Monday, 26 September 2011

Over ten thousand visitors descended on Salthill last Friday for Ireland’s first participation in European Researchers Night. Billed as ‘Sea2Sky’ by organisers NUI Galway, the celebration of science and research ran in parallel with events across 320 cities in Europe. The Galway event was visited by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.  This was the first time Ireland participated in European Researchers Night and NUI Galway collaborated with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria to deliver a successful event. Hundreds of researchers displayed their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Commenting at the event, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: “Researchers’ Night is an exciting, pan-European project that aims to engage young people in the magic of research and science, and I am proud that the European Commission is supporting Researchers’ Night in 320 cities all over Europe this year. Research and science hold the answers to many of the major challenges we face in Europe, including climate change, the need for safe, sustainable food and the needs of our ageing population. We need one million new researchers in Europe if we are to rise to these challenges. By bringing science and research alive, I hope that the Sea2Sky Researchers’ Night will help to encourage the young people of Galway to consider careers in research and science.” Visitors to Leisureland chatted to scientists about their research, participated in experiments, and watched demonstrations and simulations. Throughout the event, which was open to schools from 11am, parallel exhibits were run in the Galway Atlantaquaria. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says: “Around the world, Ireland’s reputation is growing as a hub of science, discovery and innovation. It was great to see such a great turnout for the first Irish participation in European Researchers Night. There is a genuine thirst for knowledge and interest in science among schools and the general public, which helped in turn to make our event such a success.” Organisers also thanked over 75 volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the day and night, and in the run up to the event. The Sea2Sky event was funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. -ENDS-

Monday, 26 September 2011

Three leading researchers hailing from Hungary and the United States have arrived at NUI Galway to begin their three year doctoral studies. The researchers are part of a €3.7 million European Union Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded, Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets (DREAM) programme, which is being led by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. The PhD students, Magdolna Birtha, Abigail Rekas and Anna Arstein- Kerslake, are members of an international team of 14 researchers who will explore options for European disability law and policy reform in light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). The students will also receive paid placement with leading NGOs such as the European Disability Forum in Brussels.  The Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway was awarded the grant to direct the Europe-wide network over the next three years. It is understood that this is the single largest EU Framework 7 grant won by a research centre in an Irish Law School. Partners in the network include several leading European universities. Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, Professor Gerard Quinn, says, “The object of the network is to create the next generation of disability policy entrepreneurs at European level and to generate research that helps the process of implementation of the disability treaty.  We look forward to working with the three new Marie Curie researchers to meet those aims.” For more information contact: Marie Kennedy, Centre for Disability, Law & Policy, NUI Galway, 091 494011, email marie.kennedy@nuigalway.ie   -ENDS-

Monday, 26 September 2011

Celebrating International Year of Chemistry, the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway will acknowledge the contribution of its research graduates in Ireland and beyond at a special reunion celebration. The event will take place at a gala dinner in the Meyrick Hotel on Saturday, 1 October. NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry has recently conferred its 300th PhD graduate and the majority of the research graduates have made major contributions to Ireland’s highly successful chemical, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.  A significant portion of the graduates are contributing to the provision of services in the public sector, such as the State Laboratory and the Forensic Laboratory. Many have and continue to contribute to education and research in second and third-level institutions.  Linked to this celebration, the School of Chemistry will host a discussion seminar entitled The PhD in Chemistry in Ireland - What's the Future? This public meeting will include contributions from Science Foundation Ireland, IRCSET, the American Chamber of Commerce, PharmaChem Ireland, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and heads of Schools of Chemistry from universities throughout Ireland.  The objective of the seminar is to develop policy and strategy so that Chemistry Schools across Ireland can continue to provide highest possibly quality research graduates with appropriate skills to continue to contribute to Enterprise in Ireland.  The seminar will take place on Friday, 30 September, in the John Hynes Boardroom, Quadrangle, NUI Galway at 10.30am. Professor Paul Murphy, Head of School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, says: “The chemical and pharmaceutical industry continues to be one of the strongest performing sectors in Ireland and the economy will continue to benefit from investment in PhD graduates in Chemistry Schools in Ireland.” The event has been organised jointly by the Alumni Office and School of Chemistry at NUI Galway.  Sponsorship of the event has been provided by Pfizer Ireland, Roche Ireland and NUI Galway. For more information, or to book a place at the reunion, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the NUI Galway Alumni Office at 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

NUI Galway’s Alumni Office is inviting all graduates and friends from the classes of 1971 and 1981 to attend a reunion to celebrate the 30th and 40th anniversaries of their graduation on Saturday, 8 October, 2011.   The reunion will begin at 3pm in the Quadrangle with a reception and photo exhibition, followed by a bus tour of campus. The celebrations will continue later that evening in Galway’s Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel) with a special reunion dinner.   Sandra Butler, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chairperson, encourages everyone to attend: “Reunions are special opportunities for graduates and friends to revisit NUI Galway and renew old acquaintances. These events come around just once a decade. So book your place now and get in contact with your classmates and friends and encourage them to come too.”   For further information and to book a place, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway have developed a super-sized model of a heart valve which may lead to a new generation of cardiovsacular devices. Every year, mechanical valves are inserted into approximately 125,000 patients with heart valve disease around the world. However, the valves can lead to unnatural blood flows, which can trigger a clotting reaction. Because of this, patients with prosthetic heart valves must take medication daily, which can lead to side effects. The work at NUI Galway is trying to better understand how blood flows through prosthetic valves and in particular through the valve hinges, so that the clotting reaction can be ameliorated. Researchers have developed a working model valve which is six times the size of a normal valve and runs 100 times slower. They use laser light and digital imaging to measure flow accurately and calculate the stresses experienced by blood cells as they move through the valve. The work has been carried out by Dr Nathan Quinlan and Dr Alessandro Bellofiore of the Biofluid Dynamics group at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science (NCBES), NUI Galway. Dr Quinlan, who teaches courses in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, explains: “Medicine has been using artificial heart valves, quite successfully, since the 1950s but there is certainly room for improvement. The challenge is to develop a valve which will avoid the thrombotic or clotting reaction. We’ve scaled up and slowed down the flow through the valve – without altering the underlying mechanics – so that we can measure it at very high resolution. We can see very small and short-lived eddies that are only about 10 times larger than blood cells. This is giving us new insights into what damages blood cells and causes dangerous clots.” The work is an example of the research carried out at the Centre for Biomechanics Research (BMEC) in NUI Galway, which is focused on both fundamental and applied research and where the principles of engineering mechanics and biology are combined to generate discovery and understanding.  Dr Quinlan concluded: “Research like this is crucial in the design and manufacture of new medical devices. The approach we’ve developed could be used not only for heart valves, for any device implanted in large blood vessels. Further down the line, the understanding that comes out of this work can lead to better devices.” Results from the heart valve model feature in this month’s issue of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. The group has recently received funding from Science Foundation Ireland’s 2011 Research Frontiers Programme for another project which will build on this work.   ENDS

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, will officially open the Irish segment of European Researchers Night. The event takes place on Friday, 23 September, across 800 venues in 320 cities. In Ireland, festivities take place in Galway through a celebration called Sea2Sky, organised by NUI Galway. The purpose of Sea2Sky, is to give the public free access to scientists and their research. Organisers at NUI Galway have planned a one-day celebration of science and research in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Events will take place in Leisureland, Galway Atlantaquria and along the Prom in Salthill. While school visits will take place throughout the day, at 3pm Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will officially open the evening event, to coincide with events starting right across Europe. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “As European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and a Galway-native, it is a very significant occasion that Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is officially opening this European-wide event. It is an exciting and important time to celebrate Ireland’s reputation and involvement in research.” At Sea2Sky, visitors of all ages will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Galway Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. The event will also feature music and entertainment for younger and older visitors. NUI Galway’s President, Dr James J. Browne, will also attend the official opening: “It is an honour to have someone as distinguished in European research circles as Máire Geoghegan-Quinn open our event. There is significant European funding of research projects at NUI Galway, reflecting our growing international research reputation.” The Sea2Sky event is being organised by NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, and is funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free family event and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, from 11am-11pm.  To view the full programme, or for more information, visit www.sea2sky.ie -ENDS-

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD today announced a €1.6m investment in neoSurgical Ltd led by Kernel Capital.  The syndicated investment comprises of a €500k investment by the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund, with the remainder of the funds provided by Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors including experienced promoters from the Irish Med Tech industry.   “neoSurgical is an excellent start-up, we are impressed with their cohesive team, whom previously held senior executive positions in Johnson and Johnson Ireland. neoSurgical has developed a strong patent family, excellent product roadmap and the team has vast global experience in selling medical device products,” said Dawn Guiney, Kernel Capital. neoSurgical working in collaboration with practicing surgeons is committed to developing and delivering innovative products that enable simpler, safer and more efficient laparoscopic abdominal surgery for better patient outcomes.  The company's lead product neoClose* offers a new, superior method of closing laparoscopic wounds that can reduce or prevent herniation complications while giving hospitals the opportunity to realise significant cost savings. Laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery within the abdomen involves ‘keyhole’ incisions some of which may require closure.  Ineffective closure can lead to an operative complication called a hernia, the complication rate of which is published to be in up to 3.1% and can be significantly higher in obese patients. In the US it has been estimated to cost the healthcare system in excess of $20,000 per patient to repair the hernia. Commenting on the announcement, Dr. James J. Browne, President of National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) which is an investor in Kernel Capital said: “NUI Galway recognises the importance of translating research into innovative products. I am delighted that the MedTech Accelerator Fund, in which NUI Galway is a partner, is investing in neoSurgical Ltd. I wish neoSurgical every success.” Donal Duffy, Head of Enterprise Ireland Relations, Bank of Ireland said: “Bank of Ireland is very pleased to add neoSurgical Ltd to the list of companies supported through the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund managed by Kernel Capital. This funding will enable the company develop and deliver innovative market leading products and take their place in the global med tech market.” Welcoming the announcement, Seamus Bree, Director for West Region at Enterprise Ireland, said: “We have no hesitation in co-investing in NeoSurgical. This cutting-edge company, although fairly new, is a very innovative and growing player in the prospering medical devices sector. NeoSurgical’s commitment to research and development is impressive and leaves no doubt that this Galway-based company has great potential to internationalise their business.” Barry Russell, CEO, Neosurgical Limited added: “The neoSurgical team is proud to have reached this significant funding milestone and in particular to have secured Kernel Capital as an investor with their great knowledge of our sector and strong validation of our technical and commercial roadmap. This investment will enable us to complete our device development and take our place in the global med tech market.  neoClose* is the first in a portfolio of medical device projects that neoSurgical plan to develop to market in the coming years with the associated positive spin off to the Irish economy in terms of high value jobs and exports.”-ENDS-

Monday, 19 September 2011

A Health Research Board (HRB) funded study carried out by the J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has found that there are significant differences in cancer screening uptake across income groups, and that the main determinant of this difference for breast, colorectal and prostate cancer screening was the possession of private medical insurance.   According to Brendan Walsh, a HRB/ National Cancer Institute Fellow in Health Economics at NUI Galway: “Our research demonstrates both inequality in the uptake of cancer screening in Ireland, and the role that private health insurance plays in contributing to this.   We examined data on 10,364 adults from the SLÁN 2007 study (Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland) and focused our analysis on the uptake of breast, prostate, colorectal and cervical cancer screening in the previous 12 months.  Through a process called decomposition analysis we were able to unpack the variables that contribute to the levels of inequality that we observed.  Decomposition analysis allows you to establish and rate the importance of particular components which contribute to the overall inequality.  The results of this permit a clearer identification of possible policy actions which can then be taken to help reduce the level of inequality.   The research found that there was a clear link between income and better uptake of screening programmes.  Typically for the four cancers mentioned there was a 10 percentage point difference in uptake rates between the highest socioeconomic group and the lowest.  However for three of those cancers, breast, colorectal and prostrate, medical insurance was the largest factor contributing to the inequality.”   According to Professor Ciaran O’Neill of the J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, a co-author on the paper (along with Dr Mary Silles): “When you have a complex healthcare system as in Ireland, with a mix of public and private services, if people feel that they can access other parts of the service faster because they have private insurance, then they seem more likely to avail of screening services.  Our research seems to indicate that just because you have a publicly funded cancer screening programme, it doesn’t mean that you will see equal uptake of screening services or the end of differences in morbidity or mortality associated with cancer.  Because screening is just the start of a process in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the journey should be viewed as a whole and no one part in isolation. Individuals may be more likely to go for screening if they think insurance will afford them faster access to diagnostic or treatment services. Hence publicly funded screening programmes on their own may not eradicate differential health outcomes across income groups.  This finding has major implications for health policy.   The research also highlighted the importance of marital status in several of the cancers. Greater uptake was evident among those who were married than those who were not in the case of prostate, colorectal and cervical screening, perhaps reflecting the value of pester power.”   According to Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board; “These are very important findings which have the potential to help address health inequalities, here and abroad. It is a clear illustration of the role for research to inform policy for the betterment of society as a whole.”   The full research paper is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.1784/full   Ends

Monday, 19 September 2011

NUI Galway will hold their annual Open Days on Friday, 30 September and Saturday, 1 October. The Open Days will provide an opportunity for prospective students to talk to NUI Galway students and staff, explore the campus and its facilities, and find out more about courses of interest. Friday's Open Day, on 30 September, will run from 9am to 3pm and is aimed at school groups, although individuals are also very welcome to attend. Running from 10am to 3pm, Saturday's Open Day on 1 October is for students thinking about university and their parents and families.   The Open Days are expected to attract some 8,000 visitors and are tailored towards Leaving Certificate and mature students who are interested in studying at NUI Galway. Parents, guardians and teachers are also invited on campus to sample life at university.   With over 60 degree programmes on offer at NUI Galway, lecturers and students will be on hand at more than 80 exhibition stands to answer questions on courses, CAO points and possible potential career paths. Many of the newer courses at the University have been designed to be responsive to the changing needs of the employment market and meet the needs of the Smart Economy.   Two talks specifically for parents, ‘Focus on your Career’ and ‘Parents’ Guide to University’ on Saturday, will give an introduction to university life and an overview of the career paths of NUI Galway graduates, as well as looking ahead to the job market of the future.   The Open Days will feature a mix of taster sessions and short lectures to provide a feel for university life. Events will include hands-on science workshops, interactive demonstrations with cameras, media equipment and podcasts and interactive sessions with IT systems and robotics.   Commenting on the importance of the NUI Galway Open Days, Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications, says:"Choosing a university is one of the most important decisions a student will ever make. Parents play a key role in supporting students as they take this important next step. Open Day is the perfect opportunity for parents to ensure they have access to all of the information they need to support sons and daughters through their university career. We are encouraging anyone with an interest in studying at NUI Galway to come along, talk to our lecturers and current students, find out about the courses, check out the facilities and decide for yourself whether NUI Galway feels right for you".   During the Open Days, tours of the campus will allow prospective students to visit the new Engineering Building, the largest of its kind in Ireland; state-of the-art sports complex and gym, home to 45 student sports clubs; and Áras na Mac Léinn, the base for over 100 student societies. Tours of the University library and student accommodation will also be available to visitors on the day.   For further details on NUI Galway Open Days, or to view the full programme, visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/opendays/.   -ENDS-

Monday, 19 September 2011

For Culture Night 2011, which takes place on Friday, 23 September, the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway will be opening up its unique literary, theatre and landed estates archives. Marking the first involvement of NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections in Culture Night, the Library has announced a programme that will allow the public share these archival collections. The programme of events will begin at 7pm when Special Collections Librarian, Marie Boran and Archivist Brigid Clesham, will talk about their new project, The Irish Landed Estates Database. This is an invaluable resource for those interested in tracing their family history or looking at the history of the landed estates of Ireland. At 8pm, Fergus Fahy, Institutional Repository and Digitisation Librarian, will discuss the personal archive of writer John McGahern. Having catalogued the McGahern Archive, he will deliver a detailed and insightful overview of this wonderful collection of hand-written novels, drafts, stories and correspondence, created over a lifetime’s work by one of Ireland’s most celebrated and intriguing writers. The evening will be topped off at 9pm by screenings from the award-winning DruidSynge series. The screenings will include Riders to the Sea and The Shadow of the Glen by playwright J.M. Synge. John Cox, University Librarian, comments: “Culture Night offers a great opportunity to engage a wider audience with the Library’s archives and special collections, and the events planned will provide fascinating insights into their significance.” All events are taking place in the Patrick Fottrell Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway, next to the James Hardiman Library. A free shuttle bus service will be available on the night to bring guests to and from Culture Night venues. For more information and updates on the NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections programme for Culture Night, contact barry.houlihan@nuigalway.ie, follow on Twitter: @nuigarchives, Theatre Archives blog http://nuigarchives.blogspot.com/ or go to our homepage http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/. -ENDS-

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Coinciding with the European Year of Volunteering 2011, the tenth annual NUI Galway Volunteering Fair will take place on Tuesday, 27 September, in the Bailey Allen Hall from 1-5pm. With over 2,000 students, staff and members of the general public expected to attend, the Fair will be officially opened by Galway City Mayor Hildegarde Naughton. Over 80 charities and community organisations will showcase the wide range of volunteer opportunities. The Fair is part of a week-long celebration of volunteering at NUI Galway, the culmination of which will coincide with the National Day of Volunteering on Friday, 1 October.  The Galway Community Circus will be performing and welcoming attendees on stilts.Lorraine Tansey is the Student Volunteer Coordinator at NUI Galway, “We are really looking forward to celebrating community life as not only is this the European Year of Volunteering 2011, but also this is our tenth year at NUI Galway promoting volunteering, active citizenship and engagement.” “Students are actively seeking volunteering prospects with homework clubs in local schools, fundraising for national charities, befriending people with a disability, or volunteering abroad. Students benefit enormously from getting involved and gain valuable experience, while bringing energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.”Exhibitors at the Volunteering Fair will include: Youth Work Ireland, Gorta, Galway; One World Centre; ISPCC; Galway Samaritans; IWA and the European Voluntary Service. Lorraine Tansey added: “We are delighted to not only welcome community organisations to highlight their work and opportunities for volunteers, but also to welcome members of the public onto campus.”Through NUI Galway’s volunteer programme, ALIVE, students can access an online database of volunteer opportunities. The programme also includes a series of workshops to help students make the most of their volunteering experience. At the end of the academic year students can apply for an ALIVE Certificate which is awarded by NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, at a special ceremony in recognition of their commitment to volunteering. To book a stand, or for further information, please contact the ALIVE office on 091 493823 or email alive@nuigalway.ie.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The programme for Ireland’s participation in European Researchers Night, which takes place on 23 September, was officially launched today. Showcasing science on a grand scale, the Irish event, Sea2Sky, takes place in Salthill, Galway. In total, 800 venues across 320 cities in Europe will celebrate this momentous occasion. Sea2Sky is a free, family-oriented event at which hundreds of scientists will showcase their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. The event will also feature music and entertainment for younger and older visitors. Sea2Sky is being organised by NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria.  Exhibits throughout the day will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Galway Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. Scientists will be on hand in the main exhibition hall in Leisureland where stands will display areas of science from energy research and marine life to the study of the solar system. Visitors will have a chance to explore the mini-sea exploration vehicle which was used by scientists in the recent discovery of hydrovents deep in the Atlantic.  Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “This is a very unique opportunity for the public to participate in experiments and demonstrations. The jam-packed programme offers something for people of all ages, and gives children and adults alike the chance to be a scientist for one day.” Doors to the Galway Atlantaquaria will be open throughout the day, allowing visitors to explore Ireland’s largest splash tank and huge Ray Pool. They will also be able to see the 60 foot long Fin Whale skeleton and get their hands wet in the Touch Pool where experts will help the curious and brave to handle real starfish and crabs. Representatives from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group will also be present to discuss their work. The walk between the two venues, Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, will see amateur astronomers and their telescopes stationed along Salthill’s famous Promenade affording amazing views of the night sky after dark. Local artists will add a theatrical flair during the day as Cups and Crowns Theatre perform ‘Lenny the Water Daughter’, Rab Swannock Fulton will weave tales for young and old with his dramatic storytelling skills, and puppeteer extraordinaire Tommy Baker will put on a show with ‘The Ecological Brothers’. In the evening adult can participate in a special storytelling session. Also for adults is the opportunity to share their thoughts and learn from experts in the Cafe Scientifique ‘What’s in your Water?’ led by NUI Galway’s Professor Martin Cormican and hosted by renowned broadcaster Leo Enright. After night fall on the beach there will be a dramatic fire show before returning to the main hall for a musical finale to end the event. Organisers are looking for 70 volunteers to help out on the day to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. A science background is not needed to volunteer as information and training will be given in advance of the event. To sign up for volunteering visit www.sea2sky.ie The Sea2Sky event is funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free family event and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, from 11am-11pm.  To view the full programme, or for more information, visit www.sea2sky.ie.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

NUI Galway will host the ninth annual RECOMB (Research in Computational Molecular Biology) Satellite Workshop on Comparative Genomics from 8 to 10 October. The workshop is part of the prestigious RECOMB series of meetings and usually alternates between a North American and European location, but this is the first time that the meeting will take place in Galway. The workshop will bring mathematicians and computer scientists together with biologists to share ideas and approaches for the comparison of genomes. The objective of the meeting is to achieve a greater understanding of genomics and genome evolution by comparing the genome sequences of different species. This provides a rich source of information and a valuable perspective on how genomes function. Keynote speakers for the conference will include: Professor Ed Green, UC Santa Cruz, USA; Professor Kateryna Makova, Penn State University, USA; Professor Julian Parkhill, Sanger Institute, UK; Professor Nicolaus Rajewsky, Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany; and Dr Chris Greenman, Sanger Institute, UK. Professor Green was a leading contributor to the Neanderthal genome sequencing project, the results of which were published in Science in 2010. Analysis of the Neanderthal genome revealed that non-African humans interbred with Neanderthals and that consequently humans outside of Africa share some of their DNA with Neanderthals. Conference organiser, Professor Cathal Seoighe from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, said: “The life sciences have recently moved from the genome era to the era of many genomes. Massive advances in DNA sequencing technologies mean that the genomes of many human individuals and representatives from many different species are now available. This brings the era of personalised genomics closer and offers great opportunities to understand the basis of genome function and genetic diseases and phenotypes.” The RECOMB Conference Series bridges the areas of computational, mathematical, and biological sciences. Founded in 1997, the series provides a scientific forum for theoretical advances in computational biology and their applications in molecular biology and medicine. The conference features keynote talks by preeminent scientists in the life sciences, together with presentations of refereed research papers in computational biology. Delegates can register right up to the date of the event (8-10 October). Posters and late-breaker oral presentations may still be submitted until Tuesday, 20 September. More information is available from the website, www.recombcg.org.   -ENDS-

Friday, 9 September 2011

WIN bucks trends in assisting one third of participants reengage in workplace Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, T.D., today [Friday, 9 September] launched WIN – West of Ireland Networking (WIN); the training, mentoring and networking forum for unemployed professionals and entrepreneurs at the Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway. WIN, based in the West, is a unique volunteer organisation that plays a substantial role in getting unemployed participants back into the work place while providing further supports to those seeking to start their own business or is already running a small enterprise. Speaking at the launch, Minister Bruton said: “Jobs are at the very top of this government’s agenda, and I am determined to do everything possible to achieve the job-creation we so badly need. Government does not create jobs, people and businesses do, and the role of government is to support an environment in which job-creating entrepreneurs and businesses can flourish. “WIN - West of Ireland Networking is an excellent example of what people and communities can do to help people get back to work and to help entrepreneurs start the successful businesses we so badly need. The get-up-and-go, self-help spirit embodied by this organisation is exactly what we need to help turn our fortunes around, and I am delighted to see it is alive and well. I am determined that government will keep its side of the bargain and do everything it can to get people back to work”. With unemployment at 14.4%, WIN is bucking current trends, assisting one third of participants reengage in the workforce. WIN’s success is based on its innovative approach to helping the unemployed through consistent and regular supports including: bi-weekly group networking sessions including relevant and flexible training programmes; one to one mentoring, building confidence and self esteem of participants. A recent survey sampling 106 participants of WIN indicated the impact of the organisation with 34% reengaging in the workplace; 14% actively interviewing; 28% working on potential business start-up; and 24% new participants. CEO and Founder of WIN, Caroline McDonagh: “We at WIN are very excited about the contribution we have made to getting people back to work and supporting start up enterprises. WIN is a lean organisation working with minimum resources with a strong commitment to value and committed to addressing previously unmet needs. To date there has been a lack of support, training and services for the ‘unexpected unemployed’ or the ‘new unemployed’ in Ireland and WIN has successfully filled this gap. WIN recognises that if these skills are lost to Ireland, they could be gone forever. WIN is the necessary vehicle to ensure that these skills are retained and enhanced and used to drive and grow our economy.” President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, said: “I am delighted to host the formal launch of WIN on our campus. The spirit of partnership, volunteerism and enterprise embodied by this unique, innovative volunteer organisation is exactly what Ireland needs more of at this time. We at NUI Galway are pleased to support WIN’s objectives of training, mentoring and networking for unemployed work seekers, entrepreneurs and small enterprise owners. Our support is an example of how the University partners with local organisations to ensure that we meet the legitimate demands of all the stakeholders in our region.” WIN Board Members include: Seamus Bree, Director, Western Region, Enterprise Ireland; Breda Fox, CEO, Galway County and City Enterprise Board; P.J. O’Reilly, Regional Manager Technology Transfer and R&D, Enterprise Ireland; Dr Emer Mulligan, Head of School, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway; John Liddy, St Vincent De Paul; Caroline McDonagh, CEO, WIN – West of Ireland Networking; Majella Connelly, Financial Consultant, Hennelly Insurance; Gert O’Rourke, Owner, Gert O'Rourke Training and Development; and Ralph Smith, Managing Director, Do My Books. WIN is assisted by the Maureen O’Connell Fund of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. ENDS

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The annual NUI Galway Alumni Association Golf Outing will take place at Mullingar Golf Club on Friday, 16 September. An opportunity to meet up with fellow NUI Galway graduates, old and new, attendees will also be in with a chance of winning two tickets to the All-Ireland Football Final. Renowned sculptor, and NUI Galway graduate, John Coll has donated a new perpetual trophy for the winner of the golfing competition. Event Organiser, RTÉ Presenter and NUI Galway graduate, Seán O’Rourke, says: “This year we’re delighted to announce our new perpetual trophy, created by graduate John Coll, one of the country’s most renowned sculptors. We are also delighted to offer our golfing guests the opportunity to win two stand tickets for the much anticipated All-Ireland Football Final. It promises to be a wonderful outing and we hope as many alumni and friends as possible join us in Mullingar.” The entry fee of €55 includes green fees, prizes and dinner that evening. Bookings and further details available from NUI Galway Alumni Office on 091 493750 or online at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends   ENDS

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Biomaterials may prove key to healing chronic wounds in Diabetic patients, delegates will hear today at the 24th European Conference on Biomaterials. Over 950 delegates are at the event in Dublin, which is jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown. Delivering therapeutic genes using a new biomaterial-based delivery system to the site of chronic wounds in diabetes patients may enhance wound healing. Researchers at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway hope that technology being developed at the University may reduce the rate of limb amputation and morbidity in diabetic patients.   Diabetes related chronic wounds and subsequent lower limb amputation are major causes of morbidity in diabetic patients, incurring enormous medical, economic and social burden. The rigorous treatment regimes in clinics have had only modest success in lowering the overall amputation rate. The major reason behind the failure is rooted in the fact that diabetes affects all the wound healing cells not only functionally but also genetically. This molecular disarray is not completely understood yet, so treatment regimes aimed at rectifying the genetic problem are needed for tangible therapeutic benefit. Researchers at the NFB are working on a project investigating the genetic dysregulation but also combined novel and complementary genes to normalize wound healing.   The work has found that success of the gene therapy depends largely on how it is delivered. The gene delivery system developed gives a protective scaffold and also allows controlled delivery with components carrying different genes and degrading at different rates. The gene delivery method is, in effect, micron-size spheres embedded in mesh made from protein fibers, a tiny but very complex biomaterial product. Overall results are very encouraging with enhanced wound closure, complemented by increased blood vessel formation and reduced inflammation. According to the NFB’s Mangesh Kulkarni, “We envision that the combined new gene therapy and delivery system can aid in reducing the amputation rate by enhancing wound healing. This has the potential to make a real change when applied to chronic diabetic wounds. Since the components of the system have a relatively good safety profile, clinical trials can be conducted to prove the therapeutic benefit in human patients.” Full details of the research will be presented today at what is Europe’s largest biomaterials conference, which is taking place in the Dublin Convention Centre and runs until Thursday. With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB and conference co-chair, Professor Abhay Pandit said: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. This is a significant conference, as the latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond are being presented over the course its five-day programme.” -ENDS

Monday, 5 September 2011

William Ronan, PhD student in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, has won first prize in the PhD Student Paper Competition at the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Biomedical Engineering Conference, a leading US conference in the field of biomedical engineering and biomechanics.  William, from Cloneen, Co. Tipperary, was shortlisted as one of six finalists in the category of cell mechanics from over 150 international applicants and based on his submitted paper and podium presentation he was awarded first prize. Currently in the third year of his PhD research under the supervision of Dr Patrick McGarry, William has developed advanced computational models that predict the active response of biological cells to different mechanical environments.  His winning paper is entitled “Simulation of Stress Fiber Remodeling and Mixed-mode Focal Adhesion Assembly During Cell Spreading on Elastic Substrates”. Speaking of this success, Professor Seán Leen, Head of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “William’s achievement is a testament to the high quality of research being carried out in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway and, in particular, by his supervisor Dr McGarry. This type of internationally-leading performance is also evidence of the exceptional talent being developed in Irish Universities with the support of successive Irish governments and industry.” William is funded by an Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) scholarship and the research is also supported by Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme (SFI-RFP) and the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC). This is the second major international award won by a member of Dr McGarry’s research group in 2011, with PhD student Emer Feerick also winning first prize at the Annual Symposium on Computational Orthopaedic Biomechanics inthe US in January.   ENDS

Monday, 5 September 2011

NUI Galway lecturers, Dr Gerard Turley and Maureen Maloney of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, have just completed the fourth edition of the successful textbook Principles of Economics: An Irish Text, with co-author Dr Francis O'Toole of Trinity College Dublin. Principles of Economics: An Irish Text introduces the theory and practice of economics within an Irish and European context. There is reference to both recent and current economic conditions, including reflections on the post Celtic Tiger years, the economic downturn caused by the international recession, the banking crisis and the property crash, and the latest on the eurozone and sovereign debt crisis. Marion O'Brien, Educational Publisher at Gill & Macmillan, said: “Principles of Economics: An Irish Text is an extremely accessible and popular text with both students and lecturers alike. As a bestselling text, it continues to provide the reader with a solid theoretical grounding in both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, and is extensively prescribed in all Institutes of Technologies, in many Universities and Private Colleges throughout Ireland.” New topics in the fourth edition of Principles of Economics: An Irish Text include: new material reflecting the changed economic conditions of the Irish economy resulting from the banking and fiscal crises that began in 2007; revised chapter on economic growth and the Irish economy, which includes the banking crisis and the property crash; reflections on the Celtic Tiger era, including causes and consequences; new section on the eurozone and sovereign debt crisis; and new case studies and questions, with answers now available online. Published by Gill & Macmillan, it is accompanied by a free interactive CD, and additional lecturer resources, details of which can be found at http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/economics/economics/principles-of-economics-4th-edition -ENDS-

Monday, 5 September 2011

Volunteers are being sought to support Sea2Sky, a free, family-oriented event taking place in Salthill on Friday, 23 September. Organisers NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, are looking for 70 volunteers to help out on the day. At the event, hundreds of scientists will showcase their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Visitors to Sea2Sky will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “This is first time Ireland has participated in the European Researchers Night and we are proud to be the first host of such an important occasion. By bringing together researchers and the public, everyone can be a scientist for one night. There is growing excitement around this event, and I encourage and welcome volunteers who want to get involved and help out with this unique occasion.” The Sea2Sky event is being funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free event open to all ages and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, with doors open from 11am-11pm.  A science background is not needed to volunteer as information and training will be given in advance of the event. For more information and to sign up for volunteering www.sea2sky.ie   -ENDS-

Friday, 2 September 2011

Now recognised as a significant player in the international biomaterials industry, Ireland will be the venue the 24thEuropean Conference on Biomaterials from 4-8 September. Jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, this is the first time the annual meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) will be held in Ireland. Some 950 delegates will attend ‘ESB 2011’ at the Dublin Convention Centre, including members from academia, medicine and industry. The latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond will be presented over the course of the five-day conference. With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, Professor Abhay Pandit commented: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. New understanding at cellular and molecular levels, coupled with innovative concepts in scaffolding technologies and advances in nanotechnology, have increased the range of areas biomaterials can improve human health. Already we are seeing success in the treatment of wounds, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.” The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, has said that this is a very significant conference and it is great to see it being hosted in Ireland: “Biomaterials enable the development of innovative healthcare technologies which provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients and healthcare professionals. High quality scientific and clinical research of these technologies is critical to ensure that these products are safe, effective and valuable to patients and healthcare professionals.” A $280 billion industryBased at NUI Galway, the NFB was set up in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish a critical mass of biomaterials activity in Ireland. Ireland’s capacity in the field of biomaterials is ever-increasing, and at the conference podium presentations will be delivered by 48 researchers from 13 Irish-based, academic and industrial research groups. The global medical technologies industry is valued at $280 billion, and is growing at approximately 7% per annum. According to Professor Pandit, “Ireland is a well-established hub in the global medical technology field. Ireland is home to 15 of the world’s top 20 Medical Technology Companies, with significant manufacturing and R&D operations coming out of Ireland. In fact, exports of medical devices and pharmaceuticals continue to grow, providing a beacon of hope for economic recovery.” The opening day of the conference will be Industry Day and is sponsored by global healthcare products company Covidien. The day will bring together companies in the medical device market and entrepreneurial academics, who will share their experiences taking innovative biomaterial concepts to the clinic and the market.  Conference Programme Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, will open the conference proceedings on Monday, 5 September, which is expected to bring an estimated €3 million boost to the local economy. Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “I know the significant presence of medical device firms and research activities in Ireland was a key factor in securing this major event. We look forward to welcoming all delegates, including young Irish researchers who will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience and network with many of the top names in the field.” Experts in the biomaterials field will travel to Dublin from across the world to deliver plenary speeches and keynote addresses. Keynote speakers will include: Professor Messersmith, from Northwest University, USA, who works on the biological adhesives of shellfish and geckos.  He will be discussing research on biologically inspired biomaterials, and their roles in the medical field, from surgical adhesives to cancer drug delivery. Professor Frechet from King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia, has a wide range of research interests including targeted drug delivery. His plenary address will detail the design of macromolecules to facilitate improved drug delivery. Professor Catts of the University of Australia is a unique academic, bridging the gap between the creative arts and biology.  A past art project involved the culture of ‘steaks’ and ‘jackets’ in the laboratory to interrogate the possibility of victimless animal products.   Thematic sessions planned for the conference, include recent advances in the use of biomaterials for therapeutics; vascularisation, innervations, and tissue integration; advances in nanotechnology and materials science and host response. The Young Scientists Forum (YSF), designed to stimulate and engage the next generation of researchers, is an integral part of the programme.   -ends-

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Astronomers from NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy have made an important breakthrough in the understanding of how pulsars work, and have recently published their findings in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team, led by NUI Galway’s Dr Andy Shearer, compared optical observations with a detailed model of the structure of the pulsar. From this, using their inverse mapping or reverse engineering approach, they were able to establish for the first time that most of the light from the pulsar comes from close to the star’s surface. This is contrary to most pulsar models and points to a new way of analysing observational data from pulsars. Dr Shearer said: “This is the culmination of ten years work. Our success is based upon having some talented post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers combined with looking at the problem in a different way. The result shows the importance of our approach of combining numerical models run on large supercomputers with detailed observations. To follow these calculations we will use the SFI funded Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP)* to finally establish the conditions around a pulsar and solve a forty year old problem - how do pulsars work?” In another development, NUI Galway astronomers, working with colleagues in Italy, the UK and US, have discovered an X-ray bright tail coming from a pulsar. The tail was discovered by combining optical observations taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-Ray observatory. The pulsar, known as PSR J0357, is about half a million years old and is located 1,600 light years from Earth with a tail of over four light years across. These findings have been recently published in The Astrophysical Journal. Despite over forty years of observation and theory, pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars, have defied an explanation of how they work. Pulsars are about one and a half times the mass of the sun, but are so small they could fit into Galway Bay. Consequently they represent extreme matter. They have a magnetic field which can be greater than a million billion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field. Their density is also about a million, billion times greater than the density of the Earth. They are formed during a massive explosion at the end of a star’s life known as a Type II supernova. During a supernova, the light from a single star outshines its host galaxy which contains up to a hundred billion stars.  The work at NUI Galway involved observations of the Crab pulsar formed in April 1054 when it was observed as a daytime star – unusually, very few observations of this event come from Europe, although it was observed by Irish monks and recorded in the Irish Annals. ENDS

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Showcasing science on a grand scale, European Researchers Night will take place in 800 venues across 320 cities on Friday, 23 September. Galway will be the venue for Ireland’s first participation in this event, under the theme ‘Sea2Sky’. The free, fun, family event will see hundreds of scientists presenting their research from the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Thousands are expected to visit Leisureland in Salthill on the night, to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, to watch demonstrations and simulations, to exchange ideas and get to know the researchers. In the build-up to the big event, details of a schools competition were announced today by  organisers NUI Galway in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria. The competition is open to 8-18 year-olds, and prizes include a two-night family break at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Co. Mayo, membership to the Aquarium and book hampers. The challenge is to design a ‘futuristic’ Research Vessel for the year 2040, where the Sea2Sky scientists, inventors and dreamers team will use it for exploring new discoveries from the ocean to the sky. NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer is heading up the event: “It is very exciting to be part of such a large European celebration, and in terms of research, Ireland has much to celebrate. Around the world our reputation is growing as a hub of science, discovery and innovation. This event on 23 September offers the opportunity for us to explore the future being created on our doorstep. We envisage an evening full of fun, surprise and wonder.” Details and entry guidelines for the competition are available at www.sea2sky.ie. Closing date for entries is Wednesday, 21 September, and all designs will be displayed during Sea2Sky at Leisureland on 23 September. The Sea2Sky event is being funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free event open to all ages and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill from 11am-11pm.  The event offers the opportunity to explore the future being created on your doorstep in an evening full of fun, surprise and wonder. ENDS

Monday, 29 August 2011

NUI Galway has announced it will host the Connemara Symposium, a two day series of events in September in celebration of the work of Tim Robinson, the internationally acclaimed writer, map-maker and thinker based in Roundstone, Co.Galway.  A series of free events will run from 9 to 10 September. Tim Robinson is best known for his two-volume studyStones of Aran: Pilgrimage and Labyrinth (republished by New York Review of Books Classics Series 2008-9).  He is currently completing the final volume of a trilogy, Connemara: Listening to the Wind (2006) and The Last Pool of Darkness (2008).The recipient of a major European Conservation Award in 1987, Robinson was Parnell Visiting Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, this last year. Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran was described by the Irish Times as ‘one of the most original, revelatory and exhilarating works of literature ever produced in Ireland' and by the London Review of Books as ‘a wonderful achievement'. This year is the 25th anniversary of the first publication of Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage.The Connemara Symposium offers a unique opportunity to engage with his work and follows a previous meeting in Cambridge University (Watch a video of the Cambridge University meeting). The Connemara Symposium brings some of the world's leading creative thinkers and artists engaged with questions of human society and the environment toGalway.  Events include a screening of Pat Collins’s film ‘Tim Robinson: Connemara' in Roundstone Community Hall on the evening of Friday, 9 September; lectures and talks in the Galway City Museum by an international assembly of writers including John Elder, Eamonn Wall, Briona Nic Dhiarmidha and Kelly Sullivan; and readings in the Druid Theatre by Andrew McNeillie, Manchán Mangan, Moya Cannon, Eamon Grennan and Tim Robinson on the evening of Saturday, 10 September. “Tim Robinson’s writing about landscape and the human place within it is one of the world’s cultural treasures.  We are delighted to bring writers, academics and artists to celebrate his achievement and to discuss his work, which continues to speak to readers around the world.  Tim’s engagement with the west ofIreland, its people and languages, has added to a rich cultural tradition that extends back over centuries.  Our aim is to invite the community to join in the free and public events we have organised in conversation with Tim’s work.  The film screening, readings, lectures and discussions all offer different points of access to one of our greatest living writers’, says Nicholas Allen, Moore Institute Professor at NUI Galway.” In 2006, Tim Robinson and his wife Máiréad bequeathed their house, Folding Landscapes on the sea wall at Roundstone to NUI Galway. Folding Landscapes is a specialist publishing house and information resource centre dealing with three areas of particular interest and beauty aroundGalwayBay, the Aran Islands, the Burren andConnemara. The Robinsons continue to reside in the house, Folding Landscapes. At the same time the house has become a venue for the University to engage with the local community and to share the resources and knowledge of the institution's many visitors, academics and practitioners.  The Robinsons have a long-standing relationship with NUI Galway. Tim received an Honorary Degree in 1997 from the University. The Symposium is hosted by the Atlantic Archipelagos Research Project, a collaboration between the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at NUI Galway, Folding Landscapes and theUniversityofExeter, with funding from theBritishAcademy. For a full schedule of the Connemara Symposium please see http://www.nuigalway.ie/mooreinstitute                                                                      ENDS

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Ten exciting research projects at NUI Galway have been funded as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s 2011 Research Frontiers Programme. The awards, which were announced recently by the Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock T.D., aim to support the development of Ireland’s human capital by providing employment and training to some of Ireland’s most talented researchers. In total, the Government committed funding of €15 million to be provided over the next four years to 79 research projects, across 15 research institutions. The ten cutting-edge projects at NUI Galway are: Dr Eilís Dowd: Harnessing adult stem cells for neurotrophin delivery to the degenerating brain. Dr Andrea Erxlebe: Functionalized locked nucleic acids that cleave the RNA component of human telomerase. Dr Dane Flannery: A new foundation for computing with linear groups over infinite domains. Dr Conor O'Byrne: Stress perception in the human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes: seeing the light. Professor Colin O'Dowd: (INFORM) Integrated volcanic ash forecasting system. Dr Zoe Popper: Characterisation of algal cell wall components for future biotechnological applications. Dr Nathan Quinlan: Towards a non-thrombogenic prosthetic mechanical heart valve: measurement of hinge flow fields at microscale resolution. Dr Michelle Roche: Endocannabinoid regulation of neuroinflammatory responses following bacterial and viral infection. Dr Gerhard Schlosser: Evolutionary innovation by rewiring of gene networks - Origin of sense organs in the vertebrate New Head. Dr Cindy Smith: Pathogen detection, survival and sheltering in a model water distribution system. Making the announcement, Minister Sherlock said: “It is vital that Ireland has a robust and competitive research environment that contributes to economic recovery. The projects announced today are very much part of this drive to further build Ireland’s research capability in support of our economic development. Science Foundation Ireland is a key organisation in driving this in terms of indentifying opportunities for top-class research in Ireland.” Minister Sherlock added “These projects are of direct relevance to our daily lives. Discoveries that can be achieved in these sectors will have an impact on computer science, the environment, health and other important fields with the potential to create and sustain top-quality jobs in Ireland.”   ENDS  

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

NUI Galway has announced the establishment of a Rugby Youth Academy to cater for teenagers in Galway. The Youth Academy is an integral part of the existing University Rugby club which was formed in 1874 and is a founder member of the IRFU. Notable rugby graduates of NUI Galway Rugby Club include Ciaran Fitzgerald who captained both Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. The development of the Youth Academy, coupled with the University’s Sports Scholarship, is aimed primarily at strengthening the University’s AIL U20 squad in the medium-term. According to Dr James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway: “The youth academy is a good fit for the University’s outreach and community support initiatives. It is envisaged that this new academy will add greatly to the development of youth rugby in the city and its environs. It will also be of great benefit for the University Rugby Club into the future.” In its first season, the academy will cater for U13 boys only, but will expand over the next five years up to under 18’s. Coaching, mentoring, and administrative resourcing will come from within the existing University Rugby Club and will be augmented by support from the mini rugby club - Na Bairneachaí (U8s to U12s) established in Barna/Knocknacarra area in 2007. Neil Keaveney, President of Na Bairneachaí, said: “We are very excited by this new venture within NUI Galway. It builds on the hard work and community involvement in the development of Rugby in the west side of Galway city. Simply put, it is a great opportunity for more kids to play more games in what we hope will be an enjoyable yet competitive setting.” The NUI Galway Youth Academy enjoys the full support of the Connacht Branch of the IRFU who are delighted to see the expansion and high profile the game is attracting, especially in the first year of Connacht’s participation in the European Rugby Cup. Gerry Kelly, CEO of Connacht Rugby, commented: “Connacht Rugby has enjoyed huge success in the last year and we are particularly excited about this year’s inclusion in the Heineken Cup. We see this development as a reflection of this success while also confirming the important role the University plays in Connacht Rugby.” Open day and registration will take place on Saturday, 3 September, in Dangan, Galway for NUI Galway Youth Academy and Na Bairneachaí. Training for U13 Boys, born in 1999, commences 17 September at 10.30am in Dangan. ENDS

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

NUI Galway has issued a final call for applications to the six courses it is offering as part of the Springboard initiative.  These programmes range in subject area from Environmental Sustainability, to Medical Device Science and Technology Commercialisation, to Innovation Management. All of these part-time courses are available in a modular, flexible format and can be taken via distance learning for students who are unable to attend the campus on a weekly basis. The Springboard initiative offers free higher education for jobseekers, without affecting the social welfare benefits they receive. “Springboard is primarily designed to help people who have lost their jobs as a result of the recession, and who need to up-skill or re-skill to gain sustainable employment again”, explains Nuala McGuinn, Adult Education Development Officer at NUI Galway.  “These courses would suit those who want to attain a qualification while actively seeking employment. The subject areas are directly focused on employment and the emerging skill needs of Irish industry.” While five of the six courses the University is offering as part of Springboard are level 8 and level 9, NUI Galway is also putting in place a Foundation Diploma in Science, Technology and Engineering. This level 6 programme is designed for people who have been out of the formal education system for some time and provides an ideal starting point for those wishing to embark on a longer term diploma or degree programme NUI Galway has a long history of working with adult learners, either those approaching third-level for the first time or those returning to study. Extra supports are put in place to provide students with the additional skills, computing and study skills, which they may need as part of their studies. All of the Springboard courses commence in early September so interested candidates are advised to check out course details as soon as possible.  Details and an online application process is available on www.bluebrick.ie/springboard.  Alternatively contact the Adult Education Office at NUI Galway on 091 495845. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

This year CAO applicants had their eyes firmly fixed on the job market as programmes in Science and Technology were among the most popular college choices at NUI Galway. Points for General Science, Information Technology and Biomedical Science all soared in the CAO first round offers from NUI Galway to prospective students hoping to start their third-level education this autumn. NUI Galway’s popular Biomedical Science degree jumped 30 points to 515 this year. As Ireland’s leading university for biomedical science, graduates of the programme enjoy excellent career opportunities, with many of Ireland’s multinational and indigenous medical device companies clustered in the Galway region. The Computer Science and Information Technology course also saw a huge leap from 325 to 390 points. This increase in interest in Information Technology is hugely significant and reflects the strength of the IT sector in the West of Ireland. Also particular to the west is the area of Marine Science, with NUI Galway offering the country’s only denominated Marine Science degree which increased by 30 points to 400 this year, reflecting this niche area of research and study at NUI Galway. While the General Arts degree is down in points nationally, NUI Galway’s denominated Arts choices continue to remain popular. In particular Arts with Creative Writing (495 to 505), Human Rights (455 to 470) and Irish Studies (400 to 415) all jumped points this year. The University’s Maths and Education course, which was developed to meet the shortage of qualified Maths teachers, also leaped by 40 points bringing it to 420 this year. Commenting on the overall trends and increases, NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, said: "We are seeing a clear trend this year towards programmes in the Science, Technology and Engineering fields as students focus on the job market of the future. Applicants are making well-informed decisions; they are choosing courses where the University has unique strengths and a well-established reputation. In particular, our Biomedical Science, IT, Engineering, Human Rights and Creative Writing courses have proved very popular this year". NUI Galway’s new Engineering Building, the largest of its kind in Ireland, was recently opened and appropriately Engineering programmes at the University have increased in popularity. In particular the Biomedical (405 to 425), Environmental (310 to 470) and Mechanical (430 to 435) Engineering courses all saw substantial increases in CAO points levels. The new world-class teaching and research facility will open its doors in September to accommodate some 1,100 students and 110 staff. The 14,250 sqm building will support an emerging generation of engineers, engaged in a new wave of technologies, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship. -ends-

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The 7th Reasoning Web Summer School, bringing together an international group of postgraduate students and renowned lecturers, commenced today at NUI Galway. The event will be followed next week by the 5th International Web Rules and Reasoning Conference. Both events are organised by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway. The Reasoning Web Summer School and the Web Rules and Reasoning Conference are established international events in the area of applying Artificial Intelligence on the Web. Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI, says: “It is the first time these two events are held together and we are proud to have attracted them both to NUI Galway. By co-locating the summer school and conference and also by providing low registration fees particularly for students attending the conference, we aim to further promote interaction between researchers, practitioners and students in this exciting research field. This will also raise the international profile ofGalwayas a centre of excellence for high-tech research and employment.” The summer school received over 100 applications from students worldwide, from which 70 students were chosen to attend. This year, the focus is on reasoning for the emerging ‘Web of Data’, with 15 distinguished lecturers from theUS,South America,Germany,Switzerland,Slovenia, theUKandIreland. NUI Galway’s Dr Aidan Hogan is one of the participating lecturers: “The Reasoning Web Summer School is all about making the Web smarter and easier for us to navigate. If you take a step back and look at the global phenomenon that is the Web today, it is utterly astonishing. Now imagine the Web in five, ten, twenty, fifty years time. We are planting those seeds right now.” Dr Hogan added: “As more and more structured data like Wikipedia becomes available on the Web, we can deploy smarter techniques to better leverage this information for the users, enabling more intelligent Web searches or allowing companies linking data from the Web with their own databases in unforeseen ways.” The co-located conference will attract researchers and practitioners exchanging latest research results, including keynotes by Professor Marcelo Arenas (Chile) and Professor Marie-Laure Mugnier (France) as well as an industry tutorial from IBM. Some 50 international participants from academia and industry are expected to attend the conference which will focus on cutting-edge research results on applying intelligent inference methods to the Web. The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) is a Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) established in 2003 with funding from Science FoundationIreland. Since 2003, DERI has grown to over 120 people. The Institute has strong ties to local and national industry with involvement by multinational companies and SMEs, and is leading research in its fields in various national and European research projects.  DERI emphasises education and technology transfer, which directly contributes to the Irish government’s plan of transformingIrelandinto a competitive knowledge economy. Current research results include semantic search engines, novel collaborative and social media, as well as sensor network technologies.   -ENDS-  

Monday, 22 August 2011

Marine biotechnology is the focus of a one-day conference being hosted by NUI Galway on Thursday, 25 August, entitled ‘Networks as Knowledge – Biotechnology Networks in the Atlantic Area’. The event is organised by the Marine Institute initiative Marine BiotechnologyIrelandand the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway, with the support of the European INTERREG project ShareBiotech and in association with the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) in NUI Galway. The conference will present the results of a recent survey that examined the needs and barriers in the biotechnology R&D sector inIreland, and will discussIreland’s position in the wider Atlantic area. Invited speakers fromIreland,Franceand theUKwill describe their experiences in the creation, management and use of shared skills and infrastructures in the life sciences sector. The objectives of the conference are to learn how networks of knowledge and infrastructures can contribute to innovation and to investigate what models oforganisation are available for the marine biotechnology sector. Speaking on behalf of NUI Galway and SEMRU, Dr Ilaria Nardello - National Coordinator of Marine BiotechnologyIreland, and ShareBiotech principal investigator, said, “The first objective of the Atlantic Area Trans-National Programme is to promote transnational entrepreneurial and innovation networks, which is fully in support of Marine BiotechnologyIreland.” Dr Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, stressed howIreland, though the implementation of the programmeoutlined inSea Change,Ireland’s Marine Knowledge, Research & Innovation Strategy 2007-2013 is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits from an early investment in supporting such research. “Marine BiotechnologyIrelandis engaged in an array of activities that are relevant toIreland’s efforts to become a leader in the commercial exploitation of our extensive marine bioresources by continuing to develop and build onIreland’s excellence in marine biotechnology research.”This free event will take place in NUI Galway, at 10am on Thursday, 25 August. A tour of one of the technological core facilities (TCF) on campus will also take place as part of the conference on the day. For full details and online registration, please visit: http://www.conference.ie .   -ENDS-

Monday, 22 August 2011

NUI Galway will host Ireland’s largest surgical conference, the 36th Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture and Surgical Symposium, on 2-3 September. Internationally renowned surgeon, Professor R.J. Heald, OBE, will deliver the Memorial Lecture on ‘Colorectal Cancer Surgery - Open, Key Hole, Endoscope or Robot - Where are we Going?’. Colorectal cancer, commonly known as bowel cancer, is the third most commonly diagnosed major cancer in the world. Professor of Surgery at the North Hampshire Hospital and Surgical Director of the Pelican Cancer Centre, Basingstoke, R.J. Heald’s main interest for the past 20 years has been the research and development of the Total Mesorectal Excision (TME) technique for rectal cancer. Professor Heald pioneered TME which has now become the new gold standard for the treatment of bowel cancer, as it improves cure rates and reduces local recurrence. With TME, not only is the cancer tumour removed but all the surrounding fat, lymph glands and blood vessels – thus minimising the risk of the cancer recurring. The annual Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture and Surgical Symposium provides a platform for healthcare professionals to present their research and clinical work and allows for the merging of both scientific and clinical information. It is named in memory of the Galway-born surgeon, Sir Peter Freyer, who performed the first successful surgical operation to remove an enlarged prostate in 1900. Michael Kerin, Professor of Surgery at NUI Galway, says: “We are delighted to welcome Professor Heald to our university. He is focused on advancing the most effective techniques in precision surgery for bowel cancer, aimed at improving survival and quality of life.” On the second day of the Surgical Symposium, Professor Eilis McGovern, President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at St. James's Hospital will present the State of the Art Lecture entitled Surgical Training and Surgical Service – Are we getting the Formula Right. To register, or for further information, visit www.freyer.ie.   -ENDS-