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Conducting organic materials for tissue engineering and drug delivery

Final Report Summary - COMET (Conducting organic materials for tissue engineering and drug delivery.)

COMET: Final Report 14/02/2014
The overall objective of the training programme was to provide Dr. Hendy with the necessary skills to make a smooth transition from a mentored postdoctoral researcher to a productive and independent researcher. In summary the main objectives achieved included technical skills at the interface of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biomaterials and Cell Biology and hands-on training in a variety of new techniques and equipment in both the return and outgoing research groups, leading to the development of excellent skills in basic research and their application to biomaterials, drug delivery and tissue engineering. Dr. Hendy also was able to promote good research management skills in the setting of milestones, targets, deliverables and prioritization of research activities, reporting on research outcomes, procurement of equipment and consumables, and the development of skills in the financial management of the project. The development of excellent communication skills, through the presentation of research work at conferences, group meetings and/or workshops was also achieved. Dr. Hendy took part in a number of media based programmes and presented at conferences and workshops on behalf of the REA and European commission.
Dr. Hendy also was provided training in teaching and supervision of researchers and an ability to monitor the progress made by young researchers. She mentored 5 undergraduate students and 1 master’s student over her fellowship. Dr. Hendy also had an objective to promote the development of good networking skills and the building of international collaborations. This was achieved through the contacts made at MIT and NUI Maynooth. Dr. Hendy has set up a number of collaborations both in the US and in Europe including lund University in Sweden, Technion University in Israel and Sloan Kettering Institute in New York. The final goal for Dr. Hendy was to take the technical skills obtained in her out going phase and bring them back to Europe. Dr. Hendy has successfully introduced a new technology, Electrospinning, into the Chemistry department at the National University in Maynooth where a number of research groups are now introducing the technology into their research. She has also gained valuable knowledge in a number of seminar series and courses including her attendance at the course ‘Controlled release technology: Polymeric delivery systems for pharmaceuticals, proteins and other agents’ held at MIT, July 18-22, 2011. She has also presented her work at an international conference, The 11th US-Japan Symposium on Drug Delivery Systems Conference in December 2011, her poster presentation was entitled ‘Polypyrrole-Cyclodextrin Composites for Electrically Stimulated Release of Neurotransmitters’.
She has also attended a number of training courses and seminar series to help her integrate into the biological and cancer fields. Dr. Hendy is also involved in a number of activities at MIT including the Irish association and the European societies and has had the honor of meeting with European Commissioner of Research, Innovation and Science Maire-Geoghegan Quinn and more recently was invited to meet with the President of the Republic of Ireland.
In terms of significant results, Dr. Hendy has successfully delivered a number of neurotransmitters from a polypyrrole derived polymer matrix using electrical stimulation. She has successfully conducted characterization experiments on the polymers including conductivity measurements, contact angle measurements and carried out a number of biological experiments involving cultured cells to investigate the cell attachment, proliferation or even toxic effects of these polymers. Dr. Hendy along with a fellow MIT colleague have also prepared numerous membranes for a project carried out at Lund University, Sweden. Dr. Hendy successfully prepared the polymer membranes with electrospun fibers and the in vivo work was carried out in Sweden. A paper on this work is in preparation. On her return phase Dr. Hendy has gained skills in organic synthesis and prepared a number of functionalised based pyrrole monomers in the hope of making a more biocompatible based polymer. Dr. Hendy also gained skills in IR, NMR, Mass spectroscopy and column chromatography. Dr. Hendy has also introduced and set up the electrospinning technology to the chemistry department and in working with a number of research groups has electrospun a number of new materials.
In Conclusion, this fellowship has given Dr. Hendy the best start in her career that any young researcher could ask for. This fellowship enabled Dr. Hendy to work on an inter- and multi-disciplinary project at the interface of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science, Medicine and Life Science and to learn new research techniques and skills that are applied in these separate domains. The added complementary skills, ranging from teaching, supervision and communication to commercialisation activities, gained in both the return and outgoing hosts have added to Dr. Hendy’s strengths in research, opening up new long-term possibilities for her in both academia and the private sectors and in both research and teaching. The international links with Professor Langer and the postdoctoral researchers, who she met and worked with at MIT, is invaluable to her future as an independent researcher in Europe. Dr. Hendy has now secured a career with a start up company where she will carry out research and develop the new business in the area of life science. Without the experience of this fellowship Dr. Hendy believes this new and exciting opportunity would not have been made possible.
As this programme, focused on the development of effective drug delivery systems and tissue engineering for nerve regeneration, it was uniquely connected to the needs of society and has trained Dr. Hendy in an interdisciplinary research approach, combining Chemistry, Engineering, Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals, to make a positive contribution to society. Going forward Dr. Hendy will use these skills to embark on a career in Life science which will have a huge social impact globally.