Launch of Groundbreaking Book on Genetic Discrimination

Launch of Groundbreaking Book on Genetic Discrimination-image

Friday, 19 December 2014

MEP Marian Harkin and members of the judiciary, as well as leading figures from the areas of disability and genetics joined on Friday night, 12th December, at the European Commission Representation to celebrate the launch of Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic perspectives on the case for a European-level legal response. The book is edited by Professor Gerard Quinn, (Centre for Disability Law and Policy, School of Law, NUI Galway), Dr Aisling de Paor (School of Law and Government, DCU) and Peter Blanck (Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, USA) and focuses particularly on the legislative and policy framework in the European Union emphasising gaps in protection and the scope for specific legislative action in the area of genetic discrimination. Professor Quinn said “One reason we are proud of this book is that it brings several disciplines together including the hard sciences, public policy, ethics and law in a common discussion about how to enable genetic and other scientific research to evolve and grow, how to enhance public confidence in the research and how to tame it so that it underpins and not undermines our values.” He continued “This book is written within a context that promises an explosion of scientific insights into what it means to be human and indeed how we might go beyond being human. It is a context that taxes our existing frames of reference to accommodate such changes whether they lie in ethics, public policy or law.” As genetic technologies advance, genetic testing may well offer the prospect of detecting the onset of future disabilities. Some research also posits that certain behavioural profiles may have a strong genetic basis, such as the determination to succeed, or the propensity for risk-taking. As this technology becomes more prevalent, there is a danger that genetic information may be misused by third parties and that particular genetic profiles may be discriminated against by employers, by providers of social goods and services, such as insurance companies and even by educational facilities. This book explores the different forms and potential uses of genetic testing. Drawing together leading experts in disability law, bioethics, health law and a range of related fields, it highlights the ethical and legal challenges arising as a result of emerging and rapidly advancing genetic science. On examining transatlantic perspectives on the matter, chapters in the book ask whether the US Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is proving to be an effective tool in addressing the issue of genetic discrimination and alleviating fears of discrimination. The book also reviews what insights may be gained from GINA within employment and health insurance contexts, and asks how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) may impact similar debates within the European Union. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of discrimination law, bioethics and disability law, and will be of considerable use to legal practitioners, medical practitioners and policy-makers in this area. ENDS

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November 2014

‘Ebola – The Facts’ Lecture at NUI Galway

‘Ebola – The Facts’ Lecture at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 10 November 2014

NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery is running a free public lecture on Ebola: how it spreads, how it affects the human body, and how the outbreak can be contained. The lecture, on Tuesday, 18 November from 7-9pm in Áras Moyola, will also focus on hand washing and its importance in preventing the spread of infections in the community. Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, senior lecturer in NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and the Director of Public Health for the HSE West, will be delivering the lecture alongside Evelyn Byrne, lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Evelyn Byrne will explain why hand washing is important, including a demonstration on effective hand washing. Dr O’Donovan recently returned from working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the Ebola response. ‘Ebola – The Facts’ is the second event of a public lecture series, an innovative community outreach initiative started in NUI Galway’s School of Nursing & Midwifery this year. The series aims to share knowledge and expertise on health matters with local communities. Dr Adeline Cooney, Head of NUI Galway’ School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “This public lecture series is interactive in nature, allowing full community engagement and we look forward to active and lively discussions and debates.” If there are any future topics you would like covered during the lecture, please contact or -Ends-

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Explore the fascinating world of cells and how they make your brain work at NUI Galway workshops

Explore the fascinating world of cells and how they make your brain work at NUI Galway workshops -image

Monday, 10 November 2014

Workshops are part of the 2014 Galway Science and Technology Festival Humans are complex living things, a family of over 100 trillion cells of which there are over 200 different types! In our brains alone there are 14 times more cells than people on the planet. The way in which our cells work together in our body is a fascinating story, one that you can learn about with Cell EXPLORERS at the Galway Science and Technology Festival this year. This year, Cell EXPLORERS is running three different interactive workshops at the Galway Science Technology Festival Exhibition Day on Sunday, 23 November. The popular workshops will contain activities such as observing your own cheek cells under microscopes, extracting DNA and building DNA models, participants can learn all about cells and DNA. The School of Natural Sciences Next Top Model Organism Workshop also returns, allowing the general public the chance to interact with passionate researchers in NUI Galway. Members of the public will have the chance to learn about and observe model organisms which are being studied and can then vote for their favourite. New to the exhibition this year is the Brain EXPLORERS Workshop, supported by both the American Society for Cell Biology and The Biochemical Society. Complementing the ‘Amazing Brain’ exhibition by the Galway Neuroscience Centre, it explores the brain from the cellular level through the use of engaging activities such as puzzles, matching games, interactive circuits, and model building races. Cell EXPLORERS is a science outreach programme based in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway. Volunteer students, staff and researchers all work together to promote biological sciences to primary and secondary school children and their families in a way that is both accessible and fun! With both school visits and interactive workshops during Science Week and the Galway Science and Technology Festival, funded by a Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Award, there is something for every young (and older!) explorer. Since it began, Cell EXPLORERS has directly reached over 3,800 children, teachers and parents. The Cell EXPLORERS Fantastic DNA School Roadshow is once again bringing the opportunity to do DNA extraction experiments in the classroom to primary school children across Co. Galway! The ‘Little Cells’ school visits are also back. Aimed at infants, first and second classes this visit introduces young children to the different cells in our body in a fun and engaging way. To book a ticket for the free workshops visit the Galway Science and Technology Festival website, or go to the Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition day on Sunday, 23 November where you too can become a Cell EXPLORER! More information on Cell EXPLORERS is available on -Ends-

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NUI Galway Hold Free Foot Screening for World Diabetes Day

NUI Galway Hold Free Foot Screening for World Diabetes Day-image

Monday, 3 November 2014

To mark World Diabetes Day on Friday, 14 November, NUI Galway will provide a free foot screening clinic from 1-4pm in the NUI Galway Podiatry Skills Laboratory on the third floor of Áras Moyola on campus. Created in 1991, World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. In Ireland, it remains unknown exactly how many people are currently living with diabetes. The Institute of Public Health’s report Making Diabetes Count estimated that there were about 143,000 people with diabetes in Ireland and predicted that this number would increase by 37%, to 194,000 people, by 2015.    The Discipline of Podiatry at NUI Galway is the only School of Podiatry in the country and was established in 2008. Podiatry is a healthcare profession specialising in the management of disease and disorder of the lower limb and foot. Podiatrists are frequently involved in managing and treating individuals who are living with diabetes. For individuals who are living with diabetes – a number of diabetes related changes occur in the lower-limbs and ultimately this can affect the blood supply and the nerve supply to the feet. Dr Claire MacGilchrist, lecturer in Podiatry at NUI Galway, said: “Diabetes has emerged as a modern day epidemic and the literature has identified that for every individual diagnosed with diabetes there remains another individual living with the condition remaining undiagnosed. Early identification of the condition is essential and annual foot screening for individuals who have diabetes is crucial to identify diabetes related changes and implement effective management strategies to prevent ulcerations and amputations’. The World Health Organisation recently reported that every 20 seconds, somewhere in the world, a limb is lost as a consequence of diabetes, yet with effective screening programmes and early intervention strategies, ulceration and amputations are in many cases preventable.” The screening is strictly by appointment only. To schedule a 20 minute foot screening appointment email Dr Claire MacGilchrist at or 091 494265 before Tuesday, 11 November. -Ends-      

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NUI Galway Free Public Lecture on Comets

NUI Galway Free Public Lecture on Comets-image

Monday, 3 November 2014

Lecture to mark landing of Philae space probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko The European Space Agency will land the Philae probe onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday, 12 November. Philae has been travelling to the comet for over ten years. It is the first time that such a rendezvous and landing has been attempted. To mark this astronomical occasion, NUI Galway will hold a special lecture organised by the University’s Astronomy Society and School of Physics. The lecture will be given by Professor Andy Shearer from the School of Physics and will include a live demonstration of what a comet is, as well as describing the importance of comets to us on the Earth. Comets are the debris left behind when the solar system and the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago. Their study gives us clues as to what the conditions were like when life first developed approximately 4 billion years ago. Their dramatic appearance in the night sky with a fuzzy head and long tail have always inspired mankind. It is thought most of the water on the earth was brought here by comets in the early part of the Earth life - if it wasn’t for comets we wouldn’t be here today. The European Space Agency (ESA) sent a space craft to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which was discovered by two Russian astronomers in 1969. This journey took ten years and it flew past Earth and Mars once each, gaining speed each time. Since August the space craft, Rosetta, has been in close orbit around the comet looking for a place to land. ESA have decided that it is safe to land on the comet and will launch the probe, Philae, on 12 November. If the mission is a success the NUI Galway talk should include some of the first pictures from the surface of a comet. During the lecture, Professor Shearer will make a comet from its normal raw ingredients of water, organic tar and gravel. As comets are in deep space they are very cold and to mimic the conditions, the comet mix will be cooled to -170 degrees celsius. In this way Professor Shearer can show how the cometary fuzzy head and tail form. The lecture is part of the University’s Science Week which is organised by the Astronomy Society, will take place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 12 November in room IT 250, IT Building. The event is free to attend but spaces are limited so arriving early is advised. For more information contact organiser Laura Boyle of NUI Galway’s Astronomy Society at -Ends-

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NUI Galway Zoology student to track down infamous false black widow spiders around the city

NUI Galway Zoology student to track down infamous false black widow spiders around the city-image

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Aileen Wruck, an undergraduate zoology student from NUI Galway has been collecting spiders in and around Galway city as part of her final year research project. Her goal is to get a better understanding of how spiders colonise human dwellings and turn man-made structures to their advantage. Over the past few weeks, Aileen has been trapping and collecting spiders from seemingly unlikely locations for wildlife including bridges, stone walls, attics, car parks and public staircases. To date she has managed to identify 110 specimens from 27 species. Her most prized catch are two false black widows found in a local car park. Aileen said: “False black widows are not native to Ireland, but they have managed to establish populations in most cities, where man-made structures provide the shelter and the warmth they would not get otherwise in the countryside. False black widows have had very bad press recently, but the reality is that they are very shy and not more dangerous than a wasp or a bee.” Dr Michel Dugon from the discipline of Zoology at NUI Galway and Aileen’s supervisor, is eager to explore this new urban wildlife: “By building large cities and developing international trade, we have effectively opened a world-wide network of urban environments. Many bugs have benefited from these new conditions and have become closely dependent on us for their survival and dispersal. The study of these man-made ecosystems is now a field of research on its own called urban ecology. It is both fascinating and slightly scary to think that we have created ecosystems where climatic and geographical boundaries do not apply anymore.” Have you come across false black widows or very unusual looking spiders in Galway? If so, you can send your pictures to Aileen by email at -Ends-

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NUI Galway Professor Appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society

NUI Galway Professor Appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society-image

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Professor Ruth Curtis, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, was recently appointed Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society for her contribution to the advancement of health psychology through research, education/training and public service. Although retired, Professor Curtis is still actively involved in the Health and Wellbeing Research Cluster in the School of Psychology She was presented with the award by Professor Aleks Luszczynska at the opening ceremony of the 25th EHPS conference in Innsbruck which hosted 1,000 delegates from 30 countries. -Ends-

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'Trickle Down Politics: Some Reflections on Irish Water' Lecture at NUI Galway

 'Trickle Down Politics: Some Reflections on Irish Water' Lecture at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

NUI Galway will hold a public lecture entitled ‘Trickle Down Politics: Some Reflection on Irish Water’ on Thursday, 13 November. The lecture will be delivered by NUI Galway lecturer Dr George Taylor and will take place in room MY129, Áras Moyola at 7.30pm. “Irish polity is gripped with political angst is not in dispute. And yet, it seems almost perverse to record that precisely the moment at which you would expect politics to be relevant to its citizens, the state and its party representatives (the realm of political) seem increasingly irrelevant. For many commentators, particularly those keen on the more salacious aspects of Irish politics, this ambivalence toward formal politics can be attributed to a growing disenchantment with its political representatives, which have been subject to a tirade of revelations: from the ‘dig outs’ enjoyed by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and revealed at public tribunals, to the Ceann Comhairle’s, John O’Donohue’s, predilection for spending on ostentatious limousine trips at the taxpayer’s expense. In this lecture I will aim to provide a deeper analysis of this reform”, said Dr Taylor. Dr Taylor is a lecturer in politics and an internationally recognised scholar in Public policy who has published across a wide range of areas in world leading journals that include: environmental politics, food safety, risk and the financial crisis, regulatory reform and the international Haemophilia crisis.  -Ends-

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SeaScience comes to Galway City Museum

SeaScience comes to Galway City Museum-image

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Have you ever wondered what electricity is and where does it come from, or what is sound and how do scientists use sound to map the sea floor? What happens when rubbish ends up in the ocean? Is it true that some ocean plants glow? What surprises are there to be found in Galway Bay? Visit the second floor gallery at Galway City Museum to discover the answer to these questions and much more. Galway City Museum, together with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, have launched SeaScience. This new exhibition invites visitors to learn and discover more about everyday science and the environment, and how research at NUI Galway feeds into this. It was the intention of all contributors to this exhibition to provide visitors with an experience that will help shape the way they view and experience the world.   As a semi-permanent feature of the museum, SeaScience will be in place for the next 3-4 years; with some visitors already making multiple visits in the few short weeks it has been open. “The SeaScience Exploration Zone is a space that was designed and developed to get visitors excited about learning about the ocean, about the amazing landscape of the West, and about just some of the diverse research that scientists and engineers at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are conducting”, says Dr Sarah Knight, Outreach Officer for the Ryan Institute. “It has been so much fun working with the Galway City Museum on this project. Combining the knowledge of the marine environment that we have in the Ryan Institute and my own experience in education and outreach, with the incredible expertise of James Reynolds, Director Eithne O’Connell and the rest of her team at the Museum, we have created a space that has something to explore for everyone.” Irish science heritage writer, Mary Mulvihill, who officially launched the exhibition, said that people in Galway were doing research on salmon over 300 years ago. “So it makes perfect sense that this exhibition should be in Galway City Museum, in this lovely location where the Corrib River meets Galway Bay and the wild Atlantic Ocean. The research now being done at the Ryan Institute continues the work of many generations and even centuries of marine explorers. This new SeaScience exhibition is just what we need to inspire the next generation of marine scientists and engineers.” Children of all ages can come and experience the wonder of SeaScience for themselves. Take a journey in the mini-super-submarine or explore the dark room of glowing plankton. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm and admission is free! Bookings for group tours can be made by contacting the Galway City Museum, -ends-

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Conference Looks at Pricing Healthcare

Conference Looks at Pricing Healthcare-image

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Questions relating to pricing healthcare were discussed at a major international conference in NUI Galway yesterday. The conference was titled ‘Pricing Healthcare: The role of health economics evaluation in the emerging healthcare landscape in Ireland’. It brought together leading health economists from the UK and Ireland. It also included contributions from other stakeholders in the healthcare sector such as the pharmaceutical industry, clinicians, private health insurance companies, as well as leading representatives from the key decision making agencies in Ireland in this area such as the HSE, HIQA and the National Centre for Pharmaeconomics. The opening address at the conference was delivered by Ms. Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director of Novartis Ireland. The closing address at the conference was delivered by the President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne. Every country in the EU and most countries in the OECD fund more than 50% of the total expenditure on healthcare in any year. The average across the OECD is around 72% and the share of total health expenditure in Ireland that the Government spends is about 67%. According to Brendan Kennelly, a lecturer in Health Economics at NUI Galway, who chaired the conference: “In any system dominated by public expenditure a critical question arises as to what healthcare should be provided. There are a host of competing demands across disease areas, across care levels, across population groups and across social classes. All of them have strong arguments that the particular intervention that they advocate should be funded. The demand for healthcare is likely to rise as the population ages. Medical innovations, as well as social, behavioural and environmental changes, have meant that more people are able to survive with chronic illnesses. In addition, research in diseases such as cancer continues to hold out the promise that new targeted therapies will be more successful in treating illnesses that hitherto were untreatable.” He continued: “However, resources are limited so the question arises as to how should a society decide on which particular elements of healthcare should be prioritised? This is a very challenging question and it is linked to another possibly more challenging question, namely how is health produced and how is it distributed across a population. Health or ill health are caused by a myriad of factors - biological, social, behavioural, psychological – and what a society would like to supply as regards healthcare is inextricably linked with what it thinks about how health is produced and how healthcare should be regarded.” The conference was jointly organised by Novartis Ireland and the Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway. The group, which comprises about twenty academics, researchers and PhD students, conducts a wide range of research and has particular expertise in disease areas such as dementia, cancer, diabetes, stroke and mental health. The group works closely with clinical staff in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and elsewhere and with leading health economists around the world. The Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group is merely one example of a strategic targeted approach to biomedical engineering research at NUI Galway which has succeeded in the university establishing itself as a leading player in health related research. -ends-

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