Centres & Groups – BioSciBER2018-07-20T08:46:51+00:00


BioSciBER in the Bernal Institute is a cluster of researchers who are engineers, cell biologists, surface scientists, histologists and neuroscientists that listen to each other and work out new projects serving medicine and the biotech industry.

They collaborate on interdisciplinary research projects in the area of Bioscience and Bioengineering of in vitro models of biological systems.  BioSciBER is a subset of the BioMedical Materials theme of the Bernal Institute.  The human body is a structure under continual renewal. Every minute our body renews millions of cells.  This renewal is not done at random.  These cells respond to the momentary needs of the human body by sensing their immediate environment through biochemical and mechanical sensing.  BioSciBER want to exploit the regenerative capabilities of this physiology in health care applications and emulate cell responses in InVitro conditions to measure and understand their biology.


Prof. Michael Walsh

Mechanical Aeronautical & Biomedical Engineering

Michael is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Biomedical Engineering.  Since 2005 he  co-founded and has served as Manager and Director of the Centre for Applied Biomedical Engineering Research.  He is Theme lead for the Technology in Health section of the Health Research Institute and a member of the executive committee of the Materials and Surface Science Institute.

His research activity focuses on an improved understanding of the host response to the treatment of vascular diseases.  His primary area of research investigates how disease caused by vascular surgical interventions (intimal hyperplasia) is instigated/mediated by hemodynamics.  His secondary area of research is focused on vascular disease properties and how such properties can be leveraged for improved medical device design.  Elucidating the role of hemodynamics in intimal hyperplasia formation is a crucial step towards the understanding of how surgical treatments lead to disease formation and also how treatments can be improved to minimise intimal hyperplasia.

Dr John Mulvihill

Biomedical Engineering

John received qualifications in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Limerick.  During his postgraduate research, he investigated the mechanical, structural, and biological properties of atherosclerotic disease as part of the CABER group in UL.  During this time, John worked on a number of commercialisation projects for minimally invasive cardiovascular and urological devices.  After receiving his Ph.D., he continued his cardiovascular and device design research at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) as part of the FP7 funded AMCARE project to develop a catheter to deliver stem cells to the heart.  In 2014, John was successfully awarded a co-funded postdoctoral fellowship from Marie Curie Actions and Irish Research Council to carry out research in the area of cell mechanobiology in glaucoma at the Ross Ethier lab in Georgia Institute of Technology, United States.  In 2016, John returned to the University of Limerick as Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering, where he co-founded the BioSciBER group.  Within this BioSciBER group, part of the Bernal Institute, John began his research into the mechanics and cell mechanobiology of cortical diseases such as concussion and astrocytoma.

Prof. Jacques Huyghe

Bernal Chair of Biomedical Engineering

Jacques holds a Master Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Ghent, Belgium.  He received his Ph.D. from the Eindhoven University of Technology in 1986.  After an assistant-professorship at Maastricht University, he was nominated as a fellow of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1996 to 2001.  His current research is focussed on porous media mechanics of swelling materials with applications in the field of biomechanics, prosthesis design and petroleum engineering.  He is a steering member of the Poromechanics Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers.  He was associate editor of the J.Biomech. Engng. Of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  He is presently editorial member of the journal Biorheology, and Transport in Porous Media.

Dr Kieran McGourty

Lecturer in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Department of Chemical Sciences

Kieran did his PhD and his Post-Doctoral scientific training in the UK at Imperial College and University College London looking at how cells respond to infection and to their immediate environment.  He is currently a Lecturer in the Chemical Sciences department of the University of Limerick and is a Principal Investigator in the Bernal Institute.  He is of the founding members within the Bernal BioSciBER lab research space.

Specifically, Kieran’s group aims to fuse biomedical engineering, cell-material interaction and cell signalling responses to grow tissue outside the body using stem cells.  To do this Kieran investigates the natural tissue environment and then tries to build material with similar properties outside the body on which cells can grow in an orderly fashion.  He is particular focused on the intestinal, muscular and epidermal niche.

Dr Andreas Grabrucker

Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences

Andreas received his MSc in Biology with a focus on genetics in 2005 from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. From 2005 to 2009 he investigated the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in his doctoral thesis in the workgroup of the neuro- anatomist Prof. Tobias Boeckers at Ulm University, Germany.  After receiving his Ph.D., he continued his neuroscientific research in the United States at Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences until 2011.  In 2011, he returned to University of Ulm as Assistant Professor, where he headed the research group “Molecular analysis of synaptopathies”.  At the same time he took up the position of Executive Director of the Neurocenter of the University of Ulm. Since 2017, he is lecturer at the Department of Biological Sciences, at the University of Limerick.

Additional Links:

Dr Patrick Kiely

Graduate Entry Medical School

Dr Pat Kiely is a Lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, and member of the Materials and Surface Science Institute and Stokes Institute. Dr Kiely has a BSc. in Biomedical Science and a PhD in Biochemistry from University College Cork. Dr Kiely’s work has led to a number of significant publications which were the foundation to the acquisition of several prestigious postdoctoral fellowships and international awards including European Association for Cancer Research (EACR) Young Scientist Award (2010), The Irish Cancer Society Research Fellowship (2009), The ‘Roche Gold Medal’ for Postdoctoral researcher of the year (2007), ‘The Pfizer Gold medal for Excellence in Research’ in 2007 and 2002, Career Development Fellowship (HRB, 2005) and ‘Young Investigator of the Year 2006’, awarded by the Biochemical Society, UK.