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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Chemistry Reunion for NUI Galway Graduates

Chemistry Reunion for NUI Galway Graduates-image

Monday, 26 September 2011

Celebrating International Year of Chemistry, the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway will acknowledge the contribution of its research graduates in Ireland and beyond at a special reunion celebration. The event will take place at a gala dinner in the Meyrick Hotel on Saturday, 1 October. NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry has recently conferred its 300th PhD graduate and the majority of the research graduates have made major contributions to Ireland’s highly successful chemical, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.  A significant portion of the graduates are contributing to the provision of services in the public sector, such as the State Laboratory and the Forensic Laboratory. Many have and continue to contribute to education and research in second and third-level institutions.  Linked to this celebration, the School of Chemistry will host a discussion seminar entitled The PhD in Chemistry in Ireland - What's the Future? This public meeting will include contributions from Science Foundation Ireland, IRCSET, the American Chamber of Commerce, PharmaChem Ireland, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and heads of Schools of Chemistry from universities throughout Ireland.  The objective of the seminar is to develop policy and strategy so that Chemistry Schools across Ireland can continue to provide highest possibly quality research graduates with appropriate skills to continue to contribute to Enterprise in Ireland.  The seminar will take place on Friday, 30 September, in the John Hynes Boardroom, Quadrangle, NUI Galway at 10.30am. Professor Paul Murphy, Head of School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, says: “The chemical and pharmaceutical industry continues to be one of the strongest performing sectors in Ireland and the economy will continue to benefit from investment in PhD graduates in Chemistry Schools in Ireland.” The event has been organised jointly by the Alumni Office and School of Chemistry at NUI Galway.  Sponsorship of the event has been provided by Pfizer Ireland, Roche Ireland and NUI Galway. For more information, or to book a place at the reunion, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the NUI Galway Alumni Office at 091 493750 or email -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Classes of 1971 and 1981 Reunion

NUI Galway Classes of 1971 and 1981 Reunion-image

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

NUI Galway’s Alumni Office is inviting all graduates and friends from the classes of 1971 and 1981 to attend a reunion to celebrate the 30th and 40th anniversaries of their graduation on Saturday, 8 October, 2011.   The reunion will begin at 3pm in the Quadrangle with a reception and photo exhibition, followed by a bus tour of campus. The celebrations will continue later that evening in Galway’s Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel) with a special reunion dinner.   Sandra Butler, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chairperson, encourages everyone to attend: “Reunions are special opportunities for graduates and friends to revisit NUI Galway and renew old acquaintances. These events come around just once a decade. So book your place now and get in contact with your classmates and friends and encourage them to come too.”   For further information and to book a place, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email   -ENDS-

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Super-sized Heart Valve Provides Clues to Blood Flow

Super-sized Heart Valve Provides Clues to Blood Flow-image

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway have developed a super-sized model of a heart valve which may lead to a new generation of cardiovsacular devices. Every year, mechanical valves are inserted into approximately 125,000 patients with heart valve disease around the world. However, the valves can lead to unnatural blood flows, which can trigger a clotting reaction. Because of this, patients with prosthetic heart valves must take medication daily, which can lead to side effects. The work at NUI Galway is trying to better understand how blood flows through prosthetic valves and in particular through the valve hinges, so that the clotting reaction can be ameliorated. Researchers have developed a working model valve which is six times the size of a normal valve and runs 100 times slower. They use laser light and digital imaging to measure flow accurately and calculate the stresses experienced by blood cells as they move through the valve. The work has been carried out by Dr Nathan Quinlan and Dr Alessandro Bellofiore of the Biofluid Dynamics group at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science (NCBES), NUI Galway. Dr Quinlan, who teaches courses in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, explains: “Medicine has been using artificial heart valves, quite successfully, since the 1950s but there is certainly room for improvement. The challenge is to develop a valve which will avoid the thrombotic or clotting reaction. We’ve scaled up and slowed down the flow through the valve – without altering the underlying mechanics – so that we can measure it at very high resolution. We can see very small and short-lived eddies that are only about 10 times larger than blood cells. This is giving us new insights into what damages blood cells and causes dangerous clots.” The work is an example of the research carried out at the Centre for Biomechanics Research (BMEC) in NUI Galway, which is focused on both fundamental and applied research and where the principles of engineering mechanics and biology are combined to generate discovery and understanding.  Dr Quinlan concluded: “Research like this is crucial in the design and manufacture of new medical devices. The approach we’ve developed could be used not only for heart valves, for any device implanted in large blood vessels. Further down the line, the understanding that comes out of this work can lead to better devices.” Results from the heart valve model feature in this month’s issue of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. The group has recently received funding from Science Foundation Ireland’s 2011 Research Frontiers Programme for another project which will build on this work.   ENDS

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European Commissioner to Officially Open Sea2Sky

European Commissioner to Officially Open Sea2Sky-image

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, will officially open the Irish segment of European Researchers Night. The event takes place on Friday, 23 September, across 800 venues in 320 cities. In Ireland, festivities take place in Galway through a celebration called Sea2Sky, organised by NUI Galway. The purpose of Sea2Sky, is to give the public free access to scientists and their research. Organisers at NUI Galway have planned a one-day celebration of science and research in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Events will take place in Leisureland, Galway Atlantaquria and along the Prom in Salthill. While school visits will take place throughout the day, at 3pm Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will officially open the evening event, to coincide with events starting right across Europe. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “As European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and a Galway-native, it is a very significant occasion that Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is officially opening this European-wide event. It is an exciting and important time to celebrate Ireland’s reputation and involvement in research.” At Sea2Sky, visitors of all ages will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Galway Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. The event will also feature music and entertainment for younger and older visitors. NUI Galway’s President, Dr James J. Browne, will also attend the official opening: “It is an honour to have someone as distinguished in European research circles as Máire Geoghegan-Quinn open our event. There is significant European funding of research projects at NUI Galway, reflecting our growing international research reputation.” The Sea2Sky event is being organised by NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, and is funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free family event and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, from 11am-11pm.  To view the full programme, or for more information, visit -ENDS-

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