Minister Rabbitte Awards NUI Galway €230,000 under the BenefIT 3 Scheme

Minister Rabbitte Awards NUI Galway €230,000 under the BenefIT 3 Scheme-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

NUI Galway has been successfully awarded €230,000 as part of an inter agency collaboration that will train 4,600 people categorised as digitally excluded.  The project, entitled ‘Click and Connect’ is part of the BenefIT 3 scheme which has awarded €1.88m for 20 training projects run by community and voluntary groups and not for profit organisations across the country.  The ‘Click and Connect’ project will offer the people of Galway an introduction to the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT).  The training will offer hands on practical skills in digital photography and processing, using the internet to communicate with friends and family, online banking and government services. The partners include Age Action, Limerick Community Connect, DCU and NUI Galway.  Pat Byrne, Lecturer with the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway and lead in the Project, said: “This award stems from service learning activities that have been embedded in the University since 2003.  It is a great achievement for us and recognises the work that NUI Galway has been offering pro bono to the community and those traditionally excluded from ICT.  Classes will commence in January 2012 and information will be made available through the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway and local press.” Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte T.D., said: “This important scheme means that 40,000 people will gain from IT training between now and June 2012.   The programme is to support those who have not yet gone on-line.    In particular older people will benefit – as will an estimated 17,000 unemployed people as well as other disadvantaged groups.  By supporting community and voluntary organisations to deliver this training we can ensure excellent value for money.”     The ‘Click and Connect’ project will be key to intergenerational learning and will involve partnerships with the local community. This type of learning is vital to the NUI Galway student experience, and the University, through the CKI, is committed to the development of service and student volunteering.  -ENDS-

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Calling Ireland’s Best Young Female Mathematicians

Calling Ireland’s Best Young Female Mathematicians-image

Monday, 10 October 2011

On Saturday, 15 October, at the University of Limerick, the search for Ireland’s best female mathematical problem-solvers will start. All girls who currently attend a second level school in Ireland are eligible. In recent months, the lack of mathematical problem-solving skills among Irish second level school students has been in the focus of the media. What is less well-known is that for nearly 25 years, five universities in Ireland have been running successful Mathematical Enrichment Programmes for second level students. Many of those who have participated in these programmes are now lecturers or PhD students of mathematics in Ireland or abroad. A strong motivation for those who actively participate in the Enrichment Programmes is the possibility of competing in Mathematical Olympiads. In order to increase the level of interest in mathematical problem solving among female students, the inaugural European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) will take place in Cambridge, England from 10 April until 16 April, 2012. Ireland will be represented there by a team of up to four second level mathematicians. But all participants of the Mathematical Enrichment Programmes, not only the most successful, will benefit from the training offered between October and December and improve their problem solving skills. The training will be facilitated by a series of online lessons and challenges coordinated by mathematicians from NUI Galway, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, University of Limerick, UCD, UCC, and NUI Maynooth. Mathematical enrichment courses at these centres will follow later in the academic year, and Ireland’s first EGMO team will be selected early in 2012. It is likely that the successful students will have already completed their Junior Certificate. Dr Rachel Quinlan from NUI Galway, who will lead the Irish team to the EGMO, said: “Female students have historically been underrepresented at Mathematical Olympiads internationally. Female mathematical talent seems to be an underused resource, and an initiative aiming at mobilising this talent is a brilliant idea. Often, girls who participate in Mathematical Olympiads do this at the highest level. For example, the German student Lisa Sauermann was the only competitor at this year’s International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) to achieve a perfect score. She now holds the leading position in the IMO Hall of Fame with 4 Gold and one Silver medal, outperforming all other participants of 52 years of IMO.” Young mathematicians of both sexes are invited to participate in the programme of problem solving offered through the Enrichment Programmes at five universities in Ireland. The students in these programmes will be included in the search for Ireland’s team for the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad which will take place in Argentina in July. Those who are interested in this mathematical problem-solving day need to register online at by Tuesday, 11 October. More detailed information about the training and EGMO will be provided during the problem-solving day in Limerick from 11am until 3.30pm. -ENDS-  

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Irish Astronomers Participate in Major Pulsar Discovery

Irish Astronomers Participate in Major Pulsar Discovery-image

Friday, 7 October 2011

Astronomers at four Irish third level institutions have participated in the detection of pulsed gamma-ray emission from the Crab Pulsar at energies far beyond what current theoretical models of pulsars can explain. With energies exceeding 100 billion electron volts the surprising gamma-ray pulses were detected by the international VERITAS collaboration using an array of telescopes at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona.  Their results are published in a paper in the October 7th issue of the prestigious journal Science The Irish scientists have been involved in the search for this pulsed emission for over two decades.  The Irish team members include Dr John Quinn at University College Dublin, Dr Gary Gillanders and Dr Mark Lang at the NUI Galway, Dr Paul Reynolds at Cork Institute of Technology and Dr Pat Moriarty at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The Crab pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, the collapsed core of a massive star that exploded in a spectacular supernova in the year 1054, leaving behind the brilliant Crab Nebula with the pulsar at its heart.  Spinning at 30 times a second the pulsar emits a rotating beam of radiation like a lighthouse beacon.  Current theoretical models of the pulsar predict that the maximum energy of pulsed gamma-rays should be about 10 billion electron volts so it was very significant to find emission with energies ten times higher.  Further observations to characterise the very high energy gamma-ray emission and new theoretical models will be required to explain the physical mechanism behind it. The Irish involvement in VERITAS is part funded by Science Foundation Ireland. More information on the discovery is available at

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NUI Galway Launches USNI Victory Scholarships

NUI Galway Launches USNI Victory Scholarships-image

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, recently announced the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme at NUI Galway. First launched in Ulster University, the Victory Scholarships Programme has this year been extended to universities in the Republic of Ireland, with NUI Galway being the first University to adopt the programme. The inaugural NUI Galway USNI Victory scholars are Timothy Coyne from St. John Fisher College in New York State and Will Archambault from Davidson College in North Carolina, who will both undertake a Masters in International Management at NUI Galway’s School of Business. The Victory Scholarship Programme assists deserving American students in obtaining a scholarship package to study at Masters level in Ireland. While studying in Ireland these students continue to play or develop sport at all levels; work in the wider community with young people and gain valuable work experience through internships and mentoring with local businesses. Both scholars will also play for NUI Galway in colleges and varsity competitions as well as playing and coaching for the Titans, a Galway City based basketball club, with 400 adult and junior members. According to President Browne, “The USNI Victory Scholarship Programme is a great initiative which facilitates improved access to education at NUI Galway while also deepening linkages through sport with our wider community in Galway. The programme is a natural fit for the University’s Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) which aims to promote greater civic engagement in academic activities, namely teaching, research and service at all levels of University life. I gratefully acknowledge the support of Galway University Foundation and its donors in the United States for the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme and I thank USNI Sport and Titans Basketball Club for their participation in this initiative.” Under the initiative, NUI Galway students are encouraged to participate in community activities locally, nationally and internationally. The Victory Scholarship programme also reinforces NUI Galway’s relationship with the United States. With over 700 Junior Year Abroad students attending the University annually, NUI Galway is one of the leading Irish destinations for American students. In addition, the University has academic partnerships with several universities and an active alumni community in the United States. Gareth Maguire, Director of USNI Sport, added: “USNI Sport Foundation believes that ‘sport changes life’. We believe that providing a programme that enhances personal development, academic achievement and sporting excellence will pay dividends for the scholars as well as all the young people in Galway they will work with over the course of their year. This year will transform the outlooks of our scholars and bring positive sport and diversionary programmes to young people in the area. We are delighted that NUI Galway is the first university in the Republic of Ireland to offer this exciting initiative and have every belief that it will be a huge success for all concerned.” Padraic Fogarty, Chairman of the Titans Basketball Club, also welcomed the initiative: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with NUI Galway in the expansion of the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme to the Republic of Ireland. We are a progressive club with deeply embedded core values. This initiative aligns well with our values and in particular the promotion of inclusiveness through engagement with a number of communities in Galway City and also our approach of developing strong international links. It’s great to welcome Tim and Will to the club who have quickly established themselves in Galway and are already making a positive contribution to Titans. We thank NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Gareth Maguire of USNI for establishing the link with Titans and in particular the US based donors, without whom this fantastic Programme would not be possible.” -ENDS-

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Postgraduate Student Travels to Germany with Cardiac Tissue Research

Postgraduate Student Travels to Germany with Cardiac Tissue Research-image

Monday, 3 October 2011

A postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway has been awarded a fellowship at a prestigious University in Germany to advance his work in the field of cardiac tissue engineering. Michael Monaghan was awarded the fellowship by the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and will allow Michael to further his research in Germany until January 2012.   Michael Monaghan, originally a graduate of NUI Galway’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, will spend three months working with the Franhofer IGB Institute and University Tübingen in Stuttgart, which have a long history of cardiovascular and tissue engineering research.  Describing the opportunity Michael, from Mohill, Co Leitrim, says: “This fellowship will allow me a unique opportunity to test our functional biomaterial in one of the best research labs in Europe. These three months should prove invaluable to my research career and create collaborative links with some of the best scientists in Europe.”Michael is in the final year of his PhD programme under the supervision of Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), an SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster at NUI Galway. His research on the delivery interfering RNA (RNAi), an emerging field of non-viral gene therapy, is leading to a clearer understanding of RNAi’s therapeutic potential. Specifically, Michael is investigating the modulation of scarring of the myocardium following myocardial infarction (MI) aiming to aid the body to heal itself by silencing detrimental cell processes.  Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of morbidity in the developed world and there is currently no technique for regeneration of infarcted myocardium. One of the NFB’s goals is to develop scaffold-based cardiac gene therapy to minimize damage, promote regeneration and modulate the fibrotic response in cardiac tissues following MI. The research conducted by Michael would ultimately be of benefit to patients at risk of heart failure following MI, leading to a decrease in morbidity and improved heart function.  According to Professor Pandit: “NUI Galway has established a critical mass in the area of developing the next-generation biomaterials in Ireland. Each individual researcher is playing an important part in our work and Michael is a perfect example.  His research is advancing the field of tissue engineering and will have possible applications in cardiac and skin regeneration following injury.”   -ends-

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Participants Needed for Research into Chronic Pain at NUI Galway

Participants Needed for Research into Chronic Pain at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 3 October 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research are looking for volunteers to participate in a medical research study.  The aim of the study is to increase understanding of the impact of chronic pain on learning, memory and attention. Healthy volunteers, with no history of chronic pain, are being sought to participate in this study as part of the ‘control’ group. Participants must be over 18, with no pre-existing cognitive impairment, and no history of major psychiatric illness, epilepsy, seizures or diabetes. Participants will be required to complete some questionnaires and simple assessments that measure memory, attention and other functions, such as problem solving. Orla Moriarty from Renmore in Galway, is the PhD student at NUI Galway behind the project: “What we should point out, is that this will be a pain-free experience for our volunteers.  In total we will need to find about 40 suitable candidates to participate. As with so much of science, a ‘control’ group is vital to our research. We really hope we will find the people we need.” The team at the Centre for Pain Research already have people who suffer from chronic pain to participate in the study, through its Pain Clinic.  Chronic pain affects up to 35% of the Irish population and is increasingly recognised as a disease in its own right. Chronic pain is sometimes associated with psychological effects, which may in some cases include forgetfulness, and difficulties in focusing attention, planning tasks and making decisions. As part of ongoing work at the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and funded by the Higher Education Authority under PRTLI4, researchers are attempting to investigate the relationship between pain and cognitive function. Drs David Finn and Brian McGuire are Co-Directors of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway. According to Dr Finn: “Our goal is to compare the cognitive performance of patients with chronic neuropathic pain or radicular pain to that of healthy control volunteers, to gain a better understanding of how pain and cognition are related and to determine what types of cognition are most affected.” The assessment will take place at NUI Galway, lasting one to one and a half hours, with participants offered a small amount of compensation. Those who may be eligible and might like to take part in the study should contact Orla Moriarty on 086 3918862 or 091 495246 or email -ends-

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NUI Galway’s New Engineering Building is Shortlisted for National Award

NUI Galway’s New Engineering Building is Shortlisted for National Award-image

Monday, 17 October 2011

NUI Galway’s new Engineering Building has been shortlisted for the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards. The public will decide who will win this prestigious award, with an online vote deciding among the eight finalists. Voting closes on 3 November. According to Engineers Ireland, the new Engineering Building ‘reflects the University’s commitment to engineering, in its innovation, quality and scale’. Situated on the north campus, just under the Quincentenary Bridge, the immense glass, steel and zinc structure officially opened in July 2011, and is now home to 1,100 students and 110 staff. The building supports an emerging generation of engineers, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship, and become engaged in a new wave of technologies. In fact, the building has been designed to be an interactive teaching tool in itself; a ‘living laboratory’ is how it was described by the Irish Times. Viewing panels have been created so that the students can literally peer into the foundations. Sections of the steel embedded in the cement walls for reinforcement can be seen. Also on show is an array of ‘green’ building methods which will help inform students about a raft of modern sustainable technologies. Live data from numerous sensors measures the behaviour of the structure and its energy consumption, and is used as a teaching tool for structural engineering and building performance concepts. Pipes and ducting labelled in corridors and rooms have been left exposed. The entire building was described as a ‘gross anatomy’ lesson of sorts for engineering students. The Engineering Building was designed by award-winning architects RMJM from Scotland in partnership with Mayo-based Taylor Architects. Speaking about the new building, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Lyons, said: “The design of this 14,250m2, engineering teaching facility reflects not only the history of engineering but also a testimony to the role of engineering in Ireland’s future.  We have created an inspirational environment for learning and for nurturing the spirit of enquiry into the science and art of engineering.” The winning project will be judged on the largest number of online votes received by midnight on Thursday, 3 November, with the winner announced at a special awards ceremony in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin on Friday, 4 November. To vote for the Engineering Project of the Year 2011 visit   -ends-

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September 2011

Pre-clinical Research Proves Promising for the Treatment of Blood Cancer

Pre-clinical Research Proves Promising for the Treatment of Blood Cancer-image

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pre-clinical research has generated some very promising findings about a prototype drug for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The findings, from work carried out by scientists at NUI Galway, are published in this month’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The research introduced a molecule, or prototype drug, to blood samples from patients with the type of blood cancer known as CLL. The findings indicated that the prototype drug kills leukemia cells circulating in the blood, including cells with features often associated with chemotherapy resistance. Additionally, it was found that the molecule also has the potential to target dividing leukemia cells within lymph nodes. With current standard treatment, these cells can act as a reservoir of resistant cells, which can then give rise to relapse.For the last two and half years, NUI Galway’s Professor Corrado Santocanale, along with Professor Michael O’Dwyer and Professor Afshin Samali, among others, have been researching this molecule ‘PHA-767491’ for treating CLL. According to Professor Corrado Santocanale, who works in NUI Galway’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES) and in the Centre for Chromosome Biology (CCB): “Generally, the prognosis for patients diagnosed with CLL, one of the commonest types of blood cancer, is not as positive as we would like. However these laboratory results provide some hope for the future, especially as related trials with patients are already underway”. The molecule is the parent compound of a drug now being tested in a phase one clinical trial led by Professor Michael O’Dwyer at the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway. The success of the laboratory research was an important factor in developing the clinical trial. Frank Giles, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics and Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, commented: “Enormous progress in anti-cancer therapy is being made as pre-clinical identification of an optimal target, the development of small molecule that modulate the target, and the conduct of early phase human studies, are becoming a seamless process. The conduct of these early studies is a top priority for our NUI Galway CRF and demonstrates Ireland’s increasing strength in this critical biomedical sector.” Pre-clinical cancer biology research at NUI Galway encompasses multidisciplinary research clusters who are working to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer, and to develop new and better cancer therapies. The University also has a strong translational and clinical research programme with the objective of translating research discoveries into improved patient care.  -ends-

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NUI Galway Gets Arts into Action

NUI Galway Gets Arts into Action-image

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

NUI Galway has launched the 2011/2012 Arts in Action Programme, which invites students to engage with the creative arts during their studies. Aimed at students across the campus, Arts in Action offers access to a variety of international-standard arts events throughout the academic year. The new programme, a development and promotion by the College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, has been radically extended from previous years to allow for concerts, theatre performances and many other artforms to take place on a weekly basis throughout the academic year. The 2011/2012 programme is themed around music and languages and it also showcases some of the gifted performers who have formal links to NUI Galway. Included are performances by the Abbey Theatre, NUI Galway Medical Orchestra, NUI Galway student and TG4 Young Musician of the Year, Pádraic Keane, ConTempo, Martín O’Connor and Frankie Gavin. The Creative Director of Arts in Action, Mary McPartlan, says “NUI Galway’s continuing commitment to the arts, its contribution to the many current initiatives on and off campus, is founded in the strong belief that the relationship between academic studies and the arts is significant. The Arts has a role to play in the development of highly qualified graduates, active citizens and leaders in many fields of endeavour, shaping future lives.” The programme of activity, with the exception of three events at the Town Hall theatre, all take place at lunchtime in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway. All of the events are free to attend, apart from the events at the Town Hall Theatre which have a fee of €5. The programme will run from September 29 to March 2012. To view a full programme of events visit     -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Announce Details of 2011 Observatory Open Nights

NUI Galway Announce Details of 2011 Observatory Open Nights-image

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy will continue its programme of open evenings at its Imbusch Observatory in Dangan. The Observatory provides state-of-the-art observing facilities for NUI Galway's Astrophysics students and the Open evenings are an opportunity for the general public to come in and visit. Weather permitting, the free open evenings will take place on 12 and 26 October, 9 and 23 November and 7 and 21 December at 7pm. An informative hour-long lecture will be followed by a hands-on viewing of the sky by night, weather permitting. The Imbusch Astronomical Observatory was opened in 2004 and is used by students studying Physics and Astronomy at NUI Galway. The observatory is equipped with a modern computer controlled 16" telescope and camera, and a radio telescope with a hydrogen line spectrometer, which is able to map out and measure the velocity of the sun and the Milky Way. There is also a 10" portable telescope - computer controlled – for visual observations of planets, star clusters, nebulae and other bright objects. Bookings are limited to two tickets per person and is strictly by ticket only, on a first come first served basis. All bookings are by email and those interested should send requests to -ENDS-

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