Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Online trial of pain self-management programme ‘Pain Course’ is recruiting adults in Ireland living with chronic pain   The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting people with chronic pain (pain that has lasted for 3 months or more) to take part in a trial of the ‘Pain Course’, a free online pain self-management programme. The study offers adults living with chronic pain the opportunity to avail of this eight-week Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy course, in the comfort of their own home. The ‘Pain Course’ was developed by a team of experts at MacQuarie University in Sydney, Australia. The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the research team at MacQuarie University, is conducting a research trial of the ‘Pain Course’ with adults who experience chronic pain and live in Ireland. As many people with chronic pain are unable to access specialist pain management services, this course provides people with a programme that teaches them about and how to manage chronic pain, with clinician telephone support, in their own home. Living with chronic pain is very challenging and people affected by it can also struggle with anxiety and depression for very understandable reasons. Chronic pain can significantly disrupt a person’s life. The ‘Pain Course’ provides good information and teaches practical skills such as Thought Challenging, Activity Pacing, and Controlled Breathing, to help manage the impact of pain on a person’s day-to-day activities, feelings of well-being and overall quality of life. A pilot study that examined the acceptability of the ‘Pain Course’ among a small group of adults with chronic pain in Ireland found that most participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the course. Increased understanding of their pain condition and Thought Challenging were identified as being particularly helpful features of the course. All participants found the programme to be worthwhile and would recommend it to others. Feedback was predominantly positive: “I have learned the basics about chronic pain.” “Having this information and using the skills delivered in the course, I find that I think about everything in a different way now.” “The course showed me that I am not alone.” Professor Brian McGuire from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “This important collaboration with colleagues at MacQuarie University who have developed a broad range of online treatment programmes, will enable us to help people in Ireland to have increased access to effective treatment to manage the impact of chronic pain.” Catherine Navin, a clinical psychologist at NUI Galway who coordinates the study, said: “Over 1,000 Australians have completed the Pain Course with very encouraging results and we are hopeful that adults with chronic pain in Ireland will similarly benefit from this treatment.” The study will take place over the coming months. General Practitioners, physiotherapists and psychologists are also encouraged to refer suitable people with chronic pain to the study.  Participants can register at: www.nuigalway.ie/centre-for-pain-research/current-studies -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The EU has given funding of €2.5 million, to an NUI Galway spin-out which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Westway Health was set up in 2012 to commercialise a breakthrough antimicrobial technology developed in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. Since its inception, the company has won multiple awards and is bringing to market a product for use in the dairy sector, based on its patented technology. Its novel antimicrobial technologies have a range of applications beyond animal health, including human health and environmental sterilisation, and the funding will be used to advance the development of the company's lead product in development for the treatment of bovine mastitis. The World Health Organisation has said antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. It has pointed out that organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections. Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO of Westway Health, explains further: “The growing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now described as a ‘ticking time bomb’. This could return healthcare to a pre-antibiotic era, where common infections can become fatal. Our solutions are proving effective against all microorganisms we have tested, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.” Westway Health’s innovative approach has been to find an alternative to antibiotics. “The genesis of the idea was knowing that there are other ways to kill bacteria like MRSA. This is done every day around the world using disinfectants for example, or through steam cleaning. What we have been able to develop is a new method of killing bacteria which does not harm living tissue. Our solution is based on a combination of compounds inspired by nature, and if we can develop and scale our solution we believe we can help tackle this global challenge of antibiotic-resistance. Based in NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, Westway Health’s lead product in development is PanaMast™ LC, a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows, with a further product, PanaMast™ DC, for treatment of dry cows in the company product pipeline, collectively a billion-euro market. Speaking about Westway Health’s prospects, Dr Ruairi Friel added: “Our trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from farmers is positive.” The company has specifically focused on the treatment and prevention of bovine mastitis (infection of the udder) which is a major health and economic issue, costing the dairy industry in the EU and US over €3 billion a year. Conventional antibiotics are currently used to treat mastitis. However, this solution has poor treatment outcomes, leading to culling of cows and lost milk revenues, as milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment. Westway Health’s product, PanaMast, is the first non-antibiotic solution meaning farmers can continue to sell milk during and following treatment.  As up to 80% of dairy cows exhibit some signs of infections at some stage each year, this will have a major impact on the bottom line of farmers and milk producers. In 2013, the company won the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn Competition and secured a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Award in 2016. -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

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, 23 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 17-22 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. To apply for the Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam please visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ Those interested in the revision maths course should visit  http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexaminationpreparatorycourse/    for further details. -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 23 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 17-22 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 céime 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 iarratas a dhéanamh ar an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta téigh chuig: http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ Ba chóir do dhaoine ar spéis leo an cúrsa ullmhúcháin a dhéanamh dul chuig  http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexaminationpreparatorycourse/ chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil. -Críoch-

Friday, 11 August 2017

CÚRAM PhD Candidate Publishes New Research on Modified Implantable Electrode Devices Used in Deep Brain Stimulation Catalina Vallejo, a PhD candidate at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently published the results of her work in the prestigious journal Advanced Functionalised Materials (AFM). Ms Vallejo’s research focuses on the modification of implantable electrode systems to improve their performance when used, for example, in neural recording and in deep brain stimulation in patients with neurological disease such as dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. This research provides a useful benchmark for anodization conditions for further studies with neural microelectrodes, micropatterning, and biochemical functionalisation. Catalina Vallejo’s research has shown that anodization offers the ability to modify ITO films and may provide an easier approach to the generation of electrode coatings with differential regions of charge conductance and cellular function capacities. It can be hypothesized that anodization with varying current densities may be employed to deposit insulator and charge carrier regions on a single electrode system, providing cytocompatible and functional coatings for implantable thin-film ITO devices. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting stimulating electrodes into the brain. Catalina’s work explored the development of a coating for these electrodes, using a bench-top electrochemical process to formulate anodized indium tin oxide (ITO) films with altered roughness, conducting profiles, and thickness. In addition, Ms Vallejo examined the influence of these anodized films on neural cell adhesion, proliferation, and function, and showed that the compatibility of the coating with brain tissue can be altered by varying the anodization current density. She also showed how the films produced with a specific current density, increased primary neural cell survival, modulation of glial scar formation, and promotion of neural network activity when in situ in the brain. The modification of implantable electrodes for neural stimulation has been a major focus of neural engineering over the past five years. “A common occurrence following electrode implantation is the formation of a glial ‘scar’ around the implant”, explains Catalina. “This can accelerate neural loss, increase the barriers to the flow of the electrical signal to where it’s needed in the brain and so compromises the efficacy of a stimulating/recording system in the brain. My research aimed to develop a way to improve the efficacy of these devices, resulting in a better outcome for patients.” Traditionally, chemically inert conductors such as gold, platinum, and iridium, as well as semiconductors such as silicon, have been widely employed as electrode systems in both clinical and research settings. Recently, however, non-metallic electrically conducting biomaterials, including inherently conducting polymers and polymer composites have been explored as neuroelectrode alternatives in an effort to promote chronic functionality and enhanced biocompatibility. Catalina’s journey through her PhD was not without its challenges. “During my first year, I was learning the basics of electrochemistry and electrodeposition and I initially intended on making electrodeposited conducting polymer films onto the surface of the ITO. I was using a very old Potentiostat, a Princeton Applied Research electrochemical Potentiostat / Galvanostat model 263A running Verastudio software. After almost a full years work, I came to understand that Potentiostat had reversed the electrode configuration/connections. This resulted in the anodization of the ITO films and not in the electrodeposition of the conducting polymer – the opposite of what I wanted to achieve.” Commenting on Catalina’s work, Dr Manus Biggs, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM said: “Catalina is extremely dedicated and at the time the ITO process was confusing, frustrating and quite demotivating for her, but in the end we have learned a lot from this. A research career is full of enlightening errors, and this process was crucial in helping to illuminate some of the bases of her work in conducting polymers, and eventually resulted in the development of a process to formulate these anodized ITO films.” Congratulating Catalina on her work, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said: “Ultimately, what we are trying to do at CÚRAM is to improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses through the development of new and enhanced implants and devices. It’s fantastic to see how our PhD candidates are contributing significantly to the knowledge base in this area.” To read the full paper entitled ‘Preparation of Cytocompatible ITO Neuroelectrodes with Enhanced Electrochemical Characteristics Using a Facile Anodic Oxidation Process’ in the Advanced Functionalised Materials journal, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adfm.201605035/abstract -Ends-

Monday, 14 August 2017

Charity renews its call for a specific family homelessness strategy following an independent research report carried out by NUI Galway and TCD Focus Ireland welcomed a new independent research report on the difficulties faced by families that are homeless in accessing healthy food and having normal family meals. The report, which was jointly funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and the Department of Health, was carried out by Marita Hennessy at NUI Galway and Dr Michelle Share, who is an internationally recognised expert on food poverty and a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. The new report entitled Food Access and Nutritional Health among Families in Emergency Homeless Accommodation, outlined the negative impact food poverty has on the health and wellbeing of children living in emergency homeless accommodation in Dublin. The Food Report was launched by the Director of Investigations at the Ombudsman for Children, Nuala Ward. Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy in Focus Ireland said: “This report highlights the enormous difficulties faced by the over 1,000 families that are homeless and living in emergency accommodation. But it is also a very positive and forward looking report, setting out useful guidelines and standards which should inform the development of the new Family Homeless Hubs. It also clearly sets out the answer for these families must be homes of their own.” Focus Ireland managed the commissioning and publication of the report on behalf of the DCYA and Department of Health. The research outlines parents’ daily struggle to provide healthy meals for their children and themselves due to the challenging circumstances of living on very low incomes in emergency homeless accommodation.  Mr Allen said: “This research highlights the complex issues arising in trying to support families that are homeless. It reinforces Focus Ireland’s call for a specific homeless sub-strategy for families, with a cast-iron commitment families will not spend more than 6 months in emergency accommodation.” The Food Report highlighted the lack of access to cooking and storage facilities, it has led to families supplementing their diets with noodles, instant pasta, chicken and chips and pizza. The research included detailed interviews with ten parents living in emergency homeless accommodation and also six service providers involved in the provision of health and social services for people who are homeless.   The study sought to explore the food situation for these families and to make recommendations for policy-makers and front-line service providers to help improve food security, health and well-being among families who are homeless. The parents interviewed spoke of huge difficulties finding healthy meals for their children due to restricted times of access to kitchen facilities, communal eating facilities and a lack of storage facilities and utensils for food. The research has found that regimented meal times and the constrained food provision conditions in homeless accommodation services negatively influence children’s dietary intake. Dr Michelle Share from TCD explained: “It’s not just about food and nutrition: families have to rely on takeaways and convenience foods. It makes it harder for children to develop good eating habits as they have to eat in socially unacceptable circumstances, like dining on the bed, or on the floor, lined up at a counter and sometimes even under CCTV surveillance. “They get used to dining in communal settings or with tourists - rather than as a family around their own table. All of this means a loss of dignity. On a practical level it can inhibit other important parts of children’s lives such as free play and completing homework.” The research found that all families interviewed shared a bedroom, and just one of the ten families surveyed were provided with breakfast and dinner in their emergency accommodation. All parents highlighted that their children’s food was a priority for them and that they went to considerable efforts in challenging circumstances to provide for them. This was clearly shown by parents who always tried to provide fruit for their children to ensure they received vitamins.  The key recommendations of the research include: Rules and regulations in relation to the use of kitchens and eating facilities across all emergency accommodation for families need to be flexible to meet the different routines and need for privacy for families and to help avoid ‘institutionalisation’ arising from extended stays in emergency accommodation. All emergency accommodation must provide a kitchen table in a private and appropriately sized space. The challenges families face in the preparation of nutritious meals are primarily due to practical barriers and restricted facilities, rather than any lack of awareness of healthy eating. All emergency accommodation must provide a kitchen table in a private and appropriately-sized space. The challenges families face in the preparation of nutritious meals are primarily due to practical barriers and restricted facilities, rather than any lack of awareness of healthy eating. A set of standards in relation to any premises defined as family emergency accommodation. While the Department of Housing and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) have emphasised the range of improved facilities that will be available in Family Hubs, no standard framework has been published to set out minimum standards to apply to the operation of Hubs. Rebuilding Ireland should outline this. Emergency accommodation must be a temporary measure. No matter what improvements are made in the physical quality and access to services in emergency accommodation, living there still has a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of family members. Over time, poor nutrition can lead to a decline in general health and mental health of families. The most effective improvement in the provision of emergency accommodation is to ensure that it is for the shortest time possible, through the provision of secure and affordable homes. Focus Ireland’s family team works hard with Dublin Region Homeless Executive to support families and children who are homeless. The Focus Ireland Advice and Information services based in Dublin and elsewhere are funded by a range of statutory and non-statutory funders. The service plays a vital role in preventing families and individuals becoming homeless. This new report comes at a time of change in the policy guiding the provision of family emergency homeless accommodation as up to 600 families are due to be moved into family hub accommodation. The DRHE has indicated that family hubs will feature permanent on-site support services (in some cases 24/7) and access to cooking and laundry facilities. Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The report underlined the fact that the longer the stays in emergency accommodation, the more difficult it can be for families to move on from homelessness to independent living. We are repeating our call for a dedicated sub-strategy to address family homelessness that includes a target of supporting all families out of homelessness within six months and also providing a range of supports to avert the potentially devastating effects on the children involved.” To read the full report, visit: http://bit.ly/2vUlpCM -Ends-

Monday, 14 August 2017

NUI Galway has relaunched its iPoints app, addressing the new Common Points Scale, which is now in effect for all Leaving Certificate students.  The app will allow Leaving Certificate students to quickly and easily calculate their points when they receive their exam results and is available through iTunes for both iPhone and iPad. The NUI Galway iPoints app is available for all iPhone and iPad users on the iTunes store now www.tinyurl.com/NUIGalwayApp  The app calculates the number of points attained in each subject, in line with the revised Common Points Scale, and indicates the total. The app calculates 25 additional points to be added for Higher Maths if relevant, and allows for Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) scores to be included. The app also gives students the option to share their results by text message, or through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, if they wish. Commenting on the app, Stephen O’Dea, Admissions Officer at NUI Galway said: “Unlike the old Leaving Certificate points, the new Common Points Scale is designed to minimise the impact of random points’ allocation as fewer individuals will end up with the same score. This has been achieved by using a non-linear scale. The downside of this of course is the points awarded for individual grades are slightly less memorable than before. As it’s the first year of operation, many will be unfamiliar with the new scale so the iPoints app will offer Leaving Certificate students an easy way to quickly calculate their total score.” ___________________________________________________ Déanann OÉ Gaillimh an aip iPoints a athsheoladh chun teacht leis an gComhscála Pointí nua don Ardteistiméireacht Tá an aip iPoints athsheolta ag OÉ Gaillimh, ag tabhairt san áireamh an Comhscála Pointí nua, atá i bhfeidhm anois do gach scoláire Ardteistiméireachta.  Tabharfaidh an aip deis do scoláirí Ardteistiméireachta a gcuid pointí a ríomh go tapa agus go héasca nuair a fhaigheann siad a gcuid torthaí scrúdaithe agus tá sé ar fáil ar iTunes don iPhone agus don iPad. Tá aip iPoints OÉ Gaillimh ar fáil do gach úsáideoir iPhone agus iPad sa siopa iTunes anois www.tinyurl.com/NUIGalwayApp Ríomhann an aip líon na bpointí a bhaintear amach i ngach ábhar, ag teacht leis an gComhscála Pointí leasaithe, agus tugann sé an t-iomlán. Ríomhann an aip 25 pointe breise don Mhatamaitic Ardleibhéil más cuí, agus cuimsíonn sé na scóir do Ghairmchlár na hArdteistiméireachta (GCAT). Tugann an aip deis do mhic léinn chomh maith a gcuid torthaí a roinnt ar theachtaireacht téacs, nó ar na meáin shóisialta cosúil le Facebook agus Twitter, más mian leo sin a dhéanamh. Ag labhairt dó faoin aip dúirt Stephen O’Dea, Oifigeach Iontrála in OÉ Gaillimh: “Ní hionann agus seanchóras pointí na hArdteistiméireachta, tá an Comhscála Pointí nua leagtha amach chun tionchar leithdháileadh randamach na bpointí a laghdú mar ní bheidh an oiread céanna daoine ag fáil an líon céanna pointí. Bainfear é seo amach trí scála neamhlíneach a úsáid. Is é an míbhuntáiste a bhaineann leis seo ar ndóigh ná nach bhfuil sé chomh héasca cuimhneamh ar na pointí a bhronntar do na gráid ar leith is a bhí cheana.  Ós rud é gurb é seo an chéad bhliain don chóras seo, beidh go leor daoine nach bhfuil ar an eolas faoin scála nua agus mar sin is bealach éasca é an aip iPoints ag scoláirí Ardteistiméireachta a scór iomlán a ríomh.” -Críoch- 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Health Research Board awards promising researchers including NUI Galway biostatistician whose work will start with interventions targeting heart disease and stroke  The new HRB Emerging Investigator Awards announced this week by the Health Research Board, will enable researchers at the mid stage of their career to shift gear to become independent investigators. The HRB is investing €8.3 million through this scheme to support researchers who have demonstrated real promise as they take their first step to research independence. Award recipients include Dr John Ferguson, a Senior Research Fellow in Biostatistics at the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway for his research in the area of population health research and public health, which studies determinants of health and disease with the goal of identifying interventions that promote health and reduce the burden of disease.  Dr Ferguson’s research involves deciding on an appropriate intervention that mandates a prior forecast of the intervention’s effect on disease. The proposed project will develop methods for estimating the long-term effects on disease prevalence for any planned disease intervention. The methods will initially be developed for interventions targeting stroke, but will later be extended to several other diseases. Speaking about the award, Dr John Ferguson said: “My research methods will allow more accurate predictions of the effect of population health interventions - for instance how a successful promotion of daily exercise might affect the prevalence and incidence of heart disease and stroke as well as better estimate risk factor burden. The HRB Emerging Investigator Award will help to develop my career as a researcher working on the joint interface between statistics, medicine and population health.” According to Mairead O Driscoll, Interim CEO at the Health Research Board: “What set these successful individuals apart was their diversity and ability to multitask. Their challenge now is to build their research team, advance their research programmes, foster collaborations and leverage funding to build a sustainable research programme.  Everyone is well qualified for the challenge.” The HRB will support these investigators for four years with a maximum of €800,000 including the investigators’ salary and support for research staff. Areas that will benefit from this investment include: Health Economics Biostatistics Immunology Respiratory Medicine Pharmacology Neurology and Neuroscience Psychology Molecular and Cellular Biology Health Services Research. Successful individuals will be recognised as principle investigators in their institutions, As well as doing research that would ultimately improve people’s health, or positively influence policy or practice; they will also be expected to act as mentors and work well in collaboration with other disciplines. -Ends-

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Three clinical fellows have been appointed to NUI Galway in first intake of ICAT programme The Wellcome-HRB Irish Clinical Academic Training Programme (ICAT) has welcomed its first intake of fellows at an induction event, held recently at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Three of the eight ICAT fellows have been appointed to NUI Galway. The eight fellows, from a range of clinical specialties, including Psychiatry, Infectious Diseases, Endocrinology, Dermatology, Nephrology and Public Health Medicine, were appointed after a rigorous selection process and have now commenced their integrated academic and specialist clinical training. Several leaders in Irish research including Professor Louise Kenny from the INFANT Centre in Cork, Professor Jose Bengoechea from the Centre for Experimental Medicine in Belfast and Professor Orla Sheils from the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute presented at the induction event, along with clinician academics who spoke about their varied career paths. At the core of the event was the opportunity for the ICAT fellows to introduce themselves and their research interests, and analyse their training needs with mentors. ICAT organises several events throughout the year for the fellows, including an annual scientific retreat and monthly meetings hosted by each participating academic institution across Ireland. Dr Conall Dennedy, Director of the Wellcome-HRB ICAT Programme and Senior Lecturer in Therapeutics at NUI Galway, said: “This year has seen three ICAT fellows embark upon their academic careers at NUI Galway. We look forward to working with them and supporting them in the coming years. For prospective applicants, ICAT provides a fantastic opportunity and is a well-supported programme with an important integrated training approach to foster the skills and excellence of emerging clinician scientists at specialist registrar level across the island of Ireland.”  The fellows embark on the first year of the programme in their institution of choice (NUI Galway, TCD, RCSI, UCC, UCD or QUB). Fellows use this year to design and conduct a mini-project, access a large curriculum of educational modules and develop PhD projects with ICAT supervisors, selected for their research excellence. ICAT fellows will spend 70% of their time in clinical training in year one. Following the development of their PhD proposals, ICAT fellows will register for a full-time three-year PhD. ICAT fellows will benefit from continuing mentorship throughout the programme, up to completion of their PhD and clinical training to Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training. Other partners in ICAT include the Wellcome Trust, the Health Research Board, the Health Service Executive National Doctors Training and Planning, the Health and Social Care Research and Development in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency and the Forum of Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies. The ICAT Programme is coordinated by Molecular Medicine Ireland.  The next call for applications to ICAT will open in September 2017. More information about the programme structure and how to apply can be found at: www.icatprogramme.org  -Ends-  

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pioneering project to determine the potential of a synthetic product to advance the study and treatment of respiratory disease CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Factor Bioscience, a US based biotechnology SME that is pioneering nucleic-acid and cell-based technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease, including respiratory disease. This is the US company’s first collaboration in Ireland. The project goal is to determine the translational potential of a synthetic product from Factor Bioscience for use in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS often affects the elderly and occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs in the lungs and prevents them from filling with enough air. This means less oxygen is available to reach the bloodstream which deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function properly. ARDS typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries, and many people who develop ARDS don’t survive. Those who do can experience lasting damage to their lungs. “Factor engages in research collaborations to advance and deploy our technologies as quickly and broadly as possible”, says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “We are an early-stage biotechnology company based in the Boston area with an Irish subsidiary, and we are looking to grow our operations in Ireland. By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field, which will hopefully allow us to progress much faster in finding a better solution for patients suffering from ARDS. Currently we are developing synthetic protein-encoding RNA therapeutics using our patented and patent-pending chemistries and sequences. In the near term, we are interested in expanding our technology in the area of delivering these therapeutics to various tissues and organs in the body.” Dr Daniel O'Toole, a CÚRAM collaborator in the School of Medicine will coordinate the collaborative laboratory research at NUI Galway, said: “Factor Bioscience has an exciting panel of innovative and highly promising therapeutics that we feel have real potential to address unmet clinical needs. We’re looking forward to developing and testing these for treatment of a range of inflammatory and infectious diseases.” CÚRAM is working to develop a positive, long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and both clinical and economic needs have to be met. CÚRAM’s goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. The project was developed following an introduction to both partners, facilitated by IDA Ireland in Boston. “I am delighted to have been able to make the introduction between CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience and to hear it has resulted in an exciting new research partnership”, said Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of IDA Ireland, Boston. “Making connections and facilitating introductions between companies and third-level institutions and research centres is a key function of IDA Ireland, we try to ensure the necessary skills, experience and research capabilities exist to drive their business forward.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “Key to our success is our collaboration with industry partners to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application. Through collaborations such as these we can strengthen the R&D capability in Ireland to support the growth of a vibrant start up community within the MedTech ecosystem.” -Ends-

Monday, 31 July 2017

CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre documentary highlights the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre are pleased to announce Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes as the recipient of the 2017 Science on Screen Commission.  Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes is a half-hour documentary directed by Hugh Rodgers and produced by both Anna Rodgers and Zlata Filipovic of Invisible Thread Films. The film captures the health system’s fight to treat the rising number of diabetic patients, and highlights this troubling epidemic facing our population, as well as following the personal stories of young people who are living with diabetes and their daily struggle to manage it. Over the course of the documentary, as a backdrop to these personal stories, we also discover the groundbreaking research and development in pharmacology and biomedical science, capturing the important work of CÚRAM’s Professor David Brayden and his team at UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, where they are developing new ways of delivering insulin to the body. The documentary gives an insight into the treatment and management of diabetes through expert clinicians such as Professor Seán Dineen from NUI Galway, Dr Derek O’Keeffe (UL) and Mary Clara O’Hara, Galway University Hospital who run special weekly clinics for young people, helping them to manage their condition. The award of €35,000 for the Science on Screen commission is funded by CÚRAM, and is helping to establish Ireland as a global hub of research expertise in medical device technology. CÚRAM aims to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases and radically improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic illness. The Science on Screen commission scheme was first piloted in 2016 with the support of Science Foundation Ireland and resulted in the production of two documentaries Feats Of Modest Valour and Mending Legends by CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre. Both documentaries were premiered in November 2016 in Galway and have gone on to be screened at the Galway Film Fleadh and are due to be broadcast nationally on both RTÉ and TV3 in 2017. Hugh Rodgers is an award-winning Director based in Dublin. In 2016 he directed The Story of Yes, a documentary on the marriage referendum, and it went on to be nominated for Best Single Documentary at the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) 2016 and was commended at the prestigious Radharc Awards 2016. His work is notable for its emotive quality, finding the personal and engaging stories even within the most unexpected of topics. Anna Rodgers is an IFTA award winning director and producer, and has worked in documentary film and television for over 16 years. She recently won Best TV Director at the IFTAs, 2014 for her sensitive portrayal of sexuality and disability in the RTÉ documentary Somebody to Love. Bittersweet - The Rise of Diabetes will premiere in Galway in November 2017 during the Galway Science and Technology Festival as part of National Science Week. Full details of screenings will be available through http://www.curamdevices.ie/ and www.galwayfilmcentre.ie.  -Ends-

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Vinegar and heat are found to be the best treatment for stings from lion’s mane jellyfish New research from NUI Galway and the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa has identified the best way to treat a sting from the lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata). The lion’s mane jellyfish is the most problematic jellyfish in Ireland and the UK with 100’s of bathers being badly stung each year. With over a 1,000 tentacles that can stretch up to four or five metres in length, a bad sting from a lion’s mane jellyfish can cause severe local reactions and extreme pain.    The research, published in the international journal Toxins shows that the best first aid 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. The results mirror a recent NUI Galway and University of Hawai’i study on stings from the Portuguese man o’ war and previous work on box jellyfish stings. Dr Tom Doyle, lead author of the study and Lecturer in Zoology from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “What most people don’t understand is that these jellyfish - the lion’s mane, the Portuguese man o’ war and a box jellyfish, are as different from each other as a dog and a snake. “Therefore when developing first aid treatment for a jellyfish sting it is very important to test different treatments on these very different types of jellyfish. Now that we have shown that vinegar and hot water work on these three jellyfish species, it will be much easier to standardise and simplify first aid for jellyfish stings where many different types of jellyfish occur.” In Ireland and the UK, current best practices recommend using sea water and cold packs, which is not the correct action for treating these jellyfish stings as it induces significant increases in venom delivery, while rinsing with vinegar or Sting No More® Spray did not. Dr Doyle now hopes to bring together members of the Jellyfish Advisory Group in Ireland to discuss his latest findings. However, it is important to remember that most jellyfish stings in Ireland and the UK are no worse than a nettle sting. To support research on the distribution and abundance of jellyfish in Ireland, members of the public can record any sightings at: http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/jellyfish To read the full study in Toxins, visit: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/9/7/215 Video of lion’s mane jellyfish: https://youtu.be/r9bzjAWtNgI -Ends-

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

NUI Galway has embarked on a new European project, PATHSENSE (Pathogen Sensing) Training Network, which has been funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation MSCA programme. The overall goal of the project is to identify vulnerabilities in pathogenic bacteria (bacteria that can cause infection) that can be targeted with next generation antimicrobial treatments to inhibit the growth of bacteria. The PATHSENSE European Training Network, which secured €3.4 million to undertake this work, will investigate the mechanisms that bacterial pathogens use to sense their environment. The objective is to focus on understanding a highly sophisticated but poorly understood sensory organelle in bacteria called the ‘stressosome’, which in some respects is like a miniature brain for processing sensory inputs. The stressosome allows bacteria to detect and respond to the conditions they encounter in their environment, which helps them to survive when conditions become unfavourable. The project will explore the relationships between structure and function that exist in this structure with the long-term aim of blocking its function. The research programme will be led and coordinated by Dr Conor O’Byrne, Lecturer in Microbiology in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, and will collaborate with eight universities and four companies, located in seven different countries around Europe. Dr O’ Byrne recently received an Ireland’s Champions of EU award from Enterprise Ireland in the category ‘Recognising the career development of our next generation researchers’, for his leadership of the PATHSENSE project. Dr Conor O’Byrne explains: “Rapid and sensitive systems to sense and respond to environmental changes are a cornerstone of a bacterium’s survival apparatus, and if we understood how these systems worked then we could design drugs to block them and this should help to kill the bacteria. Imagine if you deprived someone of their sense of hearing, smell and vision and then placed them into a crowded city, they would find it pretty difficult to survive. This is what we aim to do with these bacterial pathogens, with the goal of reducing their chance of survival and ultimately preventing infections in humans.” The team participating in the PATHSENSE Network met recently in Amsterdam and plan to recruit 13 researchers who will each embark on a PhD degree. Researchers will be trained in state-of-the-art methodologies, including structural biology, proteomics and protein biochemistry, molecular biology, bacterial genetics, food microbiology, mathematical modelling, cell biology, microscopy and comparative genomics.   A major long-term objective of this Network will be to develop new antimicrobial treatments that target the sensory apparatus of bacteria, preventing them from protecting themselves and thereby reducing their survival. These antimicrobials will have applications in the food and public health sectors. The PATHSENSE project team led by NUI Galway will include multinational giant Nestle, and leading European Universities (University of Cambridge, University of Dundee and University of Newcastle in the UK, University of Regensburg and University of Greifswald in Germany, University of Umea in Sweden, University of Groningen in The Netherlands and the National Centre for Biotechnology in Madrid). Partner companies include NATAC Biotech Spain, Nizo Food Research, The Netherlands, Aquila Biosciences, Galway, Ireland, and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 721456. -Ends-

Monday, 24 July 2017

Society medallion awardees to include Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange Co-chaired by Professor Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel and Dr Audrey McNamara, the tenth international conference on Eugene O’Neill ‘Ireland: A Constant Presence’ at NUI Galway will conclude tonight (Friday, 21 July) with an address by President Michael D. Higgins on how O’Neill’s Irish psyche influenced his dramatic works. While never setting foot on Irish soil, Ireland’s presence was an integral force in Eugene Gladstone O’Neill’s life and dramatic canon. O’Neill himself remarked: “The one thing that explains more than anything about me is the fact that I’m Irish. And, strangely enough, it is something that all the writers who have attempted to explain me and my work have overlooked.” Following the Presidential address, the Eugene O’Neill Society will present the Medallion Award to Robert Dowling, William Davies King, Steven Bloom, Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne. During the conference, delegates had the opportunity to engage with a special exhibition on O’Neill and Ireland which is drawn from NUI Galway’s extensive theatre archives. There was also a reading of a play by Ronan Noone, an NUI Galway graduate who has gone on to have a successful career as a playwright in the United States, and whose work The Second Girl will be performed in Ireland for the first time as a staged reading. The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway provides courses in drama and theatre studies for undergraduate and postgraduate students, working with Irish arts partners that all have strong connections with Eugene O’Neill, including the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre and others. NUI Galway Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies Patrick Lonergan stated that the event was an essential part of the Centre for Drama’s work in making new international connections. “NUI Galway is delighted to host the Eugene O’Neill Society for its first conference outside the United States. Our Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance has extensive links in the US, just as O’Neill was an American playwright with strong links with Ireland. These connections enrich our scholarship but also provide exciting new opportunities for our students and teachers to encounter exciting new work.”  Chris Westgate, the Eugene O’Neill Society President, commented: “The society greatly appreciates the organisation and work everyone at NUI Galway has done to make this conference such a success, the co-chairs and most especially the presence and contribution of the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins.”  Ends

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A modern play about motherhood and magic Dún na mBan Trí Thine by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, is a modern Irish play which is currently running in An Taibhdhearc and the O’Donoghue Centre, at NUI Galway as part of the 2017 Galway International Arts Festival.  The play is directed by Anne McCabe and NUI Galway’s Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Perfoming Arts Manager at the university and will run from the 17-30 July. The contemporary play is based on a character named Léiní who is struggling as a wife, a mother with young children, and the desire to be an artist. On top of that, witches from Dún na mBan haunt her and threaten to invade her house. Léiní begins to crack up. Is she losing her mind? Or will she give in to the witches and go over to Dún na mBan? Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Performing Arts Manager at NUI Galway and co-director of the play said: “It's of the utmost importance that contemporary Irish language plays are shown on the international stage and the Galway International Arts Festival provides that opportunity. This play, 'Dún na mBan Trí Thine' is central to Ireland’s canon of feminine literature and this production shows how essential it is to produce Irish language drama for the stage.” Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, has been nominated for The Irish Times Orange Prize for Fiction, “A compelling voice in anyone’s language”. Éilís has worked closely with the directors to create a revised version of the play which was first staged in the Peacock in 1995. Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama at NUI Galway said: “This production is a sign of our commitment to Irish language drama and to contemporary drama written by women.” Starring Linda Bhreathnach, award-winning actress and filmmaker. Máire Ní Mháille, Tara Breathnach, Yvonne Laife, and Catherine Denning. Set design is by Tríona Lillis with costumes by Chérie White who designs for Macnas. The stage manager is Rae Penelope Visser from Fíbín. The play is as Gaeilge with English-language surtitles. For tickets see www.giaf.ie and the festival box office on Forster Street. #GIAF17 -Ends- __________________ DÚN na mBan Trí Thine - The Fairy Fort Is On Fire Dráma comhaimseartha faoi mháithreachas agus draíocht Is dráma Gaeilge comhaimseartha é Dún na mBan Trí Thine le hÉilís Ní Dhuibhne atá á léiriú in Amharclann na Taibhdheirce agus in Ionad Uí Dhonnchadha in OÉ Gaillimh faoi láthair mar chuid d'Fhéile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe 2017.  Is iad Anne McCabe agus Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Bainisteoir na dTaibh-Ealaíon in OÉ Gaillimh, stiúrthóirí an dráma, agus beidh an dráma le feiceáil ar stáitse idir 17-30 Iúil. Léiriú comhaimseartha ar shaol an charachtair Léiní a fheictear sa dráma seo, carachtar atá ag streachailt mar bhean chéile, mar mháthair a bhfuil clann óg uirthi, agus lena mian slí bheatha mar ealaíontóir a bhaint amach. Ina theannta sin, tá cailleacha ó Dhún na mBan á ciapadh agus ag bagairt go dtiocfaidh siad isteach ina teach. Tá Léiní ag dul ar mire. An bhfuil sí ag cailleadh na meabhrach? Nó an ngéillfidh sí do na cailleacha agus a haghaidh a thabhairt ar Dhún na mBan? Deir Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Bainisteoir na dTaibh-Ealaíon in OÉ Gaillimh agus duine de chomhstiúrthóirí an dráma: “Tá sé ríthábhachtach go bhfeicfí drámaí Gaeilge comhaimseartha ar stáitsí idirnáisiúnta agus tugann Féile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe an deis sin dúinn. Tá an dráma seo 'Dún na mBan Trí Thine' lárnach i gcanóin litríochta feimineachais na tíre seo, agus léiríonn sé go soiléir cé chomh riachtanach agus atá sé drámaíocht Ghaeilge a chur ar stáitse.” Ainmníodh Éilís Ní Dhuibhne don Orange Prize for Fiction as “glór a bhfuil meas air beag beann ar an teanga ina bhfuil sé” The Irish Times. D'oibrigh Éilís go dlúth leis na stiúrthóirí chun leagan leasaithe den dráma seo a chur ar fáil, dráma a cuireadh ar stáitse den chéad uair riamh sa Phéacóg, Amharclann na Mainistreach in 1995. Deir Patrick Lonergan, Ollamh le Drámaíocht in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is comhartha atá sa léiriú seo ar cé chomh tiomanta agus atá muid do dhrámaíocht na Gaeilge agus do dhrámaíocht chomhaimseartha atá scríofa ag mná.” Ar na haisteoirí a bheidh le feiceáil ar stáitse, beidh Linda Bhreathnach, aisteoir a bhfuil duaiseanna go leor bainte amach aici agus déantóir an scannáin Adulting, Máire Ní Mháille, Tara Breathnach, Yvonne Laife agus Catherine Denning. Is í Tríona Lillis an dearthóir seit agus is í Chérie White, a dhearann cultacha do Mhacnas, an dearthóir cultacha. Is í Rae Penelope Visser ón gcomhlacht drámaíochta Fíbín an bainisteoir stáitse. Tá an dráma á léiriú i nGaeilge le fortheidil Bhéarla. Féach www.giaf.ie agus oifig na Féile ar Shráid Forster chun ticéad a chur in áirithe. #GIAF17 -Críoch-

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a new programme running at NUI Galway. The programme has been delivered to students in Scoil Iognáid in Galway city in conjunction with NUI Galway’s Alive Volunteering Programme and Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI). The Programme in Scoil Iognáid was delivered by seven facilitators from the School of Philosophy at NUI Galway and 80 pupils took part. This is the first phase in a new initiative by Philosophy. Philosophy for Children is a pupil-led process that encourages thinking through democratic dialogue, helping to foster critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking amongst all types of learners. Through this internationally practised pedagogy, pupil groups become communities of enquiry tackling philosophical questions they formulate themselves and identify themselves. Recent research in the UK found that pupils involved in Philosophy for Children showed improvements in literacy, numeracy and various social skills following its implementation in the classroom. The project got off to a flying start with Ireland’s future philosophers themselves. Pupils said: “Thank you so much for coming to our class. I really enjoyed Philosophy for Children and it made me think about a lot more things. I have had such fun. This experience has been amazing.We stretched our minds and became more open minded and worked together.” Principal of Scoil Iognáid, Laoise Breathnach said: “Philosophy with children acknowledges them as capable thinkers and accords them an active role in the construction of knowledge. This NUI Galway philosophy initiative has, in line with Scoil Iognáid ethos, created a learning space for enquiry and dialogue where talking and thinking about thinking is highly valued. The philosophy sessions have actively fostered the skills of questioning, predicting, contradicting and doubting and have enriched the quality of the children’s discussion and argumentative abilities so much so that the main question in Scoil Iognáid at the moment is when are the philosophers coming back?” Philosophy at NUI Galway hopes to expand its Philosophy for Children programme in the coming year by working with more schools across the city. This expansion will also include an exciting collaboration with the Tulca Festival of Visual Arts this November. The School of Philosophy at NUI Galway in partnership with EXPLORE will welcome young philosophers aged 9-12 years on campus for two week-long ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ summer camps. These camps will run between the 31 July - 4 August and 14-18 August. Through this programme children will obtain ‘big ideas’ through activities using music, sport, art, science and film. NUI Galway facilitators will be joined by experienced P4C trainer Marelle Rice from Philosophy Ireland. In the coming academic years, P4C will be embedded as a Peer Assisted Learning tool within NUI Galway’s School of Philosophy thanks to an ambitious plan drafted by Head of the School, Dr Heike Felzmann who received funding from NUI Galway’s Student Project Fund.For more inforamtion see: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/whats-the-big-idea-summer-camp-tickets-35045010570  -Ends-

Friday, 21 July 2017

Newly-published research from NUI Galway shows encouraging early signs for a potential treatment for Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that causes serious cognitive and movement defects. Sometimes called Huntington’s chorea, it is debilitating, untreatable and relentlessly fatal. Huntington’s disease is particularly cruel because children are sometimes affected more severely than their parents. Professor Robert Lahue and his team at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway, collaborated with scientists at the University of Barcelona. The researchers targeted an enzyme called histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), which is thought to alter important biochemical mechanisms in the brain of Huntington’s disease patients and thereby accelerate disease progression. The new study published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that blocking HDAC3 with an experimental compound in a pre-clinical model of Huntington’s disease slows cognitive decline and delays the onset of molecular signs of neurodegeneration. NUI Galway’s Professor Lahue said: “While these results are preliminary, the data shows that the onset of Huntington’s disease is delayed when HDAC3 is blocked in this pre-clinical setting. This is an encouraging first step because currently there are no effective treatments that target the root cause of the disease.” Professor Lahue also noted the key role of the Spanish collaborators and co-authors, Dr Silvia Ginés and Nuria Suelves from the University of Barcelona: “Silvia and Nuria are Huntington’s disease experts, and the collaborative nature of this joint project allowed the research to progress into new areas.” Professor Lahue and Dr Ginés have applied for additional funding to develop the treatment further and to assess additional safety aspects. Science Foundation Ireland and the European Huntington’s Disease Network supported the research in Ireland. To read the full study in Scientific Reports visit: www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-05125-  NUI Galway Huntington’s disease video for social media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn2Y38ydxy8&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A mini-conference in conjunction with Path Breaking Women of NUI Galway: 1912-1922 and beyond Some of NUI Galway’s most remarkable - but little known - women over the last century will be celebrated and remembered this Friday, 21 July as a fascinating programme of talks and performances will take place entitled ‘Women in history, politics and culture’. The mini-conference takes place in conjunction with the exhibition Path Breaking Women of NUI Galway: 1912-1922 and beyond, which was officially opened by former EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn earlier this year, and on display at the Hardiman Library exhibition space through to September 2017.  Dr Claire McGing from Maynooth University will explore the careers of two erstwhile UCG students in the 1930s, who went on to be pioneering women parliamentarians in 1950s Ireland – Maureen O’Carroll (1913-1984), mother of actors and writers, Brendan and Eilish O’Carroll, who became the Labour Party’s first female TD, and Celia Lynch (1908-1989) born in Duras House, Kinvara, Co. Galway, who became the first woman Fianna Fáil whip, and was the longest-serving female TD when she retired in 1977. Traversing politics and culture, the poems of the inspirational sean nós singer, writer, poet and actor Caitlin Maude (1941-1982), a graduate of UCG, will be performed by the talented writer and actor, Caitríona Ní Chonaola, with an overview of Maude’s life presented by poet and director of the Irish Studies Centre at NUI Galway, Dr Louis de Paor.  Looking back to early decades, the opening session, chaired by historian, NUI Galway’s Dr Sarah Anne Buckley, will feature a keynote presentation by Dr Nadia Smith from Boston College. Smith will discuss the life and times of the impressive Galway woman and outspoken champion of diverse political, social and cultural causes, Mary Donovan O’Sullivan (1887-1966), who became UCG’s first Professor of History in 1914. Dr Smith will also talk about Síle Ní Chinnéide (1900-1980) who was born into a Catholic nationalist family in Waterford and active in the Irish language revival and was appointed Lecturer in History (through Irish) at UCG in 1927. A striking figure on campus, known for smoking cigarillos in a holder, Nadia Smith notes, Ní Chinnéide advised students “it would do them no harm to read certain works on the Vatican Index of Forbidden Books.”  The event runs from 11.00am to 3.30pm in the NUI Galway Hardiman Research Library. It is free and open to the public, but spaces are limited and anyone who would like to attend should rsvp to: lydia.kelly@nuigalway.ie. The Path Breaking Women project, is led by Niamh Reilly, Established Professor of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway. It was supported by Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme 2016 and is co-sponsored by the School of Political Science and Sociology, the Centre for Global Women’s Studies, Gender ARC and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. The Exhibition runs until September 2017 in the library exhibition space at NUI Galway. For more information see: www.nuigalway.ie/pathbreakingwomen -Ends-

Friday, 14 July 2017

NUI Galway will test leading international concepts for the next generation of tidal and hydrokinetic turbine blades to power the world The MaRINET2 project has awarded €1.3 million to 34 technology development teams through a competitive call for proposals. This support will accelerate the next generation of offshore renewable energy technologies towards the marketplace by providing technology testing at MaRINET2’s network of world-leading testing facilities. Coordinated by MaREI (Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland), MaRINET2 is a €10.5 million project, funded by the European Commissions’ Horizon 2020 programme. The project provides support to technology developers of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies to test their devices in research facilities and in real sea conditions. It is a continuation of the highly successful MaRINET project which ran from 2011-2015. MaRINET2 project gives free access to testing facilities to companies and researchers all over the world with NUI Galway offering its state-of-the-art ‘Large Structures Test Cell’ at the large structures laboratory, located at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building, to test full scale tidal blades (up to 9 metres). As a result of the first call for proposals in MaRINET2, two technology development teams have been awarded funding to facilitate 50 days of testing in the state-of-the-art tidal turbine blade testing facility at NUI Galway. These teams are led by Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd in Scotland, a world leader in the development of floating tidal stream and run-of-river turbines, and Verdant Power based in the US, a world leader in developing marine and hydrokinetic technologies and projects, generating clean renewable energy from tidal and river currents. Dr Jamie Goggins, lead Principal Investigator of the Structures and Materials research area in the MaREI Centre, and who is responsible for the large structures test facility located at the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway, said: “It is great that there was such great interest from tidal stream and river turbine developers to access our large structures test cell for free through the MaRINET2 programme. We look forward to working with Verdant Power and Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd to assist them in de-risking their technologies through rigorous testing in our laboratory.” Dr Jimmy Murphy, co-ordinator of MaRINET2 said the announcement would be a significant boost to the development of offshore renewable energy technology in Europe: “In order to bring their product to market, it is essential for technology developers to de-risk their technologies through rigorous and staged testing programmes. With today’s announcement, the MaRINET2 project is supporting 34 technology developers to do just that. “What’s more, by helping technology developers test at facilities across the EU, and encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration, MaRINET2 is strengthening Europe’s position as a centre of excellence for offshore renewable energy research.” -Ends- 

Friday, 14 July 2017

NUI Galway has announced an innovative collaboration with KPMG on a new Analytics Summer School at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics. The Summer School will use KPMG tools which were developed to harness the power of technology and bring greater vigour, precision and meaningful insights to the increasing age of data. The first of its kind in Ireland, the KPMG-led Analytics Summer School will be available to students who are undertaking either NUI Galway’s Master of Accounting or MSc (International Accounting & Analytics) and will focus on auditing and accounting analytics and cognitive technologies using KPMG software and tools.  Laurence May, Director at KPMG and Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, said: “We are in an age where more data is being created faster than ever before, with less than 1% of data ever being used or analysed. Therefore, the ability to analyse and use this data is a key challenge for all professions, including audit and accounting. NUI Galway has recognised the importance of this challenge and KPMG is delighted to partner with them on the new Analytics Summer School.” Professor Breda Sweeney, Head of the Accounting & Finance Discipline, NUI Galway said: “We are delighted to partner with KPMG in adding this innovative summer school to our suite of existing postgraduate summer schools which are delivered in conjunction with international academic/business experts in areas of key importance to accountants in public and private sectors.”  More information can be found at  www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/ or Email accounting@nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Filmmakers from Northern Europe connect with local industry players in NUI Galway as part of ‘a creative momentum project’  The Whitaker Institute and School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway hosted an event this week as part of a creative exchange seminar titled ‘Screen Industries on the Periphery: Policy and Practice’, at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media as part of Galway Film Fleadh. International practitioners from Northern Ireland, Finland, Iceland and Sweden talked about their experiences of working in film, TV and digital media. These practitioners are in Galway to attend this year’s Galway Film Fleadh and have been funded by NUI Galway’s a creative momentum project. Speakers at the event included, Dr Conn Holohan from the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway who spoke about the influence of film funding in Irish cinema. Declan Gibbons from Galway Film Centre shared insights into running the UNESCO City of Film designation for Galway and their involvement in the Screen Talent Europe Network. Paddy Hayes, from the IFTA winning Galway-based production company Magamedia, gave a talk titled ‘Who lifts the mirror?’ Dr Patrick Collins, lead researcher on the project from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Creative pursuits are often lonely ones, in more peripheral regions this isolation can be heightened. On this occasion, a creative momentum focuses on film makers, bringing them together to hear about each other's experiences and provide valuable insights into making sustainable creative careers in Europe's more remote areas.” a creative momentum project supports the development of the creative sector in five regions across Europe’s northern edge. One aim of the project is to support creative entrepreneurs through opportunities to network and collaborate across the five partner regions. Participating in creative industry events in the regions helps creatives to connect with potential markets and audiences, as well as provide networking opportunities. The cost of participating in such events can however be high and this project has selected five established events as ‘creative hotspots’ across the partner regions and funds relevant creative enterprises from the other partner regions to participate. Galway Film Fleadh was selected as the West of Ireland creative hotspot. This six-day international film event welcomes a diversity of filmmaking from around the world. The Galway Film Fair, the industry arm of the annual Galway Film Fleadh, provides these international practitioners with an opportunity to meet with financiers and build new partnerships. a creative momentum project is co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme 2014-2020. The project operates the My Creative Edge website, which is a three-year, €2 million transnational project being implemented by six organisations across five regions. The website showcases the work of businesses and freelancers working in the creative industries sector in Mid-Sweden, North East Iceland, Northern Finland, South East of Northern Ireland and the West of Ireland. For further information about the seminare, visit:  https://mycreativeedge.eu/event/screen-industries-periphery-policy-practice/ Visit My Creative Edge at: https://mycreativeedge.eu/ -Ends- 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Scholarship to Advance Female Leadership in Business Organisations Galway businesswoman Sandra Divilly fought off tough competition to win a scholarship worth in excess of €13,000 for the NUI Galway Exective MBA (Master of Business Administration) programme announced today by NUI Galway in conjunction with the 30% Club. The 30% Club Ireland was officially launched in January 2015, with a goal to achieve better gender balance at all levels of business in Ireland. The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and executive leadership not only encourages better leadership and governance, but further contributes to better all-round board performance, and ultimately increased corporate performance for both companies and their shareholders.  Application numbers for the 30% Club Scholarship exceeded expectation with a very high calibre of strong female applicants. The judging panel noted that while most had enormous career potential and would have been worthy recipients, ultimately the award could be made to only one individual.  Reacting to the announcement Ms Divilly commented: “I am greatly honoured to be chosen to receive the 30% Club Scholarship for an Executive MBA at NUI Galway. The 30% Club is an inspiring initiative to address global gender imbalance issues in organisations. I commend NUI Galway for joining the list of successful universities, across the world, that support and drive the 30% Club goals. Having graduated from NUI Galway in 1996 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Information Systems, I have since enjoyed a varied and challenging career in private industry and as a self-employed businesswoman. I am very grateful to NUI Galway and the 30% Club for providing me with this exciting opportunity to undertake the Executive MBA.” The Executive MBA at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway joined the 30% Club in promoting gender balance in business by awarding a scholarship toward half of the cost of an Executive MBA.  Bríd Horan, Steering Committee member, congratulated Sandra on behalf of the 30% Club: “We greatly appreciate NUI Galway’s generous support for this valuable scholarship which encourages women to invest in their career development through executive education.  We are particularly pleased that this opportunity is being made available to women in Galway in 2017.” The NUI Galway Executive MBA has attained AMBA accreditation which is the global mark of excellence for MBA education. An MBA is one of the world’s most recognised and respected business and management qualifications. Pursuing an MBA is about positioning yourself for further success. Critical to this is choosing an MBA programme with a proven track record that meets the highest international standards for MBA education. NUI Galway looks forward to collaborating with the 30% Club in the future and welcomes Sandra Divilly to its new cycle of Executive MBA students. Professor Breda Sweeney, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway, said: “We were delighted with the level of interest and very impressed with the calibre of applicants for this scholarship. We look forward to welcoming Sandra and all of our Executive MBA participants to the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics in September.  The Executive MBA can transform career opportunities as it equips graduates with important leadership skills, business acumen and a network of talented executives from diverse professional backgrounds.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development with Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland has presented two outstanding achievement awards to NUI Galway for reaching the pinnacle of European research. The ‘Ireland’s Champions of EU Research’ event took place in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin recently. In the category ‘Recognising the career development of our next generation researchers’, NUI Galway’s Dr Conor O’ Byrne, received an award for his leadership of the project *PATHSENSE (Understanding and Exploiting Mechanisms of Sensory Perception in Bacteria). This €3.4 million project will recruit 13 PhD fellows in a collaboration involving eight universities and four companies, located in seven different countries around Europe. The overall goal of the project is to identify vulnerabilities in pathogenic bacteria that can be targeted with next generation antimicrobial treatments. In the category ‘Collaborative Research’, Dr Michael Madden at NUI Galway, received an award for his leadership of the *ROCSAFE project, a €4.7 million 13 partner project with Irish partners Reamda Limited, Scorpion Networks Ltd, UCC, Department of Defence and the Health Service Executive. The overall goal of ROCSAFE is to fundamentally change how CBRNe events are assessed, in order to ensure the safety of crime scene investigators by reducing the need for them to enter high-risk scenes. For this, ROCSAFE will make use of cost-effective remotely-controlled robotic air and ground vehicles that are designed for use in rain, wind, and challenging ground surfaces. Sixteen individuals received Horizon 2020 achievement awards for their projects which exhibited outstanding leadership in their respective programme areas, ten of whom were from higher education institutes. The aim of the event is to recognise the immense contribution of the award winners and all project leaders from Ireland to our national success in the €75 billion Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for research and innovation. Enterprise Ireland hosted the event on behalf of Ireland’s National Support Network for Horizon 2020. Speaking at the awards Minister John Halligan, T.D., said: “I am delighted to be here today among this impressive and diverse representation of the Irish research community. The breadth of projects nominated for awards today inspires confidence in the continued excellence and dedication to research and innovation in Irish society. I was particularly impressed to note the variety of universities, Higher Education institutes, agencies and companies that are competing at the highest levels of European research.” Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, added: “Today’s event celebrates the achievements of collaboration between academic research and industry. Horizon 2020 is an important source of funding for research and innovation and provides a mechanism for researchers and Irish enterprise to network and collaborate with the best researchers and leading companies across Europe. These benefits are particularly important for a small, open economy like ours. The award winners here today are a source of inspiration for others and I’d like to wish them every success with their current projects and in their future endeavours.” Dr Imelda Lambkin, National Director for Horizon 2020 reiterated: “Today is about recognising what has worked well for Ireland’s researchers to date and applying that knowledge to position Ireland to make best use of the available funding from Horizon 2020 and FP9. We call on our EU Champions to lead this initiative as role models and mentors.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, along with Galway Film Fleadh, will host a public event to discuss the influence of gender stereotyping on female participation and leadership in the audio-visual, business and technology industries. The event will take place as part of Galway Film Fleadh on Saturday 15 July. The panel discussion aims to inform an NUI Galway research agenda following a recent survey carried out by technology consultants Accenture. As part of the report, 1,000 females comprising of secondary school students, young women (ages 18-23), secondary school teachers, and parents with daughters in post-primary education were surveyed on why they thought girls constituted a minority in STEM courses? As many as 44% of the survey respondents indicated that STEM subjects are more suited to males than females. Teachers cited that the promotion of ‘traditional’ female career paths (nursing, teaching) only served to exacerbate the stereotype that STEM careers are more suitable for boys than girls. The event invites participants to discuss how the representation of women in movies and popular culture may impact on the involvement of women in creative leadership positions in these three particular industries. However, research is emerging which suggests that the way in which women are presented in movies and popular culture tell women, and their teachers and mentors that these industries are not for women. Dr Seán Crosson, Acting Director of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media at NUI Galway, said: “A recent American study of women in film and television found that women made up just 7% of all directors in the top 250 films, a 2% decline from 2015. In Ireland, one study from the 20-year period, 1993-2013, found only 13% of Irish-produced screenplays were penned by female writers with the percentage of women in directing roles in single figures. The ongoing and increasing under-representation of women in this area is a serious issue that requires radical and imaginative responses from the film and audio-visual industry. We hope that this event can help foreground this important topic and contribute to a better understanding of the issues involved and potential solutions to address it in the future, through more progressive depictions of women in film and popular culture.” Miriam Allen, Managing Director of Galway Film Fleadh, said: “As the Irish film industry finds itself at something of a crossroads in terms of female participation in the audio-visual sector, events such as these are invaluable, not only in terms of raising awareness and discussing policy but, more importantly in informing policy and discourse going forward. All of us at the Fleadh are delighted to be involved in this event.” The panel will include representatives from the audio visual industries: Dr Susana Liddy (Lecturer in Media Studies, Producer, Writer); Marian Quinn (Irish Film Board member, Janey Pictures); Ciara Nic Chormaic (Producer, Magamedia) and representatives from the business and technology industries; Lorna Martyn (Senior Vice President and Head of Technology, Fidelity Investments Ireland), Vicky Godolphin (Digital Lead, Accenture Ireland) and Saima Clohessy (Senior Data Engineer, Fidelity Investments Ireland). Event organisers, Dr Trevor Clohessy and Dr Murray Scott from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, remarked: “The report conducted by Accenture Ireland entitled ‘Powering economic growth: Attracting more young women into science and technology’, highlights how career stereotypes and negative perceptions pertaining to STEM subjects is worrying. We hope that this event can identify barriers which are ultimately contributing to the shortage of women taking up roles in the Business and the IT industry. The major issues and insights arising from the panel discussion will be useful to inform the development of government policy in this area, and signpost a future research agenda.” The panel discussion will take place on Saturday 15 July from 9am-12pm in Room MRA201 Lecture Theatre, in the Ryan Institute Annex, NUI Galway as part of Galway Film Fleadh. For bookings to attend the event, visit: http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/index.php/project/exploring-influence-gender/. To read the Accenture report, visit: https://accntu.re/2v1ZLIM. -Ends-

Monday, 10 July 2017

NUI Galway nanoscience physicist, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield from the School of Physics at NUI Galway has been honoured with the Mary Somerville Medal from the Institute of Physics in what they have deemed her, “stellar work as a public speaker and writer on physics for a popular audience, and for having organised and hosted many innovative events bringing physics to the Irish public.” Since February 2015, Dr Fairfield has been the director of Bright Club in Ireland encouraging academics to discuss their work through stand-up comedy. She has run 23 Bright Club events, teaching academics how to use comedy to discuss their work Dr Fairfield recently held a Bright Club training ’78 Degrees North’ while attending a science/art expedition to the Arctic. She also talked about physics in her own solo stand-up comedy shows in Galway and Dublin, and trains the Bright Club participants thanks to funding supporting the project from Science Foundation Ireland. Dr Fairfield has just returned this week (26 June) from a two-week Arctic Circle residency program on board a ship bringing together scientists and artists to explore how the Arctic and its exploration intersect with art, science, architecture, education and activism. Commenting on the research trip, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield at NUI Galway, said: “The raw and beautiful environment of the Arctic Circle is the perfect place to bring together scientists, artists, and innovators. I was delighted to be selected for the Summer Solstice 2017 expedition, where I worked on a Cerenkov detector made from Arctic ice to detect cosmic rays. I also ran a Bright Club training on how everyone, including artists and creators, can use humour to talk about the work they are passionate about. I am excited about the projects which are coming together as a result of this residency, and absolutely loved sharing the ship Antigua with so many amazing individuals during the midnight sun.” Jessamyn Fairfield is a regular science news contributor to Newstalk radio show Futureproof, and will be creating written and radio pieces about her recent Arctic expedition. She has written and narrated a short film about nanoscience, called Small World. She has spoken at Pint of Science, Festival of Curiosity, Maker Faire Dublin, the Science Gallery, Inspirefest, Women in Physics Belfast, and many other events, and has also given two public lectures for the Institute of Physics in London. She also writes her own longstanding blog, Let’s Talk About Science, which is a top Google result for information about electronics. Dr Fairfield is also co-organising a Soapbox Science event in Galway this July, bringing together female scientists into public spaces to talk about their work at the Spanish Arch on 15 July. She will be working with the Mawazo Institute to develop public engagement events for science and policy in Nairobi this autumn. Other science communication engagements include being the blogmaster and lead writer for Dart of Physics in 2013 campaign that used adverts on public transport in Dublin and a strong online presence to spark a citywide conversation about physics. And two years later in 2015, Fairfield produced live events in addition to running the blog and contributing writing to the City of Physics campaign. To read Dr Jessamyn Fairfield’s blog about her Arctic exploration trip, visit: https://letstalkaboutscience.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/art-and-science-in-the-arctic/. To watch Dr Fairfield’s video link from on board the Arctic expedition, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mv_E85Mk5I and to read about the Arctic Circle http://www.thearcticcircle.org/. To view the film Small World, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K36twB9zD0. -Ends-

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The north and west of Ireland is to benefit from an investment of over €3 million in research initiatives. The support has been granted to NUI Galway by an EU programme which supports innovative projects addressing regional challenges. NUI Galway will coordinate four projects and partner in an additional six as part of the Atlantic Area InterReg Programme. The national representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, was at the University today (6 July) for the announcement. The NUI Galway-led projects are in the areas of sustainable fishing, biomedical devices, sustainable fuels and the marine economy. Speaking at the announcement today, NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our University’s stated aim in research is to anticipate and serve the needs of society and economy. This becomes even more pertinent when we consider the needs of the region here in the west of Ireland, and our commitment to supporting those who live and work along the Atlantic seaboard. What these projects have in common, is that they seek to drive innovation to support the long term sustainability of our region - in a range of ways from the fishing industry to the biomedical industry, seeking to safeguard our environment by developing new energy sources and to support the marine economy as a whole.” The Atlantic Area InterReg Programme’s objective is to implement solutions to answer the regional challenges in the fields of innovation, resource efficiency, environment and cultural assets, supporting regional development and sustainable growth. Countries who are part of the programme include France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. David Minton, Director of the representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, said: “The Northern Western Regional Assembly is striving to connect the strengths of our region and drive convergence to regional collaboration. NUI Galway is a world leader in the application of innovation and research to regional and national challenges. The University itself is an established cultural and learning asset. This funding will deliver a four-fold return on investment.” The four NUI Galway-led projects are: Cephalopods, Sustainable Fisheries and Chefs – ‘CephsandChefs’ Dr Anne Marie Power, Lecturer in Zoology and a member of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, is leading a project called CephsandChefs. The project will analyse ‘from sea to table’, the fishing and consumption of squid, octopus and cuttlefish (cephalopods). CephsandChefs will collect biological and socioeconomic data from different Atlantic area cephalopod fisheries to improve knowledge of the value chain and the factors affecting sustainability in the short and long term. Researchers will also investigate consumer eating habits in North and South Europe, and look at people’s willingness to adopt new products from this seafood class. This information will pave the way for the development and promotion of new products and new markets for the fishing and production sector, while ensuring the sustainability of fishing activity. Establishing a transnational advanced pilot manufacturing ecosystem for future biomedical products - ATLANTIC-KET-MED Dr Ger O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Physics, and funded investigator in CÚRAM at NUI Galway, is leading a project called ATLANTIC-KET-MED, which aims to create new innovation capacity by establishing an inter-regional pilot manufacturing ecosystem by developing both human and infrastructural resources. The project will apply key enabling technologies such as photonics, nanotechnology, printed electronics, bioprinting, additive manufacturing and advanced materials to make a new generation of medical devices. In the longer term, the project will help establish regional productive systems for extracting greater value from the marine based biomaterials along the Atlantic area. Sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation – SEAFUEL Dr Pau Farras, Lecturer in Chemistry at NUI Galway, will lead a project called SEAFUEL. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint. It will cover technical innovation by a demonstration plant in the Canary Islands. The project will then develop a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions including the Aran Islands. Maritime, Ocean Sector and Ecosystem Sustainability: fostering blue growth in Atlantic industries – MOSES Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute, will examine the size and growth of key strategic marine industries across the Atlantic Arc and will propose the ‘blue’ growth path for the sustainable development of the major sectors operating in the Atlantic space as envisaged in the Atlantic Action Plan and the EU Blue Growth Strategy. To achieve these aims, the project participants will build on the expertise gained in the EU INTERREG Atlantic IV project, Marine Atlantic Regions Network (MARNET). For more information about the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, visit: www.nwra.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 6 July 2017

NUI Galway SMART Consent researchers to disseminate findings from research studies carried out this year on sexual consent among 2,000 third level students  A research seminar took place in NUI Galway on Wednesday (5 July) that reports on research carried out during 2016-2017 by the University’s SMART Consent research team on sexual consent among third level students. Today (6 July) the team launched a major research report at Trinity College Dublin hosted by the RESPECT all-island research network.  The NUI Galway seminar, ‘SMART Consent – Our Experience of Implementing Sexual Consent Workshops in Third Level Institutions and Recommendations for Future Action’, has been organised by the School of Psychology at NUI Galway and is supported by the University’s Student Project Fund. The surveys carried out as part of this research programme provide important insights on the following consent-related issues: 96% of 446 students surveyed agreed that sex education should take place in schools, but 76% say that their sexual health education at school was inadequate. 86% of 320 college students surveyed agreed that alcohol impacts on the ability to give consent, yet 37% agreed that a woman can still give consent after drinking heavily. 89% of 632 college students surveyed agreed it is important to obtain sexual consent in all relationships regardless of whether they have had sex before, but only 53% agreed that ‘most other students’ believed this to be the case. 31% of 240 single college students surveyed would have difficulty saying to a partner that a certain sexual activity makes them feel uncomfortable, 32% of single students would have difficulty telling a partner that they like a specific sexual activity. The report found that students had significantly more positive attitudes and behavioural intentions after participating in the workshops, students acknowledged that sexual consent is an important issue (agreement went from 54% pre-workshop to 80% post-workshop held during first year orientation). Students also felt well informed about sexual consent (agreement went from 69% pre-workshop to 98% post-workshop during first year orientation). The NUI Galway SMART Consent research team, led by Dr Pádraig MacNeela, a lecturer at the School of Psychology, will present the following findings from the report: A randomised control trial of the effectiveness of the SMART Consent workshop; A study of implementing the workshop in third level institutions; Survey data on consent-related attitudes and behaviours; and in addition, Elaine Byrnes, a PhD student at NUI Galway, will present findings from a qualitative study of students’ experiences of sexual consent. Speaking about the launch of the report, Dr Pádraig MacNeela at NUI Galway, said: “Since the publication of our first report on sexual consent research in 2014, we have developed the SMART Consent workshop, evaluated its effectiveness and assessed the feasibility of including it as part of the student experience. Over 2,000 third level students have taken part in surveys and workshops in the past year, placing our model at the forefront of positive sexual health promotion efforts in the sector. We found that students had significantly more positive attitudes and behavioural intentions after participating in the workshops.” One of the co-authors of the report, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, said: “Students rated the workshop as a useful and enjoyable learning experience.” Dr O’Higgins stressed the importance of providing for this kind of experience: “There are few open and honest opportunities for students to discuss how sexuality can be explored safely, for all the right reasons and in ways that are mutually satisfying. Creating an environment to discuss issues around sexuality and relationships before they choose to become, or not become, intimate with another person, is one of the duties of care for our young people.” The researchers will describe recommendations on establishing a network of institutions to support the rollout of consent workshops, the implementation of a peer facilitator training initiative, the need for a shared methodology for data collection on sexual health among third level students, and the use of partnership approaches to promote a sustainable approach to positive sexual health. Two international experts in the area of sexual consent, Kristen Jozkowski (Assistant Professor of Public Health, director of the Sexuality Research Lab at the University of Arkansas, Fellow at the Kinsey Institute), and Terry Humphreys (Professor, Department of Psychology at Trent University, Ontario, and President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality), will address the event in Galway and the report launch in Dublin. During 2016-2017 the researchers were supported by grants from: the Irish Research Council / HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (to examine the effectiveness of the two-hour SMART Consent workshop in changing attitudes); the NUI Galway Student Project Fund (to implement consent workshops and survey students from 2016-2019); and the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland (to work with TCD Students Union on piloting a ‘train the trainer’ programme for first year student orientation, and to conduct a service learning project in 2017 with psychology students at NUI Galway on peer facilitator training). This work is a further illustration of the commitment NUI Galway has to support sexual health. In May 2017, the University’s Drama, Theatre and Performance students premiered the short film Lucy’s House Party, directed by Dr Charlotte McIvor. The film is part of an EU-funded sexual violence prevention initiative, The Manuela Programme (in memory of the 17-year old Swiss student who was raped and murdered in Galway in October 2007). Aimed at transition-year students, Lucy’s House Party has been piloted in schools in Kerry, Wexford and Galway and will be rolled out to over 120 secondary schools across Ireland. To read the full report on SMART Consent, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/smartconsent/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Research scientists will take to their soap boxes, and bring science to the streets of Galway from 11am-2pm at the Spanish Arch on Saturday 15 July, to share their passion for all things science with the public as part of the international event ‘Soapbox Science’. This is the first time that Soapbox Science, founded in the UK seven years ago, has come to Galway and 2017 locations include Canada, Germany, Australia, Belfast and across the UK. The event has two aims: to bring science to unexpected locations to give a broader sector of society the opportunity to meet and interact with scientists, and to promote the visibility of women in science.  This year’s talks will cover diverse subjects such as how to make stars, building your own body parts and sustainable fisheries. Each speaker will be showcased numerous times on their soapbox throughout the event as Soapbox Science challenges perceptions of what a scientist is by celebrating the diversity of women in science in Ireland. Speaking about the event, Dr Dara Stanley, event organiser and Lecturer in Plant Ecology, in the Botany and Plant Science Department at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is home to a diverse range of talent and we’re delighted to be bringing our expertise to the streets of Galway on subjects that range from osteoporosis, clean air in houses and carbohydrates chemistry. NUI Galway has joined forces with colleagues in GMIT, the Marine Institute and IT Sligo to showcase research talent across the western seaboard. Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, Soapbox Science organiser and a physicist in the School of Physics at NUI Galway, said: “When many people think of a scientist, they think of a man in a white coat. Soapbox Science aims to challenge this perception by showcasing the work of female scientists in a fun and friendly way. In order to keep up with the need for a skilled STEM workforce, the scientific community must continue to attract the best talent, and be open and inclusive. We hope that this event can inspire people to look at science in a different way.” Soapbox Science Speakers and their topics include: Professor Laoise McNamara, NUI Galway - “Close to the Bone: Engineering research into the Biology of Osteoporosis and Implants” Dr Rachel Cave, NUI Galway - “Help, help, I think my house is dissolving! (How ocean acidification works and why it matters)” Dr Rachel Quinlan, NUI Galway - “How to make stars (in two and three dimensions)” Dr Marie Coggins, NUI Galway - “Are you breathing clean air indoors?” Dr Sharon Glynn, NUI Galway - “A new dimension to ancient enemies: What are these hidden viruses in our DNA and how do they contribute to cancer development” Dr Heather Teresa Lally, GMIT - “How do creepy crawlies adapt to living in a watery underworld” Dr Debbi Pedreschi, Marine Institute - “The story of sustainable fisheries: solving ‘wicked problems’ and other tales….” Ms Juhi Samal, NUI Galway - “Biomaterial pills for Parkinson’s: saving cells to stop shaking?” Ms Kirsten N. Fossum, NUI Galway - “Clouds; where do they come from, where do they go?” Ms Adele Gabba, NUI Galway - “The sweet universe of carbohydrates chemistry!” Ms Fiona Malone, GMIT - “Biomedical Engineering: Build your own body parts” Dr Caroline Sullivan - IT Sligo - “The Wild Atlantic Way; why it’s so beautiful and how farmers helped create it” Over 350 women have taken part in Soapbox Science since 2011, with a further 220 participating in the 19 events taking place during 2017. Over 55,000 people attended Soapbox Science events in 2016, with 85 per cent rating them as enjoyable or extremely enjoyable, and over a third stating it had an effect on their awareness of women in science. Those figures quoted come from the EU report She Figures 2012 – Gender in Research and Innovation, European Commission. The event is free and open to the public. Soapbox Science is supported by the office for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. View the Soapbox Science Galway video: https://youtu.be/kpGwdObV1-Q. For more information about Soapbox Science visit: www.soapboxscience.org and follow on Twitter at @soapboxscigal. -Ends- 

Friday, 30 June 2017

NUI Galway publishes report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2016 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.8 billion representing a 20% increase on 2014 NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has published its fourth report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. Results from the report show that in 2016, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was €1.8 billion or approximately 0.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 20% increase on 2014 levels. Latest figures suggest that our ‘blue economy’ is performing better than the general economy. “This report shows Ireland’s ocean economy is experiencing sustained levels of economic growth both across established and emerging marine industries”, reports Dr Amaya Vega of SEMRU, based at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway. Summary The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.7 billion in 2016. The indirect economic value in 2016 amounted to €1.57 billion, with a total direct and indirect value of €3.37 billion, which represents 1.7% of GDP. The ocean economy provided employment to over 30,000 individuals, full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2016. Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.3 billion and provided employment to 28,231 FTEs in 2016, representing 93% of the total turnover and 94% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2014-2016 period. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, albeit of a smaller scale, across all three variables. Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €383 million and provided employment to close to 2,000 FTEs representing 7% of the turnover and 6% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Advanced marine technology products and services and marine renewable energy experienced the largest increases in turnover and gross value add (GVA), while employment rose in all emerging sectors in the 2014-2016 period. Dr Stephen Hynes, co-author of the report and director of SEMRU at NUI Galway, points out: “Our latest ocean economy figures demonstrate that Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth is moving steadily towards its 2030 targets. The latest data demonstrates the growing influence of ocean related economic activity in our economy but it should also be kept in mind that the influence of the ocean on Irish society is even more pervasive than indicated by these figures. The ocean also provides key ecosystem services that underpin many of the identified marine industries and is integral not just to the economy, but also to our culture. SEMRU is currently also examining the value of some of these non-market benefits of the ocean.” The Marine Institute also welcomed publication of the report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy with Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO commenting: “The very latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy from SEMRU at NUI Galway show that Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ continues to outperform the general economy. These very timely marine economic statistics are a key action of the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy and are essential for evidence-based policy making and decision making. It’s really encouraging to see that established sectors are performing so well, and that emerging sectors such as advanced marine technology products and services and renewable energy are experiencing rapid growth in Ireland’s ocean economy.” ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth’ Targets: Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is estimated in the new report to be €3.37 billion which represents 1.7% of total GDP in 2016. Based in the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, SEMRU conducts research on a variety of marine related issues. The main research focus of the unit is on the economic importance of coastal and off-shore marine environments. This involves examining the economic utility of the marine environment (transportation, recreation) and ecological value (fisheries, aquaculture) derived from the productivity of associated ecosystems. The coastal and contiguous marine environment surrounding Ireland and the EU in general provides the geographical focus for the research carried out in the unit. Consideration of the human dimension in the management of marine ecosystems is also a critical component of all research projects undertaken. Since its establishment in 2009, SEMRU has been successful in attracting research funding to support the expansion of its marine socio-economic research programme. The unit is now a partner in a number of European-funded projects in the area of the socio-economics of the marine environment. Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Series is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and is funded by the Irish Government’s Marine Research Programme (Grant-Aid Agreement No. PBA/SE/16/01). The full report is available to download online at: www.nuigalway.ie/semru/publications.html. For more information on SEMRU, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/semru/. -Ends-

Friday, 30 June 2017

As current ransomware attack spreads, it is reported that cybercrime is estimated to have cost Irish companies €600 million in 2015, and this is projected to reach €1 billion by 2020 The growth of different cyberattacks internationally is providing a growing impetus for developing a national research initiative in cybersecurity in Ireland, which is being led by Dr Michael Madden of NUI Galway. This initiative, called S4 (Scientific Solutions for Secure Society), involves the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the LERO Software Engineering Research Centre, and the Connect Centre for future research on networks and communications. By harnessing the synergies between academics, industry, state agencies, and international collaborators, Dr Madden and his colleagues aim to improve the country’s resilience to threats and contribute to the growth of this new employment sector. In recent weeks, a workshop held in Dublin that was attended by 70 industry and academic decision makers and influencers. Its goal was to understand industry research needs related to digital security and privacy research, and to connect industry participants with academics who can work with them towards identifying targeted projects of direct value to all. A Data Summit was also held in the Convention Centre Dublin, organised by the Department of the Taoiseach along with the Government Data Forum, where a panel discussion on ‘Cybersecurity in the 21st Century’ took place with people involved in the Cybersecurity research initiative. The following research pillars have been identified from the recent workshop and summit: (1) Artificial Intelligence for Security; (2) Web-Scale Security Analytics; (3) Edge-to-Cloud Security; and (4) Trust and Privacy Management. Dr Michael Madden from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Like all countries, Ireland faces significant digital security threats. More than half of Irish companies have reported a data breach in 2016. Cybercrime is estimated to have cost Irish companies €600 million in 2015, and this is projected to reach €1 billion by 2020, according to a PwC 216 Irish Economic Crime report in 2016. In addition, we have seen large scale data breaches experienced by multinational organisations internationally, such as Yahoo and JP Morgan, even before the recent disruption caused by this new ransomware.” A new ransomware attack, which is being referred to as Petya, is currently spreading internationally. Like the program WannaCry that caused very substantial disruption a month ago, Petya is one of the new breed of ransomware programs that attempts to spread itself across networks, whereas ransomware before WannaCry did not. Petya appears to be more sophisticated in attempting to use multiple mechanisms to spread itself. Like all ransomware, it scrambles all files on an infected computer and charges a ransom of $300 to provide keys to unscramble them. Dr Madden continued: “It is clear from the feedback received at the industry workshop on 12 June and the Cybersecurity panel discussion on 16 June that there is great capacity for closer academic and industry collaboration on security research, and many opportunities for growing this important area of research and the overall security ecosystem in Ireland.” Dr Madden advises not to pay the ransom if your computer is affected; initial reports on Petya have indicated that it may fail to decrypt files even after paying. “As always with ransomware, the best way to protect your computer is to keep software updates up-to-date and to ensure you have everything backed up, so that in the worst case, you can re-install Windows and other programs, and restore your important data (documents, photos) from backups. The leading anti-virus software vendors have also announced that they are able to detect and protect against Petya.” The S4 initiative involves academic researchers from NUI Galway, DCU, Athlone IT, Waterford IT, UCD, and UL. -Ends-

Friday, 30 June 2017

Some questions for local school children as NUI Galway marks World Asteroid Day Scientists from the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway marked World Asteroid Day today (30 June) with almost 100 students from 4th, 5th and 6th class at Educate Together National School, Newcastle in Galway. NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy is the chosen designated centre in Ireland by global organisation Asteroid Day to celebrate the annual international event, which is a global awareness campaign to learn about asteroids, the impact hazard they may pose, and what we can do to protect our planet, families, communities, and future generations from future asteroid impacts. Asteroid Day was co-founded in 2014, by Dr Brian May, astrophysicist and lead guitarist for the rock band Queen, Danica Remy, B612 President, Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart and German filmmaker Grig Richters. Asteroid Day is held on 30 June each year to mark Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event, which devastated over 2,000 km2 of forest, an area the size of any major metropolitan city today. In 2016, Asteroid Day was declared by the United Nations to be a global day of education to raise awareness about asteroids, their role in our solar system and the need to use science and technology to increase our knowledge and ability to protect humanity from dangerous impacts and facilitate future exploration. More than 700 events in 190 countries around the world are taking place for Asteroid Day, with NUI Galway being the only designated centre in Ireland to host events. To celebrate the day, the NUI Galway scientists setup a day of themed workshops and activities with the 10-12 year-old students at Educate Together National School. The students also heard about two asteroids that are named after two NUI Galway astronomers, Professor Andrew Shearer and Dr Aaron Golden. Both asteroids are known as main-belt asteroids which are located between Mars and Jupiter, which orbit about 300-400 million kilometres from the sun. Both were discovered by the Swedish astronomer C.-I. Lagerkvist in 1979. Astronomers, Professor Shearer and Dr Golden work in the field of high-time-resolution astrophysics and image processing, and were responsible for the measurements of optical pulsations from two pulsars. Speaking about the event in Galway, Professor Andrew Shearer from the School of Physics and Centre for Astronomy at NUI Galway, said: “Asteroid Day is a wonderful opportunity to engage schools and community in an international scientific event. Asteroids, relics from the birth of the solar system give us a fascinating insight into what we are made of. Famous asteroids include the one which killed the dinosaurs. The question remains: are we still at risk from asteroids crashing into the earth?” School workshop and engagement activities include: The Size of the Sun – Arranging imagery of earth, sun and space objects in order of their size, their distance from earth and their temperature. By manipulating these images the students confronted their own mental models of space and time. Create a Rocket – The students constructed and designed rockets that were successfully launched! Using plastic soft drink bottles, cardboard, tape, and glue. Pasta Rover - Using only pasta and glue, the students designed planetary pasta rovers to travel down a ramp and then travel an additional one meter on a smooth, flat surface. The students used the same engineering design process that NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers use to improve their designs. Asteroid modelling clay and paper – The students shaped their own asteroid models out of clay and paper as part of a hands-on lesson to learn how asteroids form, what they are made of, and where they can be found in our Solar System. Snakes & Ladders Game - The classic snakes and ladders game was replaced by rockets and comets in this astronomy themed version. A challenging and interactive way to learn various astronomical objects while moving your way to the winning square as space travellers. Talk with an NUI Galway Physicist – A talk with an astrophysicist, Ray Butler from the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway to learn about the nature and threat of asteroids followed by a question and answer session. A public talk by Dr Ray Butler from the Centre for Astronomy at NUI Galway entitled ‘Asteroids: Earth in the firing line’ will take place at the University’s Kirwan Theatre in the Arts Science Building from 7pm–8pm today Friday 30 June, to celebrate World Asteroid Day. Events for Asteroid Day 2017 are planned around the world and include participation this year from major space agencies: European Space Agency (ESA); Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and NASA, America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where every day is asteroid day. Events will take place for all ages at science centres, planetariums, observatories, museums, schools, theatres, libraries, civic, government halls and town squares. Tune in to NASA Facebook live videos with 2017 Astronauts from Johnson Space Centre in Houston on 30 June, using the hashtag #NewAstronauts at: https://www.facebook.com/NASA/videos/10155270254981772/. To join NUI Galway’s celebrations of World Asteroid Day online, Follow @nuigalway and NUI Galway on Facebook. To view World Asteroid Day events on the global map visit: https://asteroidday.org/. -Ends-