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Irish Scientist Takes on Incurable Cancer with HRB Award
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
The Health Research Board (HRB) has announced it is to invest €11 million to build the capacity of research leadership in hospitals through its clinician scientist programme. One of the clinician scientists chosen is Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway and Consultant Haematologist, University Hospital Galway, who will head up a €1.7 million project. Professor O’Dwyer aims to increase our understanding of the white blood cell cancer called Multiple Myeloma (MM). Despite major advances in treatment, MM remains incurable, and in patients with high-risk disease, who account for up to 25% of patients, life expectancy is less than three years. MM is the second most common blood cancer in Ireland with approximately 250 new cases each year. It typically affects older individuals with two thirds of patients over 65 years of age and as the population ages the incidence and prevalence is increasing. Throughout the lifetime of this programme Professor O’Dwyer, in collaboration with NUI Galway’s and Trinity College Dublin's Professor Frank Giles, will make emerging new therapeutics from all sources available to myeloma patients in early phase clinical trials through the HRB funded Clinical Research Facilities. Ultimately however, the goal is to translate their own laboratory findings to the clinic for the benefit of patients. “Our goal is to discover new ways to reduce the ability of the cancer cell to move to other sites within the body and identify new ways to make the cancerous cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs”, explains Professor O’Dwyer. “Ultimately, the laboratory findings will be applied to the clinic with the intention of improving treatment options for MM patients.” According to Enda Connolly, Chief Executive of the HRB: “The best hospitals in the world have research at their core. The HRB Clinician Scientist Awards is part of our strategic aim to develop a culture of research and innovation in the health services, both for the benefit of patients and the Irish economy.” Professor O’Dwyer will work with a network of scientific experts in NUI Galway and elsewhere around Ireland. Co-applicants on the grant are Professor Afshin Samali, Professor Lokesh Joshi and Professor Corrado Santocanale of NUI Galway, Professor Paul Browne of Trinity College Dublin and Dr Irene Ghobrial of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. Additional academic collaborators include the Myeloma Ireland Consortium and the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Arizona as well as several industry partners. The Science Bit Professor O’Dwyer and his team plan to focus on two particular aspects of multiple myeloma biology. These are the vulnerability of plasma cells to excessive protein loads causing a phenomenon known as ‘ER stress’ and the role that glycosylation plays in the interaction of myeloma cells with the bone marrow microenvironment and vasculature, allowing them to traffic or metastasize from one location to another. Myeloma cells produce vast amounts of protein antibodies, which are assembled in the endoplasmic reticulum or ER. Excessive levels of protein are toxic, leading to ER stress and cell death. Myeloma cells are adapted to deal with ER stress by increasing the activity of a protective pathway involving the IRE1 kinase. The presumption is that blocking this pathway should make myeloma cells more vulnerable to ER stress. A major focus of this program is the evaluation of IRE1 inhibition as a new therapeutic option for multiple myeloma. Professor O’Dwyer and his team believe that the sugar coating or glycosylation status of myeloma cells plays an important role in trafficking, for example influencing the interaction between adhesion molecules called selectins and their ligands on myeloma cells. In this project they aim to explore the differences in glycosylation status between myeloma cells and their normal counterparts and their functional significance. They aim to identify novel new therapeutic targets, reducing the metastatic potential of myeloma cells and overcoming drug resistance. They are also evaluating the myeloma activity of a novel selectin inhibitor. -ends-
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NUI Galway Students Win Four Undergraduate Awards
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Four NUI Galway students have been announced as winners of the 2012 Undergraduate Awards - an international academic awards programme that identifies top students across the globe through their innovative undergraduate research. A further nine NUI Galway students were highly commended. Neasa O’Callaghan was announced winner of the prestigious award in the Ancient & Classical Studies category for her essay entitled “Mapping Europa from Antiquity to Present: Contrasting Images of an Abductee and Queen” whilst Isaac Burke secured a win in the Mathematical & Physical Sciences for his essay “Finding a non-broken circuit basis for the Orlik-Solomon algebra of an arrangement of hyperplanes“. Joining them as winners were Cathal Kelly in the Engineering & Mechanical Sciences category with his essay“Phosphorous Removal From Wastewater Using Pyrrhotite” and Marek Bohacek for his essay on “Process timing and its relations to the perception of tonal harmony: an EEG study” which bagged him an award in the Psychology category. Panels of international academics assessed the 2890 coursework entries that were received from students attending third level institutions across Ireland, the USA, UK and Canada, and selected two winners per academic category. Congratulating the students, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said: "The success of these talented students highlights the quality of study which our undergraduate students are engaged in. Their success in these Awards will undoubtedly add lustre to their academic development, as well as underscore NUI Galway’s increasing profile as a centre of world-class research and teaching". He continued by wishing them continued success in their academic endeavours. The four winning NUI Galway students, along with the 35 other UA winners, will be brought to Dublin for the UA Summit, “a Davos for students”, from 7-10 November. “This conference will serve as a three-day pop-up incubation centre for some of the world’s most exceptional young minds” said Louise Hodgson, UA Programme Director. “>From hands-on workshops and talks with inspiring young achievers, entrepreneurs and academics to networking events with top graduate recruiters, the UA Summit is going to be one of the most exciting student-focused events in Europe.” As part of the UA Summit, President Michael D. Higgins, patron of the Undergraduate Awards, will award the 39 winners at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony at Royal Hospital Kilmainham on 9 November for excellence and innovation within coursework at undergraduate level. The UA Summit will also include the Forum on Higher Education that will bring together edupreneurs and pioneers in the field of education to discuss disruptive education. Speakers include CEO of the Wolfram Group and world famous TEDster, Conrad Wolfram. For further information on the UA Summit and the results of the 2012 Undergraduate Awards, please see www.undergraduateawards.com. ENDS
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Cancer Care West and Galway University Foundation Donate €1 million to NUI Galway for Hardiman Research Scholarships
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
NUI Galway is delighted to announce that in a joint initiative Cancer Care West and the Galway University Foundation have donated €1 million to provide fully funded scholarships for ten PhD students. Three of the scholars started at the University this week. Applications will be invited for the remaining scholarships shortly. The Cancer Care West Hardiman scholars will perform translational and clinical research in the area of Cancer Biology, Therapeutics and all aspects of oncology at NUI Galway and the associated University Hospital Galway. Chairman of Cancer Care West John McNamara said: “Cancer Care West is delighted to partner with Galway University Foundation to create a research fund of €1million which will support high calibre PhD students at NUI Galway. As a west of Ireland charity we recognise the need to support the important medical research taking place at the NUI Galway. Cancer Care West would like to congratulate all the successful candidates and wish them well in their respective studies.” Dean of Graduate Studies at NUI Galway Dr Lucy Byrnes said: “NUI Galway is greatly appreciative of the support of Cancer Care West and the Galway University Foundation for the Hardiman Research Scholarships. The Hardiman scheme is an excellent example of how funding contributions can support our PhD students to conduct important relevant research.” The prestigious Hardiman Research Scholarship scheme was first launched in NUI Galway in 2011 to support outstanding PhD students whose research focuses on the five key areas of research in which the University offers leading expertise. 32 Hardiman scholars started their PhDs in 2011 and 24 PhD students will be funded through the Hardiman 2012 Scholarship scheme. The Hardiman Research Scholarships offer opportunities for suitably qualified individuals to pursue a structured postgraduate degree by research. Structured PhD programmes, while retaining the focus on the advancement of knowledge through original research of traditional programmes, also provide professional development modules in subject-specific and transferable skills. Named in honour of James Hardiman, who was appointed the University’s first Librarian in 1849, the scholarship programme aims to produce highly focused PhD graduates from a pool of national and international candidates. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “Our primary strategic aim is to attract the best students to NUI Galway and to support their development as innovative individuals who will contribute globally to economic, cultural and social development. The alignment of the scholarships to particular areas of research reflects our University’s growing international reputation in these fields of enquiry.” -ends-
NUIG/GMIT Sub-Aqua Club Celebrating 50 Years Underwater!
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
In the year of its 50th anniversary, the NUIG/GMIT Sub-Aqua Club officially launched its new Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), Alice Perry, at a special ceremony in NUI Galway recently. Launched by NUI Galway’s Vice-President for the Student Experience, Dr Pat Morgan, the RIB was blessed by the University’s Chaplain, Fr Diarmuid Hogan. In 2009 work began on raising funds to purchase a new offshore class RIB for the Club to allow greater access to some of the fantastic offshore dive sites that lie around Ireland. In late 2011, the NUI Galway Students Project Fund granted the remaining funds required. The new 6.5m XS-650 RIB is named after NUI Galway graduate Alice Perry, who graduated with a first class honours degree in Civil Engineering in 1906. Alice was the first female to graduate with an engineering degree in Ireland or the UK. She went on to hold the position of County Surveyor for Galway, where her work included the inspection of Galway’s piers, before later moving to London and eventually Boston. Speaking at the launch, Martin Timoney of the NUIG/GMIT Sub-Aqua Club said: “I thank all those who helped in procuring the Clubs new RIB; from attaining the required funds, through the NUI Galway Students Project Fund, to the deriving the final specification for the RIB to is final delivery in late June. It has taken a lot of time and effort but the new RIB, Alice Perry will allow access to some fantastic dive sites for the club.” Annual events for the NUIG/GMIT Sub-Aqua Club include a Charity Fundraiser Dive with all the proceeds donated to local charities and groups involved in water safety where divers from the Club cumulatively spend 30 hours in the 3.5m deep tank in one hour time slots. This year over €1,600 was raised for the Galway RNLI Station and the Search and Recovery Unit of the Galway Sub Aqua Club. The Club also provides safety boat cover at a number of events, including Tri the Burren Triathlon and the Cope Triathlon, and this year the Volvo Ocean Race finale. Working with Galway Sub-Aqua Club, the Club provided safety boat cover in Galway Bay for each of the inshore practice and race days, as well as within the docks in the evenings. The Club dives locally on a regular basis to such sites as Coral Beach, Bóthar Buí and Killary Fjord. Larger weekend trips also take place to dive sites all along the west coast, from Donegal to Cork. The Club is open to all current students, alumni or staff of NUI Galway or GMIT and training starts each year in September. For further information on the NUIG/GMIT Sub-Aqua Club, or to join, visit website www.galwaydiving.com. To celebrate its 50th Anniversary the NUIG/GMIT Sub-Aqua Club are hosting a black tie gala ball in the Galway Bay Hotel on Saturday, 27 October. To find out more, or to purchase tickets for the ball visit www.galwaydiving.com. -ENDS-
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NUI Galway Autumn Open Days
Monday, 24 September 2012
NUI Galway will hold their annual Open Days on Friday, 5 October and Saturday, 6 October. The Open Days will provide an opportunity for prospective students to talk to NUI Galway students and staff, explore the campus and its facilities, and find out more about courses of interest. Friday's Open Day, on 5 October, will run from 9am to 3pm and is aimed at school groups, although individuals are also welcome to attend. Running from 10am to 3pm, Saturday's Open Day on 6 October is for students thinking about university and their parents and families. The Open Days are expected to attract some 8,000 visitors and are tailored towards Leaving Certificate and mature students who are interested in studying at NUI Galway. Parents, guardians and teachers are also invited on campus to sample life at university. With over 60 degree programmes on offer at NUI Galway, lecturers and students will be on hand at more than 80 exhibition stands to answer questions on courses, CAO points, employability, and career progression routes. Many of the newer courses at the University have been designed to be responsive to the changing needs of the employment market and meet the needs of the Smart Economy. A talk specifically for parents, ‘Parents’ Guide to University’ on Saturday, will give an introduction to university life and information on issues such as fees, funding, accommodation, as well as looking ahead to the job markets. The Open Days will feature a mix of taster sessions and short lectures to provide a feel for university life. Events will include hands-on science workshops, interactive demonstrations with cameras, media equipment and podcasts, an expert panel to talk about jobs for Arts students, and interactive sessions with IT systems and robotics. Commenting on the importance of the NUI Galway Open Days, Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications, says: "Choosing a university is one of the most important decisions a student will ever make. Parents play a key role in supporting students as they take this important next step. Open Day is the perfect opportunity for parents to ensure they have access to all of the information they need to support sons and daughters through their university career. We are encouraging anyone with an interest in studying at NUI Galway to come along, talk to our lecturers and current students, find out about the courses, check out the facilities and decide for yourself whether NUI Galway feels right for you." During the Open Days, tours of the campus will allow prospective students to visit the Engineering Building, the largest of its kind in Ireland; state-of the-art sports complex and gym, home to 45 student sports clubs; and Áras na Mac Léinn, the base for over 100 student societies. Tours of the University library and student accommodation will also be available to visitors on the day. For further details on NUI Galway Open Days, or to view the full programme, visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/opendays/. -ENDS- Laethanta Oscailte an Fhómhair in OÉ Gaillimh Beidh Lá Oscailte OÉ Gaillimh ar siúl Dé hAoine, an 5 Deireadh Fómhair agus Dé Sathairn, an 6 Deireadh Fómhair. Deis atá sna Laethanta Oscailte do dhaoine ar spéis leo freastal ar OÉ Gaillimh amach anseo labhairt le mic léinn agus foireann OÉ Gaillimh, seal a chaitheamh ag siúl thart ar an gcampas agus na háiseanna breátha ar fad a fheiceáil agus níos mó eolais a fháil faoi chúrsaí. Dírithe ar ghrúpaí scoile atá an Lá Oscailte a bheidh ar siúl idir 9am agus 3pm Dé hAoine, an 5 Deireadh Fómhair, cé go mbeidh fáilte roimh dhuine ar bith cuairt a thabhairt ar an Ollscoil an lá sin chomh maith. Is do mhic léinn atá ag smaoineamh ar aghaidh a thabhairt ar an Ollscoil, dá dtuismitheoirí agus dá dteaghlach an Lá Oscailte, a bheidh ar siúl idir 10am agus 3pm Dé Sathairn, an 6 Deireadh Fómhair. Táimid ag súil go mbeidh breis is 8,000 cuairteoir ag triall ar an Ollscoil an dá lá seo a bhfuil sé mar aidhm leo aird mic léinn Ardteistiméireachta agus mic léinn lánfhásta araon a tharraingt ar OÉ Gaillimh. Tá míle fáilte roimh thuismitheoirí, roimh chaomhnóirí agus roimh mhúinteoirí cuairt a thabhairt ar an gcampas freisin. Tá breis is 60 clár céime á reáchtáil in OÉ Gaillimh anois, agus beidh léachtóirí agus mic léinn ag breis is 80 seastán agus iad ar bís le ceisteanna faoi chúrsaí éagsúla, faoi phointí CAO, faoi dheiseanna fostaíochta agus faoi ghairmeacha beatha a fhreagairt. Is é atá mar aidhm le go leor de na cúrsaí atá bunaithe san Ollscoil le blianta beaga anuas a chinntiú go mbeidh na céimithe in ann poist a fháil dóibh féin agus go mbeidh siad breá ábalta dlús a chur faoi fhorbairt an Gheilleagair Ghlic amach anseo. Beidh caint dírithe ar thuismitheoirí ‘Parents’ Guide to University’ ar siúl Dé Sathairn, chun eolas a thabhairt do thuismitheoirí faoi shaol na hOllscoile agus eolas a thabhairt faoi tháillí, maoiniú, lóistín agus fostaíocht a fháil amach anseo. Beidh idir sheisiúin agus léachtaí gairide ar siúl i rith na Laethanta Oscailte le blaiseadh a thabhairt do chách ar an gcineál saoil a chaitheann mic léinn in OÉ Gaillimh. I measc na n-imeachtaí a bheidh ar siúl beidh ceardlanna praiticiúla eolaíochta, taispeántais idirghníomhacha le ceamaraí, ríomhairí agus podchraoltaí, painéal saineolaithe a labhróidh faoi phoist do mhic léinn sna Dána, agus seisiúin idirghníomhacha le córais IT agus le róbataic. Ag labhairt di faoi thábhacht na Laethanta Oscailte, dúirt Caroline Loughnane, an Stiúrthóir Margaíochta agus Cumarsáide in OÉ Gaillimh: “Ceann de na cinntí is tábhachtaí a dhéanfaidh mac léinn go brách an ollscoil a bhfreastalóidh sé/sí uirthi a roghnú. Tá ról tábhachtach ag tuismitheoirí tacú le mic léinn agus iad i mbun an cinneadh sin a dhéanamh. Is é an Lá Oscailte an deis is fearr do thuismitheoirí a chinntiú go bhfuil an t-eolas ar fad acu chun tacú le mac nó le hiníon ag an ollscoil. Molaimid do dhuine ar spéis leo staidéar in OÉ Gaillimh teacht chuig an Lá Oscailte, labhairt leis na léachtóirí agus leis na mic léinn reatha, eolas a fháil faoi chúrsaí, breathnú ar na háiseanna agus a fháil amach duit féin an bhfeileann OÉ Gaillimh duitse.” I rith na Laethanta Oscailte, tabharfar deis do chuairteoirí sciuird a thabhairt ar an bhFoirgneamh Innealtóireachta nua, an foirgneamh is mó dá leithéid in Éirinn; ar an ionad spóirt den scoth agus giomnáisiam, áit a mbíonn baill an 45 club spóirt atá bunaithe anseo san Ollscoil ag triall go rialta; agus ar Áras na Mac Léinn – áit a mbíonn imeachtaí ar siúl ag an mbreis agus 100 cumann atá bunaithe anseo san Ollscoil. Beidh deis ag cuairteoirí cuairt a thabhairt ar leabharlann na hOllscoile agus dul chomh fada leis na háiseanna lóistín atá ar fáil anseo ar an gcampas freisin más mian leo. Tá tuilleadh eolais maidir leis na Laethanta Oscailte agus clár iomlán le fáil ag http://www.nuigalway.ie/opendays/. -CRÍOCH-
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Samaritans Publishes Major report on Men and Suicide
Thursday, 20 September 2012
A new report, published today (Thursday, 20 September), provides an in-depth examination into why men from disadvantaged backgrounds in their 30s, 40s and 50s are at higher risk of suicide than the rest of society. Men from low socio-economic backgrounds living in deprived areas are ten times more likely to die by suicide than men from high socio-economic backgrounds living in the most affluent areas. The report, commissioned by Samaritans, the helpline charity, explores the reasons for suicide beyond mental health issues in this group of men and calls for suicide to be addressed as a health and social inequality. Co-authored by health economics expert NUI Galway’s Brendan Kennelly, the research, Men and Suicide: Why it’s a social issue, reveals that in the UK and Ireland: Men compare themselves against a ‘gold standard’ which prizes power, control and invincibility. When they believe they aren’t meeting this standard they feel a sense of shame, which can lead them to have suicidal thoughts. Men in mid-life are now part of the ‘buffer’ generation, not sure whether to be like their older, more traditional, strong, silent, austere fathers or like their younger, more progressive, individualistic sons. The changing nature of the labour market over the last 60 years has affected working class men. With the decline of traditional male industries, they have lost not only their jobs but also a source of masculine pride and identity. Men in mid-life remain overwhelming dependent on a female partner for emotional support. But today men are less likely to have one life-long partner and more likely to live alone, without the social or emotional skills to fall back on. According to Suzanne Costello, Director of Samaritans in Ireland: “It has been recently recognised that men in mid-life can no longer be ignored as a group at high risk of suicide. However, this report shows that it is men from low socio-economic backgrounds who desperately need help. “Men are often criticised for being reluctant to talk about their problems and for not seeking help. With this in mind, we need to acknowledge that men are different to women and design services to meet their needs, so they can be more effective. “The role of mental health problems in suicide is well-established and must not be ignored. But we also need to look at the economic and social inequalities that contribute to people wanting to take their own lives. Policy-makers and practitioners need to take forward our recommendations from the report as a matter of urgency.” Samaritans is calling on the Government, statutory services health, and relevant NGOs to recognise the heightened risk of suicide among disadvantaged men in mid-life, treating suicide as a health and social inequality. There are six recommendations: Take on the challenge of tackling the gender and socio-economic inequalities in suicide risk. Suicide prevention policy and practice must take account of men’s beliefs, concerns and context – in particular their views of what it is to ‘be a man’. Recognise that for men in mid-life, loneliness is a very significant cause of their high risk of suicide, and help men to strengthen their social relationships. There must be explicit links between alcohol reduction and suicide prevention strategies; both must address the relationships between alcohol consumption, masculinity, deprivation and suicide. Support GPs to recognise signs of distress in men, and make sure that those from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to a range of support, not just medication alone. Provide leadership and accountability at local level, so there is action to prevent suicide. To contact Samaritans see www.samaritans.ie or call 1850 60 90 90. -ends- For further information about the report, to set up interviews or case studies, please contact Samaritans’ press office on + 20 8394 8300 or email email@example.com or Catherine Heaney, DHR Communications on 01-420 0580 / 087-2309835. Notes to editors: The suicide figures for Ireland referenced in the report are supplied by the Central Statistics Office Ireland. Male ROI suicides in 2010 = 386 deaths for all men. Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide. People contact Samaritans when they are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to. More than 20,000 Samaritans’ volunteers are available round the clock, every day of the year. The helpline provides a safe place to talk and all conversations are private. To understand more about this group of men, Samaritans commissioned Volante Research to interview 12 men throughout the UK and Ireland aged between 35 and 55 from low socio-economic backgrounds
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NUI Galway Invites Graduates to DruidMurphy in the Gaiety
Thursday, 20 September 2012
NUI Galway’s Dublin Alumni Club invites alumni and friends to attend DruidMurphy Conversations on a Homecoming in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin on Tuesday, 2 October. An Alumni Reception will take place prior to the performance at 6.30pm, followed by the play at 7.30pm. A special Alumni Rate of €32 is available to NUI Galway alumni and friends. To reserve a place for the performance visit www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends/ or contact the Alumni Office at 091 493750. If you are an NUI Galway graduate and would like to get participate in the University’s Dublin Alumni Club please contact the Alumni Office for information on how you can become involved. DruidMurphy is the story of Irish emigration; a story both of those who went and those who were left behind. Told through three plays by Tom Murphy; Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark and Famine, DruidMurphy is a major celebration of one of Ireland’s most respected living dramatists. DruidMurphy covers the period from The Great Hunger of the 19th century to Ireland of the 1970s. DruidMurphy is presented in a co-production with NUI Galway, Galway Arts Festival, Quinnipiac University Connecticut and Lincoln Center Festival. -ENDS-
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NFB Registers Strong Presence at Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Event
Thursday, 20 September 2012
The 3rd Annual Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (TERMIS) World Congress took place from 5-8 September in Vienna, Austria. Attracting over 2000 attendees, the congress has once again featured a strong display of field-leading research conducted by researchers at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), NUI Galway. NFB featured prominently at the 2012 congress where it was represented by 11 researchers. Over ten podium presentations and eight poster presentations by NFB were made over the four-day World Congress. The congress was also attended by two of NFB’s principal investigators, Dr Wenxin Wang and Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis both of whom chaired a poster presentation session and symposia entitled “Gene Transfer Approaches in Tissue Engineering”, and “Tissue Engineering of Functional Tendons and Ligaments”. The travelling researchers were accompanied by NFB director, Professor Abhay Pandit who, in addition to chairing a number of sessions, was invited to deliver a keynote address. Speaking in the morning session of the final day of the congress, Professor Pandit’s lecture, entitled “Bridging the spinal cord – a step towards functionalisation”, drew on ongoing, cutting edge research into the repair of spinal cord injuries being carried out in the NFB. Two of this year’s presenting researchers, Andrew English and Dr Mangesh Kulkarni, travelled to Vienna on grants awarded by the TERMIS Student and Young Investigator Section (SYIS). TERMIS SYIS seeks to promote the scientific and professional development of promising young researchers in the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine field. In addition to his travel award, Andrew English was selected by an international review board, along with four of his peers from across the globe, as a finalist in the TERMIS SYIS Young Investigators’ competition. His presentation, entitled “Preferential Tenocyte Response to Anisotropic Topography and Implications on Medical Device Design”, was judged by a committee selected from leading experts in the field. Andrew was awarded the second place in this prestigious World Congress. NFB, which was established with funding from Science Foundation Ireland under the Strategic Research Cluster Programme, conducts research on biomaterials, developing technologies for use in clinical applications in the fields of orthopaedics, soft-tissue healing and neural and cardiovascular regeneration. -ends-
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NUI Galway Hosts Conference on the Children’s Constitutional Referendum with Leading Child Law Experts
Thursday, 20 September 2012
NUI Galway’s LLM in Public Law programme will host a conference on the forthcoming children’s constitutional referendum. The conference will take place on Friday, 21 September from 9.45am to 2pm at the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. The second annual conference of the LLM in Public law will critically consider the Children’s Constitutional Referendum, which will be held on Saturday, 10 November. The referendum on the rights of the child is considered to be one of the most significant referendums in the history of the State. Marie McGonagle, Director of the LLM in Public Law at NUI Galway, said: “The choice of topic for our conference is particularly apt and timely. We are especially fortunate to have two of the country’s leading experts speaking, along with members of the NUI Galway academic staff who will present interesting perspectives based on their doctoral research.” Chairing the conference is former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness, with Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and leading expert on child law, delivering the keynote address. Other speakers at the seminar will include: Dr Anne Egan, Family Law Lecturer at NUI Galway; Fergal Landy, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway; and Connie Healy, solicitor and child law expert. Throughout the conference, the speakers will be reflecting upon the wording of the referendum. NUI Galway also holds the holds the UNESCO Chair in Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement led by Professor Pat Dolan. More information is available at http://childandfamilyresearch.ie/unesco-programme. -ENDS-
Nanomaterials in a Heart Beat
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Stem cell scientists have capitalised on the electrical properties of a widely used nanomaterial to develop cells which may allow the regeneration of cardiac cells. The breakthrough has been led by a team of scientists at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the National University of Ireland Galway in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Ireland. Once damaged by heart attack, cardiac muscle has very little capacity for self-repair and at present there are no clinical treatments available to repair damaged cardiac muscle tissue. Over the last 10 years, there has been tremendous interest in developing a cell-based therapy to address this problem. Since the use of a patient’s own heart cells is not a viable clinical option, many researchers are working to try to find an alternative source of cells that could be used for cardiac tissue repair. REMEDI researchers Dr Valerie Barron and Dr Mary Murphy have brought together a multi-disciplinary team of Irish materials scientists, physicists and biologists from REMEDI at National University of Ireland Galway and Trinity College Dublin to address this problem. The researchers recognised that carbon nanotubes, a widely used nanoparticle, is reactive to electrical stimulation. They then used these nanomaterials to create cells with the characteristics of cardiac progenitors, a special type of cell found in the heart, from adult stem cells. “The electrical properties of the nanomaterial triggered a response in the mesenchymal (adult) stem cells, which we sourced from human bone marrow. In effect, they became electrified, which made them morph into more cardiac-like cells”, explains Valerie Barron of REMEDI at National University of Ireland Galway. “This is a totally new approach and provides a ready-source of tailored cells, which have the potential to be used as a new clinical therapy. Excitingly, this symbiotic strategy lays the foundation stone for other electroactive tissue repair applications, and can be readily exploited for other clinically challenging areas such as in the brain and the spinal cord.” This work has recently been published in two leading scientific journals, Biomaterials and Macromolecular Bioscience, and was carried out in collaboration with Professor Werner Blau, Investigator in CRANN and the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin (TCD). “It is great to see two decades of our pioneering nanocarbon research here at TCD come to fruition in a way that addresses a major global health problem. Hopefully many people around the world will ultimately benefit from it. Some of our carbon nanotube research has been patented by TCD and is being licensed to international companies in material science, electronics and health care,” said Professor Blau. Nanoweek 2012 is currently underway, running 14-21 September. It offers an opportune time to reflect on the type of healthcare solutions that nanomaterials can offer. Ireland is a world leader in nanoscience research, ranked 6th globally. -ends-
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