Cormac Murphy went straight from an undergraduate degree in zoology at Trinity College Dublin to a taught master's degree (MSc) in regenerative medicine at NUI Galway.
Originally from Drumcondra in Dublin, the 23 year-old moved to Galway for the one-year full-time course.
After doing his undergraduate thesis in developmental biology, he decided to move to a health-related science. His supervisor told him about the Regenerative Medicine Institute and NUI Galway and thought he might enjoy it.
“It had a really good reputation, and she thought it would be a good springboard to further things,” Murphy said. “In undergrad I really enjoyed science and lab time and stuff like that, but I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to go on to do a full PhD.”
It’s the only regenerative medicine master’s degree in Ireland and one of the few in Europe. The course is a combination of lectures, lab time and continuous assessment.
“It’s about getting research from the lab to the clinic, which is what I’m interested in and focused on: making clinical products that will actually help people.”
Murphy says he’s learning “a lot about stem cell biology”, and the course includes things like immunology and pharmacology. He has taken an elective business course. “That’s something we scientists don’t tend to know a lot about, but it’s important.”
Over the summer, students will do independent research projects in the labs. Murphy’s project involves taking skin cells and attempting to turn them into the photoreceptors at the back of the retina: rods and cones.
“It sounds kind of like magic. That’s why I was interested in it,” he said.
Murphy hopes to move onto a PhD in the regenerative area after the master’s, but he might take a year out first to work in industry. His long-terms plan is research and possibly lecturing.
“I’m really enjoying it. I’m happy with what I’ve done.”