Wednesday, 18 July 2018

NUI Galway Students Develop Website to Tackle Child Obesity

Five students from the MSc in Information Systems Management course at NUI Galway have developed and launched the website ‘PrimaryFit’ under the guidance of their lecturer, Dr Trevor Clohessy. The website was created as a solution to help communities tackle child obesity in Ireland. The students developed an operation transformation type platform for primary school students as part of a project within their course module. They engaged with the local community to gather information which provided them with specific requirements on how the website should look and feel. ‘PrimaryFit’ consists of easy to access meal and exercise plans with a designated discussion forum for teachers and parents and for community engagement. The website also offers features such as Exercise Plans, Time Based Workouts, Healthy School Meals, a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator, Weight Tracker and a Calorie Counter. There is also a section where people can connect with local nutrition and physical exercise experts to get their opinions on relevant issues. Dr Trevor Clohessy from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “We are very proud of the students’ efforts to create such a wonderful platform. This website is one of the first to tackle the growing issue of childhood obesity. Latest statistics compiled by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration and reported in The Lancet medical journal, outlined how almost a third of Irish children are now overweight. Motivated by the national success of the operation transformation initiatives, I tasked the students to create a platform which would be community led. “This platform will allow primary school teachers to not only access a variety of information resources with regards to fun exercise programmes, meals and nutritional advice which are suitable for specific age groups but also enable them to report how effective they were and also contribute to the platform. The primary aim of this website will be to harness the wisdom of the community in order to promote an environment which encourages healthy physical activity and eating habits.” Speaking about the project, the NUI Galway students, said: “The fact that this project consisted of us tackling a real-life problem brought some passion and inspiration to the table as we all wanted to try and make a difference to the local community. Child obesity is an issue which is spiralling out of control in Ireland, everyone on the team knows at least one child who is affected by child obesity and as a result their future is negatively impacted, which is concerning when it can be easily avoided with correct practices in place. “We would like this platform to be a community driven initiative and we have provided an option to submit ideas for children’s exercise or nutrition plans with a mechanism to moderate the submitted content. We believe that we have designed a platform which will brighten the future of many young people suffering from the negative aspects of child obesity in Ireland, through community collaboration and participation.” The students developed the platform and hosted it on the internet by using technologies and techniques they learnt through a wide range of modules from the MSc in Information Systems Management course at NUI Galway. They setup user management and moderation facilities to combat the negative aspects of discussion forums, gathered extensive feedback during the design phase of the website and used design techniques such as card sorting, prototyping and design thinking. Akshay Oswal, Louis Queally, Paul O'Leary, Rajit Patel and Yash Paithankar are the five NUI Galway students who created the ‘PrimaryFit’ website. To view the website, visit: -Ends-

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Events Calendar

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics recently welcomed over 80 secondary school students to its annual Business Summer School. The students were a mix of transition year, fifth year and Leaving Certificate students who had an interest in pursuing a Business Degree upon completing their final year in second level education. On the day students were greeted by speakers from the five disciplines within the School of Business and Economics, including: Dr Deirdre Curran, Management; Mairead O’Connor, Business Information Systems; Frank Conaty, Accounting; Laura Carter, Economics; and Dr Patricia McHugh, Marketing. Michael Campion also spoke to the students about the Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise module which final year Commerce students take part in. A number of engagement activities were held throughout the day including networking sessions amongst the students from different schools and counties and also team bonding activities. The aim was for students to take the first step in getting to know people and make connections, which is crucial in business. Lisa Hynes, event organiser and member of the Marketing and Student Recruitment team at J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, said: “This year’s Business Summer School was another huge success with students attending from across Ireland and also two students from Spain. Not only was it great to give these secondary school students a glimpse into the study of Commerce but it was also fantastic to welcome them onto campus and give them a sense of life at University. It was great to see the ease at which these students mingled and networked with each other, which is a true sign of successful business students! We are looking forward to the Business Summer School 2019 and have already commenced planning.” For students interested in finding out more about studying Business at NUI Galway contact -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Research to investigate a yet unknown mechanism that guides specialised cells to revert to unspecialised stem cells that directly contribute to tissue regeneration Professor Uri Frank from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway has received an Investigator Award through the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Partnership, for his research into the ‘Mechanisms that induce dedifferentiation to drive regeneration in the absence of stem cells.’ The study will address the mechanisms that are activated following tissue and organ loss, driving specialised cells in the body, like muscle cells and neurons, to exit their status and become unspecialised stem cells. These stem cells can then contribute to the regeneration of lost body parts. Since humans and other mammals have poor capabilities to regenerate, these experiments will be performed on Hydractinia, a native Irish marine invertebrate, closely related to jellyfish, sea anemones, and corals. Like many of its kin (collectively known as cnidarians), Hydractinia can regenerate any lost body part, including the head, and is easy to maintain and manipulate in the laboratory. Professor Frank’s team discovered that Hydractinias, which normally regenerate by using resident stem cells, can activate a ‘plan B’ to regenerate in the absence of stem cells. A yet unknown mechanism guides specialised cells to revert to unspecialised stem cells that directly contribute to tissue regeneration and the research funded by Wellcome aims to identify this mechanism. All animals, humans and jellyfish included, are related, having descended from a single common ancestor. Therefore, they share many genetic and cellular mechanisms. Hydractinia's stem cells should be very similar to their human counterparts, and studying them may provide information on human stem cells and help develop new strategies to be used in regenerative medicine. Speaking about his SFI-HRB-Wellcome Partnership award, Professor Uri Frank, a developmental biologist from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: “This funding will allow us to study the molecular mechanisms that drive decision-making in cells.” Professor Noel Lowndes, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: “This large and highly prestigious award makes it a total of four Wellcome funded researchers based in NUI Galway’s Centre for Chromosome Biology. Professor Frank now joins Professor Brian McStay (Investigator Award), Dr Elaine Dunleavy (Research Career Development Award) and Professor Ciaran Morrison (Seed Award) as Wellcome Trust Awardees.” Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to partner with the HRB and Wellcome to co-fund research that can bring significant societal benefit to Ireland. Professor Uri’s work is a prime example of this. The SFI-HRB Wellcome Biomedical Partnership Awards demonstrate what can be achieved through collaboration between funding agencies that share a common ambition of supporting impactful research.” The Centre for Chromosome Biology is the leading unit in Ireland for fundamental research into the structure of chromosomes and how they are replicated, repaired and segregated during cell division. This award is co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board under the SFI-HRB Wellcome Research Partnership. For more information about the Centre for Chromosome Biology, visit: Videos of Professor Uri Frank’s research: Stem cell migration towards an injury site in the cnidarian Hydractinia: Hydractinia polyps: Appearance of stem cells in a Hydractinia embryo: -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Study will focus on service utilisation for both the carer and the person with dementia and will investigate the type of supports required and valued in the period following a diagnosis Monday, 9 July, 2018: The Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway are leading the first ever study in Ireland looking at supports and services available for people with dementia and their families following a recent diagnosis. The study aims to recruit informal carers from Kerry, often family members, who are providing regular care and support to a loved one diagnosed with dementia in 2017 or 2018. There are an estimated 2,160 people with dementia living in Kerry, many of whom are living at home supported by a family member or friend. It is not known how many of these have a diagnosis or at what stage they receive diagnosis. Carers may feel uncertain following the diagnosis of a loved one with dementia. The study is focused on identifying the most important services and supports at different stages of the illness. The results of the study will inform policy in relation to the supports and services that need to be in place to help carers and people with a recent diagnosis of dementia to deal with uncertainty and plan for future care needs. The aim of the study is to inform practice and policy regarding services and supports required by carers and people with dementia in the period following a dementia diagnosis and how these needs change over time. The primary focus is on post-diagnostic supports for people with dementia and their principal caregiver. The person receiving care must have received a diagnosis of dementia, or probable dementia, since January 2017. Dr Patricia Carney, a Health Economist at the Centre for Economic and Social Research at NUI Galway who is leading the study, said: “New investment in dementia care must reflect the preferences and needs of both the person with dementia and their informal carer. Carers require more tangible and practical supports to allow them do the job that most love doing. The consequences of not supporting them will be significant for people with dementia and for society. This study has the capacity and potential to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers’ in Ireland, especially in the time following diagnosis.” Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia in NUI Galway, said: “Carers play a crucial role in looking after people with dementia and we need to know much more about their needs and preferences for different kinds of services and supports.” If you provide regular support or care to a person recently diagnosed with dementia and want to participate in the study or find out more please email Dr Patricia Carney at or call Patricia on 086 0230772. To participate in the study visit: -Ends-

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