‘Failed Stars’ Host Powerful Auroral Displays

‘Failed Stars’ Host Powerful Auroral Displays-image

Friday, 31 July 2015

International team led by Irish astronomer says that brown dwarfs behave more like planets than stars Brown dwarfs are the mysterious middle children of celestial objects. These relatively cool, dim bodies are difficult to detect, and have remained hard to classify. They are too massive to be planets, yet possess some planet-like characteristics; they are too small to sustain hydrogen fusion reactions at their cores, a defining characteristic of stars, yet they have star-like attributes. Now, by observing a brown dwarf 20 light-years away using both radio and optical telescopes, a team led by Dr Gregg Hallinan, NUI Galway astronomy PhD graduate and now assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech, has found another feature that makes these so-called failed stars more like supersized planets - they host powerful auroras near their magnetic poles. The findings were co-authored by scientists around the world, including many Irish-trained astronomers and Dr Ray Butler a lecturer in the School of Physics at NUI Galway, and appear in the July 30 issue of the journal Nature. “We're finding that brown dwarfs are not like small stars in terms of their magnetic activity; they're like giant planets with hugely powerful auroras,” says Hallinan. “If you were able to stand on the surface of the brown dwarf we observed - something you could never do because of its extremely hot temperatures and crushing surface gravity - you would sometimes be treated to a fantastic light show courtesy of auroras hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than any detected in our solar system.” In the early 2000s, astronomers began finding that brown dwarfs emit radio waves. At first, everyone assumed that the brown dwarfs were creating the radio waves in basically the same way that stars do - through the action of an extremely hot atmosphere, or corona, heated by magnetic activity near the object’s surface. But brown dwarfs do not generate large flares and charged-particle emissions in the way that our sun and other stars do, so the radio emissions were surprising. While studying for his PhD at NUI Galway, in 2006, Hallinan discovered that brown dwarfs can actually pulse at radio frequencies. “We see a similar pulsing phenomenon from planets in our solar system,” says Hallinan, “and that radio emission is actually due to auroras”. Since then he has wondered if the radio emissions seen on brown dwarfs might be caused by auroras. Auroral displays result when charged particles, carried by the stellar wind for example, manage to enter a planet’s magnetosphere, the region where such charged particles are influenced by the planet’s magnetic field. Once within the magnetosphere, those particles get accelerated along the planet's magnetic field lines to the planet’s poles, where they collide with gas atoms in the atmosphere and produce the bright emissions associated with auroras. Following his hunch, Hallinan and his colleagues recently conducted an extensive observation campaign of a brown dwarf called LSRJ 1835+3259, using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, the most powerful radio telescope in the world, as well as giant optical instruments that included Palomar’s Hale Telescope in California and the W. M. Keck Observatory's telescopes in Hawaii. Using the VLA, they detected a bright pulse of radio waves that appeared as the brown dwarf rotated around. The object rotates every 2.84 hours, so the researchers were able to watch nearly three full rotations over the course of a single night. Next, the astronomers used the Hale Telescope to observe that the brown dwarf varied optically on the same period as the radio pulses. Focusing on one of the spectral lines associated with excited hydrogen - the H-alpha emission line - they found that the object's brightness varied periodically. Finally, Hallinan and his colleagues used the Keck telescopes to precisely measure the brightness of the brown dwarf over time—no simple feat given that these objects are intrinsically extremely faint, many thousands of times less luminous than our own sun. Hallinan and his team were able to establish that this hydrogen emission is a signature of auroras near the surface of the brown dwarf. “As the electrons spiral down toward the atmosphere, they produce radio emissions, and then when they hit the atmosphere, they excite hydrogen in a process that occurs at Earth and other planets, albeit tens of thousands of times more intense”, explains Hallinan. “We now know that this kind of auroral behavior is extending all the way from planets up to brown dwarfs.” In the case of brown dwarfs, charged particles cannot be driven into their magnetosphere by a stellar wind, as there is no stellar wind to do so. Hallinan says that some other source, such as an orbiting planet moving through the brown dwarf’s magnetosphere, may be generating a current and producing the auroras. “But until we map the aurora accurately, we won't be able to say where it's coming from”, he says. He notes that brown dwarfs offer a convenient stepping stone to studying exoplanets, planets orbiting stars other than our own sun. “For the coolest brown dwarfs we've discovered, their atmosphere is pretty similar to what we would expect for many exoplanets, and you can actually look at a brown dwarf and study its atmosphere without having a star nearby that's a factor of a million times brighter obscuring your observations,” says Hallinan. The work, ‘Magnetospherically driven optical and radio aurorae at the end of the main sequence’, was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation in the US. In all, five of the authors are connected with NUI Galway. Ray Butler is a lecturer in the School of Physics; Aaron Golden is on extended leave from his lecturer position in the School of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics; Leon Harding did his PhD under the joint supervision of Drs Butler and Golden; and Stephen Bourke and the lead author Gregg Hallinan both did their PhDs under Dr Golden. NUI Galway’s Ray Butler adds: “The key roles played by so many Irish-trained astronomers, in making the discoveries to produce this Nature publication, demonstrate that we have the skills and ideas to compete with the world’s best in this field. For example, I worked on planning the spectroscopy observations, and developing the methods to analyse them in order to extract the subtle signature of the brown dwarf’s rotation. The selection of this particular brown dwarf followed work by our co-author Leon Harding during his time as my PhD student, when he used GUFI (the Galway Ultra Fast Imager), an instrument that we built ourselves, to observe its optical variability with unprecedented accuracy. Today’s major breakthrough and the successes of Irish astronomers abroad underline the compelling arguments for the government to reintroduce policies to fund this kind of basic research here in Ireland.” -ends-

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June 2015

NUI Galway Announce 2015 Honorary Degree Recipients

NUI Galway Announce 2015 Honorary Degree Recipients-image

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Áine Brazil, Billy Lawless, Svante Pääbo and Phillip Smyth to be conferred with Honorary Doctorates To view a video of the Honorary Conferring proceedings click here NUI Galway has announced the recipients of the 2015 Honorary Degrees. The four individuals to be conferred on Friday, 12 June are Áine Brazil, Vice Chairman of Thornton Tomasetti, New York, USA; Billy Lawless, Chicago-based Galway-born Businessman and Vice-President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Svante Pääbo, Swedish biologist and Director at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany; and Phillip Smyth, Director of the Shannon College of Hotel Management. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, speaking in advance of the conferring ceremony, said:  “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to the diverse fields of engineering, public life, genetic science and the international hospitality industry. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.” Áine Brazil will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Engineering (honoris causa). In a career of over 30 years with Thornton Tomasetti, Áine has been responsible for the design and construction of high-rise buildings, air-rights projects with long-span transfer systems, and a mix of educational, institutional, healthcare and hospitality projects. She has received many awards from business and real estate organisations and held leadership roles in structural and resiliency code development in New York City. She was the first president of the Structural Engineers Association of New York. A native of Galway City, Áine obtained her Bachelor of Engineering from NUI Galway, and a Masters degree in structural engineering from Imperial College in London. Billy Lawless will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). Born in Galway city, where he began his career in the hospitality business, in 1998 he emigrated to Chicago and opened a number of businesses and formed the Chicago Irish Pub/Restaurant Association in 2001. Billy has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Illinois Restaurant Association since 2010. He founded the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, is Vice-President of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, a founding member of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, a member of the National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council and Co-Chair of the Immigration Committee. Billy has always been committed to developing strong links between Chicago and Galway and he has served as Co-Chairman of the Galway Chicago Sister Cities Committee since 1998. In May 2015 he became a Freeman of the City of Galway. Svante Pääbo will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa). Born in Stockholm, Svante is regarded as one of the founders of the field of paleogenetics. He has worked extensively on the Neanderthal genome and has developed techniques that allow DNA sequences from extinct creatures such as mammoths, ground sloths and Neanderthals to be determined. He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards including: the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research; the Kistler Prize for his work isolating and sequencing ancient DNA; the Theodor Bücher Medal for outstanding achievements in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; and the Gruber Prize in Genetics for ground breaking research in evolutionary genetics. Phillip Smyth will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). A graduate of NUI Galway, Phillip served as an officer in the Irish Army for 17 years reaching the rank of Commandant and serving with the United Nations in Lebanon. He worked as a lecturer in the Military College and was involved in the training of non-commissioned officers. Since taking over the directorship of Shannon College in 1989 Phillip has developed the college from a small private hotel school to a world renowned Recognised College of the National University of Ireland. Under Phillip’s direction the next milestone in the College’s future is the imminent incorporation of Shannon College of Hotel Management into NUI Galway, whilst remaining in its historical location at Shannon Airport. Phillip is a fellow of the Irish Hospitality Institute and was recently appointed to the Council. The four graduands join the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include, among many others, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Snr and Jnr, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan and Margaret Atwood. -Ends- Céimithe Oinigh 2015 Fógartha ag OÉ Gaillimh Dochtúireachtaí Oinigh le bronnadh ar Áine Brazil, Billy Lawless, Svante Pääbo agus Phillip Smyth D’fhógair OÉ Gaillimh inniu na daoine a mbronnfar Céimeanna Oinigh 2015 orthu. Is iad an ceathrar a bhfuil céimeanna le bronnadh orthu Dé hAoine, an 12 Meitheamh Áine Brazil, Leas-Chathaoirleach Thornton Tomasetti, Nua-Eabhrac, SAM; Billy Lawless, fear gnó a rugadh i nGaillimh ach atá ag cur faoi in Chicago agus atá ina Leas-Uachtarán ar an Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Svante Pääbo, bitheolaí as an tSualainn agus Stiúrthóir ar Institiúid Max-Planck don Antraipeolaíocht Éabhlóideach in Leipzig sa Ghearmáin; agus Phillip Smyth, Stiúrthóir Choláiste Bainistíochta Óstáin Shionainne. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne, agus é ag labhairt roimh an searmanas bronnta:  “Tá an t-ádh le OÉ Gaillimh céimithe oinigh den scoth a bheith aici in imeacht na mblianta ach is eisceacht céimithe oinigh na bliana seo. Tá a chion féin déanta ag gach céimí oinigh daoibh i réimsí éagsúla na hinnealtóireachta, an tsaoil phoiblí, na heolaíochta géinití agus thionscal idirnáisiúnta an fháilteachais. Tá an-áthas ar OÉ Gaillimh a bheith in ann aitheantas a thabhairt do na daoine eisceachtúla seo.” Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le hInnealtóireacht (honoris causa) ar Áine Brazil. Tá os cionn 30 bliain caite ag Áine le Thornton Tomasetti agus í freagrach as foirgnimh ollmhóra a dhearadh agus a thógáil, tionscadail chearta aeir le córais aistrithe fhadtréimhseacha, agus tionscadail oideachais, institiúideacha, chúraim sláinte agus fáilteachais. Is iomaí gradam atá bronnta uirthi ag eagraíochtaí gnó agus eastáit réadaí agus bhí róil cheannaireachta aici i bhforbairt cóid struchtúrtha agus athléimhnigh i gCathair Nua-Eabhrac. Ba í an chéad uachtarán í ar Structural Engineers Association Nua-Eabhrac. Is as Gaillimh ó dhúchas d'Áine. Bhain sí Baitsiléir Innealtóireachta amach ó OÉ Gaillimh agus céim Mháistreachta in innealtóireacht struchtúr ón Imperial College i Londain. Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) ar Billy Lawless. Rugadh é i gCathair na Gaillimhe áit ar chuir sé tús lena ghairm i ngnó an fháilteachais. I 1998, chuaigh sé ar imirce go Chicago agus d'oscail sé slám gnóthaí. Bhunaigh sé an Chicago Irish Pub/Restaurant Association in 2001. Tá Billy ar Choiste Feidhmiúcháin an Illinois Restaurant Association ó 2010. Bhunaigh sé an Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform, tá sé ina Leas-Uachtarán ar an Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, tá sé ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí an Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, ina chomhalta den National Democratic Ethnic Coordinating Council agus ina Chomh-Chathaoirleach den Immigration Committee. Bíonn Billy i gcónaí ar a mhíle dícheall ag iarraidh nasc láidir a chothú idir Chicago agus Galway agus tá sé ina Chomh-Chathaoirleach ar Choiste Comhchathracha na Gaillimhe-Chicago ó 1998. I mí na Bealtaine 2015, rinneadh saor de chuid Chathair na Gaillimhe de. Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le hEolaíocht (honoris causa) ar Svante Pääbo. Rugadh Svante i Stocólm agus meastar go bhfuil sé ar dhuine de bhunaitheoirí réimse na pailéighéineolaíochta. Tá lear mór oibre déanta aige ar an ngéanóm Néandartálach agus tá teicnící forbartha aige chun seichimh DNA as ainmhithe díofa cosúil le mamait, spadán talún agus Néandartálaigh a aithint. Toghadh é ar Acadamh Ríoga Eolaíochtaí na Sualainne agus is iomaí gradam atá bainte aige cosúil le: Gradam Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz ón Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, an gradam is airde a bhronntar ar thaighde sa Ghearmáin; Gradam Kistler as a shaothar ag aonrú agus ag seicheamhú an DNA ársa; Bonn Theodor Bücher as éachtaí móra sa Bhithcheimic agus sa Bhitheolaíocht Mhóilíneach; agus Gradam Gruber sa Ghéineolaíocht as taighde ceannródaíoch i ngéineolaíocht éabhlóideach. Bronnfar Céim Dhochtúireachta le Dlíthe (honoris causa) ar Phillip Smyth. Céimí de chuid OÉ Gaillimh é Phillip agus rinne sé a chion mar oifigeach in Arm na hÉireann le 17 mbliana. Bhí sé ina Cheannfort faoi dheireadh agus rinne sé seal leis na Náisiúin Aontaithe sa Liobáin. Bhí sé ina léachtóir sa Choláiste Míleata agus bhíodh sé ag traenáil na n-oifigeach neamhchoimisiúnaithe. Ó ghlac sé stiúir ar Choláiste Shionainne i 1989 tá an coláiste athraithe ag Phillip ó scoil bheag phríobháideach go Coláiste Aitheanta de chuid Ollscoil na hÉireann. Faoi stiúir Phillip is é an chéad chéim eile Coláiste Bainistíochta Óstáin Shionainne a bheith mar chuid de OÉ Gaillimh ach fanacht ag Aerfort na Sionna ag an am céanna. Tá Phillip ina chomhalta d'Institiúid Aíochta na hÉireann agus ceapadh é ar an gComhairle le gairid. Beidh an ceathrar seo anois i measc céimithe oinigh mór le rá a tháinig rompu cosúil le Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Sinsear agus Sóisear, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan agus Margaret Atwood. -Críoch-

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NUI Galway Academic among new members of the Royal Irish Academy

NUI Galway Academic among new members of the Royal Irish Academy -image

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

NUI Galway’s Professor Henry Curran has been admitted as a new member of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) at a special ceremony in Dublin recently. This year Professor Curran was one of only 19 academics to receive Ireland’s highest academic distinction. Engineers, historians and a criminologist were among the nineteen new Members of the Royal Irish Academy who were announced on Friday last. The new members who signed the Academy roll book at 4pm on 29 May, in a centuries old tradition, included Steve Myers, who was the Director of Accelerators at CERN when the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012; Martin Naughton,who is one of Ireland’s leading innovators and philanthropists; Orla Feely, who was the first Irish woman elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; and Bernadette Whelan, a leading scholar in the history of Irish–American relations. Congratulating the awardees, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Research and academic excellence are the cornerstones of all that we do here at NUI Galway. I am very proud to see the work of Professor Curran recognised by the Royal Irish Academy. Admission to the Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland.  It is a testament to the calibre of our staff and research to see the work one of our finest science scholars honoured in this way.” Professor Mary E. Daly, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said that all those elected ‘have made world renowned contributions to research in the sciences or humanities...Irish scholars are highly sought after and are increasingly being head-hunted for top positions in leading universities and research centres throughout the world’. She warned that Ireland needed to retain this talent so that we can produce the high-level graduates that are critical for Ireland’s economic recovery.    ‘Funding does not of itself guarantee a strong higher education system, but without adequate funding and long-term assurance about the continuation of research funds, the sector is, and will increasingly be, faced with a brain drain.’    2015 is the 230th anniversary of the Royal Irish Academy—Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. Since its foundation in 1785, membership of the RIA has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Those elected use the designation ‘MRIA’ after their name.   There are now 493 members of the Academy and 76 honorary members, in disciplines from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Members of the Academy include President Michael D. Higgins; Baroness Nuala O’Loan; Patrick Honohan, Governor of the Central Bank; Roy Foster, historian; and the writer and cartographer Tim Robinson.   At the enrolment ceremony today was the British Ambassador Mr Dominick Chilcott and former Minister for Education and Skills Mr Ruairí Quinn. Also in attendance was Professor Philip Nolan (President of Maynooth University), Professor Andrew Deeks (President of UCD) and Professor Brian MacCraith (President of DCU).   ENDS  

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CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Arch Therapeutics Execute Collaboration Agreement

CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices and Arch Therapeutics Execute Collaboration Agreement-image

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

CÚRAM Initiates Another Multi-Year Grant-Funded Research and Development Collaboration Arch Prepares for First Human Trial with R&D Support CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, a new center of excellence for research, and Arch Therapeutics, Inc. (OTCQB: ARTH) ("Arch" or the "Company"), developer of the AC5 Surgical Hemostatic Device™ (“AC5TM”), have executed a definitive collaboration agreement that provides Arch grant funding for highly skilled personnel and infrastructure support. Through this collaboration, CÚRAM will work with Arch to advance AC5 through the first clinical trial, leading up to potential commercialization as well as develop pipeline applications for new indications and products. CÚRAM, a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded research centre, aims to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing and collaborating on the development of “smart” medical devices. Strong collaborations with industry partners and hospital groups will enable their rapid translation into clinical settings. The Centre brings together researchers from NUI Galway, UCD, DCU, UL, UCC and RCSI. The Centre will include almost 40 industry partners and support product development and the creation of new spin-out companies. Partners will include indigenous Irish companies and multi-nationals. Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM, said: “CÚRAM has come along at a pivotal point in the medical device industry in Ireland and Europe, as there are large markets with unmet clinical needs. CÚRAM plans to enhance technology that exists and introducing technology that does not yet exist. Our significant collaboration with Arch Therapeutics and other industry partners is very exciting. Leaders within CÚRAM have a successful history working with Arch, and we are delighted to support their drive to commercialization for what should be very important products for the healthcare industry.” Arch Therapeutics’ Chief Executive Officer, Terrence W. Norchi, MD, noted: “Signing of the collaboration agreement marks the beginning of this new partnership, which aims to develop affordable transformative solutions for disease. This collaboration represents a direct, forward-looking approach to the changing global dynamics of both industry and academic R&D, presenting a unique opportunity for Arch Therapeutics and CÚRAM. The planned research and development support to Arch, as well as the partnership with a seasoned and renowned team, represents a unique, collaborative approach to developing innovative solutions in healthcare.” Terrence Norchi further noted: “Arch intends to launch a first product in Europe next year provided clinical data are supportive. We believe that building a larger R&D footprint in Ireland will enhance our strategy while reallocating resources to the Irish economy.” -ends-

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Italian Expert to speak at NUI Galway Seminar on Art and Medicine in Italy

Italian Expert to speak at NUI Galway Seminar on Art and Medicine in Italy-image

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

An Italian feast will take place later this month at NUI Galway as part of the ITALIAN ART & MEDICINE seminar where guest lecturer Professor Alessandro Riva from the University of Cagliari, Italy and founder director of the Museum of Susini’s Anatomical Waxes*, in Cagliari, will discuss the artistic and scientific value of Anatomical wax modelling in Italy in the 18th-19th centuries. The seminar and free gastronomy reception will take place on Wednesday, 24 June, 2015. This open symposium will focus on interlinking aspects between art and medicine in Italy between the 18th and 20th Centuries. The event is not necessarily for specialists and it will be of interest to a wide audience. The organisers include the NUI Galway staff Dr Fabio Quondamatteo and Prof Paolo Bartoloni, along with the Galway Clinic Consultants Dr Antonio Terranova and Dr Fabio Bartolozzi, who are all also part of a Cultural Group called Italiani a Galway (www.italianiagalway.com). The symposium will feature expert presentations including current Professor of Italian Studies at NUI Galway, Professor Paolo Bartoloni, who will present on relations between Literature and Medicine and the former Professor of Italian Studies at NUI Galway, Professor Catherine O’Brien, will talk on aspects of illness in the life and work of Amedeo Modigliani. Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Dr Fabio Quondamatteo said: “The organisers are tremendously proud to announce that an exhibition of high definition images of the Susini’s Anatomical Waxes will be associated with this event and that this will be the first time all the images of the Cagliari Collection are exhibited outside Italy. The Organisers are also extremely grateful to the University of Cagliari and in particular to its President Prof Maria Del Zompo, for facilitating this and for their enthusiastic support for this event.” An Italian gastronomy reception will begin after the presentations, which is generously sponsored by local eateries and businesses including Mona Lisa, Il Folletto, Il Vicolo, Pizza Pasta Napoli, Da Roberta’s, Poppyseed, and Moycullen McCann’s Supervalu. Starting at 3pm on 24 June, admission to the event is free however registration is a must before 15 June. Please visit www.conference.ie for online registration. ENDS

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Seminar on sexual health research to explore issues of consent

Seminar on sexual health research to explore issues of consent-image

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A research seminar takes place in NUI Galway today focussing on sexual health research with university students, and in particular the issue of sexual consent. The seminar, ‘Sexual Health and Alcohol Use: The Need for Evidence-Based, Theory-Led Strategies to Address Sexual Assault and Promote Active Consent Among Young Adults’ is organised by the School of Psychology at NUI Galway in conjunction with Galway Alcohol Forum and Healthy Cities Initiative. The results of multidisciplinary research carried out across several institutions in social marketing, theatre and drama studies, and psychology will be presented at the event. This includes survey data from approximately 1,500 students across two institutions on sexual assault, on how consent is typically expressed, frequency and comfort of engaging in different sexual activities, associations between alcohol use and sexual behaviour, and other topics in the sexual health field. “We wish to promote the idea of consent being active, on-going, and clearly expressed, as our research suggests that it is currently a grey area for many students”, explains Dr Pádraig McNeela, Lecturer at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. “It is important to consider how this lack of clarity might contribute to the problem of sexual assault, and a culture that might perpetuate gender-based harassment and violence. It is also essential that we promote a positive approach to sexual relationships where people feel confident to express their preferences and make informed decisions.” In addition, it will show how these quantitative findings, when combined with qualitative exploration of attitudes and expectations for consent, have the potential to be employed in new strategies that promote active consent. Specifically, the seminar will report on a community theatre project that inspired students to create a dramatic representation of the ‘grey areas’ associated with consent; and the ‘Smart Consent’ workshop that brings students into contact with theory and evidence using innovative techniques. In addition to funding from the Galway Alcohol Forum, the researchers have the support of the Irish Research Council New Foundations scheme, NUI Galway Students’ Union, NUI Galway Student Services, and the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland. “We also hope to discuss these initiatives in light of social marketing survey findings demonstrating that, for students, sexual health is a key priority that requires action,” added Dr McNeela. -ends-

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Drive from Galway to Dublin for just 13 cent

Drive from Galway to Dublin for just 13 cent-image

Thursday, 4 June 2015

NUI Galway students’ car excels in international energy-efficiency competition A team of NUI Galway engineering students have achieved the equivalent of 8,000 miles per gallon in the Galway energy-efficient car (the Geec), which they designed and built. The team returned last week from Rotterdam, where they raced the car in the European round of Shell Eco-marathon, a global competition to find the world’s most fuel-efficient and energy-efficient cars. Team NUI Galway was the first Irish entry ever to participate in the event. At Shell Eco-marathon Europe, a future generation of engineers and scientists aged 16-25 from 26 countries in Europe and beyond competed against each other. With Rotterdam as the host city, Shell brought the competition closer to the public with a fit-for-purpose street circuit. The Geec, a three-wheeled battery-electric car, completed four 16km competition runs of 10 laps each on the urban track. The winners were the teams that could drive the furthest on the equivalent of 1 litre of fuel or (in the Geec’s class) 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity. The Galway energy-efficient car’s final energy consumption score was equivalent to almost 8,000 miles per gallon – over 100 times more efficient than most cars on the road. “We aimed to break the barrier of €1 for a Galway-Dublin drive, but the finished Geec would use just 13 cent,” said Dr Rory Monaghan, NUI Galway, one of the team’s mentors. “We have learned an awful lot about how to design, build and drive an ultra-efficient vehicle. This is just the beginning.” The car has been in development for two years, and the final success wasn’t without incident. “Early on in Rotterdam, the car’s power electronics failed during testing,” said Geec team member, student Barry Flannery, from Oranmore, Co. Galway. “It was scary, but we managed to work through the problems step by step and achieve an incredible score.” After three runs the Geec’s best score had risen to 202 kilometres per kilowatt-hour. The NUI Galway team decided to go all-out on their final run, made overnight modifications to the drivetrain, and planned a new driving strategy. The risky approach paid off – the Geec’s score jumped to 287 on the final day of competition, to finish 23rd out of 51 in its class. “Using the brake negatively affects the efficiency of the car,” explained student Maryrose McLoone, from Glenties, Co. Donegal, who drove the Geec on the final run, “so it was important I was able to manoeuvre between other cars while also driving efficiently and safely. I had to stay aware of my lap time, my motor speed and other cars around me.” Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, was hugely proud of his students: “To finish on the top half of the leader board is a truly great achievement by NUI Galway students in this our first outing in this event. I’m delighted for all who have been directly involved in this tremendous project.” Shell Ireland’s Managing Director, Ronan Deasy, said the Geec team had made a big impression with the organisers and other competitors at the Rotterdam event. “Their energy, enthusiasm and professional approach, meant that Ireland’s first entry in the Eco-marathon was really noticed and positively commented upon. The Geec team’s result was fantastic and sets them up well for next year’s competition in London,” he said. The Geec team was generously supported by Shell E&P Ireland, Wood Group Kenny, Belcross Enterprises, Central Bearing Supplies, Smurfit Kappa, Sinbad Marine, Maxon Motor, QuickTec Computers, and Enform Plastics. For more information on NUI Galway’s eco-car, please visit the team website, www.theGeec.ie, find theGeec.ie on facebook, or follow @theGeec on twitter. ENDS

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Students bound for Bali as delegates at International Student Energy Summit

Students bound for Bali as delegates at International Student Energy Summit-image

Friday, 5 June 2015

Two engineering students from NUI Galway have been selected as delegates to represent Ireland at the International Student Energy Summit (ISES) from 10-13 June. The event is a global forum focusing on sustainable resource management and the role that students will play in defining the future of energy development. ISES targets international, multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate students interested in energy. ISES takes place every two years at academic institutions around the world. Billy Delaney from Newbridge, Co. Kildare and Kate Kerrane from Thurles, Co. Tipperary will travel to Bali to attend the event. Both are undertaking a Bachelor of Energy Systems Engineering at NUI Galway and are active members of the Energy Society on campus, which organises Ireland’s only student run energy event, the annual Energy Night. NUI Galway’s Dr Rory Monaghan is Director of Energy Systems Engineering Bachelors and Masters Degrees: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our student energy leaders to plug into the global sustainable energy community. It puts NUI Galway, which is already at the forefront of student involvement in Irish energy issues, on the map globally, and will no doubt be of great benefit to Billy and Kate in the future.” ISES 2015, “Connecting the Unconnected”, is being hosted in Bali, Indonesia, by the Bandung Institute of Technology, which is the oldest technology-oriented university in Indonesia. The conference itself will consist of keynotes from leading experts and thought leaders, panel sessions designed to encourage debate, specialised breakout sessions and interactive program elements to give students hands on experience. The students, who will start their final year of the four-year degree in September, are currently on placement as a part of their course. Billy is completing his placement in Arup and Kate is in ESB Networks. “We are very grateful for the sponsorship and support they have received from our placement companies and also from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the Societies Office at NUI Galway, to avail of this opportunity”, explained Kate Kerrane. “We would not have been able to take this opportunity if it wasn’t for such support.” You can follow the journey to Bali on twitter, @delaney_billy and @k8kerrane. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Pays Tribute to Jean Ritchie

NUI Galway Pays Tribute to Jean Ritchie-image

Friday, 5 June 2015

It is with sadness that NUI Galway noted the passing of noted folk-singer and collector Jean Ritchie earlier this week. Jean Ritchie, who brought hundreds of traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a global audience, died at the age of 92. In 1996 the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, under the auspices of Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín of the University’s History Department, acquired the Ritchie-Pickow Photographic Archive, along with tapes of sound recordings. These included many of the singers and musicians that Jean recorded as part of a project to trace the roots of many of the songs and tunes she would have grown up with in the Southern Appalachians. The photographs were taken and the recordings made by the US husband and wife team, George Pickow and Jean Ritchie on visits to Ireland in 1952 and 1953. Jean Ritchie, singer, folklorist and dulcimer player was born on 8 December 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. She was the youngest of a family of 14 children, known as 'The Singing Ritchies'. Jean graduated from the University of Kentucky and in 1952 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to enable her to research the origins of her family's songs in Great Britain and Ireland. Ritchie's late husband George Pickow, a photographer, accompanied her and they spent approximately eighteen months recording folk songs and traditional musicians and taking photographs. The photographs include images of many well-known uilleann pipe players, such as Seamus Ennis, the McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; vocalists, including Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin from West Cork, Sarah Makem and story tellers, such as Paitsín Faherty from the Aran Islands. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne: “We in NUI Galway are deeply honored by our association with the late Jean Ritchie and George Pickow. Their names will forever be associated with NUI Galway, through the deposit in 1996 of the very significant collection of George's photographs and Jean’s sound recordings made during Jean’s Fulbright year in Ireland and Britain in 1952-53. This is a unique folk collection, linking the Irish song tradition and that of Appalachia. The Ritchie-Pickow collection is of considerable interest to scholars and researchers, and forms an integral part of the James Hardiman Library's Archives and Special Collections.” Building on the Ritchie/Pickow archive housed in NUI Galway's library, The ‘Jean Ritchie Scholarship’ was launched last February during a visit to Berea College, Kentucky, by Mary McPartlan, Traditional Artist in Residence and University teacher and Anna Cunningham, Director of International Affairs, NUI Galway. The Scholarship offers a full tuition waiver to one outstanding Berea College graduate pursuing a one year MA programme in NUI Galway. Permission was granted by Jean Ritchie and her family to name this scholarship in her honour during the visit. Ar dheis dé go raibh a h-anam uasal ENDS Tugann OÉ Gaillimh ómós do Jean Ritchie Is oth linn a chloisteáil anseo in OÉ Gaillimh gur bhásaigh an t-amhránaí tíre agus an bailitheoir amhrán Jean Ritchie níos túisce an tseachtain seo. Bhásaigh Jean Ritchie in aois a 92; roinn sí na céadta amhrán traidisiúnta óna Appalachia dúchasach le lucht éisteachta domhanda. Sa bhliain 1996, faoi choimirce an Ollaimh Dáibhí Ó Cróinín ó Roinn Staire na hOllscoile, ghlac Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin seilbh ar Chartlann Ghrianghraf Ritchie-Pickow, mar aon le téipeanna de thaifid fuaime. Chuimsigh siad seo go leor de na hamhránaithe agus na ceoltóirí a bhí taifeadta ag Jean mar chuid de thionscadal a bhí sí ina bhun le déanamh amach cé as a dtáinig go leor de na hamhráin agus na tiúineanna ar fhás sí aníos leo sna Sléibhte Apaláiseacha Theas. Ar chuairteanna go hÉirinn i 1952 agus 1953 a thóg an lánúin phósta as Meiriceá, George Pickow agus Jean Ritchie na grianghraif agus na taifid. Rugadh Jean Ritchie, amhránaí, béaloideasóir agus seinnteoir dulcaiméara ar an 8 Nollaig 1922 in Viper, Kentucky. Ba í ab óige de cheithre pháiste dhéag ar a dtugtaí na ‘Singing Ritchies’. Bhain Jean céim amach in Ollscoil Kentucky agus sa bhliain 1952 bronnadh Scoláireacht Fulbright uirthi le cur ar a cumas taighde a dhéanamh ar bhunús amhráin a muintire sa Bhreatain Mhór agus in Éirinn. Bhí fear Ritchie, George Pickow, grianghrafadóir, atá é féin anois ar shlí na fírinne, ina cuideachta. Chaith siad thart ar ocht mí dhéag ag taifead amhráin tíre agus ceoltóirí traidisiúnta agus ag glacadh grianghraf. Cuimsíonn na grianghraif íomhánna de phíobairí iomráiteacha cosúil le Seamus Ennis, an McPeake trio, Leo Rowsome; amhránaithe cosúil le Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin as Iarthar Chorcaí, Sarah Makem agus scéalaithe cosúil le Paitsín Faherty as Árainn. Dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Is mór an onóir dúinn anseo in OÉ Gaillimh go raibh ceangal againn le Jean Ritchie agus le George Pickow, atá beirt ar shlí na fírinne anois.  Beidh ceangal idir iad féin agus OÉ Gaillimh go deo, mar gheall ar an mbailiúchán an-suntasach a cuireadh ar fáil i 1996 de ghrianghraif George agus de thaifid fuaime Jean a rinneadh an bhliain a raibh scoláireacht Fulbright ag Jean go hÉirinn agus go dtí an Bhreatain Mhór in 1952-53.  Bailiúchán tíre uathúil is ea é seo, a dhéanann nasc idir traidisiún amhránaíochta na hÉireann agus traidisiún Appalachia.  Bíonn an-spéis ag scoláirí agus ag taighdeoirí i mbailiúchán Ritchie-Pickow, agus tá sé mar lárchuid de Chartlanna agus Bailiúcháin Speisialta Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin.” D’fhonn forbairt a dhéanamh ar chartlann Ritchie/Pickow atá i leabharlann OÉ Gaillimh, seoladh ‘Scoláireacht Jean Ritchie’ i mí Feabhra seo caite le linn do Mary McPartlan, an tEalaíontóir Traidisiúnta Cónaitheach agus teagascóir Ollscoile agus Anna Cunningham, an Stiúrthóir Gnóthaí Idirnáisiúnta, OÉ Gaillimh a bheith ar cuairt ar Berea College, Kentucky.  Clúdaíonn an Scoláireacht costas iomlán an teagaisc do chéimí amháin den scoth in Berea College atá ag tabhairt faoi chlár bliana MA in OÉ Gaillimh. Le linn na cuairte thug Jean Ritchie agus a teaghlach cead dúinn an scoláireacht a ainmniú in ómós di.  Ar dheis dé go raibh a h-anam uasal CRÍOCH

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New €6 million EU Horizon 2020 research project launched using stem cell therapy to treat diabetic kidney disease

New €6 million EU Horizon 2020 research project launched using stem cell therapy to treat diabetic kidney disease-image

Monday, 8 June 2015

· Project is 4th clinical trial funded by EU testing next-generation stem cell therapy discovered by NUI Galway spin-out, Orbsen Therapeutics A new €6 million research project (NEPHSTROM) has been funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 programme to evaluate the clinical safety and efficacy of a next-generation cell therapy discovered by Galway-based Orbsen Therapeutics, to combat diabetic kidney disease. The project will be led by Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the National University of Ireland Galway. The four-year project will test the next-generation stromal (stem) cell therapy, called Cyndacel-M, in a four-site clinical trial treating patients in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and Italy The ‘stromal’ cells will be purified from healthy donor bone marrow using Orbsen Therapeutics’ patented technology, and expanded into multiple ‘off-the-shelf’ doses for clinical use. By 2016, first-in-man trials will see the stromal cells injected into patients with diabetic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is marked by the gradual destruction of kidney tissue over time and is a major cause of sickness and death in the EU. Inflammation (the body’s immune response where blood flow increases to tissue causing swelling) plays a large part in the majority of kidney disease and this can lead to kidney damage, scar tissue formation (fibrosis) and loss of kidney function. Diabetic kidney disease is a common complication of diabetes mellitus, and it is estimated that by 2040 it may affect in the region of 200 million people. In most cases of diabetic kidney damage there is no effective medical treatment. The mainstay treatments are drugs, dialysis and kidney transplants, all of which have significant costs and only provide limited protection against adverse outcomes. The ambitious new research project called NEPHSTROM (Novel Stromal Cell Therapy for Diabetic Kidney Disease) is a collaboration of 11 European partners (www.nephstrom.eu) and builds on pre-clinical research carried out in an existing EU-funded project known as REDDSTAR (www.reddstar.eu). REDDSTAR is also coordinated by Professor Timothy O’Brien and funded by the EU Framework 7 programme. NUI Galway’s Professor O’Brien comments: “If predictions prove correct, then our healthcare systems are facing a huge task in managing the complications caused by ever-increasing numbers of patients with diabetes mellitus. Chief among such complications will be kidney disease, which has a huge financial cost in terms of current treatments, and takes a massive personal toll on patients. Diabetes is currently the most common cause of end stage kidney disease resulting in the need for dialysis or transplantation. We are confident that by harnessing the most modern approaches in stromal cell therapeutics there may well be a way to halt the progression of diabetic kidney disease using this therapy.” Spin-out company pioneering next-generation stromal cell therapy NEPHSTROM will assess next-generation stromal cells that are purified using a patented method developed by Orbsen Theraputics, a spin-out from NUI Galway. Orbsen Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Elliman - who discovered the Cyndacel technology - explains: “NEPHSTROM is Orbsen’s forth clinical trial funded by the European Commission in the last three years. The data that led to the NEPHSTROM approval was developed via independant testing of Orbsen’s Cyndacel-M in the laboratory of Professor Hans-Joachim Anders at the Ludwigs-Maximillian University in Munich within the REDDSTAR EU network – highlighting the success of that first project. Cyndacel-M represents a significant advance in terms of stromal cell purification and safety. Whereas competitor technologies are based on a 50-year-old isolation technique, which produces a mixed group of cells for therapeutic use, Orbsen’s Cyndacel technology permits best-in-class purification, which we predict will lead to better safety and efficacy outcomes for patients.” NEPHSTROM will also develop and validate a new combined manufacturing platform that improves the consistency and reduces the cost of the Cyndacel-M therapeutic to a level that enables its routine clinical use. The project will develop the first “closed-automated” GMP method of stromal cell isolation and expansion that will expand the Cyndacel-M therapy to clinically and commercially relevant numbers. The project will establish an EU network of four GMP cell-production centres, using these technologies, to produce large amounts of therapeutic agent in a consistent manner, following shared protocols. This will be critical to upscaling, delivering the multi-centre trial in NEPHSTROM and meeting the demand for cells in more advanced clinical trials. Cyndacel-M will be manufactured in GMP production centres in Galway, Leiden, Birmingham and Bergamo. First-in-man clinical trial In the second year of the project, a clinical trial will take place in Galway, Belfast, Birmingham and Bergamo, among 48 patients. The placebo-controlled trial will see Cyndacel-M injected into the patients’ bloodstream. Results will be measured in terms of improvements in kidney performance as measured by urine and blood samples. If successful, the researchers will see the disease significantly slowed or halted altogether. One of the world’s most renowned experts in kidney disease, Professor Giuseppe Remuzzi, from the Istituto Di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (IRFMN, Bergamo, Italy), will lead the clinical trial across the four centres, set to commence in May 2016. According to Professor Remuzzi: “The core of the NEPHSTROM project is the first-in-man clinical trial with innovative stromal cell therapy in patients with diabetic kidney disease. The clinical experience with stromal cells is still in its infancy, mainly focused on developing novel therapeutic solutions for patients with bone marrow or organ transplantation as well as for those with a small number of autoimmune diseases. Nobody so far has attempted to provide evidence that this cell-based therapy is capable to halt progression of diabetic kidney disease in humans. The NEPHSTROM clinical trial has adopted an approach similar to that pursued to explore the pathophysiology of rare conditions. It is a small but intensively studied clinical trial which will allow determination of the effective dose of Cyndacel-M cells, and how they might function to protect the diabetic kidney. The complementary skill, expertise and human resources of the four European participating centres contribute to create a strong and critical network to document the clinical feasibility of this innovative therapy, eventually providing the background insights to design future larger clinical trials in diabetic patients with kidney disease.” NUI Galway’s Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) - which is the only licensed cell manufacturing facility in Ireland - the Galway Blood and Tissue Establishment at UHG which is licensed to procure stem cells, and the HRB Galway Clinical Research Facility which has specialised facilities for stem cell clinical trials will play crucial roles in the Galway arm of this multicenter clinical trial. -ends-  

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