NUI Galway Hold Public Information Event for Brain Awareness Week

NUI Galway Hold Public Information Event for Brain Awareness Week-image

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

As part of the international Brain Awareness Week, staff and students of NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre will hold a public information exhibit from 13-14 March in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway. Members of the public and children from local schools will have the opportunity to visit the exhibit to learn more about how the brain and nervous system work. The exhibit will consist of interactive displays where visitors can learn more about the nervous system in a hands-on way.  For example, there will be various puzzles and tests of hand-eye coordination, visual perception, left/right handedness, creativity and many others. Approximately 180 million Europeans are thought to suffer from a brain disorder, at a total cost of almost €800 billion per annum and visitors will have the chance to learn more about the brain and related disorders through a series of large information posters prepared by the staff and postgraduate students of NUI Galway Neuroscience Centre.  The posters will cover a variety of illnesses including: Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Stroke, Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury. Information leaflets obtained from brain-related charities and organisations will be displayed and available for the public to take away, such as MS Ireland, Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, Aware, Chronic Pain Ireland, Shine, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Brainwave. Microscopes which can be used to view brain cells and brain tissue sections will be available for those interested in seeing what a brain cell and brain tissue really looks like. Additional features include plastic models of the nervous system, and even Play-Doh and colouring books for the very young! There will be short talks on the brain by neuroscientists from NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital. Dr Una Fitzgerald, lead organiser of the exhibit, said: “We hope that this event will increase public awareness about how the brain and nervous system work, and increases awareness of brain disorders and the need for further research and investment in this area.”   NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre acknowledges funding from the Dana Foundation and the University’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Researchers Reveal How the Brain Suppresses Pain During Times of Stress

NUI Galway Researchers Reveal How the Brain Suppresses Pain During Times of Stress-image

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal in the field Pain, by NUI Galway researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that suppression of pain during times of fear involves complex interplay between marijuana-like chemicals and other neurotransmitters in a brain region called the amygdala. The work was carried out by Dr David Finn and his research team in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, NUI Galway. The research builds on previous breakthrough findings from Dr Finn’s research group on the role of marijuana-like chemicals in the brain’s hippocampus in pain suppression during fear. Pain is both a sensory and an emotional experience and is subject to modulation by a number of factors including fear and stress. During exposure to a high-stress environment or stimulus, pain transmission and perception can be potently suppressed. This important survival response can help us cope with or escape from potentially life-threatening situations. One brain region that is integral to the processing and expression of both emotional responses and pain is the amygdala. Working with Dr Finn, first author Dr Kieran Rea was able to confirm the amygdala as a key brain region in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia). Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in the amygdala.  Furthermore, fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the amygdala. Further experimentation revealed that these effects involved an interaction between endocannabinoids and the classical neurotransmitters GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid) and glutamate. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.  Dr David Finn, Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and study leader says: “The body can suppress pain when under extreme stress, in part through the action of marijuana-like substances produced in the brain. This research provides information on the complex interactions between multiple neurotransmitter systems including endocannabinoids, GABA and glutamate in times of stress and pain. This research which was funded by a grant from Science Foundation Ireland, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” -ends-

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Dragon to Teach Start-up Hatchlings How to Fly at Final Exponential Event

Dragon to Teach Start-up Hatchlings How to Fly at Final Exponential Event -image

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The final Exponential, an NUI Galway funded event which allows the public to meet start-up founders, students, techies and entrepreneurs in a fun and casual way, will take place in Kelly’s Bar on Tuesday, 19 March at 7.30pm. Guest speaker for the final will be Barry O’Sullivan, Senior Vice President at Cisco Systems and one of the new “Dragons” on RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den show. Over the past four months, Exponential has given hundreds of students the opportunity to meet some of Ireland’s technology start-up companies and innovative entrepreneurs, to share ideas, and to learn how some NUI Galway graduates started their own business, right out of college. The final event will centre around a “fireside chat” with one of Ireland’s top technology leaders, Barry O’Sullivan. As well as his role as SVP at Cisco, he is a technology investor and co-founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), a network of Irish and Irish American technology leaders. Some of the topics for discussion on the night will include Barry’s take on how he found the whole Dragon’s Den experience, how start-up companies should go about getting funding, and some advice for people on what to do, and not to do when starting with their business model. Throughout the night, students and other attendees will be able to interact with other start-up company founders, speak to potential employers, and learn what it takes to develop a business idea, form a team, raise finance, set up and run a company. Those who already have a novel idea for a product or business can share their idea and get advice and feedback from fellow students and other entrepreneurs. This is a free event, open to all, but you do need to register at http://exponential4.eventbrite.com/ or via the Exponential website at http://exponential.ly/ Exponential is a project undertaken as part of the NUI Galway/Students’ Union EXPLORE initiative. Further details on this initiative are available at http://www.su.nuigalway.ie/explore/. -ENDS-

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Pre-clinical Research Shows Promising Treatment for Diabetic Wounds using Stem Cells

Pre-clinical Research Shows Promising Treatment for Diabetic Wounds using Stem Cells-image

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Pre-clinical research has generated some very promising findings using adult stem cells for the treatment of diabetic wounds. The research carried out by scientists at the National University of Ireland Galway, is published in Diabetes, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association. The work showed that a particular type of stem cell, known as the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC), could increase wound healing when applied together with a biomaterial made from collagen. Diabetic patients have an impaired ability to heal wounds and there is a critical need to develop new treatments to improve healing particularly in patients with foot ulcers. In fact, foot ulceration will affect up to 25% of people suffering from diabetes during their lives and may result in amputation. For the past number of years, lead-author on the research paper Dr Aonghus O’Loughlin has been funded by Molecular Medicine Ireland to work in the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at National University of Ireland Galway and Galway University Hospitals. He collaborates with Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of REMEDI, to develop new ways to increase healing of diabetic wounds. Professor O’Brien, principal investigator on the research project, said: “This data will now allow us proceed to apply for approval to carry out first in human studies of this therapeutic approach. We are currently preparing the regulatory submission to undertake a human clinical trial. Meanwhile, part of the funding needed to pursue the human clinical trial has been received from Diabetes Ireland.” “MSC’s have many attractive therapeutic properties”, Professor O’Brien added. “They can be isolated from adults and are easy to grow in the laboratory. It has been shown in Galway and by other scientists that they release special factors that can help new blood vessels to grow. Increasing blood flow is a key step in wound healing.” REMEDI is a Science Foundation Ireland-funded research centre, led by National University of Ireland Galway, with partners in University College Cork and NUI Maynooth. The research centre is a partnership between scientists, clinicians and industry and is the leading centre in the area of stem cell and regenerative medicine in Ireland. REMEDI is a part of the National University of Ireland Galway’s translational and clinical research programme with the objective of translating research discoveries into improved patient care. -ends-

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NUI Galway to Hold Information Evening in Derry

NUI Galway to Hold Information Evening in Derry-image

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Derry on Thursday, 21 March. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7-9pm in the Everglades Hotel, Prehen Road, Derry City. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand to answer any questions in relation to courses and practical issues including accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to a whole suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a Bachelor of Arts with Human Rights, an Energy Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training maths teachers. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and a Bachelor of Arts with Journalism which are brand new for 2013. “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to Derry, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Derry is a perfect opportunity to meet current students and our lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit”, says Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway. To find out more about the information evening in Derry, contact NUI Galway’s Schools Liaison Officer, Gráinne Dunne on 087 244 0858 or grainne.dunne@nuigalway.ie. ENDS

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School of Education Research Seminar in Disciplinary Literacy

School of Education Research Seminar in Disciplinary Literacy-image

Friday, 15 March 2013

NUI Galway’s School of Education recently hosted a seminar in Disciplinary Literacy for teachers, teacher educators, researchers and others involved in teacher professional development.  Disciplinary literacy refers to the language, thinking and literacy practices underpinning learning and development within different school subjects and contexts. Professor Elizabeth Birr Moje, Associate Dean of Research and Community Affairs in University of Michigan and Dr Brendan Mac Mahon, School of Education, NUI Galway, shared their expertise in this area and their experiences of helping young people negotiate this difficult and sometimes confusing terrain. In her talk, Professor Moje drew from her research to exemplify what disciplinary literacy is and to illustrate the process of teaching both young people and their teachers how to navigate the many literacy contexts they encounter in and out of school. Professor Moje's goal as a literacy researcher, teacher educator, and former high school teacher, is to inform teaching practice and policy in ways that support young people to negotiate the literacy of their school subjects. Dr Brendan Mac Mahon welcomed the national strategy on Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life, and focused on the role that post-primary teachers of all subjects have in developing students' literacy skills. He presented findings from his own research and outlined implications for the implementation of the strategy and the challenges which will be faced. Dr Mary Fleming, Head of Education at NUI Galway, said: “The attendance from across the spectrum of teacher education and professional development at this event emphasises the importance and current relevance of this topic in the field of education.” -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Celebrate Ten Years of Student Volunteering

NUI Galway Celebrate Ten Years of Student Volunteering-image

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

GAA All-Star to Launch Anniversary Ceremony A significant milestone in volunteering in Ireland has been reached this year. NUI Galway’s student volunteering programme celebrates ten years of promoting civic engagement at third-level. The ALIVE programme was the first of its kind in Ireland and its success has been emulated by other third-level institutes across the country. ALIVE - A Learning Initiative and the Volunteering Experience – was established by the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway to harness, acknowledge and support the contribution the University students make to Galway by volunteering. Collectively 6,000 NUI Galway students have given 240,000 hours of voluntary activity over ten years with a contribution to the local economy to be estimated at a €2 million. In addition, students have directly raised over €2 million for a range of charitable causes and community organisations. Tony Griffin, GAA All-Star, author, and founder of Soar Foundation will be guest speaker at anniversary Certificate Ceremony, on Wednesday, 27 March at NUI Galway. Tony will discuss his inspiring journey across Canada on a bike which raised €1 million for cancer research and the building of self-esteem and confidence programmes in schools across Ireland. Galway City Mayor Councillor, Terry O' Flaherty, will also attend the ceremony to acknowledge this year’s student volunteers and commemorate the tenth anniversary, which celebrates 6,000 student recipients of the award. In 2012-2013 alone, 1,000 students volunteered with Ballinfoyle Youth Development Project, Brothers of Charity, Galway Simon Community, Belarussian Orphanage Project, School Completion Programme Eastside and Music for Galway to mention a few. Students also made valuable contributions to enhancing their fellow student’s experiences though peer mentoring, sporting, cultural and artistic programmes through student led clubs and societies. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “The ALIVE programme has been an innovative force in Irish higher education and has been emulated by a range of educational institutions.” Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Volunteer Programme Coordinator,said: “Our community partners co-educate our students who seek to volunteer to gain experience and learn new skills while gaining confidence in the vital role they play as citizens with something to give back to society.” -ENDS-

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New Preventative Science Network

New Preventative Science Network-image

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

to tackle heart disease, cancer, diabetes and mental illness NUI Galway is spearheading Ireland’s involvement in a new network focussed on preventative science. The Science for Prevention Academic Network (SPAN) is a new network to advance scientific expertise and help prevent non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and mental illness. “Non-communicable diseases are the most significant burden to society, and are often preventable, yet only a small proportion of national health budgets are spent on combating them. There’s a real mis-match here,” explains Dr Michal Molcho from the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway who is leading Ireland’s involvement in the network. “In terms of dealing with these non-communicable diseases, most of our health budget is spent treating them yet what they spend on prevention can be as little as three or four per cent.” SPAN will enable an international group of prevention scientists based across Europe to work together. In total, 32 universities and institutions will be involved in the project led by Oxford Brookes University, and funded initially by £500,000 from the European Commission. Heart disease and cancer are caused by four main risk behaviours: smoking, excessive drinking, poor diet and lack of exercise. SPAN will help prevent these diseases in people before they manifest serious symptoms as they grow older. Dr Michal Molcho added: “The future of preventative science, research and education will be given a tremendous boost by the launch of this international network of experts. We will build a strong scientific base in this important field and build collaboration which has not existed across Europe in this area until now. We aim to build science in this area, attract more young scientists to the field and make sure that the latest research is shared across Europe.” The initial funding will allow the experts conduct an audit of the preventative science sector across the continent, improve education and training, build networks and run workshops with researchers, in particular young researchers. The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway is a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborative Centre for Health Promotion Research, linking directly with WHO world Headquarters in Geneva. -ends-

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New book offers insights into conflicts in Ireland over fish farms, wind farms and fracking

New book offers insights into conflicts in Ireland over fish farms, wind farms and fracking-image

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Conflicts in Ireland over how to best use natural resources – from oil and gas extraction to wind and fish farms – continue to make headlines. A new book from researchers with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway titled Methods of Sustainability Research for the Social Sciences offers fresh insights into how to understand local conflicts over natural resources, and their connections with [un]sustainable development. “Recent efforts to exploit Ireland’s natural resources such as the Corrib Gas development, the proposed fish farm in Galway Bay, plans for hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and the erection of wind farms and pylons have been met with strong local opposition,” says Dr Henrike Rau, one of the book’s editors. She adds “Citizens across the country have voiced their concern over the potentially negative impacts of these projects for people and the environment. A recent event in Galway saw more than 1,000 people protest against the proposed fish farm in Galway Bay. Across the country people increasingly question the unsustainability of development that ignores local people’s interests and threatens their living environment.” Methods of Sustainability Research is a collection of insights on innovative ways to examine sustainability questions. Its aim is to be a practical and useful resource for students, academics and practitioners interested in sustainability research.   Co-editors Dr Frances Fahy and Dr Henrike Rau, both of NUI Galway, brought together geographers, sociologists, psychologists, human ecologists and political scientists from Ireland and Europe, in an attempt to create a body of work that could offer real solutions informed by rigorous research. The book came in response to increased public interest in NUI Galway courses related to sustainability issues such as Environmental Planning, Sustainable Development in Ireland, Geographies of Sustainable Consumption and Sociology of the Environment. Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, says “Sustainability research has gained considerable momentum in recent times in both the natural and social sciences, partly because academics, policy makers and the public have grown increasingly aware of pressing social and environmental sustainability issues. The work of Drs Fahy and Rau and their team is making an important contribution to tackling our climate and energy crises. I am delighted to see the expertise that they and their colleagues have brought together has resulted in a format that so many can access.”   The book is being launched next Tuesday, 26 March at 5pm , in ‘The Space’, Áras na Mac Léinn, at NUI Galway.  The launch is free, and all are welcome. -ends-

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PhD Conferring Ceremony at NUI Galway

PhD Conferring Ceremony at NUI Galway-image

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Over 65 students were recognised by NUI Galway today (Thursday, 21 March) at a special ceremony when they were conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne. One student, Dr John Kelly, was also conferred with a DSc on Published Work. Degrees on published work are higher doctorates and are the highest qualifications awarded by the University. They are awarded to scholars who have, over a sustained period, published a substantial body of ground-breaking and influential work in a field of specialisation and who have achieved outstanding distinction internationally in that field. All Colleges of the University were represented at the ceremony, with graduands from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, the College of Business, Public Policy and Law; the College of Engineering and Informatics; the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; and the College of Science. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said: “I would like to congratulate each graduate on their achievement in earning their doctorate degrees. We in NUI Galway are determined that this University will play its full part in producing the graduates and the leaders who will create the future. We have significantly increased our number of PhD graduates in recent years as we strive to meet the needs of the knowledge and innovation economy.” The next conferrings to take place at NUI Galway will be the conferring of Honorary Degrees on Friday, 14 June and the summer conferring on Wednesday, 26 June. -ENDS-  

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