NUI Galway Signs Research and Education Alliance with (ICRISAT)

NUI Galway Signs Research and Education Alliance with (ICRISAT) -image

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

NUI Galway has entered into a Research & Education Alliance with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). ICRISAT is headquartered in India with a range of research stations in Africa. This Research Alliance will combine efforts, expertise and capacity in order to advance Plant and AgriBiosciences research for poverty reduction in developing countries in the semi-arid tropics (particularly in sub-Saharan Africa). The Alliance will strengthen collaborations between research groups within the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Cluster and scientists in ICRISAT. The Alliance will conduct research on staple crops of the poor to improve smallholder productivity and food security. The Director General of ICRISAT, Dr. William Dar recently met with NUI Galway President Dr. James Browne to co-sign the inter-institutional Memorandum of Understanding between NUI Galway and ICRISAT. Dr. Dar has a PhD in Horticulture (Crop Physiology) and has served as Presidential Adviser for Rural Development and Minister of Agriculture in the Philippines prior to joining ICRISAT. Before this, he was Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), and Director of the Philippines’ Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under the Department of Agriculture (DA). Dr. Dar has been Director General of ICRISAT since 2000. Welcoming the inter-institutional agreement, NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne said, “This significant partnership between NUI Galway and ICRISAT will, I believe, further advance the existing strong research links between our two organisations. Our researchers will collaborate with ICRISAT staff to help some of the world’s poorest countries to improve their agricultural output, ultimately helping to reduce hunger and poverty in developing countries in the semi-arid tropics, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.” Dr. Dar further stated that “NUI Galway has a range of research expertise in the fields of Plant and AgriBiosciences which are highly synergistic with ICRISAT’s scientific programmes and humanitarian mandate. This MoU builds on the existing research links between NUI Galway and ICRISAT in order to forge a more powerful research alliance to advance food security and sustainability goals in the dryland tropics.” He emphasised that the Research Alliance will also help advance the goals of Irish Aid in relation to the Hunger Task Force recommendations to improve smallholder productivity and reduce malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. For further information contact Professor Charles Spillane, Head of Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Cluster, NUI Galway 091 494148. Email: charles.spillane@nuigalway.ie Web links: www.icrisat.org www.nuigalway.ie/botany/ www.plantagbiosciences.org -Ends-

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NUI Galway Researchers Lead € 2.7m Project for Hernia Treatment

NUI Galway Researchers Lead € 2.7m Project for Hernia Treatment -image

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway are to lead a European project to develop a new product for use in hernia operations. The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB)-led consortium has been awarded an EU-FP7 grant worth € 2.7 million for a proposal entitled Targeting Hernia Operation Using Sustainable Resources and Green Nanotechnologies. The overall objective of the Green Nano Mesh research project is to develop a novel mesh for use in hernia operations. Hernia operations are among the most common surgical procedures performed, with over 20 million taking place worldwide annually. In the US alone, the associated expenditure exceeds $48 billion every year. Despite the early success of non-degradable meshes, there is still no wholly satisfactory therapy for hernia repair. In fact, non-degradable meshes are characterised by poor healing response, unfavourable foreign body reaction and in vivo erosion which lead to a failure rate of greater that 10 per cent and a 42 per cent incidence of recurring hernias. Recurring hernias cause further distress to patients, compromising their quality of life, all the while putting an additional financial strain on healthcare systems. The Green Nano Mesh project aims to provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to currently-used meshes which will improve clinical outcomes for the patient. The consortium is led by Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis and Professor Abhay Pandit of NFB at NUI Galway, and includes academic groups from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; the Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain; Aarhus University, Denmark; and Centexbel, the Belgian textile research centre. There are also six industrial partners involved in the collaboration including: Collplant, Israel; Luxilon Industries, Belgium; Proxy Biomedical Ltd., Ireland; Vornia, Ireland; Biomatech, France; and European Research Services GmbH, Germany. The driving hypothesis of Green Nano Mesh is that using sustainable raw materials and green nano-processes to fabricate a mesh prototype for hernia repair will eliminate hazardous chemicals from the manufacturing process and result in a clinically relevant, nano-fibrous prototype which is suitable for hernia repair. By processing naturally-occurring materials in eco-friendly ways, the resultant mesh will have superior biological properties helping to reduce incidences of foreign body reaction and toxicity, leading to improved hernia repair. The use of such materials and processes in the medical sector is timely, given that in excess of 206Kt of medical plastics are produced annually in Europe alone. Speaking about the award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of NFB, said: “This is our second co-ordinator grant that we have secured in the last six months. We are delighted to get European recognition and support for the research that NFB conducts in nanotechnology. This programme provides fantastic opportunities to access the leading research and industrial researchers in biomaterials across the EU.” The award will fund staff, equipment, consumables and the training and development of researchers in the biomaterials and tissue engineering fields over a four-year period. The programme design encourages increased dialogue between academics, industry and clinicians, fostering the transfer of key scientific and experimental knowledge between the institutions and sectors involved. Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis at the NFB, who is co-ordinating the project, said: “This EU funding demonstrates the competitiveness of Irish research. Furthermore, due to the constructive interaction between academics, industry representatives and clinicians, the technologies under investigation will be translated to bed-side therapies.” -Ends-

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NUI Galway Receives 3 Fulbright Awards

NUI Galway Receives 3 Fulbright Awards -image

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

An NUI Galway student, scholar and lecturer have been announced as recipients of the Fulbright Awards 2011. 25 Scholarships in total, valued at € 285,000, were announced recently at an event hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy in Ireland Mr. John Hennessey-Niland. The Fulbright Awards are presented on an annual basis to Irish students, scholars and professionals to undertake postgraduate study and research at higher education, cultural and related institutions in the United States. Applications are encouraged in all disciplines including the visual and performing arts. The awards are jointly funded by the Irish and US governments under the Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange. Fulbright scholarships have provided Irish and U.S. students, scholars and professionals with the opportunity to study, lecture and research at top universities and institutions in the U.S. and Ireland respectively since 1957. Máire Ní Chuaig, a native Irish speaker graduated with a BA in Irish and Translation at NUI Galway. She plans on returning to College to complete a Higher Diploma in Education in 2012. Máire will be a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Montana. Dr. Noam Lubell is a Lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway. Dr Lubell will undertake his research into the area of future challenges in the law of armed conflict at New York University. Daniel Regan is a PhD candidate in Psychology at NUI Galway. Daniel will pursue his research at the University of California, Berkeley specialising in the area of health psychology with a specific focus on alcohol research. His sister Nell Regan was also awarded a scholarship. Out of the 25 scholarship awards, eight are for research and study in the areas of science, technology, environment and health. This year six Irish awardees will spend time teaching the language and lecturing in Irish culture as Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants. The remaining 10 recipients will conduct study and research in the areas of law, music, writing, politics and other humanities and social science disciplines. Commenting on the awards, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Eamon Gilmore, T.D., congratulated the recipients and said: “The Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange represents not just a commitment to the best educational standards for the successful recipients but also a joint investment by both governments to ever closer ties between our two countries, supporting, as President Obama put it recently in Dublin, the people who make the future happen.” Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. John Hennessey-Niland of the US Embassy in Ireland said: “The Fulbright Awards are one of the most important collaborative initiatives between our two countries. I wish this year’s 25 Irish recipients every success during their term in the U.S. In addition to the important academic and professional experience you are about to embark on, I trust you will make friendships that will remain long after you return to Ireland.” Una Halligan, Chairperson of the Fulbright Commission of Ireland concluded: “Each of these 25 successful candidates was chosen not only on the basis of their individual merits but also because they displayed exceptional leadership ability which is inherent to Fulbright. Great ideas are borne out of people’s ability to think creatively, to collaborate well with others and to follow through in order to make things happen. These recipients are some of the finest in their disciplines; I have no doubt they will be outstanding representatives for this country and will thrive and make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.” The next Fulbright Awards Competition 2012-2013 will open to applicants on Monday 5 September. For more information visit www.fulbright.ie. -ends-

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American Thoracic Society Award for NUI Galway Expert

American Thoracic Society Award for NUI Galway Expert-image

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Dr Ger Curley, an expert in Anaesthesia at NUI Galway and Molecular Medicine Ireland Clinician Scientist Fellow, has received a highly prestigious award from the American Thoracic Society (ATS). The Respiratory Structure & Function Assembly of the ATS has awarded Dr Curley its Excellence Award for best abstract presented at its 2011 Annual International Conference, held in Denver, Colorado. The award is in recognition of Dr Curley’s work, conducted with the Lung Biology Group at NUI Galway. His research has demonstrated for the first time the potential for stem cells to enhance repair following Ventilator Induced Acute Lung Injury, a significant cause of disability and death in critically ill patients. Dr Curley’s project was conducted in collaboration with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway. This award represents a first for Ireland in this arena and brings international recognition for the high quality work being done by Dr Curley and the other members of the Lung Biology Group at NUI Galway. Professor John Laffey, who leads the Lung Biology Group at NUI Galway, commented: “This work provides exciting evidence that stem cells can repair the damaged lungs and by doing so, may help to save the lives of critically ill patients in our Intensive Care Units. There is cause for hope here because we do not have any treatments for this devastating disease. This was a collaborative project that would not have been possible without the world class expertise and experience in stem cell research provided by the scientists at REMEDI.” The research was funded by grants from Molecular Medicine Ireland under the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions and by the European Research Council under its Framework 7 programme. -Ends-

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Students Scoop € 15,000 for Surfer Website at NUI Galway Student Enterprise Award

Students Scoop € 15,000 for Surfer Website at NUI Galway Student Enterprise Award -image

Monday, 13 June 2011

A surfing website designed by two students, which has the potential to develop tourism in the West of Ireland, has scooped the top prize of € 15,000 at the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards held on Friday, 10 June, 2011. The creators of WestCoastSurfer.com were presented with their prize by Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry T.D., NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne and NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Peter Mannion. WestCoastSurfer.com is the brainchild of Oisin Halpin and Cian Brassil. Oisin is a third year Earth & Ocean Science student from Achill Island, Co. Mayo, whilst Cian is a second year Information Technology student from Kilcolgan, Co. Galway. Their goal is to design, build, promote, develop and manage the premier Irish surfing website. Judges were impressed with the WestCoastSurfer.com brand and its potential draw investment to the domestic economy. Announcing the winner, Chairperson of the judging panel, CEO of Creganna-Tactx Medical, Helen Ryan said: “West Coast Surfer.com has huge growth potential and is well grounded in commercial reality with great opportunities for the West of Ireland. Both Cian and Oisin have all the hallmarks of people who will be very successful.” Six teams contested the final of the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards in anticipation of securing an investment of € 15,000 for the winning project. The competition is the initiative of the NUI Galway Students’ Union, with the support of NUI Galway and has the goal of fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the students of the University. The competition successfully attracted entrants from across all of the colleges and schools of the University, from which six ideas were chosen to progress to the final stage. The two runner-up prizes of € 2,000 were awarded to LittleGreenWheels and Algorithm. LittleGreenWheels was created by Laura Crean, from Tralee, Co, Kerry, and Amy Martyn, from Salthill, Galway City and is an environmental recycling centre for children. Algorithm was created by Evelyn Fennelly, a first year Medicine student from Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Her project aims to help students overcome the difficulties of returning to education following childbirth. As part of the final assessment of their entries, students received an investment of € 500 for their projects, and also received the assistance of mentoring from the highly specialised team of mentors, which was comprised of a combination of members of the academic staff of the University and members of the local business community. Minister of State for Small Business, John Perry T.D, who presented the winning team with their prize said: “The drive, determination and enthusiasm of the students is fantastic. It is heartening to see that within NUI Galway the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. I would also like to congratulate the University and the Students’ Union for their vision in fostering the talents of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.” NUI Galway Students’ Union President, Peter Mannion said: “We have been overwhelmed by the number and standard of entries to the NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards. The entrants are testament to the exceptional initiative and creativity of students in social and business enterprise. They show that students are both able and willing to create the big ideas that will help fuel our recovery. The Students’ Union is delighted to be in a position to facilitate some of these ideas as they take their first steps. I have no doubt but that we are working with the leaders of the future.” -Ends-

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