Friday, 3 February 2012 at 11:00 until Monday, 6 February 2012 at 16:00

Hayfield Manor Hotel-Friday, Kane G2-Saturday, Brookfield Health Complex-Monday

The purpose of this [NeuroFocus UCC] is simple. It should stand to influence, and hopefully inspire those with a Mind for Neuroscience.

We are a far cry from Plato’s insight, of the Brain being the seat of mental process. Yet more and more questions present themselves, and to those questions their answers unearthing even further inquiries about this magnificently complex organ. Today Neuroscience is an ever-new and energetic field, an intermix of Scientific disciplines ranging from Biochemistry to Pharmacology, Physics to Psychology, with research bridging crucial gaps in our understanding of the realms of human Neurological order and disorder, the processes behind not only disease but of imagination and creativity.

This shall only offer a small insight, but at that it is a rare opportunity for you, the student, and hopefully the avid future scientific researcher, to get a glimpse into research being conducted in Ireland and the UK, and a further opportunity to meet these specialists in person.

In Appreciative Collaboration with UCC’s SurgSoc, MedSoc, PsychSoc, Sláinte, the Anatomy Dept. UCC, and the Cork Neuroscience Society.



Synaptic plasticity and Alzheimer’s disease.
Effects of beta amyloid on synaptic plasticity: Can we reduce neuronal toxicity?

12pm. Dr. Gerard Clarke (UCC)

Brain-gut-microbe axis: Implications for Psychopathology.

Communication between the brain and gut is bidirectional and complex. Increased understanding of this axis and the role of the gut microbiota may aid the development of therapies not just for functional bowel disorders but for mood disorders also.


The brain, the immune system and hypoxia.

In order to maintain a healthy brain a constant supply of oxygenated blood is required. Stroke occurs when this blood flow is interrupted resulting in decreased tissue oxygenation (hypoxia). In hypoxia nerve cells initiate responses which protect against damage and encourage survival. However more severe hypoxia activates other pathways and inflammatory signals leading to irreversible brain damage. This talk will discuss these complex processes including acute nerve cell responses to mild and severe hypoxia and in the presence and absence of inflammatory signals. An understanding of these events will allow the development of novel therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing damage and enhancing recovery of brain tissue in stroke.

2pm. Dr. JOHN ZAJICEK (Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth)

Cannabinoids as medicines – bedside to bench and back again.

Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, although its recreational use over the last 70 years has hindered our ability to evaluate its true potential. There are over 60 different cannabinoids that can be derived from the plant, acting by a variety of receptor and non-receptor mediated mechanisms. The CB1 receptor is the commonest G-Protein coupled receptor in the brain, yet the precise function of CB1 and CB2 are only now beginning to be understood.
This lecture will consider the medical uses of cannabinoids, from laboratory studies to clinical trials. Prof Zajicek will consider whether cannabinoids may be used for more than symptom relief, and whether they may have a role in preserving the nervous system both in health and disease.



Structural Neuroimaging in Psychiatry

Neuroimaging has emerged as a valuable research tool in the study of many psychiatric disorders and continues to advance our understanding of the biological abnormalities associated with the disorders. Although neuroimaging does not yet play a role in the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders; its use in evaluating psychopathology is likely to impact upon the future classification of psychiatric disorders, and assist in diagnosis and clinical management. This talk will focus on structural MRI methodologies, recent findings and current research carried out at NUI Galway.

1pm. CIARA DORAN: (DR. Gordon Reid’s PhD student, Thermo/nociception)

Temperature sensing TRP channels: why ‘cool’ proteins are hot new drug targets.

TRP channels are a family of ion channel receptors whose discovery has transformed our understanding of sensory biology. These molecular sensors confer our sensitivity to many environmental compounds as well as temperature, touch and pain. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that TRP channels play a role in many pathologies, including chronic pain, cancer, renal, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Much effort is being undertaken to understand the structure, function and regulation of these promising new targets for drug discovery.

………………….Complimentary Lunch In Aula Maxima…………………


Alzheimer’s disease: progress in understanding and treating signals of brain degeneration.


Synaptic plasticity molecular programme. New insights and novel treatments in Neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases.

Learning events initiate a cascade of molecular signals and alterations in gene expression. These, in turn, mediate synaptic remodelling, in particular, within the hippocampus, a structure vital to memory formation. The molecular underpinnings of these morphological events are still poorly understood. We have characterised the mRNA expression profiles of the rat hippocampal dentate following water maze spatial learning or avoidance conditioning and identified a substantial cohort of transcripts showing matching regulation following both memory tasks. Collectively, these genes could be considered a core transcriptional program for memory-associated synaptic plasticity. Several genes intimately associated with neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases are revealed to have normal function in synaptic plasticity. Such knowledge can be harnessed to provide novel treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

5pm. CIT-UCC Collaboration…DR. GORDON REID,
Neuroplasticity, interesting project to help visually impaired people to navigate around the world by communicating information about the visual scene via the tongue. Promising to be the most outlandish and interesting talks on the day, make sure to keep an eye on this one.


Multiple Sclerosis Discussion

In association with UCC’s Anatomy Department, and the Cork Neuroscience Society.

The evening will involve a series of talks on Multiple Sclerosis, aimed at students and a public audience.

4pm. PROF ROBIN FRANKLIN, Director of the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair and Professor of Neuroscience at Cambridge University.

This talk will be aimed at shedding light on the recent advancements in Robin’s research, on the behaviour of adult stem cells in the CNS environment, and on the prospects of a novel and successful treatment for Multiple Sclerosis.

5pm. ETHNA MITTEN (Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neurology)
As with Prof Brian Sweeney’s talk, this too will focus on the current neurological treatment/management of MS.

5.30pm. PROF BRIAN SWEENEY (Neurology, CUH)
A presentation on current neurological treatment/management of MS.