CURRENT RESEARCHERS

IMG_9785.jpg Dr. Eoin Parle (Post Doc)

Eoin holds a degree and a PhD in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from Trinity College Dublin. His doctorate thesis focussed on investigating the mechanical properties of insect cuticle. Eoin examined various mechanical properties such as fatigue, self-repair and recovery from injury. He also examined evolutionary adaptations seen across the insect kingdom, and how the material grows and matures over the life of the insect. A variety of factors were identified as influencing properties such as strength, stiffness, form, geometry and failure mode.

Eoin went on to his first postdoctoral fellowship in UCD, using his experience in materials classification to examine super-hard materials such as PCD (polycrystalline diamond) and PCBN (Polycrystalline Cubic Boron-Nitride) used in the deep sea drilling and heavy manufacturing industries.

Eoin was awarded a 2-year IRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (Government of Ireland) with Prof. McNamara’s group (beginning in September 2016) undertaking preclinical multiscale experimental and computational investigations into bone mechanics to understand bone fracture during osteoporosis. Eoin is employing a variety of techniques to examine the structure and composition of healthy and osteoporotic bone with a view to developing a predictive tool for assessing fracture risk.

ImageJ=1.49v Dr. Jessica Schiavi (Post Doc)

Bone and cartilage tissue are bearing daily loads and the body. Throughout the life-time, they are altered. Her aim is to contribute to research with a nearby clinical application. During her thesis, her  research focus was on the build-up of a stratified scaffold based on alginate laden with human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. The objective was to develop an original strategy to repair defect in the full depth of articular cartilage up to the sub-chondral bone and checked the mechanical behaviour of the scaffold to be secure to have one with suitable strength for articular cartilage defects.

Bone and cartilage tissue are bearing daily loads and the body. Throughout the life-time, they are altered. My aim is to contribute to research with a nearby clinical application. During her thesis, her  research focus was on the build-up of a stratified scaffold based on alginate laden with human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. The objective was to develop an original strategy to repair defect in the full depth of articular cartilage up to the sub-chondral bone and checked the mechanical behaviour of the scaffold to be secure to have one with suitable strength for articular cartilage defects.

During her first post-doc, the goal was to used nano- or microfibrous scaffolds (approved by the FDA) to fill bone and osteochondral defects to accelerate the tissue regeneration by adsorbing growth factors and/or seeding human mesenchymal stem cells on the biomaterial.

Now, she is  working on bone mechanobiology in the specific way of osteoporosis. This disease will affect quite the half of women in their life with an increasing after menopausal. The aim is to make the link between the mechanical behaviour of bone compartments at different scales and biological pathway already know to have links with cell sensing capacity. Finally, we could found how to prevent osteoporosis with already know pharmaceutical drugs.

5 Hollie Allison (PhD)

Originally from the United Kingdom, Hollie graduated from The University of Sheffield with a First class degree in Biomedical Science. She is a recent addition to Prof. McNamara’s research group. Her research is looking at mechanobiology based approaches for the treatment of osteoporosis.

Hollie’s research will aim to test whether targeting mechanobiological responses of osteoblasts can provide effective treatments for bone loss during osteoporosis. It will involve modulating mechanoreceptors and key mechanotransduction proteins in bone cells from normal and osteoporotic human and animal tissue using in vitro cell culture e.g. MSC’s and primary osteoblast cells. Her research seeks to also modulate mechanotransduction responses in vivo for preventing bone loss, bone tissue composition and fracture in osteoporosis.

8 Irene Simfia (PhD)

Irene Simfia is a PhD researcher in McNamara group. She completed her Bachelors (Honors) in Biomedical Engineering from National University of Ireland in Galway (2014).  At Purdue her Engineering Projects in Community Services (EPICS) project was awarded a Corcoran Award 2013 for “excellence in human-centred design”. Just prior to starting her PhD, Irene was actively involved in a five- month project on Deep Vein Thrombosis Device in National University of Ireland Galway. She was involved in much of the lab work on designing, optimising and testing the device. Irene is one of the IRC award holders in the group. She is currently in second year of her PhD.

The overall objective of her research is to investigate whether a therapeutic approach that targets the mechanobiological responses of bone cells can provide an effective treatment for bone loss during osteoporosis. Specifically focus is on targetting the Rho/ROCK signalling pathway in estrogen deficient bone cells in vitro to establish changes in cell proliferation, differentiation, gene expression and actin cytoskeleton when these cells are mechanically stimulated.

ivor-geoghegan-profile-photo.jpg Ivor Geoghegan (PhD)

Ivor Geoghegan was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree specialising in Human Anatomy in 2011. He worked for two years in the medical device sector (Lake Region Medical) before returning to NUI Galway to complete an MSc in Biomedical Science in 2015 at NUI Galway. He is undertaking a PhD in Biomedical Engineering entitled “Investigations into bone and cartilage cell mechanosensory mechanisms” under the supervision of Prof. Laoise McNamara in the Mechanobiology and Medical Devices Research Group in the Discipline (MMDRG) of Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway and Dr. David Hoey in the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering at Trinity College Dublin.

This project involves the characterisation of mechanosensory mechanisms and mechanobiological responses of bone cells derived from healthy and diseased tissues. These studies involve bioreactor studies, in vitro cell and tissue culture, histology and biological analysis (immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR) expanding on established expertise. A particular focus is to delineate whether changes in mechanosensitive organelles (integrin-based adhesions, primary cilia, adhesion junctions, gap junctions) occur during osteoporosis, and identify changes in the biochemical signal transduction pathways in response to mechanical loading in osteoporosis. Such information will inform therapeutic interventions that modulate the mechanotransduction process e.g. alter extracellular matrix molecules, mechanoreceptors, cytoskeletal structures or biochemical signalling, and may provide an effective therapy for osteoporosis. This work is also informing the creation and use of a microfluidic medical device to study the in vivo mechanical environment of bone in healthy and diseased states.

Ivor is funded by the CÚRAM (Centre for Research in Medical Devices).

Websites:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ivorgeoghegan/
www.mechanobiology.ie
www.curamdevices.ie

6 Laura O Sullivan  (PhD)

Laura O’Sullivan graduated from NUI Galway in 2015, with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. During her undergraduate studies, she was awarded the opportunity to work for 17 months (2013-2014) with DePuy Synthes Spine in Switzerland, where she designed, developed and tested various spinal medical devices. In September 2015, she began her Ph.D, as part of Prof. Laoise McNamara’s research team for the Science Foundation Ireland funded Mechanobiology project.

Laura’s PhD research will establish the effectiveness of modulating the mechanotransduction response for preventing bone loss and fracture in an animal model of osteoporosis using micro-CT scanning, tissue composition characterisation, and mechanical characterization on bone tissue.

ORLA Orla McGee (PhD)

Orla is a graduate of NUI Galway (2014), who received a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. During her degree Orla received a scholarship to spend her 3rd year studying at Purdue University in the United States. Orla also undertook two international placements in the summers of 2012 and 2013 at Hollister Inc. in Libertyville, IL and at Fort Wayne Metals Ltd. in Fort Wayne, IN respectively. Following her placement at Fort Wayne Metals Orla was awarded the 2014 Rachel Craig Prize for outstanding achievement in professional experience placement.  In July 2014 Orla was awarded an Irish Research Council EMBARK Postgraduate Scholarship to pursue a PhD in collaboration with Boston Scientific. Orla  specialises in computational modelling and experimental modelling techniques to investigate the long term potential of the next generation of Transcatheter Aortic Heart Valves (TAVI).

Project

Aortic stenosis is a degenerative disease of the aortic heart valve whereby calcium deposits build up on the leaflets of the heart valve and this can lead to regurgitation and stenosis. Transcatheter aortic heart valves are a minimally invasive alternative to surgical heart valves. They consist of tissue leaflets mounted on to a valve stent that is then crimped and delivered via a catheter to the site of the disease. This project involves using experimental and computational techniques to investigate the long term performance of Boston Scientifics LotusTM transcatheter aortic valve.

vesna Veasna Sum-Coffey (PhD)

Veasna is originally from Boston, MA, U.S.A. In 2011, she started her undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at National University of Ireland, Galway. She was rewarded a Wellcome Trust Vacation scholarship in 2013 to do an internship in Centre for Chromosome Biology. In 2015, she was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology from National University of Ireland, Galway. The following year (2015/2016), she went on to complete her Masters of Science degree in Biomedical Science at National University of Ireland, Galway. Recently, she received a PhD studentship with Professor Laoise McNamara. Her PhD is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Cúram, and it is a collaborative work with Stryker Instruments.

Stryker is a world leader in the area of surgical instrument innovation and development of bioresorbable and biodegradable medical devices for orthopaedic applications. The ideal outcome of surgical cutting is to remove biological tissue while minimising cellular damage, but also to leave a cut surface that is favourable for effective healing post-operatively or formation of a strong bond between an implant and surrounding tissue. Stryker is committed to the design and development of novel biomaterials and processing technologies for various applications, including orthopaedic joint replacement, nasal wound dressing and craniomaxillofacial tumour removal surgery. Innovation in the area of surgical cutting technology requires further research to understand the regenerative capacity of surgically cut bone, and also information on materials that can be used to enhance tissue healing after surgery. Veasna’s research is focused on these specific topics to inform future medical device applications.

Her project with Stryker will entail characterizing the properties of cut bone and determining the optimal parameters for viability of cut bone as an autograft material. She will also investigate the use of bio-resrobable materials to enhance/accelerate tissue re-modelling/healing after orthapaedic surgery. Particularly, she will be focusing on the response of primary tissue to cutting, and the agents required for accelerating bone healing and how they can be optimally delivered in vivo. This research will be used towards the development of the next generation of Stryker surgical instruments.

Wejdan Alansary  (PhD)

Wejdan Alansary is a 2nd year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering. In 2013, she completed MSc in Biomedical Science from National University of Ireland Galway. Wejdan has attained BSc in Science and Education with a Major in Biology form Umm Al-Qura University. In 2011, Wejdan was awarded a scholarship sponsored by The Higher Ministry of Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah Program, to pursue her PhD in National University of Ireland Galway. Her ongoing PhD research is based on The Role of Primary Cilia for Bone Mechanotransduction during Osteoporosis. This research involved comparing the morphology of primary cilia under normal and osteoporotic conditions. Currently, she is investigating the gene expression involved in primary cilia that may be associated with osteoporotic conditions, along with the application of mechanical stimulation.

Bone adaptation relies on osteocyte cells that appraise the mechanical environment and elicit a biochemical signalling response to initiate tissue adaptation when the mechanical environment is not favourable. Primary cilia (PC) have recently been proposed to play an important role in facilitating osteocyte mechanosensation. However it is not yet known whether PC expression or function is altered in mechanoregulatory osteocytes during the disease of osteoporosis. This research seeks to understand whether expression of PC is altered during osteoporosis using both in vitro and in vivo approaches. In-vitro studies involving bone marrow stromal cells and osteoblasts are being conducted to examine the response of these cells to mechanical stimulation with and without primary cilia.

 Vincent photo Vincent Casey (PhD)

Vincent is a graduate of NUI Galway (2016), where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. In his final year, Vincent completed a project investigating flow of surgical smoke, a by-product created during different cutting modalities (e.g. Radiofrequency ablation, ultrasonic, laser). Following this project, Vincent spent the summer working in Stryker’s Research & Development Innovation Centre in Carrigtwohill, County Cork.

Stryker is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies offer a diverse array of innovative products and services in Orthopaedics, Medical and Surgical, and Neurotechnology and Spine that help improve patient and hospital outcomes. Stryker is active in over 100 countries worldwide. Stryker established its presence in Ireland in 1998 and over the last 17 years has built a significant research and development competency and continued to expand its manufacturing operations in Ireland.

Vincent is now undertaking a PhD in collaboration with Stryker, under the supervision of Professor Laoise McNamara, carrying out toxicological, thermo-mechanical and biological investigations of bone and soft tissue cutting and non-mechanical removal. This project is intended to develop an understanding of the toxicological profile of by-products created during surgical cutting of tissue, to improve success rates of surgery and to maximise the amount of diseased tissue removed during surgery thus, for example, preventing the return of various cancerous conditions after removal of a tumour.

  Anneke Verbruggen  (RA)

Anneke Verbruggen was awarded a Bachelor in biomedical engineering from National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2016. During this time she worked in the Lean Sigma department of Medtronic for 9 months (the only medical device company cell system in the world). She also completed of a computational project demonstrating bone nano-indentation, aided by her supervisor (and NUIG alumnus) Dr. Ted Vaughan. To further research this field and investigate where to specialise, she returned to Galway for a taught Masters degree in biomedical engineering. This included a group Bioinnovation project investigating an optimum method to tackle obesity. A fluid flow model, bench testing, an original patent and seven year business model were included in the thesis for an entirely novel device. She is now eagerly awaiting the results of her masters!

Anneke is presently working as a research assistant under the supervision of Prof. Laoise McNamara in the Mechanobiology Research Group. This research is funded by the Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CURAM) and involves projects such as the mechanical testing of bone aggregates originally optimized by Dr. Fiona Freeman (see Alumni section).

Juan Alberto Panadero Perez (PhD)

Dr. Juan Alberto Panadero Perez obtained his bachelor degree in Biotechnology from Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain), focused on cell and molecular biology. He holds a PhD from the University of Minho (Braga, Portugal). The aim of his thesis was to analyse fatigue of poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL) scaffolds for cartilage tissue engineering. He used different treatment conditions, including the effect inside of the pores of an extracellular matrix produced in vitro after cell culture. The research combined techniques of cell culture (with chondrocytes and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells), biochemical evaluation of gene expression and extracellular matrix components, development of bioreactor facilities, fabrication of macroporous scaffolds and their physical and mechanical characterization. The results were relevant to conclude that fatigue testing provides information that would otherwise be missed with the usual mechanical testing of scaffolds.

Now, he is working on mechanobiology of the osteoporotic bone, in the frame of the SFI funded project: Mechanobiology based approaches for treatment of osteoporosis. His aim is to develop 3D culture models of osteoporotic bone to test the effect of drugs on the recovery or prevention from the disease. The 3D environment in vitro will be generated with hydrogels loaded with the target drugs, including gene silencing with siRNA, under a collaboration with the group of Dr. Fergal O’Brien from Trinity College of Dublin. After assessing the in vitro models, the same hydrogels will be implanted by injection in rat models.

 

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