Dr Claire Conway, lecturer in Biomedical Engineering and Principal Investigator in the Biomechanics Research Centre at NUI Galway, has been awarded $20,000 funding from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to collaborate on exploring how to enable innovative device and therapeutic design for cardiac disease.

Dr Conway will collaborate with MIT Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor Ellen Roche. The funding was awarded to initiate a collaborative exchange between the two emerging investigators and their respective research groups. Professor Roche won international acclaim in 2017 during her time as a researcher in NUI Galway, for her work in creating a soft robotic sleeve to help patients with heart failure live with much better quality of life while waiting for a heart transplant, thanks to a sleeve placed around the affected organ.

Dr Conway’s research has been motivated by failure analysis of coronary stents, in particular stent fracture which increases the risk of blood clots forming or arterial blockages reforming. Using computational modelling, she is developing 3D virtual models of the beating heart to better understand how this dynamic motion affects cardiac device design.

Professor Roche’s research investigates the design, building, and testing of cardiac devices, including soft robotic techniques, and the melding of mechanical and biological therapeutics for improved therapeutic regimens. Through this exchange both scientists will combine their expertise to conduct rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of cardiac devices.

Speaking about the funding award, Dr Claire Conway from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to advance cardiac device design and I am thrilled to be working with Professor Roche on this MISTI funded exchange. I believe both groups will benefit from the knowledge and experience gained and I look forward to this being a fruitful collaboration.”

Professor Ellen Roche from MIT, added: “I’m delighted to be involved with Dr Conway and others from the Discipline of Biomedical Engineering on this project. The awarded MISTI funds will enable fluid exchange of knowledge and people between NUI Galway and MIT that will output strong research, exploiting the expertise of both groups and enhancing ongoing inter-institutional collaboration.”

The exchange program will enable Dr Conway and Professor Roche to deliver workshops on their work at MIT, exploring how to enable innovative device and therapeutic design for cardiac disease. In turn a workshop at NUI Galway on cardiac medical device design, novel manufacturing and prototyping methods, bench-top modelling and testing will also be delivered.

The funds will also support visits of two MIT graduate students to visit Dr Conway in Ireland for five weeks and allow two NUI Galway graduate students to visit Professor Roche in MIT for five weeks. The funds will enable existing collaboration to flourish and the fluid transition of students and faculty will generate new ideas in the cardiac devices.


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