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Thursday, 31 August 2017
A European network called ‘Citizen's health through public-private Initiatives, Public health, Market and Ethical perspectives’ will hold its final European conference in Galway under the leadership of NUI Galway lecturer, Dr Heike Felzmann from the Centre for Bioethical Research and Analysis. Taking place at NUI Galway, the conference will focus on emerging developments in genetic testing and research in the context of healthcare and health research across Europe. It will discuss the impact of recent innovations in the field of genomics and emerging ethical, legal and social challenges with regard to the increasing availability of genomic information and novel forms of intervention. Core themes to be discussed will include: How could genetic information be shared across Europe to increase knowledge and improve public health while respecting research participants’ wishes about the use of their information? What roles and responsibilities should be fulfilled by commercial, citizen-driven and public providers of genetic testing, and how much power should patients and citizens have with regard to the use of their genetic information? How can all affected stakeholders be involved in decision-making in a meaningful way, so that scientific and service developments in the field occur in a socially responsible manner? How should society respond to the possibilities of targeted human intervention into our genome brought about by new gene editing technologies? The network called COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) is the longest-running European framework supporting trans-national cooperation among researchers, engineers and scholars across Europe. Based on a European intergovernmental framework for cooperation in science and technology, the framework has been contributing - since its creation in 1971 - to closing the gap between science, policy makers and society throughout Europe and beyond. Dr Oliver Feeney from NUI Galway and Co-Chair of one of the working groups of the project, said: “European-wide importance of the research network is evidenced by the fact that it has successfully brought together cutting-edge multidisciplinary expertise from 26 European countries while creating a distinctly European perspective and international model for continued developments in health and research into the future.” With this mission in mind, the network has focused on bringing together a multidisciplinary team of experts whose focus has been on coordinating research and providing guidance on ethical, legal and social issues with regard to rapidly evolving developments in genetic testing and research that include: Consent and return of results, and new genomic technologies in clinical practice and biobanking. Public health and private sector involvement in genomics from patient-centred research initiatives to consumer genomics companies. Data-sharing and the potential of information technology developments with regard to genomic information. Participatory and public engagement in genetics, science and research. Gene editing: new ethical, legal and regulatory challenges The conference is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway from the 4-6 September. To register and for further conference details, visit: http://www.bit.ly/2wCFr54 For more information about CHIPME, visit: www.chipme.eu -Ends-
Monday, 28 August 2017
NUI Galway will host a major international symposium entitled ‘Multi-Scale Fatigue, Fracture and Damage of Materials in HarshEnvironments’this week. Engineers are continually pushing the boundaries of material design, in the application of experimental, computational and theoretical methodologies to address operational challenges in harsh conditions. Examples include the high temperatures and pressures experienced in power plants and the extreme wave and temperature loadings that are experienced by offshore oil and gas installations. Engineers and scientists face significant challenges today that include the responsibility for sustainable use of earth’s resources, in the context of climate change and global warming. State-of-the-art multi-scale assessment methods enable much greater understanding of how the material behaves in these difficult conditions and so it is now possible for more detailed and accurate analysis and design against failure. The symposium will host world-leading researchers in engineering and material science to discuss recent advances and ground-breaking developments that are now taking place such as the adoption of multi-physics techniques for more realistic simulation and prediction of environmental, industrial and operational conditions. High and low temperatures, high pressures, corrosive environments, fluid-solid interaction, interaction of failure mechanisms are some of the difficulties which require novel design, testing and analysis methodologies to help address current global challenges. This covers a wide range of materials to meet the demands of light weight, sustainability and high performance. The symposium is being run under the auspices of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM) and is co-chaired by NUI Galway’s Professors Padraic O’Donoghue and Sean Leen from the College of Engineering and Informatics. Speaking in advance of the symposium, Professor Padraic O’Donoghue commented: “It is very prestigious to bring an IUTAM symposium to Galway as it always attracts the very best researchers from around the world. This is only the sixth time that a symposium in this series has come to Ireland and the second time to Galway with the previous one being in 1991.” The symposium is also supported by the College of Engineering and Informatics and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and by ESB International. For more details, visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=493 -Ends-
Monday, 28 August 2017
NUI Galway and Galway Neuroscience Centre will host the 10th Neuroscience Ireland Conference from 28-29 August in the University’s new Human Biology Building. The bi-annual Neuroscience Ireland Conference serves as a multidisciplinary forum for knowledge and expertise sharing, and facilitating excellence in neuroscience research in Ireland. Neuroscience continues to deliver some of the most exciting breakthroughs of any biological sciences. This years’ meeting has assembled an outstanding line-up of world-renowned speakers from nine different countries who will speak over the two-day conference. The programme will feature a selection of talks on topics ranging from drugs of abuse, brain injury and repair and pain. It will cover new and emerging technology and methodology, with speakers describing how they use a range of experimental models from model organisms through to human studies, and approaches and techniques from pharmacology through to genetics and imaging. The programme will also include a selection of short oral talks and poster presentations from students and researchers from across Ireland. The Neuroscience Ireland Distinguished Investigator Award, in memory of former Neuroscience Ireland President Professor Tom Connor, will be awarded to Professor John Cryan from UCC. As both were former NUI Galway graduates, friends and colleagues, it is particularly fitting that Professor Cryan will be presented with his award at the conference. Professor Cryan will also give a plenary lecture on his stellar research career and achievements on the first day of the conference. Dr Michelle Roche, Lecturer in Physiology at NUI Galway and Chair of the local conference organising committee, added: “The Galway Neuroscience Centre are excited to be hosting the 10th Neuroscience Ireland Conference in Galway and anticipate an informative and interactive conference covering the latest cutting edge Neuroscience research in Ireland and beyond.” Further details can be found at https://neuroscienceireland.com/neuroscience-ireland-2017/ -Ends-
Friday, 25 August 2017
The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will host the 21st McGill International Entrepreneurship Conference from 30 August to 1 September, the first time the conference will be hosted in the Republic of Ireland. The theme of the three-day event will address, ‘Speed, Diversity, Complexity in International Entrepreneurship. The aim of this annual conference is to invite research papers that examine and bring to light the frontier issues related to entrepreneurial internationalisation and internationalisation of entrepreneurially oriented small firms in increasingly diverse, complex and fast-moving global markets. International entrepreneurs, international new ventures, born globals, high growth and rapidly internationalising enterprises, have significantly contributed to the growth of the global economy in recent decades. Conference Chair, Dr Natasha Evers from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, explains: “Born global firms are unique types of entrepreneurial ventures, in that they set out with clear intention to exploit and serve a global niche market from the first day of their founding. Only in the last two decades has the study of born globals drawn significant scholarly attention, even though these firms have been around well before then, and many of which are now multinational giants such as Honda. With radical scientific advancements in sectors such as life science and medical technologies, there has been a greater urgency for Irish entrepreneurs to form born global ventures to rapidly exploit proprietary knowledge on global markets. Hosting the McGill conference this year at NUI Galway, affords us the opportunity to further strengthen our knowledge of international entrepreneurship to inform our teaching, research and policy.” Sponsoring the ‘Best Paper’ award, born global entrepreneur, John Power, CEO of Aerogen, said: “For the Irish technology entrepreneur located on Europe’s most Westerly Isle, born global is not an option but a necessity. I think this need to internationalise early has by default created a breed of Irish entrepreneurs equally at home in Silicon Valley and Frankfurt as Galway, and the enriched pool of global business experience brought home will help drive our future innovation, culture and economy.” The conference will bring together state-of-the art International Entrepreneurship research from academic scholars in over 20 countries including Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Brazil, Columbia, Spain, China, and Italy. Dr Evers adds: “Once their profit potential is established we have seen many capital-intensive Irish grown born globals such as those in the medtech sector, being acquired by multinationals as part of the venture capital exit strategy. We need more Irish born globals that ‘grow global’, in terms of scaling themselves up into bigger international firms for sustainable job creation in Ireland and economic impact. This is not just an Irish issue but a European one, hence the focus of the policy and research agenda for Irish SMEs needs to identify more effective measures to support Irish born global firms to grow global.” The event will feature renowned co-founder of the conference and editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Entrepreneurship (Springer), Professor Hamid Etemad, McGill University, Canada; Professor Alistair R Anderson, Robert Gordon University, Scotland; Professor Antonella Zucchella, University of Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge and Milan; and Professor Olli Kuivalainen, University of Manchester and Lappeenranta, University of Technology, Finland. For conference details, visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=488 -Ends-
Monday, 21 August 2017
The 17th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Irish Pain Society will be held at NUI Galway on Saturday 26 August. It will mark the 10-year anniversary since the establishment of the Centre for Pain Research at the University, Ireland’s first multidisciplinary pain research centre. The theme of this year’s meeting will focus on the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) theme for 2017, ‘Pain After Surgery’. Professor David Finn, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and President of the Irish Pain Society, said: “Unfortunately, pain can be a serious unwanted consequence of surgery, affecting millions of people worldwide and exacting a very significant toll on health, wellbeing, society and the economy. To address this important unmet clinical need, we require a better understanding of pain neurobiology, and the mechanisms and factors influencing the transition from acute to chronic pain. The Irish Pain Society meeting this year has been organised to increase our understanding of postoperative pain and its treatment.” The event will welcome international speakers from across the key disciplines relevant to post-surgical pain to discuss: Prediction and prevention of pain after surgery - Professor Esther Pogatzki-Zahn, Germany Postoperative pain management in children - Professor Alison Twycross, UK The transition from acute to chronic pain - Dr Patricia Lavand’homme, Belgium The profile and management of persistent pain following breast cancer treatment - Dr Niamh Moloney, Guernsey The psychological aspects of understanding and reducing postoperative pain - Dr Rachael Powell, UK The meeting will also include poster presentations by Irish pain researchers, a data blitz short oral symposium in association with the Irish Pain Research Network, and a masterclass in the use of ultrasound imaging to aid with pain treatment. The meeting will provide an opportunity to broadening knowledge and networks across Pain disciplines, with the aim of moving towards a more enlightened approach for improved understanding and management of pain post-surgery. Professor Finn added: “I am really excited to be hosting this year’s Irish Pain Society meeting in Galway and anticipate a day filled with informative and thought-provoking talks covering the cutting edge of research on pain after surgery, as well as fruitful discussions and interactions with colleagues.” Further details can be found at www.irishpainsociety.com -Ends-
Monday, 21 August 2017
NUI Galway will host the 42nd Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture and Surgical Symposium, the largest Surgical Conference in Ireland, from 1-2 September. The annual event provides a platform for healthcare professionals to present their research and clinical work, and allows for the merging of both scientific and clinical information. It is named in memory of the Galway-born surgeon, Sir Peter Freyer, who performed the first successful surgical operation to remove an enlarged prostate in 1900. It comprises multiple research and education sessions across the various surgical subspecialties, two keynote addresses and discussion around the future of Irish Surgery. Michael F. Collins, MD is Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School & Senior Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts will deliver the Memorial Lecture entitled ‘In Search of the Tossed Cap: Following Medicine’s Privilege’ on Friday, 1 September. Dr Collins currently oversees the University of Massachusetts system-wide health and life sciences portfolio, charged with leading strategic initiatives to strengthen the university’s efforts in the area and to engage more fully with the Commonwealth’s dynamic health and life sciences sector. Dr Collins is actively engaged in service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has amassed vast experience in governance of not for profit and educational entities. Currently, he serves on the boards of UMass Memorial Health Care, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, The American University of Beirut, Commerce Bancshares Corp., Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts. He is a Board Certified Physician in Internal Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Professor Calvin Coffey is the Foundation Chair of Surgery in University of Limerick and University Hospitals Limerick Group. Professor Coffey will deliver the State of the Art Lecture entitled ‘Da Vinci and Colorectal Surgery’ on Saturday, 2 September. Professor Coffey in 2016 pioneered robotic intestinal surgery in Ireland and led the team that set up the first multidisciplinary robotic program in Ireland. He is the chief author of the book Mesenteric Principles of Gastrointestinal Surgery: Basic and Applied Science. This book is the first reference test on the human mesentery, related diseases and surgical treatment strategies. He is editor in Chief of the journal, Mesentery and Peritoneum. The Programme also features a Session on the Role of Research in Surgical Training discussing the optimisation of the potential and opportunities for all Surgeons and trainees to take part in research, acquiring necessary skills and methodology throughout their careers. Professor of Surgery at NUI Galway, Michael Kerin, who is hosting the event along with his colleague Professor Oliver McAnena, said: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Collins and Professor Coffey to our University. Dr Collins is a sought-after motivational speaker, who draws from his decades-long experiences in academic medicine to frame the enduring role of physicians in a profession that continues to evolve from and be shaped by external forces.” Professor Coffey has published ground-breaking research which has identified an emerging area of science having reclassified a part of the digestive system as an organ. Professor Coffey’s research proposes that the mesentery, which connects the intestine and the abdomen, is an organ. For hundreds of years it had been seen as a fragmented structure made up separate parts. Their lectures are the focal points of a large programme containing some of the best surgical research from this country”. -Ends-
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
The College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway has announced details of this year’s Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam which gives students a second chance to pursue a career in engineering. The exam, which takes place on Wednesday, 23 August, is for students who achieve the CAO points for an undergraduate engineering degree course at NUI Galway but who have not met the obligatory maths requirement. For more than 20 years NUI Galway has provided this exam to help applicants who did not achieve the required grade H4 or better in higher level mathematics. Those who took lower level maths in the Leaving Cert may also apply for the exam. Students who pass this examination will be deemed to have satisfied the maths requirement and, providing they have the necessary points, will receive an additional CAO offer at Round Two. NUI Galway will also hold an intensive preparatory course for applicants intending to sit the exam. This free course will run from 17-22 August. The aim of the course is to bridge the gap between the Leaving Certificate lower level and that required to be successful in the exam. This will be achieved by tackling a variety of problems of increasing difficulty. Learning how to approach a problem and apply the knowledge available will be emphasised. Professor Peter McHugh, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Engineers are designers and problem solvers, who innovate and generate the technology of tomorrow. Because of this, engineering programmes are focused on developing analytical and problem solving skills, and therefore require significant use of mathematics and applied mathematics. Every year we see a number of promising students who perform poorly on the day of the Leaving Cert exam. The Engineering Mathematics Qualifying Examination provides students with a second chance to demonstrate that they have the necessary standard in maths. Over the years, we have had some exceptionally talented students graduate and pursue successful careers in engineering because they were given the second chance which this exam represents.” NUI Galway offers students an undenominated entry to engineering. This programme is specifically designed for students who are interested in becoming an engineer, but are uncertain as to which field they want to specialise in. This programme offers students the option of studying engineering in a general way for one year before going on to specialise in their chosen field in year two. To apply for the Engineering Maths Qualifying Exam please visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ Those interested in the revision maths course should visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexaminationpreparatorycourse/ for further details. -Ends- ______________________________________ Seans Eile á thabhairt ag OÉ Gaillimh do Mhic Léinn na hArdteistiméireachta trí Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta a Reáchtáil Tá Coláiste na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice in OÉ Gaillimh i ndiaidh sonraí a chur ar fáil faoi Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta, scrúdú a thugann seans eile do mhic léinn tabhairt faoi ghairm na hinnealtóireachta. Beidh an scrúdú ar siúl Dé Céadaoin, an 23 Lúnasa, agus tá sé dírithe ar mhic léinn a bhaineann na pointí cuí CAO amach chun cúrsa céime san innealtóireacht a dhéanamh in OÉ Gaillimh ach nach bhfuil an marc riachtanach acu sa mhatamaitic. Le breis agus scór bliain anuas, tá an scrúdú seo á reáchtáil ag OÉ Gaillimh chun cabhrú le hiarratasóirí nár éirigh leo an grád riachtanach H4 nó os a chionn a bhaint amach sa pháipéar matamaitice ardleibhéil. Féadfaidh daoine nach ndearna ardleibhéal matamaitice san Ardteistiméireacht cur isteach ar an scrúdú chomh maith. Má fhaigheann mac léinn pas sa scrúdú seo beidh an riachtanas matamaitice comhlíonta aici/aige agus gheobhaidh sí/sé tairiscint eile ó CAO i mBabhta 2, ach na pointí riachtanacha a bheith aici/aige. Chomh maith leis sin, beidh dianchúrsa ullmhúcháin ar siúl in OÉ Gaillimh roimh ré dóibh siúd ar mian leo an scrúdú a dhéanamh. Beidh an cúrsa saor in aisce seo ar siúl ón 17-22 Lúnasa. Is é an aidhm atá leis an gcúrsa seo cur lena mbíonn foghlamtha ag daltaí ag an ngnáthleibhéal san Ardteistiméireacht, le go n-éireoidh leo sa scrúdú matamaitice. Cuirfear é seo i gcrích trí dhul i ngleic le fadhbanna éagsúla ag leibhéil éagsúla deacrachta. Cuirfear béim ar an gcaoi le tabhairt faoi fhadhb agus ar an gcaoi a gcuirfear an t-eolas atá ar fáil i bhfeidhm. Dúirt an tOllamh Peter McHugh, Déan na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is ionann innealtóirí agus dearthóirí agus daoine atá go maith ag réiteach fadhbanna, a chruthaíonn agus a chuireann teicneolaíocht na linne seo romhainn ar fáil. Dá bharr seo, tá na cláir innealtóireachta seo dírithe ar fhorbairt a dhéanamh ar scileanna anailíseacha agus ar scileanna chun fadhbanna a réiteach, agus dá bhrí sin, caithfear úsáid shuntasach a bhaint as matamaitic agus as matamaitic fheidhmeach. Gach bliain feicimid daltaí cumasacha nach ndéanann chomh maith agus a d’fhéadfaidís ar lá an scrúdaithe Ardteistiméireachta. Tugann an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta deis eile do dhaltaí léiriú go bhfuil an caighdeán riachtanach sa mhatamaitic bainte amach acu. I gcaitheamh na mblianta, d’éirigh le roinnt mic léinn a raibh cumas eisceachtúil iontu céim a bhaint amach agus dul sa tóir ar shlí bheatha dóibh féin san innealtóireacht mar go bhfuair siad an dara deis leis an scrúdú áirithe seo.” Tá cúrsa céime neamhainmnithe san innealtóireacht ar tairiscint do mhic léinn in OÉ Gaillimh. Tá an clár seo dírithe go háirithe ar mhic léinn a bhfuil suim acu a bheith ina n-innealtóirí ach nach bhfuil siad cinnte cén réimse ar mhaith leo díriú air. Tugann an clár seo deis do mhic léinn staidéar ginearálta a dhéanamh ar an innealtóireacht ar feadh bliana sula roghnaíonn siad a réimse speisialtóireachta i mbliain a dó. Chun iarratas a dhéanamh ar an Scrúdú Cáilíochta Matamaitice de chuid na hInnealtóireachta téigh chuig: http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexamination/ Ba chóir do dhaoine ar spéis leo an cúrsa ullmhúcháin a dhéanamh dul chuig http://www.nuigalway.ie/engineering-informatics/undergraduatestudents/engineeringmathsqualifyingexaminationpreparatorycourse/ chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil. -Críoch-
Monday, 14 August 2017
NUI Galway has relaunched its iPoints app, addressing the new Common Points Scale, which is now in effect for all Leaving Certificate students. The app will allow Leaving Certificate students to quickly and easily calculate their points when they receive their exam results and is available through iTunes for both iPhone and iPad. The NUI Galway iPoints app is available for all iPhone and iPad users on the iTunes store now www.tinyurl.com/NUIGalwayApp The app calculates the number of points attained in each subject, in line with the revised Common Points Scale, and indicates the total. The app calculates 25 additional points to be added for Higher Maths if relevant, and allows for Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) scores to be included. The app also gives students the option to share their results by text message, or through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, if they wish. Commenting on the app, Stephen O’Dea, Admissions Officer at NUI Galway said: “Unlike the old Leaving Certificate points, the new Common Points Scale is designed to minimise the impact of random points’ allocation as fewer individuals will end up with the same score. This has been achieved by using a non-linear scale. The downside of this of course is the points awarded for individual grades are slightly less memorable than before. As it’s the first year of operation, many will be unfamiliar with the new scale so the iPoints app will offer Leaving Certificate students an easy way to quickly calculate their total score.” ___________________________________________________ Déanann OÉ Gaillimh an aip iPoints a athsheoladh chun teacht leis an gComhscála Pointí nua don Ardteistiméireacht Tá an aip iPoints athsheolta ag OÉ Gaillimh, ag tabhairt san áireamh an Comhscála Pointí nua, atá i bhfeidhm anois do gach scoláire Ardteistiméireachta. Tabharfaidh an aip deis do scoláirí Ardteistiméireachta a gcuid pointí a ríomh go tapa agus go héasca nuair a fhaigheann siad a gcuid torthaí scrúdaithe agus tá sé ar fáil ar iTunes don iPhone agus don iPad. Tá aip iPoints OÉ Gaillimh ar fáil do gach úsáideoir iPhone agus iPad sa siopa iTunes anois www.tinyurl.com/NUIGalwayApp Ríomhann an aip líon na bpointí a bhaintear amach i ngach ábhar, ag teacht leis an gComhscála Pointí leasaithe, agus tugann sé an t-iomlán. Ríomhann an aip 25 pointe breise don Mhatamaitic Ardleibhéil más cuí, agus cuimsíonn sé na scóir do Ghairmchlár na hArdteistiméireachta (GCAT). Tugann an aip deis do mhic léinn chomh maith a gcuid torthaí a roinnt ar theachtaireacht téacs, nó ar na meáin shóisialta cosúil le Facebook agus Twitter, más mian leo sin a dhéanamh. Ag labhairt dó faoin aip dúirt Stephen O’Dea, Oifigeach Iontrála in OÉ Gaillimh: “Ní hionann agus seanchóras pointí na hArdteistiméireachta, tá an Comhscála Pointí nua leagtha amach chun tionchar leithdháileadh randamach na bpointí a laghdú mar ní bheidh an oiread céanna daoine ag fáil an líon céanna pointí. Bainfear é seo amach trí scála neamhlíneach a úsáid. Is é an míbhuntáiste a bhaineann leis seo ar ndóigh ná nach bhfuil sé chomh héasca cuimhneamh ar na pointí a bhronntar do na gráid ar leith is a bhí cheana. Ós rud é gurb é seo an chéad bhliain don chóras seo, beidh go leor daoine nach bhfuil ar an eolas faoin scála nua agus mar sin is bealach éasca é an aip iPoints ag scoláirí Ardteistiméireachta a scór iomlán a ríomh.” -Críoch-
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Pioneering project to determine the potential of a synthetic product to advance the study and treatment of respiratory disease CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Factor Bioscience, a US based biotechnology SME that is pioneering nucleic-acid and cell-based technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease, including respiratory disease. This is the US company’s first collaboration in Ireland. The project goal is to determine the translational potential of a synthetic product from Factor Bioscience for use in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS often affects the elderly and occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs in the lungs and prevents them from filling with enough air. This means less oxygen is available to reach the bloodstream which deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function properly. ARDS typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries, and many people who develop ARDS don’t survive. Those who do can experience lasting damage to their lungs. “Factor engages in research collaborations to advance and deploy our technologies as quickly and broadly as possible”, says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “We are an early-stage biotechnology company based in the Boston area with an Irish subsidiary, and we are looking to grow our operations in Ireland. By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field, which will hopefully allow us to progress much faster in finding a better solution for patients suffering from ARDS. Currently we are developing synthetic protein-encoding RNA therapeutics using our patented and patent-pending chemistries and sequences. In the near term, we are interested in expanding our technology in the area of delivering these therapeutics to various tissues and organs in the body.” Dr Daniel O'Toole, a CÚRAM collaborator in the School of Medicine will coordinate the collaborative laboratory research at NUI Galway, said: “Factor Bioscience has an exciting panel of innovative and highly promising therapeutics that we feel have real potential to address unmet clinical needs. We’re looking forward to developing and testing these for treatment of a range of inflammatory and infectious diseases.” CÚRAM is working to develop a positive, long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and both clinical and economic needs have to be met. CÚRAM’s goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. The project was developed following an introduction to both partners, facilitated by IDA Ireland in Boston. “I am delighted to have been able to make the introduction between CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience and to hear it has resulted in an exciting new research partnership”, said Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of IDA Ireland, Boston. “Making connections and facilitating introductions between companies and third-level institutions and research centres is a key function of IDA Ireland, we try to ensure the necessary skills, experience and research capabilities exist to drive their business forward.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “Key to our success is our collaboration with industry partners to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application. Through collaborations such as these we can strengthen the R&D capability in Ireland to support the growth of a vibrant start up community within the MedTech ecosystem.” -Ends-
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Three clinical fellows have been appointed to NUI Galway in first intake of ICAT programme The Wellcome-HRB Irish Clinical Academic Training Programme (ICAT) has welcomed its first intake of fellows at an induction event, held recently at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Three of the eight ICAT fellows have been appointed to NUI Galway. The eight fellows, from a range of clinical specialties, including Psychiatry, Infectious Diseases, Endocrinology, Dermatology, Nephrology and Public Health Medicine, were appointed after a rigorous selection process and have now commenced their integrated academic and specialist clinical training. Several leaders in Irish research including Professor Louise Kenny from the INFANT Centre in Cork, Professor Jose Bengoechea from the Centre for Experimental Medicine in Belfast and Professor Orla Sheils from the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute presented at the induction event, along with clinician academics who spoke about their varied career paths. At the core of the event was the opportunity for the ICAT fellows to introduce themselves and their research interests, and analyse their training needs with mentors. ICAT organises several events throughout the year for the fellows, including an annual scientific retreat and monthly meetings hosted by each participating academic institution across Ireland. Dr Conall Dennedy, Director of the Wellcome-HRB ICAT Programme and Senior Lecturer in Therapeutics at NUI Galway, said: “This year has seen three ICAT fellows embark upon their academic careers at NUI Galway. We look forward to working with them and supporting them in the coming years. For prospective applicants, ICAT provides a fantastic opportunity and is a well-supported programme with an important integrated training approach to foster the skills and excellence of emerging clinician scientists at specialist registrar level across the island of Ireland.” The fellows embark on the first year of the programme in their institution of choice (NUI Galway, TCD, RCSI, UCC, UCD or QUB). Fellows use this year to design and conduct a mini-project, access a large curriculum of educational modules and develop PhD projects with ICAT supervisors, selected for their research excellence. ICAT fellows will spend 70% of their time in clinical training in year one. Following the development of their PhD proposals, ICAT fellows will register for a full-time three-year PhD. ICAT fellows will benefit from continuing mentorship throughout the programme, up to completion of their PhD and clinical training to Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training. Other partners in ICAT include the Wellcome Trust, the Health Research Board, the Health Service Executive National Doctors Training and Planning, the Health and Social Care Research and Development in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency and the Forum of Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies. The ICAT Programme is coordinated by Molecular Medicine Ireland. The next call for applications to ICAT will open in September 2017. More information about the programme structure and how to apply can be found at: www.icatprogramme.org -Ends-
Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Health Research Board awards promising researchers including NUI Galway biostatistician whose work will start with interventions targeting heart disease and stroke The new HRB Emerging Investigator Awards announced this week by the Health Research Board, will enable researchers at the mid stage of their career to shift gear to become independent investigators. The HRB is investing €8.3 million through this scheme to support researchers who have demonstrated real promise as they take their first step to research independence. Award recipients include Dr John Ferguson, a Senior Research Fellow in Biostatistics at the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway for his research in the area of population health research and public health, which studies determinants of health and disease with the goal of identifying interventions that promote health and reduce the burden of disease. Dr Ferguson’s research involves deciding on an appropriate intervention that mandates a prior forecast of the intervention’s effect on disease. The proposed project will develop methods for estimating the long-term effects on disease prevalence for any planned disease intervention. The methods will initially be developed for interventions targeting stroke, but will later be extended to several other diseases. Speaking about the award, Dr John Ferguson said: “My research methods will allow more accurate predictions of the effect of population health interventions - for instance how a successful promotion of daily exercise might affect the prevalence and incidence of heart disease and stroke as well as better estimate risk factor burden. The HRB Emerging Investigator Award will help to develop my career as a researcher working on the joint interface between statistics, medicine and population health.” According to Mairead O Driscoll, Interim CEO at the Health Research Board: “What set these successful individuals apart was their diversity and ability to multitask. Their challenge now is to build their research team, advance their research programmes, foster collaborations and leverage funding to build a sustainable research programme. Everyone is well qualified for the challenge.” The HRB will support these investigators for four years with a maximum of €800,000 including the investigators’ salary and support for research staff. Areas that will benefit from this investment include: Health Economics Biostatistics Immunology Respiratory Medicine Pharmacology Neurology and Neuroscience Psychology Molecular and Cellular Biology Health Services Research. Successful individuals will be recognised as principle investigators in their institutions, As well as doing research that would ultimately improve people’s health, or positively influence policy or practice; they will also be expected to act as mentors and work well in collaboration with other disciplines. -Ends-
Monday, 14 August 2017
Charity renews its call for a specific family homelessness strategy following an independent research report carried out by NUI Galway and TCD Focus Ireland welcomed a new independent research report on the difficulties faced by families that are homeless in accessing healthy food and having normal family meals. The report, which was jointly funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and the Department of Health, was carried out by Marita Hennessy at NUI Galway and Dr Michelle Share, who is an internationally recognised expert on food poverty and a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. The new report entitled Food Access and Nutritional Health among Families in Emergency Homeless Accommodation, outlined the negative impact food poverty has on the health and wellbeing of children living in emergency homeless accommodation in Dublin. The Food Report was launched by the Director of Investigations at the Ombudsman for Children, Nuala Ward. Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy in Focus Ireland said: “This report highlights the enormous difficulties faced by the over 1,000 families that are homeless and living in emergency accommodation. But it is also a very positive and forward looking report, setting out useful guidelines and standards which should inform the development of the new Family Homeless Hubs. It also clearly sets out the answer for these families must be homes of their own.” Focus Ireland managed the commissioning and publication of the report on behalf of the DCYA and Department of Health. The research outlines parents’ daily struggle to provide healthy meals for their children and themselves due to the challenging circumstances of living on very low incomes in emergency homeless accommodation. Mr Allen said: “This research highlights the complex issues arising in trying to support families that are homeless. It reinforces Focus Ireland’s call for a specific homeless sub-strategy for families, with a cast-iron commitment families will not spend more than 6 months in emergency accommodation.” The Food Report highlighted the lack of access to cooking and storage facilities, it has led to families supplementing their diets with noodles, instant pasta, chicken and chips and pizza. The research included detailed interviews with ten parents living in emergency homeless accommodation and also six service providers involved in the provision of health and social services for people who are homeless. The study sought to explore the food situation for these families and to make recommendations for policy-makers and front-line service providers to help improve food security, health and well-being among families who are homeless. The parents interviewed spoke of huge difficulties finding healthy meals for their children due to restricted times of access to kitchen facilities, communal eating facilities and a lack of storage facilities and utensils for food. The research has found that regimented meal times and the constrained food provision conditions in homeless accommodation services negatively influence children’s dietary intake. Dr Michelle Share from TCD explained: “It’s not just about food and nutrition: families have to rely on takeaways and convenience foods. It makes it harder for children to develop good eating habits as they have to eat in socially unacceptable circumstances, like dining on the bed, or on the floor, lined up at a counter and sometimes even under CCTV surveillance. “They get used to dining in communal settings or with tourists - rather than as a family around their own table. All of this means a loss of dignity. On a practical level it can inhibit other important parts of children’s lives such as free play and completing homework.” The research found that all families interviewed shared a bedroom, and just one of the ten families surveyed were provided with breakfast and dinner in their emergency accommodation. All parents highlighted that their children’s food was a priority for them and that they went to considerable efforts in challenging circumstances to provide for them. This was clearly shown by parents who always tried to provide fruit for their children to ensure they received vitamins. The key recommendations of the research include: Rules and regulations in relation to the use of kitchens and eating facilities across all emergency accommodation for families need to be flexible to meet the different routines and need for privacy for families and to help avoid ‘institutionalisation’ arising from extended stays in emergency accommodation. All emergency accommodation must provide a kitchen table in a private and appropriately sized space. The challenges families face in the preparation of nutritious meals are primarily due to practical barriers and restricted facilities, rather than any lack of awareness of healthy eating. All emergency accommodation must provide a kitchen table in a private and appropriately-sized space. The challenges families face in the preparation of nutritious meals are primarily due to practical barriers and restricted facilities, rather than any lack of awareness of healthy eating. A set of standards in relation to any premises defined as family emergency accommodation. While the Department of Housing and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) have emphasised the range of improved facilities that will be available in Family Hubs, no standard framework has been published to set out minimum standards to apply to the operation of Hubs. Rebuilding Ireland should outline this. Emergency accommodation must be a temporary measure. No matter what improvements are made in the physical quality and access to services in emergency accommodation, living there still has a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of family members. Over time, poor nutrition can lead to a decline in general health and mental health of families. The most effective improvement in the provision of emergency accommodation is to ensure that it is for the shortest time possible, through the provision of secure and affordable homes. Focus Ireland’s family team works hard with Dublin Region Homeless Executive to support families and children who are homeless. The Focus Ireland Advice and Information services based in Dublin and elsewhere are funded by a range of statutory and non-statutory funders. The service plays a vital role in preventing families and individuals becoming homeless. This new report comes at a time of change in the policy guiding the provision of family emergency homeless accommodation as up to 600 families are due to be moved into family hub accommodation. The DRHE has indicated that family hubs will feature permanent on-site support services (in some cases 24/7) and access to cooking and laundry facilities. Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The report underlined the fact that the longer the stays in emergency accommodation, the more difficult it can be for families to move on from homelessness to independent living. We are repeating our call for a dedicated sub-strategy to address family homelessness that includes a target of supporting all families out of homelessness within six months and also providing a range of supports to avert the potentially devastating effects on the children involved.” To read the full report, visit: http://bit.ly/2vUlpCM -Ends-
Friday, 11 August 2017
CÚRAM PhD Candidate Publishes New Research on Modified Implantable Electrode Devices Used in Deep Brain Stimulation Catalina Vallejo, a PhD candidate at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently published the results of her work in the prestigious journal Advanced Functionalised Materials (AFM). Ms Vallejo’s research focuses on the modification of implantable electrode systems to improve their performance when used, for example, in neural recording and in deep brain stimulation in patients with neurological disease such as dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. This research provides a useful benchmark for anodization conditions for further studies with neural microelectrodes, micropatterning, and biochemical functionalisation. Catalina Vallejo’s research has shown that anodization offers the ability to modify ITO films and may provide an easier approach to the generation of electrode coatings with differential regions of charge conductance and cellular function capacities. It can be hypothesized that anodization with varying current densities may be employed to deposit insulator and charge carrier regions on a single electrode system, providing cytocompatible and functional coatings for implantable thin-film ITO devices. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting stimulating electrodes into the brain. Catalina’s work explored the development of a coating for these electrodes, using a bench-top electrochemical process to formulate anodized indium tin oxide (ITO) films with altered roughness, conducting profiles, and thickness. In addition, Ms Vallejo examined the influence of these anodized films on neural cell adhesion, proliferation, and function, and showed that the compatibility of the coating with brain tissue can be altered by varying the anodization current density. She also showed how the films produced with a specific current density, increased primary neural cell survival, modulation of glial scar formation, and promotion of neural network activity when in situ in the brain. The modification of implantable electrodes for neural stimulation has been a major focus of neural engineering over the past five years. “A common occurrence following electrode implantation is the formation of a glial ‘scar’ around the implant”, explains Catalina. “This can accelerate neural loss, increase the barriers to the flow of the electrical signal to where it’s needed in the brain and so compromises the efficacy of a stimulating/recording system in the brain. My research aimed to develop a way to improve the efficacy of these devices, resulting in a better outcome for patients.” Traditionally, chemically inert conductors such as gold, platinum, and iridium, as well as semiconductors such as silicon, have been widely employed as electrode systems in both clinical and research settings. Recently, however, non-metallic electrically conducting biomaterials, including inherently conducting polymers and polymer composites have been explored as neuroelectrode alternatives in an effort to promote chronic functionality and enhanced biocompatibility. Catalina’s journey through her PhD was not without its challenges. “During my first year, I was learning the basics of electrochemistry and electrodeposition and I initially intended on making electrodeposited conducting polymer films onto the surface of the ITO. I was using a very old Potentiostat, a Princeton Applied Research electrochemical Potentiostat / Galvanostat model 263A running Verastudio software. After almost a full years work, I came to understand that Potentiostat had reversed the electrode configuration/connections. This resulted in the anodization of the ITO films and not in the electrodeposition of the conducting polymer – the opposite of what I wanted to achieve.” Commenting on Catalina’s work, Dr Manus Biggs, Principal Investigator at CÚRAM said: “Catalina is extremely dedicated and at the time the ITO process was confusing, frustrating and quite demotivating for her, but in the end we have learned a lot from this. A research career is full of enlightening errors, and this process was crucial in helping to illuminate some of the bases of her work in conducting polymers, and eventually resulted in the development of a process to formulate these anodized ITO films.” Congratulating Catalina on her work, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM said: “Ultimately, what we are trying to do at CÚRAM is to improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses through the development of new and enhanced implants and devices. It’s fantastic to see how our PhD candidates are contributing significantly to the knowledge base in this area.” To read the full paper entitled ‘Preparation of Cytocompatible ITO Neuroelectrodes with Enhanced Electrochemical Characteristics Using a Facile Anodic Oxidation Process’ in the Advanced Functionalised Materials journal, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adfm.201605035/abstract -Ends-
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
The EU has given funding of €2.5 million, to an NUI Galway spin-out which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Westway Health was set up in 2012 to commercialise a breakthrough antimicrobial technology developed in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. Since its inception, the company has won multiple awards and is bringing to market a product for use in the dairy sector, based on its patented technology. Its novel antimicrobial technologies have a range of applications beyond animal health, including human health and environmental sterilisation, and the funding will be used to advance the development of the company's lead product in development for the treatment of bovine mastitis. The World Health Organisation has said antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. It has pointed out that organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections. Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO of Westway Health, explains further: “The growing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now described as a ‘ticking time bomb’. This could return healthcare to a pre-antibiotic era, where common infections can become fatal. Our solutions are proving effective against all microorganisms we have tested, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.” Westway Health’s innovative approach has been to find an alternative to antibiotics. “The genesis of the idea was knowing that there are other ways to kill bacteria like MRSA. This is done every day around the world using disinfectants for example, or through steam cleaning. What we have been able to develop is a new method of killing bacteria which does not harm living tissue. Our solution is based on a combination of compounds inspired by nature, and if we can develop and scale our solution we believe we can help tackle this global challenge of antibiotic-resistance. Based in NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, Westway Health’s lead product in development is PanaMast™ LC, a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows, with a further product, PanaMast™ DC, for treatment of dry cows in the company product pipeline, collectively a billion-euro market. Speaking about Westway Health’s prospects, Dr Ruairi Friel added: “Our trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from farmers is positive.” The company has specifically focused on the treatment and prevention of bovine mastitis (infection of the udder) which is a major health and economic issue, costing the dairy industry in the EU and US over €3 billion a year. Conventional antibiotics are currently used to treat mastitis. However, this solution has poor treatment outcomes, leading to culling of cows and lost milk revenues, as milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment. Westway Health’s product, PanaMast, is the first non-antibiotic solution meaning farmers can continue to sell milk during and following treatment. As up to 80% of dairy cows exhibit some signs of infections at some stage each year, this will have a major impact on the bottom line of farmers and milk producers. In 2013, the company won the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn Competition and secured a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Award in 2016. -Ends-
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
Online trial of pain self-management programme ‘Pain Course’ is recruiting adults in Ireland living with chronic pain The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting people with chronic pain (pain that has lasted for 3 months or more) to take part in a trial of the ‘Pain Course’, a free online pain self-management programme. The study offers adults living with chronic pain the opportunity to avail of this eight-week Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy course, in the comfort of their own home. The ‘Pain Course’ was developed by a team of experts at MacQuarie University in Sydney, Australia. The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the research team at MacQuarie University, is conducting a research trial of the ‘Pain Course’ with adults who experience chronic pain and live in Ireland. As many people with chronic pain are unable to access specialist pain management services, this course provides people with a programme that teaches them about and how to manage chronic pain, with clinician telephone support, in their own home. Living with chronic pain is very challenging and people affected by it can also struggle with anxiety and depression for very understandable reasons. Chronic pain can significantly disrupt a person’s life. The ‘Pain Course’ provides good information and teaches practical skills such as Thought Challenging, Activity Pacing, and Controlled Breathing, to help manage the impact of pain on a person’s day-to-day activities, feelings of well-being and overall quality of life. A pilot study that examined the acceptability of the ‘Pain Course’ among a small group of adults with chronic pain in Ireland found that most participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the course. Increased understanding of their pain condition and Thought Challenging were identified as being particularly helpful features of the course. All participants found the programme to be worthwhile and would recommend it to others. Feedback was predominantly positive: “I have learned the basics about chronic pain.” “Having this information and using the skills delivered in the course, I find that I think about everything in a different way now.” “The course showed me that I am not alone.” Professor Brian McGuire from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “This important collaboration with colleagues at MacQuarie University who have developed a broad range of online treatment programmes, will enable us to help people in Ireland to have increased access to effective treatment to manage the impact of chronic pain.” Catherine Navin, a clinical psychologist at NUI Galway who coordinates the study, said: “Over 1,000 Australians have completed the Pain Course with very encouraging results and we are hopeful that adults with chronic pain in Ireland will similarly benefit from this treatment.” The study will take place over the coming months. General Practitioners, physiotherapists and psychologists are also encouraged to refer suitable people with chronic pain to the study. Participants can register at: www.nuigalway.ie/centre-for-pain-research/current-studies -Ends-