News and events
- Chemists devise revolutionary 3D bone-scanning technique.
- Gold Elsevier Young Student Award at the 27th International Conference of Diamond and Carbon Materials 2016 goes to Trinity PhD student Joana Vasconcelos.
- Final year PhD student, Michelle Brown, is this year's recipient of the RSC Electrochemical group Sheelagh Cambell award.
- BOC Gases Prize Winner 2015-2016
- €150,000 FUNDING AWARDED TO AMBER RESEARCHER TO DEVELOP NEW THERMAL MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
- Medicinal Chemistry Researchers welcomed to Trinity’s Biomedical Sciences Institute
- Winners of the Third Year PhD Talks 2016-Dublin Chemistry Graduate Seminars 2015-2016
- Trinity Chemist (Prof. John Kelly) Recognised for Shedding Light on the Mechanism of DNA Damage
- Major Clean Energy Breakthrough Made by School of Chemistry Researchers
- 1st Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference (July 1st, 2016, Trinity College Dublin)
- Congratulations to Ilaria Meazzini
- 2016 Newly Elected Fellows & Scholars
- Trinity Student Scientific Review (TSSR) Journal – Volume 2 – launched March 22nd
- Congratulations to Maria O’Brien on being selected to attend the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany this summer
8 September 2016
Chemists from Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with RCSI, have devised a revolutionary new scanning technique that produces extremely high-res 3D images of bones -- without exposing patients to X-ray radiation.
The chemists attach luminescent compounds to tiny gold structures to form biologically safe ‘nanoagents’ that are attracted to calcium-rich surfaces, which appear when bones crack – even at a micro level. These nanoagents target and highlight the cracks formed in bones, allowing researchers to produce a complete 3D image of the damaged regions.
The technique will have major implications for the health sector as it can be used to diagnose bone strength and provide a detailed blueprint of the extent and precise positioning of any weakness or injury. Additionally, this knowledge should help prevent the need for bone implants in many cases, and act as an early-warning system for people at a high risk of degenerative bone diseases, such as osteoporosis.
The research, led by the Trinity team of Professor of Chemistry, Thorri Gunnlaugsson, and Postdoctoral Researcher, Esther Surender, has just been published in the leading journal Chem, a sister journal to Cell, which is published by CellPress. The article can be viewed here.
Professor Gunnlaugsson said: “This work is the outcome of many years of successful collaboration between chemists from Trinity and medical and engineering experts from RCSI. We have demonstrated that we can achieve a three-dimensional map of bone damage, showing the so-called microcracks, using non-invasive luminescence imaging. The nanoagent we have developed allows us to visualise the nature and the extent of the damage in a manner that wasn’t previously possible. This is a major step forward in our endeavour to develop targeted contrast agents for bone diagnostics for use in clinical applications.”
The work was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and by the Irish Research Council, and benefited from collaboration with scientists at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), led by Professor of Anatomy, Clive Lee.
Professor Lee said: “Everyday activity loads our bones and causes microcracks to develop. These are normally repaired by a remodelling process, but, when microcracks develop faster, they can exceed the repair rate and so accumulate and weaken our bones. This occurs in athletes and leads to stress fractures. In elderly people with osteoporosis, microcracks accumulate because repair is compromised and lead to fragility fractures, most commonly in the hip, wrist and spine. Current X ray techniques can tell us about the quantity of bone present but they do not give much information about bone quality.”
He continued: “By using our new nanoagent to label microcracks and detecting them with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we hope to measure both bone quantity and quality and identify those at greatest risk of fracture and institute appropriate therapy. Diagnosing weak bones before they break should therefore reduce the need for operations and implants – prevention is better than cure.”
In addition to the unprecedented resolution of this imaging technique, another major step forward lies in it not exposing X-rays to patients. X-rays emit radiation and have, in some cases, been associated with an increased risk of cancer. The red emitting gold-based nanoagents used in this alternative technique are biologically safe – gold has been used safely by medics in a variety of ways in the body for some time.
Dr Esther Surender, Postdoctoral Researcher at Trinity, said: “These nanoagents have great potential for clinical application. Firstly, by using gold nanoparticles, we were able to lower the overall concentration of the agent that would have to be administered within the body, which is ideal from a clinical perspective. Secondly, by using what is called ‘two-photon excitation’ we were able to image bone structure using long wavelength excitation, which is not harmful or damaging to biological tissues.”
She added: “These nanoagents are similar to the contrast agents that are currently being utilised for MRI within the clinic, and hence have the potential to provide a novel means of medical bone diagnosis in the future. Specifically, by replacing the Europium with its sister ion Gadolinium, we can tune into the MRI activity of these nanoagents for future use alongside X-ray and computed tomography (CT) scans.”
Professor Gunnlaugsson and his research team are based in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI), which recently celebrated its 5-Year anniversary. Professor Gunnlaugsson presented his research at a symposium to mark the occasion, along with many other world-leaders in chemistry, immunology, bioengineering and cancer biology -- read more here.
Joana Vasconcelos, a 4th year PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Paula Colavita is the recipient of the Gold Elsevier Young Student Award at the 27th International Conference of Diamond and Carbon Materials 2016 in Montpellier, France. This award is given to a student who demonstrates academic excellence in the field of carbon related materials and which contribution was presented at the aforementioned conference. Her work has focused on investigating the interaction of lipid aggregates with amorphous carbon thin films for the rational design of biomaterials.
Michelle Browne, a final year PhD student, under the supervision of Prof Mike Lyons and Prof. Paula Colavita is the recipient of this year’s RSC Electrochemical group Sheelagh Campbell award. This award is given to a student who demonstrates academic excellence in the field of electrochemistry based on a published paper. Michelle gave an oral presentation on her work, which was published in ACS Catalysis, at the Electrochem conference in the University of Leicester in August 2016, as part of the award. Michelle’s work has recently been highlighted in Silicon Republic’s ‘10 major Irish breakthroughs of the year so far worth celebrating’ published in June 2016 and in the Engineers journal.
Well done Michelle!
From Left to right: Prof Rachel Evans, Supervisor, Mr Eamonn Bolton (BOC Gases, Ireland Sales Manager)
Judith Houston, Prof Sylvia Draper, Head of School of Chemistry
Congratulations to Judith Houston who was the recipient of the
2015/2016 BOC Gases Postgraduate Bursary.
€150,000 FUNDING AWARDED TO AMBER RESEARCHER TO DEVELOP NEW THERMAL MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
Prof. Valeria Nicolosi is Ireland’s only five-time ERC awardee and has received research funding of €12 million in the past 5 years.
Wednesday 27th July 2016, Dublin: Prof Valeria Nicolosi from AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre, hosted in Trinity College Dublin, has been announced as a recipient of the European Research Council’s (ERC) Proof of Concept Grants, worth €150,000.
This is a top-up for her ERC Starting Grant of €1.5m awarded in 2011 and brings her total research funding awarded in the past 5 years, to over €12 million. Prof. Valeria Nicolosi is Ireland’s only five-time ERC awardee.
The award will be used to explore the commercial use of advanced nanomaterials to act as solutions for heat dissipation for the high-end automotive industry.
Proof of Concept grants are awarded to ERC grant holders only as top-up funding to explore the commercial or innovation potential of the results of their ERC-funded research. Prof Nicolosi, Investigator with AMBER and Trinity’s School of Chemistry was awarded an ERC Starting Grant of €1.5M in 2011 for her work in processing and characterising nanomaterials for the development of novel energy storage devices. As a result of this Starting Grant, she began collaborating with a company in the automotive industry to explore the use of novel 2-dimensional nanomaterials to solve heat dissipation issues. Her technology was successful and the aim of this proposal is to determine the economic and technical feasibility of using readily scalable technologies for the development of inexpensive and high performance solutions to solve heat dissipation for a wide range of technologies.
Prof. Valeria Nicolosi, Professor at the School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin and Principal Investigator at AMBER, said, “I am delighted to be awarded this 3rd ERC Proof of Concept Grant which will allow me to build on the success of my technology developed from my Starting Grant. What is exciting about this work is that in addition to the automotive industry, there are a huge range of industrial applications that can benefit from more efficient and lightweight thermal management systems such as advanced aircraft, injection moulding, pharmaceutical manufacturing and household appliances. This technology has the potential to become a feasible, easy and efficient solution for a range of manufacturing companies. This grant is allowing me to take the next step with the technology to really see it applied in industry”.
Considerable industrial effort is currently focussing on finding alternative materials to act as thermal conductive elements and heat spreaders in an efficient and cost effective way. Manufacturers need these technologies to regulate the large amounts of unwanted heat caused by the normal functioning of electronic systems. It is estimated that the global market for thermal management products will grow from about $10.7 billion in 2015 to $14.7 billion by 20211. Prof Nicolosi’s technology will offer a cheap, scalable solution of using advanced 2D nanomaterials for enhanced heat transport. 2D nanomaterials improve heat transport due to their thermal conductivity properties and at the same time provide a lightweight solution. Moreover, the technology offers the advantage of being extremely versatile; 2D nanomaterial dispersions can be sprayed on their own directly onto surfaces or they can be mixed with different materials to obtain additional enhanced resistance to wear, abrasion and oxidation. This will allow manufacturers to improve the performance of existing systems, as well as improve the performance of new designs.
Prof. Michael Morris, Director of AMBER, commented on the announcement, saying, “The awarding of this Proof of Concept Grant to Prof. Nicolosi is an excellent acknowledgement of the research work she and her team are currently undergoing. She is at the forefront in 2D nanomaterials research and her work will bring economic and societal benefits to Ireland in developing more efficient ways to deal with energy consumption. During her time at Trinity, Prof. Nicolosi has received over €12 million in funding, including €6.8 million to date from the ERC, and now an additional €150,000 to further her research. She is an exceptional asset to the AMBER team and this funding also reaffirms how competitive Ireland is as a place for research.”
On July 1st 2016, the School of Chemistry received delegates to Trinity’s Biomedical Sciences Institute for the first ever Medicinal Chemistry Conference Ireland. This significant event brought together some of the most relevant researchers in this multi-disciplinary field and highlighted Ireland’s strong wealth of graduates in the area. The organising committee, which included representatives of 7 Ireland’s national universities, welcomed 120 participants for the one-day conference which comprised of plenary talks from international speakers across academia and industry.
The programme, opened by Prof. Martina Hennessy (Associate Dean of Research, Trinity College Dublin) included talks from Dr. Andrea Brancale (Cardiff University, UK), Dr. Pascale Clement (Director of Science and Technology, Catalent Pharma Solutions, UK), Prof. Mari-Luz Lopez-Rodriguez (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain), Prof. Francesco Peri (University Milano-Bicoca, Italy), Prof. Carmen Galan (University of Bristol UK), Dr. Simon Macdonald (Director of Medicinal Chemistry, GSK, Stevenage, UK) and Prof. Mary Meegan (School of Pharmacy, Trinity College Dublin). Poster prizes were awarded to four researchers on the day, with the organising committee congratulating the overall quality of research from all of the posters on display. The Catalent supported poster prizes went to:
- Alfie Brennan (Design and synthesis of biphenyl and biphenyl ether inhibitors of sulfatases), Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, R.J. Griffin group.
- Maria Blazquez-Scanchez (Synthesis of β-galactosides for specific interactions with galectins) UCD, S. Oscarson group.
- Nipun Mahajan (Building an Irish Marine Natural Products Library for Pharmaceutical Applications), NUI Galway, O. Thomas group.
- Creina Slator ([Cu(o-phthalate)(phenanthroline)] Exhibits Unique Superoxide-Mediated NCI-60 Chemotherapeutic Action through Genomic DNA Damage and Mitochondrial Dysfunction), DCU (A. Kellett group).
Dr Andrea Brancale also led tributes to his former colleague, the late Prof. Christopher McGuigan, who lost his battle with cancer early this year. Prof McGuigan’s immense thirty year contribution to the field of drug discovery was particularly acknowledged, as well as his active role in developing anti-cancer drug research world-wide.
The organisers would like to thank all of their sponsors for their generous support and to all of the conference delegates who made the event a tremendous success.
Colm Healy on Coordination Chemistry - TCD
Junsi Wang on Imaging and Analysis - TCD
Shaun Stamullen for Sythesis & Catalysis - UCD
Maria O'Brien for Surface-TCD
Olan Cleary on Nanomaterials - TCD
Joana Vasconcelos on Carbon - TCD
Malachi Gillick-Healy on Synthesis & Mechanisms - UCD
Sandra Lara on Nanoprotein - UCD
Emeritus Professor John Kelly, from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Chemistry, has been recognised for his part in decades-long research that has helped shed light, quite literally, on the precise mechanism of DNA damage.
Professor Kelly is a recipient of the 2016 Rita and John Cornforth Award, along with his collaborators Professor Christine Cardin, University of Reading, and Dr Susan Quinn, University College Dublin. The award, which places an emphasis on the importance of collaboration in scientific research, is handed out annually by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Professor Kelly said:
“I am delighted that our collaboration has been recognised with this award. My interests have always involved exploring photochemical reactions, and to fully understand the processes occurring from the initial absorption of a photon to the formation of a permanent product."
"The roots of our work go back to the 1980s when we started an ambitious project with Dan Bradley and David McConnell to target the reactions that take place in DNA.”
The Dublin-Reading DNA Consortium use specially synthesised molecules to see how – and exactly where – they bind to DNA. The reactions usually involve short-lived chemical species (such as ‘free radicals’), which are damaging to DNA and cells inside the body. The reactions often last for mere picoseconds (a billion times faster than a millisecond). Due to these very narrowest windows of opportunity, specialist crystallography and laser technology techniques are required to provide the all-important series of snapshots that illuminate what is really taking place.
Working in the world-leading Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has recently enabled the scientists to follow the vibrations of excited molecules in DNA crystals, so as to follow the transit of the electrons that lead to DNA damage. That most recent breakthrough also opens the door for studies looking at direct UV excitation of DNA in crystals, which should help us gain an understanding of the processes that cause DNA photo-damage. It should also help related research in the fields of cancer medicine and drug development, as visible light irradiation of the compound in cancer cells leads to their destruction (as has recently been demonstrated by the Trinity groups of Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson and Clive Williams).
More information available for those who are interested at http://www.rsc.org/ScienceAndTechnology/Awards/RitaandJohnCornforthAward/2016-winner.asp
Congratulations to Prof. Kelly and all involved.
Major Clean Energy Breakthrough Made by School of Chemistry Researchers
New material will increase adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation
The development of a real alternative to fossil fuels is perhaps the greatest technological challenge faced by humanity at present. Now, researchers in the School of Chemistry and CRANN (the Nanoscience Institute based at Trinity College Dublin) have developed a material which enhances the splitting of water at a very low energy cost using earth abundant raw materials. This new material performs as well as the world’s most effective material for water splitting (which is the scarce and expensive ruthenium oxide) but is much less expensive. This is a significant breakthrough, as it means that an energy efficient production of pure hydrogen is now possible using renewable energy sources which will potentially accelerate adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation.
Hydrogen has been described as the ultimate clean energy source, it’s seen as very attractive as it is a pollution free fuel and energy carrier which would satisfy much of the energy requirements of our society. Hydrogen is readily prepared by splitting water electrically into its component parts hydrogen and oxygen (a process called electrolysis). However, this process requires a significant energy input. The widespread uptake of hydrogen as a fuel has been hampered by the lack of low cost, earth abundant materials which can accomplish the splitting of water, with minimal energy input, in an economically efficient manner using renewable energy sources.
The CRANN breakthrough recently published in the prestigious international journal ACS Catalysis, has shown that the ruthenium content can be decreased by as much as 90% and substituted with the earth abundant and inexpensive manganese oxide without diminishing the efficiency of the material to split water.
Professor Mike Lyons, Principal Investigator at the School of Chemistry and CRANN : “We are very excited about this very significant breakthrough. The adoption of this material in industry will mean that electrochemical hydrogen generation using photo (electrolysis) is now far more economically viable and will hasten adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation. It should be noted that this discovery could only have been accomplished using the world class characterization facilities and opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration available within the School of Chemistry and CRANN.”
Mike Lyons, continued: “Our disruptive materials breakthrough is momentous as it means much more energetically efficient and more economical hydrogen energy. This means that the cost of producing hydrogen via water electrolysis will be significantly reduced, which will result in a more rapid uptake of hydrogen as an automotive fuel.”
Professor Mike Lyons leads the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group in the School of Chemistry. He has published two books and more than 126 papers, and has a h-index of 33, which demonstrates the worldwide impact of his research. Working with Professor Mike Lyons on this project, was Professor Paula Colavita, PI in the School of Chemistry/ CRANN, and Michelle Browne, PhD student. Characterisation of the materials were carried out by Dr. Hugo Nolan, supervised by Professor Georg Duesberg, PI in the School of Chemistry and CRANN.
The full review is available here.
1st Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference
(July 1st, 2016, Trinity College Dublin)
The Pharmaceutical and Medicinal sectors are of enormous importance for the Irish economy. Academic and industrial research and development in this area will sustain Ireland’s position and as a key player in the global landscape.
Trinity’s School of Chemistry is proud to announce the 1st Medicinal Chemistry Conference Ireland which will be held on 1st July 2016 in Trinity’s Biomedical Science Institute. The conference programme draws together key speakers across academia with innovative researchers from industry.
For a full conference programme and registration details for the event, please visit medchemmeet.wordpress.com
Congratulations to Ilaria Meazzini
for winning the prize for best talk at the
RSC MacroGroup Young Researchers Meeting at the University of Liverpool.
Ilaria Meazzini (Evans Group) was awarded first prize in the “best talk” category (sponsored by Domino printing) at the 2016 RSC Macrogroup Young Researchers meeting held at the University of Liverpool on 5-6th April. Ilaria presented her work on perylene dicarboxdiimide–poly(oxyalkylene)/siloxane hybrids for luminescent solar concentrators, which was recently accepted for publication in the 2016 Emerging Investigators issue of the Journal of Materials Chemistry C.
Targeted design leads to tunable photoluminescence from perylene dicarboxdiimide–poly(oxyalkylene)/siloxane hybrids for luminescent solar concentrators, I. Meazzini, N. Willis-Fox, C. Blayo, J. Arlt, S. Clément, R. C. Evans*, J. Mater. Chem. C., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/c5tc03952e.
Well done, Ilaria!
FELLOWSHIP: Congratulations to Prof. Eoin Scanlan on his election as Fellow to the College on Trinity Monday.
Congratulations to all the students who were elected as Scholars of the College on Trinity Monday and in particular to the students who sat the Chemistry Scholar examinations*.
Eoin James Farrell*
Congratulations to Alison Hennessy for her work as General Manager and to Kate Reidy for her outstanding work in her role as Chemistry Editor and to all the Chemistry undergraduates who submitted an article for publication, in the new TSSR (Trinity Student Scientific Review) (http://trinityssr.com/) Journal.
The authors of the published and price winning chemistry review articles were:
Best Chemistry Essay:
“Climate Change Mitigation Using Metal-Organic Frameworks for Direct Air Capture of CO2”.
Dónal Ring (JS Chemistry)
Best Freshman Essay:
“Prebiotic Chemistry: Common Origins of Glycerol, Amino Acids, and Pyrimidines, and Cosmic Origin of Nature’s Enantiomeric Excess of Amino Acids”
Stephen Byrne (SF Science)
“4-Aminoquinolines as Antimalarial Drugs”
Dylan Lynch (JS Medicinal Chemistry)
Chemistry students also won in the following categories:
“Hybrid Photovoltaic Thermal Cells: A Viable Solution to the Problem of Renewable Energy”
Kyle Frohna (JS N-PCAM, Physics)
“Long Non-Coding RNA: The Regulatory Web of Genome Regulation”
Jack Schofield, (SF Science, Life Sciences)
Alison Hennessy (JS N-PCAM) and Kate Reidy (JS NPCAM student and TCD Foundation Scholar) the 2016 TSSR General Manager and Chemistry Editor.
Congratulations to Maria O’Brien on being selected to attend
the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany this summer
Maria O’Brien (Duesberg's Group) has been selected by the scientific review panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, to participate in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, taking place from 26 June to 1 July 2016, in Lindau Germany. Only the 400 most qualified young scientists are given the opportunity to enrich and share the unique atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (which will have 32 Nobel Laureates in attendance).