NUI Galway signs agreement with leading Chinese university during President Higgins’ State Visit

NUI Galway signs agreement with leading Chinese university during President Higgins’ State Visit-image

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

NUI Galway signed an agreement on Tuesday, 9 December, with Tsinghua University in China, to collaborate on both education and research activities. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding was witnessed by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and President of China, Xi Jinping, in The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, immediately prior to the State Banquet to mark the visit. Both national Presidents have links to the universities as President Higgins is an alumnus of NUI Galway, while President Xi graduated from Tsinghua University. Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, and Ms Chen Xu, Chairperson of Tsinghua University Council, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of their respective universities. The agreement features: joint research in the fields of mutual interest to both universities; exchange of faculty members and researchers; exchange of students; joint organisation of seminars and academic meetings; exchange of materials in education; and research, publications and academic information. Science and engineering research and teaching is a particular strength for both universities. For the academic year 2015/16, a plan for undergraduate engineering student exchange and increased post-graduate mobility has been agreed. The agreement follows on from existing close ties between the universities. In research, a significant three-year EU project on cancer biomarkers led by NUI Galway, with Tsinghua University as a partner, has just come to completion. Also in research, 27 Tsinghua graduates have come to NUI Galway to pursue postgraduate degrees over the last two decades. In addition, several senior academic positions at Tsinghua University are held by NUI Galway graduates, and Tsinghua University alumni teach at NUI Galway. NUI Galway’s President Browne, has supervised many Tsinghua University graduates who have come to NUI Galway as PhD and masters students in the area of industrial engineering. Commenting on the agreement he said: “This is a historic agreement, which builds on a long tradition of educational exchange between NUI Galway and Tsinghua University, particularly in the area of Engineering. With this signing we look forward to deepening our collaboration, resulting in great student mobility between the two universities at under-graduate and post-graduate levels, as well as building new partnerships on a range of research fronts. It is especially fitting that this agreement is signed in the presence of the national Presidents, both of whom are alumni of the respective universities.” The signing took place during the State Visit of President Michael D. Higgins to China. This is the first State Visit since 2003. Accompanying the President on this three city visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, were the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, T.D. and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. The visit aims to deepen the political, cultural, business, scientific and educational relationships between the two countries. The President was be accompanied by Sabina Higgins. Dr Jim Browne travelled as part of the delegation on the State Visit, following the invitation from Enterprise Ireland to the International Office of the Irish universities. He was accompanied by colleague, Professor Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs. NUI Galway has a very strong Alumni Group in Beijing, made up of alumni and member of the Irish expat community.

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NUI Galway staff and alumni row in behind search for bone marrow match

 NUI Galway staff and alumni row in behind search for bone marrow match-image

Thursday, 11 December 2014

“This is a Christmas gift that will keep on giving” Staff and alumni of NUI Galway are getting behind a campaign to encourage people to consider donating bone marrow. The campaign is inspired by the story of Paul Giblin, an engineering graduate and champion rower for the University, who is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Now 31 years-old, Paul was diagnosed in April 2012 and is currently undergoing his fourth regime of chemotherapy, having also had an autologous (own) stem-cell transplant and radiotherapy. His best, and possibly only chance to return to health, will be to find a match on the Global Registry, the pool from which all bone marrow donations are drawn. Friends are pulling together to spread awareness with a view to increasing the number of potential donors in Ireland on the Global Registry. “We are reaching out to family, friends and friends of friends. We are hoping to significantly increase the numbers signing up to become bone marrow donors, to give people in Paul’s situation a fighting chance”, explains Ruadhán Cooke, who is a lecturer in French at NUI Galway and actively involved in the rowing club. “This is a Christmas gift that will keep on giving and which some day you or a loved one may need and benefit from. The first step is to give a small sample of blood, it’s that simple, and it could be a gift that will someday save a life,” added Ruadhán Cooke. The Irish Blood Transfusion Service will run a dedicated Bone Marrow Recruitment Clinic on Monday,15 December in the Cumasu Centre, Racing Lodge, Doughiska Road, Galway. The clinic will take a small sample of blood to add to the database, and cross check for matches. Anyone interested in attending the clinic on Monday, or other clinics in future, should e-mail BoneMarrow@ibts.ie Paul is one of Ireland’s most decorated rowers, with 17 Irish Senior champion titles, as well as twice taking gold at Henley Royal Regatta. He was also a medalist at the World Under 23 Rowing Championships and World Student Games. In an impressive couple of seasons on the cycling circuit, he rode the 2010 Rás, and also competed at the World Para Cycling Championships as the sighted pilot in the tandem event. A qualified civil engineer, Paul retrained and now works as an Army officer, stationed at Dún Uí Mhaolaíosa in Galway. Last weekend he married his fiancé Cate. For more information on how you can help Paul and others like him visit http://marrowmatch.eu/  -ends-

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Participants wanted for this winter’s flu survey

Participants wanted for this winter’s flu survey-image

Monday, 15 December 2014

flusurvey.ie will track the spread of flu across Ireland and provide useful real-time data   Irish people are being asked to volunteer information about their health this winter at flusurvey.ie. Now in its second year, the website is a collaboration between NUI Galway and the HSE - Health Protection Surveillance Centre. Volunteers are asked to register with the site, and log any flu symptoms if and when they develop.   The website asks participants about their overall health and possible influenza symptoms – headaches, fever, sore throats – and maps this information in real-time. This provides valuable real-time information for healthcare professionals on the demographic and geographic profile of people suffering from flu.   The system can map the spread of the disease in its early stages, and provide health professionals with an early warning signal of nationwide outbreaks.   Project Leader Dr Jim Duggan, of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, says: “Last winter we tracked data from hundreds of volunteers, with the majority coming from Dublin, Cork and Galway. Amongst our participants, we saw particular spikes in illness in mid-to-late February, and also observed the highest percentage of self-reported flu levels from our survey in the under-18 year age group.”   Flusurvey.ie has demonstrated the potential for self-reporting systems, and the team behind it is building on last year’s success to recruit more participants throughout the country. “Our web system is designed to handle a sizeable nationwide survey, and increasing the numbers who volunteer their health symptoms will enhance the overall information we can share with the HSE-HPSC”, adds Dr Duggan.   Dr Darina O’Flanagan of the HSE-HPSC welcomed the re-launch and said that flusurvey.ie is a useful addition to flu surveillance in Ireland and that the information gathered will be aggregated to complement existing methods of influenza surveillance.   Seasonal influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that is characterised by sudden onset of fever, accompanied by muscle pain or headache, and a cough or sore throat. In Ireland, the influenza season typically starts in October, and continues through to late May.   Volunteers register online and self-report by answering short questions relating to demographic, medical, socio-economic and lifestyle issues. The system is secure, and all patient information is analysed at an aggregate and anonymous level. Participants can also view their individual symptom history, and interactive health maps at local and national levels.    Flusurvey is accessible for registration at https://flusurvey.ie  

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Launch of Groundbreaking Book on Genetic Discrimination

Launch of Groundbreaking Book on Genetic Discrimination-image

Friday, 19 December 2014

MEP Marian Harkin and members of the judiciary, as well as leading figures from the areas of disability and genetics joined on Friday night, 12th December, at the European Commission Representation to celebrate the launch of Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic perspectives on the case for a European-level legal response. The book is edited by Professor Gerard Quinn, (Centre for Disability Law and Policy, School of Law, NUI Galway), Dr Aisling de Paor (School of Law and Government, DCU) and Peter Blanck (Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, USA) and focuses particularly on the legislative and policy framework in the European Union emphasising gaps in protection and the scope for specific legislative action in the area of genetic discrimination. Professor Quinn said “One reason we are proud of this book is that it brings several disciplines together including the hard sciences, public policy, ethics and law in a common discussion about how to enable genetic and other scientific research to evolve and grow, how to enhance public confidence in the research and how to tame it so that it underpins and not undermines our values.” He continued “This book is written within a context that promises an explosion of scientific insights into what it means to be human and indeed how we might go beyond being human. It is a context that taxes our existing frames of reference to accommodate such changes whether they lie in ethics, public policy or law.” As genetic technologies advance, genetic testing may well offer the prospect of detecting the onset of future disabilities. Some research also posits that certain behavioural profiles may have a strong genetic basis, such as the determination to succeed, or the propensity for risk-taking. As this technology becomes more prevalent, there is a danger that genetic information may be misused by third parties and that particular genetic profiles may be discriminated against by employers, by providers of social goods and services, such as insurance companies and even by educational facilities. This book explores the different forms and potential uses of genetic testing. Drawing together leading experts in disability law, bioethics, health law and a range of related fields, it highlights the ethical and legal challenges arising as a result of emerging and rapidly advancing genetic science. On examining transatlantic perspectives on the matter, chapters in the book ask whether the US Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is proving to be an effective tool in addressing the issue of genetic discrimination and alleviating fears of discrimination. The book also reviews what insights may be gained from GINA within employment and health insurance contexts, and asks how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) may impact similar debates within the European Union. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of discrimination law, bioethics and disability law, and will be of considerable use to legal practitioners, medical practitioners and policy-makers in this area. ENDS

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November 2014

‘Ebola – The Facts’ Lecture at NUI Galway

‘Ebola – The Facts’ Lecture at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 10 November 2014

NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery is running a free public lecture on Ebola: how it spreads, how it affects the human body, and how the outbreak can be contained. The lecture, on Tuesday, 18 November from 7-9pm in Áras Moyola, will also focus on hand washing and its importance in preventing the spread of infections in the community. Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, senior lecturer in NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and the Director of Public Health for the HSE West, will be delivering the lecture alongside Evelyn Byrne, lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Evelyn Byrne will explain why hand washing is important, including a demonstration on effective hand washing. Dr O’Donovan recently returned from working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the Ebola response. ‘Ebola – The Facts’ is the second event of a public lecture series, an innovative community outreach initiative started in NUI Galway’s School of Nursing & Midwifery this year. The series aims to share knowledge and expertise on health matters with local communities. Dr Adeline Cooney, Head of NUI Galway’ School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “This public lecture series is interactive in nature, allowing full community engagement and we look forward to active and lively discussions and debates.” If there are any future topics you would like covered during the lecture, please contact john.quinlivan@nuigalway.ie or mary.e.gannon@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

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Explore the fascinating world of cells and how they make your brain work at NUI Galway workshops

Explore the fascinating world of cells and how they make your brain work at NUI Galway workshops -image

Monday, 10 November 2014

Workshops are part of the 2014 Galway Science and Technology Festival Humans are complex living things, a family of over 100 trillion cells of which there are over 200 different types! In our brains alone there are 14 times more cells than people on the planet. The way in which our cells work together in our body is a fascinating story, one that you can learn about with Cell EXPLORERS at the Galway Science and Technology Festival this year. This year, Cell EXPLORERS is running three different interactive workshops at the Galway Science Technology Festival Exhibition Day on Sunday, 23 November. The popular workshops will contain activities such as observing your own cheek cells under microscopes, extracting DNA and building DNA models, participants can learn all about cells and DNA. The School of Natural Sciences Next Top Model Organism Workshop also returns, allowing the general public the chance to interact with passionate researchers in NUI Galway. Members of the public will have the chance to learn about and observe model organisms which are being studied and can then vote for their favourite. New to the exhibition this year is the Brain EXPLORERS Workshop, supported by both the American Society for Cell Biology and The Biochemical Society. Complementing the ‘Amazing Brain’ exhibition by the Galway Neuroscience Centre, it explores the brain from the cellular level through the use of engaging activities such as puzzles, matching games, interactive circuits, and model building races. Cell EXPLORERS is a science outreach programme based in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway. Volunteer students, staff and researchers all work together to promote biological sciences to primary and secondary school children and their families in a way that is both accessible and fun! With both school visits and interactive workshops during Science Week and the Galway Science and Technology Festival, funded by a Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Award, there is something for every young (and older!) explorer. Since it began, Cell EXPLORERS has directly reached over 3,800 children, teachers and parents. The Cell EXPLORERS Fantastic DNA School Roadshow is once again bringing the opportunity to do DNA extraction experiments in the classroom to primary school children across Co. Galway! The ‘Little Cells’ school visits are also back. Aimed at infants, first and second classes this visit introduces young children to the different cells in our body in a fun and engaging way. To book a ticket for the free workshops visit the Galway Science and Technology Festival website, www.galwayscience.ie or go to the Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition day on Sunday, 23 November where you too can become a Cell EXPLORER! More information on Cell EXPLORERS is available on www.cellexplorers.com. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Hold Free Foot Screening for World Diabetes Day

NUI Galway Hold Free Foot Screening for World Diabetes Day-image

Monday, 3 November 2014

To mark World Diabetes Day on Friday, 14 November, NUI Galway will provide a free foot screening clinic from 1-4pm in the NUI Galway Podiatry Skills Laboratory on the third floor of Áras Moyola on campus. Created in 1991, World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. In Ireland, it remains unknown exactly how many people are currently living with diabetes. The Institute of Public Health’s report Making Diabetes Count estimated that there were about 143,000 people with diabetes in Ireland and predicted that this number would increase by 37%, to 194,000 people, by 2015.    The Discipline of Podiatry at NUI Galway is the only School of Podiatry in the country and was established in 2008. Podiatry is a healthcare profession specialising in the management of disease and disorder of the lower limb and foot. Podiatrists are frequently involved in managing and treating individuals who are living with diabetes. For individuals who are living with diabetes – a number of diabetes related changes occur in the lower-limbs and ultimately this can affect the blood supply and the nerve supply to the feet. Dr Claire MacGilchrist, lecturer in Podiatry at NUI Galway, said: “Diabetes has emerged as a modern day epidemic and the literature has identified that for every individual diagnosed with diabetes there remains another individual living with the condition remaining undiagnosed. Early identification of the condition is essential and annual foot screening for individuals who have diabetes is crucial to identify diabetes related changes and implement effective management strategies to prevent ulcerations and amputations’. The World Health Organisation recently reported that every 20 seconds, somewhere in the world, a limb is lost as a consequence of diabetes, yet with effective screening programmes and early intervention strategies, ulceration and amputations are in many cases preventable.” The screening is strictly by appointment only. To schedule a 20 minute foot screening appointment email Dr Claire MacGilchrist at claire.macgilchrist@nuigalway.ie or 091 494265 before Tuesday, 11 November. -Ends-      

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NUI Galway Free Public Lecture on Comets

NUI Galway Free Public Lecture on Comets-image

Monday, 3 November 2014

Lecture to mark landing of Philae space probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko The European Space Agency will land the Philae probe onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, 12 November. Philae has been travelling to the comet for over ten years. It is the first time that such a rendezvous and landing has been attempted. To mark this astronomical occasion, NUI Galway will hold a special lecture organised by the University’s Astronomy Society and School of Physics. The lecture will be given by Professor Andy Shearer from the School of Physics and will include a live demonstration of what a comet is, as well as describing the importance of comets to us on the Earth. Comets are the debris left behind when the solar system and the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago. Their study gives us clues as to what the conditions were like when life first developed approximately 4 billion years ago. Their dramatic appearance in the night sky with a fuzzy head and long tail have always inspired mankind. It is thought most of the water on the earth was brought here by comets in the early part of the Earth life - if it wasn’t for comets we wouldn’t be here today. The European Space Agency (ESA) sent a space craft to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which was discovered by two Russian astronomers in 1969. This journey took ten years and it flew past Earth and Mars once each, gaining speed each time. Since August the space craft, Rosetta, has been in close orbit around the comet looking for a place to land. ESA have decided that it is safe to land on the comet and will launch the probe, Philae, on 12 November. If the mission is a success the NUI Galway talk should include some of the first pictures from the surface of a comet. During the lecture, Professor Shearer will make a comet from its normal raw ingredients of water, organic tar and gravel. As comets are in deep space they are very cold and to mimic the conditions, the comet mix will be cooled to -170 degrees celsius. In this way Professor Shearer can show how the cometary fuzzy head and tail form. The lecture is part of the University’s Science Week which is organised by the Astronomy Society, will take place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 12 November in room IT 250, IT Building. The event is free to attend but spaces are limited so arriving early is advised. For more information contact organiser Laura Boyle of NUI Galway’s Astronomy Society at l.boyle2@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Zoology student to track down infamous false black widow spiders around the city

NUI Galway Zoology student to track down infamous false black widow spiders around the city-image

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Aileen Wruck, an undergraduate zoology student from NUI Galway has been collecting spiders in and around Galway city as part of her final year research project. Her goal is to get a better understanding of how spiders colonise human dwellings and turn man-made structures to their advantage. Over the past few weeks, Aileen has been trapping and collecting spiders from seemingly unlikely locations for wildlife including bridges, stone walls, attics, car parks and public staircases. To date she has managed to identify 110 specimens from 27 species. Her most prized catch are two false black widows found in a local car park. Aileen said: “False black widows are not native to Ireland, but they have managed to establish populations in most cities, where man-made structures provide the shelter and the warmth they would not get otherwise in the countryside. False black widows have had very bad press recently, but the reality is that they are very shy and not more dangerous than a wasp or a bee.” Dr Michel Dugon from the discipline of Zoology at NUI Galway and Aileen’s supervisor, is eager to explore this new urban wildlife: “By building large cities and developing international trade, we have effectively opened a world-wide network of urban environments. Many bugs have benefited from these new conditions and have become closely dependent on us for their survival and dispersal. The study of these man-made ecosystems is now a field of research on its own called urban ecology. It is both fascinating and slightly scary to think that we have created ecosystems where climatic and geographical boundaries do not apply anymore.” Have you come across false black widows or very unusual looking spiders in Galway? If so, you can send your pictures to Aileen by email at a.wruck1@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Professor Appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society

NUI Galway Professor Appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society-image

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Professor Ruth Curtis, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, was recently appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society for her contribution to the advancement of health psychology through research, education/training and public service. Although retired, Professor Curtis is still actively involved in the Health and Wellbeing Research Cluster in the School of Psychology She was presented with the award by Professor Aleks Luszczynska at the opening ceremony of the 25th EHPS conference in Innsbruck which hosted 1,000 delegates from 30 countries. -Ends-

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