RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2014

  • Congratulations to Ciara O’Dwyer who was awarded first prize in the PhD Scholars category of the RCSI Research Day on March 20th, 2014. The title of Ciara’s oral presentation was “Alpha-1 antitrypsin interacts with leukotriene B4 and prevents neutrophil mediated respiratory inflammation”. This project has been funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation and is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney.
    Picture (l-r) are Ciara O'Dwyer and Dr Bojana Mirkovic. 
  • Well done to all RCSI Undergraduate Students who presented their research findings at the annual RCSI Research Day which took place on Thursday, 20th March, 2014. Hilary Kerr and Bakr Jundi carried out their research projects between June and August 2013, and had received funding through the RCSI Student Research Programme. Vipatsorn Shutchaidat, Mu’az Shaharom and Ramia Jameel completed their projects as part of the Student Selection Component. The title of Ramia's oral presentation was "Defective CFTR function impairs activation of Rab27a in cystic fibrosis neutrophils".
  • Congratulations to Michelle White and Emmet O’Brien who were awarded first prize in the PhD and MB categories of the Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize on February 18th, 2014. The title of Michelle’s oral presentation was “Inflammatory induced cholesterol depletion disrupts lipid raft structure in neutrophils of individuals with cystic fibrosis”. Emmet presented his data on the immune-regulatory effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin on complement C3. Projects were funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation and by Science Foundation Ireland, grant 11/RFP/BMT/3094.

    Sheppard Prize

    Pictured (l-r) are Barry Morris (Astra Zeneca), Dr Colin Davenport, Michelle White, Dr Emmet O’Brien and Professor Noel G. McElvaney. 

  • Drs. David Bergin and Emer Reeves have made an important breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of hereditary emphysema.  Their research findings were published in this month's edition of Science Translational Medicine, a prestigious journal that highlights medical advances resulting from scientific research, thus bridging the research-to-treatment gap. Their exciting findings show how the protein Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) plays an important role in controlling inflammation from white blood cells and its importance for good health. Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine at RCSI and senior author on the study commented: "Our study is the first to reveal the mechanisms by which a lack of the Alpha-1 protein causes an increase in the release of white blood cell proteins into the blood stream. This leads to an autoimmune process in the body that mistakenly recognises these proteins as foreign and activates its own white blood cells to produce harmful oxidants" . "Our research also reveals how a treatment known as augmentation therapy, where Alpha-1 protein purified from blood, is given intravenously, leading to a decrease in the abnormal protein release thereby alleviating the disease associated autoimmunity. 

This research has also been highlighted in The Irish Times (Emphysema breakthrough by Irish Team, 14:1:14), Irish Examiner (Treatment for lung ailment, 14:1:14), Irish Daily Mirror (Lung disease hope as docs make emphysema discovery, 14:1:14), Evening Herald (Irish Team in lung disease break through, 14:1:14) and online coverage from rte.ie, irishtimes.com, sciencedaily.com, healthcanal.com, medicalexpress.com and sciencespinning.com

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2013
  • Congratulation to Ramia Jameel who won the RCSI Fennessy Hogan Medal on November 15th 2013. Ramia's project was part of the Student Selection Component, the title of which was “Defective CFTR function reduces cytosolic magnesium concentrations and affects Rab27a in cystic fibrosis neutrophils”.
  • Dr. Killian Hurley completed his research project in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy and graduated on November 13th, 2013. The title of Killian’s study was “Neutrophil apoptosis in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency”. This project was funded through the HRB/MRCG scheme and was jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney.
  • Dr. Kerstin Pohl won the Junior Investigators Best Abstract in Basic Science Award at the 2013 North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Utah. The study, led by Dr. Emer Reeves and Prof. Gerry McElvaney, was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Dublin City University and King’s College London. The study examined the effect of ivacaftor treatment on neutrophil function in individuals with cystic fibrosis.
  • Ciara O’Dwyer was awarded a travel grant from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for attendance at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in October 2013 at Salt Lake City, Utah. Ciara is in the third year of her PhD studies and she presented her results on the effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin on leukotriene B4 associated pulmonary disease. Ciara’s project is funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation and is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney.
  • European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA)

Emmet's project aims to fully alpha-1 on neutrophil function within the circulation. The potential benefits to patients include an investigation into whether alpha-1 augmentation therapy corrects the accelerated rate of neutrophil activity in deficient individuals. The long-term objective of this research is to develop the means to control lung disease associated with alpha-1 deficiency and the potential ramifications of alpha-1 as a modulator of neutrophil function will add a new dimension to its role in health and disease.
Emmet's project is entitled ‘Neutrophil degranulation in individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency' and is currently being carried out in the Department of Medicine, under the supervision of Prof Gerry McElvaney, Dr Emer Reeves and Dr David Bergin. (September 2013)

 

 Recent oral presentations by members of the Team:

Ciara O'Dwyer (right) and Michelle White (2nd from right) were short-listed for the Donegan Medal competition at this years Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland meeting held in Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cork (June 20th 2013).

The title of Ciara's oral presentation was, Alpha-1 antitrypsin as a potential therapy targeting leukotriene B4 mediated respiratory Inflammation.  This PhD project was funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation.  The title of Michelle's oral presentation was, Altered neutrophil membrane cholesterol content and lipid raft instability in cystic fibrosis. Michelle's PhD project is being funded by Science Foundation Ireland, grant # 11/RFP/BMT/3094.
 
Dr. David Bergin (left) was invited to present his research findings at the annual European Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA) meeting held in San Cugat, Barcelona on June 11th 2013.  This annual meeting provides a platform for young researchers to present data to internationally renowned experts in the area of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The title of David's presentation was Dysregulation of neutrophil degranulation in Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency leads to autoimmunity.
 
Dr. Emer Reeves was an invited speaker at the European Cystic Fibrosis Conference, Lisbon Portugal, Symposium 22- in CF, and the Comprehensive Center for Infection, Immunity, and Transplantation, Department of Hygiene, Microbiology and Social Medicine Division of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology Innsbruck Medical University, Austria (June 2012)
 

Summer Students: Congratulations to Hilary Kerr and Bakr Jundi for successfully securing funding through the RCSI Student Research Programme (2012) funded by the Alumni Office Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and by the Alumni Office Claire and Nid Afdhal Award in Medicine. Bakr and Hilary are undertaking 8 weeks of research investigating dysregulated neutrophil activity in cystic fibrosis and novel anti-inflammatory therapies.

 

 

Stephen Cox completed his research project entitled "Structured abnormalities associated with lipid rafts as a potential cause for impaired neutrophil activity in cystic fibrosis" in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science and graduated in June 2013. Stephen was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, grant 11/RFP/BMT/3094.

 
 
 
RCSI Research Day (05 March 2013). Congratulations to Dr. Kerstin Pohl, winner of the Early Career Investigators Oral Research Prize (The Barnes Medal). Pictured (l-r) are Mr Matthew Barnes, Mrs Betty Barnes, Dr Kerstin Pohl and Dr Kevin McGuigan, Research Day Academic Co-ordinator.
 
 
 
 
Congratulations to Dr. David Bergin and Dr. Killian Hurley on their research article entitled "Airway inflammatory markers in individuals with cystic fibrosis and non cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis". David and Killian's study was published in the Journal of Inflammation Research and received a remarkable 402 views in just 4 weeks, thus emphasizing the importance of this study for evaluating patient treatment options.
 
Bergin DA, Hurley K, Mehta A, Cox S, Ryan D, O&rsquoNeill SJ, Reeves EP, McElvaney NG. January 2013 Volume 2013:6 Pages 1 - 11
 
 
 
 
 

 

Congratulations to Dr. Kerstin Pohl who was awarded first prize in the Poster Category of the Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize (Feb 19th 2013).

 

 

 

The chapter entitled "Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, A Genetic Risk Factor for COPD", published with InTech in the book "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - Current Concepts and Practice" has achieved impressive readership results and has so far been accessed 1500 times.

ISBN 978-953-51-0163-5
 

 

 RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2012

 
Drs. Kerstin Pohl and Catherine Coughlan completed their research projects in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy and graduated on November 15th 2012. Both Catherine and Kerstin were funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease. Pictured (l to r) are Dr Catherine Coughlan, Dr Emer Reeves and Dr Kerstin Pohl.
 
 
 
 
 Dr. Killian Hurley was announced as winner of the William Stokes Award, which recognises the highest standard of research by Specialist Registrars, at this year St Lukes Day Symposium in the Royal College of Physicians. Dr Hurley presented his study entitled Alpha-1 antitrypsin modulates TNF-alpha signalling, that details elements of a translational project carried out in the Department of Medicine, RCSI, with Professor Gerry McElvaney and Dr Emer Reeves examining the immunodulatory effects of alpha-1 antitrypsin.
Pictured (l-r) are Dr Colm Geraghty and Dr David Lynch (Beaumont Hospital), Prof T.J. McKenna (Chair of the Irish Committee on Higher Medical Training) and Dr Killian Hurley, RCSI.
 
 
 
Drs. Kerstin Pohl and Nessa Banville were awarded travel grants from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for attendance at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in October 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida. The title of Kerstin oral presentation was Impaired neutrophil bacterial killing in cystic fibrosis with particular reference to activation of proteolytic enzymes by vacuolar pH and potassium flux and Nessa presented data entitled Intrinsic cholesterol depletion disrupts lipid raft structure in neutrophils of individuals with cystic fibrosis.

 

 

Congratulations to Dr Isabel Vega-Carrascal on her review article entitled The role of TIM-containing molecules in airway disease and their potential as therapeutic targets. This review was published in the Journal of Inflammation Research and received an amazing 446 views in just 4 weeks, thus emphasizing the importance and current interest in TIM receptors in resolution of inflammation associated with airway disease. Isabel was funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease. Link to Article
 
 
 Congratulations to Three Funded Summer Students Congratulations to Bader Alfawaz (pictured left), William Leitch (centre) and Pat Shutchaidat for successfully securing funding through the RCSI Student Research Programme or the HRB Summer Research Studentship Scheme (2012). Bader and Pat are undertaking 8 weeks of research investigating the anti-inflammatory effects of alpha-1 antitrypsin, whilst William is investigating the pro-inflammatory response of neutrophils in cystic fibrosis.

 

 

 

Kerstin Pohl, HRB PhD Scholar in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease was awarded the 2012 European Cystic Fibrosis Society (ECFS) Young Investigators Award. The ECFS Award is given annually to individual researchers who made an outstanding contribution to the basic understanding of cystic fibrosis or to the treatment or care of people with cystic fibrosis. Kerstin who is jointly supervised by Dr Emer Reeves and Professor Gerry McElvaney (Dept of Medicine) was presented with her award at the annual ECFS conference which was held in Dublin on June 7th-9th, 2012. In her study, Kerstin (centre of picture) identified an intrinsic functional difference of circulating white blood cells in people with cystic fibrosis (June 2012).

 
 
Congratulations to Killian Hurley, who was awarded the post-graduate oral research prize winner at the annual RCSI Research Day which took place on April 25th, 2012. He received the Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals Prize for his presentation entitled Coupling endoplasmic reticulum stress with altered apoptosis in neutrophils of individuals with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This project was funded through the MRCG/HRB Scheme (code MRCG/3008/2).

Pictured are Professor John Kelly, Director of Research Dr Killian Hurley, post-graduate oral research prize winner (Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals Prize) and Mr Peter Daly, Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals.

 

 

Congratulations to William Leitch (medical student-IC3) who was winner of the Undergraduate Poster Prize at the annual RCSI Research Day which took place on Wednesday, 25th April 2012. William received first prize for his Student Science Foundation Ireland, number 11/RFP/BMT/3094
 
 
 
 
   
 
 

Congratulations to Kerstin Pohl who was awarded second prize in the PhD poster category at the 2012 Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize for her project entitled "Decreased Rab27a activation and impaired release of secondary and tertiary granules from neutrophils in cystic fibrosis" Kerstin is funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease.

 

 

 

Congratulations to Dr. David Bergin who was awarded first prize within the PhD category of the Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize on February 21st 2012. David was awarded the prize for his project entitled, The inhibitory effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin on TNF-alpha signaling.
Pictured left to right are Dr. David Bergin, Dr. Sinead McNicolas, Prof. Arnold Hill, Prof Gerry McElvaney and Barry Morris (Astra Zeneca). This project has been funded by the US Alpha-1 Foundation.
 
 
RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2011 
 
 

Congratulations to Rebecca Wolfe who received the award for Best Poster presentation at the Irish Thoracic Society Annual Scientific Meeting held in Dublin (11th November 2011). Her poster was entitled: Alpha-1 Antitrypsin: A Novel TNF-Alpha Blocker? 

 
 
 

 

Isabel Vega-Carrascal completed her research project entitled "The Role of T-cell Immunoglobulin and Mucin-Domain-Containing Molecules in Inflammation in the Cystic Fibrosis Airways"  in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy and graduated on November 17th 2011. Isabel was funded through the HRB PhD Scholars Programme in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human Disease.

 

 

 

Rebecca Wolfe (HRB Summer Research Student), won Overall Winner for Best Oral Presentation with her project entitled "Alpha-1 antitrypsin a novel TNF-alpha blocker" at the International Conference for Healthcare and Medical Students (ICHAMS) held in Dublin. Rebeccas project won first prize within the Dermatology & Gastroenterology & Respiratory session (5th November 2011).

 

 

 

 

Dr David Bergin was awarded a travel from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for his presentation entitled &ldquoEvaluation of serum derived bioactive biomarkers of inflammation in Cystic Fibrosis&rdquo at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in November 2011 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Los Angeles, California.

 

 

 

Pictured is Dr Killian Hurley who received the European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell&rsquos Training Award (eALTA) at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Amsterdam in September 2011. The goal of Killian&rsquos project is to fully characterise the anti-apoptotic effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin. The eALTA fellowship aims to support research projects which enhance the understanding of mechanisms of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and associated disorders and to help improve existing as well as finding new therapies.

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Rebecca Wolfe, (HRB funded Summer Research Student), on winning the prize for best oral presentation at the Summer School Symposium which took place this month. Pictured is Dr. Tom Farrell, Anatomy Department, presenting the award to Rebecca, whose project explored the possibility of broadening the therapeutic potential of alpha-1 antitrypsin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Dorothy Ryan completed her research project entitled "Secretory leukoprotease inhibitor: form and function within the human neutrophil"  in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) and graduated in June 2011. 

 

 

 

Dr Elaine Hayes completed her research project entitled "Evaluation of the cystic fibrosis neutrophil as a prominent contributor to disease progression" in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) and graduated in June 2011.

   

 

  • Catherine Coughlan, third Year HRB PhD student,won First Prize for Best Oral Presentation with her project entitled "Gliotoxin is responsible for vitamin D receptor down-regulation and induced T-helper 2 response in Aspergillus fumigatus colonized cystic fibrosis airway disease" at the British Society for Medical Mycology Annual Scientific Meeting held in Glasgow. Catherines project has been carried-out in collaboration with Dr Kevin Kavanagh, NUI Maynooth  (20th April 2011).

 

 

 

  • RCSI breakthrough in understanding hereditary emphysema. A study carried out by Prof McElvaney research group has lead to a breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms behind the development of emphysema in the genetic heredity disease, Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The research was carried out by the lead authors on the study Dr David Bergin and Dr Emer Reeves from Prof McElvaney Research group within RCSIs Department of Medicine and with collaborators based at the NICB in Dublin City University. The study was published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation in December 2010 and has additionally been recognized as being in the top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine by the distinguished Faculty of 1000. This research has also been highlighted in The Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Daily Star (25th January 2011).    

Dublin research into emphysema" published in the Irish Times.
RCSI research could lead to new treatments for smoker emphysema Medical Independent

Breakthrough in Understanding Hereditary Emphysema published in the Science Daily
Irish team in emphysema breakthrough published in IrishHealth 

 

Isabel Vega-Carrascal published her research entitled "Dysregulation of TIM-3-Galectin-9 Pathway in the Cystic Fibrosis Airways" within The Journal of Immunology. Isabel Vega-Carrascal is a final year HRB PhD scholar her research appeared within the March 2011 issue and was featured in "In This Issue" of The Journal of Immunology. "In This Issue" highlights articles that are among the top 10% of articles published in the journal (16th February 2011).
 

 

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2010
 

 

Catherine Coughlan was awarded second place at the annual Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland meeting (2010) for her poster presentation entitled "Inhibition of VDR expression following exposure to Aspergillus fumigatus secondary metabolite gliotoxin in cystic fibrosis".

 

Dr. David Bergin was awarded a travel from the ATS Public Advisory Roundtable Member the Alpha-1 Foundation for his ATS abstract "Alpha-1 antitrypsin modulates neutrophil activity through regulation of the calcium flux".

 

  • Isabel Vega-Carrascal was awarded first prize for best poster presentation in the PhD Scholars category for RCSI Research day.
  •  Dr Elaine Hayes was awarded a travel from the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for her presentation entitled Highly altered protein expression profile of neutrophil membranes in cystic fibrosis&rdquo at the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference (NACFC) held in October 2010 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Dr. Dorothy Ryan was awarded first prize for best oral presentation in the Postgraduate category of the RCSI Research Day for her presentation entitled &ldquoSecretory leukoprotease inhibitor regulates calpain-mediated neutrophil migration.
  • Dr. David Bergin was awarded first prize for best poster presentation in the Early Career Investigators section for Alpha-1 antitrypsin augmentation therapy regulates neutrophil chemotaxis in Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency at Research Day, RCSI.

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2009 
  • Dr. David Bergin was awarded the European Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Laurell&rsquos Training Award for his project entitled Coupling endoplasmic reticulum stress to neutrophil dysfunction in Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency.
  • Dr. David Bergin was awarded first prize at the Beaumont Hospital Sheppards for his oral presentation entitled The effect of alpha-1 antitrypsin augmentation therapy on neutrophil chemotaxis. 
RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2008 
  • Dr. David Bergin was awarded a travel from the ATS and Genentech, Inc. / Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation for his ATS abstract Alpha-1 Antitrypsin and the Phagocytic Neutrophil Revisited.
Congratulations to Dr Kerstin Pohl who was awarded first prize in the Poster Category of the Beaumont Hospital Sheppard Prize (Feb 19th 2013).

 

 

 

 

Dr. Emmet O'Brien was the successful recipient of the European Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Laurell's Training Award (eALTA), received at the European Respiratory Society Annual Congress in Barcelona in September 2013. The eALTA is a European research initiative coordinated by Grifols and the primary goal of the eALTA program is to identify research projects aimed at enhancing the understanding of disease mechanisms of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and associated disorders.

  • Well done to all RCSI Undergraduate Students who presented their research findings at the annual RCSI Research Day which took place on Thursday, 20th March 2014. Hilary Kerr and Bakr Jundi carried out their research projects between June and August 2013 and had received funding through the RCSI Student Research Programme. Vipatsorn Shutchaidat, Mu’az Shaharom and Ramia Jameel completed their projects as part of the Student circulating neutrophils”.