UCD Researcher To Give Prestigious Lecture

25th March 2015

Posted In: FYI

Dr Silke Ryan, a University College Dublin (UCD) medical researcher, will deliver the prestigious Cournand lecture, to an expected audience of 20,000, at the forthcoming international congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS).

The ERS Congress, the largest annual respiratory meeting in the world, takes place this year in Amsterdam, the Netherlands from 26-29 September.

Dr Ryan is a Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and a Health Research Board-funded research fellow in the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science at the UCD Conway Institute. She is the first researcher from Ireland honoured by the Society to deliver the flagship lecture at its international congress in its 25-year history.

Dr Ryan was selected by the Society based on the impact of her research over the last decade. Her research has resulted in a better understanding of the mechanisms associated with the development of various cardiovascular complications, such as high blood pressure, heart attacks or stroke, in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

OSA is a common disease affecting at least 5% of middle-aged adults. It is characterised by frequent breathing pauses during sleep leading to sudden drops in the blood oxygen level resulting in subconscious awakenings in order to restore the oxygen level. In severe cases these events can occur several hundred times during the night.

Using a truly bench-to-bedside approach, Dr Ryan’s research has identified that the frequent oxygen fluctuations (termed intermittent hypoxia) preferentially activate inflammatory pathways known to promote atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), and these events are likely key mechanisms of cardiovascular disease processes in OSA.