Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Scientists from the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway have found that targeting the IRE1 stress response pathway may improve the response to chemotherapy and reduce relapse for patients with triple negative breast cancer. These first in world research findings were published today (15 August 2018) in the internationally renowned Nature Communications journal. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the most aggressive and difficult to treat forms of breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for around 15% of all breast cancers diagnosed and occurs more frequently in younger women. Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there are no targeted therapies available for triple negative breast cancer. Currently, chemotherapy is the mainstay treatment, and although initially successful, a large percentage of TNBC patients relapse within one to three years of treatment and have a poor long-term prognosis. The exact mechanism of the tumour relapse post chemotherapy remained unknown until now. In this study, the research team, led by Professor Afshin Samali at NUI Galway have shown for the first time that IRE1, which is a cellular stress sensor that normally acts to alleviate short-term stresses within cells, such as lack of nutrients or oxygen, is a central driver of treatment-related relapse. Professor Afshin Samali, Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This study is the result of extensive laboratory experiments, analysis of breast cancer patient samples, testing pre-clinical models of triple negative breast cancer and collaboration with our international and industry partners. The new era of precision oncology aims to tailor treatments to individual cancer patients and here at NUI Galway, we are excited to identify a new therapeutic strategy for triple negative breast cancer patients who are most in need of better treatment options. Furthermore, this strategy may benefit many other cancer patients whose cancer cells rely on activated cell stress responses to survive.”  Dr Susan Logue, first author of the study at NUI Galway, said: “This work has uncovered a previously unknown role for IRE1 and suggests that it may represent a good therapeutic target for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. While further research is needed, this work is a great example of how curiosity-driven basic research can lead to translational outcomes with real potential to impact on patient treatment.” The team discovered that chemotherapy can activate the IRE1 stress response in triple negative breast cancer, leading to the production of survival signals that are pumped out of the cell to support the growth of new cancer cells. Most importantly, the study showed that this process can be halted by specifically inhibiting IRE1 using a clinically-relevant, small molecule drug called MCK8866 that not only improves the effectiveness of the initial chemotherapy treatment, but also reduces relapse of this aggressive form of breast cancer.    Using triple negative breast cancer cells treated with chemotherapy, the research team found that blocking IRE1 activity reduced the production of survival signals, and in turn reduced the growth of new cancer cells by 50%. Furthermore, in a pre-clinical model of TNBC, the drug increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment, leading to regression of 8 out of 10 cancers compared to regression of just 3 out of 10 cancers using chemotherapy alone. The combination of the MCK8866 drug with chemotherapy also reduced tumour relapse in this pre-clinical model of triple negative breast cancer. In addition to these laboratory-based experiments, an analysis of 595 patient tumours revealed that triple negative breast cancer tumours displayed the highest IRE1 activity compared to other subtypes, suggesting that IRE1 may be of particular importance in TNBC. This discovery suggests that combining chemotherapy with IRE1 inhibitors could offer substantial benefits for triple negative breast cancer patients.   The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Cancer Society and Horizon 2020 with initial funding from Breast Cancer Now. To read the full study in Nature Communications, visit: http://www.nature.com/ncomms -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

NUI Galway and Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS) recently announced a new CLS MedPharma Student Excellence in Microbiology Award. The award is open to Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Microbiology students. Criteria for the award is specifically based on a student’s performance in the analytical microbiology and laboratory quality management modules. Colin O’Toole, Director of Analysts on Contract at CLS, said: “We have been working with NUI Galway since CLS MedPharma was first established here in Galway city in 2008 and likewise at our first facility in Ros Muc in Connemara since 1994. In the intervening years over 40 NUI Galway graduates have been recruited at CLS. The Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Microbiology equips graduates with the practical techniques and skills required for a career in science and this is down to the exceptional work of Dr Cyril Carroll and Dr Gerard Fleming, Directors of the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Microbiology. Supporting the next generation of microbiologists is very important to us and I am excited to celebrate our tenth year at CLS MedPharma by recognising talented students this year.” Dr Cyril Carroll, Co-Director of the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Microbiology course at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted that CLS MedPharma has chosen to mark their 10 years by supporting our talented scientists here at the University. This course which is now in its 30th year gives Microbiology graduates a thorough training in a wide range of analytical techniques and the ancillary skills necessary for careers in manufacturing and service industries, especially the healthcare, food, biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors.” The CLS MedPharma Student Excellence in Microbiology Award winning student will be announced in conjunction with the NUI Galway conferring ceremony in October this autumn. -Ends-  

Friday, 10 August 2018

NUI Galway study will focus on recruiting carers from counties Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath where there is an estimated 4,800 people with dementia living in the North East The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway are leading the first ever study in Ireland looking at supports and services available for people with dementia and their families following a recent diagnosis. The study aims to recruit informal carers in the North East (Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath), often family members, who are providing regular care and support to a loved one diagnosed with dementia in 2017 or 2018. There are an estimated 4,800 people with dementia living in the North East region of the country, many of whom are living at home supported by a family member or friend. It is not known how many of these have a diagnosis or at what stage they receive diagnosis. Breakdown of dementia prevalence rates for each county: Meath – 1,760 Louth – 1,450 Cavan – 870 Monaghan – 730 Carers may feel uncertain following the diagnosis of a loved one with dementia. The study is focused on identifying the most important services and supports at different stages of the illness. The results of the study will inform policy in relation to the supports and services that need to be in place to help carers and people with a recent diagnosis of dementia to deal with uncertainty and plan for future care needs. The aim of the study is to inform practice and policy regarding services and supports required by carers and people with dementia in the period following a dementia diagnosis and how these needs change over time. The primary focus is on post-diagnostic supports for people with dementia and their principal caregiver. The person receiving care must have received a diagnosis of dementia, or probable dementia, since January 2017. Dr Patricia Carney, a Health Economist at the Centre for Economic and Social Research at NUI Galway who is leading the study, said: “New investment in dementia care must reflect the preferences and needs of both the person with dementia and their informal carer. Carers require more tangible and practical supports to allow them do the job that most love doing. The consequences of not supporting them will be significant for people with dementia and for society. This study has the capacity and potential to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers’ in Ireland, especially in the time following diagnosis.” Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway, said: “Carers play a crucial role in looking after people with dementia and we need to know much more about their needs and preferences for different kinds of services and supports.” If you provide regular support or care to a person recently diagnosed with dementia and want to participate in the study or find out more please email Dr Patricia Carney at DemCarer@nuigalway.ie or call Patricia on 086 0230772. To participate in the study visit: www.nuigalway.ie/dementiacare/ -Ends-

Friday, 10 August 2018

NUI Galway study finds difficulties in forming secure attachments with others may be linked to problematic Facebook use in adults A study carried out by researchers from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway have found that adults whose close relationships are characterised by high levels of insecurity may use Facebook in problematic ways in an attempt to fulfil their attachment needs, especially if they have low self-esteem or when they experience high levels of psychological distress such as anxiety, stress, or depression, according to a study published  today (10 August 2018) in the journal, BMC Psychology. To be able to investigate possible associations between problematic Facebook use and difficulties with forming personal attachments, the authors asked over 700 adult Facebook users to complete a series of online questionnaires, which measured depression, self-esteem, attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety along with aspects of the respondents’ specific Facebook use. The researchers investigated possible links between attachment avoidance (avoiding intimacy and closeness in personal relationships); attachment anxiety (fearing rejection and being overly dependent in personal relationships); and problematic patterns of Facebook use (Facebook use that has been previously linked to low mood and low self-esteem), such as compulsively looking at others’ photos, over-sharing personal information and impression management (using photo filters to present a positive self-image). The study found that those people with high levels of attachment anxiety were more likely to engage in social comparison and impression management on Facebook, and were more likely to disclose personal information on Facebook when in a heightened emotional state. In addition to this, these individuals were more likely to use the site intrusively, such that it impacted upon their sleep, work/study, and social relationships. The researchers also found that those people with high levels of attachment avoidance were more likely to engage in impression management on Facebook, and had a greater tendency to use the site intrusively, to the detriment of their offline social relationships.   Dr Sally Flynn, lead author of the study carried out at NUI Galway, said: “Our study is the first to apply attachment theory to better understand why people might engage with Facebook in problematic ways. Our findings suggest that Facebook may be used by some to fulfil fundamental attachment needs, especially for those with low self-esteem, who are experiencing psychological distress.” The authors suggest that in individuals with high levels of attachment avoidance, impression management may allow them to keep connected to others, by creating a positive image of themselves, while concealing aspects of themselves which they fear may not be acceptable to others. In those with high levels of attachment anxiety, a desire for closeness and intimacy may conflict with a fear of rejection. The creation of an online identity that is likely to be accepted and liked by others, for example in the form of comments or ‘likes’ – may be one strategy aimed at alleviating these concerns. However, screen-based mediums may not be able to truly satisfy an individual’s fundamental attachment needs; while those high in attachment insecurity may derive some comfort and relief from using Facebook in these ways, these benefits may be short-lived. According to the authors it may be important for mental health professionals to take their clients’ social media habits into consideration, when working therapeutically with them. Dr Sally Flynn, explained: “Professionals involved in providing psychological and psychotherapeutic support may need to consider that for some users, specific patterns of Facebook use may be maintaining or even exacerbating negative psychological outcomes, such as low mood and depression. For example, a person who disclosed their personal problems on Facebook when in a heightened emotional state may feel even worse if they are disappointed by the quantity and quality of the feedback that they receive from their online peers. With this knowledge, clinicians may explore patterns of Facebook use with clients, which may be helpful in providing appropriate support and adapting therapeutic interventions.” Dr Kiran Sarma, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at NUI Galway who co-authored the paper, said: “It is important to stress that the research does not suggest that there is something damaging about Facebook or other social media services, but rather, some people network online in ways that could be considered maladaptive, increasing distress and vulnerability.” He also cautioned that while the findings resonate with a growing body of scientific evidence on problematic internet use, further research is needed in this important area. To read the full study in BMC Psychology, visit: https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-018-0245-0 -Ends-

Thursday, 9 August 2018

NUI Galway study will focus on recruiting carers from Donegal where there is an estimated 2,200 people with dementia living in the county The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway are leading the first ever study in Ireland looking at supports and services available for people with dementia and their families following a recent diagnosis. The study aims to recruit informal carers from Donegal, often family members, who are providing regular care and support to a loved one diagnosed with dementia in 2017 or 2018. There is an estimated 2,200 people with dementia living in Donegal, many of whom are living at home supported by a family member or friend. It is not known how many of these have a diagnosis or at what stage they receive diagnosis. Donegal also has the fifth highest dementia prevalence rate in the country after Dublin, Cork, Galway and Tipperary. Carers may feel uncertain following the diagnosis of a loved one with dementia. The study is focused on identifying the most important services and supports at different stages of the illness. The results of the study will inform policy in relation to the supports and services that need to be in place to help carers and people with a recent diagnosis of dementia to deal with uncertainty and plan for future care needs. The aim of the study is to inform practice and policy regarding services and supports required by carers and people with dementia in the period following a dementia diagnosis and how these needs change over time. The primary focus is on post-diagnostic supports for people with dementia and their principal caregiver. The person receiving care must have received a diagnosis of dementia, or probable dementia, since January 2017. Dr Patricia Carney, a Health Economist at the Centre for Economic and Social Research at NUI Galway who is leading the study, said: “New investment in dementia care must reflect the preferences and needs of both the person with dementia and their informal carer. Carers require more tangible and practical supports to allow them do the job that most love doing. The consequences of not supporting them will be significant for people with dementia and for society. This study has the capacity and potential to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers’ in Ireland, especially in the time following diagnosis.” Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway, said: “Carers play a crucial role in looking after people with dementia and we need to know much more about their needs and preferences for different kinds of services and supports.” If you provide regular support or care to a person recently diagnosed with dementia and want to participate in the study or find out more please email Dr Patricia Carney at DemCarer@nuigalway.ie or call Patricia on 086 0230772. To participate in the study visit: www.nuigalway.ie/dementiacare/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

NUI Galway researchers to disseminate findings from SMART Consent workshops held around the country and survey results from over 3,500 students The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, will today (7 August 2018) launcha research report on sexual consent among third level students carried out by the NUI Galway SMART Consent research team in collaboration with their partners at four other Universities in Ireland. The report, ‘Are Consent Workshops Sustainable and Feasible in Third Level Institutions?’, includes surveys with over 3,500 students conducted at NUI Galway; consent workshops held at four colleges nationally with 761 students; and flags a new education and awareness campaign, Consent=OMFG (Ongoing, Mutual, Freely Given), which includes four short interactive films on consent. The report authors will speak at the research launch after Minister Mitchell O’Connor. Dr Pádraig MacNeela, who leads the SMART Consent initiative, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, and Kate Dawson, Child and Youth Research PhD candidate, all from the School of Psychology, alongside Dr Charlotte McIvor and students from the O’Donogue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance who will preview one of the Consent=OMFG consent films. The report builds on a programme of research since 2013 that has explored the meaning of consent among college students, tested the effectiveness of the SMART Consent workshop, and surveyed students on sexual consent behaviours and attitudes (see www.nuigalway.ie/smartconsent). The surveys included in the report shed light on important consent-related issues, including: Sexual harassment: In a survey of 632 students nationally, 54% of First Year women students report experiencing sexual hostility or crude gender harassment at some point since starting college, rising to 64% among Second Year women students, and 70% of women students in Third Year or a subsequent year; the comparable figures for men are; 25%, 37%, and 40%. Perceptions of sex education at school: In a survey of 2,150 students nationally, 71% of women and 63% of men said they were dissatisfied with the sexual health education they received at school (14% of women and 17% of men were neutral on this question; 15% of women and 20% of men were satisfied with their sexual health education at school). More lesbian, gay, and bisexual students felt that their sexual health education at school did not cover the topics they are most interested in (75%), compared with heterosexual students (66%). Perceptions of alcohol and capacity to give consent: In a survey, 753 students nationally read one of two versions of a consent story where both characters were drinking: 20% considered the female character too drunk to give consent in the story where she consumed 14 standard drinks, while 33% considered the female character too drunk in the version where she consumed 28 standard drinks. 14% of the students considered the male character too drunk to give consent after 14 standard drinks, and 30% considered him too drunk after 28 standard drinks. Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, commented: “All institutions have a duty of care to their students and I am delighted to see many of them integrate and support these empowerment and preventative initiatives, such as consent workshops. As Minister it falls to me to ensure that providing excellence in education depends also on providing a safe learning environment, free from sexual harassment, assault and the fear or threat of it. Therefore I welcome NUI Galway’s report. It is a timely piece of research given that the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment is carrying out a major review of the relationships and sexuality curriculum.” Commenting on the findings, Dr Pádraig MacNeela at NUI Galway said: “The survey findings show that the social environment in which consent takes place among college students is often unsupportive – most women experience harassment, a large majority of all students are dissatisfied with their sexual health education at school, and social norms for drinking minimise the true impact of alcohol on the capacity to give consent.” During 2017-18, the researchers trained over 100 facilitators to lead SMART Consent workshops at NUI Galway, Queens University Belfast, the National College of Art and Design, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick, and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The report compares Pre-Workshop and Post-Workshop attitudes of 761 of the students who took part in a workshop with those trained facilitators during 2017-18: Pre-Workshop, 29% strongly agreed that they felt well informed about sexual consent, compared with 71% of students Post-Workshop. Pre-Workshop, 28% strongly agreed that they have all the skills they need to deal with sexual consent, compared with 60% Post-Workshop. Pre-Workshop, 34% of students strongly agreed that most people felt that asking for consent is important, compared with 46% Post-Workshop. Dr Siobhán O’Higgins at NUI Galway, said: “The SMART Consent workshop is strongly associated with students feeling knowledgeable and skilled about sexual consent. The discussion and peer engagement strategies we use mean it is a workshop, not a class. We encourage students to find their own positive approach to consent, but also know that a full response to this issue involves action outside workshops too, to change the culture in college and society”. At the launch, Dr Charlotte McIvor will preview one of the four short interactive consent films she has developed with her theatre students for a new multimedia campaign that will help address this culture change. The film series was collaboratively written and researched by NUI Galway Drama and Theatre Studies students led by Dr McIvor. Each interactive film gives the viewer control over characters’ decisions at key points, leading to three possible endings to each film. The four films (co-directed by McIvor and Mick Ruane) portray sexual encounters from heterosexual and LGBTQ perspectives, as well as long-term and casual sexual relationships.  Dr Charlotte McIvor offers: “We wanted to use film to capture the complexity of how consent is negotiated between partners and portray just how many decision points there actually are within any given sexual encounter.”   The first film, ‘Tom and Julie’ can be viewed at: www.nuigalway.ie/consent=omfg/. The other three films will be made available on the NUI Galway website and YouTube by staggered release in autumn 2018 as part of the Consent=OMFG campaign.  To read the full report on SMART Consent, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/smartconsent/. The research in the report has been supported by the NUI Galway Student Project Fund, and the PhD in Child and Youth Research. -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A new online treatment programme called MindfulnessforMS, developed by expert psychologists at NUI Galway has just been launched and aims to help people who are living with primary or secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong disease of the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves, affecting 2.3 million people worldwide with more than 9,000 people living with MS in Ireland. Symptoms of MS range from mild sensory problems to severe disability. The cause of MS has not been identified and, currently, there is no cure. The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, with support from MS Ireland and the Health Research Board, is currently recruiting people with primary or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis to take part in research evaluating the treatment programme. The MindfulnessforMS programme will provide participants with eight online mindfulness-based instruction and practice sessions. Dr Christopher Dwyer, coordinator of the study at the Centre for Pain Research in NUI Galway, said: “MS affects each individual differently, however, understanding how MS impacts people both physically and psychologically, and how they use the supports available to them plays a role in coping strategies for overcoming symptoms. In recent years, mindfulness has emerged as a popular strategy for psychological wellbeing and research has shown that mindfulness-based psychological interventions can be used to help ease MS-related symptoms, including fatigue and anxiety.”  Online interventions have emerged as a popular platform for such programmes, as many people have access to the internet and, perhaps more importantly, because people can log in and practice mindfulness from the safety and comfort of their own home, in a potentially cost-effective manner, without needing to schedule appointments and meet face-to-face with an instructor. The free online sessions within the MindfulnessforMS programme will focus on aiding participants to conduct mindfulness with respect to their attention and awareness of their own thought process. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of paced activities to encourage helpful coping responses. People who take part in the MindfulnessforMS trial will not need to attend any clinic or NUI Galway at any stage. Materials are tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their MS. For further information, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/centre-for-pain-research/ To participate in the programme, please email your name, phone number and details of your MS to www.painresearch@nuigalway.ie. GPs or healthcare practitioners who are interested in referring suitable patients to the trial can also use these contact details. -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway has announced details of this year’s Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam which gives students a second chance to pursue a career in engineering. The exam, which takes place on Wednesday, 22 August, is for students who achieve the CAO points for an undergraduate engineering degree course at NUI Galway but who have not met the obligatory maths requirement. For more than 20 years NUI Galway has provided this exam to help applicants who did not achieve the required grade H4 or better in higher level mathematics. Those who took lower level maths in the Leaving Cert may also apply for the exam. Students who pass this examination will be deemed to have satisfied the maths requirement and, providing they have the necessary points, will receive an additional CAO offer at Round Two. NUI Galway will also hold an intensive preparatory course for applicants intending to sit the exam. This free course will run from 16-21 August. The aim of the course is to bridge the gap between the Leaving Certificate lower level and that required to be successful in the exam. This will be achieved by tackling a variety of problems of increasing difficulty. Learning how to approach a problem and apply the knowledge available will be emphasised. Professor Peter McHugh, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Engineers are designers and problem solvers, who innovate and generate the technology of tomorrow. Because of this, engineering programmes are focused on developing analytical and problem solving skills, and therefore require significant use of mathematics and applied mathematics. Every year we see a number of promising students who perform poorly on the day of the Leaving Cert exam. The Engineering Mathematics Qualifying Examination provides students with a second chance to demonstrate that they have the necessary standard in maths. Over the years, we have had some exceptionally talented students graduate and pursue successful careers in engineering because they were given the second chance which this exam represents.” NUI Galway offers students an undenominated entry to engineering. This programme is specifically designed for students who are interested in becoming an engineer, but are uncertain as to which field they want to specialise in. This programme offers students the option of studying engineering in a general way for one year before going on to specialise in their chosen field in year two. For information on the exam, the preparatory maths course and to apply for the Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam please visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ -Ends- Seans Eile á thabhairt ag OÉ Gaillimh do Mhic Léinn na hArdteistiméireachta trí Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta a Reáchtáil Tá Coláiste na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice in OÉ Gaillimh i ndiaidh sonraí a chur ar fáil faoi Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta, scrúdú a thugann seans eile do mhic léinn tabhairt faoi ghairm na hinnealtóireachta. Beidh an scrúdú ar siúl Dé Céadaoin, an 22 Lúnasa, agus tá sé dírithe ar mhic léinn a bhaineann na pointí cuí CAO amach chun cúrsa céime san innealtóireacht a dhéanamh in OÉ Gaillimh ach nach bhfuil an marc riachtanach acu sa mhatamaitic. Le breis agus scór bliain anuas, tá an scrúdú seo á reáchtáil ag OÉ Gaillimh chun cabhrú le hiarratasóirí nár éirigh leo an grád riachtanach H4 nó os a chionn a bhaint amach sa pháipéar matamaitice ardleibhéil. Féadfaidh daoine nach ndearna ardleibhéal matamaitice san Ardteistiméireacht cur isteach ar an scrúdú chomh maith. Má fhaigheann mac léinn pas sa scrúdú seo beidh an riachtanas matamaitice comhlíonta aici/aige agus gheobhaidh sí/sé tairiscint eile ó CAO i mBabhta 2, ach na pointí riachtanacha a bheith aici/aige. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh dianchúrsa ullmhúcháin ar siúl in OÉ Gaillimh roimh ré dóibh siúd ar mian leo an scrúdú a dhéanamh. Beidh an cúrsa saor in aisce seo ar siúl ón 16-21 Lúnasa. Is é an aidhm atá leis an gcúrsa seo cur lena mbíonn foghlamtha ag daltaí ag an ngnáthleibhéal san Ardteistiméireacht, le go n-éireoidh leo sa scrúdú matamaitice. Cuirfear é seo i gcrích trí dhul i ngleic le fadhbanna éagsúla ag leibhéil éagsúla deacrachta. Cuirfear béim ar an gcaoi le tabhairt faoi fhadhb agus ar an gcaoi a gcuirfear an t-eolas atá ar fáil i bhfeidhm. Dúirt an tOllamh Peter McHugh, Déan na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is ionann innealtóirí agus dearthóirí agus daoine atá go maith ag réiteach fadhbanna, a chruthaíonn agus a chuireann teicneolaíocht na linne seo romhainn ar fáil. Dá bharr seo, tá na cláir innealtóireachta seo dírithe ar fhorbairt a dhéanamh ar scileanna anailíseacha agus ar scileanna chun fadhbanna a réiteach, agus dá bhrí sin, caithfear úsáid shuntasach a bhaint as matamaitic agus as matamaitic fheidhmeach. Gach bliain feicimid daltaí cumasacha nach ndéanann chomh maith agus a d’fhéadfaidís ar lá an scrúdaithe Ardteistiméireachta. Tugann an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta deis eile do dhaltaí léiriú go bhfuil an caighdeán riachtanach sa mhatamaitic bainte amach acu. I gcaitheamh na mblianta, d’éirigh le roinnt mic léinn a raibh cumas eisceachtúil iontu céim a bhaint amach agus dul sa tóir ar shlí bheatha dóibh féin san innealtóireacht mar go bhfuair siad an dara deis leis an scrúdú áirithe seo.” Tá cúrsa neamhainmnithe san innealtóireacht ar tairiscint do mhic léinn in OÉ Gaillimh. Tá an clár seo dírithe go háirithe ar mhic léinn a bhfuil suim acu a bheith ina n-innealtóirí ach nach bhfuil siad cinnte cén réimse ar mhaith leo díriú air. Tugann an clár seo deis do mhic léinn staidéar ginearálta a dhéanamh ar an innealtóireacht ar feadh bliana sula roghnaíonn siad a réimse speisialtóireachta i mbliain a dó. Chun eolas a fháil faoin scrúdú, faoin gcúrsa matamaitice ullmhúcháin agus chun iarratas a dhéanamh ar an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice, téigh chuig http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ -Críoch-

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway has announced details of this year’s Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam which gives students a second chance to pursue a career in engineering. The exam, which takes place on Wednesday, 22 August, is for students who achieve the CAO points for an undergraduate engineering degree course at NUI Galway but who have not met the obligatory maths requirement. For more than 20 years NUI Galway has provided this exam to help applicants who did not achieve the required grade H4 or better in higher level mathematics. Those who took lower level maths in the Leaving Cert may also apply for the exam. Students who pass this examination will be deemed to have satisfied the maths requirement and, providing they have the necessary points, will receive an additional CAO offer at Round Two. NUI Galway will also hold an intensive preparatory course for applicants intending to sit the exam. This free course will run from 16-21 August. The aim of the course is to bridge the gap between the Leaving Certificate lower level and that required to be successful in the exam. This will be achieved by tackling a variety of problems of increasing difficulty. Learning how to approach a problem and apply the knowledge available will be emphasised. Professor Peter McHugh, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Engineers are designers and problem solvers, who innovate and generate the technology of tomorrow. Because of this, engineering programmes are focused on developing analytical and problem solving skills, and therefore require significant use of mathematics and applied mathematics. Every year we see a number of promising students who perform poorly on the day of the Leaving Cert exam. The Engineering Mathematics Qualifying Examination provides students with a second chance to demonstrate that they have the necessary standard in maths. Over the years, we have had some exceptionally talented students graduate and pursue successful careers in engineering because they were given the second chance which this exam represents.” NUI Galway offers students an undenominated entry to engineering. This programme is specifically designed for students who are interested in becoming an engineer, but are uncertain as to which field they want to specialise in. This programme offers students the option of studying engineering in a general way for one year before going on to specialise in their chosen field in year two. For information on the exam, the preparatory maths course and to apply for the Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam please visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ -Ends- Seans Eile á thabhairt ag OÉ Gaillimh do Mhic Léinn na hArdteistiméireachta trí Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta a Reáchtáil Tá Coláiste na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice in OÉ Gaillimh i ndiaidh sonraí a chur ar fáil faoi Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta, scrúdú a thugann seans eile do mhic léinn tabhairt faoi ghairm na hinnealtóireachta. Beidh an scrúdú ar siúl Dé Céadaoin, an 22 Lúnasa, agus tá sé dírithe ar mhic léinn a bhaineann na pointí cuí CAO amach chun cúrsa céime san innealtóireacht a dhéanamh in OÉ Gaillimh ach nach bhfuil an marc riachtanach acu sa mhatamaitic. Le breis agus scór bliain anuas, tá an scrúdú seo á reáchtáil ag OÉ Gaillimh chun cabhrú le hiarratasóirí nár éirigh leo an grád riachtanach H4 nó os a chionn a bhaint amach sa pháipéar matamaitice ardleibhéil. Féadfaidh daoine nach ndearna ardleibhéal matamaitice san Ardteistiméireacht cur isteach ar an scrúdú chomh maith. Má fhaigheann mac léinn pas sa scrúdú seo beidh an riachtanas matamaitice comhlíonta aici/aige agus gheobhaidh sí/sé tairiscint eile ó CAO i mBabhta 2, ach na pointí riachtanacha a bheith aici/aige. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh dianchúrsa ullmhúcháin ar siúl in OÉ Gaillimh roimh ré dóibh siúd ar mian leo an scrúdú a dhéanamh. Beidh an cúrsa saor in aisce seo ar siúl ón 16-21 Lúnasa. Is é an aidhm atá leis an gcúrsa seo cur lena mbíonn foghlamtha ag daltaí ag an ngnáthleibhéal san Ardteistiméireacht, le go n-éireoidh leo sa scrúdú matamaitice. Cuirfear é seo i gcrích trí dhul i ngleic le fadhbanna éagsúla ag leibhéil éagsúla deacrachta. Cuirfear béim ar an gcaoi le tabhairt faoi fhadhb agus ar an gcaoi a gcuirfear an t-eolas atá ar fáil i bhfeidhm. Dúirt an tOllamh Peter McHugh, Déan na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is ionann innealtóirí agus dearthóirí agus daoine atá go maith ag réiteach fadhbanna, a chruthaíonn agus a chuireann teicneolaíocht na linne seo romhainn ar fáil. Dá bharr seo, tá na cláir innealtóireachta seo dírithe ar fhorbairt a dhéanamh ar scileanna anailíseacha agus ar scileanna chun fadhbanna a réiteach, agus dá bhrí sin, caithfear úsáid shuntasach a bhaint as matamaitic agus as matamaitic fheidhmeach. Gach bliain feicimid daltaí cumasacha nach ndéanann chomh maith agus a d’fhéadfaidís ar lá an scrúdaithe Ardteistiméireachta. Tugann an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta deis eile do dhaltaí léiriú go bhfuil an caighdeán riachtanach sa mhatamaitic bainte amach acu. I gcaitheamh na mblianta, d’éirigh le roinnt mic léinn a raibh cumas eisceachtúil iontu céim a bhaint amach agus dul sa tóir ar shlí bheatha dóibh féin san innealtóireacht mar go bhfuair siad an dara deis leis an scrúdú áirithe seo.” Tá cúrsa neamhainmnithe san innealtóireacht ar tairiscint do mhic léinn in OÉ Gaillimh. Tá an clár seo dírithe go háirithe ar mhic léinn a bhfuil suim acu a bheith ina n-innealtóirí ach nach bhfuil siad cinnte cén réimse ar mhaith leo díriú air. Tugann an clár seo deis do mhic léinn staidéar ginearálta a dhéanamh ar an innealtóireacht ar feadh bliana sula roghnaíonn siad a réimse speisialtóireachta i mbliain a dó. Chun eolas a fháil faoin scrúdú, faoin gcúrsa matamaitice ullmhúcháin agus chun iarratas a dhéanamh ar an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice, téigh chuig http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ -Críoch-

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Missed opportunities for healthcare professionals to improve knowledge exchange and early interventions to assist parents recognise a healthy weight for their children Childhood obesity is disproportionately characteristic of low-income families Improvements needed in information provided between healthcare professionals and mums regarding infant feeding, healthy weight and obesity in preschool aged children A study carried out by Dr Michelle Queally from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway and colleagues from the Health Research Board funded project CHErIsH (Choosing Heathy Eating for Infant Health), have reported that mothers are unable to accurately identify their child's overweight/obesity status at age three and five in Ireland. The study was recently published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. Dr Queally notes that a mother’s recognition of their child being overweight and obese during early childhood is one of the key determinants in achieving a healthy weight status in children. The study highlights the need for increased support in Ireland to help improve a mothers understanding of what defines a healthy body size in preschool aged children. Mothers who are unable to accurately identify their child being overweight/ obese at three years old are likely to do so again when the child is five years old. Results from the study found that 22% of mothers failed to accurately identify their child to be overweight or obese at age three. This inaccuracy decreased to 18% when the child was aged five. A mother’s inaccurate identification of their child’s overweight/obesity status was more likely to occur if the child was a girl, had a higher birth weight and if the mother was obese or working. Other factors affecting the odds of misperceiving a child’s weight included gestation age, income and urban living. Key findings from the study: Missed opportunities for healthcare professionals to improve knowledge exchange and early interventions to assist parents in recognising a healthy weight for their children. Improvements in knowledge transfer to facilitate healthcare professionals to ensure mothers have information and an accurate understanding of infant feeding, and healthy weight and obesity in their preschool aged children. Educational interventions to inform mothers of healthy weight range during the child’s early years might lead to more accurate weight perceptions as the child gets older. Childhood obesity is disproportionately characteristic of low-income families. Developing tailored intervention programmes for the formative pre-school cohort could prove to be a beneficial strategy to change attitudes and promote awareness of obesity in children within lower socioeconomic groups. Utilising specific channels for health‐related communications allows key messages to reach families who stand to benefit most from the information, and also improves the efficiency with which public funds for health communications are spent. The NUI Galway study used data from the longitudinal ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ study, which is a nationally representative face-to-face survey of children living in Ireland, which aims to inform policy in relation to children, young people and families. Data was collected from almost 10,000 families of children aged three years and over 9,000 families of children aged five years. For the analysis of this study, data relating to child and mother characteristics in healthcare access and household characteristics, such as income and if they lived in an urban or rural area, were extracted. For the child, data extracted included gender, child birth weight, gestation age, whether or not the child was breastfed, whether the child had siblings and the child’s health, as reported by the mother. For the mother, data extracted included education, obesity status, age, self-reported health, employment status, whether or not the mother was born in Ireland and marital status. To read the full study in International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, visit: https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-018-0688-y -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

A new survey has been launched and is seeking to examine the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) migrants in Ireland. Led by Dr Chris Noone from NUI Galway, this is the first national consultation of LGBT+ migrants in Ireland and aims to better understand and support this community. The National LGBT Federation conducted the largest ever consultation of the LGBT+ community in Ireland in 2016, called the Burning Issues 2 study. From that study, one group of people in the LGBT+ community who identified as needing more understanding and support were those who have migrated to Ireland, particularly those who came seeking asylum. Coordinated by Dr Chris Noone from NUI Galway, the new survey ‘LGBT+ Actions to Include Migrants’ is a collaboration between the National LGBT Federation and Ireland’s LGBT+ community members who are migrants, to create the first study by, for and about LGBT+ people who have moved to Ireland. It is intended to produce recommendations for how they can be better supported in Irish society by the government, and the LGBT+ community. Dr Chris Noone, coordinator of the survey and a lecturer from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “If you have come to Ireland from another country to live, work or study and you identify as LGBT+ then we would like to learn about your experiences. Having an understanding of the experiences of LGBT+ migrants in Ireland will help to provide information about how, as a country and as a community, we can become more aware of their needs and act on them.” The questions from the survey have been carefully chosen after workshops were held in Dublin and Galway where members of the LGBT+ community who are migrants to Ireland were invited. The topics covered in this survey were collectively chosen by the people who attended the workshops. “The information we will obtain from this survey will improve our understanding of the experiences of migrants in our community and allow the government to respond to the needs of LGBT+ migrants and asylum seekers”, added Dr Noone. The study is being organised by the research sub-group of the National LGBT Federation and has been funded by a grant from the Community Foundation for Ireland. Participation is entirely voluntary and taking part will involve completing the survey about being a migrant in Ireland. To participate in the study, visit: https://gcn.ie/aims/ or view You Tube link at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38XEIpbBJy0&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can now apply online to receive up to €60,000 in financial support to develop innovative ideas, products, and technology within the field of personal nutrition for older adults. NUI Galway is leading the market strategy on the H2020 ‘INCluSilver’ project which aims to support collaboration between SMEs from different sectors to create better nutritional solutions for older adults and improve their quality of life. A €3 million Innovation Voucher Scheme to develop new products and services in this area is currently open for applications with the closing date on Saturday, 15 September 2018. The projects must represent one of INCluSilver’s five collaborative sectors in: agro-food, health, packaging, ICT and creative industries. The INCluSilver project offers three types of innovation vouchers that range in value from €3,000 to €60,000. SMEs from the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK can apply. The three types of innovation vouchers include: The Ideas Innovation Voucher, which seeks to support the maturation of relevant ideas and project needs. The Proposal Innovation Vouchers, which seek to support: scalability and internationalisation, demonstration of technology readiness, transferability potential, and economic feasibility analysis. The Intellectual Property Rights Innovation Voucher, which seeks to support SMEs in protecting foreground and results of projects with appropriate tools. Dr Jane Walsh from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway and market strategy lead of INCluSilver, said: “This project provides an excellent opportunity for SMEs working in the nutrition field to avail of much needed support to develop their products.” Irish SMEs interested in applying for the voucher scheme can contact jane.walsh@nuigalway.ie  or further information. -Ends-

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Researchers from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway and the Herpetological Society of Ireland have just published the first record of a spider feeding on a reptile in Ireland. The Noble False Widow spider, which has colonised much of Ireland since first being recorded here twenty years ago, has been observed feeding on Ireland’s only native terrestrial reptile, the Viviparous lizard. The report has just been published in the Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy journal. The unusual scene was recorded in a private garden in Killiney, Co. Dublin in May 2017 when the 8.5cm juvenile Viviparous lizard was found entangled on a web with the 3.3cm Noble False Widow spider feeding on its flesh. The somewhat gruesome scene is not uncommon in the tropics, where a handful of spider species are known to occasionally feed on birds, rodents or reptiles but it is not something we are accustomed to in Ireland.   Noble False Widow spiders are remarkably adaptable and possess fast-acting neurotoxic venom that can cause neuromuscular paralysis in terrestrial vertebrates (organisms that possesses a spinal column or vertebra and lives predominantly on land) and occasionally feed on small reptiles. Dr Michel Dugon from the Venom Systems Laboratory in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, says: “This report is quite significant for two reasons. One, it is the first time a terrestrial vertebrate has fallen prey to a spider in Ireland and second, the Viviparous lizard is a protected species in Ireland while the Noble False Widow is a recent alien species that is still actively colonising Ireland. This poses the question of the delayed impact of overlooked invasive species on iconic native organisms. It also raises the question of the true impact of the Noble False Widow on our native ecosystems.” John Dunbar, lead author of the study and PhD researcher at the Venom Systems Laboratory in NUI Galway, said: “While Black Widows are known to prey on small reptiles, there are only two previous accounts from other species of False Widow spiders preying on a lizard in Iran and on a snake in Bulgaria. Surprisingly, this is the first time the False Widow spider that is currently colonising Ireland has been documented preying on vertebrates. In addition to its venom possessing a powerful vertebrate specific neurotoxin, it can produce very strong silk which gives it a real advantage over our native spiders in entangling large prey.” Co-authors Collie Ennis and Rob Gandola from the Herpetological Society of Ireland, caution: “With the Noble False Widow spider following the increasing urban spread into our countryside, the possibility of them coming into contact with native wildlife will no doubt increase.” The researchers added: “We are right in the middle of the lizard birthing season and this is when most lizard sightings are made and when juveniles are likely to turn up in gardens. Female lizards give birth to between 6-11 babies that are jet black and about 40mm long. It’s the juveniles that disperse to new areas but given their tiny size you can see how this is a dangerous endeavour. We’d ask people who are lucky enough to have lizards near or on their property to keep a watch out and report any sightings of Noble False Widows predating on lizards. It would be really helpful to get an idea of how frequent these interactions occur and even the size classes involved, it may not only be young lizards that fall prey.” Noble False Widow spiders have made regular headlines in recent years as they have become more prevalent in Irish homes. While not thought to be life threatening to humans, a bite from the Noble False Widow delivers a fast acting neurotoxic venom which can cause pain and discomfort for a few days. The Venom Systems Laboratory at NUI Galway is the only one in the world currently working on extracting venom from the Noble False Widow spider for potential therapies. This particular species of spider is having a detrimental effect on other local species and other spiders in Ireland due to their competitiveness and fast breeding nature. The Noble False Widow lives for five to seven years whereas most other spider and bug species in Ireland only lives for a maximum of one year. In Ireland, Noble False Widow spiders live close to buildings and houses inhabited by people. Dublin, Cork and Wexford have the highest number of Noble False Widows to date. To report Noble False Widow spider and Viviparous lizard sightings in Ireland, contact michel.dugon@nuigalway.ie or 091 494491. To read the full report in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy journal, visit: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3318/bioe.2018.05 -Ends-

Monday, 23 July 2018

Robot submarine and detailed seabed maps used to find sensitive underwater habitat  A team of marine scientists have returned to Galway after spending three weeks at sea investigating Ireland’s deep ocean territory 300 miles off the west coast. The deep sea expedition led to new discoveries using the Marine Institute’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland 1 onboard the ILV Granuaile. The high definition ROV-mounted video captured a number of ‘firsts’ in Irish waters, including a species of octocoral of the genus Corallium, which grows into huge fans with a delicate porcelain-like skeleton, and a species of black coral different to others described to date, which may prove to be an entirely new species. The survey confirmed Irish deep-waters as a haven for these rare and delicate deep-sea black corals. The team of scientists also reported areas of potential ‘sponge reef’ on the Rockall Bank, a highly unusual accumulation of living and dead sponges forming a complex habitat for many other creatures. Such formations are very rare and have previously only been recorded in Canadian waters. Cold water coral reefs are ecosystems that host a diverse range of marine animals including sea fans, sponges, worms, starfish, crustaceans and a variety of fish species, making them vitally important habitats for marine biodiversity. These fragile deepwater reefs are commonly associated with topographic features subject to strong bottom currents, for example continental margins, seamounts and mid-ocean ridges, because as filter feeders, the corals depend on suspended food particulate matter. The high resolution bathymetric dataset acquired as part of the national seabed mapping programme –Integrated Mapping For the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resource (INFOMAR) - was used to target potential locations of reef habitat for this survey by identifying specific seabed morphological features likely to support cold water coral. The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in our understanding of the cold water coral reef ecosystems, their susceptibility to environmental change, and their low resilience to human impact. Professor Louise Allcock, NUI Galway, who is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Marine Institute to study the pharmaceutical potential of deep-sea corals and sponges added: “This project highlights collaboration and cooperation between Irish and international marine scientists, helping us to further our understanding of these sensitive ecosystems and has also been able to provide training opportunities and sea-going experience for young scientists.” Chief Scientist on the SeaRover survey, David O’Sullivan, Marine Institute said: “We are very pleased to discover what appear to be new coral species and a rare sponge reef, neither of which have been previously documented in Irish waters. These sensitive habitats are very important and this study is key to getting a better understanding of Irelands’ deep sea. Our key objective is to discover, protect and monitor Ireland’s rich offshore marine biodiversity so we can manage our marine resources effectively. Without a knowledge of what lives on our seabed we are at risk of never fully understanding and appreciating Ireland’s invaluable marine environment.”  Dr Kerry Howell, Plymouth University said: “This is the first time I have seen a sponge reef like this in nearly 20 years of studying the deep NE Atlantic. This is an important find. Sponges play a key role in the marine ecosystem providing habitat for other species and recycling nutrients. They may even be a source of new antibiotics. These new data will help us to better understand where and why these reefs occur.” The ‘SeaRover’ survey is the second of three planned expeditions jointly funded by the Irish Government and the EU’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The cross government initiative is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, and Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) as part of the Marine Institute’s implementation of the Marine Biodiversity scheme.  Survey operations were coordinated and led by the DCCAE funded INFOMAR programme, which is a joint venture between the Geological Survey Ireland and the Marine Institute. This year’s expedition extended the habitat exploration area to the Rockall Bank, the farthest offshore extent of Ireland’s Economic Exclusive Zone. Scientific experts onboard to witness the exciting findings were from the Marine Institute, National Parks and Wildlife Service, National University of Ireland Galway and Plymouth University. Ends

Monday, 23 July 2018

Dr Jackie Uí Chionna, a historian based at the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at NUI Galway, has been awarded a prestigious research fellowship at Cambridge University.  The Archives By-Fellowship at Churchill College Cambridge has been awarded to Dr Uí Chionna to enable her to undertake work on her current research project, a biography of Emily Anderson OBE (1891-1962). Anderson was the daughter of the President of UCG at the time, Alexander Anderson, and she herself became Professor of German at the University at the age of just 26, in 1917. She formally resigned her Chair in 1919 to take up a position with the British Foreign Office, but in reality she had already been working for a number of years on intelligence work for the fledgling British Secret Service, ultimately becoming the foremost female code breaker of her generation. She retired in 1952. Alongside Emily Anderson’s code breaking work, she continued her passionate interest in music, and used her considerable skills to become a world-renowned musicologist, and author of both The Letters of Mozart and his Family and The Letters of Beethoven, works which remain standard references for music students and scholars alike. Emily Anderson was awarded the OBE by the British for her intelligence work during the Second World War, but remarkably she was also awarded the Order of Merit, First Class, the highest award of the Federal Republic of Germany, for her work on Beethoven - the Germans being entirely unaware of her secret intelligence work through two World Wars. Cambridge is the acknowledged world centre for scholarly research in the history of Intelligence, and the Churchill College Archives Centre, where Dr Uí Chionna will be working, houses the finest collection of diplomatic and intelligence related archives in the UK.  Dr Uí Chionna will spend an academic term at Churchill College, said: “The Awarding of the By-Fellowship is a tremendous honour for me, and more importantly, a significant recognition of the enormous significance of Emily Anderson in an international context. Interest in women code breakers has never been higher, and Anderson was the best of them all, yet until now virtually nothing has been known about her. That will all change with this biography, and I am enormously grateful to Churchill College Cambridge for their recognition of the importance of this research. I am also extremely grateful to Professor Daniel Carey and the Moore Institute, for awarding me the Visiting Fellowship which enabled me to begin work on the book. ” Dr Uí Chionna will take up her By-Fellowship in 2019. -Ends-

Monday, 30 July 2018

Partners to work together across a number of new initiatives  Galway International Arts Festival and National University of Ireland Galway have announced the signing of a new multi-year partnership, which will see Ireland’s leading cultural organization and the Sunday Times University of the Year 2018 working together across a number of initiatives designed to provide inspiring cultural and creative opportunities for students.  Galway International Arts Festival and NUI Galway have a long-standing history of working together, with the University acting as Education Partner for the festival since 2011.  The new partnership comes in the wake of Galway being announced as European Capital of Culture in 2020 (ECOC 2020) and the announcement of the government’s Creative Ireland programme, which both parties see as a timely opportunity to develop a new type of partnership that supports and develops the cultural sector in Galway.  Galway International Arts Festival will work with the University on the development of a number of education initiatives that complement the existing suite of culture-related courses provided by the University. In addition, the University’s Alive programme will work with the festival to further develop the festival’s expanding volunteer programme as a best practice experience.  A formal arrangement will be put in place with the library to archive Galway International Arts Festival’s activities and Galway International Arts Festival will work with the university on the promotion of its new BA in Music programme. The new partnership will also see greater ties between Galway International Arts Festival’s First Thought Talks programme and the University, with the campus becoming much more closely associated with this discussion platform. A new First Thought Talks event will be developed and delivered on campus during the 2018-2019 academic year, with a view to developing it as an annual event. As Galway International Arts Festival further positions itself as a producer and tourer of new work, NUI Galway will also form key associations with Irish work in each year’s festival programme, supporting the creation of new work created by Irish artists that will premier in Galway and tour. Galway International Arts Festival CEO John Crumlish said: “This new partnership represents an exciting new development in the relationship with NUI Galway. It is a natural fit for the festival, as it is hoped the University will produce the graduates who will have a major role developing, producing and working on new productions in the future. “The association with such work further reinforces the University’s culture campus brand with audiences wherever the work is seen, while also further building the Galway brand internationally.” NUI Galway President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “The Galway International Arts Festival and NUI Galway are partners with a shared focus on harnessing the creative spirit of the region, which is such a cultural strength that results in work in many local sectors having an impact throughout the world. “This year, we’ve welcomed thousands of national and international visitors to the campus as part of the Festival, while the University has led a number of First Thought Talks and a vibrant programme of post-show discussions. As Education partner, we see our cultural hinterland as central to our mission and look forward to working with the festival over the coming years to support the next generation of creative artists, producers and cultural entrepreneurs.” For further information, please contact: Hilary Martyn, Communications & Development Manager, Galway International Arts Festival Phone: 00 353 91 509700

Friday, 27 July 2018

Researchers from NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin will host this year’s largest and most important scientific gathering on alternative fuels and fuel efficiency, when the 37th International Symposium on Combustion comes to Dublin from 30 July to 3 August. This is the first time the biennial Symposium has been held in Ireland and is a major coup for the small but growing fuels research community in Ireland. Over 1,800 delegates from across the globe will attend the week’s technical presentations in the Convention Centre Dublin. Over 90% of the energy used in Ireland is delivered by burning fuels, the vast majority of which is imported. This energy is needed for everything from lighting and heating our homes and preparing our meals, to powering our industries and fuelling our planes, trains and automobiles. The immediate challenges posed by climate change, declining air quality, increasing energy bills, and energy supply security, especially with Brexit around the corner, means that cleaner, cheaper, more reliable forms of energy are urgently needed. The International Symposium on Combustion will highlight recent advances in: The development and testing of renewable fuels including solid biomass, biomethane, liquid biofuels and hydrogen. The use of waste products like agri-forestry wastes, sludge’s and municipal waste as fuels. Efforts to reduce harmful emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Increases in engine efficiency through a better understanding of how existing and new fuels burn and how engines can be redesigned around this new knowledge. It will also deal with the study of how fires spread, what can be done to better predict this, and how emergency planning and evacuations can be improved. This has been thrown into tragic light last year in Grenfell Tower and this week in Greece. The importance of combustion research was recently highlighted by the launch of the €4.4 million Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) Spoke at the Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy. With financial backing from Science Foundation Ireland and national and international industry, SEFE researchers at NUI Galway, TCD, UCC, UL and Teagasc will develop the next generation of renewable fuels and cleaner engines. The hosting of the Symposium in Ireland is particularly timely given the recent announcement from the Climate Change Advisory Council that the country is “completely off course” to achieve its 2020 and 2030 climate targets. This event will serve as a rallying call to the energy research and policymaking communities that unless Ireland takes immediate action on the development alternative fuels, the country is in line for hundreds of millions of euros worth of annual fines from the EU. Chairperson of the Local Host Team, NUI Galway Emeritus Professor John Simmie, said: “Given society’s heavy reliance on fuels, combustion is more relevant now than ever. While the recent popularity of electric vehicles is to be welcomed, technological limitations and high costs mean that all energy forecasts show significant combustible fuel use until well into the second half of the 21st century, especially for heavy, long-distance transportation.” Head of Strategy at Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Peter Clifford, highlighted the scientific excellence of the event, saying: “The International Symposium on Combustion is the premier gathering of the fuels and combustion research community. Its presence here underscores the efforts and growing reputation of the combustion research community in Ireland.” The Symposium is supported financially by Science Foundation Ireland through the Exceptional Conference Award, Fáilte Ireland, and a wide array of Irish and international industry sponsors. The Local Host Team is Emeritus Professor John Simmie and Dr Rory Monaghan from the College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway, and Dr Stephen Dooley of TCD. More information is available at: http://www.combustionsymposia.org. -Ends-

Friday, 27 July 2018

Two researchers supported by NUI Galway have been awarded significant European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants for their research into bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes and the roles and voices of youths in the study of minority and regional language preservation. In total the European Research Council awarded the ERC grants to 403 talented early career researchers in the fields of Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences and Humanities. Researchers will benefit from €603 million in total and up to €1.5 million each, to create their own research teams and conduct pioneering projects. The grants are part of the ‘excellent science’ pillar of the EU’s current Research and Innovation programme, Horizon 2020. On this occasion, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “In addition to supporting early stage European researchers, the ERC Starting Grants also help enrich the European research field by attracting and retaining foreign scientists in Europe. More than one in ten grantees come from outside the EU or its associated countries. Europe is open to the world!” Dr Ted Vaughan, a Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, has been awarded a €1.5 million European Research Council Starting Grant to conduct ground-breaking research into his project, Multiscale Mechanics of Bone Fragility in Type-2 Diabetes. Speaking about the project, Dr Vaughan said: “Type-2 Diabetes is associated with a higher risk of skeletal bone fractures and contributes to the 3.5 million bone fragility fractures that occur annually in Europe. Interestingly, the elevated risk of fracture in patients with Type-2 Diabetes is not accompanied with any reduction in their bone density. This is in stark contrast to Osteoporosis, probably the most widely studied bone disease, where bone density is significantly reduced. Currently, there is a limited understanding of the physical changes that take place in diabetic bone disease. Also, it is not known why such changes compromise the structural integrity of bone tissue and this presents distinct clinical challenges in terms of both assessment and treatment of bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes.” Dr Vaughan and his research team will use novel experimental and computational techniques to understand the mechanics of bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes. A multiscale framework will be used to evaluate fracture processes at several different length scales in the tissue, including state-of-the-art techniques that will identify the role of individual molecules on bone fracture behaviour. The research programme will significantly advance our understanding of the physical mechanisms responsible for bone fragility in Type-2 Diabetes and Dr Vaughan will use this information to develop an innovative clinical diagnostic strategy for this patient population. Research in this area forms a critical need with the ever-increasing world-wide prevalence of Type-2 Diabetes. Dr Ríona Nic Congáil, a scholar of the Irish language and of Irish culture has been awarded €1.27 million for her project, Youth Engagement in European Language Preservation, 1900–2020 (YEELP) with the support of the NUI Galway Research Office. YEELP is the first in-depth, comparative, transnational and interdisciplinary study of the intersection between European youth and the preservation of minority or regional European languages in the period since 1900. The project focuses on three languages of differing statuses and rates of usage – Irish, Welsh and Catalan – and it unites two growing fields of contemporary scholarship: the study of youth, and the study of language preservation. Speaking about the research, Dr Nic Congáil, said: “In the study of minority and regional language preservation, the roles and voices of youths aged between 12-19 years, have been consistently overlooked. In order to address this fundamental gap in contemporary research, this project takes a multifaceted approach to the intersection between youth and language. It does so at a critical period for the study of endangered European languages, with several languages in decline and some facing extinction. Until youth is included in considerations of language preservation, we will not be able to answer fully the question of why some languages thrive while others die out.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “European Research Council Starting Grants are one of the most prestigious and competitive awards for researchers in Europe. This particular award identifies excellent emerging talent and we are delighted that our University has attracted two awards. These awards also highlight our strengths and the depth of our international standing and reputation in the fields of biomedical engineering and the humanities.” Grantees from 44 countries across the world received grants, from as far afield as Vietnam and Argentina. The competition therefore enabled some researcher mobility and the spread of scientific knowledge as 40 grantees will move country to take up their grant, and 16 will come from outside the EU and H2020 associated countries. These Starting Grants will help the selected scientists build their own research teams, leading to job creation as an estimated 1,500 Postdocs, PhD students and other staff could be employed to support them. -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A team of engineering students from NUI Galway has been awarded first place for technical innovation at Europe’s premier competition for ultra-efficient vehicles, Shell Eco-marathon Europe. The Galway energy-efficient car, or Geec, is Ireland’s most efficient car, capable of travelling over 350 km on one unit, or kilowatt-hour (kWh), of electricity, which means driving from Galway to Dublin for less than 15 cents’ worth of electricity, and gets the equivalent of 10,000 miles per gallon of diesel. Congratulating NUI Galway students, staff and project supporters, University President, Professor Ciarán ó hÓgartaigh said: “Problem-solving at the service of society is at the very heart of our students’ learning experience. With their award-winning work on the Geec project, our NUI Galway Engineering students have brought their talent and ingenuity to bear on one of the most important challenges of our time – energy efficient transportation. I am delighted to pay tribute to their international success and I commend colleagues – academics, mentors and technicians from the College of Engineering and Informatics – and all those involved in supporting this important student initiative.” This year 149 of the best engineering schools and universities in Europe qualified, built cars and sent teams to Shell Eco-marathon Europe in London. Over 2,000 students, from Morocco to Siberia, took part. The award recognises the single best innovation on any car across all competition categories. The Geec is Ireland’s first, and so far, only competitor at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, the world’s toughest test for ultra-efficient vehicles. Student teams battle it out in a 15-km race where efficiency, not speed, is what counts. All the world’s cars, vans, trucks, buses, trains, airplanes and boats consume a third of the world’s energy and belch out a quarter of earth’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions, so developing highly efficient, low-emissions technologies is of paramount importance. Competitors design, build, test and drive their own creations in a true test of ingenuity, grit and driving skills. For the last four years, the Geec has flown the flag for Ireland in the battery-electric category, finishing 23rd out of 50 in 2015, rising to 13th in 2017. This year’s Geec won the prestigious Technical Innovation Award, which is presented by Shell to the team which demonstrates outstanding technical ingenuity along with optimal use of new materials, components and inventions in their drive train, chassis, body, instrumentation and tyres. The award was given to the NUI Galway team for an effective and simple approach to lower aerodynamic undercarriage drag. The wheels of a car can be a major source of aerodynamic drag or wind resistance, especially when the car’s main body has very low drag, like the teardrop-shaped, three-wheeled Geec. The innovation attacks this problem and is largely due to student Tom Dillon from Barna, Co. Galway, but is just one of the latest stages in a complex team project that has evolved for five years. Tom explains: “Our new innovation is an aerodynamic seal that minimises the gap between the wheels and the car's body at all times. From computer simulations of our car, we found that this new design offers a potential 27% reduction in aerodynamic drag.” Professor Peter McHugh, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “This result puts us firmly on the map as one of the premier engineering schools in the world for the depth and quality of our education and for our mentorship and support of students.” The Geec is a collaboration between the disciplines of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The team consists of approximately 25 students of those programmes and the interdisciplinary Energy Systems Engineering degree, with some additional involvement from other Engineering and Informatics students. For fourth-year students the Geec is part of their coursework, while for the others it is extra-curricular. The car is designed, developed and raced by the students, with the guidance of academic staff and the extensive practical support of NUI Galway’s team of engineering technical officers. International competition at the end of every academic year gives intense focus to their efforts and an unforgiving but thrilling test of their work. It is a unique opportunity for ambitious young engineers to hone their knowledge and skills. The Geec team gratefully acknowledges the support of the Tony Ryan Trust through the Galway University Foundation, Shell E&P Ireland, Jaguar Land Rover, ÉireComposites, MaREI, Blackstone Launchpad, MBW Bike Shop, CADFEM UK & Ireland, Mathworks, OutdoorLiving.ie, Tocana Plastics, Molex, EasyComposites, and Irish Ferries. For more information, please visit www.theGeec.ie, facebook: theGeec.ie, or Twitter @theGeec. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 July 2018

NUI Galway is delighted to announce a new bursary which will be awarded to the Best Overall Student in Master of Science in Health Economics. The bursary is sponsored by Janssen Sciences Ireland. NUI Galway has a close working relationship with Janssen Sciences Ireland with the company offering placements to many NUI Galway students and a number of these placements have evolved into full-time positions in market access and health economics. Also, approximately 50% of the Market Access team in Janssen Sciences Ireland are graduates from the programme. In addition, representatives from Janssen, including their CEO in Ireland, Dr Leisha Daly, have featured in the MSc in Health Economics guest lecturer programme. The bursary, a fund of €2,500, will be awarded at the end of this coming academic year and will cover the cost of the recipient attending the European International Society for Pharmaeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) conference which will be held in Barcelona in November. Brendan Kennelly, Lecturer in Economics at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to partner with Janssen Science Ireland in this new student bursary. The annual ISPOR conference consists of a very exciting mix of academics and professional presentations and courses. Attending the conference will be a fantastic educational and professional opportunity for the awardee and represents an appropriate way of acknowledging the achievement of the successful student.” The MSc in Health Economics introduces students to the principles underlying the economic analysis of health care decision-making within an evolving context of technological development, population ageing and changing patient expectations. The programme is designed for people interested in pursuing a career in the government, the health service, the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, or in research and consultancy agencies. The programme examines the challenges of scarcity for health care provision, analyses alternative systems of finance and delivery and provides an introduction to the techniques of evaluation used in health care. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Five students from the MSc in Information Systems Management course at NUI Galway have developed and launched the website ‘PrimaryFit’ under the guidance of their lecturer, Dr Trevor Clohessy. The website was created as a solution to help communities tackle child obesity in Ireland. The students developed an operation transformation type platform for primary school students as part of a project within their course module. They engaged with the local community to gather information which provided them with specific requirements on how the website should look and feel. ‘PrimaryFit’ consists of easy to access meal and exercise plans with a designated discussion forum for teachers and parents and for community engagement. The website also offers features such as Exercise Plans, Time Based Workouts, Healthy School Meals, a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator, Weight Tracker and a Calorie Counter. There is also a section where people can connect with local nutrition and physical exercise experts to get their opinions on relevant issues. Dr Trevor Clohessy from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “We are very proud of the students’ efforts to create such a wonderful platform. This website is one of the first to tackle the growing issue of childhood obesity. Latest statistics compiled by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration and reported in The Lancet medical journal, outlined how almost a third of Irish children are now overweight. Motivated by the national success of the operation transformation initiatives, I tasked the students to create a platform which would be community led. “This platform will allow primary school teachers to not only access a variety of information resources with regards to fun exercise programmes, meals and nutritional advice which are suitable for specific age groups but also enable them to report how effective they were and also contribute to the platform. The primary aim of this website will be to harness the wisdom of the community in order to promote an environment which encourages healthy physical activity and eating habits.” Speaking about the project, the NUI Galway students, said: “The fact that this project consisted of us tackling a real-life problem brought some passion and inspiration to the table as we all wanted to try and make a difference to the local community. Child obesity is an issue which is spiralling out of control in Ireland, everyone on the team knows at least one child who is affected by child obesity and as a result their future is negatively impacted, which is concerning when it can be easily avoided with correct practices in place. “We would like this platform to be a community driven initiative and we have provided an option to submit ideas for children’s exercise or nutrition plans with a mechanism to moderate the submitted content. We believe that we have designed a platform which will brighten the future of many young people suffering from the negative aspects of child obesity in Ireland, through community collaboration and participation.” The students developed the platform and hosted it on the internet by using technologies and techniques they learnt through a wide range of modules from the MSc in Information Systems Management course at NUI Galway. They setup user management and moderation facilities to combat the negative aspects of discussion forums, gathered extensive feedback during the design phase of the website and used design techniques such as card sorting, prototyping and design thinking. Akshay Oswal, Louis Queally, Paul O'Leary, Rajit Patel and Yash Paithankar are the five NUI Galway students who created the ‘PrimaryFit’ website. To view the website, visit: http://www.primaryfit.ie/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A New Wave of MedTech companies to be supported by NUI Galway’s BioExel programme, Ireland’s first accelerator programme, following the success of initial cohorts Tuesday, 17 July, 2018: Following on from the success of the initial round of BioExel programme applicants at NUI Galway in 2017-2108, the MedTech Accelerator programme is now accepting applications for the second cohort 2018-2019, with recruitment starting from 20 July to 1 September 2018. Based at NUI Galway, BioExel offers €95,000 in seed funding to successful applicants along with six-months of intensive training, mentoring, lab space and supported interactions with potential investors. The programme allows participants to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is managed by MedTech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway. Fiona Neary at NUI Galway, said: “This first cohort of BioExel candidates have an array of innovations that have grown over the months at a rapid pace, de-risking their technologies and advancing in critical areas of MedTech challenges. BioExel is key to transforming these opportunities as we deliver the next generation of investor ready, first class medical technologies to the marketplace.” The first cohort of companies to complete the 2017-2018 BioExel programme joined a showcase and celebration of Ireland’s MedTech ecosystem in Galway recently, attended by Minister for State Seán Kyne.     The six cohort of companies who have completed the BioExel programme 2017-2018: Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd. Developing diagnostic products in a new regulated generation of water quality testing. Having spun out of NUI Galway in 2017, Bioprobe Diagnostics has developed a ground-breaking technology to quickly detect Legionella bacteria in water. The water-borne bacteria can lead to the life threatening form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires Disease. Bioprobe Diagnostics’ one-step test is five times faster and 30% cheaper in direct costs than what is currently on the market. The company is currently raising funds and getting ready to launch their product in 2019. Bluedrop Medical Ltd. Predicting and preventing diabetic foot ulcers using computer vision, mapping associated complications and costs. Bluedrop Medical has developed a system for early Diabetic Foot Ulcers detection and patient compliance for health care systems. Daily temperature monitoring has been shown to prevent 70% of ulcers in three randomised controlled trials. Bluedrop Medical has incorporated this technology into a novel home based device, and linked it up with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) remote monitoring system to provide actionable alerts to clinicians, enabling early intervention to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers result in over 150,000 amputations per year in Europe. Bluedrop Medical has developed a system that can prevent 70% of them. Giant Leap Biotechnology Ltd. Designing a neuro regenerative product using cellular therapies and biomaterials delivery for spinal cord injury. GiantLeap Biotechnology is an Irish company focused on developing a veterinary therapy for spinal cord injury in canines which is estimated to be a $225 million annual market in the US. The technology has been created over a seven year research period by the founder Martin Codyre. GiantLeap Biotechnology is developing a biomaterial implant that will have protected intellectual property that combines with cells taken from the animal and implanted into the injured spinal cord. Hidramed Solutions Ltd. A wound care kit for effective management of chronic wounds, addressing patients’ unmet needs, providing comfort and adhesive free, secure dressing retention. Hidramed Solutions has developed a patentable two-part wound care kit that dramatically improves the wound care routine for patients. Of specific focus are individuals with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, (HS), a chronic debilitating skin disease. The condition is thought to be underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed, with a prevalence rate of 1-4% of the general population. The locations of the lesions makes it difficult for standard dressings to be worn comfortably and the options available are currently ineffective. Hidramed Solutions aim to transform the day-to-day comfort and quality of lives of suffers of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Immunogrow Ltd. ImmunoGrow’s New Personalised Cancer Therapy aims to simplify production, thereby reducing costs and enhancing patient safety. Adoptive cell transfer is an anti-cancer approach that enhances the natural cancer-fighting ability of the body’s cells by removing immune system cells, growing and/or making changes to them outside of the body, and then re-infusing them back into the patient. ImmunoGrow aim to simplify production, reduce costs and enhance patient safety. Today, complex manufacturing processes limit the potential of cell-based cancer immunotherapies from the bespoke, operator intensive setting of the academic research lab to a commercially viable, good manufacturing practice-compliant environment. Innunogrow has mimicked in vivo (in the body of a living organism) growth conditions for T Cells (a subtype for white blood cells) by replicating the body’s natural growth conditions. This process improves output, reduces significant risk of invalid cell product, simplifies manufacturing requirement for skilled operator input and is easily integrated into automatic cell processing platforms. CompanionQMS Ltd. CompanionQMS is a cloud-enabled, secure, and scalable solution, delivering superior document management, intelligent workflows and reporting tools in one single interface. Developing QMS bespoke quality management software exclusively for medical device companies. Research has proven the need for an easy to implement and use, competitively priced QMS software. CompanionQMS is quality management software designed for medical device companies that provides a solution to this problem. CompanionQMS will enable companies to streamline product development and compliance while setting new standards for ease of use and flexibility of design. The Western region already has a strong MedTech ecosystem and this is actively supported by the expertise and infrastructure at NUI Galway. The University is home to Ireland’s only centre for stem cell manufacturing, extensive translational and clinical facilities, biomedical sciences research laboratories, and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. This is further strengthened by NUI Galway’s expertise in funding grants, knowledge transfer, and programmes such as BioInnovate and BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, and hosted by NUI Galway. To apply please contact the BioExel team for an application form at bioexelinfo@nuigalway.ie or phone 091 493150. For more information, visit: www.bioexel.ie -Ends-

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Europlanet Consortium, a €9.95 million project funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020, has announced that it will be supporting the ‘Connacht Schools Planetary Radio Telescope Network’ through the 2018 round of its Outreach Funding Scheme, that aims to encourage new ways of bringing planetary science to audiences across Europe and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The award will fund the installation of eight dual dipole antenna radio telescopes on the grounds of rural secondary schools in counties Galway, Roscommon and Mayo. Each radio telescope, about twenty feet long, ten feet high and looking rather like two washing lines, will be used by teachers and students to observe the equivalent of the northern lights above the polar regions of the planet Jupiter. These observations will contribute to the larger network of NASA’s Radio Jove facilities used to monitor the giant planet’s active magnetosphere, observing and analysing natural radio emissions of Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy. Observations can be conducted regardless of the weather, and the low population densities around each of the schools will limit the background ‘radio-frequency interference’. Each observatory when operational will feed real-time data to a server in NUI Galway. The project leader, Dr Aaron Golden from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics in NUI Galway, explains: “Practical activities in astronomy have great potential for inspiring school students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. However, there are limited opportunities due to the need for specialised equipment and facilities, to work at unsocial hours and, of course, clear skies, certainly for optical astronomy. Radio astronomy offers a very cost effective alternative for teachers and students to participate in actual observations of radio-bright objects such as the Sun and the planet Jupiter, and be able to participate in the wider astronomical community’s study of this most fascinating of the solar system’s planets.” Participating schools in the Connacht Schools Planetary Radio Telescope Network: Scoil Muire Agus Pádraig, Swinford, Co. Mayo. Ardscoil Mhuire, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Mount St. Michael Secondary School, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Coláiste Chiaráin, Athlone, Co. Roscommon. Ballinrobe Community School, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Joseph’s Patrician College, Galway. Presentation College Headford, Co. Galway. Coláiste na Coiribe, Gaillimh. The project, along with others selected as part of the Europlanet Public Engagement Prize and Funding Scheme Showcase will be formally launched at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018 in Berlin this September. For further details visit: https://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2018/session/29978 -Ends-

Friday, 13 July 2018

A study carried out by Dr Elaine Dunleavy in the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, has uncovered an unexpected new link between genes that normally function in energy production, and male fertility. Results from the research were published today (13 July 2018) in the renowned scientific journal, Nature Communications. The study was carried out on the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, which serves as an excellent model organism in which to study gene function. In the cell, the function to produce energy is carried out in a compartment called the mitochondrion, while the genetic material (DNA) is housed in a different compartment, the nucleus. The authors identified a previously unknown and surprising role for a set of mitochondrial proteins in the nucleus. Senior author of the study, Dr Elaine Dunleavy at NUI Galway, said: “We were surprised to uncover a new nuclear function for proteins that normally function exclusively in the synthesis of ATP, the cell’s energy production. Our use of the fruit fly allowed us to carry out genetic experiments that would have been very difficult to perform in humans.” The results provide insights into how cells arrange DNA to produce the male sex cell, sperm. Dr Dunleavy found that the fruit fly was unable to arrange its DNA to produce sperm cells if it didn’t have this particular protein. In the past century, global fertility rates have reduced dramatically. Given that approximately 60% of genes found in the fruit fly are also found in humans, the findings are potentially relevant to human sperm development and fertility studies to further investigate disrupting this pathway on individuals who experience fertility problems. Professor Noel Lowndes, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: “Dr Dunleavy, our newest recruit to the Centre for Chromosome Biology, has made a surprising link between the cell’s energy production machinery and the production of sperm, which has resulted in a highly impactful publication in one of the world’s major journals. In the Centre we take advantage of simple cellular systems to discover new biology of relevance to humans and, in this case, the work of Elaine and her team will have impact in the field of human fertility.” Dr Dunleavy’s work studies the genetics of fruit flies as a way to understand human health and as a model to understand the cell division that gives rise to eggs and sperm. Her research aims to discover the genes that are important for fertility in males and females and understanding how the genes work in the fruit fly will help explain how they work in humans. To read the full study in Nature Communications, visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05093-9  For more information about the Centre for Chromosome Biology, visit: www.chromosome.ie -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

MaREI secure €4.4 million to support Ireland’s indigenous biomass and bioenergy industry The Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) has secured an additional €4.4 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partners under the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) SFI Spokes Programme, to be based at NUI Galway. Speaking at the launch Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Seán Kyne TD, said: “Climate Action has never been more important to the continued growth and prosperity of our nation as it is now. Ireland has an abundance of natural resources with enormous potential for sustainable energy output, but we need to continue to invest in more efficient technologies for harnessing this potential. I am delighted to see researchers from the SFI Research Centre, MaREI exploring new and innovative technologies to support Ireland’s ambition of meeting national environmental, energy and climate targets, as well as those set by the European Commission.” The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency research programme led by Professor Henry Curran at NUI Galway and Professor Jerry D Murphy, UCC, leverages the scientific expertise of ten of Ireland’s top academics in bioenergy research across four Universities (NUI Galway, UCC, UL, TCD) and Teagasc. The programme of work will include the technical and commercial expertise of 10 national and international companies. This four-year collaborative programme aims to identify viable routes to increase the efficient utilisation and supply of sustainable energy, and to support Ireland’s ambition to meet National and EU environmental targets. The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spoke, which is affiliated to the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and run by MaREI funded researchers, has an ambition of developing new processes, technologies and markets through the co-operation of a number of scientists from various disciplines across a number of institutes and working with 10 innovative companies to support Ireland’s energy transition. Professor Henry Curran from the School of Chemistry and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The granting of the Spoke award by SFI and the national and multi-national industry commitment endorses and strengthens the research being undertaken in sustainable energy systems by the participating universities and Teagasc.  I look forward to collaborating on world class research that will underpin the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.” Professor Murphy, Director of MaREI and head of the bioenergy research group, stated: “The benefit of the SFI Research Centres has been immense for research and innovation; Ireland now has a one-stop-shop system for research expertise that includes the best researchers across the island, coupled with the most relevant industrial partners. This removes the previous competition between researchers and enhances research impact through multi-disciplinary, multi-institute input into industrially relevant cutting edge work. This partnership will bring together the top academics and industry in bioenergy and biofuels, with an overarching ambition of meeting the national objective of decarbonising energy and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a low carbon technology.” The Spoke research teams will collaborate in developing technologies capable of converting a wide variety of residues and by-products to homogenous energy carriers and optimising performance of internal combustion engines using advanced fuels including biofuel blends. The Spoke work programme will complement existing MaREI activities in the bioenergy sector as well as adding new competencies in the area of advanced thermal treatment, combustion modelling and design. The outputs of the Spoke work programme will contribute in a measurable way toward important EU and national environmental and economic objectives in the areas of energy decarbonisation, wastewater treatment, sustainable transport, resource recovery, clean air and water, rural development and diversification of agriculture. The technologies to be advanced by the SEFE Spoke will address some of the drawbacks associated with Ireland's reliance on imported biofuels and intermittent renewables by improving the efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of power generation and transport from combustion and boosting the supply of renewable heat, which makes up 41% of Ireland’s energy consumption, as well as meeting sustainable waste management challenges. Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, Co-Director of MaREI, commented: “I am particularly enthused by the industry support for this project. Our research in MaREI is greatly enriched through the partnership we have with our industry partners. In addition to deepening our collaboration with Gas Networks Ireland, this project enables us to benefit from collaborating with a wide range of new partners including ABP Food Group, Arigna Fuels, Siemens and NVP Energy. This investment will in turn enable these industry partners to harness and benefit from the research and innovation capacity we have in MaREI.”   Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ciarán Seoighe welcomed the announcement, saying: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spokes project, which comes at a time when the need for new and innovative means to tackle climate change are sorely needed. The Spokes Programme offers a valuable means for research-active companies to align with any of the 17 SFI Research Centres and utilise the world-renowned expertise and state-of-the-art infrastructure therein. Partnerships such of this support Ireland’s drive towards an environmentally sustainable future and places us at the forefront of renewable energy research.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics recently welcomed over 80 secondary school students to its annual Business Summer School. The students were a mix of transition year, fifth year and Leaving Certificate students who had an interest in pursuing a Business Degree upon completing their final year in second level education. On the day students were greeted by speakers from the five disciplines within the School of Business and Economics, including: Dr Deirdre Curran, Management; Mairead O’Connor, Business Information Systems; Frank Conaty, Accounting; Laura Carter, Economics; and Dr Patricia McHugh, Marketing. Michael Campion also spoke to the students about the Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise module which final year Commerce students take part in. A number of engagement activities were held throughout the day including networking sessions amongst the students from different schools and counties and also team bonding activities. The aim was for students to take the first step in getting to know people and make connections, which is crucial in business. Lisa Hynes, event organiser and member of the Marketing and Student Recruitment team at J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, said: “This year’s Business Summer School was another huge success with students attending from across Ireland and also two students from Spain. Not only was it great to give these secondary school students a glimpse into the study of Commerce but it was also fantastic to welcome them onto campus and give them a sense of life at University. It was great to see the ease at which these students mingled and networked with each other, which is a true sign of successful business students! We are looking forward to the Business Summer School 2019 and have already commenced planning.” For students interested in finding out more about studying Business at NUI Galway contact business@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Research to investigate a yet unknown mechanism that guides specialised cells to revert to unspecialised stem cells that directly contribute to tissue regeneration Professor Uri Frank from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway has received an Investigator Award through the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Partnership, for his research into the ‘Mechanisms that induce dedifferentiation to drive regeneration in the absence of stem cells.’ The study will address the mechanisms that are activated following tissue and organ loss, driving specialised cells in the body, like muscle cells and neurons, to exit their status and become unspecialised stem cells. These stem cells can then contribute to the regeneration of lost body parts. Since humans and other mammals have poor capabilities to regenerate, these experiments will be performed on Hydractinia, a native Irish marine invertebrate, closely related to jellyfish, sea anemones, and corals. Like many of its kin (collectively known as cnidarians), Hydractinia can regenerate any lost body part, including the head, and is easy to maintain and manipulate in the laboratory. Professor Frank’s team discovered that Hydractinias, which normally regenerate by using resident stem cells, can activate a ‘plan B’ to regenerate in the absence of stem cells. A yet unknown mechanism guides specialised cells to revert to unspecialised stem cells that directly contribute to tissue regeneration and the research funded by Wellcome aims to identify this mechanism. All animals, humans and jellyfish included, are related, having descended from a single common ancestor. Therefore, they share many genetic and cellular mechanisms. Hydractinia's stem cells should be very similar to their human counterparts, and studying them may provide information on human stem cells and help develop new strategies to be used in regenerative medicine. Speaking about his SFI-HRB-Wellcome Partnership award, Professor Uri Frank, a developmental biologist from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: “This funding will allow us to study the molecular mechanisms that drive decision-making in cells.” Professor Noel Lowndes, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: “This large and highly prestigious award makes it a total of four Wellcome funded researchers based in NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology. Professor Frank now joins Professor Brian McStay (Investigator Award), Dr Elaine Dunleavy (Research Career Development Award) and Professor Ciaran Morrison (Seed Award) as Wellcome Trust Awardees.” Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to partner with the HRB and Wellcome to co-fund research that can bring significant societal benefit to Ireland. Professor Uri’s work is a prime example of this. The SFI-HRB Wellcome Biomedical Partnership Awards demonstrate what can be achieved through collaboration between funding agencies that share a common ambition of supporting impactful research.” The Centre for Chromosome Biology is the leading unit in Ireland for fundamental research into the structure of chromosomes and how they are replicated, repaired and segregated during cell division. This award is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board under the SFI-HRB Wellcome Research Partnership. For more information about the Centre for Chromosome Biology, visit: http://www.chromosome.ie Videos of Professor Uri Frank’s research: Stem cell migration towards an injury site in the cnidarian Hydractinia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ4mPgFxR8Q Hydractinia polyps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZVDLVRL13c Appearance of stem cells in a Hydractinia embryo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbnDhp_xEzw -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Study will focus on service utilisation for both the carer and the person with dementia and will investigate the type of supports required and valued in the period following a diagnosis Monday, 9 July, 2018: The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway are leading the first ever study in Ireland looking at supports and services available for people with dementia and their families following a recent diagnosis. The study aims to recruit informal carers from Kerry, often family members, who are providing regular care and support to a loved one diagnosed with dementia in 2017 or 2018. There are an estimated 2,160 people with dementia living in Kerry, many of whom are living at home supported by a family member or friend. It is not known how many of these have a diagnosis or at what stage they receive diagnosis. Carers may feel uncertain following the diagnosis of a loved one with dementia. The study is focused on identifying the most important services and supports at different stages of the illness. The results of the study will inform policy in relation to the supports and services that need to be in place to help carers and people with a recent diagnosis of dementia to deal with uncertainty and plan for future care needs. The aim of the study is to inform practice and policy regarding services and supports required by carers and people with dementia in the period following a dementia diagnosis and how these needs change over time. The primary focus is on post-diagnostic supports for people with dementia and their principal caregiver. The person receiving care must have received a diagnosis of dementia, or probable dementia, since January 2017. Dr Patricia Carney, a Health Economist at the Centre for Economic and Social Research at NUI Galway who is leading the study, said: “New investment in dementia care must reflect the preferences and needs of both the person with dementia and their informal carer. Carers require more tangible and practical supports to allow them do the job that most love doing. The consequences of not supporting them will be significant for people with dementia and for society. This study has the capacity and potential to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers’ in Ireland, especially in the time following diagnosis.” Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia in NUI Galway, said: “Carers play a crucial role in looking after people with dementia and we need to know much more about their needs and preferences for different kinds of services and supports.” If you provide regular support or care to a person recently diagnosed with dementia and want to participate in the study or find out more please email Dr Patricia Carney at DemCarer@nuigalway.ie or call Patricia on 086 0230772. To participate in the study visit: www.nuigalway.ie/dementiacare/ -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

Following the recent increase in lion’s mane jellyfish sightings and stings experienced by swimmers across parts of Ireland, jellyfish research experts from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway and UCC have issued the following information. If you are stung, the Irish Water Safety authority recommends that you rinse the affected area copiously with seawater and apply a cold pack. You must seek medical attention at the nearest emergency department if you are  Research published by NUI Galway in the international journal Toxins in 2017 showed that the best first aid treatment for a lion’s mane sting is to rinse with vinegar (or the commercial product Sting No More® spray) to remove tentacles, and then immerse in 45°C (113°F) hot water (or apply a heat pack) for 40 minutes. Dr Doyle will meet with the Beaumont Poison Centre at Beamount Hospital Dublin to discuss these findings in the next few weeks. The lion’s mane jellyfish is a large jellyfish (up to 1 metre bell diameter) with thousands of long tentacles located beneath the bell. In Irish and UK waters, lion’s mane jellyfish can be encountered from June until late September. It is one of the least abundant jellyfish in Irish and UK waters, typically occurring as single individuals rather than in blooms or aggregations. Despite being one of the least abundant jellyfish, relatively high densities of large lion’s mane jellyfish have been recorded close to high population areas in recent weeks, and therefore stings have been a recurrent concern. Five people have now been hospitalised after being stung. Jasmine Headlam, PhD and Fullbright Researcher from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, says: “We often see lion’s mane jellyfish on the east coast, where the water is cooler, around hotspots like the Forty Foot diving area in Dun Laoghaire and popular beaches like Bettystown, Co. Meath and Clogherhead, Co. Louth. In the last few weeks we’ve had reports of large adult lion’s mane from the west coast in places like Salthill, Kinvara, Carna and Oranmore in Galway as well as Newquay in Clare and even Cork harbour. We urge sea swimmers and coastal visitors to report any sightings with photographs if possible to the National Biodiversity Data Centre website and the Big Jellyfish Hunt Facebook page. “Lion’s mane stings, though not generally considered fatal, can cause a lot of pain. Stings from large lion’s mane can be particularly dangerous, as the thousands of thin tentacles can each extend to several meters long. Initially, a sting may result in itching or localised pain that may radiate to other areas of the body, potentially progressing to severe pain within 20 minutes or more. In some cases, stings can result in Irukandji-like syndrome. This syndrome, named after a type of box jellyfish, can involve symptoms including back pain, nausea, abdominal cramps, sweating and hypertension.” Dr Tom Doyle, zoology lecturer at UCC’s school of biological, earth and environmental sciences, added: “Lion’s mane are spreading geographically, with sightings in the Celtic Sea and Atlantic waters in recent weeks. It is not correct to say this is the first time they have been spotted on the west coast, as we had reports for the last two years, but they are particularly large and mature. The typical jellyfish lives in the water column for six to eight months, having been released as a juvenile in December, but we believe these jellyfish may have over-wintered and may be on their second season.” Jasmine Headlam will travel to Hawaii in 2019, as a Fulbright Marine-Institute awardee, to investigate the venom of the lion’s mane jellyfish in state of the art facilities with Dr Yanagihara at University of Hawaii at Manoa. -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

NUI Galway-based medical device spin-out company, Loci Orthopaedics have announced today the closing of a €2.75 million seed round investment to commercialise a new orthopaedic joint implant for a common but crippling joint condition. Loci Orthopaedics is an independent leader in the development of a potentially life-changing, ergonomic, and clinically evidence-based solution to address the increasing unmet clinical need for thumb base joint arthritis. The company is developing the InDx Implant to meet this need and access a market estimated at over €550 million per annum. Arthritis of the thumb base joint causes significant functional impairment of the hand. Those with this condition are either restricted in, or often lose the ability to perform, everyday tasks such as using a mobile phone, turning keys in a door, and even writing due to increasingly severe pain. This unmet clinical need was identified by the co-founders of the company, Dr Brendan Boland a clinician, and Mr Gerry Clarke a medical device industry veteran with over 40 years medical device experience, while they were Fellows on the BioInnovate Ireland Programme, which is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. During this programme, Brendan and Gerry were based in UCC and undertook several hundred hours of clinical monitoring in Cork University hospitals to identify hundreds of unmet clinical needs, from which the surgical management of thumb base joint arthritis stood out as a particularly significant unmet need with a large affected patient population. Enterprise Ireland funded the development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. 5% of the population suffer severe thumb base arthritis. This equates to over 40 million people in the US and EU with significant symptoms. This condition is most common in those aged over 65. As the population of the US and EU ages, the number affected by this debilitating condition is set to increase dramatically in the next 15 years. There are more than 200,000 surgical procedures carried out each year in the EU and the US combined for severe thumb base arthritis. Due to the lack of a reliable and clinically satisfactory solution, there is a wide gap between symptomatic patients and patients currently progressing to surgery, demonstrating the substantial growth potential for new therapy solutions. The total current total addressable surgical market for thumb base arthritis procedures in the US and EU is estimated at over $600 million per annum. This market size is set to increase further due to several concurrent market growth drivers, such as an aging population, an increase in those most affected, and a lack of tolerance of poor hand function. This funding will provide financing for 24 months and will be used to advance product development in preparation for clinical trials, initiation of US commercialisation, initiation of EU regulatory approval, clinical follow-up and regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr Brendan Boland, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Loci Orthopaedics, said: “Securing this seed round funding will put Loci Orthopaedics firmly on track to achieve the short and medium-term goals required towards getting this product to market to relieve the daily suffering of many patients.” Mr Gerry Clarke, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Loci Orthopaedics, said: “Thumb base arthritis has a huge impact on the quality of life, and on the independence of patients as they age. Can you imagine having pain on simple day to day tasks such as turning keys in a door, opening a jar, or using your phone? This is the prospect faced by millions of people who are restricted in their daily activities and enjoyment of life. It is these patients we want to help, by bringing the first evidence-based implant design to market for this common but disabling condition.” The Loci Orthopaedics team have been working with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons and have used their most cutting-edge research as the basis for the implant design. These surgeons based in Stanford University, Brown University and KU Leuven in Belgium are key-opinion leaders in this area of orthopaedic medicine. The InDx Implant is the only implant that can fully mimic the natural but complex motions of the thumb joint as it provides two points of rotation that can move both concurrently and independently of each other while enabling the joint to move in all six degrees of freedom. The device is also easier to insert and less invasive than any currently available surgical treatment option for this condition. As a result, the InDx Implant will provide excellent clinical outcomes and decrease the risk of surgical and clinical complications. The device offers an exciting new, patient-sensitive treatment option to patients and surgeons and has been designed in conjunction with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons ensuring all end-user requirements are met. Alan Hobbs, Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up Manager, commented: “Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support Loci Orthopaedics, a High Potential Start-Up driving innovation in medcare. Loci are a great example of a market led innovative company addressing unmet medical needs and a substantial market opportunity. We congratulate them and look forward to continue working with them to achieve their global ambitions.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “The founders have strong Intellectual Property and have amassed a world class team around them. We are confident that this combination will enable them to progress quickly in this next phase of their journey. We congratulate Loci Orthopaedics on reaching this important milestone.”  Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Loci Orthopaedics close a €2.75 million seed round investment. This funding will enable them to commercialise their InDx Implant device that will considerably improve patients’ lives. This is a significant step in getting this device to those who need it. The mission of BioInnovate Ireland is to grow the indigenous Medtech sector through dedicated training in medical device innovation. BioInnovate Ireland supports fellows to identify unmet needs in different clinical areas through a dedicated fellowship programme which is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. The success of Loci Orthopaedics signifies the importance of identifying such unmet clinical needs.” Preliminary research indicates that this device design may also have clinical indications in other small joints of the hands and feet, as well as other joints with complex biomechanics such as the shoulder and elbow. The €2.75 million funding is provided by a combination of institutions comprising of: the investment arm of KU Leuven University in Belgium, which was recently ranked by Forbes as Europe’s most innovative university, Enterprise Ireland and the Western Development Commission. These institutions are complemented by some MedTech industry veterans. For more information about Loci Orthopaedics, visit: www.lociorthopaedics.com -Ends-