Dementia patients and carers to benefit from €4.5 million research investment

Dementia patients and carers to benefit from €4.5 million research investment-image

Thursday, 4 February 2016

NUI Galway awarded Research Leader role to implement Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy to be underpinned by high-quality evidence through research projects funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and The Atlantic Philanthropies Professor Eamon O' Shea, Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway has been selected as Research Leader of Dementia Care as part of the establishment of a new National Centre for Social Research on Dementia, which will start this year as a result of significant investment from the Health Research Board (HRB) and The Atlantic Philanthropies. The establishment of a new National Centre for Social Research on Dementia and a suite of applied projects, exploring topics such as the use of home computer tablets for care management, dementia-friendly hospital design and the links between stroke and dementia, will start this year as a result of significant investment from the HRB and The Atlantic Philanthropies. "The awards are part of a very deliberate and focused plan to improve dementia care", says Graham Love, the Chief Executive of the Health Research Board. "They are aligned with the National Dementia Strategy and they all focus on improving quality of life for people living with dementia and those caring for them. From making our hospitals more friendly for dementia patients, or using technology to remotely track health markers like patient blood pressure and weight, each of these new projects will make a very real and tangible impact on people's lives and improve how we deliver their healthcare services." Mary Sutton, Country Director for The Atlantic Philanthropies added that, "This is part of a broader investment by Atlantic in the development of dementia health and social care. With the HRB, we want to see the dementia landscape transformed through an infusion of new leadership in thought and practice, building research collaborations between academia and the wider practice and policy community both here in Ireland and also internationally." A cornerstone of this integrated approach is the HRB Research Leader position in Dementia care. Professor Eamon O'Shea is a world-renowned expert on dementia and his Research Leader Award (RLA) represents a 5-year investment in dementia research between the HRB, NUI Galway and The Atlantic Philanthropies. The post will be expected to influence and inform national policy and practice and strengthen an evidence-informed approach to healthcare delivery. According to Professor O'Shea, "Too often people use the word 'burden' when talking about dementia. My vision is to champion a research programme and strategy that focuses on choice, capabilities, connectivity and personhood for people with dementia. This investment by the Health Research Board and The Atlantic Philanthropies will enable us to create a National Centre for Social Research on Dementia where the research focuses on the person living with the dementia and their needs, not just their symptoms. Our aim is to do research that looks at the best ways to provide care for people living with dementia that are based on choice rather than just relying on the traditional residential care model. We want to understand how the person connects with others during the care process, and the role of family carers in understanding and delivering care.  Our interest is in personalised, non-pharmacological approaches to care such as physical exercise and the beneficial effects of non-pharmacological interventions. Ultimately it is about putting the person with dementia at the centre of decision-making at all times. We have been very deliberate in our proposals. We are committed to working in partnership with key stakeholders in dementia-related activity and care in Ireland such as the Health Service Executive, the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland, and Genio. We will examine social, economic, civic, cultural and legal aspects of dementia so that we can enhance and enrich the lives of those with the condition." Dr Dympna Casey from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway will also participate in the dementia research programme. Dr Casey’s role will focus on Comprehensive Resilience-building Psychosocial Intervention (CREST) to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers. The project will combine a number of separate interventions into one umbrella programme to improve the quality of life for patients. It will comprise of four components to address: cognitive stimulation; group physical activity; dementia education; assistive technologies to support personal control and retain skills. The project will finalise the CREST intervention and undertake a pilot evaluation that will lead to a subsequent randomised control trial. The new funidng will support: A HRB Research leader in Dementia to influence and inform national policy and practice and strengthen an evidence-informed approach to healthcare delivery (Award value: €1.6m over five years). A new HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Award (Award value: €572,000, over three years) to support three post-doctoral positions to examine the links between stroke and dementia. Five new Applied Research Projects in Dementia (Award value €1.5m, with each lasting between two and three years). See summaries below for more detail. A new dementia research and practice knowledge exchange network (Award value: €150,000 over two years). This will support an independent, multi-disciplinary network of dementia related researchers, practitioners, patients, families and other stakeholders, to enhance exchange of information and views among members, improve dissemination and awareness of Irish dementia and related research, enhance exchange and public and patient involvement in dementia research and consolidate links and cooperation between all who have an interest in dementia or research. Four PhD Scholarship positionssupported by the HRB SPHeRE programme. This 'first-of-its-kind' in Ireland training programme was established by the HRB to develop a pool of researchers with the specialist skills to conduct population health and health services research. The four scholarships will have a special emphasis on dementia-related topics. ENDS

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Two Prestigious Awards for Medical Device Researchers at NUI Galway

Two Prestigious Awards for Medical Device Researchers at NUI Galway-image

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Two medical device researchers have been awarded funding to carry out their research at NUI Galway. Adam Santorelli and Dr Emily Porter will be based at the Medical Device Research Group within the Lambe Institute for Translational Research at NUI Galway. Adam Santorelli, of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, has been awarded a James M. Flaherty Research Scholarship from the Ireland-Canada University Foundation (ICUF). This competitive award targets emerging researchers and supports a short research visit to investigate topics of strategic importance and encourage partnerships between Canada and Ireland. A final-year PhD student, Adam’s research focuses on developing low-cost hardware for microwave imaging. At NUI Galway, he joins a research team focused on microwave medical imaging, led by Dr Martin O’Halloran. Microwave imaging is a highly promising technology that is just now reaching the stage of clinical testing. It has the potential to offer extremely cost-effective medical imaging, enabling wider access to cancer screening, particularly in remote or developing regions. Working alongside the team at NUI Galway, his research looks to develop advanced imaging techniques for low-cost radar-based systems. Dr Emily Porter has been awarded the Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant, which are bestowed on early-career postdoctoral researchers to enable short but high-impact research-related travel missions. The award aims toward encouraging excellence in all areas of Irish scholarship and facilitating research on an international stage. Dr Porter works with the European Research Council research team in the new Translational Research Facility at NUI Galway. Her research, supervised by Dr Martin O’Halloran, she examines the dielectric properties of human tissue and how these properties can be utilized in up-and-coming medical technologies. The Charlemont Grant will enable her to visit a well-established dielectric property laboratory, run by Dr Sammut at the University of Malta, where she will be in a unique position to learn from some of the best in the field. The research trip promises to facilitate future collaborations with the University of Malta and help to accelerate the investigation of tissue properties at NUI Galway. Dr Martin O’Halloran, ERC Research Fellow and Head of the Medical Device Research Group in the Lambe Institute, said: “These awards highlight the quality of researchers now joining the ERC-funded Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, and are an early success for the newly-opened Lambe Translational Research Facility.”  -Ends-

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Irish Research Council launches Decade of Centenaries programme

Irish Research Council launches Decade of Centenaries programme-image

Monday, 8 February 2016

Irish Research Council announces its Decade of Centenaries programme as part of Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme- Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway and Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Chair of the Irish Research Council, launched the Irish Research Council’s Marking the Decade of Centenaries: Ireland 1916-2016 programme today in NUI Galway. As part of the Centenary Programme, the Irish Research Council (IRC) is marking the Decade of Commemorations by supporting flagship research projects related to 1916. A highlight of the programme is the Irish premiere of Sir Arnold Bax’s In Memoriam – In Memory of Patrick Pearse taking place in the National Concert Hall on 19th February 2016. The concert will also be broadcast live by RTÉ Lyric FM. NUI Galway is hosting 1916 Global, a conference exploring the Easter Rising within a global context and examining contemporary events in 1916 such as the Mexican revolution. Other highlights include conferences, online exhibitions, readings and the launch of a mobile walking app of key locations of the Rising in Dublin. The programme is part of a new broader initiative, #LoveIrishResearch, recently launched by the Irish Research Council. Its aim is to increase public awareness of the important research conducted in higher education institutions throughout the country. Minister for Research, Skills and Innovation, Damien English TD, commenting on the Council’s Decade of Centenaries Programme, said “The Decade of Centenaries offers a unique opportunity for national reflection and remembrance, for all members of Irish society including Ireland’s higher-education institutions. The breadth and diversity of the programme, reflecting the full complexity of Irish and European history, demonstrates that academic discourse and research is vital to any acts of national commemoration.” Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway President, commented by saying: “NUI Galway is delighted to host this launch of IRC’s programme to mark the Decade of Centenaries. The projects supported are a wonderful reflection of the exciting work of humanities scholars across the higher education sector in Ireland. NUI Galway is very pleased to be included in this programme, as part of our own plans to mark the anniversary of 1916. We are delighted to support the IRC’s #LoveIrishResearch initiative to highlight public awareness of the important research conducted in higher education institutions throughout the country.” Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Chair of the IRC, added “The Irish Research Council is delighted to be part of the national programme of centenaries. The public interest in the Rising emphasises the centrality of humanities research to the public discourse on this period. The diversity and range of these projects are a reminder that Ireland, and being Irish, is complex and can be expressed in a number of ways. 1916 belongs to everyone and research by humanities scholars ensures that the legacy of 1916 is inclusive and belongs to every citizen of Ireland.” Further details on IRC-funded ‘Marking the Decade of Centenaries’ projects, including further flagship awards will be available in the coming months, please visit www.research.ie and follow us on Twitter, @irishresearch. ENDS

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Relay for Life in aid of Irish Cancer Society

Relay for Life in aid of Irish Cancer Society -image

Monday, 8 February 2016

NUI Galway’s Cancer Society is organising the annual Relay for Life event, to be held on Wednesday, 9 March at the Kingfisher Complex on campus. Last year, NUI Galway’s first Relay for Life event raised over €10,000 for the Irish Cancer Society, with over 200 participants at the event. Relay for Life is a 12 hour non-competitive relay where teams of 5-20 people take turns walking or running around a track. The event will begin at 6pm with a range of activities and a ‘Candle of Hope’ ceremony will take place at 10pm to remember those touched by cancer. After the ceremony the event’s atmosphere changes again as more upbeat events, symbolises the ups and downs of a cancer patient's journey. Throughout the night there will be catering available along with entertainment such as belly dancing, yoga, choirs and bands. The event will end at 6am with the sunrise. Relay for Life is a family-friendly event and open to all. Registration for the event is €10 per person, and individuals and teams can also fundraise for cancer separately. To sign up for the event email cancersoc@socs.nuigalway.ie or register through the University’s Socs Box at www.socsbox.nuigalway.ie or 091 492852. For more information visit the NUI Galway Cancer Society Facebook page at NUIG Cancer Society. -Ends-

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Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance Week at NUI Galway

Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance Week at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 8 February 2016

NUI Galway are being proactive on developing students’ healthy relationships through ‘Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance’ (SHAG) week-long programme which runs from 8-12 February. Across campus various schools, centres and student groups have joined together to celebrate healthy relationships with a programme that includes drama, workshop training, comedy, writing, debating and community engagement. The Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance will kick off the week with an original devised theatre piece 100 Shades of Grey, in association with #WakingTheFeministsWest. 100 Shades of Grey stages the complexity of sexuality in Ireland today, through a focus on sexual assault and the boundaries of sexual consent in living practice. 100 Shades of Grey take place in the Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway, on Monday 8 and Tuesday, 9 February at 8pm. There is a suggested donation of €3 at the door with all proceeds going to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre.   100 Shades of Grey began as a theatrical response of the research on sexual consent of Dr Padraig MacNeela and his colleagues in the University’s School of Psychology. The piece has evolved over a two-year process with three key periods of development as a project between NUI Galway’s Dr Charlotte McIvor and a revolving ensemble of student actors and writers which has included first-year to postgraduate students working together. This iteration will be the first complete staging of the piece, and is directed by Dr McIvor with a cast of student performers. Dr McIvor said: “As a live medium, theatre is a really useful tool for education and debate. Our challenge was to create a compelling piece of theatre that let audiences engage actively with these challenging themes while also still being entertained. This production is not an end but a beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing conversation that we can encourage as widely as possible in Irish society.” Throughout SHAG week ‘Smart Consent’ workshops will be offered to all students, in response to a recent survey which showed that 87% of students said they would like to get more information on sexual consent. The workshop format provides students with an informal and interactive means to explore positive sexual health and consent in particular. Many adults see consent as a grey area – is consent always verbal, can you give consent if you have been drinking, and so on. The workshop is a safe and supportive environment to explore these issues. Each workshop is gender-specific to encourage open discussion, and is led by trained group leader. Participants are not asked to disclose any personal information, as the content is based on activities drawn from research findings with young Irish adults. The Smart Consent initiative is led by Dr Padraig MacNeela, with Elaine Byrnes and Siobhan O’Higgins from the School of Psychology. In December 2015, the Irish Research Council and HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme awarded the team a Research for Policy and Society grant to study the impact of the Smart Consent workshop over the next year. NUI Galway’s Literary and Debating Society will hold a panel discussion on the role of mandatory consent training in higher education, and Flirt FM will feature a series of interviews with community organisations and engaged students on SHAG topics throughout the week. The School of Psychology will host a workshop on Pornography: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Wednesday, 10 February, in The View, Áras Na Mac Léinn, from 1-2pm. This workshop is designed to enable participants to think critically about the messages portrayed in pornography. For the full line-up of events see www.nuigalway.ie/safecampus. -Ends-

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Lectures in the Library Series

Lectures in the Library Series-image

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The fourth in the series of ‘Lectures in the Library’ will tell the remarkable story of Dubliner Eilish Dolan from her wrongful incarceration as a 15 year old girl to her adult career as a writer of romantic fiction. It is a story of courage and betrayal, love and resilience that epitomises the political, human and social contradictions of Ireland as it emerged from the 1916 Rising through the war of independence and the civil war. The lecture will be delivered by Eilish’s nephews, Michael Dolan and Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair and Director of NUI Galway’s Child and Family Research Centre. The lecture will begin at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 16 February at Galway City Library in Augustine Street. The ‘Lectures in the Library’ series is organised by NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.  ENDS

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CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre launch new ‘Science on Screen’ project

CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre launch new ‘Science on Screen’ project-image

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Fully funded opportunities for filmakers The SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway and the Galway Film Centre have launched a partnership project called ‘Science on Screen’, funded through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme. The Programme aims to facilitate, promote and increase the inclusion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) content in Irish film and TV production. The ‘Science on Screen’ project will fund two 26 minute science films with a budget of €35,000 each. These two films will incorporate areas of research currently underway in CÚRAM. Interested producers are invited to register their interest by contacting scienceonscreen@galwayfilmcentre.ie and are invited to attend an information day at CÚRAM on Saturday, 27 February from 10am-1pm. The information day will be an opportunity for producers and filmmakers to hear first-hand from scientists working in CÚRAM, who will give short presentations on key areas of research currently underway in the centre. Following this initial briefing and introduction to the research areas by CÚRAM’s researchers, filmmakers will be invited to apply for the funding by submitting a treatment to Galway Film Centre by Friday, 25 March. Treatments will be assessed on a competitive basis and two filmmakers will be selected. The project aims to provide two experienced filmmakers with funding and access to leading scientists and laboratories within CÚRAM, as well as to patient groups, to explore methods of scientific ‘story telling’ that incorporates aspects of current research being carried out by CÚRAM and its academic partners across Europe. Over 200 renowned experts in biomaterials, drug delivery, cell therapy, glycoscience and device design are working on blue sky research and industry projects associated with the research centre. Galway Film Centre is also in discussion with a broadcaster to air the finished films by November 2016. Declan Gibbons, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this iniative which offers a very exciting and well-funded opportunity to filmmakers. The research that is being done in CÚRAM is at the cutting edge of modern science and we hope that this work will inspire filmmakers to make films that are informative, creative and the start of a whole new wave of film and science projects. It also fits perfectly with our remit as UNESCO City of Film a core aim of which is to promote educational film projects.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “We hope that the project will encourage greater collaboration between the research and filmmaking communities in Ireland. There are a great many stories to tell that originate or are influenced by what happens in the laboratory and we look forward to working with filmmakers to bring them to the fore.” CÚRAM’s goal is to radically improve the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic illnesses and over 200 renowned researchers are working on projects to find solutions for illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, neural diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and chronic back pain, by developing the next generation of smart, implantable medical devices. For further information and to register for the ‘Science on Screen’ Information Day at CÚRAM contact scienceonscreen@galwayfilmcentre.ie, or 091 770748, or visit www.galwayfilmcentre.ie. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Event Celebrates the Irish Borderline

NUI Galway Event Celebrates the Irish Borderline-image

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Comedian Kevin McAleer, painter John Byrne and writer Susan McKay will come together for a special event in NUI Galway celebrating the Irish border. ‘Borderlines’ will take place on Thursday, 18 February at 7pm in the Aula Maxima. The event is organised by the University’s Arts in Action programme, in association with the School of Law and NUI Galway’s 1916 Commemorative Programme, ‘A Nation Rising’. Kevin McAleer, an Irish comedian from County Tyrone has declared it “the best little border in the world”. Born in Belfast, John Byrne has set up the smallest museum in Ireland along its noble route, and Susan McKay, an author and journalist from Derry, has worked the north, south, east and west of the border. They will consider the artists, songsters and writers who have been allured by the border’s mysterious charms, and share their own deep thoughts.  Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law, said: “This is the first collaboration between the School of Law and the Arts in Action programme. For lawyers, territorial borders have a particular interest. This event will afford an additional, creative insight to augment what might seem like an arid or legalistic understanding of lines on maps and, hopefully, it will do so in an amusing fashion.”   Dr Mary Harris, co-ordinator of NUI Galway’s 1916 Commemorative Programme said: “Radicals at the time of the Rising were dismissive of arguments for partition, but the Ulster question proved more intractable than expected. This event provides a welcome exploration of the border from a variety of interpretive perspectives.” For further information on ‘Borderlines’, and the Arts in Action Programme, contact Kate Howard at artsinactiongalway@gmail.com or 086 8456773. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Professor attends Establishment of European Marine Board Legal Entity

NUI Galway Professor attends Establishment of European Marine Board Legal Entity-image

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Professor Colin Brown, Director of NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, represented the Irish Marine Universities Consortium in Brussels recently as the European Marine Board (EMB) formed its own legal entity as an international non-profit association under Belgian law. The foundation of a non-for-profit association is the first step in a process to eventually become a fully independent legal entity and to secure the future of EMB as the primary marine science foresight and strategy think tank in Europe. The EMB provides a platform for its member organisations to develop common priorities, to advance marine research and to bridge the gap between science and policy, in order to meet marine science challenges and opportunities. Its stakeholders include the Board’s members, partner European and international networks, policymakers, strategy developers and programme managers at national, European and international level, as well as the marine science community. It provides the components for transferring strategic state-of-the-science knowledge and policy recommendations from the scientific community to national agencies, governments and European institutions. The Irish Marine Universities Consortium consists of NUI Galway, University College Cork, University of Limerick, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and Dublin City University. The Consortium provides a forum to help co-ordinate marine-related research and teaching initiatives in Irish universities. -Ends-

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January 2016

Galway Astronomers Solve The Mystery Of Flares From The Crab Nebula

Galway Astronomers Solve The Mystery Of Flares From The Crab Nebula-image

Friday, 1 January 2016

NUI Galway lead an international collaboration consisting of astronomers from the US and France to take optical and gamma-ray observations of the Crab Nebula The Centre for Astronomy at the School of Physics in NUI Galway are the lead researchers and authors of a recent international study published today (01 January 2016) in one of the world’s leading primary research journals in astronomy and astrophysics, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS). A joint Irish-French-US set of observations have led to a better understanding of the unexpected flaring activity seen coming from the Crab supernova remnant. The project led by Irish astronomer Professor Andrew Shearer from the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway, involved using the NUI Galway developed, Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP) polarimeter on the 200” Palomar telescope in California. Their work for the first time tied together changes in the optical polarisation with apparent changes in the gamma-ray (high energy x-ray) polarisation. A supernova remnant occurs when a star explodes and spews its innards out across the sky, creating an expanding wave of gas and dust known as a supernova remnant. Arguably, the most famous of these remnants is the Crab Nebula, which exploded in 1054. The Crab Nebula has been studied extensively over the last fifty years and recently found to be the source of gamma-ray and X-ray flares. It is not yet known where the flares are coming from and in an effort to understand their origin NUI Galway led the research programme of optical observations, which were carried out in association with gamma-ray observations using the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Integral gamma ray observatory. Uniquely both studies looked at the polarisation of both the light and the gamma rays in order to understand the origin of these flares. For many years, the flux from the whole Crab Nebula was expected to be constant, in such a way that the Crab was always thought of as a ‘standard candle’ (known brightness). Some doubts were cast on this status from high energy gamma-ray and hard X-ray observations made by the Fermi and INTEGRAL satellites, both European Space Agency satellite missions used to detect energetic radiation that comes from space. Since 2007 strong high energy flaring activities have been detected by the Agile and Fermi gamma-ray telescopes at a rate of about 1 per year. Although, currently they have no clear origin, these high energy flares show the complex timing behavior of this source. The NUI Galway team published observations of the polarisation of optical and hard X-ray photons from the Crab Nebula and pulsar system using the GASP, which was installed on the 200” Hale telescope at Mount Palomar in California, the Hubble Space Telescope/Advanced Camera for Surveys (HST/ACS) and the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory satellite, Integral. The NUI Galway study when compared to the Integral observations show that the polarisation of the optical light and gamma-ray seem to change in the same way, which was an unexpected result. Professor Andrew Shearer from the School of Physics at the Centre of Astronomy in NUI Galway, said: “Our studies show how Galway’s GASP polarimeter will be important for future observations of these high energy astronomical sources. After the recent Government announcement that Ireland will join the European Southern Observatory (ESO) we hope to contribute to future world class telescope projects such as the European Extremely Large Telescope.” Indeed, a change in the optical polarisation angle has been observed by this work, from 109.5° in 2005 to 85.3° in 2012. On the other hand, the gamma-ray polarisation angle changed from 115° to 80° during a similar period. Strong flaring activities at higher gamma-ray energies have been detected in the Crab nebula during this period and magnetic reconnection processes have been suggested to explain these observations. The change in the polarised optical and gamma-ray emission of the Crab Nebula/pulsar system as observed, for the first time, by GASP and the Integral satellite may indicate that magnetic reconnection is possibly at work in the Crab Nebula. The study also reported for the first time, a non-zero measure of the optical circular polarisation from the Crab pulsar + knot system. These results outline the strong scientific potential of polarimetric studies in particular in systems like the Crab Nebula where magnetic fields play a key role. The research was part-funded by a Ulysses grant for Irish-French collaboration. To read the study published in MNRAS visit: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1511.07641v1.pdf ENDS

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