UL graduate helps develop new sensor technology

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Dr Sinead O'Keeffe is leading the research team at the University of Limerick. Picture: Sean Curtin
Researchers at the University of Limerick have developed a new technology, which if rolled out will ensure improved safety and more effective treatment for patients who are undergoing radiotherapy.

Researchers at the University of Limerick have developed a new technology, which if rolled out will ensure improved safety and more effective treatment for patients who are undergoing radiotherapy.

Based at the Optical Fibre Sensors Research Centre at UL, the research team is led by Dr Sinead O’Keeffe, an internationally recognised sensor technology researcher who has been working on the development of optical fibre sensors for the past nine years.

She says the development of the new technology is a major breakthrough.

“The sensors are smaller than current technology and so can be placed at critical organs such as the lens of the eye, to ensure it is not exposed to high levels of radiation,” said Dr O’Keeffe.

“Ensuring only the tumour, and not healthy tissue, is exposed to radiation will make the radiation treatment more effective. Many current technologies do not allow for real-time monitoring and so this technology will provide immediate information on the amount of radiation a patient has received and so improves patient safety,” she explained..

Dr O’Keeffe, was awarded a prestigious Marie Curie Research Fellowship to develop radiation dosimeters for monitoring patient doses received during radiotherapy for cancer treatment.

The project, which is being carried out in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles and the Galway Clinic, has made significant advances in the area of real-time patient monitoring during radiation treatment.

A patent is currently being prepared in the area.

A graduate of the BEng in Electronic Engineering and PhD at UL, Dr O’Keeffe was recently awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Sensors Council Early Career (GOLD) Award. The award was presented to Dr O’Keeffe at the recent IEEE Sensors Conference in Taiwan.