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Emerging Technologies Bridge Oceans and Cultures

Conference Joins UMass Lowell, Irish Universities

Robert Tamarin, dean of sciences, opened the two-day conference.

By Sandra Seitz

UMass Lowell, in partnership with Queen’s University of Belfast and Dublin City University, hosted the first U.S./Ireland Emerging Technologies Conference in October.
The international conference featured experts from the three universities presenting on new research in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, nanomanufacturing and nano/biosensors. All sessions were held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center in downtown Lowell.

Robert Tamarin, dean of the Division of Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, who opened the conference, says the event was beneficial on several levels.

“The conference offered UMass Lowell and Irish scientists the opportunity to get together with leading industry partners as they consider the application of new technologies to meet medical and scientific needs,” said Tamarin. “Also, it reflects our growing commitment to international partnerships, which add to the vibrant exchange of ideas.”
The technical programs delved into biopharmaceuticals and bioprocessing, medical devices, nanomanufacturing for biomedicine and nano/biosensors. Topics within those areas ran the gamut from new biomaterials to repair bones and using living cells in sensors to monitor the safety of human exposure to novel nanomaterials during their manufacture, to innovation in medical diagnostics and the challenges of clinical trials.
Each of the three universities has major research centers that bring together resources and knowledge from the public and private sectors, including Dublin City University’s Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, Queen’s University’s Polymers Research Center and UMass Lowell’s Massachusetts BioManufacturing Center, NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing and Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2). Those centers, along with Ireland’s Center for BioAnalytical Sciences, were represented at the conference. Expert presenters also included faculty from UMass Medical School and Northeastern University.

Prof. Stephen McCarthy, co-director of M2D2, found unexpected opportunities for collaboration.

“As UMass Lowell researchers, we had expected to develop collaborations with industry and with the Irish universities,” says McCarthy. “What was unexpected was the high degree of synergy between and among all the universities, as well as the discovery of new collaborative opportunities across our own campus as we learned more about each other’s newest research.”

Francis Talty, Center for Irish Partnerships, hopes to see the conference’s success replicated next year in Ireland.

“UMass Lowell is committed to an enhanced relationship with our Irish partners in the sciences and engineering, and also in advancing our understanding of the social and cultural dimension of our people,” says Talty. “In a very short time, we have seen tremendous excitement and substantive program development in this new relationship.”

Nearly 200 people participated in the conference, with about 100 present for each of the four sessions.

Scientific poster sessions of new research were held simultaneously. Representatives of leading companies exhibited products and services, making the link to how new technologies are being used in real-world manufacturing and product development.

Corporate sponsors of the event were Millipore Corp., Nypro Healthcare, PTC and Tesco Associates.

Panelists in the biopharmaceuticals session included Richard O'Kennedy, left, Dublin City University, and Asst. Prof. Jin Xu and Prof. Carl Lawton, both of UMass Lowell.
Prof. Stephen McCarthy, left, and Francis Talty, right, with Queens University Profs. Fraser Buchanan, Tony McNally, Eileen Harkin-Jones, Peter Hornsby, Marion McAfee and Nicholas Dunne