Strabane pupil scoops top award in All-Ireland science competition

A STRABANE pupil has scooped a prestigious award at an All-Ireland science competition.

Oran Timoney, from Holy Cross College, won the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) award for the ‘Project with the Best Impact on Human Health’ in the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences senior individual category at the 55th BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) which was held in the RDS, Dublin, on Friday.

The accolade is awarded to the project with the best potential to impact on any area across the spectrum of human health and supports RCSI's mission to ‘educate, nurture and discover for the benefit of human health’.

Oran’s winning project was entitled ‘Categorising CVD patient risk using machine learning tools’. He used programmes and developed software to devise a way of helping doctors identify and automatically categorise patient risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).

The Year 14 pupil worked in a placement setting under the supervision of Dr Steven Watterson at the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine based at C-TRIC (the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre) in Altnagelvin Area Hospital.

Research

As well as exhibiting his work at the Young Scientist event at the weekend, he has previously presented his research to academics and fellow students during a celebration event at Queen’s University Belfast for participants of the Nuffield Foundation summer research project. 

Oran had applied for a Nuffield Research Placement and was successfully accepted to a six week placement with Dr Watterson at C-TRIC where he was then instructed to assess and identify the factors that contribute to CVD.

During the placement he worked on writing new software to analyse health care data that could be used to find new indicators of the disease

In the future, Oran is considering a career in data science but hopes first to undertake a computer science course at university.

He thanked all those who have supported him throughout his project and placement, which he said, had been a great learning experience.

“I’ve had a lot of encouragement from my family, my college and also my supervisor on my placement. Thank-you to everyone who has been with me on this journey, it’s been a great time to work with everyone,” he said.

Dr Watterson said Oran was a pleasure to work with and had “lots of potential” to do well in the future.

“He deserves a lot of credit for being able to pick up a lot of complex ideas very quickly,” he added.

Proud

A spokesperson for Holy Cross College said they are immensely proud of Oran.

”Many congratulations to Oran. He has now been invited to UCD (University College Dublin) to participate in a week long programme to develop business skills in relation to developing his idea on a commercial basis,” the spokesperson added.

As well this, Oran has also been invited to attend and present his work at the RCSI’ research day later this year.

On hand to present Oran with his award was Professor Mary Cannon, professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Youth Mental Health, RCSI.

Congratulating the 18 year-old on his success, she said: “Oran is a very impressive young individual and his project was very informative and grounded in excellent science.

“It was well thought out and involved sophisticated application of machine learning tools to gain insights into cardiovascular disease risk which is a public health issue with global relevance.

“We look forward to hearing more about his work when he visits RCSI to present at our Research Day in March."

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