Monday, 18 January 2021

A team of researchers within the Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) at NUI Galway have discovered how human respiratory cells respond to the invading Covid-19 virus. The study, published in a special issue of the peer reviewed open access journal Viruses, identified the proteins and carbohydrates on these cells in response to infection from the coronavirus.  The researchers found that our respiratory cells act like well-tuned translators and respond to the invading Covid-19 virus by altering the presence of carbohydrates and proteins on the cell’s surface. The study also revealed that our response to Covid-19 infection is closely similar to how we respond to other viral pathogens.  Professor Lokesh Joshi, Stokes Professor of Glycosciences, said: “It is well known that all pathogens need the right combination of proteins and carbohydrates to attach to their host and infect. “The appropriate combination of this ‘molecular handshake’ determines how well all pathogens, including Covid-19, attach to our cells and the severity of the infection.  “Mutations cause minor changes in these protein-carbohydrate molecules and can alter the infectivity of the mutants and severity of the disease such as the UK, South African and Brazilian variants.” The research shows that in the Covid-19 virus the spike-glycoprotein (S-protein) is covered with carbohydrates and it binds to a protein (ACE-2 receptor) on human respiratory cells to start the infection. Dr Anup Mammen Oommen, Postdoctoral researcher, said: “These microscopic proteins and carbohydrates work together like molecular handshakes between the virus and human cells, this communication where carbohydrates are essential is often taken for granted, though is a key event for infection.”  Dr Stephen Cunningham, Research Fellow, added: “Like all viruses, Covid-19 virus also mutates as it goes through its host and multiplies. Being a RNA virus, mutations can be frequent with the infected cell not being able to correct. Some mutations are insignificant with no beneficial or detrimental impact to virus or host, however, some lead to changes in the virus’s proteins and carbohydrates that can alter how the virus interacts with cells during exposure and infection which in turn can determine severity of Covid-19.” The AGRC researchers at NUI Galway used a data science approach to provide an insight into how our cells modify the surface molecules and advance our understanding of the Covid-19 infection process. Professor Joshi added: “The research will also help us gain better insight on how our immune system responds to Covid-19 and the mutations in the virus, such as the variants identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. This discovery will lead to more informative biomarkers and identification of therapeutic targets to combat COVID-19 and future pathogenic agent infections.” The study has been published in the special issue of the journal Viruses and is available https://www.mdpi.com/journal/viruses https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/13/1/82. Ends

Monday, 18 January 2021

Professor Roger Watson has recently taken up the role as Adjunct Professor of Nursing at the School of Nursing at NUI Galway. A Professor of Nursing at the University of Hull, Professor Watson is also Editor in Chief of Nurse Education in Practice, and an Editorial Board member of the Wiki-Journal of Medicine. Professor Watson is a biology graduate of The University of Edinburgh with a PhD in biochemistry from The University of Sheffield. He qualified in Nursing at St George’s Hospital, London.  Welcoming the announcement Dr Georgina Gethin, Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, said: “Professor Watson’s contribution to Nursing over his career has been outstanding, evidenced most recently through his appointment as Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Education in Practice. His textbooks have remained part of core curriculum in nursing programmes worldwide. He has provided leadership and acts as a true role-model for Nursing students. We are honoured that he has been appointed to the School of Nursing and Midwifery as an Adjunct Professor and look forward to working with him to continue to advance the mission of the school and contribute to improving the lives of the people we serve through our education, research and public engagement.” Professor Watson said: “I am very pleased to be invited to work with colleagues in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway as an Adjunct Professor and I look forward to the next three years. The School is well regarded nationally and internationally and it is my honour to be associated with it." Professor Watson’s specialised interest area is feeding and nutritional problems of older people with dementia. He holds honorary and visiting positions in China, Hong Kong, and Australia. He was a member of the UK 2008 Research Assessment Exercise sub-panel for Nursing and Midwifery and a 2014 Research Excellence Framework sub-panel for Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy. In 2017 Professor Watson was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. -Ends-

Monday, 18 January 2021

Two NUI Galway students have been awarded scholarships by multinational technology company Intel as part of its programme to encourage the next generation of high-achieving women. The successful students are Eimear McDonnell, from Westport, Co Mayo, in third year BSc Environmental Health and Safety and Emily Metadjer, from Shrule, Co Mayo, in second year BSc Computer Science and Information Technology. The Intel Women in Technology scholarship programme aims to encourage a new generation of high-achieving women to take up the challenge of a career in science and technology and to empower them by fostering educational opportunities. Dr Marie Coggins, lecturer in Exposure Science in NUI Galway’s School of Physics, which secured an Athena Bronze Award in 2020, said: “The scholarship is a tremendous achievement and gives the students excellent opportunities in terms of work experience, learning and applying their knowledge in a world class multinational. “Environmental Health and Safety professionals play a key role in managing environmental and occupational hazards across a range of sectors and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role of this profession in protecting the health of workers, our community and society. Eimear is in third year of NUI Galway’s internationally accredited Environmental Health and Safety programme, which offers excellent job prospects, with graduates immediately qualified to work having gained the essential academic and practical skills required to execute the role in any sector, on any continent and the Intel scholarship is a huge plus.” Eimear McDonnell said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been selected. It’s an excellent opportunity for me to progress my studies and to get a work placement with Intel, a world renowned company, that will give me invaluable experience and will undoubtedly influence my career.” Professor Michael Madden, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Computer Science, said: “We are delighted that Emily has secured this scholarship. We are very keen to support young women, as they are under-represented in the field of Computer Science nationally and internationally. As well as the financial award, the scholarship includes mentoring, which is valuable for nurturing young talent and helping students to achieve their high potential.” Eimly Metadjer said: “I am extremely grateful to have received this scholarship from Intel, one of the foremost tech companies in the world. This is not just a huge opportunity for me personally, but this scholarship is extremely important to help bridge the gender gap in computer science and to encourage and enable women in technology.” The Intel Women in Technology scholarship program offers a monetary grant, valued at €3,000 per annum, as well as opportunities for work placements at the Intel Leixlip and Shannon campuses. Each scholar is also assigned a mentor who is an Intel employee to assist and provide advice on managing their academic career. Since the Intel Women in Technology scholarship program began 15 years ago, it has supported 129 students and a total of €1,675,000 has been invested in the initiative to date. Ends

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

NUI Galway has announced the results of elections for staff and graduates to its new Governing Authority, which sees women take up six of the 10 positions. The new Údarás na hOllscoile will come into existence on 1 February 2021 and will serve until 2025. An online election was held on Monday and Tuesday of this week to appoint the University staff and graduates to the new Governing Authority. President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh thanked all those who stood for election and welcomed the new members. “All those who stood for election to the Údarás deserve huge credit for supporting our University’s democracy and raising the profile of the Governing Authority and the important work it does,” Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said. “And congratulations to all those who have been successful. The work of the members of the new Údarás in the coming months and years will be crucial as our University implements our strategic plan Shared Vision, Shaped by Values and assesses and supports all the other initiatives and developments that we are pursuing. “The range of talent, commitment and experience that our graduates, academics and professionals bring to the new Governing Authority will be an enormous asset for our University as we work to ensure the high levels of transparency, accountability and ambition fitting for our university as an institution for the public good.” The following have been elected to the new Governing Authority: :: Academic staff - Dr Rachel Hilliard; Dr Anthony Grehan; Dr Dara Cannon :: Professional service staff - Sinéad Beacom; Eric Mortimer; Monica Crump :: Graduates - Edel Browne; Conor Fottrell; Retired Brigadier General Ger Aherne; Nuala Ní Chonghaile More than 5,000 graduates and staff voted in the election. Three Professors were appointed to the Governing Authority ahead of the election after the number of nominations matched the number of available positions. They are Professor Aisling McCluskey, School of Mathematics, Statistics & Applied Mathematics; Professor Michal Molcho, Children’s Studies, School of Education; and Professor Jim O’Gara, School of Natural Sciences. Student elections to elect four representatives to the Governing Authority will begin in late January. Caroline Loughnane, NUI Galway Secretary for Governance & Academic Affairs, said: “We have experienced unprecedented levels of interest in this election from staff and graduates. It is really inspiring to see the range and quality of candidates who are willing to invest their time and energy in shaping the future of the University. “There has never been a more important time for effective and agile governance. As universities navigate the uncertain landscape created by the Covid-19 pandemic and look ahead to impending changes in governance legislation from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science, Minister Simon Harris, the role of the Governing Authority is crucial in setting the strategic direction for higher education.” Professor Ó hÓgartaigh also paid tribute to the members of the outgoing Údarás. “It was a privilege for our University to have someone like former Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness chair the Údarás for the last number of years, working with members who had such a breadth of expertise and knowledge for the betterment of our University. Thank you to everyone who served on the Údarás and supported its work over the last five years,” Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said. Ends

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

D’fhógair OÉ Gaillimh torthaí thoghcháin na foirne agus na gcéimithe d’Údarás nua na hOllscoile, ina bhfuil sé áit as deich bainte amach ag mná. Tiocfaidh Údarás nua na hOllscoile i bhfeidhm an 1 Feabhra 2021 agus beidh sé ann go dtí 2025. Tionóladh toghchán ar líne Dé Luain agus Dé Máirt chun comhaltaí foirne agus céimithe de chuid na hOllscoile a cheapadh ar Údarás nua na hOllscoile. Ghabh Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh buíochas le gach duine a sheas sa toghchán agus chuir sé fáilte roimh na comhaltaí nua. “Tá creidiúint mhór tuillte ag gach duine a sheas sa toghchán don Údarás as tacú le daonlathas ár nOllscoile agus próifíl an Údaráis a ardú agus an obair thábhachtach a dhéanann sé,” a dúirt an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh. “Agus tréaslaím le gach duine ar éirigh leo. Beidh obair chomhaltaí an Údaráis nua sna míonna agus sna blianta amach romhainn ríthábhachtach de réir mar a chuirfidh ár nOllscoil ár bplean straitéiseach Fís i gCoiteann, Múnlaithe ag Luachanna i bhfeidhm agus muid ag déanamh measúnú ar agus ag tabhairt tacaíocht do na tionscnaimh agus na forbairtí eile atá á saothrú againn. “Is acmhainn ollmhór dár nOllscoil an raon cumais, tiomantais agus taithí a thugann ár gcéimithe, lucht acadúil agus gairmithe chuig Údarás nua na hOllscoile agus muid ag obair chun na leibhéil arda trédhearcachta, cuntasachta agus uaillmhéine a oireann dár n-ollscoil a chinntiú mar institiúid ar mhaithe le leas an phobail.” Toghadh iad seo a leanas ar Údarás nua na hOllscoile. :: An fhoireann acadúil – An Dr Rachel Hilliard; an Dr Anthony Grehan; an Dr Dara Cannon. :: Foireann na seirbhíse gairmiúla – Sinéad Beacom; Eric Mortimer; Monica Crump. :: Céimithe – Edel Browne; Conor Fottrell; an Briogáidire-Ghinearál Ger Aherne; Nuala Ní Chonghaile. Vótáil breis agus 5,000 céimí agus comhalta foirne sa toghchán. Ceapadh triúr Ollúna ar Údarás na hOllscoile roimh an toghchán ós rud é go raibh líon na n-ainmniúchán mar a chéile le líon na n-áiteanna a bhí ar fáil. Is iad sin an tOllamh Aisling McCluskey, Scoil na Matamaitice, na Staitisticí & na Matamaitice Feidhmí; an tOllamh Michal Molcho, Léann Leanaí, Scoil an Oideachais; agus an tOllamh Jim O’Gara, Scoil na nEolaíochtaí Nádúrtha. Cuirfear tús le toghcháin na mac léinn chun ceathrar ionadaithe a thoghadh ar Údarás na hOllscoile ag deireadh mhí Eanáir. Dúirt Caroline Loughnane, Rúnaí Gnóthaí Rialachais & Acadúla OÉ Gaillimh: “Bhí spéis nach bhfacthas riamh cheana sa toghchán seo ag comhaltaí foirne agus ag céimithe. Is mór an spreagadh é réimse agus caighdeán na n-iarrthóirí atá toilteanach a gcuid ama agus fuinnimh a infheistiú i dtodhchaí na hOllscoile. “Ní raibh rialachas éifeachtach agus solúbtha chomh tábhachtach riamh cheana. De réir mar a thugann ollscoileanna aghaidh ar an saol éiginnte a chruthaigh paindéim Covid-19 agus iad ag tnúth le hathruithe atá le teacht ó reachtaíocht an Aire Breisoideachais agus Ardoideachais, Taighde, Nuálaíochta & Eolaíochta, an tAire Simon Harris, tá ról Údarás na hOllscoile ríthábhachtach maidir leis an treo straitéiseach a leagan amach don ardoideachas.” Thréaslaigh an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh le comhaltaí an Údaráis atá ag dul as oifig. “Ba phribhléid é dár nOllscoil iarbhreitheamh na Cúirte Uachtaraí, Catherine McGuinness a bheith ina cathaoirleach ar an Údarás le roinnt blianta anuas, ag obair le comhaltaí a raibh an oiread sin saineolais agus eolais acu a chuir siad chun tairbhe na hOllscoile. Mo bhuíochas le gach comhalta a bhí ar an Údarás agus a thacaigh lena chuid oibre le cúig bliana anuas,” a dúirt an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh. Críoch

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

NUI Galway will hold a virtual information evening on Wednesday, 13 January, from 7-9pm, focusing on the needs of Mature Students and Adult Learners who may be considering full-time or part-time studies for the 2021 academic year. This online information evening is designed particularly for those aged 23 or over wishing to find out more about study options at NUI Galway, and will assist attendees in making the right decision which suits their personal circumstances and professional development needs. Trish Bourke, Mature Student Officer at NUI Galway, said: “Mature Students are a valued asset to our university and they bring enthusiasm and motivation to learn and manage family life and studies to reach their goal of attaining a rich education.” The University’s Career and Development Centre will deliver a lecture focusing on what course of study will best suit individual circumstances and career pathways, and there will be an opportunity to hear from a diverse panel of current Mature Students. Staff from NUI Galway’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses, along with representative from the University’s Support Service will also be present to guide attendees on the range of course options and supports offered at NUI Galway.  Academic staff will also be available to answer specific queries on degrees and progression. Members of the Access Centre will be available  to answer questions on pre-university courses in terms of Access courses, and the Disability Support Services, who have expertise in supporting students at third level who may have a long-term health condition (physical or mental), or a specific learning difficulty, will also be in attendance to give guidance to prospective students. Registration for this event is essential. Please register at http://www.nuigalway.ie/caoevents/ or contact maturestudents@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

D’fhógair OÉ Gaillimh go mbeidh toghchán Údarás na hOllscoile ar siúl an tseachtain seo chugainn, agus gur mná iad níos mó ná leath na n-iarrthóirí. Tá 30 comhalta foirne agus céimí ollscoile san iomlán ag seasamh i dtoghchán Údarás na hOllscoile, lena n-áirítear 18 gcéimí, seachtar comhaltaí foirne seirbhíse gairmiúla na hOllscoile agus cúigear comhaltaí foirne acadúla. Toghadh triúr ollúna go huathoibríoch cheana féin. Tá thart ar 50,000 céimí agus comhalta foirne Ollscoile i dteideal vóta a chaitheamh, agus beidh an bhallóid ar líne oscailte ar feadh 27 uair an chloig – ó 9am Dé Luain, an 11 Eanáir 2021 go dtí meán lae Dé Máirt, an 12 Eanáir 2021. Mhol Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh go láidir do gach comhalta foirne agus alumni incháilithe a vóta a chaitheamh. “Tá spéis nach bhfacthas riamh roimhe sa toghchán don chéad Údarás eile, agus alumni ar fud an domhain ag clárú le vótáil agus tá spéis á léiriú trí na hardáin meán sóisialta atá againn. Taispeánann sé an luach a chuireann pobal na hOllscoile sa bhaile agus thar lear ar Údarás na hOllscoile,” a deir an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh. “Is é an tÚdarás an coiste is tábhachtaí inár nOllscoil – is ann a leagtar amach ár bhfreagracht agus ár dtrédhearcacht mar institiúid ar mhaithe le leas an phobail agus is ann a fhorbraítear agus a thacaítear lenár gcuid smaointe, ár n-uaillmhianta agus ár straitéisí. Ba mhaith liom buíochas speisialta a ghabháil le gach duine a chuir a n-ainm chun cinn le bheith páirteach in obair an Údaráis sna blianta amach romhainn. Léiríonn an réimse leathan aoise, taithí, oideachais agus scileanna an luach atá ag ár n-alumni ar an Ollscoil agus an fonn atá orthu rud éigin a thabhairt ar ais. “Molaim do gach duine atá cláraithe gan dearmad a dhéanamh a vóta a chaitheamh.” Tá sonraí an 30 ainmní do chéad Údarás na hOllscoile eile ar fáil anseo. Táthar ag súil torthaí an toghcháin a fhógairt Dé Máirt, an 12 Eanáir 2021, agus rachaidh an chéad Údarás eile i mbun oifige an 1 Feabhra 2021. Ceapadh triúr Ollúna ar Údarás na hOllscoile mar go raibh líon na n-ainmniúchán mar a chéile le líon na n-áiteanna a bhí ar fáil – an tOllamh Aisling McCluskey, Scoil na Matamaitice, na Staitisticí & na Matamaitice Feidhmí; an tOllamh Michal Molcho, Léann Leanaí, Scoil an Oideachais; agus an tOllamh Jim O’Gara, Scoil na nEolaíochtaí Nádúrtha. Cuirfear tús le toghcháin na mac léinn chun ceathrar ionadaithe a thoghadh ar Údarás na hOllscoile ag deireadh mhí Eanáir. Ag labhairt di faoin raon éagsúil tréithe atá riachtanach do bhallraíocht Údarás na hOllscoile, dúirt an Rúnaí Gnóthaí Rialachais & Acadúla, Caroline Loughnane: “Tá ról Údarás na hOllscoile mar phríomhchomhlacht cinnteoireachta ríthábhachtach maidir le treo na hOllscoile sa todhchaí a fhorbairt. Tá meascán éagsúil scileanna, taithí agus tréithe pearsanta riachtanach do Bhord a fheidhmíonn go maith agus is ábhar mór misnigh é an éagsúlacht sin a fheiceáil i bpróifílí na n-iarrthóirí atá san iomaíocht sa toghchán. Tá rogha iontach ar fáil don lucht vótála agus mholfainn go láidir don fhoireann agus do chéimithe a gcuid vótaí a úsáid chun a dtuairimí a chur in iúl sa toghchán seo.” Dúirt an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh: “Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le baill uile Údarás na hOllscoile atá ag dul as oifig as a dtiomantas agus a gcuid oibre le blianta beaga anuas agus buíochas speisialta le Cathaoirleach Údarás na hOllscoile, Catherine McGuinness. Bhí sé de phribhléid ag ár nOllscoil tairbhe a bhaint as eolas, as taithí agus as neamhspleáchas iarBhreitheamh na Cúirte Uachtaraí ar feadh an oiread sin blianta. Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh freisin leis na hollúna a ceapadh ar an gcéad Údarás eile – táim cinnte go gcuirfidh siadsan go mór leis an ról agus táim ag súil le bheith ag obair leo agus le gach ball d’Údarás na hOllscoile i gcinntiú go mbaintear amach leibhéal freagrachta agus uaillmhéine mar atá leagtha amach inár bplean straitéiseach, Fís i gCoiteann, Múnlaithe ag Luachanna, dár gcuid mac léinn, dár sochaí agus dár bpláinéad.” Críoch

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

NUI Galway has announced the election of a new Governing Authority will take place next week, with women making up more than half of the candidates. A total of 30 university staff and graduates are standing for election to Údarás na hOllscoile, including 18 graduates, 7 from the University’s professional service staff and 5 academic staff. Three professors have been automatically elected. Around 50,000 University graduates and staff are eligible to vote*, with the online ballot open for 27 hours – from 9am on Monday 11 January 2021 until midday on Tuesday 12 January 2021. President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh urged all eligible staff and alumni to use their vote. “The election for the next Údarás has seen unprecedented interest, both from alumni across the world registering to vote and also through our social media platforms. It demonstrates the value which our University community at home and abroad places on our Governing Authority,” Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said. “The Údarás is the most important committee in our University - it is the place where we establish our accountability and transparency as an institution for the public good and where our ideas, our ambitions and our strategies are shaped and supported. "I want to extend a special word of thanks to everyone who stood up and put themselves forward to play a part in its work in the coming years. The breadth and range of ages, experience, education and skills highlights the value our alumni attach to the University and their desire to give back. “I would encourage all those who have registered to vote to remember to cast their ballots.” Details of the 30 nominees for the next Governing Authority are available to view online https://www.mi-event.info/event/nuigalway2021election. The results of the election are due to be released on Tuesday 12 January 2021, with the next Governing Authority to take office on 1 February 2021. Three Professors were appointed to the Governing Authority after the number of nominations matched the number of available positions. They are Professor Aisling McCluskey, School of Mathematics, Statistics & Applied Mathematics; Professor Michal Molcho, Children’s Studies, School of Education; and Professor Jim O’Gara, School of Natural Sciences. Student elections to elect four representatives to the Governing Authority will begin in late January. Speaking about the diverse range of attributes required in the membership of the Governing Authority, Caroline Loughnane, NUI Galway's Secretary for Governance & Academic Affairs, said: “The role of the Governing Authority as the ultimate decision-making body is pivotal in shaping the future direction of the University. A diverse mix of skills, experience and personal attributes are essential components of a well-functioning Board and it is really encouraging to see such diversity in the profiles of the candidates running for election. Voters are spoiled for choice and I would strongly encourage staff and graduates to use their votes to make their voices heard in this election.” Professor Ó hÓgartaigh added: “I would like to thank all the members of the outgoing Governing Authority for their commitment and work in recent years and a special word of thanks to the Chair of Údarás na hOllscoile Catherine McGuinness. Our University was privileged to be able to call on the former Supreme Court Judge’s knowledge, experience and independence for so many years. "I would also like to congratulate the professors who have been appointed to the next Governing Authority - I am sure they too will bring a wealth of talent to the role. I look forward to working with them and all the members of our Governing Authority in ensuring a level of accountability and ambition which matches our place in the world, as set out in our strategic plan, Shared Vision, Shaped by Values, for our students, for our society and for our planet.” Ends * This figure includes eligible Alumni who have registered their emails with the Alumni Office for communication purposes. The total number of graduates eligible to vote is higher. For graduates on the Alumni database who are eligible to vote and may not have access to email, a web landing page has been developed to enable such voters to access their vote on Jan. 11th and 12th at the following link:  https://www.mi-vote.com/nuigalway2021/.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Over 40 research and innovation projects addressing COVID-19 challenges Over 40 new collaborations with industry Four new spin-outs NUI Galway responds to COVID19 with over 40 research and innovation projects, engages in 40 new projects with industry, and spins-out four new deep-tech companies Despite the numerous challenges of 2020, the research and start-up community at NUI Galway continued to thrive – garnering multiple awards, securing funding, and supporting entrepreneurship among students and the wider community. Supported by the University’s Innovation Office, the year featured over 40 substantial research collaborations with SMEs, indigenous industry, and multinational corporations - as well as the formation of new four spin-outs based on ICT, engineering and life science technologies developed at NUI Galway.   In addition, the university charted over 40 research and innovation projects directly responding to the challenges of the global pandemic. David Murphy, Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “The successes achieved in 2020 are a validation of the strength of our industry partnerships, the quality of our research, and the strength of our innovation communities at NUI Galway. While the pandemic presented many challenges, our team, our researchers, our entrepreneurs, and the companies we work with responded with determination and agility in what was a very unusual environment.” Some of the highlights of the year included: Multiple awards NUI Galway was named winner of the Knowledge Transfer Impact Awards Covid-19 Response Award for supporting, with industry partners Cisco and IBM, the ICU FamilyLink project at University Hospital Galway (UHG). The project connects patients, families and the clinical teams providing care in the constraints of the ICU setting. Galenband, pioneers of an unobtrusive wrist-worn device which records heart activity, was the ultimate winner at Big Ideas - Enterprise Ireland’s annual showcase of start-up innovation emerging from higher education institutes. Four of the 12 investor-ready companies pitching on the day were NUI Galway start-ups. Seven NUI Galway start-ups were shortlisted for the National Start-up Awards in 2020, with Galenband achieving Gold in the Medtech Startup category for their system to dramatically increase detection rates of atrial fibrillation. VorTech Water Solutions secured silver in the ‘Emerge Tech Startup Category” for their innovative, cost effective solutions in water and wastewater, and Feeltect achieved Bronze the Medtech Startup category for their wearable, connected health technology to measure and monitor sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy. Women’s health start-up Nua Surgical was named the overall winner of the 2020 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Based out of NUI Galway, Nua Surgical’s flagship product is SteriCision, a self-retaining retractor specifically designed for C-sections.  NUI Galway start-ups Vortech Water Solutions and HidraMed Solutions have been shortlisted for the annual Irish Times Innovation Awards. Three NUI Galway start-ups, Feeltech, Nua Surgical, BlueDrop Medical, were among the 2020 winners of Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s (HIHI) call for innovative ideas from companies, start-ups and SMEs.  Funding Successes NUI Galway researchers and company partners were awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund(DTIF), a fund established under Project Ireland 2040. Two of the funded projects will see teams at NUI Galway partnering with AuriGen Medical, an NUI Galway spin-out company specialising in electrophysiology and structural heart, dedicated to transforming the management of persistent atrial fibrillation. A third DTIF supported project will see the collaboration between teams at the NUI Galway Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI) and ONK Therapeutics Ltd, a Business Innovation Centre client company and spin-out. Aquila Bioscience, a medical technology spin-out from NUI Galway, successfully proved that its breakthrough Pathogen Capturing Technology safely removes 99.99% of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19) from human skin. The company also secured €1.9m in from the European Innovation Council. BioProbe Diagostics, a spin out company from Microbiology at NUI Galway, is the lead partner in an industry consortium awarded approximately €2m to advance one of the company’s products to market, namely Bio Lp-1, under the European Commission’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ funding mechanism. Dr Alison Liddy of NUI Galway received a €1m prize for her work developing a solution to treat chronic pain as the inaugural winner of the SFI Future Innovator Prize. Supporting entrepreneurship among students and the wider community NUI Galway was awarded €7.5 million funding under the Human Capital Innovation and Agility Initiative for it’s ‘ASPIRE: Next Generation Graduates’ project which will lead in innovative, student-centred and enterprise-engaged education. Together with itag, the University successfully launched a free structured coaching initiative for the female community covering many areas in all business environments – itag Coaching for Success . LaunchPad has supported over 1000 studentinnovators across campus spanning 11 modules and 6 co-curricular programmes. LaunchPad secured funding through EIT Health in 2020 to run a Summer School ‘ENERGHY’ in partnership with Medicine San Frontiers, Sanofi, IS Global, the University of Barcelona and Hospital Sant Joan de Deu.  LaunchPad, a partner of the Empowering Women in Health Entrepreneurship Project of EIT HEalth also hosted a module with the Karolinska Institute in May titled ‘Unlocking your Innovative Potential’, the module was attended by 60 participants from across 20 Countries.    During October, LaunchPad, in partnership with BioInnovate Ireland and the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics, ran its Ideas Academy Camp, attracting over 70 participants from schools across Ireland to develop innovations to support our community during Covid-19. To read about some of the research and innovation projects relating to COVID-19 visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/covid19/ -Ends-

Friday, 18 December 2020

New and pioneering GTCASP technology advancing the next generation treatments for cancers, disorders and disease A new collaborative research project has been launched at NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) to streamline cell manufacturing for the next-generation of treatments of cancers, autoimmune disorders and degenerative diseases. Cellix Ltd is partnering with REMEDI, NUI Galway’s a state-of-the-art research and cell manufacturing facility, and Trinity College Dublin thanks to €3.4 million funding from the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to spearhead the project. The aim is to advance the development of next-generation cell therapies by making it easier to select specific cells which have been genetically modified to make them more effective in treating a particular disease or disorder. Frank Barry, Professor of Cell Therapy at NUI Galway, said: “In the cell and gene therapy sector, manufacturing the product is a complex, challenging and expensive process.   “We are progressing new, ground-breaking treatments in a way that is more cost-effective and accessible. The research that we are pioneering in NUI Galway’s REMEDI will have a significant impact and will bring these new treatments closer to realisation in a dramatic and effective fashion.” The new technology being researched and pioneered at NUI Galway’s REMEDI, as part of the collaborative project, is the Gene Transfection Cell Analysis and Sorting Platform - GTCASP. Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English T.D., said:“GTCASP is an exciting project focusing on the development of a truly innovative technology, addressing the challenges in cell manufacturing for gene therapy. This is an exciting and far-reaching project which reflects what the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is designed to encourage and assist. “The project’s ambition is that the technology becomes a standard in the field of cell therapy and forms part of the redevelopment of Ireland’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, as gene therapy forges new markets for personalised medicine. It also truly demonstrates the talent that is incumbent in Ireland for the sector. “I congratulate Cellix and their project partners in NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin for driving this innovation, which will showcase Ireland as a leader in cell and gene therapies.” How does GTCASP work? :: The GTCASP technology takes advantage of the electrical properties of cells to separate individual populations. :: Scientists are using GTCASP to separate cells that have been genetically modified to make them effective in treating a variety of serious disorders.  :: Specialists who are manufacturing cell therapies gain a profound advantage in this process as the cell populations with preferred characteristics are selected and other, less effecitve  cells, are discarded. :: GTCASP essentially provides manufacturers with the technology to select and use the preferred cells to target disease conditions. :: It will also lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs of cell therapy medicinal products, which at present is prohibitively high. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “Designed to facilitate the development of new treatments such as CAR T cell therapies, the GTCASP system will allow wider access to the next generation of genetic cell therapies for cancer and other conditions. In addition, new and advanced forms of stem cell therapy will come closer to reality. These therapies are regarded as a new revolution in medicine and one which will make a profound difference in the lives of patients and their families.” The collaborative project involving Cellix, REMEDI at NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin was launched in partnership with Government and Enterprise Ireland. Stephen Creaner, Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland said: “Cellix, in partnership with NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin, have joined forces to establish a ground-breaking and innovative platform to improve and enhance the process of cell manufacturing, with the potential to transform how people across the globe work and live. The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is aimed at supporting that transformative work and helping Irish companies realise their ambitions. Funding collaborative projects like the GTCASP is a clear signal of our desire to future proof Ireland to ensure that our indigenous enterprises become leaders in the face of disruptive technologies. Enterprise Ireland looks forward to continuing to work with Cellix and the team and is proud to be part of this ground breaking, disruptive project.” Ends

Friday, 18 December 2020

NUI Galway announced the recipients of its annual President's Awards for Research Excellence while also celebrating the performance of its researchers in European research funding programmes. As the current European Commission research funding programmes (2014-2020) draws to a close, the university acknowledged the success of its researchers across a range of competitive funding programmes. Over €100 million has been awarded to NUI Galway researchers over the last seven years by the EU, leading to its researchers participating in over 180 projects, and partnering with research institutions, companies and community groups in more than 30 countries. Speaking at the online Research and Innovation Symposium which marked the occasion, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Success in these funding programmes has allowed our research community to pursue impactful research, develop further their expertise, collaborate with colleagues across the globe. We have also developed tangible solutions to address societal challenges and to support new and existing industries. Underpinning our successes are all of the incredible individuals who make up our research community. This year, I would like to commend six exceptional individuals who embody research excellence and a commitment to our students. They are part of our collective efforts to achieve societal and economic impact and advance our research mission.” The President’s Awards for Research Excellence 2020, were awarded across three categories. The Research Supervisor Awardees are: Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems at NUI Galway. His research explores the psychology underlying engagement with interactive digital media such as smartphones, social networking sites, fitness tracking apps, and online gambling and gaming sites.   Professor Dearbháile Morris, Personal Professor of Antimicrobial Resistance and One Health in the School of Medicine. She is also Director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for One Health at NUI Galway. Her research includes antimicrobial resistance, food and water borne pathogens, emerging contaminants, the societal impact of infection and One Health. The Early Stage Researcher awardees are: Dr Thomas McDermott, Galway University Foundation Lecturer in the Economics of Climate Change and Development, based in the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, and Director of the MSc in Global Environmental Economics at NUI Galway. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics. His research focuses on environmental and development economics, the economic impacts of extreme weather events such as floods, and public policy related to adaptation to climate change. Dr Eimear Dolan, a Science Foundation Ireland Royal Society University Research Fellow and Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering. Earlier this year, she was named in MIT Technology Review’s annual list of ‘Innovators Under 35’as one of 10 global visionaries. Her key research interest is in innovative medical devices, their effect on the host cells and coupling therapies to minimally invasive delivery devices. The Established Researcher Category awardees are: Dr Jane Walsh is the Director of the Mobile Technology and Health (mHealth) Research Group at NUI Galway where she is leading research on the use of novel technologies to develop personalised interventions to promote health behaviour. She is leading and collaborating on over €8 million euro of projects including those funded by Horizon 2020, the Health Research Board, the Irish Cancer Societyand Science Foundation Ireland. Professor InesThiele, principal investigator of the Molecular Systems Physiology group at NUI Galway. Her research aims to understand how diet influences human health. Her team develops and uses comprehensive, computational models of human and gut microbial metabolism and applies them to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease. Professor Thiele is a European Research Council Fellow and was recently listed among the top 1% of highly-cited researchers in the world by Clarivate. At the event, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, spoke about the reach of the University’s research and innovation mission: “Reaching a milestone in European funding is a significant achievement which demonstrates a strong and ambitious research and innovation ecosystem here at NUI Galway. We have had great success also in national funding programmes and in leveraging other international and philanthropic resources in both research and innovation activities. This is complemented by excellence research in domains that cannot be measured by funding alone. With these successes, and with the support and recognition for our research, we are able to continue our mission to achieve a positive impact on society. Today we celebrate our people and our research community, who are the drivers of our successes.” European Success Of the €100 million awarded to NUI Galway researchers over the last seven years, €90 million has been secured through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme – including the prestigious European Research Council, which funds outstanding researchers in science, humanities, social sciences, medicine and engineering. There are now 14 European Research Council Fellows based at NUI Galway. Much of the Horizon 2020 research underway is focused on addressing the major societal challenges of health, climate change and food security. Other successes have come through the Interregregional cooperation programme; the European Space Agency; and the Erasmus+ Programme, which supports research on innovation and good practices in education, training, and youth systems. The symposium heard from the NUI Galway research community, all with extensive experience of EU funding programmes, these included: Louise Hannon, Head of International Research Programmes, Research Office; Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan, School of English and Creative Arts; Professor Stephen Hynes, School of Business and Economics; Dr Laura Farina,  Research Fellow within the School of Medicine in the Translational Medical Device Lab, and former Marie Skłodowska-Curie MedTrain Fellow at CÚRAM; Dr Marcus Keane, School of Engineering; and Claire O’Connor, Director of Planning and Institutional Research. Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland, contributed on the structure and aims of the new Horizon Europe Programme which is expected in 2021 as we enter the next seven years of European Commission research funding. More information on the President’s Awards for Research Excellence, including past recipients, can be found here. To read more about the research activity supported by the European Commission at NUI Galway click here.  -Ends-

Friday, 18 December 2020

An innovative project at NUI Galway that encourages students to explore the evolution of life on Earth through the medium of film has been honoured by the Palaeontological Association, one of the world’s leading learned societies in the field. The History of Life film project was recently presented with the 2020 Gertrude Elles Award, which was established to recognise and promote high-quality public engagement in the field of palaeontology. Since 2011, final year undergraduate science students taking the class History of Life have worked in small teams to produce short documentary-style films on a diverse range of topics, including the origin of life on Earth, the evolution of the first forests and land animals, catastrophic past mass extinctions and the emergence of early human ancestors. Created on shoestring budgets, these short films are uploaded to a specially created YouTube channel, where they have reached a wide global online audience. The award from the Palaeontological Association was named in honour of Gertrude Elles (1872-1960), a pioneering palaeontologist, geologist and scientist. She is highly respected for her work on graptolite fossils and in deciphering the age of the Earth, and she was also one of the first female lecturers at the University of Cambridge. During the First World War she organised a hospital for wounded soldiers, which led to her receiving an MBE in 1920. Throughout her academic career, Elles was an enthusiastic teacher, an influential supervisor to young researchers and she remained committed to public outreach and communication of science. Professor Charles Wellman, President of the Palaeontological Association, said: “The History of Life film project has not only led to students having a greater understanding of the topics within Earth history, but has also reached a wide audience, explaining key concepts of our science to YouTube viewers.” This is the second international award for NUI Galway’s History of Life project: in June 2019 it received a MEDEA Award from the Media and Learning Association in Leuven, Belgium, for best practice in the use of media in education. The project was developed and is run by geologist and palaeontologist Dr John Murray from Earth and Ocean Sciences in NUI Galway, with continuing support from the University’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). Commenting on the award, Dr Murray said: “We are delighted and extremely grateful to receive this award from the Palaeontological Association, particularly as it is named in honour of Gertrude Elles - a trailblazing palaeontologist and role model for those of us who aspire to teach science and encourage the next generation of researchers. “The History of Life project has always been firmly focused on public understanding and engagement in science, and has only been made possible because of the energy, creativity and imagination of the students who produced these short films. The incredible words and visuals they have created onscreen have been nothing short of inspiring; they illustrate and communicate a profoundly important scientific message - principally concerning the epic story of where ultimately all life on Earth has come from, including humans.” A short film compilation explaining more about the project, featuring music by alt-rock Dublin band Empire Circus, is available on the History of Life YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/0Y0RmQFb628 -Ends-      

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Stromal Cell specialists at NUI Galway and Galway biotech, Orbsen Therapeutics have published new work which could lead to new ways of treating people with cancer. Principal Investigator Dr Laura Barkley, a researcher at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway explains: “Tumour stromal cells are recently discovered and are an important component of solid tumours. Tumour stromal cells prevent the patient’s immune system from recognising and killing cancer cells and they also limit the effectiveness of many current cancer drugs including immunotherapies. Our research indicates that developing drugs that specifically target tumour stromal cells may enable current drugs to work better in patients.” This Irish Research Council funded collaboration discovered a new marker of breast cancer tumour stromal cells called Syndecan-2. Dr Barkley and Dr Paul Loftus at Orbsen Therapeutics have developed novel peptide therapeutics to bind and target Syndecan-2 specifically. These new peptides were then tested in breast cancer models for safety and efficacy. Dr Barkley continued: “The peptides caused immune cells to infiltrate the breast cancer, leading to a reduction in growth and notably, reduced the metastasis of the breast cancer to other organs. These studies suggest that targeting cancer specific tumour stromal cells represent a new modality in the treatment of cancer. We are very excited about the potential benefits of using tumour stromal cells-targeting drugs to improve patient outcomes in combination with current breast cancer therapies and immunotherapies.” Professor Michael Kerin, Chair of Surgery at NUI Galway and Research Director of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute and co-author in the study, said: “This work highlights the important collaborative patient focused research that is carried out in the Lambe Institute for Translational Research. It will open avenues for treatment for patients with particular breast cancer subtypes especially triple negative and targeting the appropriate cohort will require further research.” Professor Timothy O'Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway, Director and Founder of Orbsen Therapeutics, and co-author in the study, highlighted: “This research program illustrates the benefits of the Irish Research Council Employment based post graduate initiative. The research applies discoveries in stem cell biology to cancer therapeutics and may lead to innovative approaches to the treatment of breast cancer.” Dr Stephen Elliman, Chief Scientific Officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, said: “This Irish Research Council enabled research between Dr Barkley and Dr Loftus was a model of industry-academic collaboration. We’re delighted with the outcome and look forward to continuing this productive collaboration and advancing these peptides towards early safety Phase clinical one trials.” This work was published in the International Journal of Cancer and can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33383 –Ends–

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Online survey by NUI Galway, University of Limerick and Lero software research centre raises concerns over need to communicate value of mobile phone assisted contact tracing Almost four in ten users of the HSE’s Covid Tracker App are unsure of its benefit in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, researchers have revealed. Researchers at NUI Galway and University of Limerick (UL) said the results of the survey should be considered when planning communications around the value of smartphone-assisted tracking and tracing for Covid-19. The HSE Covid Tracker App was launched in early July and currently has over 1.3 million active users.  More than 5,500 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 since July have been able to warn other contacts who have the app that they may have recently been exposed to the virus. This means that more than 10,000 app users were warned about a Covid-19 contact that they may potentially have been unaware of. With public health restrictions relaxed in the run up to Christmas, the COVIGILANT research team said it is more important than ever to better understand the attitudes relating to the tracker app and the anonymised data it collects on your phone. Dr Mike O’Callaghan, GP and UL Research Fellow in the Lero COVIGILANT research group, said: “Contact tracing and asking people to reduce their social contacts is hugely important in reducing spread of the coronavirus. The Covid Tracker App is designed to strengthen our contact tracing system but a consistent message we are hearing from our survey is that many users of the app are yet to be convinced that it is helping.” Dr Jane Walsh, Director of the mHealth Research Group at NUI Galway, said: “While the vast majority of people say the app is user friendly and well designed, many of our survey respondents would like to see more detail from the HSE as to the effect it is having. However, it is very difficult for the HSE to give a detailed picture of where and how the app is helping, as it is specifically designed to protect peoples’ privacy. “As we need to use every tool available against this virus, we hope our research will highlight the need to inform the general public about the usefulness of the app. Simply put, the more people trust it and use it, the more contacts it will pick up and the more it can make a difference. “The survey signals a need to strengthen the communications around the benefits of the app, but it is also further proof that the app is living up to its security and privacy commitments. These are hugely important aspects in order to reassure the public.” Dr Liam Glynn, Professor of General Practice at UL’s School of Medicine, said: “As we try to open up society and the economy further next year, increasing our social contacts will mean increased risk of Covid-19 transmission. The app is potentially at its most powerful in crowded areas where people don’t necessarily know each other and where it can warn of anonymous contacts. “We feel ongoing public health messaging about the app and reassurance around the data security and privacy features will be vitally important if the Irish public are going to continue to use this app into the new year.” A recent online survey by the COVIGILANT research group, led by NUI Galway, UL and Lero received more than 2,800 responses. It showed: :: 93% think the Covid Tracker App is easy to use and 81% feel its main function is to help the HSE with contact tracing. :: 44% (1265) of respondents feel the app is helping our national effort against this virus. :: 38% (1089) are unsure if the app is helping in the national effort :: 40% (1158) of respondents reported that they have not seen evidence that the app is helping our national effort against Covid-19. :: 7% reported Bluetooth related problems when using the app, with battery life issues being the main issue of concern. Dr Walsh added: “We want to hear peoples' experiences directly by holding interviews over the phone or via video call in order to understand more about what they think about the app. “Online surveys can offer us a great deal but they don’t tend to reach older age groups and people who don’t use technology a lot and we are particularly interested in hearing from people who fall into one or both of these groups.” Manzar Abbas, PhD Scholar at software research centre LERO at UL, said: “While we will ask people who are interested in participating for their permission to record their interview, their responses will be anonymised. So if you are currently using, or have used the contact tracing app previously and you have some feedback we would like to hear it to inform ongoing app development.”  The research team is seeking people aged 18 or over to take part in their study. Participants will be asked to take part in a phone interview which would last 30-40 minutes. Interested members of the public can fill in the consent form at the following link https://forms.gle/31Jvdrw5J5XeVwSu6 or email the research team at manzar.abbas@ul.ie. Ends

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Chief Justice Dr Mathilda Twomey, who has recently been appointed Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Law, has been awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights. Chief Justice Twomey is one of 15 people to receive this prestigious annual award which marks Human Rights Day and recognises the efforts of all those who work endlessly to advance the causes of human rights and the rule of law. The award commends Chief Justice Twomey’s work in the protection of minors. Earlier this year, Chief Justice Twomey was appointed as Chairperson of the Child Law Reform Committee. In this role she has led the committee’s work in identifying and reviewing the laws of Seychelles to prevent and punish child abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation.  This work seeks to strengthen the legal protection offered to children in accordance with the Constitution of Seychelles, and with international and regional human rights law. Chief Justice Dr Mathilda Twomey said: “I am humbled by the award. I head a small group of women who have more than me worked tirelessly to bring reform to the law regarding the abuse of children in its multifarious forms. They are the unsung and unseen heroes.  It is to them that I offer this award.   However, I will use this prize and my platform to continue to champion the rights of the most vulnerable persons in society.” Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see the Chief Justice Twomey receive this prestigious award for her work on promoting the human rights of children.  This recognises a lifetime of public service and advocacy promoting and defending human rights and the rule of law. Chief Justice Twomey is joining NUI Galway as an Adjunct Professor in Law and we are looking forward to her contribution to teaching and research in the School of Law and the Irish Centre for Human Rights.” Chief Justice Twomey was the first female judge in the history of the Seychelles. As a member of the Constitutional Commission, she helped draft the country’s new constitution between 1992 and 1993. She also served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Seychelles from August 2015 to September 2020.  She is an alumna of NUI Galway’s School of Law having completed both an LLM and a PhD. She received both a James Hardiman Scholarship from NUI Galway and an Irish Research Council Scholarship, by the Government of Ireland to support her PhD entitled ‘Legal métissage in a micro jurisdiction: the mixing of Common Law and Civil Law in Seychelles’. In 2016 NUI Galway awarded Chief Justice Twomey an Alumni Award for Law, Public Policy and Government in recognition of her contribution to scholarship and her significant achievements throughout her distinguished career. Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “Congratulations to Chief Justice Twomey on this award, which recognises her enormous contribution in the promotion and protection of child rights and human rights. Throughout her career, in the judiciary, the legal profession and in academia, Chief Justice Twomey has worked tirelessly to promote access to justice, accountability for human rights abuses, and women’s empowerment. We are delighted that our students and colleagues will have the opportunity to benefit from her immense experience, expertise and deep commitment to human rights.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

NUI Galway lecturer Dr Justin Tonra has written a new book devoted solely to the poetry of Ireland’s much-loved 19th century writer Thomas Moore. Write My Name: Authorship in the Poetry of Thomas Moore is recently published by Routledge. The Moore Institute at NUI Galway is hosting an online book launch at 4pm on Thursday 17 December. The focus of Dr Tonra’s book is on authorship: how Moore’s authorial persona is constructed in his poetry through his strategic self-fashioning and by the intervention of external forces such as critics, publishers, and the law. “Moore was a deeply important writer who fell out of fashion for much of the 20th century,” Dr Tonra said. “However, he was the major Irish poet writing in English before Yeats—and is widely regarded as Ireland’s national poet in the 19th century. Much of his work is still worthy of our attention for its historical significance, because of its immense historical popularity and - as my book argues - for the way in which it reveals the strategic fashioning of Moore’s authorial identity.” Moore is best-known for his series of popular lyrics, the Irish Melodies, but this book includes within its scope poetic publications from Moore’s early career, from his Romantic Orientalist writings, and from selected musical works, and political and satirical verse. Through a range of case studies which illuminate different ways in which Moore’s authorial persona is constructed, the book adopts a range of new and interdisciplinary contexts that are of increasing interest to scholarship in the 21st century and which are not usually chosen as frameworks for reading Moore’s works: digital humanities, book history, legal history, and textual theory. Dr Tonra said: “I wrote this book because of my conviction that there are fresh ways of looking at Moore’s writing. When you take these approaches to reading his poetry it begins to look different and to yield new meanings. This is particularly the case with his early poetry, where - through this lens of authorship - you see a young man trying to write himself into becoming an author.” Speakers at the book launch include Professor Matthew Campbell of University of York, Professor Claire Connolly of University College Cork and Professor Sean Ryder, Head of the School of English & Creative Arts at NUI Galway. Attendance is open to the public and registration can be completed at https://bit.ly/WMNLAUNCH   Ends

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Expert Group led by the NUI Galway Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission also calls for a review of Remote Work Tax Relief An expert group, building on the findings of the National Remote Work Surveys and stakeholder consultations, has called on the Government to introduce a range of measures to support continued remote working. The Group made up of representatives from the NUI Galway Whitaker Institute, the Western Development Commission (WDC), and industry met with various companies, key employer and employee representative organisations and policy stakeholders throughout 2020 and has identified several recommendations for both organisations and government. While the report was written during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has acted as a catalyst for identifying the opportunities and challenges of remote working, it is aimed at identifying policies and practices which will support remote working in a post pandemic environment.  The report draws on remote working experiences from several companies who have well-established remote working practices before COVID-19. The report includes case studies and survey findings from a number of both large and small organisations including Cisco, Ervia, MHP Solicitors, Togán Labs and Employflex. Sinéad Redmond, Chief Operating Officer of Togán Labs, a small tech company operating on a fully remote basis says “ We are scattered around the country, with the majority of our people living rurally, one of the great benefits of remote working cultures being the possibility of reinvigorating rural communities and opening up life outside the standard 6.30am commuter run to a city. I love remote working for what it's given me back - so much more time in my day I used to lose to commuting and trying to do all the preparation work of being out of the house for the day.” For organisations, the group recommends the key need for leadership in supporting remote working. This will mean visible leadership from senior leaders in supporting remote workers, particularly in a mix of onsite and remote to avoid an approach that disadvantages those working remotely in terms of career development and opportunity. Structured social interaction, training on how to work remotely and support for early-career workers is crucial. For government, the group recommends various actions including awareness raising campaigns on health & safety guidance and working time legislation. Government should explore extending the right to request flexible working to all workers whose work can be completed remotely for some or all of time.  Balanced regional development, greater labour market participation and reduced emissions are just some of the significant benefits that can be accrued from remote working and which Government should support. The expert group also believe there is a need to review the applicable tax relief (the current €3.20 daily eWorking Allowance) so that it takes accounts of the costs and savings of remote working for both the employee and the employer. The report builds on and includes the findings of the two phases of the national remote working surveys during 2020. The most recent data published in October 2020 found that, among those who can work remotely, 94% were in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis for some or all the time.  The majority of those, 54%, said they would like to work remotely several times a week, 27% said five days a week and 13% said several times a month.  Speaking about the national surveys and the remote working expert group’s report, Professor Alma McCarthy said “Our research indicates that the majority of employees who can work remotely have a clear preference to continue to do so for some or all of their working week. There are many policy and employer considerations in moving to more remote working, the expert group’s report aims to help organisations and Government in how best to plan for and manage remote working”. Chair of the Group, WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said “The publication of this report is timely. Remote working offers significant benefits to the individual and to society. It can improve the work and personal lives of both rural and urban dwellers and offer new opportunities to both employers and employees. However, it is important to note that each organisation must make a conscious decision to support remote working. It requires senior leaders to embrace and lead it in each organisation. If they do, it can be transformative, sustainable, and to the benefit of all in the long run.” In late 2019, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Western Development Commission, building on ongoing work in this area over many years, met with the Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway to discuss remote working. The discussion was prompted by three trends: improving technology, the transition to a low carbon economy and an increase in the demand for, and incidence of, remote working. It was decided to establish a working group to look at remote working opportunities and challenges which led to setting up the WDC-NUI Galway Whitaker Institute Expert Group on Remote Working. The members of the expert group, along with the Chair, Tomás Ó Síocháin, WDC CEO are Professor Alma McCarthy, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, Mark Gantly, Chair of the Regional Skills Forum West, Emma Kerins, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Chambers Ireland, Brian O’Donoghue, Systems Engineer, Cisco and Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, WDC. View and download the full report HERE. View and download the executive summary HERE. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, today announced the appointment of Professor Anne Scott, Vice-President for Equality and Diversity, NUI Galway as the new Chairperson of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee. Minister Donnelly said: “I am delighted Professor Scott has accepted this appointment as independent Chairperson of the CervicalCheck Steering Committee. She brings a considerable wealth of experience from various roles in Ireland and abroad, and I believe she will make a substantial and valuable contribution to this important work. Significant progress has been made in addressing the issues the Committee was established to manage originally in 2018, so I have asked Professor Scott, in consultation with the key stakeholders, to consider what the key terms of reference are for the next phase of the work. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the members of the Committee since 2018 for the significant work completed to date and the vital role they have played in the policy response to the many issues that arose in relation to the CervicalCheck programme. “Under Professor Scott’s leadership, I want the Committee to continue to contribute to the important work to restore the CervicalCheck screening programme as a leading international cancer screening programme, improve public trust and confidence in screening, and further the global aim to eradicate cervical cancer.” Professor Anne Scott said:“I am delighted to accept the invitation by Minister Donnelly to Chair the CervicalCheck Steering Committee. As we move to the next phase of the Steering Committee activity, I look forward to working collaboratively with Committee members to continue to progress this important agenda in the interests of the health of women in Ireland. We must continue to focus on the strategic longer term goals to ensure a sustainable and effective cervical screening programme that maintains public confidence.”  -Ends-  

Monday, 14 December 2020

NUI Galway will lead three research projects as part of a coordinated COVID-19 Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme. Announced by Government Ministers today the new investment of €10.5 million will support 39 COVID-19 research and innovation projects. The three NUI Galway projects awarded almost €700,000 in total will investigate: How do the antibodies our bodies make affect the course of disease in COVID-19; Respecting People with disabilities’ Needs and rights in Crisis and Emergency; and Crisis coping for marginalised youth: living and learning through COVID-19. Dr Michelle Kilcoyne a researcher and lecturer in Glycosciences at NUI Galway, will lead a project that looks at one of the ways that our bodies can fight the COVID-19 virus, by making antibodies against it. These antibodies in the blood can either stop the virus directly, or recruit cells of the immune system to kill it. However, this recruitment of immune cells is not well studied in COVID-19, and it may contribute to more severe symptoms of disease. Science Foundation Ireland is funding the project to clarify the links between blood antibodies, virus-killing activity and symptoms in patients. At present, it is not known exactly how our immune system’s antibody response to the COVID-19 virus is linked to how mild or severe the symptoms are. The research project will examine blood samples from patients with COVID-19 and look at how the type and amount of antibodies link with recruitment of immune cells and the patient’s experience of the disease. By understanding more about how the body reacts to the COVID-19 virus, and how that links to disease, the findings will help inform how to vaccinate against and treat COVID-19. Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway, says: “Developing vaccines and antibody therapies depends on using a particular viral antigen to recruit the correct immune response, or effector function, in the patient. However, antibody effector functions for particular viral antigens are not well studied in COVID-19 patients, and different effector functions may be linked to disease severity and outcome. Combining a strong team of clinicians and research scientists, we are applying a multiplexed and high throughput approach to understand the link between the viral antigen, the individual patient effector function, and disease severity.” Professor Eilionóir Flynn, Established Professor, School of Law and Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, will lead a new project supported by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council that will look at decisions made during the pandemic in several European countries and their impact on people with disabilities. The research will provide guidance for decision-making bodies to help them maintain their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Strategic decisions made by countries and healthcare systems in the pandemic may not always support the rights of people with disabilities. Using a framework developed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, this project will analyse laws, policies and guidelines that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, Spain, UK, Italy, Sweden and Germany. The project will provide guidance to governments, medical councils and healthcare professionals in order to maintain obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Professor Eilionóir Flynn, NUI Galway, says: “Emerging research findings, including from the International Disability Alliance and other disability groups, demonstrate that disabled people globally are disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic. Not only are disabled people at greater risk of contracting the virus and experiencing adverse effects (especially those living in institutional settings) but they are also disproportionately affected by restrictions in access to community services and supports. This research will help us to understand in more depth how countries can respond to the challenge in ways that protect the human rights of disabled people.” Professors Pat Dolan and Gerry Mac Ruairc will lead a project focusing on young people aged between 12 and 18 who are marginalised or are at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and there is evidence that the most marginalised are becoming increasingly disconnected from school. Funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council, the project will work with marginalised young people and their families to come up with ways of coping with and improving wellbeing. The results will be tailor-made approaches and supports for marginalised young people, as well as evidence to inform policymakers and provide tools for important stakeholders, such as teachers and parents. Young people who are marginalised are at risk of disengaging from school, and from society more generally, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research will work with marginalised young people and their families to come up with new ways to support those at risk. By developing solutions with marginalised young people, the project can inform strategies that can help them engage with school and reduce the risk of disengagement. Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “The pandemic has posed very particular threats to the education and wellbeing of marginalised youth in Ireland.” Professor Gerry MacRuairc, School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “This project is a unique opportunity not just to research the problem but, working directly with youth and their schools, to come up with real-world, practical solutions.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, commented: “I wish to extend my warm congratulations to Michelle, Eilionóir, Pat and Gerry on being included on the COVID-19 Research and Innovation projects announced by Government today. Research excellence is one of NUI Galway’s strategic values and is to the forefront of everything we do, and in particular when tackling the response to the COVID-19 crisis. Our main aim is to serve the public good and these diverse projects highlight how our values of respect, sustainability and excellence show we are working not only to address the health challenges created by this pandemic, but also our understanding of the social implications.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Once again it is tremendous to see projects of this high calibre being led from NUI Galway in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This diverse range of disciplines highlights the innovative work being carried out by our research and innovation community in Galway. Ireland’s COVID-19 Rapid Response research and innovation funding initiative is a welcome support to these efforts, and I congratulate today’s awardees whose projects seek to address the challenges we face resulting from the pandemic in order to benefit healthcare and the wider society.” The projects included in the coordinated COVID-19 Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme are supported by Science Foundation Ireland, in partnership with the Department for the Economy and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, and the Irish Research Council and Health Research Board. Commenting on the awards Simon Harris, TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science said: “I’m delighted to announce this significant investment into furthering our understanding of COVID-19 and finding solutions to the challenges the pandemic has presented to our society and economy. As we move closer to commencing a vaccination programme, we need to understand that the virus has not gone away – supporting our expert researchers in our higher education institutions will help us to safely reopen our society. This latest research also includes nine all-island research projects, which is really exciting. COVID-19 does not know any borders. Working together across this island will help us in our fight.” Nine all-Ireland research projects were supported in areas such as surveillance in wastewater, disruption to food supply chains and a collaboration to investigate potential therapeutics. Commenting on the projects supported by the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland, the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said: “This virus knows no frontiers and it is vital that the world-class research strengths of Northern Ireland universities are fully harnessed to address the common challenges we are all now facing right across this island, north and south. Collaboration between researchers promotes innovative and impactful outcomes and this has been underlined by the way the global science community has come together to address the threats and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This SFI programme is very much part of this wider global effort and I welcome the opportunity it has provided for added-value collaboration across both our jurisdictions.” Welcoming the investment, Stephen Donnelly, TD, Minister for Health, said: “Research has been a key part of our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to rely on research in the months ahead. This year, we have not just experienced a pandemic, we have also seen an infodemic. There has been an overload of often unreliable information. We have seen examples of this in relation to the use of vaccines and on unproven medicines. As we plan to introduce a COVID-19 vaccination programme, it is essential that we tackle things like misinformation. Many of these research projects will provide evidence to help us do that. I look forward to using the findings from this research for the benefit of Irish people, the health system and society.” -Ends-

Monday, 14 December 2020

Trawling introduces disturbing noise to deeper waters around submarine canyons and marine mammal habitats The noise of bottom trawling in or near underwater canyons can disturb protected mammals such as fin whales and beaked whales in important feeding grounds and along migratory paths, researchers have revealed. The team based with iCRAG, the SFI Research Centre for Applied Geosciences in NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, used hydrophones to record the impact of working trawlers on the marine environment in two surveys in the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea.  The iCRAG team said the research shows ecologically sensitive areas of the oceans need stronger environmental protection from the wide variety of potential pollution sources, including bottom trawling. Lead author on the study, Eoghan Daly, iCRAG PhD researcher with Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, said bottom trawling noise can be amplified in the sea to levels that could cause disturbance to marine life. “Raised levels of marine noise can interfere with a marine mammal’s ability to communicate, hunt and navigate using echolocation,” Mr Daly said.  “Human-derived noise in the world’s oceans comes from many sources, including shipping and exploration. Bottom trawling, the noise it creates and how it spreads in the sea, has received little attention to date. “Submarine canyons are similar to those on land and serve to channel the noise from nearby trawling due to their shape and rapid change in depth compared to nearby slopes.  “In an ocean already faced with plastic pollution and climate change, a better understanding of trawler noise pollution will highlight it as another human impact on the marine ecosystem.” The research findings have been published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.  The iCRAG team modelled how the noise generated by bottom trawling travelled through the water column, along the seabed and through a 20km long submarine canyon in the Porcupine Basin on the continental margin, off the south-west coast of Ireland. Analysis showed that the noise is focussed through underwater canyons and is carried to deeper waters, having a potentially harmful effect on the marine environment and the protected mammals which feed in them and migrate through them.  The team also found that modelled trawler sound generated on the seabed travels underwater more efficiently than sound generated at the surface by boats, adding to the potential for trawling to have a negative effect on the surrounding marine environment. The research team hopes that their findings can contribute to better environmental regulations surrounding bottom trawling in the vicinity of key marine habitats, Marine Protected Areas and potentially for any additional Special Areas of Conservation within Irish waters, in line with government plans to expand protected areas in the future.  NUI Galway’s Dr Martin White said: “The research fills an important gap in marine noise pollution monitoring. “Areas such as the Porcupine Basin and the wider European continental margin are ecologically sensitive and trawlers operating in this part of the Atlantic Ocean have more powerful engines and heavier gear.  “The enhanced currents and nutrient mixing in these parts of the ocean helps create good conditions for cold water coral mounds and for associated invertebrates, fish and mammals to thrive. Marine life should be protected from the wide variety of pollution sources, including ship noise, pile driving and from bottom trawling, as we now know.” Ends

Monday, 14 December 2020

Researchers from NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin are inviting teenagers to take part in a study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in their lives The Schools of Psychology in NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin have collaborated on a study to find out how teenagers are coping with and responding to the ongoing restrictions and changes in their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teenagers aged from 12 to 18 years are invited to take part in the study and if interested in taking part, parental consent is necessary. There are three surveys being carried out over 12 months, with each taking about 15 minutes to complete. Young people have experienced many changes in their personal lives and have witnessed many changes in the lives of others over the last nine months. They have made many sacrifices to protect themselves, members of their family and the broader community. It is important we understand the impact of these changes on our teenagers. The research team are interested in finding out about the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and wellbeing; and what has helped young people adjust to the ongoing restrictions and changes to their lives. They would also like to identify what has been most difficult for teenagers in recent months and whether any positive changes occurred for young people. Dr Caroline Heary, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, said: “The physical distancing measures that are in place, the limitations placed on opportunities for fun and recreational activities and the restrictions on our movements in recent times, can reduce the opportunities for face-to-face contact outside of the home. These restrictions may be particularly significant during adolescence, a time when social interaction with peers is of paramount importance.” Dr Lorraine Swords, from the School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, reminds us of the frustrations that young people may experience as their freedom and independence may be curtailed at a time when it is developmentally appropriate for it to be extended. To find out more or to take part in the study, visit: https://www.adaptresearchstudy.com/ or contact Dr Caroline Heary, School of Psychology at caroline.heary@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 11 December 2020

Model emergency housing legislation addresses rented and mortgaged housing, migrant and refugee housing, housing for people with disabilities and those facing homelessness Dr Padraic Kenna from the School of Law in NUI Galway, has drafted Model Emergency Housing Legislation on housing rights with the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York, and international housing rights experts. The Model Emergency Housing Legislation is based on existing laws around the world, but builds on these to include housing rights for all. It can be used by human rights advocates and legislators to integrate the universally recognised right to housing into a binding national law.   To coincide with the release of the model legislation, the launch of a new report ‘Protecting the Right to Housing during the COVID-19 Crisis’ examines the measures taken by countries across the world in relation to housing during the pandemic. In March 2020, Ireland took immediate action to deal with the risk to human life and public health posed by COVID-19. Emergency legislation to prevent the spread of the disease and mitigate its adverse economic consequences included a rent freeze and a ban on evictions. Guidance for protecting homeless and vulnerable groups was issued in April. In line with European Banking Authority Guidelines, mortgage lenders in Ireland vowed to defer legal proceedings and repossessions against borrowers in default, and to extend payment holidays to homeowners hit by the pandemic. While medical advances will now, hopefully, protect people from the disease, it is generally accepted that the adverse economic consequences of COVID-19 will continue for some time. Just as there has been amazing progress in medicine, now is also the time to make progress in developing housing rights. Emergency measures on housing rights must be extended and developed to ensure the right to adequate housing for all. Dr Padraic Kenna, Senior Lecturer in Law, and Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at the School of Law, NUI Galway, said: “Many countries have implemented legislation to prevent evictions and rent rises during the COVID-19 pandemic. We now need to build on those housing rights protections in the context of the economic consequences of the pandemic. “This model emergency housing legislation addresses rented and mortgaged housing, but also housing rights protection for people in informal and temporary settlements, migrant and refugee housing, housing for people with disabilities and those facing homelessness. These are often the people who are most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to poor sanitation and overcrowding.” Marguerite Angelari, J.D., Senior Legal Officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, involved in the drafting of the model legislation, said: “Governments must now take a comprehensive legislative approach to protecting the right to housing until the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 is over. We hope this model legislation will act as a catalyst for the acceptance of comprehensive legislation to ensure the right to housing is protected.” Economic hardship, globally, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted housing for millions around the world, accelerating homelessness, evictions, and the loss of home ownership. Even before the pandemic, approximately 1.8 billion people globally lived in what international bodies characterised as “grossly inadequate” housing conditions and homelessness. Adequate housing is a key factor affecting a person’s likelihood of being severely impacted by COVID-19, including their ability to socially distance and access clean water and sanitation. Leilani Farha, Global Director for The Shift, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, and 2020 Open Society Foundations Fellow, said: “COVID-19 has laid bare the global housing crisis. The proliferation of homelessness, and inadequate, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing is the result of governments having prioritized housing as a means for financial investors to generate profit rather than treating it as a basic necessity and a human right. Governments must ensure domestic legislation protects housing as a human right in a manner consistent with their international human rights obligations.” The Model Emergency Housing Legislation is available here: https://bit.ly/2Lk5tmJ To read the report ‘Protecting the Right to Housing during the COVID-19 Crisis’ is available here: https://bit.ly/3lUvdTn For more about the Open Society Justice Initiative, visit: https://www.justiceinitiative.org/ -Ends-

Friday, 11 December 2020

Team behind Geec battery powered car develop fuel savings aerodynamics for HGVs The team behind the Galway Energy-Efficient Car at NUI Galway have been crowned European champions in a major student engineering competition. Usually the team would race at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, where the tests are ones of efficiency rather than speed but with slim prospects for track time this year the students took part in design competitions as part of the 2021 virtual programme. The team excelled by identifying aerodynamics as a major cause of energy loss in heavy trucks and proposed easily fitted modifications for conventional HGVs and lorries, reducing energy waste and CO2 emissions by about one fifth. Professor Peter McHugh, Head of School of Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “This is a truly amazing achievement for NUI Galway Engineering students, supported by our enthusiastic and hardworking staff. “This success is further confirmation of the world leading nature of our Engineering education at the University and the world-class calibre of our students. “It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm and commitment of our students still very much to the fore even in these challenging times.” The Geec road freight team were declared outright winners of the European region for their research and innovation on improving aerodynamics of heavy trucks in the category of Decarbonising Road Freight Transport. Norman Koch, Global General Manager of Shell Eco-marathon, singled out the Geec for a special commendation. Mr Koch said: "The team did a phenomenal job across all these categories they entered, and the scores were extremely tight. So well done to the team. A lot of hard work there and some amazing results." Éanna Wood, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student and member of the road freight team, said: “We found the biggest aerodynamic inefficiencies associated with modern HGVs and designed parts to reduce these. Overall, these aerodynamic improvements could reduce fuel consumption by over 20% at motorway speeds.”  Eoghan Moylan, fourth year in Mechanical Engineering, explained the modifications: “The aim was to reduce aerodynamic drag across the whole vehicle. The first part is the front wind deflector, which also benefits safety by preventing access to the blind spot under the windscreen and also provides for energy absorption in the event of a collision. “The second part is the use of shroud between the truck cab and trailer, preventing turbulent airflow forming in this gap. The third part is a combination of dimpled wheel covers and vortex generators to minimise the extent of turbulent airflow at the rotating wheels and the end of the trailer.” Adam Fahey, Geec team member and 4th year Electronic and Computer Engineering student, said: “The team are hugely grateful to everybody who voted across Galway and Ireland and the amazing support we have received on social media. “We are limited in what we can do with the Geec itself this year but that has allowed us to devote our time and energy to other areas and apply our expertise in new and innovative ways. “Our achievements so far speak volumes about the talent being supported and empowered here in NUI Galway.”  sGeec facts - :: The car is designed, built, driven and raced by NUI Galway students from Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic, Electronic and Computer, and Energy Systems engineering, from first to fourth year. :: The three-wheeled single-seat battery-electric Geec has been designed, developed and raced since 2013 and ranked in the top 15 energy-efficient cars in Europe. :: The car achieved the equivalent of more than 10,000 miles per gallon on a London street circuit. :: The Geec won the prestigious Technical Innovation Award at Shell Eco-marathon Europe in 2018. Ends

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Dr Anne O’Connor from the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in NUI Galway has received the first ever European Research Council Consolidator grant awarded to a project on translation and the first ever Consolidator grant in languages in Ireland. Dr O’Connor’s PIETRA project is the first, large-scale, multilingual study of the translation products and processes that underpin communication in global religion. The project focuses on translation practices in the institution of the Catholic Church and the multilingual communication of religious messages against a background of technological change. PIETRA studies how the Catholic Church has used forms of mass media in its communicative goals, asking key questions about the consistency of message in a large multilingual institution across different languages, cultures and communicative formats. The ERC announced the winners on (9 December 2020) of its latest Consolidator Grant competition for mid-career researchers. The funding is part of the EU’s current research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, and worth in total €655 million. With this support, the new grantees will be able to consolidate their teams and have far reaching impact. In this call, researchers of 39 nationalities received Consolidator Grants. The research projects proposed by the new grantees cover a wide range of topics in physical sciences and engineering, life sciences, social sciences and humanities. Speaking about her award, Dr Anne O’Connor, NUI Galway, said: “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have been awarded this prestigious grant from the European Research Council. It provides an exciting opportunity to study the multilingual output and translation strategies of large institutions and will allow us to develop novel insights into religious translation worldwide. I am extremely grateful to all of my colleagues at NUI Galway who have helped me in preparing the grant proposal and delighted to have such positive news at the end of this challenging year.”   Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute, NUI Galway, said: “This is a remarkable project that considers a huge challenge for a religious organisation like the Catholic Church: how to keep a consistent message across different languages in an era of massive transformations in communication associated with social media, including Facebook and Twitter. How does a global church respond in real time? The project will capture this through big data analysis and fine grained reading of meaning in multiple languages. I can’t wait to see the results.” PIETRA analyses the translation processes and products of the Catholic Church across three different media (print, web and social media) and in two different time periods to advance understandings of how multilingual dissemination intersects with technological change and institutional ideology. The innovative methodological design offers a completely new approach to the study of religious translation, on a scale that has not been attempted before. ERC President, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented: “This funding not only empowers bright minds from across Europe to pursue their most ambitious ideas at a critical stage of their careers, but also helps train the youngest generation of researchers as members of their ERC teams. To prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, Europe must stick to the vision of investing in frontier research, which has proved time and again its crucial added value. That is why so many count on Europe’s leaders to endow the “Excellent Science” pillar of Horizon Europe with the resources essential to strengthen Europe as a whole.” -Ends-

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Dr Kathryn Schoenrock, a postdoctoral researcher from the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway is this year’s winner of the Irish Research Council’s Early Career Researcher of the Year award. The award for Early Career Researcher of the Year is given to a current or former Irish Research Council awardee who is at an early stage in their career. They must be currently working in research in an academic institution and have demonstrated an exceptional level of achievement in their field at this stage in their career. Dr Schoenrock’s research focus is kelp forest ecology along the coastlines of Ireland, which looks at how they house and provide food for the marine animals in their ecosystem. Kelp forests are known to be a habitat for hundreds to thousands of marine species and recently, they have been highlighted as an important blue carbon repository that may buffer climate change impacts to marine habitats by sequestering the increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a postdoctoral researcher in Ireland, Dr Schoenrock led an intensive kelp forest monitoring effort over the past three years, which is the first effort of its kind. Her ground-breaking work in this field has made her the authoritative voice on Irish kelp forest ecology, and the productivity and biodiversity of these systems in nearshore waters. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “I’d like to congratulate Kathryn on winning this year’s Irish Research Council Early Career Researcher of the Year award. We are very proud of her work. Research defines us as a university and defines the excellence of NUI Galway. Kathryn’s work is inter-disciplinary, openly drawing on many different perspectives to increase our understanding of the marine environment which, given our location, is particularly important to our university. Awards such as this sustain the next generation of excellence in research so it is wonderful to see the quality of Kathryn’s research being respected and acknowledged in this way. Congratulations to her and we wish her every future success.” Speaking about her award, Dr Kathryn Schoenrock, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, said: “I’m very honoured to receive this award and that this particular field of research is being commended. What’s really nice is that this research could be applied to many technologies and pharmaceuticals. While this is basic natural history, I’m delighted it’s being recognised as essential for our understanding of the natural world, which is very encouraging for our future.” Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, said: “Our annual Researcher of the Year awards are about recognising the very best and brightest of the Council’s current and former awardees. The standard this year was exceedingly high, and the judging panel found it difficult in many cases to choose a winner, which is a testament to the high calibre of researchers we have here in Ireland. “We launched our five-year strategic plan this year and supporting excellent ideas and talent across all disciplines is at the heart of the Council’s mandate. Having a vibrant research community, and fostering public support for research is vital, as we continue to see the positive impact it has on society, the environment, and the economy.” To hear more about Kathryn’s research, watch the following short video:  https://youtu.be/YSlfgeYNMZ8 -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

The first female conductor at the Academy Awards, the founder of the Galway Advertiser and the man who spearheaded the global Covid-19 response are among 14 individuals who will be conferred with Honorary Degrees by NUI Galway in 2021. Galway-born composer Eímear Noone made history at the Oscars last February when she led the orchestra which performed the music of composers shortlisted for Best Original Score. Ronnie O'Gorman is the founder and owner of the Galway Advertiser. He is a renowned historian and key to the restoration of Coole Park/Thoor Ballylee and he has been at the heart of the development of Galway through his promotion of the west and the region culturally and historically. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has steered responses to lethal disease outbreaks around the world, including Covid-19, and worked in some of the world’s trouble spots, including Iraq where he was taken hostage. Others included in NUI Galway’s 2021 Honorary Conferring span the world of arts, media, academia, healthcare and business. The full list includes: Dick Byrne - Architect by profession and life-long contributor to the arts in Galway. Professor David Harper - Professor of Palaeontology at Durham University and leading international expert on palaeontology and evolution. Jean Kelly - Retired Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Saolta University Health Care Group, University Hospital Galway. Professor Hubert McDermott - Former Professor of English at NUI Galway and former Governing Authority member. Dr Martina Newell-McGloughlin - Director of International Biotechnology, University of California, Davis. Eímear Noone - Renowned musical conductor and composer. Máirtín O’Connor - Renowned traditional musician and composer. Ronnie O’Gorman - Founder and owner of Galway Advertiser. Mary O’Malley - Renowned poet and member of Aosdána. Evelyn O’Toole - Founder and CEO of Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS). Bob Quinn - Film-maker, director, photographer, writer, editor and member of Aosdána. Dr Mike Ryan - Executive Director, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organisation (WHO).                         Professor Jerome Sheahan - Retired statistician/mathematician, NUI Galway. Ailbhe Smyth - Irish academic and activist. Speaking about the conferrals, President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. “Each one has made an excellent and distinctive contribution to public life, the betterment of society and the interests of humanity. “NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to respect and recognise these exceptional individuals. Each of those we honour also have a special bond with our region - drawing on the unique experiences, strengths and challenges with which we as a University also engage – our values of Respect, Openness, Sustainability, and Excellence; our profile on human rights, and our emphasis on excellence, creativity and innovation. In honouring these exceptional individuals, we also signal what we value in areas that matter to us and to our society.” The University aims to hold the Honorary Conferring ceremony next summer in line with public health guidelines. -Ends   Céimithe Oinigh 2021 Fógartha ag OÉ Gaillimh Tá an chéad stiúrthóir ban ag Gradaim Acadamh Ealaíon agus Eolaíochtaí na Scannán (Academy Awards), bunaitheoir an Galway Advertiser agus an fear a bhí i gceannas ar fhreagairt dhomhanda Covid-19 i measc na gceithre dhuine dhéag a mbronnfaidh OÉ Gaillimh Céimeanna Oinigh orthu in 2021. Rinne an cumadóir Eímear Noone, a rugadh i nGaillimh, rud nach ndearnadh riamh cheana ag na Gradaim Oscar i mí Feabhra seo caite; ba í a bhí i mbun an cheolfhoireann a chas ceol na gcumadóirí a bhí ar an ngearrliosta don Scór Bunaidh is Fearr a stiúradh. Is é Ronnie O’Gorman bunaitheoir agus úinéir an Galway Advertiser. Is staraí iomráiteach é agus bhí páirt lárnach aige in athchóiriú Pháirc na Cúile/Thúr Bhaile Uí Laoigh agus bhí sé i gcroílár fhorbairt na Gaillimhe leis an gcaoi ar chuir sé an iarthar agus an réigiún chun cinn go cultúrtha agus go stairiúil. Ghlac Mike Ryan, stiúrthóir feidhmiúcháin na hEagraíochta Domhanda Sláinte (WHO), le dúshláin a bhain le ráigeanna galair mharfacha ar fud an domhain, lena n-áirítear Covid-19, agus d’oibrigh sé i gcuid de na háiteanna is mó dainseár ar domhan, lena n-áirítear an Iaráic áit ar tógadh é ina ghiall. Cuimsítear saol na n-ealaíon, na meán, an saol acadúil, cúram sláinte agus gnó leis an gcuid eile de na daoine ar a mbronnfar Céim Oinigh 2021 de chuid OÉ Gaillimh. Is é seo an liosta iomlán: Dick Byrne – Ailtire a chuireann go mór leis na healaíona i nGaillimh.     An tOllamh David Harper – Ollamh le Pailé-ointeolaíocht in Ollscoil Durham agus saineolaí idirnáisiúnta mór le rá ar phailé-ointeolaíocht agus ar éabhlóid.                                      Jean Kelly – Príomh-Stiúrthóir Altranais agus Cnáimhseachais ar scor, Grúpa Cúraim Sláinte Ollscoile Saolta, Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh.                                              An tOllamh Hubert McDermott – iarOllamh le Béarla in OÉ Gaillimh agus iarbhall d’Údarás na hOllscoile.                        An Dr Martina Newell-McGloughlin – Stiúrthóir International Biotechnology, Ollscoil California, Davis. Eímear Noone – Stiúrthóir agus cumadóir ceoil iomráiteach.                                        Máirtín O’Connor – Ceoltóir traidisiúnta agus cumadóir iomráiteach.                              Ronnie O’Gorman – Bunaitheoir agus úinéir an Galway Advertiser.                                 Mary O’Malley – File iomráiteach agus ball d’Aosdána.                                             Evelyn O’Toole – Bunaitheoir agus Príomhoifigeach Feidhmiúcháin Complete Laboratory Solutions (CLS). Bob Quinn – Déantóir scannán, stiúrthóir, grianghrafadóir, scríbhneoir, eagarthóir agus ball d’Aosdána. An Dr Mike Ryan – Stiúrthóir Feidhmiúcháin, Clár Éigeandálaí Sláinte, an Eagraíocht Dhomhanda Sláinte (WHO).                                        An tOllamh Jerome Sheahan – Staitisteoir/matamaiticeoir ar scor, OÉ Gaillimh. Ailbhe Smyth – Acadóir agus gníomhaí Éireannach.                                                    Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh maidir leis na bronntaí: “Tá an t-ádh le OÉ Gaillimh céimithe oinigh den scoth a bheith aige in imeacht na mblianta agus is cinnte gur grúpa ar leith iad céimithe oinigh na bliana seo. Tá a c(h)ion féin déanta ag gach céimí oinigh daoibh ar mhaithe leis an saol poiblí, le feabhas na sochaí agus le leas na daonnachta. Tá an-áthas ar OÉ Gaillimh a bheith in ann meas agus aitheantas a thabhairt do na daoine eisceachtúla seo. Tá ceangal ar leith ag gach duine a bhfuilimid ag bronnadh onóir orthu lenár réigiún – ag tarraingt ar an taithí, na láidreachtaí agus na dúshláin uathúla a bhaineann linne mar Ollscoil chomh maith – ár luachanna, mar atá Meas, Oscailteacht, Inbhuanaitheacht, agus Barr Feabhais; ár bpróifíl maidir le cearta an duine, agus an bhéim a leagaimid ar bharr feabhais, ar chruthaitheacht agus ar nuálaíocht. Trí onóir a thabhairt do na daoine eisceachtúla seo, léirímid na luachanna atá againn i réimsí a bhfuil tábhacht leo dúinne agus don tsochaí ina mairimid”. Tá rún ag an Ollscoil an Searmanas Bronnta Oinigh a reáchtáil an samhradh seo chugainn i gcomhréir leis na treoirlínte sláinte poiblí. -Críoch-  

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Some 325 places on University courses and modules as part of the Government’s Covid-19 Jobs Stimulus More than 300 funded places are being made available for workers to upskill and reskill on courses at NUI Galway as part of the Government’s Covid-19 Jobs Stimulus plan. The University has lined up a wide variety of options in subject areas from business, manufacturing, and nursing. All courses will be online and on a part-time basis and either 90% or fully funded. The Government investment in NUI Galway’s reskilling and upskilling programme as part of the Jobs Stimulus plan will cover 325 places and fees to the total value of €472,000. NUI Galway’s CPD Development Officer Dr Brían Ó Donnchadha said: “The hundreds of places on courses at NUI Galway are a hugely valuable opportunity for workers who need support in making a step forward in a career. “All of the courses will be online and delivered on a part-time basis. Eligibility criteria are similar to those of Springboard+ courses, so those who are returning to education and those who are unemployed or in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will receive 100% of their fees covered. Someone who is in work, was self-employed or is a recent graduate can secure 90% funding.” Dr Ó Donnchadha said the upskilling, reskilling and training is targeted at the current and future skills needs of workers who have been impacted by Covid-19. “The numbers of funded places are limited so early application is highly recommended,” he said. Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, announced more than €30 million for free and subsidised higher education places under the Jobs Stimulus package in October. The Covid-19 response plan was aimed at helping get people back to work, to upskill and build economic confidence while continuing to manage the impact of the pandemic. Denise Rocks, manager of the West Regional Skills Forum, said: "We are delighted that so many free Higher Education Postgraduate and Modular upskilling places have been made available in the West Region. These new funded places open up exciting opportunities for professional development and the growth of companies in the West Region." The University’s Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development highlighted two of the many options available for workers. Monitoring for Health Hazards at Work explores different exposure control options, including containment technologies, ventilation and personal protective equipment. The course would be of interest to a wide range of personnel working in industry. As businesses face many challenges and as good managers need to retain the skills needed to work well with colleagues across an organisation, the module on Management Skills encourages participants to evaluate their behaviour, to change it and to assess the impact of that change. Applications for courses are open now. Details about all of the funded courses, including how to apply are available at  Jobs Stimulus Courses - NUI Galway Ends Na céadta áiteanna athoiliúna agus breisoiliúna á gcur ar fáil ag OÉ Gaillimh d’oibrithe 325 áit ar chúrsaí agus ar mhodúil ollscoile mar chuid de Spreagthacht Phoist Covid-19 an Rialtais Tá níos mó ná 300 áit mhaoinithe á gcur ar fáil d’oibrithe ar mhaithe le breisoiliúint agus athoiliúint a fháil ar chúrsaí in OÉ Gaillimh mar chuid de phlean Spreagthachta Poist Covid-19 an Rialtais. Tá réimse leathan roghanna curtha ar fáil ag an Ollscoil i réimsí ábhair idir ghnó, dhéantúsaíocht agus altranas. Beidh gach cúrsa ar líne agus ar bhonn páirtaimseartha agus beidh siad 90% maoinithe nó maoinithe go hiomlán. Clúdóidh infheistíocht an Rialtais i gclár athoiliúna agus breisoiliúna OÉ Gaillimh mar chuid den phlean Spreagthachta Poist 325 áit agus táillí ar luach iomlán €472,000. Dúirt an Dr Brian Ó Donnchadha, Oifigeach Forbartha CPD OÉ Gaillimh: “Is deis an-luachmhar iad na céadta áiteanna ar chúrsaí in OÉ Gaillimh d’oibrithe a dteastaíonn tacaíocht uathu chun céim chun tosaigh a ghlacadh i ngairm. “Beidh na cúrsaí go léir ar líne agus á seachadadh ar bhonn páirtaimseartha. Tá na critéir cháilitheachta cosúil le critéir chúrsaí Springboard+, mar sin íocfar 100% de tháillí do na daoine atá ag filleadh ar oideachas agus iad siúd atá dífhostaithe nó a fhaigheann an Íocaíocht Dífhostaíochta Phaindéime. Is féidir le duine atá ag obair, a bhí féinfhostaithe nó ar céimí le déanaí iad maoiniú 90% a fháil.” Dúirt an Dr Ó Donnchadha go bhfuil an bhreisoiliúint, an athoiliúint agus an oiliúint dírithe ar riachtanais scileanna atá ag oibrithe faoi láthair nó a bheidh acu amach anseo de bharr Covid-19. “Tá líon na n-áiteanna maoinithe teoranta mar sin moltar iarratas a dhéanamh go luath,” a dúirt sé. D’fhógair Simon Harris, an tAire Breisoideachais agus Ardoideachais, Taighde, Nuálaíochta agus Eolaíochta, níos mó ná €30 milliún d’áiteanna ardoideachais saor in aisce agus fóirdheonaithe faoin bpacáiste Spreagthachta Poist i mí Dheireadh Fómhair. Bhí plean freagartha Covid-19 dírithe ar chabhrú le daoine filleadh ar an obair, breisoiliúint a fháil agus muinín eacnamaíoch a fhorbairt agus ag an am céanna déileáil le tionchar na paindéime. Chuir Denise Rocks, Bainisteoir Fhóram Scileanna Réigiúnacha an Iarthair an-fháilte roimh an nuacht faoin maoiniú agus dúirt: ‘Tá an-áthas orainn go bhfuil an oiread sin áiteanna breisoiliúna Iarchéime agus Modúlach Ardoideachais curtha ar fáil i Réigiún an Iarthair. Cuireann na háiteanna nua maoinithe seo deiseanna spreagúla d’fhorbairt ghairmiúil agus d’fhás cuideachtaí ar fáil i Réigiún an Iarthair.' Tharraing an tIonad Foghlama agus Forbartha Gairmiúla d’Aosaigh san Ollscoil aird ar phéire den iliomad roghanna atá ar fáil d’oibrithe. Déanann Monatóireacht ar Ghuaiseacha Sláinte ag an Obair iniúchadh ar roghanna éagsúla rialaithe nochta, lena n-áirítear teicneolaíochtaí coimeádta, aeráil agus trealamh cosanta pearsanta agus bheadh spéis ag raon leathan pearsanra atá ag obair sa tionscal ann. De bhrí gur iomaí dúshlán atá roimh ghnólachtaí agus de bhrí go gcaithfidh bainisteoirí maithe na scileanna a theastaíonn chun oibriú go maith le comhghleacaithe ar fud eagraíochta a choinneáil, tá an modúl ar Scileanna Bainistíochta go maith chun rannpháirtithe a spreagadh lena n-iompar a mheas, a athrú agus tionchar an athraithe sin a mheas. Is féidir iarratas a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí anois. Tá sonraí faoi na cúrsaí maoinithe go léir chomh maith leis an gcaoi le hiarratas a dhéanamh le fáil anseo http://www.nuigalway.ie/courses/cpd/jobsstimuluscourses/ Críoch

Friday, 4 December 2020

Actor Cillian Murphy supporting youth-led research to explore pandemic issues and to devise solutions More than 100 countries taking part in Youth As Researchers study Initiative led by UNESCO chairs in NUI Galway and Penn State University  A global UNESCO study being coordinated by NUI Galway has been formally launched to identify the impact of Covid-19 on youth around the world. More than 100 countries have signed up and 6,000 young people applied to be researchers on the international project being led by Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair and Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the University. The Youth As Researchers global initiative on Covid-19 is the single biggest study of its kind. It is by young people and for young people, focusing on how the pandemic has affected wellbeing, education and learning, use of technology, human rights and youth-led action and civic engagement. Actor Cillian Murphy, patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, addressed the online launch and highlighted that despite 40% of the world’s population being under 24 the voice of youth is not being heard in the pandemic. “What is even more important is that this research is not about adults asking youth what they think or how they feel about Covid-19, but it is young people, trained as youth researchers, from all over the world asking other youth for their views - this makes the study truly authentic,” he said. “Whether thinking about the impact of lockdown on youth mental health, education, relationships or wellbeing, in order to support young people as part of our global family we need to hear from youth themselves - what helps them cope and what doesn’t.” Quoting Seamus Heaney, the actor had a message for those taking part in the study: “Most of all thank you to all you youth participants in the study, I take hope from Seamus Heaney, the amazing Irish poet, who once said ‘If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way’.” NUI Galway President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh also sent a message of support to the project. “This is yet another fantastic initiative, firstly in the context of engaging with research that matters, research with impact and research which is important for its sense of empathy with others,” the President said. Mr Ó hÓgartaigh said the project mirrored the lived values of NUI Galway – Respect, Excellence, Openness and Sustainability. “The UNESCO project and the example of Youth As Researchers shows us the value of research which does not make an object of others, but that they are engaged with it and involved,” he said. The UNESCO study is being conducted by researchers aged 18 to 35. A broad representative of youth will take part in questionnaires, surveys, workshops and focus groups and other methods. Videos, posters, reports, policy briefs and other content will be produced to showcase the results and share them in the media and on social media as well as within the UN, across governments and UNESCO partners. Two NUI Galway undergraduates John Gaffey and Ella Anderson are trained as Youth As Researchers, including on issues such as ethics in research, non-bias questionnaire design, sampling methods. They moderated the live event and will work on the European end of the project. UNESCO appointed Professor Dolan co-principal investigator along with Professor Mark Brennan, fellow UNESCO Chair at Pennsylvania State University. They will lead a consortium of youth-led researchers through training, mentoring and coordination. Professor Dolan said: “We know some of the problems. We know people are affected differently, across classes and cultures. We need young people to help us understand that and help us with the solutions. By using the Youth As Researchers initiative we can do that and produce results that are usable, rather than research that no one reads, most of all young people. “Over the course of the pandemic the worst assumptions have been made about young people in our society. On too many occasions, people in authority have been too quick to claim young people are irresponsible and lack consideration for society. The UNESCO Youth As Researchers programme aims to prove these assumptions wrong.” Ends

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Funding of $750,000 for cutting edge imaging research to expand knowledge and understanding of health and disease A scientist at NUI Galway has been awarded more than $750,000 to radically expand microscopy training for scientists and researchers in academia and industry in Ireland. The funding was confirmed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a philanthropy founded by Dr Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, that matches engineering with grant-making, impact investing and policy and advocacy work. It is part of a $32 million philanthropic package to support biomedical imaging researchers and the development of technology to drive the discovery of cures, prevention or management of disease. Dr Kerry Thompson, a researcher in anatomy at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and Centre for Microscopy and Imaging, will use the funding to support accelerated learning and research in biological sciences. “We use microscopy to visualise, measure and analyse the biological processes that underlie health and disease,” she said. “There are hundreds of scientific roles that require specially trained microscopists and imaging scientists. One example is accelerated drug discovery which was used for the development of covid vaccines – it would not have been possible without imaging experts. “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative recognises how scientific imaging advances research. The invaluable funding we have secured places imaging scientists at the heart of ground-breaking research to accelerate discovery.” Dr Thompson is one of 22 imaging scientists in 11 countries around the world who are being supported with CZI’s latest funding round, while NUI Galway is the only institution on the island of Ireland to have been supported by CZI. The funding will support a new centre of excellence at NUI Galway offering STEM professionals, scientists and researchers cutting edge training in bio-imaging and analysis.  “Microscopy is the linchpin of modern biological research,” Dr Thompson said. “The funding will facilitate a paradigm shift in research in Ireland. It will elevate the role that imaging has at the frontline of discovery. The critical expertise and capabilities that we will be able to impart will be invaluable as we develop advanced training programmes to enhance technical aptitude.” Professor Peter Dockery, Established Professor of Anatomy at NUI Galway, said securing such a significant funding award from the Zuckerbergs was an enormous achievement. “Dr Thompson has played an instrumental role in the development of the core Centre for Microscopy and Imaging at NUI Galway which provides access to essential imaging technologies for the research community. The work and training that will take place in our university as a result of the funding will take the drive for higher standards and expertise to another level.” Professor Tim O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Saolta University Healthcare Group, said: “Advanced microscopy is a fundamental component of modern biomedical discovery and this programme will accelerate research in this area. “This will have benefits for multiple other research groups in NUI Galway and throughout the country. We are delighted to receive this prestigious award for Dr Thompson which is based on a long track record of advanced microscopy in the Discipline of Anatomy at NUI Galway.” Ends

Thursday, 3 December 2020

A project that connects patients with their loved ones, against a backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions on visits to hospitals, has seen NUI Galway win a National Impact Award.   The university worked with industry partners Cisco and IBM to deliver a state-of-the-art video call system, ICU FamilyLink, specifically for the intensive care unit setting at University Hospital Galway (UHG). The project won the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Award, in the ‘COVID-19 Response’ Category on 26 November.  ICU FamilyLink When hospital visiting restrictions were introduced in early March, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team at University Hospital Galway (UHG) appreciated that it was going to be very difficult to keep families and patients in the ICU updated and connected, particularly where family members may be in physical isolation in different locations. In an effort to address these challenges, they reached out to their academic partners in NUI Galway, who in turn reached out to industry contacts in Galway and beyond.  NUI Galway, Cisco and IBM assembled a team to answer the call and working closely with the ICU and Clinical Engineering and IT teams in UHG, rapidly developed a state-of-the-art video call system tailored specifically for the ICU setting. The system runs on the hospital’s Cisco Enterprise Wireless Network using Cisco Webex Meetings software and Cisco Webex Devices donated from Cisco’s software development office in Oranmore.   The secure system is designed for easy setup where close family members are invited by the nurse looking after the patient, to see and speak to their loved one. ICU FamilyLink also enables staff to advise the family and discuss medical and treatment issues that arise.  The Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards recognise and showcase the success in knowledge transfer carried out in Irish Higher Education Institutions and publicly funded research organisations for the wider benefit of the economy and society at large. As part of the initiative, the collaborating bodies made information regarding all components of the bespoke video conferencing system freely available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/icu-familylink/. Speaking about the news, David Murphy, Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “This achievement is a positive reflection of the talent within the university, industry and hospital. It is also a reflection of the commitment to community in a time when it was so important to those affected by the pandemic. As a place well-known for collaboration and creativity, and as a global medtech hub, our research and innovation community has been to the fore in looking at innovations and insights that can support the response to the COVID-19 crisis.   KTI director and chair of the judging panel, Dr Alison Campbell, added: “The finalists and winners of these awards are real examples of the compelling work being undertaken in the third level to support innovation and to help Irish companies thrive in challenging markets, delivering benefit to the economy and for people.” This initiative was delivered by Irial Conroy (IBM) and Dr Aoife Murray (NUI Galway), both BioInnovate alumni, Brian O’Donoghue (Cisco), Breda McColgan (IBM), PJ McKenna (IBM), Frank Kirrane (UHG), Leonie Cullen (UHG) and Dr Bairbre McNicholas (UHG). The team was supported by the UHG IT department and wider Saolta, Cisco, IBM, UHG and NUI Galway staff, and other organisations that kindly provided supports. Special thanks to Niamh Connolly (NUI Galway), Ian Gallivan (NUI Galway) and the TTO office for the facilitation of making all of the project’s contributions available in the public domain. Watch a short video about ICU FamilyLink here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl7qWpWH5q8&t=4s. To read more about other initiatives with which the NUI Galway research and innovation community have responded to COVID-19, visit: https://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/covid19/ . -Ends-