Human Health and Disease BSc students undertake Medical Supply Company-sponsored summer research placements
Junior Sophister HHD students, Eva Kelly and Lucy Fitzgerald were selected to undertake summer placements in the laboratories of Prof. Mani Ramaswami and Prof. Ed Lavelle. The awards were generously sponsored by Medical Supply Company.
“This summer I spent four weeks assisting in Professor Ramaswami’s lab in TCIN. I was lucky enough to be offered this internship through my course (Human Health and Disease) which currently facilitates two lab placements for JS students. During my time in the lab I helped carry out important research which focused on a new plasmid-killer red. The aim was to see how much light was needed in order to cause damage to the cells without killing them. It is hoped that this research will ultimately enable this killer red to be used to mimic the damage caused
in diseases such as ALS. During the internship I learned valuable skills and gained vital first hand experience of the inner workings of a research lab. My first week was mostly spent observing, learning and practicing new techniques. As the weeks passed I began to master these and became confident and sufficiently competent to carry out the experiments by myself. HHD offers lots of exposure to current research. However the placement put theory into practice and showed research as it happens. It demonstrated clearly the skill set that is required for research beyond academic knowledge. I discovered that critical thinking and problem solving is needed on a daily basis-as things often don’t go according to plan! New ideas are always vital and thinking outside the box is critical when interpreting data and forming conclusions. The placement was extremely valuable due principally to the effort the researchers went to ensure that I gained maximum insight into their research. Their enthusiasm for their work was infectious, and I very indebted to them, and to Prof Ramaswami, for providing me with this valuable experience.”
"I was extremely fortunate to be the student chosen to gain experience in the lab of Professor Ed Lavelle. Spending one month in a research lab was more beneficial than I could have imagined; towards my degree in Human Health and Disease as it gave me an insight into what my fourth year lab based project might be like, and towards building my confidence in the workplace and expanding my scientific knowledge. As well as this, it gave me an insight into the career of a research scientist, a career that any HHD student may choose, and one that I am keen to pursue having completed my placement. During my time in the lab I gained knowledge of many important techniques used in many areas of biology, including tissue culture, cell plating and cell counts, ELISA, real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while also attending very valuable flow cytometry classes. Along with these useful techniques, I had the opportunity to use more specific techniques to the research in Prof Lavelle’s lab, including obtaining a single-cell suspension from a mouse spleen, as well as murine bone-marrow dendritic cell isolation. These skills were essential for the topic which myself, along with the help of my supervisors were keen to investigate; the role of the adjuvant chitosan, an activator of the inflammasome, which plays a role in the cGAS-STING pathway to induce type 1 IFN production. The research I partook in was focused on the mechanism by which chitosan induces mitochondrial stress, increasing levels of ROS. The overall experience was extremely positive, highlighting to me the support systems in place within a lab environment, with PhD students and post doctorates sharing ideas. This opportunity also emphasised the importance within the science world to keep up to date with the research in other labs and their progress, by attending conferences and reading journals. I would highly recommend applying for summer lab placement to any student who wants to experience hands on the work of a research scientist. Whether you want to test out if you are suited to the work, or simply want to gain beneficial experience in the area before leaving college, I would encourage you to put yourself out there and witness the overwhelmingly positive experience to be gained from a summer lab internship."
We thank Medical Supply Company for the generous sponsorship of these summer research placements.
Dr. Eric Downer, Director BSc Human Health and Disease
The Department is delighted to welcome Prof. Mark Cunningham as our newest member of staff and the Ellen Mayston Bates Professor of Neurophysiology of Epilepsy (appointed July 2018).
Prof. Cunningham began his scientific career at Queen’s University, Belfast where he read Physiology as an undergraduate. He obtained his PhD in Physiology from the University of Bristol working with Prof. Roland S.G. Jones examining the impact of anti-epileptic drugs on synaptic function. He then undertook post-doctoral positions at Bristol University, University of Leeds, Heidelberg University and Newcastle University during which time he worked with Prof. Miles Whittington, Professor Eberhard Buhl and Prof. Hannah Monyer. During this time Prof. Cunningham worked on projects focusing on the mechanisms underlying the generation of various type of neuronal oscillations using a combination of electrophysiological, pharmacological and transgenic mouse models. His research is focused on understanding the basis of neurological and psychiatric disease at the level of the neuronal microcircuit and in particular in the context of organised electrical activity generated by the brain. To date he has published 54 articles and over 100 conference proceedings with 3700 citations and a H-index of 30.
In 2005 he was awarded a RCUK Academic Fellowship at Newcastle University. In 2007 alongside Prof. Miles Whittington he founded the first UK research platform for conducting electrophysiological recordings from live human brain tissue ex vivo in Newcastle with support from the Wolfson Foundation. In 2016 he was appointed as Professor of Neuronal Dynamics at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and currently holds a visiting Professorship at Newcastle University.
Professor Cunningham’s research has been supported by the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Epilepsy Research UK, Action of Hearing Loss, Hadwen Trust, Innovate UK, Wolfson Foundation and The Royal Society. He has had collaborative funding agreements with a number of global pharmaceutical companies and acts as a consultant for Neurexpert, a contract research organisation, that provides specialist electrophysiology and neuroscience expertise and solutions to aid drug discovery and academic research.
Prof. Cunningham currently sits on the Scientific Advisory Committee for Epilepsy Research UK and is a member of Biomedical Resource and Technology Development Committee at the Wellcome Trust. He is a fellow of the Centre for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (CASMI). He has also acted on advisory boards and as a consultant to numerous pharmaceutical companies. He is a member of the Physiological Society, British Neuroscience Association and the International League against Epilepsy (ILAE).
|Nature Nanotechnology - Prof. Maeve Caldwell|
Prof Maeve Caldwell and colleagues, Department of Physiology and Trinity College Institute for Neuroscience, together with colleagues from the University of Bristol and the US have shown that nanoparticles can transmit biological signals through a cellular barrier resulting in DNA damage to neurons and astrocytes. Interestingly the presence of astrocytes exacerbated the damage to neurons. The team report changes caused by nanoparticles in the natural cellular pathway, autophagy, and increases in the levels of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6).
The potential for maternal nanoparticle exposures to cause developmental toxicity in the fetus without the passage of nanoparticles has previously been shown. We now demonstrateexposure of CoCr nanoparticles to BeWo cell barriers, a human in vitro model of the human placenta, triggers an impairment of autophagic flux and the release of the proinflammatory factor IL-6. This contributes to an altered differentiation of human neuroprogenitor cells plus DNA damage in the derived neurons and astrocytes that is mediated by the astrocytes. Inhibiting autophagic degradation in the BeWo barrier by overexpression of a dominant-negative human ATG4BC74A significantly reduces the levels of DNA damage in astrocytes. In vivo, indirect nanoparticle toxicity in mice also results in neurodevelopmental abnormalities with reactive astrogliosis and increased DNA damage in the fetal hippocampus. This demonstrates the potential importance of autophagy in eliciting nanoparticle toxicity and the risk of indirect developmental neurotoxicity following maternal nanoparticle exposure.
Department of Physiology Seminar Series
|Systemic infection and dementia - how are they connected?
Presented by: Professor Jessica Teeling
|Professor of Experimental Neuroimmunology
Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Southampton General Hospital
Friday 9th March 2018
Tercentenary Lecture Theatre,
Trinity College Dublin
Human Health and Disease BSc Career Evening (Feb 12th 2018)
Dr. Eric Downer (Asst. Prof. and Director of Human Health and Disease BSc) and Dr. Jean Fletcher (Asst. Prof. and Senior Freshman Human Health and Disease coordinator) hosted a career evening for the Human Health and Disease BSc in the Tercentenary theatre, TBSI, on February 12th. The event was attended by the current Human Health and Disease classes.
Dr. Fletcher and Dr. Downer welcomed the return of ten Human Health and Disease alumni to share their experiences of life after their undergraduate years in the BSc programme. All ten graduates provided excellent insight into their chosen career paths in scientific research, industry, regulatory affairs and medicine.
2017 BSc Human Health and Disease Graduation
Human Health and Disease Senior Sophister Graduation
Congratulations to our new Human Health and Disease graduates, who were awarded their degrees at a graduation ceremony held in the Examination Hall in December 2017
University College Cork Study in Collaboration with Dr Deirdre Edge, Physiology Trinity College Dublin.
New research published in The Journal of Physiology suggests that enhancing breathing via the brain may limit deficiencies in respiratory capacity in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients.
Dr. Eric Downer - 2 outreach event presentations
Dr. Eric Downer will be on stage to present his popular talk "High Hopes for Cannabis" a riveting lecture wherein he outlines the research behind the use of cannabis in the treatment of MS.
Science on Tap: The Liquor Rooms, Temple Bar, Dublin @ScienceOnTapIE
RAMI Section of Biomedical Sciences Annual Meeting, 22nd June 2017
The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Section of Biomedical Sciences Annual Meeting was hosted by TCD Physiology in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on 22nd June 2017. The day started with a welcome address from the Section President Prof Veronica Campbell (TCD) followed by the opening of the Donegan Medal competition by the Section Secretary Prof. Ken O’Halloran (UCC). Twelve first-time presenters battled for the Donegan Medal and the standard was so high that both winner (Deirdre Scully UCD and Nicola Kavanagh RCSI) and runner-up places (Orla Haugh TCD and Bibiana Mota TCD) were shared. A first for the meeting! A jam-packed poster session with contributions from RCSI, UCD, TCD, UCC, Dundalk and DCU along with many national and international collaborators kept us busy during coffee time – a really great festival of science. A respite from competition allowed us to thoroughly enjoy the Conway review lecture delivered by Dr. Stephen Keely (RCSI) who provided a fascinating account of bile acids through the ages, from traditional Chinese medicine to current-day therapeutics. Oral communications followed from Dr. Gerard O’Keeffe (UCC), Michelle Smith (UCD) and Sarah Wade (TCD). The competition kicked off again for the Barcroft Medal where we were treated to some riveting data delivered by postdoctoral researchers from as far flung as the University of Nevada! The breadth of topics was extensive and included Parkinson’s disease, autoimmunity, breast cancer and immune metabolism culminating in calcium signalling stealing the show with a well-deserved winner in Dr. Bernard Drumm. After an intensive deliberation by the judges, the prize-giving ceremony was held at the wine reception and winners were bestowed with their prizes by the Section President and Secretary. The scientific dialogue continued over dinner at Quay 16 where we consolidated our newly acquired knowledge – a deeply enjoyable day!
Contributed by local organisers: Deirdre Edge, Aedín Minogue and Eric Downer
Poster Presentation Winner: Mr. Luke Alvey (centre), Prof. O’Halloran and Prof Veronica Campbell
Local organisers: Dr. Deirdre Edge and Dr. Aedín Minogue
Conway review medal winner: Dr. Stephen Keely (RCSI) Prof. O’Halloran and Prof Veronica Campbell
Poster session: Prof. Ken O’Halloran and Mr. David Burns (UCC)
Mr. John-Mark Fitzpatrick & Sibylle Bichet (TCD)
Ms. Bibiana Mota, Sarah McComlish, Éabha O’Driscoll
Donegan runner-up: Ms Orla Haugh (TCD) with Prof. O’Halloran and Prof Veronica Campbell
Joint Donegan Winners: Nicola Kavanagh RCSI (left) and Deirdre Scully UCD right with Prof. O’Halloran and Prof Veronica Campbell
Barcroft Winner: Dr. Bernard Drumm (University of Nevada) with Prof. O’Halloran and Prof Veronica Campbell
Prof. James Jones and Dr. Dearbhaile
Poster presentation session
Presenters: Dr. Shane O’Neill and Dr. Gerard O’Keefe (UCC).
Past News and Events
Frontiers in Neurology (FIN6)
6th Annual Meeting, Friday 18th November 2016 Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI), Pearse Street, Dublin
Professor M. Lynch awarded SFI grant
Prof. Lynch, Dept of Physiology, has been awarded €1.38 for the research project "Targeting glial plasticity to alleviate age-related loss of neuronal function in Alzheimer’s disease"
The aims of this project are
To identify novel markers, with an emphasis on metabolic changes, which reflect microglial activation and functional state. The ultimate objective is to utilize these markers to develop MRI tools and therefore assess changes with age, in particular in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, in a non-invasive manner.
To establish whether the age-related loss of glial plasticity correlates with a shift in their metabolism that impacts on synaptic density and thereby on synaptic function.
To assess the potential beneficial effects of 4 strategies designed to reprogramme glia in alleviating the deficits that develop with age and in Alzheimer's disease.
Funding source: Science Foundation Ireland
Duration: 4 year from September 2016
Dean’s Award for Teaching Innovation, Faculty of Health Sciences
Facilitator: Dr Eric Downer, School of Medicine, Department of Physiology
Embryology is a core subject undertaken by Health Science students, with the aim to bring together core knowledge in Cell Biology, Anatomy and Physiology to describe the developmental process from fertilization to birth. For the 2015-16 academic year student feedback indicated difficulty visualising key embryological concepts in 2D, particularly embryonic folding/flexion and cell layer migration during gastrulation. This project will develop an interactive audio-visual animation that will be implemented into the Junior Freshman curriculum for teaching embryology and will be assessed via pre- and post- animation surveys to determine if the audio-visual aid improves student learning in embryology. Furthermore, the collation of questionnaire data associated with the animation will be conducted by a Senior Sophister student as part of their final year undergraduate research project. Overall, this will explore how the animation can be used to supplement student education beyond the traditional classroom. This project will act as the first steps to develop a prospective pilot animation, which will be introduced in 2016-17, and will act as a platform to develop/implement new audio-visual teaching tools into degree programmes throughout the School/Faculty, including Medicine, Nursing and Occupational Therapy.
Please see our website for further details and to register:
Date: Tuesday November 15th 2016
Time: 13:00 – 14:00
Venue: Auk Room, Zoology Building
TBSI image competition - 1st place for Physiology post grad.
Maria Velasco from Prof. Kumlesh K.Dev's Lab, Dept of Physiology, wins 1st place for her image: "Cerebellar neuron-glia network "
This image represents the cellular organization between neurons and glial cells in a mouse cerebellar organotypic slice. Organotypic cultures of brain tissue allow you to study different parts of the brain –e.g. the cerebellum- in their original structure, keeping the cellular organization and neuronal networks almost as they are in vivo. This can be used to study different development features of the brain in vitro, as well as to perform electrophysiological and pharmacological experiments. In the brain, neurons are outnumbered by glial cells, amongst we can distinguish astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes. Here it is shown the interaction between neurons (red), astrocytes (yellow) and microglia (green) in one of the lobules of the cerebellum. The imaging is done by confocal microscopy with the Leica SP8 microscope in TBSI. This image is 300µm wide.
Further reading at Trinity News and Events
AMBER image competition - 3rd place for Physiology post grad.
Sibylle Bechet from Prof. Kumlesh K.Dev's Lab, Dept of Physiology, wins 3rd place for her image: "Stop Twitching - Start Smyelin"
This fluorescent image was generated using confocal microscopy. It depicts the complex interplay of glial and neuronal cells in the cerebellum of a Twitcher mouse, an animal model for Krabbe’s Disease (KD). This infantile neurodegenerative disease affects all cell types in the brain and is mainly characterised by accumulations of a toxic metabolite called psychosine. This, in turn, is detrimental to oligodendrocytes, causing dismantling of their protective myelin sheath around neurons. Although clinical practice lacks a curative treatment, emerging evidence suggests beneficial effects of pre-treatment with fingolimod, a drug used for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. In this image, oligodendrocytes (green), neurons (red) and astrocytes (yellow) were stained using immunohistochemistry, in order to monitor effects of treatment with fingolimod in the Twitcher mouse. This technique allows evaluating this compound as a potential candidate for treating this devastating childhood illness.
Dr. Eric Downer awarded Dean’s Award for Innovation in Teaching
Dr. Downer, has teamed up with Dr. John Dingliana and Dr. Jean Fletcher to develop a novel teaching aid for incorporation into the Human Health and Disease BSc programme.
Embryology is a core subject undertaken by Health Science students, with the aim to bring together core knowledge in Cell Biology, Anatomy and Physiology to describe the developmental process from fertilization to birth. For the 2015-16 academic year student feedback indicated difficulty visualising key embryological concepts in 2D, particularly embryonic folding/flexion and cell layer migration during gastrulation.
This project will develop an interactive audio-visual animation that will be implemented into the Junior Freshman curriculum for teaching embryology and will be assessed via pre- and post- animation surveys to determine if the audio-visual aid improves student learning in embryology. Furthermore, the collation of questionnaire data associated with the animation will be conducted as part of a research project. Overall, this will explore how the animation can be used to supplement student education beyond the traditional classroom. This project will act as the first steps to develop a prospective pilot animation, which will be introduced in 2016-17, and will act as a platform to develop/implement new audio-visual teaching tools into degree programmes throughout the School/Faculty, including Medicine, Nursing and Occupational Therapy.
Full details here:
Dr. Eric Downer's research profiled in "MS Research"
From Exercise to Cannabinoids
Dr. Downer's research is featured on page 8 of Issue 1 of MS Research in the linked PDF
Congratulations to Dr. Sinéad Ryan, Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, who was awarded the Barcroft Early Career Award at the 2016 meeting of the Biomedical Sciences Section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, held on June 23rd in UCC.
Sinéad researches the cellular mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effects of exercise in a model of Alzheimer’s Disease and works in Dr Áine Kelly’s laboratory.
Trinity College launches new free online course: “Exercise Prescription for the Prevention and Treatment of Disease”
"Exercise Prescription for the Prevention and Treatment of Disease", Trinity’s newest free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), run in partnership with FutureLearn, begins on the 18th of April 2016.
This two week free online course from Trinity College Dublin will explore the evidence behind exercise prescription, and how it has evolved as a tool for preventing and treating disease. Geared towards healthcare professionals, the course details how physiological adaptations to exercise can translate to improved health outcomes, and will help enhance confidence in exercise prescription as a treatment.
Assistant Professor of Physiotherapy Dr Cuisle Forde explains, “Not that long ago bed rest was prescribed to patients with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and exercise was considered by many health professionals as something to be avoided. Today, exercise is an integral part of patient treatment”.
The free online course will address the role of exercise in the treatment of a variety of clinical populations including people with cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, paediatric conditions and cancer.
Available to anyone with internet access across multiple devices including desktops, tablets and smartphones, the two-week innovative course will enable healthcare professionals anywhere to experience a Trinity education. Throughout the course there will be an opportunity to engage with researchers, healthcare professionals and exercise prescription experts from the discipline of Physiotherapy and the Department of Physiology at Trinity College Dublin.
Head of Physiology Dr Aine Kelly says "One of the best things about this course is that it is accessible to health care professionals who feel they need to increase their working knowledge and awareness of the latest research in exercise prescription for patient populations."
This course is designed for healthcare professionals who wish to broaden their understanding of exercise prescription and physical activity as a tool to prevent and treat disease, but no previous experience or qualifications are required.
Register for this free online course which starts on the 18th of April here: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/exercise-prescription/1/
Trinity College School of Medicine is an international leader in postgraduate education with a strong research focus. This course will give learners a taster of the Online Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Exercise. Applications are now open for this course, with details available here: http://www.medicine.tcd.ie/physiotherapy/postgraduate/online/
For more information on online education, including postgraduate courses, at Trinity College Dublin click here https://www.tcd.ie/OnlineEducation/