News & Events
BSc Medical and Health Sciences programme sponsors and partners again with student Translational Medicine Society Narrowing the Void conference
The student-led UCC Translational Medicine Society hosted its second annual Narrowing the Void Conference in UCC on Wednesday 25th January 2023. The Conference was opened by Professor Aideen Sullivan, Head of Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Director of the BSc Medical and Health Sciences.
Photo: Professor Aideen Sullivan Head of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Academic Director of the BSc in Medical and Health Sciences
In her opening address to the conference Professor Sullivan, Head of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Academic Director of the BSc in Medical and Health Sciences in UCC, welcomed the attendees and speakers and spoke about how she is immensely proud of the BSc Medical and Health Sciences students in the Translational Medicine Society who have organised this conference.
Professor Sullivan explained that one of the drivers in setting up the new BSc in Medical and Health Sciences was to offer an opportunity to school-leavers to enter a programme which focuses on human health and disease from year one, describing how this is different from many other Science programmes and allows the BSc Medical and Health Sciences degree programme the space and time to educate the students to a deep level in human Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pathology and Pharmacology, and to introduce modules on Translational Medicine throughout the degree. She described how Translational Medicine is research that is aimed at taking laboratory discoveries through to clinical applications. In the BSc Medical and Health Sciences BSc, 'Our students study translational medicine as a major theme running through the four years of the degree, so it is really rewarding to see their enthusiasm for this topic, in the many events and activities organised by this dynamic student-led Society.'
Speaking about how the BSc in Medical and Health Sciences programme promotes Patient and Public Engagement and Involvement in research (PPE and PPI), she said 'Our students learn about Open Research and the importance of communicating scientific research to the public and to patients and their families, in a transparent manner that is easily understandable. Involving patients in research, and disseminating research findings to the public, is very important to me and I am very keen that our students graduate with skills and competencies in these areas.'
‘The BSc in Medical and Health Sciences produces graduates who have all the skills and competencies to pursue careers in a wide range of sectors, from medical research, through pharmaceutical and biotech industries, to health promotion education and policy, as well as science communication and marketing.’
Professor Sullivan concluded by saying that she and Dr Louise Collins, Programme Coordinator, on behalf of the BSc Medical and Sciences programme team, were very proud to sponsor and to partner with the Translational Medicine Society for this Narrowing the Void Conference and other events.
The Narrowing the Void Conference was presented in four sessions:
- Session 1: Translational Medicine at Eli Lily: Perspectives from World-Leading Pharmaceutical Experts
- Session 2: Keynote Speech Professor Tim O’Brien, leading Stem Cell Researcher and Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute
- Session 3: Bench to Bedside: The PhD Experience
- Session 4: Public Patient Involvement: The Forgotten Voice?
Photo: Dr Niamh Horgan, Associate Director Neurodegeneration Clinical Development Eli Lilly
The first session entitled Translational Medicine at Eli Lily: Perspectives from World-Leading Pharmaceutical Experts was chaired by Amy McGrath, Vice-Conference Director, and third year Medical and Health Sciences student. Amy welcomed Eli Lilly speakers who generously discussed their research and career paths experiences and Translational Medicine at Eli Lilly.
The panel session began with Ms. Niamh Horgan, UCC BSc Food Science and MSc Management and Marketing graduate and now Associate Director Neurodegeneration Clinical Development Eli Lilly and Company, who offered some behind-the-scenes insights into the clinical trials process. Other speakers included Ms. Lucia Perez, Senior Associate Clinical Trial Project Management in Neuroscience. Ms. Lisa Dubrulle, Associate Director Clinical Trial Project Manager in Clinical Development Diabetes, and Ms. Aishling Walsh, also a UCC BSc Food Science graduate who is now Associate Clinical Trial Project Manager in Clinical Development Immunology and Ms. Sonali Aggarwal, Senior Associate Clinical Trial Project Manager in Clinical Development Oncology.
Photo: Session 1 and 2 speakers with conference organisers: From left front: Dr Louise Collins, BSc Medical and Health Sciences Programme Coordinator; Ms Lucia Perez, Eli Lilly; Professor Tim O'Brien, Keynote speaker; Professor Aideen Sullivan, Academic Director of BSc Medical and Health Sciences; Ms Lisa Dubrulle, Eli Lilly; Ms Sonali Aggarwal, Eli Lilly; Ms Niamh Horgan, Eli Lilly; Ms Lorna Collins, third year Medical and Health Sciences student; Ms Amy McGrath, third year Medical and Health Sciences student; Ms Aishling Walsh, Eli Lilly and Mr Seán O’Flaherty, fourth year Medical and Health Sciences student.
Dr Louise Collins BSc Medical and Health Sciences Programme Coordinator, thanked the speakers from Eli Lilly for their collaboration at this event, saying that their involvement was invaluable to the conference, having such high calibre speakers taking time to share their work was an inspiration to students who are planning their career paths. Dr Collins said that she was delighted to see the BSc Medical and Health Sciences students bringing such diverse speakers together in the Narrowing the Void conference and succeeding again to narrow the void between medical sciences and medicine in the real world. Dr Collins complemented the dedicated staff on the BSc Medical and Health Sciences programme, remarking that it was at such an event that the immense work and commitment of the staff to this new degree programme was evident.
SESSION 2: KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Professor Tim O’Brien
A fascinating discussion with the Keynote Speaker Professor Tim O’Brien followed. Professor Tim O’Brien is a graduate of UCC and is Head of the Department of Medicine, Director of the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), and Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at University of Galway.
Professor O'Brien is an endocrinologist whose research is focused on the use of advanced therapy medicinal products, such as cells and genes, for the treatment of diabetic complications. Since returning to Ireland following 14 years in the USA, he has established a regenerative medicine research program, led the development of a GMP facility and a Clinical Research Facility in Galway, has been the PI on the first gene and cell therapy trials conducted in Ireland and is a founder of a stem cell company, Orbsen Therapeutics, which has novel and patented stem cell isolation technologies.
Seán O’Flaherty, chair of the Translational Society and fourth year Medical and Health Sciences student chatted with Professor O’Brien about his journey from the clinical setting to the world of research. Professor O'Brien spoke candidly of his life's work and his research journey and offered invaluable advice to students on finding their own life's work and passion and to carve out their own career following their interests, to be open-minded in life, to be always learning and to enjoy the process!
Session 4: Bench to Bedside: The PhD Experience: Photo: PhD students, Aaron Barron, Fionnuala Wilson, Patricia Flynn and Ciara O’Neill.
The afternoon session Bench to Bedside: The PhD Experience was chaired by Lorna Collins, Conference Director, and third year Medical and Health Sciences student, Lorna welcomed PhD students; Ciara O'Neill, NUI Galway, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Aaron Barron, UCC Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Department of Pharmacology, Fionnuala Wilson, UCC Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, and Patricia Flynn, UCC Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Department of Pathology. Ciara, Aaron, Fionnuala and Patricia each shared valuable insights to their PhD journey to a very attentive undergraduate audience.
Public Patient Involvement (PPI): The Forgotten Voice? Photo: Ms Amy Kelly Head of Communications, Crohn's and Colitis Ireland
The final session Public Patient Involvement (PPI): The Forgotten Voice? chaired by Brian Curtin, Education Officer, and fourth year Medical and Health Sciences student. This session was a particularly informative session with enlightening discussion with the invited speakers Mr Tony Wilkinson, Chairperson of Cork Parkinson’s Association, Ms Amy Kelly, Head of Communications, Crohn's and Colitis Ireland. Mr Kevin Quaid, Lewy Body Dementia Patient Advocate and Chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group and Ms Ciara O Reilly, Research Officer and Alzheimer’s PPI advocate at The Alzheimer's Society of Ireland, sharing very personal insights into their experiences and the crucial role of Public Patient Involvement in translational research.
News story and photographs Bereniece Riedewald
- BSc Medical and Health Sciences degree at the UCC Undergraduate Open Day Oct 2022
- UCC Society of Translational Medicine hosts Narrowing the Void - A first Hybrid Conference for UCC
- Medical and health Sciences UCC website