Collaboration: the Fulbright International Scholar Program
Applied Polymer Technologies (APT) Gateway collaborates with Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic through the Fulbright International Scholar Program
In 2015, founding Principal Investigator of the APT Gateway in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), Dr Luke Geever, was presented with a Fulbright International Scholar Award. Dr Geever, who leads one of Ireland’s largest polymer research groups, was the 2015 Fulbright-Enterprise Ireland Scholar and carried out his research at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic in the United States. During the scholarship, Dr Geever undertook collaborative research with leading experts in the field of regenerative medicine in work that seeks to Expand the Clinical Applications of Novel Drug Eluting Bioresorbable Polymers.
During his time in the US, through collaboration with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, he undertook a clinical observership, observed surgeries and reviewed case studies with surgeons, which has enabled the Enterprise Ireland-funded APT Gateway in AIT to develop technical solutions with the patient’s welfare at the very heart of the research. The research involved the development of novel bioresorbable polymer materials for medical device implant applications, a core area of expertise in APT. Bioresorbable polymers are becoming the materials of choice in the development of medical devices, including cardiovascular stents and fixation devices for bone repair, with demand for implantable medical devices forecast to reach $52 billion in 2015.
Large-scale medical device projects
The research is closely aligned to the strategic direction of the APT Gateway and will allow our centre to carry out a much larger degree of large-scale industry projects with medical device companies in the future. The important industry-relevant skills developed through the Fulbright study have had great benefit to the APT Gateway and to the wider Gateway network.
Presentations to Fulbright awardees were made at an award ceremony in Dublin and at the annual Irish Fulbright Alumni Association Scholars’ Dinner, held at Dublin Castle.
US Ambassador of Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, noted:
“Year on year, US and Irish Fulbrighters provide a fascinating insight into the direction of global research in a wide variety of fields. This year we have seen a particular increase in research in the areas of health and technology. The Fulbright program provides a unique platform for international scholars to break new ground, to collaborate with other world class researchers and to make a difference.”
The study focused on a highly relevant area of clinical and industrial significance – the development of novel drug eluting bioresorbable polymeric materials for medical device implant applications. The research was carried out in Harvard Medical School, Boston, at the Centre for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies, while related research was carried out at the Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester. In 2014, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, was ranked as the No.1 overall hospital in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Bioresorbable polymers are becoming the materials of choice in the development of medical devices, including cardiovascular stents and fixation devices for bone repair, with demand for implantable medical devices forecast to reach over $50 billion in 2015.
Dr Luke Geever
A graduate in Polymer Technology from AIT, Dr Geever undertook his PhD in Athlone in the controlled release of pharmaceutical ingredients from smart temperature sensitive polymers. Dr Geever now leads one of the largest polymer materials research groups in Ireland, the Smart Polymers Research Group. This specialist research team currently comprises of 10 full-time scientists and engineers. The group has played a key role in securing €6.5 million in research funding awards, attracting significant competitive state and industry funding. Dr Geever is also a Principal Investigator for the APT Gateway, Ireland’s National Polymer Materials and Processing Research Centre, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland. The APT Gateway in Athlone Institute of Technology was established in 2012 and offers companies, locally and nationally, access to world-class R&D infrastructure, expertise and resources. The APT Gateway currently works with in excess of 100 companies each year, delivering solutions to a wide range of industry partners who rely on polymer technologies to support their core business, from SMEs to multinationals across the pharmaceutical, medical, composite and sustainable sectors. The research carried out was wholly industry driven and has been of great benefit to APT’s biomedical industry partners.
The Fulbright Program is a highly competitive, merit-based grants program for international educational exchange which was founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. It is one of the most prestigious award programmes worldwide, operating in over 155 countries. Under the Fulbright Program, competitively selected candidates are awarded scholarships to study, conduct research, and exercise their talents at top universities and institutions throughout the United States. Interested applicants in all disciplines are encouraged to visit the Fulbright Commission’s website for more information.
Dr Luke Geever recently returned from the USA after completing his Fulbright Scholar position at the CAOS in Harvard Medical School and the Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center at the Mayo Clinic. This prestigious award enabled Dr Geever to forge links within Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic and at other leading research institutes throughout the USA.