Lab Director

Dr Manus Biggs

Manus Biggs is a lecturer in the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He obtained a PhD in Cellular Engineering from the University of Glasgow, UK and conducted post-doctoral training at Columbia University in the Dept. of Applied Physics. Currently, he is a funded investigator at the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices - Cúram and a principal investigator at NUI Galway. His research integrates material science, electronic engineering, top-down nanofabrication techniques and biological functionalization strategies in developing biomaterial platforms, with a focus on elucidating specific mechanisms of cell-material interactions to enable the development of next-generation medical devices.

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Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Katarzyna Krukiewicz

Katarzyna Krukiewicz obtained her PhD in Chemistry in the Department of Physical Chemistry and Technology of Polymers, Silesian University of Technology, Poland. Currently, she is a Marie Curie postdoctoral Fellowship under the CURAM MedTrain Programme. Katarzyna has extensive expertise in electrochemical analysis and electrochemical polymer synthesis. Her research is focused on the design and characterization of functional chemistries and biomaterials for the development of neural electrodes, including conducting polymers composites and polymer brushes to promote neural integration through the modulation of reactive gliosis.

Dr Arun Thirumaran

Arun Thirumaran obtained his masters and M.Phil degree in Biotechnology from Bharathiyar University, Coimbatore, India. He worked as a junior research fellow in developing decellularised bovine pericardial tissue for cardiovascular applications at Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Kerala, India; before moving to Ireland to pursue PhD in Regenerative Medicine. His PhD research was in genetic modification of mesenchymal stem cells for targeted therapeutic applications in critical limb schema. Arun is a CURAM funded investigator, participating in an industry spoke project in conjunction with Actuitive Technologies Inc. The aim of Arun's research at CURAM is to investigate the signalling response of mesenchymal stem cells to bioactive citrate-based composite polymers. The project will investigate formulation, fabrication, biocompatibility and biomimetic properties of citrate-based polymer composites with emphasis on bone regeneration. The project involves investigation into in vitro and in vivo signaling responses to citrate-based composites leading to osseointegration and regeneration using high-throughput transcriptomics and proteomics approaches.

Dr Anup Poudel

Anup holds a bachelors degree in biomedical engineering (Purbanchal University, Nepal).  He completed an MSc in Innovative Technology Engineering and Ph.D at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, graduating in 2017. His PhD thesis centred on the processing of smart dielectric nano-composites materials for energy harvesting and sensing applications. Anup has wide range of expertise in the field of polymer/nanocomposite processing, thermal/mechanical/electrical characterization and modelling of polymers/nanocomposites. Anup is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in the field of electrically active biomaterials for tissue engineering, with an emphasis on elucidating the role of electromechanical stimulation on cellular function and in fabricating 3D regenerative scaffolds for cardiac applications.

Dr Tomasz Walski

Tomasz received an M.Sc. Eng. in Technical Physics with specialization in Biomedical Engineering from Wrocław University of Science and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in the field of Biocybernetics and Biomedical Engineering from Warsaw University of Technology. Tomasz worked for several years at both Wrocław University of Science and Technology and Regional Specialist Hospital in Wrocław, R&D Centre as an academic teacher and research associate.  His research was focused on developing a method for blood protection against damage caused by extracorporeal circulation. He joined the Biggs lab in 2018 as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow under the CURAM MedTrain Programme. Tomasz’s role is to design an efficient system for real-time monitoring and quantitative analysis of gliosis and developing electrochemical tools for research into CNS damage and repair.

Dr Varun Vyas 

Varun received a Master’s degree in Biomedical Nanotechnology from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Thereafter, he moved to University of Milan and completed his Ph.D. in Medical Nanotechnology from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces (CIMaINa). His area of research was focused on the development of Nanostructured Biomaterial thin films and their characterization using Atomic Force Microscopy. He conducted his postdoctoral studies at the Institute of Material Science (IMS), University of Connecticut. As a postdoctoral scholar, he worked on cell nanomechanics and application of acoustics in microparticle assembly and cell manipulation. Varun subsequently worked at the University of Delhi and worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Physics and Astrophysics for two years. His project involved the development of novel oxy-nitride based biomaterial thin films. At CURAM, he is investigating spatially resolved chemical signatures from living tissues using Scanning Electrochemical Microscope (SECM), a project funded by Neurent Medical

Dr Carolina Vargas Estevez

Carolina Vargas-Estevez received a Bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá, Colombia).  Later she obtained her master's degree of Biomedical Engineering at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Then in she earned her PhD in Nanotechnology from Universitat de Barcelona, with the research topic “Suspended Micro/nanogenerators for cell stimulation”. She joined the Biggs lab in 2019 as a CURAM postdoctoral fellow to develop flexible implantable energy harvesting devices for biosensors and biostimulators. She has multidisciplinary experience in projects using micro/nanotechnologies for biology and biomedical applications.

Doctoral Students

Alex Trotier

Alexandre Trotier received a Bachelor of Life and Earth Science, specialising in Biology and a MSc in Gene, Cell and Tissue Biotherapies, University Paris - Est Créteil, France.

He is currently undertaking PhD research into the field of biomedical and neural engineering. The aim of his project is to study the impact of mechanical shear stress occuring during neuroelectrode insertion and the effect of electrical stimulation  on midbrain protein expression and extra cellular matrix composition. The main goal of his research is to provide information on neuroelectrode design and functionalisation with an aim to developing physicomechanical and biochemical strategies to reduce peri-electrode glial scar development with deep brain stimulation treatment.

James Britton

James Britton graduated with a MSc in Regenerative medicine and a BSc in Physiology from the National University of Ireland, Galway. James is developing an ex vivo model to asses spinal cord regeneration with an to exploring the efficacy of mechanical stimulation on promoting regeneration of axons after spinal cord injury. James’s research focuses on piezoelectric materials, neuro-compatible biomaterials and the use of 3D printing and microfabrication to design neuro-mimetic guidance conduits. James is currently exploring these questions through 2-photon polymerisation fabrication approaches of electromechanical active scaffolds.

Augusto Loffredo

Augusto received a Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnological Engineering at UNESP, Brazil, and studied Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway for one year of under the Brazilian scientific programme, Science Without Borders, funded by CAPES. He worked for four years in the Physics, Biophysics and Biomaterials lab of UNESP – Assis, funded by CNPq. He is currently working on the fabrication of “living neural interfaces” using photo-crosslinkable materials to create a micro-designed scaffold capable of guiding neurons through contact guidance.

Magesh Sankar

Magesh Sankar completed a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, conducting a study on “Electrochemical and wear behavior of coated and uncoated WE43 Magnesium alloys for biomedical applications” from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), India. He also completed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University, India. Magesh served as a Senior Research Fellow from June 2016 to March 2019 in the Indian government funded project “Plasma treatment of metallic materials with and without coatings for biomedical applications” at VIT, India. In 2019 Magesh was awarded a Hardiman PhD Scholarship to study at NUI Galway on the physical, chemical and electrical kinetics of biodegradable implants in both in vitro and in vivo conditions.


Dr Marc Fernandez

Marc Fernandez obtained his MSc in Materials Science at UPC, Barcelona and conducted Ph.D research under the supervision of Dr Biggs, Co-supervised by Prof Abhay Pandit, in the field of biomedical engineering within CURAM at NUI, Galway. The aim of his research was to develop functional electroactive systems to unravel the effects of nanoscale electromechanical cues and piezoelectricity on biological processes such as cellular differentiation, cell growth, cytoskeleton rearrangement or inflammation. In conjunction with this, Marc is developing electrospun piezoelectric regenerative scaffolds with potential applications in tendon/ligament repair and in the development of biosensors and bioenergy harvesters. Marc submitted his thesis in Sep 2019 entitled 'Piezoelectric scaffolds: Mediating Tendon Regeneration by Activation of Piezosensitive Receptors'. Marc has initiated a postdoctoral research position with Prof Andreas Garcia, at Georgia Tech, USA.

Dr Catalina Vallejo Giraldo


Catalina received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia (EIA) (Antioquia School of Engineering) / Universidad CES (CES University) Medellin, Colombia. After this, she was awarded an MSc in Biomedical Sciences - Biomedical Engineering at the Mayo Graduate School, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. Catalina’s PhD research focused on the physicochemical and biological functionalization strategies of neuroelectrodes to promote neural integration through the modulation of reactive gliosis. Her research interests are focused on the area of biomaterials and mechanobiology with applications for tissue engineering, nerve regeneration, neural interfaces, and neuromodulation. Catalina was awarded the Ph.D degree in June 2018  following submission of her thesis entitled 'Physicochemical and Biological Functionalisation Strategies of the Neuroelectrode Interface to Promote Neural Integration through the Modulation of Reactive Gliosis'. Catalina has initiated a postdoctoral research position with Dr Rylie Green, at Imperial College London, UK.

Dr Adriona Kelly

Adriona received a BSc in Pharmaceutical and Industrial Chemistry from the University of Limerick and an MSc in Biomedical Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She was a research assistant at the University of Limerick investigating self-reinforced polymer composites in biomedical devices and was also a senior R&D Technician in Merit Medical for two years developing advanced hydrophilic polymer coating. Adriona's research was focused on physical modification of the electrode interface via  laser processing and lithographic processes. Specifically, Adriona is exploring the roles of nanotopographical functionalisation on micro electrode functionality. Adriona was awarded the Ph.D degree after successfully defending her thesis entitled 'Fabrication of Biomimetic Electrodes by Laser Processing and Two Photon Lithography' on February 28th, 2020. Adriona was co-supervised by Prof Ger O'Connor and was examined by Dr Una Fitzgerald (NUI Galway) and Dr Mathis Riehle (University of Glasgow). Adriona has initiated a senior research engineer position at a medtech company in Galway. All the Biggs Lab wish her the very best and look forward to hearing of her continued success. 

The National University of Ireland, Galway

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