Curam graduates win European doctorate award for biomaterials research

Dr Dilip Thomas and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa
Dr Dilip Thomas and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa

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30 May 2018 | 0

Curam PhD graduates Dr Dilip Thomas and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa have both been awarded the 2018 Julia Polak European Doctorate Award as part of the 29th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials.

The award is given by the European Society of Biomaterials Council and is presented annually. Candidates nominated for the award must demonstrate that they have received a high standard of research education and training at a European level in the fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering, and that they have also made significant scientific contributions having their research published in high-impact journals, and accepted to present at top tier conferences.

Dr Mohd Isa’s PhD research focused on developing a potential new hydrogel treatment for lower back pain caused by disc degeneration, using a substance called hyaluronan. Her research was recently published in the journal Science Advances.

Lower back pain is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a common reason for lost work days. More than 48% of Europeans experience lower back pain due to degenerative intervertebral discs, with associated healthcare expenditure estimated at €5.34 billion in Ireland alone.

Commenting on her award, Dr Mohd Isa said: “I’m delighted to receive this award from the society. Our hope is that the success of this research could have an impact in the spinal research community and lead to potential treatment for people suffering degenerated discs and chronic back pain.”

Dr Thomas’ doctoral research focused on the development of a microgel-based cell delivery device for the treatment of critical limb ischemia (a severe obstruction of the arteries). The research adds to the current knowledge on cell encapsulation strategies where transplanted cells are protected from immune rejection by an artificial membrane by investigating the potential of biomaterials for this therapy.

As a therapy, microgels would not only help faster tissue repair but also provide treatment for more patients. Dr Thomas is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Cardiovascular Institute at Stanford University where he works on disease modelling using stem cells.

Dr Mohd Isa and Dr Thomas are the fifth and sixth Curam graduates to receive this award.

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