NUI Galway’s Eimear Dolan named ‘visionary’ in MIT’s Innovator Under 35 list

19 Jun 2020

Dr Eimear Dolan of NUI Galway. Image: Aengus McMahon

Dr Eimear Dolan of NUI Galway has been included among the ‘visionaries’ in MIT Technology Review’s Innovator Under 35 list.

NUI Galway biomedical engineer and Mayo native Dr Eimear Dolan has been named in MIT Technology Review’s annual list of Innovators Under 35, as one of 10 global visionaries. This list includes people making breakthroughs in AI, quantum computing and medical devices.

Dolan and colleagues have developed a soft robotic device to improve the long-term performance of implanted medical devices.

Their innovation counters what is known as the ‘foreign body response’. When the body senses an implanted foreign object, it constructs protective tissue to defend the body from the foreign object, which can cause implants to fail.

Reacting to her placement on the list, Dolan said: “It is very exciting to receive this acknowledgement which highlights our work nationally and internationally.

“I have been very fortunate to have excellent mentors, colleagues and collaborators throughout my career so far and am delighted to be part of the innovative and vibrant community at NUI Galway.”

List of ‘outstanding people’

Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, said the list is a chance to honour “the outstanding people behind the breakthrough technologies of the year that have the potential to disrupt our lives”.

Speaking about the device last year with, Dolan said this is the first time the principals of soft robotics have been used to manipulate the environment at the interface between a medical device and the body.

“The device uses mechanical actuation to modulate how cells respond around the implant and we showed that this resulted in a significant reduction in the build-up of the fibrous capsule around the device,” she said at the time. “This approach has vast potential for a range of clinical applications.”

Dolan is now working towards developing new medical devices and advanced cell-based therapies to treat chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic