RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Ireland, is a not-for- profit, health sciences-focused university based in Dublin (www.rcsi.ie). It aims to improve human health by promoting innovative research that leads to better diagnostics, therapeutics and devices, tackles important healthcare delivery issues, informs policy and clinical practice and enhances the quality of education of healthcare professionals. RCSI is Ireland’s largest medical school (4,000 students representing > 60 nationalities) and has four additional campuses in Bahrain, Dubai and Malaysia. In 2019 RCSI maintained its worldwide position in the top 250 (top 2%) ranking of universities worldwide in the 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. RCSI was ranked first in the world for ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ in the THE World University Impact Rankings 2020. During the 5-year period 2015-2019, RCSI was awarded over €130 million in competitive external research funding including EU funding. A total of €78.7M has been granted to 58 projects coordinated by RCSI under H2020 to date, of which €22.7M was granted to RCSI directly. RCSI holds the EC ‘HR Excellence in Research’ award (renewed to 2020) and holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of its positive gender practice. Research translation is supported by a strong Innovation Office that won the national Transfer of Knowledge Initiative Award 2016.
For the current project, the RCSI-based teams of Henshall and Prehn will support a number of objectives of the project. The main focus of the Prehn team will be on WP2 and WP3. It will include the molecular design, implementation and functional validation of ARPE-19 human neural cells that will be engineered to control GDNF expression in response to tRNA fragments and extracellular ATP. The Prehn team will also perform parameter optimization experiments for the development of the molecular communication model developed in WP3 and will experimentally validate model predictions.
The Henshall team will focus on WP5 which will involve the in vivo testing phase of the project. Henshall’s group at RCSI has extensive expertise modelling and recording epilepsy in rodents including mice. This includes surgical operations and the implantation of devices for long-term recording of brain activity. The group have extensive experience quantifying effects of therapeutic manipulations on spontaneous recurrent seizures and the cognitive functions/performance of mice. They also bring their considerable experience in studies on small noncoding RNAs.