University of Limerick Researchers to Develop a Medical Device to Improve Detection of Delirium

28 November 2011 -- Researchers at the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick (GEMS) have been awarded €175,000 funding to develop a portable automated device that can be used in any clinical or community setting to allow early diagnosis and treatment of delirium.

Professor David Meagher, Chair of Psychiatry, GEMS, UL and lead researcher explains the clinical significance of delirium. “Delirium is a medically urgent, acute neuropsychiatric syndrome that is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality and poor prognosis in the elderly.”

“Delirium affects 11-42% of medical-surgical inpatients and as many as 80% of intensive care and nursing home patients. Poor detection results in about 50% of cases being missed in real-world practice. This poor level of detection is a direct consequence of the absence of systematic and formalized approaches to cognitive assessment in routine healthcare”. This research is a good example of fundamental clinical research being translated into a practical device. Professor Meagher has collaborated with Professor Paula Trzepacz, Eli-Lilly & Company/Indiana University Medical School, USA for a numbers of years in order to clarify the characteristics of delirium. Through clinical research, the features of delirium have been identified and can now be assessed using a computerized diagnostic device that minimizes the demands upon patients, many of whom may be uncooperative due to presence of delirium.

UL is continuing to build on its success in medical device research, the University was recently awarded top prizes at the Enterprise Ireland Clinical Innovation Award. Professor Colum Dunne, Director of Research, Graduate Entry Medical School highlights the significance of research in this field: “This funding is another important step in building on UL’s success in medical device and diagnostic research. Our clinicians are leading research which will not only enhance patient safety and clinical outcomes but they are developing innovative products which will drive Ireland’s leading role in the medical device and diagnostics sector.”

Ireland’s medical technologies sector is a significant global cluster for medical device and diagnostic products. Exports of medical device and diagnostics products are valued in excess of €7 billion annually, representing 9% of Ireland’s total merchandise exports. The sector employs 25,000 people, the highest number of people working in the industry in Europe, per head of population, with 60% employed in the West and Midwest region.

This research is led by Professor David Meagher, Chair of Psychiatry, Graduate Entry Medical School and Consultant Psychiatrist, University Hospital Limerick and involves a multidisciplinary team including Professor Colum Dunne, Director of Research, GEMS, Professor Walter Cullen, Chair of General Practice, GEMS, Dr Chris Exton, Computer Sciences and Information Systems, Dr Con Cronin, St John’s Hospital, Limerick, Professor Paula Trzepacz, Eli-Lilly & Company/Indiana University Medical School, USA and Dr Marion Conroy, Milford Hospice and University Hospital Limerick.

This research is funded by the Health Research Board under the Health Research Award Scheme 2011. For further information about the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS), UL go to :

For further information contact: Christine Brennan, UL Press Office 086 7818441 Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick (GEMS)

Established in 2007, the Graduate Entry Medical School celebrated the first graduates of its Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (BM BS) degrees this year. The Graduate Entry Medical School Programme at UL is open to graduates from any discipline and employs practical and interactive approaches to learning, particularly through the use of innovative Problem-Based Learning techniques

The Graduate Entry Medical School recently marked its €1 million funding milestone which furthers its commitment to progressive medical research. GEMS is implementing a research strategy focused on the themes of metabolic mediators of chronic disorder, life stage-specific conditions including aspects of ageing, and the provision of prophylactic guidance & therapeutic care in the community and acute facilities. The School has pursued recruitment of experienced professorial leaders across the clinical specialities who are actively engaged in relevant top-tier health-oriented research.

The Graduate Entry Medical School was a finalist in the recent Enterprise Ireland Clinical Innovation Awards held at the Med in Ireland – Medical Technologies & Healthcare Conference and Exhibition. Third place was awarded to the Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) in collaboration with the Tyndall Institute, for their project which was cost-effective senor-integrated nasogastic tubes to enhance patient safety and clinical outcomes.

University of Limerick

The University of Limerick is an independent, internationally focussed University with over 11,600 students and 1,300 faculty and staff. It is a young, energetic and enterprising University with a proud record of innovation in education and excellence in research and scholarship. UL’s mission is to promote and advance learning and knowledge through teaching, research and scholarship in an environment, which encourages innovation and upholds the principles of free enquiry and expression. Particular attention is paid to the generation of knowledge, which is relevant to the needs of Ireland’s continuing socio-economic development.

QS Stars™: Award for 5 Star – Innovation

UL was recently awarded a five star rating for Innovation by the international, independent ratings company, QS Stars™. The QS audit for Innovation examined the University’s records for patents, spin-off companies and industrial research.

University of Limerick - Research & Commercialisation

Research activity at the University of Limerick follows an ethos of innovation, industry collaboration to translate fundamental research which will tackle real challenges for society as a whole.

The University has been granted in excess of €40 million in research funding for the past calendar year and continues to outperform international benchmarks for delivery of commercial licences and spinouts per euro invested. Our commercialisation success has led to 114 new invention disclosures, 53 patent applications, 27 licence agreements and 8 campus companies in the past 5 years. In 2010 alone, four new University patents were granted by the European Patent office and the US Patent Office.

8 UL campus companies have been set up over the past five years, attracting in excess of €35 million in investment funding and employing 80 people locally.

Other success stories include spinout companies Powervation, Stokes Bio and Crescent Diagnostics which are part of a dynamic emerging pipeline of commercialisation of UL research which is testament to the creativity, hard work and commitment of our researchers and staff and the support and guidance of our external partners from the worlds of technology, venture capital and enterprise.

94% of UL's 2010 PhD Graduates are in employment with the vast majority of these working in Ireland.

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