TG4 to Broadcast new Science on Screen documentary on the Irish MedTech Community’s Response to COVID-19

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, together with partners Galway Film Centre, are delighted to announce that the latest documentary produced through the Science on Screen public engagement programme will be broadcast on TG4 on Thursday, 1 July at 10.30pm.

Written and directed by Karen Coleman and co-produced by Leeona Duff with SkyeByte Productions, the documentary ‘Off The Bench’ In am an Ghátair’ focuses on the response of the Irish MedTech community to Covid-19 and the unprecedented collaborations that have taken place across academic, industry and clinical partners in Galway and beyond to create innovative solutions that have helped cope with the pandemic as it evolved.

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, says: “These collaborations between academics, clinicians, and industry partners in the MedTech sector have been in place since before the pandemic hit Irish shores. But the value of this network and the infrastructure that exists became obvious when it was needed the most. We knew it was important to document what was happening, and these stories illustrate the unique nature of the MedTech sector in Ireland. We hope it will build confidence in the expertise we have to hand and highlight some of the reasons why Ireland is regarded as a global hub for MedTech research and development.”

The documentary focuses on several key innovations developed early in response to the pandemic, including establishing the INSPIRE project, an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway designed to deliver fast-to-clinical medical devices to support the Covid-19 effort.

CÚRAM Investigator, Professor Martin O’Halloran coordinated the INSPIRE project with physician and CÚRAM Investigator Dr John Laffey and his colleagues at University Hospital Galway. The INSPIRE network brought researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and others in the MedTech space together to collaborate in exceptional ways to design and develop medical devices that could be used for both healthcare workers and patients on Covid-19 hospital wards both in Ireland and abroad.

This collaboration led to the VentShare project that developed a safe way to ventilate two patients from a single ventilator, led by Tim Jones (a graduate from the BioInnovate Ireland programme) amd Jack Connolly, graduate from the College of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, and Dr David Hannon and Professor John Laffey (Critical Care) with technical support from Aerogen.

Other projects featured in the documentary include developing a transparent plastic helmet (C-PAP Hood) that can administer oxygen to patients in ways that reduce healthcare workers being exposed to the virus and the INSPIRE Guard – a shield that patients could use to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Alan Duggan, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said: “We are incredibly proud to be able to continue to work with CÚRAM, this time on the creation of the Science On Screen feature documentary ‘Off The Bench: In am an Ghátair’. The impact that science has on our lives has never been more present than in the last year and this documentary highlights this in a very real and practical way. To have the documentary broadcast on national television on TG4 is a reflection of the hard work put in by all of the production team involved in bringing it to life. We are excited to see the audience’s reaction to it.”

Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, says: “Our MedTech ecosystem in the West of Ireland has long been recognised as a global hub of excellence and innovation. This has never been more true than in its inspirational and speedy response to providing healthcare solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway and I congratulate CÚRAM, Galway Film Centre and the production team on this important and timely Science on Screen documentary.

“As a research-led University, this documentary captures the very essence of how the MedTech community comes together to develop life saving devices, animating our university values of respect, openness, sustainability and excellence. This documentary allows .people to better understand how important public research and innovation is to the fabric of our lives and in particular when confronting global challenges like the pandemic.”

‘Off the Bench: In am an Ghátair’ was funded through the Science on Screen public engagement programme, a partnership between CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre. The programme has produced six science documentaries to date and aims to raise awareness of the impact of medical device research in society.

The documentary was written and directed by the award-winning journalist and broadcaster Karen Coleman at SkyeByte Productions (www.skyebyteproductions.com), which makes documentaries and multi-media content for online platforms and broadcast outlets, and co-produced by Leeona Duff of Up on Blue Bridge Productions.

An English language trailer can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/515300175.

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