Invited Speakers and Awards of summer 2016

Dr. Triona Ni Chonghaile was invited to speak at the ICDS Conference in Cork June 2-4, 2016 Her talk was entitled: ‘ Determining Mitochondria’s Distance to Death’s Door’. As well as being asked to give a seminar in the Imperial College London in May 2016,
Triona also received an award from the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Seed Award.

Dr. Annette Byrne was invited to speak at the World Preclinical Congress in Boston. Her talk was entitled: ‘Recapitulating the BETH Adjuvant Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Using Pre-Clinical Models’.

Stefan Haunsberger, CSM PhD Student was invited to give a talk in Germany on July 1st at the Faculty Day of the Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics at the University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf. The title of his talk was the ‘Development of a bioinformatics pipeline to investigate signalling network perturbation induced by miRNA dysregulation’.






Low selenium levels linked to liver cancer development

Friday, 8th July 2016 – A new study, published in current issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,1 shows that the highest levels of blood selenium or of selenoprotein P, the protein that distributes selenium from the liver around the body, are associated with a decreased risk of developing liver cancer (particularly hepatocellular carcinoma), even when all other major liver cancer risk factors are taken into account. The study, which was led by Dr David Hughes, Honorary Lecturer at the Department of Physiology and Centre for Systems Medicine at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), also shows that selenium level is not associated with the development of gall bladder or biliary tract tumours.

 The research is a joint project involving the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), RCSI, Charité Medical School Berlin, and collaborators in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). The project was jointly funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) in Ireland and the French National Cancer Institute.

 Selenium is a trace mineral micronutrient that is found in foods like shellfish, salmon, Brazil nuts, meat, eggs, grains, and onions. However, selenium levels in foods depend largely on the levels of selenium in the soil where the food is grown and animals graze. Soil levels tend to be low in many regions in Europe, contributing to lower body levels of selenium in those populations compared with people living in regions with higher soil selenium concentrations, such as North America. In humans, selenium is essential, particularly for the effective functioning of the immune system and in controlling oxidative processes linked to cancer development.

Commenting on the study, Dr David Hughes said: “The research findings tentatively suggest that where selenium is lower than the optimal level, increasing selenium intake may help to prevent liver cancer in addition to moderating or avoiding alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy body weight, and stopping smoking. However, these findings are based on a single study with a modest number of liver cancers, and thus our results need to be validated by further studies before any public health recommendations can be made.”

 The study was based on the EPIC cohort, which is composed of more than half a million participants across 10 European countries, using a case–control design of 121 liver cancers and 140 gall bladder and biliary tract cancers matched to equal numbers of individuals free of cancer within the cohort. Blood levels of selenium and selenoprotein P were measured in the study participants by the laboratory of Dr Lutz Schomburg at Charité Medical School Berlin.

 In 2012, worldwide, there are estimated to have been 782 000 new cases of liver cancer. It is the second most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, estimated to have been responsible for nearly 746 000 deaths in 2012 (9.1% of all cancer-related deaths that year). The prognosis for liver cancer is very poor (with an overall ratio of mortality to incidence of 0.95), so the geographical patterns in incidence and mortality are very similar.2

 IARC scientist Dr Mazda Jenab, one of the study’s authors commented “The incidence of liver cancers is increasing in developed countries. Liver cancers are often diagnosed at late stages and have limited treatment options. Further research is needed into the modifiable determinants of these cancers and effective prevention strategies.”


Neuroscience Ireland are hosting a Young Neuroscientists Symposium (YNS) in Trinity on Thursday September 1st, 2016.


YNS is a unique one-day event organised by postgraduate and early-career researchers engaged in all aspects of neuroscience research in Ireland. The meeting will cover a wide range of topics from basic neuroscience research right through to clinical diagnosis and treatments. Approximately 150 postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers will have the opportunity to present their work through oral communication and poster presentations. Delegates will also enjoy inspiring talks by three international keynote speakers and have the opportunity to develop skills during a workshop session.

The main goals of this workshop are to promote neuroscience research in Ireland and to provide networking opportunities which may form the basis for future collaborations.

Register and submit your abstract here:

For more information see, follow @youngneuroirl on Twitter or visit our facebook page

CSM MiniScience TY Programme 2017

Dates are confirmed for next years TY Mini Science programme here in the Centre for Systems Medicine in RCSI. Monday the 6th until  Wednesday the 8th of Feb 2017. Last years programme consisted of lectures, career advice and lab experiments.

For further inquiries please contact

Brain Tumor Ireland funding contribution to new Biobank in CSM/RCSI

With the support from Brain Tumour Ireland, the RCSI Centre for Systems Medicine (CSM) along with the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neuropathology in Beaumont Hospital are delighted to establish a brain tumor biobank in RCSI and Beaumont Hospital. In the future, every patient undergoing brain tumour surgery will be given the opportunity to consent to have their tissue included in the biobank. This collaboration will enable the CSM RCSI Principal Investigators, Dr. Brona Murphy, Dr. Amanda Tivnan and Prof. Jochen Prehn and their teams to analyse and develop novel therapies for the treatment of brain tumors.Brain Tumour Ireland is delighted to support RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) in the establishment of its brain tumour biobank, which will encourage research aimed at individualised treatments and increasing survival rates for brain tumour patients.By collecting brain tumour cells from patients, the biobank will enable new and targeted therapies for brain tumours to be examined in the lab using these cells. Only patients who consent can have their tissue used in the biobank, and only tissue surplus to diagnostic requirements can be biobanked.Speaking on behalf of Brain Tumour Ireland, Chairperson Natasha Roche said: “Brain Tumour Ireland is extremely pleased to be supporting this important biobank with such a prestigious educational and research institution as RCSI.“This achievement is only made possible by the many kind donors who have raised money for us over the first three years of our existence, and we thank them most gratefully.“It is our hope that the research supported by this biobank will lead the way for new and targeted therapies for brain tumours, and individualised treatments for patients. This is crucial in achieving increased survival rates for those diagnosed with a brain tumour.” Prof Jochen Prehn, Director of the RCSI Centre for Systems Medicine and Science Foundation Ireland Investigator, said: “We are very excited about this instrumental support provided by Brain Tumour Ireland. The biobank will enable us to analyse the molecular composition (or ‘building stones’) of brain tumours, and to use this knowledge to develop much needed, novel therapies for the treatment of brain tumours.”





RCSI led ‘ANGIOTOX’ project selected for presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting; Feb 11-15 2016 , Washington DC.

A symposium entitled ‘Improving Cancer Patient Care: Trade-Offs Between Efficacy and Toxicity’ based on work performed within the RCSI led AngioTox initiative ( has been selected by the European Commission for presentation at the prestigious AAAS Annual meeting to be held Feb 11-15 2016 in Washington DC. The recently concluded AngioTox project led by Dr Annette Byrne (Snr. Lecturer, RCSI Dept of Physiology and Medical Physics) and supported by the European Commission Industry Academia Partnerships and Pathways program, focused on the analysis of side-effects associated with the clinically approved ‘angiogenesis inhibitor’ class of cancer therapeutics, which function by inhibiting tumor blood vessel growth. Data generated within the project has provided evidence for a novel medical imaging approach for the early identification of patients at risk from cardiovascular side-effects following treatment with angiogenesis inhibitors. These data have also been presented at The New York Academy of Sciences Angiogenesis 2014 conference and the European Institute for Molecular Imaging 2014 Annual Meeting. During the AAAS conference Angiotox collaborators from the University of Pennsylvania (Dr Bonnie Ky) and VU Medical Centre Amsterdam (Dr Maria Rovithi) will also discuss new data, which will aid in the early detection of side-effects in cancer patients treated with angiogenesis inhibitors. AngioTox research partners include University College Dublin, VU Medical Centre Amsterdam, and industry partners Oncomark Ltd, Pathology Experts, Bayer Technology Services, F.Hoffman La Roche & Genentech