College competitors make impact with their groundbreaking ideas
A blood test to detect breast cancer early and the use of sensor technology to measure the performance of elite swimmers both turned into winning ideas for two Irish researchers.
Killian O'Brien and Robert Mooney have carried off the top prizes at the Irish Independent/Higher Education Authority (HEA) Making an Impact 2014. The competition, which culminated in Dublin City University yesterday, recognises innovative work with the potential to make a big difference to an aspect of Irish life, to the country as a whole or internationally.
Both winners are attached to NUI Galway. With a natural interest in swimming and degrees in science and sports science, Galway native Mr Mooney (33) decided there had to be a better way to analyse performance in the pool than through gathering and digitising video footage.
He has come up with a system of multiple sensors, which are attached to different parts of the swimmer, providing real-time data to coaches.
Killian O'Brien (24), from Ballincollig, Co Cork, who is a biochemistry graduate from UCC, is involved in important research at NUI Galway aimed at earlier detection of breast cancer, of which there are over 2,500 new cases in Ireland every year.
His ground-breaking work is focused on the use of a simple blood test to identify the presence of tiny molecules that indicate the presence of breast cancer, allowing for earlier and non-invasive treatment of the disease.
An award of €2,500, sponsored by the Irish Independent, was made to each of the two winners.