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NUI Galway To Host 8th International Conference on Cultural Gerontology
Monday, 7 April 2014
Major International Conference at NUI Galway relating to Ageing, the Life Course and Meaning will look at the theme “Meaning and Culture(s): Exploring the Life Course” NUI Galway will host the 8th International Conference on Cultural Gerontology, which is also the 2nd Conference of the European Network in Aging Studies. The conference entitled Meaning and Culture(s): Exploring the Life Course will take place in the Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway from the 10 – 12 April. This major international conference provides further evidence of the University’s global reputation in questions relating to ageing and the life course. The conference theme reflects the fact that the process of ageing is not the same everywhere. In some societies older people are powerful and revered. In others, ageing may be feared as a period of exclusion and decline. How people get older thus depends not only on key factors such as health, but also on issues including the values and ideas attached to ageing in the societies in which they live and how they are expected to contribute to their communities. The conference, jointly organised by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology and the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, explores older people’s different ways of interpreting their own life-courses, as positive or negative, the contrasting ways we age in different cultural environments, as well as expectations or stereotypes that affect older people’s possibilities for participating in society and their experience of ageing. Over 200 papers presented by more than 250 delegates from all over the world will interrogate the opportunities, challenges and disputes connected with values and practices affecting people’s life-courses. How connected are they with economic assumptions that appear to reject people after they have left work or with youth cultures demanding that everyone should aim for physical beauty? Three keynote speakers will participate, all of whom are outstanding scholars and acknowledged international leaders in the thriving field of cultural gerontology. Harry R. Moody, recently retired as Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs at AARP, USA, will give a plenary lecture entitled “Gray is Green: Elders and the Care of the Earth”. It will take place in the Arts Millennium Building, Ó hEocha Theatre (AM250) at 1.45pm on Thursday, 10 April. Aagje Swinnen from Maastricht University, The Netherlands, will give a plenary lecture entitled “Healing Words: Critical Inquiry of Poetry Interventions in Dementia Care”, on Friday, 11 April at 1.30pm. And on Saturday, 12 April, Stephen Katz from Trent University, Canada, will give a plenary lecture entitled “Music, Performance and Generation: The Making of Boomer Biographies”, at 12.45pm in the Ó hEocha Theatre. Professor Ricca Edmondson, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway said, “The scientific study of ageing focuses increasingly on values, ideas and habits associated with the ageing process: where they come from, what impacts they have, and how they can be changed. Our conference brings together international experts from disciplines ranging throughout the humanities and social and behavioural sciences to explore these key issues.” Professor Thomas Scharf, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway said, “Exploring the cultural aspect of ageing is crucial to understanding how our life-courses take shape. It helps us to understand better how social processes enhance or undermine the implications of ageing for all of us. This conference can make an important contribution to public and political debate on the status of older people, not just in Ireland but also in many other countries.” The conference runs from the 10-12 April with registration at the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. Visit http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=213
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Ireland’s Leading Expert on Climate Change Gives Lecture at NUI Galway
Thursday, 3 April 2014
Ireland has one of the largest per capita greenhouse gas emission rates says Professor John Sweeney, Ireland’s Leading Expert on Climate Change Ireland’s leading expert on climate change, Professor John Sweeney, delivered a lunchtime talk hosted by the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway entitled, Ireland and Climate Change: Adapting in an Environment of Uncertainty. The event drew a large public attendance followed by a lively discussion at the end. Professor Sweeney talked about extreme events, how recent storms and high rainfall are weather patterns, driven by jet stream irregularities and an unusually close-to-earth moon. But he also reminded us that sea-level is incontrovertibly rising, at an accelerated rate in recent decades, largely due to accelerated ice cap melting. Thus any coastal storms will have an increasingly powerful effect due to higher sea-level. Professor Sweeney quoted the 2013 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report: the observed accelerated increase in global temperatures is “at least 95%” likely to be mainly due to human activity, especially burning fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions are far greater in the northern hemisphere: Ireland has one of the largest per capita emission rates and very few countries, not even Ireland, have so far taken serious measures to reduce these emissions. Increased temperatures and rainfall may become more seasonal, so Ireland is projected to have hotter, drier summers and wetter winters with an increased storm incidence. Professor Sweeney emphasised that the Irish government and local authorities need to focus on damage limitation, in terms of future flood prevention and location of housing development or septic tanks in relation to rising water tables and flood risk, but also –critically – summer water budget management. All products bought require large water budgets to grow or manufacture, some much more than others. Water use efficiency requires more attention. An increase in rainfall seasonality is also likely to affect our high-conservation habitats, especially wetlands such as bogs. Provision is required to maintain their hydration in the face of increased summer drying conditions. NUI Maynooth’s collaboration with NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, Plant Ecology Research Unit (PERU) and Applied Ecology Unit (AEU) has demonstrated that many vulnerable Arctic-Alpine species are projected to contract in range with a rise in temperature, but other, currently more southerly-distributed native species, may expand throughout the island. This has particular implications also for invasive species and even indigenous pests. During the public lecture, Professor Sweeney also highlighted some positive spin-offs of projected warmer summers; grain crops –and even grass– may increase yield, though potatoes require adequate summer rain for best performance. As more southern regions heat up, we may also benefit from increased tourism. But without informed leadership to recognise the reality of observed and projected climate changes, measures will not be taken in advance of future events in order to reduce damage repair costs and even mortalities. Professor Sweeney ended by warning against believing sensationalist media; scientists are poor communicators, needing reference to complex data, in the face of sound-bites aimed to sell news. As members of the public, we need to develop discernment in what we read and hear about climate change, and to take individual action to reduce our carbon – and water – footprints, as well as educating our peers and superiors. The event was organised by Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, Plant Ecology Research Unit (PERU) and Dr Mike Gormally of the Applied Ecology Unit (AEU), School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway.
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MICHAEL ON A MISSION TO TRANSFORM CANCER CARE
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Bernie Ní Fhlatharta meets Professor Michael O’Dwyer, haematologist and researcher Galway City Tribune, Friday, March 21, 2014 A drug that could save people’s lives is the goal of a Galway consultant who is at the heart of groundbreaking research into the treatment of blood cancer. Professor Michael O’Dwyer considers himself lucky that he is not only doing one job he loves but two. He is a Consultant Haematologist at University Hospital Galway and he is also based at the Apoptosis Research Centre (ARC), a wing in the new Biomedical Science Building which opened in NUI Galway last month. There he heads up research into blood cancers, in particular multiple myeloma and leukaemia, work that he hopes will one day lead to the development of a drug that will target these types of cancers. Eighteen months ago, he obtained a prestigious Clinician Scientist Award from the Dublin-based Health Research Board to develop his translational research programme, and his close links with the pharmaceutical industry might some day lead to his findings translate from science bench to bedside. Michael, whose father, Eamonn was a Professor of Obstetrics at UCH for over 35 years, loves research work and appreciates that if medics are to cure life-threatening diseases, it can only be done through research and development. In the United States about $230m has been raised for this research alone – his research work was awarded €1.7m recently and already they are at phase one of clinical trials here in Galway. “I have the best of both worlds in that I get to see patients and I also get to come here (to NUI Galway) to research blood cancers,” he says. He explains it very simply: “Cancer cells produce abnormal sugars on their surface making them sticky, which helps them to travel around in the body and stick to the walls of organs. “These cells become resistant to chemotherapy and standard cancer treatments. Our research here in Galway is revealing the role these abnormal sugars and enzymes play in cancer. There is evidence that these sugars are important in the development of leukaemia for example and in the spread of cancer.” The first part of that research was identifying the sugars and the next part will be finding out how to inhibit or prevent them from being produced in the first place. In doing that, they will be less able to spread and will be easier to treat. Michael stresses that these cancer-related sugars are not thought to be linked to lifestyle or diet and are just an intrinsic part of the disease. He believes that research will lead to the development of a drug that will prevent the formation of these sugars and therefore stop cancers metastasising. That would be a dream come true for him and he is currently working with a US pharmaceutical company to bring that vision closer to reality. The ultimate plan is to provide results in the laboratory so that these strategies can be transferred to clinical trials in his native Galway. “We are now conducting phase one of these clinical trials and this is the only centre in the world doing this, as in working with blood cancer patients.” He explains that patients give their informed consent and that there’s no obligation on anyone to take part in these trials. In the last two years 16 patients have been put on the clinical trial but this number will be increased significantly in the future. The research team includes Dr Siobhan Glavey, a PhD student who is based in the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Harvard, while the man who was responsible for getting Michael into research on his return to Galway is Professor Lokesh Joshi, Professor of Glycobiology. “My interest in studying sugars in blood cancers came originally from discussing it with him,” Michael explains. Michael studied medicine in NUI Galway but like many other graduates went abroad – he went to the United States in 1998, to do a fellowship in haematology in Portland, Oregon. There he was fortunate that he got to work on the development of a blockbuster drug now used in the treatment of cancer – and incidentally made in Ringaskiddy in County Cork. “From that I developed a deep interest in research, particularly in the development of targeted therapies. Chemotherapy is a non-specific treatment and I was amazed with that particular treatment which had little or no side effects. It made an impression on me and my intention was to stay involved in the research of these types of drugs.” Michael returned to Galway in 2002 to take up a clinical job and five years later was appointed Professor of Haematology, which allowed him one day a week in research. He is deeply grateful to be able to work in his native city in the hospital and also in research, something he says is possible thanks to the good reputation of NUI Galway’s biomedical department, one that has been greatly enhanced with the opening of the new building at Corrib Village in Dangan. There are state-of-the-art laboratories with top-class equipment in the new facility and this is where he now heads up the research project. When Michael started his research work in Galway it was in the Orbsen Building on the NUIG campus until the team moved to their new home just before Christmas. He now has a growing group of researchers and he is also involved in other research for a small Irish company as well as being associated with a start-up company that has, in the pipeline, “very small molecule drugs that we believe could have great promise in the treatment of blood cancers”. Michael agrees that it’s hard to compete with bigger universities when it comes to mainstream research as larger institutes have more resources but he believes that it’s important for an institution to play to its strengths. “And here in Galway we have strengths that wouldn’t necessarily be mainstream like the glycosciences, where we have a particular expertise in this niche area. It’s then possible to be competitive in those areas. Another example is stem cell research.” He has three brothers in medicine (one is a GP, one is an anaesthetist in the UK and another is an A&E Consultant in Kilkenny) and a brother practising as a barrister. He could have followed in his father’s footsteps as he won the Gold Medal in Obstetrics and in Pathology when he graduated but he preferred and chose pathology. Blood cancers account for the top four or five cancers globally and multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer in Ireland, where about 240 new cases are diagnosed every year. Michael says that while great strides had been made in the treatment and survival of patients with multiple myeloma, there was still room for improvement, which is why he remained dedicated to his research. “It is vital that scientists across the entire Irish research spectrum work together to find new treatment approaches and improve patient outcomes. “Our goal is to discover new ways to reduce the ability of the cancer cell to move to other sites within the body and identify new ways to make the cancerous cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs,” he says. Michael is married to Clodagh Wade and they live in Salthill with their two young children aged seven and ten. He admits that the plan had always been to return to Galway when the right job turned up and luckily for him and his young family it did. “When I came back it was not with the intention of doing any academic work but once I got bitten by the bug (in the US), I got drawn back to research and I consider myself lucky to be able to do that here in Galway. “Ultimately, it would be fantastic to be in a position to see it (the new drug) in action on patients,” he says with a quiet determination. Michael also lectures third and final year medical students as well as giving tutorials in the college. Yet, for all his responsibilities, he comes across as a relaxed man who is at ease with himself and the world. One thing for sure, he is very content being exactly where he is — at the cutting edge of research that will undoubtedly one day save lives.
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NUI Galway Introduces CAO ‘Performance Points’ Scheme for the Creative Arts
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Students who meet strict criteria will be awarded 40 CAO ‘Performance Points’ for eligible undergraduate courses under the new NUI Galway Creative Arts Scholarship Scheme NUI Galway is to reward a limited number of students with exceptional achievements in selected disciplines in the creative arts with CAO ‘Performance Points’ for entry into undergraduate courses in the University. This is the first Creative Arts Scholarship Scheme of its kind offered by a university in Ireland. The Creative Arts Scholarship Scheme is offering 40 ‘Performance Points’ in recognition of the significant time and dedication applicants have shown to reach an exceptional level in their chosen field in the creative arts, along with evidence of academic achievement and commitment. CAO applicants for this scheme must meet strict criteria in a number of creative arts achievements. The 40 ‘Performance Points’ will be added to a minimum requirement of 350 CAO Points from a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate in 6 subjects. The closing date for applications is 16 May 2014. This year’s offer will be made to a maximum of 15 candidates who are selected through a two-stage process involving an application (stage one) and interview (stage two). Candidates will be made a conditional offer of their performance points in May, prior to the Leaving Certificate and the CAO change of mind. On a pilot basis, the university will make the Creative Arts scheme available in areas where the University has an acknowledged international standing: Creative Writing Digital Arts and Media Drama, Theatre and Performance Film Non-fiction writing, including Journalism Students with high standards of achievement in any of those areas may apply for any undergraduate course within the university with the exception of Medicine (GY501). Successful applicants will be assigned a mentor in their creative arts discipline. Mentors will assist the students’ development as artists during their time at NUI Galway. President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne said “NUI Galway is proud of the many alumni who have excelled in the creative arts. As a University, we aim to lead in our research, innovation and learning and the Arts Scholarship Scheme recognises and supports similar ambition and dedication in those that excel in the creative arts.” NUI Galway Professor of Drama and Theatre Patrick Lonergan added, “Many NUI Galway students have benefitted from the support that the university has offered them in creative arts for many years. The Performance Points Scheme will broaden the horizon of achievement both for NUI Galway and for students with an interest in creative arts, and we have the facilities, structure and supports in place to help students achieve their goals, both academic and creative.” In recent years NUI Galway graduates have had great success in the creative arts. Cathal Cleary was named Britain’s most promising young director in 2012; Aoife Spillane-Hinks has directed plays for Rough Magic Theatre, the Gate Theatre Dublin, and more; Deirdre Sullivan is the author of Prim Improper (nominated for Children’s Book of the Year, 2011); Tara McKevitt is a playwright whose works have appeared with Smashing Times Theatre Company and Tron Theatre Glasgow; Duncan Lacroix was recently cast in Outlanders, a new 16-part serial for Sony Television produced by Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and directed by John Dahl (Dexter, Breaking Bad). Applicants will be selected through a completed application form, samples of work provided, references and an interview process. The assessment will be based on the selected creative arts areas, and will also consider evidence of academic achievement and commitment. The successful candidates will then receive a conditional offer of the 40 performance points in May prior to the Leaving Certificate and CAO changes. Successful candidates will receive benefits such as dedicated mentoring and support for resources. These supports will be for the duration of the undergraduate degree of the successful candidate and will be reviewed on an annual basis. This scheme will only apply to new entrants applying for full-time undergraduate courses at NUI Galway. Students must receive a minimum of 350 CAO Points from a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate in six subjects, and must achieve all minimum entry and course specific requirements. For further information on the creative arts scheme please come along to NUI Galway’s Open Day on Saturday 5 April from 10am to 3pm or visit www.nuigalway.ie/opendays For further details visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/creativeartsperformacepoints/
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Due to Popular Demand NUI Galway’s ‘Monster In The Hall’ Will Run During Cúirt
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Due to popular demand NUI Galway Theatre Season and Galway Arts Centre’s production of the David Greig play, The Monster In The Hall, will run during Cúirt Due to popular demand, NUI Galway Theatre Season’s production of The Monster In The Hall by one of Britain’s most exciting writers, David Greig, and directed by Andrew Flynn, will have an extended run during Cúirt from the 8– 12 April at Nun’s Island Theatre. This performance by members of the NUI Galway BA Connect in Theatre and Performance class marks its Irish Premiere. David Greig is Scotland’s most prolific writer. His work includes the Galway Arts Festival hit The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Harte and the West End hit musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Monster In The Hall was a smash hit at the Edinburgh Festival in 2013. Duck Macatarsney cares for her biker dad whose MS is getting increasingly bad. Her Dad, Duke, is a spliff smoking (for medicinal reasons you understand), bike riding, heavy metal and movie loving, pizza eating widower who's brought up Duck since the death of her mother in a crash. The two of them are just about surviving when one morning the Duke wakes up blind and the Duck hears that the social services are coming to take her away. The Monster in the Hall follows the story of Duck as she tries to protect her world from the terrifying prospect of change. This is a low budget indie comedy musical about a girl on the verge of a nervous breakdown played out by seven actors and a big fat motorbike that goes vrrooommm. The Guardian described the production as “passionate, playful and yet serious, gripping us one minute, cracking us up the next, before melting our hearts with a happy ending.” Sound and music is provided by Carl Kennedy and lighting design by Mike O’Halloran. The production will run at Nun’s Island Theatre from Tuesday 8 to Friday 11 April at 8pm and Matinee on Saturday 12 April at 2pm. Tickets are €10 and are available at the door or from the Town Hall Theatre in person or on 091 569777.
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NUI Galway Announce Winners of 2014 Sports Awards
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
NUI Galway announced the recipients of the 2014 Sports Awards at a ceremony last week. The awards recognise sporting performance, leadership and participation, as well as those that contribute to the running and development of the NUI Galway Sports Clubs. Among the individual award winners were record breakers Cian Duffy, who set new standards in Connacht in the pool, and Archer Darren Wallace. Promising walker Alicia Boylan, who finished third in the National Senior Athletics Championships, was presented with the Athletics Award and will be hoping to follow to follow in the footsteps of NUI Galway Alumnus and World Silver Medallist Olive Loughnane in reaching the top of her sport. NUI Galway were represented in the All-Ireland Camogie final by five current and former students on the Galway side but the award this year goes to a Kilkenny woman Aisling Dunphy. Aisling was one of the outstanding performers throughout the championship and continued that form on the NUI Galway run to the Ashbourne Cup semi-finals. The Tom Tuohy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rowing this year went to Aifric Keogh. Aifric was part of the Irish women’s crew that finished fourth at the World U23 Rowing Championships in Austria. Gary Ryan, NUI Galway’s Development Officer for Elite Sport, said: “The ongoing success of our students and alumni is a great source of pride for the University and the clubs and coaches that have helped them along the way. NUI Galway has seen in recent years many of its students go on to win national and international honours and the breadth of that success is shown in the fact that our students represented Ireland in 17 different sports last year on the International stage.” Most Improved Sports Club Recognition’ was awarded to the NUI Galway Rugby Club who have shown great strides both on and off the pitch, with promotion for the junior team, capturing both the Men’s Maughan Cup and Women’s Kay Bowen Cup for University Rugby. They also continue to make progress with the U20 All Ireland League team. The ‘Special Achievement Award’ recognises, over a period of time, the excellence of a club or an individual. This year that award was presented to the NUI Galway Archery club, who have not only become the strongest University club in the country in terms of performance but have developed excellent coaching and support structures to introduce newcomers to the sport through the club. The Club Captain’s award was jointly presented to Leilee Chojnacki (Karate Club) and Orlaith Kilgannon (Swimming, Waterpolo and Lifesaving Club) whose dedication, commitment and drive have helped their clubs to enormous success and growth in the past year. Kathy Hynes, Development Officer, Sports Clubs and Participation, NUI Galway said: “Each year NUI Galway recognises the outstanding contribution of student athletes across many diverse sporting disciplines for their achievements in sport. This year’s awards ceremony reflect not only the achievements of students in terms of performance sport but also the contribution of the sports clubs to campus life and the importance of participation in sport and exercise for a healthy balanced academic life. University sports clubs are also actively engaged in the wider reach of community work and engagement in volunteering. This contribution is also reflected in the awards ceremony.” 2014 Sports Award Winners: Individual Awards Archery:Darren Wallace from Portlaoise, Co. Laois Athletics: Alicia Boylan from Newbliss, Co. Monaghan Camogie:Aisling Dunphy from Kilkenny City Cricket:Mitul Galav from Knocknacarra, Galway City Gaelic Football:Donal O’Sullivan from Monaleen, Co. Limerick Judo:Stephen Bradshaw from Taylor’s Hill, Galway City Men’s Soccer:Mikey Creane from Sligo Town Swimming, Lifesaving and Waterpolo:Cian Duffy from Oranmore, Co. Galway Tom Tuohy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rowing: Aifric Keogh from Furbo, Co. Galway Team Winners Team Award – Rowing Club Team Award – Judo Club Team Award – Women’s Rugby Club Most Improved Club 2013-14: Men’s Rugby Club Participation Award: Ultimate Frisbee Club Club Captains Award: Joint winners – Karate Club: Leilee Chonjnacki and Swimming, Waterpolo and Lifesaving: Orlaith Kilgannon Special Achievement Award: Archery Club Committee Person of the Year Award 2012-2013: Kayak Club - Jayne Stephens -Ends-
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Burren College of Art Fine Art Graduate Exhibition
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
NUI Galway and Burren College of Art will launch Surface Tension, the Galway Master of Fine Art Graduate Exhibition on Saturday, 12 April at 5pm. The exhibition, which runs 12-27April in The Gallery at the Burren College of Art, features paintings by Mollie Douthit, and drawings and installation work from Collette Egan. Mollie Douthit’s still life paintings consider the physical presence and surface intricacies of familiar objects through the use of paint. Each painting is constructed in a single day, building a momentum that the artist uses to push the piece to successful completion. Douthit’s work plays with formal conventions of painting such as colour, composition, and paint handling. Her choice of subject matter is intuitive and the completed works express an emotional response to memories of places and people she has encountered. Collette Egan creates expressive drawings inspired by the experience of being within a particular time and place. Through a process of mapping, she traces journeys through life, paying particular attention to the material she encounters along the way. The impermanence of the journey is reflected through the use of transient materials such as chalk, which is employed in immersive installations and then erased, so that the viewer is only able to experience the work for a limited time. Through drawing, Egan seeks to connect to a place while also creating a new world in which to exist, where the artwork ultimately creates a sense of home. Founded in 1994, Burren College of Art is an internationally recognised not-for-profit independent college specialising in undergraduate and graduate fine art education. In 2002, NUI Galway agreed to accredit the first of a series of postgraduate programmes at Burren College of Art. This was the beginning of a fruitful relationship that has continued to develop year on year. For further information on the exhibition and the graduate programme visit www.burrencollege.ie , www.facebook.com/groups/BurrenDegree/. Details on College Egan and Mollie Douthit are available at www.colletteegan.com and www.molliedouthit.com. -Ends-
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On World Autism Awareness Day ICAN at NUI Galway Asks Public to Contribute to Irish Autism
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
New evidence from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicates one in 68 children, including one in 42 boys, has an Autism Spectrum Disorder On World Autism Awareness Day, Wednesday, 2 April 2014, the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway is inviting the public to engage in planning the future direction of the provision of services for those with autism in Ireland. ICAN, in partnership with Trinity College Dublin and US advocacy group, Autism Speaks, is working to develop an Irish Autism / Neurodevelopmental Registry and Biobank to inform research and long-term public policy decisions around autism. Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of ICAN, underlined the vital role this national resource will play and encouraged members of the autism community families, researchers and service providers to complete the online Irish Autism / Neurodevelopmental Registry and Biobank survey. The survey can be completed at www.iarb.ie The Irish Autism Registry will serve as a national resource for research in the areas of health, education and social services and to inform policy development related to autism. Clinical registries will gather detailed information on autism in Ireland to inform the development of clinical practice, services and future research. Dr Geraldine Leader said: “There is an urgent need to establish a registry and biobank to inform the development of clinical practice, services and future research in Ireland. Given the potential implication of this initiative for the Irish community, we are currently conducting a national consultation process. The aim of the consultation is to provide detailed information about the specific needs of the community and what kind of information should be included in a registry and biobank. As part of this process, we would encourage members of the autism community, families, researchers and service providers to complete our online survey at www.iarb.ie” Autism is a lifelong disorder and has profound effects on an individual’s social, emotional and cognitive development, and has implications for the family, state services and society at large. Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organisation, and over the last nine years has funded awareness, advocacy and research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism. Autism Speaks Board Member and NUI Galway graduate Adrian Jones said: "As recently as last week's Centres for Disease Control announcement, we've seen in the US the impact that data collection is having on autism awareness which, in turn, is driving improvements in both the provision of care for those affected by autism and our understanding of the condition. The families who participate in this Irish initiative will be empowering those who are demanding better services in Ireland, while also making a powerful contribution to global autism research." NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said: ‘ICAN’s research and in particular the Irish Autism / Neurodevelopmental Registry and Biobank can help to shape the delivery of care for those with autism in the coming years and highlight the ongoing need for improved services for those living with the condition.’ Registries and biobanks have effectively been used in other health areas such as cancer and stroke in Ireland. Some of the best known examples of registries are those that exist in Scandinavian countries where there are well established patient registries which have helped not only to uncover important risk factors for autism but also to inform improvements to systems of care for affected families. The development of a registry will address a range of research questions including: The scale of autism in Ireland across the lifespan. The behavioural health and medical needs of the Irish autism community. The impact of early intervention on later outcomes. Factors that influence successful school placement. Factors that influence improved quality of life among adolescents and adults with autism. Planning for transitions in service delivery, e.g. from preschool to school and from school to adult services. Autism Speaks Campaign ‘Light it Up Blue’ works with a range of partners to light up major global landmarks in order to draw attention to the issue of autism annually on World Autism Awareness Day. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Celebrates 11 Years of Volunteering
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
ALIVE Certificate Awards Ceremony Celebrates Student Commitment to Community NUI Galway’s ALIVE Programme today (Tuesday, 1 April) celebrated 11 years of student volunteering with the presentation of awards to 865 student volunteers at a special ceremony on campus. The ALIVE certificate acknowledges volunteering efforts by NUI Galway student both on and off campus in a range of clubs, societies and community-based organisations. Senator Hildegarde Naughton, who presented the awards, said “I continue to be overwhelmed by the efforts of NUI Galway students in terms of their contribution and generosity to the wider community and society. I feel that students have some much to contribute, not least having a positive influence on so many children in our local communities through youth based activities, mentorship and homework club assistance. I am honoured to be part of this important celebration.” The ALIVE (A Learning Initiative and the Volunteering Experience) programme was established by NUI Galway’s Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) in 2003 to harness, acknowledge and support student volunteering. Over 8,000 students have received ALIVE Certificates, under the scheme endorsed by the President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne. The programme draws on a strong tradition of student engagement both on and off campus and assists students who wish to actively volunteer while developing tangible and transferable skills alongside practical volunteering experiences. ALIVE is the first ever student volunteer programme to be embedded within an institution of higher education in Ireland. At today’s ceremony, Daithí de Buitléir also launched RAG Ireland’s latest initiative called the #COLLEGEFOOTPRINT. This initiative challenges students to do at least one positive deed every day for the month of April, capture the deed on their phone and share via the Twitter machine or Facebook with the hashtag #COLLEGEFOOTPRINT. This initiative aims to change the way the world looks at students while also earning some life affirmation. Daithí de Buitléir, founder of RAG Ireland, said: “I want to tell the students that they are doing great and to ask them to continue to make a difference as we have a stake in society. I think that many of them will sign up to #COLLEGEFOOTPRINT as it resonates with their aspirations and ambitions for community engagement. RAG Ireland is very excited to bring #COLLEGEFOOTPRINT to NUI Galway.” More information is available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/cki or http://www.ragireland.ie/. -Ends-
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St. Joseph's Secondary CBS, Dublin Scoops Top Prize at 2014 Debating Science Issues All-Ireland Finals
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Secondary schools students from across Ireland participated in the seventh All-Ireland Final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition last week in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin. After closely contested debates, St Joseph's Secondary CBS, Fairview from Dublin were victorious to become the 2014 Debating Science Issues winners, with Colaiste Mhuire, Crosshaven, Co. Cork awarded second place. The other schools involved in these hotly-contested debates were St. Brigid’s Vocational School, Loughrea, Galway and Our Lady and St. Patrick’s College, Knock, Belfast. Four teams, narrowed down from 34 came through regional preliminary debate rounds on a variety of contemporary biomedical science. DSI is a dynamic debating competition, the only All-Ireland collaborative science outreach initiative of its kind, which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides a great opportunity for students to expand their communication and scientific skills. Danielle Nicholson, All-Ireland Co-ordinator of Debating Science Issues (DSI) and REDDSTAR Dissemination Officer, said “DSI provides young people with insight into science as an institution and the processes by which scientific knowledge is produced. Incorporating the values and limits in science as well as its tactics for decision-making, DSI employs a discussion-based teaching model in the pre-competition workshops.” She continued “It is important that students do not judge their understanding of scientific knowledge to be insufficient to allow them to engage with socio-scientific issues of concern. Argumentation is one of the cornerstones of the scientific process. DSI increases student engagement with science content and promotes reasoning and justification skills that help prepare an informed citizenry. Data collected from six cycles of DSI involving more than 4,000 students shows an increase in interest in science as a subject and as a career as a result of participation in the project.” Judges on the day were: Dr Jill McMahon, Senior Neuroscientist at NUI Galway; Jane Butler, Education and Research Communications Officer, RCSI; Dr Andriana Margariti, lecturer in the Centre of Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast; Brian Molloy, CEO of Orbsen Therapeutics; Maria Delaney, Science Journalist and Founder of Science Calling; Assistant Professor Cormac Taylor, School of Medicine and Medical Science, UCD; Dr Anne Cody, Head of Clinical and Applied Biomedical Research, Health Research Board; Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, Fergal O’ Brien, Deputy Director of Research and Head of Tissue Engineering Research Group of RCSI; and Dr Paola Atzei of Science Foundation Ireland. The DSI All-Ireland Finals event was funded by a Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme award. The competition is co-ordinated by REDDSTAR at NUI Galway and collaborators include APC at UCC, BDI at DCU, RCSI, CIT, CRANN at Trinity College, W5 in Belfast, INSIGHT at UCD and the University of Ulster. For more information visit www.debatingscienceissues.com or www.reddstar.eu. -Ends-