11th Annual Conway Festival Takes Place


The eleventh annual UCD Conway Festival of Research and Innovation took place last Thursday the 15th of September.

Conway’s Communication and Education Officer, Elaine Quinn, said the event was a success, with all of the sessions being very well attended.

Thirty abstracts, primarily from the PHds and postdoctoral students that are working within the Conway Institute or its partner institutions, were selected for moderated poster sessions. There, presenters gave a five-minute outline of their work and its innovative potential to a small committee, which also included keynote speakers; this was happening in three different parts of the Conway Institute in the morning and afternoon.

The overall winner of the moderated posters competition was Conway’s Dr. Mark Pickling. Quinn stated that it was very difficult for the judges to make a call and in fact “they ended up giving an additional prize that they hadn’t before and quickly termed it the Director’s Prize”.

Professor of Clinical Bioinformatics, Denis Shields was one of the speakers on the day. He gave a talk about sequencing whole sets of human proteins and using computer methods to predict their short, biologically active pieces which can then be used to piece apart cell signalling processes and develop therapeutics.

Professor Shields said that the festival took place to highlight to everybody involved “all of the research that is going on in the Conway – it’s really useful to the people in the Conway itself to know all of the great things that their colleagues have been doing; it’s also very useful for people coming from outside to come and attend, particularly for undergraduate students to get a flavour for research”.

The three plenary speakers at the event included Professor Romas Kazlauskas from the BioTechnology Institute in the University of Minnesota, USA who spoke about ‘Engineering new catalytic activity into enzymes: from perhydrolases to ancestral enzymes'; Professor William Gallagher of UCD Conway and School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science gave a speech titled ‘Translational Perspectives in Cancer Biology: Case Studies in Biomarker and Drug Development’ and finally Professor Rick Morimoto from Northwestern University, Illinois, USA spoke about ‘Cells in Stress – How Protein Misfolding causes Aging and Disease’.

“There was some really good quality research going on and even though we were saying it’s an exciting week for science in UCD, what with the science centre opening, we’re sort of no longer the new kid on the block; what’s nice to see is that there seems to be the whole idea of interdisciplinary research really coming out now” finished Quinn.