Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Cell EXPLORERS represented Ireland  as the only Irish science outreach representative group at the National Student Travel Foundation (NSTF) Malta Science Expo, which took place during April in the Maltese capital Valletta. To encourage young peoples’ engagement in science, the Expo invites science communicators from abroad to attend and give workshops to inspire and excite the next generation of scientists. The NSTF Malta Science Expo is a successful science engagement programme that has run for several years. It is composed of a comprehensive set of science based competitions for students as well as a programme of scientific activities delivered by both Maltese and International scientists. This year, Cell EXPLORERS had the opportunity to bring their hands-on molecular biology activities to the Expo. A team of three scientists, led by Programme Director Dr Muriel Grenon, travelled from NUI Galway to bring the ‘Fantastic DNA’ workshop to the primary school children of Malta. During the week, over 400 Maltese children performed banana DNA extractions with the Cell EXPLORERS team. Based in the School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway, Cell EXPLORERS is an outreach programme that proposes hands-on and fun practice of cellular and molecular biology to engage young people in biological and biomedical sciences. The programme, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Science Foundation Ireland Discover Science and Engineering Awards, is piloting a model of sustainable public engagement in science unique in Ireland. This model involves both a curriculum-integrated component and a strong base of volunteering undergraduate, postgraduate students, lecturers and researchers. Expo organiser, Karl Agius, was pleased with the performance of Cell EXPLORERS at the event: “Cell EXPLORERS have continued to improve the quality and reach of the NSTF Science Expo through their workshop. Thanks to their enthusiasm and communication skills, they excited and motivated the kids to the wonders and realities of science and imbued in them the wish to know more.” Dr Grenon was also delighted with the positive response of the Maltese children and teachers to the workshop: “It is incredible to see that the hands on science lesson designed by NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS undergraduate students works as well in Malta than in Ireland. We have met a lot of interest among teachers, students and lecturers, and initiated collaborations which should allow the Cell EXPLORERS model to develop further away than Ireland.” Cell EXPLORERS continues to expand its activities here in Ireland, with the first ever Bio-EXPLORERS science holiday camps taking place this year in conjunction with Eco-EXPLORERS. For more information on Cell EXPLORERS and any upcoming activities visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/bughunters/ or take a look at their facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/Cellexplorers. -Ends-

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

NUI Galway societies were presented with two awards at the recent Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards. Over 360 students and 50 adjudicators from across Ireland came together to celebrate the achievements of students involved in society organisation at the highest level. The Awards ceremony took place in the spectacular Titanic Museum in Belfast, with presentations made to 16 award winners, from nine different categories. This year, the NUI Galway Astronomy Society won the Best New Society Award for an outstanding year in which they encouraged the campus and general public to explore and look up at the night’s sky. Their galactic variety of events promoted astronomy across campus and awakened a curiosity to what the cosmos is all about. They organised the first Science Fortnight and hosted numerous guest speakers, including Professor Joslyn Bell. NUI Galway's second award of the evening was in the Best Photo category. The award, which best captured the spirit of societies, went to the Rovers Society, an outdoor society, based on the scouting ethos, bringing the spirit of activity, involvement and volunteering to third-level. Since its inauguration in 1999 NUI Galway has won more national society awards than any other college in Ireland and tops the leader board at 35 trophies, with the next competitor standing at 24. NUI Galway Societies Officer and BICS Awards Coordinator, Riona Hughes, said: “The two-day event was a major success. It was all about celebrating, all of the societies who attended had achieved a very high standard in their own institutions and the judges were very impressed and had two very long days of deliberation which included interviews with all the nominees. The BICS Awards are the highlight of the societies calendar and afford them an opportunity to network and share ideas and we are already expecting great things next year. The enthusiasm, talent, generosity and vision of all the students present augurs well for the future of our country.” For more info on BICS Awards visit www.bics.ie. -ENDS-

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A paper published by the Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Nurse-led Community Environment (PRINCE) research team won the General Practice category at the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (RAMI) Doctor Awards recently. The winning paper examined the effectiveness of a structured education pulmonary rehabilitation programme for improving the health status of people with moderate and severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in primary care. The study was funded by the HRB and consisted of a two-armed randomised cluster trial. In one arm (intervention group), persons with COPD received a structured education pulmonary rehabilitation programme, while the other arm (control group) received usual care. The study found that people who attended the programme were significantly better able to manage their breathing difficulties than those who did not attend. Principal study investigators for the study were Professor Kathy Murphy and Dr Dympna Casey of NUI Galway’s School of Nursing & Midwifery, and involved collaboration with researchers in NUI Galway, the UK and the HSE. The authors were Dr Dympna Casey, Professor Kathy Murphy, Professor Declan Devane, Dr Adeline Cooney, Bernard McCarthy, Lorraine Mee, Dr John Newell, Professor Eamon O’Shea, Dr Carl Scarrott, Dr Paddy Gillespie, Collette Kirwan and Professor Andrew W. Murphy. Andrew W. Murphy, Professor of General Practice at NUI Galway, accepted the award on behalf of the team: “The RAMI awards recognise excellence in international peer reviewed clinical research papers which have been carried out in Ireland. Our study involving 32 general practices and 350 participants, found that a primary care based pulmonary rehabilitation programme facilitated by trained physiotherapists and practice nurses who had no prior COPD expertise, is feasible, safe, and effective.” Co- principal study investigator Dr Dympna Casey said: “We are thrilled that our paper received this award, we both feel strongly that health care research must make a real difference to patients’ lives and we are delighted that the findings of our large trial does just that.” The winning paper is available from the following link http://thorax.bmj.com/content/early/2013/06/09/thoraxjnl-2012-203103.long#aff-5 -Ends-

Thursday, 8 May 2014

NUI Galway has become a new partner of the All Ireland Institute of Hospice Palliative Care (AIIHPC). The new membership is part of a significant expansion of AIIHPC’s partner organisations from 12 to 17. Following this expansion its partners now include all Universities and major hospice providers and on the Island of Ireland. AIIHPC, the first organisation of its kind in Ireland, was established in October 2010, following a successful bid by the 12 Consortium members to secure funding. The Institute works to improve policy and practice, education and research relating to hospice and palliative care in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. The Institute is particularly committed to the engagement of users, carers and communities. The expanded make up of AIIHPC was officially launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food Simon Coveney TD at Marymount University Hospital and Hospice.   Minister Coveney said: “It is a pleasure to formally recognise the enlarged consortium of partners working together to ultimately benefit patients and their families. The Institute is playing a key role – informing improvement, engaging with communities, facilitating change and leading developments.” Kathy Murphy, Professor of Nursing at NUI Galway and member of the AIIPHC Management Committee, said: “NUI Galway is pleased to be part of this important research, education and practice network. This collaboration will enable more effective knowledge exchange and development resulting ultimately in better outcomes for those receiving palliative care.” The 12 original Consortium members are: Dublin Academic Medical Centre; Milford Care Centre, Castletroy, Limerick; Marie Curie Centre, Belfast; Northern Ireland Hospice, Belfast; Our Lady's Hospice & Care Services, Dublin; Queens University Belfast; St. Francis Hospice, Raheny, Dublin, St. James's Hospital, Dublin; Trinity College Dublin; University College Dublin; University of Limerick and the University of Ulster. Other new partners include DCU, Marymount University Hospital and Hospice, NUI Maynooth and UCC. AIIHPC Deputy Chairperson, and CEO Our Lady’s Hospice and Services in Harold Cross, Mo Flynn said the expansion showed strong and growing support for the Institute. “The five additional members will further increase AIIHPC’s capacity to benefit patients who receive palliative and end of life care and their families. Working together, and across Ireland, the Institute is achieving real impact and helping to drive change.” The significant bulk of AIIHPC’s funding comes from The Atlantic Philanthropies, with additional funding from Health Research Board, Irish Cancer Society, Irish Hospice Foundation and the Public Health Agency. Consortium members also contribute funding. -Ends-

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A gold medal which will be awarded each year to the most outstanding student on the Masters in Preventive Cardiology programme at NUI Galway was inaugurated this week at a special ceremony in the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre, Galway The Kieran Daly Medal was inaugurated to honour the immeasurable contribution which Dr. Kieran Daly, Honorary Clinical Professor in Medicine at NUI Galway and Consultant Cardiologist at Galway University Hospitals, has made to education and training in Cardiology over a long and distinguished career. Additionally, the medal honours the leadership Dr Daly has shown over many years , firstly as Research & Medical Director of Croí and for the past five years as Chairperson of the organisations Board of Directors, a position which he retired from earlier this month. At the launch of this prestigious award, Dr. Gerard Flaherty, Programme Director of the NUIG Masters in Preventive Cardiology programme, one of only two such courses in the world, spoke of the very high esteem in which Dr. Daly is held by his colleagues, students and trainees over the years. Having worked with Dr. Daly, he added that he “always admired his dedication, intellect, technical skills, and consummate professionalism, all fitting attributes to be associated with graduates from the Masters programme”. Dr. Flaherty added that the award of this medal at the annual conferring ceremony at NUI Galway would help to raise the profile of this popular programme and ensure that it continues to attract the most capable and highly motivated students. He thanked Dr. Daly for allowing his name to be associated with the award. Speaking at the launch of the Kieran Daly Medal, Croí CEO, Neil Johnson said "this is a very appropriate acknowledgement to the contribution Kieran Daly has made to the advancement of Cardiology education and practice in the west of Ireland". The first group of students on the Masters in Preventive Cardiology programme at NUI Galway are due to graduate in November this year. This unique programme is delivered over a 12-month period as a full-time Level 9 degree programme, with most of the didactic and much of the clinical instruction delivered in the state-of-the-art Croí Heart and Stroke Centre in Galway. In addition, students have access to e-learning resources developed by the multiprofessional teaching faculty at Croí and NUI Galway. Places on the programme for 2014/15 are filling fast and any interested applicant should apply at www.pac.ie/nuigalway. -Ends-

Thursday, 8 May 2014

NUI Galway has won the top award for most biodiverse campus at Ireland’s first Intervarsity BioBlitz competition, beating off stiff competition from UCC, TCD, DCU and Dundalk IT. Over a 24 hour period, 43 volunteers combed the University’s campus and recorded a total of 581 species. With extensive semi-natural habitats on NUI Galway grounds, the BioBlitz teams recorded 333 plants and tree species, 55 bird species, 75 insect species- including 21 butterflies and moths, 33 diatoms, 30 terrestrial and freshwater slugs and snails, 19 different mosses, 18 other invertebrates, 8 mammals, 5 lichens, 3 fish, a frog and 1 alga. Along with NUI Galway staff and students, many volunteers were graduates of NUI Galway and specifically School of Natural Sciences. They are now themselves staff in GMIT, NUI Maynooth, UCD, National Parks and Wildlife Services, all as professional field ecologists Ireland’s BioBlitz is designed to increase public awareness of the variety of life in Ireland and to highlight some of the ecological services that biodiversity provides to enhance our quality of life at the global and the local level. The Bioblitz demonstrates the high level of skill and expertise necessary to study many aspects of Ireland’s biological diversity. It also demonstrates the importance of being able to survey and identify plants and animalsas these are important aspects of Ireland’s biodiversity and skills that are taught at NUI Galway. Keith Warnock, Vice-President for Capital Projects: “The University is very pleased to have participated in the BioBlitz, and delighted to have emerged as the campus with the highest level of biodiversity. We have worked hard to ensure that as new buildings are constructed in response to growing student numbers and research activity, the built environment leaves ample room for this wide range of plant and animal life.” This initiative was supported by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, the Buildings Office and the Green Campus team. NUI Galway’s statistics from the BioBlitz competition can be viewed at http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/bioblitz.php?fk=IntervarsityBioBlitz2014_NUIGalwaySite&sn=NUI%20Galway&bkey=IntervarsityBioBlitz2014. -Ends-

Monday, 12 May 2014

‘Rails Girls Galway’ is part of a worldwide movement that hopes to bridge the gender divide in technology and to facilitate women in learning computer programming. Returning to Galway this year the event aimed at females interested in computing technology and engineering will take place this summer in NUI Galway. The free weekend workshop will provide women with the tools and the collective learning community to build web applications and software services. It will be held on 20-21 June at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics located in the Dangan IDA Business Park. The organisers are mainly young female IT researchers involved in local third level colleges, businesses, schools and volunteer digital makers’ clubs. Though primarily targeting the local female population, there will also be participants from across Ireland and from overseas. The weekend event is free, is open to all women of any age from sixteen years upwards, and suitable for both those who wish to learn how to code and those with experience of programming. The workshops will use 'Ruby on Rails', a powerful web application framework for the Ruby programming language. According to Myriam Leggieri, Insight researcher and one of the chief organisers, “Last year’s event in Galway was an outstanding success with women of all ages from a range of backgrounds learning together. We want to build on the dynamic that was so evident in 2013 and to make ‘Rail Girls’ an annual activity in a city that is and can develop even more as a vibrant hub for digital industries and innovation.” Ireland needs a generation of indigenous young coders of both sexes to help lay the foundations of the ‘Knowledge Economy’ and create the products for a sustainable future. There is, in particular, a serious shortage of female IT developers in the country and across the world as well as in the professions of science, technology, engineering and maths professions generally. “There is no reason why this should be the case except for a lack of exposure to such environments. Events such as 'Rails Girls' directly addresses the lack of exposure to technology and empowers girls to take the first step in learning these in-demand skills and acquiring the skills to conquer one of the last great frontiers of science, namely the World Wide Web” Ms Leggieri said. The first event, launched by Linda Liukas and Karri Saarinen, was held in Helsinki in 2010. It now is a worldwide phenomenon. Karri summarised the philosophy behind the movement: “The Internet was built by, and for, boys. As a girl, one often feels like lacking the vocabulary to access it. With ‘Rails for Girls’, we want to demystify the world of web applications and encourage women to learn about software development and programming. We believe that women need the skills and language to understand that world.” Further information and application forms are available at www.railsgirls.com/galway. There are a limited amount of places available so prompt registration is recommended. The closing date for applications is Thursday, 5 June. -Ends-

Monday, 12 May 2014

The European Union FP7-funded REDDSTAR consortium has selected Orbsen Therapeutics’ proprietary cell therapy (Cyndacel-M ™) to be tested in a phase 1b clinical trial in diabetic patients suffering with ulcerating (non-healing) wounds. The trial will be led by the Steno Diabetes Centre in Copenhagen in 2015. Orbsen Therapeutics proprietary stromal cell therapy (Cyndacel-M ™) has been selected to be tested in a EU Framework 7 (FP7) funded safety trial for the treatment of non-healing, ulcerating wounds in patients with diabetes. The project known by the acronym “REDDSTAR” (Repair of Diabetic Damage by Stromal Cell Administration) is being co-ordinated by Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of Medicine and Director of Ireland’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway. Approximately 50 million diabetic EU citizens are using approved anti-diabetic agents to control their diabetes. However, diabetes still leads to 6 progressive complications, namely: nephropathy, retinopathy, cardiomyopathy, neuropathy and wound ulceration. In 2010, 11% of EU adult deaths (634,000) were caused by diabetic complications. The foot ulcer is a leading cause of hospital admissions for people with diabetes in the EU and is a major morbidity associated with diabetes. Diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) are estimated to occur in 15% of all patients with diabetes and precede 84% of all diabetes-related lower-leg amputations. As part of the project, academic and clinical research teams in Galway, Berlin, Belfast, Munich and Porto have been testing the Orbsen Therapeutics proprietary cell product (called Cyndacel-M ™) against the current standard cell therapy. The results have been collated and analysed and an independent panel at the Steno Diabetes Centre in Copenhagen, decided to use Cyndacel-M ™ for a clinical trial in patients with diabetic ulcers, in preference to the current cell technology. The clinical study will combine Orbsen’s Cyndacel-M ™ with an existing wound therapy called Excellagen, an FDA-cleared collagen treatment developed by US-based Cardium Therapeutics Inc. (Trading Symbol: CRXM). This transatlantic collaboration between Orsben and Cardium represents an exciting development that brings Cardium’s significant commercial expertise in the wound healing market to the REDDSTAR project. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of Medicine and Director of REMEDI at NUI Galway said, “I have been very impressed by the experimental rigour applied by all the project partners. It was important to obtain independent verification of the efficacy of the therapy and that is what the EU funding and design of REDDSTAR allowed.” Orbsen CEO Brian Molloy said, “We are absolutely delighted with this decision. This is a very significant moment in the development of Orbsen Therapeutics. We have spent the past 3 years developing and validating our therapy. Advancing to a clinical trial is a major milestone for the company – particularly in a condition as prevalent as diabetic wound ulceration, which is so poorly served by existing treatment options at the moment.” The REDDSTAR project was originally conceived by Dr Steve Elliman, Head of Research and Development at Orbsen Therapeutics, and it is co-ordinated by Professor Timothy O’Brien at NUI Galway. The first phase of the project studied the use of stromal cells as a treatment for six major complications of diabetes namely Nephropathy, Neuropathy, Ulcers, Retinopathy, Cardiomyopathy and impaired bone healing. Each of the research teams presented their results at a plenary meeting in Paris on April 22 and these results were reviewed by an independent panel from the Steno Diabetes centre in Copenhagen. Dr. Steve Elliman, Orbsen Therapeutics commented, “The REDDSTAR teams presented very promising data from the six models of diabetic complications. In each case the teams compared the performance of our Cyndacel-M ™ therapy with the existing Plastic Adherent (PA) MSC product. We are delighted to see that Cyndacel was equivalent or better in all the complications. Our therapy represents a significant advance in terms of purity of the cell therapy and we expect this improved purity to correlate with improved clinical safety efficacy. Whilst diabetic wound ulceration has been selected for this trial, I expect that the Cyndacel will be advanced into other REDDSTAR-derived clinical trials over the coming years.” Orbsen has become one of Ireland’s most successful companies at securing EU FP7 funding over recent years. REDDSTAR is one of 5 programmes that they have secured – the others being PURSTEM (completed), DeCIDE (ongoing) and the recently announced MERLIN and VISICORT projects which include clinical trials of Cyndacel in auto-immune disease of the liver and cornea transplant rejection respectively. Brian Molloy added, “Our mission is to join Europe’s leading Cell Therapy companies in developing effective new medicines for disease with unmet need. In doing so we hope we can position Ireland and NUI Galway in particular as a European hub for cell therapy development. Developing new therapies is a slow process but we have made remarkable progress over the past three years. Mr Molloy continued, “The symbiotic relationship that we have developed with NUI Galway (who are shareholders in Orbsen) has been a key factor in our development as a company. We are based on campus which enables us to gain access to world class researchers and facilities. In return, we have been able to employ NUI Galway graduates, supervise NUI Galway students and attract significant amounts of research funding into the University. The relationship works very well for both parties and as we move into the clinical phase of our development we expect that relationship to continue as a “win-win” for both parties.” Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd. is a privately-held company founded in 2006 as a spin-out from Ireland’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) in NUI Galway. As part of the PurStem EU FP7 program, Orbsen developed proprietary technologies that enable the prospective purification of highly defined and therapeutic (stromal) cells from several human tissues, including bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord. The company has developed a unique method of isolating therapeutic stromal cells from human tissue at class-leading levels of purity. The Orbsen Therapeutics cell therapy product is unique in that it has been designed to meet future EU regulations regarding cell-based medicines. Orbsen’s proprietary Cyndacel-M ™ is being developed for several diseases, including inflammatory disease of the lungs and liver, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, joint disease, kidney injury, organ graft rejection and wound repair. The novel aspects of Orbsen’s technology place it at the leading edge of research, development and regulatory compliance of adult mesenchymal stromal cell therapies. Cyndacel-M ™ can be purified from a single human donor, expanded and frozen to generate many doses of high-margin, allogeneic (“off-the-shelf”) therapeutic products for conditions with unmet need.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Distinguished alumni from the USA, Australia and Ireland will speak at anniversary symposium to represent the history of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and the influence of the University on their scientific careers NUI Galway will host an Anniversary Symposium on Thursday 10th July to mark 50 years of Biochemistry within the University. The Department of Biochemistry was founded in 1963 by Professor Colm Ó hEocha who subsequently went on to become President of NUI Galway. Professor Patrick Fottrell, his successor as Professor of Biochemistry, also served as President of NUI Galway and is former Chairman of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland. A variety of distinguished alumni from the USA, Australia and Ireland will speak at the symposium to represent the history of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and the influence of the University on their scientific careers. These presentations will represent the breadth of rich contributions made across five decades of research and teaching. Past graduates of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Biomedical Science along with current staff and researchers at NUI Galway are warmly invited to participate in the symposium. In addition to the talks, attendees will also be able to enjoy a tour of the current Biochemistry facilities in the main Arts and Sciences Building on campus, along with a tour of the new Biochemistry laboratories in the NUI Galway Bioscience Research Building in Dangan, which was opened in February by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. The festivities will conclude with a Gala Dinner at the Ardilaun Hotel in the evening. The current discipline of Biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences includes 17 academic staff members and over 70 researchers. It maintains the tradition of innovation established by its founders with a highly active research programme funded by significant grants from national and international sources. The Biochemistry research programme graduates a number of postgraduate students with PhD degrees each year, as well as students with an MSc in Cancer Research. At the same time Biochemistry delivers courses covering areas such as protein biochemistry, gene technology and molecular genetics, cancer biology, and human nutrition, to over 400 undergraduate students each year. Over 70 students will complete undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry, Biotechnology or Biomedical Science this year. The one-day Symposium will take place on July 10 from 9am to 5.30pm and will feature a morning session of talks, lunch, an afternoon session of talks, a tour of the Biochemistry and the new Bioscience Research Building, followed by a Gala Dinner at the Ardilaun Hotel at 8pm. It promises to be an exciting event on the University calendar this summer and a great opportunity for alumni to reunite with old friends and colleagues. For registration and further details visit http://nuigalwaybiochemistry50.ie

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

For the second year running, Professor David Finn of NUI Galway has been awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Award for best paper published in an indexed journal in 2013 in the Pain/Anaesthesia category. The first author of the winning paper was Dr Kieran Rea, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Finn’s laboratory. Professor Finn, Lecturer in Pharmacology, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research and Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, received the award at a ceremony held in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. The winning paper confirmed the key role of a brain region called the basolateral amygdala in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia). Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in this part of the brain. Furthermore, fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the basolateral amygdala.  The paper also showed that the mechanism was likely to involve interactions between the endocannabinoid system and the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems in this brain region. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.  Professor David Finn, senior author on the paper, said: “We are very pleased that our work has been recognised for a second time with this prestigious award. This research which was funded by grants from Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Awards are presented each year to Irish or Irish-based researchers who are judged to have published the best research papers in international, peer-reviewed journals.   -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

 First lecture to focus on suicide prevention NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery will commence a new and innovative community outreach initiative this semester, focusing on sharing knowledge and expertise on health topics that are of interest to local communities. The first knowledge exchange event which will focus on ‘Suicide Prevention’ will take place on Tuesday, 27 May at 7pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Áras Moyola. Research studies, including those conducted by the School of Nursing and Midwifery have found that giving people the knowledge, information and support they need is key to enabling them to better manage their own health or the health of those that they care for. NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, through outreach knowledge exchange sessions, aims to provide communities with health information in an interactive and easily accessible format on topics of relevance to the community. It is hoped that this will address the difficulty people have in knowing where to go to find or interpret the information they need. Adeline Cooney, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, commented, “It is never easy to make life style changes or live with a chronic illness, we aim to provide the public with information and skills on health topics of relevance to them with a focus on helping people to get healthy and to stay healthy. These sessions will be interactive, allowing full community engagement and we look forward to active and lively discussions.” Preliminary work conducted with community members indicate that communities would value information and knowledge concerning such topics as; How much exercise do you need to stay healthy and what type of exercise is best? How to maintain good mental health and to recognise mental health issues in others? How do I stay healthy during pregnancy? What is dementia? How best to care for someone with dementia? This is an initial list of topics and the School of Nursing and Midwifery invites the public to make suggestions for other health topics to be covered. To suggest any future health topics to be covered during the lecture series please contact John Quinlivan at john.quinlivan@nuigalway.ie or Mary Gannon at mary.e.gannon@nuigalway.ie. There will be two further events over the coming year and these will focus on: Keeping healthy in pregnancy: 7pm, Tuesday, 30 September 2014. Getting fit: 7pm, Tuesday, 27 January 2015. All events are open to the public. -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

New global university ranking, funded by the EU, also scores NUI Galway highly on graduate employability, innovation and commercialisation, international academic staff, doctorate degrees and joint publications NUI Galway has been given the highest ranking in a number of areas in U-Multirank, a new EU Commission-led initiative to measure excellence in higher education and research institutions worldwide. The indicators, published today across Europe show that NUI Galway ranked highest in nearly half of the metrics included in this, the first year of published data. NUI Galway was awarded the top ranking for both Arts Graduates working in the region and Masters of Arts graduates working in the region. Student internships in the region also scored highly. NUI Galway's focus on internationalisation was also recognised as the University was rated highly for the mobility of its students. As one of Ireland's leading universities for technology transfer, NUI Galway scored top marks for innovation and bringing new products to market; patents awarded and patents filed. The University's track record in creating a sustainable funding base for research and development was also commended with a top ranking for sourcing external research income and sourcing income from private sources for research. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne, welcomed today’s results saying "I welcome the EU’s effort to create a more transparent system of recognising excellence in the university sector. I’m particularly pleased to note the strong performance in securing regional employment for our humanities graduates and internships for current students, confirming NUI Galway’s role as a vital economic driver of employment, learning and research." U-Multirank is a new global university ranking funded by the European Commission and takes a different approach to existing global rankings of universities; it is multi-dimensional and compares university performance across a range of different activities grading them from “A” (very good) to “E” (weak). It does not produce a league table of the world’s “top” 100 universities based on composite scores. Instead, it allows users to identify a university’s strengths and weaknesses, or the aspects that most interest them. “We are delighted to have been able to design and implement this new user-driven and multi-dimensional ranking that goes beyond simplistic league tables and that addresses many of the criticisms of existing global university rankings,” said Professor Dr Frans van Vught, from the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, one of the lead partners of the consortium. The fields of study selected for assessment in 2014 were Business, Physics and Mechanical Engineering. The ranking system currently includes over 850 universities from 70 countries around the world; 62% in Europe, 17% in North America, 14% in Asia and 7% from Oceania, Latin America and Africa. Further information on U-Multirank is available at www.umultirank.org -ends-

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

2014 marks 150th anniversary of the naming by William King, Professor of Geology at the then Queen's College Galway. He remains the first scientist ever to name a new species of human. President Michael D. Higgins will attend a special international symposium to mark the 150th anniversary of the coining of the term of Homo neanderthalensis by William King, Professor of Geology at Queen's College Galway in the 19th century. This proposal by King represents one of the first steps towards our understanding today of human evolution. The NUI Galway symposium is dedicated to the life and times of William King and the distant prehistoric people to whom he gave a name. The meeting will welcome the world's leading authorities in the field of human evolution, a gathering never before seen in Ireland, to celebrate this remarkable achievement. At the heart of it all the organising committee hope the symposium will be a fitting tribute to a pioneer in the field of human evolution, who worked at a time when this field was still very much in its infancy, but who has never really received the scientific recognition he deserves. Dr John Murray, one of the symposium organisers, said "this event will celebrate where we have come from as human beings. Professor King’s work represents a scientific milestone in the history of our understanding of human origins. The term ‘Neanderthal’ is globally recognised and understood, but had King not coined this phrase during his time in Queen’s College Galway, they would most likely be known by a completely different name today.” William King’s proposal in 1864 was to formally designate Neanderthal people as a separate species from ourselves (Homo neanderthalensis). His suggestion was both extraordinary and revolutionary for its time - Charles Darwin’s masterpiece ‘Origin of Species’ had been published just five years beforehand. William King remains the first to name a new fossil human species; a privilege afforded to very few scientists. Professor Svante Pääbo, Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people, will deliver the main keynote address of the symposium. President Higgins along with members of the King family, will attend this free public talk, which is specifically aimed at a general audience. It will take place at 5.30pm on Saturday 24th May in O'Flaherty Theatre in NUI Galway and those interested in attending are asked to register at  http://bit.ly/Neanderthal150 General information regarding the full weekend symposium, entitled ‘From Fossils to the Genome’, is available at www.neanderthal150.org. The meeting has been made possible with the assistance of: The Quaternary Research Association, The Irish Research Council, Roche, NUI Galway, Galway City Council, Bord Fáilte, The Geological Survey of Ireland, The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, The Institute of Geologists of Ireland, Beta Analytic Limited, Connemara Marble Industries Limited and the Burren Geopark. -ends-

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Insight’s Digital Humanities and Journalism Group Compete with Sky News, the Financial Times, Storyful and the BBC to win ‘Connecting the News’ category prize at BBC #newsHACK II Insight’s Digital Humanities and Journalism group at NUI Galway were the winners of the Connecting the News category prize at the BBC #newsHACK in Dublin on 1 and 2 May. The team developed ‘Hash2News’, a Chrome Extension, which enables users to find the news stories behind Twitter hashtags at the click of a button. The group competed alongside teams from other academic institutes as well as news organisations such as Sky News, the Financial Times, Storyful and the BBC. The #newsHACK is an initiative of the BBC NewsLabs, an innovation programme for the whole of BBC News, and organised by BBC Connected Studio and the Global Editors Network (sponsored by Google), and aims to foster digital innovation in news. The 2014 theme was ‘The Future of News Curation’ and was held in Dublin and Glasgow earlier this month. Inspired by the belief that a hack should identify and solve a particular problem, the Digital Humanities and Journalism (HuJo) group at Insight decided to use their expertise with handling Twitter streams and entity extraction to find the news articles most relevant for any given hashtag. They plan to finalise their ‘Hash2News’ extension and make it freely available online in the near future. Social media, especially Twitter, presents a large stream of discussion to users, often informed by external news events. The result is that users often feel like they are ‘out of the loop’, and want to find out what is behind ongoing social media discussions. By providing a direct link from Twitter content to relevant news articles, HuJo’s Chrome Extension enables Twitter users to find ‘the news behind the noise’, the news articles relevant to social media conversations. Dr. Bahareh R. Heravi, Insight’s HuJo Group Leader said, “We are very happy to have been selected as a winning team at the BBC #newsHACK. The team had to compete with large and prestigious news organisations, and come up with a unique and useful product within a day and a half. This required a high degree of intellectual work, as well as great team work. Being a winning team among such strong groups of participants was a great accomplishment, particularly for a young research team such as HuJo.” The judges saw the utility of ‘Hash2News’ and awarded the group the prize for Connecting the News, which requires the team to “pique audience interests, to tap into social media habits, and support consumption across devices.” Other category winners were BBC Location Service (Explaining the News), The Independent (Tools for Journalists), Sky News (Theming the News), University of the West of Scotland (NewsCrack award) and BBC archives (Visually Inspired). The Best in Show winners were The Financial Times (Glasgow) and The Times/Sunday Times (Dublin). Hash2News team members were Ravindra Harige, Dara McHugh, Prashant Khare, Pablo Torres, and team leader, Dr. Bahareh Heravi. The Insight Centre for Data Analytics is a joint initiative between researchers at NUI Galway, UCD, UCC, DCU, and other partner institutions. It will bring together a critical mass of more than 200 researchers from Ireland's leading Information Communications and Technology (ICT) centres to develop a new generation of data analytics technologies in a number of key application areas. For further information on HuJo-Insight’s work at the BBC #newsHACK II visit http://hujo.deri.ie/hujo-newshack-ii/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway (CRFG) is holding a public information evening on Tuesday, 20 May from 5-7pm in the Clinical Sciences Institute, NUI Galway (on the grounds of Galway University Hospital). The information evening will highlight how ongoing clinical research studies may lead to significant medical breakthroughs and the development of new treatments. It is also an opportunity to find out more about current research projects and to meet current CRFG staff. Professor Martin O’Donnell, Acting Director, HRB CRFG, said: “Clinical research involves a collaboration between clinicians, patients, volunteers and research staff. Therefore, public engagement is an essential part of clinical research. Over the past six years, the HRB CRFG has developed a strong clinical research group, conducting studies across a wide spectrum of medical conditions. We strive to conduct cutting-edge research, which adheres to the highest standards.” The HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway is a joint venture between NUI Galway, Galway University Hospitals and West Northwest Hospital Group, and has been in operation since March 2008. The Facility provides the infrastructure, physical space, facilities, expertise and culture needed to optimally support patient-focused research studies and clinical studies aimed at understanding a range of diseases and translating the knowledge obtained through this research work into evaluating novel therapies for various clinical conditions. Over the past six years, clinical research outputs from the HRB CRFG have made important contributions to clinical medicine, in both prevention and treatment of common disease. Work has begun on the new Clinical Research Facility and Translational Research Facility (CRF-TRF) building located on the grounds of Galway University Hospital. The building is due to be completed in January 2015. The CRF-TRF will facilitate cutting-edge medical research. This facility will form part of the Irish Network of Clinical Research Facilities which will conduct state of the art clinical research in a variety of clinical areas, such as Cardiology, Cancer, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, etc. So, what is a Clinical Trial?   A Clinical Trial is a research study to answer specific questions about a new medical treatment (medicine/drug, medical device, new therapies, vaccines), or new ways of using known treatments. Clinical Trials (also called medical research and research studies) are used to determine whether such new treatments are both safe and effective. Carefully conducted Clinical Trials are the fastest and safest way to find new and effective treatments that work in people. The CRFG Information Evening is free to attend, however advance registration is requested by emailing crfg@nuigalway.ie . -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

All past and present NUI Galway Students' Union officers, staff, journalists, colleagues and friends are invited to join with us to celebrate as NUI Galway Students’ Union turns 50.  The reunion is taking place in the College Bar, NUI Galway from 7pm onwards on Saturday 7th June 2014. Former Students’ Union Presidents include President Michael D Higgins, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore. Tickets are €15 which includes BBQ, dessert, refreshments, entertainment and lots of surprises along the way.  If you have any queries about the event or would be interested in contributing to our special 50th anniversary publication for the event - with photos or words - please contact studentsunion@nuigalway.ie or phone 091 493704 ASAP!   -Ends-    

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

REDDSTAR Co-ordinator and Professor of Medicine at NUI Galway, Tim O’Brien, and Orbsen Therapeutics’ Head of Research, Dr Steve Elliman took part in an interactive workshop during the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) 20th Anniversary meeting. The workshop showcased ‘EU-funded projects on Cellular Therapies’ and was held in Paris recently. REDDSTAR (Repair of Diabetic Damage by Stromal Cell Administration) is an EU funded project which will develop and test stromal cell therapy to treat for diabetes mellitus. The objective is to control blood glucose while also addressing a range of diabetic complications. Steve Elliman added, “The 20th ISCT Meeting in Paris featured some outstanding updates in the translational development of cell therapies. I personally enjoyed the Plenary Session of the development of cell therapies for leukaemias and inherited immunodeficiences, which included an inspirational discussion of the challenges and successes of gene-modified cell therapies by Professor Adrian Thrasher from Great Ormond Street Hospital in the London and Professor Bruce Levine from University of Pennsylvania. In addition, there was a well-attended and detailed discussion of the development of clinical MSCs for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which was very informative for groups entering the clinical phase of cell therapy testing.” In response to the EU-funded projects’ workshop and REDDSTAR’s involvement, Massimo Dominici, MD, President of the International Society for Cellular Therapy 2014-16 remarked, “The presence of highly valuable speakers representing EU funded research projects represented true added value within our 20th Anniversary Meeting. The feeling I have is that cell therapy in Europe has grown incredibly and, certainly, the EU FP7 granting has provided the proper boost in translating basic concepts into clinical realities for still as yet untreatable diseases. As a global society, ISCT looks forward to showcasing again these EU-based achievements in our future events worldwide.” The REDDSTAR-sponsored session (Workshop 5) was chaired by Dr Mark Lowdell of the Royal Free and University College Medical School, University College London, UK and Dr David Gancberg from Directorate Health, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission. In addition to Professor O’ Brien and Dr Elliman, the workshop also featured Prof. Anne Dickinson, MD, of Newcastle University, UK, a project leader in Celleurope and Dr Pierre Layrolle, Co-ordinator of Reborne based at INSERM in Toulouse. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics still has a few spaces available on their one-day Engineering Summer School. The summer school is specially designed to give prospective students a real taste of university life through a wide range of hands-on practical activities and students interested in attending have a choice of two different days to participate, Thursday, 19 June, or Friday, 20 June. The summer school, which will take place in the new state-of-the-art Engineering Building on campus, is a free event which provides second-level students the opportunity to learn more about the various fields of engineering which can be studied in NUI Galway.  “We have seen a huge interest once again this year amongst both senior and junior cycle second-level students in our Engineering Summer School, but we have a few remaining spaces which students can apply for”, according to Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. “The places in the free summer school are competitively awarded so we would invite any students who would be interested in learning more about Electronic, Mechanical, Civil, Biomedical or Energy Systems Engineering to apply for these last few places.” Interested students find out more information at http://www.nuigalway.ie/summer-schools/ and can apply by email to lisa.martin@nuigalway.ie before Friday, 6 June. -Ends-

Monday, 12 May 2014

The third ‘Reel Lives Film Festival’, organised by The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, is offering free lunchtime screenings of international films and documentaries celebrating ageing across the life-course from 19-23May as part of the Bealtaine Festival.  The lunchtime screenings are open to the public and will begin each day at 1pm, apart from Tuesday, 20 May which will take place at 2pm, in IT125G, IT Building, NUI Galway.  Each film will be followed by a short audience discussion and refreshments.  Film themes include retirement, adventure in later years, attachment to home-place, technology, carers, and reminiscence.  A short, informal audience discussion follows each film. Additional attractions include a pre-screening reading of a short story about ageing by Galway writer, Moya Roddy, on Monday 19 at 1 pm.  Galway tour-guide, Brendan Hynes will take audience members for a Corrib riverside walk and talk on Friday 23, post-screening. Preceding Tuesday’s films is the launch of the Galway Age Friendly Alliance Strategy. The Galway Age Friendly City and County Alliance is a partnership of key local groups that is committed to making the City and County better places in which to grow older. The new Strategy will be launched at 12.30pm on Tuesday, 20May by sports commentator and raconteur Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh in IT125.  Programme: Monday - Short film: ‘Analogue People in a Digital Age’ by Keith Walsh [13 mins].  An Irish bar discussion on coping with technology.  Main film: ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ (2011), starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith [124 mins]. The exotic lives of India’s hotel for the well-heeled British retirees are portrayed in rich performances by an all-star cast.  Tuesday - Short film: ‘4 Bhanrion’ ( as Gaeilge with sub-titles) by Vittoria Colinna, starring Geraldine Plunkett [15 mins]. A deadly game of poker dictates which sister will mind mammy in her dotage.  Main film: ‘Song for Marion’ (2012), starring Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave [93 mins].  Singing in her community choir, whilst dying of cancer is a life-changing experience for all, especially for Marion’s husband Terence Stamp.  Wednesday – Short film: ‘Blue Rinse’ by Matt Leigh [11 mins]. Life inside a Dublin hairdressing salon for older women.  Main film: ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ (1985), starring Geraldine Page, Rebecca de Mornay [107 mins].  Based on Oscar-nominated screenplay, Geraldine Page won an Academy award for best actress for her performance.  A longing to see her home-place before she died leads Page to recount the story of her life in this poignant tale.  Thursday - Short film: ‘Forty Foot’ by Paul McGrath and Leticia Agudo [9 mins].  Stories from the swimmers who use Dublin’s famous 40-foot sea spot.  Main film: ‘Harry and Tonto’ (1974), starring Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, Larry Hagman [111 mins]. Evicted from his home, Art Carney embarks on a road trip across America with his cat ‘Tonto’.  Friday - Short film: ‘Foxes and Donkeys’ (2013) by Eileen Gibbons [13 mins].  Stories by residents of St Brendan’s Nursing Home, Loughrea.  Main film: ‘My Afternoons with Margueritte’ (2010, French with English sub-titles), starring Gerard Dépardieu [82 mins].  The highly watchable Dépardieu’s performance as an illiterate and lonely man befriending an older and well-read woman makes this a gentle gem.  The screening venue has all facilities available to hand; including cafés, restrooms, and a lift is available to the lecture theatre for easy access.  The lecture theatre is wheelchair friendly. Films are courtesy of Screenclick; Bord Scannán na hEireann/The Irish Film Board; film collector Liam Bluett, and Directors. Reel Lives Film Festival poster designed by artist Marina Wild, NUI Galway. Soft drinks and confectionary are courtesy of the Students’ Union Shop NUI Galway. Spot prizes are sponsored by NUI Galway’s Kingfisher Sports Centre, and Masterchefs Hospitality NUI Galway. Further information contact event organiser, Alison Herbert at 091 495461 or 087 2830757, www.icsg.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 19 May 2014

A new guidebook has been published by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences to help people explore the natural history of the Galway area. The booklet was produced as part of NUI Galway’s EXPLORE initiative that promotes and sponsors innovation through student and staff collaboration. Entitled Self Guided Fieldtrip – Galway Area, the booklet was compiled by Alina Wieczorek, a third year undergraduate student with the School of Natural Sciences, and Professor Martin Feely, Earth and Ocean Science at NUI Galway. The tour includes a visit to the James Mitchell Museum, in NUI Galway’s Quadrangle Building, to introduce the rocks, minerals and fossils of the Galway area and from around the globe. The guide highlights the natural history of the coastal zone stretching from Galway city westwards to Salthill and beyond. The reader can explore that history using the map and the many field illustrations of bedrock geology, as well as the flora and fauna that live on the bedrock; highlighting the many links between the Natural Sciences of Geology, Botany and Zoology. Those who use the guide are encouraged to share and discuss their discoveries through the webpage, www.exploregalway.npage.eu. A downloadable version of the guide is also available on this webpage. A hard copy is available from NUI Galway’s James Mitchell Museum in the Quadrangle Building, or the Zoology Museum in NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, or the Earth and Ocean Sciences office on the second floor of NUI Galway’s Quadrangle. The museums are open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. -Ends-

Monday, 19 May 2014

The study’s findings, led by NUI Galway Professor Gary Donohoe, have been published in the leading international peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry A new study has revealed that genetic variants associated with risk for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are also associated with performance on measures of IQ, memory and social cognition. The discovery was made by NUI Galway Professor of Psychology Gary Donohue, in association with colleagues from Trinity College, Dublin and has just been published in leading journal, JAMA psychiatry. Professor Gary Donohoe said: “These findings support the view that the genetics of schizophrenia and cognition overlap. The findings also raise the possibility that the risk of developing schizophrenia may be identified by changes in cognitive ability; tell-tale signs found in IQ, memory or social intelligence tests. These cognitive deficits often appear before the emergence of clinical symptoms and go on to predict individual levels of disability. Understanding how genetic variants contribute to this aspect of disability, both individually and interaction, is an important step towards understanding the underlying biology and developing better and more personalized treatments.” Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder affects about one in 50 Irish adults. Treatments are available, but the successful treatment rates vary. It is as yet unknown what causes or triggers schizophrenia. Disability in these disorders is significantly affected by difficulties with a wide range of neuropsychological problems, including general cognitive ability, memory function, and cognitive abilities relevant to engaging and dealing with others. Dr. April Hargreaves and Dr. Kristen Nicodemus were joint first authors on the paper. The study also included contributions from a broad network of collaborators in Europe and the US. Co-first author Dr. Hargreaves said ‘what is perhaps most novel about the study is the move from focusing on single genetic variants to considering the effects of multiple, related risk variants at the same time. The fact that we were able to account for a greater proportion of the variance in cognitive performance by looking at multiple variants, suggests that this approach represents an important next step in modeling the genetic complexity of cognition and identifying risk factors for psychosis’. The study, which was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, assessed performance on a number of cognitive functions known to be affected in psychosis. A total of 424 patients participated in the study, including 340 with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and 83 with bipolar or major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Patients were given individual scores based on their loading for genetic variants interacting with ZNF804A, the first genome wide significant variant to be identified for schizophrenia. Across patient groups, higher scores on this ZNF804A interaction pathway were associated with poorer performance on multiple cognitive measures, including both general cognitive ability and a measure social cognition, often popularly referred to as social intelligence. -ends-

Monday, 19 May 2014

Week designed to educate the public about medical devices in creative ways The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway will be celebrating Medical Device Week from 3-6 June. The Week is designed to educate the public about medical device research in unique ways, with each day assigned a different theme for various topics. The week kicks off on Tuesday with the theme of ‘New Foundations’ which involves a seminar series entitled ‘Engineering the Nanobiointerface’ at the new Biosciences Building. Invited speakers include: Professor Joachim Spatz from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany; Professor Laura Ballerini from the University of Trieste, Italy; and Dr Matteo Palma from Queen Mary University of London, UK. Tuesday’s activities will end with a wine reception to celebrate “Chimera: Art of Exploration”, an exhibition which will be open to the public from 12-4pm, Wednesday to Friday. The exhibition is of art work by professional artists Paul Maye, Siobhan McGibbon, and Marie Connole. Additionally, the exhibition will present works by students of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, GMIT, who are participating in a short research project to create works in response to what they have seen and experienced in the NFB research laboratories. Medical devices from local companies including Boston Scientific, Vornia, Aerogen, and Osteoanchor will be displayed as well as artwork from staff in the Biosciences building inspired by their research. The week continues on Wednesday with”Reaching Out” entailing a public lecture at 1:00 at the Galway City Museum. During this lecture NFB PhD students will give an informal talk about the future of medical devices with regard to hernias, cardiovascular problems, orthopedics, and Parkinson's disease. Also on Wednesday, NFB researchers will visit local primary schools to present to children concepts of the anatomy, physiology, and disease of the heart through a series of hands-on activities. A link to the outreach activity can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrv_wx27qwQ Thursday is “Translation” involving a seminar series, ‘Medical Devices and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products – Challenges and Opportunities in the Post Recession Era’, at the Biosciences Building. Invited speakers from the medical device industry will be presenting from companies such as Covidien, DSM, and Orbsen Therapeutics. The week concludes Friday with “Meet the Curator” encompassing guided tours of the Chimera art exhibition. For further details and a full programme please go to www.nfb.ie or call 091 495833. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

NUI Galway’s Alumni Association will hold its annual golf outing in Galway Golf Club, Salthill on Friday, 6 June.                          According to NUI Galway Alumni Board Chairman, Sean O’Rourke, “this is a great opportunity for alumni and friends to get together for an afternoon of friendly competition. It also affords graduates the potential to reminisce on their time spent at NUI Galway, hear about developments on campus and catch up with former classmates and friends old and new.” The entry fee of €30 includes green fees and prizes and is open to all graduates and friends of NUI Galway. Bookings can be made singly, in doubles, threesomes or foursomes.                                                                                                                                      For further details and booking information, contact Alumni Office on 091 493750 or book online at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The results of the first ever All-Ireland apps competition were announced this week. The initiative, Apps4Gaps, was launched by the Minister of State Brian Hayes T.D. in October 2013. The aim of the competition was to develop ideas and create applications (apps) that would provide innovative and fresh ways of exploiting the Open Data available from the 2011 Census, and which could benefit society in such areas as transport, housing, planning, education, communications and health. The judges, drawn from the public, business and education sectors, included Soheila Dehghanzadeh of Insight at NUI Galway, Michael Meagher of Microsoft, Shawn Day of Digital Humanities at University College Cork, Enzo Lieghio of Hewlett Packard, and Kevin Healy and Fiona O'Callaghan, both of the Central Statistics Office.  The results of the final judges’ deliberations for the four were: Best Working App (Student) with a prize fund of €1,500 and judged overall winner of the Alice Perry medal was “Some1LikeMe”, created by Jack O’Sullivan and Peter Roe from Kilkenny College in Castlecomer. Best Concept entry (Student) was “The Relocator” from  Conor Mulcahy, Eoin Hayes and Robert Fitzgerald of Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, Co. Limerick Best Working App (Open) was the “Census Explorer” created by Gavin McCardle, Thomas Holz and Jennifer Treanor from Dublin. Best Concept entry (Open) was the “Attack of the Nearly Dead” from Barry and Katie Kennedy of CoderDojo Limerick. Apps4Gaps is co-organised by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, with sponsorship from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Partners for Apps4Gaps included the Department of Education and Skills, as well as the Department of Education Northern Ireland. The Apps4Gaps prizes will be presented during Maths Week in October 2014. -Ends-

Thursday, 22 May 2014

NUI Galway has won more BICS national society awards than any other college in Ireland Galway’s President, Dr Jim Brown recently hosted an event for the Societies to congratulate them on their successes this year. Present at the ceremony were the societies who won University Awards and those who represented NUI Galway at the recent Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) National Society Awards in Belfast. The two societies who won at the BICS, Astronomy Society won the Best New Society Award and the Rovers Society who won in the Best Photo category, were presented with their national trophies by Dr Browne. Since BICS inauguration in 1999 NUI Galway has won more national society awards than any other college in Ireland and tops the leader board at 35 trophies, with the next competitor standing at 24. Also receiving awards from Dr Browne were representatives from the Drama Society who won two awards at the national Drama Awards ISDA. Joe Power from County Down won best supporting actor for his role in Calisto 5, which also won the Award for Best Sound. The production was directed by Emily Murray from Cork. NUI Galway’s Choral Society gave a special performance at the ceremony, celebrating their success at Galway Choir Factor which they won recently. In his remarks Dr Browne congratulated the societies on their contribution to campus life and the over 900 students on committees who work tirelessly to enhance the learning opportunities for the students on the campus. Riona Hughes, Societies Officer said: “I would like to thank the University for its commitment to the students and the cultural life of the University by its support of the societies with exceptional facilities and resources.” -Ends-

Monday, 26 May 2014

NUI Galway will host the Child to Parent Violence: Innovations in Practice, Policy and Research conference, bringing together a variety of national and international speakers. The conference, which will take place from12-13 June, aims to raise awareness and to share information about best practice when it comes to responding to the problem of child to parent violence. Parents living with child to parent violence (where a son or daughter under the age of 18 years uses violence and controlling behaviour towards parents) often feel alone, frightened, ashamed and do not know where to turn for help. Practitioners, researchers and policy makers are often uncertain about how best to respond to the emerging problem of child to parent violence. The conference is part of the EU funded DAPHNE programme across five countries called the Responding to Child to Parent Violence (RCPV) project. The RCPV project team consists of a team of international academics and practitioners led by Dr Paula Wilcox at the University of Brighton. The RCPV aims to reflect a wide range of expertise on intervening with child to parent violence, (CPV) as well as geographical and cultural diversity across Europe. Dr Paula Wilcox will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference, which will also include: Peter Jakob, Partnership Projects, UK; Eddie Gallagher, Who’s in Charge, Australia; Michelle Pooley, Brighton and Hove City Council; Rita O’ Reilly, Parentline; Dr John Sharry, Parents Plus; and Norah Gibbons, Chairperson of Tusla – the Child and Family Agency. The conference is booked out with 200 practitioners, academics and policy makers scheduled to attend. Declan Coogan, lecturer in social work in the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway is the RCPV Project Leader for Ireland. Waterside House COPE Galway, the Domestic Violence Refuge and Centre in Galway, is also part of the project as a local community partner. Mr Coogan said, “More and more parents are talking about child to parent violence which has been a hidden but growing social problem in Ireland and across Europe. Practitioners working with families in Ireland are increasingly hearing parents describing their experiences of child to parent violence. The conference will assist Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Juvenile Justice Practitioners and others working with children and families across a range of services increase their awareness and skills development when faced with child to parent violence. The conference is also aimed at academics, researchers and policy makers as we try to better understand and respond to this problem throughout Europe.” One of the responses to CPV in Ireland is the Non Violent Resistance programme adapted for use in Ireland by Declan Coogan. This intervention is being used by a number of agencies in one to one and group settings with two day training in the programme being rolled out since last year. The Non Violent Resistance Handbook for Practitioners will also be launched at the end of the conference. With financial support from the DAPHNE programme of the European Union. -Ends-

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Kevin McGlinchey, a final year student in the Electronic & Computer Engineering degree programme at NUI Galway, has been awarded the Avaya Prize for the Best Final Year Project in Electrical & Electronic Engineering in the College of Engineering at NUI Galway. Originally from Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Kevin's project was in the area of collaborative robotics and involved developing a system which allowed a miniature quadcopter equipped with a camera to fly autonomously, while also guiding a ground based robot vehicle to a destination location using information extracted from the camera’s video feed.    Liam Kilmartin, the lecturer in NUI Galway who supervised Kevin’s project, said: “Kevin completed a very impressive project which required him to build some quite complex electronic systems for the quadcopter and ground robot. In addition, Kevin also developed some extremely advanced and sophisticated software which allowed the quadcopter to interpret the video coming from its camera in order to identify the location of a ground robot and guide that vehicle to its destination without any human help. This type of technology has potentially numerous commercial applications into the future ranging from self navigating aerial and ground vehicles to autonomous search and rescue systems.” Dr Michael Keane, Senior Manager with Avaya in Galway added: “As part of our ongoing commitment to encouraging and supporting students in the Electrical & Electronic Engineering discipline in NUI Galway, we were delighted to extend our sponsorship of this prize into its 13th year. Avaya, who employ 400 people in Galway with 200 in high technology R&D positions, are dedicated to encouraging high quality students such as Kevin into degree programmes in the areas of computer engineering and ICT in order to fill the many open graduate positions in Irish based companies like ourselves.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Three NUI Galway Biofuel researchers have collaborated on a remarkable output of 6 leading text books on biofuel, enzyme and fungal technologies in a little over one year. Dr Maria G Tuohy, Dr Vijai K Gupta and Dr Anthonia O’Donovan of NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences and Ireland’s national Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) have authored and co-edited the texts and presented them to NUI Galway’s Hardiman Library. Registrar and Deputy-President of NUI Galway, Prof Pól Ó Dochartaigh, accepted the textbooks on behalf of NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library and commended Dr Tuohy, Dr Gupta and Dr O’Donovan on their work in the areas of biofuels, enzyme and fungal technologies. Biochemist Dr Maria Tuohy outlined the environmental and industrial benefits of the research carried out by her team. “In practical terms, from the kind of fungi that are found on mouldy bread we have developed enzyme technologies that speed up the process of producing biogas fuel. In fact, brown-bin type wastes in themselves, such as kitchen waste and vegetable peelings can be a very valuable source of biofuel production rather than it going to landfill.” These enzyme technologies can pre-treat and break down more quickly a number of organic wastes ranging from brown-bin waste to dairy and farm wastes. This speeds up the process of biomethane production for transport.  Such developments offer significant potential for biofuels, given EU and global emission and renewable energy targets. Dr Tuohy paid tribute to her colleagues Dr Gupta, Dr O’Donovan, the Molecular Glycobiotechnology Group team, Dr Michael Carty (Head of Biochemistry), Prof Vincent O’Flaherty (Head of School) and colleagues from the School of Natural Sciences and the National Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy. (TCBB) Enterprise Ireland and other funding agencies supported the research group’s work. As authors and editors, the team thanked international colleagues and co-editors and their publishers, Springer, Springer Science + Business Media, Springer-Verlag, Elsevier, CRC Press, and Nova Science Publishers Inc.  One of the textbooks, Biofuel Technologies: Recent Developments (2013) edited by Dr Tuohy and Dr Gupta will soon be published in Chinese. Springer, the publisher of two of the texts has approached Dr Tuohy and Dr Gupta to edit a series of books in both areas over the coming years. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The 12th Galway Symposium on Higher Education will take place at NUI Galway on Friday, 6 June in Áras Moyola. Presentations, demonstrations, exhibits and discussions will focus on the key role that fieldwork, laboratory experiments, projects and other forms of active engagement have in enhancing the student learning experience.  Participants will have an excellent opportunity to discover the many forms of learning across all the subject areas of a university today. The symposium will also show how it is possible to strengthen the links between undergraduate teaching & learning and the research interests of academic staff. These forms of learning allow students to actively contribute to scholarship immerse themselves in professional practices and ethos of their chosen area. Examples include field trips to post-conflict cities exploring politics and identity in situ rather than just learning from texts; students mapping the geology, flora and fauna of parts of Ireland and beyond; of archaeological digs; going to sea on ocean-going research vessels; living and studying abroad to develop language and cultural knowledge & skills; working in science communication with children and the public; performance and drama; renewal of laboratory teaching to focus on projects and challenges. The event will be opened by a keynote presentation from Dr Helen Walkington, previous head of Geography, Earth & Environmental Studies at the UK's Higher Education Academy, on how students can participate in, and learn from, research. Then, academics from across the disciplines will share some of their passion and enthusiasm for working with students in these deeper, more immersive modes of learning. The afternoon session will consist of a series of workshops and open forum sessions, along with some practical demonstrations and exhibits. The event will close with a 'mystery tour' of interesting, and perhaps, little known locations around the NUI Galway campus. Dr Iain Mac Labhrainn, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, said “This will be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to discover just how much fascinating work is taking place in many academic disciplines and how enthusiastic commitment to research areas can spill over into teaching and the student experience. In a sense, the participants will be taking a 'field trip' through a university that is committed to teaching, research and public engagement. I'm sure that not only will it be enlightening but also fun.” Registration is required, but is free of charge. http://celt14.splashthat.com/ -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

As part of Medical Device Week, which will run from 3-6 June, NUI Galway will host Chimera, Art of Exploration exhibition. Chimera, Art of Exploration is a curated group exhibition in which artists works exploring notions of biosciences are exhibited alongside industrial medical devices, and will bring professional artists, student artists, the medical device industry, biomedical science and engineering researchers together. Chimera, Art of Exploration will open on Tuesday, 3 June at 5pm and will run daily from 12pm to 4pm in the Biosciences Building on campus. Siobhan McGibbon is an Irish artist based in Roscommon, she graduated from sculpture in Galway Mayo Institute Technology in Galway in 2009 and was awarded sculpture student of the year. In 2014 she was awarded a scholarship from the Limerick City of Culture to undertake a research led practice based masters in LCAD, Limerick, entitled ‘The modern prometheus, otherness and the body’. Her practice is predominantly sculpture based with a distinct medical slant. In 2014 McGibbon will embark on a self-directed residency in the University Collage Hospital Galway within the histology, radiology, pathology and oncology laboratory’s.  McGibbon has been awarded a fellowship to study in the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians, Philadelphia which will take place in the Autumn of 2014. Marie Connole is an Irish visual artist and teacher based in Co. Clare. Her studio practice combines drawing, painting, installation and animation.  She works through highly personal thematic content involving the subconscious, the body and the domestic environment.  In 2005 she was awarded a two-year bursary from the Clare Arts Office to undertake a research based Masters in Fine Art from NUI Galway and Burren College of Art.  Connole is a tutor with Limerick and Clare Education Training Board and an art teacher at second-level. Her work is supported by Clare Arts Office. www.marieconnole.com Paul Maye graduated with a BA Fine Art - Paint & Printmaking in 1996. In 2002, he was awarded an Arts Council for a residency at Arthouse, Dublin. He was selected to participate in the Florence Biennial in 2003 and again in 2005. More recently he was commissioned by Absolut Vodka for the 2011 Galway Arts Festival. The exhibition will present works by students of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, who are participating in a short research project to create works in response to what they have seen and experienced in the NFB research laboratories. The exhibition also includes medical devices, by companies such as Boston Scientific, Vornia, Aerogen, and Osteoanchor, and some other material designed to educate the public on medical device research.  Local artist Cecilia Danell and Professor Rhodri Cedrig from the National Centre for Bioengineering Science will choose the winners of the ‘Biosciences Art Competition.’ The competition includes art works by research scientists and engineers within the Biosciences building and the winners will be announced at the wine reception on Tuesday evening. -Ends-