Thursday, 30 November 2017

A scientist from NUI Galway recently took part in a research sampling expedition at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Northern Ukraine, to sample its soils and investigate what effect the 30 years of exposure to radiation has had on the soil’s microorganisms that inhabit this particular area. DNA from these soils will be sequenced using cutting-edge techniques to reveal in minute detail its population of bacteria and will provide results in early 2018. The outcomes will help determine why radiation is persisting in the soil, and offer new clues as to how to speed up recovery of the ecosystem. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion in 1986, the most well-known nuclear accident in the world, deposited excess radioactive material throughout Europe. To this day, parts of Scandinavia and the British Islands have higher than expected levels of radiation in their soil due to contamination from Chernobyl. Near the exploded reactor, in the border between the Ukraine and Belarus, soil radiation continues to reach high levels, and a large area has been set aside as a conservation area to isolate communities from the radioactive contamination called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Despite a substantial decrease in background radiation levels since the accident, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone region remains highly contaminated with radioactive material, particularly its soils and aquatic sediments. Intriguingly, the persistence of specific radioactive compounds in this Zone’s soil greatly exceeds initial projections. The most contaminated area within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the Red Forest, whose name is derived from the red colour of the dying trees following the disaster. In September 2016 a forest fire burned through the Red Forest, leaving patches of burned and unburned vegetation. The combination of forest fire and radiation made the Red Forest an open-air laboratory for the study of the effect of multiple environmental stresses on ecosystems. Microbiologist, Dr Alexandre B de Menezes from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway met with colleagues from the University of Salford, the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Ukraine’s Chernobyl Centre at the Red Forest where they sampled the radioactive soils. Speaking about the research, Dr de Menezes from NUI Galway, said: “The Red Forest soil is a reservoir of radioactive particles, but we know next to nothing about how soil microorganisms cope with 30 plus years of radiation exposure. This research will not only teach us about the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on these microorganisms, but also reveal basic knowledge about how microorganisms, which are often ignored when we think of ecological disasters, help to sustain an entire ecosystem under great environmental stress.” The soil DNA was extracted at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and will now be used for DNA sequencing. Dr de Menezes will use bacterial DNA sequences from the Red Forest soil to provide insights into whether some bacteria are associated with higher soil radiation, determine if the soil bacterial communities in high radiation areas were more sensitive to the forest fire disturbance and identify new biological mechanisms that could aid in controlling soil radiation. The recent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, and rising geopolitical tension have re-surfaced concerns regarding the impact of radioactive contamination on communities and ecosystems. This increased threat highlights the need to understand the long-term impacts of catastrophic nuclear accidents and their ecosystems to enable effective containment and remediation measures to be developed. This study is partly funded by the British Ecological Society. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Flag - A new taxi app designed for students will launch in Dublin City this December. The unique app is the only service in the world that allows a passenger to travel and pay for taxis with no phone, cash or bank card while ensuring the driver still gets paid. Flag originally started out as a college project called Dash while inventor Richie Commins was a final year Business Information Systems student at NUI Galway. Since graduating, Richie has combined business graduates and experienced engineers with taxi industry experience from the US and Romania, to upgrade the software into the version the App is today. The latest member recruited to the Flag team is the original founder of GoCar.ie, Michael Newham. The app is available in app stores as ‘Flag – The Taxi App’. This is similar to other taxi apps that allow you to get a taxi, however a feature unique to Flag is what is called “The wallet-less feature” where users are required to upload a photo ID and create a personal digit pin code to secure an account. If a situation arises such as a user's phone is dead, the user simply flags a taxi off the street, gives the driver their name and enters the four digit pin on the driver app. The user’s photo appears on the driver’s phone to confirm identity before the fare begins. Payment is processed from the user’s pre-registered card as normal upon arrival at the user’s destination. The creative and innovative app boasts pin point location, tracking and accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ as well as extra safety features such as the wallet-less payment (the only taxi app in the world to provide this service). Richie has gained support from Enterprise Ireland, Nissan, AIB and many other organisations. Richie said: “I was lucky to eventually get a Chief Technology Officer who manages our large team of engineers to get the app ready for drivers and passengers in both iOS and android. When I started this in college we didn’t even have an app for the students.” An Garda Síochana also supported the project from the early days through their Campus Watch Programme at NUI Galway. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention said: “The taxis that have integrated this app have really shown they care about passengers, and hopefully all taxis will soon be branded with the safety it brings.” The project has gathered an incredible momentum since the team were students. The team has decided to focus efforts on launching the upgraded app, Flag, in Dublin only. To show their gratitude for driver support and to encourage more drivers to see how good the app is, Flag will not be charging drivers any commission this Christmas. Flag plans to roll out across the country later in 2018. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway is hosting a number of experts in dementia from across the world this week to speak to early career researchers about issues in dementia care, and helping to grow capacity and leadership in the dementia sector in Ireland and internationally. The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia carries out cutting edge research in economic and social areas to help improve the lives of people with dementia and their families. It is hoped that by generating evidence through research that the quality of life for people with dementia and their families can be improved, enabling them to remain living well at home for as long as possible. It is estimated that there are about 55,000 people living with dementia today in Ireland. This number is likely to double in the next 15 years to over 100,000 people. The total economic and social cost of dementia in Ireland is estimated to be just under €2 billion per year. Most people with dementia live in the community where access to services and supports often depend on where the person is living. Research shows that better services and supports in the community can enable people with dementia to remain living at home for longer. Issues of how to best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population were addressed by the Citizen’s Assembly earlier this year. Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, addressed the Assembly last June and spoke about the sustainability of the care system in the longer term for an ageing population. Research conducted at the Centre will address some of the questions raised by the Citizen’s Assembly in relation to the care of older people in Ireland, particularly in relation to the funding of long-term care. Engagement with people with dementia, their families and carers is central to the work at the Centre. Professor O’Shea describes the importance of this engagement as, “the views of the person with dementia and their families on the personal experience of living with the disease are key to the success of the work at the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia and can change how we approach and think about the disease.” There are a number of research projects currently underway that engage with the person with dementia and their families. The Centre at NUI Galway is establishing a Dementia Advisory Forum which will bring together people with dementia and their families to inform the research. Dr Patricia Carney, a researcher at the Centre describes the Dementia Advisory Forum as, “a platform to give people with dementia a voice who want to help set the agenda for dementia research in Ireland and bring about change.” If you would like to take part in any aspect of the research or find out more about the ongoing work at the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, visit: www.cesrd.ie -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

MaREI Researchers help win €9.39 million funding for GENCOMM project  An energy sustainability project in which NUI Galway is a key partner has been given the green light after winning an Interreg North-West Europe funding bid for the €9.39 million GENCOMM Project. GENCOMM aims to answer the energy sustainability challenges facing remote communities across North-West Europe through production and storage of renewable hydrogen. The project will build three pilot facilities fuelled by solar, wind and biomass energy sources to measure their ability to produce and store hydrogen. GENCOMM will assess hydrogen’s viability as a sustainable energy solution for heat, power and fuel for communities across North-West Europe. The NUI Galway research, led by MaREI (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy) funded Investigator Dr Rory Monaghan, are charged with ensuring the long-term impact of GENCOMM by developing H2GO, an online tool to support investment decisions in hydrogen storage, and establishing CH2F, a community hydrogen energy forum, to drive the adoption of the technology. The project is led by Belfast Metropolitan College, and is one of the largest EU projects ever secured by a lead partner from Northern Ireland. On being awarded the Interreg North-West Europe Programme funding, Dr Monaghan, said: “With its exposure to the power of the Atlantic Ocean, NUI Galway and MaREI are at the centre of North-West Europe’s richest concentration of renewable energy potential. Storing that energy, converting it to a useful form, and transporting it to where it is needed are some of the biggest barriers to a sustainable future. By building pilot plants and applying the knowledge we gain through NUI Galway’s activities, GENCOMM aims to make a major impact on the viability of renewable energy.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “The scope of the project and the size of the award are testament to the strength and innovative nature of the project and the high calibre of partner organisations, as we seek to work together to deliver hydrogen-based solutions that will help address energy sustainability challenges to communities across North-West Europe.” NUI Galway is working in conjunction with nine universities and companies across Europe to deliver the GENCOMM Project, including: Belfast Metropolitan College, University Institut National des Sciences Appliquées Rouen Normandie, IZES gGmbH, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ENSICAEN – CNRS, Pure Energy Centre Scotland, and three further companies in Northern Ireland; Viridian, TK Renewables, and Williams Industrial Services. The NUI Galway GENCOMM team from the College of Engineering and Informatics comprises of Dr Rory Monaghan (Leader), Dr Padraig Molloy and Dr Ed Curry (Co-Leads), Mr Arya Gunawan (PhD Researcher), and Ms Rjaa Ashraf and Mr Wells Tang (Masters researchers). For more information on Project GENCOMM, visit: http://www.nweurope.eu/gencomm/ -Ends-  

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Novel approach to help breast cancer patients’ post-mastectomy wins award An innovative approach to help breast cancer patients post-mastectomy has been awarded the Inaugural Allergan Innovation Award at NUI Galway. Dr Niamh O’Halloran, a researcher with the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, received the award for her project which seeks to use the body’s own cells to avoid complications with implants. The Allergan Award for Innovation, valued at €6,000 provides funding to accomplished scholars who wish to advance their innovative research studies in the field of Life Sciences. The winner was chosen from a competitive field of applicants among the postgraduate and PhD student community at NUI Galway. Allergan, headquartered in Dublin, is a global pharmaceutical company and a leader in a new industry model, Growth Pharma. The company with commercial operations in 100 countries worldwide, is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercialising branded pharmaceuticals, devices and biologic products for patients around the world. Allergan operates four facilities in Ireland, employing 1,800 people, two manufacturing operations, one in Westport, Co. Mayo and one in Clonshaugh, Co. Dublin, a medical technology company ZELTIQ Aesthetics in Galway, and an international supply chain office in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. Speaking about the award Paul Coffey, Vice President and Plant Manager of Allergan, Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NUI Galway for this year’s Allergan Innovation Award and congratulations to Dr Niamh O’Halloran. To mark 40 successful years of business in Ireland, we wanted to build on our longstanding relationships with communities through providing educational support to universities and colleges around the country, by reaffirming our commitment to the future of Life Sciences.  We wanted to recognise and support scholars who have excelled through innovation research in this field. We hope that this Innovation Award will inspire more students who wish to establish themselves within the field. Collaborating with a prestigious university, such as NUI Galway is an exciting initiative for all involved, and we look forward to the positive results and experiences it will bring for students and for our industry.” Breast cancer is a global pandemic, with the National Cancer Registry predicting that by 2020 there will be approximately 5,000 new cases in Ireland per annum. Despite advances in oncology and the dawn of the molecular era in cancer diagnosis and treatment, an estimated forty per cent of breast cancer patients require mastectomy. Immediate breast reconstruction has become an integral part of breast cancer care, affording psychosocial and aesthetic benefits. However, implants are not without their limitations and the response of the immune system to foreign materials in the human body can lead to complications. Dr Niamh O’Halloran from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “We want to develop a method of coating implants with a gel biomaterial which incorporates elements of the patient’s own fat tissue. The hydrogel is based on hyaluronic acid, most commonly seen these days in skin creams and beauty products. The patient’s own cells will grow on the gel, thus reducing scar tissue formation which leads to implant related complications.” “The aim is to develop biocompatible prosthetic implants preventing complications such as capsular contracture, implant extrusion and implant rupture and will negate the requirement of regular implant exchange. We hope this will reduce patient morbidity and operation costs significantly over time. A biocompatible implant coated with cellular tissue will also result in improved cosmetic outcomes for the patient, giving the patient a better quality of life”, added Dr O’Halloran. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, commented: “Allergan are supporting a truly innovative concept here, which although at early stages of development, holds out real hope for patients. The calibre of applications for this award was very high, and I congratulate Dr O’Halloran on her success.” Dr Niamh O’ Halloran graduated from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway in 2014 and took up a research post with the University’s School of Medicine in 2015. She has also been awarded the Future Projects Prize at the 2017 Society of Academic and Research Surgery Annual Meeting for her work on the use of tissue engineering strategies in breast reconstruction post-mastectomy. -Ends-  

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Professor John Laffey, Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway, has published a paper in The British Medical Journal outlining strategies to improve recognition, awareness and diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is an acute inflammatory lung injury, often caused by infection, which can result in respiratory failure. Around 40% of patients with ARDS do not survive, and others experience serious long-term health consequences. No drug treatments exist for ARDS, however good supportive management and careful support of organ function reduces harm and improves outcomes for patients. ARDS is incorrectly considered to be rare, in particular by clinicians less familiar with intensive care units. Delayed or failed recognition of ARDS leads to delayed treatment or no treatment at all and under-recognition is linked to under treatment. The LUNG SAFE study (29,000 patients in 459 intensive care units in 50 countries), which was jointly led by Professor Laffey, allowed for retrospective diagnosis of ARDS by researchers using clinical data, independent of the treating clinicians. The study reported that 40% of cases of ARDS were not recognised at any time during a patient’s stay in the intensive care unit. Delayed diagnosis was the norm, with less than 30% of patients diagnosed on the first day that criteria were present. Although this evidence is new and compelling, the issue is not new, Professor Laffey, explains: “Failure to recognise ARDS leads to failure to use proven treatments, and this translates into higher chances of death, and a worse quality of life for patients who survive. Issues such as cognitive impairment, muscle wasting, and functional limitation in patients are some common consequences.” Diagnosis of ARDS relies on recognising patterns in patients with evolving illness and receiving complex care. The interpretation of chest radiography in ARDS can be poor, and substantial inter-observer variation has been documented. Further difficulties arise with the lack of consensus around a definition of ARDS. “Increased awareness of the condition among clinicians, patients and their relatives raises the likelihood of diagnosis. Over 20% of ventilated patients in intensive care units have ARDS, but it should be considered in any sick patient with respiratory distress, whether in the community, in an emergency department, or hospital ward. If we can detect these patients earlier, ideally on first presentation to the hospital, we can intervene earlier, and potentially improve outcome,” added Professor Laffey. The co-authors of the study from the University of Toronto were Professor Brian Kavanagh and Professor Cheryl Misak, an ARDS survivor. Evidence based strategies for improving outcomes for patients with ARDS are outlined in the paper, which is available at http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.j5055. -Ends-

Friday, 24 November 2017

Margaretta D’Arcy has donated her papers and those of her late husband and playwright John Arden to NUI Galway. The archive throws new light on two pivotal but under-researched figures of 20th and 21st century Irish and British theatre. It also features strongly the activism of both Arden and D’Arcy. John Arden was one of the major dramatists of the twentieth century, with early plays such as Sergeant Musgrave's Dance (1960) helping to inaugurate a new era of politically engaged theatre in Britain at theatres like London’s Royal Court. During a long career of writing and activism, he published several plays and essays, and his novel Silence Among the Weapons was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1983. Margaretta D’Arcy is a major writer and cultural activist who has long campaigned on issues related to global peace, civil liberties, and equality. She is a member of Aosdána. Arden and D’Arcy together also co-authored many plays, including the celebrated Non-Stop Connolly Show, and have been major figures in the development of community-based and politically-focussed arts. Their papers are valuable not only from the perspective of theatre and literary Studies, but in terms of Irish and British social, political and cultural history.  This archive preserves not only the work of two eminent artists, but the history of a long-ranging and complex political and artistic collaboration. The political themes of their work in relationship to capitalism, industry, war and the legacies of colonialism remain timely and indeed urgent for scholars and theatre practitioners working today. The international dimension of their work (whether through collaborations with Welsh and Scottish theatre companies among others, their trip to India or their globally minded activism) further establishes NUI Galway and the West of Ireland as an international centre for the advancement of the study of theatre and drama. The collection consists of 314 boxes of archival material, as well as 35 linear metres of books, and covers all aspects of their lives, including family background, education, their writings and their activism. Highlights include detailed drafts of The Non-Stop Connolly Show and the memoirs of Margaretta, including her protests at Armagh Jail, Greenham Common and Shannon Airport. There is a wealth of material on community activism from the local to the international, including Radio Pirate Woman and Galway Women’s Entertainment, Aosdána, Northern Ireland, Global Women’s Strike, and many more campaigns. Unique among the University’s collections as a record of writing, theatre and activism, it will add greatly to its holdings of cultural and political collections, including the John McGahern Collection, the Lyric Theatre/O’Malley Collection, the Siobhán McKenna Collection and the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Collection. The University will mark the bequest of the Arden and D’Arcy archive on Friday 24 November in the O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance. Speakers at the launch of the archive will include Margaretta D’Arcy as well as Galway musician and cultural activist, Mary Coughlan. Finn Arden, son of Margaretta and John, will be among the attendees. A symposium titled Political Theatre in Britain and Ireland Since 1950: the Legacies of John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy will be followed by a public interview with Margaretta D’Arcy. Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies Patrick Lonergan warmly welcomed the donation of these papers to the university. “John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy’s archive will be of immense value for both teaching and research in this univeristy. Their achievements expose several blindspots in our understanding of the relationship between theatre and politics – especially relating to such issues as imperialism, community activism, socialism, and gender equality. Their commitment to co-authorship and to the use of theatre to achieve social justice offers new models for understanding how theatre can be made and understood. And fundamentally this archive will allow us to do the work of redressing the major neglect of both Arden and D’Arcy. Exciting times lie ahead for our students and researchers.” Dr Jim Browne reflecting on the legacy of Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden said that they had made an enormous contribution over many decades to Irish society, to international cultural discourse and to political theatre.  Theirs are “voices of conscience that have questioned the orthodoxies of our time.  It is fitting that their archive will be based in NUI Galway.  Universities have always been places where differing opinions can be discussed and challenged.  This is important - perhaps never more so than today, when in an age of “fake news” universities need to remind themselves of the need for all valid and informed views to be heard.  Dissenting voices are a way of stress-testing the truth and challenging received opinion.  The lives and works of Margaretta Darcy and John Arden stand as inspiration to us in this regard.” Margaretta D’Arcy comments: “A veritable feast awaits those who will be attending the handover to NUI Galway of some of the archive materials of John Arden and myself on 24th November.  It is hoped that the entire collection, including audio and video material will be eventually housed there. The indefatigable Mary Coughlan,   Blues singer and participant in Arden/D’Arcy’s theatrical endeavours, will speak at the launch. There will also be a symposium on Irish and British Theatre since the 1950’s after which I will be interviewed by Maggie Ronayne from the Discipline of Archaeology at NUI Galway. The interview will cover the importance of looking at the Arden/D’Arcy archives with an archaeological, social and political slant.” John Cox, University Librarian, notes that “It is an honour to receive the papers of Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden and to add them to our growing collection of archives in theatre and drama. This is a very generous donation by Margaretta and I have no doubt that there will be great interest in the papers as a source of new insights into her cultural activism. They will be a great resource for academic staff and students at the University and we will also welcome visitors to use them.” ENDS

Thursday, 23 November 2017

NUI Galway Ryan Institute scientists lever over €800,000 in research infrastructure investment by Marine Institute The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, this week announced the awarding of grant funding through the Marine Institute to research projects in specialist marine equipment to six scientists from NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute. The funding awards of over €800,000 will strengthen the Ryan Institute’s research capabilities in a range of research areas including aquaculture, climate change, biogeochemistry and using autonomous systems for upper ocean profiling. The funding grants have been made in the area of specialist marine equipment and small infrastructure from the Marine Institute. Minister Michael Creed, said: “I’m delighted to announce these funding grants which herald the next step forward for many new projects in our marine sector. The funding for marine research equipment helps to target a gap in funding that exists between supports available to Higher Education Institutes via the HEA and support from Ireland’s development agencies such as SFI and Enterprise Ireland. These grants will allow the marine research and innovation community to purchase specialist equipment needed to support their current and future research activities.” Welcoming the funding awards, Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Research infrastructure funding is critical for Ireland’s research community to maintain and advance its international competitiveness. Such infrastructure will foster research collaboration and partnerships with both public and private sector partners, nationally and internationally. The Ryan Institute’s research community really welcome this infrastructure funding support from the Marine Institute, which provides the basis to further develop our research excellence and socioeconomic impact in marine and aquatic sciences and innovation.” Marine Institute Research Infrastructure Investment Award Recipients   Professor Peter Croot - Analysis of Trace Metals in Seawater for Marine Research Professor Charles Spillane - Smart Aquaculture Feeding Trials Research Infrastructure Dr Audrey Morley - Particle Size Analyser for Transdisciplinary Research in Marine Sciences Professor Olivier Thomas - Marine Chiroptics Professor Paul Murphy - Continuous Flow Chemistry Equipment for Sugar Research Professor Peter Croot - Analysis of climate relevant gases in seawater Dr Brian Ward - Next generation of Autonomous Upper Ocean Profiling Platform -Ends-

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The winners of the nationwide ReelLIFE SCIENCE video competition were announced during science week 2017 which concluded nationally last week. Winners of the 2017 awards were Sooey Primary School, Co. Sligo, Davitt College in Castlebar, Co. Mayo and Corofin Foróige group from Corofin, Co. Galway. 25 fifth and sixth class students from Sooey National School dramatised the battle invading bacteria face when they meet the immune system in their video ‘How the Immune System Works’. A group of 11 Davitt College Transition Year students explored the use of forensics in the entertaining whodunnit ‘The Death of Paul Donovan’ while five members of the Corofin Foróige group used animation to produce ‘The Immune System Simplified’. Based in NUI Galway and supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, the Community Knowledge Initiative and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenges Irish schools and community to communicate science via engaging and educational short videos. This challenge was met by more than 1,500 students in 83 schools and groups around Ireland, producing over 180 short science videos on a range of topics in both English and Irish. Selecting the best videos to share the €5000 prize fund were Trinity College Dublin Professor and Royal Society Fellow Luke O’Neill, BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year 2017, Shane Curran from Terenure College Dublin and NASA Spacecraft systems engineer and aspiring astronaut Amber Gell, who said “all of these students should feel like winners, because they did an exceptional job with their entries. I had a lot of fun watching the videos and learning more about their favourite science concepts. You’re only as good as your competition and the ReelLIFE SCIENCE competition clearly brings out the best in us. It stirs a healthy public interest in science and inspires so many great minds to compete.” Other prize winners included: St Hugh’s National School from Dowra, Co. Leitrim Gaelscoil Riabhach from Loughrea, Co. Galway Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co. Clare Coláiste Lorcáin, Castledermot, Co. Kildare Olivia Ng from the BrainMatTrain programme Keira Corcoran from the Westside Youth Project, Galway City All videos can be viewed at www.reellifescience.com  and will be shown to the general public as part of the Galway Science and Technology Exhibition, held in NUI Galway on Sunday, 26 November. Since launching in 2013, over 8,500 students in 300 schools and community groups around Ireland have taken part in ReelLIFE SCIENCE. The videos produced have been viewed more than 100,000 times in over 100 countries worldwide. ReelLIFE SCIENCE is organised by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of 100 science communication enthusiasts, in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS outreach programme from the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences. Dr O’Connell said: “We were thrilled again this year with the reaction to the competition, particularly with so many new schools and community groups getting involved for the first time. We are always inspired by the knowledge and creativity shown by the participants in their videos and their passion for science and technology is clear to see. Congratulations to everyone who took part.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of a leading expert in environmental biotechnology, Professor Piet Lens, Established Professor of New Energy Technologies at the University’s College of Science. Professor Lens will spearhead a €5 million research project, through an investment under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, to develop novel bioreactor concepts that will recover energy from waste and wastewater. The project will add new biofuels generated from waste products to Ireland’s energy mix, and in turn support the Government’s strategy for an energy self-sufficient Irish bioeconomy. Biotechnology harnesses organisms from natural environments to provide foods and medicines and for tasks such as cleaning toxic waste or detecting harmful substances. New technologies have enabled modern biotechnology to become an important part of the ‘smart economy’ in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, the food industry and the environment. Speaking about Professor Lens’ appointment, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Lens as he joins our vibrant research community here in Galway. Professor Lens is recognised as a world-leader in the area of environmental engineering and his appointment is an invaluable addition to the ongoing energy research at NUI Galway. His research will develop new technologies to generate energy which will positively impact sustainable food production, environmental protection and climate change.’ There is much media debate about methane emissions from Ireland’s agricultural industry. Cutting-edge technologies can take waste products and use them to produce fuel and other valuable products, while reducing pathogen levels and greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable, biomethane is an important energy source in countries like France, Germany and the UK, while in Ireland preparations are at an advanced stage for State-support incentives for energy production in this way. Within the NUI Galway Ryan Institute, Professor Lens’ programme of work will focus on four components of biotechnology; Research into new bacteria from marine and deep sea sediments for potential energy generation; Demonstrating how bioenergy production processes work using novel analytical techniques and innovative mathematical models; Developing new bioreactor configurations and process trains to make the energy production processes work; Application at pilot and full-scale industrial sites to translate the research findings into marketable bioenergy production technologies, including patenting and licencing. This work is very much aligned with the environmental dimension of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on the sustainable management of natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Piet Lens, said: “Receipt of such a significant grant provides an important opportunity to create an enormous impact in the field of bioenergy production. I’m extremely delighted to be awarded this Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship at NUI Galway, which has a long standing reputation as a world-class research hub in the field of anaerobic digestion and environmental microbiology. I’m committed to contributing to further developments in this area and to supporting a strong national and international network of academic and industrial partners linked to this university.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Professor Piet Lens to NUI Galway through the SFI Research Professorship Programme. Professor Lens is a world-leading researcher dedicated to developing novel bioprocesses for the recovery of resources such as energy, metals and nutrients from waste. His work will contribute to the greening of our economy and Ireland’s energy sector, and will support the implementation of a circular economy in Ireland through the invention and application of new technologies. His appointment epitomises Science Foundation Ireland’s commitment to fund world-class research with impact in the energy and environment sectors.” Professor Lens will collaborate nationally with research teams in NUI Galway, the MaREI and BEACON Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres, and the Energy and Dairy Processing Technology Centres. Professor Lens will lead a Seminar entitled ‘Trends in Environmental Biotechnology’ on Thursday 23 November at NUI Galway. To hear Professor Lens speak about his project, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2eVd--_7y4 -Ends-

Thursday, 23 November 2017

EY announced its sponsorship of TechInnovate, an entrepreneurship development fellowship at NUI Galway. During the 10-month programme, teams of three entrepreneurs will identify real customer issues and develop innovative solutions to address these issues. As well as helping employees drive innovation and change inside established technology companies on the western seaboard, TechInnovate aims to produce more entrepreneurs who will enable innovations in local start-ups. The full-time stipend supported programme combines teams of high-calibre Fellows from either an engineering, business or design graduate background. Team members are chosen to contribute their skills, knowledge and expertise as part of a multidisciplinary Fellowship team. Dr John Breslin, Director of TechInnovate, and lecturer at NUI Galway, said: “TechInnovate’s entrepreneurship development process starts with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, the engineer, businessperson and designer, who select a market for their initial idea or innovation, and then identify customer needs through extensive market research. The value created for the customer is defined, along with customer acquisition strategies and product/company economics. This is followed by a plan for product design, development and scaling. Our Fellows will be able to apply the skills they learn over and over again.” Commenting on the sponsorship, Paraic Waters, Tax Director, EY Galway, said: “EY is delighted to sponsor TechInnovate. Having established our Galway office in June 2016, we have seen the valuable work NUI Galway is doing to promote entrepreneurship up close. There are some incredibly exciting and successful entrepreneurs operating on the western seaboard. We are very proud to have two winners in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 from Connaught with Galway’s Evelyn O’Toole, founder of CLS winning the industry category and Mayo’s Harry Hughes from Portwest winning the international category and the overall prize.” “We have seen a surge in the number of start-ups and large multinationals locating in Galway in recent years. With a strong network of third level institutions, relatively low costs and the quality of life on offer for employees, the West of Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities to attract investment arising from events such as Brexit. Programmes like TechInnovate also help to foster a friendlier ecosystem for entrepreneurs”, Mr Waters added. As part of the sponsorship of TechInnovate and EY’s ongoing commitment to developing entrepreneurship, EY will deliver a number of knowledge-sharing workshops during the programme. This will include sessions on developing entrepreneurial expertise and crucial business skills from a number of EY experts. EY staff will also be trained in the TechInnovate process and bring the skills they learn back to the business to help drive innovation. Galway has long been recognised as a hub for business and innovation, with the county ranked as one of the top incubator locations for medical devices worldwide, and the home to some of the world’s leading ICT and Life Science companies. The talent developed in programmes like TechInnovate will add to this. TechInnovate is a joint initiative from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway. The programme is supported by EY, the Galway University Foundation, NUI Galway, and the Western Development Commission. -Ends-

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Neuroscientists at NUI Galway have made a breakthrough in regenerative medicine approaches to the neurodegenerative condition Parkinson’s disease. The research was published today (22 November) in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports. Parkinson’s is a condition that primarily affects a person’s ability to control movement leading to a progressive deterioration in ability. The symptoms of the condition are caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells that regulate movement. Brain repair for Parkinson’s involves replacing the dead cells by transplanting healthy brain cells back into the brain, but the widespread roll-out of this therapy has been hindered by the poor survival of the implanted cells. The research, carried out by a team at the Galway Neuroscience Centre and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has shown that the survival of the transplanted cells is dramatically improved if they are implanted within a supportive matrix made from the natural material collagen. Commenting on the research, lead author of the research paper, Dr Eilis Dowd at NUI Galway, said: “The collagen provides the cells with a nurturing, supportive environment in the brain and helps them to survive the aversive transplant process.” The work will be presented at the upcoming Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration (NECTAR) conference which is being hosted by Dr Dowd in Dublin from the 6–8 December 2017. The event will feature leading scientists from the US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, who will present their latest research on brain repair for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. This NUI Galway research was also presented recently at the International Neural Transplantation and Repair (INTR) conference in Port Douglas, Australia by Niamh Moriarty, the PhD student working on the project. Niamh was awarded a highly competitive Travel Award from the Campaign for Alzheimer’s Research in Europe which enabled her to present her work at this leading international event. The research was recently featured in the short documentary Feats of Modest Valour, produced through CÚRAM’s Science on Screen programme. The film won the coveted Scientist Award at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York in October, and was screened on RTÉ One for Science Week 2017. The documentary is available to watch on the RTÉ Player until 11 December 2017. This research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and a Government of Ireland Irish Research Council PhD Scholarship to Niamh Moriarty. -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Céimeanna oinigh le bronnadh ar bhunaitheoir carthanachta agus ar fhísithe na Féile Ealaíon Bronnfar céim ar bhreis is 1,450 mac léinn as na cúig choláiste in OÉ Gaillimh ag searmanais bhronnta an gheimhridh a bheidh ar siúl san Ollscoil ó Dé Máirt, an 21 go dtí Déardaoin, an 24 Samhain. Le linn na searmanas, bronnfar céimeanna oinigh ar fhísithe Fhéile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe, John Crumlish agus Paul Fahy, agus ar bhunaitheoir carthanachta áitiúil, Jack McCann. Mar aitheantas ar a bhfuil bainte amach aige sa phobal agus ar a obair charthanachta, bronnfar céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe ar Jack McCann Dé Máirt, an 21 Samhain. Is máinlia plaisteach ar scor é Jack a d’oibrigh in Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh, 1989-2010. In 2005 chomhbhunaigh sé an charthanacht, Irish Friends of Albania (Cairde na hAlbáine) agus téann sé ann faoi dhó sa bhliain le foireann oibrithe deonacha leighis chun oibriú in ospidéil. Ó 2002, tá na céadta obráidí déanta aige ar ghasúir agus ar dhaoine fásta chun míchumaí láimhe agus gortuithe dó a fheabhsú nó a cheartú dóibh.  Ina theannta sin, cuireann Jack ceardlanna oiliúna micreamháinliachta saor in aisce ar fáil san Albáin gach bliain, ag cur oiliúint ar mháinlianna na tíre sin torthaí níos fearr a bhaint amach dá n-othair.  Eagraíonn sé imeachtaí bailiúcháin airgid i gcaitheamh na bliana, ag críochnú obair na bliana le Bál bliantúil de Chairde na hAlbáine.  Is iarchathaoirleach ar Chumann Máinlianna Plaisteacha na hÉireann é.   Tá saothar foilsithe aige ar a n-áirítear ceithre dhráma, gearrscéalta agus dhá bhailiúchán filíochta.  Mar aitheantas ar an obair a rinne siad beirt ar Fhéile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe a athrú ó bhonn, bronnfar céim oinigh Dhochtúireachta sna Dána ar John Crumlish, Príomhfheidhmeannach agus ar Paul Fahy, Stiúrthóir Ealaíne agus Léiritheoir Dé Céadaoin, an 22 Samhain 2017.    Is ócáid í Féile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe a bhfuil tábhacht idirnáisiúnta ag baint léi chomh maith le tionchar idirnáisiúnta aici agus fáil idirnáisiúnta uirthi; cuireann an Fhéile go mór le cultúr, geilleagar agus saol intleachtúil na Gaillimhe agus na hÉireann; agus tá sí ar thús cadhnaíochta i bhforbairt cineálacha nua ealaíne in Éirinn agus ar fud an domhain. Tríd an gcomhpháirtíocht thábhachtach le OÉ Gaillimh ó 2012 i leith, cuireadh deiseanna nua ar fáil d’ealaíontóirí agus do léiritheoirí gairmeacha rathúla agus inbhuanaithe a chruthú in iarthar na hÉireann. Ag labhairt dó roimh na searmanais, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Le 1,500 dár gcéimithe ag leanúint lena gcuid cuspóirí a bhaint amach, tá sé thar a bheith oiriúnach go dtabharfaimid aitheantas don obair ollmhór atá déanta ag Jack McCann, John Crumlish agus Paul Fahy, a chuir ar chumas an phobail, go háitiúil agus freisin ar ardán idirnáisiúnta, fíorthionchar a bheith acu ar fud an domhain.” -críoch-

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Charity founder and Arts Festival visionaries to be conferred with honorary degrees Over 1,600 students will graduate from across the five colleges at NUI Galway at the University's winter conferring ceremonies, which take place from today, Tuesday, 21 November to Thursday, 23 November. During the conferrings, honorary degrees will be conferred on Galway International Arts Festival visionaries, John Crumlish and Paul Fahy, and on local charity founder, Jack McCann. In recognition of his public contribution and charity work, a Doctor of Laws degree will be conferred on Jack McCann on Tuesday, 21 November. Jack is a retired Plastic Surgeon at Galway University Hospital, 1989-2010. In 2005 he co-founded the charity, Irish Friends of Albania and he travels there twice a year with teams of medical volunteers to work in hospitals there. Since 2002 he has operated on hundreds of children and adults to improve and correct hand deformities and burn injuries.  Jack also leads free annual microsurgical training workshops in Albania, training their surgeons to provide better outcomes for their patients.  He fundraises year round, culminating in the annual Irish Friends of Albania Ball. He is a former Chair of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons.   He is a published author with four plays, short stories and two collections of poetry.  In recognition of their work in transforming the Galway International Arts Festival John Crumlish as CEO and Paul Fahy as Artistic Director and Producer will both be conferred with honorary Doctor of Arts degrees on Wednesday, 22 November.     Galway International Arts Festival has become an event that has international significance, impact and reach; it has made an exceptional contribution to the culture, economy and intellectual life of Galway and Ireland; and it is leading the development of new forms of art in Ireland and globally. Through the development of a major partnership with NUI Galway since 2012, new opportunities have been created for artists and producers to build successful and sustainable careers in the west of Ireland.  - Ends- Biographies Jack McCannJack McCann was born in Rush, Co. Dublin and grew up in Malahide.  He qualified in Medicine in UCD in 1975 and Surgery RCSI in 1980 before training in Plastic Surgery in Dublin, Cork, UK, Australia and settling in Galway in 1989 as the first Consultant Plastic Surgeon in UCHG and in the West of Ireland. Jack has always been involved in voluntary work and community development. Whilst a student in UCD, he was founder and Chairman of the Malahide Youth Club and was on the local Red Cross team which won a number of All-Ireland competitions. In Galway, he was Chairperson of the Community Health Response Group seeking upgrading of University Hospital during the ‘nineties. He was Chairperson of the Fundraising Committee of Galway RNLI for over ten years and was voluntary medical officer to the crew for this period. He also chaired the Bushy Park Residents’ Association for 3 years. Jack is currently Chairperson of the Voluntary Management Committee of Clann Family Resource Centre in Oughterard. In 2003, Jack received Galway Rehab Person of the Year Award in recognition of his voluntary work. In 2002 Jack was involved in bringing Albanian children to Galway for treatment of burns and hand deformities. Irish Friends of Albania was subsequently founded by Jack and his wife Moya, and registered as a charity in 2005. Since then Jack has chaired the charity and was responsible for bringing surgical teams of doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel to Albania bi-annually until 2012, operating and teaching. He has helped in Kosovo since 2010 at out-patient clinics, surgery and by speaking at teaching conferences. The charity has supplied essential surgical and anaesthetic equipment to the University Hospital in Tirana and the charity’s surgical teams saw over 1,200 patients and operated on over 400. They brought 17 Albanian and Kosovar doctors and nurses to Ireland for training, facilitated by local hospitals. Since 2012 the emphasis has changed from operating to teaching and so the charity established and equipped a Microsurgery Training Laboratory in the hospital in Tirana which Jack visits twice yearly to give training courses; to date he has provided basic training in Microsurgery to 56 surgeons.   The charity fundraised locally in Galway with the help of wonderful volunteers. They were further supported by local hospitals, Irish Aid and Electric Ireland over the years. The charity also organised Irish teams of volunteer tradesmen to partially renovate 5 State-run orphanages and homes in Albania. Jack retired from hospital in 2010 but remains active in his community in Oughterard.   He has many interests including writing. He has published 3 collections of poetry and has written some plays.  Jack is married to Moya for 41 years, is a proud father of 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren who bring him great joy and happiness. John CrumlishJohn Crumlish is the CEO of Galway International Arts Festival. In his time as CEO he has overseen its development into one of Ireland’s best known cultural enterprises. In addition to presenting an annual festival with an attendance of over 200,000 and an economic impact on the local economy of €29.5 million the organisation has developed into a significant producer of new Irish theatre that tours nationally and internationally. A native of Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, he attended Carndonagh Community School, graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in Psychology, has an MA in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Ulster and an MBS in Business Practice from the Irish Management Institute/University College Cork. Following a period teaching in Northern Ireland, he became closely associated with both Galway Arts Festival and Macnas in the 1990s, playing a number of different roles in their development and growth during that time.     He served as a member of the Arts Council from 2006 until 2011, a member of the Fáilte Ireland West Forum (2010-2013); a member of the Project Board of The Gathering (2012-2013) and served as chair of the successful Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 bid committee. He is married to Eithne Verling and they have three children, Tom, Luke and Sorcha. He was named a Galway Person of the Year in 2013 and was made a Fellow of the Institute by the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in 2016. Paul FahyPaul Fahy is the Artistic Director of Galway International Arts Festival [GIAF] a position he has held since 2005. Prior to this he worked as a freelance arts consultant, publicist and producer from 2000-2005 working with Galway International Arts Festival; Macnas; Baboró; Rough Magic Theatre Company; The Abbey Theatre; The Arts Council of Ireland and with the Irish actor, Cillian Murphy. He programmed and produced the Cúirt International Festival of Literature, in 1998 and 1999 and was one of the key visual arts curators for Galway Arts Centre from 1990-1999.  He was the Consultant Programme Director with Kilkenny Arts Festival from 1999–2003 for whom he also directed and designed a major street theatre spectacle The Art of the Game.  Since being appointed Artistic Director of GIAF the Festival has become a producing-led festival forging close creative partnerships with Irish artists and producers most notably Enda Walsh, Hughie O’Donoghue, Olwen Fouéré, John Gerrard and Landmark Productions.  GIAF tours extensively, most recently to the Barbican, London; St. Ann’s Warehouse and Irish Arts Center, New York; Ireland’s National Theatre, the Abbey; and Dublin Theatre Festival all during 2017. The Festival has also toured regularly to the National Theatre of Great Britain, London; and to the Next Wave Festival, BAM, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington; Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Adelaide Festival, Perth Festival and Sydney Theatre Company.  Under Fahy’s tenure GIAF has worked with leading Irish and international visual artists and has designed and built major temporary art galleries in Galway.  Fahy has designed and created four theatre installations with Enda Walsh Room 303, A Girl’s Bedroom and Kitchen [which toured to New York as Rooms in May 2017] and Bathroom.   He studied art at the RTC Galway [now GMIT].

Monday, 20 November 2017

NUI Galway students with the help of NUI Galway’s Social Science Research Centre (SSRC) are leading a research project to investigate levels of satisfaction with the Public Bus Service in Galway. The student-led project is an effort to gauge satisfaction levels and bus usage practices in the city. The research project will begin this week and will last until the end of the month. The research will initially be rolled out as an online questionnaire, and students will then undertake a series of data collection activities seeking questionnaire responses and feedback from bus customers in and around the Eyre Square area. While Galway continues to grapple with its ongoing transport-related problems, such research seeks a better understanding of the standard of service currently available to bus users and will provide important baseline information in looking for ways to combat congestion in and around Galway city. Dr Mike Hynes, Lecturer at NUI Galway and member of the SSRC stressed the importance of such information and for further research on city-wide transport-related solutions to our current problems: “The public appreciate that any solution to the ongoing congestion in the city must put improved public transport to the fore, and this is borne out by previous research” he stated. “By assessing levels of satisfaction with the Public Bus Service as it currently operates, we can then attempt to build our knowledge about potential improvements that would lead to an increase in bus passenger travel and result in a reduction of cars on the roads of Galway.” Olga Bolbocean, one of the lead students on the project, appealed for help from bus users over the coming weeks: “The questionnaire we designed is short and will take two to three minutes to complete, but the information that bus passengers provide will be invaluable.” Olga added: “It’s important for people to understand why we’re doing this research; students also live and study in the city so we want practical and workable solutions to the congestion that is clogging the streets and roads and we believe an efficient and reliable Public Bus Service is an important step in that direction. We may well find that people are already satisfied with the levels of service they get, but until we ask we won’t know.” The questionnaire can be accessed online at www.tinyurl.com/ptgalway from today until the 20th of December and participants are invited to put their name forward for a draw for a Leap Card worth €100 for Public Transport in the city.        -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Policy-makers around the globe will have a series of concrete recommendations for reform of law, policy and practice on legal capacity resulting from VOICES project NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy project, The Voices of Individuals: Collectively Exploring Self-determination (VOICES) will hold its final workshop on the 22 of November in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway.  The VOICES project takes an innovative approach to law reform by developing recommendations for how the law should change based on the stories of those with lived experience of disability. People with disabilities, activists, researchers and practitioners have worked together to co-author chapters for an edited collection to be published in 2018. This final workshop will draw together the four core themes of the project; criminal responsibility, contractual capacity, consent to treatment and consent to sex, and will feature a mix of personal narratives, art and theoretical perspectives.  The workshop will be a conference style event and is open to the public where all 28 co-authors from 10 different countries will share their experiences of the project and discuss common themes across the chapters in the book. Speakers include people with disabilities, academics, and activists with experience of using stories to drive social change. A keynote speech will be given by Dr Michael Bach, Managing Director of the Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society in Canada. For over 30 years Dr Bach has undertaken research and development in Canada and internationally on ways to advance the full inclusion and human rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Principal Investigator on the VOICES Project and Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming this diverse mix of participants back to NUI Galway for the final workshop of this project. Participants from Ireland, the UK, Canada, Kenya, Australia, India, Bulgaria, Sweden, China and the Czech Republic will all gather in Galway to share their experiences and put the finishing touches to what promises to be a fantastic book. As a result of their work, policy-makers around the globe will have a series of concrete recommendations for reform of law, policy and practice on legal capacity.” The VOICES project is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, awarded to Dr Eilionóir Flynn, the youngest person to ever receive such an award. This is a free event and further information is available at www.ercvoices.com or by contacting Clíona de Bhailís on ercvoices@nuigalway.ie or 091 494272. Participant accessibility requests and enquiries are welcomed. -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Building on its existing reputation as an environmentally-friendly and societally responsive university, NUI Galway has launched a wide-reaching Sustainability Strategy. The strategy illustrates an ambitious vision for the campus to become a role model for the transition to a more sustainable future. The document was officially launched by Senator Alice Mary Higgins at an event held on campus on 15 November 2017 and attended by staff, students and the wider Galway community. The strategy sets out a vision to establish NUI Galway as a leading green, smart and healthy campus. Its successful implementation will ensure that NUI Galway’s reputation around the world is enhanced, that graduates are valued for their world-readiness, that research tackles societal challenges, and that the campus will be a role model for sustainability. The university already has a groundswell of research, events, activities, societies and building initiatives which are related to sustainability. The university offers almost 200 courses covering environmental and/or sustainability issues, and has won the top award for most biodiverse campus at Ireland’s Intervarsity BioBlitz competition. Earlier this year it announced plans to divest from fossil fuel shares. Building on this momentum, the strategy identifies 20 measures for success, under six themes, which serve as indicators for much more extensive work under each theme. An example from each, to be implemented by 2020, include: Research and learning: A 15% increase in sustainability research Energy and greenhouse gas emissions: A 33% reduction in total energy consumption Nature and ecosystems: Compile and implement a biodiversity management plan Health and wellbeing: Strengthen mental health and resilience Built Environment: Reduce water consumption by 20% Governance and leadership: Flagship project with Saolta University Healthcare Group, HSE Community Healthcare Organisation 2, and Galway City Council Attending the launch, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins from Seanad Éireann, said: “It is wonderful to see NUI Galway recognising the crucial role that they and other third level institutions can and should play in shaping a sustainable future on our shared planet. This strategy demonstrates more of the positive joined up thinking seen in the University’s recent commitment to divestment from fossil fuels following a successful campaign by staff and students. While the proposals in this plan are well-grounded in Galway and the campus community, they are also a commitment to partnership with the wider world. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have set out an important blueprint for Ireland and many countries and remind us that sustainability is not only about the environment, it is also about social sustainability. It is therefore great to see holistic proposals in this strategy that range from crucial climate change research to new mental health initiatives with space for new and innovative ideas to emerge.” Speaking at the launch the University’s Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “We live in times of extreme pressure on the resources of our planet, as well as the increased pressures of society which permeate through to each individual. Today, from this campus which is more than 170 years old, we are putting in place a strategy that addresses today’s reality and puts down our ideas for a more sustainable future. This is, and has been, a collaborative, community effort, and it is only by coming together and working together that we can achieve our desired future.” NUI Galway has already instigated demonstrator projects to inspire sustainable behaviour change and to pilot elements of the Sustainability Strategy. For example, the Battle of the Buildings Project aimed to make students and staff more aware of the energy use of campus buildings and to encourage energy-efficient behaviour through collegial competition. Community effort The strategy is the culmination of a long process of consultation with thousands of members of the NUI Galway staff and students, as well as partners such as the Saolta University Healthcare Group. “Through the consultation process, we spoke with people about sustainability in its broadest sense. We looked across the spectrum, from the built environment to wellbeing, from what we teach in the lecture halls to student engagement in our local communities, from research on energy and ecosystems to governance and leadership. This strategy is the culmination of all of that, and our Learn, Live, Lead approach to Sustainability hopefully gives us the foundation to build an even longer-term strategy and become an exemplar in this space”, explains Dr Frances Fahy, Senior Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway, and member of the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP), which led the strategy creation. The NUI Galway Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, outlines a vision of ‘creating a sustainable campus where all resources are used efficiently and where facilities are managed and services consolidated as efficiently as possible’. To develop and realise this vision, the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP) was established in 2015 under the direction of the Registrar and Deputy President. CUSP is supported by the University, Students’ Union, Saolta University Healthcare Group, HSE Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 2 and Galway City Council, and is funded through the Students’ Projects Fund. The CUSP team is composed of more than 20 students and staff, from across the campus community and Galway University Hospitals. To mark the launch of the strategy and to recognise the community aspect of the initiative, a special event called ‘Galway City’s Sustainability Stories’ was held on campus. With Galway City having been awarded the title European Green Leaf 2017 this year, the event featured short presentations from organisations involved in sustainability throughout Galway City, in different ways and at different scales. Read the report here http://www.nuigalway.ie/sustainability/ -Ends-

Monday, 13 November 2017

Researchers from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway have published their latest research findings based on the experiences of children, young people and their families involved in Meitheal*, the Tusla-led early intervention national practice model. The research is part of a comprehensive programme of early intervention and preventative work undertaken by Tusla as part of the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) Programme. This research provides an overview of the interim findings of the report entitled, ‘Meitheal Process and Outcomes Study’, for which data collection is ongoing. This is a longitudinal study with three waves of data collection that focuses on gathering data at a pre, post and follow-up stage. This report focuses specifically on data gathered on the implementation and impact of Meitheal. The NUI Galway study shows that families benefit most when there is a trusting relationship with the practitioners supporting them, when they are asked their views about what is causing the difficulties and what would help resolve these when agencies work together. It is important to understand the strengths and needs of the wider family and not to concentrate solely on the child or young person in question experiencing difficulties. The research also shows that the mothers’ well-being has a big impact on the well-being of children and young people.  This research was carried out by Dr Carmel Devaney, lecturer and principal investigator on a number of research and evaluation projects under the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Programme, and postdoctoral researchers Dr Leonor Rodriguez and Dr Anne Cassidy at NUI Galway. Speaking about the study, Dr Carmel Devaney said: “The findings highlight the importance of the supportive empathetic relationship between practitioners and families. Family members also reported their appreciation of being included in the process of identifying their needs and deciding on a helpful response to these. Children and young people highlighted that they felt listened to, with some noting definite improvements in their lives as a result of taking part in Meitheal. “While it is too early to determine the impact of Meitheal on the system of help provision in the Irish context, its introduction has heightened the visibility of the work that Tusla carries out with families who do not meet the threshold for an intervention by Child Protection and Welfare services.” This report is part of the wider programme of research and evaluation that the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway are involved with, in relation to Tusla’s Programme of Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. Further research on the impact of Meitheal and its outcomes will be published in mid-2018. To read the report in full, visit: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Commission hosts consultative event as part of national consultation in preparation of new programme of law reform The Law Reform Commission is hosting a consultative meeting in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 22 November at 5pm. The Commission would like to hear from local stakeholders, legal professionals and members of the public about areas of law that may be in need of reform.  The Law Reform Commission is currently engaged in preparing a Fifth Programme of Law Reform, which will form the basis of its work over the next several years. The meeting will provide a forum for suggestions and discussion of current legal issues, and forms a very important part of the Commission’s preparations for projects to be included in its new Programme of Law Reform. As part of this consultative process, the Commission has begun a series of consultative events across the country, including Dublin, Limerick, Dundalk and Cork, seeking ideas and discussion of legal issues from a broad range of stakeholders and interested parties. These events will provide a forum for suggestions and for discussion of current legal issues, and will play a very important role in the Commission’s preparation of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform. The Commission encourages those interested to attend the consultation most convenient to them. Under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975, the Commission is required to prepare from time to time a Programme of Law Reform, which forms the principal basis on which it carries out its statutory mandate to keep the law under review with a view to its reform and modernisation. The new Programme of Law Reform will, as provided by the 1975 Act, be prepared by the Commission in consultation with the Attorney General for submission by the Taoiseach to the Government for ultimate approval. Speaking in advance of the consultative event to be held in NUI Galway, Professor Donncha O’Connell who (with Tom O’Malley, also of the School of Law in NUI Galway) is a member of the Commission, said: “Engaging with members of the public and legal professionals around the country allows the Commission to know what law reform issues are of most pressing concern to people and this can be critically important information in setting priorities for the Commission. We hope that there is a strong and diverse attendance at our Galway meeting and look forward with great interest to hearing as wide a range of views as possible.” The meeting is expected to run from 5pm until approximately 7pm and will be followed by a reception hosted by the Commission. Those who would like to attend are invited to contact the Commission by emailing events@lawreform.ie -Ends-

Monday, 13 November 2017

Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day Researchers at the School of Physics in NUI Galway have found that radon gas levels in houses and buildings in certain parts of Ireland are in excess of levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Radon Control Strategy for Ireland has identified knowledge gaps, including the optimum specifications for passive soil depressurisation systems that take account of Irish building practices. The NUI Galway research project, OptiSDS is investigating several of these knowledge gaps. The World Health Organisation has categorised radon as a carcinogen, in the same group as asbestos and tobacco smoke. In Ireland, up to 250 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to exposure to radon. There is a synergistic effect between radon and tobacco smoke. This means that smokers are at much greater risk of developing radon related lung cancer than non-smokers. There is no scientific evidence linking radon with any other types of respiratory illnesses or other cancers. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It has no taste, colour or smell. It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it. It can only be measured with special detectors. Outside radon is diluted to very low levels. Radon can enter a home from the ground through small cracks in floors and through gaps around pipes or cables. Indoor radon levels can vary across the country from low levels to tens of times in excess of the reference level set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day. Dr Mark Foley Academic Director of the Masters in Medical Physics at NUI Galway, said: “This Environmental Protection Agency funded OptiSDS project is a good example of collaborations between engineers and scientists in NUI Galway and also with collaborators across Europe to address knowledge gaps in radon research. Through outreach events we are also promoting public awareness of radon risk, radon measurement, radon mitigation and radon preventative techniques.” Dr Jamie Goggins, Principal Investigator in the Centre for Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) at NUI Galway, said: “One of the main aims of the project is to determine the effectiveness of soil depressurisation systems at extracting radon from under buildings. We are doing this through controlled laboratory tests at NUI Galway, in the development of robust numerical simulations and using a specially designed pilot house in a high radon area in Spain, in collaboration with Professor Luis Quindos in the University of Cantabria. It is imperative that we design and construct safe, healthy, comfortable and energy efficient buildings.” The OptiSDS research project will feature on the RTÉ One show, ‘10 Things to Know About’ series opener today, Monday 13 November at 8.30pm, a week after European Radon Day. This research project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about the OptiSDS project, visit: https://www.nuigalway.ie/science/schoolofphysics/research/optisds / -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Grant will support groundbreaking research in global health and development NUI Galway announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Jim Duggan from the University’s College of Engineering and Informatics will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled HealthSIM. The HealthSIM project focuses on the challenge to strengthen health systems by using computer science and analytics methods to support the design of health supply chains to enhance supply chain performance, and improve decision making in order to reduce disease morbidity and mortality, and ensure that the right medication arrives for the right person at the right time. The idea underpinning this research proposal is to design, implement and test a cloud-based public health supply chain simulator. In effect, this will create a virtual laboratory for public health officials in low and middle income countries, and in turn support learning, information sharing, and decision making within the health supply chain. In welcoming the funding, Lead Investigator on the project, Dr Jim Duggan from NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on a project with such high impact potential. The project is highly interdisciplinary, and involves collaboration with our colleagues in the School of Medicine, and also our international partners from our recent EU-funded PANDEM* project. The project highlights the exciting potential of collaborating with public health professionals to apply computer science and mathematics to help address sustainable development challenges.” Grand Challenges Explorations supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr Jim Duggan’s project is one of 51 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 19 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To receive funding, Dr Jim Duggan and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global health and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next Grand Challenges Explorations round in February 2018.  This is the second Grand Challenge NUI Galway is undertaking. In 2013, a team worked with a group of female smallholder farmers in Tanzania to design and develop their own labor-saving agricultural tools using the latest 3D printing tools. The University’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi, commented: “Grand Challenges Explorations is identifying some of the most pressing problems of our times and rallying scientists and innovators around the world to come up with real solutions. We look forward to the work Jim Duggan and his team will do to help create a smoother pipeline in the supply of lifesaving medicines and care.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

NUI Galway postgraduate courses have been shortlisted for the national gradireland Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards 2017. The award winners will be announced on Friday, 24 November at a reception in Dublin. The postgraduate courses that have been shortlisted are: The MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis, School of Psychology, is shortlisted as the Postgraduate Course of the year in Arts & Humanities The Masters in Health Sciences (Children's Palliative and Complex Care), School of Nursing and Midwifery is shortlisted for the Postgraduate Course of the Year Award in Health Sciences sponsored by AbbVie The Masters in Health Sciences (Children's Palliative and Complex Care), School of Nursing and Midwifery and the MSc (International Accounting & Analytics), J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics are both shortlisted for Best New Course The MSc in International Management (IM), J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics is shortlisted for the Postgraduate Course of the Year in Business, Finance & Management NUI Galway’s Student Recruitment Office has also been shortlisted for the Best Postgraduate Prospectuses for 2017 sponsored by VS Direct The annual Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards recognises excellence amongst Irish postgraduate course providers. The winning courses are judged on the success of the course including employability of graduates, recognition of the course’s quality or ranking by external bodies, research record of academic staff, and providing a good experience for students. Judges also take feedback from students into consideration when selecting a winner. Valerie Leahy, Postgraduate Recruitment Officer at NUI Galway, said: “We’re delighted to again make the shortlist for these important national awards; it’s great that the calibre of our postgraduate courses is being acknowledged, as is their effectiveness in terms of employability, and interaction with industry and business. These courses are now accepting applications and those interested can apply online via the Postgraduate Applications Centre at www.pac.ie/nuigalway. We also offer generous full-time taught masters scholarships for first-class students, so that’s another reason to consider NUI Galway for postgraduate studies.” NUI Galway offers a wide range of fourth level courses, developing programmes based on its traditional academic strengths of Arts, Social Sciences, Celtic Studies, Commerce, Medicine, Nursing, Health Science, Law, Engineering, Informatics and Science. These areas have been augmented with innovative Research Centres in areas as diverse as Biomedical Engineering, International Human Rights, Digital Media & Film Studies, and Regenerative Medicine. Over 4,800 postgraduate students (including international students) currently attend NUI Galway. -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Research will help to understand the mechanisms of immune regulation and contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rejection of transplants Researchers from NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) have been working together to examine how sugar (carbohydrate) molecules attached to the surfaces of immune cells participate in the normal protective functions of those cells. The researchers have published two new studies in the leading open access journal Frontiers of Immunology, which demonstrate that chains of sugar molecules, referred to as glycans, attached to proteins and other components of the cell surface, play an essential role in the function of two very important cells of the immune system. In the first study, PhD student Joana Cabral with Professor Matthew Griffin at REMEDI and Professor Lokesh Joshi at AGRC in NUI Galway, discovered that a specialised type of immune cell, the regulatory T cell (or T-reg), has a distinctive pattern of glycans on its surface compared to other T cell types. T-regs are known to play a policing role in the immune system that prevents inappropriate activation that can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and juvenile diabetes or to rejection of transplants. By using enzymes to ‘trim away’ the sugar molecules from the surface of T-regs, the research team, in collaboration with Dr Jared Gerlach of AGRC, observed that the ability of T-regs to suppress strong immune activity was heavily dependent on their normal glycan pattern. Insights from the research help to better understand the mechanisms of immune regulation and can contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for a range of diseases that involve over- or under-activity of the immune system. In the second study, PhD student Kevin Lynch, working with Professor Thomas Ritter and Dr Aideen Ryan from REMEDI and Professor Lokesh Joshi investigated how a commonly used steroid medication alters the pattern of sugar molecules on immune cells known as dendritic cells (or DCs). The main function of DCs is to stimulate T-cells to act against foreign molecules (antigens) associated with infectious microbes or, alternatively, to prevent T-cells being activated against harmless antigens, a process known as immune tolerance. The research team found that after steroid treatment, DCs develop an increase in specific surface glycans that make them more likely to cause immune tolerance, a finding that may help to design new treatment approaches to prevent or treat autoimmune diseases and rejection of transplants. The group also found that when the same sugar molecules are removed from the surface of DCs, they become more powerful at stimulating active immune responses. This insight may be of particular relevance to cancer treatments which aim to increase T cell activation against antigens contained in tumours. Commenting on the publication of the studies, Professor Matthew Griffin at NUI Galway, said: “The fascinating results we observed by manipulating the surface glycan patterns of T-reg are a beautiful example of the complexity of molecular interactions between different cells of the immune system. The work could not have been successful without a close collaboration between researchers from two very different disciplines. These collaborations have been built, in particular, on NUI Galway’s investment in infrastructure for Biomedical research and on Science Foundation Ireland’s funding support for research clusters in regenerative medicine and glycoscience and, more recently, the CÚRAM centre for research in medical devices.” Professor Thomas Ritter at NUI Galway, commented: “These results could have important implications for both the field of immunotherapies and cancer treatment. The importance of sugar residues in controlling how immune responses occur is under-studied and warrants further investigations.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “In contrast to the current state of gene and protein biology, many of the details of sugar-based structure and function throughout biology remain mysterious. The results of these studies underscore the importance of understanding complex glycans and their specific cues within the larger mechanisms of cellular interaction. This work provides new avenues for potentially enhancing or regulating elements of immune function. These findings could only have been made possible through collaboration with Professors Ritter and Griffin and the persistence of our respective research teams, all made possible by Ireland’s continuing support of high quality scientific research.” Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Consultant Haematologist at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital, and an internationally recognised expert in blood cancers, commented: “I am very excited about these results regarding the restoration to immunity after removal of sugar residues on antigen-presenting cells. I am currently working with Professor Ritter and Dr Ryan to investigate the role of glycans in the immune response to blood cancer. The exciting findings of this work, which show that the manipulation of sugar residues on stem cells helps to restore anti-cancer immune response, will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Haematology Society.” The research studies were supported by individual and centre grants from Science Foundation Ireland as well as a PhD fellowship to Dr Cabral through the Irish Government’s PRTLI5 initiative. -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Deloitte is pleased to announce that it will be partnering with NUI Galway on the University’s new BComm Global Experience course. As part of the partnership, Deloitte will provide funding over five years to support students while studying abroad. The new Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience) course at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics in NUI Galway offers the opportunity of a work placement and a study abroad in the same year. The global experience is fundamental to the educational experience and offers students the opportunity to experience new cultures and to work in new environments. NUI Galway partners with universities in a variety of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, the UK and the USA, amongst others. The Deloitte funding will be used as a grant to support students travelling abroad during the third year of the course. Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner, Deloitte commented: “At Deloitte, we see first-hand, and on a daily basis, the ever increasing need for international experience and an ability to work across borders. Our clients are operating in a more globally connected way than ever before, and therefore we need to work this way also. We are delighted to support the NUIG Deloitte scholars in gaining this important and valuable experience. We very much believe that it will equip them well in their future business careers.” Speaking at the launch, Professor John McHale, Dean of the College of Business Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway, said:  “We are delighted to announce this exciting partnership with Deloitte. We are very proud for our BComm (Global Experience) students to have the title ‘Deloitte Global Scholars’, a title representative of the high academic calibre of our students, and the endorsement shown by Deloitte in supporting students reach their full potential.”  The first Deloitte Global Scholars will be travelling abroad in September 2018. NUI Galway anticipates that in excess of 500 students will avail of the Deloitte funding over the five years of the partnership. Ends

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS science outreach network will bring its ‘Fantastic DNA’ national roadshow to schools during this month’s Science Week. For the fifth year in a row the Cell EXPLORERS roadshow, established by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, will once again visit primary schools across Ireland bringing hands-on experiments to over 3,500 school children this term and during this month’s Science Week. The Cell EXPLORERS national network has continued its expansion this year with the inclusion of five new partner teams with NUI Galway, the IT Carlow, Letterkenny IT, Maynooth University, the National Virus Reference Laboratory UCD and UCC. The new teams are joining the network of five existing teams, Athlone IT, UL, IT Tralee and Dundalk IT. Last year, 125 scientists visited 43 schools throughout the country, reaching 1,881 children to teach them about cells and DNA through hands-on activities. According to the statistics, 64% of the children visited last year had not previously met a scientist. Overall, pupils’ feedback was positive, highlighting that their favorite part of the session was the opportunity to use scientific equipment and doing the experiment themselves. “The scientists were brilliant at explaining and it was all fun experiments”, said one sixth class pupil in Co. Kerry. “I liked meeting the Cell EXPLORERS because I never met a scientist who was a girl before”, commented another fifth class pupil from Co. Roscommon. Teachers hosting the ‘Fantastic DNA’ session indicated that it had a made a real impact on the pupils, giving them the opportunity of doing hands-on science and having fun in their classrooms. A teacher from Co. Kerry said: “I thought that today's session was fantastic. The children learned so much and also a greater interest in science was instilled in them.” Teachers also highlighted as major benefits the opportunity for each child to do an experiment and for interacting with local 3rd level scientists, both characteristics of Cell EXPLORERS visits. Dr Muriel Grenon, Founding Director of Cell EXPLORERS said: “We have been piloting a unique way of directly involving Irish higher education institutions in engaging young people in science for five years with the support of Science Foundation Ireland. The expansion of the programme, based on volunteering activities of university students and staff, has grown beyond our expectation. The success of the program is due to our collaborators, based in 10 higher education partner institutions. The participation benefits that we bring to children, teachers and our team members are key motivators for our coordinators to be part of the network despite of the additional workload.” Dr Claudia Fracchiolla, National Coordinator of the Cell EXPLORERS network also commented: “Preliminary research suggests that the programme provides a unique opportunity to the children but also provides benefits to our team members. Volunteers participating in the program develop transferable skills, as well as personal development, which are important outcomes for tomorrow’s researchers, educators, and communicators. Our volunteers would recommend participating in the programme to a friend, and strongly believe that universities and institutes of technology must engage in science outreach.” Cell EXPLORERS activities, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by a two-year award from Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway and the NUI Galway Foundation.  For more information or to book a show at your school, visit www.cellexplorers.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter @cellexplorers. -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is seeking over 1,000 participants across Ireland to take part in an online study to understand the relationship between major life events such as bereavement and compulsive hoarding. The study will be the largest of its kind ever conducted in Ireland. The researchers are looking for people with all levels of hoarding to participate, ranging from people who may just have cluttered, disorganised homes to those who may have a serious difficulty, as well as people who do not hoard. People who hoard often have very cluttered homes as they keep things that may seem useless to other people, buy things they don’t need, and feel they can’t throw anything away. However, hoarding is more common than was previously thought and it is not well understood. Previous research has shown that hoarders often feel a very strong emotional attachment to their belongings, and they might feel the need to save things should they need them in the future. This NUI Galway study is interested in looking at how people’s life experiences relate to hoarding. It seeks to understand whether the experience of losing a loved one or other major life events might make people more likely to accumulate belongings and have difficultly throwing things away. The researchers believe that this might be the key to understanding and helping people with this difficulty.  The study is being carried out by Dr Elizabeth Kehoe, a doctoral student on the clinical psychology training programme at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway and Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the clinical programme. Speaking about the study, Dr Kehoe said: “We are interested in the emotional reasons why people hoard, and with this study we will investigate the link between bereavement and other difficult life events, and hoarding. For example, belongings might bring a sense of comfort or safety following a loss.” Dr Jonathan Egan Director from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, and a Chartered Clinical and Chartered Health Psychologist with the Psychological Society of Ireland, said: “The team are really interested in a holistic view of why we collect things and why it can increase at times following a bereavement or personal upset. We want to hear from a large range of people, from those who would rate themselves as ‘life-long-Magpies’ to those who have noticed that it is becoming difficult to part with newspapers and other non-essential house-hold items, or even that their house is becoming very crammed and it affects the ability to share their home with guests.” To participate in the study visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nuighoarding -Ends-

Monday, 6 November 2017

New research published in The Lancet medical journal this week shows that climate change is already a significant public health issue and a looming global health emergency. Professor Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, one of the authors of ‘The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change’ report, will tell an audience in NUI Galway today about the various ways climate change is already affecting the health of people across the planet today. The report builds on the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, which concluded that anthropogenic (produced by human activity) climate change now threatens to undermine the last 50 years of gains in public health. The organiser of the Irish launch of the Lancet Countdown 2017 report, Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and the Ryan Institute Centre for Health from Environment, said: “Climate change is already a huge issue for millions of people and we are beginning to feel the health effects in Ireland. We need urgent action to improve our health and prevent loss of life globally and locally.” Leading doctors, academics and policy professionals from 26 partner organisations have contributed analysis and jointly authored the Lancet report. The authors are clear the necessary response to climate change still provides an opportunity to realise substantial gains in public health. The potential benefits and opportunities are staggering, including cleaning-up the air of polluted cities, delivering more nutritious diets, ensuring energy, food and water security, and alleviating poverty, alongside social and economic inequalities. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “For the next two weeks the world’s governments will meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP23 inter-governmental meeting in Bonn this year to advance climate action following the 2015 Paris Agreement, on the topic of climate change impacts on global health. The Lancet Countdown report provides the evidence that policymakers need to act on, to accelerate action in all countries to reduce emissions and improve public health, while strengthening the resilience of the world’s most vulnerable communities to adverse impacts of climate change. All societies need to rapidly step onto low-carbon pathways based on clean energy and sustainable diets, to ensure that public health gains are maintained and improved over the decades ahead.” The Chair of the Lancet Countdown’s High-Level Advisory Board, Christiana Figueres, highlighted that: “Tackling climate change directly, unequivocally and immediately improves global health. It’s as simple as that.” For more information about Lancet Countdown, visit: http://www.lancetcountdown.org/ -Ends-

Monday, 6 November 2017

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is inviting people with intellectual disabilities, and their families in Galway, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary to participate in a year-long study about the provision of future residential care for older adults with an intellectual disability.  As people with an intellectual disability get older, and their care needs increase, it may be a requirement to move from their homes to nursing homes or other residential placements. This study aims to explore where people would prefer to live when they are older and, importantly, how those decisions are made. The study aims to gather people’s opinions about future residential care and accommodation for older adults with an intellectual disability.   Elaine Rogers, Clinical Psychologist and principal researcher of the study at NUI Galway, said: “Many people with intellectual disabilities have never been asked where they would like to live when they are older. We are encouraging people with intellectual disabilities, their families and all stakeholders to get involved in the data we are gathering until the end of December 2017. It is important that people participate as the information may be used to inform service developments.”  Dr Jonathan Egan, Director of Clinical Practice in the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “For me this research is both important at an advocacy level for Chartered Clinical Psychologists and service providers across Ireland, but also because I have a brother with an intellectual disability who is middle-aged and my parents are getting older. I think that this is a subject which needs an integrated-intergenerational approach involving the family and service providers in a person-centred approach around the changing needs of the person with an intellectual disability. In a way, this is also a real measure of how we, as a society demonstrate to all citizens who need our considered support, respect and love in order to improve both ours and their quality of life across the entire life-span.” People with an intellectual disability over 40 years of age, their families, and stakeholders, are encouraged to participate in the study. Taking part would involve a one-to-one interview.  For further information about the study please contact Elaine Rogers, Clinical Psychologist, NUI Galway at e.rogers3@nuigalway.ie or at 087-7911331. -Ends- 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Beidh Lá Oscailte bliantúil na nIarchéimithe ar siúl in OÉ Gaillimh Dé Máirt, an 7 Samhain, ó 12-3pm i Halla Bailey Allen, Áras na Mac Léinn. Is ócáid thábhachtach an Lá Oscailte do dhaoine gairmiúla, do chéimithe agus d’fhochéimithe reatha atá ag díriú ar a bhfuil amach rompu, agus a bhfuil rún acu a gcuid cáilíochtaí a thabhairt suas chun dáta, cur lena gcuid scileanna, cur lena gcuid saineolais agus, dá réir sin, cur leis na deiseanna fostaíochta atá acu. Beidh eolas á thabhairt ag an Lá Oscailte faoi os cionn 170 clár iarchéime lánaimseartha agus páirtaimseartha de chuid OÉ Gaillimh, agus beidh eolas le fáil ann faoi rogha leathan máistreachtaí taighde agus dochtúireachtaí. Beidh níos mó ná 100 seastán ann a mbeidh eolas le fáil acu faoi na deiseanna iarchéime san Ollscoil agus beidh idir chomhaltaí foirne acadúla agus mhic léinn i láthair le ceisteanna faoi chúrsaí ar leith a fhreagairt. Ag labhairt di faoin tairbhe a bhaineann le cáilíocht iarchéime, míníonn Valerie Leahy, Oifigeach Earcaíochta Iarchéime, an fáth ar cheart do mhic léinn cuimhneamh go láidir ar a gcuid roghanna tar éis na céime, “Léiríonn taighde go dtagann méadú suntasach ar chumas tuillimh agus ar na deiseanna le dul chun cinn a dhéanamh i ngairmeacha tar éis cáilíocht iarchéime.  Lena chois sin, cuireann sí le hinfhostaitheacht.” Bíonn an-tóir ar Ghaillimh ag mic léinn. De thoradh an fógra a rinneadh le gairid go raibh OÉ Gaillimh ainmnithe mar Ollscoil na Bliana 2018 mar aon leis an Ollscoil a bheith rangaithe ar an 1% is fearr ar domhan de réir Ranguithe Domhanda QS, is féidir le mic léinn a bheith cinnte go bhfaighidh siad cáilíocht ó ollscoil atá aitheanta as ardchaighdeán teagaisc agus taighde. Le cinneadh a dhéanamh tabhairt faoi cháilíocht iarchéime, tá sé fíorthábhachtach oiread eolais agus is féidir a fháil faoin bpróiseas iarratais agus faoi na roghanna maoinithe atá ar fáil. Tugann an Lá Oscailte na daoine agus na heagraíochtaí ar fad a chuireann tacaíocht ar fáil do mhic léinn iarchéime le chéile ar aon láthair amháin. Beidh eolas faoi chláir nua do 2018 le fáil ag an Lá Oscailte lena n-áirítear cláir Mháistreachta i nGnóthaí Rialúcháin na Teicneolaíochta Leighis agus Caighdeáin; Cillmhonarú agus Cillteiripí; Micreascópacht agus Íomháú; Cosliacht; Ceannaireacht Chomhshaoil; Gnó agus Fáilteachas; Cuntasaíocht agus Anailísíocht Idirnáisiúnta; agus Agrai-Eolaíochtaí Bitheacha. Le spléachadh a fháil ar chláir iarchéime nua eisiacha OÉ Gaillimh, agus le háit a chur in áirithe ag an Lá Oscailte féach www.nuigalway.ie/postgraduate-open-day -Críoch- 

Thursday, 2 November 2017

New research from the Discipline of Pathology at NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute for Translational Research led by Dr Sharon Glynn, has identified that a protein in the body called inducible nitric oxide synthase or iNOS is a key cause for the aggressive spread of triple negative breast cancer, which results in increased risk of early death from the disease. Almost 30% of women in the Western world are diagnosed with this form of breast cancer, which currently cannot be treated or stopped with therapies such as tamoxifen and is limited to treatment through chemotherapy and surgery. These findings will lead to new research to determine what drives this aggressive form of the disease and to develop new therapies and improve survival. Triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of breast cancer is frequently diagnosed in younger women ranging from their thirties and upwards. Based on this research Dr Glynn’s laboratory has had two landmark papers published in the international journals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Oncotarget, which investigates the role of iNOS and the protein COX2 in this type of breast cancer. iNOS and COX2 are normally activated when the body experiences inflammation and wound healing. Dr Glynn’s research shows that when both proteins are expressed together in triple negative breast cancer, they lead to faster tumour growth and help the tumour to spread around the body. In the first study, published in Oncotarget, Dr Glynn and her NUI Galway colleagues Dr Pablo Garrido, Dr Aideen Ryan and Professor Grace Callagy found that women with increased expression of iNOS were at greater risk of their breast cancer spreading to other parts of their body, leading to poor survival rates. They conducted a study of 206 women across the Western seaboard diagnosed with breast cancer at Galway University Hospital between 2000 and 2016, and found that iNOS was a factor in the poor survival rate of Irish breast cancer patients with triple negative breast cancer. It made the cells more resistant to treatment such as chemotherapy, aiding in tumour cell growth and a much higher risk of the disease spreading, leading to death. Speaking about the research, Dr Sharon Glynn at NUI Galway, said: “The results from both studies will be used to develop screening methods to identify which patients are at increased risk of developing the lethal disease. The team are also focused on developing new therapeutic drugs that shut down both of these proteins and reduce the spread of cancer which can lead to premature death in the future. Both proteins have been identified as key drivers in the spreading or metastasis of triple negative breast cancer, and targeting them may save the lives of these patients.” The second study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was edited by the Nobel Laureate, Dr Louis Ignarro, a world expert in nitric oxide biology. Dr Glynn collaborated with Dr Debashree Basudhar and Dr David Wink at the National Cancer Institute in the US and demonstrated for the first time that patients who express high levels of iNOS in conjunction with high levels of the protein COX2, are at an increased risk of tumour progression throughout the body and high risk of death. The study was carried out with patients from Maryland in the US. It found that five years post-diagnosis, less than 40% of women with high levels of iNOS and COX2 survive, compared to 95% of women with low levels of both proteins. To read the full study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, visit: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/10/26/1709119114.full To read the full study in Oncotarget, visit: www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path%5b%5d=19631&path%5b%5d=62719 -Ends-