NUI Galway Launches USNI Victory Scholarships

NUI Galway Launches USNI Victory Scholarships-image

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, recently announced the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme at NUI Galway. First launched in Ulster University, the Victory Scholarships Programme has this year been extended to universities in the Republic of Ireland, with NUI Galway being the first University to adopt the programme. The inaugural NUI Galway USNI Victory scholars are Timothy Coyne from St. John Fisher College in New York State and Will Archambault from Davidson College in North Carolina, who will both undertake a Masters in International Management at NUI Galway’s School of Business. The Victory Scholarship Programme assists deserving American students in obtaining a scholarship package to study at Masters level in Ireland. While studying in Ireland these students continue to play or develop sport at all levels; work in the wider community with young people and gain valuable work experience through internships and mentoring with local businesses. Both scholars will also play for NUI Galway in colleges and varsity competitions as well as playing and coaching for the Titans, a Galway City based basketball club, with 400 adult and junior members. According to President Browne, “The USNI Victory Scholarship Programme is a great initiative which facilitates improved access to education at NUI Galway while also deepening linkages through sport with our wider community in Galway. The programme is a natural fit for the University’s Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) which aims to promote greater civic engagement in academic activities, namely teaching, research and service at all levels of University life. I gratefully acknowledge the support of Galway University Foundation and its donors in the United States for the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme and I thank USNI Sport and Titans Basketball Club for their participation in this initiative.” Under the initiative, NUI Galway students are encouraged to participate in community activities locally, nationally and internationally. The Victory Scholarship programme also reinforces NUI Galway’s relationship with the United States. With over 700 Junior Year Abroad students attending the University annually, NUI Galway is one of the leading Irish destinations for American students. In addition, the University has academic partnerships with several universities and an active alumni community in the United States. Gareth Maguire, Director of USNI Sport, added: “USNI Sport Foundation believes that ‘sport changes life’. We believe that providing a programme that enhances personal development, academic achievement and sporting excellence will pay dividends for the scholars as well as all the young people in Galway they will work with over the course of their year. This year will transform the outlooks of our scholars and bring positive sport and diversionary programmes to young people in the area. We are delighted that NUI Galway is the first university in the Republic of Ireland to offer this exciting initiative and have every belief that it will be a huge success for all concerned.” Padraic Fogarty, Chairman of the Titans Basketball Club, also welcomed the initiative: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with NUI Galway in the expansion of the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme to the Republic of Ireland. We are a progressive club with deeply embedded core values. This initiative aligns well with our values and in particular the promotion of inclusiveness through engagement with a number of communities in Galway City and also our approach of developing strong international links. It’s great to welcome Tim and Will to the club who have quickly established themselves in Galway and are already making a positive contribution to Titans. We thank NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Gareth Maguire of USNI for establishing the link with Titans and in particular the US based donors, without whom this fantastic Programme would not be possible.” -ENDS-

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Postgraduate Student Travels to Germany with Cardiac Tissue Research

Postgraduate Student Travels to Germany with Cardiac Tissue Research-image

Monday, 3 October 2011

A postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway has been awarded a fellowship at a prestigious University in Germany to advance his work in the field of cardiac tissue engineering. Michael Monaghan was awarded the fellowship by the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and will allow Michael to further his research in Germany until January 2012.   Michael Monaghan, originally a graduate of NUI Galway’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, will spend three months working with the Franhofer IGB Institute and University Tübingen in Stuttgart, which have a long history of cardiovascular and tissue engineering research.  Describing the opportunity Michael, from Mohill, Co Leitrim, says: “This fellowship will allow me a unique opportunity to test our functional biomaterial in one of the best research labs in Europe. These three months should prove invaluable to my research career and create collaborative links with some of the best scientists in Europe.”Michael is in the final year of his PhD programme under the supervision of Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), an SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster at NUI Galway. His research on the delivery interfering RNA (RNAi), an emerging field of non-viral gene therapy, is leading to a clearer understanding of RNAi’s therapeutic potential. Specifically, Michael is investigating the modulation of scarring of the myocardium following myocardial infarction (MI) aiming to aid the body to heal itself by silencing detrimental cell processes.  Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of morbidity in the developed world and there is currently no technique for regeneration of infarcted myocardium. One of the NFB’s goals is to develop scaffold-based cardiac gene therapy to minimize damage, promote regeneration and modulate the fibrotic response in cardiac tissues following MI. The research conducted by Michael would ultimately be of benefit to patients at risk of heart failure following MI, leading to a decrease in morbidity and improved heart function.  According to Professor Pandit: “NUI Galway has established a critical mass in the area of developing the next-generation biomaterials in Ireland. Each individual researcher is playing an important part in our work and Michael is a perfect example.  His research is advancing the field of tissue engineering and will have possible applications in cardiac and skin regeneration following injury.”   -ends-

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Participants Needed for Research into Chronic Pain at NUI Galway

Participants Needed for Research into Chronic Pain at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 3 October 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research are looking for volunteers to participate in a medical research study.  The aim of the study is to increase understanding of the impact of chronic pain on learning, memory and attention. Healthy volunteers, with no history of chronic pain, are being sought to participate in this study as part of the ‘control’ group. Participants must be over 18, with no pre-existing cognitive impairment, and no history of major psychiatric illness, epilepsy, seizures or diabetes. Participants will be required to complete some questionnaires and simple assessments that measure memory, attention and other functions, such as problem solving. Orla Moriarty from Renmore in Galway, is the PhD student at NUI Galway behind the project: “What we should point out, is that this will be a pain-free experience for our volunteers.  In total we will need to find about 40 suitable candidates to participate. As with so much of science, a ‘control’ group is vital to our research. We really hope we will find the people we need.” The team at the Centre for Pain Research already have people who suffer from chronic pain to participate in the study, through its Pain Clinic.  Chronic pain affects up to 35% of the Irish population and is increasingly recognised as a disease in its own right. Chronic pain is sometimes associated with psychological effects, which may in some cases include forgetfulness, and difficulties in focusing attention, planning tasks and making decisions. As part of ongoing work at the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and funded by the Higher Education Authority under PRTLI4, researchers are attempting to investigate the relationship between pain and cognitive function. Drs David Finn and Brian McGuire are Co-Directors of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway. According to Dr Finn: “Our goal is to compare the cognitive performance of patients with chronic neuropathic pain or radicular pain to that of healthy control volunteers, to gain a better understanding of how pain and cognition are related and to determine what types of cognition are most affected.” The assessment will take place at NUI Galway, lasting one to one and a half hours, with participants offered a small amount of compensation. Those who may be eligible and might like to take part in the study should contact Orla Moriarty on 086 3918862 or 091 495246 or email -ends-

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NUI Galway’s New Engineering Building is Shortlisted for National Award

NUI Galway’s New Engineering Building is Shortlisted for National Award-image

Monday, 17 October 2011

NUI Galway’s new Engineering Building has been shortlisted for the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards. The public will decide who will win this prestigious award, with an online vote deciding among the eight finalists. Voting closes on 3 November. According to Engineers Ireland, the new Engineering Building ‘reflects the University’s commitment to engineering, in its innovation, quality and scale’. Situated on the north campus, just under the Quincentenary Bridge, the immense glass, steel and zinc structure officially opened in July 2011, and is now home to 1,100 students and 110 staff. The building supports an emerging generation of engineers, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship, and become engaged in a new wave of technologies. In fact, the building has been designed to be an interactive teaching tool in itself; a ‘living laboratory’ is how it was described by the Irish Times. Viewing panels have been created so that the students can literally peer into the foundations. Sections of the steel embedded in the cement walls for reinforcement can be seen. Also on show is an array of ‘green’ building methods which will help inform students about a raft of modern sustainable technologies. Live data from numerous sensors measures the behaviour of the structure and its energy consumption, and is used as a teaching tool for structural engineering and building performance concepts. Pipes and ducting labelled in corridors and rooms have been left exposed. The entire building was described as a ‘gross anatomy’ lesson of sorts for engineering students. The Engineering Building was designed by award-winning architects RMJM from Scotland in partnership with Mayo-based Taylor Architects. Speaking about the new building, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Lyons, said: “The design of this 14,250m2, engineering teaching facility reflects not only the history of engineering but also a testimony to the role of engineering in Ireland’s future.  We have created an inspirational environment for learning and for nurturing the spirit of enquiry into the science and art of engineering.” The winning project will be judged on the largest number of online votes received by midnight on Thursday, 3 November, with the winner announced at a special awards ceremony in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin on Friday, 4 November. To vote for the Engineering Project of the Year 2011 visit   -ends-

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September 2011

Pre-clinical Research Proves Promising for the Treatment of Blood Cancer

Pre-clinical Research Proves Promising for the Treatment of Blood Cancer-image

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pre-clinical research has generated some very promising findings about a prototype drug for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The findings, from work carried out by scientists at NUI Galway, are published in this month’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The research introduced a molecule, or prototype drug, to blood samples from patients with the type of blood cancer known as CLL. The findings indicated that the prototype drug kills leukemia cells circulating in the blood, including cells with features often associated with chemotherapy resistance. Additionally, it was found that the molecule also has the potential to target dividing leukemia cells within lymph nodes. With current standard treatment, these cells can act as a reservoir of resistant cells, which can then give rise to relapse.For the last two and half years, NUI Galway’s Professor Corrado Santocanale, along with Professor Michael O’Dwyer and Professor Afshin Samali, among others, have been researching this molecule ‘PHA-767491’ for treating CLL. According to Professor Corrado Santocanale, who works in NUI Galway’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES) and in the Centre for Chromosome Biology (CCB): “Generally, the prognosis for patients diagnosed with CLL, one of the commonest types of blood cancer, is not as positive as we would like. However these laboratory results provide some hope for the future, especially as related trials with patients are already underway”. The molecule is the parent compound of a drug now being tested in a phase one clinical trial led by Professor Michael O’Dwyer at the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway. The success of the laboratory research was an important factor in developing the clinical trial. Frank Giles, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics and Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, commented: “Enormous progress in anti-cancer therapy is being made as pre-clinical identification of an optimal target, the development of small molecule that modulate the target, and the conduct of early phase human studies, are becoming a seamless process. The conduct of these early studies is a top priority for our NUI Galway CRF and demonstrates Ireland’s increasing strength in this critical biomedical sector.” Pre-clinical cancer biology research at NUI Galway encompasses multidisciplinary research clusters who are working to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer, and to develop new and better cancer therapies. The University also has a strong translational and clinical research programme with the objective of translating research discoveries into improved patient care.  -ends-

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NUI Galway Gets Arts into Action

NUI Galway Gets Arts into Action-image

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

NUI Galway has launched the 2011/2012 Arts in Action Programme, which invites students to engage with the creative arts during their studies. Aimed at students across the campus, Arts in Action offers access to a variety of international-standard arts events throughout the academic year. The new programme, a development and promotion by the College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, has been radically extended from previous years to allow for concerts, theatre performances and many other artforms to take place on a weekly basis throughout the academic year. The 2011/2012 programme is themed around music and languages and it also showcases some of the gifted performers who have formal links to NUI Galway. Included are performances by the Abbey Theatre, NUI Galway Medical Orchestra, NUI Galway student and TG4 Young Musician of the Year, Pádraic Keane, ConTempo, Martín O’Connor and Frankie Gavin. The Creative Director of Arts in Action, Mary McPartlan, says “NUI Galway’s continuing commitment to the arts, its contribution to the many current initiatives on and off campus, is founded in the strong belief that the relationship between academic studies and the arts is significant. The Arts has a role to play in the development of highly qualified graduates, active citizens and leaders in many fields of endeavour, shaping future lives.” The programme of activity, with the exception of three events at the Town Hall theatre, all take place at lunchtime in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway. All of the events are free to attend, apart from the events at the Town Hall Theatre which have a fee of €5. The programme will run from September 29 to March 2012. To view a full programme of events visit     -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Announce Details of 2011 Observatory Open Nights

NUI Galway Announce Details of 2011 Observatory Open Nights-image

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy will continue its programme of open evenings at its Imbusch Observatory in Dangan. The Observatory provides state-of-the-art observing facilities for NUI Galway's Astrophysics students and the Open evenings are an opportunity for the general public to come in and visit. Weather permitting, the free open evenings will take place on 12 and 26 October, 9 and 23 November and 7 and 21 December at 7pm. An informative hour-long lecture will be followed by a hands-on viewing of the sky by night, weather permitting. The Imbusch Astronomical Observatory was opened in 2004 and is used by students studying Physics and Astronomy at NUI Galway. The observatory is equipped with a modern computer controlled 16" telescope and camera, and a radio telescope with a hydrogen line spectrometer, which is able to map out and measure the velocity of the sun and the Milky Way. There is also a 10" portable telescope - computer controlled – for visual observations of planets, star clusters, nebulae and other bright objects. Bookings are limited to two tickets per person and is strictly by ticket only, on a first come first served basis. All bookings are by email and those interested should send requests to -ENDS-

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Outstanding Brazilian Student Awarded NUI Galway Scholarship

Outstanding Brazilian Student Awarded NUI Galway Scholarship-image

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Brazilian student is the first recipient of a new NUI Galway scholarship for students from a non-EU country to study at the University. Heictor Gonzaga, now living in Gort, Co. Galway, has taken up a place in the Bachelor of Engineering degree course. Heictor Gonzaga and his family came to Ireland three years ago where, after a couple of months with the English Language Support system, he entered the Leaving Certificate class in Gort Community School. The scholarship, funded by Galway University Foundation, is for a student from a non-EU country who has completed at least the final two years of their secondary school studies in Ireland, but who are not eligible for fees at EU rates.  Director of the Galway University Foundation, Tom Joyce, says: “Galway University Foundation has developed a special scholarship fund to assist deserving Leaving Certificate students from non-EU backgrounds to attend NUI Galway. We are pleased to support the University’s efforts to broaden access to third-level education.” For the past decade Gort Community School has seen an influx of international students with the majority of students from the Brazilian community. Principal of Gort Community School, Denis Corry, says: “We are delighted to see Heictor getting this award not just for himself and his family, but for the whole Brazilian Community.   From not knowing a word of English three years ago, to getting 510 points in his Leaving Certificate this year, is a remarkable achievement by any standards.   I would also like to commend his teachers and most particularly his Language Support Teacher, Margaret Geraghty, for her wonderful support to all the Brazilian Community over the last ten years. This was very much a team effort.” The value of the scholarship will be the annual non–EU fee for the relevant programme less the Student Levy element of the fee. The Scholarship is payable for each year of the full-time undergraduate degree programme for which the student registers.   -ENDS-

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NUI Galway’s Sea2Sky Hailed a Success

NUI Galway’s Sea2Sky Hailed a Success-image

Monday, 26 September 2011

Over ten thousand visitors descended on Salthill last Friday for Ireland’s first participation in European Researchers Night. Billed as ‘Sea2Sky’ by organisers NUI Galway, the celebration of science and research ran in parallel with events across 320 cities in Europe. The Galway event was visited by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.  This was the first time Ireland participated in European Researchers Night and NUI Galway collaborated with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria to deliver a successful event. Hundreds of researchers displayed their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Commenting at the event, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: “Researchers’ Night is an exciting, pan-European project that aims to engage young people in the magic of research and science, and I am proud that the European Commission is supporting Researchers’ Night in 320 cities all over Europe this year. Research and science hold the answers to many of the major challenges we face in Europe, including climate change, the need for safe, sustainable food and the needs of our ageing population. We need one million new researchers in Europe if we are to rise to these challenges. By bringing science and research alive, I hope that the Sea2Sky Researchers’ Night will help to encourage the young people of Galway to consider careers in research and science.” Visitors to Leisureland chatted to scientists about their research, participated in experiments, and watched demonstrations and simulations. Throughout the event, which was open to schools from 11am, parallel exhibits were run in the Galway Atlantaquaria. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says: “Around the world, Ireland’s reputation is growing as a hub of science, discovery and innovation. It was great to see such a great turnout for the first Irish participation in European Researchers Night. There is a genuine thirst for knowledge and interest in science among schools and the general public, which helped in turn to make our event such a success.” Organisers also thanked over 75 volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the day and night, and in the run up to the event. The Sea2Sky event was funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. -ENDS-

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Marie Curie EU Doctoral Researchers Arrive at NUI Galway

Marie Curie EU Doctoral Researchers Arrive at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 26 September 2011

Three leading researchers hailing from Hungary and the United States have arrived at NUI Galway to begin their three year doctoral studies. The researchers are part of a €3.7 million European Union Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded, Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets (DREAM) programme, which is being led by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. The PhD students, Magdolna Birtha, Abigail Rekas and Anna Arstein- Kerslake, are members of an international team of 14 researchers who will explore options for European disability law and policy reform in light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). The students will also receive paid placement with leading NGOs such as the European Disability Forum in Brussels.  The Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway was awarded the grant to direct the Europe-wide network over the next three years. It is understood that this is the single largest EU Framework 7 grant won by a research centre in an Irish Law School. Partners in the network include several leading European universities. Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, Professor Gerard Quinn, says, “The object of the network is to create the next generation of disability policy entrepreneurs at European level and to generate research that helps the process of implementation of the disability treaty.  We look forward to working with the three new Marie Curie researchers to meet those aims.” For more information contact: Marie Kennedy, Centre for Disability, Law & Policy, NUI Galway, 091 494011, email   -ENDS-

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