WIT- Science Week 2015

Waterford lecture details how people can improve brain and eye function through nutrition. The free, public lecture will also explain in easy to understand terms risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and the leading cause of blindness in the Western world, age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

A Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) academic who was recently recognised for his contribution to medicine at a prestigious awards ceremony in New York is to give a public lecture as part of Science Week.

Waterford Institute of Technology’s Calmast (Centre for the Advancement of Learning of Maths, Science and Technology) organises the Robert Boyle Science Festival, the South East’s contribution to Science Week, and is a regional partner of Science Foundation Ireland’s in Science Week.

One of several public lectures taking place over the week is WIT’s Prof John Nolan’s talk on the role of nutrition in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer’s disease. In essence it is about the importance of nutrition for brain and eye function.

Prof John Nolan, School of Health Science, WIT and Principal Investigator of the Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) made the 2015 Irish America Healthcare and Life Sciences 50 list in recent months. This accolade was recognition for his work in improving vision for patients with age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the western world).

Prof Nolan will present information on key nutrients from the human diet that have been discovered in the human retina and brain. He will explain the importance of these nutrients for human health, and their role in optimising eye and brain function. The importance of optimising these key nutrients, called carotenoids, from an early age and the role they play in preventing age-related diseases such as AMD and Alzheimer’s disease will be discussed. The lecture will also discuss the risk factors for AMD and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Instead of waiting for these diseases to present before doing something, people can take measures to delay the onset of AMD and Alzheimer’s disease by making changes to their diet and lifestyle early in life. This lecture is a great opportunity for the general public – of all ages – to understand the impact and importance of optimising diet and lifestyle in early years. We now know that improving diet and lifestyle early in life is required in order to support happy and healthy ageing,” he said.

“My presentation will also explain how diet and lifestyle impact on the brain and eye function of sportspeople (e.g. golfers and hurlers), so it might be an ideal sports club or golf club night out to understand how you can improve your game!”

On 7 October, Irish America magazine celebrated the Healthcare/Life Sciences 50 honorees at a reception in New York City. A native of Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, Prof Nolan said the award reflected the efforts his team. “Our work has already contributed greatly to science and medicine, and it is amazing that the nutrients that we have been studying and identifying are now used worldwide for human health, in particular to improve vision for patients with AMD (the leading cause of blindness in the western world),” he said.