Senior Research Fellows
Dr Eduardo Ruiz-Hernandez
Eduardo is a chemical engineer and completed his PhD in biomaterials science in 2010. He has participated in 16 research projects across 7 countries involving the synthesis and characterization of nanodevices and their applications in drug targeting, local delivery, hyperthermic cancer treatment and magnetofection. Eduardo was a senior research fellow in the AMCARE project, and focused on the development of polymeric drug delivery systems for the controlled release of cardiac regeneration agents. He was also a senior research fellow on the DRIVE project, where he worked on the design of biomaterials for early oxygenation of transplanted pancreatic islets. He is now Ussher Assistant Prof in Pharmaceutical Chemistry of Nanocarrier Drug Delivery Systems at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin. His scientific interests include the design of multifunctional nanosystems for the triggered release of drugs and genes.
Dr Conn Hastings
Conn completed his PhD entitled ‘Thermoresponsive Chitosan/β-Glycerophosphate Hydrogels as Injectable Therapeutics in Ischemic Disease and Malignant Growth’ under the supervision of Dr Garry Duffy and Prof Fergal O’Brien within the Tissue Engineering Research Group at RCSI in September 2013. Conn was a postdoctoral researcher on the AMCARE project, primarily responsible for conducting bioactivity and viability studies on cell/growth factor combinations in biomaterial environments and growth factor release studies from microparticles and biomaterials. The aim of his research, which is being continued by Laura Gallagher, is to develop a translatable therapeutic for cardiac regeneration post-myocardial infarction. After leaving Duffy Kelly Labs, Conn worked as an Editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Group in Oxford and is now a freelance editor and scientific journalist.
Dr Liam Burke
Liam graduated from NUI Galway in 2009 with a BSc in Microbiology. He was a HRB PhD Scholar in Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Human disease at RCSI and he completed his PhD on multidrug-resistant infections entitled “The epidemiology of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae and an investigation of a novel therapeutic peptide conjugate” in 2013. His multidisciplinary PhD was carried out in the Clinical Microbiology Department, RCSI at Beaumont Hospital under Prof Hilary Humphreys and Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes and at the Peptide Synthesis Laboratory, RCSI under Prof Marc Devocelle. Liam joined the Duffy Kelly Labs, RCSI as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in 2014 and worked on the AMCARE project, focusing on controlled drug delivery to the heart. After coordinating the writing of the DRIVE project proposal, Liam then went on to manage the DRIVE Research Programme from 2015-2018. He also contributed to biological aspects of the project at RCSI. As research manager for the Duffy Kelly Labs, he was involved in writing grant applications and managing administration and communications, including the development of the DKL website. Liam is now a Lecturer in Bacteriology at NUIG. His research area includes the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistant bacteria of clinical importance and novel methods for their diagnosis and treatment.
✉ Liam Burke
Dr Hugh O'Neill
On completion of his BSc in Biomedical Science from NUI Maynooth, Hugh undertook a PhD in regenerative medicine under the supervision of Prof Garry Duffy at RCSI. His research focused on the development of biomaterials/medical devices for the delivery of stem cells in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Following this, Hugh joined the AMCARE/DRIVE teams where his research experience greatly contributed to the development of stem cell technologies, smart biomaterials and medical devices. Hugh left the Duffy Kelly Labs in 2017 and is now working for Novartis as a Scientific Events Specialist.
Other Postdoctoral Alumni
Name - Year of departure - First destination
Grainne Cunniffe - 2014 - Academia
Carmen Coll - 2016 - Academia
James Rooney - 2014 - Clinical
Siti Ismail - 2013 - Academia
Merel Van Elk - 2014 - Academia
Niamh Porteous - 2014 - Industry
Caroline Curtin - 2016 - Faculty
Stephen Sheridan - 2015 - Industry
Clinical Research Assistants
Dr Aamir Hameed
Aamir is a medical graduate from Karachi Medical & Dental College, University of Karachi, Pakistan. After completing his internship, he pursued his training in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi. In December 2013, he joined the AMCARE project as a Clinician Scientist and is responsible for conducting research into novel drug/cell delivery techniques, particularly in the field of myocardial infarction and analysis of drug delivery systems both in vitro and in vivo. He completed his MD at RCSI while researching ‘Enhancement of Stem Cell Delivery to the Heart following a Myocardial Infarction’ under supervision of Prof Garry Duffy, Dr Helena Kelly and Dr Eduardo Ruiz Hernandez. For his work on the AMCARE project, Aamir won 2nd Prize in the 2015 Cleveland Clinic and Enterprise Ireland Clinical Innovation Awards. Aamir is now pursuing a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Cardiovascular Research Center, School of Medicine, NUIG in affiliation with CURAM - the National SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices. His project is on novel device-based solutions for the treatment of acute heart failure and is supervised by Dr Faisal Sharif.
Christina is a graduate of Pharmacy from the Royal College of Surgeons, where she received both a B.Sc. (Pharm) and a Masters in Pharmacy, and subsequently registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. She completed her PhD in the areas of Pharmaceutics and Tissue Engineering under the co-supervision of Dr. Helena Kelly and Prof. Sally-Ann Cryan. Her research involved the development of a temperature responsive hydrogel for drug and cell delivery to the distal airways for regenerative purposes. Christina also acted as a Senior Demonstrator in the School of Pharmacy. Christina’s research interests include hydrogel based delivery of stem cells and drug molecules and also integration of pharmaceutical formulations with medical devices. She successfully defended her thesis in February 2018 and will graduate later this year.
Visiting Postgraduate and Undergraduate Students
Jonathan is a graduate from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology & Biopharmaceutical Science with honours in 2009. He completed his Masters of Biomedical Science in NUI, Galway in 2017. For his research thesis he investigated stem cell-generated forces within a clinically translatable hyaluronic acid hydrogel under the supervision of Prof Garry Duffy.
Paige graduated from the University of Suffolk in 2015 with a BSc honours degree in Bioscience. Her final year project was an evaluation of fibroblast secreted matrix on bEnd.3 vascular network formation in vitro, under Dr Christopher Turner. She completed her Masters in Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galway, where she carried out her thesis under the supervision of Prof Garry Duffy. Her research aimed to complement that of the DRIVE Project, by developing a reservoir system for the replenishable, retrievable delivery of β-cells for Type 1 Diabetes. Paige is now pursuing a PhD in the TERG RCSI under the supervision of Dr Oran Kennedy.
Rachael graduated from University College Cork with a BSc in Neuroscience in 2016. Her final year project involved the study of retinoic acid receptors in human cancer cell lines, with a focus on glioblastoma multiforme, under the supervision of Dr. André Toulouse. She pursued her MSc in Biomedical Science in NUIG under the supervision of Prof Garry Duffy, investigating delivery devices to improve cell based immunotherapy for ovarian cancer.
Thibault graduated from the University of Rouen (France) in 2015 with a BSc degree in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Physiology. He is currently undertaking a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering and Health in ISBS, Paris-EST Créteil, during which he pursued an internship in the Duffy Lab at NUIG, supervised by Prof Garry Duffy. He worked on strategies to improve cell delivery by designing a medical device using 3D modelling sotfware.
Rita visited DKL as an undergraduate student ( Bsc in Biology) from the University of Aveiro, Portugal. Having completed three years of her undergraduate programme, during which she gained exposure to a variety of lab work, she pursued an internship on the DRIVE research project at the Kelly Lab, RCSI for the 2016/2017 school year. Rita’s project involved assisting in the development and assessment of a biomaterial hydrogel designed to enhance the survival and engraftment of pancreatic islets for the treatment of diabetes. She was co-supervised by Dr Helena Kelly and Prof Garry Duffy.
Niamh Hurney completed her final year of study for her bachelors of Science degree at NUIG. She specialises in anatomy and will graduate in 2017 with an honours degree. Her study at NUIG has provided insight into a variety of lab techniques and practical experience. Her thesis was under the supervision of Professor Garry Duffy in association with AMCARE, investigating cardiac regeneration therapy in relation to heart failure post myocardial infarction. Specifically, Niamh's project involved investigating nanoparticle release from various hydrogel biomaterials.
Niamh Hyland completed her final term of undergraduate science in NUIG. She will graduate with an honours degree in Anatomy in 2017, and has gained relevant experience in laboratory and research methods. Her thesis was based on the development of a method to deliver biologic therapies to the peritoneal cavity. She was supervised by Professor Garry Duffy.
Sarah completed her final term of Biomedical Science at NUIG in 2017. Her final year project surrounded developing methods to deliver insulin producing cells to suitable transplantation sites in the body and was supervised by Professor Garry Duffy. Her project is part of a larger scheme lead by the Duffy Lab that encompasses research on blood supply and venous drainage of the anterior abdominal wall and especially the greater omentum. Sarah also assessed medical device accessibility via the anterior abdominal wall and approaches to reduce infection after pancreatic islet transplantation in the greater omentum.
Nicola is currently undertaking a degree in Medicine at Trinity College Dublin. As part of her studies, she pursued an intercalated MSc in Immunology during which she conducted her research in RCSI as part of the DRIVE international consortium. Nicola's research focused on the application of nanomaterials as novel delivery vehicles for immunosuppressive drugs in the setting of Type 1 diabetes. In her own words: "I found my time working in RCSI both challenging and rewarding. As a medical student, it helped me to appreciate the world of research that lies behind the treatments patient's receive in hospital. I was delighted to be part of the DRIVE team who are a dynamic group, wholly invested in their research. I was extremely happy with my results in the end and am hopeful this project will continue to evolve and lead to a truly novel treatment method down the line. During my research project, I was lucky enough to win a poster presentation in Trinity College which was a great way to complete my project. I hope to remain involved with this project going forward."
Jason is currently pursuing his undergraduate Medicine degree in RCSI. He was funded by a Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship to take part in the DRIVE research project at RCSI. In his own words: “It was a great and valuable experience that would never have been provided to me in the class. With excellent guidance from Dr Duffy, Dr Kelly and Dr Burke I have gained numerous experiences and have learnt several sets of laboratory skills. I spent most of my time in the microbiology lab, where I conducted a bioburden test. Nevertheless, the experiences I obtained were priceless. I have also made new friends from Japan and China through the Research Summer School programme where RCSI had an exchange programme internationally. In conclusion, this summer has truly been amazing and I highly encourage everyone to grab the opportunity to carry out research if you ever come across it.”
Oisín completed his undergraduate degree in Pharmacology in UCD, graduating in 2013. He subsequently went on to work in the recruitment industry, working with medical device and pharmaceutical companies filling jobs requiring a scientific skill-set. Oisín returned to study Medicine RCSI in 2015 and, having a keen interest in the potential of cell based therapy, got in touch with the Tissue Engineering Research Group at RCSI. Oisín was awarded funding from the RSCI Research Summer School and carried out his research in Summer of 2016. Dr Hugh O'Neill and Dr Garry Duffy supervised as Oisín set about to elucidate the viability of a novel method for stem cell delivery. Oisín's research has provided some promising preliminary evidence supporting the viability of this delivery method and he remains in touch with his team as the project progresses onward.
Eamon completed his undergraduate degree in Finance at Syracuse University in the US. He spent 4 years in the restaurant and software industries before becoming an Emergency Medical Technician in California, where he spent the next 3 years working on an ambulance. Eamon is currently a second year student in the Graduate Entry Medicine program at RCSI. Eamon was awarded the Guiney Summer Studentship*, and his work focused on determining the physical properties and biocompatibility of oxygen delivery technologies within the DRIVE project. In his own words: "The summer I spent working with the DRIVE project was a great experience. Having no prior experience in a lab setting, I learned an incredible amount in just 8 weeks. As a diabetic of 25 years, I am proud to have made a real contribution to the team that I believe will one day reverse diabetes."
*Edward Guiney MCh, FRCSI, FRCSEng (b. 1931), a Fulbright Scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital (1961-63), was RCSI Professor of Paediatric Surgery (1991-97) and a Surgeon Prosector (2000-14).
Jessica is currently an undergraduate student in the BSc(Pharmacy) degree programme at RCSI. After two years of the programme, during which she gained exposure to a variety of lab work, she pursued a summer research project in RCSI in the summer of 2016. Jessica’s project revolved around All-Trans-Retinoic-Acid and the characterisation of solid-lipid-nanoparticles loaded with this drug. In her own words: “My summer research experience was very insightful and interesting. All summer long, I was constantly learning new techniques as well as learning about the various projects the Duffy Kelly group run within the labs. With this exposure I was able to complete my project within the allocated time, gaining many skills along the way such as; researching literature, performing lab tests such as; release studies, inflammatory studies, nanosighting, zetasizing, as well as, using the HPLC. I also was able to improve on analysing data as well as troubleshooting the various experiments. I wish to continue building on these skills and to pursue a similar career in the future.”
Mireia Agirre completed a Bachelor Degree in Pharmacy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Spain. During the last year of the degree she conducted an internship in Hospital Santigo Apostol (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain) and she collaborated in the Laboratory of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology and the UPV/EHU. After obtaining her undergraduate degree, she carried out a Master in Science and started the PhD program at the Department of Pharmacy and Food Science at the UPV/EHU. Mireia´s project aimed to obtain chitosan based non-viral vectors for gene delivery applications. During her PhD studies, Mireia visited the Tissue Engineering Research Group at the RCSI for three months, focusing her study on the formulation of RNA-loaded extracellular vesicles and the incorporation of nanocarriers into injectable hydrogels. “During the three months in the RCSI I had the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary group that gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of experimental techniques. In addition, during this period I became a more autonomous researcher which has been really valuable back in my laboratory in Spain”. In March 2016 Mireia obtained her PhD degree. Throughout these years Mireia published numerous research articles in international journals, and participated in several national and international congresses.
Anthony completed an undergraduate degree in Radiography at UCD. After gaining two years clinical experience in Beaumont Hospital he returned to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine at RCSI. Anthony’s project revolved around growth factor delivery and the development of bioactivity assays. In his own words: “My summer research experience with AMCARE was simply amazing. All summer long, I concentrated my efforts on my particular project, and that's what made it so interesting and motivating. My research abilities became more autonomous as I improved my skills in researching literature, performing lab work, analysing data and liaising with the AMCARE team.”
Yvonne qualified from TCD with a BSc in Physiotherapy. She worked in St. James's Hospital, Dublin for 2 years before undertaking a Bachelor of Medicine at RCSI. Yvonne’s project revolved around the behaviour and survival of encapsulated stem cells in biomaterial matrices, without and without regenerative growth factors and nanoparticles. In her own words:
“My experience with the AMCARE team this summer was truly invaluable. From reviewing the literature to learning laboratory procedures and interpreting the results, there was never a dull moment. The AMCARE meetings were always a pleasure to participate in and gain insight into the overall AMCARE project.”
Ciara worked with AMCARE as a summer student and is currently studying undergraduate medicine in NUI Galway. She assisted Eduardo and Aamir in optimising the fabrication of polymeric micro and nanoparticles that will encapsulate an active growth factor. This was carried out using a variety of methods, in order to optimise particle properties. In her own words: “Working with AMCARE has taught me more in experience than anything I could have learnt in lectures or reading a book. It really opened my eyes to other career paths I never would have considered before!”
Daniel graduated from TCD with a BSc in Human Health and Disease before entering Graduate Entry Medicine in RCSI. His project with AMCARE concerned targeted drug delivery using polymer based micro and nanoparticles. In his own words: “Working with the AMCARE team has taught me a lot more about areas such as drug delivery which I never would have considered or had much experience in before. I feel I got a real insight into the process of optimising promising therapeutic agents for eventual translation into clinical practice.”
Shaunagh completed her undergraduate degree, in Pharmacy, in the Royal College of Surgeons and between her third and fourth year undertook research funded by the Research Summer School programme in RCSI. Her research revolved around the standardisation of nanoparticles to be used in tissue engineering. Shaunagh won the prize for “Best overall” presentation at the close of the summer school programme. “Summer research in the AMCARE lab was extremely rewarding. I was exposed to a previously unknown world of research and really got a flavour for what can be achieved in a driven and encouraging academic environment. The skills I learned in the lab, through literature reviews and even through interaction with peers, continue to help me academically and professionally as I move into my Masters in Pharmacy.”