Friday, 30 May 2008

Two NUI Galway Law students will spend the summer immersed in the atmosphere of the imminent US Presidential election as they undertake internships in Washington DC. Second Year Corporate Law student Peter Mannion will work with Senator Barack Obama, while fourth year Corporate Law student Chris Joyce joins the office of Congressman Peter King. Peter Mannion, from Tuam, County Galway, is excited about joining the Obama campaign, "This summer presents precious opportunities with an election looming, and Washington in full campaign mode. It will certainly be an interesting place to be and working in the Obama office will be a chance to watch history in the making. This really is an incredible opportunity - I can barely believe my luck. I used to live life in a West Wing fantasy so this is bringing it one step closer to reality!" Chris Joyce from Renmore, is a Galway Titans National League Basketball player. His interest in the Northern Ireland Peace Process makes his internship a perfect fit. He explains, "It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the political life of Washington DC. I will be working at Congressman Peter King's office, a long time supporter of the Northern Ireland Peace process. Even before he was sworn-in as Congressman in 1992, King flew to Belfast to meet with Gerry Adams to help initiate peace talks. He also doesn't appear to be afraid to speak his mind on a number of controversial issues so it should a very interesting summer." The internships are part of the Washington-Ireland Program – an organisation designed to give Irish students a rich insight into America's professional and social culture, through a two-month internship and an intensive course in leadership and service training, all in the heart of Washington DC. According to Donncha O Connell, Dean of Law at NUI Galway, "This is a great opportunity for the two Law students involved. The coming months are probably going to be one of the most interesting times, politically, in the US. An internship abroad at anytime is an experience which can bring huge benefits, adding a whole new dimension to a Law student s education." The Washington-Ireland Program programme aims to pick young, promising individuals, from the North and South of Ireland, who will ultimately use their unique talents in leadership and service to contribute back to their home communities and their country. This summer a total of twenty-six Irish students will have the opportunity to partake in the programme. -ends-

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Jeff Halper, one of the leading figures in the Israeli peace movement, will speak at a public seminar at 7pm, on Wednesday, 4 June, at Nun's Island Theatre, Galway City. The event is part of a speaking tour jointly organised by Trócaire, NUI Galway's Irish Centre for Human Rights, and Amnesty International Irish Section. An activist for over 30 years, Jeff Halper is credited with pioneering the use of non-violent action and civil disobedience to resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes and mobilising international support to rebuild these houses. Halper has just published a new book, An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel. Halper was Co-founder and Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions which has protested the demolition of 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1969 in the Occupied Territories, in violation of international law. Speaking about the upcoming event, Dr. Vinodh Jaichand, Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, commented, "Jeff Halper is a warrior for peace in a region so torn by violence. Many who work for peace there rarely get the attention they deserve. Along with his colleagues he has chosen to stand shoulder to shoulder with oppressed Palestinian communities in the name of human rights and equality. His visit to Ireland is an opportunity for us to hear the viewpoint of Israelis who are opposing their government's actions." For further information about the evening contact Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International, on 091 533 637. -ends-

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Hundreds of NUI Galway graduates are expected to attend a special annual reunion during the weekend 6-8 June. The University has issued a worldwide invitation to the classes of 1958, 1968, 1978, 1983, 1988, and 1998 who attended UCG/NUI Galway. Highlights include a 50 Year Club dinner on the Friday and a BBQ for all six classes by the River Corrib on Saturday night. The reunion celebrations begin on Friday afternoon when the 50 Year Club/Cumann Caoga Bliain are welcomed back to campus for a luncheon in the Aula Maxima in the Quadrangle. Following lunch, a presentation of "1958 - the year that was" will be made by local historian Peadar O'Dowd, focussing on some of the highlights of that year, locally and nationally. The 50 Year Club will then be taken on a bus tour of the campus which will showcase the many new developments on campus since the 1950s. NUI Galway has grown dramatically since 1958 when there were 175 graduates. The equivalent number this year will be in the region of 4,700. The day will culminate with a reception and celebration dinner at the Galway Bay Hotel. On Saturday, 7 June at 7pm, the Annual Reunion BBQ for those celebrating 50, 40, 30, 25, 20 and 10 years since graduation takes place in the Students' Union Bar and Áras na Mac Léinn, overlooking the River Corrib. Mr. JB Terrins, Director of Alumni Relations, encourages graduates to come along, "The reunion is a wonderful opportunity to revisit the University, renew old acquaintances and see how NUI Galway has developed over the years. Many people have already booked their places with graduates returning to Galway from across the globe for this event. This annual event is driven by demand from our alumni, who want the perfect opportunity to catch up with old friends." Reunion weekend comes to a close for the Class of 1958 on Sunday, 8 June, with a mass held in memory of deceased graduates in the Chapel of St. Columbanus on campus. This is followed by a farewell lunch in the Quadrangle. For further information please contact Sheila Gorham in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie or visit the reunion www.nuigalway.ie/alumni/reunion2008 -ends-

Monday, 26 May 2008

A record number of over 400 students from 13 Galway secondary schools participated in this years' NUI Galway First Year Schools Competition. The art competition is part of the University Trail Access Programme designed to encourage an interest in third-level education among students in selected Secondary Schools in Galway City, County and Gaeltacht regions. The programme is supported by the HEA targeted funding for special initiatives. For the competition, the students are asked to express through the media of Art, Music, Drama and Writing why they would like to study at NUI Galway, what it would mean for them and how it would change their future. Ashla Ward, of NUI Galway's Access Office, commented, "This competition is designed primarily to start the student thinking about their future, linking their current learning status to a long-term goal and sensitising them to the whole notion of third level attainment. The competition has proved very successful over the last six years. Teachers and students have worked diligently to produce wonderful pieces of Art for the competition". At second level, NUI Galway's University Trail starts with the First Year School Competition and continues in second, third, fifth and on to the Leaving Certificate year, with a series of activities such as campus tours, mentoring and Study Skills Workshops. The main objective of the Trail is to promote regular interaction with the University and the students. The effectiveness of this initiative has been greatly enhanced with the ongoing support of management and staff in the participating schools.

Monday, 26 May 2008

An extensive research project by a team of European scientists could help develop methods of treating cancers with less toxicity than drugs currently in clinical use. The research, just published as the cover story in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology, was led by Professor Corrado Santocanale in Italy at Nerviano Medical Sciences-Oncology. Professor Santocanale is now based in Ireland with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES) at NUI Galway as Chair of Molecular Medicine. The research project was aimed at identifying protein kinase inhibitors for development into new anticancer drugs. The finding showed that a small-molecule inhibitor of Cdc7 kinase prevents DNA synthesis with a novel molecular mechanism and has anti-tumour activity. According to Professor Santocanale, "The search for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of a wide range of cancers is a key field of investigation. In this work we demonstrate for the first time the pharmacological inhibition of the Cdc7 kinase (a protein that acts as a switch to initiate DNA replication) kills tumours cells including those that have become resistant to some of the most common anticancer drugs. He continued, "Importantly we found that the treatment with a small molecule Cdc7 inhibitor lead to tumour growth inhibition in animal models. Clinical studies investigating this novel generation of drugs for the treatment of human cancers will be soon initiated and the expectation is that they will offer a novel therapeutic option to cancer patients." Professor Santocanale is currently establishing core research related to new drug targets for cancer therapy. Santocanale also aims to implement a translational research programme linking come of the basic research of the NCBES and the clinical research based in University College Hospital, Galway, with the goal of identifying potential targets for drug discovery. For Santocanale, "The most interesting part of the research process is to start with ideas originated from basic biological discoveries and see it develop into a drug that has the potential to improve the outcome of cancer patients". Professor Santocanale brings huge expertise to NUI Galway from his collaboration with Nerviano Medical Sciences, the largest pharmaceutical R&D facility in Italy, and one of the largest Oncology-focused, integrated discovery and development companies in Europe. -ends-

Monday, 26 May 2008

Ghlac an líon is mó daltaí riamh – os cionn 400 dalta – as 13 mheánscoil ar fud na Gaillimhe páirt i gComórtas Ealaíne OÉ Gaillimh do Dhaltaí Céad Bhliana. Is cuid de Chlár Rochtana Conair na hOllscoile é an comórtas ealaíne atá deartha le spéis a spreagadh san oideachas tríú leibhéal i measc daltaí as Scoileanna roghnaithe i gContae, Cathair agus ceantair Ghaeltachta na Gaillimhe. Tá an tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas ag tacú leis an gclár trí spriocmhaoiniú do thionscnaimh speisialta. Fiafraíodh de dhaltaí iad féin a chur in iúl trí mheán na hEalaíne, an Cheoil, na Drámaíochta agus na Scríbhneoireachta agus léargas a thabhairt ar an gcúis ar mhaith leo freastal ar OÉ Gaillimh, céard a chiallódh sé agus cén tionchar a bheadh aige ar a dtodhchaí. Dúirt Ashla Ward, ó Oifig Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh go bhfuil "an comórtas seo deartha ar mhaithe le daltaí a spreagadh tosú ag smaoineamh ar a dtodhchaí, a stádas reatha foghlama a nascadh le sprioc fhadtréimhseach agus machnamh a dhéanamh ar a bheith ag staidéar ag an tríú leibhéal. D'éirigh thar cionn leis an gcomórtas seo le sé bliana anuas. Tá an-obair déanta ag múinteoirí agus ag daltaí chun píosaí ealaíne den scoth a chruthú don chomórtas". Ag an dara leibhéal, tosaíonn Clár Rochtana Conair OÉ Gaillimh le Comórtas Scoile do Dhaltaí Céad Bhliana agus leantar leis an gcomórtas do dhaltaí sa dara, sa tríú, sa chúigiú bliain agus i mbliain na hArdteistiméireachta, le sraith gníomhaíochtaí cosúil le turas mórthimpeall ar an gcampas, meantóireacht agus Ceardlanna Scileanna Staidéir. Is é an príomhchuspóir a bhaineann le Conair idirghníomhaíocht rialta leis an Ollscoil agus leis na daltaí a spreagadh. Cuireadh go mór le héifeachtacht an tionscnaimh seo bunaithe ar thacaíocht leanúnach lucht bainistíochta agus comhaltaí foirne sna scoileanna rannpháirteacha. - críoch -

Friday, 23 May 2008

Science and nature education in the classroom moves into virtual territory with the launch of Brigit's Virtual Garden by NUI Galway. The habitats and features of local visitor attraction, Brigit's Garden, have been digitally recreated in a 3D virtual space. The first public demonstration of the interactive Brigit's Virtual Garden takes place on Wednesday, 28 May, at 3pm in Brigit's Garden, Rosscahill, Co. Galway. Brigit's Virtual Garden is an educational tool, alive with virtual versions of the insects and plants of the 'real' garden. The user navigates the virtual space by controlling the movements of 'Rua' the fox who takes them on an interactive tour of the 3D garden. The virtual garden was designed as part of a project called the Digital Hedge School (DHS), which is a collaborative effort between Brigit's Garden and several partners from NUI Galway including the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), and the Education Department. The DHS project team have been working together for two years to create intergenerational programmes for primary, secondary, and third level students, by exploring the potential of novel technologies to enhance children's environmental education. This year's participants in the DHS project were 4th and 5th class students from St. Patrick's National School, and transition year students from the Presentation Secondary School. Students from both the Galway City schools completed an eight-week training programme in environmental peer education. The students involved in the Digital Hedge School Project spent time in Brigit's Garden taking digital photographs and drawings insects, water bugs, flowers and trees. The students were then shown how to upload their work into the virtual garden. Access to Brigit's Virtual Garden will be available to teachers involved in the project, for use in the classroom as a tool for supporting the educational experience of students visiting Brigit's Garden. "Incorporating technology into environmental education is the way forward in terms of relating to younger generations", says Professor Gerard Jennings, Director of the Environmental Change Institute at NUI Galway. "The creators of Brigit's Virtual Garden have been very successful in providing a technology that stimulates children's interest in the natural environment and encourages them to step outside the classroom and explore the world around them." The collaborators look forward to celebrating the success of the hard work of all of the students involved at the launch of Brigit's Virtual Garden, which is free and open to all. For more information on the project or the launch event please contact Dr. Sarah Knight, Outreach Officer for the Environmental Change Institute, on 091 495061. -ends-

Friday, 23 May 2008

NUI Galway is to hold an international conference on 5-6 June entitled 'Critical Thinking: The Galway Symposium on the Future of Universities'. The event aims to raise fundamental questions regarding the challenges and opportunities faced by universities and other providers of higher education in Ireland and beyond. At this two day event, a range of distinguished experts will deliver presentations on issues including higher education management and policy, globalisation, linking teaching and research, and fostering civic engagement. According to Dr. Kelly Coate, Lecturer in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and conference convener, NUI Galway, "This symposium will bring together key commentators on higher education in order to pose a fundamental question: what is the purpose of universities in the 21st Century? How is this purpose changing, and what are the drivers of change? Does the university as such have a distinctive role to play in society? We want to spark debates and raise some provocative questions, and we have chosen a diverse range of high-profile plenary speakers who will give contrasting perspectives." The Symposium will be opened by Michael Kelly, Chairman, Higher Education Authority Ireland and Dr. James Browne, President, NUI Galway. In addition, there will be keynotes from Professor Mary Evans, Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, and author of the book Killing Thinking: The Death of the Universities; and Michael Shattock, author of the OECD Review of Higher Education in Ireland and the book Managing Successful Universities. Dr. Coate added, "Some of the speakers will be quite critical of recent trends in higher education, whereas others will be advocating that certain changes are necessary. Given that some of the speakers are at the forefront of implementing these changes, we think this will be a very good opportunity to hear what they have to say and put questions to them. Participants will also get the chance to discuss some of the key issues in higher education today through workshop sessions facilitated by experts in the field." 'Critical Thinking: The Galway Symposium on the Future of Universities' commences on Thursday, 5 June at 9am and continues on Friday 6 June, in the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. For further information or to book a place visit www.conference.ie. -ends-

Thursday, 22 May 2008

A young Irish filmmaker and graduate of NUI Galway's Huston School of Film & Digital Media is among the winners of the first Babelgum Online Film Festival. The winners were announced by Spike Lee at a ceremony during the Cannes Film Festival. The Babelgum Online Film Festival is the first of its kind, and provides a unique distribution opportunity for the newest filmmaking talent. Brian Deane (29), originally from Glanmire in Cork, was awarded the Babelgum Social/Environment Award for his first movie, the short film Without Words. Along with winners from six other categories, Brian received a cheque for €20,000. Over a thousand entries from 86 countries were uploaded for this, the first Babelgum Online Film Festival. Visitors to the Babelgum website decided the competition shortlist, which was then judged by the festival jury, led by renowned director Spike Lee. The other jurors consist of film experts from across the globe, including directors of established film festivals. Last autumn, Brian graduated with an MA in Production and Direction from the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway. Commenting on Brian's win, Rod Stoneman, Director of the School, said, "Without Words is a marvellous example of an imaginative film based on an issue from Public Advocacy. With its memorable symmetrical form it focuses on the tragedy of non-communication between two friends." Founded in 2003, the Huston School of Film & Digital Media offers a range of one-year postgraduate courses in Film Studies; Screenwriting; Production and Direction; Arts Policy and Practice; Public Advocacy and Activism; and Digital Media. In autumn of 2008, the first undergraduate course offered through the CAO system will come on stream, the BA with Film Studies. Brian Deane's Without Words can be viewed on the School's website www.filmschool.ie -ends-

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Two NUI Galway academics have been admitted as Members of the Royal Irish Academy. Election to the Royal Irish Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland. Professor Nicholas Canny, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said "It is a testament to Ireland's formidable position in the academic world that the Royal Irish Academy is able to honour such a variety of exceptional scholars in the Sciences and Humanities. Ireland can be proud of these brilliant women and men who are universally recognised as leaders in the world of learning." The two new Members are Professor Christopher Dainty and Professor William Spillane. Christopher Dainty is Professor of Applied Physics. In 2007 he was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant to research applied optical techniques, focused on improving diagnostic methods which would lead to early diagnosis of disease in the eye and prevention of blindness in old age. William Spillane is Professor of Chemistry. His research is focused on consumer perceptions of sweet taste in food, how this affects our sensory evaluation of taste, and how to optimise taste. The criterion for election to membership is a significant contribution to scholarly or scientific research as shown in the candidate's published academic work. Membership of the Academy, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to those scientists and scholars normally resident in Ireland. The Royal Irish Academy is an all-Ireland, independent, academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is the principal learned society in Ireland. For 223 years membership of the Royal Irish Academy has been keenly competed for, as it is the highest academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of academic achievement. There are now 404 Members of the Academy, in disciplines from the sciences, humanities and social sciences. Those elected are entitled to use the designation MRIA after their name. Among the membership of the Academy are many of Ireland s leading scholars, the best known of whom include: Professor Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate; Dr Garret FitzGerald, economist and former Taoiseach; Dr. Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway; and Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The Academy has also more than 50 distinguished honorary Members, who in the past have included J.W. Von Goethe, Maria Edgeworth, Albert Einstein and Max Born. Today the Honorary Members include Nobel Laureates, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg and Sir Andrew Huxley. Further information can be found on www.ria.ie -ENDS-

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Academic Councils of the four Universities with undergraduate medical schools, NUI Galway, TCD, UCC and UCD together with the RCSI have given their approval for new selection criteria for undergraduate entry to Medicine which adds a new test dimension to the traditional Leaving Certificate entry route. The Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keefe TD welcomed the introduction of the new arrangements. The admission test for entry in 2009 will take place on Saturday 14 February in test centres in Cork, Dublin, Galway, the North-West and the South-East at a cost of approximately €95 per candidate. An information brochure outlining the details of the new selection criteria is being sent to all secondary schools during May 2008. Further details are available from any of the University or RCSI admissions offices. The new proposals represent the implementation of key recommendations of the Fottrell report which was approved by Government in 2006, for the reform of medical education. Under the new arrangements, students will sit a separate admissions test and their results will be combined with their Leaving Certificate Examination to create a new admission route to undergraduate medicine for 2009. As well as the mandatory subjects, a threshold of 480 points in the same sitting of the Leaving Certificate will be required to be eligible. Leaving Certificate points up to 550 will count as normal and above this level, each band of 5 points will be given 1 point extra only. For example, a student with 555 points will be credited with 551 points, a student with 560 points will be credited with 552 points. The maximum Leaving Certificate point score will translate to 560. The new admissions test is called HPAT- Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test – Ireland). The test will have a maximum score of 300. The students' marks will be combined to a total maximum achievable mark of 860. Commenting, on behalf of the Irish Medical Schools, on the new admission route Professor Bill Powderly, stressed the importance of the design of the new test. "A crucial element of the test is that it measures the student's ability rather than prepared learning and this avoids a situation whereby scores could be improved through repeated testing and grind courses." The HPAT – Ireland test which was chosen through an international tender process will be independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). HPAT- Ireland examines mental ability, reasoning, personal skills and professional attributes. Following the Fottrell Report (2006) Medical Education in Ireland: A New Direction, Report of the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training, the cap on undergraduate medical places for EU students was raised from 305 to 480, spread across the four university medical schools and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. When both the undergraduate and graduate entry routes come fully on stream the annual intake to medicine for EU students will be 720. The Universities and RCSI fully support the principles of the reform outlined in the Fottrell Report and the combination of additional places and the new selection criteria for entry is good news for those competing for entry to undergraduate medicine. -ends-

Friday, 16 May 2008

Part-time degree programmes at NUI Galway will be showcased at a special information evening on Thursday, 22 May at 7pm, in the J.E. Cairnes Business School, Upper Newcastle Road, Galway. Lecturers involved in delivering the Bachelor of Science in Science and Technology, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Commerce programmes will be on hand to offer prospective students detailed information about the courses. All three degree programmes are offered on a part-time basis and in the case of the Bachelor of Commerce and in BSc Science and Technology, via blended learning which allows for a more flexible approach to course delivery. NUI Galway has revised its Bachelor of Arts programme to offer an interesting mix of specialist subjects including English, History, French and Information Technology. Delivered by the University's College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, in association with the Adult and Continuing Education Office, the programme is available over four years with classes offered in the evenings. Students are awarded a Diploma in Arts after two years with a Bachelor of Arts conferred on completion of the full four-year cycle. The Bachelor of Commerce programme is also a joint venture between the Adult and Continuing Education Office and the Faculty of Commerce. It can be pursued either to a Diploma in Management over two years, or to a full Bachelor of Commerce degree after four years study. "The BSc Science and Technology is designed for students who cannot afford to leave the workplace to pursue full time education", explains programme co-ordinator Niamh Nolan of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office. "The diploma consists of 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years. Following successful completion of the diploma, students can continue to degree level which requires the completion of a further 20 modules that must be completed between two and four years". According to Nuala McGuinn at the Adult and Continuing Education Office, NUI Galway, "The information evening will outline each programme's content, the structure of each course and teaching timetable. There will also be time set aside for a question and answer session in what is an hour-long lecture event. Lecturers will also be available to meet with students following the event to answer any other questions relevant to the programmes". For further details on the Information Evening contact the Adult and Continuing Education Office at NUI Galway on 091 492062 or 091493746 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/adulteducation -ends-

Thursday, 15 May 2008

A Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator grant of €3.5 million has been awarded to NUI Galway's Professor Noel Lowndes for his research into the biology of cancer. Professor Lowndes is Head of the Department of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and founding Director of the Genome Stability Cluster, which is part of the University's National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES). The Genome Stability Cluster (GSC) is an international assembly of independent cancer biology laboratories, unique within Ireland, all working on basic cellular mechanisms involved in the development of cancer. Currently, it employs more than 40 researchers who are focused on increasing our understanding of cell cycle control and cellular responses to DNA damage. With this most recent award, the GSC has now been funded to the tune of €15 million since 2002. According to Professor Lowndes, this level of funding has followed the rapid establishment of ten independent laboratories within the Genome Stability Cluster at NUI Galway, giving Ireland an international presence in this field, "The Genome Stability Cluster is an NUI Galway initiative that firmly puts Ireland on the map in an area of science of fundamental importance to cancer. We have achieved the essential critical mass to make a real impact in this field and the future promises important strides in our understanding of this major killer." As a disease, cancer is characterised by abnormally elevated levels of genome instability. The latest grant will finance a team of ten researchers on a five-year research programme focusing on the fundamental biological response of genes and proteins to DNA damage. Professor Lowndes continued, "A detailed understanding of the many biochemical pathways that regulate genome stability will significantly enhance our knowledge of cancer and will lead to both better diagnosis of cancer and better prognosis of their outcomes. Importantly, it will also lead to the identification of novel targets for therapeutic interventions and the next generation of cancer therapies that target specific cancers at the molecular level. All cancers have defects in genome stability pathways and knowledge of the status of these pathways in patients will also impact on cancer prevention and pre-emptive treatments." The work will be performed in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Flaus, NCBES, NUI Galway, and world renowned scientists from the USA and Japan, including: Professor Don Hunt, Department of Chemistry, University of Virginia, USA; Professor, Shunichi Takeda, Department of Radiation Genetics, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan; and Professor Eva Nogales, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Berkeley, USA. The establishment of the GSC would not have been possible without funding from Science Foundation Ireland, which has so far awarded major programme grants to six members of the cluster. Significant funding has also been obtained from the Health Research Board, the Higher Education authority and the European Union, with smaller amounts from Cancer Research Ireland, the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the National Institute of Health (USA). The GSC complements two other multidisciplinary research clusters at the NCBES, which are focused on Apoptosis (cell death) and Breast Cancer. All 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. -ends-

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and Leitrim County Council have announced that the second John McGahern International Seminar will take place from 24-26 July, 2008, to commemorate the work and literary achievements of one of Ireland's best known and internationally respected modern writers. The first International Seminar was held in County Leitrim in 2007 and was attended by more than 100 participants from Ireland and overseas. Speakers at the 2008 International Seminar and Summer School will include eminent writers, critics and academics as well as local contributors. The keynote address - John McGahern's Irelands - will be delivered by Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh of NUI Galway. Other speakers will include Professor Christopher Murray, UCD; Professor David Malcolm, University of Gdansk, Poland; Dr Patrick Gilligan, dramatist; Irish writer Claire Keegan; and the Argentinean poet and translator, Gerardo Gambolini, who has just finished translating McGahern's stories into Spanish. As well as appealing to all lovers of McGahern's own work, the International Seminar will be of interest to literary researchers and to book clubs, to readers of contemporary fiction and modern writing, and to all national and international students of Irish literature and culture. In addition to this years Seminar, NUI Galway has organised an intensive one week International Summer School on John McGahern's work and its contexts. This summer programme will form part of the 25th International Summer School in Irish Studies at NUI Galway. The John McGahern International Summer School is designed for advanced level students and researchers who are interested in the writings of John McGahern and his life and times in 20th Century Ireland. The Summer School will take place at the County Library, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, the week after the Seminar. Contributors to the Summer School, directed by Dr. John Kenny of NUI Galway, will include Ms Belinda McKeon of Columbia University, New York; Dr James Whyte, author of History, Myth and Ritual in the Fiction of John McGahern; and Dr. Frank Shovlin of the Institute of Irish Studies, Liverpool. Speaking at the announcement of the 2008 International Seminar and Summer School, Damien Brennan, Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, said, "Last year, the first International Seminar was a great success, both in its own right, but also in terms of laying foundations for the future. In this second year, it is wonderful to see the programme develop to incorporate The John McGahern Summer School in Ballinamore. Between the International Seminar and the Summer School, we now have the opportunity to facilitate both academic and general readers to engage richly with the work of John McGahern." John McGahern had a long association with University College Galway, now NUI Galway. For over 30 years he contributed to courses at the University, including the University's International Summer School. He directed the National Writers' Workshop in Galway in 1979 and 1989. His extensive archive is now held in the James Hardiman Library at the University. Speaking at the announcement of the Second International Seminar and Summer School, President of NUI Galway, Dr. James Browne, said, "On behalf of NUI Galway, I am delighted to support the expansion and development of the John McGahern International Seminar and Summer School. Leitrim and the North-West of Ireland form a unique and important backdrop to the McGahern canon. At NUI Galway we share in this geography, and by being the repository for the papers of John McGahern we feel that our University is holding in trust a treasure for the world of literary scholarship." "Through initiatives such as the International Seminar and Summer School we are working to broaden access to the University s literary scholarship and archival treasures, by sharing these with a wider audience in Leitrim and the West of Ireland. I wish the McGahern International Summer School and Seminar every success and I welcome the continued partnership of Leitrim County Council in this culturally important endeavour." This year's Seminar will also see the launch of the first number of The John McGahern Yearbook. Speaking at the announcement of the publication, Dr John Kenny, Editor, said, "In close relation with the Seminar and Summer School, this new annual publication will be a regular testament to NUI Galway's commitment to the work of John McGahern and to the University's McGahern Archive. The Yearbook will link the local, the national and the international in the study of John McGahern and will combine accessibility with serious scholarship". For further details on The John McGahern International Seminar and Summer School contact 091-495442 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/iss ENDS

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-

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-

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-

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-

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

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Representing Sport: Forms and Issues An international conference hosted by the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, and the Department of French, NUI Galway is to bring together leading academics, and practitioners, concerned with the representation of sport through history and in contemporary life on 23 and 24 May, 2008. Dr Seán Crosson, The Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway, says "From the fine arts, through print and audio-visual culture, sport has been an enduring subject of representation. This has increasingly become the case with the development of the contemporary global media industry where representations of sport, from soccer to boxing and athletics, constitute some of the most popular subjects. It is one of the aims of this event to bridge the familiar divide between "high" and "popular" cultural spheres and thus to allow the spreading of knowledge in a broader community than would generally be the case for academic conferences." As well as considering the representation of sport in Ireland, the conference will also focus on its representation in the British Empire and Commonwealth, France, the UK and across Europe. A distinctive highlight of the event will be the screenings of two documentaries: Red Mist - Roy Keane and the Football Civil War(2007) directed by Eamonn Little, as part of a panel discussing 'Representing Sport & Controversy' which will include the director as well as award-winning Irish Times sports writer, Keith Duggan; and Pat Comer's A Year 'til Sunday (1998), which will be introduced by the director, to mark the tenth anniversary of the production of this award-winning and seminal documentary on Gaelic football. Among the distinguished contributors to the conference will be Professor Mike Cronin (Academic Director of the Centre for Irish Programmes at Boston College in Dublin and author of Sport and Nationalism in Ireland: Gaelic Games, Soccer and Irish Identity since 1884 (1999)); Professor Alan Bairner (Loughborough University and editor of Sport and the Irish. Histories, Identities, Issues (2001)); Professor Richard Holt (International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University, and author of Sport and the British: a modern history (1989)) and Dr. Paul Dietschy (Université de Franche-Comté, and co-author of Sport, culture et société en France du XIXe siècle à nos jours (2006)). Also contributing to the conference will be Professor David Scott, of Trinity College, Dublin, who has published extensively in the field of French textual and visual studies. A middleweight amateur boxer, Professor Scott is also the author of The Art and Aesthetics of Boxing (University of Nebraska Press, 2008). The conference is supported by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS), NUI Galway's Millennium Fund and the Department of French, NUI Galway. For a full programme or to register to attend the conference, please go to the Huston School of Film & Digital Media website at http://www.filmschool.ie/events or contact Seán Crosson at sean.crosson@nuigalway.ie ENDS

Friday, 2 May 2008

The 35th Annual Conference of the Sociological Association of Ireland convenes from 9-11 May at NUI Galway. Over three days, delegates will hear a wide range of presentations on topics as diverse as tourism in divided cities, the inequities of the Irish taxation system, the environment, religious practice, masculinity, new immigrant communities, food and food cultures. On the opening evening of the conference, Galway-based actor and writer Jeananne Crowley, will launch the latest volume in the Irish Sociological Chronicles series, Belongings: shaping identity in modern Ireland, edited by Mary P. Corcoran and Perry Share, and published by the Institute of Public Administration. Among the topics covered in this volume are the Michael Neary case, the 1916 commemorations, the Miss China Ireland pageant, Munster Mania, the rise of the Jumbo Breakfast Roll and the Irish Ferries dispute. On Saturday, 10 May veteran politician and sociologist Michael D. Higgins will be honoured with honorary life membership of the association. More than 70 papers and posters will be presented over the three-day event. Some of the papers to be presented are highlighted below. For a full listing of the conference programme please refer to www.sociology.ie. For further information please contact Mary P. Corcoran at 087-664-8751 or Aifric O'Grada. -ends-

Friday, 2 May 2008

An Information Evening detailing over 40 Adult and Continuing Education courses available from NUI Galway takes place at Áras na Mac Léinn, on Thursday, 15 May from 6.30-8.30pm. Those thinking of broadening their horizons through part-time study can visit information stands throughout the evening to find out about courses from English Literature to Rural Development. Part-time programmes can be studied at foundation level through to Masters, which can be either classroom-based or through distance learning. One of the newer courses to be unveiled at the information evening is the part-time Bachelor of Arts programme which has been designed to include an interesting mix of specialist subjects including English, History, French and Information Technology. The programme is available over four years on a part-time basis with classes offered in the evenings. Students are awarded a Diploma in Arts after two years and a full Bachelor of Arts on completion of the full four-year cycle. Other new courses this year include a BA in Social Care, which builds on the existing Diploma in Social Care. Supporting Irish business, the University is also offering new postgraduate courses in Innovation Management and Technology Commercialisation. A part-time Diploma in Management, which can be pursued to Bachelor of Commerce level, and is offered via distance learning to accommodate busy professionals and those living outside of Galway. Nuala McGuinn, of NUI Galway's Adult and Continuing Education Office, comments "Getting motivated for any new challenge always requires effort, but when that challenge can potentially change your life, it's worth going the extra mile. At our open evening, course tutors and students will be on hand to offer expert advice on the programmes available and the benefits of acquiring new skills and qualification". For those not necessarily interested in pursuing a course to degree level, there is an impressive range of courses available at foundation and certificate level at NUI Galway. These include areas in health care such as Social Gerontology (the study of ageing); Community Development; Psychology of Counselling; and Employee Assistance and Social Support. The University also offers traditional subjects such as French, German, Italian, English, History, Gaeilge, Women s Studies and Irish Music Studies. NUI Galway's Diploma in Gemmology, which is run in conjunction with the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at NUI Galway, is a popular choice among jewellers, craftspeople and those with an interest in precious stones. 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-

Thursday, 1 May 2008

A new initiative by NUI Galway to provide greater access to continuing education for nurses and midwives has been welcomed by HSE West and the Nursing Midwifery Planning and Development Unit (NMPDU). Postgraduate Diploma courses will be offered to nurses and midwives, for the first time in Ireland, through a combination of online and classroom-based teaching. The University's aim is to accommodate the hectic schedules and work demands of nurses and midwives by allowing them to complete course modules at their individual pace. The Postgraduate Diplomas offered by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway through 'blended learning' include Accident and Emergency, Intensive Care, Oncology, Palliative Care and Orthopaedics. Nora Irwin Area Director NMPDU, HSE West praised the new approach to teaching saying, "This new initiative really supports and facilitates nurses/midwives to access continuing education during this period where release and replacement of staff is difficult." Blended learning refers to a learning experience that combines classroom and online forms of learning (mixing traditional and distance learning). Nurses and midwives will have online access to course details and content at all times and participate through lectures and tutorials, discussion board, online collaboration, e-mail and telephone. According to Mary Francis O'Reilly Director of the National Midwifery Planning and Development Unit, "This is a new departure within the field of nursing and we are delighted that the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway is leading the way nationally with this initiative. Nurses and midwives are very busy practitioners and it can be difficult for managers to release staff to attend courses, therefore the introduction of 'blended learning' means that students will now be able to log onto the internet and undertake some modules from the comfort of their own homes. Students will also be able to take stand alone modules and accumulate credits over time". For further details of course available through blended learning contact Dr. Philip Larkin School of Nursing and Midwifery, NUI Galway on 091 492013 or visit the University's Postgraduate Admissions Office website www.go4th.ie -ends-