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Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Investigators at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, have demonstrated the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) delivery using a three-dimensional microgel platform, to assist with tissue repair in patients suffering from critical limb ischemia and other peripheral arterial diseases. Peripheral arterial disease is a chronic vascular disease characterised by impaired circulation to the lower extremities. Its most severe stage, known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), puts patients at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, infected and non-healing wounds, amputation, and death. CLI affects millions of patients globally. Advancing age combined with other risk factors such as diabetes and smoking suggests that the condition will only increase in the near future. CÚRAM’s research in innovative ‘smart’ medical devices and implants aims to benefit patients with chronic soft tissue ailments such as CLI, as well as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neural, renal and respiratory diseases. This study, ‘Temporal Changes Guided by Mesenchymal Stem Cells on a 3D Microgel Platform Enhances Angiogenesis In Vivo at a Low-Cell Dose’ published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the most influential journals on scientific progress, illustrates how a low dose of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) embedded in a three-dimensional microgel cell delivery platform, can induce rapid blood vessel regeneration and tissue repair. Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells found in the bone marrow that are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues. Therapeutic factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promote the regeneration of blood vessels. Still, delivery of these stem cells to the patient in isolation and outside of their normal environmental conditions offers only a limited benefit to patients, with issues such as poor graft survival. The delivery of stem cells on an extracellular matrix (ECM)-based platform; however, changes cell behaviour and enhances the potential for tissue repair, reduces inflammation and further tissue damage. “Our fundamental research adds to current knowledge about cell encapsulation strategies by highlighting the importance of preconditioning or priming the capacity of biomaterials through cell-material interactions. Obtaining therapeutic efficacy at a low-cell dose in the microgel platform is a promising clinical route that would aid faster tissue repair in patients suffering from peripheral arterial diseases such as Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)” said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and lead author on the paper. Further basic investigation of the biochemical nature of the 3-D delivery platform and its influence on the over or under expression of cellular receptors will be the focus of a future study. From a cell therapy point-of-view, the 3-D model platform developed during this research offers a significant benefit over other cell delivery platforms with the use of a twenty-fold lower cell dose than that of the gold-standard used in pre-clinical ischemia studies. This illustrates the importance of preconditioning the MSCs on a 3-D microgel platform that allows the use of a low-cell dose as a localised therapy to reverse ischemia. According to Professor Pandit: “These findings will be increasingly significant, as future studies will investigate ECM-based three-dimensional niches using our platform technology for engineering constructs that will allow replication of native cellular microenvironments for enhancing the regenerative capacity of stem cells. Besides, we are very keen on transferring this technology to the clinic with our clinical collaborators.” The multi-disciplinary research team led by Professor Pandit involved Professor Tim O’Brien, Co-PI at CÚRAM and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, CÚRAM researchers Dr Dilip Thomas, Dr Grazia Marsico, Dr Gianluca Fontana and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa, Dr Arun Thirumaran and Dr Xizhe Chen, Dr Bart Lukasz and Dr Brian Rodriguez from the Conway Institute, University College Dublin and Professor Martina Marchetti-Deschmann from the Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, TU Wien of the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. This research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland and co-funded by the ERDF as well as through EMBO short-term fellowships with use of core-facilities and technical assistance at NUI Galway. The full paper can be accessed at www.pnas.org. For further information, please contact Claire O’Riordan at firstname.lastname@example.org -Ends-
Monday, 27 July 2020
NUI Galway and the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC), affiliated with the Ministry of Education in China, have announced the acceptance of ten Chinese students to pursue a PhD at NUI Galway. Eight of these students have been accepted for PhDs under supervision of academics at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences while a further two students will receive supervision from the School of Engineering. Each of the ten successful applicants will receive full scholarship support. All eight students intending to study at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway will come from Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University and are preparing for careers as academic clinicians. Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University was founded in 1914 and is one of the earliest medical schools to introduce western medicine into China. Following a rigorous selection process in China the students have been chosen after to undertake projects proposed by researchers at NUI Galway. The CSC is the Chinese Ministry of Education’s non-profit organisation that provides support for international academic exchange with China. The CSC provides both funding for Chinese citizens and residents to study abroad, and for students and scholars from around the World to study in China. In welcoming this announcement Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences and Director of the Confucius Institute for Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galwaysaid: “This is the first year of a new partnership with Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University and we look forward to the arrival of these outstanding students in Galway. This partnership will promote joint clinical research between the EU and China. It is proposed that NUI Galway will host an annual symposium for the Chinese Scholarship Council PhD fellows commencing in 2020/2021.” Professor Becky Whay, Vice-President for Internationalisation at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome these students who have gone through a rigorous competitive process to be selected to study with our academic teams here at NUI Galway. We look forward to the outputs of their research and the cultural interchange this scheme provides.” Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and Associate Director of Confucius Institute of Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galway, said at the announcement: “We are grateful to Chinese Scholarship Council for promoting Ireland-China scientific exchanges and to Professor Xiaochuang Wu and Xingcan Zhou at the Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University for initiating this program. We look forward to welcoming the CSC-funded students to NUI Galway and to turning this program into a successful example of friendship and international scientific collaboration.” -ENDS-
Friday, 24 July 2020
Livestock farming contributes one third of Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, posing a unique challenge to achieve a national commitment to achieving net zero GHG emissions post 2050. The EPA-funded SeQUEsTER project seeks to chart potential pathways for Irish agriculture and land use that can deliver net zero GHG emissions. There are a number of challenges and some fundamentally differing perspectives on Ireland’s role in global actions on climate change and food security. To that end, SeQUEsTER will launch The Sequester Journal, a new blog series that will feature high profile national and international experts from academic, social and political spheres. Contributing authors to date include: CCAFS Flagship Leader for Low Emissions Development, Dr Lini Wollenberg; Basque Centre for Climate Change Livestock GHG Modelling Specialist, Professor Agustin del Prado; Professor of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College Dublin and member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Alan Matthews; Molecular ecologist and agro-ecosystem analyst at the James Hutton Institute, Dr Pietro Iannetta; and Life Cycle Assessment Scientist for AgResearch New Zealand, Dr Andre Mazzetto. The series will cover topics related to four themes: The potential role of Ireland’s farm forestry in an EU Green Deal. Opportunities for Ireland’s bio-economy in an EU Green Deal. The importance of a carbon neutral Irish agriculture sector: An international perspective What can Ireland learn from other countries as it transitions agriculture towards carbon neutrality Principal investigator on the project, Dr Dave Styles, who has contributed the blog’s inaugural piece, highlighted the importance of encouraging dialogue, saying: “The significant changes required to meaningfully tackle the climate emergency will entail disruption, challenges and opportunities. There is an urgent need to engage the public in the choices we face if we wish to prosper through the transformations necessary to leave a decent world for future generations to enjoy.” NUI Galway Postdoctoral Researcher and Model Integration Lead, Dr Colm Duffy, also emphasized the need for engagement: “We are acutely aware that we need to effectively communicate our work to all stakeholders, and we are endeavouring to make our work and our research team as accessible as possible.” The Sequester Journal’s first edition will be live from Friday, 24 July, and engagement from the public is welcomed to provide a broad spectrum of perspectives and balance to this crucial debate. To access the blog or find out more about the sequester project visit https://www.plantagbiosciences.org/project/sequester/category/blog/ and follow https://twitter.com/SeQUEsTER_proj on twitter. For more information or to contribute an article to the blog contact Dr Colm Duffy at email@example.com. -Ends-
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Attendees will hear from a number of experts including Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy of WHO Director General on COVID-19 The Centre for One Health at NUI Galway will launch its Spotlight Series on Monday, 27 July, from 2.30- 4pm with a live online event ‘COVID-19: A One Health Challenge’. The One Health concept recognises that human health is linked to the health of animals and the environment we share. It is essential to take a One Health approach to tackle many of the human health challenges we face in today’s world. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have spread from bats via an intermediary host to humans and therefore COVID -19 is an example of a zoonotic disease, which is a disease spread from animals to humans. Professor Dearbháile Morris, Director of the Centre for One Health and Head of the Discipline of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, NUI Galway, said: “It is estimated that six out of every ten known infectious diseases in humans originate in animals, and three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Therefore is it only by taking a One Health approach that we can adequately address issues such as COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics.” To register for this free event which will be delivered on Zoom visit https://bit.ly/2ZwdARC. For further details, contact Professor Dearbháile Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org. -Ends-
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
The ENLIGHT consortium of nine European universities, including NUI Galway, has been selected in the framework of the second call for "European Universities", the European Commission's pilot program for new multilateral networks. ENLIGHT, the European university Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustainability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation and will receive start-up funding of €5 million. ENLIGHT unites nine universities of Galway, Ireland; the Basque Country, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Bratislava, Slovakia; Göttingen, Germany; Groningen, The Netherlands; Tartu, Estonia; Uppsala, Sweden; and Ghent, Belgium. The nine ENLIGHT universities have set a common goal to fundamentally transform higher education and to empower existing and prospective students with the right knowledge and skills to become engaged professionals and respond to the major, complex societal challenges of the 21st century. The ENLIGHT network embodies the geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe, and aims to make full use of this wealth and diversity to offer new, flexible international study opportunities tailored to individual’s needs. Speaking today, NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “NUI Galway is delighted to further its work with the ENLIGHT consortium. All nine universities are based outside of capital cities and therefore have a particular perspective on the world. Together, we are regional drivers of development, working closely with our cities to tackle societal challenges and see international ambition as a means of maximising regional impact. At NUI Galway, we serve our region best – and respect it – by being open to highest standards of excellence and co-operation. We will benefit from this funding as the consortium will learn collectively to address shared challenges consistent with our values as a university community.” The ENLIGHT universities aim to create new learning formats in which students focus on real social needs together with researchers, citizens and companies. In addition, students will not only given the opportunity to sharpen their knowledge with advanced research, but will also be stimulated to look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline, to think innovatively, work together, deal with diversity and to broaden their horizons within and outside Europe. Vice President International at NUI Galway, Professor Becky Whay commented: “The current pandemic has highlighted the need for international co-operation to tackle global problems, and with our ENLIGHT partners, we are committed to tackling barriers to education that may emerge. We hope that receiving this funding at this time will prove a watershed moment for us to work towards more inclusive internationalisation through online co-operation to tackle shared challenges.” Over the next three years, ENLIGHT will pilot new learning formats across five focus themes: Climate Change, Health and Well-Being, Inequalities, Digital revolution, Energy and Circularity. In the long term ENLIGHT wants to create an open space between the nine universities without barriers for learning, teaching and working together. The ENLIGHT project was realised in close co-operation with the student representatives of all ENLIGHT universities, with the student network continuing to play a central role in addressing the needs of current and future student generations. More information on ENLIGHT is available at https://enlight-eu.org. -Ends-
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Tá OÉ Gaillimh ar na naoi n-ollscoil Eorpacha i gcuibhreannas ENLIGHT Roghnaíodh an cuibhreannas ENLIGHT ina bhfuil naoi n-ollscoil Eorpacha, lena n-áirítear OÉ Gaillimh, sa chreat den dara gairm ar “Ollscoileanna Eorpacha”, clár píolótach an Choimisiúin Eorpaigh do líonraí iltaobhacha. Gheobhaidh ENLIGHT, an Líonra Ollscoileanna Eorpacha chun caighdeán cóir beatha, inbhuanaitheacht agus rannpháirtíocht Dhomhanda a chur chun cinn trí Chlaochlú Ardoideachais, maoiniú tosaigh ar luach €5 milliún. Tugann ENLIGHT naoi n-ollscoil le chéile mar atá ollscoileanna i nGaillimh, Éire; Tír na mBascach sa Spáinn; Bordeaux sa Fhrainc; an Bhratasláiv sa tSlóvaic; Göttingen sa Ghearmáin; Groningen san Ísiltír; Tartu san Eastóin; Uppsala sa tSualainn; agus Ghent sa Bheilg. Cuireann naoi n-ollscoil ENLIGHT comhchuspóir rompu an t-ardoideachas a chlaochlú ó bhonn agus an t-eolas agus na scileanna cuí a sholáthar do mhic léinn reatha agus ionchasacha d’fhonn go mbeidh siad ina ngairmithe tiomanta agus go ngabhfaidh siad i ngleic le príomhdhúshláin chasta na sochaí san aonú céad is fiche. Cuimsíonn an líonra ENLIGHT éagsúlacht thíreolaíoch, chultúrtha agus teangacha na hEorpa, agus cuireann sé roimhe gaisneas iomlán a bhaint as an saibhreas agus as an éagsúlacht seo le deiseanna staidéir ilchineálacha idirnáisiúnta, atá curtha i bhfeiliúint do riachtanais an duine aonair, a thairiscint. Ag labhairt dó faoin ábhar inniu, dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Tá lúcháir orainn in OÉ Gaillimh ár gcuid oibre leis an gcuibhreannas ENLIGHT a chur chun cinn a thuilleadh. Tá lán na naoi n-ollscoil lonnaithe lasmuigh de phríomhchathracha agus tá dearcadh faoi leith ar an saol acu dá bhrí sin. Le chéile, cuirimid borradh faoi fhorbairt ar bhonn réigiúnach, oibrímid go dlúth lenár gcuid cathrach le dul i ngleic le dúshláin shochaíocha agus breathnaímid ar uaillmhian idirnáisiúnta mar bhealach leis an tionchar réigiúnach is mó a bheith againn. In OÉ Gaillimh, is trína bheith oscailte do na caighdeáin bharr feabhais agus chomhoibrithe is airde a dhéanaimid an freastal is fearr – agus a léirímid an meas is fearr – ar ár réigiún. Bainfimid tairbhe as an maoiniú seo mar go bhfoghlaimeoidh an cuibhreannas le chéile maidir le dul i ngleic leis na dúshláin chéanna atá ag teacht lenár luachanna mar phobal ollscoile.” Cuireann ollscoileanna ENLIGHT rompu formáidí foghlama nua a chruthú ina ndíríonn mic léinn ar fhíor-riachtanais na sochaí in éindí le taighdeoirí, saoránaigh agus cuideachtaí. Ina cheann sin, ní hamháin go dtabharfar an deis do mhic léinn cur lena gcuid eolais le hardtaighde, ach spreagfar iad le breathnú thar chríocha a ndisciplín féin, le smaoineamh go nuálach, le hoibriú as lámha a chéile, le dul i ngleic le héagsúlacht agus lena gcuid dearcthaí a leathnú laistigh agus lasmuigh den Eoraip. Dúirt an Leas-Uachtarán Idirnáisiúnta in OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Becky Whay: “Léirigh an phaindéim reatha an gá le comhoibriú idirnáisiúnta chun dul i ngleic le fadhbanna domhanda, agus i dteannta lenár gcomhpháirtithe ENLIGHT, táimid tiomanta do dhul i ngleic le constaicí oideachais a d’fhéadfadh a theacht chun cinn. Agus an maoiniú seo faighte againn ag an am seo go háirithe, tá súil againn go mbeidh sé ina chor cinniúnach dúinn dul i dtreo idirnáisiúnaithe níos cuimsithí trí chomhoibriú ar líne chun dul i ngleic na ndúshlán céanna. As seo go ceann trí bliana, triailfidh ENLIGHT formáidí foghlama nua ar bhonn píolótach i gcúig phríomhthéama mar atá: Athrú Aeráide, Sláinte agus Folláine, Neamhionannais, Réabhlóid Dhigiteach, Fuinneamh agus Ciorclaíocht. Ar bhonn fadtréimhseach is mian le ENLIGHT spás oscailte idir na naoi n-ollscoil a chruthú ionas nach mbeidh aon bhac ar an bhfoghlaim, ar an teagasc, ná ar an oibriú le chéile ann. Cuireadh an tionscadal ENLIGHT i gcrích i ndlúth-chomhpháirtíocht le hionadaithe mac léinn de chuid gach ollscoil ENLIGHT, agus tá ról lárnach ag an líonra mac léinn i gcónaí maidir le haghaidh a thabhairt ar riachtanais na glúine reatha mac léinn agus na glúine a leanfaidh ina diaidh amach anseo. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoi ENLIGHT ar fáil ag https://enlight-eu.org. -Críoch-
Monday, 20 July 2020
Friday 17 July: Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, has been appointed as UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. The position will focus on the human rights of victims of trafficking in persons, and Professor Mullally was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, following an open competitive selection process. As Special Rapporteur Professor Mullally will be responsible for taking action on human rights violations committed against trafficked persons and on situations in which there has been a failure to protect their human rights and to take effective preventive action. She will undertake country visits in order to study the situation in situ and formulate recommendations to prevent and/or combat trafficking, and protect the human rights of victims of trafficking in specific countries and/or regions, and will also submit annual reports to the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. She will also present to the UN Security Council on the links between human trafficking and armed conflict. Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts with mandates to report and advise on human rights, and are a central element of the United Nations human rights machinery. Professor Mullally said: "Human Trafficking is a serious violation of human rights, often targeting people living in poverty, victims of discrimination, and people fleeing situations of armed conflict or persecution. COVID-19 has limited access to critical support services for victims of trafficking, and deflected resources away from preventive action. Closures of borders and limited access to safe, regular migration, combined with increases in unemployment and poverty, all increase risks of sexual, labour and other forms of exploitation. Children who are increasingly in online environments and not attending school regularly, are particularly at risk of trafficking. "It is critical now that effective protection measures are taken to vindicate the human rights of victims of trafficking, and that Governments and the international community take seriously their obligations to prevent human trafficking." Professor Mullally was previously a member and President of the Council of Europe monitoring body, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Persons. She is a member of the National Group of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague. In 2009-19, she was a Fulbright Scholar and Senior fellow in residence at the Gender and Sexuality Law Center at Columbia University. She has also held visiting positions at Harvard Human Rights Program, Cornell Law School, National Law School of India University and University of Peshawar. She served as a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission from 2014-19 and Chairperson of the Irish Refugee Council 2006-8. She has undertaken human rights advisory roles in many parts of the world, in conflict and post-conflict settings, working with UN bodies and civil society organisations. She has published widely in the fields of gender and human rights, migration and refugee protection.
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Three NUI Galway start-ups, Feeltech, Nua Surgical, BlueDrop Medical, are among the 2020 winners of Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s (HIHI) call for innovative ideas from companies, start-ups and SMEs. The nationwide health innovation competition is directed at companies who have an innovative product, solution or service that are at pre-commercial or late development phase with the potential to significantly impact Irish healthcare. FeelTect’s technology, Tight Alright, is a wireless, pressure sensing device for measuring and monitoring sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy, primarily for the millions of people worldwide with venous leg ulcers (VLUs). Venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds that stem from venous insufficiency, which affects the circulation of blood to the lower limbs. The tiny valves that normally force blood back up towards the heart no longer function, causing blood to pool up in the legs, and the veins of the legs become distended, resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs. NUA Surgical are developing Stericision, a novel medical device in obstetrics to make caesarean delivery a safer and superior surgery. The project has received significant support and funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund which will assist the team in taking the unmet need from idea through to concept and design development, in preparation for establishing a new MedTech start-up company. Bluedrop Medical is focused on developing and commercialising an internet of things enabled device which can predict the formation of diabetic foot ulcers. Bluedrop Medical’s device can enable diabetic foot ulcers to be detected early; when treatment is easier and outcomes and costs are greatly improved. The home based system performs a daily scan of the patient’s feet and sends the data to the cloud for analysis through advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities. By detecting skin damage early, the technology could enable healthcare providers to prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations, improving lives and significantly reducing costs. There were 15 ultimate winners with strong competition amongst this year’s entries. HIHI will now match the winning companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in an Irish clinical setting. These pilot and clinical validation studies provide critical test beds to support Irish companies going to market and can identify any further refinements in the development cycle. The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar said: “Irish start-ups are working at the cutting edge of healthcare, coming up with innovative solutions to improve the patient experience and patient outcomes. These successful 15 innovators have been chosen for their use of technology to make it easier for patients to manage chronic conditions, and to help with early diagnosis and prevention. I wish them the very best. The Government will continue to promote and invest in the life sciences sector, for the benefit of our economy and our wellbeing.” Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said: “HIHI has done tremendous work over the last number of years in bringing industry and the health service together to validate innovative products and services. Innovation is essential as we reimagine our health service and implement Sláintecare and I am pleased to see the wide range of ideas put forward, including in the area of digital health, that have been successful in this call. The strength of the Hub is in collaboration and in developing enduring partnerships – both with industry and importantly with the health services - these are key to its success. I wish all concerned well in the implementation of these ideas.” Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group, commented: “NUI Galway and Saolta University Health Care Group are happy to host the Galway component of HIHI, which is a major element of the medtech system in the West of Ireland. HIHI is a major part of the link between academia, business and clinic, a partnership which is so crucial to the translation of innovative ideas for patient and economic benefit.” HIHI is a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation. Its activity is strengthened through the support of Enterprise Ireland and the HSE. HIHI offers companies the opportunity for pilot studies and provides the health service with access to innovative products, services and devices. Since it was launched in September 2016, HIHI has managed 300 company engagements, 193 of these have resulted in follow-up support activities and 60 of these have developed into active projects within the Irish healthcare system. HIHI also recently triaged almost 200 innovative healthcare solutions through its Covid-19 Innovation Portal. Irish companies are developing innovative healthcare solutions for patients at home and internationally, by supporting these companies through HIHI, we are strengthening our economy while improving patient care. For further information on the winning companies visit https://hih.ie/engage/health-innovations-2020/ -Ends-
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
NUI Galway Clinician Scientist Dr Emer McGrath has been awarded a Clinician Scientist Fellowship as part of the Health Research Board (HRB) €3.7 million investment in twelve new Health Research Fellowships. Dr McGrath was awarded €655,524 for her research into blood-based biomarkers for early detection of preclinical neurocognitive disorders. The Clinician Scientist Fellowships are designed to support health and care practitioners as they transition towards research leadership, while balancing their clinical commitments. The award to Dr McGrath will fund a new Academic Consultant Neurologist post based at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital. Dr McGrath will lead a large, international, cross-collaborative research study involving a team of investigators based at the HRB-CRFG, NUI Galway, the Framingham Heart Study, Boston University, the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Canada, Trinity College Dublin and the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas San Antonio. Speaking about the fellowship Dr McGrath said: “Dementia is a major health problem and a significant contributor to death and dependence worldwide. Often by the time a person shows signs of the disease, irreversible brain injury has already occurred and the opportunity for early disease modification has been missed. If we could identify people at high risk of developing dementia at an early, preclinical stage (e.g. by detecting elevated levels of proteins or biomarkers in the blood) we would have the greatest opportunity to prevent this disease.” In an innovative programme of research, the research team will investigate selected promising blood-based biomarkers and determine whether these biomarkers vary in people with and without features of early stage dementia on specialised brain scans, and whether these biomarkers can predict who will develop dementia in the future using the large, international PURE study. The results of this research will be used to develop a risk score for predicting an individual’s risk of developing dementia in the future. The results of this research are expected to have important public health benefits including: development of a risk score which can be used to calculate a person’s likelihood of developing dementia in the future; tailoring approaches to treatment based on an individual’s biomarker signature; and improving the ability to find new treatments for dementia, by allowing better selection of individuals for clinical trials. Dr Annalisa Montesanti, Programme Manager, HRB said: “These postdoctoral awardees have come through a very competitive process and represent the very best of the new crop of health researchers working in the Irish health research system. The standard was so high that the international review panels for each fellowship scheme could have recommended more applications for funding if budget had been available. These are significant achievements in these researchers’ careers.” The HRB awards were made under two postdoctoral training schemes, Applying Research into Policy and Practice Fellowships, and Clinician Scientist Fellowships. Seven of the awards were made under the Applying Research into Policy and Practice scheme. Five of the awards were made under the Clinician Scientist Fellowship scheme. -Ends-
Monday, 13 July 2020
Throughout the month of June, the Accountancy and Finance department at NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics held their annual ‘KPMG-led Summer School in Data and Analytics’ and their inaugural ‘Disruptive Technologies Summer School’. The summer schools are co-ordinated and delivered by academics and programme directors, and are on offer to students currently enrolled in all three of the postgraduate programmes within the department: The Master of Accounting; MSc in Corporate Finance; and MSc International Accounting and Analytics. Speaking following completion of the 2020 KPMG Summer School in Data and Analytics, Laurence May, Head of KPMG in Galway, and Adjunct Professor in Accounting and Finance at NUI Galway, noted: “This year’s Summer School was the third year of our partnership with NUI Galway on delivery of this programme, with it going from strength to strength each year. The programme was mainly classroom based in its first two years, but in response to the measures introduced to mitigate the impact of the global pandemic, we switched to an online delivery model this year. We were very pleased with how well this went, with the revised online programme being very well received by participants. I would like to thank NUI Galway Faculty Staff and our guest lecturers, including many colleagues from KPMG, for their flexibility and commitment to delivering the programme in these challenging times.” This year’s KPMG Summer School guest speakers included: Helen Kelly, KPMG; Conor Clifford, Medtronic; Mathieu D’Aquin, NUI Galway; Mark Gantly, NUI Galway; Marie Joyce, NTR; Giovanni Tummarello, Siren; Joe Smyth, Genesys; Niamh O’Brien, KPMG; and David Cunningham, Sedicii. Andrea Crean, Lecturer in Accountancy and Finance at NUI Galway and co-coordinator of the programme, said:;”At the start of this year, in conjunction with KPMG, we were planning for the third year in-house running of the KPMG-led Analytics in Accounting and Auditing Summer School. In mid-March, due to a global pandemic and the restrictions that ensued, our summer school was switched from an on campus to an online delivery model. With the expertise of Laurence May and his team in KPMG, and the excellent range of guest speakers who were only happy to accommodate the running of this online platform, this made the transition to the first virtual KPMG Summer School seamless. The delivery was hugely successful with fantastic feedback from participants. It is ironic that, while many elements of the summer school focus on the benefits of technology in this current era, without the use of this technology, the switch from in-class to online delivery would not be possible.” The second Summer School held recently, was the first ever Disruptive Technologies Summer School designed and delivered by NUI Galway Lecturer in Accounting Sharon Cotter, who said: ”The rapid scale of development and adoption of techniques such as robotic process automation, machine learning, and powerful data analytics tools means that accountants today and in the future, need to be tech savvy as well as proficient in fundamental accounting concepts in order to survive and thrive as trusted business partners.” Guest speakers for the Disruptive Technologies Summer School included: Don Hicks, Grant Thornton; April Morris, California State University; Marsha Maly, Intuity Technologies; John Munnelly, Chartered Accountants Ireland; Cathal Nolan, PWC;, Seamus Conaty, PWC; and Paul Doyle, Hewlett Packard. More information on the programmes offered by NUI Galway Accountancy and Finance department can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/cairnes/subjectareas/accountancy-finance/. -End-
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) has bestowed NUI Galway’s Professor Brian McStay with the lifetime honour of EMBO membership in recognition of his achievements in the life sciences, it was announced today. Professor McStay graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a BA in Genetics and from University of Edinburgh with a PhD. After post-doctoral research in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Seattle USA, he then started his own research group in the University of Dundee. Since 2008 he has been a Professor in the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway. Speaking after today’s announcement, Professor McStay said: “I am delighted that the work in my laboratory at the Centre for Chromosome Biology on the inner workings of the nucleolus in human cells has been recognised by my peers.” Professor Noel Lowndes, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Biology and a member of EMBO since 2003, said: “I would like to welcome Brian as NUI Galway’s second elected member of EMBO. Brian is now just one of seven others in Ireland who are members of the organisation. Election to the membership of EMBO is the highest honour within European life sciences ranging from Bioinformatics to Zoology and I am delighted to welcome my Centre for Chromosome Biology colleague to the membership.” EMBO Members actively participate in EMBO initiatives, for example by serving on EMBO Council and committees, by mentoring young scientists, or supporting activities such as the promotion of sound science policy. Members also guide and support the organisation in ensuring the highest quality in the selection of future members, postdoctoral fellows, and courses and workshops. “The new Members have contributed to the success of research in the life sciences in Europe and around the world,” said EMBO Director Maria Leptin. “As EMBO Members they can help to shape the future through EMBO’s work to support talented researchers, bring ideas together, and promote an international research environment conducive to excellent science.” -Ends-
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
Tá mac léinn óg ón gCeathrú Rua ar dhuine de ghrúpa mac léinn ón BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge) in Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh a bhain duais don iriseoireacht raidió trí Ghaeilge amach ag na Smedias le gairid. Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge atá ag riaradh na céime seo a chuireann béim láidir ar an gcraoltóireacht bheo agus taithí phraiticiúil a thabhairt do na mic léinn. Fuair an grúpa d’ochtar an duais aitheantais seo don chlár Coolchaint a craoladh ar stáisiún na hOllscoile Flirt Fm ar an 3 Márta i mbliana. “Is iontach an t-aitheantas é seo do na mic léinn go háirithe”, a dúirt duine dá dteagascóirí Norita Ní Chartúir. “Tuigeann muid an tábhacht a bhaineann leis an taithí seo a roinnt le mic léinn óga agus iad a spreagadh i dtreo na craoltóireachta trí Ghaeilge sa todhchaí. Tá aitheantas ag dul freisin do mo chomhghleacaí Fionn Ó Sealbhaigh a dhéanann cúram do chúrsaí fuaime agus teicniúla.” Cúrsaí imirce, Brexit agus an fhoireann peile Gaeil na Gaillimhe a bunaíodh sa mbliain 2016 i nGaillimh a bhí á bplé sa gclár buacach seo. Is é an t-imreoir rugbaí, réalt óg na Ceathrún Rua, Colm De Buitléar a láithrigh an clár. Craoladh an clár seo mar chuid den chraoladh nádúrtha a dhéantar sa gcéim seo idir mhic léinn bhliain 2 agus 4. An aidhm atá leis an gcraoladh seo ná mic léinn a chumasú don saol craoltóireachta. Déantar sin trí sárscileanna praiticiúla a thabhairt dóibh sa gcraoltóireacht raidió. Ceithre bliana a mhaireann an BA (Cumarsáid & Gaeilge). -Ends-
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
School of Education lecturer to become first NUI Galway General Editor of Ireland’s principal educational research journal Dr Tony Hall, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology and Deputy Head NUI Galway’s School of Education, has been appointed the new General Editor of Irish Educational Studies, the official research journal of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI), and Irish educational research community. Founded in 1981, the journal covers all aspects of educational research, including the history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and technology of education. IES publishes research from across all sectors in Irish education and internationally: early years, preschool and primary education, secondary, further, post-compulsory and third-level education; and the broad repertoire of educational research methodologies. The international profile of the journal has grown in the last decade, with c.50% of citations outside of Ireland, and a significant increase in its impact factor this year. Dr Hall’s appointment marks the first time that a NUI Galway academic will serve in the chief editorial role for Ireland’s flagship educational research publication. Speaking of his appointment, Dr Hall said: “I am delighted to take up the role of General Editor of Irish Educational Studies. I would like to acknowledge the work and support of the previous General Editors, Professor Paul Conway and Dr Aisling Leavy, and the support and efforts of all editors, reviewers and contributors to the journal over the almost 40 years since it was founded. Working with the IES Editorial Board, the ESAI President and Executive, and the Irish and international educational research and teaching community, I look forward to further enhancing the position and profile of IES as the principal scholarly publication for educational research in Ireland.” Welcoming Dr Hall’s appointment, Head of the School of Education at NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc said: “The breadth and depth of Tony’s scholarship positions him as an excellent fit for the role of General Editor. As a colleague and on behalf of all of us in the School of Education we wish him every success in this new role and we look forward to supporting him as he brings the Journal on the next stage of its journey. It is particularly great for the School and the University to have the new custodian of the premium journal on our team at NUI Galway - well done Tony.” Dr Enda Donlon, President of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland, said: “Tony is a scholar of national and international high standing, who brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role. We are delighted to have an academic of Tony's calibre as the next General Editor of Irish Educational Studies, and know he will do a superb job of this over the coming years.” Dr Hall will officially take up the chief editorial role for IES in September 2021, for an initial term of three years. The IES journal is available online at www.tandfonline.com/toc/ries20/current. -Ends-
Monday, 6 July 2020
NUI Galway researchers and company partners have been awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund was established under Project Ireland 2040 and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. Two of the funded projects will see teams at NUI Galway partnering with AuriGen Medical, an NUI Galway spin-out company specialising in electrophysiology and structural heart, dedicated to transforming the management of persistent atrial fibrillation. A third DTIF supported project will see the collaboration between teams at the NUI Galway Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI) and ONK Therapeutics Ltd, also Galway based. ONK Therapeutics is also an NUI Galway spin out who are a clinically focused company who have developed a disease-specific cell product approach to tough to treat cancers. Professors Martin O’Halloran, Adnan Elahi and Leo Quinlan will co-lead the project that will allow the Translational Medical Device Lab (TMD-Lab) to continue and grow its research collaboration with AuriGen Medical. The project will support the development of a novel medical device for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation and ultimately stroke. The project will explore the fundamental science of electroporation on both a cellular and tissue level, while also translating this basic science into a refined and optimised patient treatment. The TMD-Lab has significant experience in ablation, working across Radio Frequency, Microwave and Electroporation technologies, with a range of national and international industry partners. This large three year project will allow the team to further cement its expertise in this growing medical device field, and become a European leader in ablation research. The second project in collaboration with AuriGen Medical will support the development of sensors for monitoring the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, and long-term patient management to prevent stroke and other heart diseases. The sensors and monitoring system will aid in delivering effective treatment and allow for data-driven disease management in associated long-term heart conditions. Led by Professor William Wyns and Dr Atif Shahzad from the Smart Sensors Laboratory, the team will extend its existing expertise and knowledge in the area of novel biosensors and AI driven connected health solutions to deliver on this multifaceted technology challenge. Enterprise Ireland Distruptive Technologies Department Manager, Imelda Lambkin, extended congratulations to Professor Wyns and Dr Shahzad and AuriGen Medical, commenting: "I congratulate AuriGen Medical and their research partners in the Translational Medical Device and Smart Sensors Labs at NUI Galway on their success in the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. Such collaboration between an NUI Galway spin-out company and its high quality academic research teams is exactly what we look for in this Fund, where we are focussed on developing game-changing technologies with the potential to disrupt markets. We look forward to supporting the team in achieving their global ambition of bringing novel cardiac implants to fruition.” Dr Janusz Krawczyk and Professor Michael O’Dwyer will co-lead the DTIF project- Towards safe and effective off-the-shelf cellular therapy for cancer- which will see a collaboration between the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland and ONK Therapeutics Ltd. The project will concentrate on the development of highly potent, safe, standardized, off the shelf therapy using modified Natural Killer cells. Natural killer cells, also known as NK cells, are a type of cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. The modification with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR-NK) will improve their therapeutic efficacy. With the expertise and proprietary technologies of both partners within this consortium, they will develop modified NK cells that may be capable of tackling multiple types of cancer. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group acknowledges the key role of collaborations between NUI Galway and industry for medical advancement: “Funding, like the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, makes it possible for innovative academic teams to partner with local indigenous industry to develop essential medical innovations. It provides the supportive environment for collaborative break-throughs. Galway has extraordinary talent and I look forward to the results of these complex projects.” -Ends-
Monday, 6 July 2020
Have your voice heard in Ireland’s First Annual Youth Mental Health Conference YOULEAD, a mental health research group led NUI Galway’s School of Psychology, is collaborating with SPUNOUT.ie to look for young people to share their opinions on Irish mental health services and supports. These submissions will form part of Ireland’s first Youth Mental Health Conference in the autumn. The first Youth Mental Health Conference will consist of a series of online lunchtime events from 5-9 October, leading up to World Mental Health Day on Saturday, 10 October. Throughout the conference national and international experts will be discussing their understanding of the mental health needs of young people, and the resources young people need. During the week, YOULEAD will dedicate time during one of the lunchtime sessions to presenting the experiences of young people using mental health services/supports in Ireland, with the aim of providing a platform for young people to share their experiences with others. The goal is to showcase multiple voices of young people, reflecting their experience of mental health services. A number of submissions will be performed by actors with the performance being shown online during the conference. As this is a creative piece that will be performed, artistic license might be used. So, words, sentences or quotes, combined with other pieces, may be used to form a cohesive artistic piece. Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “A crucial element for developing the mental health services needing by young people is knowing what they think and what they have experienced. This is as much to identify the positives we can build on as the negatives we should address. We'd like to give as many young people as possible a chance to share their experiences with us.” YOULEAD are asking young people, aged between 18-25 years and living in Ireland, to submit a word, sentences or story on your opinion of mental health services/supports in Ireland. Pieces can include, but is not limited to: What is/was your experience of mental health services/supports? What would your ideal mental health service look like? What advice would you give to someone trying to access support services in Ireland? To submit please complete the YOULEAD form on the SPUNOUT website at https://spunout.ie/opinion/article/share-your-experience-using-mental-health-services-supports. The closing date for submissions is Friday, 31 July. For further information on the first Youth Mental Health Research Meeting visit https://www.nuiglaway.ie/youlead/events. To register for the Meeting visit https://bit.ly/2BkHyit. For further queries please contact email@example.com. -Ends-