Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Researchers from NUI Galway are seeking members of the public, particularly dads, to get involved in the ‘CHErIsH’ (Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant Health) Project. CHErIsH is a nationally funded study that aims to gain a better understanding of parents’ and primary caregivers’ experiences of feeding their children, and how best to support them to do this. The NUI Galway researchers would like to form a group to inform and help shape the direction of this research and are seeking people who are interested in infant feeding related research. The group will discuss aspects of infant feeding practices and behaviours such as; patterns of breastfeeding, formula feeding, solid food intake, and other complimentary foods and liquids. The study is particularly interested in the voice of dads and grandparents in terms of how they support their children’s/grandchildren’s infant feeding practices. Health Economist, Dr Michelle Queally from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “To date the CHErIsH Project has recruited a large number of mums and caregivers to participate in the study but we are also keen for dads to get involved. Together with my colleagues Dr Elaine Toomey at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway,  and Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar, School of Public Health in UCC, we are examining various aspects of infant feeding practices in Ireland. “At the moment we are hoping to assemble a panel who are interested in various aspects of infant feeding and who will in turn guide our research and research materials. We would like to include representatives from all groups on this panel; mums, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents, and would especially like to hear from a lot more dads, and hear their opinions about infant feeding practices.” People interested in participating in the study are required to attend four meetings throughout 2018 in the Galway city region. Meetings are informal, lasting one to two hours, and all travel expenses will be covered. Participants will be provided with a One4All voucher as a thank you for their participation. The CHErIsH Project is supported by the Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Award 2015. For more details about the study contact Dr Michelle Queally, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway at michelle.queally@nuigalway.ie or 091 492934 and 085 1614345. For more information about the CHErIsH study, visit: www.cherishstudy.com or follow on Twitter @cherishstudy or CHErIsH on Facebook. -Ends- 

Monday, 29 January 2018

Dr Elaine Toomey and Dr David Mothersill from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, have both received prestigious awards for their specific areas of research from the Irish Canadian University Foundation and the Royal Irish Academy. Dr Elaine Toomey from the Health Behaviour Change Research Group, led by Professor Molly Byrne at the School of Psychology, received the ‘Irish Canadian University Foundation James M Flaherty Early Career Researcher Award’. Dr Toomey received the award to conduct further research on the adaptation of ‘Football Fans in Training’ (FFIT), an effective health behaviour change intervention that used Scottish professional football clubs to engage with overweight and obese men. The ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention was recently developed by Dr Rob Petrella and Dr Dawn Gill in Western University, Ontario to adapt the FFIT project to ice-hockey, within a Canadian context. Dr Toomey’s award will enable her to visit Western University and explore the Canadian ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention with a specific focus on how FFIT components were adapted to suit a different sporting and cultural context, and inform how this might be used in an Irish context. Dr Toomey will also spend time in the Centre for Implementation Research in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to maximise how knowledge from her visit to Western University can be used to inform adaptation and translation into an Irish setting, using a structured and theory-based approach. Speaking about her award, Dr Elaine Toomey at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted and incredibly honoured to receive this award. As well as facilitating my own learning and development, this award will enable me to establish new collaborations between the Health Behaviour Change Research Group at NUI Galway and researchers from Western University, as well as strengthening existing relationships between our group and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. It will also enable Canadian expertise in obesity research and knowledge translation to be disseminated to an Irish audience.” Dr David Mothersill received the ‘Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant’ for his research in Cognitive Neuroscience, as part of the Centre for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics (NICOG) led by Professor Gary Donohoe at the School of Psychology at NUI Galway. Dr Mothersill received the award for research where he is currently developing a novel computerised test to examine social cognition in individuals with schizophrenia that will be useful in predicting real world social skills. Social cognition refers to the ability to understand the perspectives and emotions of other people. Deficits in social cognition are a core feature of people with schizophrenia. However, current tests designed to examine social cognition are limited by unrealistic stimuli and dependence upon an examiner. Dr Mothersill’s award will allow him to take the computerised test he is developing and bring it to Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he will receive expert feedback from Professor Christopher Bowie, a leading expert in assessment and treatment of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Dr Mothersill will collaborate with Professor Bowie and his team on further research and development of this computerised test, with the aim of testing the final program in the clinic in late 2018. On receiving his award, Dr David Mothersill at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted to receive this Charlemont Award. It provides me with an excellent opportunity to travel to Queen's University, Ontario, and collaborate with one of the leading experts in assessment and treatment of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, Professor Chris Bowie. This project will also strengthen existing collaborative ties between the Centre for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics at NUI Galway and the Cognition in Psychological Disorders Lab in Canada.” -Ends-

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Employers in Ireland are being urged to implement clear and effective policies on workplace ill-treatment. A new survey, led by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, reveals the scale of the issue for the first time in Ireland. The Irish Workplace Behaviour Survey, published Wednesday, 24 January 2018, reveals that more than two in five people say they have experienced a form of ill-treatment at work, while one in 12 have experienced and/or witnessed physical violence. This is despite most organisations having policies in place to prevent it. Commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the study was carried out by researchers from NUI Galway, along with the universities of Limerick and Plymouth. The survey of 1,500 people, interviewed in their own homes, is the first study of its kind in Ireland. The main findings were: 43% of respondents reported having experienced ill-treatment, while 47% said they had witnessed it and 17% stated they had perpetrated it. 37% reported having experienced unreasonable management, 42% stated they had witnessed it and 14% stated they had perpetrated it. 3% reported having experienced incivility or disrespect, 38% said they had witnessed it and 9.5% stated they had perpetrated it. 6% reported having experienced physical violence, 5% said they had witnessed it and 0.5% stated they had perpetrated it. New guidance has now been produced by IOSH to help employers ensure their staff do not suffer the effects of ill-treatment. IOSH Vice-President Louise Hosking said: “It is alarming to see the amount of people who felt there was nothing to be done, even if they reported an issue. Everyone has the right to be respected at work. Any form of ill-treatment is completely unacceptable. “It can have a huge impact on an individual and the team around them, causing stress and tension which ultimately has an effect on the business as a whole. Ill-treatment at work is linked to physical and mental health issues, which in turn affects the decisions people make and increases risks to themselves and those around them. Together with the guide, we hope we can support businesses to create healthy work environments in which their people can feel supported and the business can in turn thrive.” The survey also revealed that: Public sector employees are five times more likely to experience violence than employees in other sectors. Women are significantly more likely to experience ill-treatment on two or more occasions per day, with the perpetrator often being another woman. There is a correlation between ethnicity and ill treatment: workers of black, mixed or Asian ethnicity have the highest levels of experiencing and/or witnessing violence; Asian workers are seven times more likely to experience violence at work than white workers; ill-treatment of black and Asian workers is usually perpetrated by individuals of the same ethnicity. Some workers believe reporting an issue would not help and could even worsen their situation. They believed middle managers were either unable or unwilling to act on complaints, or that policies were too complicated. Dr Margaret Hodgins, lead researcher of the survey from the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This research is extremely important to Ireland. The Health and Safety Authority has previously conducted research into bullying in Ireland (bullying is defined as repeated inappropriate behaviour, which a reasonable person would regard as undermining an individual’s right to respect and dignity at work). However, the Irish Workplace Behaviour Survey goes much further, looking at the prevalence of unreasonable management, incivility or disrespect and violence and aggression. “The British survey showed the prevalence and the effect of low-level ill-treatment. We were keen to know whether we would find the same happening in Ireland. The research showed how pernicious ill-treatment is. Ill-treatment increases stress levels resulting in illness and presenteeism, and this in turn can affect the productivity of the organisation. Employers need to take negative behaviour seriously, and look to see how they address it through creating a work environment that is positive and respectful of staff and their work.” Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said: “This is a timely report from IOSH, particularly in light of Minister Breen’s request to review our Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying. I very much welcome any research that deepens our understanding of occupational health issues and look forward to engaging with stakeholders to improve the working environment for all.” To view the guidance published by IOSH, visit www.iosh.co.uk/workplacebehaviour -Ends-

Thursday, 25 January 2018

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has formalised an agreement for academic collaboration with representatives from the Biomedical Manufacturing Technology Centre (BMTC) at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH). The joint Memorandum of Understanding will see KITECH and CÚRAM establish a programme for academic cooperation to jointly organise conferences and workshops on topics of mutual interest and to exchange faculty and students for limited periods of time for the purpose of education and research. Commenting on the agreement, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said “Both organisations have significant mutual interests that include advanced material research, biomedical technology and the development of efficient manufacturing processes for tissue applications, chronic wound management applications and therapeutics for various diseases. I’m delighted to have progressed this relationship and look forward to the benefits of sharing expertise and training opportunities for our researchers.” It is expected that the first researchers from KITECH will visit Ireland and CÚRAM in mid-2018. The agreement provides an excellent forum to create and develop synergistic academic projects that will benefit both countries. According to Dr Woo Jong Lee, head of the Biomedical Manufacturing Technology Centre: “We expect Ireland, as a global leader in the Medtech industry, to be an excellent partner and gateway to the EU market. We at KITECH and BMTC, are delighted to be able to establish this collaborative partnership with CÚRAM, a world leading biomedical research centre, based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2017. We believe this Agreement will be a cornerstone for establishing collaborative relationships in the future between the biomedical ecosystems of our two countries.” Professor Pandit added: “Our confidence in the future of the MedTech sector in Ireland is largely based on the talent and skills of our young researchers at CÚRAM, and the training and development of our students to the highest level, in a multi-disciplinary environment is a priority.” CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners, and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. Korea Institute of Industrial Technology is a government-funded research institute and drives the nation's industrial advancement by the development and commercialisation of fundamental technologies and technology support for SMEs. The Biomedical Manufacturing Technology Centre, an affiliated research centre of KITECH, has established a Research and Development supporting system for medical device manufacturing, particularly in the intervention and minimally invasive surgery fields. -Ends-

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A stakeholders’policy workshop is being held today (24 January 2018) on the highly topical issue of Extended Working Life policy, at the NUI in Dublin. The event will involve a presentation of preliminary policy-relevant findings from the EU-funded project, Gender, Older Workers and the Life-course, by project leader Dr Áine Ní Léime of NUI Galway. Extended Working Life policies and pension reforms have been strongly promoted by international policy bodies as a response to population ageing and its anticipated increased pension costs. Such policies in Ireland include raising the state pension age to 67 by 2021 and 68 by 2028, doubling the number of contributions required to be eligible for a full state contributory pension, and basing the state pension on average earnings over the working life. Dr Áine Ní Léime from the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, commented: “These policies have been introduced without adequately exploring the consequences for different groups of workers, particularly women. Not all workers are the same. Workers in precarious employment may be especially disadvantaged. One-size-fits-all pension policies for all workers, which are beneficial for those who are healthy and can easily find employment, may be punitive for those in ill-health and/or those in physically demanding jobs.” Gender, Older Workers and the Life-course is an international project, aiming to inform policy by drawing on the experiences and voices of older workers themselves. For the Irish component of the project, interviews were conducted with 30 men and 30 women (cleaners, carers, teachers and academics) on their work-life history, their attitudes towards pensions and their views on extended working life policy. Dr Áine Ní Léime will present preliminary findings from Ireland from this research at the workshop, which will be moderated by Dr Nata Duvvury, Director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway. The key findings from the research include: Workers in physically-demanding/stressful jobs should be able to retire at 66 on state pension. Working past age 66 should be a choice – full pension should be available to those who qualify. The non-contributory pension is absolutely critical for women especially and should be enhanced. The issue of precarious work, low pay and pension entitlements needs to be addressed for certain workers. Orla O’Connor, CEO of the National Women’s Council of Ireland comments: “This research is  very welcome and timely given current public debates calling for reform of the State pension system which currently disregards the reality of women’s working lives. Women are more likely to be in low paid-jobs with precarious contracts and to take extended periods of time out of work to care for children or other family members. They therefore have fewer social insurance contributions and are penalised by the pension system in older age.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Dr Brian Farrell, a lecturer in law and human rights at the University of Iowa and President of the Innocence Project of Iowa*, will give a public seminar at NUI Galway on Wednesday 24 January entitled, ‘Science and the Law: Learning from Wrongful Convictions’. The seminar explores the phenomenon of wrongful convictions, common contributing factors, and how evidence-based reform can improve the criminal justice system. Since the late 1980s, the use of DNA technology has led to the exoneration of over 350 of innocent individuals convicted of crimes they did not commit in the United States alone. Examination of these wrongful convictions reveals that science was often misapplied or ignored in the investigation and prosecution of crimes. At the same time, these exonerations have stimulated new natural science and social science research aimed at identifying these errors and improving the integrity of the criminal justice process. Dr Brian Farrell, said: “Frequently, evidence and techniques that have passed as ‘science’ in the criminal justice system lack sound scientific foundations or are incorrectly applied. Unfortunately, judges and lawyers are often poorly equipped or reluctant to scrutinise this evidence, and can correspondingly be slow to adopt evidence-based best practices.” Dr Shane Darcy from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: “With growing interest in wrongful convictions in the Irish context, this is an excellent opportunity to hear from an experienced practitioner on how science and the law interrelate in the context of miscarriages of justice.” The seminar is free and open to the public. It takes place on Wednesday 24 January at 1pm in the seminar room of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Parents in Ireland are living in fear of their under-age child – but book says there is help out there A new book launched by Declan Coogan, a lecturer in Social Work in the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, entitled, Child to Parent Violence & Abuse – Family Interventions with Non Violent Resistance, steps into the gap left by a lack of easily available and adaptable intervention programmes designed to help parents living with child to parent violence and abuse, and the practitioners who work with them in children and family services. Some parents in Ireland are living in fear of their child under the age of 18 years and experience abuse and violence from their children. This problem is known as child to parent violence and abuse. This book aims to help people working with families where this takes place to resolve these problems using a relatively brief and research supported model of intervention known as Non Violent Resistance. Speaking about the book, Declan Coogan at NUI Galway, said: “There are tremendous difficulties in arriving at any clear picture of the prevalence and nature of child to parent violence and abuse. Some studies in the US suggest that approximately 9% to 14% of parents are at some point assaulted by their adolescent children. Research and reports from people working with children and families also make it clear that problems of child to parent violence abuse is emerging in a range of child and family services. “This is a growing problem for psychotherapists in public and private practice, social workers and psychologists in mental health, child protection, juvenile justice teams and from practitioners in both out-patient and in-patient child and adolescent mental health services. Threats of self-harm and suicide have also been reported as part of child to parent violent behaviour and practitioners are frequently uncertain about how best to treat these kinds of presentations. The problem has been reported among families from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds.” What is addressed in the book: Explains the issue of the abuse and violence towards parents and within the family by children and young people under 18 years of age. Provides a solution focused and strengths based best practice guide to supporting children and families. Explains how Non Violent Resistance (an evidence based approach for resolving the problem of child to parent violence and abuse) is a particularly effective approach to child to parent violence abuse, and what the research tells us about how effective it is. Provides detailed guidance for the reader on how to use the Non Violent Resistance intervention model in their own practice, providing the knowledge and skills they will need. Includes sample case studies and quotes from practitioners in different parts of Ireland who used the Non Violent Resistance model in their own work with families. While this book is aimed primarily at practitioners working with children and families in the areas of child and adolescent mental health, domestic violence, family support, child protection and welfare, juvenile justice and police service fields, it is written in a clear accessible style that brings together experiences from working with families and the latest research from Ireland and abroad.  The book is available now from bookshops, from https://www.jkp.com/uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=coogan and from other book suppliers. -Ends-  

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Study finds attitudes of those in initial teacher education in Ireland have a tendency to comply with, rather than endorse or reject teaching religion The School of Education at NUI Galway has carried out the first ever study in Ireland that explores the religious affiliations and religiosity of applicants and entrants to undergraduate primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland. Since 96% of state primary schools in Ireland are denominational, considering religious diversity in teaching is both critically important and a complex undertaking. The study explores the backgrounds, motivations and perspectives on the Irish education system of applicants and entrants to Initial Teacher Education programmes across Ireland. The research, published this week in the European Journal of Teacher Education, explores the religious backgrounds, religious practice and attitudes towards teaching religion of applicants and entrants to primary teacher education programmes. While there has been much debate about the compatibility of publicly funded denominational schools with growing religious pluralism and secularism in Ireland and internationally, these debates have so far, mostly focused on equity of access to state-run schools and freedom of religion and conscience for children and their families. The position of teachers in a predominantly denominational primary school system has received much less attention in academic and policy discourse. The study interrupts the silence and invisibility of atheist, non-practicing Catholic and minority faith students and practicing teachers, and highlights the need to critically examine teaching and teacher education policy and practice, including access to Initial Teacher Training, the ITE curricular and pedagogical spaces, school cultures and employment legislation, from a social justice perspective that includes a religious diversity dimension. The data gathered suggests low levels of religious practice and religiosity among ITE applicants, many of whom would prefer to teach religion using a non-confessional approach. The study raises critical questions regarding the experiences, constitutional rights and professional practice of increasingly secular and/or non-practicing Catholic teacher cohorts in a predominantly Catholic primary education system that has survived the trend towards the progressive ‘unchurching’ of Europe. Lead author of the study, Dr Manuela Heinz from the School of Education at NUI Galway, said: “Our main data collection method is an anonymous voluntary cross-sectional online questionnaire implemented annually with applicants to all state-funded Initial Teacher Education programmes across Ireland. The diversity in the ITE study addresses the data vacuum with regard to ITE cohorts’ socio-demographic backgrounds in relation to their religious affiliations, religious practice, and attitudes towards religious education in primary schools in Ireland.” Dr Heinz continued, “We noted a high non-response rate (25%) to an open-ended question probing respondents to express their feelings about teaching religion which may indicate that a significant proportion of ITE applicants were reluctant or felt uncomfortable to disclose their personal thoughts regarding the requirement for primary teachers to teach religion in the majority of primary schools in Ireland, even in an anonymous survey. “In addition, we also noted a widespread tendency of complying with, rather than endorsing or rejecting, the teaching of religion with many respondents using language like ‘it’s no problem’, ‘part of the job’, ‘grand’, or ‘doesn’t bother me’ in their responses. It may be that enculturation into Catholic education and possibly positive experiences and memories of ‘no harm’ have led many to uncritically accept the status quo. Or, alternatively, it may be that many of those considering and/or entering the teaching profession feel that they have no choice in the matter, that they need to comply and be prepared to take on the role of religion teacher if they want to succeed, even if they are not religious themselves, do not practice or believe.” Dr Heinz added: “We are hoping that this research will trigger more thinking about the characteristics and qualities we are looking for in teachers. Considering that only 58% per cent of our respondents considered themselves to be ‘a religious person’, we need to ask what about the others? What experiences await them as they pursue careers as primary teachers? In our study, the great majority of respondents indicated a clear preference towards teaching children about different faiths/world views/religions with some respondents stressing the importance of tolerance, equal treatment and/or of children making up their own minds with regard to religious beliefs.” In light of the findings presented in this study, the authors conclude that the prospect and experience of entering a third level learning and future professional space that is permeated by a religious, predominantly Catholic ethos, will cause conflict between personal beliefs and professional requirements for many potential and actual Initial Teacher Education applicants and entrants. This situation will most likely result in some highly motivated and suitable individuals who are atheist, non-practicing Catholics or from a minority religious background deciding against a career in teaching. Those who enter Initial Teacher Education training, despite the considerable religious barriers, may experience significant, and likely unforeseen, difficulties throughout their ITE and professional careers due to tensions between their personal and professional lives. The study suggests that it is time to ask whether it is fair, ethical or moral to put individuals who are committed to the education of our children in this difficult situation.  The study was funded by the Irish Research Council as part of the ‘NUI Galway Diversity in Initial Teacher Education (DITE) in Ireland’ research project, and was led by principal investigators Dr Manuela Heinz, Dr Elaine Keane and Dr Kevin Davison from the School of Education at NUI Galway. To read the full study in European Journal of Teacher Education, visit: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/NWVyqIwyY44JCYRCnzbm/full -Ends- 

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

CÚRAM, The Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, is part of a network of nine partners and two sub-partners from seven countries involved in the newly launched ‘Codex4SMEs’ project (Companion Diagnostics expedited for small and medium-sized enterprises) to assist companies with the development of such services, in the field of ‘personalised medicine’. The aim of this project is to build a transnational network to accelerate the development of companion diagnostics for small and medium-sized businesses. The project is part of the Interreg North-West Europe programme. Interreg forms part of the structural and investment policy of the European Union, supporting cross-border cooperation between regions and cities. Companion diagnostics are essential to the field of ‘personalised medicine’. They allow tests to determine the molecular causes of a disease before treatment is started. This allows every patient to receive personalised medication in the correct dosage and at the right time. However, to date the development of companion diagnostics has been time-consuming and costly, and used in very few treatment scenarios. Led by German partner BioRegio STERN Management GmbH, the three year project has a total budget of over €3 million as part of the Interreg North-West Europe programme. The initial meeting with all of the partners will take place on 29 and 30 January 2018 in Stuttgart. Project leader, Dr Margot Jehle of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH, said: “The combination of regional economic development organisations and biobanks creates the ideal conditions to provide companies with direct access to specific expertise such as the verification of biomarkers, in other words parameters of biological processes as indicators of diseases.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “The development of transformative, affordable solutions for patients with chronic illness is a key goal at CÚRAM and we’re delighted to be partnering with such a strong network on this project. We work closely with academics, industry and clinicians and this project will only further enhance our networks across Europe, which are critical for driving medical device research and development.” CÚRAM, along with WestBIC (EU Business and Innovation Centre for Irelands Border, Midlands and Western Region) are the two Irish partners involved in the project. Other partners include the University of Leicester, with Medilink Midlands as a regional sub-partner from the UK; from France, the Medicen Paris Region cluster; from the Netherlands, BOM Holding BV and the Innovation Quarter; with a regional sub-partner from Luxembourg, the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg, IBBL; and from Austria, the Biobank Graz at the Medical University of Graz. CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners, and aims to radically improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First year students from Coláiste Iognáid in Galway win two BT Young Scientist awards for their project, ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’  Three young Scientists Aoibhe Briscoe, Ellie Concannon, and Kate Owens, first year students at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, competed for this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Awards in the Category Biological and Ecological Sciences with their project ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’. Mentored by NUI Galway, the students won first place in their category and a special award issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for Best Environmental Project presented at the BT Young Scientist 2018. For their project they investigated over 40 tap water samples from 23 primary schools in County Galway for microplastic contamination. They found that 96.9% of all tested samples were contaminated with microplastics and that the level of contamination for drinking water from Galway classrooms (2.7 per 500ml) exceeded the European average of 1.9 per 500ml. The analysis of the samples took place in the lab facilities of the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway under the guidance and supervision of Dr Audrey Morley a lecturer in Physical Geography and member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy research. Dr Morley advised and trained the young scientists on sample collection and analysis and ensured that all procedures followed previously published protocols for microplastic extraction from tap water samples from a global study commissioned by  the journal Orb in 2017*. In addition to the analysis of the tap water samples, contamination controls were measured at regular intervals throughout the experiment to assess and assure the validity of the results. Speaking about the young scientists work on the project, Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, said: “The identification of microplastic using a microscope can be tedious and time consuming, requiring focus and concentration by the analyst. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and persistence that Aoibhe, Ellie, and Kate brought to the project. It is great to see young women so excited about science and determined to bring about change.” BT Young Scientist winner, Kate Owens, said: “The BT Young Scientist experience has inspired me to be part of solving the problems of the future. President Michael D. Higgins spoke to us about Africa being the largest populated continent in the world and the need for young people to be part of developing solutions for the challenges this presents.” “It was a revelation to us that our love of fast fashion is polluting our drink water, simply by washing the clothes we wear. 77.8% of the contamination we detected in the schools water supply were microfibres. Synthetic fabric fibres that are so small that they could not be filtered by the public water works. Plastic bags and bottles, you can actually see and remove, but you cannot see these tiny, almost invisible microfibres that are bio-accumulating in our bodies, now that is truly scary.” Kate added: “Aoibhe, Ellie and I are a great team and we work well together. Audrey’s guidance and patience gave us a solid, scientific method to undertake our testing and that was the key to our credibility. We were total beginners and she was so incredibly generous with her time. We learned so much from her! We felt that our findings were important and that with our presentation ‘sizzle’, we could get politicians to listen, so we practiced our pitch, over and over until we could say it in our sleep and fine-tuned it over the four days at the RDS. Dressed in our lab coats, no-one was safe and we cornered many politicians including Richard Bruton, Micheál Martin and Heather Humphreys. Leo Varadkar got away but we will be looking for him at the Mansion House in May 2018.” Fellow BT Young Scientist winner, Aoibhe Briscoe, said: “I think the BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we got to meet so many new people and had the chance to learn so many new things. Working in the lab with Audrey was really fun and I enjoyed it so much, it was very time consuming and tiring but every second put into our project was worth it in the end. It has definitely made me more interested in science and I will definitely do it again next year.” BT Young Scientist winner, Ellie Concannon, added: “I would like to do something that makes a change, I would like to speak out for the people who don’t have a voice. I want to have fun, face challenges, and realise my potential in life. The BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we were able to share our project with lots of people and educate people about our project who had never heard about microplastics, and we were also able to influence people’s choices for the better. We had such a good time we met loads of new people and got to meet people who could really help us with our project. I absolutely loved it.” -Ends-  

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

NUI Galway significantly increases the number of places for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants for the academic year 2018/2019 The Access Centre at NUI Galway will launch a number of new QQI/FET/FETAC places for the academic year 2018/2019 on Thursday, 25 January, offering 170 full-time undergraduate places available for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants, a significant 66% increase from the previous academic year. The Access Centre continues to meet an important social demand to increase participation in third level education amongst disadvantaged and under-represented groups. As part of its Strategic Plan, ‘Vision 2020’, NUI Galway is committed to increasing the number of non-traditional students entering full-time undergraduate study to 24%. In addition to the 170 full-time undergraduate places available for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants, there will also be additional places allocated on existing undergraduate programmes such as: an increase from 12 to 30 places on the undenominated Science programme (GY301); an increase of 20 to 30 places on the Bachelor of Arts (GY101) programme, as well as places on a number of new undergraduate programmes. The Access Centre was established and designed to address the issue of equality of access to third level, to promote equity of access to lifelong learning opportunities and to respond to issues of rural (and to a lesser extent, urban) social exclusion across Ireland’s border, Midlands and Western region. The Centre aims to provide learning opportunities for those who could benefit from university education, which will enable them to fulfil their individual aspirations. Imelda Byrne, Head of Access Programmes at NUI Galway, said: “The Access Centre contributes to the development of the wider community by providing a number of alternative pathways for disadvantaged or under-represented groups to progress to full-time undergraduate study. These include Access Programmes delivered in the region through innovative alliances with other educational institutes such as those formed through the West/ North-West Cluster, Mature student entry route, Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), Disability Access Route to Education (DARE), QQI/FET/FETAC Pathways and a range of measures with the primary and second level sector to assist in overcoming barriers.” New QQI/FET/FETAC opportunities for the academic year 2018/2019 include pathways to the following degree programmes: BA Public and Social Policy; BA History; BA with English and Media Studies; BA Children’s Studies; BA with Film Studies; BA with Journalism; BA in Film and Digital Media; Business Information Systems; Corporate Law; Civil Law; Biomedical Science; Environmental Science; Financial Mathematics and Economics; BSc Marine Science; BSc Earth and Ocean Sciences; BSc Physics; BSc Biopharmaceutical Chemistry; BSc Mathematical Science; BSc Biotechnology; BSc Financial Mathematics and Economics and Gaeilge agus Léann an Aistriúcháin. For the academic year 2017/2018, there were 60 full-time undergraduate places available for QQI/FET/FETAC applicants. In September 2017, there were over 150 full-time students registered at NUI Galway across all of its degree programmes who came through the QQI/FET/FETAC entry route. The launch of this element of the 2018/2019 undergraduate Access Programmes will take place at 11am on Thursday, 25 January at Galway Technical Institute, Fr Griffin Road, Galway. For further information regarding courses or for applications, email access@nuigalway.ie or visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/accesscentre/. -Ends-  

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Den tríú bliain déag as a chéile, beidh Ospidéal na mBéiríní ar oscailt in OÉ Gaillimh Déardaoin, an 18 agus Dé hAoine, an 19 Eanáir. Tiocfaidh breis agus 1,300 béirín tinn chun an ospidéil lena bhfeighlithe, 1,300 páiste bunscoile. Is é an Cumann Sláinte, craobh OÉ Gaillimh de Chónaidhm Idirnáisiúnta Chumann na Mac Léinn Leighis, agus suas le 200 mac léinn leighis agus eolaíochta a bheidh ar láimh le scrúdú leighis a dhéanamh ar na béiríní agus le cóir leighis a chur orthu. Tá súil acu go gcuideoidh an ócáid le páistí, idir 3-8 mbliana d’aois, a bheith ar a suaimhneas nuair a bheidh siad ag an dochtúir nó san ospidéal. Thar na blianta, thug páistí béiríní chuig an ospidéal agus iad ag samhlú go raibh réimse leathan tinnis ag gabháil dóibh cosúil le cluasa tinne, boilg bhreoite agus gach cineál gearán eile faoin spéir. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Sally Cahill, mac léinn leighis sa tríú bliain in OÉ Gaillimh agus comh-iniúchóir an Chumainn Sláinte: “I mbliana táimid ag déanamh ceiliúradh ar thrí bliana déag d'Ospidéal na mBéiríní. Le roinnt blianta anuas, tá méadú tagtha ar líon na scoileanna atá ag iarraidh freastal ar an ócáid agus, dá bharr sin, tá an ócáid i bhfad níos mó anois chun béiríní na Gaillimhe ar fad a leigheas. Beimid ag súil go mór na chéad ‘othair’ a fheiceáil Déardaoin, an 18 Eanáir agus tá súil againn ospidéal taitneamhach a chruthú do na páistí ar an lá.” I mbliana, tá 25 bunscoil áitiúil páirteach san ócáid, sin os cionn 1,300 páiste. Nuair a thagann na páistí chuig Ospidéal na mBéiríní ar an gcampas, rachaidh siad chuig an 'seomra feithimh', áit a mbeidh lámhchleasaithe agus maisitheoirí aghaidheanna ag fanacht leo. Ansin buailfidh na páistí agus na béiríní le foireann de Dhochtúirí Béiríní agus d’Altraí Béiríní a chuirfidh scrúdú leighis orthu. Beidh meaisíní speisialta X-gha agus MRI ag na mic léinn ar fhaitíos go mbeidís ag teastáil ó na béiríní. Beidh Cógaslann Béiríní ann chomh maith, agus beidh torthaí sláintiúla ó Burkes Fruit and Veg ann mar aon le soláthairtí leighis urraithe ag Cógaslann Matt O’Flaherty le cóir leighis a chur ar na béiríní. Nuair a bheidh an méid sin curtha díobh acu beidh deis ag na páistí spraoi a bhaint as preabchaisleán agus beidh cumann lámhchleasaíochta an choláiste i mbun siamsaíochta. Rinne Banc na hÉireann, Dunnes Stores, Oifig na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh agus Cumann Cosanta Leighis urraíocht ar an ócáid chomh maith. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Ríona Hughes, Oifigeach na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is deis iontach é Ospidéal na mBéiríní don chumann chun cuireadh a thabhairt do pháistí agus a mbéiríní chuig an gcampas agus chun taithí luachmhar foghlama a thabhairt do chách. Tá sé ar cheann de na cláir for-rochtana pobail is deise agus is spraíúla atá idir lámha ag cumainn OÉ Gaillimh agus táimid an-bhródúil as chomh maith agus a éiríonn leis an ócáid. Comhghairdeas leis an gCumann Sláinte a thugann deis do líon chomh mór dár gcuid mac léinn a bheith rannpháirteach san ócáid seo do chúis chomh dearfach agus tá súil againn go mbainfidh gach a mbeidh páirteach an-sult as an gcúpla lá seo.” -Críoch-

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

NUI Galway is hosting a Mature Students Open Evening on Wednesday, 17 January from 5.30-8pm in the Orbsen Building Foyer. The open evening is an opportunity to find out more about degree programmes on offer, entry requirements, CAO application procedure, mature scholarships and practical student supports within the University.   The information evening is designed for anyone aged 23 and over who is considering embarking on full-time or part-time undergraduate degree programmes at NUI Galway for 2018. In attendance will be representatives from each of the University’s five colleges to answer questions on degree options available. The Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development will also be present to discuss part-time studies that could start you off in higher studies or add to existing qualifications. Trish Bourke, Mature Students Officer at NUI Galway, said: “Embarking on third-level education can be quite a challenge for many mature students. Some may have been out of formal education for some time but it is important to highlight that there are routes to university through NUI Galway’s Access courses. I studied my undergraduate degree as a Mature Student at NUI Galway and I understand the determination it takes and supports needed to complete your studies. Without the confidence and advice given to me through events such as this one, I probably would never have taken that first step.” The Mature Students Officer will commence the evening by delivering a presentation on the CAO application process and reference the criteria needed for entry. Trish will also highlight information on assessments required for entry to Arts, Medicine and Nursing.  To attend this evening you may sign up now at: http://www.nuigalway.ie/mature/public-events/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

An innovative multidisciplinary aquaculture project led by NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology is set to improve production efficiencies and management of farmed fish at several inland freshwater sites. The project ‘ECOAQUA’ has received €348,781 in funding under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The output of this project will include new information, new methods, and increased awareness. It has built on capacity for, and developed new partnerships focused on, research and innovation in environment and health. The project aims to test and optimise innovative technologies and processes developed through the linked MOREFISH* project. Led by Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway and Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, with support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s technical aquaculture team, ECOAQUA will address critically important needs identified by industry and aquaculture stakeholders including: Analysing the environmental and energy performance of three freshwater aquaculture sites by extensive sampling and remote online monitoring of water parameters. Facilitating the re-use of the treated water, thereby reducing both the volumes of extracted and discharged waters. Enabling the industry to meet stringent environmental regulation while increasing production in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. Piloting technological innovations with industry to ensure the research is easily and rapidly transferrable to the aquaculture sector. Ensuring technological innovations and research results can be leveraged to enable the sustainable growth of this high-potential sector. Enable the industry to leverage the scientific outputs from the project to communicate with government, policymakers and regulators and the public. Dr Eoghan Clifford from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Aquaculture is recognised to have the potential to address food security concerns in many countries and offer significant economic benefits. Ireland currently ranks as fifth in value and seventh in volume in terms of high value fish species with exports supporting approximately 2,000 jobs. However, the sector in Ireland has remained relatively stagnant and has significant potential to grow, develop export markets and create employment in rural areas. These developments are strongly aligned with Ireland’s FoodWise2025 policy that seeks to grow food exports by 85% to €19 billion by 2025. This research has the potential to introduce innovative monitoring practices, technologies that can enhance the value and sustainability of Irish and European fish stock densities while ensuring the environmental sustainability of the sector.” Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “This exciting cross-cutting project leverages on a critical mass of engineering and scientific expertise, industry stakeholders, policy-makers, commercial operators and international experts established through the MOREFISH platform to respond directly to pressing environmental issues that were informed by industry. ECOAQUA will model and profile the global performance (focusing on algal, microbial and energy) of pilot freshwater aquaculture farms, which will ensure that high potential interventions are easily transferable to the industry sector ensuring the intensive sustainability and viability of this industry.” Mr Alan Kennedy, ECOAQUA project manager at NUI Galway, said: “This timely project will improve the water quality of freshwater farms through the incorporation of water treatment technologies and energy reduction interventions into existing flow through farms that will also enable seamless transitions to next-generation production formats.” Damien Toner, Aquaculture Technical Specialist with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, said: “Bord Iascaigh Mhara is delighted to support this innovative and collaborative project. ECOAQUA will provide valuable research into developing improved efficiencies in fish farming that will inform the wider industry on best practice and new technologies to improve sustainability. We are looking forward to working with the teams in NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology on this exciting project.” For further information about the project contact Mr Alan Kennedy, Project Manager, ECOAQUA on 086 8093078 or michaelalan.kennedy@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The latest data from NUI Galway’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem shows a strong performance for 2017. The year saw significant high-quality collaborative research and license agreements with industry, and a number of new spin-outs created on campus. A programme was established on campus to provide new business innovators with the supports needed to accelerate their medical technology inventions to the market. Over 1,500 staff and students were actively engaged in entrepreneurship through the University’s education and mentorship programmes, Blackstone Launchpad and Explore. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Office, said: “To maximise the impact of our research and expertise, NUI Galway puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, innovation and enterprise collaboration. Galway and the west of Ireland is a thriving and dynamic place for enterprise and entrepreneurs. With a student body of over 18,000, immense research outputs, and an annual research income of over €50 million, our University plays a crucial role in underpinning this ecosystem.” This year’s new spin-outs bring the number of campus-based companies to 34, including other spin-outs and local companies who are based on campus. Two of the new enterprises created on campus this year have the potential to benefit society through novel medical devices and diagnostics technologies: Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, which originates from the BioInnovate Programme and is set to commercialise an innovative orthopaedic thumb implant; and Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd, emanates from the research of Drs Tom Barry and Kate Reddington from NUI Galway’s Discipline of Microbiology, and has been established to commercialise novel nucleic acid diagnostics technologies for the detection and identification of microbial contaminants associated with the environmental and industrial sectors. NUI Galway provides business supports and excellent facilities including laboratories and co-working spaces to support research and collaborative innovation. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This community of entrepreneurs is creating jobs and attracting investment, and the calibre of spin out’s from NUI Galway is testament to the high level of research taking place on campus, which is good for the region.” The Business Innovation Centre is very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grants with four client companies already being successful in 2017 with many more progressing in 2018. Two successful companies in 2017 include: NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health, which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, was given funding of €2.5 million by the EU in 2017; and DiaNia Technologies, a start-up who received over €2.5 million in Horizon 2020 funding. Cresco, who specialise in securing international grants and funding for technology-based clients have also established a presence on campus to support these activities. NUI Galway-based entrepreneurs attracting significant attention this year with a number of them receiving accolades include: Dr Brendan Boland, BioInnovate fellow and CEO of NUI Galway spin-out, Loci Orthopaedics, who was the recipient of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the ‘Best New Idea’ category. The company was also the winner of the start-up contest at this year’s Medtech Ireland conference in Galway in October. AuriGen Medical and Loci Orthopaedics were winners in the EIT Health: UK-Ireland HeadStart/Proof-of-Concept Awards. Sarah Loughney, CEO and Founder of Kite Medical was selected by The HealthTech Venture Network as their 2017’s ELEVATE pitch competition winner in Boston. Orreco and Channel Mechanics scooped the IT Association of Galway awards in 2017. NUI Galway Research centres and programmes are also gaining recognition for their contribution to innovation with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices winning the top award for Academic Contribution to Medtech at the recent Irish Medtech Associations Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards ceremony. In recent years, the University has put a particular focus on innovation. In 2017, it saw the launch of Ireland’s first medtech accelerator, BioExel, which will significantly accelerate medtech opportunities which have a specific technical, commercial and/or clinical question to answer in an intensive six-month period. January 2018 will see the first cohort of companies based on campus working with BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced Medtech team at NUI Galway. 2017 also marked the seventh year of BioInnovate, the medtech fellowship programme on campus which has resulted in three high-potential spin-outs, with two more in the final negotiation stages and a healthy pipeline of further companies expected. In total, the companies have attracted almost €14 million in a first round of investments. Among NUI Galway staff and students, entrepreneurship is also encouraged and supported at every level. The University’s Blackstone Launchpad is a multi-award winning entrepreneurship programme for staff, students, and alumni at NUI Galway. Since 2016, LaunchPad has supported over 4,500 students, coached over 1,500 sessions, and awarded over €40,000 in funding to support student ventures. In 2017, Coachbook, a student enterprise created, won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year award. -Ends-

Monday, 8 January 2018

Students interested in studying at NUI Galway are invited to a CAO Information Evening on Thursday 11 January. Students, parents, guardians and guidance counsellors are invited to attend the event, which runs from 7pm to 9pm in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance at NUI Galway. The evening will provide a short introduction to NUI Galway, a panel discussion on supporting the transition from second level to third level education that will include representatives from Sport, Admissions, Student Support Services and a recent university graduate from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. Afterwards, staff from all colleges on campus will be on hand to answer any individual questions in relation to the wide range of courses available and other practical issues such as fees and scholarships. Caroline Duggan, School Liaison Officer at NUI Galway, said: “This event is the perfect opportunity for Leaving Certificate students and their parents to get pertinent information about all of our undergraduate programmes. Some students will already have decided on what programme they want to pursue at university while other students may still be trying to make up their mind or might be looking for advice on their second, third or fourth CAO choices. This event will give them an opportunity to acquire the information they need to make informed course choices on their CAO.” Outperforming 21 other third-level institutions, NUI Galway has been named The Sunday Times University of the Year 2018. The University’s strong reputation as a centre for excellence in medical technology and across the arts and sciences, its impressive progression rates, and having the best job prospects of any other Irish university were among the reasons for the award. This award is not only based on league table position but also on an assessment under 22 criteria of the University's role on a local, national and international level. NUI Galway has also been the only university in Ireland to rise consistently in the most competitive World University Rankings. Both the QS and Times Higher Education Rankings have placed the University in a higher position year-on-year, and the University is now counted among the Top 250 universities in both rankings. According to QS, NUI Galway is among the Top 1% of universities in the world. Each year, students from all over Ireland choose NUI Galway to study unique programmes such as Drama, Creative Writing and Human Rights, an Energy Systems Engineering degree, a Maths and Education degree aimed at training Maths teachers, a Marine Science degree and Podiatric Medicine, a programme unique to Ireland. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to its innovative programmes developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. The University is launching seven new Arts degrees for enrolment in 2018. This includes a BA (Music) which gives students a deep immersion in the study of music history, traditional Irish music, vocal and choral skills, composition, keyboard skills, music technology and music management. The event will have representatives from across the University’s five Colleges available to answer questions about the programmes on offer, entry requirements, and placement and employment opportunities. Shannon College of Hotel Management and St Angela’s College Sligo, both NUI Galway affiliates, will also be attending the event. For more information contact Caroline Duggan, School Liaison Officer on caroline.duggan@nuigalway.ie or 087 2391219. -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

NUI Galway and Gas Networks Ireland are leading a new transport revolution as they introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable gas for trucks, vans and buses. The ‘Causeway’ project also marks a first for NUI Galway, as this is the first time that the University has been successful in securing a funding application from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility. The Causeway project received approval for €6.5 million co-funding from the European Commission. Causeway will see the development of a natural gas transport re-fuelling network in Ireland.  The project will support an overall nationwide roll-out of 70 compressed natural gas filling stations. In addition to this, a renewable gas injection facility will be built in 2018. This will introduce renewable gas into the natural gas network for the first time. The work which is undertaken in Ireland will be monitored and documented by NUI Galway. This research will then be fed back to gas operators all over Europe and will assist in the development of similar projects across the continent. Commenting on the project, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “This is a major project for NUI Galway to be involved in, as it will form the basis of the first use of an alternative, sustainable transport fuel in Ireland. Within our Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy Research, in particular, we have built up a track record in sustainability research and innovation. This includes decades of scientific and engineering expertise built up in the area of renewable gas. We look forward to NUI Galway playing a key role in distilling and disseminating the results and impacts of the Causeway Project, not only for the benefit of Ireland, but to provide learnings to other EU member states too.” Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial at Gas Networks Ireland, explained the importance of the project to Ireland: “Transport accounts for over one third of all energy used in Ireland. The development of a natural gas transport network will significantly de-carbonise Ireland’s commercial fleet. CNG, and the soon to be introduced renewable gas, will play a major role in making transport in Ireland cleaner. Gas Networks Ireland is determined to play an important role in facilitating the development of this new, cleaner transport network. It is particularly important that the advances we are making through this project, and through the work of NUI Galway, will play a role in changing the transport landscape throughout Europe.”  The Causeway project, which is funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), will deliver a clean energy project for Ireland’s transport sector, and in doing so, provide a template for the rest of Europe. NUI Galway is leading the dissemination element of the €25 million project. Its work will facilitate new green energy developments across Europe. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, praised the application teams: “I congratulate both the Gas Networks Ireland and Ryan Institute teams that worked together diligently, over a couple of years, to bring about the success of the Causeway application to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility – Transport. I thank current staff Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Dr Rory Monaghan and Suzanne Nolan, amongst others, for enabling the University’s involvement in this successful application. I look forward to the infrastructural roll-out by Gas Networks Ireland and to its impacts, which will be studied and disseminated by a Ryan Institute team at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report, edited by Professor Eamon O’Shea, Professor Suzanne Cahill and Dr Maria Pierce is a seminal piece of work that offers context, narrative and reflection on the current state of play in relation to dementia in Ireland, covering prevalence, costs, rights, practice and policy for people with dementia. The report was launched at NUI Galway on (Tuesday 19 December) by Minster of State, Ciarán Cannon TD. Published by the University’s Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, led by Professor Eamon O’Shea, it includes contributions from scholars in Ireland and internationally. The report favours a social insurance model of funding as being the best way to ensure the delivery of a comprehensive system of community-based care for people with dementia. The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report is a reflection on various aspects of care for people with dementia in Ireland and internationally with a view to informing future developments in dementia practice and policy. Some chapters are conceptual and build on previous work by the authors contained in the Creating Excellence in Dementia Care Report: a Research Review for Ireland’s National Dementia Strategy published in 2012; others are focused on innovations in the organisation and delivery of care; while the remainder are prospective narratives on what needs to happen in the future. The international dimension of dementia is explicitly covered in the report. The baseline dementia prevalence estimates in this report suggest that the number of people with dementia in Ireland is currently 55,266. By 2046, the number of people with dementia will have almost trebled to 157,883. The study also estimates that there are currently 60,000 informal caregivers providing support for people with dementia living in the community in Ireland. The overall cost of dementia is estimated at just under €2 billion euro in the report. Professor Eamon O’Shea from NUI Galway, said: “The ideas presented in this report lay the foundations for the next iteration of the National Dementia Strategy.The report argues that people with dementia want better and timely information on dementia, expanded choice, personalised care, integrated provision and more practical supports for family carers. Providing good quality care that is tailored to the individual needs of older people will be expensive, “requiring a significant expansion in the range of services, improved co-ordination, integration and regulation”, according to Dr Maria Pierce from DCU. Professor Suzanne Cahill from TCD, said: “Living at home in the community for as long as possible is a universal and desirable goal for all of us, yet home care provision for people with dementia in Ireland is currently weak and many needs remain unmet.” To read the full report, visit: http://cesrd.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Developing_and_Implementing_Dementia_Policy_in_Ireland.pdf -Ends-

Friday, 22 December 2017

For the third year running, NUI Galway will host a regional heat for FameLab 2018, one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world, held in 30 countries with over 9,000 participants having taken part across the globe to date. If you think you can explain a scientific concept to a general audience, in just three minutes, then why not enter? You could become the new face of science and represent Ireland at the 2018 FameLab International Final in the UK, opening doors to global opportunities in science communication. The aim of each presentation is that the audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting, and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it. Expect to hear anything from why men have nipples, how 3D glasses work and if nuclear energy is a good or bad thing? Presentations will be judged according to FameLab’s ‘3 C’s’: Content, Clarity and Charisma. The competition is open to a range of people who apply, work on, teach or study science: People who apply science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) in industry or business. People who work on applying STEM (patent clerks, statisticians, consultants to industry). Lecturers and researchers in STEM including specialist science teachers with a science degree. University students studying STEM aged over 18 years. People who apply STEM in the armed forces or government bodies. Successful candidates who make it through to the initial regional heat stage, will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid ‘Communication Masterclass’ in Dublin on the 24-25 March, and will participate in the FameLab Ireland Final being held at the Science Gallery in Dublin in April 2018. The winner will represent Ireland at the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival with representatives from global organisations like NASA and CERN. By entering FameLab, participants will begin a journey with like-minded people, build their networks and expand skillsets essential for developing their career. Muriel Grenon, FameLab organiser and lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is delighted to partner with FameLab once more for what is an electric night of science communication. We look forward to representation from students, lecturers and researchers from the University, scientists from industry and science teachers, to share their work in science with an interested audience.” Liz McBain, British Council of Ireland, said: “We are delighted to see FameLab coming to Galway again and to witness the competition growing from strength to strength in Ireland. We have some of the most talented STEM professionals but talent isn’t enough. In this global economy, they also need to learn to communicate their science to local and international audiences, to investors, to partners, to colleagues and even to the wider public. FameLab provides an ideal platform to do this.” FameLab Galway is in partnership with the British Council of Ireland and NUI Galway, and forms part of the annual FameLab Ireland competition. To enter the Galway heat, complete the online registration form by 16 February, at: https://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab/enter-competition/apply. Participants can alternatively submit their entry to FameLab Ireland by online video, see www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab for further details. Training for entrants will take place in Galway on Wednesday, 7 February, with the regional heat scheduled for Tuesday, 1 March 2018. -Ends-

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report, edited by Professor Eamon O’Shea, Professor Suzanne Cahill and Dr Maria Pierce is a seminal piece of work that offers context, narrative and reflection on the current state of play in relation to dementia in Ireland, covering prevalence, costs, rights, practice and policy for people with dementia. The report was launched at NUI Galway on (Tuesday 19 December) by Minster of State, Ciarán Cannon TD. Published by the University’s Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, led by Professor Eamon O’Shea, it includes contributions from scholars in Ireland and internationally. The report favours a social insurance model of funding as being the best way to ensure the delivery of a comprehensive system of community-based care for people with dementia. The Developing and Implementing Dementia Policy in Ireland report is a reflection on various aspects of care for people with dementia in Ireland and internationally with a view to informing future developments in dementia practice and policy. Some chapters are conceptual and build on previous work by the authors contained in the Creating Excellence in Dementia Care Report: a Research Review for Ireland’s National Dementia Strategy published in 2012; others are focused on innovations in the organisation and delivery of care; while the remainder are prospective narratives on what needs to happen in the future. The international dimension of dementia is explicitly covered in the report. The baseline dementia prevalence estimates in this report suggest that the number of people with dementia in Ireland is currently 55,266. By 2046, the number of people with dementia will have almost trebled to 157,883. The study also estimates that there are currently 60,000 informal caregivers providing support for people with dementia living in the community in Ireland. The overall cost of dementia is estimated at just under €2 billion euro in the report. Professor Eamon O’Shea from NUI Galway, said: “The ideas presented in this report lay the foundations for the next iteration of the National Dementia Strategy.The report argues that people with dementia want better and timely information on dementia, expanded choice, personalised care, integrated provision and more practical supports for family carers. Providing good quality care that is tailored to the individual needs of older people will be expensive, “requiring a significant expansion in the range of services, improved co-ordination, integration and regulation”, according to Dr Maria Pierce from DCU. Professor Suzanne Cahill from TCD, said: “Living at home in the community for as long as possible is a universal and desirable goal for all of us, yet home care provision for people with dementia in Ireland is currently weak and many needs remain unmet.” To read the full report, visit: http://cesrd.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Developing_and_Implementing_Dementia_Policy_in_Ireland.pdf   -Ends-

Thursday, 21 December 2017

NUI Galway is developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage the debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease, referred to as Freezing of Gait. The first generation of the system resulted from NUI Galway’s involvement in the €4.7 million European FP7 project, REMPARK, which had 11 partners across Europe including NUI Galway. As part of this project the University has developed a novel wearable electronic device, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, which is commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. Dr Leo Quinlan, lecturer in Physiology at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and the project’s Co-Principal Investigator, said: “The severity of Freezing of Gait depends on the stage of the disease and it can have a very severe impact on quality of life, affecting people with Parkinson’s ability to walk for extended periods of time and is a common cause of falls in Parkinson’s disease.” The Human Movement Laboratory at the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, is currently working to further enhance the technology, particularly in the area of usability and human factors through the project ‘EScapeFOG’. To achieve this goal, NUI Galway is partnering with Parkinson’s support groups to test and evaluate the usability and human factors of the system. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and project Co-Principal Investigator, commented: “We are using what is referred to as a User Centred Design methodology, to ensure that the developed technology meets the needs of the intended users. This involves testing all aspects of the system with the Parkinson’s community and seeking their feedback on its usability throughout the design process.” The Human Movement Laboratory at NUI Galway is currently involved in a very effective collaboration with the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group on enhancing the design of the cueStim system, to more effectively meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s using this technology. A recent usability and human factors workshop held at the University was attended by 16 members of the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group. T.J. Waters, PRO for the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group, said: “The opportunity to view at first hand the research being undertaken to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s was an experience not to be missed. Clare Parkinson’s Support Group members are delighted to have an active role in this exciting project, which will be of benefit ultimately to people with Parkinson’s throughout the world.” Any person wishing to participate in future studies involving this device can contact Dean Sweeney, the system’s lead designer at: dean.sweeney@nuigalway.ie and 089-2576449. The research was part-funded by the European Commission under the FP7 prgramme and Science Foundation Ireland. -Ends-

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Researchers at NUI Galway and the University of British Columbia find addressing dietary environment is more effective than addressing dietary behaviour A new study published this month in the international journal Diabetes Care, provides important clues as to the most effective components of dietary lifestyle interventions, to help people with type 2 diabetes better control their condition and lose weight. The international collaboration between scientists from NUI Galway and the University of British Columbia examined the data from all of the relevant published clinical trials. From thousands of studies conducted over four decades, they sought to identify how effective specific behaviour change techniques (BCTs) were in the 54 clinical trials of dietary interventions they identified. Kevin Cradock, the study’s first author and an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar at NUI Galway, said: “Behaviour change techniques are methods that can help people change their behaviour using a variety of techniques such as goals and planning or restructuring the environment. Changing the food environment is one of the keys to treating type 2 diabetes. Before we change the food environment we need to look carefully at what it is and how it affects us.” “We examined systematically the individual behaviour change techniques in the 54 studies that assessed dietary modification strategies in type 2 diabetes patients”, explains Professor Heather Gainforth, senior author of the study from UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. “The evidence indicates that people with type 2 diabetes need more support when it comes to changing their diets. Basically, instead of telling people to change what they eat, they should initially be given healthy meals and receive ongoing support to help change their eating habits.” Dr Leo Quinlan from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “We discovered that the studies assessed were using 42 distinct behaviour change techniques, which are different ways to help people. While no individual behaviour change technique stood out, we did find that improvements in diabetes control and weight in affected patients were greater when they were provided with healthy meals and when they had frequent contact with health professionals such as dietitians.” Professor Gainforth added: “Without any support, behaviour change efforts can quickly fall apart. We need to be thinking about a better way to support people with diabetes. It may seem impractical to provide food and control the food environment. However, we need to examine the viability of providing healthy meals at the beginning of a program, followed by instruction and feedback as to how to choose, shop for, and prepare these foods. Gradually, this approach may support people to prepare healthy meals independently.” Professor Francis Finucane, study co-author and obesity physician at Galway University Hospitals, said: “It is interesting that interventions which influence the dietary environment were about 56% more effective than those which sought to persuade people to eat less unhealthily. This is consistent with our understanding now that obesity and diabetes are complex neurobehavioral disorders which are strongly genetically determined and are highly susceptible to environmental factors. If type 2 diabetes is a flood, rather than encouraging affected individuals to swim harder, we should seek to lower the water level.” Professor Gainforth agrees: “It seems very clear that until we change the environment and change the way we look at diet and public policy, people will find it much harder to change their behaviour.” The study was funded by the Irish Research Council. It involved scientists and engineers from NUI Galway’s Schools of Medicine and Engineering and Informatics and the Human Movement Laboratory at the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, along with behavioural scientists from Canada’s University of British Columbia Okanagan’s Faculty of Health and Social Development. To read the full study in Diabetes Care, visit: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/12/1800 -Ends-  

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway has today published a new report on Sexual Health and Attitudes. It is the first comprehensive survey of sexual behaviour and sexual assault in an emerging adulthood college population (aged 18-29). The survey was carried out at NUI Galway by Elaine Byrnes and Pádraig MacNeela, in 2015. It provides a baseline understanding of college students’ sexual health, behaviour and attitudes, both positive and negative sexual experiences. Also, findings reflect the impact of alcohol on decisions to have sex and unwanted sexual activity as a result of alcohol consumption. Padraig MacNeela, School of Psychology at NUI Galway said: “This survey incorporated standardised questionnaire tools that have been researched and validated internationally. The report sheds light on how these factors occur in an Irish context. In many cases this is the first time that some of these measures have been used outside the US, and the first time they have been reported on in an Irish context.” Elaine Byrnes, Doctoral Researcher on the PhD in Child & Youth Research at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway said: “The results of this survey show the incidence of sexual violence and assault are comparable to international studies of college students, and highlight the need for a national study of third level students on this issue. Findings on alcohol related sex consequences, particularly where students report being forced or pressured into sexual activity, highlights the importance of continuing consent education; how it is understood and communicated, and the role of alcohol in sexual decision making.” Dr Pat Morgan, Vice-President for the Student Experience at NUI Galway, and John Hannon, Director of Student Services, said: “We at NUI Galway are committed to supporting and enhancing the holistic development of students attending our institution. These data will contribute to informing further development of policies and services in the area of sexual health on our campus.” Key findings on student sexual health, behaviour and attitudes include: In the past 12 months, 8% of females and 3% of males were certain someone had sexual contact with them where they were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because they were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated or asleep and are certain this happened In the past 12 months, 8% of females and 4% of males were uncertain but suspected sexual contact where they were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because they were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated or asleep 27% of females and 35% of males agree with the statement “Guys don’t usually intend to force sex on a girl, but sometimes they get too sexually carried away” 75% of females and 55.5% of males are extremely/very likely to confront a friend who plans to give someone alcohol to get sex 76% of females and 69% of males agree they are less nervous about sex after drinking 35% of females and 58% of males agree they have sex with people with whom they wouldn’t sober 58% of females and 69% of males agree that hooking up is part of the college experience 90% of females and 86% of males agree/strongly agree they would use body language or signals to indicate their consent to sex 73% of females and 77.5% of males agree/strongly agree they would ask a partner if he/she wanted to go back to their place to communicate consent to sex 5% of females in a relationship agree they are satisfied with their sex life compared to 26.5% of single females 56% of males in a relationship agree if they could live their sex lives over, would change nothing, compared with 21% of single males Niamh Murtagh, Vice President for Welfare at the USI also welcomed the Report, “This report demonstrates the necessity of such vital information, and will form the backbone of initiatives that will be rolled out in our third level institutions. In turn, this will enable the enrichment of student health, wellbeing and their welfare in college setting.” The main author of the report is Elaine Byrnes, Doctoral Researcher in Child & Youth Research at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. The co-author is Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. To read the full Report (SHAG – Sexual Health Attitudes, Galway) visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/smartconsent -Ends-

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Dr Shane Browne, a postdoctoral fellow at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has just been awarded a prestigious American Heart Association fellowship to continue his postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley. The American Heart Association is the largest source of funding for cardiovascular disease and stroke research next to the US federal government. The mission of the Association is to fund cutting-edge science and build careers in science and research that impact every aspect of cardiovascular disease and stroke prevention and treatment. This fellowship recognises and supports outstanding young researchers in this field and will fund Dr Browne’s research at the University of California at Berkeley for two years. Dr Shane Browne’s research focuses on the use of biomaterial and stem cell-based therapies to restore blood flow to parts of the body. This work will be conducted with Professor Kevin Healy at the Healy Laboratory in UC Berkeley. The Laboratory focuses on the combination of biological and materials science to help engineer new systems for medical applications. The group is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating researchers from the fields of bioengineering, materials engineering, medicine, and molecular biology. Speaking about his fellowship award, Dr Browne said: “This American Heart Association award will allow me to build on the expertise in biomaterials and stem cell technology that I have previously developed at UC Berkeley and CÚRAM. Cardiovascular disease is a major problem worldwide, and I believe that stem cells and biomaterials will play a key role in the development of effective treatments for patients. I hope to return to NUI Galway after this fellowship and apply my time in Berkeley to advance research in Galway.” Congratulating Dr Browne on his Fellowship, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, said “We’re delighted to see more and more of our students progress and be recognised for the calibre of work that they are achieving here at CÚRAM. I wish Dr Browne every success in his work at the Healy Lab in Berkeley. Training and building the capacity of our researchers to take leading roles in biomedical sciences in the future is extremely important to us and we are extremely proud of this achievement.” CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, is a multidisciplinary centre bringing together research strength and capacity in biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, glycoscience, and device design. The Centre’s vision is to develop affordable, innovative and transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases. -Ends-

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A diabetes research team at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine has developed a novel approach to improve how diabetes services are delivered to young adults. The team has published two new open access articles detailing the formation of their ‘Young Adult Panel’, comprising of nine young adults aged 18–25 years with type 1 diabetes. This young group have helped design the ‘D1 Now’ intervention programme, which aims to improve diabetes services by reimagining care and moving beyond the traditional clinic. Research indicates that this particular age group of young adults with type 1 diabetes often disengage from health services and their general diabetes management. Involving young adults with this condition in co-designing research to help develop a behaviour change in intervention to improve engagement with health services could potentially improve overall self-management and health. Many young adults with type 1 diabetes find it hard to control their blood glucose levels. With lots going on in their lives, their diabetes is often not the priority and means they do not always take care of their condition such as attending clinic appointments. These young adults do not usually get the chance to make suggestions on how to improve diabetes services. Being involved could help shape the diabetes care services that support them. The D1 Now research team at NUI Galway, led by Professor Seán Dinneen, says: “Through the formation of the D1 Now Young Adult Panel, it demonstrates that involving young adults with this condition in health service research, is feasible and productive. Their guidance and feedback is instrumental in creating an intervention with a difference. It also demonstrates that involving young adults in co-designing research to develop a complex behaviour change intervention to improve diabetes services ensures the process is grounded in the needs and experiences of those directly affected by type 1 diabetes.” By ensuring that young adults are at the centre of the design means that the intervention will be more acceptable to this group. Previous work from the D1 Now team indicates that young adults want care to be centred on the relationships built within their diabetes team. These new ways of engagement can offer more continuity during a time of transition, whether it takes the form of a designated staff member, through devices/eHealth tools, or through tools to facilitate shared decision-making and goal-setting. Michelle Long, a member of the Young Adult Panel said that she was: “Proud to be part of this research paper as one of the young adults on the panel aiming to improve care for diabetes in Ireland.” The Young Adult Panel developed research materials such as participant information sheets. They also reviewed and interpreted research findings to create plain language statements so that the team’s work is framed in the most appropriate way for young adults and anyone who may wish to engage with the research. The Panel has also helped develop the study website to enhance engagement between young adults and their diabetes healthcare providers. The D1 Now team contributed to an international consensus conference on health services delivery for young adults with type 1 diabetes and wrote specific sections of a further grant application to test out the new intervention. As a direct result of the Young Adult Panel, a meaningful dialogue has opened up between healthcare providers and young adults within the research team. Their involvement has led to a better understanding of what needs to be achieved in order to improve health service delivery in terms of responding to the specific needs of young adults at this transitional time in their lives. The panel have been active members in co-designing a health behaviour change intervention to improve engagement between young adults with type 1 diabetes and healthcare providers that will be evaluated in future research. The D1 Now research team and the formation of the Young Adult Panel article won the HSE Open Access Awards last Friday, 8 December. The winner of the award was Mary Clare O’Hara from the D1Now team. The study was funded through a Health Research Board, Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards grant. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sean Kyne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development has launched a new publication, Creative Economies in Peripheral Regions written by Dr Patrick Collins at NUI Galway and Professor James Cunningham at the University of Northumbria. Dr Collins and Professor Cunningham make their policy recommendations for supporting the growth of creative economies in peripheral areas. As a sustainable model for development, one that relies on the infinite resource of human creativity, it has the potential to act as a vital agent in the future growth of peripheral regions in Ireland. NUI Galway has long been recognised as a leading international centre for the creative arts, with strong specialisms in Drama, Theatre, Performance, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Film, Digital Media and emerging areas in creative production and arts entrepreneurship. The University has formed strong partnerships with the creative arts sector, notably with such institutions as Druid Theatre, the Abbey Theatre and Galway International Arts Festival. In the book the authors make the case for vibrant, creative and cultural economies existing beyond large urban settlements in peripheral regions in Ireland. It is the first publication to map the existence of the creative economy beyond city boundaries. This work takes place within the context of an evolving consumer society where there is increasing recognition of a change in consumer patterns as the modern consumption era matures. Commenting about the new publication, Dr Patrick Collins from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “This book is about putting a positive spin on the term ‘peripheral’. We provide evidence of people, inspired by their place, competing in international markets where the authenticity and creative nature of their produce is in high demand.” Dr Collins added: “As more and more people buy goods that they feel reflect their own individual identity, more of us are expressing ourselves by how we dress, what we eat, what we listen to and where we go on holiday. In doing this we are turning our back on mass produced goods and services. As the market for these kinds of goods laden with expressive values increases, the products from our peripheral regions become more desirable. We argue in the book that it is the connectedness to place; the use of more traditional production techniques; and the imbued sense of authenticity in the produce of the peripheral regions that makes them more and more marketable in a maturing consumer society.” Creative industries mentioned in the book include Telegael in Spiddal, County Galway, a leading feature film, TV drama and animation company with major global partners, which employs over 70 people in high value jobs and is co-producing projects with companies located all across the world, operating from a small village in the West of Ireland. And Druid Theatre, an organisation that produces critically acclaimed theatre productions inspired by the stories of the periphery and bringing them to audiences across Ireland and right around the world. By looking at how these products in more remote areas are produced, the productive practices seen in the case study regions within the book are reflecting those of leading innovative industries. The book shows how creatives in remote regions, collaborate, co-produce, switch codes (writers and visual artists become theatre makers and game designers) that demonstrates an agility that is seen by many as key to productive success. By shining a light on the array of business models adopted by these industries the book highlights a sector that is more connected to its place, and its society in a way that is unique in the modern context. This book will be of value to those from a social science and business background and it will also be of interest to those within this growing sector and those that support it. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway has just been awarded the ‘Academic Contribution to Medtech Award’ by the Irish Medtech Association at the Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards Ceremony. The event, which took place in Galway, was jointly hosted by the Irish Medtech Association, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, which recognises and celebrates companies that have played a leading role in making Ireland a location of choice for global Medtech.  Commenting on the Award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “We are delighted to receive this award and I would like to congratulate all who were shortlisted for these awards this evening. We are very proud to be a research partner to 27 MedTech companies currently, and we look forward to growing and enriching these networks and helping the Irish MedTech sector develop a solid research base here in Ireland and continue to lead the field as one of the top five global MedTech hubs.” Congratulating CÚRAM on the award, acting Irish Medtech Association Director, Eoghan Ó Faoláin said: “The reason Ireland is in a position to compete with major Medtech hubs such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, is thanks to the diversity of the sector here and the collaborative innovation that takes place on a regular basis between Irish Small and Medium Enterprises, Foreign Direct Investment multinational companies, and top universities, as well as other strategic sectors such as ICT, design and manufacturing. With Ireland ranked first for labour productivity, flexibility of talent, as well as attracting and retaining talent, it’s no surprise that Medtech growth is underpinned by job creation, with 38,000 people working in the sector now and an additional 4,000 jobs to be added by 2020.”  The diversity of the Irish Medtech sector was reflected in six award categories, namely: the Academic Contribution to Medtech Award; the Medtech Company of the Year; Emerging Medtech Company of the Year; eHealth Innovation of the Year; Medtech Partner/Supplier of the Year; and the Best European Medtech Week Campaign Award. Michael Lohan, Head of Life Sciences, Engineering and Industrial Technology Division at IDA Ireland, said: “It is clear from the list of finalists that Ireland is a one-stop-shop for Medtech with everything you need to take medical technology from concept to market here. We are not only the second largest exporter of Medtech products in Europe, but the number one location for Medtech Foreign Direct Investment. The Irish Medtech Awards are a great way to celebrate the sector’s achievements and bring people together.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The first cohort of students from a unique new Masters in Medical Technology Regulatory Affairs offered jointly by NUI Galway and IT Sligo have graduated.  The two year Masters programme is offered through a partnership with the Irish Medtech Skillnet and Irish Medtech Association. The medical technology sector employs over 38,000 people in Ireland and is the second largest employer of MedTech professionals in Europe. Undertaken by professionals working regulatory affairs and quality, the masters programme equips graduates with essential knowledge and skills required in the rapidly changing global regulatory affairs environment within the growing Irish Medical Technology industry sector. Professor Terry Smith, Co-Director of the programme said: “Conferring the first graduates is a very significant milestone for this MSc programme, which is unique in Ireland. The very successful partnership between NUI Galway and IT Sligo, as well as with the Irish MedTech Association Skillnet, and MedTech industry experts, ensures a strong focus on meeting a critical MedTech industry need.  As a result, the Masters, now in its third year, is growing from strength to strength.” President of IT Sligo, Brendan McCormack said: “IT Sligo is justly proud of this collaboration which, once again, illustrates the ability of online education in helping to address a recognised skills shortage in a key industry sector such as MedTech. Great credit is due to the staff of both institutions that have helped to develop the programme.” Senior Irish Medtech Association Executive, Dr Áine Fox said: “Now that the EU medical device and IVD regulations have entered into force, the transition period clocks have begun counting down for both. Ensuring that we have talent with ability to manage these changes, which will have both operational and financial implications for the 450 medtech business across Ireland.” -Ends-

Monday, 11 December 2017

A recent Marine Economics and Policy Research Symposium provided participants with an update on a wide range of policy topics related to the marine sector in Ireland. Organised each year by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, with support from the Marine Institute, this year’s theme was ‘Past, Present and Future’ with sessions dedicated to marine related issues focused on each of these time periods. Dr Stephen Hynes of SEMRU at NUI Galway, spoke of the strong maritime tradition in Ireland and the potential for growth in the ocean economy across a number of industries. “In my view, marine development opportunities lie in what we as a nation have shown we are already good at. For example, using our skills and capacity in the information technology and biotechnology sectors to generate marine communications solutions and to produce new active ingredients for use in food and pharmaceuticals; applying our skills in finance and leasing in the development of shipping services.” Dr Hynes continued: “SEMRU’s ocean economy figures demonstrate particularly strong growth over the 2014 to 2016 period in a number of industries that have previously seen slow growth, or are at the early stages of development such as marine renewables, marine advanced tech and oil and gas.” The Symposium looked to the past in order to see what lessons might be learned for marine policy makers today. Dr Aidan Kane from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway presented historical data from cargo manifestos associated with Irish ports, which gives the researcher an insight into the evolving structure of regional economies in Ireland. The event also focused on the present marine policy environment presented by Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, NUI Galway, who examined the economic strength and weaknesses of coastal areas in terms of unemployment and migration from the great recession through to the recent economic recovery. NUI Galway’s Dr Amanda Slevin then gave a critique of Irish state hydrocarbon management while Tom Gillespie looked at the contribution from having a sea view and what the distance to coastal amenities makes to propriety values. The plenary session was given by leading marine law expert Professor Ronán Long who holds the Nippon Foundation Chair of Ocean Governance at the World Maritime University in Sweden. He gave a fascinating insight into recent developments in climate change and their implications for our ocean resources, particularly in light of the Paris Agreement 2015. The final session of the day examined how marine policy and maritime industries could be transformed in the future. Philip Stephens and Liam Lacey of the Irish Maritime Development Office presented the case for creating an International Shipping Services Centre in Cork, which could deliver on key components of the Government’s integrated plan for the marine industry, creating a flagship project of scale with significant regional development potential. Liam Lacey said: “Ireland has been successful in building world-class financial services and aviation leasing industries.  Building on these successes, Ireland can become a hub for maritime commerce through exploiting existing competitive advantages, being disruptive in a very traditional industry, and reconceiving maritime commerce through blue ocean strategies.  Ireland’s claim is strengthened by Brexit and by the impressive recovery of the Irish economy in recent years.” -Ends-

Monday, 11 December 2017

Dr Martin O’Halloran from NUI Galway was announced as the winner of the inaugural Irish Research Council ‘Researcher of the Year’ award for his outstanding research in medical electronics. Dr O’Halloran is a Techrete Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics at NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics and College of Medicine, and a Founder-Director of the Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab at Galway University Hospital. The awards were presented as the Council marks 15 years of the Irish Research Council and its forebears, the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology. Commenting on receiving his award, Dr Martin O’Halloran from NUI Galway, said: “This award is a reflection of the quality and ambition of the broader research team in the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, and validates the close collaboration between the Colleges of Engineering and Informatics, and Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences. By embedding our engineering lab within the hospital, we get a greater understanding of the real clinical need, and can shorten the time required to translate technology out of the lab and into the patient clinic.” The Lambe Translational Medical Device Lab now hosts 24 world class researchers from Europe, the US and Asia, including engineers, physicists, veterinary surgeons and doctors. The team are developing medical devices to address problems ranging from new ways to reliably detect fetal distress during delivery, to novel treatments for lung cancer. Dr Paola Rivetti, Dublin City University, was awarded the ‘Early-Career Researcher of the Year’ award for her research in politics of the Middle East and international relations. Her research interests focus on the government of societies and politics in the Middle East and North Africa from a comparative perspective. The two Council-funded researchers received their awards for having made a highly significant and valuable contribution to research in Ireland over their career to-date in their respective fields. Congratulating the awardees, Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, Mr John Halligan, TD said: “I would like to warmly congratulate Dr Martin O’ Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year awards. Their exceptional careers are a testament to the quality of the people in Ireland’s research environment and I would like to commend them on their hard work and dedication to their chosen field.” Chair of the Irish Research Council, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, congratulated the two awardees: “I am delighted to congratulate Dr Martin O Halloran and Dr Paola Rivetti on receiving the inaugural Researcher of the Year awards. We received many nominations of current and previously Council-funded researchers. Dr O’Halloran and Dr Rivetti were selected for their outstanding track records to date and I would like to wish them all the very best in their future research careers.” -Ends-