event. Everyone had a chance to guess how many marshmallows fitted in the cell culture flask T75. The guesses ranged from as low as 95 to as high as 500. Fortunately, one of the participants gave an absolutely correct answer. Micheal Flood put on 173 and won. Her fantastic ability to guess is incredible! Congratulations!!! Well done to all!

Olga’s team raised 698.91 Euros for childhood cancer research! They thank everyone who came along and supported the Hot Chocolate Morning & the International Childhood Cancer Day 2019! They thank Amorino for delicious chocolate & tasty bites contributors!

And the winners are:

1st place – Micheal Flood (173)
2nd place – Rebecca Watkin (175)
3d place – Lisa Dwane (180)
4th place – Billy Cahill (165)
5th place – Martin Kenny (185)
6th place Brona Murphy (160)

 

Ciara, Nele, John, Tom and Olga