University College Dublin (UCD) held its fourth annual TEDx event last Friday in the UCD Dramsoc Theatre in the UCD Student Centre. The 10 speakers who took part in TEDxUCD 2016 were members of the UCD community of researchers, students, alumni and friends who are speaking on a wide range of ideas worth spreading on the overall theme of ‘contemplation’.

Among the speakers were Dearbhla Burke, a chartered physiotherapist and a PhD student at UCD’s School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science; Duncan Lennox, a UCD graduate, and CEO and co-founder of Qstream, a software spin-out company from Harvard Medical School which last week secured $15 million in funding; and Professor Michaela Higgins, a consultant medical oncologist at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and UCD School of Medicine.

Speaking after her TEDxUCD 2016 talk, entitled ‘The insult added to injury’, Dearbhla said, “I was delighted to take part in this year’s TEDxUCD event to highlight the significant problem of chronic or long lasting pain for patients who have survived the life changing event of a spinal cord injury.”

She added, “Pain can be extremely distressing and have an all-encompassing effect on mood, quality of life, sleep and participation in daily activities. Forty percent of those with a spinal cord injury have pain presenting in areas where they have no feeling or movement, this is the insult added to their injury. Such patients require additional support to improve their coping with pain and to help improve their quality of life hopefully enabling them to more successfully re-integrate back into society after their injury.”

Speaking after his TEDxUCD 2016 talk Duncan Lennox said, “It’s an honour to be included among this select group of visionaries speaking at TEDxUCD 2016. My time at UCD launched my career as engineer-turned-entrepreneur and it’s very gratifying to return for this exchange of thought-provoking ideas designed to broaden and impact our world view.”

He added, “During my TEDxUCD 2016 talk entitled ‘The Misunderstood Brain’, I delved into some of the scientific methodologies behind behaviour change and how they can be used to help businesses better compete in a global economy.”

Speaking after her TEDxUCD 2016 talk entitled ‘The cancer story you haven’t heard’, Professor Michaela Higgins said, “We are seeing an exponential increase in cancer cases in the developing world as we improve the control of infant mortality rates and infectious diseases. 70% of all cancer deaths are occurring in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, yet nearly 90% of the $100 billion currently being used to treat cancers is spent in Europe, USA and Japan.”

She added, “As I outlined in my TEDxUCD 2016 talk to reduce this imbalance, and taking into account that most cancers have a lifestyle or environmental cause, we need to stop smoking, eat healthily and vaccinate against common cancer-causing viruses.”

TEDxUCD 2016 was organised by volunteers from the UCD Research and Innovation team based at NovaUCD.

At TEDxUCD 2016 a combination of live speakers and a selection of TED Talks videos were combined to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group of 100 attendees. The TED conference provides general guidance for the TEDx programme, but individual TEDx events, including TEDxUCD, are self-organised.

Opening this year’s event, Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “Following the success of our previous TEDxUCD events I am delighted that we are hosting our fourth annual TEDx event at University College Dublin. Organising and running TEDxUCD is an excellent example of how we engage with the general public, not only in Ireland but across the world, to share the ideas, knowledge and expertise emanating from members of the UCD community.”

Wiebke Preuss, a Masters student at the Stockholm School of Economics, and currently an Erasmus Exchange Programme student at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, was the MC for TEDxUCD 2016.

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