TEDMED Live comes to Galway

TEDMED Live comes to Galway-image

Friday, 26 April 2013

Students and staff at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine recently collaborated in hosting a major international conference addressing healthcare issues of global significance. TEDMED Live was held at the University on Friday, April 19 as a satellite event of the annual TEDMED conference taking place at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, USA. NUI Galway is one of the first institutions outside the United States to receive permission from TEDMED, a multi-disciplinary community of innovators and leaders working together to address the societal causes of ill health, to stage a local conference. The NUI Galway TEDMED Live event attracted over 250 delegates, comprising medical students and academic staff, who contributed to the pre-conference discussions using social media. Organised by Tariq Esmail, a third-year medical student from Canada studying at NUI Galway, the event featured four local NUI Galway speakers, each of whom delivered a short presentation on one of TEDMED’s 20 Great Challenges in Medicine. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway, explored innovative approaches to human tissue regeneration. Professor Laurence Egan, a Consultant in Gastroenterology, tackled the topic of chronic disease management. Dr Francis Finucance, a Consultant Endocrinologist at University Hospital Galway, gave a captivating perspective on societal approaches to managing the obesity crisis. Professor Matt Griffin, Professor of Transplant Biology at NUI Galway, highlighted the central role of the patient in healthcare in his engaging talk entitled Patient-centred care has been and always will be a winning philosophy. All of the local speakers’ presentations were professionally recorded and will be shared with a global audience on www.TEDMED.com. TEDMED has committed to inviting the most creative and engaging speakers to next year’s main conference in the USA. The organisation granted permission to NUI Galway to transmit their preferred session from the TEDMED conference in the USA to their local delegates at last Friday’s event. This webcast featured six international speakers, including such luminaries as Dr Francis S. Collins, an American physician-geneticist renowned for his leadership of the International Human Genome Project and currently serving as Director of the National Institutes of Health in the USA. Reflecting on the success of this international partnership, Dr Gerard Flaherty, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at NUI Galway and academic adviser for the conference, said: “The School of Medicine at NUI Galway is proud to have been the first Irish institution to host a TEDMED Live satellite conference. The success of this initiative owes much to the vision and diligence of Tariq Esmail, one of our most capable international medical students, to the MedSoc student society, to the enthusiastic student and academic delegates attending the event, and to the powerful impact of the four local speakers, whose presentations have now reached a global audience. Dr Flaherty added: “We are planning to create a novel special study module, entitled TEDMED, which will give ownership of the event to our students and allow us to stage a TEDMED conference annually and invite a larger audience from the wider University and the general public. TEDMED is a forum for innovative approaches to complex global health problems and NUI Galway is proud to be an active partner in this influential community of thinkers and opinion leaders.” -ENDS-

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Exploring the Saltiness of the Ocean to Study Climate Change

 Exploring the Saltiness of the Ocean to Study Climate Change-image

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Details are emerging from a recent research expedition to the Sub-Tropical North Atlantic. The objective of the expedition was to study the salt concentration (salinity) of the upper ocean. Scientists aboard the Spanish research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa, including National University of Ireland Galway’s Dr Brian Ward with two of his PhD students, Graig Sutherland and Anneke ten Doeschate, explored the essential role of the ocean in the global water cycle. This oceanographic research campaign is aimed at understanding the salinity of the upper ocean, which is a much more reliable indicator of the water cycle than any land-based measurement. How the water cycle evolves in response to global warming is one of the most important climate change issues. The experiment was located in the North Atlantic Salinity Maximum, which has the highest salt concentration of any of the world’s oceans. Dr Ward explains: “It is not the depths of the ocean which is its most important aspect, but its surface. Everything that gets exchanged between the ocean and atmosphere, such as water, must cross the air-sea interface. We are trying to better understand how small scale turbulence is responsible for the air-sea exchange of freshwater. What is surprising is that these small-scale processes can affect large-scale patterns over the North Atlantic, and we are trying to connect the dots.” The initial part of this ocean field campaign was to conduct a survey of the area to map out horizontal and vertical distribution of salinity using an instrument that was towed behind the ship. “We found quite a lot of fresher water intermingled with the background salty water, but it is moving around quite a bit due to ocean currents, and when we returned to the fresh patch, it had moved. We were currently hunting for this freshwater, as one of the objectives is to understand the spatial inhomogeneity of the upper ocean salinity”, explains Dr Ward. Studying the processes at the ocean surface requires specialised instrumentation, as most measurements ‘miss’ the upper few meters. The National University of Ireland Galway’s AirSea Group are measuring the salinity, temperature, and turbulence of the upper 10 metres of the ocean with very fine detail using their Air-Sea Interaction Profiler (ASIP). The torpedo-shaped device, which is deployed into the water to gather data autonomously, is unique and the only one of its kind. Dr Ward explains: “The ocean surface has been the focus of my research for several years, but there was no easy way to measure what is going on here as there were no instruments available, so we built our own.” The ability to make these unique measurements has resulted in international recognition for the research being conducted at National University of Ireland Galway. Dr Ward’s Research Group is the AirSea Laboratory, which is affiliated with the Ryan Institute and resides in the School of Physics at the National University of Ireland Galway. The main objective of the AirSea Laboratory is to study the upper ocean and lower atmosphere processes which are responsible for atmosphere-ocean exchange.  This experiment is concerned with air-sea exchange of water, but other studies that the AirSea Laboratory have been involved with were looking at how carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, is transported between the air and sea. Dr Ward explains: “The ocean and atmosphere are a coupled system and therefore need to be studied in unison. A major part of our research is to determine how this system affects and is affected by climate and environmental change.” This Irish and Spanish collaboration is part of a bigger international effort called SPURS - Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study. There was also an American research ship in the area participating in the SPURS study, and the Spanish ship was visited by Dr Ray Schmitt from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).  Dr Ward collaborates extensively with the WHOI scientists: “The WHOI scientists have autonomous gliders with microsensors attached, similar to our ASIP. During our measurements, they directed their gliders to the same area as ASIP, and we provided them with data to ground-truth their measurements. This was an excellent opportunity to enhance our links with WHOI, who are the largest oceanographic research institution in the USA.” One of the biggest motivators for SPURS was the recent launch of two satellites for measuring ocean salinity: the European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS), and NASA’s Aquarius mission. Dr Ward explains: “It is envisioned that with the combination of the in-situ measurements, satellites, and computer models, we can improve our estimates of global climate change and the water cycle. These data will also be used to improve weather forecasting, and we worked with the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting during this field experiment.” The research vessel left the Canary Islands on 16 March and completed its journey in the Azores on 13 April, during which time the vessel was home to 19 scientists, 6 technicians and 18 crew members. -ends-

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March 2013

ProTek Group acquires the business of AP Design Based in NUI Galway

ProTek Group acquires the business of AP Design Based in NUI Galway-image

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sligo-based blue chip company ProTek Group have announced that it has acquired the business of Galway-based medical device design firm AP Design which is based in the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre. Based in Sligo’s IDA Business Park, ProTek Medical is one of Ireland’s leading contract manufacturing providers to international blue chip medical device companies. ProTek Medical specialises in injection moulding components for critical care medical device applications such as, stent delivery devices used in minimally invasive cardiovascular surgeries. According to Enterprise Ireland the medical device sector is worth €7.2bn to Irish exports each year. The new ProTek Design facility in Galway puts the company in the centre of Europe’s largest medical device hub. Employing over 125 highly skilled people in a state of the art facility, the additional capabilities mean ProTek is poised to generate job growth across a variety of disciplines over the next 12 months. AP Design has been supporting companies in new product development since 2006. The acquisition means AP Design will continue to deliver innovative product design together with the infrastructure, resources and support services of ProTek Medical to become a complete outsourcing provider to Medical Device and Healthcare companies. Des Regan Owner of AP Design, said: “The company is committed to our existing projects and has strategic integration plans prepared to ensure projects run seamlessly. The entire team here at AP Design will remain in our Galway office with myself assuming the role of Design Director at ProTek Medical. We are very excited of this new venture and are looking and are looking forward to providing added manufacturing capabilities that complement our design services.” Speaking on behalf of the Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway, Fiona Neary said: “We in NUI Galway are delighted to hear about the acquisition of AP Design and Protek Medical one of Ireland’s leading contract manufacturers, we are confident this enhanced team will deliver innovative products and design and continue to go from strength to strength. We look forward to building further relationships with Protek Medical as we have with AP Design and NUI Galway is happy to offer any supports required going forward. I wish you every success for the future as you grow and strengthen your collaboration." ENDS

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Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway to Host Public Interview with Pat McCabe

Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway to Host Public Interview with Pat McCabe-image

Monday, 4 March 2013

Pat McCabe makes a return to Galway for a public interview hosted by the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 20 March. The interview will be conducted by Kevin Barry, author of There are Little Kingdoms, which won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2007, City of Bohane (2011) and Dark Lies the Island (2012). Pat McCabe’s 1992 novel The Butcher Boy, which ‘takes you seductively to places you had no wish to visit’ as ‘Dennis the Menace becomes Jack the Ripper’ (The Observer), was awarded the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Prize for fiction and brilliantly adapted to film by Neil Jordan. His subsequent novels include The Dead School (1995), Breakfast on Pluto (1998), also adapted to film with Cillian Murphy in the lead role, and Winterwood (2006).  During his visit to NUI Galway, where he was writer in residence in 1999, McCabe will contribute to the Centre for Irish Studies Archive of Irish Writers. The archive includes recordings of more than 25 authors, including John McGahern, Eugene McCabe, Hugo Hamilton, Dermot Healy, Desmond Hogan, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Biddy Jenkinson, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan. The public interview will take place in the O’Flaherty Theatre at 8.00pm.  Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend. For further details, contact Samantha Williams at 091 492051 or samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie Ends

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NUI Galway Announce Lineup for Arts in Action Finale Concert

NUI Galway Announce Lineup for Arts in Action Finale Concert-image

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

NUI Galway, in conjunction with Coláiste Iognáid, is delighted to announce the final concert of the Arts in Action concert series on Thursday, 21 March in The Bailey Allen, featuring special guests Cora and Breda Smyth. Performing also on the night, the University Medical School Orchestra directed by Carl Hession, the newly formed Choral Scholars of the St Nicholas Schola Cantorum directed by Mark Duley, The Jes Choir and a special appearance by Frankie Gavin and Michelle Lally. The programme for the finale concert is a fundraising event for the local Jesuit Secondary School Building Fund (Coláiste Iognáid) and promises to be a compelling concert featuring a mix of musical styles and song that includes classical, traditional, and Jazz, among many others, artfully juxtaposed to create a truly remarkable and enjoyable experience. Cora Smyth is a musician and performer of the highest quality. Whether it’s lighting up a stage for Prince Albert of Monaco or bringing Michael Eavis to his feet at Glastonbury festival Cora never ceases to bring her audience under her charm. Cora gained years of valuable experience performing alongside Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance”, “Feet of Flames” and “Celtic Tiger”. In January 2011 and 2012 Cora was nominated for “Top Fiddle” in the IMA awards in the US. Breda Smyth plays fiddle and tin whistle and has won many All-Ireland titles. She has toured extensively not alone with Lord of the Dance but also with her own solo performances. She released her debut album ‘Basil and Thyme’ in 2002 and was subsequently nominated as female traditional musician of the year by the ‘Irish Music Magazine’. She has recorded and performed with many international artists including Paul Brady, Eddie Reader, Sharon Shannon, Gerry Douglas, Luka Bloom, Hazel O’Connor and many more. The Medical Orchestra at NUI Galway has been in existence for two years and it has already established itself as a very positive initiative with a number of high profile public performances. In September 2012 NUI Galway and the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas entered into a new partnership with the establishment of twenty choral scholarships for promising young NUI Galway student singers. The scholars form a small chamber choir offering a high level of engagement. Arts in Action concerts are free for students at NUI Galway but this fundraising event will have an admission of €15 for the general public. Students will need ID on the night to gain admission. The Arts in Action concert in the Bailey Allen Hall on Thursday, 21March will start at 8pm sharp. Tickets can be purchased directly from Catherine Hickey at Coláiste Iognáid on 091 – 501550 or on the door on the night. Ends

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Galway Science and Technology Festival Volunteer Awards Ceremony

Galway Science and Technology Festival Volunteer Awards Ceremony-image

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Third-level student volunteers from NUI Galway and GMIT, together with Transition Year students from Taylor’s Hill and Salerno Secondary schools were acknowledged for their volunteering throughout the 2012 Galway Science & Technology Festival at a special ceremony at NUI Galway recently. Professor Tom Sherry, College of Science at NUI Galway and Vice-Chairman of the Galway Science & Technology Forum and Tom Hyland, Chairperson of the Galway Science & Technology Forum presented certificates to 70 students for their volunteering efforts at the Main Exhibition of last year’s festival. Professor Sherry highlighted the contribution of the Volunteers to the festival: “The group of student volunteers we are thanking today contributed significantly to the success of the Festival Main Exhibition last November. Over 25,000 members of the public, young and old, visited the NUI Galway campus to see the extremely informative and interactive industrial and research exhibits and the highly entertaining science shows aimed at the younger visitors.  Members of the public, young and old alike were full of praise for these volunteers without whom the festival could not have been such a success.” Tom Hyland also congratulated the student Volunteers for responding to the call to help out at this great annual event: “Science, technology, engineering, innovation and research are extremely important to the economic future of Galway and Ireland.  This annual festival captures the interest and imagination of young people and encourages them to imagine future careers in these areas. Our message to these young people is to continue to study and be interested in the STEM subject areas – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” -ENDS-

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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-

>> Read full story about Pre-clinical Research Shows Promising Treatment for Diabetic Wounds using Stem Cells

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