Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Many people experience obsessive thoughts that they struggle to remove from their mind. Others have compulsive behaviours that they feel like repeating over and over again such as checking locks and washing. The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is seeking over a 1,000 people from across Ireland who experience any of these symptoms to participate in an online survey. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can significantly impact a person’s life, with some individuals spending as much as six hours per day experiencing these symptoms. Although a diagnosis of OCD is relatively uncommon, only occurring in 2-3% of the population, approximately a quarter of all people in community studies report experiencing lower-level obsessions or compulsions at some point in their lives. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can take many forms: Thoughts about being contaminated or dirty and engaging in excessive washing. Repetitive checking of locks and switches or certain rituals to prevent bad events. Unpleasant and unwanted thoughts about engaging in immoral or aggressive acts. An excessive need for symmetry and order, associated with a ‘not just right’ feeling. Certain emotions have been linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. For example, a person may wash excessively to remove feelings of disgust. Furthermore, strong feelings of guilt and responsibility can be associated with excessive checking of switches and locks. This current research will seek to examine the relationship between such emotions and obsessional and compulsive symptoms. The online study will be conducted by Patrick McHugh, a psychologist in clinical training at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway along with Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctorate Programme at the University.  Speaking about the study, Mr McHugh from NUI Galway, said: “Obsessions can feel overwhelming and difficult to control. We aim to investigate whether strong emotions like guilt and disgust contribute to such symptoms.” Dr Jonathan Egan who is a both a Chartered Health and Chartered Clinical Psychologist at NUI Galway, said: “When people do not reach out to others in order to normalise their thoughts, they may then start to experience distress. Obsessions are often associated with thoughts which feel intrusive and out of your own control and if left untended to, can become a worrying pre-occupation and affect a person’s day-to-day life and may result in the need for a Chartered Clinical Psychologist’s intervention.” To participate in the study email P.MCHUGH13@nuigalway.ie or  visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NUIGOCDStudy Participants can enter a draw for a €100 One4All voucher on completion of the survey and request access to a summary of the results. -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Cresco, a leading innovation company based in the UK, specialising in securing international grants and funding for technology based clients, has announced the opening of its first Irish office at NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre. NUI Galway is renowned for being a hotbed of innovation, particularly in the Medtech and Biotech industries with its ecosystem growing from strength to strength. The University’s Business Innovation Centre has supported numerous companies, both spin-ins and spin-outs from initial commercial road mapping to scaling up the business opportunity. They support the success of these companies by providing facilities on campus and the ability to carry out research, which is supported by funding bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union and Horizon 2020. To date NUI Galway has been extremely successful in achieving Horizon 2020 grants in a number of funding applications. In 2017, a total of 22 Horizon 2020 proposals were awarded funding, securing almost €9 million in research funds. The Business Innovation Centre is also very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grant with four client companies already being successful in 2017. To continue these funding success’ the arrival of Cresco to the Business Innovation Centre,  the experts in securing international and European grant funding to support academic research is a significant partnership for the University. With its headquarters in the UK, the Cresco team have been working with many Irish companies and have enjoyed unprecedented success winning funding applications through the Horizon 2020 programme. Particularly in phase two stage of applications where Cresco has won over €5.1 million for Irish clients in the last 12 months. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting partnership with Cresco as NUI Galway continues to transform healthcare and the Medtech ecosystem. Our vision is to create innovative medical technologies which are affordable and transformative for patients with both acute and chronic conditions. This will bring us closer to the patient need, while also stimulating innovation and job creation through high-potential start-ups.” Jo Derbyshire, CEO of Cresco, said: “We are very excited to formally establish our Irish operations. We have been working with Irish clients for some time, and the opportunity of an office at the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre is the ideal opportunity for us to build on the success we have enjoyed so far, Cresco Ireland is a key pillar of our ‘Brexit’ strategy.” This activity is supported on campus by the office of the Vice-President for Research, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, BioInnovate Medical Technology innovation programme and the first Medtech Accelerator in Ireland, BioExel, all operating from NUI Galway. The partnership with Cresco will lead to further grant potential with commercial impacts for Galway and the wider region, with many discussions already underway with potential University spin out’s and early stage start-up’s. The aim of the Business Innovation Centre is to create an environment which promotes entrepreneurialism and innovation, enhances spin out formation and new business growth. The centre gives companies a prime opportunity to benefit from the first class facilities available at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Centre for Global Women’s Studies and the MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights programme at NUI Galway is supporting the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which runs until 10 December. The Centre’s sixteen day programme follows the theme, ‘Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education’ focusing on education including Irish schools and third-level institutions. On Wednesday 6 December to mark the anniversary of the ‘Montreal Massacre’, where 14 female students were murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, NUI Galway will host a series of events and talks that are free and open to the public, students and staff from 2pm to 5.30pm. Guided Walks entitled ‘Understanding Gender-Based Violence in Education’ will take place on campus from 2pm to 4pm starting and ending at NUI Galway’s Quadrangle. This will be followed by a Ceremonial Lighting of the Quadrangle in orange as part of the global ‘Orange the World’ campaign and talks by organisers of the event. There will also be keynote addresses in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the Quadrangle by Professor Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science and Sociology and Professor Anne Scott, Vice-President of Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2017 campaign aims to build awareness and advocate for an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education. Gender-based violence is any form of physical, sexual or psychological violence directed towards an individual on the basis of stereotypes, norms or roles associated with sexual or gendered identity. Dr Stacey Scriver from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, said: “Violence in education is not only a problem for developing countries. Evidence shows that men and women in Ireland are also impacted by violence in and around educational institutes. We all have a role to play in ending gender-based violence in education. Participating in the 16 Days of Activism campaign and developing understanding and awareness of how this issue affects young men and women globally and locally is one small, but significant, way to contribute.” Dr Nata Duvvury, Director of the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway, highlighted: “The ramifications of violence in education are enormous, affecting the capabilities of young people and limiting their future potential, and thus effectively undermining their hopes and expectations of getting an education.” Programme of Events for the Day 2pm-4pm - Guided Walks on campus starting and ending at the Quadrangle, including talks by Lindsey Bacigal, MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights, Dr Amie Lajoie, School of Political Science and Sociology and Dr Nata Duvvury, Centre for Global Women's Studies at NUI Galway, and Dr Kieran Kennedy, School of Medicine, NUI Galway and the Galway Sexual Assault Treatment Unit. 4pm-4.30pm – Talks from Professor Niamh Reilly and Professor Anne Scott, NUI Galway in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall, followed by the Ceremonial Lighting of the Quadrangle in orange as part of the 'Orange the World' campaign. 4.30pm-5.30pm - Bake Sale to support Galway Rape Crisis Centre and Plan International in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall. To support NUI Galway’s campaign online follow us on Twitter @GlobalWS_NUIG and @16DaysCampaign and #16days or on Facebook at globalwomensstudiesnuig. -Ends-

Monday, 4 December 2017

A new study led by Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, has found that the magnitude of past abrupt climate change events may have underestimated. If so, the impact of current climate change may be larger than expected. The study was published today (4 December 2017) in the international journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. Lead author of the study, Dr Audrey Morley from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “Abrupt climate events that occurred during the last interglacial (warm) period, ca. 125,000 years ago, have been underestimated by up to 4°Celsius. This is important because our current understanding of climate change and our predictions of future climate both rely on past examples from Earth’s climate history. Robust and quantitative methods to deduce the magnitude of abrupt climate events from the geologic record are therefore essential.” In this new study, Dr Morley collaborated with researchers from the University of California-Santa Cruz, Rutgers University New Jersey and the University of Bergen, and studied an established geochemical tool for investigating sea surface temperatures in the past. In the modern ocean, observations have shown that marine plankton (foraminifera) will use more magnesium relative to calcium, which are elements freely available in sea water, when they form their shell in warmer waters. This allows scientists to apply this modern relationship between magnesium, calcium, and temperature to the past by measuring magnesium-to-calcium ratios (Mg/Ca) in fossilised marine plankton that are continually deposited in seafloor sediments. However, there are limitations with the Mg/Ca temperature relationship, because the scientists understanding of other processes that may influence the amount of magnesium in the shell is incomplete. For example, higher carbon dioxide levels in seawater results in lower pH (potential of hydrogen) and lower carbonate ion concentrations. Carbonate ion is the carbon species used by foraminifera to form their calcium carbonate tests. As carbonate ion becomes less available in surrounding seawater the individual organism needs to exert more energy for calcification. Through this process more magnesium becomes incidentally incorporated than what would be predicted by temperature only. Since colder surface waters absorb more carbon dioxide than warmer waters, this leads to generally low carbonate ion concentrations in cold surface waters. Therefore, when magnesium-to-calcium values are measured on fossilised marine plankton that lived in surface waters with low carbonate ion concentrations, this relationship leads to an underestimation of reconstructed temperatures. This study presents an innovative mathematical correction scheme that enables the carbonate ion concentration effect to be isolated from the temperature signal recorded in marine plankton (from magnesium-to-calcium ratios) via subtraction. Specifically, Dr Morley and her colleagues were able to quantify the control of low carbonate ion concentrations values on magnesium-to-calcium ratios for a specific marine plankton species (Neogloboquadrina Incompta) living in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean, and thereby isolate the true magnesium-to-calcium temperature relationship. Dr Morley added: “Applying the proposed correction scheme to past climate records reveals that we may have underestimated abrupt climate events by up to 4°Celsius during past interglacial (warm) periods. This is particularly important for climate records from the subpolar/polar North Atlantic region that may have experienced abrupt changes in carbonate ion concentrations linked with abrupt climate events. Correcting for low carbonate ion concentration values improves the fidelity of temperature reconstructions and allows a reassessment of the magnitude of climate events occurring during warm climates.”  -Ends-

Monday, 4 December 2017

NUI Galway and University of Oxford study proves centuries-old giant boulder deposits in the Northwest of Ireland were caused by high Atlantic storm waves  Professor Paul Ryan from NUI Galway and Professor John Dewey from University of Oxford have carried out research that proves the spectacular boulder deposits of Annagh Head in County Mayo were caused not by an unknown tsunami but by Atlantic storm waves of up to 30 metres breaking against the shore for hundreds of years. The findings were published this week in the leading journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Enormous boulders, some over 50 tonnes, piled on the foreshore or at the top of a small cliff  in a deposit called a boulderite are evidence of the power of extreme waves. Tsunamis are known to have massive power and most such deposits, including those along the Wild Atlantic Way, are believed to be ‘tsunamites’. However, in 2004, the late Professor D Michael Williams of NUI Galway argued that the boulders on the Atlantic cliffs of the Arran Islands were due to storm waves, which caused considerable international debate at the time. In an attempt to resolve this controversy Professors Dewey and Ryan compared two deposits: a tsunamite from the Miocene of New Zealand and a present-day boulderite at Annagh Head in County Mayo. Field data shows that in the North Island of New Zealand a 10 million year boulderite which contains boulders in excess of 140 tonnes, the Matheson Formation Bay, was produced by a 12-13 metre-high tsunami within a period of about one hour. The origin of the boulders at Annagh Head, which exceed 50 tonnes, is disputed. The researchers combined oceanographic, historical, and field data to argue that this is a cliff-top storm deposit. A computer simulation of a cliff-top storm deposit was developed, which shows that boulder shape in addition to density and dimensions should be taken into account when applying hydrodynamic equations to such deposits. The model also predicted that Northeast Atlantic storms, which historically have produced waves of over 60 metres, are capable of producing boulderites that cannot be distinguished from tsunamites when size alone is considered. Comparing and contrasting these two deposits helps indentify the origins of boulderites. Climate change means our shorelines are becoming more vulnerable and the ability to read these piles of boulders will help us understand how much more vulnerable. Co-author of the study, Professor Paul Ryan from Earth and Ocean Sciences in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “This study shows the enormous power of storm waves battering the foreshore over centuries, ripping boulders of over 50 tonnes from the cliff face, piling them 100 metres or more inland.” Professor John Dewey from University of Oxford and co-author of the study, said: “The triple junction between land, sea and air is perhaps the least well understood in the Earth Sciences. We should pay greater attention to our shores.” -Ends- 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A scientist from NUI Galway recently took part in a research sampling expedition at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Northern Ukraine, to sample its soils and investigate what effect the 30 years of exposure to radiation has had on the soil’s microorganisms that inhabit this particular area. DNA from these soils will be sequenced using cutting-edge techniques to reveal in minute detail its population of bacteria and will provide results in early 2018. The outcomes will help determine why radiation is persisting in the soil, and offer new clues as to how to speed up recovery of the ecosystem. The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion in 1986, the most well-known nuclear accident in the world, deposited excess radioactive material throughout Europe. To this day, parts of Scandinavia and the British Islands have higher than expected levels of radiation in their soil due to contamination from Chernobyl. Near the exploded reactor, in the border between the Ukraine and Belarus, soil radiation continues to reach high levels, and a large area has been set aside as a conservation area to isolate communities from the radioactive contamination called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Despite a substantial decrease in background radiation levels since the accident, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone region remains highly contaminated with radioactive material, particularly its soils and aquatic sediments. Intriguingly, the persistence of specific radioactive compounds in this Zone’s soil greatly exceeds initial projections. The most contaminated area within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is the Red Forest, whose name is derived from the red colour of the dying trees following the disaster. In September 2016 a forest fire burned through the Red Forest, leaving patches of burned and unburned vegetation. The combination of forest fire and radiation made the Red Forest an open-air laboratory for the study of the effect of multiple environmental stresses on ecosystems. Microbiologist, Dr Alexandre B de Menezes from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway met with colleagues from the University of Salford, the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Ukraine’s Chernobyl Centre at the Red Forest where they sampled the radioactive soils. Speaking about the research, Dr de Menezes from NUI Galway, said: “The Red Forest soil is a reservoir of radioactive particles, but we know next to nothing about how soil microorganisms cope with 30 plus years of radiation exposure. This research will not only teach us about the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on these microorganisms, but also reveal basic knowledge about how microorganisms, which are often ignored when we think of ecological disasters, help to sustain an entire ecosystem under great environmental stress.” The soil DNA was extracted at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and will now be used for DNA sequencing. Dr de Menezes will use bacterial DNA sequences from the Red Forest soil to provide insights into whether some bacteria are associated with higher soil radiation, determine if the soil bacterial communities in high radiation areas were more sensitive to the forest fire disturbance and identify new biological mechanisms that could aid in controlling soil radiation. The recent nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, and rising geopolitical tension have re-surfaced concerns regarding the impact of radioactive contamination on communities and ecosystems. This increased threat highlights the need to understand the long-term impacts of catastrophic nuclear accidents and their ecosystems to enable effective containment and remediation measures to be developed. This study is partly funded by the British Ecological Society. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Flag - A new taxi app designed for students will launch in Dublin City this December. The unique app is the only service in the world that allows a passenger to travel and pay for taxis with no phone, cash or bank card while ensuring the driver still gets paid. Flag originally started out as a college project called Dash while inventor Richie Commins was a final year Business Information Systems student at NUI Galway. Since graduating, Richie has combined business graduates and experienced engineers with taxi industry experience from the US and Romania, to upgrade the software into the version the App is today. The latest member recruited to the Flag team is the original founder of GoCar.ie, Michael Newham. The app is available in app stores as ‘Flag – The Taxi App’. This is similar to other taxi apps that allow you to get a taxi, however a feature unique to Flag is what is called “The wallet-less feature” where users are required to upload a photo ID and create a personal digit pin code to secure an account. If a situation arises such as a user's phone is dead, the user simply flags a taxi off the street, gives the driver their name and enters the four digit pin on the driver app. The user’s photo appears on the driver’s phone to confirm identity before the fare begins. Payment is processed from the user’s pre-registered card as normal upon arrival at the user’s destination. The creative and innovative app boasts pin point location, tracking and accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ as well as extra safety features such as the wallet-less payment (the only taxi app in the world to provide this service). Richie has gained support from Enterprise Ireland, Nissan, AIB and many other organisations. Richie said: “I was lucky to eventually get a Chief Technology Officer who manages our large team of engineers to get the app ready for drivers and passengers in both iOS and android. When I started this in college we didn’t even have an app for the students.” An Garda Síochana also supported the project from the early days through their Campus Watch Programme at NUI Galway. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention said: “The taxis that have integrated this app have really shown they care about passengers, and hopefully all taxis will soon be branded with the safety it brings.” The project has gathered an incredible momentum since the team were students. The team has decided to focus efforts on launching the upgraded app, Flag, in Dublin only. To show their gratitude for driver support and to encourage more drivers to see how good the app is, Flag will not be charging drivers any commission this Christmas. Flag plans to roll out across the country later in 2018. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway is hosting a number of experts in dementia from across the world this week to speak to early career researchers about issues in dementia care, and helping to grow capacity and leadership in the dementia sector in Ireland and internationally. The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia carries out cutting edge research in economic and social areas to help improve the lives of people with dementia and their families. It is hoped that by generating evidence through research that the quality of life for people with dementia and their families can be improved, enabling them to remain living well at home for as long as possible. It is estimated that there are about 55,000 people living with dementia today in Ireland. This number is likely to double in the next 15 years to over 100,000 people. The total economic and social cost of dementia in Ireland is estimated to be just under €2 billion per year. Most people with dementia live in the community where access to services and supports often depend on where the person is living. Research shows that better services and supports in the community can enable people with dementia to remain living at home for longer. Issues of how to best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population were addressed by the Citizen’s Assembly earlier this year. Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, addressed the Assembly last June and spoke about the sustainability of the care system in the longer term for an ageing population. Research conducted at the Centre will address some of the questions raised by the Citizen’s Assembly in relation to the care of older people in Ireland, particularly in relation to the funding of long-term care. Engagement with people with dementia, their families and carers is central to the work at the Centre. Professor O’Shea describes the importance of this engagement as, “the views of the person with dementia and their families on the personal experience of living with the disease are key to the success of the work at the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia and can change how we approach and think about the disease.” There are a number of research projects currently underway that engage with the person with dementia and their families. The Centre at NUI Galway is establishing a Dementia Advisory Forum which will bring together people with dementia and their families to inform the research. Dr Patricia Carney, a researcher at the Centre describes the Dementia Advisory Forum as, “a platform to give people with dementia a voice who want to help set the agenda for dementia research in Ireland and bring about change.” If you would like to take part in any aspect of the research or find out more about the ongoing work at the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia, visit: www.cesrd.ie -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

MaREI Researchers help win €9.39 million funding for GENCOMM project  An energy sustainability project in which NUI Galway is a key partner has been given the green light after winning an Interreg North-West Europe funding bid for the €9.39 million GENCOMM Project. GENCOMM aims to answer the energy sustainability challenges facing remote communities across North-West Europe through production and storage of renewable hydrogen. The project will build three pilot facilities fuelled by solar, wind and biomass energy sources to measure their ability to produce and store hydrogen. GENCOMM will assess hydrogen’s viability as a sustainable energy solution for heat, power and fuel for communities across North-West Europe. The NUI Galway research, led by MaREI (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy) funded Investigator Dr Rory Monaghan, are charged with ensuring the long-term impact of GENCOMM by developing H2GO, an online tool to support investment decisions in hydrogen storage, and establishing CH2F, a community hydrogen energy forum, to drive the adoption of the technology. The project is led by Belfast Metropolitan College, and is one of the largest EU projects ever secured by a lead partner from Northern Ireland. On being awarded the Interreg North-West Europe Programme funding, Dr Monaghan, said: “With its exposure to the power of the Atlantic Ocean, NUI Galway and MaREI are at the centre of North-West Europe’s richest concentration of renewable energy potential. Storing that energy, converting it to a useful form, and transporting it to where it is needed are some of the biggest barriers to a sustainable future. By building pilot plants and applying the knowledge we gain through NUI Galway’s activities, GENCOMM aims to make a major impact on the viability of renewable energy.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “The scope of the project and the size of the award are testament to the strength and innovative nature of the project and the high calibre of partner organisations, as we seek to work together to deliver hydrogen-based solutions that will help address energy sustainability challenges to communities across North-West Europe.” NUI Galway is working in conjunction with nine universities and companies across Europe to deliver the GENCOMM Project, including: Belfast Metropolitan College, University Institut National des Sciences Appliquées Rouen Normandie, IZES gGmbH, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ENSICAEN – CNRS, Pure Energy Centre Scotland, and three further companies in Northern Ireland; Viridian, TK Renewables, and Williams Industrial Services. The NUI Galway GENCOMM team from the College of Engineering and Informatics comprises of Dr Rory Monaghan (Leader), Dr Padraig Molloy and Dr Ed Curry (Co-Leads), Mr Arya Gunawan (PhD Researcher), and Ms Rjaa Ashraf and Mr Wells Tang (Masters researchers). For more information on Project GENCOMM, visit: http://www.nweurope.eu/gencomm/ -Ends-  

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Novel approach to help breast cancer patients’ post-mastectomy wins award An innovative approach to help breast cancer patients post-mastectomy has been awarded the Inaugural Allergan Innovation Award at NUI Galway. Dr Niamh O’Halloran, a researcher with the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, received the award for her project which seeks to use the body’s own cells to avoid complications with implants. The Allergan Award for Innovation, valued at €6,000 provides funding to accomplished scholars who wish to advance their innovative research studies in the field of Life Sciences. The winner was chosen from a competitive field of applicants among the postgraduate and PhD student community at NUI Galway. Allergan, headquartered in Dublin, is a global pharmaceutical company and a leader in a new industry model, Growth Pharma. The company with commercial operations in 100 countries worldwide, is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercialising branded pharmaceuticals, devices and biologic products for patients around the world. Allergan operates four facilities in Ireland, employing 1,800 people, two manufacturing operations, one in Westport, Co. Mayo and one in Clonshaugh, Co. Dublin, a medical technology company ZELTIQ Aesthetics in Galway, and an international supply chain office in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. Speaking about the award Paul Coffey, Vice President and Plant Manager of Allergan, Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NUI Galway for this year’s Allergan Innovation Award and congratulations to Dr Niamh O’Halloran. To mark 40 successful years of business in Ireland, we wanted to build on our longstanding relationships with communities through providing educational support to universities and colleges around the country, by reaffirming our commitment to the future of Life Sciences.  We wanted to recognise and support scholars who have excelled through innovation research in this field. We hope that this Innovation Award will inspire more students who wish to establish themselves within the field. Collaborating with a prestigious university, such as NUI Galway is an exciting initiative for all involved, and we look forward to the positive results and experiences it will bring for students and for our industry.” Breast cancer is a global pandemic, with the National Cancer Registry predicting that by 2020 there will be approximately 5,000 new cases in Ireland per annum. Despite advances in oncology and the dawn of the molecular era in cancer diagnosis and treatment, an estimated forty per cent of breast cancer patients require mastectomy. Immediate breast reconstruction has become an integral part of breast cancer care, affording psychosocial and aesthetic benefits. However, implants are not without their limitations and the response of the immune system to foreign materials in the human body can lead to complications. Dr Niamh O’Halloran from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “We want to develop a method of coating implants with a gel biomaterial which incorporates elements of the patient’s own fat tissue. The hydrogel is based on hyaluronic acid, most commonly seen these days in skin creams and beauty products. The patient’s own cells will grow on the gel, thus reducing scar tissue formation which leads to implant related complications.” “The aim is to develop biocompatible prosthetic implants preventing complications such as capsular contracture, implant extrusion and implant rupture and will negate the requirement of regular implant exchange. We hope this will reduce patient morbidity and operation costs significantly over time. A biocompatible implant coated with cellular tissue will also result in improved cosmetic outcomes for the patient, giving the patient a better quality of life”, added Dr O’Halloran. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, commented: “Allergan are supporting a truly innovative concept here, which although at early stages of development, holds out real hope for patients. The calibre of applications for this award was very high, and I congratulate Dr O’Halloran on her success.” Dr Niamh O’ Halloran graduated from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway in 2014 and took up a research post with the University’s School of Medicine in 2015. She has also been awarded the Future Projects Prize at the 2017 Society of Academic and Research Surgery Annual Meeting for her work on the use of tissue engineering strategies in breast reconstruction post-mastectomy. -Ends-  

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Professor John Laffey, Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway, has published a paper in The British Medical Journal outlining strategies to improve recognition, awareness and diagnosis of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is an acute inflammatory lung injury, often caused by infection, which can result in respiratory failure. Around 40% of patients with ARDS do not survive, and others experience serious long-term health consequences. No drug treatments exist for ARDS, however good supportive management and careful support of organ function reduces harm and improves outcomes for patients. ARDS is incorrectly considered to be rare, in particular by clinicians less familiar with intensive care units. Delayed or failed recognition of ARDS leads to delayed treatment or no treatment at all and under-recognition is linked to under treatment. The LUNG SAFE study (29,000 patients in 459 intensive care units in 50 countries), which was jointly led by Professor Laffey, allowed for retrospective diagnosis of ARDS by researchers using clinical data, independent of the treating clinicians. The study reported that 40% of cases of ARDS were not recognised at any time during a patient’s stay in the intensive care unit. Delayed diagnosis was the norm, with less than 30% of patients diagnosed on the first day that criteria were present. Although this evidence is new and compelling, the issue is not new, Professor Laffey, explains: “Failure to recognise ARDS leads to failure to use proven treatments, and this translates into higher chances of death, and a worse quality of life for patients who survive. Issues such as cognitive impairment, muscle wasting, and functional limitation in patients are some common consequences.” Diagnosis of ARDS relies on recognising patterns in patients with evolving illness and receiving complex care. The interpretation of chest radiography in ARDS can be poor, and substantial inter-observer variation has been documented. Further difficulties arise with the lack of consensus around a definition of ARDS. “Increased awareness of the condition among clinicians, patients and their relatives raises the likelihood of diagnosis. Over 20% of ventilated patients in intensive care units have ARDS, but it should be considered in any sick patient with respiratory distress, whether in the community, in an emergency department, or hospital ward. If we can detect these patients earlier, ideally on first presentation to the hospital, we can intervene earlier, and potentially improve outcome,” added Professor Laffey. The co-authors of the study from the University of Toronto were Professor Brian Kavanagh and Professor Cheryl Misak, an ARDS survivor. Evidence based strategies for improving outcomes for patients with ARDS are outlined in the paper, which is available at http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.j5055. -Ends-

Friday, 24 November 2017

Margaretta D’Arcy has donated her papers and those of her late husband and playwright John Arden to NUI Galway. The archive throws new light on two pivotal but under-researched figures of 20th and 21st century Irish and British theatre. It also features strongly the activism of both Arden and D’Arcy. John Arden was one of the major dramatists of the twentieth century, with early plays such as Sergeant Musgrave's Dance (1960) helping to inaugurate a new era of politically engaged theatre in Britain at theatres like London’s Royal Court. During a long career of writing and activism, he published several plays and essays, and his novel Silence Among the Weapons was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1983. Margaretta D’Arcy is a major writer and cultural activist who has long campaigned on issues related to global peace, civil liberties, and equality. She is a member of Aosdána. Arden and D’Arcy together also co-authored many plays, including the celebrated Non-Stop Connolly Show, and have been major figures in the development of community-based and politically-focussed arts. Their papers are valuable not only from the perspective of theatre and literary Studies, but in terms of Irish and British social, political and cultural history.  This archive preserves not only the work of two eminent artists, but the history of a long-ranging and complex political and artistic collaboration. The political themes of their work in relationship to capitalism, industry, war and the legacies of colonialism remain timely and indeed urgent for scholars and theatre practitioners working today. The international dimension of their work (whether through collaborations with Welsh and Scottish theatre companies among others, their trip to India or their globally minded activism) further establishes NUI Galway and the West of Ireland as an international centre for the advancement of the study of theatre and drama. The collection consists of 314 boxes of archival material, as well as 35 linear metres of books, and covers all aspects of their lives, including family background, education, their writings and their activism. Highlights include detailed drafts of The Non-Stop Connolly Show and the memoirs of Margaretta, including her protests at Armagh Jail, Greenham Common and Shannon Airport. There is a wealth of material on community activism from the local to the international, including Radio Pirate Woman and Galway Women’s Entertainment, Aosdána, Northern Ireland, Global Women’s Strike, and many more campaigns. Unique among the University’s collections as a record of writing, theatre and activism, it will add greatly to its holdings of cultural and political collections, including the John McGahern Collection, the Lyric Theatre/O’Malley Collection, the Siobhán McKenna Collection and the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Collection. The University will mark the bequest of the Arden and D’Arcy archive on Friday 24 November in the O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance. Speakers at the launch of the archive will include Margaretta D’Arcy as well as Galway musician and cultural activist, Mary Coughlan. Finn Arden, son of Margaretta and John, will be among the attendees. A symposium titled Political Theatre in Britain and Ireland Since 1950: the Legacies of John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy will be followed by a public interview with Margaretta D’Arcy. Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies Patrick Lonergan warmly welcomed the donation of these papers to the university. “John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy’s archive will be of immense value for both teaching and research in this univeristy. Their achievements expose several blindspots in our understanding of the relationship between theatre and politics – especially relating to such issues as imperialism, community activism, socialism, and gender equality. Their commitment to co-authorship and to the use of theatre to achieve social justice offers new models for understanding how theatre can be made and understood. And fundamentally this archive will allow us to do the work of redressing the major neglect of both Arden and D’Arcy. Exciting times lie ahead for our students and researchers.” Dr Jim Browne reflecting on the legacy of Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden said that they had made an enormous contribution over many decades to Irish society, to international cultural discourse and to political theatre.  Theirs are “voices of conscience that have questioned the orthodoxies of our time.  It is fitting that their archive will be based in NUI Galway.  Universities have always been places where differing opinions can be discussed and challenged.  This is important - perhaps never more so than today, when in an age of “fake news” universities need to remind themselves of the need for all valid and informed views to be heard.  Dissenting voices are a way of stress-testing the truth and challenging received opinion.  The lives and works of Margaretta Darcy and John Arden stand as inspiration to us in this regard.” Margaretta D’Arcy comments: “A veritable feast awaits those who will be attending the handover to NUI Galway of some of the archive materials of John Arden and myself on 24th November.  It is hoped that the entire collection, including audio and video material will be eventually housed there. The indefatigable Mary Coughlan,   Blues singer and participant in Arden/D’Arcy’s theatrical endeavours, will speak at the launch. There will also be a symposium on Irish and British Theatre since the 1950’s after which I will be interviewed by Maggie Ronayne from the Discipline of Archaeology at NUI Galway. The interview will cover the importance of looking at the Arden/D’Arcy archives with an archaeological, social and political slant.” John Cox, University Librarian, notes that “It is an honour to receive the papers of Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden and to add them to our growing collection of archives in theatre and drama. This is a very generous donation by Margaretta and I have no doubt that there will be great interest in the papers as a source of new insights into her cultural activism. They will be a great resource for academic staff and students at the University and we will also welcome visitors to use them.” ENDS

Thursday, 23 November 2017

NUI Galway Ryan Institute scientists lever over €800,000 in research infrastructure investment by Marine Institute The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, this week announced the awarding of grant funding through the Marine Institute to research projects in specialist marine equipment to six scientists from NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute. The funding awards of over €800,000 will strengthen the Ryan Institute’s research capabilities in a range of research areas including aquaculture, climate change, biogeochemistry and using autonomous systems for upper ocean profiling. The funding grants have been made in the area of specialist marine equipment and small infrastructure from the Marine Institute. Minister Michael Creed, said: “I’m delighted to announce these funding grants which herald the next step forward for many new projects in our marine sector. The funding for marine research equipment helps to target a gap in funding that exists between supports available to Higher Education Institutes via the HEA and support from Ireland’s development agencies such as SFI and Enterprise Ireland. These grants will allow the marine research and innovation community to purchase specialist equipment needed to support their current and future research activities.” Welcoming the funding awards, Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Research infrastructure funding is critical for Ireland’s research community to maintain and advance its international competitiveness. Such infrastructure will foster research collaboration and partnerships with both public and private sector partners, nationally and internationally. The Ryan Institute’s research community really welcome this infrastructure funding support from the Marine Institute, which provides the basis to further develop our research excellence and socioeconomic impact in marine and aquatic sciences and innovation.” Marine Institute Research Infrastructure Investment Award Recipients   Professor Peter Croot - Analysis of Trace Metals in Seawater for Marine Research Professor Charles Spillane - Smart Aquaculture Feeding Trials Research Infrastructure Dr Audrey Morley - Particle Size Analyser for Transdisciplinary Research in Marine Sciences Professor Olivier Thomas - Marine Chiroptics Professor Paul Murphy - Continuous Flow Chemistry Equipment for Sugar Research Professor Peter Croot - Analysis of climate relevant gases in seawater Dr Brian Ward - Next generation of Autonomous Upper Ocean Profiling Platform -Ends-

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The winners of the nationwide ReelLIFE SCIENCE video competition were announced during science week 2017 which concluded nationally last week. Winners of the 2017 awards were Sooey Primary School, Co. Sligo, Davitt College in Castlebar, Co. Mayo and Corofin Foróige group from Corofin, Co. Galway. 25 fifth and sixth class students from Sooey National School dramatised the battle invading bacteria face when they meet the immune system in their video ‘How the Immune System Works’. A group of 11 Davitt College Transition Year students explored the use of forensics in the entertaining whodunnit ‘The Death of Paul Donovan’ while five members of the Corofin Foróige group used animation to produce ‘The Immune System Simplified’. Based in NUI Galway and supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, the Community Knowledge Initiative and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenges Irish schools and community to communicate science via engaging and educational short videos. This challenge was met by more than 1,500 students in 83 schools and groups around Ireland, producing over 180 short science videos on a range of topics in both English and Irish. Selecting the best videos to share the €5000 prize fund were Trinity College Dublin Professor and Royal Society Fellow Luke O’Neill, BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year 2017, Shane Curran from Terenure College Dublin and NASA Spacecraft systems engineer and aspiring astronaut Amber Gell, who said “all of these students should feel like winners, because they did an exceptional job with their entries. I had a lot of fun watching the videos and learning more about their favourite science concepts. You’re only as good as your competition and the ReelLIFE SCIENCE competition clearly brings out the best in us. It stirs a healthy public interest in science and inspires so many great minds to compete.” Other prize winners included: St Hugh’s National School from Dowra, Co. Leitrim Gaelscoil Riabhach from Loughrea, Co. Galway Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co. Clare Coláiste Lorcáin, Castledermot, Co. Kildare Olivia Ng from the BrainMatTrain programme Keira Corcoran from the Westside Youth Project, Galway City All videos can be viewed at www.reellifescience.com  and will be shown to the general public as part of the Galway Science and Technology Exhibition, held in NUI Galway on Sunday, 26 November. Since launching in 2013, over 8,500 students in 300 schools and community groups around Ireland have taken part in ReelLIFE SCIENCE. The videos produced have been viewed more than 100,000 times in over 100 countries worldwide. ReelLIFE SCIENCE is organised by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of 100 science communication enthusiasts, in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS outreach programme from the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences. Dr O’Connell said: “We were thrilled again this year with the reaction to the competition, particularly with so many new schools and community groups getting involved for the first time. We are always inspired by the knowledge and creativity shown by the participants in their videos and their passion for science and technology is clear to see. Congratulations to everyone who took part.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of a leading expert in environmental biotechnology, Professor Piet Lens, Established Professor of New Energy Technologies at the University’s College of Science. Professor Lens will spearhead a €5 million research project, through an investment under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, to develop novel bioreactor concepts that will recover energy from waste and wastewater. The project will add new biofuels generated from waste products to Ireland’s energy mix, and in turn support the Government’s strategy for an energy self-sufficient Irish bioeconomy. Biotechnology harnesses organisms from natural environments to provide foods and medicines and for tasks such as cleaning toxic waste or detecting harmful substances. New technologies have enabled modern biotechnology to become an important part of the ‘smart economy’ in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, the food industry and the environment. Speaking about Professor Lens’ appointment, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Lens as he joins our vibrant research community here in Galway. Professor Lens is recognised as a world-leader in the area of environmental engineering and his appointment is an invaluable addition to the ongoing energy research at NUI Galway. His research will develop new technologies to generate energy which will positively impact sustainable food production, environmental protection and climate change.’ There is much media debate about methane emissions from Ireland’s agricultural industry. Cutting-edge technologies can take waste products and use them to produce fuel and other valuable products, while reducing pathogen levels and greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable, biomethane is an important energy source in countries like France, Germany and the UK, while in Ireland preparations are at an advanced stage for State-support incentives for energy production in this way. Within the NUI Galway Ryan Institute, Professor Lens’ programme of work will focus on four components of biotechnology; Research into new bacteria from marine and deep sea sediments for potential energy generation; Demonstrating how bioenergy production processes work using novel analytical techniques and innovative mathematical models; Developing new bioreactor configurations and process trains to make the energy production processes work; Application at pilot and full-scale industrial sites to translate the research findings into marketable bioenergy production technologies, including patenting and licencing. This work is very much aligned with the environmental dimension of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on the sustainable management of natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Piet Lens, said: “Receipt of such a significant grant provides an important opportunity to create an enormous impact in the field of bioenergy production. I’m extremely delighted to be awarded this Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship at NUI Galway, which has a long standing reputation as a world-class research hub in the field of anaerobic digestion and environmental microbiology. I’m committed to contributing to further developments in this area and to supporting a strong national and international network of academic and industrial partners linked to this university.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Professor Piet Lens to NUI Galway through the SFI Research Professorship Programme. Professor Lens is a world-leading researcher dedicated to developing novel bioprocesses for the recovery of resources such as energy, metals and nutrients from waste. His work will contribute to the greening of our economy and Ireland’s energy sector, and will support the implementation of a circular economy in Ireland through the invention and application of new technologies. His appointment epitomises Science Foundation Ireland’s commitment to fund world-class research with impact in the energy and environment sectors.” Professor Lens will collaborate nationally with research teams in NUI Galway, the MaREI and BEACON Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres, and the Energy and Dairy Processing Technology Centres. Professor Lens will lead a Seminar entitled ‘Trends in Environmental Biotechnology’ on Thursday 23 November at NUI Galway. To hear Professor Lens speak about his project, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2eVd--_7y4 -Ends-

Thursday, 23 November 2017

EY announced its sponsorship of TechInnovate, an entrepreneurship development fellowship at NUI Galway. During the 10-month programme, teams of three entrepreneurs will identify real customer issues and develop innovative solutions to address these issues. As well as helping employees drive innovation and change inside established technology companies on the western seaboard, TechInnovate aims to produce more entrepreneurs who will enable innovations in local start-ups. The full-time stipend supported programme combines teams of high-calibre Fellows from either an engineering, business or design graduate background. Team members are chosen to contribute their skills, knowledge and expertise as part of a multidisciplinary Fellowship team. Dr John Breslin, Director of TechInnovate, and lecturer at NUI Galway, said: “TechInnovate’s entrepreneurship development process starts with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, the engineer, businessperson and designer, who select a market for their initial idea or innovation, and then identify customer needs through extensive market research. The value created for the customer is defined, along with customer acquisition strategies and product/company economics. This is followed by a plan for product design, development and scaling. Our Fellows will be able to apply the skills they learn over and over again.” Commenting on the sponsorship, Paraic Waters, Tax Director, EY Galway, said: “EY is delighted to sponsor TechInnovate. Having established our Galway office in June 2016, we have seen the valuable work NUI Galway is doing to promote entrepreneurship up close. There are some incredibly exciting and successful entrepreneurs operating on the western seaboard. We are very proud to have two winners in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 from Connaught with Galway’s Evelyn O’Toole, founder of CLS winning the industry category and Mayo’s Harry Hughes from Portwest winning the international category and the overall prize.” “We have seen a surge in the number of start-ups and large multinationals locating in Galway in recent years. With a strong network of third level institutions, relatively low costs and the quality of life on offer for employees, the West of Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities to attract investment arising from events such as Brexit. Programmes like TechInnovate also help to foster a friendlier ecosystem for entrepreneurs”, Mr Waters added. As part of the sponsorship of TechInnovate and EY’s ongoing commitment to developing entrepreneurship, EY will deliver a number of knowledge-sharing workshops during the programme. This will include sessions on developing entrepreneurial expertise and crucial business skills from a number of EY experts. EY staff will also be trained in the TechInnovate process and bring the skills they learn back to the business to help drive innovation. Galway has long been recognised as a hub for business and innovation, with the county ranked as one of the top incubator locations for medical devices worldwide, and the home to some of the world’s leading ICT and Life Science companies. The talent developed in programmes like TechInnovate will add to this. TechInnovate is a joint initiative from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway. The programme is supported by EY, the Galway University Foundation, NUI Galway, and the Western Development Commission. -Ends-

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Neuroscientists at NUI Galway have made a breakthrough in regenerative medicine approaches to the neurodegenerative condition Parkinson’s disease. The research was published today (22 November) in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports. Parkinson’s is a condition that primarily affects a person’s ability to control movement leading to a progressive deterioration in ability. The symptoms of the condition are caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells that regulate movement. Brain repair for Parkinson’s involves replacing the dead cells by transplanting healthy brain cells back into the brain, but the widespread roll-out of this therapy has been hindered by the poor survival of the implanted cells. The research, carried out by a team at the Galway Neuroscience Centre and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has shown that the survival of the transplanted cells is dramatically improved if they are implanted within a supportive matrix made from the natural material collagen. Commenting on the research, lead author of the research paper, Dr Eilis Dowd at NUI Galway, said: “The collagen provides the cells with a nurturing, supportive environment in the brain and helps them to survive the aversive transplant process.” The work will be presented at the upcoming Network for European CNS Transplantation and Restoration (NECTAR) conference which is being hosted by Dr Dowd in Dublin from the 6–8 December 2017. The event will feature leading scientists from the US, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, who will present their latest research on brain repair for Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. This NUI Galway research was also presented recently at the International Neural Transplantation and Repair (INTR) conference in Port Douglas, Australia by Niamh Moriarty, the PhD student working on the project. Niamh was awarded a highly competitive Travel Award from the Campaign for Alzheimer’s Research in Europe which enabled her to present her work at this leading international event. The research was recently featured in the short documentary Feats of Modest Valour, produced through CÚRAM’s Science on Screen programme. The film won the coveted Scientist Award at the Imagine Science Film Festival in New York in October, and was screened on RTÉ One for Science Week 2017. The documentary is available to watch on the RTÉ Player until 11 December 2017. This research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and a Government of Ireland Irish Research Council PhD Scholarship to Niamh Moriarty. -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Céimeanna oinigh le bronnadh ar bhunaitheoir carthanachta agus ar fhísithe na Féile Ealaíon Bronnfar céim ar bhreis is 1,450 mac léinn as na cúig choláiste in OÉ Gaillimh ag searmanais bhronnta an gheimhridh a bheidh ar siúl san Ollscoil ó Dé Máirt, an 21 go dtí Déardaoin, an 24 Samhain. Le linn na searmanas, bronnfar céimeanna oinigh ar fhísithe Fhéile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe, John Crumlish agus Paul Fahy, agus ar bhunaitheoir carthanachta áitiúil, Jack McCann. Mar aitheantas ar a bhfuil bainte amach aige sa phobal agus ar a obair charthanachta, bronnfar céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe ar Jack McCann Dé Máirt, an 21 Samhain. Is máinlia plaisteach ar scor é Jack a d’oibrigh in Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh, 1989-2010. In 2005 chomhbhunaigh sé an charthanacht, Irish Friends of Albania (Cairde na hAlbáine) agus téann sé ann faoi dhó sa bhliain le foireann oibrithe deonacha leighis chun oibriú in ospidéil. Ó 2002, tá na céadta obráidí déanta aige ar ghasúir agus ar dhaoine fásta chun míchumaí láimhe agus gortuithe dó a fheabhsú nó a cheartú dóibh.  Ina theannta sin, cuireann Jack ceardlanna oiliúna micreamháinliachta saor in aisce ar fáil san Albáin gach bliain, ag cur oiliúint ar mháinlianna na tíre sin torthaí níos fearr a bhaint amach dá n-othair.  Eagraíonn sé imeachtaí bailiúcháin airgid i gcaitheamh na bliana, ag críochnú obair na bliana le Bál bliantúil de Chairde na hAlbáine.  Is iarchathaoirleach ar Chumann Máinlianna Plaisteacha na hÉireann é.   Tá saothar foilsithe aige ar a n-áirítear ceithre dhráma, gearrscéalta agus dhá bhailiúchán filíochta.  Mar aitheantas ar an obair a rinne siad beirt ar Fhéile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe a athrú ó bhonn, bronnfar céim oinigh Dhochtúireachta sna Dána ar John Crumlish, Príomhfheidhmeannach agus ar Paul Fahy, Stiúrthóir Ealaíne agus Léiritheoir Dé Céadaoin, an 22 Samhain 2017.    Is ócáid í Féile Idirnáisiúnta Ealaíon na Gaillimhe a bhfuil tábhacht idirnáisiúnta ag baint léi chomh maith le tionchar idirnáisiúnta aici agus fáil idirnáisiúnta uirthi; cuireann an Fhéile go mór le cultúr, geilleagar agus saol intleachtúil na Gaillimhe agus na hÉireann; agus tá sí ar thús cadhnaíochta i bhforbairt cineálacha nua ealaíne in Éirinn agus ar fud an domhain. Tríd an gcomhpháirtíocht thábhachtach le OÉ Gaillimh ó 2012 i leith, cuireadh deiseanna nua ar fáil d’ealaíontóirí agus do léiritheoirí gairmeacha rathúla agus inbhuanaithe a chruthú in iarthar na hÉireann. Ag labhairt dó roimh na searmanais, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Le 1,500 dár gcéimithe ag leanúint lena gcuid cuspóirí a bhaint amach, tá sé thar a bheith oiriúnach go dtabharfaimid aitheantas don obair ollmhór atá déanta ag Jack McCann, John Crumlish agus Paul Fahy, a chuir ar chumas an phobail, go háitiúil agus freisin ar ardán idirnáisiúnta, fíorthionchar a bheith acu ar fud an domhain.” -críoch-

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Charity founder and Arts Festival visionaries to be conferred with honorary degrees Over 1,600 students will graduate from across the five colleges at NUI Galway at the University's winter conferring ceremonies, which take place from today, Tuesday, 21 November to Thursday, 23 November. During the conferrings, honorary degrees will be conferred on Galway International Arts Festival visionaries, John Crumlish and Paul Fahy, and on local charity founder, Jack McCann. In recognition of his public contribution and charity work, a Doctor of Laws degree will be conferred on Jack McCann on Tuesday, 21 November. Jack is a retired Plastic Surgeon at Galway University Hospital, 1989-2010. In 2005 he co-founded the charity, Irish Friends of Albania and he travels there twice a year with teams of medical volunteers to work in hospitals there. Since 2002 he has operated on hundreds of children and adults to improve and correct hand deformities and burn injuries.  Jack also leads free annual microsurgical training workshops in Albania, training their surgeons to provide better outcomes for their patients.  He fundraises year round, culminating in the annual Irish Friends of Albania Ball. He is a former Chair of the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons.   He is a published author with four plays, short stories and two collections of poetry.  In recognition of their work in transforming the Galway International Arts Festival John Crumlish as CEO and Paul Fahy as Artistic Director and Producer will both be conferred with honorary Doctor of Arts degrees on Wednesday, 22 November.     Galway International Arts Festival has become an event that has international significance, impact and reach; it has made an exceptional contribution to the culture, economy and intellectual life of Galway and Ireland; and it is leading the development of new forms of art in Ireland and globally. Through the development of a major partnership with NUI Galway since 2012, new opportunities have been created for artists and producers to build successful and sustainable careers in the west of Ireland.  - Ends- Biographies Jack McCannJack McCann was born in Rush, Co. Dublin and grew up in Malahide.  He qualified in Medicine in UCD in 1975 and Surgery RCSI in 1980 before training in Plastic Surgery in Dublin, Cork, UK, Australia and settling in Galway in 1989 as the first Consultant Plastic Surgeon in UCHG and in the West of Ireland. Jack has always been involved in voluntary work and community development. Whilst a student in UCD, he was founder and Chairman of the Malahide Youth Club and was on the local Red Cross team which won a number of All-Ireland competitions. In Galway, he was Chairperson of the Community Health Response Group seeking upgrading of University Hospital during the ‘nineties. He was Chairperson of the Fundraising Committee of Galway RNLI for over ten years and was voluntary medical officer to the crew for this period. He also chaired the Bushy Park Residents’ Association for 3 years. Jack is currently Chairperson of the Voluntary Management Committee of Clann Family Resource Centre in Oughterard. In 2003, Jack received Galway Rehab Person of the Year Award in recognition of his voluntary work. In 2002 Jack was involved in bringing Albanian children to Galway for treatment of burns and hand deformities. Irish Friends of Albania was subsequently founded by Jack and his wife Moya, and registered as a charity in 2005. Since then Jack has chaired the charity and was responsible for bringing surgical teams of doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel to Albania bi-annually until 2012, operating and teaching. He has helped in Kosovo since 2010 at out-patient clinics, surgery and by speaking at teaching conferences. The charity has supplied essential surgical and anaesthetic equipment to the University Hospital in Tirana and the charity’s surgical teams saw over 1,200 patients and operated on over 400. They brought 17 Albanian and Kosovar doctors and nurses to Ireland for training, facilitated by local hospitals. Since 2012 the emphasis has changed from operating to teaching and so the charity established and equipped a Microsurgery Training Laboratory in the hospital in Tirana which Jack visits twice yearly to give training courses; to date he has provided basic training in Microsurgery to 56 surgeons.   The charity fundraised locally in Galway with the help of wonderful volunteers. They were further supported by local hospitals, Irish Aid and Electric Ireland over the years. The charity also organised Irish teams of volunteer tradesmen to partially renovate 5 State-run orphanages and homes in Albania. Jack retired from hospital in 2010 but remains active in his community in Oughterard.   He has many interests including writing. He has published 3 collections of poetry and has written some plays.  Jack is married to Moya for 41 years, is a proud father of 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren who bring him great joy and happiness. John CrumlishJohn Crumlish is the CEO of Galway International Arts Festival. In his time as CEO he has overseen its development into one of Ireland’s best known cultural enterprises. In addition to presenting an annual festival with an attendance of over 200,000 and an economic impact on the local economy of €29.5 million the organisation has developed into a significant producer of new Irish theatre that tours nationally and internationally. A native of Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, he attended Carndonagh Community School, graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in Psychology, has an MA in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Ulster and an MBS in Business Practice from the Irish Management Institute/University College Cork. Following a period teaching in Northern Ireland, he became closely associated with both Galway Arts Festival and Macnas in the 1990s, playing a number of different roles in their development and growth during that time.     He served as a member of the Arts Council from 2006 until 2011, a member of the Fáilte Ireland West Forum (2010-2013); a member of the Project Board of The Gathering (2012-2013) and served as chair of the successful Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 bid committee. He is married to Eithne Verling and they have three children, Tom, Luke and Sorcha. He was named a Galway Person of the Year in 2013 and was made a Fellow of the Institute by the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in 2016. Paul FahyPaul Fahy is the Artistic Director of Galway International Arts Festival [GIAF] a position he has held since 2005. Prior to this he worked as a freelance arts consultant, publicist and producer from 2000-2005 working with Galway International Arts Festival; Macnas; Baboró; Rough Magic Theatre Company; The Abbey Theatre; The Arts Council of Ireland and with the Irish actor, Cillian Murphy. He programmed and produced the Cúirt International Festival of Literature, in 1998 and 1999 and was one of the key visual arts curators for Galway Arts Centre from 1990-1999.  He was the Consultant Programme Director with Kilkenny Arts Festival from 1999–2003 for whom he also directed and designed a major street theatre spectacle The Art of the Game.  Since being appointed Artistic Director of GIAF the Festival has become a producing-led festival forging close creative partnerships with Irish artists and producers most notably Enda Walsh, Hughie O’Donoghue, Olwen Fouéré, John Gerrard and Landmark Productions.  GIAF tours extensively, most recently to the Barbican, London; St. Ann’s Warehouse and Irish Arts Center, New York; Ireland’s National Theatre, the Abbey; and Dublin Theatre Festival all during 2017. The Festival has also toured regularly to the National Theatre of Great Britain, London; and to the Next Wave Festival, BAM, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington; Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Adelaide Festival, Perth Festival and Sydney Theatre Company.  Under Fahy’s tenure GIAF has worked with leading Irish and international visual artists and has designed and built major temporary art galleries in Galway.  Fahy has designed and created four theatre installations with Enda Walsh Room 303, A Girl’s Bedroom and Kitchen [which toured to New York as Rooms in May 2017] and Bathroom.   He studied art at the RTC Galway [now GMIT].

Monday, 20 November 2017

NUI Galway students with the help of NUI Galway’s Social Science Research Centre (SSRC) are leading a research project to investigate levels of satisfaction with the Public Bus Service in Galway. The student-led project is an effort to gauge satisfaction levels and bus usage practices in the city. The research project will begin this week and will last until the end of the month. The research will initially be rolled out as an online questionnaire, and students will then undertake a series of data collection activities seeking questionnaire responses and feedback from bus customers in and around the Eyre Square area. While Galway continues to grapple with its ongoing transport-related problems, such research seeks a better understanding of the standard of service currently available to bus users and will provide important baseline information in looking for ways to combat congestion in and around Galway city. Dr Mike Hynes, Lecturer at NUI Galway and member of the SSRC stressed the importance of such information and for further research on city-wide transport-related solutions to our current problems: “The public appreciate that any solution to the ongoing congestion in the city must put improved public transport to the fore, and this is borne out by previous research” he stated. “By assessing levels of satisfaction with the Public Bus Service as it currently operates, we can then attempt to build our knowledge about potential improvements that would lead to an increase in bus passenger travel and result in a reduction of cars on the roads of Galway.” Olga Bolbocean, one of the lead students on the project, appealed for help from bus users over the coming weeks: “The questionnaire we designed is short and will take two to three minutes to complete, but the information that bus passengers provide will be invaluable.” Olga added: “It’s important for people to understand why we’re doing this research; students also live and study in the city so we want practical and workable solutions to the congestion that is clogging the streets and roads and we believe an efficient and reliable Public Bus Service is an important step in that direction. We may well find that people are already satisfied with the levels of service they get, but until we ask we won’t know.” The questionnaire can be accessed online at www.tinyurl.com/ptgalway from today until the 20th of December and participants are invited to put their name forward for a draw for a Leap Card worth €100 for Public Transport in the city.        -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Policy-makers around the globe will have a series of concrete recommendations for reform of law, policy and practice on legal capacity resulting from VOICES project NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy project, The Voices of Individuals: Collectively Exploring Self-determination (VOICES) will hold its final workshop on the 22 of November in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway.  The VOICES project takes an innovative approach to law reform by developing recommendations for how the law should change based on the stories of those with lived experience of disability. People with disabilities, activists, researchers and practitioners have worked together to co-author chapters for an edited collection to be published in 2018. This final workshop will draw together the four core themes of the project; criminal responsibility, contractual capacity, consent to treatment and consent to sex, and will feature a mix of personal narratives, art and theoretical perspectives.  The workshop will be a conference style event and is open to the public where all 28 co-authors from 10 different countries will share their experiences of the project and discuss common themes across the chapters in the book. Speakers include people with disabilities, academics, and activists with experience of using stories to drive social change. A keynote speech will be given by Dr Michael Bach, Managing Director of the Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society in Canada. For over 30 years Dr Bach has undertaken research and development in Canada and internationally on ways to advance the full inclusion and human rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Principal Investigator on the VOICES Project and Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming this diverse mix of participants back to NUI Galway for the final workshop of this project. Participants from Ireland, the UK, Canada, Kenya, Australia, India, Bulgaria, Sweden, China and the Czech Republic will all gather in Galway to share their experiences and put the finishing touches to what promises to be a fantastic book. As a result of their work, policy-makers around the globe will have a series of concrete recommendations for reform of law, policy and practice on legal capacity.” The VOICES project is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, awarded to Dr Eilionóir Flynn, the youngest person to ever receive such an award. This is a free event and further information is available at www.ercvoices.com or by contacting Clíona de Bhailís on ercvoices@nuigalway.ie or 091 494272. Participant accessibility requests and enquiries are welcomed. -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Building on its existing reputation as an environmentally-friendly and societally responsive university, NUI Galway has launched a wide-reaching Sustainability Strategy. The strategy illustrates an ambitious vision for the campus to become a role model for the transition to a more sustainable future. The document was officially launched by Senator Alice Mary Higgins at an event held on campus on 15 November 2017 and attended by staff, students and the wider Galway community. The strategy sets out a vision to establish NUI Galway as a leading green, smart and healthy campus. Its successful implementation will ensure that NUI Galway’s reputation around the world is enhanced, that graduates are valued for their world-readiness, that research tackles societal challenges, and that the campus will be a role model for sustainability. The university already has a groundswell of research, events, activities, societies and building initiatives which are related to sustainability. The university offers almost 200 courses covering environmental and/or sustainability issues, and has won the top award for most biodiverse campus at Ireland’s Intervarsity BioBlitz competition. Earlier this year it announced plans to divest from fossil fuel shares. Building on this momentum, the strategy identifies 20 measures for success, under six themes, which serve as indicators for much more extensive work under each theme. An example from each, to be implemented by 2020, include: Research and learning: A 15% increase in sustainability research Energy and greenhouse gas emissions: A 33% reduction in total energy consumption Nature and ecosystems: Compile and implement a biodiversity management plan Health and wellbeing: Strengthen mental health and resilience Built Environment: Reduce water consumption by 20% Governance and leadership: Flagship project with Saolta University Healthcare Group, HSE Community Healthcare Organisation 2, and Galway City Council Attending the launch, Senator Alice-Mary Higgins from Seanad Éireann, said: “It is wonderful to see NUI Galway recognising the crucial role that they and other third level institutions can and should play in shaping a sustainable future on our shared planet. This strategy demonstrates more of the positive joined up thinking seen in the University’s recent commitment to divestment from fossil fuels following a successful campaign by staff and students. While the proposals in this plan are well-grounded in Galway and the campus community, they are also a commitment to partnership with the wider world. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have set out an important blueprint for Ireland and many countries and remind us that sustainability is not only about the environment, it is also about social sustainability. It is therefore great to see holistic proposals in this strategy that range from crucial climate change research to new mental health initiatives with space for new and innovative ideas to emerge.” Speaking at the launch the University’s Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “We live in times of extreme pressure on the resources of our planet, as well as the increased pressures of society which permeate through to each individual. Today, from this campus which is more than 170 years old, we are putting in place a strategy that addresses today’s reality and puts down our ideas for a more sustainable future. This is, and has been, a collaborative, community effort, and it is only by coming together and working together that we can achieve our desired future.” NUI Galway has already instigated demonstrator projects to inspire sustainable behaviour change and to pilot elements of the Sustainability Strategy. For example, the Battle of the Buildings Project aimed to make students and staff more aware of the energy use of campus buildings and to encourage energy-efficient behaviour through collegial competition. Community effort The strategy is the culmination of a long process of consultation with thousands of members of the NUI Galway staff and students, as well as partners such as the Saolta University Healthcare Group. “Through the consultation process, we spoke with people about sustainability in its broadest sense. We looked across the spectrum, from the built environment to wellbeing, from what we teach in the lecture halls to student engagement in our local communities, from research on energy and ecosystems to governance and leadership. This strategy is the culmination of all of that, and our Learn, Live, Lead approach to Sustainability hopefully gives us the foundation to build an even longer-term strategy and become an exemplar in this space”, explains Dr Frances Fahy, Senior Lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway, and member of the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP), which led the strategy creation. The NUI Galway Strategic Plan, Vision 2020, outlines a vision of ‘creating a sustainable campus where all resources are used efficiently and where facilities are managed and services consolidated as efficiently as possible’. To develop and realise this vision, the Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP) was established in 2015 under the direction of the Registrar and Deputy President. CUSP is supported by the University, Students’ Union, Saolta University Healthcare Group, HSE Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 2 and Galway City Council, and is funded through the Students’ Projects Fund. The CUSP team is composed of more than 20 students and staff, from across the campus community and Galway University Hospitals. To mark the launch of the strategy and to recognise the community aspect of the initiative, a special event called ‘Galway City’s Sustainability Stories’ was held on campus. With Galway City having been awarded the title European Green Leaf 2017 this year, the event featured short presentations from organisations involved in sustainability throughout Galway City, in different ways and at different scales. Read the report here http://www.nuigalway.ie/sustainability/ -Ends-

Monday, 13 November 2017

Researchers from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway have published their latest research findings based on the experiences of children, young people and their families involved in Meitheal*, the Tusla-led early intervention national practice model. The research is part of a comprehensive programme of early intervention and preventative work undertaken by Tusla as part of the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) Programme. This research provides an overview of the interim findings of the report entitled, ‘Meitheal Process and Outcomes Study’, for which data collection is ongoing. This is a longitudinal study with three waves of data collection that focuses on gathering data at a pre, post and follow-up stage. This report focuses specifically on data gathered on the implementation and impact of Meitheal. The NUI Galway study shows that families benefit most when there is a trusting relationship with the practitioners supporting them, when they are asked their views about what is causing the difficulties and what would help resolve these when agencies work together. It is important to understand the strengths and needs of the wider family and not to concentrate solely on the child or young person in question experiencing difficulties. The research also shows that the mothers’ well-being has a big impact on the well-being of children and young people.  This research was carried out by Dr Carmel Devaney, lecturer and principal investigator on a number of research and evaluation projects under the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Programme, and postdoctoral researchers Dr Leonor Rodriguez and Dr Anne Cassidy at NUI Galway. Speaking about the study, Dr Carmel Devaney said: “The findings highlight the importance of the supportive empathetic relationship between practitioners and families. Family members also reported their appreciation of being included in the process of identifying their needs and deciding on a helpful response to these. Children and young people highlighted that they felt listened to, with some noting definite improvements in their lives as a result of taking part in Meitheal. “While it is too early to determine the impact of Meitheal on the system of help provision in the Irish context, its introduction has heightened the visibility of the work that Tusla carries out with families who do not meet the threshold for an intervention by Child Protection and Welfare services.” This report is part of the wider programme of research and evaluation that the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway are involved with, in relation to Tusla’s Programme of Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. Further research on the impact of Meitheal and its outcomes will be published in mid-2018. To read the report in full, visit: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Commission hosts consultative event as part of national consultation in preparation of new programme of law reform The Law Reform Commission is hosting a consultative meeting in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 22 November at 5pm. The Commission would like to hear from local stakeholders, legal professionals and members of the public about areas of law that may be in need of reform.  The Law Reform Commission is currently engaged in preparing a Fifth Programme of Law Reform, which will form the basis of its work over the next several years. The meeting will provide a forum for suggestions and discussion of current legal issues, and forms a very important part of the Commission’s preparations for projects to be included in its new Programme of Law Reform. As part of this consultative process, the Commission has begun a series of consultative events across the country, including Dublin, Limerick, Dundalk and Cork, seeking ideas and discussion of legal issues from a broad range of stakeholders and interested parties. These events will provide a forum for suggestions and for discussion of current legal issues, and will play a very important role in the Commission’s preparation of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform. The Commission encourages those interested to attend the consultation most convenient to them. Under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975, the Commission is required to prepare from time to time a Programme of Law Reform, which forms the principal basis on which it carries out its statutory mandate to keep the law under review with a view to its reform and modernisation. The new Programme of Law Reform will, as provided by the 1975 Act, be prepared by the Commission in consultation with the Attorney General for submission by the Taoiseach to the Government for ultimate approval. Speaking in advance of the consultative event to be held in NUI Galway, Professor Donncha O’Connell who (with Tom O’Malley, also of the School of Law in NUI Galway) is a member of the Commission, said: “Engaging with members of the public and legal professionals around the country allows the Commission to know what law reform issues are of most pressing concern to people and this can be critically important information in setting priorities for the Commission. We hope that there is a strong and diverse attendance at our Galway meeting and look forward with great interest to hearing as wide a range of views as possible.” The meeting is expected to run from 5pm until approximately 7pm and will be followed by a reception hosted by the Commission. Those who would like to attend are invited to contact the Commission by emailing events@lawreform.ie -Ends-

Monday, 13 November 2017

Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day Researchers at the School of Physics in NUI Galway have found that radon gas levels in houses and buildings in certain parts of Ireland are in excess of levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Radon Control Strategy for Ireland has identified knowledge gaps, including the optimum specifications for passive soil depressurisation systems that take account of Irish building practices. The NUI Galway research project, OptiSDS is investigating several of these knowledge gaps. The World Health Organisation has categorised radon as a carcinogen, in the same group as asbestos and tobacco smoke. In Ireland, up to 250 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to exposure to radon. There is a synergistic effect between radon and tobacco smoke. This means that smokers are at much greater risk of developing radon related lung cancer than non-smokers. There is no scientific evidence linking radon with any other types of respiratory illnesses or other cancers. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It has no taste, colour or smell. It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it. It can only be measured with special detectors. Outside radon is diluted to very low levels. Radon can enter a home from the ground through small cracks in floors and through gaps around pipes or cables. Indoor radon levels can vary across the country from low levels to tens of times in excess of the reference level set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day. Dr Mark Foley Academic Director of the Masters in Medical Physics at NUI Galway, said: “This Environmental Protection Agency funded OptiSDS project is a good example of collaborations between engineers and scientists in NUI Galway and also with collaborators across Europe to address knowledge gaps in radon research. Through outreach events we are also promoting public awareness of radon risk, radon measurement, radon mitigation and radon preventative techniques.” Dr Jamie Goggins, Principal Investigator in the Centre for Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) at NUI Galway, said: “One of the main aims of the project is to determine the effectiveness of soil depressurisation systems at extracting radon from under buildings. We are doing this through controlled laboratory tests at NUI Galway, in the development of robust numerical simulations and using a specially designed pilot house in a high radon area in Spain, in collaboration with Professor Luis Quindos in the University of Cantabria. It is imperative that we design and construct safe, healthy, comfortable and energy efficient buildings.” The OptiSDS research project will feature on the RTÉ One show, ‘10 Things to Know About’ series opener today, Monday 13 November at 8.30pm, a week after European Radon Day. This research project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about the OptiSDS project, visit: https://www.nuigalway.ie/science/schoolofphysics/research/optisds / -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Grant will support groundbreaking research in global health and development NUI Galway announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Jim Duggan from the University’s College of Engineering and Informatics will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled HealthSIM. The HealthSIM project focuses on the challenge to strengthen health systems by using computer science and analytics methods to support the design of health supply chains to enhance supply chain performance, and improve decision making in order to reduce disease morbidity and mortality, and ensure that the right medication arrives for the right person at the right time. The idea underpinning this research proposal is to design, implement and test a cloud-based public health supply chain simulator. In effect, this will create a virtual laboratory for public health officials in low and middle income countries, and in turn support learning, information sharing, and decision making within the health supply chain. In welcoming the funding, Lead Investigator on the project, Dr Jim Duggan from NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on a project with such high impact potential. The project is highly interdisciplinary, and involves collaboration with our colleagues in the School of Medicine, and also our international partners from our recent EU-funded PANDEM* project. The project highlights the exciting potential of collaborating with public health professionals to apply computer science and mathematics to help address sustainable development challenges.” Grand Challenges Explorations supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr Jim Duggan’s project is one of 51 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 19 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To receive funding, Dr Jim Duggan and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global health and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next Grand Challenges Explorations round in February 2018.  This is the second Grand Challenge NUI Galway is undertaking. In 2013, a team worked with a group of female smallholder farmers in Tanzania to design and develop their own labor-saving agricultural tools using the latest 3D printing tools. The University’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi, commented: “Grand Challenges Explorations is identifying some of the most pressing problems of our times and rallying scientists and innovators around the world to come up with real solutions. We look forward to the work Jim Duggan and his team will do to help create a smoother pipeline in the supply of lifesaving medicines and care.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

NUI Galway postgraduate courses have been shortlisted for the national gradireland Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards 2017. The award winners will be announced on Friday, 24 November at a reception in Dublin. The postgraduate courses that have been shortlisted are: The MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis, School of Psychology, is shortlisted as the Postgraduate Course of the year in Arts & Humanities The Masters in Health Sciences (Children's Palliative and Complex Care), School of Nursing and Midwifery is shortlisted for the Postgraduate Course of the Year Award in Health Sciences sponsored by AbbVie The Masters in Health Sciences (Children's Palliative and Complex Care), School of Nursing and Midwifery and the MSc (International Accounting & Analytics), J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics are both shortlisted for Best New Course The MSc in International Management (IM), J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics is shortlisted for the Postgraduate Course of the Year in Business, Finance & Management NUI Galway’s Student Recruitment Office has also been shortlisted for the Best Postgraduate Prospectuses for 2017 sponsored by VS Direct The annual Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards recognises excellence amongst Irish postgraduate course providers. The winning courses are judged on the success of the course including employability of graduates, recognition of the course’s quality or ranking by external bodies, research record of academic staff, and providing a good experience for students. Judges also take feedback from students into consideration when selecting a winner. Valerie Leahy, Postgraduate Recruitment Officer at NUI Galway, said: “We’re delighted to again make the shortlist for these important national awards; it’s great that the calibre of our postgraduate courses is being acknowledged, as is their effectiveness in terms of employability, and interaction with industry and business. These courses are now accepting applications and those interested can apply online via the Postgraduate Applications Centre at www.pac.ie/nuigalway. We also offer generous full-time taught masters scholarships for first-class students, so that’s another reason to consider NUI Galway for postgraduate studies.” NUI Galway offers a wide range of fourth level courses, developing programmes based on its traditional academic strengths of Arts, Social Sciences, Celtic Studies, Commerce, Medicine, Nursing, Health Science, Law, Engineering, Informatics and Science. These areas have been augmented with innovative Research Centres in areas as diverse as Biomedical Engineering, International Human Rights, Digital Media & Film Studies, and Regenerative Medicine. Over 4,800 postgraduate students (including international students) currently attend NUI Galway. -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Research will help to understand the mechanisms of immune regulation and contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rejection of transplants Researchers from NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) have been working together to examine how sugar (carbohydrate) molecules attached to the surfaces of immune cells participate in the normal protective functions of those cells. The researchers have published two new studies in the leading open access journal Frontiers of Immunology, which demonstrate that chains of sugar molecules, referred to as glycans, attached to proteins and other components of the cell surface, play an essential role in the function of two very important cells of the immune system. In the first study, PhD student Joana Cabral with Professor Matthew Griffin at REMEDI and Professor Lokesh Joshi at AGRC in NUI Galway, discovered that a specialised type of immune cell, the regulatory T cell (or T-reg), has a distinctive pattern of glycans on its surface compared to other T cell types. T-regs are known to play a policing role in the immune system that prevents inappropriate activation that can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and juvenile diabetes or to rejection of transplants. By using enzymes to ‘trim away’ the sugar molecules from the surface of T-regs, the research team, in collaboration with Dr Jared Gerlach of AGRC, observed that the ability of T-regs to suppress strong immune activity was heavily dependent on their normal glycan pattern. Insights from the research help to better understand the mechanisms of immune regulation and can contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for a range of diseases that involve over- or under-activity of the immune system. In the second study, PhD student Kevin Lynch, working with Professor Thomas Ritter and Dr Aideen Ryan from REMEDI and Professor Lokesh Joshi investigated how a commonly used steroid medication alters the pattern of sugar molecules on immune cells known as dendritic cells (or DCs). The main function of DCs is to stimulate T-cells to act against foreign molecules (antigens) associated with infectious microbes or, alternatively, to prevent T-cells being activated against harmless antigens, a process known as immune tolerance. The research team found that after steroid treatment, DCs develop an increase in specific surface glycans that make them more likely to cause immune tolerance, a finding that may help to design new treatment approaches to prevent or treat autoimmune diseases and rejection of transplants. The group also found that when the same sugar molecules are removed from the surface of DCs, they become more powerful at stimulating active immune responses. This insight may be of particular relevance to cancer treatments which aim to increase T cell activation against antigens contained in tumours. Commenting on the publication of the studies, Professor Matthew Griffin at NUI Galway, said: “The fascinating results we observed by manipulating the surface glycan patterns of T-reg are a beautiful example of the complexity of molecular interactions between different cells of the immune system. The work could not have been successful without a close collaboration between researchers from two very different disciplines. These collaborations have been built, in particular, on NUI Galway’s investment in infrastructure for Biomedical research and on Science Foundation Ireland’s funding support for research clusters in regenerative medicine and glycoscience and, more recently, the CÚRAM centre for research in medical devices.” Professor Thomas Ritter at NUI Galway, commented: “These results could have important implications for both the field of immunotherapies and cancer treatment. The importance of sugar residues in controlling how immune responses occur is under-studied and warrants further investigations.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “In contrast to the current state of gene and protein biology, many of the details of sugar-based structure and function throughout biology remain mysterious. The results of these studies underscore the importance of understanding complex glycans and their specific cues within the larger mechanisms of cellular interaction. This work provides new avenues for potentially enhancing or regulating elements of immune function. These findings could only have been made possible through collaboration with Professors Ritter and Griffin and the persistence of our respective research teams, all made possible by Ireland’s continuing support of high quality scientific research.” Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Consultant Haematologist at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital, and an internationally recognised expert in blood cancers, commented: “I am very excited about these results regarding the restoration to immunity after removal of sugar residues on antigen-presenting cells. I am currently working with Professor Ritter and Dr Ryan to investigate the role of glycans in the immune response to blood cancer. The exciting findings of this work, which show that the manipulation of sugar residues on stem cells helps to restore anti-cancer immune response, will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Haematology Society.” The research studies were supported by individual and centre grants from Science Foundation Ireland as well as a PhD fellowship to Dr Cabral through the Irish Government’s PRTLI5 initiative. -Ends-

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Deloitte is pleased to announce that it will be partnering with NUI Galway on the University’s new BComm Global Experience course. As part of the partnership, Deloitte will provide funding over five years to support students while studying abroad. The new Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience) course at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics in NUI Galway offers the opportunity of a work placement and a study abroad in the same year. The global experience is fundamental to the educational experience and offers students the opportunity to experience new cultures and to work in new environments. NUI Galway partners with universities in a variety of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, the UK and the USA, amongst others. The Deloitte funding will be used as a grant to support students travelling abroad during the third year of the course. Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner, Deloitte commented: “At Deloitte, we see first-hand, and on a daily basis, the ever increasing need for international experience and an ability to work across borders. Our clients are operating in a more globally connected way than ever before, and therefore we need to work this way also. We are delighted to support the NUIG Deloitte scholars in gaining this important and valuable experience. We very much believe that it will equip them well in their future business careers.” Speaking at the launch, Professor John McHale, Dean of the College of Business Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway, said:  “We are delighted to announce this exciting partnership with Deloitte. We are very proud for our BComm (Global Experience) students to have the title ‘Deloitte Global Scholars’, a title representative of the high academic calibre of our students, and the endorsement shown by Deloitte in supporting students reach their full potential.”  The first Deloitte Global Scholars will be travelling abroad in September 2018. NUI Galway anticipates that in excess of 500 students will avail of the Deloitte funding over the five years of the partnership. Ends

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS science outreach network will bring its ‘Fantastic DNA’ national roadshow to schools during this month’s Science Week. For the fifth year in a row the Cell EXPLORERS roadshow, established by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, will once again visit primary schools across Ireland bringing hands-on experiments to over 3,500 school children this term and during this month’s Science Week. The Cell EXPLORERS national network has continued its expansion this year with the inclusion of five new partner teams with NUI Galway, the IT Carlow, Letterkenny IT, Maynooth University, the National Virus Reference Laboratory UCD and UCC. The new teams are joining the network of five existing teams, Athlone IT, UL, IT Tralee and Dundalk IT. Last year, 125 scientists visited 43 schools throughout the country, reaching 1,881 children to teach them about cells and DNA through hands-on activities. According to the statistics, 64% of the children visited last year had not previously met a scientist. Overall, pupils’ feedback was positive, highlighting that their favorite part of the session was the opportunity to use scientific equipment and doing the experiment themselves. “The scientists were brilliant at explaining and it was all fun experiments”, said one sixth class pupil in Co. Kerry. “I liked meeting the Cell EXPLORERS because I never met a scientist who was a girl before”, commented another fifth class pupil from Co. Roscommon. Teachers hosting the ‘Fantastic DNA’ session indicated that it had a made a real impact on the pupils, giving them the opportunity of doing hands-on science and having fun in their classrooms. A teacher from Co. Kerry said: “I thought that today's session was fantastic. The children learned so much and also a greater interest in science was instilled in them.” Teachers also highlighted as major benefits the opportunity for each child to do an experiment and for interacting with local 3rd level scientists, both characteristics of Cell EXPLORERS visits. Dr Muriel Grenon, Founding Director of Cell EXPLORERS said: “We have been piloting a unique way of directly involving Irish higher education institutions in engaging young people in science for five years with the support of Science Foundation Ireland. The expansion of the programme, based on volunteering activities of university students and staff, has grown beyond our expectation. The success of the program is due to our collaborators, based in 10 higher education partner institutions. The participation benefits that we bring to children, teachers and our team members are key motivators for our coordinators to be part of the network despite of the additional workload.” Dr Claudia Fracchiolla, National Coordinator of the Cell EXPLORERS network also commented: “Preliminary research suggests that the programme provides a unique opportunity to the children but also provides benefits to our team members. Volunteers participating in the program develop transferable skills, as well as personal development, which are important outcomes for tomorrow’s researchers, educators, and communicators. Our volunteers would recommend participating in the programme to a friend, and strongly believe that universities and institutes of technology must engage in science outreach.” Cell EXPLORERS activities, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by a two-year award from Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway and the NUI Galway Foundation.  For more information or to book a show at your school, visit www.cellexplorers.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter @cellexplorers. -Ends-