Monday, 26 May 2008

An extensive research project by a team of European scientists could help develop methods of treating cancers with less toxicity than drugs currently in clinical use. The research, just published as the cover story in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology, was led by Professor Corrado Santocanale in Italy at Nerviano Medical Sciences-Oncology. Professor Santocanale is now based in Ireland with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES) at NUI Galway as Chair of Molecular Medicine. The research project was aimed at identifying protein kinase inhibitors for development into new anticancer drugs. The finding showed that a small-molecule inhibitor of Cdc7 kinase prevents DNA synthesis with a novel molecular mechanism and has anti-tumour activity. According to Professor Santocanale, "The search for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of a wide range of cancers is a key field of investigation. In this work we demonstrate for the first time the pharmacological inhibition of the Cdc7 kinase (a protein that acts as a switch to initiate DNA replication) kills tumours cells including those that have become resistant to some of the most common anticancer drugs. He continued, "Importantly we found that the treatment with a small molecule Cdc7 inhibitor lead to tumour growth inhibition in animal models. Clinical studies investigating this novel generation of drugs for the treatment of human cancers will be soon initiated and the expectation is that they will offer a novel therapeutic option to cancer patients." Professor Santocanale is currently establishing core research related to new drug targets for cancer therapy. Santocanale also aims to implement a translational research programme linking come of the basic research of the NCBES and the clinical research based in University College Hospital, Galway, with the goal of identifying potential targets for drug discovery. For Santocanale, "The most interesting part of the research process is to start with ideas originated from basic biological discoveries and see it develop into a drug that has the potential to improve the outcome of cancer patients". Professor Santocanale brings huge expertise to NUI Galway from his collaboration with Nerviano Medical Sciences, the largest pharmaceutical R&D facility in Italy, and one of the largest Oncology-focused, integrated discovery and development companies in Europe. -ends-

Monday, 26 May 2008

Ghlac an líon is mó daltaí riamh – os cionn 400 dalta – as 13 mheánscoil ar fud na Gaillimhe páirt i gComórtas Ealaíne OÉ Gaillimh do Dhaltaí Céad Bhliana. Is cuid de Chlár Rochtana Conair na hOllscoile é an comórtas ealaíne atá deartha le spéis a spreagadh san oideachas tríú leibhéal i measc daltaí as Scoileanna roghnaithe i gContae, Cathair agus ceantair Ghaeltachta na Gaillimhe. Tá an tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas ag tacú leis an gclár trí spriocmhaoiniú do thionscnaimh speisialta. Fiafraíodh de dhaltaí iad féin a chur in iúl trí mheán na hEalaíne, an Cheoil, na Drámaíochta agus na Scríbhneoireachta agus léargas a thabhairt ar an gcúis ar mhaith leo freastal ar OÉ Gaillimh, céard a chiallódh sé agus cén tionchar a bheadh aige ar a dtodhchaí. Dúirt Ashla Ward, ó Oifig Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh go bhfuil "an comórtas seo deartha ar mhaithe le daltaí a spreagadh tosú ag smaoineamh ar a dtodhchaí, a stádas reatha foghlama a nascadh le sprioc fhadtréimhseach agus machnamh a dhéanamh ar a bheith ag staidéar ag an tríú leibhéal. D'éirigh thar cionn leis an gcomórtas seo le sé bliana anuas. Tá an-obair déanta ag múinteoirí agus ag daltaí chun píosaí ealaíne den scoth a chruthú don chomórtas". Ag an dara leibhéal, tosaíonn Clár Rochtana Conair OÉ Gaillimh le Comórtas Scoile do Dhaltaí Céad Bhliana agus leantar leis an gcomórtas do dhaltaí sa dara, sa tríú, sa chúigiú bliain agus i mbliain na hArdteistiméireachta, le sraith gníomhaíochtaí cosúil le turas mórthimpeall ar an gcampas, meantóireacht agus Ceardlanna Scileanna Staidéir. Is é an príomhchuspóir a bhaineann le Conair idirghníomhaíocht rialta leis an Ollscoil agus leis na daltaí a spreagadh. Cuireadh go mór le héifeachtacht an tionscnaimh seo bunaithe ar thacaíocht leanúnach lucht bainistíochta agus comhaltaí foirne sna scoileanna rannpháirteacha. - críoch -

Friday, 23 May 2008

Science and nature education in the classroom moves into virtual territory with the launch of Brigit's Virtual Garden by NUI Galway. The habitats and features of local visitor attraction, Brigit's Garden, have been digitally recreated in a 3D virtual space. The first public demonstration of the interactive Brigit's Virtual Garden takes place on Wednesday, 28 May, at 3pm in Brigit's Garden, Rosscahill, Co. Galway. Brigit's Virtual Garden is an educational tool, alive with virtual versions of the insects and plants of the 'real' garden. The user navigates the virtual space by controlling the movements of 'Rua' the fox who takes them on an interactive tour of the 3D garden. The virtual garden was designed as part of a project called the Digital Hedge School (DHS), which is a collaborative effort between Brigit's Garden and several partners from NUI Galway including the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), and the Education Department. The DHS project team have been working together for two years to create intergenerational programmes for primary, secondary, and third level students, by exploring the potential of novel technologies to enhance children's environmental education. This year's participants in the DHS project were 4th and 5th class students from St. Patrick's National School, and transition year students from the Presentation Secondary School. Students from both the Galway City schools completed an eight-week training programme in environmental peer education. The students involved in the Digital Hedge School Project spent time in Brigit's Garden taking digital photographs and drawings insects, water bugs, flowers and trees. The students were then shown how to upload their work into the virtual garden. Access to Brigit's Virtual Garden will be available to teachers involved in the project, for use in the classroom as a tool for supporting the educational experience of students visiting Brigit's Garden. "Incorporating technology into environmental education is the way forward in terms of relating to younger generations", says Professor Gerard Jennings, Director of the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway. "The creators of Brigit's Virtual Garden have been very successful in providing a technology that stimulates children's interest in the natural environment and encourages them to step outside the classroom and explore the world around them." The collaborators look forward to celebrating the success of the hard work of all of the students involved at the launch of Brigit's Virtual Garden, which is free and open to all. For more information on the project or the launch event please contact Dr. Sarah Knight, Outreach Officer for the Environmental Change Institute, on 091 495061. -ends-

Friday, 23 May 2008

NUI Galway is to hold an international conference on 5-6 June entitled 'Critical Thinking: The Galway Symposium on the Future of Universities'. The event aims to raise fundamental questions regarding the challenges and opportunities faced by universities and other providers of higher education in Ireland and beyond. At this two day event, a range of distinguished experts will deliver presentations on issues including higher education management and policy, globalisation, linking teaching and research, and fostering civic engagement. According to Dr. Kelly Coate, Lecturer in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and conference convener, NUI Galway, "This symposium will bring together key commentators on higher education in order to pose a fundamental question: what is the purpose of universities in the 21st Century? How is this purpose changing, and what are the drivers of change? Does the university as such have a distinctive role to play in society? We want to spark debates and raise some provocative questions, and we have chosen a diverse range of high-profile plenary speakers who will give contrasting perspectives." The Symposium will be opened by Michael Kelly, Chairman, Higher Education Authority Ireland and Dr. James Browne, President, NUI Galway. In addition, there will be keynotes from Professor Mary Evans, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, and author of the book Killing Thinking: The Death of the Universities; and Michael Shattock, author of the OECD Review of Higher Education in Ireland and the book Managing Successful Universities. Dr. Coate added, "Some of the speakers will be quite critical of recent trends in higher education, whereas others will be advocating that certain changes are necessary. Given that some of the speakers are at the forefront of implementing these changes, we think this will be a very good opportunity to hear what they have to say and put questions to them. Participants will also get the chance to discuss some of the key issues in higher education today through workshop sessions facilitated by experts in the field." 'Critical Thinking: The Galway Symposium on the Future of Universities' commences on Thursday, 5 June at 9am and continues on Friday 6 June, in the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. For further information or to book a place visit www.conference.ie. -ends-

Thursday, 22 May 2008

A young Irish filmmaker and graduate of NUI Galway's Huston School of Film & Digital Media is among the winners of the first Babelgum Online Film Festival. The winners were announced by Spike Lee at a ceremony during the Cannes Film Festival. The Babelgum Online Film Festival is the first of its kind, and provides a unique distribution opportunity for the newest filmmaking talent. Brian Deane (29), originally from Glanmire in Cork, was awarded the Babelgum Social/Environment Award for his first movie, the short film Without Words. Along with winners from six other categories, Brian received a cheque for €20,000. Over a thousand entries from 86 countries were uploaded for this, the first Babelgum Online Film Festival. Visitors to the Babelgum website decided the competition shortlist, which was then judged by the festival jury, led by renowned director Spike Lee. The other jurors consist of film experts from across the globe, including directors of established film festivals. Last autumn, Brian graduated with an MA in Production and Direction from the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway. Commenting on Brian's win, Rod Stoneman, Director of the School, said, "Without Words is a marvellous example of an imaginative film based on an issue from Public Advocacy. With its memorable symmetrical form it focuses on the tragedy of non-communication between two friends." Founded in 2003, the Huston School of Film & Digital Media offers a range of one-year postgraduate courses in Film Studies; Screenwriting; Production and Direction; Arts Policy and Practice; Public Advocacy and Activism; and Digital Media. In autumn of 2008, the first undergraduate course offered through the CAO system will come on stream, the BA with Film Studies. Brian Deane's Without Words can be viewed on the School's website www.filmschool.ie -ends-

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Two NUI Galway academics have been admitted as Members of the Royal Irish Academy. Election to the Royal Irish Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Professor Nicholas Canny, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said "It is a testament to Ireland's formidable position in the academic world that the Royal Irish Academy is able to honour such a variety of exceptional scholars in the Sciences and Humanities. Ireland can be proud of these brilliant women and men who are universally recognised as leaders in the world of learning." The two new Members are Professor Christopher Dainty and Professor William Spillane. Christopher Dainty is Professor of Applied Physics. In 2007 he was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant to research applied optical techniques, focused on improving diagnostic methods which would lead to early diagnosis of disease in the eye and prevention of blindness in old age. William Spillane is Professor of Chemistry. His research is focused on consumer perceptions of sweet taste in food, how this affects our sensory evaluation of taste, and how to optimise taste. The criterion for election to membership is a significant contribution to scholarly or scientific research as shown in the candidate's published academic work. Membership of the Academy, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to those scientists and scholars normally resident in Ireland. The Royal Irish Academy is an all-Ireland, independent, academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is the principal learned society in Ireland. For 223 years membership of the Royal Irish Academy has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of academic achievement. There are now 404 Members of the Academy, in disciplines from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Those elected are entitled to use the designation MRIA after their name. Among the membership of the Academy are many of Ireland s leading scholars, the best known of whom include: Professor Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate; Dr Garret FitzGerald, economist and former Taoiseach; Dr. Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway; and Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The Academy has also more than 50 distinguished honorary Members, who in the past have included J.W. Von Goethe, Maria Edgeworth, Albert Einstein and Max Born. Today the Honorary Members include Nobel Laureates, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg and Sir Andrew Huxley. Further information can be found on www.ria.ie -ENDS-

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Academic Councils of the four Universities with undergraduate medical schools, NUI Galway, TCD, UCC and UCD together with the RCSI have given their approval for new selection criteria for undergraduate entry to Medicine which adds a new test dimension to the traditional Leaving Certificate entry route. The Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keefe TD welcomed the introduction of the new arrangements. The admission test for entry in 2009 will take place on Saturday 14 February in test centres in Cork, Dublin, Galway, the North-West and the South-East at a cost of approximately €95 per candidate. An information brochure outlining the details of the new selection criteria is being sent to all secondary schools during May 2008. Further details are available from any of the University or RCSI admissions offices. The new proposals represent the implementation of key recommendations of the Fottrell report which was approved by Government in 2006, for the reform of medical education. Under the new arrangements, students will sit a separate admissions test and their results will be combined with their Leaving Certificate Examination to create a new admission route to undergraduate medicine for 2009. As well as the mandatory subjects, a threshold of 480 points in the same sitting of the Leaving Certificate will be required to be eligible. Leaving Certificate points up to 550 will count as normal and above this level, each band of 5 points will be given 1 point extra only. For example, a student with 555 points will be credited with 551 points, a student with 560 points will be credited with 552 points. The maximum Leaving Certificate point score will translate to 560. The new admissions test is called HPAT- Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test – Ireland). The test will have a maximum score of 300. The students' marks will be combined to a total maximum achievable mark of 860. Commenting, on behalf of the Irish Medical Schools, on the new admission route Professor Bill Powderly, stressed the importance of the design of the new test. "A crucial element of the test is that it measures the student's ability rather than prepared learning and this avoids a situation whereby scores could be improved through repeated testing and grind courses." The HPAT – Ireland test which was chosen through an international tender process will be independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). HPAT- Ireland examines mental ability, reasoning, personal skills and professional attributes. Following the Fottrell Report (2006) Medical Education in Ireland: A New Direction, Report of the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training, the cap on undergraduate medical places for EU students was raised from 305 to 480, spread across the four university medical schools and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. When both the undergraduate and graduate entry routes come fully on stream the annual intake to medicine for EU students will be 720. The Universities and RCSI fully support the principles of the reform outlined in the Fottrell Report and the combination of additional places and the new selection criteria for entry is good news for those competing for entry to undergraduate medicine. -ends-

Friday, 16 May 2008

Part-time degree programmes at NUI Galway will be showcased at a special information evening on Thursday, 22 May at 7pm, in the J.E. Cairnes Business School, Upper Newcastle Road, Galway. Lecturers involved in delivering the Bachelor of Science in Science and Technology, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Commerce programmes will be on hand to offer prospective students detailed information about the courses. All three degree programmes are offered on a part-time basis and in the case of the Bachelor of Commerce and in BSc Science and Technology, via blended learning which allows for a more flexible approach to course delivery. NUI Galway has revised its Bachelor of Arts programme to offer an interesting mix of specialist subjects including English, History, French and Information Technology. Delivered by the University's College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, in association with the Adult and Continuing Education Office, the programme is available over four years with classes offered in the evenings. Students are awarded a Diploma in Arts after two years with a Bachelor of Arts conferred on completion of the full four-year cycle. The Bachelor of Commerce programme is also a joint venture between the Adult and Continuing Education Office and the Faculty of Commerce. It can be pursued either to a Diploma in Management over two years, or to a full Bachelor of Commerce degree after four years study. "The BSc Science and Technology is designed for students who cannot afford to leave the workplace to pursue full time education", explains programme co-ordinator Niamh Nolan of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office. "The diploma consists of 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years. Following successful completion of the diploma, students can continue to degree level which requires the completion of a further 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years". According to Nuala McGuinn at the Adult and Continuing Education Office, NUI Galway, "The information evening will outline each programme's content, the structure of each course and teaching timetable. There will also be time set aside for a question and answer session in what is an hour-long lecture event. Lecturers will also be available to meet with students following the event to answer any other questions relevant to the programmes". For further details on the Information Evening contact the Adult and Continuing Education Office at NUI Galway on 091 492062 or 091493746 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation -ends-

Thursday, 15 May 2008

A Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator grant of €3.5 million has been awarded to NUI Galway's Professor Noel Lowndes for his research into the biology of cancer. Professor Lowndes is Head of the Department of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and founding Director of the Genome Stability Cluster, which is part of the University's National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES). The Genome Stability Cluster (GSC) is an international assembly of independent cancer biology laboratories, unique within Ireland, all working on basic cellular mechanisms involved in the development of cancer. Currently, it employs more than 40 researchers who are focused on increasing our understanding of cell cycle control and cellular responses to DNA damage. With this most recent award, the GSC has now been funded to the tune of €15 million since 2002. According to Professor Lowndes, this level of funding has followed the rapid establishment of ten independent laboratories within the Genome Stability Cluster at NUI Galway, giving Ireland an international presence in this field, "The Genome Stability Cluster is an NUI Galway initiative that firmly puts Ireland on the map in an area of science of fundamental importance to cancer. We have achieved the essential critical mass to make a real impact in this field and the future promises important strides in our understanding of this major killer." As a disease, cancer is characterised by abnormally elevated levels of genome instability. The latest grant will finance a team of ten researchers on a five-year research programme focusing on the fundamental biological response of genes and proteins to DNA damage. Professor Lowndes continued, "A detailed understanding of the many biochemical pathways that regulate genome stability will significantly enhance our knowledge of cancer and will lead to both better diagnosis of cancer and better prognosis of their outcomes. Importantly, it will also lead to the identification of novel targets for therapeutic interventions and the next generation of cancer therapies that target specific cancers at the molecular level. All cancers have defects in genome stability pathways and knowledge of the status of these pathways in patients will also impact on cancer prevention and pre-emptive treatments." The work will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Flaus, NCBES, NUI Galway, and world renowned scientists from the USA and Japan, including: Professor Don Hunt, Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, USA; Professor, Shunichi Takeda, Department of Radiation Genetics, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan; and Professor Eva Nogales, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Berkeley, USA. The establishment of the GSC would not have been possible without funding from Science Foundation Ireland, which has so far awarded major programme grants to six members of the cluster. Significant funding has also been obtained from the Health Research Board, the Higher Education authority and the European Union, with smaller amounts from Cancer Research Ireland, the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the National Institute of Health (USA). The GSC complements two other multidisciplinary research clusters at the NCBES, which are focused on Apoptosis (cell death) and Breast Cancer. All are working to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer, and to develop new and better cancer therapies. -ends-

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and Leitrim County Council have announced that the second John McGahern International Seminar will take place from 24-26 July, 2008, to commemorate the work and literary achievements of one of Ireland's best known and internationally respected modern writers. The first International Seminar was held in County Leitrim in 2007 and was attended by more than 100 participants from Ireland and overseas. Speakers at the 2008 International Seminar and Summer School will include eminent writers, critics and academics as well as local contributors. The keynote address - John McGahern's Irelands - will be delivered by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh of NUI Galway. Other speakers will include Professor Christopher Murray, UCD; Professor David Malcolm, University of Gdansk, Poland; Dr Patrick Gilligan, dramatist; Irish writer Claire Keegan; and the Argentinean poet and translator, Gerardo Gambolini, who has just finished translating McGahern's stories into Spanish. As well as appealing to all lovers of McGahern's own work, the International Seminar will be of interest to literary researchers and to book clubs, to readers of contemporary fiction and modern writing, and to all national and international students of Irish literature and culture. In addition to this years Seminar, NUI Galway has organised an intensive one week International Summer School on John McGahern's work and its contexts. This summer programme will form part of the 25th International Summer School in Irish Studies at NUI Galway. The John McGahern International Summer School is designed for advanced level students and researchers who are interested in the writings of John McGahern and his life and times in 20th Century Ireland. The Summer School will take place at the County Library, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, the week after the Seminar. Contributors to the Summer School, directed by Dr. John Kenny of NUI Galway, will include Ms Belinda McKeon of Columbia University, New York; Dr James Whyte, author of History, Myth and Ritual in the Fiction of John McGahern; and Dr. Frank Shovlin of the Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool. Speaking at the announcement of the 2008 International Seminar and Summer School, Damien Brennan, Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, said, "Last year, the first International Seminar was a great success, both in its own right, but also in terms of laying foundations for the future. In this second year, it is wonderful to see the programme develop to incorporate The John McGahern Summer School in Ballinamore. Between the International Seminar and the Summer School, we now have the opportunity to facilitate both academic and general readers to engage richly with the work of John McGahern." John McGahern had a long association with University College Galway, now NUI Galway. For over 30 years he contributed to courses at the University, including the University's International Summer School. He directed the National Writers' Workshop in Galway in 1979 and 1989. His extensive archive is now held in the James Hardiman Library at the University. Speaking at the announcement of the Second International Seminar and Summer School, President of NUI Galway, Dr. James Browne, said, "On behalf of NUI Galway, I am delighted to support the expansion and development of the John McGahern International Seminar and Summer School. Leitrim and the North-West of Ireland form a unique and important backdrop to the McGahern canon. At NUI Galway we share in this geography, and by being the repository for the papers of John McGahern we feel that our University is holding in trust a treasure for the world of literary scholarship." "Through initiatives such as the International Seminar and Summer School we are working to broaden access to the University s literary scholarship and archival treasures, by sharing these with a wider audience in Leitrim and the West of Ireland. I wish the McGahern International Summer School and Seminar every success and I welcome the continued partnership of Leitrim County Council in this culturally important endeavour." This year's Seminar will also see the launch of the first number of The John McGahern Yearbook. Speaking at the announcement of the publication, Dr John Kenny, Editor, said, "In close relation with the Seminar and Summer School, this new annual publication will be a regular testament to NUI Galway's commitment to the work of John McGahern and to the University's McGahern Archive. The Yearbook will link the local, the national and the international in the study of John McGahern and will combine accessibility with serious scholarship". For further details on The John McGahern International Seminar and Summer School contact 091-495442 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/iss ENDS

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Secondary school students from all over Ireland participated in the inaugural final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition on Friday, 9 May, at the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the debating competition is coordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with science research and discovery centres throughout Ireland. After several closely fought debates, Ballincollig Community School, Co. Cork, emerged victorious to become the first ever Debating Science Issues winners. Other national finalists included Gort Community College, Co. Galway, St Colman's College Newry, and St Mary's Academy CBS Carlow Town. DSI is a dynamic debating competition, which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides a great opportunity for students to expand their communication and scientific skills. This All-Ireland competition is unique in involving a number of research centres and secondary schools throughout the country; REMEDI, NUI Galway; Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC; Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, DCU; CRANN in Trinity College Dublin; RCSI, Dublin and W5 in Belfast. Judges on the day included Frank Gannon, SFI; Brian Trench, Head of School of Communications, DCU; Dick Ahlstrom, Science Editor, The Irish Times; Siobhan O' Sullivan, The Irish Council for Bioethics; Tom Kennedy, Editor of Science Spin; Oonagh Meighan, Discover Science and Engineering and Cormac Sheridan, Science Journalist. "We hope that this collaborative outreach competition will be a useful tool in facilitating increased awareness of the important research taking place in Ireland among young people and the Irish public in general", said Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director of REMEDI. "It is imperative, however, that this is not one-way traffic. While it is important for research centres to communicate to the public, it is equally important for us, as scientists, to listen to what the public, including young people, think of our work. At a time when scientific research itself is taking so many different directions, it is critical that we open the doors for discussion so that we can ensure that everyone has their say on the societal and ethical implications of biomedical research". -ends-

Monday, 12 May 2008

NUI Galway will celebrate 20 years of success in biodiagnostics research and development on Saturday, 17 May, with a symposium reflecting on the University's leadership in supporting and collaborating with Ireland's BioIndustry. The University is a world leader in molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases. Molecular diagnostic technologies have been licensed to companies who are market leaders in this area. Recently, NUI Galway launched a four year R&D partnership with Beckman Coulter Inc. to develop molecular diagnostic products for the clinical sector. NUI Galway has worked with industry to develop new, breakthrough biodiagnostic technologies which have successfully entered the marketplace. The University has trained graduates in industry-relevant skills, in particular immunoassay* and molecular diagnostics technologies providing skilled scientists to meet Irish BioIndustry work-force needs. "Over the past 20 years biodiagnostics expertise at NUI Galway has been instrumental in spawning a number of indigenous diagnostics companies and, because of the availability of trained personnel, in the attraction of major multinational diagnostic companies to Ireland," says Dr. Jim Walsh, CEO, Stokes Bio. According to Professor Terry Smith, Director of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES), "The last 20 years has seen huge advances in the fields of bio-science and biodiagnostics which has been reflected in the growth of the industry in Ireland. The University has kept pace with these advances amassing critically relevant expertise in these areas as well as broadening the R&D base to include new research areas such as glycosciences, biosensors and nanotechnology. NUI Galway will continue to work closely with Ireland's BioIndustry to support and contribute to the development of world-class BioIndustries in Ireland." Special guests at the symposium will include Professor Frank Gannon, Science Foundation Ireland; Dr. Jim Walsh, Stokes Bio; Dr. Patrick Cunningham, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government; and Dr. Bruce Wallace, Beckman Coulter Inc. The meeting will be chaired by Feargal Ó Móráin from Enterprise Ireland who will be addressing issues including the importance of industry and academic collaborative interaction and the role NUI Galway has played in the development of the Irish BioIndustry sector. The event takes place on Saturday at the Salthill Hotel, Galway from 2-5pm, for further information contact Dr. Marian Kane (Tel. 091-492071 or e-mail marian.kane@nuigalway.ie). -ends-

Monday, 12 May 2008

An Information Evening about part-time courses offered by NUI Galway takes place on Tuesday, 20 May from 7.30–8.30pm at the Clare Education Centre, Kilrush Road, Ennis. Full details will be available about Diplomas the University delivers in Ennis, and also the range of distance learning courses which combine on-line materials with face-to-face seminars. The four Diplomas which make up the 'Ennis Diploma Series' 2008/09 run on a part-time basis over two years and require class attendance one evening per week. Students can undertake the following courses: Diploma in French; Diploma in German; Diploma in Irish Music Studies; or a Diploma in Irish. For the language courses, even those with no previous knowledge of the language are invited to apply. A tuition fee of €1,025 applies for 2008/09 entry and the deadline for applications is 27 June. Nuala McGuinn of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office comments, "Whether you feel passionate about Irish music and language, are keen to improve your French or German, or you just want to take a course for your own interest and enjoyment - it is well worth exploring the Diploma programmes on offer in the Ennis Diploma Series". NUI Galway also offers a range of flexible, part-time distance learning programmes at a variety of tutorial centres in the west of Ireland. These programmes, which can be studied at foundation level through to Masters, are designed so that individuals can study at their own pace. The courses are delivered using a combination of online materials, tutorials and seminars. Courses available through distance learning include: Commerce; Community and Family Studies; Innovation Management; Social Care; Science and Technology Studies; and Software and Information Systems. Tutors for these courses will be available at the information evening to provide further information and answer any questions from prospective students. Nuala McGuinn added, "Our message on 20 May is that NUI Galway is bringing more and more courses to Clare and surrounding counties. We have had huge demand and success in the past with the Ennis Diploma Series. The next step is combining use of the internet with local tutorial centers to literally take third-level education to everyone's doorstep". For further details on the Information Evening or to obtain a copy of the new prospectus from the Adult and Continuing Education Programme, contact 091-492062 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation. -ends-

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Professor John Morrison and his group at NUI Galway have recently published a report pertaining to the incidence of obesity among pregnant Irish women, and the impact it has on their capability to deliver their infants by normal delivery. This study involved a close analysis of 5162 women who delivered their infants at Galway University Hospital. It included both women in their first pregnancy, and those in subsequent pregnancies. The body mass index (BMI) of all women was measured and compared with their outcome in terms of having a normal vaginal delivery, an assisted normal vaginal delivery (using forceps or vacuum) or an emergency caesarean section. According to Professor John Morrison, NUI Galway, "There is emerging evidence in the medical literature that obesity is becoming a major health problem in numerous developed countries. Yet, until now, there has been no published data in relation to obesity and pregnancy in an Irish obstetric population." The women were classified into five international categories: underweight; normal weight; overweight; obese; and morbidly obese. The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the incidence of the categories of overweight, obese and morbidly obese women in this Irish population, and secondly to see what effect it had on their success in having a normal delivery. A remarkably high (48.2%) of women attending the maternity hospital among this group of 5162 women, were either overweight (BMI 26.0 -29.9), or obese (BMI 30), including morbidly obese (overweight 22.8%; obese 19.8% and morbidly obese 5.6%). By international classification, 2.6% of women attending the maternity hospital of this group were underweight and 49.2% were of normal weight. The levels of obesity were marginally lower in first time mothers, in comparison to women in subsequent pregnancies. Morbid obesity (BMI 35), occurred in 5.6% of the women overall and in 4.3% of first time mothers and 6.5% of women in subsequent pregnancies. Professor Morrison continued, "These levels of overweight and obesity are significantly high when compared with the international literature. This level of obesity in pregnancy exerts a significant impact on maternal health, on fetal wellbeing and on ultimate delivery, and these issues are clearly discussed in the publication, in an Irish healthcare context". The second aspect of the study investigated the outcome in relation to the mode of delivery for women who were obese, in comparison to women who were of normal weight. For women in their first pregnancy who were of normal weight, the vaginal delivery rate was 83.1% but for obese primigravida this rate was as low as 55.3%. In other words, obesity conferred a two to three fold increase risk of delivery by emergency caesarean section for both women in their first pregnancy, and those in their subsequent pregnancy. Professor Morrison concluded, "These findings have major implications for health care in Ireland. Obesity in pregnancy has important implications for both maternal wellbeing being during the pregnancy, maternal health long term, infant health and chronic disorders in adulthood." One of the conclusions from this study was that obese women in their first pregnancy should be clearly counselled about the 30% risk of emergency caesarean section in pregnancy. -ends-

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin T.D. has announced Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding totalling almost €3million for four new research projects. The De Brun Centre for Computational Algebra, based at NUI Galway and led by Graham Ellis, Dane Flannery and Goetz Pfeiffer, will receive a grant of €500,000 over four years. Algebraic computation is playing an increasingly widespread role in applied mathematics, statistics, engineering and science. Recent examples of this phenomenon are the emergence of bioinformatics as a cognate discipline of biology, and the use of algebraic topology in image analysis. Three teams of researchers at NUI Galway will examine inter-related areas of computational algebra, focussing on innovative projects with direct relevance to applied mathematics and engineering. The award-winning projects, based at NUI Galway, University College Cork, Dublin City University, and University of Limerick, will be funded as part of SFI's Mathematics Initiative, which aims to facilitate closer links between Ireland's mathematicians and researchers in industry, science, engineering, finance, education and other sectors. Making the announcement, Minister Martin said: "SFI's Mathematics Initiative is a key driver in encouraging and supporting engagement and collaboration between mathematicians and those employed across a range of other disciplines. Such collaboration is essential in ensuring a flourishing environment between the worlds of academia and industry." "This initiative provides ongoing opportunities for innovative research to make a direct impact on enterprise, engineering, education and beyond. I commend those involved in these projects for their dedication and commitment in this regard," the Minister added. Director General of SFI, Prof. Frank Gannon said "The four research projects to successfully secure funding under this latest Mathematics Initiative have each illustrated vision, purpose and foresight in how Mathematics is applied to a variety of research areas. While diverse in their subject matter, the projects have, as a common theme, the enhancement of Ireland's reputation across all fields of mathematics." Science Foundation Ireland received a total of fourteen applications from seven Higher Education Institutions and all applications were assessed by a panel of international expert reviewers. ENDS

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Representing Sport: Forms and Issues An international conference hosted by the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, and the Department of French, NUI Galway is to bring together leading academics, and practitioners, concerned with the representation of sport through history and in contemporary life on 23 and 24 May, 2008. Dr Seán Crosson, The Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway, says "From the fine arts, through print and audio-visual culture, sport has been an enduring subject of representation. This has increasingly become the case with the development of the contemporary global media industry where representations of sport, from soccer to boxing and athletics, constitute some of the most popular subjects. It is one of the aims of this event to bridge the familiar divide between "high" and "popular" cultural spheres and thus to allow the spreading of knowledge in a broader community than would generally be the case for academic conferences." As well as considering the representation of sport in Ireland, the conference will also focus on its representation in the British Empire and Commonwealth, France, the UK and across Europe. A distinctive highlight of the event will be the screenings of two documentaries: Red Mist - Roy Keane and the Football Civil War(2007) directed by Eamonn Little, as part of a panel discussing 'Representing Sport & Controversy' which will include the director as well as award-winning Irish Times sports writer, Keith Duggan; and Pat Comer's A Year 'til Sunday (1998), which will be introduced by the director, to mark the tenth anniversary of the production of this award-winning and seminal documentary on Gaelic football. Among the distinguished contributors to the conference will be Professor Mike Cronin (Academic Director of the Centre for Irish Programmes at Boston College in Dublin and author of Sport and Nationalism in Ireland: Gaelic Games, Soccer and Irish Identity since 1884 (1999)); Professor Alan Bairner (Loughborough University and editor of Sport and the Irish. Histories, Identities, Issues (2001)); Professor Richard Holt (International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University, and author of Sport and the British: a modern history (1989)) and Dr. Paul Dietschy (Université de Franche-Comté, and co-author of Sport, culture et société en France du XIXe siècle à nos jours (2006)). Also contributing to the conference will be Professor David Scott, of Trinity College, Dublin, who has published extensively in the field of French textual and visual studies. A middleweight amateur boxer, Professor Scott is also the author of The Art and Aesthetics of Boxing (University of Nebraska Press, 2008). The conference is supported by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS), NUI Galway's Millennium Fund and the Department of French, NUI Galway. For a full programme or to register to attend the conference, please go to the Huston School of Film & Digital Media website at http://www.filmschool.ie/events or contact Seán Crosson at sean.crosson@nuigalway.ie ENDS

Friday, 2 May 2008

The 35th Annual Conference of the Sociological Association of Ireland convenes from 9-11 May at NUI Galway. Over three days, delegates will hear a wide range of presentations on topics as diverse as tourism in divided cities, the inequities of the Irish taxation system, the environment, religious practice, masculinity, new immigrant communities, food and food cultures. On the opening evening of the conference, Galway-based actor and writer Jeananne Crowley, will launch the latest volume in the Irish Sociological Chronicles series, Belongings: shaping identity in modern Ireland, edited by Mary P. Corcoran and Perry Share, and published by the Institute of Public Administration. Among the topics covered in this volume are the Michael Neary case, the 1916 commemorations, the Miss China Ireland pageant, Munster Mania, the rise of the Jumbo Breakfast Roll and the Irish Ferries dispute. On Saturday, 10 May veteran politician and sociologist Michael D. Higgins will be honoured with honorary life membership of the association. More than 70 papers and posters will be presented over the three-day event. Some of the papers to be presented are highlighted below. For a full listing of the conference programme please refer to www.sociology.ie. For further information please contact Mary P. Corcoran at 087-664-8751 or Aifric O'Grada. -ends-

Friday, 2 May 2008

An Information Evening detailing over 40 Adult and Continuing Education courses available from NUI Galway takes place at Áras na Mac Léinn, on Thursday, 15 May from 6.30-8.30pm. Those thinking of broadening their horizons through part-time study can visit information stands throughout the evening to find out about courses from English Literature to Rural Development. Part-time programmes can be studied at foundation level through to Masters, which can be either classroom-based or through distance learning. One of the newer courses to be unveiled at the information evening is the part-time Bachelor of Arts programme which has been designed to include an interesting mix of specialist subjects including English, History, French and Information Technology. The programme is available over four years on a part-time basis with classes offered in the evenings. Students are awarded a Diploma in Arts after two years and a full Bachelor of Arts on completion of the full four-year cycle. Other new courses this year include a BA in Social Care, which builds on the existing Diploma in Social Care. Supporting Irish business, the University is also offering new postgraduate courses in Innovation Management and Technology Commercialisation. A part-time Diploma in Management, which can be pursued to Bachelor of Commerce level, and is offered via distance learning to accommodate busy professionals and those living outside of Galway. Nuala McGuinn, of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office, comments "Getting motivated for any new challenge always requires effort, but when that challenge can potentially change your life, it's worth going the extra mile. At our open evening, course tutors and students will be on hand to offer expert advice on the programmes available and the benefits of acquiring new skills and qualification". For those not necessarily interested in pursuing a course to degree level, there is an impressive range of courses available at foundation and certificate level at NUI Galway. These include areas in health care such as Social Gerontology (the study of ageing); Community Development; Psychology of Counselling; and Employee Assistance and Social Support. The University also offers traditional subjects such as French, German, Italian, English, History, Gaeilge, Women s Studies and Irish Music Studies. NUI Galway's Diploma in Gemmology, which is run in conjunction with the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway, is a popular choice among jewellers, craftspeople and those with an interest in precious stones. For further details on the Information Evening or to obtain a copy of the new prospectus from the Adult and Continuing Education Programme, contact 091-492062 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation. -ends-

Thursday, 1 May 2008

A new initiative by NUI Galway to provide greater access to continuing education for nurses and midwives has been welcomed by HSE West and the Nursing Midwifery Planning and Development Unit (NMPDU). Postgraduate Diploma courses will be offered to nurses and midwives, for the first time in Ireland, through a combination of online and classroom-based teaching. The University's aim is to accommodate the hectic schedules and work demands of nurses and midwives by allowing them to complete course modules at their individual pace. The Postgraduate Diplomas offered by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway through 'blended learning' include Accident and Emergency, Intensive Care, Oncology, Palliative Care and Orthopaedics. Nora Irwin Area Director NMPDU, HSE West praised the new approach to teaching saying, "This new initiative really supports and facilitates nurses/midwives to access continuing education during this period where release and replacement of staff is difficult." Blended learning refers to a learning experience that combines classroom and online forms of learning (mixing traditional and distance learning). Nurses and midwives will have online access to course details and content at all times and participate through lectures and tutorials, discussion board, online collaboration, e-mail and telephone. According to Mary Francis O'Reilly Director of the National Midwifery Planning and Development Unit, "This is a new departure within the field of nursing and we are delighted that the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway is leading the way nationally with this initiative. Nurses and midwives are very busy practitioners and it can be difficult for managers to release staff to attend courses, therefore the introduction of 'blended learning' means that students will now be able to log onto the internet and undertake some modules from the comfort of their own homes. Students will also be able to take stand alone modules and accumulate credits over time". For further details of course available through blended learning contact Dr. Philip Larkin School of Nursing and Midwifery, NUI Galway on 091 492013 or visit the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office website www.go4th.ie -ends-

Friday, 27 June 2008

Honorary Doctorates conferred on Fionnula Flanagan, Justice Richard Goldstone, Professor Deirdre McCloskey, Eugene Murtagh, Donagh O'Donoghue, Micheál Ó hUiginn and Governor Martin O'Malley Seven outstanding individuals from the worlds of business, public service, education, justice, and the arts were conferred with honorary degrees from National University of Ireland, Galway today, Friday 27 June, 2008. Commenting, Dr. James Browne, President of NUI Galway, said, "I take pride, on behalf of the NUI Galway community, in welcoming these seven individuals to the ranks of our alumni. In becoming honorary graduates they join a global network of over 60,000 alumni. By awarding these truly outstanding people with the highest honour that the University can bestow, we pay tribute to their great achievements in such widely diverse fields." Degree of Doctor of Arts: Ms Fionnula Flanagan is an Emmy Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated Irish actress. She trained in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and has appeared in numerous films including, The Others with Nicole Kidman, Transamerica and Waking Ned Devine, as well as television series and stage productions. She also recently guest starred in the episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes" of Lost. She came to prominence in Ireland in 1965 as a result of her role as Máire in the Teilifís Éireann production of the Irish Language play, An Triail. Ms Flanagan established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of James Joyce in the 1967 film version of Ulysses. Degree of Doctor of Laws: Justice Richard Goldstone served as a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; as the Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; and as Chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has taught at New York University, Harvard, and Fordham Law Schools. He is presently a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center. In 2006 Goldstone taught at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway. Degree of Doctor of Economic Science: Professor Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English and Communication at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is a leading economist, rhetorician, scholar and public intellectual. McCloskey has written 14 books one of the latest being The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce which is the first of a projected five-volume magnum opus. Before The Bourgeois Virtues her best known books were The Rhetoric of Economics (1985) and Crossing: A Memoir, published in 1999, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Degree of Doctor of Laws: Mr Eugene Murtagh is the founder and Chairman of Kingspan Group Plc. Since starting in the 1960s as a small family business Kingspan has grown to become one of Ireland s most successful companies. With a turnover in excess of €1.8 billion, the Group has 43 manufacturing plants in 28 countries around the world, employing over 6,500 people. Murtagh was appointed in 2000 by the Irish and British governments as a director of the International Fund for Ireland, which has invested €849 million in projects across the island of Ireland. Degree of Doctor of Laws: Mr Donagh O'Donoghue is a prominent member of the Galway business community and a member of NUI Galway Governing Authority. O'Donoghue succeeded his father as Group Managing Director of Thomas McDonagh & Sons Ltd. in 1975 and grew the company significantly over a twenty-five year period. His catalogue of directorships includes Bord na Móna, Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and Galway Airport. He has also served as board member of IBEC, Galway Chamber of Commerce and Druid Theatre Company. Degree of Doctor of Laws: Mícheál Ó hUiginn, Uas. is a member of NUI Galway s Governing Authority and director of Ó hUiginn Teoranta, Galway. He has served successive terms on Galway City Council from 1964 until his retirement in 2004. During these forty years of service to the city of Galway, Mícheál Ó hUiginn has been Mayor of Galway for three terms and has made significant contributions to all aspects of civic life and local government, particularly in the area of education. Degree of Doctor of Laws: Governor Martin O'Malley is the 61st Governor of Maryland. An American Democratic politician he previously served as Mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. During his two terms as Mayor, Baltimore became a national model for improvement in public safety, government efficiency, education and economic development. As Governor he is now applying his experience to the State of Maryland and has been described by The Washington Post as a "governor unafraid of government". In 2005 Business Week listed O'Malley as one of "Five Fresh Faces" to lead the Democratic Party. ENDS

Friday, 27 June 2008

Céimeanna Oinigh bronnta ar Fionnula Flanagan, An Breitheamh Richard Goldstone, An tOllamh Deirdre McCloskey, Eugene Murtagh, Donagh O'Donoghue, Micheál Ó hUiginn agus an Gobharnóir Martin O'Malley Bronnadh céimeanna oinigh ar sheachtar den scoth – daoine ón domhan gnó, daonchairdis, ceartais, seirbhís poiblí, oideachas agus na n-ealaíon – in OÉ Gaillimh inniu, Dé hAoine, an 27 Meitheamh 2008. Dúirt an Dr James Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh gur "cúis bróid, thar ceann phobal OÉ Gaillimh, an seachtar seo a áireamh i measc alumni OÉ Gaillimh. Ach na céimeanna oinigh seo a bheith bronnta, áireofar iad i measc 60,000 alumni ar fud an domhain. Comhartha ómóis ar a bhfuil bainte amach ag na daoine seo iad céimeanna oinigh a bhronnadh orthu – an onóir is mó is féidir leis an Ollscoil a bhronnadh." Céim Dhochtúireachta sna Dána: Aisteoir Éireannach í Fionnula Flanagan a bhfuil Gradam Emmy bronnta uirthi agus ainmniúchán do Ghradam Tony faighte aici. Is in Amharclann na Mainistreach a d'fhoghlaim sí a ceird agus i measc na scannán ar ghlac sí páirt iontu tá The Others le Nicole Kidman, Transamerica agus Waking Ned Devine, mar aon le sraith teilifíse agus léiriúcháin ar stáitse. Chomh maith leis sin, ghlac sí páirt in eagrán den tsraith teilifíse Lost – eagrán dár teideal "Flashes Before Your Eyes". Thuill sí clú agus cáil in Éirinn den chéad uair sa bhliain 1965 tráth ar thug sí léargas iontach ar a cumas aisteoireachta i bpáirt Mháire i léiriú Theilfís Éireann den dráma Gaeilge – An Triail. Léirigh Fionnula Flanagan a cumas mar aisteoir a raibh sárthuiscint aici ar scríbhinní James Joyce sa scannán a rinneadh de Ulysses sa bhliain 1967. Céim Dhochtúireachta sa Dlí: D'oibrigh an Breitheamh Richard Goldstone mar Bhreitheamh ar Chúirt Bhunreachtáil na hAfraice Theas; mar Phríomh-Ionchúisitheoir ar Bhinsí Coiriúla Idirnáisiúnta na Náisiún Aontaithe don iar-Iúgslaiv agus Ruanda; agus mar Sheansailéir ar Ollscoil Witwatersrand, An Afraic Theas. Chaith sé tamall ag teagasc i Scoileanna Dlí Ollscoil Nua-Eabhrac, Ollscoil Harvard agus Fordham. I láthair na huaire, tá sé ag feidhmiú mar ollamh ar cuairt in Ionad Dlí Ollscoil Georgetown. In 2006, chaith Goldstone seal ag teagasc san Ionad Éireannach um Chearta an Duine in OÉ Gaillimh. Céim Dhochtúireachta san Eolaíocht Síceolaíochta: Is Ollamh Oirirc le hEacnamaíocht, Stair, Béarla agus Cumarsáid in Ollscoil Illinois, Chicago í An tOllamh Deirdre McCloskey. Tá sí ar cheann de na heacnamaithe, reitricithe, scoláirí agus intleachtóirí poiblí is mó cáil sna Stáit Aontaithe. Tá 14 leabhar scríofa ag McCloskey, ina measc The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce – an chéad leabhar as magnum opus cúig imleabhar. Sular foilsíodh The Bourgeois Virtues ba iad na leabhair ba mhó cáil a scríobh sí The Rhetoric of Economics (1985) agus Crossing: A Memoir, a foilsíodh i 1999, leabhar ar tagraíodh dó sa New York Times mar Notable Book. Céim Dhochtúireachta sa Dlí: Is é an tUasal Eugene Murtagh bunaitheoir agus Cathaoirleach Kingspan Group Plc. Ó cuireadh tús le Kingspan an chéad lá riamh sna 60idí mar ghnó beag teaghlaigh tá fás agus forbairt dhochreidte tagtha ar an ngnó agus anois tá sé ar cheann de na cuideachtaí is bisiúla in Éirinn. Tá láimhdeachas de bhreis is €1.8 billiún ag an nGrúpa anois, lena n-áirítear 43 monarcha dhéantúsaíochta i 28 tír ar fud an domhain. Tá breis is 6,500 duine fostaithe ag an nGrúpa ar fud na cruinne. Cheap Rialtas na hÉireann agus Rialtas na Breataine Murtagh mar stiúrthóir ar an gCiste Idirnáisiúnta d'Éirinn in 2000. Tá os cionn €849 milliún infheistithe ag an gCiste seo i dtionscadail ar fud na hÉireann. Céim Dhochtúireachta sa Dlí: Duine aitheanta i measc phobal gnó na Gaillimhe é an tUasal Donagh O'Donoghue mar aon le comhalta d'Údarás Bainistíochta OÉ Gaillimh. Tháinig O'Donoghue i gcomharba ar a athair mar Stiúrthóir Bainistíochta Grúpa Thomas McDonagh & Sons Ltd. sa bhliain 1975 agus chinntigh sé gur tháinig fás agus forbairt ar an gcuideachta thar thréimhse 20 bliain. I measc na gcuideachtaí a raibh ról stiúrthóireachta aige iontu tá Bord na Móna, Coimisiún Craolacháin na hÉireann agus Aerphort na Gaillimhe. Chomh maith leis sin, bhí sé ina chomhalta boird de IBEC, Cumann Tráchtála agus Tionscail na Gaillimhe agus Amharclann Druid. Céim Dhochtúireachta sa Dlí: Comhalta d'Údarás Bainistíochta OÉ Gaillimh agus stiúrthóir ar Ó hUiginn Teoranta, Gaillimh é an tUasal Mícheál Ó hUiginn. Bhí sé ina chomhalta de Chomhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe ó 1964 go dtí go ndeachaigh sé ar scor in 2004. Chaith sé daichead bliain ag obair ar son chathair na Gaillimhe, toghadh é mar Mhéara na Gaillimhe trí théarma éagsúla agus rinne sé an-obair ar mhaithe le cur le gach gné de shaol na cathrach agus an rialtais áitiúil, go háirithe sa réimse oideachais. Céim Dhochtúireachta sa Dlí: Is é an Gobharnóir Martin O'Malley 61ú Gobharnóir Maryland. Le linn dó a bheith ag feidhmiú mar pholaiteoir Daonlathach i Meiriceá bhí sé ina Mhéara ar Baltimore ó 1999 go dtí 2007. Le linn an dá théarma a chaith sé mar Mhéara, ainmníodh Baltimore mar shamhail náisiúnta d'fheabhas i sábháilteacht phoiblí, éifeachtacht rialtais, oideachas agus forbairt gheilleagrach. Tá sé ag feidhmiú mar Ghobharnóir anois agus ag baint leasa as an taithí atá aige chun dul chun cinn a dhéanamh i Stát Maryland. Scríobhadh in The Washington Post gur "governor unafraid of government" é Martin O'Malley. Sa Business Week in 2005, liostaíodh O'Malley mar dhuine den "Five Fresh Faces" a chinnteodh dul chun cinn an Pháirtí Dhaonlathaigh. - críoch -

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The fascinating subject of precious gemstones is proving popular among students of the Diploma in Gemmology at NUI Galway. The part-time programme, which is the only course of its kind in the country, is part of an innovative Scientific Studies Diploma Series aimed at adult learners. The Diploma provides students with a broad introduction to the study of gemstones by covering a range of laboratory based techniques used for their identification. "The emphasis of this course is on the practical side of gemmology with a scientific twist, although no previous knowledge is required," explains Course Director, Dr Martin Feely. "This is particularly useful for jewellers who want to learn more about the origin and formation of the stones they sell. The first hour of each weekly class involves a lecture while the rest of the session is devoted to the practical examination of over 200 gemstones, from diamonds to rubies, emeralds and sapphires." He added, "We also have specialist equipment available for the students to use so that they can see how gemstones are cut. Students are given an excellent background of the genesis of gemstones, and learn how the natural crystals form in the Earth's crust. On the course, students include people with degrees in geology, but also those with no previous academic qualifications, just a real interest in the subject and wish to learn." Another course in the Scientific Studies Series is the Diploma in Geology which provides an introduction to the science of geology for people interested in the landscape and the general outdoors. Subjects covered on this two-year course include Evolution of the Earth, The Human Perspective, and Hazards and the Environment. Dr. Kathryn Moore, Lecturer at the Department of Earth and Ocean Science and Course Director, says previous students of the course have revelled in the heavy emphasis placed on field trips throughout the programme. "It's a very sociable academic course for anyone that has a genuine interest in the outdoors. Past students have used the Diploma to enhance their career prospects and the course may also prove useful to geography teachers in secondary schools that now have to include geology in their teaching curriculum, or engineers looking for geological knowledge and understanding." Application forms and further information on both courses are available from the Adult and Continuing Education Office on 091 492062 or by emailing adulteducation@nuigalway.ie ENDS

Monday, 23 June 2008

Scientists from the Irish Seaweed Centre at NUI Galway say Ireland could become a key player in the production of biofuel from seaweed. According to Dr. Stefan Kraan, Manager of the Irish Seaweed Centre, "With its rich, sustainable, seaweed resources, Ireland is poised to become an important player in the next generation of biofuel production." Dr. Kraan was speaking at the annual conference of the International Society for Applied Phycology opened this morning at NUI Galway, for which over 400 delegates have registered. Phycology, the scientific study of algae, will be discussed and debated at the event which has attracted engineers, manufacturers, contractors, scientists, researchers, students, economists, industry representatives and policymakers. Seaweed has long been investigated as a potential source of bioethanol, which is typically made from crops such as sugar cane and corn, but technological barriers remain to its commercial use. According to Kraan, "Algae do not have the negative image of terrestrial biomass resources, which are said to be responsible for higher food prices, impacting on water use, biodiversity and destruction of rain forest. This conference allows us to examine the current technologies available for the production of bioethanol from seaweed. We will examine the economic and social aspects of using brown seaweeds for bioethanol production, and views on the feasibility of biofuel production from macroalgae." The keynote address at the conference 'Algae and biofuels: Quo vadis?' was delivered by Professor Michael A. Borowitzka, from Murdoch University, Australia. According to Professor Borowitzka, "Compared to other bioenergy crops (e.g. rapeseed, canola, peanut, oil palm) there are a number of species of algae that have higher areal productivities, higher oil content and that can grow in saline waters. These apparently very favourable properties have generated a frenzy of interest and activities in the field of energy production using algae, both microalgae and seaweeds." He continued, "For biofuel production the algal biomass needs to be produced at a cost of around $US1 or less per kg. In order to achieve this ambitious goal there is the need for year-round reliable high productivity algal culture and all factors (e.g. algae strains, algae culture, harvesting and further downstream processing) need to be optimized and efficiently integrated." Ireland boasts 16 commercially useful seaweed species, with additional species being added as more research is carried out. Ireland's location as off Western Europe, surrounded by clean seas, is a major selling point to the world market. The current uses of seaweeds in Ireland are as foods and food supplements; fertilizers, liquid seaweed extracts, soil conditioners, animal feed supplements, raw material for seaweed polymers (alginates), cosmetics, body-care products, thalassotherapy (sea water and seaweed treatments), medical preparations, biotechnology and biomedicine. -ends-

Monday, 23 June 2008

NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) is to develop a new intelligent trip planner in collaboration with Irish start-up Tourist Republic Ltd. The internet tool, TripPlanr, will allow travellers to plan more complex trips than existing technology allows, such as combining multiple destinations on a fixed budget and timeline. The cost of this initiative is €200,000 and has received support funding under Enterprise Ireland s Innovation Partnership programme. TripPlanr will be aimed at the more adventurous traveller who wants more than a weekend for two in one of Paris s main hotels. The technology will combine Touristr.com's traveller recommendations with information from airlines and accommodation providers, suggesting the most perfectly-attuned trip possible. Jan Blanchard, is CEO of Tourist Republic and sees huge benefits in the partnership, "We knew that to build the intelligent trip planner which we have in mind, we needed a team to rival the in-house expertise at Google or Yahoo! Through Enterprise Ireland we have this opportunity to bring our vision to reality with DERI, which is the largest Semantic Web research institute in the world". DERI's specialised expertise in Information Mining, the Semantic Web and Web 2.0 applications will allow TripPlanr to filter data and make recommendations based on the preferences of the traveller and their social network. Building on Touristr.com s existing destination review site, the new solution is expected to increase the probability of the traveller booking the targeted option suggested. According to Dr. John Breslin, Project Leader with DERI at NUI Galway, and founder of the popular online forum boards.ie, "The pre-internet problem of information deficit has been replaced with the problem of information overload. We are faced with an overwhelming surfeit of similarly sounding destination descriptions and offers. We hope to make online trip planning much more personalised by enabling networked knowledge using the latest technologies developed here at DERI." The TripPlanr project has a skilled team in place to research and develop the application, and the project is currently recruiting for web developers to join this exciting work. TripPlanr is expected to be in beta testing by the end of the year. -ends-

Friday, 20 June 2008

Multi-culturalism is the order of the day at the Clare Education Centre in Ennis which will host a Diploma Series offered by NUI Galway s college of Arts, Social Science and Celtic Studies in conjunction with the University's Adult and Continuing Education Office. Applications for the four programmes in Irish Music Studies, French, German and the Irish language are now invited from people seeking a new challenge or from those interested in brushing up on those rusty language skills. No previous knowledge of any of the subjects is required for the diplomas, which have proven to be a popular choice among adult learners over a long tradition of part-time programmes at NUI Galway. A rising interest in the Irish language has prompted the University to restructure its Diploma in Irish which is now offered at three levels, to cater for all abilities. Bríd Seoige of Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta, which delivers the Diploma in Irish, said people who have never spoken a word of Irish before can now study the language to diploma level. "Previously some students found the diploma tough and many dropped out but now we are offering three levels of diploma, catering to those non-Irish students interested in the language, right up to competent Irish speakers who wish to strengthen their written and grammar skills," she said. While the diploma is popular with students of all capabilities, in recent years there has been increased demand for the course among mature students interested in pursuing a career in teaching. "We have had a lot of students who have taken up the diploma as a way of fulfilling the Irish requirement for primary school teaching," said Bríd. "There has also been a lot of interest in the course in the aftermath of the comedian Des Bishop s recent television series which has helped to enhance the Irish language s reputation especially among young adults." The Diploma in Irish Music Studies will strike a chord among the north Clare traditional music scene which is noted throughout the country for its historic musical culture. The course provides insights from music, dance, poetry, television and film into the ways in which Irish performers and writers have been actively involved in imagining and re-imagining Ireland from the 18th century to the present. Tim Collins, one of the course directors who will deliver the traditional Irish music and dance components of the programme, said it was suited to anyone with an interest in Irish culture. "Musical ability is not a requirement for students entering this course as the programme is mainly centred around the debate and discussion of the identity of Irish traditional music," he said. "Up to now our classes have included a diverse mix of students from doctors in Galway to musicians in Ennis so it really is a course that has broad appeal to a wide cross section of society." French and German are also popular course options for people in the region considering part-time education. Giving students the ability both to converse and comprehend a variety of everyday topics and situations in the languages, both courses also equip students with an introduction to the civilisations, cultures and societies of both countries. For further information on the Ennis Diploma Series contact the Adult and Continuing Education Office at 091 492062 or email adulteducation@nuigalway.ie. -ends-

Friday, 20 June 2008

NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office is expecting record numbers of applications this month for its Diploma series. There are over 15 two-year, part-time diplomas on offer. Usually classes are one evening a week and subjects vary from Archaeology to Women's Studies, or Italian to English Literature. One of the newer programmes available is the Diploma in Social Gerontology, which is the study of ageing. With today's population living longer, it is an area of increasing interest to both academics and society alike. Subjects covered in the diploma include the economics of ageing and public policy for dependent older people. Course director Áine Ní Léime said the programme was the first of its kind in Ireland, and that students of the current course ranged from carers and health professionals to members of active retirement groups and others interested in the area of ageing. "It's proving to be a popular course for people involved in voluntary work as well as people working within the HSE who have said it's been very useful in the course of their day-to-day work. "However, it's not just for the health worker. It is a second chance for people who may not have had third or even second level education but want to gain a qualification in something they are genuinely interested in." Among the languages available in the Diploma Series include Italian, French, German and Irish all of which cater for students interested in honing their language skills both for business and pleasure. The Diploma in German helps students develop skills to communicate effectively in the language as well as providing an insight into the intellectual, economic and cultural history of a country that is at the heart of Europe. Course director Gabi Behrens said the classes focused on communication with teaching through conversation and language exercises instead of an over-reliance on memorising text. With only one class a week, it is essential that students allocate time to the course during their own time. According to Gabi Behrens, "The students who get the most out of the course usually incorporate short but regular language practice sessions in their everyday routines, which can include listening to German tapes or keeping a diary in German." Another popular course offered is the Diploma in Irish Music Studies, which is aimed at anyone interested in Irish culture. The course provides insights from music, dance, poetry, television and film into the ways in which Irish performers and writers have been actively involved in imagining and re-imagining Ireland from the 18th century to the present. Tim Collins, one of the course directors who will deliver the traditional Irish music and dance components of the programme, said, "Musical ability is not a requirement for students entering this course as the programme is mainly centred around the debate and discussion of the identity of Irish traditional music". For further information on all courses available in the Diploma Series contact the Adult and Continuing Education Office at 091 492062 or email adulteducation@nuigalway.ie -ends-

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Fógraíonn an tIonad Taighde um Chothú Sláinte in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh tuarascáil nua na hEagraíochta Domhanda Sláinte dar teideal "Health Inequalities in Young People's Health". Seo an tuarascáil idirnáisiúnta is deireanaí faoin suirbhé HBSC ar Iompraíocht Sláinte i measc Leanaí ag Aois Scoile www.euro.who.int Tá torthaí le fáil sa tuarascáil seo maidir le bearta sláinte agus leasa daoine óga i 41 tír san Eoraip agus i Meiriceá Thuaidh. Chomh maith le patrúin thrasnáisiúnta, léiríonn an tuarascáil na hathruithe sláinte ag aoiseanna áirithe agus scrúdaítear an difríocht idir buachaillí agus cailíní agus an difríocht idir leanaí ó theaghlaigh bhoichte agus shaibhre. Bailíodh an t-eolas ó bhreis agus 200,000 dalta 11, 13 agus 15 bliana d'aois. Is é an chiall is leithne atá le sláinte sa tuarascáil i.e. leas fisiciúil, sóisialta agus mothúchánach. Tá torthaí le fáil sa tuarascáil chomh maith ar chomhthéacs sóisialta na sláinte cosúil le caidreamh piaraí agus teaghlaigh, an timpeallacht scoile agus deitéarmanaint shocheacnamaíocha. Ba í an Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, ón Ionad Taighde um Chothú Sláinte san Ollscoil a bhí mar Phríomh-Imscrúdaitheoir in Éirinn agus mar chomhúdar ar an tuarascáil. Dúirt an Dr. Nic Gabhainn, "Is é seo an chéad uair a rinneadh taifead córasach ar éagothroime i sláinte daoine óga agus aois, inscne, saibhreas agus tíreolaíocht curtha san áireamh san oiread seo tíortha – cloch mhíle atá ann sa tuiscint atá againn ar shláinte daoine óga. Tá an t-aoisghrúpa atá i gceist ar tí a bheith ina n-ógánaigh, agus athruithe fisiciúla agus mothúchánacha rompu, agus cinntí tábhachtacha saoil agus gairme le déanamh acu". I gcomparáid leis na 40 tír eile san Eoraip agus i Meiriceá Thuaidh, d'éirigh go maith le leanaí na hÉireann, ó thaobh gníomhaíocht fhisiciúil (an 10 is fearr) agus bricfeasta a ithe (an 10 is fearr) agus thuairiscigh siad leibhéal sách íseal tinnis (an 10 is ísle) agus gortaithe (an 10 is ísle). Tá leanaí na hÉireann sa chúig is fearr ó thaobh dlúthchairde agus an chaoi a n-éiríonn leis na haoisghrúpaí ar fad ag an scoil. Tá leanaí bunscoile (11 bhliain d'aois), in íochtar ó thaobh iompraíocht dhiúltach cosúil le troid (37ú háit) agus bulaíocht (33ú háit) agus tá Éire sa deich dtír is fearr ó thaobh sástacht saoil. Dúirt an Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, "Dea-scéal é seo don tír seo, táimid fós chun cinn ó thaobh gníomhaíocht fhisiciúil, agus tá feabhas tagtha orainn ó thaobh milseáin a ithe agus deochanna boga a ól, chomh maith le fiacla a ní, áit nach raibh ag éirí go maith linn i suirbhéanna trasnáisiúnta an HBSC roimhe seo". Tháinig laghdú ar líon na ndaoine a chaitheann agus a ólann ó staidéir HBSC roimhe seo i 1998 agus in 2002. Ag leibhéal ar an meán atá leanaí 15 bliana na hÉireann maidir le caitheamh tobac go seachtainiúil (19%, sa 16ú háit), agus a bheith ar meisce faoi dhó, ar a laghad, (33%, sa 20ú háit), agus beagán os cionn an mheáin maidir le cannabas a chaitheamh sna 30 lá roimh an suirbhé (9%, sa 12ú háit). San Eoraip agus Éire san áireamh, is léir go bhfuil éagothroime i measc leanaí bunaithe ar inscne agus saibhreas agus caithfear díriú air seo. Inscne: Tá difríochtaí móra inscne le sonrú, go háirithe sna haoisghrúpaí níos sine. Ag 15 bliana d'aois, is mó seans go n-íosfaidh buachaillí bricfeasta ná cailíní (70% vs. 57%), go ndéanfaidh said gníomhaíocht fhisiciúil (27% vs. 13%), gur úsáid said cannabas le gairid (11% vs. 7%) agus go raibh siad ag troid (19% vs. 7%). Is mó seans a bhí ann chomh maith gur chaith buachaillí am lena gcairde sa tráthnóna (43% vs. 33%), gur gortaíodh iad (50% vs. 34%) agus gur tharraing siad go maith lena n-aithreacha (66% vs. 50%). Aois: Ag 15 bliana déag, is mó seans go ndéarfadh cailín ná buachaill go raibh ag éirí go maith léi sa scoil (71% vs. 61%), go raibh tacaíocht aici óna comhghleacaithe sa rang (65% vs. 53%), ach gur bhraith sí faoi bhrú ag obair scoile (60% vs. 47%). Tuairiscíonn cailíní nó mó fadhbanna sláinte (40% vs. 25%) agus ceapann níos mó cailíní ná buachaillí go bhfuil siad ró-ramhar (45% vs. 22%). Maidir le hiompraíocht sláinte, is mó seans go n-íosfadh cailíní torthaí gach lá (39% vs. 29%), go nífidís a gcuid fiacla gach lá (76% vs. 52%) agus go mbeidís ar aiste bia (19% vs. 8%). Saibhreas Teaghlaigh: Bíonn patrúin itheacháin níos fearr ag leanaí ó theaghlaigh níos saibhre – is mó seans atá ann go n-íosfaidh siad bricfeasta agus torthaí agus is lú seans atá ann go n-ólfaidh siad deochanna boga. Is túisce go ndeir leanaí níos saibhre go dtarraingíonn siad go maith lena n-aithreacha agus lena gcairde agus go n-éiríonn go maith leo ar scoil. Is mó seans go mbeidh leanaí ó theaghlaigh níos boichte ag caitheamh tobac, ag fanacht amuigh san oíche le cairde agus ag breathnú ar an teilifís níos faide ná 2 uair an chloig mar a mholtar. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Aire do Chothú Sláinte agus Sábháilteacht Bia, Mary Wallace T.D., "Fearaim fáilte roimh an Tuarascáil Idirnáisiúnta ar Iompraíocht Sláinte i Measc Leanaí Scoile. Tá go leor sonraí sa Tuarascáil ar iompraíocht sláinte leanaí as 41 tír. D'éirigh go maith le leanaí na hÉireann i gcomparáid le sláinte agus leas na leanaí idirnáisiúnta. Léirítear sa staidéar go bhfuil dúshlán roimh gach tír maidir le hiompraíocht sláinte a n-ógánach ó thaobh aiste bia, caitheamh tobac, ól alcóil agus gníomhaíocht fhisiciúil. Cabhróidh na sonraí a foilsíodh inniu le beartas agus forbairt seirbhíse sna blianta beaga amach romhainn." Léiríonn na torthaí seo go bhfuil neart oibre le déanamh chun cothromaíocht a fháil do dhaoine óga in Éirinn agus san Eoraip. Beidh an t-eolas sa tuarascáil seo riachtanach don lucht déanta beartais, straitéise agsu cleachtais i sláinte na hóige. Leanfaidh an fhoireann HBSC in OÉ Gaillimh uirthi ag déanamh anailíse ar na patrúin seo ionas tuiscint a fháil orthu. - críoch -

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Almost 200 students will graduate from NUI Galway today during the Summer Conferring of Degrees and Diplomas. For these students, their academic efforts will culminate at the conferring ceremony today as they receive their parchments from Dr. Jim Browne, NUI Galway President. All Colleges of the University are represented at the ceremony, with graduands from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, Faculty of Commerce; College of Engineering and Informatics: Faculty of Law; and College of Science. The largest cohorts of students to graduate today will be eighty-eight Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) students. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Dr. Jim Browne, NUI Galway President, said, "The University congratulates our graduands and issues a warm welcome to their parents and families. Since it opened its doors in 1849, over 77,000 graduates have benefited from a higher education in this University, the quality of which is attested to by the eminent positions they held, and continue to hold, not only in Ireland but across the globe." Students from across Ireland will receive Diplomas, Degrees, Masters, and PhDs. These include twin brothers James and John McDonald from Ballylongford, Kerry, who will each receive a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the College of Science. International students are also well represented, with the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences welcoming graduates from, among other countries, Malaysia and Kuwait. The next conferring to take place at NUI Galway will be the conferring of Honorary Degrees on Friday, 27 June, 2008. -ends-

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

On Thursday, 19 June, NUI Galway will hold a symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station, located on the west coast near Carna, Co. Galway. Beginning within the modest confines of a refurbished World War II coastal look-out post in 1958, Mace Head has grown to become one of the most important sites for atmospheric research in the Northern hemisphere. Data from Mace Head is used by climatologists and modellers around the world to predict global climate change. As Mace Head is the globally acknowledged western European station for clean air data, it provides key baseline input for inter-comparison with levels elsewhere in Europe. Since 1994, Mace Head has been a baseline station for the Global Atmosphere Watch of the World Meteorological Organization (an agency of the UN). One of the first scientists to collect data at Mace Head in 1958, Dr. Thomas O Connor of the University's School of Physics, is very familiar with the development of the station. "Fifty years ago, global warming was not a household phrase. However, with Mace Head we were already following a scientific path which would put us centre stage when environmental change became a globally acknowledged issue. Mace Head has not only given us a unique legacy of data spanning half a century, but the station is poised to play a critical role over the next 50 years in understanding and tackling climate change". Mace Head station is widely used for numerous national and international projects and has served scientists from over 100 universities and institutions in 20 countries over the years. Mace Head also contributes, through ongoing climatic monitoring, to meeting Ireland's environmental commitments under international treaties. Data such as wind speed, wind direction, pressure, temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, rainfall as well as aerosol particulate parameters are continuously recorded and webcast in real time. Professor Gerard Jennings of NUI Galway's Environmental Change Institute, believes the station is very special, "Mace Head is unique in European atmospheric research. Air masses arrive via the 'clean sector' spanning 110 degrees are ideal for carrying out background aerosol and trace gas measurements. The station has been the perfect setting for a series of scientific projects over the years, such as measuring chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) when their impact on the earth's ozone came to the fore in the 1980s. Now, Mace Head is involved in tackling the much greater challenge of global environmental change." At the symposium on 19 June, which takes place in the Cairnes Theatre at NUI Galway from 9am-6pm, principal leaders of scientific projects at Mace Head will outline the achievements of the work there and the importance of these results for policy makers in the area of global climate change, air quality and other environmental conditions in Ireland. The jubilee celebrations will continue on Friday, 20 June with an Open Day at the station. Operated by staff from the Department of Physics at NUI Galway, Mace Head is the main location of experimental research carried out by the University's Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies – a centre within NUI Galway's Environmental Change Institute. Led by one of Ireland's foremost environmental physics scientists, Dr. Colin O'Dowd, the group concentrates on the physical and chemical properties of aerosols, clouds, and gaseous species in the marine environment and their ultimate role in global climate change. According to Dr. O'Dowd, "Mace Head complements hugely to the strategic geographic importance of Ireland and our coupled atmosphere-marine environment in studying the dynamics of the impacts of climate change. It is a world class infrastructure research facility which is available to support Irish research groups in winning leading roles in high profile international research projects". For further information on the Mace Head visit on June 20th: www.macehead.org -ends-

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway announce the publication of a new World Health Organisation report "Health Inequalities in Young People's Health". This is the latest international report of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey: www.euro.who.int This report presents findings on key health and well-being measures in young people in 41 countries across Europe and North America. As well as cross-national patterns, it highlights transitions in health at certain ages and examines differences between boys and girls and between children from more and less affluent families. Information is presented from more than 200,000 students aged 11, 13 and 15 years. Health is considered in its broadest sense, as physical, social and emotional well-being. Findings on the social context of health such as peer and family relationships, the school environment and socio-economic determinants of health are also included in the report. Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, from NUI Galway's Health Promotion Research Centre, was Principal Investigator for Ireland and co-author of the report. According to Dr. Nic Gabhainn, "This is the first time that inequalities in youth health have been systematically documented by age, gender, affluence and geography across so many countries – it is a landmark in our understanding of the health of young people. The age groups involved represent the onset of adolescence, a time when young people face the challenges of physical and emotional changes, and the years when important life and career decisions are beginning to be made". In comparison to the other 40 countries across Europe and North America, Irish children rank highly on many positive health indicators, including physical activity (top 10) and breakfast eating (top 10) and report relatively low levels of health complaints (bottom 10) and medically attended injuries (bottom 10). We are also in the top five for number of close friends and for perceived school performance in all age groups. Children in primary school (11 year olds) are near the bottom of the league, with relatively low levels for some negative behaviours such as fighting (37th) and being bullied (33rd) and are also in the top ten countries for reported high life satisfaction. Dr. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn says "This is good news for Ireland, we have held on to our position near the top of the physical activity league, and have improved on sweets and soft drink consumption, as well as tooth brushing, where we had performed poorly in previous cross-national HBSC surveys". Irish rates of smoking and drinking have decreased since previous HBSC studies in 1998 and 2002. Irish 15 year olds are average for smoking tobacco at least weekly (19%, rank 16th), and having been drunk at least twice (33%, rank 20th), and just above average for cannabis use in the last 30 days (9%, rank 12th). Across Europe, including Ireland, consistent inequalities between children based on gender and family affluence are evident and will require further attention. Gender: There are important gender differences, particularly in the older age groups. At age 15, boys are more likely than girls to eat breakfast (70% vs. 57%), undertake physical activity (27% vs. 13%), to have used cannabis recently (11% vs. 7%) and to have been fighting (19% vs. 7%). Boys are also more likely to spend time with friends in the evening (43% vs.33%), to have been injured (50% vs. 34%) and to get on well with their fathers (66% vs. 50%). Age: At age 15, girls are more likely than boys to report that they're doing well in school (71% vs. 61%), to feel supported by their classmates (65% vs. 53%), but to feel pressured by their schoolwork (60% vs. 47%). Girls report more health complaints (40% vs. 25%) and are more likely to think they are too fat (45% vs. 22%). In terms of health behaviours, girls are more likely than boys to eat fruit every day (39% vs. 29%), to brush their teeth at least daily (76% vs. 52%) and to diet (19% vs. 8%). Family Affluence: children from more affluent families have more positive eating patterns – they are more likely to eat breakfast, to eat fruit and less likely to consume soft drinks. More affluent children also report better relationships with their fathers and their friends and get on better in school. Those from less affluent families are more likely to smoke cigarettes, spend more time out at night with friends and watch more than the recommended 2 hours of television per day. Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Ms Mary Wallace T.D. said "I welcome the publication of the International Report on the Health Behaviours of School-Aged Children (HBSC) Survey. The International Report contains a wealth of data on the health behaviours of children across 41 countries. The health and well-being of Irish children compares very favourably internationally. The study shows that all countries face challenges in relation to the health behaviours of their young population in such areas as diet, smoking, drinking alcohol and physical activity. The data published today will continue to inform policy and service development in the coming years." These findings illustrate that there is much work to be done in creating a level playing field for young people in Ireland and across Europe. The information in this report will prove vital to those developing policy, strategy and practice in the area of youth health. The HBSC team in NUI Galway will continue to work on analysing and understanding these patterns. - ends -