Former Intel Boss Speaks at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Former Intel Boss Tells NUI Galway Audience 3% Investment of Ireland's GDP into Research No Longer Reasonable Target The former chief executive of Intel has called for increased investment from the government into research and development projects. Speaking at the 'Education for Innovation' seminar in NUI Galway, Dr Craig Barrett said a sustained plan of funding needed to be implemented if Ireland wishes to keep up with the world's larger and more business savvy nations. "We cannot jerk around with the R&D policies of our Government and expect to get good results," said Dr Barrett. "It needs to be a sustained commitment. Why can't we have a Silicon Valley in our own country? What is it about society that makes that work? Universities are the key and they are wonderful spots to create wonderful ideas. Smart people and smart ideas combined in the right environment can create wealth. "There has got to be a synergy between the public and private sectors. We have got to see our private sectors involved with the universities. They have the great ideas. We need to see them acting as mentors and partners in research. It is vital," he said. The former Intel boss is in Ireland this week in his role as Chairman of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, and was keynote speaker at an event at NUI Galway. His address was followed by a discussion panel with John Ryan, Macrovision; Professor Patrick Cunningham, Ireland's Chief Scientific Advisor; Tom McDermott, Georgia Tech Research Institute; Dr Martina Newell-McGloughlin, ITLG and University of California; and Professor Terry Smith, Vice President of Research at NUI Galway. Prior to his keynote address, Dr Barrett met with representatives of NUI Galway's leading research institutes The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) and the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) two major research groups: REMEDI and MDRG as well as University of Limerick's Research Centres, LERO and the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) plus Georgia Tech Ireland. The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) is the world leader in Semantic Web (Web 3.0) research. At today's event DERI showcased a portfolio of over 25 of the latest cutting edge technologies emerging from the institute. REMEDI is a leading biomedical research centre focusing on gene therapy and stem cell research. REMEDI were joined by industry partner Ovagen who are working with the institute to develop technologies for the production of novel biotherapeutics. The Molecular Diagnostics Research Group (MDRG) at NUI Galway has 20 years experience and an international track record of achievement in the development and application of molecular diagnostics tests for microbial species identification. The MDRG were joined by research partners at Beckman Coulter Ireland with whom they are developing molecular diagnostics for clinically relevant bacterial and fungal pathogens. Each year the ITLG leads a delegation of Silicon Valley technologists and venture capitalists to Ireland to support high potential emerging technology companies from the island of Ireland. This year's events are held in partnership with NUI Galway, University of Limerick and Shannon Development. As part of his key note address, Dr Barrett also claimed that a three percent investment of Ireland's GDP into research and development "is no longer a reasonable target and that we "have now to compete with the rest of the world to get paid". "Look at Microsoft," he said. "They have a research budget of approximately $8 billion per year. That is huge, and is more than all of Ireland spends in R&D. Israel now invests five percent of its GDP into research and development. And Israel has 140 new companies listed on the NASDAQ. Europe only has between 30 and 40. That is the future for Ireland and if we fail to pursue it with vigour, passion and resources, there will be no future for us because our lunch will be eaten by somebody else. We must outsmart them and outthink them," said Dr Barrett. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Researchers take part in European Osteoarthritis Project

Monday, 15 November 2010

Researchers at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway are involved in a new multi million euro European Union funded project which aims to develop new methods for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The project entitled: 'Gene Activated Matrices for Bone and Cartilage Regeneration in Arthritis' (GAMBA) is coordinated by the University Hospital rechts der Isar, Munich Technical University, Germany with a total budget of €3.2 million. REMEDI with 12 per cent of the funding, joins a team of international specialists from nine research groups from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland to investigate new methods for inducing regenerative processes within the body. The project aims to develop novel methods for the treatment of osteoarthritis by stimulating the self healing capacity of damaged cartilage and bone. Stem cells with the capacity to make bone or cartilage will be placed on different materials within the knee. Whether the cells become bone or cartilage can be controlled externally with drugs or heat application for example. This will be achieved through the use of gene therapy and will provide control both in space and time of what happens in the damaged knee joint offering improved treatment options for the future. Another aspect of this research will focus on developing strategies to engineer cells found in the joint to produce an anti-inflammatory agent in direct response to any inflammation that might occur as osteoarthritis develops or progresses. An essential part of the project will be to initiate a public debate on ethical, legal and societal issues connected to the research. Novel ways of outreach methods called patient and citizen panels will be used. Galway will host one of these efforts to enhance awareness of nanomedicine in the general public and appreciation of public expectations and reservations in the research community. Arthritis is a serious national health problem in Ireland affecting nearly three quarters of a million men and women with more than one in six people affected. A significant majority of people suffering from arthritis have osteoarthritis. This is the 'wear and tear' form of arthritis and results in joint and cartilage damage and increased risk of orthopaedic dependencies. The majority of Irish people over 55 years of age have x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis at some joint in their body. The cause of osteoarthritis is still unknown and current treatments mainly address the symptoms by reduction of pain and inflammation. These therapies are not restorative and often end in total joint replacement. "GAMBA brings nanomedicine to Osteoarthritis research and, uniquely, will involve both patients and the general public in an effort to promote understanding and acceptance of its potential. We are delighted at REMEDI to be part of such an innovative and important project," says Dr Mary Murphy, the GAMBA leader at REMEDI. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Academic Receives National Excellence in Teaching Award

Monday, 15 November 2010

NUI Galway Academic Dr Dagmar Stengel recently received a 2010 National Academy for Integration of Research Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) Annual Award for Excellence in Teaching. This is the third year in a row that an NUI Galway academic took an award, something that no other Higher Education institution has achieved. Five awards were presented nationally this year by Hon. Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness who noted the outstanding contribution of the award recipients to both teaching and research in Higher Education. Dr Dagmar Stengel, Lecturer in Botany and Plant Science in the School of Natural Sciences NUI Galway and a researcher in the Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy at the University received specific praise for her approachable and empathetic manner with students, which encourages them to strive for her high standards of excellence. Her inclusion of new research in lectures and her ability to relate marine botany and plant science to the local area was also noted particularly as this enables the students to investigate the topics for themselves and greatly enhances their own learning and their interest in the subject. Dr Stengel says "I am absolutely delighted to receive the award and am overwhelmed by the support from staff and students at NUI Galway that I have received. It is great that teaching is recognised within Higher Education besides research. It is essential to integrate research into undergraduate teaching at an early stage. It takes personal and institutional investment, but is essential if a research community is to be built up, i.e. to train future researchers but also develop students' problem solving skills." The winners of the Awards were nominated by their institutions and selected by a committee which included international representatives as well as representatives of the Irish University Association, the Institutes of Technology Ireland and the Union of Students in Ireland. The award winners come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds but display a shared commitment to and passion for teaching while also being innovative researchers. These Awards testify to the fact that excellence in teaching and in creative and scholarly work go hand in hand. Dr Gerry Morgan, former Dean of Science and former Acting Head of Botany at NUI Galway says: "Dr Dagmar Stengel represents all that is best in a student-centred, research-intensive University. She has a natural ability to integrate her excellence in research with her teaching. She enthuses students to achieve while interacting empathetically with them. It is always a pleasure to discuss science and science teaching with Dagmar." In the three years since the introduction of the National Academy Annual Awards for Excellence in Teaching, awarded to staff from any of Ireland's 37 recognised institutions of Higher Education, NUI Galway has won a disproportionate number of honours. Previous winners of the award are Dr Aisling McCluskey (Mathematics), Dr Ray Murphy (Human Rights) and Dr Peter Cantillon (General Practice). -Ends-

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Maths Week- A Great Success at NUI Galway

Monday, 15 November 2010

The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway hosted a number of very successful events as part of the 5th Maths Week Ireland. Several workshops were held during Maths Week with the key aim of promoting awareness, appreciation and understanding of maths amongst the general public as well as school audiences. During Maths Week, Dr Fernando Blasco, author of several books, television personality and one of Spain s best known mathematicians gave a workshop on Maths and Magic . This workshop entertained, explored and explained the mathematics behind many well known and not so well known magic tricks. Blasco again performed his "magic" to a primary and a secondary school audience on the following day. It was a huge success with well over 400 students attending from several primary and secondary schools. Dr David O Keeffe, chief organiser of Maths Week in Galway says: "The key idea of maths week is to promote awareness and to illustrate the usefulness of maths. It is especially important to highlight the crucial role maths plays within society at large." Workshops that explored how blind people read and do maths took place. The primary schools that took part in Maths week were Bushy Park National School, Scoil an Croi Ro Naofa, Belclare National School, Tuam, and Scoil Íde, Salthill while the secondary schools were represented by Colaiste Mhuire Tourmakeady, Co Mayo, Oranmore Secondary school, St Joseph s College (The Bish), Colaiste Iognaid (The Jes), and the Mercy Convent Tuam, and Dominican College Taylor's Hill. Dr O Keeffe continues: "Maths week could not have reached the audiences it did reach if it was not for the support, interest and endeavour shown by the participating schools. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and praise each of them for their invaluable support and interest. I would also like to thank the public and students for generating such a fun and memorable atmosphere during the week." ENDS

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NUI Galway Graduate Wins RTÉ's Reality Volunteering Show

Friday, 12 November 2010

NUI Galway graduate, Carol Leonard from Cloghan, Co. Offaly, was announced the co-winner of RTÉ's reality show Do the Right Thing. Carol, who graduated from NUI Galway with a Bachelor of Arts in 2006, was awarded a unique fully paid one-year package volunteering in Ghana, India and Thailand. From over a thousand applicants, fifty were shortlisted for an assessment weekend in Barretstown Camp in County Kildare, where, following a series of tests and monitoring, sixteen (eight men, eight women) were chosen as the final contestants. The finalists had to prove they have what it takes to make the grade in the tough, challenging world of international volunteering. Over the course of the show the contestants were trained and tested in all areas of volunteering including: initiative, leadership, emotional strength and supportiveness. Following each episode the contestants had the opportunity to choose a man and woman to leave the group until Carol, along with fellow contestant, Johnny Finegan Jr., were left as 'Ireland's Ultimate Volunteers'. Last year over 3,000 Irish people went overseas as short-term volunteers where they built houses and schools, taught children, planted rain forests and administered healthcare. It can be quite difficult to be selected as a volunteer. Large aid organisations like Goal, Concern and VSO seek highly skilled graduates, the building charities like Haven, Niall Mellon and Habitat for Humanity requires you to raise money to pay your way, and even the independent volunteering agencies like USIT have a very tough application procedure to prevent the wrong people being sent into difficult and delicate environments. As a student at NUI Galway, Carol volunteered through the university's volunteer programme, ALIVE, with Youth Work Ireland's Le Chéile and Rahoon Youth Project. NUI Galway's strategic plan through ALIVE seeks to engender students with a sense of active citizenship. Congratulating Carol on her success, Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Coordinator at NUI Galway, said "Carol is an inspiration to current student volunteers to strive for the opportunities volunteering has to offer. We are so proud of Carol and her achievement as she demonstrates a true civic graduate who is engaged with their community creating positive social change." -Ends-

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