Friday, 14 February 2020

Those who have never been in love report better healthSexual minority youth at increased risk of poor healthResponses from 15 year olds in eight European countries  A new study, led by Dr András Költőand the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Ireland team, based in the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, linking patterns of romantic attraction with self-rated health and health symptoms, has been published in the Journal of LGBT Health. ‘Self-reported health and patterns of romantic love in adolescents from eight European countries and regions’ is the first study to examine adolescent romantic love patterns across multiple countries, and to test whether they are related to health outcomes. NUI Galway researchers Dr András Költő and Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn carried out the study with their colleagues from other European countries to investigate the relationship between how adolescents rated their own health and who they were in love with. Adolescents aged 15 years from eight European countries and regions (Bulgaria, England, France, French Belgium, Hungary, Iceland, North Macedonia and Switzerland) were asked if they had ever been in love and whether they had been in love with someone of the opposite gender, the same gender, both or neither. The sample (which is nationally representative for all of these countries) comprised 13,674 young people. Adolescents who had never been in love reported the best self-rated health and fewest health symptoms such as headache, stomachache, feeling low, irritability or bad tempers, difficulties getting to sleep, nervousness and feeling dizzy. The rates of opposite-gender love (heterosexual) were 52% in England and 82% in France. Proportion of same-gender love (lesbian/gay) were around 2% in both countries. Having been in love with others of both genders (bisexual) was marginally more frequent, with 3% in England and 2% in France. However, 40% of the English and 13% of the French adolescents reported never being love. Rates of same- and both-gender attracted adolescents were similar in the other countries, but proportion of those who reported opposite-gender love varied more widely. Adolescents who had been in love with people of the same gender were three times more likely to report multiple symptoms and were one and a half times more likely to report having poor health than 15-year-olds who had been in love with people from the opposite gender. Those who had been in love with both boys and girls (which may indicate being bisexual) were three times more likely to report multiple healthy symptoms and were three and a half times more likely to report having poor health than 15 year-olds who had been in love with people from the opposite gender. These patterns persisted across the eight countries studied, even when factors such as levels of family affluence and the participants’ gender were taken into account. Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr András Költő stated: “This study suggests that bisexual young people and adults are even more affected by poor health than their lesbian and gay peers of the same age, and all sexual minority youth are faring considerably worse than their heterosexual peers. This is likely to be connected to the discrimination, prejudice and high levels of stress many LGBTI+ (the abbreviation stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or belonging to other sexual or gender minority) young people experience in their everyday lives. We hope these findings will supplement Ireland’s National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy 2018-2020, the world’s first governmental strategy that aims to improve sexual and gender minority young people’s health and wellbeing.” The data does not feature Irish youths but NUI Galway plans to present findings on Irish young people in the coming months.  The article can be downloaded at: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/lgbt.2019.0107 ENDS

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway and Director of the NUI Galway Center for Neuroimaging, Cognition and Genomics, and Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine, have been named as two of five new Research Leaders by the Health Research Board. Each Research Leader has developed strong partnerships with different parts of the health sector to conduct research programmes that will deliver evidence to directly inform changes in health policy and practice. Professor Donohoe is aiming to provide psychosocial supports for young people with severe mental health challenges, while Dr Vellinga will provide actionable research to reduce infections and the use of antibiotics. Professor Donohoe’s award is in the area of youth mental health, in collaboration with the National Early Intervention for Psychosis Service. The overarching aim of this research program is to build capacity for evaluating and implementing psychological treatments in young people with mental health difficulties. 75% of all mental health difficulties first occur between 15-25 years of age, but despite this young people have the poorest access to treatment and supports. The more severe of these disorders, including schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are ranked by the World Health Organisation as a top five cause of years lived with disability. Commenting on the award, Professor Donohoe said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to lead a collaboration with key figures in the Health Service Executive providing early psychosis services, and international experts in youth mental health research. This award recognises the critical need for research-informed services focused on youth mental health, informing implementation of best practice and new discoveries in routine care.” Dr Vellinga was named as HRB Research Leader for her Collaboration to reduce Antibiotic use and Resistance and identify opportunities for improvement and Awareness (CARA) project. In Europe, about 33,000 people die each year as a direct consequence of an infection due to bacteria resistant to antibiotics.  Dr Vellinga said: “Superbugs cause resistant infections which are difficult to treat and pose a serious threat to human health. This programme will combine, link and analyse data from multiple already existing databases about infection, antibiotic prescribing antibiotic resistance and other healthcare- information. The CARA data-infrastructure will be set up with dashboards for other researchers, clinicians, and healthcare workers to visualise relevant and linked data. Using data visualisation, we will be able to identify opportunities to reduce infections and antibiotic use and improve health care.” Dr Vellinga and her team will be working closely with Professor Mathieu d’Aquin from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at the NUI Galway, as well as the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre, Irish College of General Practitioners, DCU, and Imperial College London. Dr Darrin Morrissey, CEO of the Health Research Board: “It is essential that we support health research leaders who can deliver solid evidence to improve decision making, practice and policy in relation topical health issues such as health service reform, mental health and antimicrobial resistance.” The research programs will support a team of researchers over five years, including PhD students, research assistants, and postdoctoral researchers, and provide dedicated academic and clinical time. The total value of each award is €1.5M. -Ends-

Friday, 27 March 2020

New therapies for pneumonia patients being developed Quick profiling of immune response in patients to be researched NUI Galway has begun a comprehensive review of its existing healthcare research to repurpose it to help fight the spread of COVID-19. A team of researchers at NUI Galway is examining an existing study of interventions for patients with community acquired pneumonia which is rapidly being repurposed to examine COVID-19 patients. This study is being revised and repurposed to enable healthcare professionals to offer novel emerging therapies to the sickest patients. A new working group has been established to give healthcare professionals the ability to quickly profile the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. The working group comprises of the University’s top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID. The University’s critical care researchers are working with the Irish critical care trials group and international pandemic research consortia to develop and rapidly implement Clinical Trials in patients with COVID-19 Severe Respiratory Failure in order to test and gain access to novel therapies as they emerge. President of NUI Galway, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said “NUI Galway exists for the public good. The Irish people have answered the Government’s call to combat the spread of Covid 19, and the University is mobilising all its academic capabilities to join this global action.  While we’re also repurposing our research to combat this crisis, I’d like to pay particular tribute to our medical community, staff and student doctors and nurses who are on the frontline saving lives in our hospitals, nationally and internationally. They making a great contribution throughout the world and our impact is at its most profound through them and their commitment to others.  We are deeply grateful to them.” Vice Dean for Research at NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professor of Anaesthesia, NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals Professor John Laffey added: “There are several emerging drug therapies for COVID-19, including antivirals, chloroquine and derivatives, steroids and immune modulating drugs. However, the research is at an early stage and further comparative studies are needed to determine their effectiveness before we will know what are the best therapies for COVID patients. Our research focuses on what we already know about virus induced severe respiratory failure and how we can quickly adapt it to make early and effective interventions to save the lives of thousands of people.” Healthcare students at NUI Galway are playing a vital role in the provision of healthcare- in their clinical placement and through volunteering, both in contact tracing and at various testing centres across the city.  The Inspire project, led by Professors Martin O'Halloran and John Laffey, is an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway, designed to deliver fast-to-clinic medical devices to support the COVID-19 effort. The Inspire team is composed of over 30 clinicians, medical physicists, engineers and other healthcare staff from UHG, NUI Galway and the local medtech industry.  The team have a number of development streams, addressing topics ranging from infection control to improving oxygen delivery to critically ill patients. One notable stream involves the establishment of a video-conferencing system in ICUs, to allow isolated quarantined patients keep in daily contact with their families. This work is supported by IBM, Cisco and Apple. A second project seeks to reduce the infection risk associated with high-flow oxygen delivery, supported by Tympany, Venari Medical and Endowave, amongst others. If successful, this work will reduce the current dependency on ventilators, allowing for more patients to receive life-saving oxygen therapy.   A new website called www.covidmedsupply.org has been created by NUI Galway and the University of Limerick to offer essential aid in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The new global platform is designed to help local organisations, such as industry, businesses, universities and labs provide available personal protective equipment. The teams in Evidence Synthesis Ireland, Cochrane Ireland and the HRB-TMRN, all based in NUI Galway are, with the help of the University Library and colleagues throughout the University and broader research community, supporting a number of prioritised COVID-19 related projects including membership of the International Cochrane COVID-19 Executive Response Team, conducting rapid updates of Cochrane systematic reviews (e.g., personal protection equipment), mapping of COVID-19 evidence and conducting a number of World Health Organisation prioritised rapid reviews of evidence. Other measures being investigated by NUI Galway researchers include; enhancing the capacity of doctors to provide respiratory support for COVID-19 patients; using data to accurately predict modelling and potential trends of the virus and preclinical studies into COVID-19. -Ends-

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system Largest meta-analysis looking at brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia An international collaborative study led by researchers from the NUI Galway provides findings on the neural basis of intelligence, otherwise known as general cognitive ability (IQ). This new research uses an imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to provide an insight into how small variations in this wiring system is associated with differences in IQ in both the general population and how disorders such as schizophrenia manifest. Over 40 scientists from around the world were involved in analysing brain MRI scans and measures of cognitive function of 1,717 participants, with both healthy functions and patients with schizophrenia. This resulted in a new method to harmonise data collection and analysis as part of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis project (ENIGMA), Schizophrenia Working Group.  The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, was led by Dr Laurena Holleran, Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience and Professor Gary Donohoe, Established Professor at NUI Galway’s School of Psychology and Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics. Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Laurena Holleran, stated that: "To date, this is the largest meta-analysis study of brain structure and cognitive function in schizophrenia. Understanding the neural basis of cognitive function is essential so that effective therapies that address difficulties associated with disorders like schizophrenia, which aren’t targeted by current treatments. This is important because cognitive deficits associated with the disorder strongly predict social and functional outcomes, such as employment or social relationships.   “Previous literature suggested that general intelligence relies on specific grey matter areas of the brain, including temporal, parietal and frontal regions. However, the results from this study indicate that efficient connection pathways across the entire brain provide a neural network that supports general cognitive function.” According to the study’s senior author Professor Gary Donohoe: “These results advance our knowledge in a number of ways. Firstly, we have demonstrated that the relationship between brain structure and intelligence not only involves grey matter, but also white matter - the brain’s wiring system. Secondly, it’s not just one part of this wiring system that is important for intelligence, but rather the wiring system as a whole. And finally, the relationship between intelligence and the brain’s wiring system is basically the same in patients with schizophrenia and healthy people, in that the lack of pattern explains their cognitive abilities. This suggests that cognitive function in patients is the same as the general population, at least as far as white matter is concerned.” Research at NUI Galway’s Centre for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics focuses on providing a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between genetic, brain structure and environmental risk factors associated with psychiatric disorders. By understanding the neural basis of cognitive deficits, researchers aim to establish whether and how these deficits can be ameliorated by therapeutic interventions, leading to better patient functional outcomes. -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Dúshláin roimh mhic léinn go leor de bharr Éigeandáil COVID-19 D’iarr Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, ar úinéirí réadmhaoine oibriú i gcomhar leis an Ollscoil agus cion agus comhbhá a léiriú i leith mic léinn le linn éigeandáil COVID-19. Rinne an Ollscoil an cinneadh go ndéanfar na ranganna agus na measúnuithe go léir a reáchtáil ar líne as seo go deireadh an tseimeastair.  Is in OÉ Gaillimh atá an líon is mó mac léinn ó thaobh scaipeadh tíreolaíoch de thar aon ollscoil sa tír agus moladh do mhic léinn filleadh abhaile ar a muintir féin le linn éigeandáil COVID-19.  I gcás roinnt mac léinn níl ar a gcumas filleadh abhaile, agus is cosúil go bhfuil fógraí díshealbhaithe tugtha do mhic léinn reatha.  Cé go dtacóidh reachtaíocht nua le mic léinn atá sa chás seo, tá cásanna ann freisin a bhfuil deacrachtaí ag cuid de na mic léinn a d’fhill abhaile de bharr gur fhág siad níos luaithe ná mar a bhí beartaithe, agus tá éarlaisí á gcoinneáil siar uathu.  Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Ollamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh inniu: “Is tréimhse dhúshlánach í seo dár bpobal uile.  D’fhan go leor mac léinn i nGaillimh ag an am seo, mar go raibh orthu.  D’fhill go leor eile abhaile, mar go raibh orthu.  Tuigeann OÉ Gaillimh an tionchar atá ag COVID-19 maidir le cúram sláinte, cúrsaí sóisialta agus eacnamaíochta ar gach duine dár sochaí. Molaimid na tiarnaí talún a léirigh cineáltas den scoth dár mic léinn.  “Is tréimhse í seo ina gcuimhneoimid ar an méid a rinneamar agus ar an gcaoi ar chaitheamar leis na daoine timpeall orainn. San fhadtréimhse, is ar mhaithe linn ar fad é go mbeidh clú agus cáil ar Ghaillimh mar áit fháilteach ina bhfuil meas ar chách.  Dá bhrí sin, iarraimid ar úinéirí réadmhaoine a bhfuil ár gcuid mac léinn ina dtionóntaí acu cion, comhbhá agus beagán solúbthachta a léiriú ag an am cinniúnach agus riachtanach seo.” Tá lóistín campas na hOllscoile oscailte i gcónaí do mhic léinn a bhfuil orthu fanacht i nGaillimh, agus tá socruithe i bhfeidhm do mhic léinn a mbeidh orthu fanacht amach ón bpobal más gá dóibh.   Chun mic léinn reatha a choinneáil ar an eolas faoi na forbairtí is deireanaí maidir le folláine agus tacaíocht, reáchtálfaidh an Ollscoil sraith seisiún Ceisteanna & Freagraí ar líne, ag tosú le ceisteanna maidir le lóistín.  Bí linn Dé hAoine, an 27 Márta idir 11am-1pm áit a ndéanfar do chuid ceisteanna uile a bhaineann le lóistín a fhreagairt ag https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Críoch-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Many Students Faced with Challenges Arising from COVID-19 Emergency NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, has called for property owners to work with the University and show care and compassion to students during the COVID-19 emergency. The University has made the decision that all classes and assessments will move online for the remainder of the semester. NUI Galway has the most geographically spread student population of any university in the country and students have been encouraged to return home to their families during the COVID-19 emergency. With some unable to do so, there have been reports of current students being served with eviction notices. While new legislation will support such students, there have also been cases where some of those who have returned home have faced difficulties in leaving earlier than planned, with deposits being withheld from them. Speaking today, Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said: “These are challenging times for all our community. Many students have remained in Galway at this time, by necessity. Many have returned home, also by necessity. NUI Galway is mindful of the healthcare, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on all members of our society. We commend the many landlords who have shown remarkable kindness to our students. “This is a time when we will remember what we did and how we were to our fellow human beings. In the long-term, Galway’s reputation as a welcoming, respectful place is in the interests – and to the benefit – of us all. We therefore request that property owners who have our students as tenants in their properties show care, compassion and some flexibility at this time of urgency and need.” The University’s campus accommodation remains open to students who need to remain in Galway, with arrangements in place for students to self-isolate if needed.   To keep current students up-to-date on all developments in relation to wellbeing and support, the University is hosting a series of online Q&A sessions, starting with accommodation queries. Join us on Friday, 27 March from 11am-1pm where all your accommodation questions will be answered at https://nuigalway.pubble.io/app/preview/66049 -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

NUI Galway and University of Limerick collaboration to help front line clinical staff Researchers at NUI Galway and University of Limerick have designed a new innovative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) emergency supply donation website to connect industry PPE stock to hospitals worldwide. The COVID19 pandemic has overwhelmed the resources of the world’s health systems, often leaving frontline clinical staff without the required PPE, as traditional supply logistic chains lag behind the surge. Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway and Professor of Medical Device Technology, NUI Galway, has developed this innovative solution with his engineering colleague Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick, Ireland to help combat this problem. The new global platform, www.covidmedsupply.org, allows local organisations, such as industry, business, universities, and laboratories, who may have PPE stock in supply to list the categories of what they have on inventory of PPE’s, such as gloves, gowns, goggles etc., with contact details and then drop a map pin to show their geographic location. If a COVID19 surge occurs in their geographic area, for example Cairo, Cork, Calgary, then the local hospital or clinic can simply click on the map of their surroundings and see what emergency PPE/Medical stock is in the vicinity and access it quickly. Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Speaking with my clinical colleagues across the world and looking at the repeating patterns of health supply logistics breakdowns that have occurred as COVID19 surges have swept across the world, it is clear that innovative alternative solutions need to be developed such as www.covidmedsupply.org to enable frontline staff get vital PPE to keep them and their patients safe.” Dr Kevin Johnson said: “Everybody has a role to play in this fight against the COVID19 pandemic – that could be simply to self-isolate, use your skillset to create a website such as www.covidmedsupply.org or donate any surplus supplies you might have to this worthy cause. With so much technology at our fingertips, why not use it for the good of your community. “ For more information visit www.covidmedsupply.org. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Roadmap critical in the COVID-19 crisis An international conference on ‘Inclusive Ageing: The Way Ahead’, recently held in Brussels in conjunction with the European Committee of the Regions, called for governments, civil society, and researchers to commit to reducing social exclusion of older people and addressing the multiple forms of disadvantage that can take hold in later life. The Conference was co-organised by the ROSEnet European research and policy stakeholder network, AGE Platform Europe and the European Committee of the Regions, and featured an opening address by Katerina Ivanovic, Head of the, Social Affairs Unit within the DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion. Launching a Roadmap for reducing social exclusion amongst older people, Professor Kieran Walsh, Chair of ROSEnet and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, said: “We must maximise the commitment of all stakeholders to engage together to combat exclusion in older age, and to advance innovations in policy and practice interventions.” “It is on this basis that we present a roadmap to reduce old-age social exclusion through research and policy. Critically, the roadmap outlines specific actions with respect to: how we should measure and monitor exclusion in later life; the sort of policy we need to reduce disadvantage in older age; and the sort of research areas that need further work. It also helps to prepare us to be responsive to new and unexpected forms of exclusion.” According to Professor Walsh, the COVID 19 outbreak has the potential to become a new source of social exclusion and disadvantage for older adults. “Older people may not only encounter significant risks to their health, but may struggle to access appropriate information on the virus due to digital exclusion. They may also experience disruption to their support and social networks because of the need for restricted face-to-face contact with others.” However, Professor Walsh also stresses: “More critically, in crises such as these where there is a strain on health systems and resources, it is very important that resource allocation does not become solely focused on those who are perceived to be healthier or, even, more ‘productive’. We need to ensure that health care access continues to be based on need, and not on arbitrary age thresholds. Otherwise, we run the risk of problematising ageing and older people, and devaluing their status as equal citizens in our communities.” Social exclusion of older people is a critical issue for public policy, today and into the future. With 101 million older people in Europe, and a projected increase in this population to 149 million by 2050 (Eurostat 2017), demographic ageing will fundamentally determine the capacity to achieve the stated goal of a ‘Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions’. The conference also stressed the importance of how an ageing-related policy must be evidence based, and rooted in the everyday lives of older people. Otherwise concerns over system effectiveness and system sustainability will very much become a reality. Funded by the COST Association, ROSEnet (Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion) aims to overcome fragmentation and critical gaps in research and policy to tackle social exclusion amongst older people in Europe. The Roadmap, along with six briefing papers on different forms of exclusion, can be accessed at http://rosenetcost.com/rosenet-briefing-paper-series/  -Ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Aquila Bioscience, a pioneering Irish company, based at NUI Galway and the Irish Defence Forces have announced a collaboration with to provide Irish Defence Forces soldiers with its groundbreaking Anti-Bioagent Wipe (ABwipeTM). Aquila Bioscience and the Irish Defence Forces have been collaborating on this technology for over four years, with the Ordnance Corps actively engaged in the concept & product trials. Working with the Irish Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the European Defence Agency Aquila Bioscience has developed a novel, safe, effective and environmentally friendly technology to decontaminate surfaces from bacterial, viral and biotoxin threats. ABwipeTM technology serves as a decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and for civilians to significantly reduce and prevent pathogen transmission from person-to-person and therefore reducing the spread, panic and impact of the pathogen, as is the case with coronavirus COVID-19. Aquila Bioscience’s ABwipeTM contains components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, taking advantage of the virus’s own attack mechanism (in this case, carbohydrates and proteins). Because ABwipeTM contains no harmful ingredients, it can also be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (main portal for virus infection). Most existing decontamination solutions contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin, health of the user and to the environment. ABwipeTM technology was developed to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID19 and will help ensure that first responders and emergency workers are kept safe to allow them to react when called upon. Speaking today, Professor Lokesh Joshi, co-founder and director of Aquila Bioscience, and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. The innovative concept resulted in European Defence Agency supported research & development by Aquila Bioscience at NUI Galway and is just now ready for mass manufacture and could be a valuable technology in the fight against the Coronavirus. This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented measures and the DF have committed to the purchase of a consignment of the AB wipes for troop force protection measures.” At this time of global urgency and unknown impact on human lives and economy because of the COVID- 19 pandemic, ABwipeTM will serve as an essential tool in the arsenal against coronavirus to stem its spread and to save lives. For more details see www.aquilabioscience.com or contact info@aquilabioscience.com -Ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2020

The “What Works to Prevent Violence” funded by UK’s Department for International Development demonstrates the high cost of Violence against Women  An economic cost of over €115,000 for domestic abuse survivors in Ireland NUI Galway today held an event on ‘Violence Against Women and Girls: Accelerating Efforts to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals 5 on Gender Equality’. The event marks International Women’s Day and the close of the What Works to Prevent Violence project undertaken by NUI Galway researchers. The event was a collaboration between NUI Galway and Safe Ireland. The What Works research project which focused on Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development as part of its global programme to prevent violence against women. The research found that violence against women has serious opportunity and productivity costs. Opportunity costs for women including resigning from leadership roles due to stigma relating to intimate partner violence and changing their work patterns in an attempt to reduce violence they experienced at home. The economic costs of violence are particularly high. In South Sudan, the impact of violence on productivity meant that, in effect, employed women in businesses lost 10 working days per year in addition to their usual annual leave. In Ghana, the productivity cost due to absenteeism alone translated into a loss of 1% of Ghana’s GDP due to violence against women, an extraordinarily high figure. The study’s lead researcher, Dr Nata Duvvury from Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway, concluded: “The cost of inaction - doing nothing or not doing enough to prevent violence- is a huge economic burden on not only women but also the wider economy, impacting potential for growth. Governments must be cognizant of the invisible costs violence imposes on countries, a cost that can be wiped out through effective action.” These impacts are also seen in Ireland. Further research conducted by Safe Ireland and NUI Galway found that the total average economic cost of domestic abuse in Ireland to a survivor was €115,790, from the onset of the abuse to their initial recovery. Today’s event emphasised that all governments, including the Irish government, should take a number of new steps to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in relation to gender equality. These steps should include collecting data on a regular basis on the prevalence of violence against women and girls and its costs; to integrate these costs into social and economic policy-making and budgetary planning to ensure Government scale-up prevention efforts; and a comprehensive package of measures to respond to and prevent the levels of violence against women in Ireland.  Sharon O’Halloran, CEO, Safe Ireland reiterated the social change agency’s call for violence against women to be a top priority in the new Programme for Government in order to begin to meet the SDG targets of 2030.  “Through prioritising a comprehensive programme which includes a focus on prevention to tackle the root causes of violence, as well as investing in appropriate infrastructure to respond effectively to survivors, we can begin to systematically erase the structural barriers which keep women, and their children trapped in controlling and abusive relationships. This joined-up approach would also address the social and economic cost to Irish society caused by violence. We know this is achievable, but it needs leadership with the combined effort of all sectors in order to realise the SDGs and make Ireland a more just and equal society.”  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations’ Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership.  Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, with combatting violence being a core component.  ENDS

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

A lecture series at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway featuring new Professors in the College will continue with Personal Professor in the School of Psychology, Professor AnnMarie Groarke, on Thursday, 26 March at 5pm, in the Moore Institute NUI Galway (GO10). In her talk titled ‘What Enhances or Hinders Psychological Adjustment to Chronic Illness for women and men? A programme of research’ Professor Groarke will share findings from her programme of research on psychological adjustment in patients with cancer and arthritis. Given individual variability in response to diagnosis and treatment of illness the focus of this research has been to identify factors that enhance or disrupt adaptation.  Specifically, it highlights the importance of stress appraisal and stress management on quality of life. Coping strategies, illness beliefs and psychological protective attributes that are useful and adaptive are also identified. While diagnosis of serious illness is associated with emotional distress, positive psychological change can also occur in the aftermath of highly stressful events. Some findings on when and why this post-traumatic growth might occur for women with breast cancer will be discussed. The potential impact of prostate cancer and its treatment on men’s sense of manhood and identity is also a focus of interest. Implications for patient care and self-management will be considered. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean for Research in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to continue this lecture series which provides a great opportunity for the University to make the general public more aware of the world-leading innovative research and practice being undertaken in the college. This is the tenth speaker in the series which has featured contributions to date in the areas of social policy, education, political thought, online therapies, language transmission, folk song traditions in Irish, historical research, behavioural psychology, and modern Irish literature. We are honoured to now feature Professor Groarke in the series, an academic whose research, particularly with regard to the psychological adjustment to illness, has brought significant advances for patients, including through the development of cognitive-behavioural stress management programmes.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Public can now have early alert on toxicity level of national and European air pollution episodes Tuesday, 10 March, 2020: NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS) has launched a new app to provide real-time forecasting data on atmospheric composition which will shine a light on the key drivers of climate change and air pollution and build on its internationally-recognised Mace Head Atmospheric Research station.  The C-CAPS’s Mace Head research centre in Connemara is one of the most important facilities for atmospheric composition observations globally and has been operating as far back as 1958. Executive Dean of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, Professor Walter Gear, said: “We are very proud of the work we do here and its contribution to European health and to informing measures to protect our planet.  We are now adding this new app, StreamAIR, that will help to raise further awareness about air pollution and climate issues and their implications.” “Ireland and the world’s future can only be safeguarded by an immediate reduction in harmful emissions.  Cleaner air can yield co-benefits for human health and for the planet by reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.  Meeting our requirements under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is a major challenge for Ireland but by using our technologies here in Galway, Ireland can accurately measure and report the progress it is making.” Mace Head is a member of a number of regional to global networks, contributing data and analysis to a wide range of atmospheric problems.  In particular, it is a World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmospheric composition and climate research station, and a European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) supersite with the aim of solving transboundary air pollution problems under the United Nations Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The Centre’s Director, Professor Colin O'Dowd said “The StreamAIR app is an extension of the Mace Head real-time data system, designed to fuse together real-time observation and forecast data on multiple platforms including mobile devices.” Through StreamAIR, NUI Galway and Mace Head not only provide current real-time data to a range of agencies and networks, the Facility has generated some of the most important long-term observation datasets of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such has carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone, and ozone depleting substances such as CFCs, along with Particulate Matter (PM), such as sulphate haze producing acid rain.   Professor Colin O'Dowd added, “These long-term trends have underpinned successful policy development and intervention in acid rain and ozone depletion issues, but a lot of work still remains for GHG warming agents, driving global warming.  In fact, ozone is a double agent  - while it is critical to have (stratospheric) ozone high in the sky to protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays, at the surface, (tropospheric) ozone is a harmful air pollutant, causing premature deaths and mortality, and also a short-term warming agent (i.e. its lifetime is much shorter that CO2) in terms of global warming. The StreamAIR app brings the polluting agents and global warming agents together into the palm of everybody’s hand, emphasising that both types of agents must be reduced through co-benefit observations, research, and policy development.” Dr Liz Coleman, the Principal Researcher on the project, funded by the SFI MaREI Energy, Climate and Marine research centre, said that the app has the potential to identify the sources of air pollution, as well as the toxicity level of air pollution episodes. This information can be combined with exposure data to better inform the public of the potential risks from a national level to a European scale. This enables users to protect their health by taking necessary precautions when a pollution event is forecasted on the app.    The app can be downloaded from the App Store. For more information visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/science/research/macehead/ or watch a video on the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at https://vimeo.com/bbcswcp/download/371385129/d8dbcd983d. ENDS

Thursday, 5 March 2020

A new exhibition, A Sisyphean Task, will showcase the work of four practice-based PhD students at the Burren College of Art. The exhibition will open on Thursday, 12 March from 5-7pm and run until 9 April, Monday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm. Artistic Research is a core part of the academic programme at Burren College of Art. In its PhD programme, which is accredited by NUI Galway, students focus on a research topic which they explore through artistic practice in order to generate new knowledge. Research at the College represents a plurality of approaches to the artistic process, is interdisciplinary and often informed by collaboration across multiple fields.   Conor McGrady, Burren College of Art Dean of Academic Affairs and curator of the exhibition, said: “Work in this exhibition highlights the interdisciplinary approach that PhD Students at Burren College of Art bring to investigating the world around them, and to contributing to how we understand and engage with it through the lens of contemporary art.” The exhibition will feature the work of students Qi Chen, Tanya de Paor, Kelly Klaasmeyer and Robbie Lawrence and will investigate a range of chosen research topics.   Qi Chen’s research focuses on the combination of portrait, text and documentary film to question or collapse subjective distance between people, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding. Qi has worked as a full-time artist in Hunan Painting Academy and Hunan Province Artists Association, and was the Director of the Young Artists Association of Hunan Province and had the honour of being part of the Great Wall Chinese Painting Distinguished Painters. Tanya de Paor presents research from a series of intergenerational workshops that aim to co- create speculative, fabulated and playful stories about the Anthropocene. Tanya is an artist, researcher and lecturer based in Cork, and her work is concerned with exploring human/nature connections in the neo natural world of the Anthropocene. Her work is multidisciplinary including sculpture, drawing, installation, text and lens based media. Tanya recently presented at the TransCultural Exchange 2018, International Conference for Opportunities in the Arts, in Québec City.  Kelly Klaasmeyer’s research enquires into the relationship between painting and story, exploring as to whether an expanded idea of the portrait can enhance our understanding of subjectivity. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States and private collections in Austria, Germany and The Netherlands. She worked as Arts Writer and Art Critic in St. Petersburg, Russia for the St. Petersburg Times and then in Houston, Texas for the Houston Press and various publications.  The editor of the online art magazine Glasstire from 2007 to 2013, Kelly was awarded a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship as well as a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing. Robbie E. Lawrence’s research examines painting as a vehicle for understanding and ameliorating Thanatophobia (Existential Death Anxiety). Her practice revolves around observational painting and drawing techniques, using representation to investigate the psychology of the objects and people around her. These careful techniques are used to capture moments of storied depth and sensitivity to create quiet, contemplative spaces.    -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

University to host international conference for next generation of solar scientists NUI Galway has continued to build on its credentials as one of the world’s leading centres on sustainable manufacturing research having won a €4 million project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, to produce chemicals using solar energy. Part of the project is to train 15 early stage researchers as specialists in using water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen to produce solar chemicals such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol. The kick-off conference for the researchers will take place at the end of March in Galway. At present, there is a gap in Europe in the area of solar chemicals production and their usage in industry and mobility. NUI Galway has been working in this sphere for some time and is already involved in an exciting project to power public transport using green hydrogen. An NUI Galway pilot project to produce hydrogen from solar to power the public transport fleet in the Canaries will commence shortly. The latest project, known as SOLAR2CHEM, is led by Dr Pau Farràs Costa of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway who is also driving the Canaries’ hydrogen pilot. SOLAR2CHEM includes nine academic organisations and three non-academic partners to provide training programmes on scientific, technical and personal development skills. The programme includes secondments to leaders in solar chemical development including Japan and the United States. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway has committed itself to put Climate Change at the centre of the agenda for the University. We recently developed a five-year strategy to drive radical change in how our economy and society develops underpinned by values, including sustainability, and SOLAR2CHEM shows our capacity to deliver sustainable technologies that deliver for Ireland’s research and development sector, further enhancing our ability to attract foreign direct investment.” Head of SOLAR2CHEM at NUI Galway, Dr Pau Farràs Costa said: “I will be delighted to welcome European colleagues here to Galway on 27 March to begin work on this solar chemicals project. It will help to further establish NUI Galway as Ireland and Europe’s leading university for sustainability. We plan to work hard to deliver an intensive training programme that explores new methods of solar energy conversion to deliver a future supply of sustainable chemicals for the European Union. The EU needs to become leaders in this field and our university will be proud to work with the highest tiers of academics and industry to achieve this.”  NUI Galway is involved in over 133 Horizon 2020 projects and has received over €63 million in direct funding from the programme. NUI Galway places a strong focus on providing a supportive and exciting environment for its researchers and was awarded the ‘HR Excellence in Research’ logo by the European Commission. -Ends-

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

NUI Galway researcher John Daly was named PhD Researcher of the Year at the recent Irish Cancer Society Research Awards. John, who is currently doing a PhD with NUI Galway, was presented with the award for his studies into combatting Multiple Myeloma; a type of blood cancer for which there is currently no cure.  A past winner of a biomedical research scholarship from the Irish Cancer Society, John’s team has focussed on a type of immune cell called Natural Killer cells that normally destroy cancer cells, but are unable to detect those of Multiple Myeloma. John and his colleagues are attempting to find ways of boosting these Natural Killer cells so that they can successfully detect and destroy Multiple Myeloma cells, in a development that would revolutionise treatment for the disease. Commenting on his award, Daly said: “I’m absolutely delighted, a lot of hard work has gone into this so far, not just from me but everyone in my group, and particularly my supervisor and co-supervisor, Professor Michael O’Dwyer of NUI Galway and Dr Mattias Carlsten, Karolinska Institute. Things like this are really encouraging and motivating for the next couple of years as we try to move our research on.” Professor Michael O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway, said: “I am very proud of John's recent achievements. This is a reflection on his own hard work, the supportive ecosystem in my laboratory, our collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, and of course the generous support of the Irish Cancer Society. John's work is helping to usher in a new era of immunotherapy for cancer, employing the use of genetically modified immune cells called natural killer cells, which we believe have great potential.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

A study carried out by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has examined the problem of social media overload, which is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of communication and information a person is exposed to through social media channels. The research, which was published in Internet Research, specifically focused on identifying the causes of social media overload amongst users, and how it affects their energy levels. NUI Galway researchers found that the more prone to feeling bored a social media user is, the more likely it is they will feel overloaded by social media content. In terms of consequences, it found that users who report higher levels of social media overload are more fatigued on a day-to-day basis. However, this level of fatigue depends on what the person uses social media for. Using social media as an information source, for example accessing news stories through Facebook and Twitter, amplifies the effects of overload on fatigue levels. In contrast, using platforms liked Snapchat and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family actually diminishes fatigue levels, even when a person is feeling overloaded.  Lead author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The use of social media is pervasive across the globe with Facebook alone having 2.7 billion monthly users. While social media undoubtedly provides many advantages to users, researchers are now more closely scrutinising the problematic effects of platforms such as Facebook.” Dr Whelan continued: “Our study finds that social media users who are more prone to boredom are more likely to become overloaded by that content, which ultimately has the adverse effect of depleting their energy levels. While being overloaded by social media has many negative psychological consequences, our findings suggest overload only leads to fatigue when social media is used to source information. Using social media for communication purposes acts as a coping mechanism, enabling users to maintain energy levels even when experiencing overload. Therefore, users need to consider not just the amount of social media they expose themselves to, but also how they use these technologies, if they wish to avoid exhaustion.” To read the full study in the journal Internet Research visit: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/INTR-03-2019-0112/full/html  -Ends- 

Friday, 3 April 2020

Medical Students will Graduate with Ceremony on Facebook Live NUI Galway have announced details of two virtual conferring ceremonies which will be broadcast live to 310 graduates and their families.  Due to restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will for the first time in its 175 year history not hold physical conferring ceremonies, and will instead mark the occasion online. On Monday, 6 April, at 10am the University will confer 190 future doctors with an Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) degree. The University took the decision to bring the final year medical examinations and graduation forward to ensure that the Medical graduates would be available to enter the healthcare workforce. On Wednesday, 8 April, at 12pm the University will hold the Research Conferring ceremony with over 110 students graduating. Nearly 90 students will be recognised by NUI Galway when they are conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). A number of students will also be conferred with Masters and Doctor of Medicine degrees. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “These are extraordinary times and our graduates are extraordinary people. While we are deeply disappointed that we cannot share this special day with our graduates in person, we are looking forward to marking the occasion and sharing good wishes online. We imagine together this day and, we hope, better days to come. “During the 175 year history of NUI Galway, our staff and students have shaped many world events and we are filled with pride by those who are bravely battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland and internationally. This community joins those who were involved in previous challenging times, by committing to the public good and the values we hold dear. Our students and staff are on the front lines, testing and treating victims of this devastating illness, and their selflessness and commitment is an inspiration to us all. We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our students with them and their families in a virtual, but no less special way. We also plan to hold a more informal but nonetheless meaningful events in the autumn, circumstances permitting, to mark the success of these graduates who will be graduating remotely this week. These are important days in the life of our university and our students and we look forward to marking them together in better times.” The online ceremony will mark the achievements of students from across Ireland and Europe as well as Malaysia, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Brunei, Singapore, USA, China, South Korea, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Brazil, Ecuador and Vietnam. It is hoped this global community can come together in shared pride at the achievements of NUI Galway’s Class of 2020. Both conferring ceremonies will be streamed live at www.facebook.com/nuigalway -Ends-

Friday, 3 April 2020

Bronnfar Céim ar Mhic Léinn Leighis ag Searmanas Bronnta ar Facebook Live D’fhógair OÉ Gaillimh go reáchtálfar dhá shearmanas bronnta fhíorúla a chraolfar beo do 310 céimí agus dá muintir. De bharr na srianta a bhaineann le paindéim COVID-19, den chéad uair riamh le 175 bliain ní reáchtálfaidh an Ollscoil searmanais bhronnta fhisiciúla, agus déanfar an ócáid a cheiliúradh ar líne ina áit sin. Dé Luain, an 6 Aibreán ag 10am bronnfaidh an Ollscoil Baitsiléir Onóracha sa Leigheas, Baitsiléir Onóracha sa Mháinliacht, agus Baitsiléir Onóracha san Obstatraic (MB, BCh, BAO) ar 190 ábhar dochtúra. Ghlac an Ollscoil an cinneadh scrúduithe leighis bhliain na céime agus an searmanas bronnta a reáchtáil níos luaithe ná mar a bhí beartaithe le cinntiú go mbeadh na céimithe Leighis ar fáil le dul ag obair sa chóras sláinte. Ar an gCéadaoin, an 8 Aibreán ag 12pm reáchtálfaidh an Ollscoil an searmanas Bronnta Taighde, ócáid ag a mbronnfar céim ar bhreis is 110 mac léinn. Tabharfaidh OÉ Gaillimh aitheantas do thuairim is 90 mac léinn nuair a bhronnfar Dochtúireacht le Fealsúnacht (PhD) orthu. Bronnfar céim Mháistreachta agus céim Leighis ar roinnt mac léinn chomh maith. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Ollamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Is tréimhse neamhghnách na laethanta seo agus is daoine iontacha iad ár gcéimithe. Cé go bhfuil an-díomá orainn nach féidir linn an lá speisialta seo a cheiliúradh lenár gcéimithe go pearsanta, táimid ag súil go mór leis an ócáid a cheiliúradh agus beannachtaí a roinnt leo ar líne. Déanfaimid an lá seo a shamhlú le chéile agus muid ag breathnú chun cinn ar laethanta níos fearr amach anseo. “In imeacht 175 bliain OÉ Gaillimh, bhí lámh ag ár bhfoireann agus ag ár mic léinn san iomad imeachtaí domhanda agus táimid an-bhródúil astu siúd atá ag troid go cróga in éadan phaindéim COVID-19 in Éirinn agus i bhfad i gcéin. Ceanglaíonn an pobal seo na daoine sin a thug aghaidh ar dhúshláin mhóra san am atá thart, trí thiomantas a léiriú do leas an phobail agus do na luachanna is mó atá againn. Tá ár mic léinn agus ár bhfoireann ag obair sna seirbhísí tosaigh, ag déanamh tástálacha agus ag cur cóir leighis orthu siúd atá thíos leis an tinneas millteanach seo, agus is inspioráid dúinn uile an neamhleithleasacht agus an tiomantas a léiríonn siad. Táimid ag súil le héachtaí ár mac léinn a cheiliúradh leo féin agus lena muintir ar dhóigh fhíorúil, dóigh a mbeidh thar a bheith speisialta. Tá sé mar aidhm againn ócáidí neamhfhoirmeálta a chur ar siúl san fhómhar, má bhíonn deis ann, chun ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar éachtaí na gcéimithe nua a bhainfidh céim amach ó chian an tseachtain seo. Laethanta tábhachtacha iad seo i saol na hollscoile agus ár mac léinn agus táimid ag súil le teacht le chéile in éineacht leo amach anseo nuair a bheidh laethanta níos fearr ann.” Ag an searmanas ar líne tabharfar aitheantas d’éachtaí na mac léinn fud fad na hÉireann agus na hEorpa chomh maith le héachtaí na mac léinn ón Malaeisia, Ceanada, Oileán na Tríonóide agus Tobága, Brúiné, Singeapór, SAM, an tSín, an Chóiré Theas, Neipeal, an India, an Phacastáin, an Iaráic, an Bhrasaíl, Eacuadór agus Vítneam. Táthar ag súil gur féidir leis an bpobal domhanda seo teacht le chéile le teann bróid chun éachtaí Rang 2020 OÉ Gaillimh a cheiliúradh. Déanfar an dá shearmanas bronnta seo a chraoladh beo ar www.facebook.com/nuigalway -Críoch-

Friday, 20 December 2019

Medtech accelerator helps 14 companies secure €9.7 million and create 52 jobs Life Sciences start-ups benefit from extensive new state-of-the-art lab space Entrepreneurial students flourish during 2019 Industry collaboration continues to thrive New companies, new start-up spaces, national awards and student successes have marked another very successful year for innovation at NUI Galway. The year saw NUI Galway sign over 50 project agreements with industry contributing across a wide range of sectors including IT, engineering and life sciences. The university is also a collaborator on three ground-breaking projects under the recently announced Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. In 2019, start-ups including AtriAN Medical, Loci Orthopaedics, BlueDrop Medical, Cortechs and An Mheitheal Rothar - among others - saw great successes. Among the highlights of the year was the completion of the second round of the BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme, based at NUI Galway. The two-year pilot supported 14 companies who secured €9.7 million in investment and funding and created 52 jobs. The year also saw the creation of specialised laboratory space to support life sciences start-ups in the region, with room for up to 100 employees.  In recognition of her leadership role with BioExel and broader contributions to the medtech ecosystem in Ireland, Fiona Neary, Innovation Operations Manager with NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, was awarded an Achiever of the Year Award as part of Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s Impact Awards. Student and Staff Innovation Entrepreneurial students across campus continued to excel in 2019, in particular those supported by NUI Galway LaunchPad, the innovation training hub on campus which has supported over 7,000 student entrepreneurs since 2016. Christopher McBrearty was announced as Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year and also featured with fellow students Emily Wallace and Aaron Hannon in the Sunday Independent Top 30 under 30 Entrepreneurs in Ireland. Former NUI Galway LaunchPad student entrepreneur in residence Edel Browne was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list 2019. Over 20 new innovative project ideas from collaborative student and staff projects were supported by the NUI Galway EXPLORE Programme. The projects range in topics from coastal flooding, outreach science kits, developing alumni linkages to developing the next generation of rehabilitation device for stroke victims. In 2019 the Galway Green Lab project, a newly funded project with EXPLORE was the first Lab in Europe to secure Green Lab certification. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, commented: “Our office plays a crucial role in driving impact for the University, with a focus on the benefits to society and the economy. The team works closely with NUI Galway’s research community to take research breakthroughs and knowledge out into society; to support collaborations with industry; to mentor spin-outs and spin-ins on campus; and to deliver programmes that engage staff and students in entrepreneurial projects.” Supporting Start-Ups and Industry There has been plenty of successes for NUI Galway spin-outs and spin-ins in 2019. Highlights include: Medical device spin-out company, AtriAN Medical closed a €2.3 million investment to commercialise a new treatment for atrial fibrillation. Loci Orthopaedics was announced as lead partner in a €2.5 million consortium to advance its device for the treatment of arthritis of the thumb under the European Commission’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ fund. Bluedrop Medical, a BioExel participant, successfully raised €3.7 million in 2019 with a mix of investment and EU grant funding to enable further clinical emersion of their product that has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations. Brian Shields, founder of Galway medical device NUI Galway spinout Neurent Medical, was named as Enterprise Ireland’s high potential start-up Founder of the Year. The company was also among the finalists for the 2019 Knowledge Transfer Impact Award for spinout company. Cortechs, another BioExcel participant, has created data-driven, therapeutic applications that use cognitive training, brainwaves and biofeedback data to improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The company has already received an EU grant of €1.3 million for the development of their products and is now open for seed investment of €2 million. An Mheitheal Rothar, a social-sustainable enterprise based at NUI Galway, was one of just three enterprises in Ireland to be awarded €5,000 by the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland in 2019. Irish technology start-up Joulica which is based on campus announced plans to create 45 new jobs over three years. For more information visit www.nuigalway.ie/innovation. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 December 2019

NUI Galway launched The Pauline & Bunnie Jones Scholarship awards on (Monday, 16 December, 2019) in Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon along with Roscommon-natives, Mrs. Pauline Jones and her daughter Dr. Deirdre Jones. The new scholarships have been established to celebrate achievement and support students from schools in County Roscommon who wish to register for a full-time undergraduate programme at NUI Galway.  The total value of the scholarship will be €2,500 per student. Four scholarships will be awarded based on the highest Leaving Certificate scores achieved in any one year. The scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence in their Leaving Certificate and progress to undergraduate studies at NUI Galway. Students who meet the following criteria will be awarded the scholarships: Two students with the highest Leaving Certificate score, which was sat while attending Scoil Mhuire, Clochar na Trócaire, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. Two students with the highest Leaving Certificate score, which was sat while attending any other school in Co. Roscommon. The award will be limited to a maximum of one medical student with the highest Leaving Certificate score, which was sat while attending any school in County Roscommon. To be eligible for the award, students are asked to: Register their interest in the award by completing the online scholarship application on or before 1st August. Have applied for any full-time Undergraduate course at NUI Galway via the CAO, for the academic year in which the scholarship is awarded. Upon receipt and acceptance of CAO offer, register as a student of NUI Galway by the due registration date. Have attended and sat the Leaving Cert at any school in County Roscommon. Speaking at the launch in Roscommon, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Education is key to supporting society’s development and as part of the scholarships, NUI Galway is committed to providing the opportunity of a university education to students in Co. Roscommon, who strive to excel in their Leaving Certificate and progress to third level studies. We are very grateful to the Jones Family for their generous support of this initiative, which aims to celebrate achievements in secondary schools in Co. Roscommon. We look forward to welcoming the first four scholarship awardees at the start of our new academic year in September 2020. The Scholarship is the embodiment of NUI Galway’s values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability - respect for education, excellence in our students, openness to all and sustaining the next generation.” The ‘Pauline & Bunnie Jones Scholarships’ was established to promote excellence and celebrate academic achievement in secondary schools in Co. Roscommon. The Jones Family is the benefactor of this scholarship which will be awarded through Galway University Foundation. For online scholarship applications and more information, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/undergraduate-scholarships/. -Ends-

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Academics from NUI Galway’s School of Education have been awarded research funding for a three-year international project that will develop teachers’ research skills and networking practices. The researchers, Dr Tony Hall and Dr Cornelia Connolly, have been awarded European funding for the project, which will develop teachers into teacher researchers and evidence informed practitioners through an innovative infrastructure. Aligning to the work conducted nationally by the T-REX consortium (which includes NUI Galway, the University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College and Marino Institute of Education), this funding was awarded through the Erasmus+ programme, and will  support international partnerships seeking to enhance education. The NUI Galway have been joined with research partners from across Europe including the UK, Poland, Greece and Spain. Dr Tony Hall, Deputy Head, School of Education, said: “The development of a network of research teachers will reduce the gap between research and individual teaching practice, thereby giving back agency to the very people who will need to make use of, and who should be driving forward, research in schools.” Dr Cornelia Connolly, Co-Principal Investigator, added: “The project will deliver freely accessible tools to enable teachers to access research, help them design and carry out their own small scale projects, and publish and share their findings with peer groups across the EU.” The project will seek to inform teacher education practice in its partner countries and strategically target stakeholders and policy makers at its seven external multiplier events. The resources will also be made freely available for across the European Union, following project completion in August 2022. -Ends-

Monday, 16 December 2019

Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, will deliver a public lecture entitled ‘What does climate change really have to do with human rights?’ at NUI Galway. The event will take place on Thursday, 19 December, from 12.30-2pm in the Distillery Buildings, Law Library, Dublin 7, and is co-hosted by the Irish Centre for Human Rights, the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway and the Human Rights Committee, Bar of Ireland. This event marks the launch in Dublin of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, led by Dr Maeve O’Rourke, which includes a focus on climate justice and Ireland’s (non-)performance regarding its climate change mitigation obligations. The lecture will be chaired by Chief Justice, Hon Mr Justice Frank Clarke, and will draw from Professor Alston’s recent UN report on climate change and human rights, in which he described the extreme inequality and suffering that climate change is causing around the world and the steps that governments - and all members of society - particularly in wealthier countries need to take, urgently, to address the climate crisis. Commenting on the upcoming event, UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Alston said: “Climate change is going to affect all of us, and dramatically, but you’d never know that from the reaction of the legal and human rights communities.” UN Special Rapporteur, Professor Alston, will address the threats posed by climate change to the future of human rights, and the risk that progress made on human rights, poverty reduction and democratic governance, will be undone. He will highlight the need for human rights activists, lawyers, scientists and Governments to act now, with greater urgency, mobilising policy measures, law reform initiatives and human rights advocacy to secure policy and legislative changes. Professor Alston will also reflect on recent global developments as people globally, and young people in particular, put increasing pressure on their governments to act. Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, said: “Climate change threatens human rights, including the most fundamental of rights, the right to life. Globally, rights to livelihoods, health, housing, and decent work, are facing urgent and destructive threats globally and locally. Human rights activists, lawyers, Governments and policy-makers need to mobilise and to take courageous and bold steps now to safeguard the future of our children and the fragile protections of human rights that we have fought to defend.” Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “It has been estimated that the richest 10% of the world’s population are responsible for almost half of total lifestyle consumption emissions. At the other end of the income scale, the poorest 50% of people on the planet are responsible for only 10% of total lifestyle consumption emissions. While contributing the least to causing the climate change problem, it is the poorest and marginalised in our societies that are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and shocks.” Professor Spillane stressed: “As the world’s leaders assemble for the COP25 climate negotiations in Madrid, there are major action challenges to be addressed relating to both reducing emissions and distributive justice to strengthen the climate change resilience of the poorest and most marginalised in society. While ‘Leaving No One Behind’ and ‘Reaching the furthest behind first’ has been a clarion call of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, it remains to be seen what scale of climate justice actions will be deployed by our governments and institutions towards such ambitions.”  This event will appeal to policy-makers, NGOs, Government, lawyers, and all those interested in human rights, law, politics, poverty, climate change and/or environmental issues generally. The event is free but places must be reserved on Eventbrite https://bit.ly/2qHPoNO. The UN Special Rapporteur Professor Alston's report on Climate Change and Poverty can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2PzpQKY and a summary is available at https://bit.ly/38orE1Y   . -Ends-

Thursday, 12 December 2019

University to shape Legacy of European Capital of Culture with a cultural legacy programme which will have a lasting impact on Galway’s creative arts sector NUI Galway announced its strategic partnership with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture today (12 December 2019) at the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The partnership was officially launched by Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, and Arthur Lappin, Chair of Galway 2020. As European Capital of Culture 2020, Galway has a unique opportunity to build a lasting legacy for the cultural and creative arts sector in the city and its hinterland, boosting the reputation of the city and region, and building new relationships across Europe and the wider world. As Official Legacy Partner to the European Capital of Culture project, NUI Galway will support the development of a cultural legacy programme which will have a lasting impact on Galway’s creative arts sector. The multi-strand partnership to support the delivery of the legacy of Galway 2020 includes: A Legacy Cultural and Performance Space Demonstrating its commitment to Galway as European Capital of Culture 2020, the University has committed to considering the legacy of Galway 2020 in terms of space, both physical and conceptual, for the performing arts. This will build on the development of the Regeneration Master Plan for Nuns’ Island, which is being implemented in cooperation with Galway City Council. The brief for the performance space will be co-developed with Galway City Council and will involve broad consultation with cultural and arts organisations. Culture at the heart of the University’s Role Culture and the creative arts have always been at the heart of the University’s mission. NUI Galway has long been a wellspring of creative talent and is making an active contribution to building Galway’s reputation as an internationally recognised centre for culture, creativity and innovation. The University will invite ambition in research that enriches creativity and culture, and it is committed to partnering with and supporting cultural and creative organisations, regionally and nationally, to champion cultural expression for all.  The legacy of Galway 2020 will include the creation of new teaching courses – including a new Masters in Producing and Curating, the recruitment of new students into Creative Arts programmes, and the development of new local, national and European partnerships in teaching and research. NUI Galway to host Galway 2020 Events NUI Galway will become a hub for selected Galway 2020 events, bringing leading artists, researchers and audiences to the campus, expanding on its commitment to playing a leading role, as an engaged university, in the life of the City and the region. Galway 2020 events to be hosted on campus include three Gala Concerts, one with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, another with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, as well as the grand finale of Cellissimo, a major new International Triennial Cello Festival by Music for Galway. Other events include elements of Project Baa Baa, a programme of events celebrating all things sheep and a major international conference on Cultural Legacy organised by the University. To finish the year-long programme of events, NUI Galway will host a spectacular light installation illuminating the iconic Quadrangle for the Closing Ceremony of Galway 2020 in January 2021. Dedicated Projects for 2020 Galway 2020 in association with NUI Galway will present two further projects in the Galway 2020 programme – The Immersive Classroom and Aistriú. The Immersive Classroom aims to engage students, educators, and the general public in critical debates about the way we think about our world, knowledge and embodied learning by using innovative technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Aistriú will focus on Irish language literature on the theme of migration, shedding new light on some of the best-known Irish language writers. Earlier this year, a four-week capacity-building workshop, Future Landscapes, featured an exhibition showcasing work drawn from theatre, visual and digital arts, and animation. European Cultural Parliament comes to Galway The University hopes to bring members of the European Cultural Parliament to Galway and its regions to set up workshops exploring sustainable cultural ecologies in building new European networks and opportunities for artists and cultural workers. University Network of Capitals of Culture NUI Galway will host the University Network of European Capitals of Culture conference. The theme for this European conference is: ‘Re-thinking Cultural Capital(s): Inclusivity, Sustainability, and Legacies’. The University will also host the annual conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research, the world’s largest gathering of theatre scholars and practitioners, during the 2020 Galway International Arts Festival.  Monitoring and Evaluation The University and Galway 2020, in collaboration with The Audience Agency, will deliver the monitoring and evaluation for the European Capital of Culture programme. NUI Galway will deliver an innovative European research project and gather and analyse data to assess the impact of the European Capital of Culture designation on Galway City and County, in support of a research framework and evaluation plan currently being developed by The Audience Agency. As key educators of future arts practitioners, managers and academics in the cultural and creative industries in Ireland and abroad, the University has a strong interest in establishing educational frameworks that are responsive to the European Capital of Culture status and that can serve the arts, business and cultural communities that will grow in response to 2020. Speaking at the launch of the Strategic Partnership, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, commented: “As a university for the public good, we are delighted to announce our strategic partnership with Galway 2020. As the official legacy partner to the European Capital of Culture project, NUI Galway is committed to respecting and supporting the development of a cultural legacy programme which will leave a far-reaching impact on Galway city and its hinterland. We value our openness to our communities and are therefore also delighted to make available our campus to several events throughout 2020 as well as hosting our own dedicated projects. This partnership will enable the University to continue to enhance and enrich the excellence of our creative and cultural programmes for our students, ensuring that they enjoy a sustainable future contributing to this sector in Galway.” Arthur Lappin, Chair of Galway 2020, said: “The legacy of Galway 2020 will be the ultimate measure of our success as European Capital of Culture. The announcement today that NUI Galway is our Legacy partner is a hugely significant moment in the evolution of the project. The depth and breadth of our partnership is a huge tribute to NUI Galway and its President, of the vision and leadership in our common goals.  Legacy will take many forms and it is so reassuring to know that when the work of Galway 2020 is done, this great institution will carry the torch of underpinning our legacy in so many ways.”  For more information about NUI Galway’s Strategic Partnership with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/galway2020/. -Ends-

Thursday, 12 December 2019

State investment has returned €593 million to the economy Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced a Government investment of €49 million through Science Foundation Ireland in the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics. This Government investment will secure a further €100 million from industry and other international sources, such as the European Union, over the next six years to further harness the power of data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). The Insight Centre for Data Analytics was established in 2013 and is hosted at four higher education institutions: NUI Galway, Dublin City University, University College Cork and University College Dublin and works in partnership with Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, Tyndall National Institute and University of Limerick. Minister Humphreys welcomed the announcement, saying: “I am delighted to announce this new investment in Insight, whose research and outputs are aligned with Future Jobs Ireland, the whole of Government plan to prepare our businesses and workers for tomorrow. Many traditional job roles are changing, and with Brexit and other international challenges on the horizon, we must continue to plan ahead, focus on what is within our control domestically and be the masters of our own destiny. Insight is playing an important role in our plans to prepare now for tomorrow’s world by keeping Ireland at the cutting edge of innovation in this important sector.” Also welcoming the announcement, Minister Halligan said: “As one of Europe’s largest data analytics research organisations, the Insight SFI Research Centre has over 450 researchers and 89 industry partners. I am delighted to welcome this investment announcement, as part of the Government’s commitment to develop a highly skilled and innovative workforce." Through this new investment, Insight will continue its world-class research via a set of three demonstrator projects under the themes: Augmented Human, Smart Enterprise and Sustainable Societies. In addition, it will significantly expand its Education and Outreach Programme, including a new Citizen Science initiative. This allocation forms part of a new six year round of funding (with an overall investment of €230 million) for six Research Centres, including Insight.  The investment has been made by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, as part of Project Ireland 2040, through Science Foundation Ireland. It will directly benefit approximately 850 researchers employed by the Research Centres, while also supporting the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland initiative. The investment is buoyed by industry support with 170 industry partners committing to investing over €230 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next six years.  Insight collaborates with over 80 industry partners, including Abtran, Acquis BI, Boston Scientific, Curtiss-Wright, Eagle Alpha, Fujitsu, GAA and Dublin GAA to name a few. Insight’s research spans Health and Human Performance, Enterprise and Services, Smart Communities and Internet of Things and Sustainability and Operations. The centre’s new CEO, Professor Noel O’Connor, believes that the State’s continued investment in Ireland’s largest data research institute is a major boost for Irish research and will continue to pay dividends for the Irish economy. “We are very proud of what we have achieved since 2013. The establishment of Insight has been a major success story for the Irish economy, and the figures prove it,” says Professor O’Connor. “We have very ambitious plans for our next phase. We have globally competitive talent working at the frontier of research in artificial intelligence, smart cities and the augmented human, and have positioned ourselves right at the heart of innovation leadership.” Commenting on the announcement, Science Foundation Ireland’s Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson said: “Insight’s research is equipping indigenous Irish companies to harness the power of data analytics, machine learning and AI to become more competitive and open new markets. The SFI Research Centres continue to attract and retain multinational organisations who want to conduct high value research in Ireland. Centres like Insight are seeding the next generation of world class innovators in our universities.” Insight was established in 2013 through an initial SFI investment of €43 million and has delivered an economic impact of €593m to the Irish economy. For every €1 of state investment, €5.54 is returned to the economy on an overall leveraged basis. This funding was supplemented by €63 million from EU sources and industry. That means for every €1 of SFI funding, another €1.46 in additional investment has come from those other sources.   During this period Insight has produced over 2,000 publications, trained 184 postdoctoral graduates and established 11 spin out companies and with this new funding will continue to develop these outputs. END

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

NUI Galway Dean of Students, Professor Michelle Millar, recently presented 33 outstanding athletes with NUI Galway Student Sports Scholarships, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, the main sponsors of the Sports Programme at NUI Galway. The ceremony commenced with a special address by Monika Durkarsha, Rowing Ireland team member who qualified in the women’s pair for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Monika give an inspirational talk to the students on what is required to achieve their goals both in sporting and academically, and described how she is able to balance the demands of being a world class athlete and still maintaining a lifestyle balance which allows her to continue her PhD research. NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh delivered the opening address to students highlighting the importance of sport to the Universities Strategic Plan and also taking the opportunity to wish the students well during their studies in NUI Galway. Feargal O’Callaghan, NUI Galway High Performance Lead who manages the scholarship scheme, said: “Their time at university is a wonderful opportunity for these talented athletes to reach their true potential and learning, and to plan and achieve a balance in their lifestyle is key to their success both on the sporting arena and in their academic studies.” This year’s ceremony saw the Performance Points Sports Scholarship awarded to nine outstanding athletes. The scheme provides 40 additional points to those earned in the Leaving Certificate for elite athletes and for academic courses over 350 entry points. This year’s scholarship recipients represent some of the finest young talent in Irish sport today most of whom have already represented their sport at national, international or intercounty level. Speaking at the award ceremony, Feargal O’Callaghan continued: “We are really looking forward to working with all the athletes, it is an exciting time for the university in terms of sport as we continually improve the programme in order to produce the best possible athletes.” NUI Galway Performance Points awardees: Athletics                      Chloe Casey Athletics                      Jack Dempsey Gaelic Football           Cillian Golding Gaelic Football           Matthew Tierney Gaelic Football           Paul McGrath Gaelic Football           Sean O’Flynn Hurling                        Conor Waslh Rugby                         Charles Clarke Soccer                         Rachel Baynes NUI Galway Sports Scholarships awardees:   Athletics                      Pierre Murchan Athletics                      Sinead Treacy Athletics                      Thomas Mc Stay Basketball                   Alison Blarney Basketball                   Ciara McCreanor Basketball                   James Connaire Basketball                   James Lyons Boxing                        Darren O'Connor Camogie                      Carrie Dolan Camogie                      Laura Ward Camogie                      Leah Burke Gaelic Football           Laura Ahearne Gaelic Football           Saoirse Flynn Gaelic Football           Joanthan Hester Golf                             Liam Nolan Hurling                        Diarmuid Kilcommins Rowing                       Lisa Murphy   NUI Galway Rugby Foundation Sports Scholarship Awardees: Declan Floyd Even Kenny Jack Power Oisin Halpin -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

The conference will take place from 6-7 March 2020 under the theme of ‘Cultivating a Culture of Compassion’ Over 500 Guidance Counsellors from all over Ireland are due to attend the forthcoming Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) National Conference which will be held at NUI Galway in March 2020. This conference is being hosted by the Galway/Mayo Branch of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors. As well as facilitating the two-day conference, NUI Galway has been unveiled as the main sponsor for this year’s event with supporting sponsorship from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). The conference was launched in NUI Galway today (Tuesday, 10 December) by NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, who spoke about the opportunity to host the national conference in Galway: “NUI Galway is looking forward to hosting the IGC National Conference 2020. Compassion, respect and providing a caring and inclusive student experience is central to the mission of NUI Galway so we are particularly proud to support the conference theme; ‘Cultivating a Culture of Compassion’. Fully understanding and appreciating the critical role guidance counsellors play in helping our young people prepare for life after secondary school, we look forward to welcoming guidance colleagues from all over the country to our beautiful campus and to providing opportunities to share, learn and recharge over the two-day conference.” Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement was guest speaker and Chairperson Barry McDermott extended a very warm welcome to all on behalf of the Galway/Mayo Branch of the IGC.  Focusing on how the conference theme, ‘Cultivating a Culture of Compassion’ was chosen, Barry said: “We believe that a lack of compassion towards individuals, groups and our environment, is creating many of the divisions and problems evident in today’s society. It is our wish for the conference that through our wide variety of workshops, guidance counsellors working across all sectors get an opportunity to improve their professional knowledge and skills, and hopefully experience some of the wonderful attractions that make Galway such a special place.” IGC President Beatrice Dooley said: “The IGC are exceptionally proud to support the conference theme, ‘Cultivating a Culture of Compassion’. The IGC annual conference is an opportunity for guidance counsellors working with learners across the lifespan to reconnect with each other, with educational partners and labour market stakeholders. At conference 2020 we can upskill, reflect on our professional practice and experiment with other ways of delivering on the personal, educational and vocational guidance counselling needs of those in our care. This year’s conference theme resonates with the very essence of our work. We are very appreciative of the support and generosity of our main host NUI Galway, supporting sponsors GMIT and minor sponsors Maynooth University and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, and place high value on these positive, affirming relationships.” The two-day conference, taking place from 6-7 March 2020, will include a series of 19 workshops focusing on the concept and delivery of compassion, guidance topics for second and third level and professional development tools. On day one of the conference, delegates can expect a range of talks dedicated to the conference theme, including a SMART Consent Workshop by Dr Pádraig MacNeela and Dr Siobhán O’Higgins, School of Psychology and Dr Charlotte McIvor, Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway. Highlights on day two of the conference include a ‘Mindfulness and Building Compassion in Education’ workshop by Dr. Eva Flynn, NUI Galway, a panel discussion on ‘Careers in the Creative Industries’ and a workshop on ‘How to Manage Panic Attacks and Social Anxiety’ by Dr Harry Barry, author and doctor. Attendance at the Institute of Guidance Counsellor Conference is open to members and non-members. The sponsors of the 2020 conference are NUI Galway, GMIT, Maynooth University and Letterkenny Institute of Technology. For registration please visit www.igc.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Professor Laoise McNamara and Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis will lead prestigious European funded projects The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded two NUI Galway researchers €4.4 million to pursue ‘blue-sky’ biomedical research. With this support, Professor Laoise McNamara and Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, will pursue frontier research to achieve far-reaching impact on improving human health. Professor McNamara and Dr Zeugolis were winners in the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant competition which saw 301 top scholars and scientists from across Europe receive awards, following a review of 2,453 proposals. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “These awards are among the most prestigious and competitive in Europe. Myself and the entire NUI Galway research community are delighted for both Laoise and Dimitrios who have demonstrated their excellence and leadership in research.” Professor Laoise McNamara – MEMETic Professor Laoise McNamara, who was recently announced as the Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year 2019, will lead the MEMETic project which will focus on bone disease.   According to Professor McNamara of the Biomechanics Research Centre, and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway: “My research is in the field of mechanobiology, which is at the interface between engineering and biology. Our work seeks to understand the biological mechanisms by which bone cells sense and respond to the forces they experience during every day physical activity, and how these are affected by Osteoporosis. Despite immense efforts to develop therapies for osteoporosis, conventional drugs that target bone loss only prevent osteoporotic fractures in 50% of sufferers, and the worldwide economic burden of treatment is projected to reach $132 billion by 2050. In this project we will develop advanced models to allow us to investigate how our bones react to changes in the physical environment, from a cellular level right the way up. We will use these models to increase understanding of bone disease and our ultimate aim is to apply these models to improve the success rates of therapies for osteoporosis.”    Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis - ACHIEVE Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, Director of REMODEL and Investigator at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, will lead the ACHIEVE project. The aim is to bring new advances to cell culture methods and address major bottlenecks in regenerative medicine, drug discovery and cellular agriculture.   According to Dr Zeugolis: “Currently, the development of cellular products, products made from cells cultured in the lab, is hampered by the lengthy culture periods taken when the cells are removed from their natural environment: the human or animal body. This time factor is responsible for the cells losing their normal function, resulting in suboptimal cellular products. With this project, we want to engineer culture environments that imitate the tissue from which the cells were extracted, thus maintaining their physiological function during experimental culture and significantly reducing the culture period. We believe the work will lead to a paradigm shift in cell culture methods with ground-breaking impacts across diverse fields, such as regenerative medicine, drug discovery and cellular agriculture.” Both grantees recognised as part of their success the support of their research students, postdoctoral and support staff, collaborators, friends and family, and funders. Professor Lokesh Joshi noted that the announcement built on years of previous successful projects for Professor McNamara and Dr Zeugolis, which were supported by Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, Health Research Board, Teagasc, Enterprise Ireland and the European Commision, and through industry collaboration. Speaking at the announcement of the European Research Council awards, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Knowledge developed in these new projects will allow us to understand the challenges we face at a more fundamental level, and may provide us with breakthroughs and innovations that we haven’t even imagined. The EU’s investment in frontier research is an investment in our future, which is why it is so important that we reach an agreement on an ambitious Horizon Europe budget for the next multiannual budget. More available research funding would also allow us to create more opportunities everywhere in the EU - excellence should not be a question of geography.” ERC President Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, whose mandate ends on 31 December 2019 after six years in office, commented: “I have had the immense privilege of seeing thousands of bright minds across our continent receive the trust and backing to go after their most daring ideas. It has been an exhilarating experience through countless meetings with many of them in person, listening to their stories and being inspired by them. As it’s about top frontier research, it comes as no surprise that an overwhelming number of them already made breakthroughs that will continue to contribute greatly to meeting the challenges ahead. As I bid farewell to an organisation that will always remain close to my heart, I am once more highly impressed when I see this latest set of grantees funded by the European Research Council. That the ERC empowers them makes me proud to be European!” For more about the ERC Consolidator Grant awards, visit: https://erc.europa.eu/news/erc-awards-over-600-million-euro-europes-top-researchers -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

NUI Galway student recognised for volunteering efforts To celebrate International Volunteers Day 2019 NUI Galway along with 9 other universities and institutes of technology have come together through the Campus Engage initiative to launch their first ever student volunteering annual report to highlight the activities and achievements of their students. Colm O’Hehir, Campus Engage Officer, said: “Student volunteers play such a constructive role in communities, often providing vital services for excluded and vulnerable people. Volunteering is for all and that idea of inclusiveness translates into the work student volunteers do daily across the country. Today is a day to celebrate volunteers and our report highlights some of the students who are helping achieve a more inclusive future for all.” An Impact Assessment of Irish Universities, conducted by economists Indecon, revealed that in 2017/18 over 17,500 student volunteers donated three million hours of their time to causes both at home and abroad, at an estimated value of €28.4 million to the exchequer. studentvolunteer.ie  is an online tool that supports students wishing to volunteer in their communities. The portal is the first of its kind globally - a national volunteering database specifically created for higher education students. It was developed in 2016 by ten third level institutions through Campus Engage.  There are now more than 1000 organisations and 14,000 students registered on the website, with over 4,000 new student registrations in the 2018-19 academic year. Through studentvolunteer.ie, new student volunteers have clocked up a total of 39,746 hours through volunteering opportunities promoted. Overall, students successfully volunteered for 3,391 opportunities. One such volunteer isNUI Galway mature access student Michelle Mitchell, a dedicated volunteer, who earned the NUI Galway ALIVE Certificate in recognition of her volunteering efforts. Michelle’s volunteering is with organisations that offer mental health, physical and intellectual disability supports. Michelle identified a gap in resources for families who have children with special needs, chronic illness and disabilities, and developed the Special Heroes Ireland initiative that provides educational and recreational activities in Galway. In particular, Michelle and other volunteers organise workshops for the siblings of those with disabilities to help parents who have to spend a lot of time tending to their additional needs child. Michelle said: “We work with families to help the sibling of the child, as parents who have a child with a special need or chronic illness have to focus their time and attention on that child. We create opportunities so they can learn to cook, make movies, do artwork.” Ends

Monday, 9 December 2019

Met Éireann Meteorologist Joanna Donnelly awards prizes to Cork, Dublin, Donegal, Galway, Offaly, Sligo and Meath schools and community groups Short films about Climate Action, Hearing and Water were to the fore when young science filmmakers from Donegal, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Offaly, Sligo and Meath were honoured at the ReelLIFE SCIENCE Video Competition Awards held at the recent Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition in NUI Galway. More than 190 short science films were entered into the competition by over 1,300 science enthusiasts from 77 schools and community groups around Ireland. Winning videos were selected by a distinguished panel of judges including geneticist, author and BBC presenter Dr Adam Rutherford; BT Young Scientist and Technologist of the Year 2019 Adam Kelly; and Met Éireann Meteorologist and RTÉ Weather Forecaster Joanna Donnelly, who presented the prizes along with Science Foundation Ireland Head of Education and Public Engagement Margie McCarthy. A group of nine sixth class students from Baltydaniel National School in Newtwopothouse, Co. Cork, along with their teacher Colman Lane, won the €1000 first prize at Primary School level for their video ’No New Water’. Primary school runners-up were Gaelscoil Riabhach from Loughrea, Co. Galway, while Sooey National School from Sligo finished third. Transition year students, Kalen McDonnell, Noah Lynskey, Jason Doyle, Erin Russell Hughes and Katie Hughes, along with teacher Aideen Lynch from Holy Family School for the Deaf in Dublin, claimed the Secondary School €1000 award, for their short film ‘How Science Helps Us Hear’. Sixth year students Aidan Grennan, John Stevenson, Carl Coughlan, Patrick Coughlan, Maeve Maloney, Leah Hogan, Naomi Whynne Smith and Natasha Delaney from Banagher College, Co. Offaly were runners-up, while Ashbourne Community School transition year students Aibhe Cronin, Eabha Delaney, Leah Duffy, Lisa Golden and Niamh Battersby were third. The ‘Green Team’ from Rosses Neighbourhood Youth Project in The Rosses, Co. Donegal, led by Foróige Project Worker Clare Mullan, won the €1000 Community Group first prize for their video about Climate Action, ‘Acting Local, Thinking Global’. Croí Heart and Stroke Charity Communications Manager Edel Burke and Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist Patricia Hall were runners-up, while third place went to members of the Knocknacarra Foróige group in Galway City. Based in NUI Galway and supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, the Community Knowledge Initiative, the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices and the Cell EXPLORERS science education and outreach programme, ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenges Irish schools and community groups to communicate science and technology via engaging and educational short videos. Since being launched in 2013 by Dr. Enda O’Connell and a team of volunteer scientists, this challenge has been met by more than 13,000 participants in 400 schools and groups around Ireland. Speaking about ReelLIFE SCIENCE, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative, which cleverly combines science literacy and creativity, while providing a great opportunity for students and teachers to think about how to communicate scientific topics in a novel way. ReelLIFE SCIENCE encourages young people to connect with the science and technology in their everyday lives, and to bring that knowledge to a wider audience, while promoting current Irish scientific research and development.” All videos can be viewed at www.reellifescience.com. -Ends-

Monday, 9 December 2019

NUI Galway took two top awards at the recent national gradireland Higher Education Awards 2020 which took place in Dublin. NUI Galway’s Law School was achieved the ‘Best Postgraduate Course in Law’, in a highly-contested category. The judges commented the programme displayed “excellent innovation and teaching methodology, with strong links to industry”. The course focuses on enhancing employability and developing graduate attributes around advocacy, negotiation, legal research and writing skills. Teaching takes place by means of small group seminars where students have direct access to business and legal experts and also have the opportunity to apply for placements with leading commercial law firms, to include: A&L Goodbody, Arthur Cox, Matheson, L.K Shields, RDJ Solicitors, AMOSS Solicitors and Flynn O’Driscoll Business Lawyers. The MSc in Cellular Manufacturing and Therapy received the award for ‘Best New Postgraduate Course’. The competition judges highlighted “why a course of study such as this is required. There [are] very strong links to employment need addressing the skills gap”.  When launching in September 2017, this MSc programme was the first of its kind worldwide. It has grown from a one-year full time MSc programme to a suite of opportunities including a two-year part time MSc, as well as postgraduate diploma and certificate streams.   Graduates have entered PhD programmes and have joined world-leading organisations like Takeda and Autolus in cellular production, quality assurance, cell culture scientists and assay development. Potential applicants interested in applying to either of these award-winning programmes can visit www.nuigalway.ie/courses/taught-postgraduate-courses/ for further details. -Ends-