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Minister English announces over €30 million SFI investment in scientific research
Monday, 27 April 2015
Government funding will support 100 research positions working on 23 research projects involving 40 companies NUI Galway will lead three of the proposed projects and collaborate on a fourth Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD today announced over €30 million of research funding for 23 major research projects. The funding will be delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigators Programme. The Programme will provide funding over a four to five year period, for 23 research projects involving over 100 researchers. Funding for each project will range from €500,000 to €2.3 million. Three of the projects are led by NUI Galway researchers, and in partnership with University of Limerick, are significantly involved in a fourth project. According to the NUI Galway’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi: ‘Research aimed at understanding osteoporosis, reducing the cost of drugs, treating wastewater and creating new modelling tools for industry will undoubtedly yield societal and economic benefits. The excellent performance of NUI Galway researchers in the Investigators Programme is to be applauded and testifies to the scientific excellence and relevance of on-going innovative research at NUI Galway.” Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English T.D., said: “This funding provides assistance to individual researchers to advance their investigations and address key research questions in sectors such as energy, medicine, food and nutrition, technology and agriculture. It allows researchers to further their careers and build partnerships with leading industry partners who also benefit from access to some of the leading academic talent on this island. The Investigators Programme is an important contributor to Ireland’s credentials as a research leader in a number of sectors.” The NUI Galway projects include: Dr Laoise McNamara, NUI Galway - This research project will advance understanding of mechanobiology to develop treatment approaches for bone pathologies. Tissues of the human body can adapt in response to mechanical forces by a cellular process known as mechanobiology. Although mechanobiological processes are fundamental to normal bone physiology and may play an important role in the development of osteoporosis, the role of mechanobiology in bone development and changes occurring during ageing are not yet fully understood. Moreover mechanobiological responses have not been targeted as treatments for osteoporosis, nor have they been sufficiently exploited to develop novel regenerative tissue strategies. Dr Alan Ryder, NUI Galway - Many drugs for human health are complex biological molecules like proteins which are made in living cells on an industrial scale. Both the cell food (media) and the protein products have to be carefully analysed to make sure that they are good and safe. Both media and proteins are very complex mixtures that are difficult to analyse. Here we will build a faster, cheaper, and non-contact way of testing using light to generate chemical information from these mixtures. This information will then be analysed using advanced statistical methods (chemometrics) and the results used to improve manufacturing, and reduce drug costs. Professor Vincent O'Flaherty, NUI Galway - This research targets new technologies for treatment of wastewaters from industry (food production) and households (sewage). The output will be a system for simultaneous purification of wastewater, production of renewable energy and recovery/recycling of valuable nutrient resources (phosphorus). The proposed system relies on microorganisms, which transform wastewater pollutants into a readily usable fuel (methane/natural gas) by digestion of organic matter. Methane provides a competitive low-carbon fuel source, which can be used for transport, home heating and electricity production. The proposed research will have positive impacts towards more sustainable food production, economic competitiveness and innovation, environmental protection and climate change. Professor Sean Leen of NUI Galway, in conjunction with Professor Noel O’Dowd University of Limerick – This project aims to develop new modelling tools for Irish industry for more accurate design and assessment of materials and structures. The focus will be on welds, which are the most common location of failure in engineering components. The tools will be used to provide tailored combinations of welding and heat treatment parameters, to design material structures at the nano-, micro- and macro-scale. Specific applications are the design for optimum grain size in power-plant steels and improved designs for steel pipelines used in oil and gas offshore platforms. The SFI Investigators Programme supports excellent scientific research that has the potential to impact Ireland’s society and economy. The 23 projects were selected by competitive peer review involving 400 international scientists after a call for proposals across a number of thematic areas of national and international importance. The awards include research in areas such as materials science, data management, medicine and pharmaceuticals, food and nutrition, agriculture and veterinary research and have links to 40 companies. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, added: “The SFI Investigators Programme provides important support to researchers in Ireland, creating employment opportunities and allowing them to leverage State funding to access additional funding streams, such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme. Their research focuses on areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, animal breeding and disease prevention, ICT and data storage, as well as bioenergy among other topics. These are areas that will make a difference to both Ireland’s economy and society. All of the successful projects have been peer reviewed by international experts to ensure scientific excellence and we have funded every project deemed to be of the highest standard internationally.” -ends-
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Galway International Summer School on the Arts and Human Rights
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
Thought leaders from the seemingly disparate worlds of human rights and the arts will come together for the Galway International Summer School on the Arts and Human Rights from 9-11 July. This landmark event, a world-first, is hosted by NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, and will take place in the days immediately before the Galway International Arts Festival. Bringing together arts and human rights practitioners and others interested in the topics, events will take the form of panel discussions, exhibitions and performances. There will also be three parallel workshops on the topics of literature and human rights, the visual arts and human rights, and music and human rights. The Summer School is co-directed by Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights and Dr Dominique Bouchard, Curator at the Hunt Museum. The organisers envisage that the event will provide a platform for cross-fertilisation of ideas from the two disciplines of the arts and human rights, both of which are strongly aligned with issues such as social justice, cultural expression and cultural freedom. The summer school, which is currently open for enrolment, will follow the theme of ‘Belonging’ as seen from an arts and a human rights perspective. The opening speaker will be United Nations’ leading expert on human rights and culture, Farida Shaheed (the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights). Among the other speakers are: Professor Manfred Nowak, University of Vienna; Dr Guido Gryseels, Director Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium; Julian Fifer, Musicians for Human Rights; Vered Cohen Barzilay, Founder and Director of Novel Rights; Professor Rod Stoneman, Director of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway; Mary Lawlor, Founder, Front Line Defenders; Professor Sarah Joseph, Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University, Australia; Professor Paul Seawright, Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster; Bob Collins, Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Rita Duffy, Artist; Dr Neil Jarman, Director of the Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast; Katerina Šedá, Artist; Jennifer Johnston, Novelist; Barbara Bukovska, Article 19; Leila Doolan, Film maker; Dominic Thorpe, Artist; Vincent Woods, Poet and broadcaster; and Susan McKay, Author. As part of the Summer School, a unique exhibition will be mounted at St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church in Galway City, the 1949 UNESCO photographic exhibition illustrating the then recently adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This exhibition toured the world at the end of the 1940s to build awareness and understanding of human rights. The exhibition will go on from Galway to be shown at UN headquarters in New York. Side by side with the 1949 exhibition the winning images from a new photographic competition, The Galway International Human Rights Photographic Competition will be displayed. This competition will invite images that depict the situation of human rights today. NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library will also mount an exhibition to run during the days of the Summer School. ‘Staging Belonging’ is a digital exhibition from the Theatre Archives of the University’s Library. The Summer School will also incorporate performance. Confirmed performers include: Ariel Dorfman’s “Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark”, directed by Professor Patrick Lonergan, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. ‘Tell me your Story”, The Irish Traveller with Music and Song’ with music from Uilleann Piper, Mickey Dunne; Brid Dunne on fiddle; Carl Hession on piano; songs by Mary Mc Partlan and narration by Donncha O’Connell. Professor Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: “We are very excited to have developed this world class and unique event. The interaction of the arts and human rights is neglected and the practitioners in both areas need to get to know and understand each other much better. There is no better a place to do this than the city of Galway with its fantastic record in the arts and the University’s international reputation for human rights research, teaching and advocacy.” Dr Dominique Bouchard, Co-director of the Summer School, said: “Museums and contemporary art are exploring the relationship between art and social justice and the summer school offers a rare opportunity to contribute a new dimension and to help drive that dialogue. We hope the summer school will provide artists and human rights practitioners not only a chance to work together, but also the opportunity to challenge each other. The format of the programme is intended to maximise interaction and we look forward to the surprising outcomes which will no doubt emerge from such an experimental approach to these areas.” For more details, to register or to see the full list of speakers visit http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=418. -ends-
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Report highlights issues regarding access to justice for children with mental disabilities
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
The voice of the child is not being heard in areas of such as education and decisions about where a child lives Parents spoke of children being excluded from mainstream schools because of “health and safety concerns” A new report on access to justice for children with cognitive disabilities in Ireland has been published by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. The project focused on access to justice in three main areas of a child's life: education, decisions about where a child lives and the criminal justice system. One issue raised by the report was that the child’s voice was often not heard in proceedings. Existing laws are not interpreted or used consistently to accommodate for the voice of the child in Ireland, according to the report. Interviews with experts consistently showed that cultural and attitudinal barriers often operate to exclude children with cognitive disabilities in non-criminal proceedings. The report’s co-author Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Acting Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, said: “We need to involve children with disability. The mantra should be ‘nothing about us without us’. Access to justice for children with cognitive disabilities in Ireland would include first and foremost access to education (including mainstream education) and educational supports for children with cognitive disabilities. Importantly, children with cognitive disabilities should be meaningfully involved in decision making about where they attend school. The appeals procedure should include views of the child and have the requisite supports to enable a child with a cognitive disability to do so.” Jennifer Kline of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, who co-authored the report, said, “Children with disabilities face real barriers, for example, in term of inclusive education. Parents spoke of children being excluded from mainstream schools because of “health and safety concerns” which they found very hard to contest. The key barriers identified included the timeframe for complaints and the lack of support to make a complaint. Also of concern were delays and inaccessibility of hearing processes, and retaliation for complaints made.” The report is part of an EU funded-project involving similar studies in Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia and the United Kingdom. The project gathered data in these EU countries on access to justice for children with mental disabilities and developed standards in relation to protection of privacy, child participation, accessible information, legal representation and protective measures. As well as promoting this research, it developed training and educational materials for use by policy-makers, the judiciary and the police. -ends-
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NUI Galway Increases Ranking Position in QS Subject Rankings
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Academics and employers name the world’s top universities in 36 disciplines NUI Galway has come out strong in the QS Rankings by Subject 2015, scoring in all 30 subjects and achieving a ranking in 9 subjects, an improvement from 4 in 2014. In the nine subject areas, NUI Galway makes the Top 150 in History and the Top 200 in Computer Science & Information Systems, English Language & Literature and Earth & Marine Sciences. Five more subject areas are ranked in the top 200-350 range. Domestically, NUI Galway performed well and is ranked second in Ireland in Earth & Marine Sciences and third in History, Mathematics and Computer Science & Information Systems. Subject Rankings: English Language and Literature (151-200) History (101-150), third in Ireland Computer Science & Info Systems (101-150) , third in Ireland Engineering - Electrical (251-300) Medicine (201-250) Biological Sciences (201-250) Chemistry (251-300) Mathematics (301-350), third in Ireland Earth & Marine Sciences (151-200), second in Ireland Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway spoke of the relevance for subject rankings and how it important it is to see NUI Galway improving its ranking from 4 subject areas to 9 subject areas. “Across the globe NUI Galway graduates value their alma mater featuring in global rankings as it provides employment opportunities especially across Asia and the US where Rankings are a relevant feature of job applications. The QS World University Rankings is one of the best regarded evaluations of higher education in the world and we are consistently improving our position on this global platform which is testament the developments in teaching and research that have taken place at this University in recent years.” The fifth edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject, released today on TopUniversities.com, features a record-breaking 36 disciplines making it the largest ever ranking of its kind. The expert opinion of 85,062 academics and 41,910 employers informed the results, alongside the analysis of 17.3 million research papers and over 100 million citations (Scopus/Elsevier bibliometric database). Ten Irish Universities feature in these rankings, taking up 88 places across the tables. Of these, 69 are within the Top 200. Compared to last year’s performance, 36 places maintained the same 2014’s position a further 22 have moved up, 14 are new entries and 16 dropped. American universities dominate in terms of the number of subjects in which they lead, just as they do in all the global institutional rankings. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) continue to take the lion’s share of top places, leading in 21 subjects between them. However, UK universities have improved their positions overall, with six separate institutions leading in at least one subject. Fifteen different institutions top at least one of the subjects covered in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015. Ben Sowter, QS head of research says: “The growing number of academics and employers all around the world who take part in our polling has enabled us to expand the exercise considerably. We hope to cover even more subjects in future because we are keenly aware that students want to know about the course they plan to take, as well as the standing of the university.” Sowter continues: “While US and UK remain the dominant players, our ranking shows that academic excellence is widely distributed around the globe. The 894 universities ranked in at least one subject are based in 60 different countries. The 200 universities we list for business, for example, are in 32 nations, and the 400 we rank for medicine in 47.” ENDS
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New Short Courses at NUI Galway for People Over 55
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) is recruiting participants aged 55 or over who are living in Galway city and county to participate in a free, short course. The new programme, Touchstone, aims to develop the skills and knowledge of people who wish to play a part in helping to make their communities more age friendly. Touchstone will run over six weeks, with each weekly session lasting around two hours. Initially, the course will be held on two different days each week, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Wednesday course will run in the mornings starting on 20 May, with the Tuesday course running in the afternoons starting on 2 June. Lunch provided during each session. Participants will develop new skills, explore a range of interesting and topical issues, as well as carry out practical projects. No previous experience or qualifications are required. All sessions will be held in the new Institute for Lifecourse and Society Building on the Upper Newcastle Road next to the University’s park and ride car park. The course is led by a team based at the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, with input from Active Retirement Ireland, Age & Opportunity and Third Age. Touchstone has been developed by the Active Aging Partnership and also involves the cooperation of Age Friendly Ireland. For more information, or to register for the course, please contact Ann Marie Atkins, Touchstone Galway Co-ordinator at 086-0261408 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are limited and will be allocated on first-come, first-served basis. -Ends-
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Inaugural Awards Ceremony of New NUI Galway Student Initiative
Thursday, 30 April 2015
‘Seas Suas’ is a new initiative encouraging student-to-student mentoring Thursday, 30 April, 2015: Over 70 students were awarded their ALIVE certificates for participating in ‘Seas Suas’, NUI Galway’s innovative student-to-student mentoring programme. ‘Seas Suas’ is a new initiative between NUI Galway’s Student Services and Students’ Union designed to encourage students to be proactive in helping fellow students. It aims to improve the health, well-being and engagement of students, enabling them to get the most out of their time at NUI Galway. The objective of the ‘Seas Suas’ Programme is to encourage students to be more observant of fellow students in need of help and to increase motivation to help fellow students. The programme, which is based on the Bystander Model used in the University of Arizona, aims to help students to develop skills to safely respond and expand a culture of support and care in the University’s community. Student volunteers from a range of academic disciplines in NUI Galway completed training sessions on topics such as mental health, alcohol, sexuality and suicide prevention, and volunteers were trained about how best to safely respond to such issues. Training includes gaining knowledge about challenging issues and corresponding supports, developing strategies for effective helping, and learning skills to intervene safely or refer appropriately. After training, volunteers were encouraged to put the aims of ‘Seas Suas’ into action in a variety of ways. Volunteers are currently contributing to a number of specific events such as the Green Ribbon Campaign promoting mental health, helping with the Exam Support Team and preparing for Student Orientation Week in September 2015. The ‘Seas Suas’ Programme has successfully developed sustainable partnerships between students, staff and external agencies. Father Ben Hughes, Dean of Chaplaincy Services and ‘Seas Suas’ Project Leader at NUI Galway, said: “It is really encouraging to work with generous young people who are willing to learn new skills so that they can successfully negotiate challenges and help each other manage life more effectively.” The Award Ceremony was also the occasion to recognise six courageous students who received ‘Seas Suas’ Medals of Honour for heroic acts of intervention. These six have demonstrated the value of human kindness and proactive concern for other reflecting the ethos of Vision 2020, NUI Galway’s Strategic Plan for the period 2015-2020. For more information on the Seas Suas programme contact Fr Ben Hughes, NUI Galway’s Chaplaincy Services at email@example.com or 091 49 5055. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Mountaineering Club 40th Maamturks Challenge
Monday, 2 March 2015
NUI Galway’s Mountaineering Club Maamturks Challenge will take place on Saturday, 18 April. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the challenge, this hillwalking event is considered one of the toughest in Ireland, covering 24.3km over tough, mountainous terrain with a total ascent over the course of the walk of 2,336 metres. First organised by Mountaineering Club members in 1975, it comprises of a route covering the full Maamturks hill range in Connemara. Typically participants start the walk at 5am at the base of Corcóg, to finish 8-11 hours later in Leenane. Along the route, NUI Galway Mountaineering Club crew, with the Galway Radio Experimenters Club will be at eleven checkpoints watching over participant’s safety and wellbeing, supported by the Galway Mountain Rescue Team. NUI Galway Mountaineering Club Captain, Cathal Breathnach, said: “This year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the event. This is definitely a milestone in the history of the Mountaineering Club; it is a great accomplishment that each year, a dedicated team of volunteers have organised this event for the general public.” To celebrate the 40th jubilee and recognise the volume of organisation and voluntary work required to make this event such a success, the Club aim to make a documentary about the Challenge. This documentary will be shown during a special commemoration ceremony after the walk in Leenane Hotel. Cathal continued: “We have reached capacity for the Maamturks challenge, but we would like to invite all who are, or have previously been, involved in the Maamturks’ Challenge to attend the celebrations in the Leenane Hotel, at 8pm.” Participation from past members of the organising committees, past participants, and members of the public are encouraged to submit photos, stories and anecdotes from the past 40 years for inclusion in the documentary. For more information on the Maamturks Challenge visit http://www.nuigmc.com/maamturks/. To submit material for the documentary please email firstname.lastname@example.org -Ends-
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RIA Charlemont Grant Awards Bestowed on Six NUI Galway Scholars
Monday, 2 March 2015
Six NUI Galway academics were among the recipients of the inaugural Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant Awards, which were presented at a special ceremony in Academy House in Dublin recently. Funded by the Academy, the Charlemont Grants are designed to act as a career springboard to assist scholars in strengthening their international mobility and developing international collaborative networks. These are small grants, with high impact, and are complimentary to larger programmes offered by other funders including the Irish Research Council and SFI. The NUI Galway recipients were: Dr Margaret Brehony, Centre for Irish Studies; Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, History; Dr Eoin Daly, School of Law; Dr Jessica Hayes, REMEDI; Dr Martin O'Halloran, NCBES; and Dr Anuradha Pallipurath, School of Chemistry. Grants are available for short visits to any country to support primary research in any subject area. The duration of visits is generally between one week and six weeks in length, the key objectives being to initiate one-to-one collaborations, explore opportunities to build lasting networks and gain access to ideas, research facilities, and complementary equipment. Funds are available to facilitate initial project planning and development; to support the direct costs of research; or for visits by or to partner scholars. The 2016 call for applications will open in early autumn, for further details please visit www.ria.ie. -Ends-
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NUI GALWAY RADIO SOCIETY ANNOUNCE SPEAKERS FOR SECOND NATIONAL STUDENT RADIO CONFERENCE
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
NUI Galway Radio Society is delighted to announce the second National Student Radio Conference will take place in NUI Galway on Saturday, 7 March, 2015. The conference is supported by Craol, the representative, co-ordinating, lobbying, training, & support organisation for Irish Community Radio; NUI Galway Societies’ Office and Flirt FM 101.3. Covering areas from imaging to sound art and from sports to music journalism, the conference will see; Chris Greene (2fm & 4OD), Shane O'Connor (BBC 5 Live & Peanut Productions), Joyce Ní Chionnaith (Raidio na Life), Louise Clarke (iRadio), Tweakel, La Cosa Preziosa (Sound Art & Field Recording), Team 33 (Newstalk), Ros Madigan (GoldenPlec), Denzil Lacey (ZAVA Media & 4FM) and Mary O'Malley (RTÉ's Sunday Miscellany) talk to student radio producers and enthusiasts from all over Ireland. Special surprise events will also be revealed on the day. Tickets for the conference can be found on Eventbrite.ie. Groups of 10 or more people can purchase tickets at a reduced rate. Ticket holders will be given a welcome goodie pack, lunch and admittance to the post conference social. Also included is entrance to a pre-event taking place on Friday March 6th for those travelling to Galway early. For more information on the conference visit http://www.nsrc.ie/ https://twitter.com/NSRConference email@example.com https://www.facebook.com/nationalradioconference?fref=nf -Ends-
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How much should a public health system pay for new drugs?
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Recently published research, which looked at the cost thresholds for relatively expensive new drugs in the UK, will be discussed at NUI Galway on Friday, 6 March. Professor Karl Claxton from the University of York will speak at an event hosted by NUI Galway’s Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group. Professor Claxton’s talk, ‘Methods for Estimating the Cost-Effectiveness Threshold for NICE and the NHS’ will take place at 2pm in Lecture Hall 1 of the Cairnes Building on the North Campus of NUI Galway. “While the research is based on British data, its findings are very relevant for Ireland given that the HSE uses a very similar system to the NHS for deciding which new drugs are to be reimbursed,” explained Mr Brendan Kennelly, Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway. “Every public health system has to cope with a limited budget and has to decide how to use the available resources to achieve the best possible health outcomes for all the people that are entitled to use the system. This is a very challenging decision involving important questions about ethics, values, measuring health, and opportunity costs.” Health economists have developed a concept called a Quality Adjusted Life Year (commonly known as a QALY) to help this decision making process. A QALY is equal to one year of life in perfect health. When public health systems decide whether or not to reimburse a pharmaceutical company for a new drug they often refer to the cost per QALY of the new drug. In February, a group of leading health economists at the University of York produced important new research on this issue. A team, which was led by Professor Karl Claxton, estimated the effects of changes in NHS expenditure on the health of all NHS patients. The results indicate that £13,000 of NHS resources adds one Quality Adjusted Life Year to the lives of NHS patients. It suggests that the NHS offers much better value of money that was previously thought. Currently in the UK, the National Institute for Clinical and Healthcare Excellence (NICE) uses a threshold of £30,000 per QALY to judge whether the health benefits offered by a new drug are greater than the health likely to be lost elsewhere because of the additional cost imposed on the NHS. The York research shows that this threshold is too high and as a consequence the approval of new drugs at current prices is doing more harm than good to NHS patents overall. In Ireland, the maximum that the HSE will pay for a new drug is around €45,000 per QALY. This has led the HSE to reject certain drugs as being too expensive relative to the health benefits that they produce. “The recent controversy over the cost of Soliris, a life-saving but very expensive drug for people with a rare blood disorder, is just one example of the difficult choices that public health systems have to make on a regular basis,” says Mr Kennelly. -ends-
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