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Orbsen Therapeutics nominated for Spin-out Company Impact Award

Orbsen Therapeutics nominated for Spin-out Company Impact Award-image

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

NUI Galway spin-out Orbsen Therapeutics has been recognised by the annual Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards (KTI). Orbsen Therapeutics, a biotech company, was nominated for the Spin-out Company Impact Award. The KTI Awards acknowledge cases where knowledge transfer activities had a particularly significant impact on wider society and the economy. The announcement was made last week at a ceremony in the Hilton Hotel, Dublin. Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D. presented the awards, giving credit not only to the companies, but also to the research performing organisations that supported the success. Orbsen Therapeutics is Ireland’s leading cell therapy bio-technology company, based on the NUI Galway campus. It was founded by Professor Frank Barry and Professor Tim O’Brien of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the University. Orbsen has rapidly developed and patented a method for purifying a novel stromal cell from several adult human tissues. Stromal cells are rare cells (less than 0.01%) found in many tissues where they regulate and limit the immune system from launching attacks that can damage tissues during disease. Orbsen’s discovered and patented a method for specifically purifying these rare, therapeutic stromal cells and developing them for clinical use. To accelerate the clinical development of their cell therapy (Cyndacel-M), Orbsen has collaborated with 24 independent research laboratories across the EU to secure €24 million in EU research funding between 2013 and 2015. These EU funds are being used to develop Cyndacel-M through early-stage clinical safety trials across the EU. Specifically, between 2015 and 2018, Cyndacel-M will be tested in clinical safety trials in patients suffering from Diabetic Foot Ulcers, Autoimmune Liver Disease, Corneal Transplant Rejection, Diabetic Kidney Disease and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. In additon, the EU funds have enabled Orbsen to grow from a group of founders to a diverse team of 14 research scientists in the last two years. NUI Galway has supported Orbsen Therapeutics from the start, assisting in the development of Orbsen’s technology, while providing expertise and facilities. The University’s Technology Transfer Office then helped Orbsen develop a rapid Intelectual Property protection strategy, allowing Orbsen Therapeutics to begin the clinical trial process. NUI Galway has also been instrumental in connecting Orbsen with a network of EU collaborators to further their research. Orbsen Chief Scientific Officer Dr Stephen Elliman says of the nomination and the relationship with NUI Galway: “We are honoured to be nominated for KTI Spin-out Company of the Year. It recognises the huge efforts made by our own research team and our network of research partners to move Cyndacel to the clinic so efficiently. Also, we are grateful to NUI Galway for their support over the years. The TTO have been instrumental in our progress to this point and we continue to enjoy working with them.” Fiona Neary, Business Development Manager at Ignite Technology Transfer Office NUI Galway adds “We are delighted that Orbsen have been recognised in this category. The team has worked incredibly hard to achieve their goals and continue to go from strength to strength. They have always been a joy to work with.” For more information: -ends-  

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NUI Galway President’s Award for 1,000 Student Volunteers

NUI Galway President’s Award for 1,000 Student Volunteers-image

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

ALIVE Certificate Awards ceremony celebrates student commitment to community NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme today celebrated 12 years of student volunteering with the presentation of awards to 1,000 student volunteers at a special ceremony on campus. The ALIVE certificate acknowledges volunteering efforts by NUI Galway student both on and off campus in a range of clubs, societies and community-based organisations. In attendance were community organisations from across Ireland to help recognise the valuable contribution student volunteers have made to their work and to society. Lorraine Tansey, NUI Galway Student Volunteer Programme Coordinator, said: “We come together annually as a university community with our community partners to acknowledge students’ commitment to volunteering. The ceremony is an important opportunity to pause and say thank you while also reinforcing positive engagement.” The goal of NUI Galway’s internationally-acclaimed student volunteering programme, ALIVE, is not only to connect students with volunteer vacancies but also mould and design graduates that make meaningful contributions to society as future volunteers and community members. Since the start of this academic year in September, students have organised fundraising events for Saving Grace, Irish Cancer Society, Serve, and Suas to name but a few. Volunteers have given their time weekly and generously to school programmes, Childline, Ability West, Shave or Dye events, computer skills programmes, Riding for the Disabled Ireland, Galway Healthy City research and scouting. Through these important community activities students are given a rich opportunity to build their skills for future employment and personal development. Volunteering also has a huge impact on health and well-being for all members of community. “With over 1,000 students achieving award for the contribution to enhancing the life of the campus and the communities across Ireland and internationally, NUI Galway are proud to support student engagement and all its benefits”, added Lorraine Tansey. This year’s ceremony featured a keynote speech from John Gilmore, NUI Galway Alumni and member of the International Advisory Committee to the National Youth Council of Ireland. During the ceremony, John shared his work with the European Youth Forum as current Vice President of the European Confederation of Youth Clubs and member of steering committee for the “No Hate Speech” Campaign as well as the strides he has made in his professional work as a nurse. LorraineTansey continued: “John brings together the epitome of an NUI Galway graduate, not only a very active volunteer for his passions and beliefs for equality for youth, but also a civic professional, pushing the boundaries of the world of nursing.” To find out more please visit -Ends-

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Eight Years of Broken Promises: Replace the Lunacy Act

Eight Years of Broken Promises: Replace the Lunacy Act -image

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Civil Society Coalition on Legal Capacity Reform Today, a broad disability rights alliance called on the Irish government to finally replace outdated ‘lunacy’ laws and end the crisis of widespread human rights violations against people with disabilities in Ireland. On the eight-year anniversary of Ireland signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities, it called for an end to the foot-dragging on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013  and for it to finally move to Committee Stage in the Dáil. Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Acting Director, Centre for Disability Law & Policy, NUI Galway said: “It seems unimaginable that a country would use a ‘Regulation of Lunacy Act’ from the 1800s to govern decision-making issues for people with disabilities. While horrific disability abuse scandals make national headlines, the 2013 Bill has been long-fingered by the government. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force in 2007. Yet Ireland is one of only three EU governments that has failed to ratify it.” The government has promised to enact the Assisted Decision‐Making (Capacity) Bill following a law reform process that was initiated in 2008. This is a necessary precursor to Ireland’s ratifying the UN Convention. Yet reports indicate that the Bill published in 2013 may fail to be enacted in 2015. Tina Leonard, Head of Advocacy & Public Affairs, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said: “People’s lives are being impacted by this delay. Today, thousands of people in residential centres, hospitals and in their own homes are having decisions about their lives and care made for them, not by them. These include decisions like what to eat or what they may spend their money on, as well as very serious decisions like what invasive health procedures they should have. This is a systematic abuse of their human rights caused by the ongoing lack of a legal framework on legal capacity." Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland said:  “We  urgently need legislation that  enables  people to exercise their legal capacity and  autonomous decision-making. They should have access to the supports they need to fully exercise those rights rather than have decisions about their day‐to-day lives made by others. Otherwise they remain voiceless with no control over their own lives, and at risk of coercion, neglect or abuse.” Áine Hynes, Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association said: “We are calling on the Government today to take urgent action to bring the Bill to Committee Stage. We are also asking the Government to have a fresh look at our recommendations for how this Bill should be strengthened. It particularly needs to reform ‘informal decision making’ so potential for abuse is removed, and put in place safeguards for people who are effectively deprived of their liberty in residential settings.” Gráinne McGettrick, Policy and Research Manager, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, said: “It is not just people with disabilities who are being let down by this failure to bring the Bill to Committee Stage in the Dáil. It is families who may feel forced to make their loved one a ‘ward of court’ to support them to manage financial assets. It is older people with age-related disabilities who remain open to abuse and lack of support. It is people whose informed consent is not currently required for mental health treatment, including electroconvulsive therapy, to be administered against their will. It is for all people who may require decision ­making assistance and safeguards at some point in their life. In other words, the Bill is for all of us.” Shari McDaid, Director, Mental Health Reform, said: “We are calling on the Government to keep its promise to bring the Bill to committee stage before the summer recess. We are also asking the Government to have a fresh look at our recommendations for strengthening the Bill, and in particular to affirm that people with mental health difficulties can have their advance decisions respected during mental health treatment.” Paddy Connolly, CEO, Inclusion Ireland said: “The Áras Attracta scandal in December 2014 shocked the Irish nation. But the revelation of abuse of people receiving disability support services is only the tip of the iceberg. The abuse shows the need for human rights-compliant capacity legislation to be swiftly passed and implemented as a matter of urgency.” -ends-

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Gold for NUI Galway Academic at Para-Cycling Track World Championships

Gold for NUI Galway Academic at Para-Cycling Track World Championships-image

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

NUI Galway academic, Dr Eoghan Clifford has won the World Title in the Men’s C1-2-3 Scratch Race at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, which took place over the weekend. Dr Clifford is a lecturer in Civil Engineering and a member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research at NUI Galway. The Galway-based rider, who is the reigning road and time trial world champion and who was competing in his very first scratch race, also claimed bronze in Friday’s C3 3km individual pursuit. Dr Clifford burst onto the international Para-cycling scene last summer, when he won both the Road and Time Trial World Titles at the Para-cycling Road World Championships in the USA, and competed on the track for the first time this February, after being introduced to the track in January. Speaking after the win on Sunday, Dr Clifford said: “I stayed near the back for the first few laps, but when the attacks started after 5-6 laps I knew my legs were good. I’m not an explosive rider so I rode high on the track so I could cover moves, and when the pace died I put in a good hard dig to tire out people. With about 25 laps to go I put in one big huge attack when I saw the main guys boxed in, and I just kept going.  That was a long 25 laps! Once I caught the main group I rode through to the front to keep out of danger and keep an eye on the rest." This brings to an end another fantastic World Championships for the Irish Para-cycling Team, which won a gold medal and two bronze medals. Speaking at the end of the successful weekend, Dr Clifford was said: “We’ve had a great worlds; I’m delighted for everyone here. I couldn’t have asked for better support than Neill, Gerry, Tommy and Johnny, with it being my first time on the track it was great having these guys behind me. It was also great to have my family over here earlier in the week; I really hope they saw it online today.” -Ends-

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International Conference on Intercultural Theatre and Performance

International Conference on Intercultural Theatre and Performance-image

Monday, 30 March 2015

NUI Galway will host a major international conference on ‘Interculturalism and Performance Now: New Directions?’ from 10-11 April. The conference will feature leading scholars in intercultural theatre and performance studies from Australia, Canada, the United States, the UK and Turkey. The conference is being organised by NUI Galway’s Dr Charlotte McIvor, NUI Galway Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, and Dr Jason King, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Moore Institute, as part of an Irish Research Council funded project on ‘Interculturalism, Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland’ at NUI Galway. International experts such as Professor Rustom Bharucha from India, Professor Ric Knowles from Canada, and Professors Julie Holledge and Joanne Tompkins from Australia, among others, will give lectures about interculturalism, theatre and performance during the conference. Dr Charlotte McIvor’s new book, entitled Staging Intercultural Ireland: New Plays and Practitioner Perspectives, which she co-edited with Dr Matthew Spangler, an Associate Professor of Performance Studies at San José State University in California, will also be launched at the conference by Professor Patrick Lonergan, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The edited collection contains eight plays with critical introductions, and six interviews with migrant and Irish-born theatre artists who are producing work at the intersection of interculturalism and inward-migration in Ireland during the first decades of the 21st Century. The book offers a contribution to transnational migration studies, as well as intercultural theatre research in a global context. Dr McIvor said: “We are so excited to be welcoming some of the most distinguished experts from around the world to the campus and to Galway so that they can experience and visit Ireland’s most intercultural city. It is especially fitting that Staging Intercultural Ireland is going to be launched at the conference, which brings together the most distinguished experts in the field. It will help them get a sense of how intercultural theatre and performance have developed in Galway in Ireland.” During the conference, Stories of a Yellow Town will be performed by The Gombeens on Friday, 10 April from 4.30 – 6.30pm in the Bank of Ireland Theatre on campus. The play is based on an intertwining of true personal stories told in the words of the Brazilian and Irish people living in Gort, Co. Galway. The conference, launch of Staging Intercultural Ireland: New Plays and Practitioner Perspectives, and Dr Charlotte McIvor and Dr Jason King’s ongoing work on the Irish Research Council funded “Interculturalism, Migration and Performance in Contemporary Ireland” project all attest to the cutting edge research at NUI Galway on intercultural theatre and performance in Ireland. For more information or to register for the conference, contact Dr Jason King at Registration fees will cost €30 for Faculty/Salaried and €15 for Postgraduate/Unsalaried. -ends-   

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Technologies which mimic the human eye to be developed for large space telescopes

 Technologies which mimic the human eye to be developed for large space telescopes -image

Monday, 30 March 2015

Scientists at NUI Galway are developing technologies which mimic the human eye for use in large space telescopes. This optics research activity is being carried out under a contract awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) for €1 million, under the title ‘Active Optics Correction Chain for Large Monolithic Mirrors’, and it is funded by the ESA Technology Research Programme. The Principal Investigator on the project is Dr Nicholas Devaney of the School of Physics at NUI Galway. He has many years of experience developing adaptive optics systems for different applications, including astronomy, imaging of the human retina, and microscopy. Over the next four years, Dr Devaney and his colleague, Dr Alexander Goncharov, will design and build a functioning ‘active optics’ system suitable for application to space telescopes. Part of the work will be subcontracted to the prestigious Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics in Germany. According to Dr Devaney: “Active optics might be a solution to the problem of image blurring associated with large telescopes deployed in space. With active optics, the optical elements are adjusted until a sharp image is obtained. This is similar to the way in which our eyes are capable of focusing on both distant objects and objects that are close to us, by adjusting the shape of the lenses in our eyes.” The researchers believe that even more precise control can be obtained using specialised sensors, called ‘wavefront sensors’. These are specially designed to measure the deviation of the light waves from their ideal shape, while a ‘deformable mirror’ can be used to correct the light. The team will develop a device which they hope can be a prototype for integration into future, large space telescopes. The blurring in imagery in large space telescopes is caused by the use of ultra-thin mirrors which are inherently ‘floppy’. Engineers have developed these thin mirrors to reduce the weight of the telescope, and therefore the cost of launching them into space. Space telescopes can provide exquisite images of the cosmos, with a new generation of even larger telescopes coming on stream in the coming years. These will carry on the work of the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990. The Herschel space observatory, launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency, had a telescope diameter of 3.5m. The James Webb Space Telescope will be launched by NASA in 2018, and it will have a diameter of 6.5m, almost three times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope. The European Space Agency is currently exploring enabling technologies for large optical systems in space, for observation of the universe or for observing the Earth itself. “Active optics has not yet been used in space, and it is necessary to develop it for future space telescopes,” explains Dr Devaney. “This technology has already been developed for telescopes on the ground. In fact many Earth-based telescopes have systems called ‘adaptive optics’ which even correct for blur caused by atmospheric turbulence.”  -ends-

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