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Record Numbers Participate in Schools Art Competition
Monday, 26 May 2008
A record number of over 400 students from 13 Galway secondary schools participated in this years' NUI Galway First Year Schools Competition. The art competition is part of the University Trail Access Programme designed to encourage an interest in third-level education among students in selected Secondary Schools in Galway City, County and Gaeltacht regions. The programme is supported by the HEA targeted funding for special initiatives. For the competition, the students are asked to express through the media of Art, Music, Drama and Writing why they would like to study at NUI Galway, what it would mean for them and how it would change their future. Ashla Ward, of NUI Galway's Access Office, commented, "This competition is designed primarily to start the student thinking about their future, linking their current learning status to a long-term goal and sensitising them to the whole notion of third level attainment. The competition has proved very successful over the last six years. Teachers and students have worked diligently to produce wonderful pieces of Art for the competition". At second level, NUI Galway's University Trail starts with the First Year School Competition and continues in second, third, fifth and on to the Leaving Certificate year, with a series of activities such as campus tours, mentoring and Study Skills Workshops. The main objective of the Trail is to promote regular interaction with the University and the students. The effectiveness of this initiative has been greatly enhanced with the ongoing support of management and staff in the participating schools.
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Cancer Scientist Brings Expertise from Italy to NUI Galway
Monday, 26 May 2008
An extensive research project by a team of European scientists could help develop methods of treating cancers with less toxicity than drugs currently in clinical use. The research, just published as the cover story in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology, was led by Professor Corrado Santocanale in Italy at Nerviano Medical Sciences-Oncology. Professor Santocanale is now based in Ireland with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES) at NUI Galway as Chair of Molecular Medicine. The research project was aimed at identifying protein kinase inhibitors for development into new anticancer drugs. The finding showed that a small-molecule inhibitor of Cdc7 kinase prevents DNA synthesis with a novel molecular mechanism and has anti-tumour activity. According to Professor Santocanale, "The search for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of a wide range of cancers is a key field of investigation. In this work we demonstrate for the first time the pharmacological inhibition of the Cdc7 kinase (a protein that acts as a switch to initiate DNA replication) kills tumours cells including those that have become resistant to some of the most common anticancer drugs. He continued, "Importantly we found that the treatment with a small molecule Cdc7 inhibitor lead to tumour growth inhibition in animal models. Clinical studies investigating this novel generation of drugs for the treatment of human cancers will be soon initiated and the expectation is that they will offer a novel therapeutic option to cancer patients." Professor Santocanale is currently establishing core research related to new drug targets for cancer therapy. Santocanale also aims to implement a translational research programme linking come of the basic research of the NCBES and the clinical research based in University College Hospital, Galway, with the goal of identifying potential targets for drug discovery. For Santocanale, "The most interesting part of the research process is to start with ideas originated from basic biological discoveries and see it develop into a drug that has the potential to improve the outcome of cancer patients". Professor Santocanale brings huge expertise to NUI Galway from his collaboration with Nerviano Medical Sciences, the largest pharmaceutical R&D facility in Italy, and one of the largest Oncology-focused, integrated discovery and development companies in Europe. -ends-
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An Líon is Mó Daltaí Riamh Páirteach i gComórtas Ealaíne na Scoileanna
Monday, 26 May 2008
Ghlac an líon is mó daltaí riamh – os cionn 400 dalta – as 13 mheánscoil ar fud na Gaillimhe páirt i gComórtas Ealaíne OÉ Gaillimh do Dhaltaí Céad Bhliana. Is cuid de Chlár Rochtana Conair na hOllscoile é an comórtas ealaíne atá deartha le spéis a spreagadh san oideachas tríú leibhéal i measc daltaí as Scoileanna roghnaithe i gContae, Cathair agus ceantair Ghaeltachta na Gaillimhe. Tá an tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas ag tacú leis an gclár trí spriocmhaoiniú do thionscnaimh speisialta. Fiafraíodh de dhaltaí iad féin a chur in iúl trí mheán na hEalaíne, an Cheoil, na Drámaíochta agus na Scríbhneoireachta agus léargas a thabhairt ar an gcúis ar mhaith leo freastal ar OÉ Gaillimh, céard a chiallódh sé agus cén tionchar a bheadh aige ar a dtodhchaí. Dúirt Ashla Ward, ó Oifig Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh go bhfuil "an comórtas seo deartha ar mhaithe le daltaí a spreagadh tosú ag smaoineamh ar a dtodhchaí, a stádas reatha foghlama a nascadh le sprioc fhadtréimhseach agus machnamh a dhéanamh ar a bheith ag staidéar ag an tríú leibhéal. D'éirigh thar cionn leis an gcomórtas seo le sé bliana anuas. Tá an-obair déanta ag múinteoirí agus ag daltaí chun píosaí ealaíne den scoth a chruthú don chomórtas". Ag an dara leibhéal, tosaíonn Clár Rochtana Conair OÉ Gaillimh le Comórtas Scoile do Dhaltaí Céad Bhliana agus leantar leis an gcomórtas do dhaltaí sa dara, sa tríú, sa chúigiú bliain agus i mbliain na hArdteistiméireachta, le sraith gníomhaíochtaí cosúil le turas mórthimpeall ar an gcampas, meantóireacht agus Ceardlanna Scileanna Staidéir. Is é an príomhchuspóir a bhaineann le Conair idirghníomhaíocht rialta leis an Ollscoil agus leis na daltaí a spreagadh. Cuireadh go mór le héifeachtacht an tionscnaimh seo bunaithe ar thacaíocht leanúnach lucht bainistíochta agus comhaltaí foirne sna scoileanna rannpháirteacha. - críoch -
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Virtual Technology Stimulates Children's Interest in the Natural World
Friday, 23 May 2008
Science and nature education in the classroom moves into virtual territory with the launch of Brigit's Virtual Garden by NUI Galway. The habitats and features of local visitor attraction, Brigit's Garden, have been digitally recreated in a 3D virtual space. The first public demonstration of the interactive Brigit's Virtual Garden takes place on Wednesday, 28 May, at 3pm in Brigit's Garden, Rosscahill, Co. Galway. Brigit's Virtual Garden is an educational tool, alive with virtual versions of the insects and plants of the 'real' garden. The user navigates the virtual space by controlling the movements of 'Rua' the fox who takes them on an interactive tour of the 3D garden. The virtual garden was designed as part of a project called the Digital Hedge School (DHS), which is a collaborative effort between Brigit's Garden and several partners from NUI Galway including the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), and the Education Department. The DHS project team have been working together for two years to create intergenerational programmes for primary, secondary, and third level students, by exploring the potential of novel technologies to enhance children's environmental education. This year's participants in the DHS project were 4th and 5th class students from St. Patrick's National School, and transition year students from the Presentation Secondary School. Students from both the Galway City schools completed an eight-week training programme in environmental peer education. The students involved in the Digital Hedge School Project spent time in Brigit's Garden taking digital photographs and drawings insects, water bugs, flowers and trees. The students were then shown how to upload their work into the virtual garden. Access to Brigit's Virtual Garden will be available to teachers involved in the project, for use in the classroom as a tool for supporting the educational experience of students visiting Brigit's Garden. "Incorporating technology into environmental education is the way forward in terms of relating to younger generations", says Professor Gerard Jennings, Director of the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway. "The creators of Brigit's Virtual Garden have been very successful in providing a technology that stimulates children's interest in the natural environment and encourages them to step outside the classroom and explore the world around them." The collaborators look forward to celebrating the success of the hard work of all of the students involved at the launch of Brigit's Virtual Garden, which is free and open to all. For more information on the project or the launch event please contact Dr. Sarah Knight, Outreach Officer for the Environmental Change Institute, on 091 495061. -ends-
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NUI Galway to Hold Symposium on the Future of Universities
Friday, 23 May 2008
NUI Galway is to hold an international conference on 5-6 June entitled 'Critical Thinking: The Galway Symposium on the Future of Universities'. The event aims to raise fundamental questions regarding the challenges and opportunities faced by universities and other providers of higher education in Ireland and beyond. At this two day event, a range of distinguished experts will deliver presentations on issues including higher education management and policy, globalisation, linking teaching and research, and fostering civic engagement. According to Dr. Kelly Coate, Lecturer in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and conference convener, NUI Galway, "This symposium will bring together key commentators on higher education in order to pose a fundamental question: what is the purpose of universities in the 21st Century? How is this purpose changing, and what are the drivers of change? Does the university as such have a distinctive role to play in society? We want to spark debates and raise some provocative questions, and we have chosen a diverse range of high-profile plenary speakers who will give contrasting perspectives." The Symposium will be opened by Michael Kelly, Chairman, Higher Education Authority Ireland and Dr. James Browne, President, NUI Galway. In addition, there will be keynotes from Professor Mary Evans, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, and author of the book Killing Thinking: The Death of the Universities; and Michael Shattock, author of the OECD Review of Higher Education in Ireland and the book Managing Successful Universities. Dr. Coate added, "Some of the speakers will be quite critical of recent trends in higher education, whereas others will be advocating that certain changes are necessary. Given that some of the speakers are at the forefront of implementing these changes, we think this will be a very good opportunity to hear what they have to say and put questions to them. Participants will also get the chance to discuss some of the key issues in higher education today through workshop sessions facilitated by experts in the field." 'Critical Thinking: The Galway Symposium on the Future of Universities' commences on Thursday, 5 June at 9am and continues on Friday 6 June, in the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. For further information or to book a place visit www.conference.ie. -ends-
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NUI Galway Film Graduate Receives Award from Spike Lee at Cannes Film Festival
Thursday, 22 May 2008
A young Irish filmmaker and graduate of NUI Galway's Huston School of Film & Digital Media is among the winners of the first Babelgum Online Film Festival. The winners were announced by Spike Lee at a ceremony during the Cannes Film Festival. The Babelgum Online Film Festival is the first of its kind, and provides a unique distribution opportunity for the newest filmmaking talent. Brian Deane (29), originally from Glanmire in Cork, was awarded the Babelgum Social/Environment Award for his first movie, the short film Without Words. Along with winners from six other categories, Brian received a cheque for €20,000. Over a thousand entries from 86 countries were uploaded for this, the first Babelgum Online Film Festival. Visitors to the Babelgum website decided the competition shortlist, which was then judged by the festival jury, led by renowned director Spike Lee. The other jurors consist of film experts from across the globe, including directors of established film festivals. Last autumn, Brian graduated with an MA in Production and Direction from the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway. Commenting on Brian's win, Rod Stoneman, Director of the School, said, "Without Words is a marvellous example of an imaginative film based on an issue from Public Advocacy. With its memorable symmetrical form it focuses on the tragedy of non-communication between two friends." Founded in 2003, the Huston School of Film & Digital Media offers a range of one-year postgraduate courses in Film Studies; Screenwriting; Production and Direction; Arts Policy and Practice; Public Advocacy and Activism; and Digital Media. In autumn of 2008, the first undergraduate course offered through the CAO system will come on stream, the BA with Film Studies. Brian Deane's Without Words can be viewed on the School's website www.filmschool.ie -ends-
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Highest Honour for Two NUI Galway Academics
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Two NUI Galway academics have been admitted as Members of the Royal Irish Academy. Election to the Royal Irish Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Professor Nicholas Canny, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said "It is a testament to Ireland's formidable position in the academic world that the Royal Irish Academy is able to honour such a variety of exceptional scholars in the Sciences and Humanities. Ireland can be proud of these brilliant women and men who are universally recognised as leaders in the world of learning." The two new Members are Professor Christopher Dainty and Professor William Spillane. Christopher Dainty is Professor of Applied Physics. In 2007 he was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant to research applied optical techniques, focused on improving diagnostic methods which would lead to early diagnosis of disease in the eye and prevention of blindness in old age. William Spillane is Professor of Chemistry. His research is focused on consumer perceptions of sweet taste in food, how this affects our sensory evaluation of taste, and how to optimise taste. The criterion for election to membership is a significant contribution to scholarly or scientific research as shown in the candidate's published academic work. Membership of the Academy, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to those scientists and scholars normally resident in Ireland. The Royal Irish Academy is an all-Ireland, independent, academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is the principal learned society in Ireland. For 223 years membership of the Royal Irish Academy has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of academic achievement. There are now 404 Members of the Academy, in disciplines from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Those elected are entitled to use the designation MRIA after their name. Among the membership of the Academy are many of Ireland s leading scholars, the best known of whom include: Professor Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate; Dr Garret FitzGerald, economist and former Taoiseach; Dr. Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway; and Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The Academy has also more than 50 distinguished honorary Members, who in the past have included J.W. Von Goethe, Maria Edgeworth, Albert Einstein and Max Born. Today the Honorary Members include Nobel Laureates, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg and Sir Andrew Huxley. Further information can be found on www.ria.ie -ENDS-
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New Selection Criteria for Undergraduate Entry to Medicine from 2009
Monday, 19 May 2008
The Academic Councils of the four Universities with undergraduate medical schools, NUI Galway, TCD, UCC and UCD together with the RCSI have given their approval for new selection criteria for undergraduate entry to Medicine which adds a new test dimension to the traditional Leaving Certificate entry route. The Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keefe TD welcomed the introduction of the new arrangements. The admission test for entry in 2009 will take place on Saturday 14 February in test centres in Cork, Dublin, Galway, the North-West and the South-East at a cost of approximately €95 per candidate. An information brochure outlining the details of the new selection criteria is being sent to all secondary schools during May 2008. Further details are available from any of the University or RCSI admissions offices. The new proposals represent the implementation of key recommendations of the Fottrell report which was approved by Government in 2006, for the reform of medical education. Under the new arrangements, students will sit a separate admissions test and their results will be combined with their Leaving Certificate Examination to create a new admission route to undergraduate medicine for 2009. As well as the mandatory subjects, a threshold of 480 points in the same sitting of the Leaving Certificate will be required to be eligible. Leaving Certificate points up to 550 will count as normal and above this level, each band of 5 points will be given 1 point extra only. For example, a student with 555 points will be credited with 551 points, a student with 560 points will be credited with 552 points. The maximum Leaving Certificate point score will translate to 560. The new admissions test is called HPAT- Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test – Ireland). The test will have a maximum score of 300. The students' marks will be combined to a total maximum achievable mark of 860. Commenting, on behalf of the Irish Medical Schools, on the new admission route Professor Bill Powderly, stressed the importance of the design of the new test. "A crucial element of the test is that it measures the student's ability rather than prepared learning and this avoids a situation whereby scores could be improved through repeated testing and grind courses." The HPAT – Ireland test which was chosen through an international tender process will be independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). HPAT- Ireland examines mental ability, reasoning, personal skills and professional attributes. Following the Fottrell Report (2006) Medical Education in Ireland: A New Direction, Report of the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training, the cap on undergraduate medical places for EU students was raised from 305 to 480, spread across the four university medical schools and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. When both the undergraduate and graduate entry routes come fully on stream the annual intake to medicine for EU students will be 720. The Universities and RCSI fully support the principles of the reform outlined in the Fottrell Report and the combination of additional places and the new selection criteria for entry is good news for those competing for entry to undergraduate medicine. -ends-
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Explore Part-time Degree Study Options at NUI Galway
Friday, 16 May 2008
Part-time degree programmes at NUI Galway will be showcased at a special information evening on Thursday, 22 May at 7pm, in the J.E. Cairnes Business School, Upper Newcastle Road, Galway. Lecturers involved in delivering the Bachelor of Science in Science and Technology, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Commerce programmes will be on hand to offer prospective students detailed information about the courses. All three degree programmes are offered on a part-time basis and in the case of the Bachelor of Commerce and in BSc Science and Technology, via blended learning which allows for a more flexible approach to course delivery. NUI Galway has revised its Bachelor of Arts programme to offer an interesting mix of specialist subjects including English, History, French and Information Technology. Delivered by the University's College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, in association with the Adult and Continuing Education Office, the programme is available over four years with classes offered in the evenings. Students are awarded a Diploma in Arts after two years with a Bachelor of Arts conferred on completion of the full four-year cycle. The Bachelor of Commerce programme is also a joint venture between the Adult and Continuing Education Office and the Faculty of Commerce. It can be pursued either to a Diploma in Management over two years, or to a full Bachelor of Commerce degree after four years study. "The BSc Science and Technology is designed for students who cannot afford to leave the workplace to pursue full time education", explains programme co-ordinator Niamh Nolan of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office. "The diploma consists of 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years. Following successful completion of the diploma, students can continue to degree level which requires the completion of a further 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years". According to Nuala McGuinn at the Adult and Continuing Education Office, NUI Galway, "The information evening will outline each programme's content, the structure of each course and teaching timetable. There will also be time set aside for a question and answer session in what is an hour-long lecture event. Lecturers will also be available to meet with students following the event to answer any other questions relevant to the programmes". For further details on the Information Evening contact the Adult and Continuing Education Office at NUI Galway on 091 492062 or 091493746 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation -ends-
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Funding of €3.5 Million Brings 'Critical Mass' to NUI Galway Cancer Research
Thursday, 15 May 2008
A Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator grant of €3.5 million has been awarded to NUI Galway's Professor Noel Lowndes for his research into the biology of cancer. Professor Lowndes is Head of the Department of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and founding Director of the Genome Stability Cluster, which is part of the University's National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES). The Genome Stability Cluster (GSC) is an international assembly of independent cancer biology laboratories, unique within Ireland, all working on basic cellular mechanisms involved in the development of cancer. Currently, it employs more than 40 researchers who are focused on increasing our understanding of cell cycle control and cellular responses to DNA damage. With this most recent award, the GSC has now been funded to the tune of €15 million since 2002. According to Professor Lowndes, this level of funding has followed the rapid establishment of ten independent laboratories within the Genome Stability Cluster at NUI Galway, giving Ireland an international presence in this field, "The Genome Stability Cluster is an NUI Galway initiative that firmly puts Ireland on the map in an area of science of fundamental importance to cancer. We have achieved the essential critical mass to make a real impact in this field and the future promises important strides in our understanding of this major killer." As a disease, cancer is characterised by abnormally elevated levels of genome instability. The latest grant will finance a team of ten researchers on a five-year research programme focusing on the fundamental biological response of genes and proteins to DNA damage. Professor Lowndes continued, "A detailed understanding of the many biochemical pathways that regulate genome stability will significantly enhance our knowledge of cancer and will lead to both better diagnosis of cancer and better prognosis of their outcomes. Importantly, it will also lead to the identification of novel targets for therapeutic interventions and the next generation of cancer therapies that target specific cancers at the molecular level. All cancers have defects in genome stability pathways and knowledge of the status of these pathways in patients will also impact on cancer prevention and pre-emptive treatments." The work will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Flaus, NCBES, NUI Galway, and world renowned scientists from the USA and Japan, including: Professor Don Hunt, Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, USA; Professor, Shunichi Takeda, Department of Radiation Genetics, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan; and Professor Eva Nogales, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Berkeley, USA. The establishment of the GSC would not have been possible without funding from Science Foundation Ireland, which has so far awarded major programme grants to six members of the cluster. Significant funding has also been obtained from the Health Research Board, the Higher Education authority and the European Union, with smaller amounts from Cancer Research Ireland, the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the National Institute of Health (USA). The GSC complements two other multidisciplinary research clusters at the NCBES, which are focused on Apoptosis (cell death) and Breast Cancer. All are working to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer, and to develop new and better cancer therapies. -ends-
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