Secondary School Students Debate Topical Science Issues

Secondary School Students Debate Topical Science Issues-image

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Secondary school students from all over Ireland participated in the inaugural final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition on Friday, 9 May, at the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the debating competition is coordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway in conjunction with science research and discovery centres throughout Ireland. After several closely fought debates, Ballincollig Community School, Co. Cork, emerged victorious to become the first ever Debating Science Issues winners. Other national finalists included Gort Community College, Co. Galway, St Colman's College Newry, and St Mary's Academy CBS Carlow Town. DSI is a dynamic debating competition, which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides a great opportunity for students to expand their communication and scientific skills. This All-Ireland competition is unique in involving a number of research centres and secondary schools throughout the country; REMEDI, NUI Galway; Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC; Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, DCU; CRANN in Trinity College Dublin; RCSI, Dublin and W5 in Belfast. Judges on the day included Frank Gannon, SFI; Brian Trench, Head of School of Communications, DCU; Dick Ahlstrom, Science Editor, The Irish Times; Siobhan O' Sullivan, The Irish Council for Bioethics; Tom Kennedy, Editor of Science Spin; Oonagh Meighan, Discover Science and Engineering and Cormac Sheridan, Science Journalist. "We hope that this collaborative outreach competition will be a useful tool in facilitating increased awareness of the important research taking place in Ireland among young people and the Irish public in general", said Professor Frank Barry, Scientific Director of REMEDI. "It is imperative, however, that this is not one-way traffic. While it is important for research centres to communicate to the public, it is equally important for us, as scientists, to listen to what the public, including young people, think of our work. At a time when scientific research itself is taking so many different directions, it is critical that we open the doors for discussion so that we can ensure that everyone has their say on the societal and ethical implications of biomedical research". -ends-

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NUI Galway Celebrates 20 years of Biodiagnostics R&D

NUI Galway Celebrates 20 years of Biodiagnostics R&D-image

Monday, 12 May 2008

NUI Galway will celebrate 20 years of success in biodiagnostics research and development on Saturday, 17 May, with a symposium reflecting on the University's leadership in supporting and collaborating with Ireland's BioIndustry. The University is a world leader in molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases. Molecular diagnostic technologies have been licensed to companies who are market leaders in this area. Recently, NUI Galway launched a four year R&D partnership with Beckman Coulter Inc. to develop molecular diagnostic products for the clinical sector. NUI Galway has worked with industry to develop new, breakthrough biodiagnostic technologies which have successfully entered the marketplace. The University has trained graduates in industry-relevant skills, in particular immunoassay* and molecular diagnostics technologies providing skilled scientists to meet Irish BioIndustry work-force needs. "Over the past 20 years biodiagnostics expertise at NUI Galway has been instrumental in spawning a number of indigenous diagnostics companies and, because of the availability of trained personnel, in the attraction of major multinational diagnostic companies to Ireland," says Dr. Jim Walsh, CEO, Stokes Bio. According to Professor Terry Smith, Director of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES), "The last 20 years has seen huge advances in the fields of bio-science and biodiagnostics which has been reflected in the growth of the industry in Ireland. The University has kept pace with these advances amassing critically relevant expertise in these areas as well as broadening the R&D base to include new research areas such as glycosciences, biosensors and nanotechnology. NUI Galway will continue to work closely with Ireland's BioIndustry to support and contribute to the development of world-class BioIndustries in Ireland." Special guests at the symposium will include Professor Frank Gannon, Science Foundation Ireland; Dr. Jim Walsh, Stokes Bio; Dr. Patrick Cunningham, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government; and Dr. Bruce Wallace, Beckman Coulter Inc. The meeting will be chaired by Feargal Ó Móráin from Enterprise Ireland who will be addressing issues including the importance of industry and academic collaborative interaction and the role NUI Galway has played in the development of the Irish BioIndustry sector. The event takes place on Saturday at the Salthill Hotel, Galway from 2-5pm, for further information contact Dr. Marian Kane (Tel. 091-492071 or e-mail marian.kane@nuigalway.ie). -ends-

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Information Evening on Courses Offered by NUI Galway in Ennis

Information Evening on Courses Offered by NUI Galway in Ennis-image

Monday, 12 May 2008

An Information Evening about part-time courses offered by NUI Galway takes place on Tuesday, 20 May from 7.30–8.30pm at the Clare Education Centre, Kilrush Road, Ennis. Full details will be available about Diplomas the University delivers in Ennis, and also the range of distance learning courses which combine on-line materials with face-to-face seminars. The four Diplomas which make up the 'Ennis Diploma Series' 2008/09 run on a part-time basis over two years and require class attendance one evening per week. Students can undertake the following courses: Diploma in French; Diploma in German; Diploma in Irish Music Studies; or a Diploma in Irish. For the language courses, even those with no previous knowledge of the language are invited to apply. A tuition fee of €1,025 applies for 2008/09 entry and the deadline for applications is 27 June. Nuala McGuinn of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office comments, "Whether you feel passionate about Irish music and language, are keen to improve your French or German, or you just want to take a course for your own interest and enjoyment - it is well worth exploring the Diploma programmes on offer in the Ennis Diploma Series". NUI Galway also offers a range of flexible, part-time distance learning programmes at a variety of tutorial centres in the west of Ireland. These programmes, which can be studied at foundation level through to Masters, are designed so that individuals can study at their own pace. The courses are delivered using a combination of online materials, tutorials and seminars. Courses available through distance learning include: Commerce; Community and Family Studies; Innovation Management; Social Care; Science and Technology Studies; and Software and Information Systems. Tutors for these courses will be available at the information evening to provide further information and answer any questions from prospective students. Nuala McGuinn added, "Our message on 20 May is that NUI Galway is bringing more and more courses to Clare and surrounding counties. We have had huge demand and success in the past with the Ennis Diploma Series. The next step is combining use of the internet with local tutorial centers to literally take third-level education to everyone's doorstep". For further details on the Information Evening or to obtain a copy of the new prospectus from the Adult and Continuing Education Programme, contact 091-492062 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation. -ends-

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Research on Obesity and its Effects Among Irish Expectant Mothers

Research on Obesity and its Effects Among Irish Expectant Mothers-image

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Professor John Morrison and his group at NUI Galway have recently published a report pertaining to the incidence of obesity among pregnant Irish women, and the impact it has on their capability to deliver their infants by normal delivery. This study involved a close analysis of 5162 women who delivered their infants at Galway University Hospital. It included both women in their first pregnancy, and those in subsequent pregnancies. The body mass index (BMI) of all women was measured and compared with their outcome in terms of having a normal vaginal delivery, an assisted normal vaginal delivery (using forceps or vacuum) or an emergency caesarean section. According to Professor John Morrison, NUI Galway, "There is emerging evidence in the medical literature that obesity is becoming a major health problem in numerous developed countries. Yet, until now, there has been no published data in relation to obesity and pregnancy in an Irish obstetric population." The women were classified into five international categories: underweight; normal weight; overweight; obese; and morbidly obese. The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the incidence of the categories of overweight, obese and morbidly obese women in this Irish population, and secondly to see what effect it had on their success in having a normal delivery. A remarkably high (48.2%) of women attending the maternity hospital among this group of 5162 women, were either overweight (BMI 26.0 -29.9), or obese (BMI 30), including morbidly obese (overweight 22.8%; obese 19.8% and morbidly obese 5.6%). By international classification, 2.6% of women attending the maternity hospital of this group were underweight and 49.2% were of normal weight. The levels of obesity were marginally lower in first time mothers, in comparison to women in subsequent pregnancies. Morbid obesity (BMI 35), occurred in 5.6% of the women overall and in 4.3% of first time mothers and 6.5% of women in subsequent pregnancies. Professor Morrison continued, "These levels of overweight and obesity are significantly high when compared with the international literature. This level of obesity in pregnancy exerts a significant impact on maternal health, on fetal wellbeing and on ultimate delivery, and these issues are clearly discussed in the publication, in an Irish healthcare context". The second aspect of the study investigated the outcome in relation to the mode of delivery for women who were obese, in comparison to women who were of normal weight. For women in their first pregnancy who were of normal weight, the vaginal delivery rate was 83.1% but for obese primigravida this rate was as low as 55.3%. In other words, obesity conferred a two to three fold increase risk of delivery by emergency caesarean section for both women in their first pregnancy, and those in their subsequent pregnancy. Professor Morrison concluded, "These findings have major implications for health care in Ireland. Obesity in pregnancy has important implications for both maternal wellbeing being during the pregnancy, maternal health long term, infant health and chronic disorders in adulthood." One of the conclusions from this study was that obese women in their first pregnancy should be clearly counselled about the 30% risk of emergency caesarean section in pregnancy. -ends-

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NUI Galway Benefits from Minister Martin Announcement

NUI Galway Benefits from Minister Martin Announcement -image

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin T.D. has announced Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding totalling almost €3million for four new research projects. The De Brun Centre for Computational Algebra, based at NUI Galway and led by Graham Ellis, Dane Flannery and Goetz Pfeiffer, will receive a grant of €500,000 over four years. Algebraic computation is playing an increasingly widespread role in applied mathematics, statistics, engineering and science. Recent examples of this phenomenon are the emergence of bioinformatics as a cognate discipline of biology, and the use of algebraic topology in image analysis. Three teams of researchers at NUI Galway will examine inter-related areas of computational algebra, focussing on innovative projects with direct relevance to applied mathematics and engineering. The award-winning projects, based at NUI Galway, University College Cork, Dublin City University, and University of Limerick, will be funded as part of SFI's Mathematics Initiative, which aims to facilitate closer links between Ireland's mathematicians and researchers in industry, science, engineering, finance, education and other sectors. Making the announcement, Minister Martin said: "SFI's Mathematics Initiative is a key driver in encouraging and supporting engagement and collaboration between mathematicians and those employed across a range of other disciplines. Such collaboration is essential in ensuring a flourishing environment between the worlds of academia and industry." "This initiative provides ongoing opportunities for innovative research to make a direct impact on enterprise, engineering, education and beyond. I commend those involved in these projects for their dedication and commitment in this regard," the Minister added. Director General of SFI, Prof. Frank Gannon said "The four research projects to successfully secure funding under this latest Mathematics Initiative have each illustrated vision, purpose and foresight in how Mathematics is applied to a variety of research areas. While diverse in their subject matter, the projects have, as a common theme, the enhancement of Ireland's reputation across all fields of mathematics." Science Foundation Ireland received a total of fourteen applications from seven Higher Education Institutions and all applications were assessed by a panel of international expert reviewers. ENDS

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