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Antenna-like structures found on immune cells for first time
Tuesday, 10 March 2015
A team of NUI Galway scientists have found that cells of the immune system have a previously undescribed ability. In a paper just published Journal of Cell Biology, the scientists describe the presence of primary cilia on immune cells. These antenna-like structures are found on almost all cell types in the body, but since the 1960s, it has been thought that they do not arise in blood cells. Professor Ciaran Morrison of NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology, who co-authored the paper with Dr Suzanna Prosser, explains the significance: “The paper is of scientific interest because it provides new information about how ciliation is controlled. Also, we have shown that immune cells do at least have all the material they would need to make primary cilia. The next question is whether the cells make cilia in the body.” Cilia are structures that stick out of cells to sense their local environment. They are very important in monitoring fluid flows, so problems with cilia cause diseases that affect body orientation, development, the eye, the kidney and various other organs. These diseases, which include Joubert syndrome and polycystic kidney disease, are called ciliopathies. The paper describes how a small calcium-binding protein called centrin controls primary cilium formation by removing an inhibitor of ciliation called CP110 from the base of the cilium, allowing it to extend. Professor Morrison and his team discovered this by using gene disruption techniques in cultured retinal cells and in cultured blood cells, where they also found that cell starvation can induce cilia. Active immune system cells, including B- and T-lymphocytes, divide rapidly, so they would not normally have a chance to make cilia. “Cilia have not been described in lymphocytes before, to our knowledge”, explains Professor Morrison. “We starved the cells of nutrients to delay their division cycle, but ciliation still occurred at a very low frequency, in about 5% of cells. It is possible that, even if cilia do exist in the body on certain slow or non-dividing blood cell populations, they may be short-lived, difficult to visualise or rare. What ciliated immune cells might do is an entirely new question. These results, which came from work funded by Science Foundation Ireland, illustrate how surprising findings can emerge from work on unrelated topics.” The 60 scientists led by 11 Principal Investigators at the Centre for Chromosome Biology in NUI Galway are dedicated to understanding many different areas of chromosome biology, such as how cell proliferation is controlled, the structure and maintenance of the genome, precise control of genome duplication and how genes are expressed. Their work is critical to the ongoing scientific battle against cancer and other areas including human reproduction and fertility and genetic diseases such as Huntington’s Disease. -ends-
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NUI Galway Team Retain 'Global Investment Research Challenge' Title
Tuesday, 10 March 2015
Competition sees students from Irish universities compete for most professional analysis of a quoted Irish company In front of a panel of leading financial services professionals, a student team from NUI Galway retained the prestigious Chartered Financial Analysts Ireland 'Global Investment Research Challenge' title. Having won the competition in 2014 analysing Ryanair, this year's team took home the trophy with their analysis of Kingspan. The Challenge is an annual global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis. It offers students a unique hands-on opportunity to learn from industry experts and to compete with peers from the world’s top finance programmes. The NUI Galway team comprised of four students from the Master of Economic Science International Finance programme, Adrian Bushell from Tuam, Co. Galway, Fergal Brennan and Niall Deasy, both from Ennis, Co. Clare, and Sarunas Ramanauskas from Galway City, and Bachelor of Commerce student, Adam Mollen from Tullamore, Co. Offaly. NUI Galway Academic Mentor and Lecturer in Financial Economics, Cian Twomey said: “It’s a fabulous achievement to have retained the title. It speaks volumes as to the high calibre of students taking our programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.” The NUI Galway team now proceeds to the European Middle-East Africa (EMEA) finals in Amsterdam in early April. -Ends-
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First NUI Galway Undergraduate Research Conference
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
The public are invited to attend NUI Galway’s first-ever Undergraduate Research Conference on 19 March. Throughout the day, students will present on research topics ranging from biology, to philosophy to sociology. The objective is to provide undergraduates with opportunities to discuss their research for their educational, professional and career development. Organisers expect that such early exposure to research, especially through a conference environment, will spark a growing interest in future research opportunities. The conference is being organised in response to a groundswell of research among undergraduate students. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway explains how: “We are very much a research-led university. There is a vibrant and exciting research ethos among students at undergraduate level, postgraduate and PhD level. This event provides a platform for students to share their work, and for other students and members of the public to learn and explore a number of concepts around research.” A special roundtable discussion format will allow attendees and presenters to share thoughts and ideas during the sessions. With hundreds of delegates expected, a group of transition year students from the Galway city Secondary School transition years will volunteer and attend as conference organisers on the day. “We not only aim to bring the students and staff of NUI Galway closer together but to bring the community of Galway together, by inviting members of the public and community to engage with undergraduate research. The involvement of secondary schools will hopefully sow the seeds of research in the next generation of researchers”, said Lorraine Tansey, Volunteer Coordinator with NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme. A brainchild of second year Commerce students Ben Coady, Brian Dooley, Jason Carey, Evan Wynne and their NUI Galway staff member, Lorraine Tansey, the conference is funded by EXPLORE, a collaboration between NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union. The purpose of EXPLORE is to encourage innovation, enterprise and creativity among staff and students. Dr Maria Gallo, St Angela’s College Sligo, partners of the conference said, “Undergraduate students across the University are involved in some interesting and valuable research projects. This conference is a unique opportunity to share their research with their peers as many of them may be considering postgraduate study or a research related career.” To find out more or register to attend visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/undergrad-research/ -ends-
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9 out of 10 Irish Medical Students Consider Leaving Ireland when they Qualify
Thursday, 12 March 2015
Report on Ireland’s Medical Brain Drain Thursday, 12 March, 2015: A study published today shows that 88% of Irish medical students are intending or are contemplating migration, when they qualify. Led by NUI Galway, this is the largest study of its kind in Ireland, and was published in the open access journal Human Resources for Health. This study included over 2,000 medical students in Ireland, of whom 1,519 were Irish, studying across the country’s six medical schools. The main reasons cited for possible migration included perceptions regarding career opportunities (85%), working conditions in Ireland (83%) and lifestyle (80%). Pishoy Gouda, a final year medical student at NUI Galway, was the principal investigator of the study. “We have known for some time, from previous research, that a significant percentage of qualified doctors are leaving the country. This research confirms this, with 34% definitely planning to migrate, but also shows a widespread culture of ‘intention to emigrate’ with a further 53% contemplating it. These migration intentions are a major concern to the sustainability the Irish healthcare workforce.” “This outflow of qualified personnel may represent a financial loss to the Irish healthcare system, when one considers the costs involved in training medical students, the cost of recruiting replacements and the service delivery constraints if replacements cannot be found.” Nearly two-thirds of students identified that they did not have a great understanding of the training following graduation and a third of the students surveyed also indicated that they had a poor understanding of how the Irish healthcare system worked. According to Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, Senior Lecturer in Social and Preventive Medicine at NUI Galway, who supervised the study: “Interventions are needed including providing a better understanding of career structures and opportunities, and of the changing organisation of the health service. Changes are needed in order to retain medical graduates and attract those who have already emigrated to return.” As the shortage of doctors is so great in Ireland, Pishoy Gouda, the lead author suggests that postgraduate opportunities should also be made more accessible to non-EU students who are trained in Ireland. Current European working laws make it difficult for non-EU graduates of Irish medical schools to obtain Irish intern or pre-registration/foundation year positions; they are therefore lost to the system immediately upon graduation. “These statistics come at a time when Ireland is facing a significant shortfall in physicians. Because of this outflow of human capital, we are having to go to huge efforts to attract doctors from other countries, including developing nations. Not only is this a problem for Irish recruitment, but we need to be mindful of WHO guidelines on international recruitment and taking skilled personnel away from countries that have medical staff shortages”, said Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan. This research helps to define appropriate interventions at the medical undergraduate level, with the aims of enhancing student understanding of the Irish health service, career and training opportunities, and in the longer term, enhancing retention. Alongside NUI Galway, the report was co-authored by staff at the Department of Public Health, HSE West, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University of Limerick, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin. -ends-
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President Higgins announced as Patron of Year of Light
Thursday, 12 March 2015
The UN has designated 2015 the UNESCO International Year of Light and President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has been announced as the LIGHT2015 Ireland Patron. NUI Galway is coordinating Ireland’s involvement and a series of events will take place across the country, and schools will be invited to learn more about the science of light and the contribution of light to our communities. Leading this initiative in Ireland is Professor Martin Leahy from NUI Galway and he is the recipient for two funding awards from the European Union for these efforts. “Light particles, or photons, are harnessed for use in the world around us. Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. We have truly entered the Photonics Era.” “We are delighted to have such high profile patron and distinguished orator supporting our efforts to promote the Year of Light in Ireland. Ireland has a rich history of light science and engineering from Newgrange 3200 BC to the modern scientific discoveries of Stokes, Hamilton, Joly, Jellet and Tyndall among others. The President’s reputation in social justice and the arts will assist us in bringing the power of light to a much wider audience.” LIGHT2015 represents a unique opportunity to marry science, engineering, medicine and the arts – particularly cinema and the fine arts. As part of the International Year of Light, children will have the chance to have their art projected onto walls in city centre locations and app enthusiasts will get access to new apps. “We are no longer in the electronic age, the 21st century is all about harnessing light through photonics. Water treatment, the internet, cinema, the fine arts, scientific discovery as well as medical diagnosis and therapy – all use photonics. This is what we want to celebrate during 2015,” added Professor Leahy. Recent recognition by Science Foundation Ireland through the award of €30 million to establish the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, and a previous award from the Higher Education Authority of €30.5 million for the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform, demonstrate its continuing importance to Ireland and the Irish economy. Photonics is also recognised by the Irish Government as one of the six platform technologies and is directly underpinning many of the identified research priorities and, more recently, the €7 billion partnership between Photonics21 and the European Commission will have a substantial impact on future growth and job creation, and significantly assist the EU’s continued economic recovery. LIGHT2015 is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. To watch a video about the International Year of Light 2015 click here https://youtu.be/rcoMeWV0jZc
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NUI Galway Holds First Climate Congress
Monday, 16 March 2015
NUI Galway will hold its first climate congress highlighting national and international approaches, adaptation and mitigation. Focusing on the need for action on climate change, the event will take place on Wednesday, 25 March in the Bailey Allen Hall from 11am-8pm. Guest speakers will include: Tara Shine, Independent Expert and Special Adviser to the Mary Robinson Foundation. Tara will give a talk on the recent climate change negotiations, the new climate agreement, the link to the sustainable development goals and climate justice. Ian Lumley from An Taisce, who will discuss climate change and food production from an Irish perspective, what can or should Ireland contribute. Carla Sarrouy from the Warwick Crop Centre who will discuss her work concerning food security in Senegal. There will also be a networking event featuring a variety of NGO’s and NUI Galway societies who will present their work in relation to climate change. The event is organised by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Society (CCAFS Society), which began operating in NUI Galway in September 2014. This event is free to attend. For more information, or to registration for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.ie/myevent?eid=15615628766. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Host Public Talk with Writer and Broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
The talk is part of the Martin Reilly Lecture Series NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies and Comhrá Ceoil has announced details of the second Martin Reilly Lecture of 2015. Taking place on Tuesday, 31 March at the Galway City Library at 6.30pm, the talk will be delivered by writer and broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile. Deirdre’s talk, ‘Sean-nós song in Pennsylvania, 1884-1935: the Reverend Daniel J. Murphy Collection’, explores the work of the scholar Reverend Murphy (1858-1935) from the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. During his life-time, Reverend Murphy, together with JJ Lyons of Glenamaddy, collected over 1000 Irish language songs in Philadelphia and the surrounding coal-mining towns. From the Aran Islands Deirdre is co-ordinator of the on-going project Amhráin Árann - Aran Songs and is currently writing a book about music-collecting in Ireland. This series of talks is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated Galway uilleann piper, and gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum. Admission is free to all the talks in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Further information on all the talks in the series available on Facebook at Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series or e-mail Martinreillylectureseries@gmail.com. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Professor Elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Professor Peter McHugh was elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy at the Stated General Meeting of the RIA recently. The Royal Irish Academy is Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. Founded in 1785 The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann is a publicly funded institution established for the promotion of Irish academic research. Professor Peter McHugh holds a BE in Mechanical Engineering from UCG (1987), and an MSc (1990) and PhD (1992) in Mechanics of Solids from Brown University, Providence, USA. He joined NUI Galway in 1991, where he is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Head of Discipline of Biomedical Engineering, within the College of Engineering and Informatics. His research is focused on fundamental developments and applications of computational and experimental methods in biomechanics, tissue mechanics and medical implants and devices. He has taken a leadership role in the development of biomedical engineering in Ireland through high quality and prolific research and publication output, and undergraduate and graduate education programme generation. He has received numerous awards, including membership of the Royal Irish Academy (2011), the Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (Section of Bioengineering) in 2011, the Presidential Nominee Fellowship of Engineers Ireland in (2009), and the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1995).
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Galway Projects To Benefit From Research Funding Partnership
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Irish Research Council announce partnership with The Wheel The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced that a number of Galway based projects will receive funding under a newly launched partnership with The Wheel, aimed at engaging community and voluntary organisations in academic research. Researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) are collaborating with organisations such as COPE, Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks, EmployAbility, Galway Simon Community, Burrenbeo Trust and Rape Crisis Network Ireland, to address pressing societal issues. Under the partnership, the IRC is awarding almost €400,000 to support collaborative projects between community and voluntary groups and researchers around the country. Galway Research Projects Dr Josephine Boland, NUI Galway, is working on one such research project. In association with Galway Simon Community, the research will develop a participatory approach to planning a new resettlement service which empowers young adults to exit homelessness, and transition to independent living. Other projects awarded funding include: COPE - Home Movies: Using Community Filmmaking to Explore Perspectives on Belonging. Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks - Self Directed Support and Disability – Achieving Good Lives. EmployAbility – A series of events to explore the options of piloting a Community Café that employs people with disabilities for the new ILAS (Institute for Lifecourse and Society) building at NUI Galway. Burrenbeo Trust - ‘Find out’: How to record objects from the past. Rape Crisis Network Ireland - “Sexy Consent”: Devising Workshops to Empower Young Adults to Negotiate Consent to Sexual Activity. Commenting today, Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the IRC, said: “Research can add value to all of society, benefiting all sectors, whether enterprise, government or civic, and ultimately benefits all citizens. “The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel is a new departure for the research sector. It provides a targeted research funding mechanism which includes community and voluntary groups. The research findings from these projects will not only benefit grassroots communities, and inspire the work of researchers, but will also inform national policymaking for civic society.” Official Launch by Minister Jan O’Sullivan The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel was officially launched in Dublin by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD. Commenting at the launch, Minister O’Sullivan said: “Effective engagement between higher education and the community and voluntary sector is a key objective of the National Strategy for Higher Education. “This partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel will facilitate researchers to exchange knowledge and spread their work beyond academia. At the same time, it will allow community and voluntary groups to access leading research expertise and to collaborate on cutting-edge research projects. Ultimately, this will increase awareness of the benefit of research on society, and on our quality of life. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects funded under this initiative.” For more information, visit www.research.ie. ENDS
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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny Helps Launch Visionary Initiative to be Supported by €300 Million Euro Fund
Thursday, 19 March 2015
The Global Sustainability Initiative (GSI), an innovative global impact investment project, joins the fight against global warming with the creation of a safe economic model for sustainable production and consumption of food, water and energy in disadvantaged regions of the world will have an initial focus on southern Africa. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach Damien Ryan and Mayo County Chief Executive Peter Hynes, were on hand in Washington DC for the announcement on Monday 16 March, and welcomed GSI’s launch, the result of five years of development and planning by Dublin-based OpenSparkz LP and its partners. Mayo County Council Enterprise and Investment Unit has worked with OpenSparkz to select suitable sites for GSI operations in the county and is delighted with this significant announcement today following detailed discussions regarding the project since last summer. NUI Galway will support research and development at the Global Sustainability Centre to be based in Castlebar. According to Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, who was in Washington DC for Monday’s announcement: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting and innovative new project. NUI Galway’s priority areas of research and development align closely with the Global Sustainability Initiative’s vision. We hope to work together and to apply our support and expertise to great effect.” “Ireland was chosen as headquarters for GSI given the country’s strong technology and skills base in sustainability, and in particular, its leadership in food technology and its long-term friendly relationships with Africa and other less developed markets,” says Paul Lindsey, CEO of Opensparkz.” In addition, the level of practical support we have received from the Mayo County Council and the Irish Government agencies provided a concrete stepping stone towards securing the necessary locations to allow substantial operations take place in Co. Mayo." OpenSparkz and leading innovative partner companies will develop a technology hub within the Castlebar facility to be called the Global Sustainability Centre, expecting to generate more than 250 new jobs. The financing of the Centre and GSI’s initial projects in Africa are led by investment bank BPA International Group in partnership with OpenSparkz. BPA. With formal approvals from the Luxembourg Regulator, the CSSF, BPA has launched an alternative investment fund “GSF1” in Luxembourg and is now taking investment commitments for some €300 million, forming the basis of a listed offering when GSI’s projects are sufficiently developed. “Investments into GSI projects will come from the impact investment sector, as well as sovereign wealth funds, multilateral and supranational bodies and the multinational corporate and institutional brands,” says Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the BPA International Group. “In fact, these organisations strongly supporting global sustainability and are actively increasing their investments in development projects like GSI.” GSI and GSF1 The GSI initiative will play a role in helping to provide solutions to a series of world-scale challenges, including the development of viable new sustainable biomass fuel supplies which will be essential in helping Governments tackle the threat of global warming. GSF1 intends to secure land rights in South Africa which will be used to produce these biomass energy fuels in collaboration with local communities, who will benefit from the investment that will be made in improving their nutritional, health, education and technology conditions. The land will also be developed to produce large scale supplies of healthy bio-organic foods and new bio-diversity wildlife reserves to secure the survival of endangered species, including animals like the rhino, which are under increasing threat from poaching. The GSF1 approach is unique in that 40% of the profits generated by the initiative will be reinvested as social dividends dedicated to the development of urgently needed social projects within these local and other communities, such as farming for food supply, water purification, health clinics, schools for education, energy and IT / tech connectivity. Global Sustainability Center Partners Research and development at the GSC will be supported by Irish universities and institutions, including the NUI Galway, GMIT and Mountbellew Agricultural College as well as the Western Development Commission. Opensparkz is also working closely with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to help us to attract more leading global companies into the Centre and Ireland. Opensparkz has already started to attract global partners to the GSC in Castlebar including: Viridis Aquaponics (U.S) - food production through the use of aquaponics and high tech methodologies. (www.viridisaquaponics.com) New Generation Biogas (England) - technologies and equipment for local community power production and bio-fertilizers through anaerobic digestion. (www.ngbiogas.com) IFood Systems (Canada) - packaging technology that extends the shelf life, safety and vitality of agricultural food products. (www.ifoodsystems.com) Flexiway Solar Solutions (Australia) a subsidiary of NRS International that creates fit-for-purpose solar lights for the humanitarian aid and international development sectors (www.nrs-international.com) Hedviga Group (Czech Republic) products that convert organic materials from waste (rubber granules, sorted plastics, biomass and sorted municipal waste) into useable products and fuel. (www.hedviga.cz) Arcadian Biomass (US) expertise in project development, construction, commissioning and operation of lumber, wood chipping, co-generation and wood pelletising operations. (acadianbiomass.com) Aquiva Foundation (England) a registered charity delivering sustainable desalination project based on the innovative memsys technology in developing countries using waste heat from power generation or solar (www.aquiva-foundation.com) Risk Management International, Ireland's longest established firm providing risk management and project assurance. (www.rmi.ie) Indaba Mobile, a South African-based mobile-focused enabling company that extends social networking and communication to the last mile in frontier markets. (www.indabamobile.co.za) OpenCarb LP, an Irish-based enterprise, that secures, trades and assures biodiversity rights from sustainable projects for the benefit of those communities protecting the environment. (www.opencarb.com) “This project has resulted from many years of research and development on a new economic model and best in class technologies that will work in less developed markets and deliver impact at scale to communities. The GSC will be a one stop shop to facilitate the delivery to communities of both capital and technologies. It will focus on the big six basic community needs including Food, Energy, Water, Healthcare, Education and IT access, using an economic model based on trade rather than aid. This new approach of investment for impact provides both investors and communities alike better outcomes at scale,” says Declan Conway, Chairman and Founder of OpenSparkz LP. This is just the beginning of what is to become a major co-operation between developed countries and the developing ones but also the many powerful institutions, organisations and businesses that have already expressed interest in being involved - for a better world for everybody. The Global Sustainable Fund initiative was inspired from a commitment to action with the Clinton Global Initiative, a US-based group which was established by Bill Clinton to help support worthwhile projects globally. Accordingly, GSI is looking to play it's part in helping to solve some very big world-scale issues, including developing new sustainable fuel supplies to replace coal with biomass and providing sustainable food production which can help us all to tackle the catastrophic risks created by the threat of global warming. -ends-
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