March for Science (not Silence)!

We took part in the March for Science in Dublin today. There was an excellent turnout at the event by scientists and non-scientists alike, all supporting of science. Some of our favourite placards are captured in the photos below. The march went from Grand Canal Dock to Government Buildings (which used to be the home of the UCD Science Faculty). The march was addressed by Former President Mary Robinson, immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill, and Physicist and Science Communicator Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin. People highlighted the role of science in disproving falsehoods (“alternative facts” were mentioned), but more importantly in generating new knowledge that was of immense benefit to humanity. The need for evidence-based policy, and for action on climate change were also common themes.

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The march was linked with hundreds of marches all around the globe today, standing on up for science, and condemning the censoring of scientists by authoritarian governments, and proposals to savagely cut the science budget in the USA.

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson read a poem to the crowd in Dublin, it was written specially for the March for Science 2017 and was also read at the march in Washington DC. It is by Jane Hirshfield, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is titled “The Fifth Day”:

On the fifth day

the scientists who studied the rivers

were forbidden to speak

or to study the rivers.


The scientists who studied the air

were told not to speak of the air,

and the ones who worked for the farmers

were silenced,

and the ones who worked for the bees.


Someone, from deep in the Badlands,

began posting facts.


The facts were told not to speak

and were taken away.

The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.


Now it was only the rivers

that spoke of the rivers,

and only the wind that spoke of its bees,


while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees

continued to move toward their fruit.


The silence spoke loudly of silence,

and the rivers kept speaking,

of rivers, of boulders and air.


Bound to gravity, earless and tongueless,

the untested rivers kept speaking.


Bus drivers, shelf stockers,

code writers, machinists, accountants,

lab techs, cellists kept speaking.


They spoke, the fifth day,

of silence.


Adios Jorge!

jorge-combarrosWe say farewell to Jorge Combarros today. Jorge has been on a 2-month secondment from Gadea Grupo Farmacéutico in Valladolid (part of AmriGlobal). His project is part of a larger EU collaboration, 3DNet, led by Dr Breandán Kennedy (UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science). While in Dublin he has worked on the synthesis of new molecules that will be tested as therapeutics for diseases of the eye. Jorge has done great work in this regard. In addition he has taught us a lot about working in industry, and about the techniques he has experise in. This ‘transfer-of-knowledge’ is a key goal of the FP7- Marie Curie IAPP grant that funded the secondment. We wish Jorge all the best for his future.

Bon Voyage Avene!

3dnet logoAvene Colgan has gone to Spain on Industrial Placement for 3 months. As part of our ongoing participation in the 3DNet EU project, Avene is now on a 3-month secondment with Gadea Grupo Farmacéutico in Valladolid, Spain. The project is funded by a FP7-Marie Curie IAPP grant and is led by Dr Breandán Kennedy in UCD. Marie Curie logo-170x74Avene is pausing her PhD studies (funded by the IRC) in order to gain valuable industrial experience. While in Spain she will be working on the synthesis of novel molecules that will be tested for their potential as therapeutics for eye diseases. We wish her all the best on her travels.

Auf Wiedersehen Martin!

Martin FerryMartin Ó Fearraigh is gaining valuable industrial experience through a placement with Kelada pharmaceuticals, an Irish start-up company. Martin has paused his IRC-funded studies for four months while he is on placement. We look forward to welcoming Martin back in the summer, and we hope he benefits greatly from this opportunity.

Welcome Isabel!

We welcome Isabel Klein to the group. Isabel is in her 3rd year as a chemistry student at Barnard College in Columbia University in New York City. She is spending a semester abroad in UCD and has chosen to spend her research experience with the group. She will work on a carbohydrate chemistry project while she is with us, and gain in-depth experience with 2D-NMR as part of the project.

Welcome Jorge!

jorge-combarrosWe welcome Jorge Combarros to the group. Jorge joins the group on a 2-month secondment from Gadea Grupo Farmacéutico in Valladolid (part of AmriGlobal). His project is part of a larger EU collaboration, 3DNet, led by Dr Breandán Kennedy (UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute), that involves researchers in the UCD School of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, the University of Valladolid (Spain), and Marie Curie logo-170x74industrial partners in RenaSci Ltd (UK), KalVista Pharmaceuticals (UK), Gadea Grupo Farmacéutico (Spain). There is an unmet clinical need for more effective treatments to halt or reverse eye diseases that lead to blindness 3dnet logo(like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and corneal inflammation) with increasing prevalence as the EU population ages. The European network focuses on the exchange of knowledge, people, and expertise to enhance the discovery and development of drugs that target these ocular pathologies. It is funded by a FP7- Marie Curie IAPP grant.


Congratulations Avene!

Avene HeadshotCongratulations to Avene – she was awarded a best poster prize at the CSCB 15th Annual Meeting – Recent Advances in Synthesis & Chemical Biology XV. The annual meeting was held last Friday, in Trinity College Dublin with talks by Profs Steve Kent (Chicago), Franc Meyer (Göttingen), Philippe Renaud (Bern), Darren Dixon (Oxford) and AnnMarie O’Donoghue (Durham). Avene’s poster “Organocatalysts at the Service of Carbohydrate Chemistry” impressed the judges in a large poster session. Well done Avene!