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Press Release

Press release

Young scientist wins Watts Medal

10 January 2003

This years Watts Medal and Prize was awarded to Aileen Byrne, a final year science student in UCD for her project 'Effects of the vascular endothelial growth factor family and endostatin on blood retinal barrier function'. Aileen carried out her project in the Department of Biochemistry in UCD under the supervision of Dr Brenda Brankin.

This years Watts Medal and Prize was awarded to Aileen Byrne, a final year science student in UCD for her project 'Effects of the vascular endothelial growth factor family and endostatin on blood retinal barrier function'. Aileen carried out her project in the Department of Biochemistry in UCD under the supervision of Dr Brenda Brankin.

This year, the HRB's Watts Medal Competition was held at the RAMI* Section of Biomedical Sciences Winter Meeting in UCD. Seven students who carried out Summer projects in health research funded by the HRB competed in this annual event.

In her project, Aileen investigated the effects of the growth factors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) and Placental Growth Factor, and the endothelial-specific angiogenic inhibitor, endostatin, on blood retinal barrier function. She concluded that VEGF and PLGF may play a role in regulating vessel permeability (or blood vessel 'leakiness') at the Blood Retinal Barrier. Maintenance of this barrier is very important because when it is changed, it can lead to harmful vascular leakage, and perhaps, retinal oedema. Retinal vascular diseases are a leading cause of blindness in all age groups. Conditions such as prematurity in neonates, diabetes and vascular occlusions can have a serious impact on the well-being of the retinal blood vessels which in turn can cause serious retinal damage leading to severe visual loss. endothelial permeability.

Each year the HRB funds approximately 50 students to carry out research projects during their summer holidays. The Watts medal, named after Professor William Watts, the former Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, is awarded annually for the best presentation of a Summer Student Project.

* Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland

Ends

For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager
Health Research Board
m 00353 87 2288514
t 00353 1 2345103
e gmarkey(at)hrb.ie

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