Students Travel to Zambia to Build Houses for Families in Need

Monday, 3 March 2008

Twenty-one NUI Galway student volunteers are to spend two weeks in Zambia participating in a house building project. The students will leave for the village of Kawama in Northern Zambia on 30 May, and will work with local affiliates of Habitat for Humanity (HFH). HFH is an internationally acclaimed self build housing organisation at work in almost 100 countries and their aim is to make the elimination of poverty housing a matter of conscience and action. The student group is being led by Fr. Iomar Daniels, Dean of Chaplaincy Service, NUI Galway, with the help of three team leaders, "The NUI Galway team are currently fundraising to cover the costs of the trip and their donation to HFH. They are planning karaoke, concerts, table quizzes and many more events in the coming months. With all the energy and enthusiasm going into fundraising we hope to see the group off to an auspicious start". The volunteers will work under the supervision of local skilled trades people, doing work such as bricklaying, carpentry, plastering and painting. They will work alongside local volunteers and families. One of the student volunteers, third-year Bachelor of Commerce student Katie Crudden from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, says "The team is very excited about the new experiences they will encounter during their trip. We are all looking forward to living and working in the community, meeting the people of Kawama, learning new skills and helping families to build simple affordable homes". HFH homes are different in every country and in Zambia they are constructed from clay blocks and covered with corrugated iron sheets. This is in comparison to typical Zambian homes that are grass thatched mud and wattle structures requiring annual overhauling. An estimated 86% of the population of Zambia live below the poverty line, the families most in need that purchase HFH homes repay about £5 a month which is then put back into making more homes in the community. For more information on the trip, or to make a donation please contact Fr. Iomar Daniels on 091-492168 or iomar.daniels@nuigalway.ie. Donations can also be made on the Zambia group website at www.mycharity.ie/event/nuigzambia08/ -ends-

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New Ignite Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway

Monday, 3 March 2008

NUI Galway has launched the new Ignite Technology Transfer Office (formerly TTO NUI Galway) to provide expertise and guidance to researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs in the western region. The 15 members of the Ignite TTO team will offer a range of programmes and services to support Intellectual Property Management and new Enterprise Development. The team will build on existing technology transfer activities at the University, with a focus on the early stage identification and protection of intellectual property (IP), technology marketing, technology valuation and technology commercialisation. The new entrepreneurial forum, enhancing spin-out formation, technology licensing & business mentoring and the expansion of support services, such as the business incubation space, will add to enterprise support that Ignite TTO provides. Dr Daniel O'Mahony, Consultant Advisor, Ignite TTO, said "NUI Galway's investment in research and technology commercialisation exceeded €46m in 2007. When people think of Ignite TTO we want them to equate it with the birth of new technologies, the emergence of new breakthroughs, an endless source of innovation, a fountain of future commercial prospects. It will excite the imagination and attract entrepreneurs to our sandbox of commercially viable offerings. In time it will represent a place of excellent research giving way to excellent technologies and thereafter to commercial success. " NUI Galway has a long standing involvement with the promotion of indigenous enterprise and the direct provision of services to locally based industry. More than 40 collaborative projects with industry were secured in 2007, generating over €2.3m, as well as the establishment of a new entrepreneurial forum with a view to providing researchers and emerging entrepreneurs the fundamental knowledge and skill set required in the pursuit of enterprise development. Ignite TTO has a strong focus on market assessment and delivery of tailored solutions and technology offerings to market on time. During the last year, following licensing of technologies and intellectual property, a number of start-up companies were formed from NUI Galway including Eirzyme Ltd, Theta Chemicals Ltd. and Syncrophi Ltd. Numerous other spin-out companies are at late stage negotiation. Summary of Some Key Achievements in 2007: 1. €46M spent on research in 2007 2. Twenty four Option & License Agreements executed in 2007 3. Thirty patent applications 4. Four spin-out companies in past 12 months 5. 40 collaborative projects with industry (start-ups, SMEs and MNCs) 6. Six bio-incubation labs and a core equipment lab for Life Science companies created 7. Launch of Campus Commercialization Program and Start-up-Solutions to promote enterprise development 8. Funding for new graduate programmes in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Dr Neil Ferguson, Ignite TTO Commercialisation Officer, said, "There is a real sense of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation among businesses in the west of Ireland, matched by the cutting-edge research taking place on campus. The encouragement of our future entrepreneurs is critical to the sustained economic prosperity. The Ignite TTO team is there to lend a helping hand to entrepreneurs in our University and region as they take the first steps in bringing their technology concepts to commercial reality". This is a vibrant and stimulating time to be part of Ignite TTO where National University of Ireland, Galway has developed an attractive portfolio of technologies suitable for licensing, spread across life sciences, biotechnology, medical devices, ICT, engineering and many more. For further information please visit Ignite TTO at www.nuigalway.ie/tto or contact the TTO team on 091-492147 ENDS

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Comprehensive Study on Health and Lifestyle

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Mr. Pat The Cope Gallagher, T.D. has published the results from the latest National Health and Lifestyle Survey (SLÁN 2007). SLÁN 07, which is the third in a series of lifestyle and behaviour studies of the Irish population, was commissioned by the Department of Health and Children and was carried out by a consortium involving NUI Galway, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and University College Cork. The study involved face-to-face interviews with 10,364 adults along with a sub-study on body size of 967 younger adults (18-44 years old) and a more detailed physical examination of 1,207 adults aged 45 and over. The research team from NUI Galway was led by Professor Margaret Barry, Director of the Health Promotion Research Centre, and included Dr. Michal Molcho and Mr. Eric Van Lente, also from the Health Promotion Research Centre. Professor Barry, on behalf of the team, said, "We are delighted as a cross-institutional team to deliver SLÁN 2007, the largest national health and lifestyle survey of adults undertaken in Ireland to date. It builds on two previous surveys, also carried out at NUI Galway, to provide a profile of health since 1998. For the first time, the SLÁN survey includes information on the mental health and social wellbeing of the Irish population and national level data on injuries. The findings for the survey give vital direction for policy and service developments in the coming decade." Key results emerging from the Survey The survey contains a wealth of data on lifestyle behaviours of the Irish adult population including smoking, alcohol consumption, mental health, diet and physical activity. Some of the key facts to emerge are: • Half the population recorded self-rated health as 'excellent' or very 'good' and that this has increased since the last SLÁN survey in 2002. Similarly, there is a reported increase in the number of respondents who described their quality of life as good or very good. • There was a decrease from 2002 to 2007 in the percentage of respondents who reported consuming 6 or more standard drinks ('risky drinking') at least once a week. • Overall, 65% reported consuming the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. One third either always or usually added salt to food at the table. Half reported snacking between meals, most commonly on biscuits and cakes. • 29% of the population smoked, with higher rates amongst young people. Almost half of both male and female smokers reported attempting to quit within the previous 12 months; younger smokers were more likely to report attempting to quit. • Younger men reported higher levels of physical activity, reducing with increasing age. This contrasts with the relatively low level of physical activity in women across all age groups. Of concern was the fact that respondents who reported that they were physically inactive gave their main reason as 'no time'. • Over half of respondents (55%) reported being involved in community activities, compared to 59% in 2002. • The results that emerged from the physical examination of the population sample over 45 years of age point to the prevalence of raised cholesterol and high blood pressure in this population group. In relation to body weight, 39% of those examined (ages 18+) were medically overweight with a further 25% classified as obese. "The SLÁN 2007 study provides invaluable data for policy development and programme planning on a range of lifestyle related health behaviours in the Irish population. More importantly, SLÁN 2007 allows us to identify trends and monitor changes in population behaviours thus better informing our priority setting decisions at national level. While people make their own lifestyle choices, it is only through more and better information that we can better understand the health behaviours of the population and provide the necessary advice and support to them," Minister Gallagher said. The lifestyle choices of individuals have a direct impact on their physical and mental well-being. These choices relate to what they eat, if they smoke, the amount of alcohol they consume and if they take regular exercise. While individuals can make their own lifestyle choices, policy makers need to develop and target effective health promotion policies and initiatives in order to inform and influence people to make healthier choices. It is crucial, therefore, that the information on which these policies are developed is accurate and up to date. The Survey Report is available on line at www.dohc.ie or at www.slan07.ie -ends-

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Galway Secondary School Students in National Final of Science Competition

Monday, 28 April 2008

Two students from Gort Community School will represent Connacht in the first ever 'Debating Science Issues' competition in Dublin on Friday, 9 May. This prestigious new Wellcome Trust-funded debating competition is coordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with science research and discovery centres throughout Ireland. Open to senior cycle secondary school students, the 'Debating Science Issues' competition invites young people to take an active interest in biomedical science and to engage with contemporary research. Dominique Twomey and Shane Croake from Gort CS will represent Connacht, having recently won the regional final hosted by REMEDI at NUI Galway. Students Ailish Ní Choisteabhla and Caitríona Walsh, from Coláiste Chroí Mhuire, An Spidéal, came second in the regional final. The competition invites students to explore topics such Stem Cell Research, Genetically Modified Food, Nanotechnology, Health and Self Testing, Vaccinations, and Animal Testing. 'Debating Science Issues' is an extension of a regional debating series originally initiated by REMEDI among Galway schools in 2005. With support from Wellcome Trust, the competition has now expanded to involve secondary schools north and south of the border. Organisers hope that debating will facilitate discussion among young people on the advances in the biomedical field and the societal and ethical impact of this research. According to Dr. Kieran Ryan, Programme Manager at REMEDI, "Ultimately, we hope to stimulate young people to think differently about biomedical science as they discover the immense impact it has on society, and consider a career or education in this field. An impassioned discussion can really allow students and teachers explore issues surrounding these fascinating areas of science". The final of the competition take place at the Science Gallery, TCD, on Friday 9 May. Competition prizes will include laptops, iPODs and school trophies. For more information contact Breda Kyne, Outreach Officer at REMEDI, at breda.kyne@nuigalway.ie -ends-

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NUI Galway Student Wins Occupational Hygiene Prize

Friday, 25 April 2008

NUI Galway MSc student Margaret McCallig has won the 2008 Occupational Hygiene Society of Ireland (OHSI) student prize. The objective of the OHSI student scheme is to encourage research and promote occupational hygiene as a profession in Ireland. Occupational Hygiene is a specialised discipline within the broad area of Occupational Safety and Health and is concerned with the prevention of ill health caused by exposure to poor work environments. NUI Galway offers one undergraduate and two taught postgraduate programmes in Occupational Health and Safety, and also offers the option to complete an MSc or PhD by research in the area. Margaret, originally from Dunkineely, Co. Donegal, is currently undertaking a research Masters in Occupational Hygiene in the Physics Department at NUI Galway, funded by the Health and Safety Unit of The Office of Public Works. Her research is looking specifically at exposure to vibration among construction workers when using powered equipment such as angle grinders, excavators, jack hammers and chain saws. This data will then be used to develop an exposure management system which will aid in the selection of 'low risk' equipment, and will also help schedule work activities so as to minimise worker exposure so that industry can comply with the regulations. According to Dr. Marie Coggins, Lecturer in Occupational Hygiene at NUI Galway said, "Regular exposure to high levels of hand arm and whole body transmitted vibration can result in a range of permanent adverse health conditions including the development of the occupational disease, vibration white finger. The introduction of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Control of Vibration at Work) Regulations in 2006 has presented challenges for the engineering and construction sectors in terms of vibration exposure assessment and management." Margaret has a BSc (Honours) degree in Health and Safety Systems from NUI Galway in 2006. -ends-

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