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Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway and Director of the NUI Galway Center for Neuroimaging, Cognition and Genomics, and Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, have been named as two of five new Research Leaders by the Health Research Board. Each Research Leader has developed strong partnerships with different parts of the health sector to conduct research programmes that will deliver evidence to directly inform changes in health policy and practice. Professor Donohoe is aiming to provide psychosocial supports for young people with severe mental health challenges, while Dr Vellinga will provide actionable research to reduce infections and the use of antibiotics. Professor Donohoe’s award is in the area of youth mental health, in collaboration with the National Early Intervention for Psychosis Service. The overarching aim of this research program is to build capacity for evaluating and implementing psychological treatments in young people with mental health difficulties. 75% of all mental health difficulties first occur between 15-25 years of age, but despite this young people have the poorest access to treatment and supports. The more severe of these disorders, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are ranked by the World Health Organisation as a top five cause of years lived with disability. Commenting on the award, Professor Donohoe said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to lead a collaboration with key figures in the Health Service Executive providing early psychosis services, and international experts in youth mental health research. This award recognises the critical need for research-informed services focused on youth mental health, informing implementation of best practice and new discoveries in routine care.” Dr Vellinga was named as HRB Research Leader for her Collaboration to reduce Antibiotic use and Resistance and identify opportunities for improvement and Awareness (CARA) project. In Europe, about 33,000 people die each year as a direct consequence of an infection due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Dr Vellinga said: “Superbugs cause resistant infections which are difficult to treat and pose a serious threat to human health. This programme will combine, link and analyse data from multiple already existing databases about infection, antibiotic prescribing antibiotic resistance and other healthcare- information. The CARA data-infrastructure will be set up with dashboards for other researchers, clinicians, and healthcare workers to visualise relevant and linked data. Using data visualisation, we will be able to identify opportunities to reduce infections and antibiotic use and improve health care.” Dr Vellinga and her team will be working closely with Professor Mathieu d’Aquin from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at the NUI Galway, as well as the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre, Irish College of General Practitioners, DCU, and Imperial College London. Dr Darrin Morrissey, CEO of the Health Research Board: “It is essential that we support health research leaders who can deliver solid evidence to improve decision making, practice and policy in relation topical health issues such as health service reform, mental health and antimicrobial resistance.” The research programs will support a team of researchers over five years, including PhD students, research assistants, and postdoctoral researchers, and provide dedicated academic and clinical time. The total value of each award is €1.5M. -Ends-
Friday, 27 March 2020
New therapies for pneumonia patients being developed Quick profiling of immune response in patients to be researched NUI Galway has begun a comprehensive review of its existing healthcare research to repurpose it to help fight the spread of COVID-19. A team of researchers at NUI Galway is examining an existing study of interventions for patients with community acquired pneumonia which is rapidly being repurposed to examine COVID-19 patients. This study is being revised and repurposed to enable healthcare professionals to offer novel emerging therapies to the sickest patients. A new working group has been established to give healthcare professionals the ability to quickly profile the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. The working group comprises of the University’s top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID. The University’s critical care researchers are working with the Irish critical care trials group and international pandemic research consortia to develop and rapidly implement Clinical Trials in patients with COVID-19 Severe Respiratory Failure in order to test and gain access to novel therapies as they emerge. President of NUI Galway, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “NUI Galway exists for the public good. The Irish people have answered the Government’s call to combat the spread of Covid 19, and the University is mobilising all its academic capabilities to join this global action. While we’re also repurposing our research to combat this crisis, I’d like to pay particular tribute to our medical community, staff and student doctors and nurses who are on the frontline saving lives in our hospitals, nationally and internationally. They making a great contribution throughout the world and our impact is at its most profound through them and their commitment to others. We are deeply grateful to them.” Vice Dean for Research at NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals Professor John Laffey added: “There are several emerging drug therapies for COVID-19, including antivirals, chloroquine and derivatives, steroids and immune modulating drugs. However, the research is at an early stage and further comparative studies are needed to determine their effectiveness before we will know what are the best therapies for COVID patients. Our research focuses on what we already know about virus induced severe respiratory failure and how we can quickly adapt it to make early and effective interventions to save the lives of thousands of people.” Healthcare students at NUI Galway are playing a vital role in the provision of healthcare- in their clinical placement and through volunteering, both in contact tracing and at various testing centres across the city. The Inspire project, led by Professors Martin O'Halloran and John Laffey, is an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway, designed to deliver fast-to-clinic medical devices to support the COVID-19 effort. The Inspire team is composed of over 30 clinicians, medical physicists, engineers and other healthcare staff from UHG, NUI Galway and the local medtech industry. The team have a number of development streams, addressing topics ranging from infection control to improving oxygen delivery to critically ill patients. One notable stream involves the establishment of a video-conferencing system in ICUs, to allow isolated quarantined patients keep in daily contact with their families. This work is supported by IBM, Cisco and Apple. A second project seeks to reduce the infection risk associated with high-flow oxygen delivery, supported by Tympany, Venari Medical and Endowave, amongst others. If successful, this work will reduce the current dependency on ventilators, allowing for more patients to receive life-saving oxygen therapy. A new website called www.covidmedsupply.org has been created by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment. The teams in Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-TMRN, all based in NUI Galway are, with the help of the University Library and colleagues throughout the University and broader research community, supporting a number of prioritised COVID-19 related projects including membership of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team, conducting rapid updates of Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g., personal protection equipment), mapping of COVID-19 evidence and conducting a number of World Health Organisation prioritised rapid reviews of evidence. Other measures being investigated by NUI Galway researchers include; enhancing the capacity of doctors to provide respiratory support for COVID-19 patients; using data to accurately predict modelling and potential trends of the virus and preclinical studies into COVID-19. -Ends-
Thursday, 26 March 2020
Intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system Largest meta-analysis looking at brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia An international collaborative study led by researchers from the NUI Galway provides findings on the neural basis of intelligence, otherwise known as general cognitive ability (IQ). This new research uses an imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to provide an insight into how small variations in this wiring system is associated with differences in IQ in both the general population and how disorders such as schizophrenia manifest. Over 40 scientists from around the world were involved in analysing brain MRI scans and measures of cognitive function of 1,717 participants, with both healthy functions and patients with schizophrenia. This resulted in a new method to harmonise data collection and analysis as part of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis project (ENIGMA), Schizophrenia Working Group. The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, was led by Dr Laurena Holleran, Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience and Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Psychology and Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics. Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Laurena Holleran, stated that: "To date, this is the largest meta-analysis study of brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia. Understanding the neural basis of cognitive function is essential so that effective therapies that address difficulties associated with disorders like schizophrenia, which aren’t targeted by current treatments. This is important because cognitive deficits associated with the disorder strongly predict social and functional outcomes, such as employment or social relationships. “Previous literature suggested that general intelligence relies on specific grey matter areas of the brain, including temporal, parietal and frontal regions. However, the results from this study indicate that efficient connection pathways across the entire brain provide a neural network that supports general cognitive function.” According to the study’s senior author Professor Gary Donohoe: “These results advance our knowledge in a number of ways. Firstly, we have demonstrated that the relationship between brain structure and intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system. Secondly, it’s not just one part of this wiring system that is important for intelligence, but rather the wiring system as a whole. And finally, the relationship between intelligence and the brain’s wiring system is basically the same in patients with schizophrenia and healthy people, in that the lack of pattern explains their cognitive abilities. This suggests that cognitive function in patients is the same as the general population, at least as far as white matter is concerned.” Research at NUI Galway’s Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics focuses on providing a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between genetic, brain structure and environmental risk factors associated with psychiatric disorders. By understanding the neural basis of cognitive deficits, researchers aim to establish whether and how these deficits can be ameliorated by therapeutic interventions, leading to better patient functional outcomes. -Ends-
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
Dúshláin roimh mhic léinn go leor de bharr Éigeandáil COVID-19 D’iarr Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, ar úinéirí réadmhaoine oibriú i gcomhar leis an Ollscoil agus cion agus comhbhá a léiriú i leith mic léinn le linn éigeandáil COVID-19. Rinne an Ollscoil an cinneadh go ndéanfar na ranganna agus na measúnuithe go léir a reáchtáil ar líne as seo go deireadh an tseimeastair. Is in OÉ Gaillimh atá an líon is mó mac léinn ó thaobh scaipeadh tíreolaíoch de thar aon ollscoil sa tír agus moladh do mhic léinn filleadh abhaile ar a muintir féin le linn éigeandáil COVID-19. I gcás roinnt mac léinn níl ar a gcumas filleadh abhaile, agus is cosúil go bhfuil fógraí díshealbhaithe tugtha do mhic léinn reatha. Cé go dtacóidh reachtaíocht nua le mic léinn atá sa chás seo, tá cásanna ann freisin a bhfuil deacrachtaí ag cuid de na mic léinn a d’fhill abhaile de bharr gur fhág siad níos luaithe ná mar a bhí beartaithe, agus tá éarlaisí á gcoinneáil siar uathu. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Ollamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh inniu: “Is tréimhse dhúshlánach í seo dár bpobal uile. D’fhan go leor mac léinn i nGaillimh ag an am seo, mar go raibh orthu. D’fhill go leor eile abhaile, mar go raibh orthu. Tuigeann OÉ Gaillimh an tionchar atá ag COVID-19 maidir le cúram sláinte, cúrsaí sóisialta agus eacnamaíochta ar gach duine dár sochaí. Molaimid na tiarnaí talún a léirigh cineáltas den scoth dár mic léinn. “Is tréimhse í seo ina gcuimhneoimid ar an méid a rinneamar agus ar an gcaoi ar chaitheamar leis na daoine timpeall orainn. San fhadtréimhse, is ar mhaithe linn ar fad é go mbeidh clú agus cáil ar Ghaillimh mar áit fháilteach ina bhfuil meas ar chách. Dá bhrí sin, iarraimid ar úinéirí réadmhaoine a bhfuil ár gcuid mac léinn ina dtionóntaí acu cion, comhbhá agus beagán solúbthachta a léiriú ag an am cinniúnach agus riachtanach seo.” Tá lóistín campas na hOllscoile oscailte i gcónaí do mhic léinn a bhfuil orthu fanacht i nGaillimh, agus tá socruithe i bhfeidhm do mhic léinn a mbeidh orthu fanacht amach ón bpobal más gá dóibh. Chun mic léinn reatha a choinneáil ar an eolas faoi na forbairtí is deireanaí maidir le folláine agus tacaíocht, reáchtálfaidh an Ollscoil sraith seisiún Ceisteanna & Freagraí ar líne, ag tosú le ceisteanna maidir le lóistín. Bí linn Dé hAoine, an 27 Márta idir 11am-1pm áit a ndéanfar do chuid ceisteanna uile a bhaineann le lóistín a fhreagairt ag https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Críoch-
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
Many Students Faced with Challenges Arising from COVID-19 Emergency NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, has called for property owners to work with the University and show care and compassion to students during the COVID-19 emergency. The University has made the decision that all classes and assessments will move online for the remainder of the semester. NUI Galway has the most geographically spread student population of any university in the country and students have been encouraged to return home to their families during the COVID-19 emergency. With some unable to do so, there have been reports of current students being served with eviction notices. While new legislation will support such students, there have also been cases where some of those who have returned home have faced difficulties in leaving earlier than planned, with deposits being withheld from them. Speaking today, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said: “These are challenging times for all our community. Many students have remained in Galway at this time, by necessity. Many have returned home, also by necessity. NUI Galway is mindful of the healthcare, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on all members of our society. We commend the many landlords who have shown remarkable kindness to our students. “This is a time when we will remember what we did and how we were to our fellow human beings. In the long-term, Galway’s reputation as a welcoming, respectful place is in the interests – and to the benefit – of us all. We therefore request that property owners who have our students as tenants in their properties show care, compassion and some flexibility at this time of urgency and need.” The University’s campus accommodation remains open to students who need to remain in Galway, with arrangements in place for students to self-isolate if needed. To keep current students up-to-date on all developments in relation to wellbeing and support, the University is hosting a series of online Q&A sessions, starting with accommodation queries. Join us on Friday, 27 March from 11am-1pm where all your accommodation questions will be answered at https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Ends-
Wednesday, 25 March 2020
NUI Galway and University of Limerick collaboration to help front line clinical staff Researchers at NUI Galway and University of Limerick have designed a new innovative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) emergency supply donation website to connect industry PPE stock to hospitals worldwide. The COVID19 pandemic has overwhelmed the resources of the world’s health systems, often leaving frontline clinical staff without the required PPE, as traditional supply logistic chains lag behind the surge. Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway and Professor of Medical Device Technology, NUI Galway, has developed this innovative solution with his engineering colleague Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick, Ireland to help combat this problem. The new global platform, www.covidmedsupply.org, allows local organisations, such as industry, business, universities, and laboratories, who may have PPE stock in supply to list the categories of what they have on inventory of PPE’s, such as gloves, gowns, goggles etc., with contact details and then drop a map pin to show their geographic location. If a COVID19 surge occurs in their geographic area, for example Cairo, Cork, Calgary, then the local hospital or clinic can simply click on the map of their surroundings and see what emergency PPE/Medical stock is in the vicinity and access it quickly. Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Speaking with my clinical colleagues across the world and looking at the repeating patterns of health supply logistics breakdowns that have occurred as COVID19 surges have swept across the world, it is clear that innovative alternative solutions need to be developed such as www.covidmedsupply.org to enable frontline staff get vital PPE to keep them and their patients safe.” Dr Kevin Johnson said: “Everybody has a role to play in this fight against the COVID19 pandemic – that could be simply to self-isolate, use your skillset to create a website such as www.covidmedsupply.org or donate any surplus supplies you might have to this worthy cause. With so much technology at our fingertips, why not use it for the good of your community. “ For more information visit www.covidmedsupply.org. -Ends-
Thursday, 19 March 2020
Roadmap critical in the COVID-19 crisis An international conference on ‘Inclusive Ageing: The Way Ahead’, recently held in Brussels in conjunction with the European Committee of the Regions, called for governments, civil society, and researchers to commit to reducing social exclusion of older people and addressing the multiple forms of disadvantage that can take hold in later life. The Conference was co-organised by the ROSEnet European research and policy stakeholder network, AGE Platform Europe and the European Committee of the Regions, and featured an opening address by Katerina Ivanovic, Head of the, Social Affairs Unit within the DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion. Launching a Roadmap for reducing social exclusion amongst older people, Professor Kieran Walsh, Chair of ROSEnet and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “We must maximise the commitment of all stakeholders to engage together to combat exclusion in older age, and to advance innovations in policy and practice interventions.” “It is on this basis that we present a roadmap to reduce old-age social exclusion through research and policy. Critically, the roadmap outlines specific actions with respect to: how we should measure and monitor exclusion in later life; the sort of policy we need to reduce disadvantage in older age; and the sort of research areas that need further work. It also helps to prepare us to be responsive to new and unexpected forms of exclusion.” According to Professor Walsh, the COVID 19 outbreak has the potential to become a new source of social exclusion and disadvantage for older adults. “Older people may not only encounter significant risks to their health, but may struggle to access appropriate information on the virus due to digital exclusion. They may also experience disruption to their support and social networks because of the need for restricted face-to-face contact with others.” However, Professor Walsh also stresses: “More critically, in crises such as these where there is a strain on health systems and resources, it is very important that resource allocation does not become solely focused on those who are perceived to be healthier or, even, more ‘productive’. We need to ensure that health care access continues to be based on need, and not on arbitrary age thresholds. Otherwise, we run the risk of problematising ageing and older people, and devaluing their status as equal citizens in our communities.” Social exclusion of older people is a critical issue for public policy, today and into the future. With 101 million older people in Europe, and a projected increase in this population to 149 million by 2050 (Eurostat 2017), demographic ageing will fundamentally determine the capacity to achieve the stated goal of a ‘Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions’. The conference also stressed the importance of how an ageing-related policy must be evidence based, and rooted in the everyday lives of older people. Otherwise concerns over system effectiveness and system sustainability will very much become a reality. Funded by the COST Association, ROSEnet (Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion) aims to overcome fragmentation and critical gaps in research and policy to tackle social exclusion amongst older people in Europe. The Roadmap, along with six briefing papers on different forms of exclusion, can be accessed at http://rosenetcost.com/rosenet-briefing-paper-series/ -Ends-
Thursday, 12 March 2020
Aquila Bioscience, a pioneering Irish company, based at NUI Galway and the Irish Defence Forces have announced a collaboration with to provide Irish Defence Forces soldiers with its groundbreaking Anti-Bioagent Wipe (ABwipeTM). Aquila Bioscience and the Irish Defence Forces have been collaborating on this technology for over four years, with the Ordnance Corps actively engaged in the concept & product trials. Working with the Irish Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the European Defence Agency Aquila Bioscience has developed a novel, safe, effective and environmentally friendly technology to decontaminate surfaces from bacterial, viral and biotoxin threats. ABwipeTM technology serves as a decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and for civilians to significantly reduce and prevent pathogen transmission from person-to-person and therefore reducing the spread, panic and impact of the pathogen, as is the case with coronavirus COVID-19. Aquila Bioscience’s ABwipeTM contains components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, taking advantage of the virus’s own attack mechanism (in this case, carbohydrates and proteins). Because ABwipeTM contains no harmful ingredients, it can also be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (main portal for virus infection). Most existing decontamination solutions contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin, health of the user and to the environment. ABwipeTM technology was developed to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID19 and will help ensure that first responders and emergency workers are kept safe to allow them to react when called upon. Speaking today, Professor Lokesh Joshi, co-founder and director of Aquila Bioscience, and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. The innovative concept resulted in European Defence Agency supported research & development by Aquila Bioscience at NUI Galway and is just now ready for mass manufacture and could be a valuable technology in the fight against the Coronavirus. This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented measures and the DF have committed to the purchase of a consignment of the AB wipes for troop force protection measures.” At this time of global urgency and unknown impact on human lives and economy because of the COVID- 19 pandemic, ABwipeTM will serve as an essential tool in the arsenal against coronavirus to stem its spread and to save lives. For more details see www.aquilabioscience.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org -Ends-
Thursday, 12 March 2020
The “What Works to Prevent Violence” funded by UK’s Department for International Development demonstrates the high cost of Violence against Women An economic cost of over €115,000 for domestic abuse survivors in Ireland NUI Galway today held an event on ‘Violence Against Women and Girls: Accelerating Efforts to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals 5 on Gender Equality’. The event marks International Women’s Day and the close of the What Works to Prevent Violence project undertaken by NUI Galway researchers. The event was a collaboration between NUI Galway and Safe Ireland. The What Works research project which focused on Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development as part of its global programme to prevent violence against women. The research found that violence against women has serious opportunity and productivity costs. Opportunity costs for women including resigning from leadership roles due to stigma relating to intimate partner violence and changing their work patterns in an attempt to reduce violence they experienced at home. The economic costs of violence are particularly high. In South Sudan, the impact of violence on productivity meant that, in effect, employed women in businesses lost 10 working days per year in addition to their usual annual leave. In Ghana, the productivity cost due to absenteeism alone translated into a loss of 1% of Ghana’s GDP due to violence against women, an extraordinarily high figure. The study’s lead researcher, Dr Nata Duvvury from Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway, concluded: “The cost of inaction - doing nothing or not doing enough to prevent violence- is a huge economic burden on not only women but also the wider economy, impacting potential for growth. Governments must be cognizant of the invisible costs violence imposes on countries, a cost that can be wiped out through effective action.” These impacts are also seen in Ireland. Further research conducted by Safe Ireland and NUI Galway found that the total average economic cost of domestic abuse in Ireland to a survivor was €115,790, from the onset of the abuse to their initial recovery. Today’s event emphasised that all governments, including the Irish government, should take a number of new steps to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in relation to gender equality. These steps should include collecting data on a regular basis on the prevalence of violence against women and girls and its costs; to integrate these costs into social and economic policy-making and budgetary planning to ensure Government scale-up prevention efforts; and a comprehensive package of measures to respond to and prevent the levels of violence against women in Ireland. Sharon O’Halloran, CEO, Safe Ireland reiterated the social change agency’s call for violence against women to be a top priority in the new Programme for Government in order to begin to meet the SDG targets of 2030. “Through prioritising a comprehensive programme which includes a focus on prevention to tackle the root causes of violence, as well as investing in appropriate infrastructure to respond effectively to survivors, we can begin to systematically erase the structural barriers which keep women, and their children trapped in controlling and abusive relationships. This joined-up approach would also address the social and economic cost to Irish society caused by violence. We know this is achievable, but it needs leadership with the combined effort of all sectors in order to realise the SDGs and make Ireland a more just and equal society.” The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations’ Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, with combatting violence being a core component. ENDS
Wednesday, 11 March 2020
A lecture series at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway featuring new Professors in the College will continue with Personal Professor in the School of Psychology, Professor AnnMarie Groarke, on Thursday, 26 March at 5pm, in the Moore Institute NUI Galway (GO10). In her talk titled ‘What Enhances or Hinders Psychological Adjustment to Chronic Illness for women and men? A programme of research’ Professor Groarke will share findings from her programme of research on psychological adjustment in patients with cancer and arthritis. Given individual variability in response to diagnosis and treatment of illness the focus of this research has been to identify factors that enhance or disrupt adaptation. Specifically, it highlights the importance of stress appraisal and stress management on quality of life. Coping strategies, illness beliefs and psychological protective attributes that are useful and adaptive are also identified. While diagnosis of serious illness is associated with emotional distress, positive psychological change can also occur in the aftermath of highly stressful events. Some findings on when and why this post-traumatic growth might occur for women with breast cancer will be discussed. The potential impact of prostate cancer and its treatment on men’s sense of manhood and identity is also a focus of interest. Implications for patient care and self-management will be considered. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean for Research in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to continue this lecture series which provides a great opportunity for the University to make the general public more aware of the world-leading innovative research and practice being undertaken in the college. This is the tenth speaker in the series which has featured contributions to date in the areas of social policy, education, political thought, online therapies, language transmission, folk song traditions in Irish, historical research, behavioural psychology, and modern Irish literature. We are honoured to now feature Professor Groarke in the series, an academic whose research, particularly with regard to the psychological adjustment to illness, has brought significant advances for patients, including through the development of cognitive-behavioural stress management programmes.” -Ends-
Tuesday, 10 March 2020
Public can now have early alert on toxicity level of national and European air pollution episodes Tuesday, 10 March, 2020: NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has launched a new app to provide real-time forecasting data on atmospheric composition which will shine a light on the key drivers of climate change and air pollution and build on its internationally-recognised Mace Head Atmospheric Research station. The C-CAPS’s Mace Head research centre in Connemara is one of the most important facilities for atmospheric composition observations globally and has been operating as far back as 1958. Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, Professor Walter Gear, said: “We are very proud of the work we do here and its contribution to European health and to informing measures to protect our planet. We are now adding this new app, StreamAIR, that will help to raise further awareness about air pollution and climate issues and their implications.” “Ireland and the world’s future can only be safeguarded by an immediate reduction in harmful emissions. Cleaner air can yield co-benefits for human health and for the planet by reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Meeting our requirements under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is a major challenge for Ireland but by using our technologies here in Galway, Ireland can accurately measure and report the progress it is making.” Mace Head is a member of a number of regional to global networks, contributing data and analysis to a wide range of atmospheric problems. In particular, it is a World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmospheric composition and climate research station, and a European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) supersite with the aim of solving transboundary air pollution problems under the United Nations Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The Centre’s Director, Professor Colin O'Dowd said “The StreamAIR app is an extension of the Mace Head real-time data system, designed to fuse together real-time observation and forecast data on multiple platforms including mobile devices.” Through StreamAIR, NUI Galway and Mace Head not only provide current real-time data to a range of agencies and networks, the Facility has generated some of the most important long-term observation datasets of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such has carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, and ozone depleting substances such as CFCs, along with Particulate Matter (PM), such as sulphate haze producing acid rain. Professor Colin O'Dowd added, “These long-term trends have underpinned successful policy development and intervention in acid rain and ozone depletion issues, but a lot of work still remains for GHG warming agents, driving global warming. In fact, ozone is a double agent - while it is critical to have (stratospheric) ozone high in the sky to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays, at the surface, (tropospheric) ozone is a harmful air pollutant, causing premature deaths and mortality, and also a short-term warming agent (i.e. its lifetime is much shorter that CO2) in terms of global warming. The StreamAIR app brings the polluting agents and global warming agents together into the palm of everybody’s hand, emphasising that both types of agents must be reduced through co-benefit observations, research, and policy development.” Dr Liz Coleman, the Principal Researcher on the project, funded by the SFI MaREI Energy, Climate and Marine research centre, said that the app has the potential to identify the sources of air pollution, as well as the toxicity level of air pollution episodes. This information can be combined with exposure data to better inform the public of the potential risks from a national level to a European scale. This enables users to protect their health by taking necessary precautions when a pollution event is forecasted on the app. The app can be downloaded from the App Store. For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/science/research/macehead/ or watch a video on the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at https://vimeo.com/bbcswcp/download/371385129/d8dbcd983d. ENDS
Thursday, 5 March 2020
A new exhibition, A Sisyphean Task, will showcase the work of four practice-based PhD students at the Burren College of Art. The exhibition will open on Thursday, 12 March from 5-7pm and run until 9 April, Monday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm. Artistic Research is a core part of the academic programme at Burren College of Art. In its PhD programme, which is accredited by NUI Galway, students focus on a research topic which they explore through artistic practice in order to generate new knowledge. Research at the College represents a plurality of approaches to the artistic process, is interdisciplinary and often informed by collaboration across multiple fields. Conor McGrady, Burren College of Art Dean of Academic Affairs and curator of the exhibition, said: “Work in this exhibition highlights the interdisciplinary approach that PhD Students at Burren College of Art bring to investigating the world around them, and to contributing to how we understand and engage with it through the lens of contemporary art.” The exhibition will feature the work of students Qi Chen, Tanya de Paor, Kelly Klaasmeyer and Robbie Lawrence and will investigate a range of chosen research topics. Qi Chen’s research focuses on the combination of portrait, text and documentary film to question or collapse subjective distance between people, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding. Qi has worked as a full-time artist in Hunan Painting Academy and Hunan Province Artists Association, and was the Director of the Young Artists Association of Hunan Province and had the honour of being part of the Great Wall Chinese Painting Distinguished Painters. Tanya de Paor presents research from a series of intergenerational workshops that aim to co- create speculative, fabulated and playful stories about the Anthropocene. Tanya is an artist, researcher and lecturer based in Cork, and her work is concerned with exploring human/nature connections in the neo natural world of the Anthropocene. Her work is multidisciplinary including sculpture, drawing, installation, text and lens based media. Tanya recently presented at the TransCultural Exchange 2018, International Conference for Opportunities in the Arts, in Québec City. Kelly Klaasmeyer’s research enquires into the relationship between painting and story, exploring as to whether an expanded idea of the portrait can enhance our understanding of subjectivity. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States and private collections in Austria, Germany and The Netherlands. She worked as Arts Writer and Art Critic in St. Petersburg, Russia for the St. Petersburg Times and then in Houston, Texas for the Houston Press and various publications. The editor of the online art magazine Glasstire from 2007 to 2013, Kelly was awarded a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship as well as a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing. Robbie E. Lawrence’s research examines painting as a vehicle for understanding and ameliorating Thanatophobia (Existential Death Anxiety). Her practice revolves around observational painting and drawing techniques, using representation to investigate the psychology of the objects and people around her. These careful techniques are used to capture moments of storied depth and sensitivity to create quiet, contemplative spaces. -Ends-
Wednesday, 4 March 2020
University to host international conference for next generation of solar scientists NUI Galway has continued to build on its credentials as one of the world’s leading centres on sustainable manufacturing research having won a €4 million project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, to produce chemicals using solar energy. Part of the project is to train 15 early stage researchers as specialists in using water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen to produce solar chemicals such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. The kick-off conference for the researchers will take place at the end of March in Galway. At present, there is a gap in Europe in the area of solar chemicals production and their usage in industry and mobility. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in an exciting project to power public transport using green hydrogen. An NUI Galway pilot project to produce hydrogen from solar to power the public transport fleet in the Canaries will commence shortly. The latest project, known as SOLAR2CHEM, is led by Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway who is also driving the Canaries’ hydrogen pilot. SOLAR2CHEM includes nine academic organisations and three non-academic partners to provide training programmes on scientific, technical and personal development skills. The programme includes secondments to leaders in solar chemical development including Japan and the United States. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway has committed itself to put Climate Change at the centre of the agenda for the University. We recently developed a five-year strategy to drive radical change in how our economy and society develops underpinned by values, including sustainability, and SOLAR2CHEM shows our capacity to deliver sustainable technologies that deliver for Ireland’s research and development sector, further enhancing our ability to attract foreign direct investment.” Head of SOLAR2CHEM at NUI Galway, Dr Pau Farràs Costa said: “I will be delighted to welcome European colleagues here to Galway on 27 March to begin work on this solar chemicals project. It will help to further establish NUI Galway as Ireland and Europe’s leading university for sustainability. We plan to work hard to deliver an intensive training programme that explores new methods of solar energy conversion to deliver a future supply of sustainable chemicals for the European Union. The EU needs to become leaders in this field and our university will be proud to work with the highest tiers of academics and industry to achieve this.” NUI Galway is involved in over 133 Horizon 2020 projects and has received over €63 million in direct funding from the programme. NUI Galway places a strong focus on providing a supportive and exciting environment for its researchers and was awarded the ‘HR Excellence in Research’ logo by the European Commission. -Ends-
Wednesday, 4 March 2020
NUI Galway researcher John Daly was named PhD Researcher of the Year at the recent Irish Cancer Society Research Awards. John, who is currently doing a PhD with NUI Galway, was presented with the award for his studies into combatting Multiple Myeloma; a type of blood cancer for which there is currently no cure. A past winner of a biomedical research scholarship from the Irish Cancer Society, John’s team has focussed on a type of immune cell called Natural Killer cells that normally destroy cancer cells, but are unable to detect those of Multiple Myeloma. John and his colleagues are attempting to find ways of boosting these Natural Killer cells so that they can successfully detect and destroy Multiple Myeloma cells, in a development that would revolutionise treatment for the disease. Commenting on his award, Daly said: “I’m absolutely delighted, a lot of hard work has gone into this so far, not just from me but everyone in my group, and particularly my supervisor and co-supervisor, Professor Michael O’Dwyer of NUI Galway and Dr Mattias Carlsten, Karolinska Institute. Things like this are really encouraging and motivating for the next couple of years as we try to move our research on.” Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway, said: “I am very proud of John's recent achievements. This is a reflection on his own hard work, the supportive ecosystem in my laboratory, our collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, and of course the generous support of the Irish Cancer Society. John's work is helping to usher in a new era of immunotherapy for cancer, employing the use of genetically modified immune cells called natural killer cells, which we believe have great potential.” -Ends-
Tuesday, 3 March 2020
A study carried out by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has examined the problem of social media overload, which is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of communication and information a person is exposed to through social media channels. The research, which was published in Internet Research, specifically focused on identifying the causes of social media overload amongst users, and how it affects their energy levels. NUI Galway researchers found that the more prone to feeling bored a social media user is, the more likely it is they will feel overloaded by social media content. In terms of consequences, it found that users who report higher levels of social media overload are more fatigued on a day-to-day basis. However, this level of fatigue depends on what the person uses social media for. Using social media as an information source, for example accessing news stories through Facebook and Twitter, amplifies the effects of overload on fatigue levels. In contrast, using platforms liked Snapchat and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family actually diminishes fatigue levels, even when a person is feeling overloaded. Lead author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The use of social media is pervasive across the globe with Facebook alone having 2.7 billion monthly users. While social media undoubtedly provides many advantages to users, researchers are now more closely scrutinising the problematic effects of platforms such as Facebook.” Dr Whelan continued: “Our study finds that social media users who are more prone to boredom are more likely to become overloaded by that content, which ultimately has the adverse effect of depleting their energy levels. While being overloaded by social media has many negative psychological consequences, our findings suggest overload only leads to fatigue when social media is used to source information. Using social media for communication purposes acts as a coping mechanism, enabling users to maintain energy levels even when experiencing overload. Therefore, users need to consider not just the amount of social media they expose themselves to, but also how they use these technologies, if they wish to avoid exhaustion.” To read the full study in the journal Internet Research visit: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/INTR-03-2019-0112/full/html -Ends-