Research Challenge Winner 2020: Roisin McMackin

We are delighted to announce that Roisin McMackin of Trinity College Dublin has been awarded the Brainbox Initiative Research Challenge award for 2020. Roisin is currently in the final stages of her PhD at The Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity College Dublin, and hopes to submit her thesis Human Neurodegeneration: A Spectral EEG and TMS based Approach in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis later this year.

Established in 2016, the Brainbox Initiative Research Challenge aims to help early-career neuroscientists with the most ambitious research proposals gain crucial access to the non-invasive brain stimulation and imaging equipment and training that they need to make their plans a reality. The Research Challenge award provides our winners with a three-month loan of specialist neuroscience equipment to complete their study; ongoing technical support and guidance throughout this period; and additional financial support to help make the study possible.

For 2020, we are thrilled to be working alongside Roisin McMackin to support her exciting project investigating motor and cognitive cortical network dysfunction-based biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases.

Roisin is currently seeking ethical approval for her novel study, and, in her next steps, will seek to optimise the study design for this project - consulting with Professor Richard Carson and Dr Bahman Nasseroleslami to achieve this - before starting participant recruitment for the study in December this year.

So far, Roisin has set up a full threshold tracking laboratory at Trinity College Dublin comprised of DuoMAG TMS equipment, and is focusing current efforts on managing and modifying her existing code to facilitate the implementation of the planned paired pulse protocols that she will need to carry out the study. This existing lab setup will then be bolstered with the loan of a Brainsight TMS Navigation system and additional DuoMAG TMS Coils from Brainbox to help Roisin add a deeper level of repeatability and reproducibility to her study in the coming months.

The findings of this research will be finalised and ready to present at a number of conferences throughout 2021: the ENCALS Symposium 2021 in the summer, the European Huntington's Disease Network Plenary Meeting in September, and, of course, the Brainbox Initiative Conference 2021.

We would like to extend our congratulations to Roisin, and we are very much looking forward to working with her to make this planned research a reality throughout the coming months.


This year, we are delighted to sponsor two fantastic research proposals from early-career researchers as, alongside Roisin's work, we will also be providing support to Kendra Kandana Arachchige of the University of Mons.