• Highlights from the NCRC Annual Symposium 2019

    The National Children’s Research Centre (NCRC) Annual Symposium took place on the 3rd of December 2019. The symposium highlighted the vital role the NCRC and the Children’s Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) play in Irish paediatric research. Across the day, the wide range of paediatric research projects funded by the CMRF was represented with presentations in areas such as cancer, rheumatology, virology, childhood obesity, gastroenterology, inflammatory disorders, metabolic disorders, cardiology, neonatology, allergy, and physiotherapy. The research ranged from basic science studies, to clinical studies, to psycho-social studies aimed at improving the supports available for families affected by childhood illness.

    The morning sessions included oral presentations from principal investigators and senior postdoctoral researchers funded through the NCRC’s Paediatric Research Project Grant scheme.

    Podium Presentation Session 1: (A) Prof. Imelda Coyne (School of Nursing and Midwifery, TCD) presented her work to her work to incorporate the perspective of patients into clinical assessments at adolescent diabetic clinics. (B) Dr. Olga Piskareva (Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, RCSI) presented her research on the role of exosomes in the development of drug-resistant neuroblastoma. (C) Dr. Andy Hogan (Human Health Institute, Maynooth University) presented his research into the role of research on the role of Mucosal associated invariant T cells in the development of insulin resistance in childhood obesity. (D) Dr. Audrey Dunn Galvin (School of Applied Psychology, UCC) presented her work to develop standardised tools for measuring the emotional impact of food allergies on children, adolescents, and young people. (E) Dr. Stephanie Annett (Tracy Robson Group, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, RSCI) spoke about her research into the protective effects of FKBPL against childhood obesity related inflammation. (F) Prof. Günther Eissner (Systems Biology Ireland, UCD) presenting his work to develop a test to identify cancer patients at risk of adverse immune reactions following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

    Podium Presentation Session 2: (A) Dr. Achilleas Floudas (Ursula Fearon group, Molecular Rheumatology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, TCD) presented his research on changes in the immune system of children with Down Syndrome-associated arthritis. (B) Dr. Pat Walsh (Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity College Dublin) presented his research on the role of IL-36 family cytokines in the development of inflammatory bowel disease. (C) Dr. Ning Ge (Terry Prendiville Group, NCRC and Regenerative Medicine Institute, NUIG) grows beating heart cells in the lab in order to study underlying causes of the cardiac rhythm disorder Long QT syndrome. (D) Dr. Jaythoon Hassan (National Virus Reference Laboratory, UCD) presented her research into mumps outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations. (E) Dr. Niamh Morgan (Gerry Wilson Group, Centre for Arthritic Research, UCD) is investigating the genetic basis of the rare autoinflammatory disease; Behçet’s Disease. (F) Dr. Anne Trappe (Judith Coppinger Group, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, RCSI) is studying extracellular vesicles released by lung cells and how they play a role in the progression of cystic fibrosis. (G) Dr. Kiva Brennan (Sarah Doyle Group, School of Medicine, TCD) presenting her work on the use of cytosolic nucleic acids as adjuvants in paediatric vaccines.

    The afternoon session was dedicated to poster presentations from postgraduate students supported through NCRC funding schemes. The top 6 abstracts submitted for the poster session were chosen based on review of technical and plain English abstracts and the top 6 researchers were asked to present in the oral poster session.

    Oral Poster Presentation Session: (A) Dr. Madeline Murphy’s (Colm O’Donnell group, National Maternity Hospital, Holles St) research aims to improve the early care of vulnerable newborn babies. (B) Gillian Motyer (Amanda Fitzgerald Group, School of Psychology, UCD) presenting her research on adolescent scoliosis; how do we better support families during the treatment of scoliosis. (C) Thomas Frawley (Olga Piskareva Group, Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, RCSI) investigates the effect of extracellular vesicles on new blood vessel development, an important factor in the growth of tumours. (D) Dr. Karen Conlan (Andy Hogan Group, Human Health Institute, Maynooth University) presenting her research on the effect of anti-psychotic drugs on weight gain and inflammation. (E) Thomas Lefeivre (Jonathan Bond Group, Systems Biology Ireland, UCD) presenting his work on blood cancer, using systems biology to identify effective treatment strategies for leukaemia. (F) Dr. Marie O’Mir (Cliona O’Sullivan Group, School of Public Health Physiotherapy and Sports Science, UCD) has developed an advanced physiotherapy clinic for paediatric orthopaedic patients at CHI at Crumlin that has reduced waiting times and resulted in cost savings.

    At the symposium, prizes were awarded for the best oral presentation (a panel of scientific judges), best oral poster presentation (a panel of scientific and lay judges including Wendy Costello, Chairperson of the Irish Children’s Arthritis Network, and Denise Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the Children’s Health Foundation), and best poster presentation (a panel of scientific and lay judges including members of the CMRF team).

    Dr. Jaythoon Hassan was awarded best oral presentation “Mumps outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations: Using systems immunology to identify serological signatures in symptomatic mumps virus infected vaccinees”. Dr. Marie O’ Mir won best oral poster presentation “The efficacy of an advanced practice physiotherapy triage service in paediatric orthopaedics: innovation and collaboration to improve service delivery”. Dr. Daire O’Leary (Gerry Wilson Group Centre for Arthritis Research, UCD) won best poster presentation “Whole exome mapping of genetic variants linked with the development of chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis”.

    Dr. Jaythoon Hassan (left) was awarded best oral presentation at the NCRC Annual Symposium. Dr. Hassan presented research undertaken by her postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Anna Connell (right).

    Dr. Marie O’Mir was awarded best oral poster presentation at the NCRC Annual Symposium. (l-r) Dr. Jacinta Kelly (CEO of the NCRC), Denise Fitzgerald (CEO of Children’s Health Foundation), Dr. Marie of Mir, and Wendy Costello (Chairperson of the Irish Children’s Arthritis Network).

    The NCRC would like to thank all the presenters, judges, attendees at the Annual Symposium, and the CMRF whose funding makes this research possible.