Thursday, September 17, 2015

After a gap of almost 2 years, we are resurrecting this blog.  A new and enthusiastic (not that last year's class weren't enthusastic, since some of them are continuing from last year) class of over 20 students has begun this academic year with the module on 'Molecular and Regenerative Medicine'.  After prompting the class to come up with a topical news story that relates to the Mol and Regen Med module, Paul O'Shea suggested fampridine, since it was recently approved as a HSE-supported drug for the treatment of MS.  In the US, fampridine is known as Dalfampridine (see paper by Alessandra Lugaressi, Pharmacology and clinical efficacy of dalfampridine for treating multiple sclerosis, Expert Opin. Drug Metab. Toxicol. (2015) 11(2):295-306), from which the Box 1 below is taken.  Fampridine is administered orally twice a day, at a dose between 10 and 30 mg.  Some side-effects have been noted, but these were not considered serious enough to disallow its use.  The basis for its relevance relates to consequences of the stripping of myelin from CNS nerves during MS.  During demyelination, potassium channels along the internode become exposed, allowing ions to leak out of the axon.  This can interfere with normal nerve impulse conduction that occurs via sodium channels clustered at nodes of Ranvier. Fampridine can inhibit the slowly-inactivating potassium channels and does so by binding the cytoplasmic portion of the channel.  Inhibition of potassium channel signaling increases the duration of the action potential, increasing transmitter release.   Fampridine is hypothesised to have additional effects on non-neuronal cells, via potassium channels expressed on them. These cells include glia as well as immune cells  Guidance on the use of fampridine have been provided by MS Ireland and this information can be found at the following here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

MSc in Biomedical Science (Conintuous) now accepting students!

The new MSc in Biomedical Science (Continuous) accepts student applications throughout the academic year. This highly flexible programme enables those in full-time employment to take classes along with others enrolled on the 'distance learning' version of the programme (winner of postgrad course of the year (science)). The key difference with the 'continuous' masters, is that students register for individual modules, paying as they go (€1,000 per module; €2,000 for research project).  This programme can be completed over an extended period of up to 6 years. As with the distance learning programme, it is possible to exit with a postgraduate certificate in biomedical science, after successful completion of 6 modules. Alternatively, another 6 successfully finished modules will gain a postgraduate diploma. Completion of a research project is required to gain a masters qualification. For more information and to apply for a place on this programme, go to Happy studying!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Applications being accepted for NUI Galway MSc in Biomedical Science (via distance learning)

The NCBES at NUI Galway, where MSc lectures take place
Applications are now being accepted for the distance learning MSc in Biomedical Science at NUI Galway.  This programme is run over a 2-year period, with students attending for lectures approximately every 5 weeks, on a Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Extensive use is made of multi-media technology to support student learning, including the Echo360 lecture capture system and the 'Blackboard' virtual learning environment. The MSc in Biomedical Science offers Biological Sciences graduates a means of achieving the mathematical, computational, and instrumentation skills necessary to work, or continue to work, in biomedical science. Likewise the Physical Science/Engineering graduate will gain experience in aspects of cell biology, tissue engineering, and animal studies. Expertise from a range of NUI Galway’s research institutes and from industry will also be drawn on throughout the course. The course covers the following areas:  Molecular & Cellular Biology, Anatomy, Innovation and Technology Transfer, Material Science and Biomaterials, Molecular Medicine, Biomechanics, Tissue Engineering, Lasers, Stereology, Project Management,, Experimental Design and Data Analysis, Product Development, Validation and Regulation, Monitoring for Health Hazards at Work. Further information on the NCBES and this course can be found at and on our course blog  
Entry Requirements: Second Class Honours, Grade 2 in any Science, Engineering or Technology degree. Candidates with less than Second Class Honours and with three years relevant practical experience may also be considered. Selection is based on the candidate's academic record at an undergraduate level and their aptitude for the course. Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of proficiency in the English Language. An IELTS score (Science & Engineering) of 6.0 or TOEFL score of 550 paper based, 213 computer based, is required.
Fees: EU students: €6,815 per year (total €13,630)
Non EU students: €13,500 (total €27,000)
Application process: Applications to this programme are made online via The
Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC),
Applications are open until all places are filled. A total of 20 places are availabe, to be filled on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Note: In addition to submitting a completed application form, applicants are required to
provide a personal statement, explaining why they wish to undertake this
course (up to 600 words). Further information on the application process can be found at or
PAC Code: GYS19
Students who may not wish to commit to a 2-year programme are free to apply to the one-year postgraduate certificate in Biomedical Science (via distance learning), code GYS20. Programme content is identical to the first year programme of the MSc. 
Contact: Course director Dr. Una FitzGerald (

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Congrats to new Biomedical Science MSc graduates!

On Thursday November 25th, the second class of MSc students to complete the MSc in Biomedical Science (via distance learning), graduated.  We missed Eimer O' Halloran, Mark Brassil and Tina Harte, who were unable to attend.  The other graduates are pictured here. We want to wish all of you the best of luck for the future and hope that you will keep in touch!
Left to right, back row: Teresa Considine (Secondary School Teacher, Ennis), Patrick Power (Aerogen, Galway), Markus Fischer (UHG, Galway); Caroline Glynn (Channelle Medical, Loughrea).
Left to right, front row: Michelle Freeburne (Elan, Athlone), Una FitzGerald (course Director), Carolan Barrett, Adrian McNeill (Cook Ireland), Peter Daly (Allergan), Eddie McSherry (Stryker, Limerick).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The rise and rise of Aerogen

If you're in need of reassurance that Irish innovation is alive and well, look no further than Aerogen, a small company based on the edge of Galway in the west of Ireland. Company founder, John Power explains in a 'case studies' video available for viewing on the Ernst and Young entrepreneur of the year website ( that innovation is at the core of their novel aerosol-based drug delivery systems. He's clearly doing something right as Aerogen is a world leader in this technology, holding 40 international patents. At a time when members of the Irish Government are questioning continued investment in research, it's heartening also to learn that John Power spends 40% of Aerogen's annual operating expenditure on research and development. With a target population of patients on nebulisers in intensive care units, it's not hard to see how important innovation in this area of medical device techology is. For more information on Aerogen go to

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ireland needs more companies like Creganna!

Browsing the daily broadsheets can be a depressing activity these days, with not much to suggest that this country will exit a recession any time soon. Some rays of hope, however, may be illuminating the way to a more vibrant and sustained economy. Creganna, with Helen Ryan (photo) recently at the helm, has acquired Avalon Medical Services Pte Ltd, to become Creganna TACTX Medical. Aimed primarily at the medical device sector, Creganna supports the provision of minimally invasive devices for a range of clinical applications including cardiology and neurology. The growth of Creganna, alongside giants of the medical device sector like Boston Scientific and Medtronic, also based in Galway, is heartening and demonstrates what can be achieved by a home-grown company. For more information of Creganna and its activities, visit their website at:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

3D structure of DNA

The puzzle of how 2 metres of double-stranded DNA is packaged into the nucleus of cell of the order of tens of microns, is a step closer to being solved. Professor Job Dekker of The University of Massachussets Medical School led the study which showed that DNA is tightly packed into a ball. The following link will lead you to a video explaining (in lay terms) the structure of the human genome, as explained by Professor Julian Parkhill:

If you'd like to learn more about the history of the discovery of DNA, its structure and how the DNA code is turned into protein, you should browse the DNAi website. This is an excellent educational resource run by Cold Spring Harbour Labs in the US. Further details can be found at