NUI Galway Offers Observatory Open Nights

NUI Galway Offers Observatory Open Nights-image

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

In 2010 NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy will continue its programme of open evenings at its Imbusch Astronomical Observatory. The Observatory provides state-of-the-art observing facilities for NUI Galway's Astrophysics students and the Open evenings are an opportunity for the general public to come in and visit. At 7pm on 20 January and 17 February, weather permitting, an informative hour-long lecture will be followed by a hands-on viewing of the sky by night. Numbers are limited to two per person and admission is strictly by ticket only, allocated on a first come first served basis. Bookings are by email and those interested should send requests to tara.shanahan@nuigalway.ie. NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy and School of Physics has also announced details of the next talk in their series of public lectures. Tickets are not limited for this free lecture, which will focus on Applied Physics. The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 13 January, in the McMunn Theatre, Arts & Science Building, NUI Galway. This lecture, presented by Dr Mark Foley, Lecturer with the NUI Galway School of Physics, will focus Medical and Laser Physics. Medical Physics is one of the fastest-growing areas of physics today, involving the application of physics and physical methods to problems in medicine. Medical physicists play an essential role in fields such as diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy, nuclear medicine and radiological safety. This lecture will focus on cutting-edge clinical technology and also on the fundamental principles behind the technologies used to diagnose and treat cancer patients. The second part of the lecture will be given by Dr Gerard O'Connor, also from the School of Physics, and will focus on Laser Physics. The lecture will introduce the concept of laser light, describe the applications of laser technology and look at the future of laser light. Commenting on the importance of Laser Physics, Dr O'Connor said: "Lasers are just 50 years old but their discovery has already transformed the way we live, work and play. From the application of laser technology in enabling the internet, creating new methods for manufacturing, developing new healthcare, new measurements and new entertainments, the photonics revolution based on laser technology is only beginning". After the lecture a tour will be given of the research facilities in the NUI Galway School of Physics. Although the lectures will be aimed at second level students, they will be of interest and open to the general public. More details of all the talks can be found on http://astro.nuigalway.ie/outreach.php. -ends-

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New York Acting Experts Take to the Stage at NUI Galway

New York Acting Experts Take to the Stage at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Acting teachers from around the world will visit NUI Galway in January as the University hosts a five-day workshop by the New York-based Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA). Michael Chekhov was the nephew of the playwright Anton Chekhov and was widely recognised as one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. He went on to teach the likes of Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Clint Eastwood, Anthony Quinn, Ingrid Bergman, Jack Palance and Yul Brynner. MICHA is training a new generation of practitioners in Michael Chekhov's acting technique, which is based in a psycho-physical approach to acting. Joanna Merlin and Fern Sloan, two master teachers, will lead classes at the workshop. Joanna, who is President of MICHA, studied with Michael Chekhov during the last five years of his life. She made her Broadway debut opposite Laurence Olivier in Becket and created the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. Her film credits include Invasion, staring Nicole Kidman and co-starring roles in City of Angles with Dennis Franz, Class Action with Gene Hackman, Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts, Fame, All That Jazz and The Killing Fields. Joanna was most recently on screen in The Wackness and has a recurring role as Judge Lena Petrovsky on Law and Order, Special Victims Unit. This is MICHA's first visit to Ireland and the workshop takes place from 4-8 January. -ends-

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Irish Breast Cancer Research Well Received at Global Meeting of Experts

Irish Breast Cancer Research Well Received at Global Meeting of Experts-image

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

At the recent annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, ground breaking research from the Breast Cancer Research Group in NUI Galway was well received. The meeting is the biggest Breast Cancer Meeting in the world with more than 12,000 delegates and is a key step in the introduction of novel and new initiatives in breast cancer. The research from NUI Galway came from the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) funded Surgery programme on the role of MicroRNAs in breast cancer. For the first time, the work shows that MicroRNAs are measurable in the blood of breast cancer patients and the levels of mir95 in particular, suggests that it is a breast cancer specific tumour marker. The work was led by NUI Galway's Professor Michael Kerin, presented by Dr Helen Heneghan and co-authored by Dr Nicola Miller and Dr John Newell Dr Heneghan who is a Health Research Board funded Clinical Research Fellow, is currently two years into her PhD programme. Her work shows that microRNAs are measurable in the blood of breast cancer patients, that levels of certain miRNAs drop after breast tumours are surgically removed and that mir195 is likely to be a breast cancer specific tumour marker. The novelty involves a modification of standard techniques allowing these little molecules to be reliably measured in blood from breast cancer patients for the first time. Professor Kerin, Head of Surgery at NUI Galway, said that this work opens up many corridors of scientific questioning: "In particular, we may be able to trace tumour activity in breast cancer using these markers and a combination of microRNAs may function as screening tests for breast cancer allowing early detection to become the norm. This early work suggests that a combination of mir195 and Let7a are sensitive markers for the presence of breast cancer in over 90% of cases. This raises the possibility of their use in screening for breast cancer". Professor Kerin warned of the possibility of reading too much into this discovery as it is still 'early days': "Our initial work centres on 83 breast cancer patients and 44 controls. While it is clear that we can now measure microRNAs in blood, much more work has to be done. We have received amazing feedback however, from the major Breast Cancer Research Centres around the world and they want to collaborate with us to answer these questions. The fact that microRNAs are small, robust and act on multiple genes suggest that they may be very powerful factors in breast cancer propagation and development. In addition, we may be able to interfere with them and manipulate their expression which may allow cancers which are refractory to standard therapy to be made sensitive. This work is part of the ongoing Breast Cancer Research Programme in Surgery at NUI Galway which also looks at the role of stem cells in breast cancer. "We have some very exciting projects ongoing here and have several national and international partners. We receive funding from the Health Research Board, Molecular Medicine Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Irish Cancer Society as well as some European Funding", continued Professor Kerin. However, we could not manage without the help of the NCBRI, which is a voluntary body and over the years has raised more than €7 million to fund and equip the laboratory here. This research shows that we have the opportunity to deliver international-standard cancer research and give our world class medical students and junior doctors the opportunity to train and develop. I would like to thank the NBCRI volunteers and particularly our patients who have so kindly agreed to take part in the Research Programme". -ends-

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PhD Student Participates in a US Department of Homeland Security Study

PhD Student Participates in a US Department of Homeland Security Study-image

Monday, 21 December 2009

NUI Galway PhD student in the School of Physics, Ann McDonagh, has just returned from participating in a US Department of Homeland Security study on the spread of airborne contaminants released in subway systems. The study measured the flow of gas and particles through tunnels and cars in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system. Ann's PhD work is supervised by Dr Miriam Byrne, Lecturer with the School of Physics at NUI Galway, and funded by the Radiological Institute of Ireland. Her work aims to develop a better understanding of how contaminant particles, especially those of a radioactive nature, might become redistributed in the environment, if a person or population group were contaminated during an accidental or terrorist-motivated release. Ann developed a relationship with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) through a visit funded under the NUI Galway/University of California Travel Scheme earlier this year. She has also been asked to participate as a LBNL guest scientist in two scientific missions, in Washington and Boston. This latest study ran from 5-11 December, and involved the release of common, harmless tracer gases used for indoor and outdoor air testing; an inert particle tracer tagged with a biologically inert, non-toxic organic dye used in medical imaging applications; and a common chemical often used as a brightening agent in laundry detergents and paper manufacturing. Particle and gas concentrations were sampled in more than 20 stations and in subway cars, but normal MBTA operations were not disrupted by the activities of the researchers. Regarding the study, Dr Miriam Byrne says: "It is a great achievement for Ann to be selected as a member of the international team for this high profile scientific mission. The results obtained will complement her PhD research, and advance our general understanding of toxic air pollution transport. As well as having applications in the control of accidental and terrorist releases, our knowledge of the spread mechanisms of airborne infectious diseases will also be enhanced". Joining LBNL scientists in the MBTA study were scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, ICx Technologies of Arlington, Virginia, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory of the United Kingdom, and the Chemistry Centre of Australia. -ends-

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Aer Arann Chairman Appointed Adjunct Professor to NUI Galway

Aer Arann Chairman Appointed Adjunct Professor to NUI Galway-image

Monday, 21 December 2009

Pádraig Ó Céidigh, chairman of Aer Arann, one of the fastest growing regional airlines in the world with a turnover in excess of €100 million and annual passenger numbers of 1.2 million, has been appointed to the position of Adjunct Professor with NUI Galway's JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics. His first task as Adjunct Professor, which is an honorary three-year position, will involve the preparation, introduction and delivery of a new final year undergraduate module to business students, entitled 'Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise'. This module will demonstrate to students, real life innovative practice and foster the same in them in their final year prior to graduating and entering the workplace. A graduate of NUI Galway, Ó Céidigh was the 2002 recipient of the Bank of Ireland Alumni Award for Business and Commerce for his significant achievements in the airline industry and his contribution to Irish society and economy. He has been a stalwart supporter of student mentoring and education through his position as Chief Executive in Residence with the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics. Speaking about his appointment, Ó Céidigh said: "It is a great privilege for me to be afforded an opportunity to contribute to my alma mater in this way. I believe with conviction in life-long education and I would hope that I can, as Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway, promote and help develop the excellent education programmes that are offered by the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics". Ó Céidigh is recognised nationally as a leading business figure and was named Ernst and Young Irish Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002. He went on to represent Ireland in the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo in 2003. He was named Galway Person of the Year in 2004 and is only one of three people to be honoured as honorary member of the MBA Association of Ireland. The Dean of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law, Professor Willie Golden speaking about Pádraig's appointment, said: "We are delighted to have Pádraig as part of the team, through his involvement students will gain extremely valuable insights into innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship". -Ends-

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