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Thursday, 24 January 2019
NUI Galway has been awarded almost €420,000 in funding for developing new technology for faster clinical detection and diagnosis of bacterial infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a key cause of mortality in Cystic Fibrosis patients. Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway received his award as part of a government investment of €10.8 million in Irish research funding through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG), announced by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD. With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 PhD students in the research areas of health, energy, environment, materials and technology. Many disease-causing bacteria produce proteins, which are known to interact with sugar molecules. These interactions will allow the design of useful sensors. Dr Byrne’s research will develop novel devices that will indicate the presence of specific bacteria through colour changes, caused by the interactions of their proteins with laboratory-produced sugar-based chemical compounds on the surface of newly-designed materials. This will provide a convenient visual strategy to identify disease-causing bacteria. 3D-printing will be used to create these compact diagnostic devices, which will benefit patient outcomes and quality of life. This new technology could also be deployed in other scenarios such as detecting bacterial contamination of water supplies. Speaking about his funding award, Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway, said: “Rapid diagnosis of bacteria is vital to inform appropriate medical treatment strategies and combat increasing antibiotic resistance globally. By providing a new methodology for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection, my work will facilitate quicker decision-making on targeted medical treatment strategies for patients. In Ireland this would be particularly valuable for rapid diagnosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a significant risk factor for cystic fibrosis patients (as well as others with compromised immune systems). More generally, helping clinicians avoid the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics would help combat the global challenge of increased antibiotic resistance.” Speaking about the awards, Minister Breen said: “I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.” Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research. A native of Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Dr Joseph Byrne joins the School of Chemistry and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, following a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at Universität Bern, Switzerland. His main research focus is developing new technology for faster clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections by exploiting interactions between biomolecules and the innovative sensor materials, which will be designed during the course of this SIRG project. The research will be multidisciplinary, building on fundamental chemistry and biochemical interactions to develop diagnostic devices using 3D-printing technology.
Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Galway University Musical Society’s (GUMS) 19th annual show ‘Pippin – The Musical’ will be staged in the Black Box Theatre from Tuesday 5-9 February at 8pm. ‘Pippin’ is a 1972 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. The musical uses the premise of a mysterious performance troupe, led by a Leading Player, to tell the story of Pippin, a young prince on his search for meaning and significance. Cian Elwood, GUMS Auditor, said: “Pippin is an amazing theatrical experience from the moment the audience sits down to the finale. Be prepared to be blown away by the one of the best GUMS' shows to hit the BlackBox stage!” GUMS is an amateur society run by students with a passion for musicals. Their productions have been nominated for numerous The Associations of Musical Societies (AIMS) awards, most recently nominated for best choreography in 2017. They have received rave reviews throughout their years in NUI Galway and a number of their previous cast members have gone on to study musical theatre in London. NUI Galway Societies Officer Riona Hughes said: “From September the Musical Society has been rehearsing tirelessly for this year's production of Pippin. We are all very excited to see what they have in store for all to see in the Black Box Theatre.” Tickets are €15 or €12 for concession (students or OAPs). Tickets are on sale now online at www.tht.ie and from the Town Hall Theatre and the Socs Box in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway.
Wednesday, 23 January 2019
Study Finds Wearable Electronic Device May Reduce Mobility Issues in Parkinson’s Disease Wednesday, 23 January, 2018: Engineers and scientists at NUI Galway in collaboration with clinical professionals from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) have carried out a clinical study which has produced promising results for people with Parkinson’s disease with mobility issues. The research found that ‘fixed’ rhythmic sensory electrical stimulation (sES) designed to prevent Freezing of Gait (movement abnormality), significantly reduced the time taken for a person with Parkinson’s disease to complete a walking task and the number of ‘Freezing of Gait’ episodes which occurred, helping them to walk more effectively. The study involved a group of people with Parkinson’s testing how effective the sES electronic device was in helping them to manage this debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin and the research team from the Human Movement Laboratory in CÚRAM at NUI Galway have a programme of research developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage this debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease. As part of this work, the project team have developed a novel wearable electronic device worn around the waist, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. The condition gained prominence recently when Billy Connolly spoke of his fear of being unable to move freely on stage in his documentary Made in Scotland. Speaking candidly about the abnormality, the much loved comedian said: “I didn’t know how standing there would feel...I discovered that I got kinda rooted to the spot and became afraid to move. Instead of going away to the front of the stage and prowling along the front the way I used to do I stood where I was.” NUI Galway Co-investigator, Dr. Leo Quinlan, from Physiology in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “These results are very encouraging as they show that cueStim reduced Freezing of Gait episodes and the time to complete a walking task in an independent clinical assessment with a pilot home-based study carried out by NHSGGC.” Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, said: “We are now seeking additional clinical partners to work with NUI Galway in carrying out a comprehensive long-term clinical evaluation of cueStim in enhancing the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease through a funded programme of research.” The clinical study was designed by Dr Anne-Louise Cunnington, Consultant Geriatrician and Ms Lois Rosenthal, Movement Disorder Specialist and Highly Specialised Physiotherapist, both from NHSGGC, and involved the participants completing a home based self-identified walking Ms Lois Rosenthal, NHSGGC, said: “Freezing of gait is one of the most frustrating and difficult symptoms for patients to suffer and specialists to treat. This common feature of Parkinson’s is not improved by Parkinson’s medications, and is inconsistently responsive to cueing techniques trialled by physiotherapists. This collaboration between NUI Galway and NHSGGC explored a novel intervention and results were very encouraging. We now need a larger scale study to further evaluate effectiveness and real-life practicality.” The cueStim system was developed by Dean Sweeney as part of his PhD studies in the Discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. The results provide evidence that sensory electrical stimulation cueing delivered in a “fixed” rhythmic manner has the potential to be an effective cueing mechanism for Freezing of Gait prevention. The study was jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Framework 7 programme of the European Commission and was carried out in collaboration with Stobhill Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary within NHSGGC. To read the full study in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering, visit: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jhe/2018/4684925/.
Monday, 21 January 2019
A study by the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is seeking participants to trial a new online programme offering psychological support for people with chronic pain and at least one other chronic condition. Chronic pain is a common condition in Ireland, and has been associated with an increased risk of depression, decreased ability to work, and increased costs to the person directly and to the state. A growing number of people have the additional burden of multiple chronic conditions, known as multimorbidity. Access to psychological support can be a particular difficulty for people with multimorbidity and can add strain due to the cost and time involved. Additionally, standard supports are generally aimed at the self-management of single specific chronic conditions, and don’t take into account the impact of having multiple conditions with various competing symptoms and treatments to manage. With this in mind, researchers in the Centre for Pain Research are developing and trialling an online psychological programme for people with multiple chronic conditions. The ACTION for Multimorbidity study is recruiting adults in Ireland with chronic pain (pain that has persisted for three months or longer) and at least one other chronic condition to trial the programme. The ACTION programme provides eight online sessions, tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their health conditions. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of activity-pacing techniques to encourage consistent levels of activity from day to day. In addition, mindfulness techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy will help the identification of negative thinking patterns and the development of effective challenges. In researching online programmes such as these, the Centre for Pain Research hopes to enable increased access to effective treatments for chronic conditions. Professor Brian McGuire, principal investigator on the study at NUI Galway, explains: “We know that psychological therapies provided to people with chronic conditions are beneficial, but often hard to access. In this trial, we will offer an online programme to people all over the country, with any combination of conditions and chronic pain, to try alongside any existing treatments they are already using.” The entire study is carried out online, and participants will not need to travel to NUI Galway at any stage. Participants will be asked to complete three questionnaires about their health over a five-month period, and after the first questionnaire will be randomly assigned to receive either immediate or delayed access to the online programme. All materials can be accessed on PCs and mobile devices, and contact with the research team will be primarily through email, with occasional phone calls. Participants can continue their usual treatments while involved in the trial. To participate, please email the researchers at email@example.com. The current phase of recruitment will close in March, with participants usually starting the study within days of first making contact. Details of this study, and other work by the Centre for Pain Research, are available at: http://www.nuigalway.ie/centre-for-pain-research/.
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of patients with Type 1 diabetes The NUI Galway coordinated DELIVER programme, which will train six early career translational research scientists in the field of insulin producing cell transplantation for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes has been awarded €1.6 million in EU Horizon 2020 funding. Each early stage researcher will spend half of their time with an academic partner and the other half with an industry partner which will ensure a focus on clinical translation of the outcomes of the research. JDRF, the world’s largest non-profit funder of Type 1 diabetes research says that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. Without insulin production the body has trouble regulating its blood-glucose, or blood-sugar, levels. Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed early in life but also in adulthood. Its causes are not fully known, and there is currently no cure. People with this form of diabetes are dependent on injected or pumped insulin to survive. If not treated properly, people are vulnerable to health issues ranging from minor to severe. Chronic high blood sugar often causes devastating health complications later in life, including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and nerve damage that can lead to amputations. The DELIVER programme will develop new strategies to deliver pancreatic insulin producing cells effectively in a targeted and protected fashion to transplant sites in the body. This programme is a major interdisciplinary effort between cell biologists, experts in biomaterials, medical devices and advanced drug delivery, clinical experts and biomedical companies focused on academic training and spearheading innovative medical devices for insulin producing cell transplantation. DELIVER will be led by Professor Garry Duffy, Anatomy, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, along with his NUI Galway colleagues, Dr Eimear Dolan, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering and Informatics, Professor Timothy O’Brien and Dr Liam Burke from the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, and Dr Esther O’Sullivan from UCH Galway. Professor Garry Duffy at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to lead the DELIVER programme and to continue to translate new collaborative research for the benefit of patients with Type 1 diabetes. We are also excited to train the next generation of researchers in this area, and to give them the industrial skills necessary to have real patient impact. Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of patients who have Type 1 diabetes, and through DELIVER we will develop new technologies to enhance stem cell therapies for these patients by improving the longevity of the implants.” DELIVER will also link to research expertise in two Science Foundation Ireland funded research centres at NUI Galway, AMBER and CỨRAM. Professor Duffy is a funded investigator in both of these centres and the new early stage researchers will have exposure to leading research in materials science and medical devices through this interaction. The programme builds on research efforts from another large EU funded project, DRIVE which is also coordinated by Professor Garry Duffy at NUI Galway, and will see further capacity for research in the area of cell based solutions for Type 1 diabetes. See: www.drive-project.eu. The DELIVER training partners join from three EU countries comprising of Academic (NUI Galway, Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen, and RCSI, Dublin); Industry (Boston Scientific Galway, Explora SRL, Rome); and Clinical (Niguarda Ca’ Granda Hospital, Milan) participants. DELIVER has received funding under a European Union Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Innovative Training Network (ITN) grant agreement. Recruitment for the six early career translational research scientists positions will be available online at the end of January at: http://www.nuigalway.ie/about-us/jobs/.
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
University Welcomes Decision Which Ensures Eligibility for Free Fees Initiative NUI Galway today welcomed confirmation from the Department of Education and Skills that eligible students from the UK who enrol for eligible courses for the 2019/2020 academic year will be able to avail of the Department’s Free Fee Schemes as in previous years. This means that students from Northern Ireland eligible under the Free Fees Initiative for 2019/2020 will be entitled to avail of the initiative for the duration of their course. This clarification addresses concerns surrounding the looming Brexit deadline and the potential negative impact on these students when the UK leaves the European Union. Speaking on the matter, NUI Galway Registrar and Deputy President Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “Historically the catchment area for NUI Galway is contiguous to Northern Ireland and it is very important that A Level students in Northern Ireland who wish to study at NUI Galway are not disadvantaged as a result of the UK’s departure from the European Union. In recent years our student numbers from Northern Ireland have been showing an upward trend and we are looking forward to welcoming an increasing number of Northern Irish students coming to NUI Galway to study one of the 67 undergraduate degrees on offer.” Students and parents from Northern Ireland considering applying to NUI Galway for 2019 entry are encouraged to attend the University’s undergraduate Open Day taking place on Saturday, 6 April. According to Sarah Geraghty, Head of Student Recruitment and Outreach at NUI Galway: “Students and parents visiting from Northern Ireland will have an opportunity to see just how close NUI Galway is to home, tour the on-campus accommodation facilities and find out how affordable the cost of living can be for students in NUI Galway compared with other study destinations.” For further information on applying to NUI Galway from Northern Ireland visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/undergrad-admissions/faqs/. -Ends-
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
A new book Transforming Language Teaching and Learning by Dr Patrick Farren in the School of Education at NUI Galway, calls for a radical shift in how we understand and approach language teaching, learning, and assessment in schools. Dr Farren carried out three studies in collaboration with educators and student-teachers at NUI Galway, King’s College London, Boston College, MA, and neighbouring post-primary schools. Dr Farren, says: “The studies examine modern foreign language teaching and learning from an autonomous language teaching and learning perspective. Language is understood not only in terms of competence but as language in use, which is an action-oriented process. The classroom is understood as a space in which learners are immersed in the target language. The studies examine the impact of social interaction linked to target language use in context, and of critical reflection in which learners plan, monitor, and self-assess. Assessment for learning strategies and use of a portfolio are seen to support learners in developing the capacity to accept responsibility for their language learning.” Dr Farren added: “Engaged learning is seen to enhance autonomous language teaching and learning by integrating ‘new’ literacies such as, critical, digital and media literacies, and intercultural literacy, with the development of the traditional and basic literacies of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It suggests that a more integrated, whole school approach to language teaching and learning would support language learners in making connections across languages and cultures, and by implication, support the development of a more cohesive society. Overall, it shows how teachers can develop a more encompassing professional identity as research practitioners and leaders with the capacity to make evidence informed decisions based on moral values.” A native of Buncrana in County Donegal, Dr Farren has taught and carried out research in countries including the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US. The book includes interviews with international experts, Dr Paul Black on assessment, and Maria Brisk on addressing the needs of English language learners. Writing in the Foreword to the book, Dr Jane Jones, Head of Modern Foreign Language Teacher Education, King’s College London, refers to how teachers in the studies are understood as “creators and not just deliverers of knowledge”, and how the book is “a liberating account of what happens when student-teachers and teacher educators not only understand the moral purpose of teaching but inhabit a space in which conditions are created for a transformative pedagogy to flourish”. The principles of language empowerment, critical consciousness, interdependence, and moral values are at the centre of participants’ interpretations of ‘transformative pedagogy’ in the book. The book will be of interest to teacher educators, parents, student-teachers, researchers, students in any sector of education, language teachers and parents of children taking the new junior cycle programme, education bodies, as well as the general reader with an interest in language learning and education. The book is published by Peter Lang International, and is available online from the publisher and from www.amazon.com. -Ends-
Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Dr Georganne Nordstrom from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to work and conduct research at NUI Galway’s Academic Writing Centre and to teach in the School of Humanities from January 2019. An expert in Composition and Rhetoric, Dr Nordstrom directs the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Writing Center. Her research and teaching focuses on writing centre studies, critical and place-based pedagogy, and examinations of Indigenous and minority rhetorics, with a specific focus on Hawaiʻi’s Creole, Pidgin. Dr Nordstrom’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity in teaching is reflected in the international symposium on Writing and Well-being, which will be held at NUI Galway in April 2019. Co-organised by Dr Nordstrom and Dr Irina Ruppo, NUI Galway’s Academic Writing Centre, the symposium is set to attract experts on Composition and Writing from across Ireland, Europe and the US. The symposium will address such issues as the impact of writing on students’ stress levels, interventions to nurture and support well-being during the writing process, the role of writing centres and other pedagogical initiatives in facilitating student well-being, as well as the intersections between well-being and marginalised identity markers and inclusivity efforts. Inclusivity and the teaching of academic writing will also be addressed at a unique workshop conducted by academic tutors from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Writing Center and funded by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project Fund which will take place on Tuesday, 29 January. This workshop, organised ahead of Dr Nordstrom’s arrival, is the first instance of the many ways in which Dr Nordstom’s expertise is set to benefit the NUI Galway community. Niall McSweeney, Head of Research and Learning, James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, said: “I would like to congratulate Dr Nordstrom on her appointment and look forward to welcoming her here shortly. It is the start of a great collaborative opportunity for both the Academic Writing Centre and the School of Humanities. I am sure Dr Nordstrom’s expertise will provide a truly international perspective too.”
Monday, 14 January 2019
Professor William A. Schabas, Emeritus Professor at NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights will deliver a Holocaust Memorial Lecture on the role that ideas of racial superiority played in the Holocaust. The lecture, entitled “Genocide, the Holocaust, and the Lie of Racial Superiority”, will take place on Wednesday, 23 January at 7pm in the Lecture Theatre, Ryan Institute Annexe, NUI Galway Professor Schabas will discuss international efforts, including those of international law, to condemn notions of racial superiority, linking this to the Holocaust, but also to colonialism and the slave trade. He will talk briefly about his own family's experiences with Nazi racism and genocide. Professor Ray Murphy, Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: “There are echoes of the narrative of racial superiority and hatred that preceded the Holocaust in much of the political discourse around the world today. For this reason it is important to recall the language used by political leaders and the events that led to the Holocaust to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.” The event will be introduced by Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights and chaired by Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President at NUI Galway. Professor Schabas is Emeritus Professor of Human Rights Law at NUI Galway and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Professor of International Law at Middlesex University and at Leiden University, and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is an invited visiting scholar at the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Politiques), Honorary Professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, visiting fellow of Kellogg College of the University of Oxford, visiting fellow of Northumbria University, and professeur associé at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Professor Schabas is also a 'door tenant' at the chambers of 9 Bedford Row, in London. Professor Schabas has published extensively in the field of international human rights and criminal law. His most recent book is The Trial of the Kaiser, published by Oxford University Press.
Monday, 14 January 2019
The Rathcroghan Resource Community has been successful in its bid under the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri), through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for its project, ‘Farming Rathcroghan: Sustainable Farming in the Rathcroghan Archaeological Landscape’ and has been awarded a grant of almost €1 million (€984,000) to implement this project over the course of the next five years. Joe Fenwick and Dr Kieran O’Conor from the Discipline of Archaeology at NUI Galway, as well as PhD candidate Daniel Curley, the Farming Rathcroghan Project Co-ordinator, are an integral part of the Rathcroghan Resource Community, which has been instrumental in making this successful project proposal under the EIP-Agri scheme. The Discipline of Archaeology has had a research interest in Rathcroghan, the ancient ‘royal’ capital of Connacht, and the general north Roscommon area over the past 40 years or more, and these endeavors continue to the present day as part of a more expansive interdisciplinary initiative, ‘The Connacht Project’.* The ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project is a logical progression of the NUI Galway’s on-going involvement with the greater Rathcroghan community and most especially its farmers, who have been custodians of this remarkable landscape over the centuries. Speaking about the project, Joe Fenwick, Archaeological Field Officer from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “The ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project is an exciting new initiative with enormous potential for the future. Its objectives are to manage, care for and conserve this important archaeological landscape by implementing a programme of economically sustainable and ecologically sound farming practices, while also facilitating visitor access to the area.” The project will formulate, test and develop a suite of innovative management solutions designed to sustain a viable and vibrant rural farming community in the context of a culturally and ecologically sensitive landscape. In so doing, the project aims to raise awareness among the general public of the significance of Rathcroghan as a farmed archaeological landscape and promote the proactive role of farmers and farming in the care and maintenance of the living landscape in harmony with its rich cultural heritage and ecological assets. The project team hope that some of its tried and tested practices can be applied to other culturally sensitive landscapes throughout Ireland and the European Union and so the ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project might become a flagship project for others to follow in the future. The ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project has been developed using a locally led partnership approach. Its operational group, the Rathcroghan Resource Community, consists of a lead partner, Farming Rathcroghan CLG (comprising directors from Rathcroghan Farmers, Tulsk Action Group and Rathcroghan Visitor Centre) and various operational group members (comprising the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway; Roscommon County Council; Teagasc, Agriculture and Food Development Authority; World Heritage Unit, National Monuments Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht). For more about the ‘Farming Rathcroghan’ project and other EIP-Agri related projects visit the National Rural Network website at: https://www.nationalruralnetwork.ie/innovation
Monday, 14 January 2019
A team of researchers from NUI Galway and the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil have had their opinion article published in the international journal Trends in Plant Science, proposing to use gene editing technology for the production into tomatoes of capsaicinoids, the spicy compound found in chilli peppers. Co-author of the article, Dr Ronan Sulpice from Plant and Botany Science, Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “All genes necessary for the production of capsaicinoids are already present in tomatoes. However, they are silent, and we are proposing to activate them using gene editing technology. However, the challenge is massive because the pathway responsible for the synthesis of these compounds is very complex, so we are very likely far from the day we will consume spicy tomatoes.” Senior author of the article, Dr Agustin Zsögön at the Federal University of Viçosa, Brazil, said: “Engineering the capsaicinoid genetic pathway to the tomato would make it easier and cheaper to produce this compound, which has very interesting applications. We have the tools powerful enough to engineer the genome of any species; the challenge is to know which gene to engineer and where.” Spicy tomatoes could be commercialised for food consumption, but the main aim is to use them as biofactories for capsaicinoids production towards industrial uses. The rationale is that tomatoes are much more yielding than peppers, with up to 110 tonnes of fruits per hectare compared to around 3 tonnes per hectare, and have more stable yields. As a result, tomatoes would allow a much higher production of capsaicinoids. These spicy compounds have significant nutritional and commercial uses, such as in cancer treatment, anti-inflammatory and pain medication, and even pepper spray. Currently efforts are ongoing in Brazil to produce the tomatoes, and first results are expected by the end of this year. If successful, the scientists are considering even more imaginative ways that tomatoes may be used to produce other high value compounds. Importantly, this work remains hypothetical, in the context of how to regulate CRISPR gene-edited crop varieties. Switching on an already present gene using a process called mutagenesis is different from transgenesis, the introduction of foreign genes into an organism. In 2018, the EU and the US came to opposing decisions on how to classify these newer forms of gene-edited plants. So, while the prospect of spicy tomatoes may raise the interest of some people, we are a very long way from commercially growing such varieties. To read the full opinion article in Trends in Plant Science, visit: https://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/fulltext/S1360-1385(18)30261-9 -Ends-
Friday, 11 January 2019
NUI Galway researchers who established and rolled out the national SMART Consent programme have just announced a major four-year programme of research and implementation on Active Consent, funded by Lifes2good Foundation in partnership with Galway University Foundation and NUI Galway. The programme was officially launched by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD and Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway today (Friday, 11 January). The Active Consent programme will be led by NUI Galway’s SMART Consent team; Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, and Kate Dawson from the School of Psychology, and Dr Charlotte McIvor from the Centre for Drama and Theatre Studies. The programme targets young people from 16-23 years of age in order to promote a positive approach to the important issue of sexual consent and will partner with a range of schools and sporting organisations in the delivery of the Active Consent initiative. Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, commented: “I wish to congratulate Dr Pádraig MacNeela and his team of researchers in securing funding for this programme, Active Consent. It is an important step forward and takes a new and original approach, which we need on issues to do with equality and sexual violence. The team are taking on a difficult subject in a positive way that respects young people’s capacity for independence and decision-making. Within the Department of Education, I am leading the call for a collective national standard for our higher education institutions on supporting consent and responding to sexual violence on campuses. I am confident that my expert group, of which Dr MacNeela is a member, will be reporting back to me within the next two weeks and we will then be in a position to devise national standards that all of our higher education institutions will have to implement. In conclusion we all have the same mission, to make our institutions safe and respectful places of learning for all. The Active Consent programme will help to put Ireland at the forefront of this progressive action.” Welcoming the announcement Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is committed to ensuring that all our students have a safe and positive experience with us. We are also determined to ensure we share our knowledge and expertise in research, practice and the arts to address wider societal challenges. The work of the SMART Consent team is a real example of how our academic scholarship can have a substantive social impact as it contributes in a very practical way to the important work of promoting sexual consent in Ireland. Through this new Active Consent programme our University, with the generous philanthropic support of Lifes2good, will promote and share new strategies to develop young people and promote positive messaging on active sexual consent. I am confident that this Active Consent programme will have a positive impact on the lives and futures of countless young people and I commend Lifes2good Foundation and our partners in education and sporting organisations for their initiative in joining us in this important work. Together we can achieve the culture of respect and equality that we wish for our young people.” Key aims of the Active Consent programme To design and implement practical tools and strategies that reach young people from 16-23 years of age with positive messaging on active sexual consent.To promote active consent so that young people feel confident and skilled in communicating with their partners about intimacy. To reach across three key youth settings (higher education institutions, senior cycle in schools and sports organisations). To support young people using multiple implementation methods that will include workshops, drama, training, videos, and online resources. To promote critical thinking about pornography, supported by an online platform on consent education for students, parents, and teachers. Dr Pádraig MacNeela said: “We want to promote a positive, proactive approach to sexual consent, and this funding gives us a unique opportunity to do this over the next four years. There is a unique team behind this programme, from Psychology and Sexual Health Promotion, to Drama and Theatre Studies. We are combining Irish research data with proven youth engagement methods and the creative arts to support a full range of sexual consent messaging.” Dr Siobhán O’Higgins said: “The opportunity to deliver core messages about consent across all settings will promote joined up, consistent support for positive relationships. The messaging is important, but it is also critical that we work in partnership with institutions and groups in each setting to address their specific needs and opportunities.” Creative Arts Creative arts and communications are at the centre of the team’s work, using drama, film and other methods as communication strategies to deliver statistics, research findings, and messaging on positive sexual health. Dr Charlotte McIvor says: “To change social norms in the long-term, we believe that consent messaging should be delivered in ways that engage, entertain, and educate. Using the creative arts allows us to pose questions as well as give answers, and show the human and emotional dimensions of the grey areas of consent.” The SMART Consent team have worked in partnership with students and staff at colleges such as NUI Galway, GMIT, DCU, UL, NCAD, among others, to train facilitators and deliver sexual consent workshops. Over the four years of this new programme, the team will establish partnerships across schools and sports settings as well. The first partnership they have in place for secondary schools is with the WISER Programme (AIDS West), delivered across approximately 50 primary and secondary schools in the West of Ireland. James Murphy, Co-founder of Lifes2good Foundation, said: “As a graduate of NUI Galway, I welcome the opportunity to give something back to the University, especially for such an innovative programme such as this. In my business life I have found that research pays dividends. I also know that good marketing works. This programme is based on research with the ambition to project a message that resonates with as many young people as possible. It will support boys and young men in a non-judgmental way to engage in meaningful reflection that promotes active consent.” Maria Murphy, Co-founder of Lifes2good Foundation, added: “As a mother of four adult children, I am convinced of the need for programmes such as this in Ireland. This is a major grant for Lifes2Good Foundation over four years, but it is the start of what we hope will be a national programme taken on by government to impact young people in Ireland for many years to come. The main focus of Lifes2good Foundation is on vulnerable women and children. But we are interested in preventative strategies as well as remedial, and this programme focuses on attitudes and beliefs as a foundation for positive behaviour.” Lifes2good Foundation and Galway University Foundation are Galway based foundations. Together they will enable the Active Consent programme to support research and implementation in colleges, schools, and sports clubs across Ireland from 2019-2022. Lifes2good Foundation funding is supported by partial matched funding from NUI Galway. View two short interactive films on consent that invites viewers to experiment actively with the idea that one sexual encounter can have many possible outcomes when it comes to the negotiation of consent between partners. See films: ‘Tom and Julie’ and ‘Kieran and Jake’ here: http://www.nuigalway.ie/consent=omfg/ Video on Consent is OMFG (Ongoing, Mutual, and Freely Given): https://youtu.be/AtSP3gAJpuw -Ends-
Friday, 11 January 2019
NUI Galway will host a CAO information evening for students, parents, guardians and guidance counsellors in the Radisson Hotel in Letterkenny on Thursday, 17th January from 7-9pm. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and the undergraduate courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand to answer any individual questions in relation to courses and practical issues like accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to our students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to its innovative programmes developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. NUI Galway is launching three new Arts degrees for enrolment in 2019. This includes a BA (History and Globalisation), BA Government (Politics, Economics and Law) and a BA Education (Computer Science and Mathematical Studies). The University will also launch a new degree in Law and Human Rights for 2019. At the information evening there will be a representative from across the University’s five colleges available to answer questions about the programmes on offer, entry requirements, and placement and employment opportunities. Representatives from Shannon College of Hotel Management, an NUI Galway college will also attend the event. Members of the Accommodation Office will be on hand to answer any queries about on-campus or off-campus options, including the new Goldcrest on-campus development, which sees 429 new beds this year, bringing the total of on-campus beds to 1193. Letterkenny based company Optum, a leading information and technology enabled health service business, and a major employer in County Donegal, provide scholarships for Donegal students applying to a number of NUI Galway programmes. A representative from Optum will be on hand at the information evening to provide information on the scholarships and the application process. Sarah Geraghty, Student Recruitment and Outreach Manager at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway has strong links throughout the North West, having opened a medical academy in Letterkenny in addition to providing Irish language courses in Ionad Ghaoth Dobhair. We are delighted to have the opportunity to visit Donegal and showcase all of the undergraduate courses on offer at NUI Galway and throughout the West. With so many courses on offer, this event is a perfect opportunity for prospective students to meet current students and lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit for them.” With the CAO deadline for applications approaching on 1st February this is the perfect opportunity for parents and students to find out more about the opportunities at NUI Galway, and how to make the right CAO choice for them. For more information contact Grainne Dunne, School Liaison Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org or 087 2440858. -Ends-
Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Lectures will be followed by screening of ‘Bride of Frankenstein and ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ Sir Christopher Frayling, Rector of the Royal College of Art and Professor of Cultural History with the College, will deliver two free public lectures at NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media on Wednesday, 16 and Thursday, 17 January. The first lecture, ‘Frankenstein - the first two hundred years’ will take place on Wednesday, 16 January at 6pm. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was first published on New Year's Day 1818. This illustrated lecture will celebrate the novel's 200th birthday by exploring its difficult journey into print, and its colourful afterlife on stage, in films, and within everyday culture. In the era of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, IVF treatments, robotics, three-parent families and animal-human interfaces, the lecture will argue that the modern creation myth of 'Frankenstein' - the one where it is the scientist who does the creating - has never been more relevant. 'Frankenstein' is one of the most-filmed stories of all time - up there with Sherlock Holmes and Dracula and Sir Frayling will discuss some of the reasons why. The lecture will be following by a screening of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ in the Huston School. On Thursday, 17 January, Sir Frayling will deliver his lecture ‘Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece’ at 3pm, followed by a screening of the movie. Sergio Leone's film ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ set out to be the ultimate Western - a celebration of the power of classic Hollywood cinema, a meditation on the making of America, and a lament for the decline of one of the most cherished of film genres in the form of a "dance of death". With this film, Sergio Leone said a fond farewell to the noisy and flamboyant world of the Italian Western, which he had created with 'A Fistful of Dollars' and sequels, and aimed for something much more ambitious - an exploration of the relationship between myth, history and his own autobiography as an avid film-goer. Sir Christopher Frayling was until recently Chairman of Arts Council England and former Chairman of the Design Council. He is well-known as an historian, critic and an award-winning broadcaster. His many books include Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula; The Yellow Peril – Dr Fu Manchu and the Rise of Chinophobia; Inside the Bloody Chamber: on Angela Carter, the Gothic and other weird tales; and Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in Italy. Dr Tony Tracy, Acting Head of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome a guest of the stature of Sir Christopher Frayling to the Huston School of Film and Digital Media. Chris has had a distinguished career in education, broadcasting and cultural policy but these lectures capture some of his most enduring contributions: he has written and broadcast better than anyone on Frankenstein and the horror genre and is responsible not only for the definitive biography on Sergio Leone but for coining the term spaghetti western!” -Ends-
Tuesday, 8 January 2019
The 14th annual Teddy Bear Hospital at NUI Galway will take place Thursday and Friday, 17 and 18 January. The event will see over 1,200 sick teddy bears admitted to the hospital, accompanied by their minders, 1,200 primary school children. The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, NUI Galway’s health promotion society that focuses on promoting all aspects of physical and mental health. Up to 200 medical, healthcare and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 3-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Over the years, children have come along with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful ailments. Anna Lynam, a second year Occupational Therapy student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Sláinte Society, said: “We are so excited to welcome the 14th annual Teddy Bear Hospital this year. Despite the ever-growing demand from schools to attend the event, we strive to include as many schools as possible; conscious that each and every teddy bear in Galway deserves the best care. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first ‘patients’ and hope to present an atmosphere of fun, enthusiasm and encouragement for all.” This year, 29 local primary schools are participating in the event, equating to over 1,200 children. On arrival at the Teddy Bear Hospital on campus, the children each have an individual consultation with one of the teddy doctors on call. The ‘patients’ will be examined by the doctors and will receive a ‘pawscription’ and referral to surgery or x-ray. The students will have specially designed X-ray and MRI machines on hand, should the teddy bears need them. Recuperating teddy bears can avail of medical supplies from the Teddy Bear Pharmacy, stocked with healthy fruit from Total Produce and Fyffes, along with medical supplies sponsored by Matt O’Flaherty Chemist. After all this excitement the children can enjoy a bouncy castle and entertainment from NUI Galway’s Circus Society. Sponsorship for the event comes from Bank of Ireland, Medical Protection Society and Dunnes Stores. Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer, said: “The Teddy Bear hospital is a magical opportunity for the society to invite the children and their teddies to campus and provide a valuable learning experience for all. It is one of the NUI Galway societies’ most colourful and endearing community outreach programme and we are thrilled with its success. Congratulations to Sláinte Society who engage such a large number of our students in this event for such a positive purpose and we look forward to a rewarding few days for all involved.” -Ends- Déanann mic léinn leighis OÉ Gaillimh ceiliúradh ar cheithre bliana déag d'Otharlann na mBéiríní Reáchtálfar 14ú Otharlann na mBéiríní in OÉ Gaillimh i mbliana ar an Déardaoin agus an Aoine, an 17 agus an 18 Eanáir. Tiocfaidh breis agus 1,200 páiste bunscoile chuig an ospidéal lena mbéiríní tinne le go gcuirfí cóir leighis orthu. Is é Cumann Sláinte OÉ Gaillimh atá i mbun an ócáid a eagrú. Díríonn an cumann ar gach gné den tsláinte fhisiciúil agus den mheabhairshláinte a chur chun cinn. Beidh suas le 200 mac léinn leighis, cúraim sláinte agus eolaíochta i láthair chun na béiríní a dhiagnóisiú agus a leigheas. Tá súil acu go gcuideoidh an ócáid le páistí idir 3-8 mbliana d’aois a bheith ar a suaimhneas le dochtúirí nó i dtimpeallacht ospidéil. Tá béiríní tugtha chuig an ospidéal ag páistí i gcaitheamh na mblianta agus iad ag samhlú go raibh réimse leathan tinnis ag gabháil dóibh, leithéidí cluasa tinne, boilg bhreoite agus gach cineál easláinte eile faoin spéir. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Anna Lynam, mac léinn le Teiripe Shaothair sa dara bliain in OÉ Gaillimh agus comh-iniúchóir an Chumainn Sláinte: “Táimid ag súil go mór le 14ú Otharlann na mBéiríní i mbliana. D’ainneoin go bhfuil borradh ag teacht ar an éileamh ó scoileanna, déanaimid tréaniarracht freastal ar an líon is mó scoileanna agus is féidir; ar ndóigh, níl ach an chóir leighis is fearr dá bhfuil ann tuillte ag gach béirín i nGaillimh. Táimid ag fanacht go foighneach ar na chéad ‘othair’ agus tá súil againn gur atmaisféar spraíúil agus spreagúil a bheidh rompu. Tá 29 bunscoil áitiúil agus breis agus 1,200 páiste ag glacadh páirte san ócáid i mbliana. Gabhfaidh na páistí i gcomhairle le duine de na dochtúirí béiríní tar éis dóibh a theacht i láthair ag Otharlann na mBéiríní ar an gcampas. Déanfaidh na dochtúirí scrúdú ar na ‘hothair’ agus tabharfar oideas dóibh, agus cuirfear ar atreo ansin iad le haghaidh obráide nó x-gha. Beidh meaisíní speisialta x-gha agus MRI ag na mic léinn ar fhaitíos go mbeidís ag teastáil ó na béiríní. Beidh na béiríní atá ag teacht chucu féin in ann ábhair leighis a fháil i gCógaslann na mBéiríní, áit a mbeidh torthaí sláintiúla le fáil a bhuíochas le Total Fruit agus Fyffes, mar aon le hábhair leighis urraithe ag Cógaslann Matt O’Flaherty. Nuair a bheidh an méid sin curtha díobh acu, beidh deis ag na páistí spraoi ar an bpreabchaisleán agus beidh Cumann Sorcais OÉ Gaillimh i mbun siamsaíochta. Is iad Bank of Ireland, an Cumann Cosanta Leighis agus Dunnes Stores a chuir an urraíocht ar fáil chun an ócáid a reáchtáil. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Ríona Hughes, Oifigeach na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is deis iontach é Ospidéal na mBéiríní don chumann chun cuireadh a thabhairt do pháistí agus a mbéiríní chuig an gcampas agus chun taithí luachmhar foghlama a chur ar fáil do chách. Tá sé ar cheann de na cláir for-rochtana pobail is taitneamhaí agus is spraíúla atá idir lámha ag cumainn OÉ Gaillimh agus táimid an-bhródúil as a rathúla is atá sé. Comhghairdeas leis an gCumann Sláinte a thugann deis do líon chomh mór dár gcuid mac léinn a bheith rannpháirteach san ócáid dhearfach seo agus tá súil againn go mbainfidh gach duine a bheidh páirteach ann an-sult as an gcúpla lá seo.” -Críoch-
Monday, 7 January 2019
Researchers show that the potency of a snake’s venom depends on what it eats An international collaboration led by scientists from National University of Ireland Galway, University of St Andrews, Trinity College Dublin and the ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has uncovered why the venom of some snakes makes them so much deadlier than others. Snakes are infamous for possessing potent venoms, a fact that makes them deadly predators and also strikes fear into humans and other animals alike. However, some species, such as cobras, boomslangs and rattlesnakes have far more venom than they apparently need, in a single reserve of venom, they have the potential to kill thousands of their prey animals and several adult humans. But not all venomous snakes are so dangerous. For example, the marbled sea snake has only a tiny amount of very weak venom, making it effectively harmless to any relatively large animals such as humans. Why venoms vary so much in their ability to kill or incapacitate potential prey animals has long puzzled scientists, with several competing hypotheses suggested as explanations. The study, which has just been published in the international journal Ecology Letters, tackled this puzzle by comparing records of venom potency and quantity for over 100 venomous snake species, ranging from rattlesnakes, cobras and the tree dwelling boomslangs of Africa to sea snakes and burrowing asps. The team found strong evidence that venoms have evolved to be more potent toward animals that are more closely related to their diet. For example, the team found potency in snakes which mainly eat fish, such as the aquatic coral snake, were highest when measured on fish and lowest when measured on mice, which are distantly related to fish. Lead author of the study, Dr Kevin Healy, who conducted the research at the University of St Andrews and is now a Lecturer of Zoology at National University of Ireland Galway, said: “These results make sense from an evolutionary viewpoint as we expect that evolution will have shaped venoms to be more efficient at killing the animals that are most often the target of the venom. You won’t find many mice in the sea so we wouldn’t expect a sea snake to evolve venom that is more effective at killing mice than fish.” The research also showed that the amount of venom a snake has depends on both its size and the environment it lives in. “Like all substances venom is dosage-dependent,” said Associate Professor in Zoology at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Andrew Jackson. “Even alcohol, coffee and water can be toxic at high enough volumes so we needed to consider how much venom different species of snake produce and store in their venom glands. We found that big terrestrial species have the most venom, while smaller tree dwelling or aquatic species had the least. This difference may be due to how often a snake encounters its prey in these different environments, with terrestrial species requiring a larger reserve of venom to take advantage of the rarer opportunities to feed.” The results of the study also have potential to aid in our understanding when it comes to human snakebites. “Snakebites are a major health concern worldwide, with 2.7 million cases each year,” commented Dr Chris Carbone of ZSL’s Institute of Zoology: “Understanding how venom evolves may help us better identify the risks to humans from different snake groups, and also potentially from other venomous animals such as spiders, scorpions, centipedes and jellyfish.” The approach used in the study may also help researchers predict the potency of venoms in species that have yet to be tested, and even pinpoint potentially useful healthcare-related applications. Dr Healy added: “The next step is to see how well this model may predict the potency of venoms in groups that have yet to have their venoms tested. By using ecological and evolutionary data for available species we may be able to use our approach as a tool to identify other species which may have properties in their venoms that are useful for biomedical purposes, such as drug development.” To read the full study in Ecology Letters, visit: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/ele.13216 -Ends-
Monday, 7 January 2019
A new science toolkit designed to teach children about environmental science is to be distributed to 300 classrooms throughout Ireland. Launched during the 2018 Science Week at Scoil Iosef Naofa, Oranmore, Co. Galway, the free educational toolkit ‘Spikey’s Journey: an Exploration Box’ is the culmination of a two year-long European project developed in Ireland by NUI Galway Cell EXLORERS, ProActivate Ireland, and Toodlelou Creativity Lab. Using the hedgehog as the principal character, the toolkit takes first and second class pupils on an explorative journey using storytelling, hands-on activities and games to learn about four key topics in environmental science. The primary aim of the toolkit is to promote active learning based on observation and experimentation. The exploration box contains a ‘Kamishibai’, a storytelling theatre that teachers can use to take their class through the story of Spikey. Each chapter of the story introduces students to a new learning topic, such as understanding the key characteristics of living things, the food web and how it functions, habitats and hibernation and the vital role we all play in protecting the living environment. Through hands-on projects, activities and games, these topics are explored, discussed and examined to reinforce new learning. Muriel Grenon, Director of the Cell EXPLORERS programme at NUI Galway, said: “This project was a great opportunity to collaborate with some of the most successful and innovative science outreach programmes in Europe as well as with enthusiastic teachers from local national schools. There was a rich exchange of practical knowledge and experience and from this collaboration emerged a freely accessible online resource which can benefit the children in Ireland.” Classrooms throughout Ireland will benefit from the development of this kit containing a new combination of teaching methods and tools to support primary school teachers prepare and conduct engaging science lessons that will stimulate children’s natural curiosity. Teachers across four European countries have been invited to use this toolkit, which is the result of an Erasmus+ European project linking researchers and education practitioners from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Austria and Poland. The toolkit has been produced in three languages for dissemination in each project country. The content of the exploration box and its activities were reviewed and piloted in Galway by first and second class teachers Ronan Dunne from Galway Educate Together, Vivienne Kelly from Knocknacara Educate Together, Anna McGuire from Mercy Primary School, and Niamh Cormican from Scoil Iosef Naofa, Oranmore. The toolkit will be distributed nationally to requesting teachers through the Galway Education Centre as well as education centres located in Donegal, Dublin West, Wexford, Monaghan, Navan, Tralee and Clare from January 2019. Mark Finlay, Director, Galway Education Centre, commented: “This is a fantastic resource for primary schools so that pupils can learn about environmental science in an interactive way. We, in Galway Education Centre, are delighted to be able to share the toolkit with our local schools.” Teachers who use the toolkit in their classroom can share their feedback and comments through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #spikeysjourney and tagging @cellexplorers and @toodleloukids. Schools who wish to use the toolkit as part of their application for a Science Foundation Ireland Discover Science and Maths (DPSM) Award can provide images and feedback by social media, which will be posted to the Spikey’s Journey page of the Cell EXPLORERS website https://www.cellexplorers.com/spikeysjourney. This link can then be used as a Logs of Evidence for the award application. For further information on the InEdu Erasmus plus project material and access to Spikey’s Journey online toolkit logon on to the resource website bit.ly/Spikeysjourney. -Ends-
Monday, 7 January 2019
Research trial looks at ways of trying to improve the effectiveness and safety of patients with more than one long-term medical condition NUI Galway is leading on a health intervention research trial involving people with more than one long-term medical condition, thanks to a new Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN). A pilot cluster randomised controlled trial will involve General Practitioners (GPs) and Practice Based Pharmacists from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to explore a new approach to reviewing prescribing for patients with more than one long-term condition. Currently 5% of Irish patients aged over 65 are on 15 or more drugs. There are obvious concerns about being able to take these drugs reliably, including potential side-effects. This study looks at a way of trying to improve the effectiveness and safety of their drug intake where two GP’s, or a GP and a Practice Based Pharmacist, work together to find out the best possible combination of medicines for that patient. The pilot trial aims to test this new approach to determine if it will lead to better patient care north and south of the border in Ireland. In helping to encourage people to be more involved in managing their own condition, eight GP practices in Northern Ireland and eight GP practices in the Republic of Ireland will participate in the trial. Professor Andrew Murphy, Director of the HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland based at NUI Galway and Turloughmore Medical Centre, Co. Galway is leading the MY COMRADE PLUS trial and is looking forward to this new opportunity. Commenting about the research trial, Professor Andrew Murphy, said: “We are addressing a common but important issue in General Practice. NUI Galway staff working in collaboration on this trial will be helping to lay foundations for preventative measures that can improve the quality of life of many people and also help staff involved to continue to learn and grow through working with each other.” If the pilot approach works a larger trial will be undertaken to find out if it can make things better for patients. The pilot is one of 11 trials that has received INTERREG VA funding under the Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network Project. CHITIN is led by the Public Health Agency in partnership with the Health Research Board. Its overall aim is to help prevent illness and improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Northern Ireland and the border regions of Ireland - Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, and Louth, through cross-border research collaborations. The Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network has received €8.8 million in funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body with match funding from the Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. For more information, visit: http://www.research.hscni.net/chitin or follow on Twitter @CHITINProject. For further details about the trial contact Dr Nikita Burke at email@example.com. -Ends-
Monday, 7 January 2019
NUI Galway will hold its annual Mature Student Information Evening on Wednesday, 16 January, from 5.30-8pm in the Lifecourse Institute on the North Campus. The information evening will allow attendees to find out more and get advice on degrees full-time or part-time on offer at the University, and on possible career opportunities. This special information evening is designed particularly for those aged 23 or over wishing to find out more about study options at NUI Galway. The event focuses on students who did not have opportunities to study an undergraduate degree in the past. The aim of the information evening is to encourage lifelong learning irrelevant of age or background. The Mature Students Officer, Trish Bourke will give a welcome presentation explaining the CAO application procedure for anyone wishing to apply to a full-time degree in 2019. The Access Office will be there to offer advice on pre-university courses in terms of Access Programmes, and the Disability Support Services, who have expertise in supporting students at third level, will also be in attendance to give guidance to prospective students. Trish Bourke, NUI Galway’s Mature Student Officer, said: “As a mature student graduate of NUI Galway, I always look forward to this evening and meeting people who would not ordinarily think that university was for them, and to see how engaged they are when they hear how many supports and options there are to help them achieve dreams. There is a place for everyone at NUI Galway whether it is through an Access course, a full-time degree or through our Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development Programmes.” To register attendance at NUI Galway’s Mature Student Information Evening visit www.nuigalway.ie/mature/public-events/. -Ends-
Monday, 7 January 2019
The University Women’s Network at NUI Galway will host a very special Nollaig na mBan reception as part of the annual Herstory celebrations. Herstory is a cultural movement that tells the life stories of historical, mythological and contemporary women. The event will take place on Monday, 7 January from 12.15pm-2pm in the Aula Maxima. Over the course of its history, many remarkable women have both graduated from and worked in NUI Galway. This event is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and to reflect on the work that remains to be done to secure equality for all. Talks to celebrate Nollaig na mBan and these remarkable women will be given by NUI Galway academics: Professor Niamh Reilly, School of Political Science and Sociology will explore the little-known, intense political and intellectual partnership of Tom and Mary Kettle through a focus on her efforts to vindicate the memory of Tom Kettle and assert herself as a political actor to be reckoned with in post-1916 Ireland. Dr Jackie Ui Chionna, Department of History, Moore Institute will discuss the remarkable life of Emily Anderson. Anderson became Professor of German at University College Galway at the age of just 26, in 1917. She formally resigned in 1919, joining the War Office and ultimately becoming the foremost female code breaker of her generation. Alongside her code breaking work, she continued her interest in music, and became a world-renowned musicologist. Dr Stacey Scriver from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies Centre will reflect on the challenges of finding (and keeping) an academic job during one’s childbearing years. The event will also discuss plans for an illumination of the Alice Perry Engineering Building on campus later in the year, to project an image of Alice Perry onto the engineering building which is named in her honour. When she graduated from the then Queen’s College Galway in 1906, Perry became the first female engineering graduate in the UK and Ireland, a landmark achievement. Event organisers, Mary McGill, a Hardiman Doctoral Scholar and Dr Rachel Hilliard from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to have received generous support from the University’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Project fund for this event. We feel it will be an ideal way to mark the annual Nollaig na mBan and HerStory celebrations, and a great way to begin the new year.” Funding support is provided by the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project Fund, which was established by the Office of the Vice President for Equality and Diversity. For more information about the event contact Mary McMcGill, University Women’s Network, NUI Galway at M.MCGILL4@nuigalway.ie. To read more about Herstory, visit: http://www.herstory.ie/home -Ends-
Friday, 4 January 2019
NUI Galway and Hebei Medical University have established a joint stem cell research centre in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China. The goal is to collaborate and to develop translational research programmes using stem cells to treat serious conditions of unmet medical need which require a global approach to finding solutions. The centre was launched in November 2017 and held its opening international conference and scientific advisory board meeting in Shijiazhuang at the end of 2018. The Centre is co-directed by Professor Huixan Cui, President of Hebei Medical University and Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and REMEDI and CÚRAM investigator at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group. The Research The joint stem cell research centre will have three main clinical themes: cardio-renal-metabolic disease including diabetes mellitus; musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis; and neurological disorders. Clinicians and scientists in both institutions have partnered with a goal of developing clinical trials to be undertaken in both jurisdictions with common methodology. There will be a particular focus on stem cell manufacture and clinical trial performance under strict regulatory compliance. Professor Timothy O’Brien from NUI Galway commented that it is important to realise that many areas of stem cell use are in effect experimental medicines and not proven therapies. “We need to undertake rigorously conducted clinical trials with carefully manufactured stem cells to ensure these therapies are safe and effective. We have invested significant resources in Galway to this end with the construction of a Good Manufacturing Practice facility for stem cell manufacture (Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland) and a HRB Clinical Research Facility, which has special expertise in conducting early stage clinical trials in stem cell therapy. We also greatly appreciate the help of the Galway Blood and Tissue Establishment at Galway University Hospital under whose license all tissue is procured for stem cell isolation.” Cell Manufacturing Facilities Investigators at The Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland, a GMP stem cell manufacturing facility located at NUI Galway and the Galway HRB Clinical Research Facility will collaborate with clinicians and scientists in Hebei Province. The Second Affiliated Hospital of Hebei Medical University is licensed for stem cell clinical research in China. Professor Huixan Cui, President of Hebei Medical University, stated: “Hebei Province has a population of almost 80 million people and many conditions which are common in Ireland are also causing much suffering to our population. We are excited about this joint venture which we believe will be mutually beneficial and ultimately will serve the needs of patients. We have just opened a new state of the art research facility which will be the home to the joint stem cell research centre and we are excited that we will be joined in this venture by colleagues from NUI Galway.” Centre’s Opening International Conference and Student Exchange Five NUI Galway faculty presented at the recent international conference along with partner principal investigators from Hebei Medical University. The scientific advisory board whose members come from the USA, EU and China reviewed the scientific plans and endorsed the programme. Professor Matthew Griffin, a clinician scientist at REMEDI and CURAM who spoke at the conference and will be a member of NUI Galway-Hebei Medical University joint stem cell research centre commented: “This research partnership has great potential to accelerate the delivery of new treatments based on stem cell science to people in both countries who are suffering from a range of debilitating diseases.” Principal investigators at NUI Galway currently have seven active clinical trial programmes with extensive funding from the European Union, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, and Galway investigators will now partner with Chinese colleagues to develop similar trials in China. In addition to laboratory-based stem cell research and clinical trials the institutions have committed to staff and student exchange. Professor O’Brien has received a 100 Foreign Experts of Hebei Province award from the Provincial Government of Hebei Province, which will allow him to oversee the research and student exchange programmes. Fifteen medical students from NUI Galway spent one month in Hebei Medical University in June and six medical students from Hebei studied in Galway. Professor O’Brien, added: “These international exchanges are a vital part of our undergraduate medical curriculum and part of our effort to ensure our medical graduates have a concept of global citizenship.” In addition to cultural, social and education interchange, the students participated in the inaugural Friendship Cup, a basketball tournament played between teams from NUI Galway and Hebei Medical University in which the Galway students were winners in a keenly contested match. The programme is facilitated by Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Fundamental Stem Cell Biology at NUI Galway, who has trained scientists from Hebei in his NUI Galway laboratory who are now faculty members in higher education institutions in Hebei. Professors O’Brien and Shen have been approved by Chinese authorities to supervise PhD students in China and recruitment for this purpose is currently underway in the joint stem cell research centre. The centre looks forward to fostering translational collaborations between hospitals, universities and industry in China and Ireland to bring new regenerative stem cell therapies to patients in Ireland, China and globally. -Ends-
Friday, 4 January 2019
Researchers from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway are carrying out an online study on the relationship between difficult events experienced during childhood and sleep quality in adulthood. Adults aged over 18 years are invited to take part in the study. It is hoped that the results of the research will help professionals and researchers to understand the factors that play a part in how people manage childhood stress and poor sleep. The results of recent research have shown a link between difficult events that people experience as children and the quality of their sleep as adults. Less is known about what factors play a part in this relationship and why some people who have experienced painful childhood events or feelings may not have poor sleep as adults. Part of the study will look at how ‘mindful people are of the present’ and their coping styles. The study is being carried out by the principal investigator Andrea Grehan and led by Dr Jonathan Egan and Professor Brian McGuire at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway. Andrea Grehan, said: “Sleep difficulties are common in the general population, as are distressing childhood experiences. We want to examine the relationship between childhood events and sleep in adulthood by looking at whether being mindful or accepting, and whether a personal coping style, change the impact of such childhood experiences on sleep quality in adulthood. We hope that the results will guide both future research and clinical practice.” Dr Jonathan Egan, who is also a Chartered Clinical and Chartered Health Psychologist at NUI Galway, said: “We are very excited about exploring all aspects of how past events and current wellbeing collide in the architecture of a person’s sleep. Previously we have linked how sleep paralysis is affected by a person’s personality and life events, we are now looking at the whole sleep cycle and what a large group of hundreds if not thousands of peoples’ life experiences can tell us.” For those aged over 18 years who wish to participate in the study please complete the online survey form, at: http://www.bit.do/sleepandchildhoodadversity or contact Andrea Grehan at firstname.lastname@example.org. -Ends-
Thursday, 3 January 2019
The Management Discipline within NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics has announced the inaugural internship programme on its three MSc in Management courses. The internship will be available on the MSc in International Management, the MSc in Human Resource Management and the MSc in Strategy, Innovation and People Management. Speaking at the launch of the internship, Professor Alma McCarthy, Head of the Management Discipline at NUI Galway, said: “We have completed a comprehensive curriculum review of our MSc suite of programmes. We have revised and updated the content to ensure our graduates are at the cutting edge of best practice in management, leadership, international business and strategy. The NUI Galway MSc Management internship programme is one of the first of its kind in the country at postgraduate level. The internship will ensure we produce work-ready graduates responding to industry needs and various national think-tank reports and policies on skill gaps and future skill needs. In addition, students are demanding more real-world and applied learning and the internship is an excellent opportunity to apply class-based learning to real-world organisational contexts. The internships will also develop well-rounded professionals.” Students can avail of internships with leading indigenous and multinational companies regionally and nationally from September 2019. The majority of internships will be paid. The internships will be completed from February to July and students will be provided with academic support throughout their internships. The NUI Galway MSc in International Management was recently awarded the ‘Postgraduate Course of the Year in Business, Finance and Management Award’ at the recent national gradireland Higher Education Awards 2019. This is the second time that this programme has won this accolade. Judges commented on the MSc in International Management being consistently strong throughout, and were impressed by its innovative approach and resources. The internship offering demonstrates NUI Galway’s focus on continuous improvement and excellence in its MSc in Management offerings. The MSc Human Resource Management and MSc in Strategy, Innovation and People Management at NUI Galway are one of a small number of Irish programmes accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for human resource practitioners. Potential applicants interested in applying to participate in the internship and three MSc Management programmes can contact MScManagement@nuigalway.ie or visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/courses/taught-postgraduate-courses/ for more details. -Ends-
Wednesday, 2 January 2019
From 10-12 January, 170 ecologists will be jointly hosted by NUI Galway and GMIT as part of the second ‘Ecology and Evolution’ conference of the Irish Ecological Association (IEA). Founded in 2015, the IEA is a society for ecologists in Ireland. It provides a forum for an international group of Irish-based ecologists and professionals interested in ecological science to meet, collaborate and solve ecological problems. With a focus on Ireland, the work of the Irish Ecological Association also draws on global themes relevant to ecosystems around the world. Ecology, the study of organisms and how they interact with each other and the environment, has many practical applications in terms of climate change, sustainable water, biodiversity conservation, soil health and many other global problems. Conference delegates represent both academic and professional ecologists and students working in higher education and research institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations, ecological consultancies and other professionals in ecology. The conference, sponsored by the Marine Institute, Environmental Protection Agency and British Ecological Society, will take place over three days with talks, workshops and other events covering topics from microbes to arctic breeding birds, marine predators and woodlands. There is also a focus on training and upskilling, in particular for early-career researchers, with workshops on data analysis, career mentoring and translating ecology into policy and action. Four invited plenary speakers from Ireland and the UK will give keynote talks on microplastics in the oceans, the evolution of ageing in bats, conservation of biodiversity on farmland, and tagging and tracking birds and fish. Dr Gesche Kindermann, Applied Ecology Unit, School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “Understanding the environment and processes within it is vital if we want to address current environmental problems. There is a lot of exciting research going on in relation to ecology and evolution, and this conference is an opportunity to showcase this.” Dr Dara Stanley, UCD and Adjunct Lecturer, School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “Ecology is such an important discipline in our current world, and can be part of the solution to many of our major environmental and climate related issues. And Galway, situated in the beautiful west of Ireland, is a hotspot for Irish ecology.” As part of the conference, there will be a free, public lecture by Professor Richard Thompson from the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at Plymouth University entitled ‘Marine Litter: Are there solutions to this global environmental challenge’ which will take place at 7pm on Thursday, 10 January at GMIT Galway Campus. No registration is required. Dr Heather Lally from GMIT, said: “The IEA conference is an opportunity for local Galwegians, national and international researchers, NGOs, consultants and industry to come together to share their passion for Irish ecology. It has never been so important to work together to ensure its long term conservation.” NUI Galway will host two full days of events on the 11-12 January in the Human Biology Building and GMIT will host the public lecture with Professor Richard Thompson and a series of talks and presentations on a variety of topics on the 10 January. For more information about Professor Richard Thompson’s lecture, visit: https://bit.ly/2GwMd2k Delegates will also have a chance to take the NUI Galway Biodiversity Trail on campus, see: https://www.nuigalway.ie/biodiversitytrail/. For more details about the conference visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk and enter ‘Ecology and Evolution Conference Ireland’ and follow on Twitter and Facebook @irish_ecology -Ends-
Friday, 21 December 2018
In a very successful year for innovation during 2018, NUI Galway start-ups secured €35 million between private equity investment and research funding while the 36 companies based at the University’s Business Innovation Centre now employ 173 people, which represents an increase of 20% over 2017. The year also saw NUI Galway sign over 60 project agreements with industry (Irish SME’s and multinationals) contributing across a wide range of areas including: advanced healthcare diagnostics and device, additive manufacturing, food nutrition, energy optimisation, and Internet of Things enabled solutions. Over 2,200 staff and students were actively engaged through the University’s entrepreneurship experiential learning and mentorship programmes to produce projects ranging from storybook development and publishing to apps designed to aid people with disabilities find more accessible parking facilities close to their location. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, commented: “We have a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem among our students and staff which we support through a range of commercialisation, experiential learning, and support programmes. There are significant benefits to society and the economy from the innovations that are seeded, researched, developed and implemented right here on campus. The number of start-ups and industry collaborations based on high-quality research is a very good indication of the level of entrepreneurism at the University and in the region.” Supporting Start-Ups and Industry The recent government announcement on the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), part of Project Ireland 2040, saw NUI Galway participate on eight projects. Five NUI Galway start-ups were supported through DTIF with a total of €16 million in funding. These companies were AuriGen Medical, Neurent Medical, Onkimmune, Atrian Medical, and Signum Surgical. Three of the companies had come through the BioInnovate Ireland programme which is based at NUI Galway and is creating a wave of new companies finding solutions for unmet medical needs. NUI Galway won a special recognition award in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards in May 2018 for its work with BioInnovate Ireland. 2018 also saw the first cohort of six companies complete the BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme in June while a new cohort of eight companies started in December. BioExel is a partnership funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced MedTech team at NUI Galway. The first cohort of companies in BioExel were: BioProbe Diagnostics, Bluedrop Medical, Giant Leap Biotechnology, Hidramed Solutions, Immunogrow and CompanionQMS. Supporting Students and Staff Among NUI Galway staff, students and alumni, new ideas and entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported at every level. The EXPLORE programme is where staff and students collaborate on innovative ideas. In 2018 it supported 15 new projects, involving 61 staff and 42 students. Current projects focus on a variety of topics including Frankenstein, bat boxes, modernist studies and ‘fake news’ surrounding cancer and its risk factors. NUI Galway’s Blackstone LaunchPad supports entrepreneurship across campus. Last April, in partnership with BioInnovate Ireland, BioExel, Health Innovation Hub and the Translational Medical Device Lab, Blackstone LaunchPad held its annual MedTech start-up competition (MIDAS). This one-day multidisciplinary competition brought together undergraduate and postgraduate students to work on an unmet clinical need and present potential solutions to a panel of judges in the MedTech space. The day was hugely successful with a team of students mentored by Barry McCann, a BioInnovate Ireland Fellow, taking home first prize. In November, two NUI Galway start-up companies travelled to the US to take part in a TechStars Bootcamp programme. NUI Galway was represented by BioInnovate Ireland spin- out Nua Surgical with their project SteriCision and BladeComp, a spin-out project of the SFI MaREI centre based in the College of Engineering and Informatics. Jacinta Thornton, Associate Director of NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, added: “Our University puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship, and enterprise collaboration to maximise the impact of our research and our expertise for the region.” For more information about NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/innovation/business-innovation-centre/ -Ends-
Thursday, 20 December 2018
NUI Galway is calling for scientists and science enthusiasts to enter ‘FameLab’ the world’s largest science communication competition held in 30 countries. For the fourth year running, NUI Galway will host a regional heat in the competition and looks forward to a high calibre of entrants once again. With science becoming increasingly specialised, those working in the field can struggle to explain their projects to colleagues let alone the general public, and explaining what you do can be extraordinarily important. The FameLab competition, an initiative of the Cheltenham Science Festival, recognises this and challenges up and coming scientists, engineers and mathematicians to explain a complex idea in a straightforward and engaging way. The Galway event is being managed in partnership between the British Council and NUI Galway, and forms part of the annual FameLab Ireland competition. The NUI Galway competition is open to a whole range of people who apply, work on, teach or study science, including: People who apply science, technology, engineering or mathematics in industry or business. People who work on applying science, engineering, technology or mathematics (e.g. patent clerks, statisticians, consultants to industry). Lecturers and researchers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, including specialist science teachers with a science degree. University students of science, technology, mathematics or engineering aged 18 and over. People who apply science, technology, mathematics or engineering in the armed forces or government bodies. Armed only with their wits and a few props, the finalists in FameLab Galway heat will deliver short three-minute pieces on bizarre, quirky and pertinent science concepts. Audiences can expect to hear anything from why men have nipples to how 3D glasses work, and is nuclear energy a good or bad thing. Presentations will then be judged according to FameLab’s “3 Cs”: Content, Clarity and Charisma. Winning contestants from FameLab Galway will attend an all-expenses paid two-day communication masterclass over a weekend in March 2019, and participate in the FameLab Ireland final held at the Science Gallery, Dublin on Thursday, 11 April 2019. The winner will represent Ireland at the FameLab international finals at the Cheltenham Science Festival with representatives from organisations like NASA and CERN. By entering FameLab, participants will begin a journey with like-minded people, build their networks, expand skillsets essential for developing their career and, most of all, have a fantastic time! Training for FameLab Galway entrants will take place in Galway on Wednesday, 30 January, with the Regional heat scheduled for Thursday, 21 February 2019 in An Taibhdhearc in Galway. To enter the Galway heat, complete the online registration form: www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab/enter-competition/apply by Friday, 8 February or alternatively, submit an entry to FameLab Ireland by online video, visit: www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab for further details. For further information about FameLab Galway contact Eoin Murphy at email@example.com and Follow on twitter @FameLab_Galway. -Ends-
Thursday, 20 December 2018
Researchers from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway are seeking first-time mothers of infants aged between one and thirteen months to take part in an online study looking at how the experience of childbirth can have enduring psychological consequences. This study aims to explore how the birth experience impacts maternal wellbeing after childbirth. A number of research studies looking at childbirth and trauma estimate that over 40% of women experience some level of trauma during childbirth. Furthermore, three to six percent have been diagnosed with a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A previous study in 2017 carried out by Dr Veronica Byrne at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway highlighted how the subjective birth experience of Irish mothers can impact on mental health and on self-identity. If the birth experience does not go as planned this can impact on how a woman might adjust. For other women the experience can be like those experiences depicted on TV shows such as One Born Every Minute where it can be a slow paced, calm and wonderful experience. Noelle Sammon from the School of Psychology is carrying out the research and says: “For some women childbirth can be a scary, emergency situation that they have no control over, in terms of what is happening to them, their body and/or their baby. Imagine what it must be like to feel like no one is listening to you, or they are not communicating what is happening to your body and your child. This may occur because the focus is on saving lives in an emergency childbirth situation.” Ms Sammon added: “Psychologically, the impact of this more urgent and distressing birth experience can be traumatic and can have far reaching consequences in terms of emotional and psychological wellbeing. Imagine the impact of not being included in decisions about your body. Think of the psychological consequences of an emergency caesarean scar, if you have not been consulted on the process and the decision to scar you was taken out of your hands, even if the intent was to ensure safety. How might you feel, how might this stay with you, serving as a reminder that your experience was not how you had envisioned. What consequences might this have on your relationships, with yourself, with your partner, with your family and with your new baby.” Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme and supervisor of this research at NUI Galway, said: “Following on from our previous research which showed that a salient part of whether a birth is traumatic or not is the woman’s report of whether she felt in-control and central to decisions about the birth and what happened to her body. Often, they were left feeling depersonalised and dehumanised and thereby more likely to end up experiencing the event as traumatic.” Dr Egan added: “People underestimate the potential for trauma during childbirth. I frequently have women post-partum attending me for treatment with chronic pain, or unprocessed traumatic memories of the birth. For some it can result in tokophobia or fear of childbirth and women will avoid having sex in case they might get pregnant again, they keep their thoughts and fears to themselves, so talking about them is the first step to recovery.” The research team are interested in exploring how control and support during and in the aftermath of a woman’s childbirth might impact on her psychologically in terms of trauma and mood and will cover both emergency and non-emergency childbirth scenarios. To participate in the online study, visit: www.bit.do/Yourchildbirthexperience or email Noelle Sammon, School of Psychology, NUI Galway at firstname.lastname@example.org. -Ends-
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
Farmeye turns the sod on a new era in sustainable agriculture Agri-Tech company Farmeye has launched their new Nutrient Management System, the NMP Portal. The online, map-based system, for sustainable soil nutrient management is a tool for Agri-consultants and Agronomists to manage and monitor sustainable fertiliser usage on farms. Farmeye, an NUI Galway spin out company, aim to create 10 new direct jobs and additional spin-out business with their growth over the next three years. Enterprise Ireland funded the company’s initial development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. Company CEO, Dr Eoghan Finneran explained the Farmeye mission: “A huge amount of data is collected on farms and much of that is either lost or misused. For example, half a million soil tests have been taken over the past 10 years and the vast majority of those reports are buried in biscuit tins or lie forgotten in filing cabinets.” Roscommon native, Dr Finneran continued: “Farmeye provide digital solutions to capture that data and put it to work in a practical, usable manner for the soils, for the farmer and for the environment. We in Ireland have a good news story to tell the world about the sustainability of our grass-fed meat and dairy produce, but without efficient management of farm-level data that story gets lost.” Asked what the technology can do for the farmer, Dr Finneran responded: “The Farmeye NMP Portal provides the first digital step to demonstrate sustainable soil management and quantify carbon sequestration. The average Irish dairy farmer could lose €9,000 per year in lost productivity and extra fertiliser bills, solely due to sub-optimal soil fertility. Farmeye provide simple, easy-to-use tools that allow the farmer to make efficient, data-driven decisions on the hoof when it comes to efficient fertiliser and slurry management.” Joe Desbonnet, company CTO and Software Engineer explains how GPS and barcoding formed the basis of the Farmeye SoilMate app. This Android app allows the Agri-consultant to trace every soil test by GPS to the field of origin. It cuts out much of the manual data entry and human error involved in soil sampling and drawing up an NMP. Because we are employing various GIS map layers, including European Sentinel satellite and real-time weather data on our system, we can easily identify regions and periods of high risk for groundwater pollution.” The Farmeye NMP Portal has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as an alternative to the Teagasc system for preparation of compliance based Nutrient Management Plans such as derogation plans. This means that Independent Agricultural Consultants can now use Farmeye to prepare 2019 NMPs and fertiliser plans for Nitrates derogation farms, of which there are over 7,000 in Ireland. Company Co-Founder and Business Manager, Brendan Allen added that while the soil management technology is core to the Farmeye business at present, that the Agri-Tech company has broader aims in the medium term. Mr Allen said: “Soil management is just the first step in this process. We have a development plan in Farmeye to become the foremost provider of IT for monitoring and managing sustainability metrics at farm level. And sustainability of our food production is about more than just environmental sustainability. Social and economic sustainability are the other two legs on the sustainability stool and without any of the three, the whole system falls down. For example, increasing farmer age and declining farm incomes across Europe are unsustainable. The key to ensuring a secure and sustainable food supply for the next generation is to put these tools on the farm, to measure these metrics and then take steps to address the weakness in the system, whether that be in nutrient management or food supply-chain management.” Farmeye is also co-funded by the National Digital Research Centre and the NUI Galway start-up phase was funded through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. Those involved during the NUI Galway phase included Dr Chaosheng Zhang, School of Geography and Archaeology, and Dr Michael Schukat and Dr Hugh Melvin from the Department of Information and Technology. For more information about Farmeye email email@example.com or visit: www.farmeye.ie -Ends-
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
NUI Galway has announced the winners of its Threesis 2018 competition which took place in the O’Donoghue Theatre on campus recently. The fast-paced event featured three-minute talks by twelve NUI Galway researchers who shared the story of their research using just three presentation slides, in front of three judges and a voting audience. The winner of Threesis 2018 was James Blackwell from Ballyneety, County Limerick with his bite-sized talk ‘Finding brain tumours using ultrasound’. James is a PhD candidate split between the School of Physics and School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway. His research involves using ultrasound to create stiffness maps of the brain. These can help surgeons to identify brain tumours and other diseases. His work is supported by the Irish Research Council. In second place was Katie Gilligan, from Eyrecourt in County Galway, with her talk ‘A novel therapy for breast cancer patients’. Katie is a PhD candidate in the School of Medicine, based in the Lambe Institute for Translational Research. Her research explores a new novel therapy for breast cancer patients. The therapy aims to be more targeted and tolerated leading to a better quality of life for the patient undergoing the treatment. Her work is supported by the Irish Research Council. Securing third place from the judges as well as being chosen as the Audience Winner, was Siobhán Morrissey with her talk on ‘Enid Blyton: War and Nationalism’. Siobhán, from Roscrea in County Tipperary, is a second year PhD student in the School of Humanities. Her research focuses on twentieth-century children’s literature, with a particular focus on the works of Enid Blyton. In her research, she studies the colonial, imperial and nationalistic elements of children’s ﬁction. Not only was there the challenge of time as part of Threesis, but the participants were tasked with using clear and jargon-free language. The judges in the final were: Lorna Farren, Director of Marketing and Communications, NUI Galway; Dr Sylvia Maretto, Research Support Officer, NUI Galway; and John Crumlish CEO, Galway International Arts Festival. Professor Andrew Shearer from NUI Galway’s School of Physics acted as MC for the evening. Ruth Hynes of the Research Office at NUI Galway which organised the event said: “We had incredible interest in Threesis this semester. Through a series of training workshops in October, and six heats in November we whittled down the initial 80 people who registered to our 12 amazing finalists. James, Katie and Siobhán did a fantastic job on the night, as did all of the other finalists and the many other researchers who signed up to be part of Threesis 2018 to communicate their research.” The Threesis competition was initiated at NUI Galway in 2012. It is open to all research students and postdoctoral researchers at NUI Galway. Finalists included undergraduate students, PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers from across all Colleges on campus. Videos of the three winning presentations are available at: www.nuigalway.ie/threesis -Ends-
Monday, 17 December 2018
NUI Galway start-up NUA Surgical has been selected to take part in the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Powered by Techstars programme. LaunchPad Lift identifies top-performing university start-ups from across the LaunchPad global network of 20 universities, and pairs them with resources and opportunities to help their ventures succeed. LaunchPad Lift will help bridge the gap between the programming available on each University campus and the next big steps ventures need for their companies and is part of a suite of entrepreneurial programmes offered at NUI Galway. Whether the ventures are planning to apply to an accelerator program, raise capital, or make their first hire, LaunchPad Lift takes ventures through a personalised 10-week experience with an assigned Techstars mentor to help them succeed. NUA Surgical is the only Irish start-up and one of only seven ventures selected through a highly competitive process. As part of the LaunchPad Lift programme, NUA Surgical will receive a $10,000 prize from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support strategic efforts that grow and scale their ventures. The seven selected ventures for the 2019 cohort were chosen from across the LaunchPad global network, representing seven schools in four states and two countries. Additionally, over 50% of the start-ups in the 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort have diverse founding teams. NUA Surgical are developing Stericision, a novel medical device in obstetrics to make caesarean delivery a safer and more superior surgery. The project has received significant support and funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund which will assist the team in taking the unmet need from idea through to concept and design development, in preparation for establishing a new MedTech start-up company. NUA Surgical’s founding story began when Barry McCann pursued an unmet clinical need identified during the clinical immersion stage of BioInnovate Ireland where Barry was completing a Fellowship in 2017/2018. Now joined by technical lead Padraig Maher and design control lead Marie Therese Maher, the team have over 50 years combined industry experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the project which is based in NUI Galway. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of LaunchPad NUI Galway, said: “For NUI Galway to be chosen as one of only seven sites to take part in the LaunchPad Lift programme, it further endorses our campus commitment to positive impact in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. It has been fantastic to work with Barry and his team, the Bioinnovate programme and our broader ecosystem to support entrepreneurship and enhance NUI Galway’s position as a catalyst for innovation regionally, nationally and globally.” David Cohen, Co-CEO of Techstars, added: “Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars offers campus start-ups valuable on-campus support during a critical time in their entrepreneurial journey. LaunchPad Lift will take this a step further – dedicating additional targeted support to a cohort of the most promising ventures. Techstars wants to be a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed from inspiration to IPO and we recognise the importance of early guidance.” Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, commented: “I am inspired by the diversity and potential of these entrepreneurs. LaunchPad Lift, leveraging the expertise of Techstars and Blackstone, will provide an additional boost in their development as entrepreneurs. Over the past decade of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses, we know that mentorship and targeted support is crucial at this stage of venture growth. Through LaunchPad Lift, we will be able to supercharge campus ventures in a measurable way. ” LaunchPad Lift will run for 10 weeks, from January 28 through April 1, 2019. Upon completion of the program, each participating venture joins the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars team at a closing event in New York City. The programme at NUI Galway is funded by NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation. -Ends-