€2.6m project to combat dialysis failure among research spotlighted at UL Hospital Symposium

The Annual UL Hospital Limerick Research Symposium featured world-leading research championed from the Mid-West region. Conference organiser, Professor Austin Stack, Foundation Chair of Medicine, University Hospital Limerick, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together researchers from the Mid-West region and capitalise on the huge pool of talent at UL Hospitals and its partner institutions."

Among the keynote speakers was Dr Michael Walsh, University of Limerick who is leading a team involved in a €2.6 million European-wide project (ReDVA) to improve dialysis techniques for the 750,000 Europeans who require the treatment regularly. Dr Michael Walsh, Centre for Applied Biomedical Engineering Research (CABER), based in the Materials and Surface Science Institute, UL explains: “The most common form of dialysis is haemodialysis, where three times a week blood is taken from a vascular access site in the arm, passed through a dialysis machine and returned to the patient. However these vascular access sites fail in at least 50% of patients within the first year leading to revision surgeries and increased risk of infection. This research is tackling the issues for patients on long-term dialysis and will ultimately improve patient outcomes, reduce hospital stays and reduce the amount of discomfort for kidney dialysis patients”

The project brings together bioengineering expertise from University of Limerick with clinical expertise from the University of Dundee Medical School and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham (QEHB). The industrial partners are Guerbet in France and Vascular Flow Technologies in Dundee. The project is supported by the European Union's Marie Curie IAPP (Industry-Academia Partnership & Pathways) programme. The four-year project will see staff seconded between the Universities and the industry partners and create five new research posts, two of which are based in Limerick.

The UL Hospitals Research Symposium highlighted new research in the areas of; Acute Kidney Injury in the Irish Health System, Sarcopenia and the aging process, Vitamin K in cognitive health, Infant sleep patterns and maternal health, Innovative dialysis technologies, Disparities in health care access.

The symposium included over 150 abstracts, 18 oral presentations with 4 keynote addresses from national and international experts. Speakers included: Professor Niall O Higgins, Chairman of the UL Hospitals Trust, Professor Robert Foley (University of Minnesota), Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Professor Colin Baigent (University of Oxford), Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU), University of Oxford, Dr Graham Love (Health Research Board), CEO, Health Research Board, Ireland.