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NUI Galway Research Features Significantly in ‘Picture of Health 2012’
Thursday, 6 December 2012
NUI Galway research features significantly in the Health Research Board’s ‘Picture of Health 2012’ publication which will be launched in Dublin today. The highlighted research from NUI Galway includes work on adult stem cells, diabetes in pregnancy, communicating with GPs diabetic foot disease. The annual Picture of Health publication highlights, in non-technical language, recent and exciting developments arising from Irish health research funded by the Health Research Board. Research featured includes projects that seek to improve patient care, search for better treatments and innovate in health policy and practice. At the launch, Dr Akke Vellinga, a senior lecturer in primary care and lecturer in bacteriology at NUI Galway, willspeak about her work on antibiotics. TheHealth Research Board-funded study in the west of Ireland shows that many antibiotics are prescribed inappropriately, and highlights a link between the prescription of antibiotics and an increased risk of antibiotic resistance. “By using antibiotics we make them gradually less useful,” says Dr Vellinga. “The antibiotics end up in the environment and the bacterial community adapts by developing resistance.” The study at NUI Galway looked at databases on prescribing practices and antibiotic resistance risk and found a direct link between the amount of antibiotics prescribed and the chance that an individual patient would be diagnosed with a resistant E.coli infection. The researchers also found that while they could identify bacteria in 20 per cent of samples from patients with urinary tract infections, more than 50 per cent of the patients were prescribed antibiotics. And of those, only 37 per cent were prescribed the recommended treatment. In addition, the risks of being diagnosed with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection shot up if a patient had more than one course of antibiotics: having two or more rounds of the medication could increase the risk of resistance by more than six-fold. NUI Galway’s Vice President for Research, Professor Terry Smith, said: “The NUI Galway research highlighted in the report represents concrete examples of the innovative thinking our researchers are applying to impact positively on people’s health and wellbeing with the ultimate aim of improving health outcomes and contributing to a world-class health service in Ireland.” Other Health Research Board funded research at NUI Galway which is featured in ‘A Picture of Health 2012’ includes the following: Professor Fidelma Dunne and Dr Geraldine Gaffney headed a major study called Atlantic Diabetes in Pregnancy (DIP) to measure the incidence and outcomes of diabetes in pregnancy in the west and north-west of Ireland. The research led to improved pregnancy outcomes for women with diabetes in the west of Ireland. Dr Claire Welford investigated the question as to whether older people in residential care have autonomy. Her research led to information for a resource pack and tool kit for all nursing homes in Ireland. A project looking at interacting with GPs asked migrants and health professionals about the ideal ways to break down communication barriers in consultations. The outcomes informed guidelines on interpreting needs of migrants in GP consultations and Ireland leading a €2.9 million EU project in this field. Dr Róisín Dwyer collaborated with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at Galway and the Mayo Clinic in the US to look at the possibility of using adult stem cells to fight tumours. The work opened up the potential for developing a new therapeutic delivery system and won an award from the Irish Cancer Society. A new study measured, for the first time, the levels of risk of diabetic foot disease among patients in a community setting. Dr Sean Dinneen’s work identified a potential link between a standard blood test and diabetic foot risk. A study led by Dr Thomas Ritter sounded a note of caution for treatments that require many infusions of stem cells in the same patient. The research highlights that the immune system could get wise to ‘foreign’ stem cells over time and potentially eliminates them. The Irish Primary Care Research Network, a collaboration between the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research, the Irish College of General Practitioners and the WestRen Research network, led by the discipline of General Practice at NUI Galway, seeks to assess and provide comparative clinical data that enable health professionals to enhance the quality of care they provide to their patients. The work already has provided decision-support tools to help diagnosis and prescribing in primary care. Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB says: “The government’s continued investment in research must be recognised as a vital step to encourage innovation and help reinvigorate the economy. Researchers must see this investment as a vote of confidence in their ability to deliver change and embrace the opportunity to continue to demonstrate that the work that they do has real impact. In the past few years, the HRB has taken a strategic decision to focus our funding on research that has a positive impact on people’s health, patient care and the health service. The outcomes highlighted in this report show the difference our funded researchers are making in these areas.” ends
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NUI Galway Students Secure €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding
Monday, 10 December 2012
Two NUI Galway students have won €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding from Enterprise Ireland with their energy saving product. The team consists of NUI Galway Engineering students Justin Conboy and Dearbhaile Forde, who beat off stiff competition with their Drag Reduction System. The second year engineering students invented a drag reduction device which can reduce the drag between a truck and its container load so significantly that it will reduce fuel consumption of the truck by 8%. The Competitive Start Fund award will be used to accelerate the growth of the students company Cú Buí Engineering Concepts Ltd., trading as Drag Reduction Systems Ireland/drs.ie and Aerosleek.com. This award will enable the company to reach key commercial and technical milestones and provide them the capability to succeed in global markets. The Competitive Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets. The fund is designed to enable those companies reach key commercial and technical milestones. The fund was open to applications from early stage companies, from the following sectors: Internet, Games, Mobile, Apps, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Lifesciences, Cleantech and Industrial Products. Congratulating the award winners on their success, Mary Dempsey, College of Engineering and Informatics, NUI Galway, said: “The CSF award of €50,000 is an outstanding achievement for our undergraduate students. These budding engineers have demonstrated how design, innovation and creativity are critical components of engineering education which can translate into a commercially viable business. Their recipe for success has included self belief and resilience. It is heartening to witness their energy and enthusiasm and I congratulate them on their achievements.” -ENDS-
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Public Invited to Three-Minute Competition
Monday, 10 December 2012
Ever wondered how research at NUI Galway affects you, your family and community? The public are invited to a competition which might just answer that question on Monday, 17 December, at 7.30 pm in Jigsaw Galway on Fairgreen Road. The THREESIS competition will see NUI Galway staff and students present their research to the audience and a panel of judges in accessible language a non-expert can understand, in three minutes or less. Each of the 15 finalists will have only three slides and be under strict time pressure to communicate their research area and relevancy. Competitors are judged on how well they convey the subject of their thesis and their ability to communicate to a general audience. Each of NUI Galway’s five priority research areas will be represented, with topics ranging from wastewater treatment to the cost of drug treatment for diabetes. The winner will receive a generous prize and award, based on the decision of the judges who will include: Liam Bluett Director of Ballybane Enterprise Centre; Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, and Frances Shanahan, Journalist with RTÉ Radio. Professor Terry Smith said: “This will be a fun event and we would really encourage people to come along and enjoy these short sharp presentations. This is an opportunity to get a feel for the type of world-leading research which takes place right here in Galway.” NUI Galway is forward-thinking and global in scale in terms of its research. Its work is focused on translational research that has a positive impact on society, leading the field in many areas. Some 448 research staff and 1,246 postgraduate research students make NUI Galway their home, and this event is a chance for the general public to get an insight into what they do. The event is free and refreshments will be served on the night. -ends-
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NUI Galway IT Award Winners Create Applications of the Future
Monday, 10 December 2012
An innovative musical score application for a mobile device, using genetic algorithms to crack encryption codes and an online hotel booking system are just some of the new technologies which graduates of NUI Galway have won awards for recently. Prizes were awarded to recent graduates, who in their final-year, excelled in projects which span a wide range of fascinating topics, reflecting the diversity of research and career opportunities for graduates of Information Technology. The Best Project in the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology, sponsored by Cisco System, was awarded to graduate Elise Karlsson. Originally from Sweden and now living in Galway City, Elise developed an innovative musical score application for a mobile device to enable experienced music composers to easily and quickly visualise and compose music notation. Best Project in the HDip/MSc in Software Design and Development, sponsored by Cisco Systems, was presented to Gearóid Joyce from Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Colm Kavanagh from Annaghdown, Co. Galway and Darren Tighe from Strandhill, Co. Sligo. The team’s project focused on online security and encryption, developing a system that applied genetic algorithms to code cracking. Sean Coleman from Loughrea, Co. Galway and Roseanne Carroll from Athlone, Co. Westmeath were presented with the prize for Best Project in the BA in Information Technology, sponsored by NUI Galway’s College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies for their creation of a complete online hotel booking system. It contained both a back-end database and a web based user interface. Each year a special Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded to the students who produce the best business plan during the academic year. These plans are evaluated by external business experts from WestBIC. This year the prize was awarded to Elise Karlsson and Niall Dolan from Loughrea, Co. Galway for their ‘Grown@Home’ system. Essentially the application and backend will provide users such as consumers, farmers, third party suppliers, with an infrastructure to source, buy, advertise and promote locally produced produce. Dr Michael Madden, Head of Information Technology at NUI Galway, said: “Information Technology is central to the development of the Smart Economy in Ireland. It is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and attracts the kind of creative people who want to invent and promote technology based products and services. At NUI Galway, students of the BSc in Information Technology study Professional Skills and Business Planning as part of their core academic work.” Dr Madden also welcomed Cisco Systems as the corporate sponsor for Best Projects in the Information Technology degree programmes. “We believe this is a strong endorsement of the commercial relevance of our degree programmes, and underlines our commitment to innovation, professionalism and research at NUI Galway. We place a huge emphasis on Final Year Project work. These projects are a proving-ground for research and commercial business opportunities. Partnering with a blue-chip global company like Cisco gives students the added motivation and ambition to deliver excellent work. -ENDS-
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Major Award for Cancer Researcher at NUI Galway
Monday, 10 December 2012
A Galway cancer researcher has been awarded a Research Fellowship Award of €230,000 to develop new strategies to help improve treatments for patients with colon cancer. Dr Aideen Ryan from Ballinasloe in Co. Galway, received the award from the Irish Cancer Society. Colon cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths in Ireland and represents a significant health problem. In many instances, colon cancer spreads to other organs, which is called metastasis. When this happens it is most likely to result in death. New ways to tackle the problem of colon cancer metastasis have had very little success, but Aideen’s research is taking a fresh approach by focusing on the cancer cells interaction with the immune system. Aideen collaborates with mentor Professor Laurence Egan at NUI Galway, and collaborators Professor Matthew Griffin also of NUI Galway and Dr Aileen Houston at UCC. Their previous research has shown how the body’s own immune system affects how colon cancer cells spread. The team aims to discover the factors that control the immune systems interaction with colon cancer. Dr Ryan states: “Blocking these factors would enable us to develop new drugs that could, in turn, be used to make our immune response to cancer stronger. This novel approach to cancer treatment could potentially result in better treatments and consequently a better prognosis and quality of life for patients with colon cancer.” -ends-
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Treating Autism, Can Stem Cells Help?
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Stem Cell Scientists and Autism Research Groups at TCD and NUI Galway to outline New Research Project Public Forum, Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, 7pm, 12 December, 2012 Often seen as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, iPS - or induced pluripotent stem cells - are adult stem cells reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state. IPS cells are increasingly of interest to scientists studying brain disorders such as autism, since accessing brain tissue is so difficult. Recent breakthroughs in autism genetics research have revealed that a small but significant minority of individuals with autism may have rare genetic changes that are potentially causative of their condition. The TCD autism research group, which has investigated the genetic causes of autism for over a decade, has teamed up with scientists at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) in NUI Galway to apply stem cell technology to further the understanding of autism that may lead towards the identification of better treatments. In a first for Ireland, REMEDI has already begun producing iPS cells from the skin cells of people with autism and their siblings. This new research project hopes to find out how rare genetic changes might impact on the functioning of brain cells using iPS cell models. This research may ultimately help to identify drugs that could help to treat symptoms of the disease pathology. TCD’s Autism Research Group, and REMEDI scientists are reaching out to families who may be willing to participate in this innovative research. A public forum entitled ‘Treating Autism, Can Stem Cells Help?’ will be held on Wednesday, 12 of December at 6pm at the Science Gallery at TCD. Professor Louise Gallagher, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Principal Investigator of the TCD Autism Research Group will discuss the recent breakthroughs in autism genetics emerging from the work of the TCD group and how this has begun to inform some understanding of the causes of autism; REMEDI’s Outreach Officer Danielle Nicholson will explain about Stem Cell technology and Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at REMEDI will discuss the work from his lab which has begun producing iPS cells from the skin cells of people with autism and their siblings. The event will be chaired by Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway. “Our research in autism genetics over the last 10 years or more has revealed interesting rare genetic causes of autism. By applying this new and exciting technology to further investigate autism we may identify the underlying mechanisms of these genetic anomalies in causing autistic spectrum disorders”, explains Professor Louise Gallagher. Over the years we have been indebted to over 300 individuals with autism and their parents and families who have participated in our active research programs and biorepository collections. We are hoping that this exciting public forum will provide a further opportunity to engage with the autism community and provide information about this exciting initiative in autism research. Professor Sanbing Shen explains the science: “We are in the very early stages of research, but by reprogramming skin cells, we may provide a way to study neuronal cells in autism and to test new therapies. These iPS cells can specialize into different cell types raising the possibility to treat patients with their own stem cells. This is exciting news for people who are affected by conditions that have no treatment.” The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”. This Irish initiative now hopes to bring this science to bear on autism. The prevalence of autism is on the rise. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children will be diagnosed with autism. Among boys the incidence is 1 in 70. “Although there are no comparable studies on autism in Ireland, it is believed the prevalence is similar to that found in the US,” says Dr Geraldine Leader. “A diagnosis of autism can have a devastating effect on a family and the lack of autism services in Ireland places an enormous burden on parents. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism affect individuals and their families across the life span. Yet parents and families are the true advocates for those diagnosed. Stem cell research like this is the cutting edge of science, and is one of many opportunities which we would like to provide to families.” NUI Galway has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and REMEDI, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The REMEDI team, which includes Professor Timothy O’Brien and Professor Frank Barry, are partnering with academics and clinicians from all over Ireland including Trinity College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons and Galway University Hospitals, to study iPS cells and their clinical potential in the treatment of many different diseases. For more information on the public forum visit http://sciencegallery.com/events/2012/12/treating-autism-can-stem-cells-help -ends-
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NUI Galway Sailing Yacht Awarded ‘Boat of the Year’
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
NUI Galway’s sailing campaign has been named the Irish Cruiser Racing Association's (ICRA) ‘Boat of the Year’. The prize was presented to NUI Galway in Kilkenny at the recent association’s annual conference which was attended by Ireland’s leading sailors, race organisers and industry professionals such as Olympic race officer Jack Roy and Volvo Ocean Race champion Damian Foxall. ICRA is the organising authority of Irish yacht racing. Nine boats from around Ireland were shortlisted for their ‘Boat of the Year’ award for having excelled at national and international level. Ultimately the judges favoured NUI Galway for the award on the basis of the exceptional level of preparation, training, competitive racing and achievement from the young crew. NUI Galway’s sailing yacht is a Reflex 38 based out of Galway Bay Sailing Club who raced in the 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race. The crew finished sixth place in the overall standings, and first in their class, in the race. The team, one of the youngest to compete in the competition, was the second Irish boat to cross the finishing line in their 38-ft racing yacht which they chartered especially for the race. They were also the Class 1 winners in the Wales to Wicklow Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) race which they did as preparation for Round Ireland race. The boat was also raced by a number of the NUI Galway students in the 2012 Irish Cruiser Racing Nationals in Howth and Cork Week with the boat owner Martin Breen. The NUI Galway crew is made up of students and graduates from various disciplines including engineering, science and commerce and include Ben Scallan, Eoghan McGregor, Eoin Breen, Joan Mulloy, Mark Armstrong, Ruaidhri De Faoite, Conor Kinsella, David Fitzgerald, Louis Mulloy and Cathal Clarke. Kathy Hynes, Sports Officer NUI Galway, said: “This group of young people represent the future of sport through energy, passion and their high skill level ensure that NUI Galway sport is moving in the right direction.” -ENDS-
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Central Bank of Ireland issues €15 silver proof collector coin
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
The Central Bank of Ireland today (12 December 2012) issued its latest collector coin, a €15 silver proof coin featuring the design of a wolfhound, at NUI Galway. The coin is the final in a series of three which pays tribute to the original 1928 coins designed by Percy Metcalfe and which featured iconic Irish animals including the Irish hunter horse and the salmon. The €15 coin features the design of a wolfhound alongside its pup and is the work of coin designer Emmet Mullins. Speaking at the launch, Governor Patrick Honohan said: ‘We are delighted to be in Galway today to mark the issue of the final €15 coin honouring Percy Metcalfe’s 1928 designs. Today’s coin launch coincides with a number of Central Bank events taking place in Galway including the first meeting of the Board of the Central Bank – the Central Bank Commission - outside of Dublin and a consumer protection road-show for retail intermediaries. I would like to thank Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway for hosting today’s events and for the warm welcome we have received. The collector coin has an issue limit of 8,000 units and is available to the public at a cost of €46 per coin. Each coin is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity specifying the quality of the coin and the limited issue. The coin can be purchased by downloading an order form from the Collector Coin section of our website or by calling 1890 307 607 (lo-call within Ireland) or (+353 1) 219 8000. It may also be purchased directly from the Central Bank’s premises in Dame Street, Dublin.
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New Way to Gather Views on EU Policy
Monday, 17 December 2012
Researchers at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in NUI Galway are leading a European Union, multi-million euro initiative aimed at government transparency and giving citizens a voice in creating policies. The project, entitled ‘Puzzled by Policy’ has now launched a new widget (http://join.puzzledbypolicy.eu) that provides a fun way for users to find out about immigration policy and become actively involved in the immigration policy-making process. Immigration is traditionally a highly contentious topic, but one that is relevant to all, including immigrants and citizens, employers and employees, NGOs and public-sector bodies. Immigration policy can impact on all aspects of life, from social welfare and housing, to education, employment and healthcare. This unique widget encourages users to explore their opinions on various immigration topics, as well as enabling them to see how their views compare to those of policy-makers, NGOs, and other immigration stakeholders. While the ‘Puzzled by Policy’ widget is customised for Greece, Hungary, Italy and Spain, users from other countries may also participate at a European level. To facilitate wide and diverse participation, this innovative widget has been designed so that it can be embedded on any website, blog or Facebook page. This enables existing communities to become more informed on immigration policy, while becoming actively engaged on particular issues. NGOs, immigrant organizations, academic institutions and think-tanks are already successfully using the widget to engage their communities. DERI’s Deirdre Lee, who is leading the ‘Puzzled by Policy’ project, comments: “The Puzzled by Policy project aims to help end the detachment and disillusionment of citizens in the policy making process of the EU by improving information resources and tools. DERI is providing the models, technologies and tools for more effective and efficient public administration systems. This is all part of a larger move toward eGovernment, which embraces the world wide web for better governance.” Deirdre Lee added: “eGovernment offers the ability to transform not only the way in which most public services are delivered but also the fundamental relationship between government and citizen.” With over 140 researchers, DERI is one of the world’s leading international web science research institutes, established as a CSET in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland. DERI’s researchers have a specific focus on the Semantic Web and Networked Knowledge, which provides the framework to link information in a way that allows us to use, analyse and retrieve this information more efficiently. -ends-
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Neuroscience at NUI Galway Gains International Excellence Status
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
The Galway Neuroscience Cluster, based within the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) at NUI Galway, last week gained the status of Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (COEN) after a national and international review process. By gaining COEN status, the Galway Neuroscience Cluster joins a select group of international centres that are entitled to apply for research funding that is awarded through this international initiative. Leader of the Neuroscience Cluster, NUI Galway’s Dr David Finn, said: “This is a very significant achievement by the Neuroscience Cluster and it represents international recognition and approval of the quantity and quality of our research over the past 5-10 years. I would like to acknowledge the efforts and support of all members of the Neuroscience Cluster and University which have contributed significantly to this exciting development.” The overall aim of the COEN initiative is to build collaborative research activity in neurodegeneration research across borders, focusing on critical mass and excellence. Congratulating those involved NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said: "NUI Galway’s designation as a Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration is a wonderful endorsement of the calibre of research underway at this University. It underscores the growing international reputation of our University and its researchers. This designation will enable the Galway Neuroscience Cluster to further develop and to join an elite group of international centres working on advancing new therapies for a range of medical conditions." The news came on the eve of the annual research meeting of the Galway Neuroscience Cluster last Thursday at NUI Galway. This meeting showcased the best of neuroscience research in the University. Attendees included undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as post-doctoral research scientists and academic members of staff from a number of different disciplines and research centers within university. The research presented encompassed a number of different areas within neuroscience. The presentations included the genetic approaches taken to improve the symptoms of Huntington’s disease, the potential use of marine products in neuroscience, the use of new delivery methods for therapies in Parkinson’s disease, the development of relevant models to study chronic pain as well as a keynote lecture given by Professor Ciaran Regan of UCD on the development of potential therapies for autism spectrum disorders. Awards for the best postgraduate oral and poster presentations at the meeting were also presented by Dr John Newell of the Clinical Research Facility in Galway who sponsored the meeting. The poster prize was won by Jason Ridge (Anatomy and Psychiatry, NUI Galway) whose work detailed the changes in size of certain brain regions in patients with schizophrenia. Ben Newland (Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials, NUI Galway) won the oral presentation prize for presenting his work on the development of a new strategy to delivery genes for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Nikita Burke (Physiology and Centre for Pain Research) won the runner-up prize for her work on the effects of early life stress on the perception of pain. The mission of the Neuroscience Cluster is to develop Neuroscience in Galway through research, education and community initiatives. The Cluster is truly multidisciplinary in membership, bringing together researchers from a range of clinical and preclinical disciplines, which enable the investigation of nervous system disease at a number of levels. Cluster Leader Dr David Finn added: “I would like to congratulate the prizewinners and all those who presented and contributed to a fascinating meeting and I look forward to the continued growth and success of neuroscience at NUI Galway in 2013 and beyond.” ENDS
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