Monday, 18 May 2020

The latest findings from the population wide survey, the Corona Citizens’ Science Study has found that 8 out of 10 people (84%) would consider installing a contact tracing app if it contributed to an easing of restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus. The findings are from phase three of the Corona Citizens’ Science Study*, a population-wide survey conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lock down, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland. Over 8,700 people took part in the survey which was conducted on May 6th for a period of 24 hours. 72% of respondents reported a good understanding of the measures announced by the government in regards to the phased re-opening of the country. However, a little over half were fully clear on the guidance in relation to returning to work and the reopening of businesses. Over 60% of respondents reported that they were feeling more anxious since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast majority worried about catching the virus or a family member catching the virus (78%) while nearly 40% were worried about other health problems and around 30% of respondents about the relaxation of restrictions and their finances.  It also found that females and younger people were feeling more anxious and ill at ease, in contrast to older respondents. Researchers have attributed this to a greater change in circumstances for younger as opposed to older respondents. 3 out of 10 people reported postponing medical treatments, a figure consistent with similar survey findings. 10% of respondents reported to an increased level of tension in their household since the start of the pandemic. Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway, joint research lead said, “The findings regarding previously surveyed topics are remaining quite consistent. It is worrying that there is a consistent level of cancelled and postponed medical appointments which will have a knock on effect and major medical issues will emerge further down the line. Interestingly, our younger respondents are reporting greater levels of anxiety than older respondents and while the pandemic is impacting all of society, it is impacting younger cohorts in very specific ways.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said, “The response from those surveyed appears to be quite positively disposed towards installing a contact tracing app, on the premise that it would lead to a lifting of restrictions.We understand that plans are in place to roll out a contact tracing app, with an opt-in clause and it will be interesting to ascertain the depth of the digital divide nationwide with it. Respondents are also positively disposed to the communications around the phased re-opening of the country, however it is a cause for concern that only half are clear around the return to work and reopening of businesses.” Medical Appointments About 31% (2,650) of people have postponed medical treatment or check-ups, similar to the last wave. Respondents said it was because the healthcare professional is not seeing any patients at the moment (56%, previous 55%); 32% (previous 39%) say they don’t want to create an extra burden; 23% (previous 26%) are worried about the risk of catching Covid-19. About 14% had a hospital medical examination postponed (same as last time) and 7% (previous 6%) postponed an operation. Dental appointments (35%), check-ups (36%), counselling (5%) and diabetic clinics (2.4%) were the other main categories of delayed medical appointments. Employment/Working from home 63% of respondents were employed (previously 69%), while, similar to last times, students made up 4% and homemakers 7%. However, a higher percentage identified as retired at 19% (previously 13%). Of the people who were in employment (5,420), 56% are currently working from home every day; 20% on some days and 14% never worked from home.  In the previous rounds, about 45% worked from home. Similar to the previous survey, 15% indicated as an essential worker (about 1,400 respondents). Understanding of restrictions The government’s phased plan received an eight or higher (on a scale of 10) from 72% of respondents, which was similar to the understanding of which activities were allowed from the first phase (72%). However, it was less clear when people could go back to work (55% gave an 8 or higher) or when businesses they needed would open up again (56%). When asked how easily people would find it to comply with these restrictions, 78% gave an 8 or higher (10 being very easy to comply) for the 5km travel restriction; 74% for working from home and 78% gave an 8 or higher for adhering to social distancing.    Activities Walking remains the most popular leisure activity (93%). Indoor exercise is done by about 53% of respondents; 29% play board games; 64% do some sort of gardening and 38% (DIY).Compared to last time, more people are chatting in open air (69% compared to 63% and 54% previously). Childcare Of preschool aged children (about 1,000), 87% were taken care of at home. However, when looking at differences between non-essential and essential workers, 93% were taken care of at home compared to 68% of the essential workers. Essential workers have to rely more often on childminders (18%, up from 10% previously); family (12%) and grandparents (4%), compared to non-essential workers (respectively 4%, 3% and 1%). School  There were over 1,500 parents with children in primary school. Most children (29%) have daily contact with their school teacher; 21% say it is 2-3 times a week; 47% once or less often each week. For 3% of children there is no contact with their primary school teacher. For secondary school parents (about 2,600), 64% of under 15 and 54% of those over the age of 15 had daily contact with their teacher. 25% (under15)  and 2%( over15) respectively 2-3 times a week; 11% (under15) and 18% (over15) once a week or less often. General Health Flu-like symptoms were reported by 2.5% of people , down from 3% of respondents in the last wave and 6% in the first wave. The main symptoms reported remain the same; tired/exhaustion (66%), sore throat (48%), dry/throaty cough (28%, down from 38%), runny nose (32% down from 37%) and/or muscle pain (32% down from 38%). This did not change much overall. Similarly, of the people they live with, this time 10% of respondents indicated these had flu-like symptoms, which was down from 11% in the second wave and 17% previously. Mental Health and Well-Being Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, about 61% (5,300) of respondents indicate to be more anxious; even much more anxious (14%) while 8% indicate to be less anxious. The anxiety is mainly due to the worry of catching the virus or their family catching the virus (78%), while 37% also indicate worry about other health problems; 33% about the relaxation of restrictions; 26% about their finances or their business and 24% about working from home or their child’s schooling.This survey again, did not show major changes in either mental health or well-being compared to the first or the second survey. The impact of the pandemic on well-being and mental health would appear to be greater for younger as compared to older people. This may be explained by the fact that younger people are likely to have experienced a much greater change in day-to-day living than those in the older population. Compared to the Healthy Ireland Survey of 2016, it seems that the pandemic has had a negative impact on well-being and mental health. Demographics The mean age was 50 (median 52) which was higher than both previous surveys. About 23% of respondents were male and 77% female.Age groups were well represented, with about 54% of the people between 35 and 54; 4% under the age of 25; 16% were 65 or older. This older age group is better represented than previously (11% previously).Education remained high, 65% had a university degree, which was similar in the previous waves. Dublin had the higher number of respondents with 43% (previous 41% and 38%) and Galway 16% (previously 14% and 12%, Cork 8% (previous 7% and 6%) and all other counties were represented at less than 5%. *Corona Citizens’ Science Study -Ends-

Friday, 15 May 2020

Professor Gerard Flaherty of the School of Medicine at NUI Galway has been appointed as lead for the COVID-19 task force of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM), of which he is one of just 58 Fellows worldwide. The purpose of the task force will be to advise the ISTM Executive Board on how the Society's activities should adapt to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, to evaluate the research evidence base and provide technical advice to international agencies in relation to the safe resumption of international travel, based on public health guidance and travel health risk assessments. Reflecting on this voluntary role, Professor Flaherty commented: "I am proud to represent NUI Galway in my various contributions to the leading professional society devoted to travel medicine education and research. The safe facilitation of international travel will be at the core of our new task force's efforts." Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, said:"The appointment of Professor Flaherty as the International Society of Travel Medicine COVID 19 Task Force lead is an excellent choice. Professor Flaherty, as a clinical expert with extensive experience, will be a dedicated advocate for safe and healthy travel as the world emerges from lockdown." The ISTM is an international society of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other medical professionals who promote travel health initiatives. Founded in 1991, ISTM has built a global network that is committed to the advancement of travel medicine, and fosters research, facilitates the rapid exchange of information, and provides educational programming to serve the travel medicine community. The organisation promotes the development and evaluation of safe, effective, preventive and curative interventions for patients prior to travel, during travel and post travel. -Ends-  

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

AtlanTec Festival 2020 - The Art of AI and Digital Innovation, 18-22 May 12 May 2020: One of Ireland’s biggest tech events is going virtual and global this year. The international line-up of expert speakers has been announced for the AtlanTec Festival 2020 which takes place online from the 18-22 May 2020. Across five days, over 30 online events will delve into hot-topics and trends in tech and digital innovation the fields of AI, cyber security, fintech, medtech, mindfulness and leadership. This year’s line-up will also include a special focus on COVID-19 and feature NUI Galway researchers who are responding to the pandemic with innovative solutions such as applying AI. The Art of AI & Digital Innovation is for business leaders, expert software developers, entrepreneurs and technologists who can connect in – for free – from wherever they are in the world. There will also be a fun social element with a Tech Quiz on the 20 May. “In light of the pandemic restrictions and reflecting a changed world, the AtlanTec Festival has adapted and this year we are going virtual,” said Caroline Cawley, Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit itag which runs the event. “Our mission is to promote, strengthen and grow the information technology industry along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s a credit to all involved here locally and to our speakers from around the world that we are adopting tech — to talk tech — and pushing ahead with such a mammoth event.” Now in its sixth year, the festival usually takes places around various Galway venues with in-company events hosted by the many large tech companies and vibrant start-ups in the region. The conference usually culminates with a day-long conference at NUI Galway with up to 400 attendees. The festival is supported by Avaya, Cisco, itag Skillnet, Fidelity Investments, Genesys and NUI Galway. Fiona Neary is Innovation Operations Manager with NUI Galway’s Innovation Office and will moderate sessions on the university’s COVID-19 research responses and start-ups in the region: “The west of Ireland has a vibrant ICT sector with particular strengths in enterprise software. We have the perfect mix of third-level education institutes, high-potential start-ups and supports, innovative indigenous companies and multinational corporations. What we also have is some amazing people with incredible knowledge and insights to share. It’s so great to get together again for AtlanTec – even if it’s to be virtually this year.” Free registration is open now at www.atlantec.ie For more on NUI Galway’s research and innovation response to COVID-19 visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/covid19/ -ENDS-

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

NUI Galway celebrates its students' talents and skills with a series of awards this spring and summer.  NUI Galway students are awarded for their commitment and engagement to various campus and community programmes, with outstanding students representing NUI Galway at national awards. The NUI Galway Employability Award recognises what students have learned and the skills they have developed through work and extra-curricular activities. The award is designed to prepare graduates directly for the job market by developing employability skills through workshops, events and highlighting their work experience. It helps students showcase what they have to offer to employers. Grace Mannion, Employability Project Officer said, "Since the Employability Award was launched the number of students receiving the Award had increased year on year from 50 students in 2018 to 360 students this year.  This programme gives NUI Galway students a competitive advantage in the graduate job market.” Paul Vance, Head of Resourcing, KPM  “At KPMG we place a very high value on NUI Galway graduates. So to be involved in the Employability Awards gives us a terrific opportunity to share learning experiences with the students. I am a big fan of students getting involved in ‘out of class’ activities. The Award gives them terrific opportunities to express their skills, personalities and extracurricular activities, as well as to build strengths and relationships.”  The ALIVE Certificate for Volunteering is awarded to students for volunteering their time to communities. To date over 900 students have completed an online reflection about the their community volunteering. Lorraine Tansey, Student Volunteer Coordinator said, "This academic year students have enthusiastically engaged with environmental projects, disability programmes, a wide range of charitable fundraisers and cultural festivals, and we see their outstanding commitment to inclusive and more equal societies." International student Adhiti Krishnan when asked about volunteering with Croi West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation said, "The fact I was able to contribute my time and make some difference, is something I am very proud of." The live online celebration showcased a variety of volunteer projects through student stories and guest community speakers Brendan Smith of the National Computer Museum and Elena Toniato from European Capital of Culture Galway 2020. The Student Societies Awards celebrate the achievements of the Societies in NUI Galway each year. This year 122 societies with 1140 committee members organised over 3000 events. The Awards event was hosted a virtual awards ceremony and announced the winners in 17 award categories, 14 of which will be representing the University at the Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) national Society Awards at the end of May. Among the winners this year were: Best Cultural, Academic and Social Society award went to Dramsoc, Best Civic & Charity Society went to Slainte Society who are best known for they Teddy Bear Hospital, Best event was won by Anime and Manga Society for their Akumakon Convention in January, Best Individual went to Noel Minogue of Dramsoc, Best New  Society went to Mincéirs Whiden Society who support and promote the traveller community in NUI Galway. Best Departmental society went to the Medical Society. Best Fresher went to Ryan Carroll from the Fantasy and Science Fiction society who also won most improved society.  Representing the University at the national societies awards programme, BICS Awards, will be the Musical Society for Best Promotional Campaign for Kips the Musical, Best Video and Poster went to Dramsoc, Best Photo to Marine Society for a photo from their beach cleanup day. Other winners on the night were Best Cultural Contribution for Cheerleading Society, Best Website for Energy Society and Best Small Publication for Anime & Manga Society. Riona Hughes, Societies Coordinator said, "We are very happy with the engagement from the societies and the calibre of their applications and are very thankful to our panel of adjudicators who all participated in our virtual ceremony, I wish all our societies the best of luck at national level and have nothing but the highest praise for our students who are adapting to very challenging circumstances and still providing support for their members" Students will prepare portfolios and interviews for the national societies celebration, the BICS Awards are due to be held in September 2020. Students of NUI Galway will also be acknowledged for their commitment to student government and be awarded through the national Union of Students of Ireland, USI, award programme in June 2020, Student Achievement Awards Ireland, SAAI. NUI Galway nominees include Padraic Toomey for Part Time Officer of the Year; Clare Austick for Full-Time Officer of the Year; Mansi Kesarwani for International Student of the Year; University of Sanctuary for Equality Campaign of the Year; Emma Jane Kinsella for Outstanding Mental Health Activism; Réiltín Tynan for Student Representative of the Year; Cameron Keighron for Postgraduate Champion of the Year; The NUI Galway SU Laptop Loan Scheme for Access Champion of the Year; and St Angela’s College Sligo Students’ Union for Students' Union Team of the Year. NUI Galway is committed to a rich student experiences that includes engagement with a variety of skill building programmes to enhance students' skills. Student leadership, understanding of civic engagement, communication and presentation skills. Professor Michelle Millar, Dean of Students said, "Congratulations to all the students for volunteering with our campus and wider communities this year. The civic skills you learn and share are more important than ever.” To see the wide range of student engagement programmes visit: www.nuigalway.ie/university-life -Ends-

Monday, 11 May 2020

Survey Shows 83% Want to Continue to Work Remotely After Covid-19 Crisis 7,241 people completed the online survey across a wide range of industries over a one-week period in April-May  11 May 2020:  A recent survey by researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission (WDC) has shown that 83% expressed interest in continuing to work remotely.  Over half of those surveyed (51%) had never worked remotely before the Covid-19 pandemic. Of those who had never worked remotely, 78% would like to work remotely for some or all of the time after the crisis is over. The survey was led by Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor Alan Ahearne and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at WDC.  These are the initial findings from the national survey of 7,241 individuals across a wide range of industries and sectors over a one-week week period in April-May 2020.  The top three challenges of working remotely included: Not being able to switch off from work; harder to communicate and collaborate with colleagues and co-workers; and poor physical workspace. The top three benefits of working remotely included: no traffic and no commute; reduced costs of going to work and commuting; and greater flexibility as to how to manage the working day. The challenge of juggling childcare with work commitments was cited as a key issue in the open-ended comments received. The provision of better ergonomic equipment is one of the key changes suggested by employees to help with their well-being and productivity while working remotely.  Many also report the need for more suitable workspace within their home and just under 1-in-5 (19%) identified internet connectivity as an issue. In relation to current levels of productivity, 37% of respondents indicated that their productivity working remotely during COVID-19 is about the same as normal and 30% report that their productivity is higher than normal.  25% report that their productivity is lower than normal and 9% of respondents indicate that it is impossible to compare productivity as the demand for products/services/business has changed.  The majority (83%) of the 7,241 respondents indicated that they would like to work remotely after the crisis is over.  Of these: 12% indicated they would like to work remotely on a daily basis 42% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a week 29% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a month 16% indicated they do not want to continue working remotely. The survey indicates that 87% of those surveyed across all counties in Ireland are now working remotely because of Covid-19. Speaking about the national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy said: “The findings of our survey indicate that employee preferences to continue working remotely will facilitate the opening up phase and aid with social distancing.  The future of work post-COVID-19 is really interesting.  The vast majority of respondents want to continue to work remotely when the crisis is over.  Many roles and jobs can be performed effectively remotely.  What is the benefit of long commutes to work and sitting in traffic if we can leverage technology at least some of the week to do our work?  Productivity does not necessarily correlate with presence in the workplace.  What we do is more important than where we do it for many roles. A mind-set change is needed by managers and employers in terms of managing work remotely. The current crisis provides an opportunity for organisations and managers to rethink how we work.”  CEO of the Western Development Commission Tomás Ó Síocháin said: “While a significant majority (83%) want to continue working remotely to some degree post-Covid-19, the figure is higher in the West and Midlands. Just over half (51%) would like to work from their home, with the balance seeking a mix of home, a hub/work-sharing space and the office. The preference of working from home or close to home in a hub/work-sharing space will allow individuals a better balance of work and home and generate and sustain economic activity in rural and regional areas.” Respondents suggest a number of key changes and improvements that their managers and employers should make regarding remote working at present: Provision of better and more ergonomic physical workspace including provision of a good (ergonomic) chair, provision of printer, and better screens. Better management of video-conference meetings Reduce expectations and workload to more realistic levels Regular communication and check-ins Ensure provision of well-being supports More flexibility in terms of hours of work to cater for caring responsibilities at this time.  The initial survey report is publicly available http://whitakerinstitute.ie/project/covid-19-remote-working-employee-pulse-survey/.  The research team will be doing further analysis and more publications will be available on the websites in the future.   ENDS

Friday, 8 May 2020

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, today announced the first winner of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, Dr Alison Liddy and her project team at NUI Galway. Dr Liddy and the project team have been awarded €1million for their project, Hydrobloc, a novel and transformative treatment for people suffering from chronic pain. A special prize of €500,000 was also awarded to Prof Dominic Zerulla and his team at PEARlabs, University College Dublin (UCD), in recognition of the potential impact of their project to develop a novel, nanoscale biological imaging technology. The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland. This prize challenges the country’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to create novel, potentially disruptive technologies in collaboration with societal stakeholders and end-users. Commenting on the awards Minister Humphreys, TD, said: “Congratulations to the Hydrobloc team on winning this prestigious award and leading the way with this much needed novel and innovative treatment for chronic pain. Such was the potential from this Challenge Funding programme, that a special award was received by the PEARlabs team for their pioneering research in nano-microscopy. At this time, as we battle an unprecedented pandemic we clearly need disruptive science and technology to help us find solutions. I am delighted to support the SFI Future Innovator Prize programme and wish the winning teams all the best as they continue their journey and further develop their concepts for the benefit of society.” Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan added: “I extend my congratulations and look forward to seeing these innovative concepts come to fruition. In the current climate and this rapidly changing world, fast response and agility are required in order to tackle the enormous societal issues we face. The challenge funding model, in tandem with our traditional research models, gives us a greater chance of developing the tools to help us quickly address current crises with dynamic and transformative solutions.”  The SFI Future Innovator Prize has a strong team focus with each member bringing necessary expertise to advance the project. Teams work to tight deadlines, with the necessary supports and flexibility, in order to accelerate progression towards their proposed solutions. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “The SFI Future Innovator Prize is part of an approach to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland to accelerate and validate excellent and innovative solutions to critical societal and global issues. The Hydrobloc team headed by Dr Alison Liddy proved to be worthy first winners, successfully completing all aspects of this demanding and disruptive programme with the potential to alleviate chronic neuropathic pain with a novel nanogel. I am delighted to say that the calibre of research supported has been so high that a special award was made to Prof Dominic Zerulla and his team for their novel imaging technology.” Chronic neuropathic pain sufferers live with constant pain, which has a significant personal and societal impact. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage or disease affecting the sensory nervous system (the part of the nervous system responsible for processing sensory information).  It is estimated that 8% of the European population suffer from neuropathic pain, 300,000 in Ireland alone. The Hydrobloc nanogel (a nanogel is a tiny particle of submicroscopic size) provides long term pain relief which is drug free without the severe side effects of prescription medications. On winning the Final Prize Dr Alison Liddy said:“The SFI Future Innovator Prize has been pivotal in allowing the Hydrobloc team at NUIG to significantly progress our research and realise its potential. We are honoured to win the final prize and have no doubt after being through the programme that there is a world class level of innovative talent in Ireland which will benefit our country in the future.” The SFI Future Innovator Prize has enabled the Hydrobloc project to significantly progress along the patient pathway, further validate the clinical need among stakeholders, expand potential clinical indications, and develop and refine the core technology through extensive pre-clinical testing. Asked about the experience of participating in the Future Innovator Prize programme, Dr Liddy added: “A unique aspect of the challenge programme is the social impact element which emphasised the societal aspects of our solution with crucial input not just from clinicians, but also from patients. By incorporating this Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) paradigm we have integrated the voice of the patient into Hydrobloc and ensured that the core goal is the development of a treatment that will improve the lives of patients living with debilitating pain. The programme has also introduced us to an exciting network of brilliantly innovative scientists and importantly has opened the door to investors.” The UCD PEARlabs team, led by Prof Dominic Zerulla, UCD School of Physics, developed a highly innovative imaging solution that enables super-fast real-time nanoscale optical microscopy. This aims to transform our understanding of processes such as cell signalling and cell proliferation in cancer. Their project was entitled, Enabling Next Generation Biological Imaging. On receiving the Award, Prof Dominic Zerulla, founder PEARlabs said: “I am delighted to receive this award, which is verification that the transformative potential of our disruptive imaging method has been recognised. Our PEARlabs technology will allow life science researchers to understand bio-medically relevant mechanisms to enable an unparalleled in-depth understanding of life-threatening diseases such as cancer and pandemic viral infections, including the coronavirus. This will in turn facilitate the development of faster drug delivery and testing.” The patented technology can therefore aid early diagnostics, precision medicine and the delivery of improved drug treatments. It also has the potential to be used as an add-on to conventional optical microscopes opening up access to ‘nm resolution imaging’ for many fields of science. Asked about the experience of participating in the Future Innovator Prize challenge Prof Zerulla remarked: “Our journey to the SFI Future Innovator Prize was extremely exciting. Successfully getting through the rigorous evaluation process, consisting of three competitive rounds and being able to enthusiastically demonstrate our research to national and international expert panels was quite an experience. This external validation has been very important for PEARlabs (a UCD spin-out supported by NovaUCD) which is currently in negotiations with international investors and global companies.” The awards will be used by the winning teams to further develop their solutions and enable them to progress their research toward having positive impacts for society.  More recently SFI launched two further challenge programmes, the Artificial Intelligence for Societal Good Challenge and the Zero Emissions Challenge in partnership with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. ENDS

Friday, 8 May 2020

The Nanoscale Biophotonics Laboratory (NBL) at NUI Galway will lead a major new €5 million project to develop and deploy new Process Analytical technologies (PAT) tools for the online measurement and analysis of industrially relevant nanoparticles. The project, PAT4Nano (Process Analytical Technology Tools for Real-Time Physical and Chemical Characterization of Nanosuspensions) is funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Research and Innovation Actions.   The PAT4Nano project begins this month and will be coordinated by NUI Galway’s Professor Alan G. Ryder, and consists of five industrial partners from Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK, with three research partners from Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany.  Nanosuspensions are a critical material type found in everything from pharmaceuticals, to inks, paints, and fine chemicals used in advanced manufacturing.  The accurate measurement of nanosuspensions and the size of nanoparticles is critical for efficient manufacturing processes and ultimately the performance of materials.  PAT4Nano aims to develop tools to enable the continuous, rapid, and reliable measurement of nanoparticles to facilitate the more efficient, less costly, and accurate manufacture of nanomaterials.  In PAT4Nano the consortium end user partners, are working on diverse applications in pharmaceuticals, inks/pigments, and materials for catalysis, batteries, and glass manufacture.  One specific example of where nanoparticles play an important role is for some pharmaceutical drugs where the size and characteristics of nanoparticles can be used to produce more effective therapies.  The project is unique in that the end users of the PAT4Nano technologies will be working in very close collaboration with both technology providers and research centres to produce the best solutions which can be deployed in a manufacturing environment. Professor Alan Ryder, who leads the Nanoscale Biophotonics Laboratory based in the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said: “PAT4Nano is an exemplary, interdisciplinary, industry-academic partnership which aims to solve challenging issues with the online, rapid measurement of nanoparticles which affects the manufacture of a wide range of advanced materials like therapeutic drugs, additives for glass and battery manufacture, to inks, and even biologics like vaccines." -Ends-

Thursday, 7 May 2020

NUI Galway researchers today announced a collaboration with US medtech company Endotronix in a project ‘CRÓGA’ to use telehealth for remote management of heart failure during COVID-19. Heart failure patients who contract COVID-19 face substantially elevated risk of death or severe debilitation so it is imperative to protect heart failure patients from exposure to the virus by isolating them at home as much as possible. However, the need for outpatient clinic cardiology assessment directly conflicts with the need to isolate this extremely vulnerable population. Chicago-based Endotronix has developed a health management system for chronic heart failure patients, including a cloud-based disease management data system and an implantable wireless pulmonary artery pressure system. This system allows remote monitoring of key clinical information of the patients. In a pilot study, Endotronix’ Cordella™ heart failure management system home telehealth kits will be rapidly deployed to heart failure patients in the northwest of Ireland. These kits are specifically designed to activate and use without leaving home. Daily readings include blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, body weight and ECG. Readings are uploaded to a cloud server and analysed at least twice weekly by dedicated NUI Galway/UHG clinical research staff. Using phone, text, or email, the clinical staff provides advice, asks/answers questions, adjusts medications, and decides whether further therapy is needed.  Additionally, missed daily readings or deteriorating vitals may indicate a patient’s health has seriously degraded, triggering follow-up action. The project will be committed to the principles inherent in the GDPR and provide a compliant and consistent approach to data protection. Dr Faisal Sharif, the project lead said: “We have seen an unprecedented growth in the capacity to produce, store, and communicate data, in digital formats. Internet-based platforms now allow patients and the healthcare providers to communicate with each other through cloud-based systems. Endotronix Cordella system will enable physicians to review important clinical information from these high risk patients while they remain safe in their own homes. This clinical information will be used to plan further treatment for the patients remotely. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of eHealth and technologies like Cordella can help us save lives of these vulnerable patients.” Dr Haroon Zafar, the project co-lead said: “The double hit of heart failure and COVID-19 pandemic has raised great concerns for people living with heart failure. Ireland needs a better way to empower its cardiology resources to address heart failure during COVID-19. It must leverage telehealth technology to move heart failure management towards a preventive, home-based, patient-centred paradigm. The concept proven by project CRÓGA may be applied to other chronic underlying conditions that increase mortality risk during pandemics.” David Fitzpatrick, Advanced Research and Development Manager at Endotronix Ireland said: “We are excited to work with NUI Galway to aid some of our most vulnerable patients in these difficult times. Using our Cordella System, we want to ensure a high standard of care and peace of mind for heart failure patients while cocooning. Cordella allows home based, remote, daily monitoring of user health vitals so that their clinical team can monitor and adjust treatment efficiently and without the need for an in-person clinic visit.”                                                                                         -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

App being trialled by healthcare workers before being made available to general public for phase one of Government’s reopening plan Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab, led by Professor Derek O’Keeffe, have developed a new smartphone app to help with social distancing. As recommended by the World Health Organisation, one of the basic principles in minimising the spread of this infectious disease is social distancing. It is currently suggested that people should have a space of at least 2 metres around them to reduce the chance of respiratory spread of the disease from person to person.  ‘SPACER – The Social Distancing App’ aims to reduce the problem of person to person spacing by harnessing ubiquitous smartphone technology and a novel algorithm which uses the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol, to alert hospital staff if they are less than 2m from each other via a vibration alarm. The system is currently being evaluated at Galway University Hospital and will thereafter be available for the general public. Following this evaluation, The SPACER app will be made available for download for phase one of the government’s plan to reopen Ireland on May 18th.   The app vibrates when someone else with the Spacer App on their phone (or with Bluetooth enabled) is less than 2m for over one minute. If the SPACER app vibrates, then the person can either move further away from someone nearby or suspend the alarm for 10minutes if it was not possible to move straight away, for example health care workers performing a clinical procedure. Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Implementing the 2 metre social distancing can be difficult to manage in busy work environments such as hospitals, and it is vital that frontline staff stay adequately distanced to ensure that they do not spread the virus between themselves. Unfortunately globally to date healthcare workers are the occupation that have made up the largest percentage of people affected by the COVID19 pandemic due to their clinical work and their working environment. Therefore we urgently need an active and dynamic solution to help this vulnerable cohort and the general public to maintain social distance.” “The approach to managing COVID19 with digital health solutions can be thought of like fire safety, our SPACER App is like fire prevention – trying to prevent people from staying in contact too close and for too long”, continued Professor O’Keeffe. Dr Ramona McLoughlin, Clinical Director – Medicine Saolta Group and Gastroenterologist at Galway University Hospitals, added: “Maintaining social distancing is particularly challenging in health care settings, particularly a busy acute hospital like University Hospital Galway. The SPACER App will help staff be more aware of their proximity to their colleagues and help them, where possible, maintain the 2 mt distance and help protect themselves, their colleagues and our patients.” The SPACER App is currently being used by doctors and nurses working in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) of Galway University Hospital. Dr Colin Davenport, Acute Medical Unit Consultant at University Hospital Galway said: “Following distancing guidelines as much as possible is a vital part of controlling this pandemic. By making health care professionals aware of when they are getting too close to others around them the SPACER app has the potential to significantly reduce any spread of coronavirus amongst staff and patients, and ultimately to prevent more cases of COVID-19 emerging.” HIVE Lab collaborators involved with developing this innovative digital health solution include: Mark Cahill, Grainne Conefrey, D. Kevin Johnson, Dr Spyridoula Maraka, Conor McGuire, Garry McNulty, and Jerico Pingul. More details on the project can be found at www.spacer.ie -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, are now offering co-teaching support for primary school teachers in STEM. Primary school resources from CÚRAM’s highly successful Teachers in Residence programme have been adapted to support teachers delivering STEM education online over the coming months. These lesson plan kits have been developed by primary school teachers, in collaboration with CÚRAM researchers. They are suitable for fifth and sixth class students and link with the primary science curriculum. Five comprehensive lesson plan presentations, recorded by CÚRAM’s Teachers in Residence programme manager Dr Sarah Gundy, are now available. These presentations are supplemented by downloadable lesson plans. Dr Gundy, together with CÚRAM’s researchers are also offering primary school classes their very own ‘Ask a Scientist’ session in collaboration with their teachers either via email or as part of an online session. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, commented: “We are very conscious of the difficulties faced by parents and teachers trying to continue to deliver quality content in a completely new format. We would like to offer these ready to use resources that deal with a very relevant and topical area of research to support the huge efforts being made by parents and teachers in a very challenging time.” Pre-recorded lesson plan presentations include: Healing the Heart: Learn basic heart anatomy, how a heart attack occurs and how to keep their hearts healthy. Follow up activities include construct a large diagram of the heart which can used to play “Heart Twister” at home! Mending the Musculoskeletal System: Learn about bones, muscles, and tendons, and how doctors currently treat damage to these tissues. Follow up activities show how to construct a model hand and act as a surgeon to fix a tendon using a Biomedical Engineering Kit from material you have at home. Fixing the Brain: Learn how nerves send and receive messages, and the causes of Parkinson’s disease. Students can build their own medical devices to treat Parkinson’s disease and test the devices by making jelly “brains” at home. Exploring Stem Cells: Learn about how stem cells are used by animals to heal their bodies. Students build model animals using cells made from playdough, and fix their injured animals by using playdough stem cells or building prosthetic devices. What are Biomaterials?: Learn about medical devices, and natural and synthetic sources of biomaterials. Students can make their own biomaterials at home (using slime!) to fix soft tissues. To register your interest in the resources, or to simply book an ‘Ask a Scientist’ session for your class, please contact sarah.gundy@nuigalway.ie.  In addition to teaching resources, CÚRAM has also added ‘Bite-Sized Science’ activities to our website. Bite-Sized Science offers quick, uncomplicated science activities for teachers or parents to share with children at home. The focus of this resource is on generating excitement for science without asking too much of already time-pressured parents. Each activity can be completed with just a small bit of help for younger children (JI-2nd class) and independently for older children (3rd-6th class). Care is being taken to select engaging activities that can be completed with the simplest of ingredients and materials, using everyday items found in most homes, and plenty of recyclables. Look out for new activities every Tuesday and Thursday over the coming months. Should kids take an especially keen interest, links will be provided that allow them to delve a little deeper into the science behind the experiment. See http://www.curamdevices.ie/curam/public-engagement/artists-in-residence/bite-sizedscience/ ENDS

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Phase three of the population wide survey, the Corona Citizens’ Science Study will ask the public whether they would consider installing a contact tracing app if doing so helped with the lifting of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19. Contact tracing apps have already been introduced in countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Australia. The apps rely on either bluetooth or localisation technology (GPS). Apps based on these technologies can trace how the virus spreads in the community and help limit contagion. However, there are concerns over the issue of balancing privacy rights with that of public health. The introduction of a contact tracing app is under consideration by the government with an announcement expected in the coming weeks. The Corona Citizens’ Science Study is conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) and is examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lock down, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland*. Phase three will commence on Wednesday, May 6th at 06.00am and remain open for 24 hours. The rate of interaction between teachers and school children will feature in the latest survey. Previous survey findings showed that over a third of respondents were now home-schooling their children and 55% said that their children were now lacking motivation. Further clarity will be sought on the nature of the delayed treatments and check-ups reported by 32% of respondents in phase two. Researchers are also keen to gauge the state of emotional well-being among people and will ask about the general levels of anxiety and the specific issues causing this.   Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine/Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, joint research lead said, “We are keen to get a sense from the general population on how well or poorly their understanding is of the government’s phased plan to relax restrictions. Furthermore, we want to gain a deeper understanding of the rationale for the postponing of medical treatments, which we believe has huge ramifications further down the line.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said, “We want to look at the lock-down, and how people think we might move out of it, and in particular to get some idea of whether an app would be acceptable as part of this. How do people balance privacy and contact tracing? How does our very real digital divide affect this?.” Findings from phase two of the survey* found that one out of every two people ranked lifting the 2km restriction on movement as the first item they would like to see removed and a third were in favour of removing the limitations on small gatherings. The findings also showed that movement restrictions were effective with a drop in the percentage of respondents reporting symptoms of the virus in survey two (3%) in comparison to 6% in the first survey. There remained a high degree of understanding of the measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus with 92% reporting positively on their understanding of social distancing and 83% for isolation recommendations. *February 29th 2020 *Findings published April 27th  2020 at www.nuigalway.ie/corona-study To take part in survey part three click here 

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

NUI Galway will host a virtual Open Scholarship Week (OSW2020) to showcase the importance of research and education that is accessible to everyone. The event will take place online from 11–15 May. Open Scholarship is a global movement towards research and educational practices that are collaborative and transparent. The aim is to make research and educational resources such as publications, data, research outputs and teaching and learning resources, publicly available as early as possible, as well as actively encouraging participation in the research process by the general public and co-creation of knowledge. OWS2020 builds on the successful Open Science Week 2019, which was the first of its kind in Ireland. The event will again bring together researchers, academics, educators, and members of the public to highlight and showcase what open scholarship is and how to work together towards creating knowledge that is open and accessible to everyone. Online events taking place across this week will target several elements of Open Scholarship, including Open Data, Open Access, Open Education and Citizen Science. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, commented: “The importance of transparency and openness in research and scholarship has never been so important or so apparent. Transparency and openness play key roles in NUI Galway's strategy; emerging from the success of last year’s inaugural Open Science Week, we are delighted to host Open Scholarship Week 2020.” Dr Elaine Toomey, Cochrane Ireland/Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Open Scholarship Week committee member at NUI Galway, said: “Recently, the COVID-19 emergency has really shone a spotlight on the importance of open scholarship, collaborative working and the importance of making research widely accessible and available early-on. We are delighted to be able to run a full week of events dedicated to open scholarship for the second year running. In particular, it has been fantastic to see such great engagement from different disciplines within NUI Galway and from our national and international collaborators.”   A number of workshops, discussions and lectures will take place OSW2020 including: Antonio Schettino, Erasmus University Rotterdam, will deliver a keynote address on ‘Open Science Communities: to The Netherlands and Beyond!’. This will be followed by NUI Galway’s Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research and Dr John Caulfield (Strategic Implementation) from NUI Galway who will discuss open scholarship within NUI Galway strategy. Antonio will host an introductory workshop on how to use the Open Science Framework A session on how to discover, license, re-purpose and share Open Educational Resources, delivered by Iain MacLaren, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Sharon Flynn from the Irish Universities Association will host the panel discussion ‘Wikipedia in Higher Education: Ban or Embrace?’ and a workshop entitled ‘Wikithon - become a Wikipedia editor’ Two lightning talks on ‘The Growing Importance of Open Access Data and Open Source Software’ by Speakers Niall Moran from the Irish Centre for High End Computing and Adam Leadbetter from the Marine Institute, who will also present examples from their relevant fields The Digital Repository of Ireland will present a session on ‘Publishing, citing and preserving your research’ using the Arts and Culture in Education Research Repository A half-day session on ‘Open Synthesis: Open Science in Evidence Synthesis’ which will feature insights from international experts including David Moher, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Emma Thompson, Cochrane, and Neil Haddaway, Stockholm Environment Institute. All events are free and open to all but individual registration is required for all events. Full details and registration is available at www.nuigalway.ie/osw/, and follow #oswgalway2020 on Twitter. -Ends-

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Seven new NUI Galway projects to respond to the COVID-19 emergency were announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD today.  The rapid response research projects are part of the national, coordinated research and innovation funding response to the COVID-19 pandemic involving leading funding and innovation agencies*. The seven NUI Galway projects to be awarded funding are:  Equipment to make it easier and safer for patients with COVID-19 to breathe Expediting the diagnosis of COVID-19 in a clinical setting using AI enabled analysis of CT scans Improving long-term patient recovery and reducing disability after COVID-19 critical illness using microRNA-based approaches Identifying mental health needs and best practice for psychological support in frontline healthcare workers during and after the COVID-19 outbreak and in future pandemics Modelling real-time population-wide impacts of COVID-19 Optimising Covid-19 social distancing communications: Identifying and addressing psychosocial determinants of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic Rapid response and learning for later: establishing high quality information networks and evaluation frameworks for the National Ambulance Service response to COVID-19 Speaking today, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said:  “As a region renowned for creativity and as a global medtech hub, our University has been to the fore in looking at innovations that can support the response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Our main aim is to serve the public good and the range of activities announced today highlight how we are working not only to address the health challenges created by this pandemic, but also our understanding of the economic and social implications. “It’s important that as a society, we firstly address the current crisis and then look to the future.  We find ourselves having to re-imagine our humanity as we face new times and new realities. Our community is at the centre of innovations to respond to the crisis and the solutions to restore our society after this pandemic.”    Vice President of Research at NUI Galway, Professor Lokesh Joshi added: "There has been a tremendous response to the COVID-19 pandemic from our research and innovation community here in Galway. Our people have mobilised across all the disciplines and are collaborating to find innovative approaches and new insights for this globally-shared challenge.  Ireland's COVID-19 Rapid Response research and innovation funding initiative is a welcome support to these efforts, and I congratulate the many NUI Galway awardees whose projects seek to benefit patients, frontline healthcare workers, and wider society." *Health Research Board, Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. About the Projects Dr Aaron Golden, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics, aims to build an AI imaging system to support radiology teams in expedited diagnosis of early stage COVID-19 disease using CT scans. The project will build on published open source data from China and, working with clinical radiologists in Ireland, differentiate using a desktop tool a COVID-19 patient's CT scan as opposed to that of a patient with community acquired pneumonia or other more common lung disorders. The project team includes Dr. Christoph Kleefeld (Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering, University Hospital Galway) and Dr. Declan Sheppard (Clinical Director of Radiology, University Hospital Galway). Siobhan Masterson, Discipline of General Practice, will provide information networks  and evaluation tools that will help the National Ambulance Service (NAS). With the NAS at the forefront of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a climate of innovation and adaptation, the project will include learnings from ambulance services abroad and share the Irish experience. Professor Brian McGuire, School of Psychology, will identify best-practice guidance for mental health specialists and managers tasked with supporting front-line workers struggling with psychological distress due to the COVID-19 crisis. The project will include includes psychologists, a psychiatrist and ICU doctors based both in Ireland and in Italy. Dr Gerry Molloy, School of Psychology, seeks to better understand what will help people understand and achieve the required level of physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will help inform public health officials as to how best to communicate about the need for current and any future relaxed distancing measures. Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, will develop a mechanism to deliver real-time analysis of the economic, social and health implications of COVID-19 related interventions. By modelling household incomes, taxes and benefits, the project will help identify who is most likely to suffer from loss of income, leading to more effective targeting and budgeting of income support measures. Professor Martin O’Halloran and Professor John Laffey will further develop their CPAP/BiPAP Hood for safe oxygen delivery to COVID-19 patients. Supported by local med-tech companies, the multidisciplinary Inspire team are developing oxygen equipment that is easy to manufacture and safe to use, and will reduce risk of infection to front-line healthcare staff and help reduce the demand on more invasive, mechanical ventilators for patients.  The INSPIRE team is composed NUI Galway and GMIT researchers, UHG clinicians, medical physics and nursing staff, and is supported by groups and individuals from across Galway, including local medtech, ICT, manufacturing, and quality and regulatory advisors. Dr Kasia Whysall,  Disciplineof Physiology, aims to help improve long-term patient recovery by reducing muscle wasting and frailty, especially among older patients. Her approach will investigate whether microRNAs, small molecules which regulate the function of our cells, can predict or improve muscle health and strength following critical illness such as COVID-19.  The project is a collaboration with NUI Galway’s Dr Brian McDonagh and Professor John Laffey, Dr Bairbre McNicholas of University Hospital Galway, Professor Ken O'Halloran from UCC and Dr Rónán O’Caoimh from Mercy University Hospital Cork. For details of other COVID-19 projects from NUI Galway - https://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/covid19/ -Ends-

Monday, 27 April 2020

Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission (WDC) have launched a national survey to gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working in these unprecedented times.  This project is being led by Professor  Alma McCarthy, Professor Alan Ahearne and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at WDC.  The COVID-19 crisis has catapulted hundreds of thousands of employees and their employers into a work pattern and routine vastly different to their normal daily work experience.  This radical change happened suddenly and for the vast majority the change effectively occurred overnight.  While some employees have experience of remote working, many find themselves operating remote working without any time to plan, negotiate, organise and set-up remote working in conjunction with their employer and manager. Speaking about the national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy said: “Anecdotally, we understand employees are responding in diverse ways to mandatory remote working: some are finding it very difficult to adjust to remote working with no social contact with colleagues and the need to self-structure their work; others have significant challenges managing caring (child and/or elder) responsibilities with work; and yet others are enjoying the absence of the morning and evening commute, no traffic, and report higher productivity levels.  We are undertaking this survey to gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working in these unprecedented times.”  The NUI Galway and WDC COVID-19 Remote Working Survey will gather data about the following questions: how are employees adjusting to remote working, what is going well and what changes would employees suggest?; how are employees responding to remote working from a well-being perspective?; how is remote working impacting employee productivity?; and what lessons can be learned about remote working that could be retained/sustained post-COVID-19? WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said ‘the move to remote working has allowed many, but not all, employees to continue to work during the current crisis. The WDC has published a significant body of work on how remote work has developed over many years so this anonymous survey will help to shape national policy. As well as improving individuals’ quality of life, working part-time or fulltime from home or from a hub can make a huge difference to rural and regional communities. ’ The research team will analyse the findings of the survey and make them publicly available on NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute website and on the WDC website.  The data and study findings will be available to inform employers about employee experiences of remote working.  The research team will provide recommendations for employers on how to better manage remote working in the current crisis as well as more generally. To complete the survey visit bit.ly/covid19remoteworking ENDS

Monday, 27 April 2020

NUI Galway will host their first ever virtual Undergraduate Open Day on Thursday, 7 May. The Open Day, which will run from 12-3pm, will provide an extensive interactive online experience which will allow students, parents and guidance counsellors to connect with NUI Galway staff and students and to explore the full range of undergraduate courses on offer. The recent Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings placed NUI Galway 10th in the world for addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for research on life below water and support for aquatic ecosystems, and overall 68th in the world for addressing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. During the Virtual Open Day participants will have the opportunity to explore courses and careers through video content. An online panel discussion will be broadcast live, discussing the key issues for Leaving Certificate students, followed by an interactive live Q&A session. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with programme directors and academic staff via a live online chat, with a focus on how to choose the right course and how to prepare for a rewarding career after graduation.   Representatives from NUI Galway’s support services teams will also be available to chat with students and parents including opportunities to discuss accommodation, admissions, fees and other queries . The Access Centre will provide information on the alternatives entry routes to third level education including Mature Students’ entry, HEAR/DARE schemes and QQI/FETAC Level 5 places. Staff from Shannon College of Hotel Management and St. Angela’s College Sligo will also be available on the day. The Virtual Open Day will showcase four new degree programmes for the 2020 intake: Law and Taxation; Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice; BSc Genetics and Genomics; and BSc Geography and Geosystems. A programme of talks, will be available to stream and download throughout the Open Day including: Sport at NUI Galway Access Office College Presentations on Science, Engineering and Computer Science, Business and Law, Arts, and Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences. Sarah Geraghty, Director of Student Recruitment and Outreach at NUI Galway, said: “With such uncertainty surrounding the Leaving Cert exams in 2020, this is a highly stressful time for students and parents. Therefore our aim is to provide an informative and dynamic virtual event which will help students to think beyond the current difficulites and to start looking forward towards their future studies and the wonderful college experience that awaits them. It’s an opportunity to not only explore study options, but also to get a taste of university life and the vibrant campus community at NUI Galway.”   Register now at www.nuigalway.ie/opendays, or email visit@nuigalway.ie for further information. -Ends-

Monday, 27 April 2020

Reáchtálfaidh OÉ Gaillimh an chéad Lá Oscailte Fochéime fíorúil riamh Déardaoin, an 7 Bealtaine. Eispéireas idirghníomhach ar líne a bheidh sa Lá Oscailte, a bheidh ar siúl idir 12-3pm agus a ligfidh do dhaltaí, do thuismitheoirí agus do chomhairleoirí gairmthreoracha teagmháil a dhéanamh le foireann agus le mic léinn OÉ Gaillimh agus iniúchadh a dhéanamh ar raon iomlán na gcúrsaí fochéime atá á dtairiscint. De réir Ranguithe Tionchair Ollscoile an Times Higher Education a foilsíodh le déanaí, rangaíodh OÉ Gaillimh sa 10ú háit ar domhan maidir le dul i ngleic le Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe na Náisiún Aontaithe do thaighde ar an saol faoi uisce agus do thacaíocht d’éiceachórais uisceacha, agus sa 68ú háit ar domhan maidir le dul i ngleic le 17 Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe na NA ar an iomlán. Beidh deis ag rannpháirtithe cúrsaí agus gairmeacha a iniúchadh trí ábhar físe ag an Lá Oscailte Fíorúil. Déanfar craoladh beo ar phlé painéil, áit a dtabharfar aghaidh ar na príomhcheisteanna a bheidh ag daltaí Ardteistiméireachta, agus ina dhiaidh sin beidh seisiún beo agus idirghníomhach Ceisteanna & Freagraí ar siúl. Beidh deis ag rannpháirtithe comhrá beo ar líne a bheith acu le stiúrthóirí cláir agus leis an bhfoireann acadúil, agus beidh an bhéim ar an gcúrsa ceart a roghnú agus ullmhú do ghairm shásúil tar éis na céime.  Beidh ionadaithe ó sheirbhísí tacaíochta OÉ Gaillimh ar fáil freisin le labhairt le daltaí agus le tuismitheoirí agus beidh deis lóistín, iontrálacha, táillí agus ceisteanna eile a phlé. Cuirfidh an tIonad Rochtana eolas ar fáil faoi na bealaí iontrála éagsúla chuig oideachas tríú leibhéal cosúil le háiteanna do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta, scéimeanna HEAR/DARE agus áiteanna QQI/FETAC Leibhéal 5. Beidh comhaltaí foirne ó Choláiste Ósta na Sionna agus ó Choláiste San Aingeal, Sligeach ar fáil ar an lá freisin. Cuirfear ceithre chlár nua céime do 2020 i láthair ag an Lá Oscailte Fíorúil: Dlí agus Cánachas; Dlí, Coireolaíocht agus Ceartas Coiriúil; BSc Géineolaíocht agus Géanómaíocht; agus BSc Tíreolaíocht agus Geochórais. Beidh clár cainteanna ar fáil le sruthú agus le híoslódáil i rith an Lae Oscailte lena n-áirítear: An Spórt in OÉ Gaillimh An Oifig Rochtana Cuir i láthair ó na Coláistí ar an Eolaíocht, Innealtóireacht agus Ríomheolaíocht, Gnó agus Dlí, na Dána, agus Leigheas, Altranas agus Eolaíochtaí Sláinte. Bhí an méid seo le rá ag Sarah Geraghty, Stiúrthóir Earcaíochta Mac Léinn agus For-rochtana in OÉ Gaillimh: “Agus an oiread sin éiginnteachta ann maidir le scrúduithe na hArdteistiméireachta in 2020, is tréimhse an-dian í seo ar dhaltaí agus ar thuismitheoirí. Dá bhrí sin is é an aidhm atá againn ócáid fhíorúil eolasach agus nua-aimseartha a chur ar fáil a chabhróidh le daltaí smaoineamh níos faide chun cinn ná na deacrachtaí atá ann faoi láthair agus tosú ag tnúth lena gcuid staidéir amach anseo agus leis an eispéireas iontach coláiste atá ag fanacht leo. Ní hamháin go dtabharfaidh an deis seo blaiseadh de na roghanna staidéir atá ar fáil ach tabharfaidh sí blaiseadh freisin de shaol na hollscoile agus de phobal bríomhar an champais in OÉ Gaillimh."   Cláraigh anois ag www.nuigalway.ie/opendays, nó seol ríomhphost chuig visit@nuigalway.ie chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil. -Críoch-

Monday, 27 April 2020

New findings from a survey of over 35,000 people have found that most people would like to see the 2km restriction on movement and the limitations on small gatherings removed.     The findings are from phase two of the Corona Citizens’ Science Study*, a population-wide survey conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lock down, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland. Respondents were asked to rank, in order of preference, which of the social restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus, they would like to see removed. The 2km limit on movement ranked highest (50% of respondents had this as their first preference); followed by the removal of the limitations on small group gatherings (37%).Respondents ranked a return to work and school, in third and fourth respectively with the reopening of shops, pubs and restaurants as the fifth preference. 10,830 people, representing 32% of the survey reported postponing medical treatment or check-ups. Of that group,  55% said this was because the healthcare professional was not seeing any patients at the moment; 39% didn’t want to create extra pressure in the health system and 26% were concerned about the risk of contracting Covid-19. The postponed treatment included GP consultations (48%), hospital medical examinations (14%)  and operations (6%). Some parents reported postponed childhood vaccinations and pre and postnatal check ups, while fertility treatments have also been stopped. Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway, joint research lead said, “As time has moved on, and the restrictions have remained in place, the effects of social distancing have an impact on the number of people who report flu-like symptoms for themselves and for people around them. However, many parents are struggling to keep their children motivated to do schoolwork. “The postponement of GP appointments in particular is worrisome, and people should not put off calling their GP when they are worried about something.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said, “These results show some of the real impacts of Covid-19 on our health and on our health services. Important treatment is being delayed, and there will need to be a clear path to fixing this before queues in our healthcare system become intolerable. We also see people beginning to think about life after lock-down, and making realistic suggestions for gradual easing of the restrictions. Irish people have made huge sacrifices to bring this disease under some control, which we needed to do before we could move on.” The public’s increased interest in DIY activities was reflected with 42% saying they were engaged in some type of DIY work; 60% were busy gardening. Walking remained the most popular activity with 90% taking part in this.  Indoor exercise was carried out by 56% of people and the popularity of board games stood at 35%. Medical Appointments 32% (10,830) people have postponed medical treatment or check-ups. In the main, this was because the healthcare professional is not seeing any patients at the moment (55%); 39% say they don’t want to create an extra burden and 26% are worried about the risk of catching Covid-19. 41% had preventative routine examinations postponed; 48% a consultation with the GP; 14% had a hospital medical examination postponed and 6% an operation. A fifth of these respondents gave more detail about delayed/cancelled treatments, ranging from childhood vaccination, pre and postnatal check ups, dental appointments, blood tests, orthopaedic procedures. Fertility treatments have also been stopped. Employment/Working from home Most people were employed representing 69% of the survey; students made up 4%; retired people accounted for 13% and homemakers made up 7% of the overall respondents. Of the people who were in employment (23,000) 8% always worked from home; 20% sometimes and 38% never. Of the group who said they never work from home, 18% were not allowed; 20% said their job wasn’t suited to home working; 40% said their role required face to face contact. Of those in employment, in the past week, 45% worked from home and 15% indicated that they were an essential worker (about 5,000 respondents). Understanding of restrictions 92% indicated an 8 or higher for social distancing; 83% for isolation recommendations; 81% for leisure and travel and 79% on shopping. The figures are similar to the findings in survey part one. Adaptation of their own behaviour at home was a little lower at 77% compared to 85% in the previous survey. In public places, 79% of people adapted their own behaviour, but of that group, only 38% felt that others did the same. Removal of restrictions Five different social restrictions were surveyed with respondents asked to rank in order of preference which of the social restrictions they would like to see removed. This was done in order of one to five (one being the most popular). 50% placed removing the 2km restriction as number one; 37% were in favour of lifting the ban on small group gatherings leaving this in second place; 33% were in favour of returning to work representing the third most popular choice; 32% opted for the reopening of schools. The opening of shops, pubs and restaurants was ranked in fifth place by 48%. Childcare Childcare arrangements remained similar to the previous findings. Of preschool aged children (about 5,000), 89% were cared for at home. However, when looking at differences between non-essential and essential workers, over 92% were taken care of at home compared to 73% of the essential workers. Essential workers have to rely more often on childminders (10%); family (11%) and grandparents (4%), compared to non-essential workers (respectively 4%, 2% and 2%). School  6,000 parents with children in primary school. Parents cited the following obstacles; children’s motivation (54%); work commitments (40%); other children in the house (24%) and clarity around what was expected (18%). 7,000 parents have secondary school children. They cited obstacles of motivation (55%), clarity around expectations (20%); working commitments (24%). No major obstacles reported by 28% of respondents who had school aged children. Overall, 17% of the parents of school children (of any age) identified resources as an obstacle. Health 3% of respondents indicated flu-like symptoms in the past 2 weeks (1,200), down from 6% in the previous survey. The same symptoms are common; tired/exhaustion (66%); sore throat (52%); dry/throaty cough (38%); runny nose (37%) and/or muscle pain (38%). 11% indicated flu-like symptoms- down from 17% in the previous survey. Of the people with flu-like symptoms, 48% thought it was coronavirus, but only 42% contacted their GP (previously it was 53%). Of these patients, 27% were referred for testing (down from 36%). These tests were positive for 25%; negative for 42%, waiting for results (17%) and waiting for the tests ( 5%). Previously only 10% was positive and most people were still waiting for results (36%) or the test (37%). Demographics The participation rate was 71% female and 29% male. The mean age was 46, median was 45. Age groups were well represented with about 50% of the people aged between 35 and 54; 5% were under the age of 25 and 11% were 65 or older. Of the total respondents, 37% had taken part in the first survey. Dublin had the highest number of respondents with 41% (previous  survey was 38%) and Galway 14% (previous survey 12%), Cork 7% (previous survey  6%) and all other counties were represented at less than 5%. Of the respondents, 66% had a university degree; 12% had secondary education, or were in the middle of secondary education; 4% had a technical or vocational diploma and 17% a national cert or diploma. *Corona Citizens’ Science Study -ends-

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Young people of Ireland are invited make a one minute science video at home to be in with a chance to win €1000 for their school or youth organisation NUI Galway is challenging young science enthusiasts and filmmakers around Ireland to produce fun short science videos at home for the innovative ‘ReelLIFE SCIENCE @ HOME’ competition. The best videos will be voted for by the public to win €1000 for the filmmaker’s school or youth organisation. Videos can be up to one minute in length and can communicate any aspect of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), including How Things Work, Climate Action, Healing the Body and Science on the Farm. Filming can be on smartphones, tablets or cameras and the closing date for entries is Friday, 29 May. Supported by Science Foundation Ireland’s SFI Discover Programme, the Community Knowledge Initiative, the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices and the Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme, the best videos will be screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival on 8 November.   Speaking about the competition’s launch, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative, which cleverly combines science literacy and creativity, while providing a great opportunity for young people to be creative in communicating scientific topics from home, while maintaining social distancing. ‘ReelLIFE SCIENCE @ HOME’ encourages young people to connect with the science and technology in their everyday lives, and to bring that knowledge to a wider audience, while promoting current Irish scientific research and development.” Since launching in 2013, more than 13,000 young people in 400 schools and youth organisations around Ireland have taken part in the ReelLIFE SCIENCE programme, which is organised by Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of scientists and science communication enthusiasts from NUI Galway. More information about taking part can be found at www.reellifescience.com. -Ends-

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Two researchers from NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry, Dr Joseph Byrne and Dr Adele Gabba, have been selected to attend the prestigious meeting of Nobel Laureates and emerging scientists from around the world in 2021. The pair will represent Ireland at the 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on the island of Lindau in Germany. Dr Byrne and Dr Gabba will join a selected group of 660 outstanding early-career scientists from 101 countries, who will meet with 68 Nobel Prize winners in the fields of chemistry, medicine and physiology, and physics. Selection to attend this week-long meeting offers a once-in-a-career opportunity to share their research and ideas with Nobel laureates and a wide network of future scientific leaders. Dr Adele Gabba recently graduated with a PhD in Chemistry and currently works as a research assistant in the group of Professor Paul Murphy, School of Chemistry at NUI Galway. She will begin a prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship in MIT in the coming months. Dr Joseph Byrne is an Honorary Research Lecturer in the School of Chemistry, who is in the first year of a Science Foundation Ireland Starting Investigator Research Grant project, developing luminescent glycoconjugate materials for detection of bacterial infections. Dr Gabba and Dr Byrne were among six scientists nominated by the Irish Research Council (IRC), before going through a rigorous international selection process, through which only half of nominees were ultimately invited to attend. They will receive a grant from the Irish Research Council to enable them to attend the meeting, which takes place from 27 June-2 July 2021. The meeting was scheduled for this summer, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been postponed until 2021, while an interactive online programme of events will take place this year to fulfil the Lindau Foundation’s mission ‘Educate. Inspire. Connect.’ Dr Byrne said: “This meeting is unique in putting the most ground-breaking scientists of recent decades and early-career researchers around the same tables for a week. With little-to-no distraction from the outside world, it is ideal for transferring ideas and sharing challenges between generations and countries as well as different disciplines. I am looking forward to building new relationships with other chemists, but also biochemists, physicists, medical scientists, who I could collaborate with to tackle challenging scientific questions of international relevance in the future.” Dr Gabba said: “Being selected to attend a Nobel Laureate Meeting is a small life dream come true! I have been certainly looking forward with immense excitement for June, so I have to confess the news of the postponement for COVID-19 came along with a bit of disappointment. Despite my childlike eagerness, I think the organising committee took the right decision. I am sure all attendees will see that waiting and, most of all, the reason behind it, as an opportunity to reflect deeply on the importance of bringing together researchers with a different background in an interdisciplinary meeting. Problems that impact our society are mostly extremely complex, we will succeed in solving them only if we put our brains and best efforts together.” -Ends-

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Aithníonn Ranguithe an Times Higher Education rannpháirtíocht i Spriocanna Forbartha Inbhuanaithe na NA De réir Ranguithe Tionchair Ollscoile nua an Times Higher Education tá OÉ Gaillimh sa 10ú háit ar domhan maidir le dul i ngleic le Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe na Náisiún Aontaithe do thaighde ar an saol faoi uisce agus do thacaíocht d’éiceachórais uisceacha. Sa dara heagrán de Ranguithe Tionchair an Times Higher Education, a cuireadh ar fáil inniu, rinneadh OÉ Gaillimh a rangú sa 68ú háit ar domhan maidir le dul i ngleic le 17 Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe na NA ar an iomlán. Léiríonn na ranguithe nua an tionchar dearfach sóisialta agus eacnamaíoch atá ag ollscoileanna ar an bpláinéad; lena n-áirítear gníomhú ar son na haeráide, comhionannas inscne, dea-shláinte agus folláine. Is é an chéad rangú ollscoile é a úsáideann na critéir seo seachas méadrachtaí traidisiúnta, amhail cáil agus gradam taighde. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, nuair a fógraíodh Ranguithe Tionchair na bliana seo: “Tá na spriocanna forbartha inbhuanaithe ar na spriocanna is tábhachtaí atá le baint amach ag an domhan, agus is cúis áthais dúinn go bhfuil ollscoileanna na hÉireann ag glacadh ról lárnach ag dul i ngleic leo. Tá géarghá anois níos mó ná riamh le todhchaí níos fearr agus níos inbhuanaithe a chruthú do chách i bhfianaise an taighde a rinneadh le déanaí a dhéanann ceangal idir truailliú aeir agus torthaí sláinte COVID-19. Tá an paindéim reatha ag cur béim ar neamhionannais i gcúram sláinte ar fud an domhain, agus caithfimid aghaidh a thabhairt orthu i ngach gné dár dtaighde, ó na heolaíochtaí sláinte go dtí na daonnachtaí. “In OÉ Gaillimh, is príomhthosaíocht straitéiseach í an inbhuanaitheacht, agus táimid ag tnúth lenár gcuid oibre a chur chun cinn d'fhonn aghaidh a thabhairt ar na dúshláin dhomhanda seo mar chuid dár misean lárnach le freastal ar leas an phobail inár gcaint agus inár ngníomhartha.”  D'éirigh go láidir le OÉ Gaillimh i roinnt mhaith de na 17 Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe (SDGanna) lena n-áirítear: SDG 14: Saol Faoi Uisce Ag tomhas taighde na hOllscoile ar an saol faoi uisce chomh maith leis na hiarrachtaí i dtaca le tacaíocht, oideachas agus cothú éiceachórais uisceacha go háitiúil agus go domhanda, rangaíodh OÉ Gaillimh i measc na 10 n-ollscoil is fearr maidir le hoideachas agus gníomhaíochtaí chun tacú le héiceachórais uisceacha, go háitiúil agus go domhanda.   SDG 3: Dea-Shláinte agus Folláine Tomhaistear taighde na hOllscoile i dtaca le príomhghalair agus riochtaí sláinte, comhoibrithe idirnáisiúnta le heagraíochtaí sláinte domhanda agus an tacaíocht a chuireann sí ar fáil do ghairmeacha cúraim sláinte agus sláinte na mac léinn agus na foirne. SDG 7: Fuinneamh Inacmhainne agus Glan Tomhaistear taighde na hOllscoile i ndáil le húsáid éifeachtach fuinnimh, lenár n-úsáid agus ár bpolasaithe fuinnimh féin agus lenár dtiomantas éifeachtúlacht fuinnimh a chur chun cinn sa phobal i gcoitinne. Ainmníodh OÉ Gaillimh mar Fhoireann Fuinnimh na Bliana ag gradaim Údarás Fuinnimh Inbhuanaithe na hÉireann anuraidh.  Tá laghdú fuinnimh 36% bainte amach ag OÉ Gaillimh agus tá sé ag obair i dtreo sprioc uaillmhianach de laghdú fuinnimh 40% a bhaint amach faoi 2020. SDG 11: Cathracha agus Pobail Inbhuanaithe Tomhaistear taighde na hOllscoile maidir le hinbhuanaitheacht, ár ról mar choimeádaí na n-ealaíon agus na hoidhreachta agus ár n-iarrachtaí inmheánacha chun inbhuanaitheacht a chleachtadh agus a chur chun cinn. D’éirigh go hiontach le OÉ Gaillimh ina chuid taighde agus tacaíochta i gcur chun cinn na nEalaíon agus na hOidhreachta. SDG 16: Institiúidí Síochána, Ceartais & Láidre Tomhaistear taighde na hOllscoile i ndáil le dlí, cearta an duine agus caidrimh idirnáisiúnta, agus ár rannpháirtíocht mar chomhairleoirí agus lucht tionchair ar pholasaí rialtais, d’éirigh go han-mhaith leis an Ollscoil ina cuid taighde agus a cuid oibre leis an rialtas agus le lucht déanta polasaithe. SDG 17: Comhpháirtíocht le haghaidh Spriocanna Déantar na bealaí níos leithne atá ag an Ollscoil chun tacaíocht a chur ar fáil do SDGanna na NA a thomhas trí chomhoibriú le tíortha eile, dea-chleachtais a chur chun cinn agus sonraí a fhoilsiú chun bonn eolais a chur faoi thaighde agus cinnteoireacht.   Tá traidisiún fada comhpháirtíochta ag an Ollscoil go réigiúnach agus go domhanda maidir le tionscadail chun leasa pobal.  Chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil faoi na Ranguithe Tionchair téigh chuig https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/new-way-defining-excellence-higher-education, nó féach ar an modheolaíocht iomlán ag https://www.timeshighereducation.com/university-impact-rankings-2020-methodology. Is féidir liosta iomlán de na 17 Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe a fháil chomh maith ar láithreán gréasáin na Náisiún Aontaithe ag https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. -Críoch-

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Times Higher Education Rankings Recognise Contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals The new Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings has placed NUI Galway 10th in the world for addressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal for research on life below water and support for aquatic ecosystems. In the second edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, which was released today, NUI Galway has been ranked 68th in the world for addressing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals overall. The new rankings provide a measure of the extent to which universities are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet; from climate action and gender equality, to good health and wellbeing. It is the first university ranking to use this criteria, rather than traditional metrics, such as reputation and research prestige. Speaking on the announcement of this year’s Impact Rankings, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “The sustainable development goals are arguably the most important targets for the world to meet, and it’s heartening to see Irish universities taking such a lead role in addressing them.  As we see recent research linking air pollution and COVID-19 outcomes, the need to create a better and more sustainable future for all has never been more urgent.  The current pandemic is highlighting healthcare inequalities globally, which we must work to address across all aspects of our research, from health sciences to the humanities.  “At NUI Galway, sustainability is a key strategic priority, and we look forward to progressing our work to address these global challenges as part of our central mission to serve the public good in our words and deeds.”  NUI Galway performed strongly in a number of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including: SDG 14 Life Under Water Measuring the University’s research on life below water and efforts at supporting, educating and sustaining aquatic ecosystems both locally and globally, NUI Galway were ranked in the Top 10 for education and actions to support aquatic ecosystems, both locally and globally.   SDG 3: Good Heath & Wellbeing: This measures the University’s research on key diseases and conditions, international collaborations with global health organisations and its support for healthcare professions and the health of students and staff. SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy This measures the University’s research related to efficient energy consumption, our own energy use and policies and our commitment to promoting energy efficiency in the wider community. NUI Galway was awarded Energy Team of the Year at last year’s Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland awards.  At 36% energy reduction, NUI Galway continues to work towards an ambitious target of a 40% energy reduction by 2020. SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities: This measures the university’s research on sustainability, our role as custodian of arts and heritage and our internal efforts on practicing and promoting sustainability. NUI Galway performed particularly well for its research and support for sustaining and promoting Arts and Heritage. SDG 16 Peace Justice & Strong institutions: Measuring the University’s research on Law, Human rights and international relations, and our participation as advisors and influencers of government policy, the University performed particularly well for its research and work with government and policy makers. SDG 17: Partnership for Goals This measures the broader ways in which the University supports the UN SDGs though collaboration with other countries, the promotion of best practices and the publication of data for informing research and decision making. The University has a long tradition of partnership regionally and globally on projects for the benefit of communities.  Find out more about the Impact Rankings visit https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/new-way-defining-excellence-higher-education, or view the full methodology at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/university-impact-rankings-2020-methodology. A full list of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals can also be found on the United Nation’s website at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. -Ends-

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

The second phase of the population wide survey, the Corona Citizens’ Science Project will ask the public which social restrictions they would prefer to see lifted. Phase two will launch Wednesday, April 22nd at 06.00am and will remain open for 24 hours. The national anonymous online survey is seeking to understand how people are dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, the associated restrictive measures (social distancing, lock-down etc)  and how it has impacted on their home life; working life; childcare arrangements and physical and emotional wellbeing. Conducted by researchers at NUI Galway,  Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) phase two of the survey will ask the public to rank, in order of preference which of the current restrictions they would like to see relaxed ranging from the reopening of schools, pubs and restaurants to a removal of the 2km restriction on movement. It will also seek the views of those who have been “cocooning”, a term applying to at risk groups and those over 70 who have been asked to remain at home. It is particularly interested in hearing from people who have been caring for a vulnerable person and anyone who has had a medical procedure postponed.   Phase one of the survey found that 26,000 people had children of primary school age, whom they were teaching at home, with 77% reporting favourably on the experience. So researchers are especially keen to hear from those who are teaching their children at home to find out how both parents and children are managing as the situation has evolved. As preliminary findings from the first survey highlighted that younger people appear to be experiencing greater negative mental health, compared to older participants, researchers are making a direct appeal for young people nationwide to take part. Phase one of the survey, launched on April 8th and had over 100,000 respondents with preliminary findings published on April 13th. Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway, joint research lead said, “As phase two is now launched, we are urging people to take the opportunity to outline how their lives have been impacted during this pandemic and what are the real human costs. You can take part in the survey by logging onto the survey link, accessing it online, via Whatsapp and it will be shared on all social media channels as well. “We particularly urge young people to join, to have their voice heard and have their say in what’s next.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said, “As we move towards the May bank holiday weekend, when we expect to hear more suggestions from the Government about what to do next, this Citizen Science survey will help to understand how this affects people, and their hopes for a possible easing of restrictions.” Findings* from phase one of the survey show that since Government restrictions were imposed* the vast majority of the general public in Ireland has adapted their behaviours in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Respondents reported that they found the recommendations made by the government to curb the spread of the virus very clear. 92% indicated an understanding of the measures around social distancing; 79% of those surveyed were clear on the guidelines around shopping. The figures were also similarly high with regards to social isolation and the advice around leisure activities. Overall, the findings from the surveys will be used to contribute to informing the government response to the pandemic and to also assist in planning future measures for COVID-19 and beyond. -ends- *Preliminary findings published April 13th 2020 at www.nuigalway.ie/corona-study

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

NUI Galway Research Fellows and UHG staff introduce video calling system using Cisco software and hardware donated by Cisco with the free support of IBM volunteers and the wider Galway community University Hospital Galway (UHG) has introduced a new video call system known as ICU FamilyLink which will enable contact between families, patients and the clinical teams providing care. This is particularly important as currently visitors are not permitted in the hospital, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the visiting restrictions were introduced in early March, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team in Galway appreciated that it was going to be very difficult to keep families and patients in the ICU updated and connected, particularly where family members may be in physical isolation in different locations. In an effort to address these challenges, the ICU team at UHG reached out to its academic partners in NUI Galway, who in turned reached out to industry contacts in Galway and beyond. NUI Galway, Cisco and IBM assembled a team to answer the call and working closely with the ICU and Clinical Engineering teams in UHG, have rapidly developed a state-of-the-art video call system specifically for the ICU setting. The systems runs on the hospital’s Cisco Enterprise Wireless Network using Cisco Webex Meetings software and Cisco Webex Devices donated from Cisco’s software development office in Oranmore. The secure system is designed for easy setup where close family members are invited by the nurse looking after the patient, to see and speak to their loved one. ICU FamilyLink also enables staff to advise the family and discuss medical and treatment issues that arise. The project is supported by a team of IBM volunteers who are available by phone to family members to offer any technical support. The system is complemented by Apple iPads to facilitate staff-to-staff Webex video calls. All the equipment and expertise required to get this system operational has been kindly donated by the collaborators and a wider set of supportive organisations. Commenting Chris Kane, Hospital Manager said, “We are very grateful to everyone who has given their time and expertise to support the delivery of such an important project in such a short timeframe. The last number of weeks have been very difficult for patients in ICU and their families; the staff recognised this and wanted to do something to support them.” Ann Conroy, Clinical Nurse Manager 3 who works in the ICU in UHG said, “The system was designed and implemented to make it as easy as possible for the nurse caring for the patient to use safely and securely. This was based on listening to the nurses and addressing the needs that we identified. The simplicity of the unit is what makes this such a success for the nurses who are busy caring for the patient and for the families who are at home. Also the quality of the video image is excellent which means it is as close as a family member will get to being in the ICU.” Mrs Maura McNamara, the wife of a patient from Galway City who was treated in the ICU said, “We got an opportunity to use the video conferencing system to keep in touch with my husband while he was in the ICU. It was fantastic to get to see him and how he was doing and get updates from the nurses. It is difficult not being able to visit the hospital and this was the next best thing to being there.” Irial Conroy and Dr Aoife Murray, both NUI Galway Research Fellows said, “In Galway we are fortunate to have existing partnerships between UHG, NUI Galway, Tech and MedTech companies. This meant that a team could be formed in less than a day, and the project could be delivered in less than 3 weeks. Having a mix of medical and technical skills on the core team, was key to introducing this into the complex hospital setting. The hospital staff were key in advocating the needs of patients and families.” David Bermingham, Director of AI Applications, IBM Ireland, commented, “COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for frontline medical professionals and patients’ families who cannot visit loved ones in hospital. I am very grateful to all the IBM volunteers who are dedicating time as part of the team to help set up and customise the experience to make it easy for families to stay connected in difficult times.” “The frontline medics are the real heroes here; we’re just proud to play our small part. Deploying a solution like this across multiple organisations would typically take months. However, through collaboration and commitment, we were able to do this far faster, to help patients and their loved ones stay connected during these exceptional times. I’m grateful to all the skilled volunteers who made this happen”, added Keith Griffin, Site Leader, Cisco Galway. This initiative would not have been possible without Irial Conroy (NUI Galway and IBM), Dr Aoife Murray (NUI Galway), Brian O’Donoghue (Cisco), Breda McColgan (IBM), PJ McKenna (IBM), Frank Kirrane (GUH), Leonie Cullen (GUH), Dr Bairbre McNicholas (GUH), GUH IT department, Cisco, IBM and wider GUH, NUI Galway staff and other organisations that kindly provided support. Ends

Monday, 20 April 2020

As the world grapples with a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), Irish academics are exploring eco-sustainable solutions to decontaminate single use masks Researchers and clinicians from Athlone Institute of Technology and NUI Galway have joined forces to tackle the global shortage of N95 masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) desperately needed by frontline workers and other healthcare professionals. Offering protection from coronavirus, PPE needs to be carefully removed and disposed of after each use to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease. Due to its material composition, PPE is extremely heat sensitive and not intended for reprocessing. Conscious of this, Professor Neil J Rowan, Director of the Bioscience Research Institute at Athlone Institute of Technology, and John Laffey, Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals, are exploring ways to decontaminate PPE without destroying it. “A key priority is making sure our frontline healthcare workers have the PPE they need to be protected against COVID-19. Unfortunately, the combination of supply chain challenges and unprecedented levels of global demand means that some hospitals are now facing PPE shortages,” explains Professor Laffey. “Reprocessing of PPE using novel decontamination approaches is essential to protecting our frontline workers. Of course, these novel approaches must be assessed and validated to ensure that they are safe and effective to meet regulatory requirements,” he adds. These eco-sustainable solutions, which were recently published in leading environmental journal STOTEN, harness the power of vaporised hydrogen peroxide (VH2O2) to neutralise COVID-19 and other contagions. Use of this gas has just been FDA-authorized for decontaminating N95 masks and a similar authorized approach is likely to be deployed in the Republic of Ireland. Professors Rowan and Laffey’s research indicates demand has overtaken supply for vital PPE where there is a critical shortage for frontline healthcare workers. What is proposed are best solutions to ensure supply including provision for reprocessed PPE that would be safe and fit for purpose during this COVID-19 crisis. “A pandemic foists untold and unexpected demands on society that includes provision or contingency planning for reprocessing PPE. The majority of existing in-house hospital and adjacent minimal processing technologies, as used in food industry, will not be effective for reprocessing PPE,” explains Professor Rowan, who is also an Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine. “However, review of best evidence suggests that VH2O2 and possibly UV irradiation technologies for deploying within healthcare environment can be used to fill this gap and will be paramount to ensuring the safety of our healthcare workers during this public health emergency.” Their vital research is being supported by ‘INSPIRE’, a programme led by Professors Martin O’Halloran and John Laffey, and composed of academics, clinicians and scientists from University Hospital Galway, the BioInnovate Programme and the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, CÚRAM, the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices, GMIT and AIT’Software Research Institute and Applied Polymer Technology Centre. The INSPIRE programme has been met with much enthusiasm globally, especially from developing nations like Costa Rica and South Africa. According to Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM: “In the absence of a vaccine, disease countermeasures must rely upon preventing or slowing person-to-person transmission.” He notes that despite increased efforts to protect frontline workers, there is still “a growing international concern” regarding the shortage of PPE, making ready access to suitable decontamination technology crucial. -Ends-

Monday, 20 April 2020

The fifth national Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in Research Conference, hosted by NUI Galway, will take place on Wednesday, 6 May, but this year all attending will join online. In addition, to members of the research community, there is a particular welcome to the public, patients and to patient and community organisations. At a time when researchers worldwide are in a race against time to understand the COVID 19 virus and to find effective treatments, or better still, a cure, researchers at Irish Universities are rising to the challenge. But with research projects being set up very quickly, in many cases backed by significant public funding, now more than ever it is important that one vital voice – that of the public and patient who will be impacted by research results – has a place at the research planning table. The conference, jointly hosted by the HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland and PPI Ignite at NUI Galway, will showcase many examples of PPI in research, that is, how public and patients are working in partnership with research teams, ensuring that the research conducted is more relevant for patients and that the research focuses on improving things that matter most to patients. Importantly, PPI contributors, those who bring the public and patient voice to research, can contribute greatly to making sure the results of the research are shared with the public in non-technical language and are used to bring about change. The theme of the conference is ‘PPI across the lifecourse’. The conference will open with a focus on the importance of hearing the patient voice when using research results to influence health policy, illustrated by the voice of people with dementia and their carers in shaping the national dementia policy. In contrast, young people from the Mayo Tusla Children and Young People’s Advisory Group, will discuss how they shaped research about social media use among their own age group. Anne Lennon Bird will share her personal experience of Huntington’s Disease, and describe the journey of a small patient organisation, initially set up to provide support to families, that has now become involved in the international research arena. Society as a whole has rapidly got up to speed with online technology, and moving the conference online is a major step that has been welcomed by PPI contributors.  Anne Daly, a health coach, specialising in diabetes and thyroid health and a PPI contributor, working with a number of research teams at NUI Galway, said: “I am very happy to be involved with PPI, which is mutually beneficial for both researchers and myself as a public representative in research. It is good for all concerned that this conference has gone ahead despite the current challenges. Where there's a will there's a way! It's reassuring that PPI is being included in COVID 19 related research projects and that researchers have not just abandoned us PPI contributors due to the urgency of COVID 19. My PPI colleagues and I expedite all requests at this this critical time.” Denise Dunne from Croí, the heart and stroke charity, and NUI Galway’s Dr Chris Noone will share their perspectives of developing a PPI partnership, through a new Health Research Board (HRB) funded programme. Denise said: “Involvement in the CES-P project has been a great opportunity for me, both professionally and personally, it is great to really get patients involved and not just pay lip service to the process. It has been eye opening for me and it is now also fully embedded in our research processes at Croí, feedback from patients has been one of a real openness and positivity to the whole process and we plan to continue a Croí PPI panel into the future.” Contributions from members of the ME/CFS Association of Ireland and the Endometriosis Society of Ireland and researchers they worked with will highlight the important differences well-conducted PPI can bring to the quality and impact of research. To close out the conference, Professor Sean Dinneen, who leads PPI at NUI Galway, will reflect on how and why it is so important that PPI continues in this time of pandemic, and that the voice of the patient is maintained in the swathe of new COVID 19 studies being pursued.   Casey Donaghey, one of three PPI contributors on the conference organising committee said: “Having a voice in these weird times was a blessing. Being able to move the conference online and still reach people was very important to us, and I’m glad we all (people and researchers) could work together to do it.” Registration for the conference is free, but essential and can be done at www.eventbrite.ie or at the PPI conference section of www.primarycaretrials.ie. A test run will be done in advance to allow people to make sure that they know how to connect into the conference on the day. For more information email info@primarycaretrials.ie or ppi@nuigalway.ie . -Ends-

Saturday, 18 April 2020

New research  due to be presented at this year’s European Congress on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID)* has revealed the presence of disease-causing E.coli  in recreational waters, including from beaches rated excellent under EU criteria. The study is led by Professor Dearbháile Morris and Dr Louise O’Connor at the School of Medicine, NUI Galway. E.coli are part of the normal gut flora of humans and animals, but not all E. coli are exactly the same. Some E. coli can produce toxins that can cause serious infection in humans. Shiga -toxigenic E. coli (STEC) are pathogenic E. coli that can cause severe intestinal infection and potentially renal failure and death. Ireland has had the highest incidence rate for human infection with STEC among EU member states for many years, reporting 10 times the EU average in 2017. This research looked at recreational waters for the presence of STEC. Seawater, river and lake samples were collected around Ireland between December 2018 and October 2019 and examined for genetic markers of STEC. Of the 75 samples tested, 49 (65%) were positive for the presence of STEC genetic markers, including 29/52 (56%) seawater samples, 14/15 (93%) river samples and 6/8 (75%) lake samples. Professor Morris says: “To our knowledge this is the first investigation of recreational waters across Ireland for the presence of STEC. There was a high occurrence of genetic markers for STEC in the samples tested, highlighting the need for further investigation to establish the scale of the problem, not only in Ireland but globally. It is worth noting that all of the bathing waters tested were designated as of good or excellent quality based on current EU bathing water quality monitoring criteria. Bathing water quality is assessed based on estimating the total number of E. coli in a 100ml sample over a defined time-period (May to September). Bathing waters in Europe and elsewhere are not routinely monitored for the presence of STEC.  This study highlights the limitations of only assessing the total number of E. coli present as an indicator of water quality without taking into consideration the potential pathogenicity of some variants.” -Ends-

Friday, 17 April 2020

The Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in NUI Galway will help the public quickly and easily check the reliability of health claims being circulated by social media. The new website, iHealthFacts.ie, is funded by the Health Research Board in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also brought with it an infodemic of misinformation and disinformation. The pandemic has meant the general public are faced with a constant stream of false information through a range of sources including social media and personal communication, for example messaging groups. Members of the public can submit any health claims they are curious about to the iHealthFacts website. A team of researchers in NUI Galway have established a process for assessing prioritised health claims by searching for evidence to support or refute the claim. The prepared responses are also reviewed by a team of Evidence Advisors from NUI Galway, UCD, TCD, UL, UCC and RCSI and by a panel of Public and Patient Advisors (PPI Ignite, NUI Galway). The result is a short, easy to read, clearly presented response to help the public make informed decisions about their own health. iHealthFacts is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is intended for information purposes only. The website will be updated regularly in response to the submitted and prioritised claims so members of the public can quickly and easily check the reliability of a health claim circulated by social media. The researchers hope this information will help people think critically about health claims and make well-informed choices. Elaine Finucane, iHealthFacts.ie lead and Research Associate in the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network, said: “Unreliable claims can lead to poorly informed choices, under- or over-use of things we do to improve or maintain health. Unreliable claims can also lead to unnecessary waste and human suffering. iHealthFacts.ie offers a platform to help tease out the reliability of health claims. We hope it also helps the public think critically about health claims.” Dr Tom Conway, iHealthFacts.ie co-lead and Research Associate in the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network and HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway, said: “Now more than ever people need access to open, trustworthy, information and iHealthFacts offers the public a simple way to take control and fact check health claims.” Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “Our team of researchers have already collected and addressed a number of claims which can be viewed on iHealthFacts.ie. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic. These include: Can spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body prevent you becoming infected with the new coronavirus? Does taking ibuprofen worsen the symptoms of COVID-19? Does the use of petrol pumps spread COVID-19 rapidly? iHealthFacts.ie is easy to use, and we welcome the public’s help in submitting health claims to be prioritised for review.” To learn more visit www.iHealthFacts.ie, email info@ihealthfacts.ie, or follow on Twitter @iHealthFacts1, Facebook, Instagram.  -Ends-

Friday, 17 April 2020

New technology to protect Defence Forces, HSE and An Post staff against COVID-19 This week Aquila Bioscience started delivery of AntiBioAgent Decontamination Wipes (ABDs) to frontline services in Ireland, including the Defence Forces, the HSE and An Post.  ABDs will serve as a safe and effective decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and postal workers to reduce the spread of COVID-19. ABDs contain components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, trapping the virus for safe disposal. Unlike other decontamination methods, which contain chemicals that can be harmful to skin, ABDs contain no harmful ingredients and can be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (the main portals for virus infection). Aquila is a spin-out of NUI Galway, and the concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. ABD technology was developed by University researchers to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. Professor Lokesh Joshi, the founder of Aquila Bioscience and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “It was the pioneering work done with the Defence Forces Ordnance Corps in countering biological pathogens that led to the development of the ABDs, and the hope is by now putting these in the hands of frontline workers, it will allow them to more effectively protect themselves and the people they’re helping in the fight against coronavirus.”  Speaking today, Comdt Sharon McManus from the Defence Forces said: “The Defence Forces needs to innovate their procedures and technologies regularly to deal with constant challenges presented to them, as well as to gain value and efficiency for the organisation. Research, technology and innovation activities are long term cycles and the ABDs are an example of this innovation cycle. Collaboration started with Aquila Bioscience over four years over, when the Ordnance Corps identified a need for a specific PPE which would deal with chemical agents and through the research and development phases also discovered its relevance for biological agents. Aquila Bioscience, of NUI Galway, an Irish start up, were the ideal partners to work with in developing this product. The personal protection of our key asset, our people, is of the utmost importance to the Defence Forces. The Defence forces have now procured a large quantity of these ABDs and these will be distributed to our troops both at home and overseas for ongoing force protection as well as during the Covid-19 crisis.” In welcoming the official launch of the ABwipe, VADM Mark Mellett, DSM, Chief of Staff, Óglaigh na hÉireann remarked: “For many years I have been to the forefront in advocating for open diverse networks to sense and explore answers to challenging problems. In some cases we have created diverse partnerships to seize and exploit these ideas with a view to creating new technologies, with end user solutions to end user identified problems working with academia, enterprise and others. It was such a partnership that enabled our Defence Forces’ Ordnance Corps to collaborate with researchers from NUIG, as far back as 2016, to develop a cellulose based material for wipes and masks specifically designed to capture microbes such as COVID-19 virus, trapping them inside the material, thereby reducing transmission of the pathogen. I am delighted to see the culmination of our joint research and innovation with NUIG in delivering this non chemical, bio-degradable wipe for use by the Defence Forces and first responders from the HSE, An Post and others, during the COVID-19 crisis.” While there is significant demand for ABDs from other international armed forces and healthcare providers, Aquila is currently focused on supplying public service agencies in Ireland.  Professor Lokesh Joshi added: “As we ramp up our production over the coming weeks we’ll be better able to supply some of the international agencies currently seeking our help in the struggle in their countries, and make this new technology part of the global fight against COVID-19.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Researchers in the Health Behaviour Change Research Group at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway are collaborating with a team of over 100 behavioural scientists from more than 20 countries around the world on the International Covid-19 Awareness and Responses Evaluation (I-CARE) Study. The international survey assesses people’s awareness, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours in response to the various measures put in place to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 across the world. The study has is endorsed by the Behavioural Change Subgroup who are advising the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) COVID-19. Data from the study will be fed back to the Behavioural Change Subgroup by Professor Molly Byrne, Director of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group at NUI Galway, and a member of the Subgroup. The findings of this study will be used to inform current responses nationally and globally for tackling COVID-19. The research team plan four waves of pushes for the global survey, which is open now, and hope to reach 100,000 respondents each time. The pushes will take place every four weeks, with the researchers making new data analyses openly available every two weeks. This study is being coordinated by the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre by Professors Kim Lavoie and Simon Bacon, who work closely with the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. Professor Molly Byrne said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant public health threat many of us will experience. As countries around the world struggle to manage this deadly virus, governments must develop public health strategies to ensure that people follow challenging preventive actions, such as self isolation at home, social distancing, responding to symptoms, hand hygiene and coughing etiquette. The global response to COVID-19 has resulted in exceptionally high levels of international collaboration, as the world comes together to tackle this global threat. The iCARE study focusing on the public response to national strategies is an excellent example of what can be achieved when scientists around the world collaborate. The findings will be used to inform the response to COVID-19, at both a national and global level.” Co-Director of the study, Professor Kim Lavoie, said: “This study will provide us with ongoing information about how people are responding to government messages and strategies and to identify not only what is working, but where. This is important to understand so that we can adapt as quickly as possible to develop new strategies to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.” With the survey available in over 40 languages and understood by two-thirds of the global population, Prof Simon Bacon co-Director of the study, believes the team will benefit from a diversity of opinions that will create a clearer understanding of global attitudes toward the pandemic. “This is critically important because different countries are at different stages of outbreak and are deploying different policies,” he says. “To be able to really understand what is working and what is not working requires us to capture as broad a cross section of the world as possible. This range of answers will let us compare different policies across the globe.” To complete and share the survey visit bit.ly/icarestudy.    For further information on the study email covid19study@mbmc-cmcm.ca or contact Professor Molly Byrne at molly.byrne@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 13 April 2020

The preliminary findings from a survey of over 100,000 respondents show that since Government restrictions were imposed* the vast majority of the general public in Ireland has adapted their behaviours in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The population-wide survey conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University, and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) is looking at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lock down, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland. Respondents reported that they found the recommendations made by the government to curb the spread of the virus very clear. 92% indicated an understanding of the measures around social distancing; 79% of those surveyed were clear on the guidelines around shopping. The figures were also similarly high with regards to social isolation and the advice around leisure activities. Over 85% of the sample reported adapting their behaviours at home. Interestingly, while 75% of people felt they have adapted their behaviour in public, only 37% of respondents felt that others around them in public, have changed their behaviour. Playing board games, indoor exercises and home work-outs as well as going for a walk were the most popular activities carried out by people in the past week.  The results are from the Corona Citizens’ Science Project, a national anonymous online survey conducted in order to understand how people are dealing with the pandemic and how it has impacted on their home life; working life; childcare arrangements; physical and emotional wellbeing. The survey was conducted over a 24 hour period on Wednesday, April 8th and will be repeated again on the 22nd of April. Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, NUI Galway, joint research lead said, “The response to our corona-study has surpassed our expectations and shows the desire of the Irish people for their voice to be heard. The results are a barometer of how the pandemic impacts daily life. The next survey on Wednesday April the 22nd will show us how these trends progress and we are appealing to the public to take part and provide feedback on how they are coping.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said, “This is a baseline study on how we are coping with the restrictive measure put in place by the Government to try and flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic in Ireland.  As these restrictions have now been extended to May 5th we plan to repeat the study every two weeks to continually check the pulse of the nation and our ability to deal with the current situation.” Some parents have had to adopt the role of teacher during this time with over a fifth of respondents home-schooling their primary school aged children and while they did not report any issues with schooling some indicated they didn’t have the necessary resources, such as a laptop or access to computers (3%). Almost one tenth have a child aged 15 or under in secondary school and reported that schools are sending work home (30%); setting regular home-work and providing additional online support (67%). In the case of those aged between 15-17, it showed that in 67% of cases, schools were setting home-work and providing extra support online. 10% of respondents (10,000 plus) were in receipt of the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment. Over 70,000 people of the sample survey reported as employed and of that 63% were working from home. 54% reported contact with people by chatting in person and observing social distancing; 77% reported contact through screen-time or over the phone (86%). Most respondents have a broadband connection (88%), and about 9% have mobile phone internet connection. * February 29th, 2020 Employment/Working from home: 69% of respondents were employed. Students accounted for (4%); those identifying as retired represented 13% and 7% of respondents were homemakers.Of the people who were in employment (70,000 respondents), 6% used to work from home every day, 19% only sometimes and 41% never. Of the respondents who did not work from home it was usually because their job requires face to face contact (44%) while 17% indicated that working from home was not allowed in their company.Interestingly, of the respondents in employment, about 63% did work from home in the past week; 19% were essential workers and 19% were not working anymore. Contact with people: In general, younger respondents talked on average to slightly more people face-to-face than older respondents. It was found that those under 30 met on average over four other people; over 50s on average over three people, while those in between 30 and 50 also met with on average over three people. Childcare/school: In relation to childcare, over 9,000 reported having children in preschool, who are now at home (89%). 26,000 respondents have children in primary school; the vast majority of this category reported favourably about schooling, stating they did not encounter any problems (77%). However, some indicated they did not have the necessary resources such as access to a laptop or computers; others said there weren't enough laptops/computers available and 4% were dissatisfied with an unreliable internet connection. Health 6,000 respondents indicated to have had flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days. Of these symptoms, most common was tiredness/exhaustion (64%), sore throat (54%), dry, throaty cough (44%) runny nose (42%) and/or muscle pain (38%). In relation to the sample of  people who had flu-like symptoms; 52% thought they had symptoms of coronavirus and 53% contacted their GP. Of these; 36% were referred for testing. In relation to people who did receive test results,10% were positive, 18% were negative. Demographics: 76% of the survey respondents were females. The mean and median age was 47 and was the same for male and female respondents.The vast majority of answers came from Dublin (38%); Galway (12%), Cork (6%) and all other counties at less than 5%. Of the respondents, 14% had secondary education, or were going through this, 4% had a technical or vocational diploma, 19% a national cert or diploma and 63% had a University degree. -ends-