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Arterial Calcification & Arterial Regeneration ‘ACAR’

Periodic Report Summary 1 - ACAR (Arterial Calcification & Arterial Regeneration ‘ACAR’)

This project sought (i) to establish a cell culture facility in the host laboratory in Waterford Institute of Technology to support the planned research programme, (ii) to investigate and identify calcification biomarkers in vascular smooth muscle cells and the influence of vitamin K and selenium of calcification processes (iii) to investigate the regenerative capabilities of endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) by developing an EPC culture assay, culture EPC from peripheral arterial disease patients and controls, and examine biomarker expression on these EPC.

A cell culture facility was established in the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and managed by the funded researcher, Dr. John Phelan. Considerable time was invested in establishing this facility from scratch. Cell lines were obtained and standard operating procedures developed and training delivered to other students in WIT. Interest has been shown in the facility by local industry with one potential joint venture under consideration by a parent company. The researcher also assisted in the development of a module for an MSc in Analytical Science that involves cell culture.

Dr Phelan established the laboratory infrastructure for the conduct of the proposed programme of research. Ethical approval was obtained from Waterford Institute of Technology for the EPC study.

During the funding period, Dr. Phelan gained considerable management experience as he co-ordinated the activities of the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). This involved processing orders and managing accounts, managing the newly established biomedical research laboratory, liaising with medical partners in Waterford Regional Hospital and assisting with ongoing research projects. Considerable progress was made establishing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for various instruments and techniques and troubleshooting experimental problems. Dr. Phelan acted as secretary to the BRC, recording meeting minutes and acting as a point of contact for the research group. He organised BRC journal clubs. He also joined the research ethics committee at the Waterford Regional Hospital.

Regrettably, Dr. Phelan left WIT, for employment in the BIOMERIT Research Centre - University College Cork (UCC), before the two specific research projects identified above could be completed. Ethical approval was obtained from WIT for the endothelial progenitor cell culture study involving peripheral arterial disease patients and controls (objective iii above). In addition the culture EPC assay was established. Dr. Phelan also achieved a number of journal and conference publications during the funding period.