SoBT 12th Annual Research Day
On January 15th, the School of Biotechnology hosted its 12th Annual Research Day - albeit in a slightly different format to normal.
Always a lively and highly subscribed event which brings researchers of all experience levels from within and outside of the School together for the day, the COVID-19 pandemic saw this event unfortunately postponed indefinitely last year.
Thanks to a coordinated effort from the Biological Research Society and other members of the School, the event was taken online, in which research projects spanning a variety of biological research streams were presented by our PhD students and post-doctoral staff alike.
From approaches to treating COVID-19 patients to approaches towards detecting life on Mars – the day was packed with diverse projects; an element which was noted in the opening address delivered by DCU President, Prof. Daire Keogh. After welcoming the attendees, President Keogh highlighted how impressed he was with the innovation on display within the program, with the School commended for applying their expertise towards tackling problems which have direct impacts across the world today.
‘It was exciting to see our superb students tackling the world’s greatest challenges. This crisis reminds us to cherish our scientists’
With that, the day kicked off in which members of the School delivered talks to attendees on their research to date. As mentioned, the topics were diverse with presentations on biomarkers of breast cancer, therapeutics targets for chronic itch, state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments towards cardiovascular disease, and development of methods for monitoring environmental DNA, amongst many others.
Before the prize-giving ceremony, the day also had the School’s new Asst. Prof. Janosch Heller deliver his keynote lecture; ‘Astrocytes – the underappreciated stars of the brain’. Dr. Heller gave an overview of his work to date which has seen him profile the role of the astrocyte in the cerebrovascular space using advanced microscopic techniques. Dr. Heller’s overview gave everyone a fantastic insight into research career to date, and it was an excellent introduction as he embarks on his new research stream examining techniques to control astrocytic function as a means to treat neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases in a new project starting in the School this year.
With that, it was left to outgoing Head-of School; Prof. Anne Parle-McDermott, to conclude the day with the prize-giving:
The winner of the ‘Flash Five’ session was Radoslaw Tyminski, for his presentation ‘Investigation of PacBio RNA databases in the hopes of finding novel DHFR2 RNA isoforms’.
The winner of the ‘Research Talks’ session was Niamh Bookey, for her presentation ‘Unravelling the role of the dihydrofolate reductase 2 gene’.
The winner of the ‘Exit Talks’ session was Molly Ann Williams, for her presentation ‘The application of CRISPR-Cas to Salmo salar detection from environmental DNA’.
This event saw the departure of several key members of the Biological Research Society, who have had a tremendous impact in their tenure. This was underlined in their announcement that as a final act of the committee, a €2500 donation would be split across six charities on behalf of the society’s members.
‘COVID-19 prevented us from being able to host some of the regular events that are staples of the BRS calendar’, explains Molly Ann Williams, outgoing BRS Chair, ‘but in the spirit of the society we were thrilled to use the money set aside for those events, to help charities who have seen their donations suffer as a result of COVID-19’.
The 12th Annual Research Day would not have been possible without the support from the sponsors. As such, the School would like to thank the following for their continued support, and for helping make the latest Research Day a success: