INFANT Centre News

INFANT PI and Pregnancy Loss Research Group Lead, Professor Keelin O’Donoghue, wins Irish Research Council Research Ally Prize

Professor Keelin O’Donoghue, has been awarded a Research Ally Prize as part of the Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year 2021 awards for the positive impact that she has made as a mentor. Announcing this year’s winners, Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, said: “I would like to congratulate the awardees on their awards. The standard of nominations this year was extremely high, and each of the winners should be immensely proud of their achievements. It is great to see this year’s winners representing a diverse range of research interests, which reflects the creativity and dynamism of the research community here in Ireland.” Professor O’ Donoghue is a Consultant Obstetrician and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Sub-Specialist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and is actively engaged in impactful research, teaching and clinical practice. She leads the multi-disciplinary Pregnancy Loss Research Group, which comprises over 30 members, at all career stages. She has extensive supervisory/mentorship experience, with numerous researchers having completed/ongoing studies with her support, under a variety of programmes: PhD, Masters by research, MSc Public Health, MD, MSc Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Diploma Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and postdoctoral. Professor O’Donoghue is one of ten 10 UCC winners of the Irish Research Council Research Ally Prizes. The Research Ally Prizes celebrate the role of supervisors, mentors, and research officers in supporting and sustaining the Irish research community, and how [...]

INFANT PhD Researcher, Soraia Ventura, to Speak at Escola Superior de Saúde – Porto

INFANT PhD researcher, Soraia Ventura, will speak at an event aimed at students of clinical physiology and neurophysiology at the Escola Superior de Saúde in Porto, on Thursday 2 December. Soraia will be speaking about her academic career to date, what it means to be a researcher and the INFANT Research Centre. The event is the first of a series of seminars organised by Professor Diana Tavares, coordinator of the undergraduate degree in Clinical Physiology and coordinator of the Neurophysiology department at the School of Health at the Escola Superior de Saúde. The overall objective of the series is to demystify and open perspectives on research to health students. The event will also see Soraia return to her alma mater, where she completed a B.Sc (Hons) Neurophysiology in 2011. Soraia joined INFANT in 2017 after working in the Clinical Neurophysiology Department at Cork University Hospital as a Clinical Physiologist in Neurophysiology. Her PhD project, titled Electroencephalographic Study of Sleep Architecture in Infants at Four Months, aims to understand infant Neurodevelopment through sleep markers and falls within the scope of INFANT’s BabySMART study. Other speakers at the event include: Dr. Carolina Reis, researcher at University of Oxford. Catarina Castro, PhD candidate at Faculty of Medicine at the University of Porto.

By |November 29th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Research Centre wins “Best application of AI in an Academic Research Body” in the National AI Awards 2021

The INFANT Research Centre at University College Cork has won the prestigious “Best application of AI in an Academic Research Body” award at this year’s National AI Awards. The AI Awards, hosted by AI Ireland and main sponsor Microsoft, are devoted to promoting AI in Ireland, with this year’s “Best application of AI in an Academic Research Body” sponsored by the RDI Hub. The INFANT Research Centre secured a nomination based on its cutting-edge research and pioneering breakthroughs in using AI technology to detect neurological problems in newborn infants. Recent advances on the Neurobell project, led by Dr. Mark O’Sullivan, are focused on bringing this disruptive technology toward everyday clinical use. The project is developing an end‑to-end diagnostics solution, which integrates portable and wireless monitoring with on-board AI, to ensure that it can be rolled out across multiple hospital settings. EEG monitoring is the gold standard for neurological monitoring, however, it requires specialised expertise to both set up the monitoring systems and to interpret the EEG traces. According to Dr. O’Sullivan, “by developing a portable monitor with on-board decision support, we’re aiming to increase the number of hospitals capable of providing EEG monitoring for high-risk newborns. "The cot side technology that we’re building is designed to allow for the neurological monitoring of newborns, across all hospital settings, helping those in need to be diagnosed and [...]

By |November 26th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Nominated as Finalist at AI Awards

The INFANT Research Centre at University College Cork has been nominated as a finalist in this year’s AI Awards 2021 for “Best application of AI in an Academic Research Body”. INFANT’s nomination is based on the work of researchers who are developing AI-based technologies for automated detection of brain injuries in newborns. Newborn brain injuries account 23% of all infant deaths and over 1 million cases of permanent disability each year. Timely and accurate diagnosis of these injuries are essential to provide treatment and help improve patient outcomes. EEG monitoring is the gold standard for neurological monitoring, however it requires specialised expertise to both set up the monitoring systems and to interpret the EEG traces. The team at INFANT have previously developed machine learning algorithms for neonatal EEG interpretation, achieving state-of-the-art performance. Recent advances on the Neurobell project, led by Dr. Mark O’Sullivan, are focused on bringing this disruptive technology toward everyday clinical use. The project is developing an end‑to-end diagnostics solution, which integrates portable and wireless monitoring with on-board AI. EEG monitoring is currently limited to tertiary-care hospitals. By developing a portable monitor with on‑board decision support, the team aim to widen the demographic of hospitals capable of providing EEG monitoring for high-risk newborns. The impact of this means that neurological monitoring of newborns can be performed accurately and routinely at the cot side, across all [...]

By |November 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

INFANT Welcomes Three New Principal Investigators

Three outstanding UCC researchers have joined the INFANT Principal Investigator team. Dr Jane English, Lecturer in Anatomy and Neuroscience, brings invaluable expertise to INFANT in the application of proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics to improve our understanding of the molecular pathways implicated in maternal and child health and disease. Dr Ali Khashan, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at the School of Public Health, brings 15 years research experience in Perinatal and Psychiatric Epidemiology and considerable expertise in interrogation of complex and large population-based datasets and advanced statistical methods. Dr Fergus McCarthy, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and Senior Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology brings his expertise to further strengthen INFANT’s research in fetal and maternal health, especially in improving pregnancy outcomes and women’s experiences during pregnancy.  “I am absolutely delighted to welcome our three new Principal Investigators to INFANT. They represent excellent additions to, and a significant expansion of, our Principal Investigator team and further strengthen the centre’s research leadership” Prof Geraldine Boylan, Director INFANT

By |November 19th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Seminar Series: Jerry Deasy and Jackie O’Leary to Focus on IT and Data Access

Our next INFANT seminar will take place at 12pm on Friday, November 26th, with a focus on IT and data access. Jerry Deasy will provide a summary of IT facilities available to INFANT researchers, data management and security. Jackie O'Leary will discuss the new data request and approval process being rolled out in INFANT. Anyone who wishes to get access to data from any of the INFANT studies or any data that is stored securely by INFANT must follow this process which will be become effective on 26 NOV 2021.

By |November 17th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

PI Profile: Dr Jane English’s Research Into Biomarkers to Support the Early Diagnosis of Autism

With the support of the Health Research Board, INFANT’s Dr Jane English (Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC) is leading a transformative study that could identify biomarkers to predict the onset of severe childhood autism. The study, which has the potential to be extremely significant, could see the development of a screening system that looks for small molecules in blood (e.g. proteins or metabolites) that indicate the risk of severe autism in children. If successful, Dr English’s study could enable clinicians to make an early diagnosis and begin the process of putting in place supports that she hopes will lead to a significant improvement in health outcomes and enhance the quality of life of children with severe autism, and their families. This project has the potential to transform the care of children with severe autism. On average, one in every 58 children are diagnosed with autism, and diagnosis tends to take place in kids aged between four and eight years old, which means that they are missing out on important supports and interventions in early childhood. If we can develop a test that allows clinicians to screen newborns, we could identify at risk children and begin the process of providing support and preparing pathways that will help children with autism and their families. By examining cord blood samples taken from newborns, who [...]

By |November 12th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Leads European Study on Neonatal Seizure Management

A new paper from INFANT has just been published in The Journal of Pediatrics, titled, Neonatal Seizure Management – Is the Timing of Treatment Critical? INFANT Centre research fellow Dr Andreea Pavel is the first author on the paper. The open access paper, which is the latest from the ANSeR study team led by INFANT Director Prof Geraldine Boylan. The team found that the treatment of neonatal seizures may be time-critical. 472 newborns were recruited across eight neonatal intensive care units in Ireland (Cork University Maternity Hospital & Rotunda Hospital), London (University College London Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Royal London Hospital, Homerton University Hospital), the Netherlands (University Medical Centre, Utrecht), and Sweden (Karolinska University Hospital). The study assessed the impact of the timing of seizure treatment on subsequent seizure burden and described overall seizure management in a large neonatal cohort. The research team found a significantly lower seizure burden and less seizures in infants treated within 1 hour of  seizure onset. To find out more, read the paper here.

By |November 12th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Led Research Team Create App That Could Revolutionise Maternal Healthcare in Developing Countries

Researchers at INFANT have created a ground-breaking app that could help reduce maternal and perinatal mortality rates in developing countries. Funded by the Global Pregnancy Collaboration (CoLab), Dr Ali Khashan and Dr Simon Woodworth from the INFANT research centre at University College Cork, alongside CoLab’s Professor Christopher Redman, designed the ULTRA app to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies by enabling healthcare officials to accurately record key data so that they can establish targeted intervention strategies aimed at improving maternal healthcare. Having received an Irish Research Council COALESCE funding, the pioneering app will be trialled across four districts in the Kilimanjaro Region of Northern Tanzania over the course of the next three years. The research team, led by Dr Khashan and Professor Blandina Mmbaga from the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, alongside  Professor Redman and Dr Woodworth, believe that the app could provide developing countries with the ability to capture key data that might otherwise be lost. In the developing world, countries like Tanzania tend to rely on paper-based systems to detail the provision of maternal healthcare services. Although secure, those paper-based systems tend to be inefficient as they’re not designed to inform decision-making or measure the impact of medical interventions. That makes them unusable in a modern context where accurate data is used to create strategies to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality rates. We [...]

By |November 10th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Seminar Series: Dr Juan Trujillo and The Paediatric Allergy Service and His Research at INFANT

As part of the INFANT seminar series, Dr Juan Trujillo will discuss the paediatric allergy service at CUH and his research this Friday, November 12th 2021 at 12pm. Dr Trujillo's presentation will largely touch on the following areas. • Brief introduction of the paediatric allergy service and his research at INFANT (5min) • Allergy awareness involvement in collaboration with several partners (5min) • Progression in new educational model to cover not only health care population in Ireland but the entire Irish population (10 min) • Active and pending research (15min)  

By |November 9th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Pregnancy Loss Research From Ireland Well-Represented at Upcoming ISA-ISPID Conference

Researchers from the Pregnancy Loss Research Group, comprising staff from INFANT, UCC College of Medicine and Health and the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, will present a range of their work at the 2021 ISA-ISPID Conference which takes place virtually from 11-13 November 2021.  The twelve presentations – details below – showcase the breadth of research areas within the Group, including perinatal mortality audits/reporting (including parental involvement) and coronial processes, termination of pregnancy, stillbirth prevention (including barriers and facilitators to engaging in antenatal care, substance-free pregnancies and weight management), education programmes for healthcare professionals. They also represent research conducted through a range of funding partners, including Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, and collaborations with Groups/Centres such as the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre and the Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway.  Speaking about the conference, Professor Keelin O’Donoghue who leads the Pregnancy Loss Research Group, said:   “The ISA and ISA-ISPID conferences are important annual events for our Group, and which we have actively participated in since 2010. They enable us to communicate our research on an international stage and engage in discussion, shared learning, and knowledge exchange with bereaved parents, support groups, clinicians, researchers and policymakers. This strengthens our efforts, and collaborative activities, in the prevention of stillbirth, in understanding its impact and in improving bereavement care”.   ISA-ISPID 2021 is hosted by the International Stillbirth Alliance (ISA) and the International Society for the study and prevention of Perinatal and Infant Death (ISPID), in conjunction with the Australian Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth and PSANZ. This year’s conference theme is Driving Change: it will address global issues of stillbirth, neonatal death, SIDS, and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) and showcase strategies to address these issues across high, middle and low-income countries.  The Pregnancy [...]

PhD Profile: Kaiyu Yu Talks Decision Support Tools for Newborn Brain Protection

An emerging expert in the field of biomedical engineering, Kaiyu Yu joined INFANT as a PhD researcher in July 2021 to begin working on an SFI Frontiers for the Future project that is developing decision support tools for newborn brain protection at INFANT. The newborn brain is vulnerable to injury around the time of birth. Decision support systems based on artificial intelligence can turn data from devices that measure vital signals from the brain, heart and circulatory system into information that can help clinicians to treat critically ill infants. However, these signals are complex and the interaction between them is not completely understood. This project will develop new mathematical and signal processing models that will facilitate the next generation of computer algorithms that will help doctors deliver specific and urgent medical interventions to improve the long-term health and quality of life for these infants. The ambitious project will lean on Kaiyu’s expertise in developing machine learning algorithms and could help clinicians to monitor, predict and treat low blood pressure among pre-term infants before a serious issue may arise. Clinicians want to be able to monitor a pre-term baby’s blood pressure. They do this by measuring some physiological signals, such as EEG, ECG and NIRS readings. I want to be able to develop a system that collates, processes, segments and models EEG, ECG and NIRS data [...]

By |October 27th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Led European Network to Advance Development of Algorithms that Detect Brain Injuries in Infants

INFANT’s Dr John O'Toole will lead a team of international researchers to accelerate the development of AI Technologies that detect brain injuries in infants. Working alongside a team of scientists, clinicians and technical experts from 14 different European countries, Dr John O’Toole aims to build capacity and strengthen cooperation among international research groups, with the goal of developing algorithms that will minimise the risk of babies developing catastrophic life-long neonatal brain injuries. Insufficient oxygen around the time of birth can cause brain injury. For babies born prematurely, the heart and lungs may struggle to adapt to the new environment which can lead to brain injury too. Brain monitoring of a tiny infant in an intensive care unit is challenging. It can be difficult and slow to interpret the complex brain-wave patterns.  AI systems are a perfect fit to this problem, as they can be designed to automatically recognise signs of brain injury. Funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, the researchers involved in the AI-4-NICU project plan to build on existing cot-side technologies, such as devices that measure brain waves, by including AI algorithms to detect markers of brain injury. This, Dr O’Toole anticipates, will lead to the development of decision-support tools that will help clinicians in neonatal intensive care units to quickly identify potential brain injuries that can result in death, cerebral [...]

By |October 27th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

PhD Profile: Kimia Rezaei on Developing Algorithms to Measure Abnormal Biosignals

One of five PhD students to begin their studies at INFANT this semester, Kimia Rezaei comes to University College Cork with a great deal of academic and industry experience. After completing a Masters in electrical engineering at Islamic Azad University in Iran during 2014, Kimia sought out and secured a role with Sahand Parsian Gharb Communication Service Company, where she developed an advanced knowledge of mobile networks and Ericsson’s sophisticated equipment and software. During that time, Kimia also enhanced her academic profile, publishing three articles in peer reviewed journals. Focusing each of her publications on the segmentation and classification of brain tumour images using machine learning algorithms, Kimia developed a specialism in a field that naturally aligned with INFANT’s research strengths. Working under the supervision of Professor Liam Marnane and Dr Gordon Lightbody, Kimia will be given the opportunity to enhance her knowledge and expertise as she seeks to develop an algorithm that will measure the symptoms that trigger abnormal biosignal readings among infants. Kimia’s PhD project leans on her most recent publication, which demonstrated how radiologists can employ machine learning algorithms and computer-aided diagnosis systems to make more informed medical decisions. If we can accurately predict abnormal EEG and ECG signals, we can begin to pre-emptively diagnose and treat infants. To do this, my research aims to accurately measure things like brain activity and [...]

By |October 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

PhD Student Profile: Mary Anne Ryan, General Nurse, Paediatric Nurse and Mid-Wife

Introducing herself as a registered general nurse, paediatric nurse and a mid-wife, INFANT PhD researcher, Mary Anne Ryan, is fervent in her desire to protect brain development of pre-term babies who pass through the neonatal unit in CUMH. Mary Anne describes how advances in technology have pushed back the limits of viability, reducing mortality associated with preterm birth. However there has been little change in morbidity amongst the preterm infant group. A clinical researcher, Mary Anne has a specific interest in the importance of sleep to the developing brain, explaining that sleep is a prerequisite for normal growth and a precondition for the normal development of the infrastructure of the brain. ‘There is a reason why preterm babies may sleep for up to 90% of the day. Whilst it may appear to be physically passive and restful, a high level of brain activity is maintained, which is crucial to a preterm infants’ developing brain’. ‘While we monitor heart rate, respirations, temperature, how well the body is oxygenated and the nutritional intake of preterm infants in the neonatal unit, we do not routinely monitor brain activity’. Brain activity may be monitored through electroencephalography (EEG). Sleep states (active sleep and quiet sleep) are associated with particular neural activity patterns which change with brain maturation. ‘Knowing what features and patterns are normal for gestational age we can determine [...]

By |October 13th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Seminar Series: Dr Nahla Ahmed and Dr Antoine Giraud to Discuss Their Research

The INFANT seminar series will continue this Friday, October 15th 2021 at a slightly later time of 12.30 pm. For the coming weeks, we hope to welcome our new clinical fellows and PhD students and learn about some of their plans while here in INFANT. First up are two new clinical fellows. Dr Nahla Ahmed, a paediatric registrar, will be discussing EEG in the hypotensive pre-term infant, and Dr Antoine Giraud, a visiting French clinical fellow will be discussing EEG changes in pre-term infants associated with peri-natal inflammation.

By |October 13th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Dr. Eoghan McKernan Takes Part in 7th Annual Trials Methodology Symposium

Dr. Eoghan McKernan took part in the 7th Annual Trials Methodology Symposium, presenting an exciting Post-PhD career perspectives & viewpoints presentation, with an emphasis on Infrastructure Management.  Eoghan presented a case study on infrastructure management at INFANT. This year’s theme is ‘’The Future of clinical trials: people, project, purpose, place’’ The prestigious event, which was hosted between 4-6  October, can be accessed online at The event is hosted by HRB-Trials Methodology Network (UCD), MRC/NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership and the UK Trial Managers Network. The interactive event includes presentations from leading international speakers with dedicated Q&As, and live discussions. To find out more visit: 7th Annual Trials Methodology Symposium - HRB-TMRN

By |October 6th, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

New Survey Examines the Care Experiences of Women and Their Partners Who Have Had Recurrent Miscarriages

Miscarriage affects one in four couples, while at least 1-3% will experience at least two or more first-trimester miscarriages in a row, known as recurrent miscarriage. The loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy can have a devastating impact on a woman, her partner, and their family, even more so if this loss occurs several times. Led by Professor Keelin O’Donoghue, researchers from the Pregnancy Loss Research Group at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and University College Cork are examining services and supports in Ireland for women/couples who experience recurrent miscarriage as part of efforts to standardise and improve services across the country. Working as part of the Health Research Board-funded RE:CURRENT (Recurrent miscarriage: Evaluating CURRENT services) Project, the research team would like to hear from women/couples about their care experiences. If you/your partner have had two or more consecutive first-trimester miscarriages and received care for these in Ireland during the last ten years and would like more information about how to take part, please visit Jennifer Ui Dhubhgain has three young children and lost six babies on her journey to completing her family. Through her work with the Miscarriage Association of Ireland, she supports women and men who have experienced pregnancy loss. Speaking about the RE:CURRENT Project Jennifer said, “Recurrent pregnancy loss takes not only a physical toll but also an [...]

By |September 22nd, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Seminar Series 2021/22: Dr Sophie Casey Presents ‘Inflammation Driven Molecular Alterations in Disorders of the Perinatal Brain’

In our first seminar of the new academic year, Dr Sophie Casey will present 'Inflammation Driven Molecular Alterations in Disorders of the Perinatal Brain' on 24th September at 12pm. Synopsis Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and Autism Spectrum Disorder are time sensitive and have narrow therapeutic windows of opportunity. Despite this, diagnosis is typically performed too late to beneficially inform clinical and therapeutic decision making and is often subjective or unavailable due to injury severity or socioeconomic factors. Neonates who are diagnosed with these disorders often receive treatment too late to confer beneficial levels of protection, or treatment is inappropriate. HIE and ASD are linked by inflammation and the involvement of inflammatory markers which may offer promising biomarker and/or therapeutic candidates.

By |September 21st, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Five INFANT Researchers Contribute to jENS 2021 Congress

Professor Geraldine Boylan, Professor Deirdre Murray and Dr Sean Mathieson, all took part in the jENS 2021 Congress this week, alongside INFANT Ph.D candidates Sonia Lenehan and Mary Anne Ryan.  The prestigious event, which took place between 14-18 September, featured an exciting scientific programme with contributions from leading international speakers.  Taking place online, the Congress investigated topics such as neurology, perinatal practices and neonatal infectious diseases / immunology.  The interactive event included dedicated Q&As, live discussions and polls, providing an engaging atmosphere for INFANT researchers to showcase how they are solving some of the challenges associated with pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood.  Find out about the jENS 2021 Congress.  INFANT Contributions:  14 September    Professor Deirdre Murray  Role: Discussant  Session: MEET & GREET & DISCUSS: controversies in neonatology – Brain    Mary Anne Ryan  Role: Speaker  Session:  Meet & Greet &Discuss: controversies in neonatology - Nursing  Title: Protecting sleep in the NICU  Synopsis: The immature preterm infant's brain is vulnerable to adverse outcome. Sleep is neuroprotective. Minimising stress and protecting sleep in the neonatal unit will support normal brain development.     15 September    Professor Deirdre Murray  Role: Speaker  Session: PARALLEL SESSION 1- BRAIN 1 - Outcome Assessment  Talk: Outcome assessment in the 21st century  Doctor Sean Mathieson  Session: POSTER SESSION 1 - BRAIN 1  Synopsis: Neonatal Encephalopathy (NE) is a neurological disorder resulting from lack of oxygen or blood supply to the brain at birth and has the highest morbidity and mortality in low income countries. Seizure can exacerbate brain damage.   We recorded EEG (brainwaves) on neonates with NE in Uganda and found a high seizure burden, highlighting the potential to improve outcome in these babies with prompt detection and treatment [...]

By |September 17th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Harnessing gaming technology to assess brain development in young children: Liltoda grows from cutting edge research in the INFANT centre, UCC.

New technology to support non-verbal assessment of infants & young children. 31st August 2021: A new UCC spin out company, Liltoda Ltd, launched today. Liltoda will focus on harnessing the power of gaming technology for the early detection of infant brain injury. The Liltoda team aim to create a sea change in the assessment of brain development in young children. The company is the direct result of an ongoing collaboration between Ireland’s world-class Maternal and Child Health research centre, the INFANT centre, and global gaming company, Hello Games.   Since 2014 Deirdre Murray, Professor of Paediatrics in UCC, and her brother Sean Murray, Founder and Managing Director of Hello Games, have worked together to study the ability of young infants to interact with touchscreen technology. The responsive nature of touchscreen tablets allows young children aged 18 months onwards to interact and solve puzzles without the need for language. Traditionally, cognitive ability in very young children is assessed based on the surrogate markers of developmental milestones. Parents can easily track a child’s speech and motor skills, but tracking their child’s thinking skills and problem solving ability is much more difficult. For this reason many children with learning difficulties are not detected before starting school. Children often have years of struggling at school before their difficulties come to light. Traditional tests such as Bayley’s Scales, were developed in the 1950s, [...]

By |September 1st, 2021|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

INFANT Student Secures IRC Scholarship 

INFANT centre and UCC Departments of Biochemistry and Obstetrics & Gynaecology PhD student Caroline Joyce was awarded an Employment-Based Programme Postgraduate award by the Irish Research Council on 25th August 2021.     Caroline, who is a Principal Clinical Biochemist in Cork University Hospital, received the prestigious scholarship for her research into biomarker discovery for the diagnosis, management and treatment of women with Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD). She was one of 28 awardees under this scheme and the only recipient in Cork.     Molar pregnancy (MP) is the commonest form of GTD with an incidence of one per 600 pregnancies. First trimester ultrasound and levels of the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) can diagnose a MP with histological confirmation of trophoblastic tissue in the placenta. After a molar pregnancy, hCG levels are monitored closely until levels return to normal and most women have a good outcome.     However, some patients with GTD develop persistent disease or gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN) and may require surgery and/or chemotherapy. Plateauing or rising hCG levels can indicate disease recurrence but alternative more sensitive biomarkers are needed to ensure early detection and treatment of this largely curative disease.     Caroline’s research will examine the molecular mechanisms underlying this rare disease under the supervision of INFANT’s Professor Keelin O’Donoghue, Professor Tommie McCarthy from UCC’s School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and Dr John Coulter, Consultant Gynaecologist and Clinical Lead at the National Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Centre.   

By |September 1st, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Professor Keelin O’Donoghue Co-authors Report on Implementation of National Bereavement Standards across all 19 Maternity Units

Infant’s Professor Keelin O’Donoghue -  - has co-authored a report that aims to develop and improve perinatal bereavement care across all of Ireland’s Maternity units. Read/Download the report (PDF) here - Compiled by Prof O'Donoghue, Clinical lead for Implementation, and Riona Cotter National Programme Manager,  the report highlights the dedication and hard work of healthcare professionals, support groups and voluntary organisations who work with parents bereaved through pregnancy loss and perinatal death.   Titled, The Implementation of the National Standards for Bereavement Care Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death - link: , the report also acknowledges the work and commitment in each Maternity Unit to implement the standards, as well as outlining the work still to be done. Speaking following the launch of the report, Professor O’Donoghue said that she was grateful to all of those who contributed to the implementation programme. "This report shows that progress has been made in the implementation of the Bereavement Standards nationally.." “We are grateful to all the families and volunteers who shared their experiences of pregnancy loss and perinatal death with us”. “Their experiences helped inform us of what is necessary to provide high quality bereavement care in our Maternity services”. The final recommendations of the report are based on audit findings, expert opinion, best practice and the learning from experiences of bereaved parents and families, [...]

By |August 18th, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care – Report

The Implementation of the National Standards for Bereavement Care Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death VIEW or DOWNLOAD the Report (PDF) here: HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care Between 2017 and 2021, experts in perinatal bereavement care, bereaved parents and members of support organisations and voluntary groups came together to develop and improve perinatal bereavement care through the implementation of the Standards in all Maternity units.  The enclosed report was prepared to present the programmes of work undertaken to implement the Standards. The content of this report shows the dedication and hard work of both the healthcare professionals and the support groups and voluntary organisations who work with parents bereaved through pregnancy loss and perinatal death. We acknowledge the work and commitment in each Maternity Unit to implement the Standards. Finally, we present further recommendations based on audit findings, expert opinion, best practice and the learning from experiences of bereaved parents and families, which should be a priority for every Maternity Unit. The report was compiled by Professor Keelin O'Donoghue - - Clinical lead for Implementation, and Riona Cotter National Programme Manager,  the report highlights the dedication and hard work of healthcare professionals, support groups and voluntary organisations who work with parents bereaved through pregnancy loss and perinatal death. VIEW or DOWNLOAD the Report (PDF) here: HSE National Standards for Bereavement Care

By |August 18th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorised|0 Comments

Results of PARROT Ireland Trial Published in British Medical Journal

Results of PARROT Ireland Trial Published in British Medical Journal Research funded by the Health Research Board Mother and Baby Clinical Trial Network Collaborative Ireland and published by Professor Keelin O’Donoghue in the British Medical Journal, has found that using the Placental Growth Factor test in clinical practice does not improve or worsen outcomes for women and their babies. A clinical trial involving 2,313 pregnant women has found that using the Placental Growth Factor (PlGF) test does not help Clinicians improve or worsen outcomes for women and their babies. The potentially dangerous condition pre-eclampsia, which affects between 4-7% of pregnant women, causes high blood pressure and protein in urine, and may in severe cases even lead to the fatality of a mother or baby. Published in the British Medical Journal  [ ], the findings of the trial do not support the addition of PlGF testing, which had previously in other studies shown promising results in helping to diagnose pre-eclampsia or manage pregnancy complicated by pre-eclampsia. The results of the national multi-centre trial, which was led by Professor Keelin O’Donoghue [], along with investigators from 7 maternity units across Ireland,  from UCC’s world renowned Infant Centre, leaves clinicians without an effective test that can differentiate between women presenting with high blood pressure and those affected by pre-eclampsia. “At present, we do not [...]

By |August 13th, 2021|Categories: News, On-going research|0 Comments