Monday, 31 May 2021

As part of EU Green Week, NUI Galway and Pintail Ltd will host a webinar entitled ‘Towards Zero Pollution in the Production of Green Fuels and Chemicals’ on Friday, 4 June, from 10-12.35 CEST (9am-11.35am Irish time). The event will consist of a webinar with presentations from academic and industry representatives of six Horizon 2020-funded projects, including two coordinated by NUI Galway, FlowPhotoChem and Solar2Chem. The aim of the webinar is to raise awareness of the technical solutions that leading European organisations are developing to combat climate change, in particular to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint in the production of green fuels and chemicals. Webinar organiser, Dr Pau Farras Costa of NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry said: “Despite the progress made in decreasing the impact of the industrial sector in Europe, a great challenge still exists in lowering its carbon footprint by progressively substituting the use of fossil fuels. A paradigm shift is needed in the manufacturing of chemical goods and high value added products, where disruptive technologies will play a key role to achieve the climate change targets for 2050. The European Commission is investing in those technologies with the aim to develop negative emission solutions and lower Europe’s carbon footprint. “The coupling of renewable energies with carbon capture and utilisation is one of the envisaged solutions. The research community in Europe is driving this development through a strong collaboration between academia, industry and policy-makers. Solutions for distributed production of chemicals involve direct solar energy conversion technologies, whereas large-scale production requires a more integrated coupling of renewables with catalytic processes. During this webinar, we will examine which technologies are currently under development in Europe with examples from six recently funded projects.” To register for the webinar, or for more information visit bit.ly/3sPJcgI. For more information on EU Green Week visit https://www.eugreenweek.eu/. -Ends-

Monday, 31 May 2021

NUI Galway graduate Eoin Murphy is the 2021 winner of the €2000 Mary Mulvihill Award, the science media competition for third-level students that commemorates the legacy of science journalist and author Mary Mulvihill (1959–2015). Eoin won the top prize for an urgent and moving audio documentary, ‘Black Market Oxygen – The Peru Project’, which examined the contrasting experiences of Ireland and Peru during the Covid-19 pandemic. The piece was inspired by a photograph in The Guardian showing a stand-off between hundreds of impoverished and desperate families attempting to leave Peru’s capital, Lima, on foot to return to their home villages, and riot police, who blocked their path in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The documentary, which Eoin wrote and narrated, is a stark reminder that old age and underlying conditions are not the only factors that exacerbate vulnerabilities to Covid-19. “The incredible speed of innovation, which the scientific community has demonstrated since the beginning of 2020, will only be truly realised in years to come,” Eoin notes. “But what is already clear to see is that the inequality which exists around the world means that the poorest nations are being left behind in their Now in its fifth year, the competition invited entries this year on the theme of ‘Virus’. Entrants were encouraged to consider the concept in its broadest sense – not only in terms of infectious agents, such as SARS-CoV-2, which has come to dominate our lives – but also in terms of computer viruses and other metaphorical uses, notably the media phenomenon of ‘going viral’. The diverse entries included considerations of different aspects of virology, such as human endogenous retroviral sequences, which play essential roles in human biology, and bacteriophages, the viruses that attack bacteria, which have therapeutic potential as next-generation antibiotics, also an analysis of the ‘infodemic’ that has accompanied the present pandemic, and another on the difficulty faced by asylum-seekers in direct provision trying to maintain social distance in over-crowded accommodation. A native of Ennis, County Clare, Eoin is a biochemist, a passionate science communicator and an educator. He currently combines his work as a part-time student on DCU’s M.Sc. in Science and Health Communication with his role as a teacher of biology, mathematics and general science in Ballinrobe Community School, in Ballinrobe, County Galway. He is a former Hardiman and Irish Research Council scholar and has a first class honours degree in biotechnology from NUI Galway and has completed two research MSc. degrees, in cancer and the genetics of Huntington’s disease, but has found himself increasingly drawn to science communication and education. He has taught in England and Canada, as well as in Ireland. He is currently collaborating with the British Council on a pilot science communication programme for transition year students. He also co-presents an Instagram TV show, @2baddadstalkscience, and has contributed articles to headstuff.org, Siliconrepublic.com, RTE Brainstorm and the British Council’s Voices magazine. “The judges were greatly impressed with the volume and variety of this year’s entries,” said Anne Mulvihill, a sister of Mary’s and a member of the judging panel from the inception of the competition. “Eoin Murphy’s excellent audio piece was a unanimous winner and, given that Mary did a lot of audio work, it’s additionally fitting that the piece is in this medium. There was also consensus amongst the judges on giving the highly commended award to Matthew Thomas’s strong essay. We congratulate both winners and send our thanks and appreciation to all the entrants who took part in this year’s competition.” The Mary Mulvihill Award is a project of The Mary Mulvihill Association, an initiative established by the family and friends of the late Mary Mulvihill (1959–2015) to honour her memory and her work in science journalism, science communication and heritage, and to promote her legacy. It administers and awards funds to support projects that commemorate her work and its significance. Further information: https://marymulvihillaward.ie/. -Ends-

Friday, 28 May 2021

Sinéad Burke, Founder of Tilting the Lens, will deliver keynote address The world’s largest Disability Law Summer School focusing on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place virtually from 31 May - 2 July. The Summer School, hosted by NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy, will focus on Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Access to Culture, Recreation, Leisure and Sport for People with Disabilities. This year the Summer School will take place over five weeks with the programme containing a mixture of specially pre-recorded content, live panel discussions, interactive events, comedy sets, and a DJ’d dance party.  Sinéad Burke, disability activist and Founder of Tilting the Lens, will deliver the keynote address focusing on the right to participate in cultural life and how this right can be achieved in practice for disabled people. Over the five weeks speakers, many of whom have been directly and actively engaged in drafting and implementing the UN Convention, will include: Robert Martin of the United Nations Convention for Rights of People with Disabilities Committee Comedian Rosie Jones Irish author Louise Nealon Jess Thom from Tourettes Hero Playwright Rosaleen McDonagh Professor Eilionóir Flynn, Director of Centre for Disability Law and Policy and Co-Director of the Summer School, said: “The global pandemic has highlighted new ways to make culture more accessible, for example, through live streaming of cultural events. Nevertheless, disabled people are still excluded from accessing culture in different forms and much work remains to ensure full and meaningful participation of disabled people in all forms of cultural life. The summer school aims to bring together those who are leading in establishing cultural rights for people with disabilities, advocates and human rights experts in order to learn from each other – and develop ideas in this crucial area.” Co-Director of the Summer school, Maria Ni Fhlatharta of NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy, said: “Access to culture is so often forgotten about when we talk about human rights, but it forms such a crucial part of our lives – from sport to concerts to play as children. I am really excited about the programme this year, we have a diverse range of speakers with some really incredible artists, academics and human rights activists.” Registration for the Summer School is still open and further information is available at  https://bit.ly/3fLHh8s, or contact Sharon Hegarty at 087 7987254, Joanna Forde at 086 4181673, or email disabilitysummerscho@nuigalway.ie  -Ends-

Thursday, 27 May 2021

NUI Galway study confirms that the Noble False Widow spider does have public health implications Research team have established a DNA database to allow clinicians dealing with cases to confirm the species identity using genetic analysis Epidemiology of bites reveals that almost all bites occurred in and around the home, and 88% of bites occurred when the victim was either asleep in bed or when the spider was trapped in clothing In parts of Ireland and Britain, the False Widow spider has become one of the most common species of spiders found in and around urban habitats A team of scientists from NUI Galway have published a new study showing that Noble False Widow spiders can deliver a bite that requires hospitalisation. The threat posed by the Noble False Widow spider has been debated among spider and healthcare specialists for many years. This new study, published in the international medical journal Clinical Toxicology, confirms that some bite victims experience symptoms very similar to the true black widow spiders and some severe cases require hospitalisation. Originating from Madeira and the Canary Islands, the Noble False Widow spider Steatoda nobilis, now has the potential to become one of the world’s most invasive species of spider. It was first documented in Britain over 140 years ago, but in recent decades the species has suddenly increased in numbers, significantly expanding its range and density. The reasons behind this sudden expansion are not clear. Scientists have ruled out climate change as the likely cause but have suggested that a new genetic mutation within the species may have made Noble False Widows more adaptable to new environments. In addition, the species has benefited from an ever-increasing  globalised economy, hitchhiking in containers and crates throughout the globe. Human movement has largely contributed to spread this species throughout Europe, North Africa, West Asia and parts of North and South America. In parts of Ireland and Britain, it has become one of the most common species of spiders found in and around urban habitats. With the increase in False Widow spiders around homes, bites are becoming more prevalent, and scientists are now beginning to realise the full medical importance of these spiders. Envenomation symptoms can be both localised and systemic, ranging from mild to debilitating pain and mild to intense swelling. Some victims have experienced tremors, reduced or elevated blood pressure, nausea and impaired mobility. In rare instances, victims have developed minor wounds at the bite site or had to be treated for severe bacterial infections. The research team at NUI Galway have established a DNA database to allow clinicians dealing with cases to confirm the species identity using genetic analysis. This is especially important when the spider has been squashed so an accurate identification of the spider can be made. The study also provides epidemiology of bites which reveals that almost all bites occurred in and around the home, and 88% of bites occurred when the victim was either asleep in bed or when the spider was trapped in clothing. The team are encouraging members of the public to email them at falsewidow@nuigalway.ie if they think they may have been bitten. Dr Michel Dugon, Head of the Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway and senior author of the study, said: “In addition to their medically significant venom, Noble False Widows are extremely adaptable and competitive in the wild. Two decades ago, this species was almost unknown in Ireland, the UK or in continental Europe. We still have much to learn about its genetics, origin, behaviour and development. One thing is certain though: this species is here to stay, and we must learn how to live with it.” Dr John Dunbar, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway and lead author of the study, said: “Speculations around the potential severity of the bites by the Noble False Widow have been debated for many years. We only compiled envenomation cases where we had a clear identification of the spider responsible for the bite. We had to rely on DNA extraction and genetic profiling to confirm some cases. We are encouraging people to capture a photograph of the spider immediately after being bitten. Our latest study confirms without a doubt that Noble False Widows can cause severe envenomations (the process by which venom is injected). “This species is increasing its range and population density which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in bites (since submitting our study in March we have already received further confirmed bite cases). While most cases will have a mild outcome, we need to continue to closely monitor bites by the Noble False Widow to understand the potential range of symptoms and to treat severe cases when they occur.” Aiste Vitkauskaite, MSc student in Toxicology at NUI Galway and joint lead in the study, said: “Approximately ten species of Irish spiders have fangs large enough to bite through human skin, yet over the past five years, we have never heard of anybody being bitten by any of the native species. Within the same period, we have recorded dozens of confirmed or probable False Widow bites. These spiders will become increasingly common and so will their bites.”  Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician, University Hospital Galway said: “This innovative research led by Dr Dugon and his team clearly demonstrates that Noble False Widow spider bites may result in significant patient morbidity that requires hospital care. This is important as previously we only had anecdotal evidence of its potential harms in victims and therefore this new evidence will allow the updating of clinical guidelines and protocols. These findings demonstrates the key importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists and clinicians to improve patient care.” The full study in Clinical Toxicology is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2021.1928165. -Ends-

Thursday, 27 May 2021

The Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Canada will host the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Lecture, in partnership with the Ireland Canada University Foundation, with President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, as part of the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Lecture Series. From afar, a beacon provides light, guidance and hope in challenging times. The D’Arcy McGee Beacon Fellowship facilitates such critical connection over distance. This programme enables leading Irish and Canadian academics, researchers and thinkers to connect online, in a programme of activity designed to nurture and develop strong and fruitful collaborations which will enrich connections between both countries. The inaugural Beacon Lectures by Dr. Mary McAleese (President of Ireland, 1997-2011) and the Honourable Jean Charest (Premier of Quebec, 2003-2012), took place in 2020. In 1963, while touring Ireland, then-president of the United States John F. Kennedy commented, "if your eyesight is good enough, and the weather is clear enough, you can see Boston." Not true, “In fact, geographically it is Newfoundland. So the connections between Ireland and Canada have always been strong,” says Professor Ó hÓgartaigh. On Friday, 28 May, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh will discuss the influence third level institutions have in diversifying local economies. Ó hÓgartaigh will demonstrate how NUI Galway is a prime example of how post-secondary education directly impacts the regional economy. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh will also deliver two additional online workshops for the Mount Royal University community, offering perspectives on NUI Galway’s development as a bilingual University and on creating global citizenship. Galway and the west of Ireland, like Calgary and Alberta, is familiar with rotating industry demand. As Western Canada translates into a more diversified economy, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh will share his own experiences and will talk about how the Galway region has successfully adapted to industry needs, with third level education playing a major role. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh says: “To me, one of the things universities do is, if you link with your hinterland, that's a reason for students to come. And when students come to your university and stay, then they create a broader talent pool, which makes the hinterland stronger, which makes a reason to come to the university, which then makes the university and the hinterland stronger. So it's a virtuous circle that universities create, which is a different type of diversity, which makes for a more diverse talent pool.” In the 1970s and 1980s, Galway was home to roughly 20,000 or 30,000 residents. Today it’s now above 80,000. “Where did that other 30,000 to 40,000 come from? Mainly from outside Galway, and we're one of the more diverse cities, certainly in Ireland. So any diversification with universities brings in a broader or more diverse talent pool”, adds Professor Ó hÓgartaigh. Brian Traynor, Acting Dean of Mount Royal’s Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, says: “Professor Ó hÓgartaigh has an international reputation as a leader in Irish universities and the Irish language. When we discussed the possibility of applying for the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Fellowship, we found there are strong parallels between NUI Galway and Mount Royal University. We are confident that strong relationships can be built between both universities. Future possibilities could include: student study abroad opportunities, faculty exchanges, and shared learnings around community engagement.” The additional workshops, related to the role of the Irish (Gaelic) language and educating global citizens, will be focal points of discussion. Traynor says that was one of the underlying reasons for developing relationships with Galway. Profssor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh has worked in Boston as a Fullbright Scholar as well as in Wellington, New Zealand, as a faculty member, and has also previously worked in France. “I think more and more now, we see the importance of citizenship and the role of the university in society, and not just the economy. In Europe we have the Erasmus program, in which our students travel from our university into other countries for a semester, at least, sometimes a year. And there is a view that the program has really created a very strong European citizenship, and a very strong sense of understanding between students, and, ultimately graduates.” NUI Galway has a long history of leading social change and serving the population of Western Ireland to help transform the economy while keeping a strong emphasis on its cultural heritage, and it plays a particular role serving the social, economic and cultural needs of its region as a university with an international reputation and reach. To attend the lecture by Professor Ó hÓgartaigh on 28 May entitled 'The influence of universities in diversifying and strengthening local society and economy - case study NUI Galway' register at: https://bit.ly/3vonF0s. -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Two NUI Galway students, Elizabeth Hunt and Harry King, are part of an Irish third level student team who will present their project on fast fashion at the Climate and Community Conference, hosted by The Institute of International and European Affairs and the Embassy of France In Ireland, on Thursday, 27 May. The project entitled ‘Know your Label’ was created by a team of four students, Elizabeth Hunt and Harry King from NUI Galway, and Orla Murphy from DCU and Evan Mahony from UCD. The project came about in March this year when a Climathon volunteering event was organised, aided by the ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme in NUI Galway. At the end of a month-long project, teams from different universities around the country presented their ideas to a panel of judges, with the aim of coming up with an initiative around the areas of climate and sustainability. Based on the UN Sustainable development goals 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action), ‘Know your Label’ is proposing to develop a label that can be placed on clothes to inform the consumer of its environmental impact. The team has designed a label with three key environmental metrics - water used, kilometres travelled, and energy used, that will be displayed with the aim of encouraging consumers and companies to operate more sustainably. They also propose to accompany the label with a barcode that will lead the consumer to an app, which will provide more detailed information around the product. ‘Know your Label’s’ spokesperson Orla Murphy will present the project to a panel with Inna Modja, Land Ambassador, UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, at the conference this Thursday at 11:15am. Harry King, a third year Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience), student at NUI Galway, said: “It has been a privilege and an honour to work with my team on the pressing issue of fast fashion. We are looking forward to the opportunity to have such high-profile figures hear our idea. I have learned so much and the project has ignited my passion for climate action in every walk of life. We hope our idea can have a positive impact in the fashion industry and encourage more transparency.” Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted across the campus to engage with the French Embassy to Ireland in support of their five-week programme for design thinking and innovation towards a sustainability project with a student focus on the campus environment. This national programme gives our students opportunities to connect with a wide variety of students, exposure to a world stage through an international conference and the confidence to make change for impact.” The online event is open to the public. To register or for more information visit: https://bit.ly/3wwZj58. -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Students at St. Nicholas' Parochial School in Galway will imagine, design and create new medical devices inspired from marine life that may aid human health CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Atlantaquaria have been delivering engaging virtual workshops with St. Nicholas’ Parochial School in Galway, together with teaching artist Alison Mac Cormaic. The “Tiny Sea Life, Big Cures” project will culminate in the creation of a large-scale mural on the school building that will be completed this summer. An understanding of the role of marine life in human health is at the heart of the workshops. Educators are discussing marine life in Ireland and the importance of conservation from Galway Atlantaquaria, while CÚRAM researchers are teaching students about marine sources of biomaterials and how they can heal the body. Inspired by the scientific material investigated from the aquarium and CÚRAM, artist Alison Mac Cormaic will teach the students how to imagine, design and create models for devices that may aid human health and recovery. In addition, guest Lecturer Enda O’ Dowd will introduce the Medical Device Design course that he coordinates in the National College of Art and Design Dublin (NCAD). Teaching artist Alison Mac Cormaic explains: “We designed the workshops to encourage maximum creative input from the 5th and 6th class students at St. Nicholas’ Parochial School. In the art section of the workshops, they draw for design, using their imaginations to think like medical device designers and develop different ideas. Their drawing and design skills are used to imagine brand new products that have never been designed before - who knows where all this creativity might lead!” Alison will create a permanent mural on the outer school wall incorporating students’ designs. Through this cross-curricular co-creation process, students will become aware of their locality and its link to scientific achievements, conservation, and the role of the artist and scientist in our community. Project collaborator Dr Nóirín Burke from Galway Atlantaquaria, says: “The research and innovation happening in CÚRAM is truly fascinating. Working with everyone in this programme, exploring ways in which our health can benefit from the ocean, and considering our role in the ocean’s future has been a pleasure. This is also of particular interest now as we begin the UNESCO Decade of the Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. We are also super excited about seeing the student’s final art piece, which will help share this project with the wider community, through families and the public.” Ms Deirdre Grace, 5th and 6th class teacher at St. Nicholas’ Parochial School, says: “This project has been a real learning experience for the students, they are highly engaged and motivated to learn more about the topics, and they are thoroughly enjoying the experience.” CÚRAM is focused on creating devices that help patients living with chronic illness and runs a very active and varied public engagement programme called 'Breaking Barriers' that aims to engage artists, filmmakers, teachers and the general public in creating new ways of accessing scientific knowledge and research.  Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: "We are always looking for ways for our researchers and members of the public to collaborate and create a better understanding and awareness of our research and its importance for society. This collaboration with the National Aquarium, National College of Art and Design Dublin, Alison Mac Cormaic and the wonderful staff and students of St Nicholas’ Parochial School has been hugely successful and is something we will be building on in the future and hoping to replicate with numerous schools around the country." For more inforamtion about CÚRAM visit: www.curamdevices.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Professor John Morrissey will help lead an extension of the United Nations Human Security Strategy NUI Galway Professor John Morrissey has been appointed International Consultant and Policy Advisor on Human Security in the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations. Professor Morrissey will help lead an extension of the UN’s human security strategy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in a new vision for human development and human security. The UN’s Human Development Report Office is focused on promoting innovative new ideas in the United Nations, advocating practical policy changes, and constructively challenging policies and approaches that constrain human development. Since 1990, the Human Development Report Office has annually published the UN’s Human Development Reports. It is currently strategising to advance more supportive human development programmes in a time of great uncertainty and planetary crisis. Professor Morrissey said: “The mission of the Human Development Report Office is to advance human development through informed interventionary strategy, and I am really honoured to be able to add my research expertise in support of that vital global challenge. The world is facing an inflection point in the international development landscape. As we seek to rebuild from Covid-19, we need to more holistically conceive a conjoined sense of human-environmental well-being by tackling the overlapping precarities of our ecologies and societies. “There are a range of structural political economy and political ecology reasons for our current global pandemic and wider set of environmental crises, and my hope is to aid the Human Development Report Office in addressing these with renewed vision, resources and regulatory power. The extension and broadening of a ‘human security’ agenda at the UN is more urgent now than ever, in moving beyond narrow traditional statist senses of security, and instead insisting upon the global interconnectedness of human-environmental security and critical need for cooperation and solidarity in safeguarding the future of our planet.” Professor Morrissey’s research and writing connect overarching concerns of geopolitics, human security and international development, on which he has published widely. His latest book, Haven: The Mediterranean Crisis and Human Security, was published in November 2020. He has held prestigious visiting fellowships at City University of New York, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and Australian National University in recent years, and he has a great passion for teaching, twice winning NUI Galway’s President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He has been Programme Director of Geography’s award-winning MA in Environment, Society and Development since its inception in 2009. -Ends-

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), Roderic O’Gorman T.D. today (24th May) launched the ‘LGBTI+ Youth in Ireland Europe: A two-phased Landscape and Research Gap Analysis’. The research, conducted jointly by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) and NUI Galway reviewed all relevant research on LGBTI+ youth in Ireland and Europe since 2000. The research found that: • Some objectives of the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy are well supported by research, but there are important gaps in the research evidence that need to be addressed. • Future research needs to include both LGBTI+ young people and their sources of support – families, teachers and youth workers • We need to know more about how to improve well-being and resilience among LGBTI+ youth, not just focus on risks and negative outcomes • There is not enough high quality research on transgender and intersex youth; more evidence is needed to know how best to improve their lives. Speaking at the launch of the analysis, Roderic O’Gorman T.D., Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth said: ‘It is clear to see that there is a large amount of evidence to support our objectives in the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy,  in particular the importance creating supportive environments for LGBTI+ young people in schools and colleges, and on LGBTI+ young people’s experiences of bullying. “But, there are also research gaps with regard to other important issues. We don’t know enough about the lives of transgender and intersex young people, about the views of parents and families of LGBTI+ young people and how to support them better, or about developing inclusive work environments for LGBTI+ young people. These are all issues of the highest importance and we must find a way to address these research gaps’ The report was led by researchers Dr András Költő, Dr Elena Vaughan, Dr Colette Kelly and Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn from the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway, with Dr Linda O’Sullivan from DCEDIY and Professor Elizabeth Saewyc from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Commenting on the findings, Lead Author Dr András Költő said: “Most research on LGBTI+ young people is from North America, so it was important to review evidence relevant to the Irish and European context. We also documented the gaps in our understanding of LGBTI+ young people. Initiatives to improve the lives of LGBTI+ young people must be based on high quality scientific evidence, and our report clearly indicates where more research is needed. Future research needs to consider the positive aspects of LGBTI+ young people’s lives, involve their families, teachers and youth workers, and monitor initiatives to help ensure positive outcomes”. To read the full report, visit https://www.gov.ie/pdf/?file=https://assets.gov.ie/135654/4d466c48-34d9-403a-b48e-fdcfb7931320.pdf#page=null Ends

Monday, 24 May 2021

New study in Nature Computational Sciences suggests opportunities for diet-based intervention in the treatment of type 1 diabetes Study results not only highlight the key role of glucose in type 1 diabetes but also suggest new therapeutic avenues, such as, calcium regulation Scientists at NUI Galway and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, US, created biomedical avatars of type 1 diabetes patients to enable new opportunities for treatment and diagnosis. Research published today (24 May 2021) in the international journal Nature Computational Sciences showed that simulating disease effects at an individual level explains how different people respond to insulin and how diet may improve treatment outcomes. Type 1 diabetes is prevalent in children and impacts patients during their entire lives. The disease influences insulin production, with knock-on effects also leading to disturbed metabolism and coronary heart disease, associated with early mortality. The effectiveness of insulin administration, the standard treatment, varies widely between individuals, including severe side effects. It is therefore desirable to devise bespoke treatments for the individual patient. Professor Ines Thiele, study leader and Professor in Systems Biomedicine in the School of Medicine and Discipline of Microbiology at NUI Galway, explains: “Precision medicine aims to enable a personalised approach, as opposed to the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ method, by considering individual health and lifestyle data, such as, age, sex, or diet. Combining all available health information on a person enables a holistic analysis approach to make personalised health recommendations, including considerations of health risks, lifestyle, and prior clinical history. “Digital approaches are particularly amenable to integrate and analyse the diverse and large amounts of data for precision medicine. We were able to create digital mirror-images of the individual metabolic systems of type 1 diabetes patients and consequently investigated how insulin differentially impacts the metabolism of one person compared to another. Our results not only highlighted the key role of glucose in the diabetes context, but also suggested new therapeutic avenues, such as, calcium regulation.” The outcome of the study suggests opportunities for diet-based intervention in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Dr Marouen Ben Guebila, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, US and lead author of the study, concludes: “Based on our computer models, we may simulate the effect of diets and medication on individual insulin responses and improve disease management in the future. Overall, the study exemplifies how computational modelling fuels precision medicine approaches, which could lead to improvements in type 1 diabetes treatments.” The study was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and by the Luxembourg National Research Fund through the ATTRACT programme. To read the full study in Nature Computational Sciences, visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43588-021-00074-3. -Ends-

Monday, 24 May 2021

NUI Galway will launch a Domestic Violence Leave Policy, the first Higher Education Institution to do so in Ireland. The policy will be launched by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD on Wednesday, 26 May. The purpose of NUI Galway's Domestic Violence Leave Policy is to provide for a period of paid time away from work for staff members who have suffered or are suffering from domestic violence or abuse. This leave will enable the staff member to take the time they need to seek assistance in a structured and supported environment. Violence be it physical, sexual or emotional abuse by an intimate partner, family member or a child has significant consequences for physical and mental health as well as overall wellbeing. The World Health Organisation has documented the severe health consequences of interpersonal violence including premature death, long-term morbidity, poor mental health, increased risk of substance abuse, and risk with pregnancy outcomes among others. Less recognised is the impact of domestic violence on the victim’s work. Research by economists in the US, UK and other European countries have established that women who experience domestic violence are at increased risk of absenteeism, more irregular work history, reduced performance at work, limited occupation mobility, dropping out of the labour force and ultimately lower earnings. Globally there is a growing movement across various jurisdictions that the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda must also address the consequences of domestic violence in addition to workplace harassment and bullying. The International Labour Organisation Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, to which Ireland is a signatory, explicitly calls for governments and employers to address the risks and impacts of domestic violence in workplace policies. Higher Education Institutions are not only institutions of learning that contribute to knowledge on deep-rooted social problems such as domestic violence; they are equally places of work committed to creating a safe and respectful working environment that promotes dignity and wellbeing of all members of their communities. Minister Harris commented: “The impact of domestic violence on victims and their families can be devastating physically and emotionally and their stress can be compounded by the worry of work or not being paid. Support for victims who are working, in the form of paid leave, could be crucial in ensuring that they retain their employment and have the economic capacity to escape an abusive relationship.  “The introduction of the Domestic Violence Leave Policy at NUI Galway marks a critical step forward in ensuring that Higher Education Institutions are safe and supportive workplaces. I really want to commend NUI Galway for this important work and I hope it will be the first of many institutions to adopt such a policy.” Speaking in advance of the launch, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway is proud to introduce this Domestic Violence Leave Policy, which aligns with our vision and values of respect and excellence of our students and staff as citizens connected to, and contributing to, community and society in Ireland and internationally for the public good.” New research including that from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway has quantified the impact of domestic violence on productivity loss with women on average missing 7 to 15 days of work and being less productive for an additional 5 to 10 days. An overwhelming majority of those who experience domestic violence globally are women, with 1 in 3 women reporting a lifetime experience of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In Ireland, the equivalent figure is 1 in 6 (15 per cent of women). More women face emotional violence, and in Ireland, twice as many women experience a lifetime of emotional abuse by a partner (31 percent). Annually, it is estimated that 50,000 women experience physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner and approximately 117,000 experience psychological violence by a current partner. During Covid-19 there has been a sharp increase by nearly 43 per cent in calls to organisations such as Women’s Aid and Safe Ireland. Dr Nata Duvvury, Director, Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway said: “More than 30% of women experience emotional violence in their lifetime by a partner, which affects women’s working lives leading to lower productivity and wellbeing. For example, women experiencing domestic violence miss on average 15 days of productive work on a yearly basis.” Speakers at the launch will include Minster Harris, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and Dr Nata Duvvury, NUI Galway, Louise O’Reilly, Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Fingal and Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Professor Audra Bowlus, Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario, Canada, Josephine Hynes, HR Director, NUI Galway and Eileen Mannion, Interim Chair Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Údarás na hOllscoile, NUI Galway. Read NUI Galway's Domestic Violence Leave Policy is available here. The online launch will take place on Wednesday, 26 May from 1pm-2pm and is open to the public. To register to attend the launch visit: https://teams.microsoft.com/_#/broadcastPlaybackScreen. The Office of the Vice-President for Research and Innovation have developed the first in a series of research impact case studies to celebrate the societal and academic impact of the work of our research community.  Dr Nata Duvvury’s case study explores how ground-breaking research at NUI Galway on domestic violence as an economic issue, has had a fundamental role in shaping the global research agenda, legislation and policy Read more here: https://stories.nuigalway.ie/-domestic-violence--the-cost-of-doing-nothing----/index.html.      -Ends-

Monday, 24 May 2021

NUI Galway academics Professor Frank Barry and Professor Philip Dine have been  elected as Members of the Royal Irish Academy for their exceptional contribution to the sciences, humanities and social sciences as well as to public service. The NUI Galway academics were among 27 new members admitted to the academy by Dr Mary Canning, President of the Academy, in a virtual ceremony last Friday (21 May 2021).  Frank Barry is Professor of Cellular Therapy at the Regenerative Medicine Institute in NUI Galway and Visiting Scientist at the Schroeder Arthritis Institute in Toronto. His research interests include stem cell biology and the development of cell-based repair strategies for osteoarthritis. In a career that has spanned both industry and academic research he has contributed to the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine by developing innovative and successful cellular therapies for tissue repair, joint injury and arthritic disease. He has published widely in the areas of mesenchymal stromal cell biology, cartilage repair and cellular therapy, and has been the recipient of the Marshall Urist Award for excellence in tissue regeneration research from the Orthopaedic Research Society.    Philip Dine is a Personal Professor and former Head of French at NUI Galway. He has been a pioneering figure internationally in the cultural history of French sport and the literary and cinematographic representations of colonial conflict. He has published widely on representations of the French empire and its cultural legacies in fields ranging from children’s literature to professional sport. Further projects have targeted sport and identity-construction in France and the Francophone world.   Welcoming the newly admitted members, Dr Mary Canning, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said: ‘These 27 new Members are recognised for their scholarly achievements, typically reflecting many years of research, or for significant contributions to Irish society. They bring international academic distinction to our country and we should be immensely proud of these remarkable women and men. As Members of the Academy, they will strengthen our capacity to provide expert advice on Higher Education and Research policy.”  Congratulating Professors Barry and Dine, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “On behalf of colleagues at NUI Galway, I extend warmest congratulations to Frank and Philip on their election to membership of the Royal Irish Academy. This recognises the excellence of their continuing contributions to their respective academic fields. As educators, researchers and academic leaders at NUI Galway, they demonstrate sheer enthusiasm for their subject and a talent committed to the advancement of and the re-imagining of humanity through their research, teaching and engagement, nationally and internationally. I am delighted to see their achievements recognised by the Academy.”  Election to membership of the Royal Irish Academy is the highest academic distinction in Ireland. The Academy has been honouring Ireland’s leading contributors to the world of learning since its establishment in 1785 and currently have 637 members.  -Ends- 

Monday, 24 May 2021

Professor Gerard Flaherty, a senior academic in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, has been announced as the new President-elect of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM). When he takes up the presidency in 2023, Professor Flaherty will be the first Irish person to hold the position since the society was established in 1991. Headquartered in the US city of Atlanta, ISTM has 4,000 members in more than 120 countries. It is the leading professional association in its field, with strong ties with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and multiple regional travel and tropical medicine societies. Professor Flaherty will hold the role of ISTM President for two years from 2023, following a two year period as President-elect. He said: "I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve as President of the International Society of Travel Medicine - a prestigious organisation dedicated to promoting healthy, safe and responsible travel through its surveillance, research, educational and community outreach activities. “Having the privilege to lead a global organisation such as the ISTM places NUI Galway and Ireland centre stage on the world map in this dynamic area of research activity. I am fortunate that NUI Galway is such an internationalised institution, with a distinguished international profile. “The Global Galway project is a very positive expression of this commitment to sustainable internationalisation. My own leadership role in international medical student recruitment over many years has prepared me well for the opportunities that this new role brings. “I have greatly enjoyed my previous leadership roles in medical education and preventive cardiology at NUI Galway, but I relish the exciting challenges ahead in this next phase of my career." President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for NUI Galway to develop strong educational and research collaborations with leading international institutions involved in travel medicine, global and public health. “Professor Flaherty’s work embodies NUI Galway’s vision and values of openness, sustainability and excellence, connected to, and contributing to, community and society in Ireland and beyond the horizon for the public good.” Ends

Friday, 21 May 2021

Researchers from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, who study the genetics of fruit flies as a way to understand human health, have investigated mechanisms of how stem cell divisions are regulated. Cell division has been found to have implications in areas such as fertility, ageing, cancer and regenerative medicine and this research has found that the function of a particular chromosomal protein, called CENP-C, is important to keep a pool of dividing stem cells in a tissue. The study examined how stem cells divide in the ovary of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly serves as an ideal model for understanding how human stem cells divide, given that 60 per cent of its genes are also found in humans and they can also regenerate stem cells to repair and replace old or damaged cells. Stem cells are unique in that they have the ability to regenerate themselves. They can also undergo cell division to give rise to a cell that can take on a new function. In the testes and ovaries, specialised stem cells, called germline stem cells, give rise to cells that differentiate to form the gametes, eggs and sperm. Defects in germline stem cell divisions can lead to infertility and sterility. The study found that when the chromosomal protein CENP-C was removed from germline stem cells in the fly ovary, the production of eggs was interrupted and could lead to infertility. Specifically, the research found that over time the pool of germline stem cells was depleted in the ovary. These results suggest that CENP-C is important in the division of stem cells and can help scientists understand more on how stem cells work. The study also showed that the level of this chromosomal protein present in older stem cells is reduced compared to younger stem cells, and shows that it can also be used to mark stem cell age. The gene that encodes the chromosomal protein CENP-C in the fruit fly also exists in humans and these findings suggest it is possible that it might function similarly in human stem cells. Restoring this gene in defective stem cells could potentially allow stem cells to function better or to improve fertility. Dr Elaine Dunleavy, lead author of the study from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, said: "Our work in fruit flies allows us to manipulate genes to understand their function in stem cells in the ovary that would not be possible to carry out in humans. Through this approach we hope to uncover genes that might be important for human fertility.” The study has been published in the international journal PLoS Genetics and can be read in full at: https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1009247. -Ends-

Friday, 21 May 2021

Scientists have proposed the first steps towards a united global plan to save our oceans, for the sake of human health An interdisciplinary European collaboration, the Seas Oceans and Public Health In Europe (SOPHIE) Project, which NUI Galway is part of, has outlined the initial steps that a wide range of organisations could take to work together to protect the largest connected ecosystem on Earth. In a commentary paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers call for the current United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to act as a meaningful catalyst for global change, reminding the public that ocean health is intricately linked to human health. The paper highlights 35 first steps for action by different groups and individuals, including individual citizens, healthcare workers, private organisations, researchers and policy-makers. The researchers point to the huge reliance on the global ocean as a source of food and economic income internationally, as well as a precious resource that research shows benefits to a person’s mental and physical health. However, the consequences of the impact of human activity are severe. Extreme weather events induced by climate and other environmental change result in coastal flooding, exposure to harmful algal blooms, and chemical and microbial pollution. These threats are compounded by sea-level rise, ocean warming, acidification, and deoxygenation associated with global environmental change. At the same time, the coasts, seas and ocean provide people with food, trade, culture, renewable energy, and many other benefits. In fact, there is now strong evidence that access to healthy coasts can improve and preserve physical health and mental wellbeing. And a healthy ocean is a major source of potential natural products including medicines and green substitutes for plastics. The paper suggests a list of possible first steps to a wide range of groups who can influence ocean health, emphasising that holistic collaboration is essential to make an impact, including: Large businesses can review their impact on ocean health, share best practice and support community initiatives. Healthcare professionals could consider “blue prescriptions”, nature-based interventions based in, on, or near water, as part of practical solutions for good health integrated with individual and community promotion activities. Tourism operators can share research on the benefits of wellbeing when spending time by the coast, and collect and share their customers’ experiences of these benefits. Individual citizens can take part in ocean-based citizen science or beach cleans and encourage school projects on sustainability. Co-author and member of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, Dr Easkey Britton, said: “The UN Ocean Decade is a chance to truly vision and act on the future we want for our global ocean. This affects us all - the health of people is completely dependent on the health of the ocean. Building community around the challenges we face and the solutions we need is the most important thing. By working together across disciplines, sectors, and community groups we can create powerful and effective solutions to restore ocean health and transform how we think about public health.” The paper calls on planners, policy-makers and organisations to understand and share research into the links between ocean and human health, and to integrate this knowledge into policy. First author Professor Lora Fleming, of the University of Exeter, said: “The devastating Covid-19 pandemic, climate and other environmental change and the perilous state of our seas have made clear that we share a single planet with a single global ocean. Our moral compass points to addressing the myriad threats and potential opportunities we encounter by protecting and providing for everyone, both rich and poor, while learning to sustain all ecosystems.” The project is funded by Horizon 2020. The full paper, entitled ‘The Ocean Decade— Opportunities for Oceans and Human Health Programs to Contribute to Public Health’,  is available at https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306229.   For more information on the SOPHIE project visit https://sophie2020.eu/ -Ends-

Friday, 21 May 2021

Hundreds more patients to benefit after University secures support for two projects as part of Health Research Board Clinical Trial Networks  People with diabetes and patients with chronic disease and those who use primary care are set to benefit from the expansion of clinical trials at NUI Galway. The Health Research Board has announced Primary Care Clinical Trials Network and the Diabetes Collaborative Clinical Trial Network are to be supported at the University. The NUI Galway networks are two of six projects that have been selected nationwide following a rigorous application process and adjudication by an international panel of experts.  Professor Fidelma Dunne, Consultant Endocrinologist in University Hospital Galway and Saolta Hospital group and Professor in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, is to lead the Diabetes Collaborative Clinical Trial Network which will work on an all-island basis. “This investment is hugely significant for patients. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Ireland and the number of people affected by it is increasing at an alarming rate alongside the increase in obesity rates,” Professor Dunne said. “The aim of all the co-applicants and collaborators who have worked on this project is to ensure that people with diabetes across the island of Ireland have access to high quality clinical trials regardless of where they live. “Through trials in new medicines and technologies we can improve health and reduce disease burden for patients with diabetes.” Professor Dunne outlined some initial areas of focus for the Diabetes Collaborative Clinical Trial Network, including diabetes in pregnancy, technologies, foot disease, advanced therapies and behavioural change. Professor Andrew Murphy, GP in Turloughmore Medical Centre, Co Galway and Professor of General Practice at NUI Galway, is to lead the Primary Care Clinical Trials Network. “Our aim is simply to produce high-quality clinical evidence which improves patient outcomes in primary care, where the vast bulk of healthcare is provided,” Professor Murphy said. “Our high-level strategy prioritises the conduct of trials in chronic disease management, multi-morbidity where patients have two or more diseases and infectious diseases. Over the past five years we have recruited almost 4,000 patients and had 20 registered trials, working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Irish College of General Practitioners and other universities in Ireland and Europe. Our aim is to bring trials to hundreds more patients.” Professor Murphy set out a number of objectives including bringing together patients, carers, health professionals and researchers to develop the top 10 research priorities in chronic disease management, enhancement of Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in primary care research and developing a list of what trials in this area should measure so that their outcomes are comparable. The Clinical Trial Networks were assessed on criteria that included each network’s relevance to Ireland’s health and social care needs; the strength of its collaborative framework; the quality of the proposed network and trial activities; and the expertise and skill mix of its team. The HRB said the new investment will see the expansion of clinical trials and create opportunities for Irish people to participate in the latest research in these areas to improve outcomes and/or transform treatments and care. Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, chief executive of the Health Research Board, said: “As we celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, we should remember the transformation in care and many benefits that high-quality clinical trials can deliver, both for individual care and for society. “The impact that HRB investments in clinical trial capacity have had in Ireland was acutely demonstrated when we were able to pivot quickly to deliver clinical trials as part of a global rapid response to Covid-19. We are proud of the leadership role we have actively taken in Ireland in this area and we look forward to seeing the benefits that these new Networks deliver for people’s health, patient care and the economy.” Ends

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Cuirfidh Institiúid nua an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais le taighde, teagasc agus rannpháirtíocht phobail agus scoile na dtrí phríomhsholáthraí oideachais múinteoirí i nGaillimh, Maigh Eo agus Sligeach Tá ríméad ar OÉ Gaillimh, Institiúid Teicneolaíochta na Gaillimhe-Maigh Eo agus Coláiste San Aingeal, Sligeach a fhógairt go bhfuil Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais bunaithe. Tacóidh an Institiúid le comhoibriú idir na trí institiúid chun oideachas múinteoirí i Réigiún an Iarthair a fheabhsú agus a chur chun cinn. Cuirfidh Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais ar chumas na dtrí institiúid, ceannairí náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta san oideachas múinteoirí, a gcuid saineolais éagsúil ach comhlántach a thabhairt le chéile. Is é uaillmhian na hInstitiúide cúrsaí, taighde agus rannpháirtíocht an phobail in oideachas múinteoirí a fhorbairt. Ar an mbealach seo cuideoidh an Institiúid go mór leis an bpróifíl a bhaineann le hoideachas múinteoirí sa réigiún a dhaingniú agus a chur chun cinn.  Cuirfidh an Institiúid ardán fíorúil nuálach ar fáil chun tacú le comhoibriú agus chun caidreamh a chothú le raon páirtithe leasmhara a bhfuil baint acu le hoideachas múinteoirí sa réigiún. Seolfar an Institiúid go foirmiúil i Meán Fómhair 2021. Dúirt an tAire Oideachais, Norma Foley T.D.: “Cuirim fáilte fonnmhar roimh sheoladh na hInstitiúide seo a neartóidh na naisc agus an dlúthchomhar atá ar fáil cheana féin sna trí institiúid bhródúla seo. Tuigim mar mhúinteoir mé féin an tábhacht a bhaineann le cláir tosaigh oideachais múinteoirí mar go gcuireann siad bonn faoi ghairmeacha ár n-oideoirí amach anseo, ag cothú na foghlama agus ag múnlú eispéiris oideachais a gcuid daltaí. Is dea-scéala é forbairt na hinstitiúide nua seo a dhaingneoidh an t-ionad barr feabhais seo d’oideachas tosaigh múinteoirí i réigiún an Iarthair/an Iarthuaiscirt.” Dúirt an tAire Breisoideachais agus Ardoideachais, Simon Harris T.D.: “Is comhpháirtíocht an-spreagúil í seo idir trí cinn dár gcoláistí. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an Institiúid seo Ionad Barr Feabhais a chruthú a neartóidh an saineolas atá ag na trí sholáthraí oideachais múinteoirí in OÉ Gaillimh, Institiúid Teicneolaíochta na Gaillimhe-Maigh Eo agus Coláiste San Aingeal, Sligeach. Beidh sé mar aidhm ag bunú na hInstitiúide féachaint chuige go seasfaidh soláthar oideachais múinteoirí an aimsir, fiú agus ollscoil teicneolaíochta ag teacht ar an bhfód san Iarthar/Iarthuaisceart mar atá molta ag Comhghuaillíocht Uladh Chonnacht idir GMIT, IT Shligigh agus IT Leitir Ceanainn, trí na soláthraithe oideachais múinteoirí sa réigiún a thabhairt le chéile. Ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh le gach duine a bhí bainteach leis.” Dúirt an tOllamh Gerry Mac Ruairc, an Stiúrthóir a bhunaigh Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais agus Ceann Scoil an Oideachais, OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá an-áthas orainn seoladh na hInstitiúide a fhógairt, ar toradh é ar roinnt blianta comhpháirtíochta agus comhoibrithe idir na trí phríomhsholáthraí oideachais múinteoirí san Iarthar agus san Iarthuaisceart: Coláiste San Aingeal, Sligeach; Institiúid Teicneolaíochta na Gaillimhe-Maigh Eo; agus OÉ Gaillimh. Tá cáil aitheanta ar gach ceann de na trí institiúid, go náisiúnta agus go hidirnáisiúnta, san oideachas múinteoirí; agus éascóidh an Institiúid nua ailíniú straitéiseach comhoibritheach chun ár dtaighde, ár dteagasc, agus ár rannpháirtíocht leis an bpobal, agus lenár scoileanna comhpháirtíochta a chur chun cinn agus a fheabhsú”.  Ag fáiltiú roimh bhunú na hInstitiúide, dúirt Amanda McCloat, Uachtarán Choláiste San Aingeal: “Tógann an Institiúid seo ar an dea-cháil náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta agus ar an dlúthchaidreamh oibre atá idir OÉ Gaillimh, Coláiste San Aingeal agus GMIT agus i dteannta a chéile feabhsófar soláthar agus taighde oideachais múinteoirí.” Dúirt an Dr Orla Flynn, Uachtarán GMIT, agus í ag tacú go láidir leis an gcomhghuaillíocht nua seo: “Cuirfidh Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais ar chumas na dtrí institiúid an soláthar agus taighde oideachais múinteoirí a fheabhsú agus freagairt le chéile agus go nuálach do shainriachtanais oideachais daoine óga inár réigiún.”    Le deich mbliana anuas, rinne an t-oideachasóir mór le rá as an bhFionlainn, an tOllamh Pasi Sahlberg dhá athbhreithniú mhóra ar an struchtúr oideachas múinteoirí in Éirinn. Déanann an fhorbairt nua seo na moltaí polasaí a rinne Sahlberg (2012, 2018) a athbheochan agus a chomhdhlúthú trí aitheantas foirmiúil a thabhairt do thiomantas na dtrí chomhpháirtí teacht le chéile faoi scáth na hInstitiúide ar bhonn an chomhionannais agus an chomhoibrithe. Tá Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais bunaithe ar an tiomantas láidir a bheith ina ceann feadhna comhoibritheach, moltach agus cruthaitheach san oideachas múinteoirí go réigiúnach, go náisiúnta agus go hidirnáisiúnta.  Agus é ag tagairt do thábhacht Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais maidir le hoideachas múinteoirí, dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Tá an-áthas orm go bhfuil Leasuithe Sahlberg curtha i bhfeidhm sa tionscnamh nua spreagúil seo chun oideachas múinteoirí a chomhordú agus a fheabhsú taobh thiar den tSionainn. Tréaslaím leis an Ollamh Gerry Mac Ruairc agus le foireann na Scoile Oideachais in OÉ Gaillimh; le Amanda McCloat agus a comhghleacaithe i gColáiste San Aingeal, Sligeach; leis an Dr Orla Flynn, an Dr Paddy Tobin agus an Dr Dermot O’Donovan agus Scoil an Dearaidh agus na nEalaíon Cruthaitheach, GMIT, as na moltaí tábhachtacha polasaí seo a chur i bhfeidhm ar mhaithe leis an ardoideachas, agus go háirithe ar mhaithe le todhchaí an oideachais múinteoirí inár réigiún agus in Éirinn. Tá meas ar na luachanna atá againn maidir le hoscailteacht do smaointe nua agus do chomhpháirtíochtaí barr feabhais, agus cothaítear todhchaí an oideachais múinteoirí taighdebhunaithe a chothaíonn ár dtodhchaí mar shochaí. Guím gach rath ar an Institiúid nua agus í ag fás agus ag forbairt sna blianta amach romhainn.”   Thug an fhoireann athbhreithnithe maidir le hathchóiriú oideachais múinteoirí Sahlberg (2018) aitheantas ar leith d’éachtaí aonair agus comhpháirteacha na dtrí chomhpháirtí, agus an cumas atá acu maidir le saineolas comhoibritheach feabhsaithe. I dtaca leis seo, sainaithníodh go soiléir caighdeán an chaidrimh atá mar bhonn agus taca leis na hiarrachtaí comhoibritheacha mar bhunús daingean d’fhorbairtí amach anseo. Déanfaidh an Institiúid na héachtaí aitheanta seo a chomhordú agus a fhorbairt anois. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

>Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission shows that 47% of team managers find no difference between managing their team remotely compared to onsite while 44% say it is more difficult to manage the team remotely.   Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have published summary data from the second annual national remote working survey in Ireland. The survey gathered responses from over 6,400 employees, examining their experience of remote working one year after lockdown. This is the first national survey to attain managers’ views of the impact of remote work on their team. Over 2,100 managers gave their views on managing teams remotely and their plans for remote work post pandemic. Led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission, the survey found that, among those who could work remotely, 95% were in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis to some extent. The majority of those, 53%, said they would like to work remotely several times a week, 32% said they would like to work fully remotely and 10% several times a month. Those who would like to work fully remotely (32%) has increased substantially from the first national survey conducted by the NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission team in April 2020 when it was 12% in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown. The overwhelming majority (95%) is a significant increase from the 83% who wanted to continue to work remotely for some or all of the time in the 2020 survey. Conversely, only 5% indicated that they did not wish to work remotely to any extent – a drop from 16% who gave that response a year ago. The number of respondents working fully remotely fell from 87% in April 2020 to 75% at the end of April 2021 as there was more of a mix of onsite and remote (20%) in the latest survey. The survey found that 24% of respondents said they would consider relocating based on their experience of remote working since Covid-19. A further 9% said they had already moved and the West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon), the South-west (Cork and Kerry) and the Border (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo) were the top regions respondents have relocated to. 14% said they may consider moving, while just over half (53%) said they would not consider relocating. According to the survey the top three advantages of working remotely are: greater flexibility, makes life easier, and increases productivity. Interestingly, in the context of work-life balance, 51% of respondents said that they work more hours when they work remotely compared to working onsite while 45% say they work the same hours. It is interesting to note that 44% of team manager respondents believe that remote working positively impacts the productivity of their team while the same proportion (44%) believe that remote working makes no difference to the team’s productivity. 12% believe remote working negatively impacts their team’s productivity. Three-quarters of organisations had not decided how their teams will work post pandemic. Of the 25% who had decided, 78% will work to a hybrid model. 36% of organisations who have decided to work to a hybrid model expect employees to be onsite for two days a week and 23% said three days a week.  The study found that 45% of team managers believed they did not get the training required to manage their team remotely, while 36% indicated they received basic training. One in five (19%) reported that they received sufficient training. Speaking about the second annual national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The second annual NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with over 6,400 responses. We added a new module asking questions about managing teams remotely for those who have people management responsibilities. To our knowledge, the latter forms the first national survey to gather information about team manager perspectives. It is interesting to see that the appetite for fully remote or hybrid working is the preference of the vast majority of respondents.”     Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “The findings of the national survey indicate once again that there is a clear appetite to continue to work remotely. This will mean significant change for the way in which people work and the way that organisations support that work. The rollout of the National Hubs Network of more than 400 hubs will offer a suitable workplace close to home. A key challenge for leaders in organisations will be ensuring that people that choose to work remotely are treated equally in terms of development and promotional opportunities.” The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the second annual national remote working survey, which are available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites. Further publications will also be made available. The report and key statistics from the first national survey in April 2020 are also available on these websites. To view the second annual survey report and accompanying infographic information on the Whitaker Institute’s Project page, visit: http://whitakerinstitute.ie/project/remote-working-during-covid-19-irelands-national-survey/   -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

New Western Institute for Studies in Education/ Institiúid an Iarthair do Léann an Oideachais will enhance the research, teaching and community and school engagement of the three major teacher education providers in Galway, Mayo and Sligo NUI Galway, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and St Angela’s College Sligo are delighted to announce the foundation of the Western Institute for Studies in Education, which will support collaboration among the three institutions to enhance and promote teacher education in the Western Region. The Western Institute for Studies in Education will enable the three institutions, leaders nationally and internationally in teacher education, to bring together their diverse but complementary expertise. The ambition is to develop courses, research and public engagement in teacher education. In this way, the Western Institute for Studies in Education will significantly help to consolidate and raise the profile of teacher education in the region. The Institute will provide an innovative virtual platform to support collaboration and nurture engagement with a range of stakeholders involved in teacher education in the region and will be formally launched in September 2021. Minister for Education, Norma Foley T.D. said: “I am delighted to welcome the launch of WISE strengthening the existing links and close collaboration across these three proud institutions. As a teacher, I understand the importance of initial teacher education programmes as they provide the foundation for our future educators’ careers, nurturing learning and shaping the education experiences of their students. This new institute is a very welcome development that will consolidate this centre of excellence for initial teacher education in the West/North-West region.” Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris T.D., said: “This is a really exciting partnership between three of our colleges. WISE aims to create a Centre of Excellence that will serve to strengthen the collective expertise of three teacher education providers in NUI Galway, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and St. Angela’s College Sligo. The establishment of the Institute will aim to future proof teacher education provision, including in the context of the potential emergence of a technological university in the West/ North West such as is proposed by the Connacht Ulster Alliance of GMIT, IT Sligo and Letterkenny IT, by bringing together the teacher education providers in the region. I want to offer my congratulations to all involved.” Founding Director of Western Institute for Studies in Education and Head of the School of Education, NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the Western Institute for Studies in Education, which represents the culmination of several years of partnership and collaboration between the three main providers of teacher education in the West and Northwest: St Angela’s College, Sligo; Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology; and NUI Galway. Each of the three institutions has established reputations, nationally and internationally, in teacher education; and the new Institute will facilitate a cooperative strategic alignment to promote and enhance our research, our teaching, and our engagement with the community, and our partner schools.”  Welcoming the establishment, Amanda McCloat, President of St Angela’s College, said: “This Institute builds on the excellent national and international reputation and close working relationship of NUI Galway, St Angela’s College and GMIT and collectively will serve to enhance teacher education provision and research.” Dr Orla Flynn, President of GMIT, in a strong endorsement of this new alliance said: “The Western Institute for Studies in Education will greatly facilitate all three institutions in enhancing teacher education provision and research and in responding collectively and innovatively to the specific educational needs of young people in our region.”    In the last decade, two major reviews of the structure of teacher education in Ireland were undertaken, authored by the leading Finnish educationist, Professor Pasi Sahlberg. This new development reinvigorates and consolidates the Sahlberg policy recommendations (2012, 2018) by recognising formally the commitment of each of the three partners to come together under the platform of the Institute on the basis of equality and reciprocity. The Western Institute for Studies in Education is underpinned by a strong commitment to become a collaborative, complimentary and creative force in teacher education regionally, nationally and internationally.  Noting the significance of the Western Institute for Studies in Education for teacher education, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “I am delighted to see the Sahlberg Reforms implemented in this exciting new initiative for the coordination and enhancement of teacher education West of the Shannon. “My congratulations to Professor Gerry Mac Ruairc and the School of Education team at NUI Galway; Amanda McCloat and colleagues at St Angela’s College Sligo; Dr Orla Flynn, Dr Paddy Tobin and Dr Dermot O’Donovan and the School of Design and Creative Arts, GMIT, in implementing these important policy recommendations for higher education, and specifically the future of teacher education in our region and in Ireland. It respects our values of openness to new ideas and to partnerships in excellence, sustaining the future of research-led teacher education which itself sustains our future as a society. I wish the new Institute well as it grows and develops in the coming years.”   The individual and joint achievements, and capacity for enhanced collaborative expertise, of the three partners were recognised explicitly by the review team in the Sahlberg teacher education reform (2018). In this regard the quality of the relationship underpinning the collaborative efforts was clearly identified as a firm foundation for future developments. The Institute will now coordinate and build on these acknowledged successes. -Ends-

Monday, 17 May 2021

Research aims to co-design wellbeing and educational supports for young people and their parents, to support educational re-engagement following the transition back to school A new study by NUI Galway’s UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and the School of Education will explore how young people (aged 12-18 years) are coping in the context of Covid-19, with a particular focus on wellbeing and education. Led by NUI Galway Professors Pat Dolan and Gerry MacRuairc and supported by colleagues in the Centre and School, the study, entitled ‘Crisis Coping - Living and Learning through Covid-19’, aims to co-design wellbeing and educational supports for young people and their parents, to support educational re-engagement following the transition back to school.  A range of innovative and participatory methodologies are being used to explore the lived experiences and key concerns of young people in Ireland, with a particular focus on traditionally, and/or newly marginalised young people, since the start of the pandemic. These will include: Focus group webinars with young people, teachers, education support workers and education leaders. Ecological Momentary Assessment, an assessment method which facilitates the exploration of human experience through brief, repeated assessments on a mobile device. Photovoice, a method to visually document their experiences. Interviews with parents. Dr Cormac Forkan of NUI Galway’s UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, and lead of the Ecological Momentary Assessment team, said: “We are delighted to launch the Ecological and Momentary Assessment and Photovoice phase of our research involving 150 adolescents across Ireland. These methods will provide a unique window into the lives of young people as they encounter, in real-time, the challenges and opportunities associated with living and learning during Covid-19.” Over a seven-day period, the participants will complete four short daily questionnaires, delivered through the REDCap platform (a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases)  focusing on motivation for learning, mood, availability and quality of social support, type and intensity of stressors and uplifts, and coping strategies used. The observed experiences will be unpacked further with a sub-sample of participants using Photovoice, which will give young people an opportunity to submit photographs or other creations to tell their experiences or illustrate their living and learning experiences through Covid-19. Ecological Momentary Assessment team member, Dr Cliona Murray, School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “The innovative REDCap software facilitates real-time research that offers a unique insight into marginalised young people's day-to-day experiences and is also a practical solution to the challenges of data collection during pandemic restrictions.” The project will culminate in an intervention phase where “catch-up” supports, informed by the findings of preceding data collection phases, will be delivered in selected schools through a partnership with Professional Master of Education students and teacher educators from the School of Education. The project will conclude with the development of policy recommendations, followed by a synthesis and evaluation of the project and its findings. Post Doctoral Researcher Dr Carmen Kealy (UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway), who is driving the project forward under the Principal Investigators guidance, said: “The pandemic has had and continues to hugely impact on young people’s education and wellbeing. This collaborative project is a unique opportunity to not simply research the problem but to come up with real-world, practical solutions.” Dr Elaine Keane from the School of Education at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting, dynamic, and much-needed project, focused on the ‘crisis coping’ experiences of young people in Ireland, in relation to life and learning during Covid-19. We are delighted to be working so closely with young people to co-design meaningful and effective supports and we look forward to making important policy and practice recommendations in due course.” The study, which is currently underway, is an 18-month project funded by the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council and is one of the first Social Science projects to be funded by the Health Research Board.  For more information on the project contact crisiscoping@nuigalway.ie, or visit http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/projects/currentprojects/crisiscopinglivingandlearningthroughcovid-19/. -Ends-

Monday, 17 May 2021

Launch of new eLearning programme for university staff on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education The Irish Universities Association Equality Network is today launching the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Higher Education eLearning programme, as a successor programme to LEAD (Living Equality and Diversity), which was developed by the IUA Equality Network in 2012. This new EDI programme will involve a blended approach to generating mainstream staff conversation and engagement with equality, diversity, inclusion and human rights issues in all our institutions. The purpose of the EDI in HE eLearning programme is:   (1) to raise awareness of how equality, diversity, inclusion and human rights issues permeate organisational culture, and (2) to understand what third level education staff responsibilities are under Irish equality and human rights legislation. Launching the programmeMinister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris said: “Our lives have changed rapidly since the foundation of the LEAD programme, so I am excited to launch the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in HE eLearning Programme. This programme is intended to support university staff to understand how these crucial issues permeate our society and organisations, so that universities are empowered to respond in their everyday working lives. Programmes such as this are crucial to helping us develop and deliver the future of our higher education sector and the diversity we want to see in our universities. I would encourage all university staff to undertake this EDI programme.” Commenting on the launch of the programme, Dr Marie Connolly, Director Human Rights, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Limerick said: “This programme is intended to be practical to assist university staff in their day-to-day work, to help them think differently and put policy into practice. I would like to thank the external agencies for their expert advice and feedback on the draft programme, including the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), The Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), Pavee Point, AsIam, and LGBT Ireland.” One of the first participants on the course Dr Caroline Murphy, Lecturer in Employment Relations said: “From a personal, professional and practical perspective I found the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Higher Education eLearning programme insightful and very applicable in my day to day working life. The programme encourages reflection and challenged me to think differently about how I work and engage with my colleagues and students. The content design and the interactive resources made the course itself easy to complete.” The programme has been funded by institutional contributions, with part funding provided by the HEA through the Athena SWAN Capacity Fund. To develop the programme, a range of specialist EDI practitioners from across the sector have engaged with a leading international EDI eLearning company Marshall’s eLearning to create a bespoke EDI training and awareness programme for staff in the Irish HE sectors. The programme has been tailored to the needs of Ireland’s institutions, including the Irish legal context, and then further adapted at institutional level to reflect each institution’s EDI policies and services. This programme will complement other offerings in each of the individual institutions in addition to further sector wide collaborative online initiatives such as the pending on-line Race Equality awareness programme which will launch in June 2021. Given the rapid pace of technological change since the launch of the original LEAD programme, EDI in HE uses interactive multimedia resources (website, workbook, podcast, video, voice recordings etc) to ensure that the programme is fully accessible, and to engage HEI staff with the programme content. It is hoped that the programme will enable third level education staff to consider and reflect on the part they play in building an inclusive culture, across the higher education sector. Full digital accessibility options are used throughout the module, with learners being able to access the material online, or via workbook or an audio podcast. The programme consists of four separate modules, details below, each of 30-45 minutes duration, which can be completed either as an entire programme, or as a series of modules allowing participants to build up their knowledge over time. The EDI in Higher Education programme will be available on the Human Resources Staff Training and Development site at: http://nuigalway.learnupon.com Click on our online Cois Coiribe which puts a spotlight on research and debate within our university community on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), in our society and across higher education, and the challenges and barriers people continue to face.     Ends

Monday, 17 May 2021

NUI Galway will host a free webinar on the devastating effects, record infection rates and loss of life caused by the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The webinar will speak to people who have been living through and observing the crisis first-hand, with panellists based in Bangalore, Calcutta, and Mumbai. The online event will take place on Wednesday, 19 May at 2pm. The pannelists come from a range of backgrounds, including public health medicine, journalism, philosophy, economics and history.They will offer insight into the public health situation, the loss of life, grief and funerals, rural versus urban India, regional variation during the outbreak, the political response and issues of education. Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The tragic events in India have shown the devastation caused by the coronavirus epidemic. This event offers an opportunity to learn from people living through one of the most terrible episodes that the world has experienced, to hear their stories and to understand how far we are, in global terms, from overcoming the pandemic.” Panellists include Professor Kanchana Mahadevan, a university professor and educator in Mumbai; Dr Sanjay Nagral, a physician in the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, who has written extensively on public health and the ethics of health care in Indian newspapers; Dr Srinivas Raghavendran, an economist at NUI Galway who is currently based in Bangalore; the journalist and commentator Aveek Sen in Calcutta; and Dr Archana Venkatesh, a specialist in rural India. The event is co-sponsored with the Royal Irish Academy. To attend the online webinar, please register at: https://tinyurl.com/butsasph or https://nuigalway-ie.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_omWY4L5cR0C9ts6DdGz9fg. For further information about the webinar, contact Professor Daniel Carey at daniel.carey@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 17 May 2021

Minister O’Gorman announces joint research project with NUI Galway into Language, Terminology and Representations in institutions known as ‘Mother and Baby Homes’ NUI Galway to lead research project on 'Language, Terminology and Representations' in Mother and Baby Homes Project will implement one of the recommendations made by the Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby Homes subcommittee on ‘Terminology, Identity, and Representation’ The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), Roderic O’Gorman T.D., has today announced a joint research project into “Language, Terminology and Representations” in institutions known as ‘Mother and Baby Homes’ with researchers in NUI Galway. The project was recommended by the Mother and Baby Homes Collaborative Forum. A funding call was then initiated by the Department under the Irish Research Council COALESCE Research Fund in 2019, for which researchers from NUI Galway were successful. The project will examine language, terminology, and representation of those directly affected by the Mother and Baby Homes and related institutions in twentieth century Ireland, as addressed by the recent Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation. In responding to the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation, the Government approved the development of a Strategic Action Plan encompassing a suite of measures.   In announcing the award, the Minister stated: “This study is a direct response to recommendations made in the first report of the Collaborative Forum of Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and related institutions and has also formed part of the Government’s response to the Final Report from the Commission of Investigation. The aim of the project is to highlight the stigmatising and labelling language that has been used in the past and to provide guidance for stakeholders as to how to address this issue into the future.” Minister O'Gorman added:: “There is a particular challenge in Ireland to find ways to adequately address failings in the past. While this is an important project alone it is a part of the Government’s wider action plan in response to the Commission’s report. This collaboration should help to inform responses by my department and related agencies in the future that avoids further victimisation and labelling. It may chart a path for an explicit social and historical justice approach that can be applied to this, and related areas of concern.” The research team led by Professor Caroline McGregor from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley from the Tuam Oral History Project at NUI Galway, will hold four public consultations. The Steering Committee will include four members of the Mother and Baby Homes Collaborative Forum – Rosemary Adaser, Bernie Harold, Alice McEvoy and Adrian McKenna. Professor McGregor and Dr Buckley from NUI Galway have stated: “The approach to the project will be informed by the views of survivors. It will be collaborative and will take its lead from those directly affected by the issues. We are looking forward to working with the project group to produce recommendations and a glossary of terms that acknowledge the lived experiences of those who have spent time in the relevant institutions and drawing from international evidence.” Ends

Monday, 17 May 2021

ONK Therapeutics Enters into a Research Agreement with NUI Galway to Support Optimization of its Dual-Targeted NK Cell Therapy against AML  Agreement with NUI Galway, supervised by leading expert in the cellular environment in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), Dr. Eva Szegezdi Funded by ONK Therapeutics, the research will support engineering and optimization of its dual-targeted NK cell therapy candidate for AML (ONKT104) Aims to explore the potential added benefit of certain gene edits to enhance NK cell cytotoxicity, cytokine production and persistence in the cancer microenvironment in the context of AML ONK Therapeutics Ltd, an innovative natural killer (NK) cell therapy company, today announced that it has entered into a research collaboration with the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) which provides access to unique expertise in evaluating the cancer cell microenvironment in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and targeting of AML stem cells in models mimicking the bone marrow microenvironment. The research will support the optimization of ONK Therapeutics’ dual-targeted NK cell therapy program, ONKT104, being developed for the treatment of AML. ONK Therapeutics will fund a year-long research program in the laboratory of Dr. Eva Szegezdi, lecturer in Biochemistry, NUI Galway, Head of the Blood Cancer Network Ireland. She has particular expertise in the AML microenvironment as well as cell death pathways, especially those initiated by ‘so-called’ death ligands (e.g. TRAIL) used by effector immune cells.  AML is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults. It is estimated that some 21,000 patients in the US and 18,000 in Europe are diagnosed with AML each year. It has a high unmet medical need having the lowest survival rate of all types of leukemia. ONKT104 is a dual-targeted NK cell engineered to express a humanized scFv targeting the leukemic stem cell antigen CLL-1 (also known as CLEC12A) obtained through an option license agreement from Cellerant Therapeutics, together with ONK Therapeutics’ proprietary high-affinity TRAIL variant, targeting death receptor 4 (DR4). CLL-1 is selectively expressed on leukemic stem cells with no expression on normal hematopoietic stem cells, which ensures safer targeting and a lower risk of prolonged toxicity to normal bone marrow cells.  In pre-clinical research studies, a monoclonal antibody therapy targeting CLL-1 has revealed potential efficacy against AML cells and shown to be effective in reducing AML burden in a xenograft model. In addition, a CLL-1 CAR-T cell model has shown promising pre-clinical activity and has recently entered the clinic. ONK Therapeutics believes its dual-targeted NK cell therapy approach may have several advantages over a CAR-T approach including shorter persistence of NK cells, reducing the risk of sustained neutropenia; proven inherent anti-AML activity of NK cells; the reduced likelihood of toxicity due to cytokine release syndrome or neurotoxicity; and the logistically simpler allogeneic, off-the-shelf nature of NK cells, reducing time to treatment once suitable patients are identified. AML is a very challenging disease in which to achieve sustained, long term disease control due to the high plasticity and adaptability of AML stem cells, and the tendency for resistant cells to emerge and grow. In addition to targeting CLL-1, this project will evaluate multi-targeted approaches by combined targeting of other leukemia stem cell antigens. ONK Therapeutics’ founder and CSO Prof Michael O’Dwyer said, “Alongside our in-house research, the project team at NUI Galway will explore construct design, as well as the potential added benefit of certain gene edits to enhance NK cell cytotoxicity, cytokine production and persistence in the context of AML strengthening our ONKT104 program. The aim is to select an optimized candidate to take forward into clinical development as a treatment for patients with relapsed/refractory AML.” Dr. Eva Szegezdi said, “The project will evaluate different constructs that may be able to achieve synergistic killing of cancer cells and reduce the emergence of disease resistance. These include the co-expression of CARs targeting other AML antigens, in addition to CLL-1, such as CD96, TIM3, and CD38 alongside the TRAIL variant.” ONK Therapeutics was formed based on technology and intellectual property developed at NUI Galway by Prof. Michael O’Dwyer, who retains his academic position as Professor of Haematology, Consultant Haematologist and HRB Clinician Scientist, alongside his role at the company. Over the past 12 months, ONK Therapeutics has expanded its team and operations at its headquarters and R&D facility in Ireland’s med-tech hub in Galway, where it now has 16 employees, with an additional 5 employees based in its US subsidiary in San Diego. -Ends-

Friday, 14 May 2021

A total of 452 cases relating to 392 children and young people between 1st July 2016 and 30th June 2017 were included in this study For a majority of these children and young people the need for Section 12 arises from parental issues and behaviours A vulnerable group identified in the course of this research was young people, specifically those aged 15–17 Research from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway has been published in a new report. In 2017, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, requested Tusla - Child and Family Agency, to commission new research into the number of children who have been subject to a Section 12, meaning that they have been removed to a place of safety by an Garda Síochána. Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 is invoked when a member of An Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that (a) there is the immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child and (b) it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of the application for the emergency care order by Tusla under section 13. The research, led by Dr Carmel Devaney, Dr Rosemary Crosse, Dr Leonor Rodriguez, and Dr Charlotte Silke of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, was infomed by anonymised data on 452 Section 12 incidents during the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, and 28 semi-structured interviews with Tusla staff. The research found that: A total of 452 Section 12s relating to 392 children and young people between 1st July 2016 and 30th June 2017 were included in this study. The majority of these children and young people were subject to one Section 12 in this time period. For a majority of these children and young people the need for Section 12 arises from parental issues and behaviours. This evidence suggests a strong need to increase the provision of early intervention parent and family support services for children, young people, and families, to reduce vulnerability and to respond to needs in a timely manner, and avoiding the need for one or more Section 12s. A vulnerable group identified in the course of this research was young people, specifically those aged 15–17. Such findings necessitate further exploration of the needs of this age group (who have the highest incidence of Section 12s) and provision of appropriate resources and training for staff of both Tusla and An Garda Síochána on responding to the needs of this group. Lead author of the report, Dr Carmel Devaney, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: "This research highlights a need for increased emergency placements for young people who have been removed to a place of safety by An Garda Síochána. It also emphasises the need to support parents and young people at an earlier stage so that this type of situation does not arise. Critically, it recommends giving An Garda Síochána the power to access support from extended family members in these circumstances, which would lessen the use of inappropriate placements for children and young people." The research commission request arose after the publication of ‘Audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991’ prepared by Dr Geoffrey Shannon for the Garda Commissioner in 2017. This report did not audit Tusla’s actions after invoking Section 12, however, a number of the recommendations within the Shannon Report related to Tusla policies and procedures in relation to Section 12 and Section 13 of the Child Care Act 1991. The full report and an executive summary of 'Tusla - Child and Family Agency’s actions and decision-making process following An Garda Síochána’s application of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991' can be read in full at: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/.   Feedback and further queries on the report can be emailed to the National Research Office at trc@tusla.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

The scholarship, valued at €10,000 per student, supports four undergraduate students from County Roscommon each year NUI Galway staff and students held a virtual event to meet Leaving Certificate students from secondary schools in County Roscommon to launch applications for enrolment to the Pauline and Bunnie Jones Scholarship 2021. At the event, NUI Galway and the Jones family announced the extension of the scheme, which was established to encourage academic achievement and support students from County Roscommon enrolling in an undergraduate degree at NUI Galway.  Supported by the Jones family of Tulsk, in honour of their parents Pauline and Bunnie Jones, the scholarship, valued at €10,000 per student, supports four undergraduate students each year. Speaking about the scholarship, Adrian Jones said: “We are investing in Roscommon’s future, in honour of our parents who made great sacrifices to invest in us. They both believed passionately in the transformative power of learning. Our father’s formal education ended at 12 but, in his 40’s, he earned a Diploma in Social Studies, made possible by the dedication of Michael D. Higgins, then lecturing at NUI Galway. Our mother went back to NUI Galway, her alma mater, in her 70’s to study Archaeology.” Four scholarships are awarded to four students presenting the highest Leaving Certificate results each year. Two scholarships are awarded to students attending Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown and two further scholarships to students attending all other schools in Co. Roscommon. The four recipients of the scholarship in its inaugural year were Catherine Mannion and Joshua Hanrahan from Scoil Mhuire Strokestown, and Sinéad Gorham and Ciara Mulheir from Castlerea Community School. Scholarship recipient Sinéad Gorham said: “It’s incredibly comforting to know the immense amount of support that surrounds us students in our academic journey. The Jones Family have made it so clear to us recipients that they are here to not only support our academic studies but in our future careers and in our overall wellbeing. I recommend any Leaving Certificate student to apply for the scholarship because with the Jones Family mentorship, I believe that all recipients have a great foundation to receive what they want in life.” Speaking about supporting young people, Dr Deirdre Jones said: “In our family, we are passionate about education providing opportunities. If you invest in young people, encourage young people and make it a little bit easier for them, hopefully they will turn around in three decades time and help somebody else.” Director of Development at NUI Galway, Julie Stafford, said: “The Pauline and Bunnie Jones Scholarship programme encompasses all of the values we hold at NUI Galway: respect, sustainability, openness and excellence. The Jones family are part of our alumni community and it is a privilege to see them give back in such a generous way to our University and our region by supporting the next generation of students and acknowledging their talent and potential.” To be eligible for the award, students are required to have attended and sat the Leaving Certificate at any school in County Roscommon. They must apply for any full-time undergraduate course at NUI Galway through the CAO and upon receipt and acceptance of a CAO offer, register as a student of NUI Galway by the due registration date. Students are required to complete an expression of interest in the scholarship on or before Sunday, 1 August 2021. Full details of the scholarship scheme and the expression of interest form are available online: www.nuigalway.ie/roscommonscholarship/ -Ends- 

Monday, 10 May 2021

NUI Galway is calling on scientists and science enthusiasts to enter FameLab, the world’s largest science communication competition held in 30 countries. For the ninth year running, one of four regional FameLab Ireland heats will take place virtually in Galway on Thursday, 10 June. With science becoming increasingly specialised, those working in the field can struggle to explain their projects to colleagues let alone to the general public. The FameLab competition, an initiative of the Cheltenham Science Festival, recognises this and challenges up and coming scientists, engineers and mathematicians to explain a complex idea in a simple and engaging way. By entering FameLab, participants will begin a journey with like-minded people, build their networks and expand skillsets essential for developing their career. The Galway event is being managed by the British Council and NUI Galway, and forms part of the annual FameLab Ireland competition. The Galway competition is open to a range of people who apply, work on, teach or study science: People who apply science, technology, engineering or mathematics in industry or business. Those working on applying science, engineering, technology or mathematics (ranging from patent clerks, statisticians, consultants and industry). People who apply science, technology, mathematics or engineering in the armed forces or government bodies. Lecturers and researchers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, including specialist science teachers with a science degree. University students of science, technology, mathematics or engineering aged 18 and over. Armed only with their wits and a few props, previous finalists in the FameLab Galway heat have delivered short three-minute pieces on pertinent science concepts. Expect to hear anything from why men have nipples, how 3D glasses work and is nuclear energy a good or bad thing? Presentations will be judged according to FameLab’s “3 Cs”: Content, Clarity and Charisma. Winning contestants from FameLab Galway will attend a communication masterclass and participate in the FameLab Ireland final in September. The winner will represent Ireland at the online FameLab international finals.  An initial information briefing will take place virtually on Thursday, 13 May from 12pm-1:30pm at: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/famelab-galway-briefing-2021-tickets-150080668319. To enter the FameLab Galway heat, please complete the online registration form https://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab/enter-competition/apply by Tuesday, 1 June. FameLab Galway online regional heat is partnered with NUI Galway, GMIT and a number of research centres: Insight, MET (Medical and Engineering Technologies), CÚRAM and Lero, the SFI Research Centre for Software at NUI Galway. For further information about FameLab Galway contact event organiser, James Blackwell at james.blackwell@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Monday, 10 May 2021

Professor Abhay Pandit (NUI Galway) and Professor David Brayden (UCD), Scientific Director and Co-Director of CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, have been appointed to Ireland’s first National Research Ethics Committees in the areas of Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (NREC-CT) by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly. Ireland’s first NREC was established in March 2020 as part of the national coordinated response to COVID-19. The new NRECs announced this week will address the important area of clinical trials of medicinal products for human use and clinical investigations of medical devices. The establishments of these NRECs will create a national system for research ethics review, which will cultivate the benefits of health research for patients and the public and build a transparent and cohesive research ethics review system that strengthens the national research infrastructure. Professor Abhay Pandit is Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway. His research integrates material science and biological paradigms in developing solutions for chronic diseases. “I am delighted to be appointed to this critical committee and to have the opportunity to help shape the research ethics framework that will support more clinical trial work in Ireland that prioritises patient interests.” he commented. Prof Pandit has received numerous awards and distinctions, being inducted as an International Fellow in Biomaterials Science and Engineering by the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering and elected as a Fellow of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative International Society. He was also elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows in recognition of his outstanding contributions to establishing a national centre which will develop transformative device-based solutions to treat global chronic diseases.  He is the first Ireland-based academic to be bestowed with these honors. He has also been an elected member on the Council for both the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society and European Society for Biomaterials Society. Professor David Brayden is Co-Director of CÚRAM and a Full Professor of Advanced Drug Delivery at the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Veterinary Medicine and a Senior Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute. He has established a critical mass of drug delivery expertise in Ireland and led the SFI Irish Drug Delivery network from 2008-2013. His major research interests are in oral, buccal, and intra-articular peptide delivery using permeation enhancers, nanotechnology, and drug-device combinations. “I’m honoured to be appointed to the NREC, it’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to and support Irish health research and have a role to play in ensuing that the interests Irish patients and contributors to clinical trials are protected. Ireland is a global hub for MedTech R&D and it’s vital that we have a strong clear ethical framework in place to support further growth” he said. Prof Brayden has also received numerous awards for his work including a Distinguished Service Award from the Controlled Release Society for services to its Board of Scientific Advisors. In 2012, he was the first Irish academic to be inducted into the College of Fellows of the Controlled Release Society. In 2014, he received an award for service to research from the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2017, he became the first Irish academic to be elected as a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who®. In total, 18 members have been appointed to three NRECs – two in clinical trials and one in medical devices. These Committees will be responsible for reviewing the ethics underpinning research proposals in the area of health research. These committees will be tasked with providing expert ethical guidance for the research process that will protect the safety, dignity and well-being of health research and clinical trial participants in Ireland. The remit of the NREC-CTs is to review the submission of ethics applications related to Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products (CTIMP). This includes interventional studies and low-interventional studies involving medicinal products for human use. The NREC-CTs will initially run concurrently with many local recognised RECs to review CTIMP ethics applications for a defined transition period. This approach will collectively support this important area of research and ensure a smooth transition ahead of the EU Clinical Trial Regulation. The full announcement with details of all 18 nominees is available at https://www.nrecoffice.ie/members-appointed-to-irelands-first-nrecs-for-clinical-trials-and-medical-devices/ ENDS

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Open Scholarship Week will examine the current transition to Open Science, and the impact of Covid-19 on publishing globally NUI Galway will host a virtual Open Scholarship Week showcasing the importance of research and education that is open and accessible to everyone. The free events will take place online from 10–14 May and is coordinated through the Open Scholarship Community Galway.  Open Scholarship is a global movement towards research and educational practices that are collaborative and transparent. It aims to make research and educational resources such as publications, data, research outputs and teaching and learning resources publicly available as early as possible, as well as actively encouraging participation in the research process with the general public. Open Scholarship Week will feature contributions from a host of national and international scientists working in the domain including the opening keynote address by Professor Frank Miedema,  Professor of Open Science at Utrecht University. The contributions will examine the current transition to Open Science, and the impact of Covid-19 on publishing globally. Panel discussions will examine how open can change the world, the use of open practices in teaching, learning, and the use of Open Educational Resources. Presentations will also focus on how research is enabled through the use of open software and open data. The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move of researchers and institutions to push for Open Scholarship, Open Science and overall greater transparency in the execution of research. Open Scholarship Week 2021 builds on 2020 and 2019 events hosted at NUI Galway, which were the first of their kind in Ireland. It brings together researchers, academics, educators, and members of the public to highlight and showcase what Open Scholarship is and how to work together towards creating knowledge that is open to everyone. During the week themes such as films as a method of research dissemination, virtual reality and environmental protection will be examined from the open perspective. The week will also feature open workshops and a hands-on session. As part of the week’s activities, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology will host and sponsor an Open Scholarship prize in conjunction with Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland software Research Center. Hardy Schwamm, Open Scholarship Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “Thanks to our brilliant organising committee we have a varied programme for people who are new to open Scholarship as well as for Open enthusiasts. Open Scholarship Week has developed from a small, local event to an internationally recognised event that showcases the benefits of many Open practices.” The move towards Open Scholarship has received substantial support from the funders of scientific research such as the European Union Horizon programs and from national research funders such as Science Foundation Ireland. All sessions at Open Scholarship Week 2021 are free and open to everyone who is interested in the idea of Open Scholarship. To register visit https://www.nuigalway.ie/osw/. For further information visit www.osc-galway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Researchers are looking to recruit patients who have been newly diagnosed with Mantel Cell Lymphoma, a rare and aggressive type of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma A leading Haematologist at Galway University Hospital and the Advanced Therapies and Cancer Group at School of Medicine in NUI Galway are looking at improving health outcomes for patients with Mantle cell Lymphoma by conducting a clinical trial of a new treatment drug which aims to improve survival rates. The trial is being led in Galway by Dr Amjad Hayat consultant haematologist, who has led many previous clinical trials in this area. The Advanced Therapies and Cancer Group Research group, previously knowns as the Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, have been in operation since 2002 years at NUI Galway, with an extensive repertoire and experience in oncology and haematology research. Dr Hayat said: “Participating in this trial is very important for the future of Mantel Cell Lymphoma treatments and its patients. The trial is expected to continue for seven years, which will include a treatment period and a follow up period, giving the researchers as much information as possible about the efficacy and safety of the drug.” Galway University Hospital is one of 150 sites globally to take part in this clinical trial with an estimated 500 participants to be recruited on a voluntary basis across each site. Dr Hayat continued: “We are now looking to recruit patients who have been newly diagnosed with Mantel Cell Lymphoma (MCL). MCL is a rare and aggressive type of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma equating to about 7% of all patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma each year. Sadly, MCL at present has poor prognosis with average survival rate of less than three years from diagnosis.” Explaining the treatment for Mantel Cell Lymphoma patients, Dr Hayat added: “Ireland’s standard of care treatment offered to newly diagnosed, physically fit MCL patients at present include an intensive chemotherapy regime coupled with an autologous transplant. Two targeted therapy drugs called Bendamustine and Rituximab are offered to patients who are less physically fit. This trial proposes a new experimental drug called Zanubrutinib coupled with existing drug Rituximab which may be more efficient at treating MCL and hopefully, prolonging survival rates. “Zanubrutinib differs from previous treatments as it blocks substances found in the body that help cancerous Mantel Cell Lymphoma cells to grow and survive. By blocking these substances, Zanubrutinib could essentially slow the growth of these cells and may improve symptoms of MCL.” Dr Hayat conluded: “In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States approved this drug for use on Mantel Cell Lymphoma patients with continued clinical trials and approximately 1500 patients having received the drug to date. As recruitment opens we look forward to seeing what the results will bring for patients.” Patients or family members wishing to enquire about this clinical trial and other clinical trials taking place at the the Advanced Therapies and Cancers Group can visit the website at http://www.nuigalway.ie/hrbcrfg/research/advancedtherapiescancers/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Young women least likely to say Yes to a Covid-19 vaccine  Young women are significantly less likely to say they would accept a Covid-19 vaccine, new research from a joint Irish-UK project has revealed. The vaccine hesitancy study carried out by NUI Galway, in collaboration with University of Huddersfield, England, canvassed the views of 1,000 people online in Ireland and the UK, recording their attitudes and intentions in relation to Covid-19 vaccination programmes. Findings from the research are to be presented this month to the Behavioural Change Subgroup that advises the Government’s National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). Dr Jane Walsh, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Director of the Mobile Technology and Health (mHealth) Research Group at NUI Galway, said: “Understanding vaccine hesitancy is key to addressing public concerns, promoting confidence and increasing vaccine uptake.”  The research revealed: :: 75% of those who participated in the survey intend to get a Covid-19 vaccine; 11% said they would not; and 14% said they were unsure.  :: Women and younger people were significantly less likely to report intention to avail of a Covid-19 vaccine. :: Women aged under 30 were significantly less likely to say they would accept a Covid-19 vaccine, with fewer than 70% indicating a positive response and 20% indicating high levels of uncertainty.  Dr Walsh said: “It is possible, that one of the reasons behind young women’s reluctance to signal an intention to get a Covid-19 vaccine is related to issues around fertility and this warrants further investigation." The survey revealed that peer influences are strongly associated with young women’s intentions on vaccination.  Dr Walsh said: “This influence was particularly strong in the ‘no’ and ‘unsure’ group. These findings suggest that messages that are channelled through relevant social influencers may have a significant impact on vaccine uptake. It is also concerning that those who vote ‘no’ to the vaccine have a lower sense of civic responsibility. But what is clear, in general, is that there is still a high level of uncertainty around Covid-19 vaccination.”  To date, there have been almost 250,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland while more than 1 million people have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. In the UK there have been more than 4.4 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 34 million people have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.  The research team cautioned that positive attitudes towards vaccination are far less likely to be driven by fear messaging but rather by developing a stronger message of trust in the government and authorities. Dr Susie Kola-Palmer, University of Huddersfield, co-leader on the research project, said: “We can shift attitudes and intentions to Covid-19 vaccine from ‘unsure’ to ‘yes’ if public health campaigns provide clear messages about the benefits, as well as clear information on the low risks associated with having the vaccine and promote a positive sense of civic responsibility. “Trust in authorities is a significant barrier among people who have no intention of being vaccinated. Public health experts and governments should consider strategies to address this. Personalised messaging needs to be targeted at young people, and women in particular, to address their concerns. And it needs to be made a priority.”  The study also found that people were more likely to signal intention to get a vaccine if they had a higher trust in authorities; high satisfaction with government response to the pandemic; and if they were more likely to adhere to public health guidelines in general.  Ends 


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