Tuesday, 27 April 2021

New research from NUI Galway has revealed four different types of individual who post about charity on their social media, and it found that some types are less altruistic than they might first appear. It is a challenging time for all businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Particularly so for charity organisations who are very reliant on donations of time and money from the public and often use social media in their marketing campaigns. The research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Zaragoza in Spain, and follows charitable initiatives such as the Ice Bucket Challenge and #nomakeupselfie which, as well as being awareness and fundraising initiatives, became social media sensations. The researchers wanted to know whether people who posted about charities on social media were making charity donations, or whether they were all about the action, rather than the cause. Dr Elaine Wallace, co-author of the research and Senior Lecturer in Marketing, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “Although social media can be an excellent way to spread your message, there is some cynicism about these campaigns, as people participate but not everyone donates. One critic even labelled these campaigns a ‘narcissists' bonanza'.  “Previously, the term ‘Conspicuous Donation Behaviour’ was developed to explain acts of conspicuous compassion such as publicly wearing ribbons following a donation so that everyone can see that we have donated. However no-one knows whether our social media posts reflect what we do offline. We could post a selfie as part of a charitable campaign to show others how good we are, without ever donating. Or we might donate, and we might also post online to make sure everyone on social media knows about it. And this poses the question, are we ‘dirty altruists’?” The authors investigated the views of 243 Irish and 296 US Facebook users who had posted about a charity on Facebook. They measured their Conspicuous Donation Behaviour, their Facebook activity (their time spent online and number of Facebook friends), their traits (such as materialism and self-esteem), and their intention to donate time or money to that charity. Using a cluster analysis technique, four types were revealed, common to Ireland and the US: ⦁ Quiet Donors: This group are not materialistic, and they have low interest in impressing others. They are the least active on social media, but they are likely to donate money to the charity. The study labelled them ‘quiet donors’ as they are inconspicuous about their charity donations, and are not involved with conspicuous donation behaviour. ⦁ Friendly Donors: This group are active on Facebook and post about a charity only when it has a deep personal meaning for them, rather than to impress others. They have a lower need for uniqueness, and so they are not worried about standing out on Facebook. They have a high intention to donate time and money, and will donate when the charity has personal meaning. ⦁ Facebook Expressives: This group are most active on Facebook, and very conspicuous in their posts about charities online. They have a high need for uniqueness, and they may be posting about charities in order to stand out and impress their large number of Facebook friends, or because they believe it is socially acceptable. Yet they have a low intention to donate money or time to the charity, so their real world behaviour does not match their online posts. ⦁ Dirty Altruists: This group has the largest number of Facebook friends. They have a high need for uniqueness and high levels of sensitivity to others’ views of their posts, meaning they are careful to post about popular items. Unlike the Facebook Expressives, this group donate offline, but they admitted in the survey that they post about charities on Facebook to impress others. They also are highly materialistic, and so their charitable posts may be a form of conspicuous consumption. The study authors labelled them ‘Dirty Altruists’ because they are altruistic, but their altruism is tarnished because it is partly motivated by their need to make an impression on social media. Dr Isabel Buil, co-author of the study, University of Zaragoza Spain, said: “Social media presents great opportunities for charities to spread their message and engage a wide network. Our study shows that, for some (the Facebook Expressives), their online charity posts are not matched by charitable behaviour. Another group will post and donate only when the charity has a personal meaning for them (the Friendly Donors). Other types give, but they vary by the amount they post about it on social media, with Quiet Donors engaging very little with Facebook, and others by their use of social media for impression management (the Dirty Altruists).  “However, even the Facebook Expressives have the potential to spread awareness about the charity as they often have large numbers of Facebook friends. We hope our findings help charities to identify the likely donors, even the quiet ones, and those who might help to spread awareness.” To read the full study in the journal, Emerald Insight, visit: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JSM-06-2020-0216/full/html. Ends

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

A study led by Dr Liam Morrison from the Ryan Institute in collaboration with Dr Sita Karki from ICHEC at NUI Galway, have used macroalgal blooms for the assessment of the ecological status of coastal and estuarine areas in Ireland. The use of earth observation data sets to map green algal cover based on a Vegetation Index index was explored. The study was published in the international journal Frontiers in Marine Science. Several optical and radar satellite scenes from the European Space Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration missions were processed for eight different Irish estuaries (Clonakilty, Courtmacsherry, Lower Blackwater Estuary, Dungarvan, Bannow Bay, Tolka, Malahide and Rogerstown) of moderate, poor, and bad ecological status of estuaries and coastal lagoons. Satellite images acquired during low-tide conditions from 2010 to 2018 within 18 days of field surveys were considered.  The estimates of percentage green algal blooms coverage obtained from different earth observation data sources and field surveys were significantly correlated in terms of temporal and spatial accuracy. The results showed that the adopted technique could be successfully applied to map the coverage of the blooms and to monitor estuarine areas in conjunction with other monitoring activities that involve field sampling and surveys.  The combination of wide-spread cloud-coverage and high-tide conditions provided additional constraints during the image selection. The findings showed that the scenes of variable resolutions could be utilised to estimate bloom coverage. Moreover, Landsat, which is a legacy mission from NASA, can be utilised to reconstruct the blooms using historical archival data.  Considering the importance of biomass for understanding the severity of algal accumulations, an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) model was trained using the in situ historical biomass samples collected by Environmental Protection Agency and those collected during previous research projects by the group.  The model performance could be improved with the addition of more training samples. The developed methodology can be applied in other areas experiencing macroalgal blooms in a simple, cost-effective, and efficient way.  The study has demonstrated that both the vegetation index-based technique to map spatial coverage of macroalgal blooms and the machine learning model to compute biomass have the potential to become an effective complementary tool for monitoring macroalgal blooms where the existing monitoring efforts can leverage the benefits of earth observation data sets.  To read the full study in Frontiers in Marine Science, visit: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2021.633128/full. Ends

Monday, 26 April 2021

Tá an chomhpháirtíocht idirnáisiúnta idir OÉ Gaillimh, an Eagraíocht Idirnáisiúnta um Imirce (IOM) agus Cúnamh Éireann le hoiliúint sna meáin maidir leis an imirce agus leis an mífhaisnéis a chur ar fáil  Bunaíodh comhpháirtíocht dhomhanda nua idir OÉ Gaillimh agus an Eagraíocht Idirnáisiúnta um Imirce, le tacaíocht ó Chúnamh Éireann, le dul i ngleic le bréagnuacht faoin imirce. Is tionscnamh atá á stiúradh ag IOM é Acadamh Meán na hImirce Domhanda, lena mbaineann cláir sa litearthacht mheán le hoiliúint a chur ar mhic léinn agus ar iriseoirí i dtreo agus gur féidir leo mífhaisnéis a aithint agus a bhréagnú agus dúshlán a thabhairt di freisin. Tá an tionscadal á chomh-mhaoiniú ag Ciste Forbartha an IOM agus ag Cúnamh Éireann, agus tá forbairt an bhunchúrsa dhomhanda á stiúradh ag Tom Feel, Ceann Disciplín na hIriseoireachta agus na Cumarsáide in OÉ Gaillimh. Reáchtálfar na cláir i gceithre thír i dtosach báire – Meicsiceo, an tSeirbia, Maracó, na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha – sula reáchtálfar i dtíortha eile é de réir mar a leanann an tionscnamh ar aghaidh. Deir Simon Coveney, an tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha, T.D.: “Léirigh na 12 mhí seo a chuaigh thart a thábhachtaí agus atá an nuacht agus foinsí nuachta maidir le heolas a thabhairt dúinn agus oideachas a chur orainn. Cé gur contúirt í an bhréagnuacht a bhfuil a thuilleadh daoine ag éirí feasach fúithi, níl a fhios ag go leor cén chaoi a gcuirtear ina coinne ná a nochtar í. Mar sin de, cuirim fearadh na fáilte roimh thionscnamh tábhachtach seo OÉ Gaillimh agus Cúnamh Éireann le dul i ngleic leis an mífhaisnéis agus leis an mbréagnuacht atá á scaipeadh faoin imirce.” Deir Lalini Veerassamy, ceannaire misin na hEagraíochta Idirnáisiúnta um Imirce (IOM) in Éirinn: “Agus Acadamh Meán na hImirce Domhanda á bhunú againn, tá sé tábhachtach institiúid acadúil iontaofa ar nós OÉ Gaillimh bheith ag oibriú linn d’fhonn uirlisí oiliúna caighdeánaithe maidir leis na meáin agus leis an imirce a fhorbairt. Maidir leis an mbunchúrsa domhanda de, déanfar é a comhthéacsú d’fhonn go léireoidh sé na dinimicí imirce éagsúla ag leibhéal náisiúnta agus réigiúnach agus cuirfidh sé ar fáil d’iriseoirí ar fud an domhain na huirlisí riachtanacha le scéalta níos cothroime agus níos cruinne faoin imirce a fhorbairt, beart a laghdóidh scaipeadh na mífhaisnéise.” Deir an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Baineann tionscadail mar seo go díreach le péire dár gcroíluachanna. Trí bhíthin tacú le meas agus le hoscailteacht, tá súil againn go mbeidh tionchar claochlaitheach againn ar an tsochaí, in Éirinn agus go hidirnáisiúnta, agus go mbeimid inár n-eiseamláir sármhaitheasa thar chríocha ár nOllscoile féin. Is saineolaithe ar an litearthacht mheán iad ár n-acadóirí iriseoireachta agus is onóir dóibh bheith ag oibriú leis an IOM ar an tionscadal idirnáisiúnta ríthábhachtach seo, atá á tacú ag Cúnamh Éireann, agus a mbeidh tionchar leathan dearfach aige ar fhoghlaim na sochaí.” Forbróidh Acadamh Meán na hImirce Domhanda ríomhfhoghlaim agus ábhair oiliúna le dul i ngleic leis an mbréagnuacht. Díreofar aird ar an mífhaisnéis agus ar an mbréagaisnéis maidir leis an imirce, lena n-áireofar oiliúint a chur ar mhic lénin le hinneachar díobhálach a aithint agus rianú; fóiréinsic dhigiteach agus teicnící fíoraithe; agus iriseoireacht sonraí. Tarraingeoidh cúrsaí ar shonraí agus ar thaighde faoin imirce, agus scrúdófar an chaoi a mbíonn tionchar ag forbairtí domhanda amhail COVID-19 ar an imirce agus ar thuairimí an phobail freisin. Molfar do mhic léinn an t-ábhar casta is imirce ann a scrúdú agus scéalta atá spéisiúil, caolchúiseach agus bunaithe ar fhianaise a fhoilsiú. Tá sé i gceist ag OÉ Gaillimh Scoil Samhraidh a reáchtáil do rannpháirtithe in 2022 freisin. Críoch

Monday, 26 April 2021

Global project to challenge fake news on migration International partnership of NUI Galway, the International Organisation for Migration and Irish Aid to offer media training on migration and misinformation A new global partnership has been established involving NUI Galway and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with the support of Irish Aid, to tackle fake news around migration. The Global Migration Media Academy is an initiative led by IOM, involving media literacy programmes to train students and journalists to identify, challenge and debunk misinformation. The project is co-funded by the IOM Development Fund and Irish Aid, with the development of the global foundational course being led by Tom Felle, Head of the Discipline of Journalism and Communications at NUI Galway. The programmes will initially run in four countries - Mexico, Serbia, Morocco and the Philippines - before expanding to other countries as the project evolves. Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs T.D., said: “The last 12 months have shown us all how important our news and news sources are for keeping us informed and educated. While fake news is a danger that more and more people are aware of, countering it or revealing it isn’t something that many know how to do. Therefore I warmly welcome this important initiative from NUI Galway and Irish Aid to tackle misinformation and fake news being spread about migration.” Lalini Veerassamy, chief of mission of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ireland, said: “As we establish the Global Migration Media Academy, it is key to have a reputable academic institution such as NUI Galway working with us to develop standardised training tools on media and migration. The global foundation course, which will be contextualised to reflect different migration dynamics at a national and regional level will equip journalists from all over the world with the necessary tools to develop more balanced and accurate narratives on migration which in turn will reduce the spread of misinformation.” Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “Projects such as this speak directly to two of our core values: respect and openness. By championing respect and openness, we hope to have a transformative effect on society, in Ireland and internationally, setting a positive example of excellence beyond our University. Our journalism academics are international experts in media literacy and it is an honour for them to work with the IOM on this vitally important international project, as supported by Irish Aid, which will have far-reaching positive learning for society.” The Global Migration Media Academy will develop e-learning and training material to tackle fake news. There will be a focus on misinformation and disinformation around migration, including training students on identifying and tracking harmful content; digital forensics and verification techniques; and data journalism. Courses will draw on migration research and data, as well as exploring how unfolding global developments like Covid-19 influence migration and public attitudes. Students will be encouraged to explore the complex topic of migration from different perspectives and publish compelling, nuanced and evidence-based stories. NUI Galway is also planning to host a Summer School for participants in 2022. Ends

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

NUI Galway is extending an invitation to the public, patients, carers, and the wider research community to attend the Sixth National Public and Patient Involvement in Research Conference on Wednesday, 28 April. The Conference will be an online event, running from 10am-1.45pm. Patrick Murphy, Network Manager at the Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland at NUI Galway, and one of the event organisers said: “Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) helps ensure that health and social care research is more relevant to patients and their needs, and that research is focused on what matters most to patients. It can also help ensure that the results of research are shared with the public and with patients in a way that is accessible to everyone.” Martha Killilea, from the PPI Ignite Network at NUI Galway, co-organisers of the conference, added: “Patients, and indeed their carers, are experts in the reality of living with an illness. Researchers bring their own expertise, including in-depth research skills and a knowledge of existing research evidence, but often do not have personal, lived experience of the topic they are researching. Patients and researchers can therefore collaborate together to conduct research that is of high-quality and also focused on patient needs.” The theme for this year’s conference is ‘PPI: Creating the New Normal in Research’ and will celebrate the successful integration of PPI into research in recent years, and will include two keynote presentations from: Embedded Patient Researcher Robert Joyce, who is the first person to be employed in NUI Galway in a PPI role, will speak about bringing his 28 years of lived experience with secondary progressive Multiple Sclerosis to a research team. Dr Martin O’Halloran, Techrete Professor of Medical Electronics at NUI Galway, will focus on embedding PPI in medical device development in Ireland, for example women with lived experience of cancer treatment working with researchers for a solution for hair loss. The conference will include interactive sessions, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear from PPI contributors, and to speak with contributors in current research. Attendees will be able to choose from sessions focused on three different topics: PPI Contributors: My Voice Shaping Research Public and Patient Involvement Around the World Including the Excluded Wendy Costello, a PPI contributor on the conference organising committee, and co-chair of the interactive session’ PPI Contributors: My Voice Shaping Research’ said: “The interactive sessions will be a great opportunity to network virtually and feel part of the global discussion on PPI. The planning by a diverse committee has made this overall programme the most exciting yet.” The conference will close with presentations from the 2021 NUI Galway PPI Ignite award winners and from Professor Sean Dinneen who is leading the newly established national PPI Ignite Network. Speaking about the Conference, Professor Dinneen said: “It is great to see the National Public and Patient Involvement in Research Conference entering its sixth year and going from strength to strength. Meaningful involvement of the public and patients in health and social care research is becoming a feature of the Irish (and international) research landscape and this is reflected in the content of this year’s conference programme.”  Registration for the conference is free, but those wishing to attend must register in advance. Full details are at https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/public-and-patient-involvement-ppi-in-research-conference-galway-tickets-143702147993 or email ppi@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Following feedback from the first survey in 2020 the researchers have produced a ‘Helping Hedgehogs’ information leaflet Researchers from NUI Galway and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are once again calling on citizen scientists to help to record data and movements of the humble hedgehog. This year, the researchers have planned a more involved hedgehog survey with volunteers invited to conduct assessments in their local area between May and September. The methodology follows that developed by the Mammal Society of the UK, which uses footprint tunnels to determine if hedgehogs are present in various habitats. Researchers are asking volunteers to place ten footprint tunnels, a small tunnel made from corrugated plastic containing two sheets of paper and ink in the centre to capture the footprints of the hedgehogs, within a 1 kilometre square area for five nights and check them each morning for signs of hedgehogs. The Irish Hedgehog Survey was launched in the summer of 2020 with members of the public asked to submit records of hedgehog sightings online. The response to the survey saw over 2,000 hedgehog sightings reported for the year from all over Ireland, with many reporting hedgehogs regularly visiting their gardens through the summer. Researchers also received many requests for information on how to attract hedgehogs into the garden or help a sick or injured animal so they have produced an informative leaflet called ‘Helping Hedgehogs’ with tips for making your garden more hedgehog friendly. The leaflet is available to view, download and print from the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com/helping-hedgehogs. The Irish Hedgehog Survey forms part of the research of PhD candidate Elaine O’Riordan from Zoology, School of Natural Science, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, who said: “The aim of the survey is to provide information on the types of habitats where hedgehogs occur, and where they don’t. We are hopeful that a lot of volunteers will get involved and survey different types of habitats in urban and rural areas. We are delighted with the response to the Hedgehog Survey so far. People seem very interested in hedgehogs and care about them very much.” “We are very pleased to have teamed up with project partners from the county councils of Galway, Kilkenny Roscommon, Mayo, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Dublin City as well as the National Biodiversity Data Centre, Ulster Wildlife Trust and Cork Nature Network. With their support we hope to train and mobilise teams of volunteers in these areas.” This survey would be suitable for interested individuals, local wildlife or conservation groups and community and youth groups. Participants are welcome from all over Ireland. Volunteering workshops will be available online in early summer 2021 with more information on the survey, instructions, and equipment needed to carry out the project. There will also be live training events facilitated with the Hedgehog Survey project partners. Full details of dates and locations of the volunteer workshops will be available on the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com/. For further information on the project, training, or survey news, please email irishhedgehogsurvey@gmail.com. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Research on Driving Remote Innovation is published in MIT Sloan Management Review Research from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics in collaboration with Dublin City University has been published in the prestigious US publication, MIT Sloan Management Review. The research 'Driving Remote Innovation Through Conflict and Collaboration' examined how business leaders can promote innovation in remote teams. The research uncovered two complementary principles of leading remote teams for innovation - connecting for collaboration and connecting for contradiction – which are both essential to creating opportunities for innovation. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, the research suggests that leaders must purposely connect with their immediate team members one-to-one, to enable more engaged exchanges of collaboration required for innovation and understanding and responding to the individual challenges of team members. Remote working can be a boon for innovation by enabling greater diversity of views, supporting connecting for contradiction. Virtual conversations can include external experts and remotely located colleagues as they are much more cost- and time-efficient to organise than in-person meetings. This tactic of exaggerating differences in opinions and expertise is required to encourage more vigorous debate and stimulate fresh ideas for innovation in remote working. Operating in tandem, these two approaches ensure that leaders create a virtual culture where new ideas arise, the most promising of which can be translated into innovative outcomes to help ensure the long-term success and delivery of the organisation's strategic goals. The study was led by Esther Tippmann, Professor of Strategy at NUI Galway, Pamela, Sharkey Scott, Professor of Strategy and International Business at DCU and Mark Gantly, Adjunct Professor of Management at NUI Galway. To better understand the long-term implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for leadership, the research team collected detailed interview data from 20 leaders in different household name US multinationals across the world. They included a mix of young, high-growth organisations and well-established global giants, and firms with digital and physical offerings. They examined what the leaders saw as the long-term implications of the pandemic on their organisation (if any) and what leadership competences they foresee as most important. Professor Esther Tippmann, NUI Galway, said: “Organisations have traditionally relied on the energy of co-present teams to stimulate ideas for innovation. Before the pandemic, many leading innovative organisations invested heavily in attractive workplaces. However, office work had to be abandoned when the Covid-19 pandemic demanded an incredibly fast transition to remote working. Now, it is clear that remote working, in a managed way, is here to stay. With productivity goals being largely met, we found that many organisations find it challenging to embed innovation in their remote teams. So, the leadership principles for driving innovation in remote teams offer explicit guidance for leaders. We studied multinationals located in Ireland. However, the principles are of relevance to all types of organisations where remote working is an integral part of the organisational model.” To read 'Driving Remote Innovation Through Conflict and Collaboration' in MIT Sloan Management Review, visit: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/driving-remote-innovation-through-conflict-and-collaboration/?use_credit=91851988c40ebbe236f5561e167c9ab8. Ends

Monday, 19 April 2021

NUI Galway partners in week-long technology festival highlighting how companies are turning to cloud computing platforms to drive digital transformation to shape the future of work    The AtlanTec Festival is set to return again in 2021, with virtual events from 17-21 May on the theme of ‘Thriving through Digital Transformation’. The event is supported by NUI Galway, and run by itag (Innovation Technology AtlanTec Gateway), the non-profit, industry-led community of technology companies in the west of Ireland.   Now in its 7th year, the annual AtlanTec Festival of Technology brings together technology communities from home and abroad, for five days of international keynote speakers, moderated panel conversations, tech talks, fun and inspiration. Last year over 3,000 people connected online at AtlanTec, proving that though times may be uncertain, one fact remains true, there is power in people coming together.    Thriving through Digital Transformation highlights that increasingly, companies are turning to Cloud Computing platforms to drive their Digital Transformation; not just for their business needs, but also to shape their Future of Work. This festival brings together local, national and international speakers to explore some of the key challenges and opportunities this presents.   This year’s dynamic panel of international keynote speakers and panel guests includes: Nicklas Bergman (Futurist), Bruce Daisley (The Joy of Work), Dr. Jessica Barker (Cyber UK), Gary Short (Data Scientist AMEY), Sarah Armstrong (Microsoft Cyber Consultant) and Marek Zmuda (Intel Movidius).   NUI Galway speakers will include: Dr Venkatesh Kannan on how the Quantum Computing work at the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) is positioning Ireland in Europe and globally; Jim Duggan, Personal Professor in Computer Science, on his work on infectious disease modelling; Dr Ed Curry on data sharing spaces to power AI; and Dr Noel Carroll, Programme Director of the MSc Information Systems Management on his work related to digital transformation and citizen development. Itag’s AtlanTec Festival is a key event in Ireland’s tech conference calendar and is supported by the technology cluster along the AtlanTec Gateway including Cisco, Genesys, Fidelity Investments, HPE, IBM, Storm, NUI Galway and itag Skillnet and many more.   According to Caroline Cawley, CEO itag, “AtlanTec 2021 brings together people and companies re-defining the global Tech industry. We will welcome people from all around the world this May and they are coming to AtlanTec 2021 to learn about the latest trends to drive their Digital Transformation and the latest thinking and the newest products that will shape their Future of Work. Thriving through Digital Transformation answers a key question facing all Tech companies - where to next?”  Ruth Hynes, a member of the event organising committee and Innovation and Engagement Officer at NUI Galway, added: “There is a real sense of coming together with AtlanTec, even if we are doing so remotely again this year rather than on campus. So much innovation in technology comes out of our part of the world, from the start-up community right through to companies that are household names. As a university we are proud to be part of this dynamic ecosystem and look forward to the festival in May.” Rapid transformation and change is a key feature of the technology industry and staying up-to-date can be challenging. AtlanTec 2021 offers a comprehensive platform to all in the technology community including IT Professionals, Developers, Cloud and Cyber Experts, IT Leaders and Technologists for deep knowledge gathering and networking.                                  Registration is required to attend, to book your place visit: https://atlantec.ie/  Follow on Twitter @atlantecfest and on Facebook at AtlanTec Festival. View short AtlanTec video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76lpiUDG428.   Ends 

Monday, 19 April 2021

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission is seeking participants to give their experience of remote working one year on from lockdown and future preferences post-pandemic Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission are seeking participants for the annual national Remote Working in Ireland Survey. The third survey will gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working one year on from lockdown and seek inputs on their preferences post pandemic. The survey is led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission.  The study will provide insights on how remote working has changed employees work and employment experiences and builds on two previous national surveys undertaken by the team. In addition to analysing trends across the three surveys, data will capture managers’ experiences of leading and supervising their teams remotely, both now and their future plans post pandemic. Speaking about the annual remote working survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The surveys we did in 2020 were of huge interest to the public and we got over 12,000 responses from employees who were working remotely across the country.  There are significant changes in how we work arising from the Covid-19 crisis.  It is timely to capture the trends and experiences one year on. The third survey will also provide insights into how managers are finding team management in a remote context, which has not been examined to date.”  Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “Much has been learned about the transition to remote work over the last year. Creating a national network of more than 400 remote working hubs and the National Remote Work strategy are just part of the response to what we have learned. This information helps to inform the decision making about balanced future development in our country, helping the transition to a low carbon economy and ultimately has the potential to transform the way we live and work.” The research team will analyse the findings of the third national remote working survey and make them publicly available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites in early May 2021. The report and key statistics from the first and second national surveys are also available on these websites. The remote working study findings will be available to inform employers about employee experiences of remote working. The research team will provide recommendations for employers on how to better manage remote working in the current crisis as well as more generally. To complete the survey visit https://bit.ly/3g4DnJA. To view both previous surveys on the Whitaker Institute’s Project page, visit: https://bit.ly/3mFwgZg.   -Ends-

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement at NUI Galway will deliver the D’Arcy McGee Beacon Inaugural Fellowship Lecture, hosted by the University of British Columbia. The online lecture entitled ‘Empathy Education: Intersectional Approaches to Youth and Civic Engagement’ will take place on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 6pm BST. During his lecture Professor Dolan will discuss how empathy education in secondary schools and community youth programmes enables young people to be responsive to others and more responsible in their behaviour. Using methodologies such as training youth to be social researchers, or peer to peer learning through music, sport and literature are all crucial parts of empathy and compassion education. Research has shown that these methods not alone can be woven into the classroom settings to reduce hate speech, racial profiling and other discriminatory behaviours by young people, but they also promote positive behaviour. Speaking ahead of the event Professor Pat Dolan, NUI Galway, said: “While we know that empathy education is crucial for positively engaging young people in their families and communities, we should not have to focus on young people’s negative or riotous behaviours as a means of valuing them. “The instances of violence involving youth from loyalist and nationalist communities in Northern Ireland last week is a serious concern. It occurs in the context of a segregated schools system in Northern Ireland, coupled with a lack of cross community empathy education, which if it did exist it could have helped prevent the violence that is based on a lack of understanding among young people who actually have far more in common in terms of their disadvantage.” The lecture is free to attend and open to the public. For more details, or to register for the event visit: https://bit.ly/3djBXJs or email gillian.browne@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

NUI Galway partners with 12 European institutions to build new resources to aid digital decoding of literature NUI Galway’s Moore Institute has joined forces with 12 other institutions across Europe for a research project that aims to aid new approaches to the study of literature in the digital age. Computational Literary Studies Infrastructure (CLS INFRA) is a four-year partnership to build a shared resource of high-quality data, tools and knowledge needed for literary studies using artificial intelligence and other computational methods. The project is being supported with €5 million funding from the European Commission. Dr Justin Tonra, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, whose work in the project will focus on bridging the gap between computational and traditional literary studies, said: “When studying literature we often focus on a small number of books by a small number of authors. With the aid of computers, we can ‘read’ literature at a scale that opens windows onto topics like gender, language and colonialism, and how they are represented in our shared and varied European cultural heritage.” The overall aim of CLS INFRA is to open up the best data mining resources Europe has to offer in the growing field of Computational Literary Studies, which enables a big-data approach to the study of culture. For instance, it can help scholars to detect patterns which show what literary genres were prevalent at certain times; if and how gender manifests in the language of writers; whether the movement of literary style can be mapped across time and space. The CLS INFRA project will identify and map the specific requirements of researchers who wish to study literature using technology and AI. Partners in the 13 institutions will bring together existing resources as well as develop new tools, services and literary collections. A further aim of the project is to open up Computational Literary Studies to more researchers and enable investigation into Europe’s multi-lingual and interconnected literary heritage and cultural diversity. Support services and training will be provided to researchers who are new to the use of computers and AI for literary study. Scholars from under-represented regions and languages, as well as independent and citizen scholars, will also be supported. Dr Maciej Eder, Director of the Institute of Polish Language at the Polish Academy of Sciences and Principal Investigator of CLS INFRA, said: “This is a very exciting project which promises to make great advances in how we use computers to study literature. “One of the great challenges to Computational Literary Studies is that the landscape of digital literary sources is very fragmented, as scholars and readers struggle to find texts that are made accessible and reusable in standardised ways. CLS INFRA will address this deficit in a way that will allow the field to flourish.” Dr Tonra added: “The partnership of 13 European institutes will also foster systematic and meaningful cooperation across national borders and linguistic boundaries, as well as disciplines of study. “Human beings are storytellers. Nowhere do we see the expression of human ambitions, values, norms and desires more clearly than in the collected literary works that have been created over centuries of human creativity. “The emergence of information and communications technologies has given us an unprecedented opportunity to share, compare and understand this legacy across national borders and linguistic boundaries.” Ends

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

NUI Galway Professor's discovery on silent killer condition could profoundly change care for patients New research led by a professor at NUI Galway is set to change how doctors treat some patients with high blood pressure - a condition that affects more than one in four men and one in five women. The study by researchers at NUI Galway, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School found no evidence that diastolic blood pressure - the bottom reading on a blood pressure test - can be harmful to patients when reduced to levels that were previously considered to be too low. Lead researcher Bill McEvoy, Professor of Preventive Cardiology at NUI Galway and a Consultant Cardiologist at University Hospital Galway, said the findings have the potential to immediately influence the clinical care of patients. Professor McEvoy said: “We now have detailed research based on genetics that provides doctors with much-needed clarity on how to treat patients who have a pattern of high systolic values - the top reading for blood pressure - but low values for the diastolic, or bottom, reading. “This type of blood pressure pattern is often seen in older adults. Old studies using less reliable research methods suggested that the risk for a heart attack began to increase when diastolic blood pressure was below 70 or above 90. Therefore, it was presumed there was a sweet-spot for the diastolic reading.” High blood pressure is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with more than 1 billion people having the condition. It is linked with brain, kidney and other diseases, but it is best known as a risk factor for heart attack. More recently, high blood pressure has emerged as one of the major underlying conditions that increase the risk of poor outcomes for people who become infected with Covid-19. Professor McEvoy and the international research team analysed genetic and survival data from more than 47,000 patients worldwide. The study, published in the prestigious medical journal Circulation, showed: :: There appears to be no lower limit of normal for diastolic blood pressure and no evidence in this genetic analysis that diastolic blood pressure can be too low. :: There was no genetic evidence of increased risk of heart disease when a patient’s diastolic blood pressure reading is as low as 50. :: The authors also confirmed that values of the top, systolic, blood pressure reading above 120 increased the risk of heart disease and stroke. Blood pressure medications reduce both systolic and diastolic values. Professor McEvoy added: “Because doctors often focus on keeping the bottom blood pressure reading in the 70-90 range, they may have been undertreating some adults with persistently high systolic blood pressure. “The findings of this study free up doctors to treat the systolic value when it is elevated and to not worry about the diastolic blood pressure falling too low. “My advice now to GPs is to treat their patients with high blood pressure to a systolic level of between 100-130mmHg, where possible and without side effects, and to not worry about the diastolic blood pressure value.” Dr Joe Gallagher, Irish College of General Practioners’ Lead, National Heart Programme, said: “This data helps remove uncertainty about how to treat people who have an elevated systolic blood pressure but low diastolic blood pressure. This is a common clinical problem which causes much debate. It will help impact clinical practice internationally and shows the importance of Irish researchers in clinical research." Ends

Monday, 12 April 2021

Projects to connect researchers with community and voluntary organisations to share knowledge and develop new insights to enhance wellbeing and delivery of services Ten projects from NUI Galway have received funding of over €113,000 from the Irish Research Council to connect researchers with community and voluntary organisations. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of different groups in society and on the delivery of services is a significant theme within the research projects being announced. The ten projects from NUI Galway will reach out across communities to look at diverse issues that include those affecting the LGTBQI+ community, senior citizens, understanding the nature of rural crime, diversity in theatre for young people, humanitarian practice, remote management of heart failure, judicial education and conduct, access to cardiac care online, therapeutic care needs for mild dementia and the prevention and treatment of post-partum haemmorage. The ten funded projects will be led by: ⦁ Dr Sinéad Hynes, Occupational Therapy, who will work with The Alzheimer Society of Ireland to develop recommendations and identify what the future care needs of older LGTBQI+ people living with dementia in Ireland are. ⦁ Dr Haroon Zafar, School of Medicine and BioInnovate Ireland, who will be part of a research collaboration with Croí, the Heart and Stroke Charity on the remote management of heart failure during Covid-19 through ‘telehealth’. ⦁ Dr Charlotte McIvor, Drama and Theatre Performance, who will partner with Baboró International Arts Festival for Children on the first national project to look at interculturalism, diversity and inclusion in theatre for the young audiences sector. ⦁ Dr Michael Lang, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, whose research will contribute towards a better understanding of the nature of rural crime – perceived, experienced, and recorded – and will analyse how it varies across different regions of Ireland. ⦁ Dr Orla Dolan, Occupational Therapy, whose research will look at an evidence base for meeting therapeutic care needs using Virtual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy with individuals living with mild to moderate dementia residing in the community in Ireland. ⦁ Dr Barry McDermott, Engineering and Informatics, who will work in partnership with Busitema University on a novel low-cost, robust device for the prevention and treatment of post-partum haemorrhage in low resource settings. ⦁ Dr Oonagh Meade, School of Psychology, who will partner with Croí Heart and Stroke Charity who have developed “MySláinte”, a new cardiac rehabilitation programme delivered online to ensure equal access to cardiac rehabilitation in Ireland. ⦁ Dr Rónán Kennedy, School of Law, who will partner with the Trust for Civil Liberties, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with Dr Laura Cahillane of the University of Limerick to examine whether the establishment of the Judicial Council will bring the Irish approaches to judicial conduct and ethics and judicial education and training up to international best practice. ⦁ Dr Miriam Haughton, Drama and Theatre Performance, who will work with Age & Oppportunity on the documentary 'Mad, Bad and Dangerous: 'Difficult' Irish Women Abroad'. ⦁ Dr Kevin O'Sullivan, Department of History, who will be part of a research collaboration with Dóchas - the Irish Association of Non Governmental Development Organisations focusing on the historical research into humanitarian practice. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President of Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Collaborative partnerships with community and voluntary organisations in civic society are integral to research at NUI Galway. These community organisations bring new energy and innovation to our research, and as partners we work together to find solutions that enhance their services. Openness is one of our core strategic values. Open research brings challenges posed by society to our community, and these diverse and inclusive projects will undoubtedly improve the standards of care and service provided to the wider world. I thank the Irish Research Council and the Government for their support of these projects and look forward to the outcomes from these valuable partnerships.” The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD welcomed the funding by the Irish Research Council this week for 76 New Foundations projects that will bring researchers and community/voluntary organisations together to share knowledge and develop new insights to help create a better society for all. Minister Harris said: “These research collaborations are helping with some very important community and voluntary sector projects. I welcome that the highest ever number of funding awards are being made today by the Irish Research Council to support these research collaborations with the community and voluntary sector." Along with the strand engaging civic society, the New Foundations scheme also includes strands supported by government departments and agencies. In each of the past three years, a dedicated strand of the call provides opportunities for researchers to work on important areas of policy, including global development, crime, creativity and children. Commenting on the funding partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown said: “The ongoing partnership between the Irish Research Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs under this programme is very welcome and continues to build a pipeline of research collaborations for future projects that support enhanced cooperation between the global north and global south, focusing on innovative responses to global challenges within the framework of the 2030 agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals." Since 2015, over 200 community, voluntary and charity organisations have engaged across various Irish Research Council programmes, 278 projects have been funded with an associated investment in excess of €6.5 million. The New Foundations scheme will run again this year and further information is available here. -Ends-

Friday, 9 April 2021

Beidh seisiún eolais fíorúil ag OÉ Gaillimh dóibh siúd ar spéis leo an Clár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta. Beidh an seisiún ar siúl Déardaoin, an 15 Aibreán, idir 7-8.30pm. Cuirfear tús leis an bpróiseas iarratais don Chlár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta i mí Aibreáin agus tabharfaidh an seisiún seo eolas faoi chúrsaí, an próiseas iarratais agus tacaíochtaí éagsúla atá ar fáil do mhic léinn ionchasacha atá 23 bliain d’aois agus níos sine. Is ann don Chlár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta chun bealach iontrála malartach chuig an oideachas tríú leibhéal a chur ar fáil do dhaoine ó chúlraí socheacnamaíocha nach ndéantar ionadaíocht sách láidir orthu ag an tríú leibhéal agus, ar chúiseanna éagsúla, nach bhfuil a bpoitéinseal iomlán oideachais bainte amach acu agus, dá bhrí sin, nach bhfuil an gnáthriachtanas oideachais is gá acu chun dul ar aghaidh go dtí an tríú leibhéal. Tá sé mar aidhm ag cláir Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh tacú le mic léinn muinín a chothú iontu féin, ina gcumas acadúil, agus tacú leo barr a gcumais a bhaint amach. Beidh ionadaithe ón Ionad Rochtana agus Comhordaitheoirí Cláir ar líne chun comhairle a thabhairt agus ceisteanna a fhreagairt agus tacú leo siúd ar mian leo an chéad chéim a ghlacadh chuig oideachas tríú leibhéal. Dúirt an Dr Mary Surlis, Bainisteoir Sinsearach ar Ionad Rochtana OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá an timpeallacht teagaisc agus foghlama ar ár gcláir Rochtana bunaithe ar threoir agus tacaíocht a thabhairt dár gcuid mac léinn ag gach céim dá ndul chun cinn. Níl sé rómhall riamh d’uaillmhian a bhaint amach agus tá ár gcúrsaí deartha chun bunús láidir a thabhairt do mhic léinn atá ag filleadh ar an oideachas agus iad ag dul ar aghaidh go dtí an tríú leibhéal. Táimid ag tnúth, mar is gnách, le cohórt nua mac léinn dár gcláir 2021/22.” Chun clárú don seisiún eolais téigh chuig https://bit.ly/3uahrAq. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoin gClár Rochtana do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta le fáil ar www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students -Críoch-

Thursday, 8 April 2021

NUI Galway will hold a virtual information session for those interested in the Access Programme for Mature Students. It will take place on Thursday, 15 April, from 7pm-8.30pm. The application process for the Access Programme for Mature Students will open in April and this session will provide information on courses, the application process and various supports available to prospective students aged 23 and over. The Access Programme for Mature Students is designed specifically as an alternative admission route to third level education for people from socio-economic backgrounds that are underrepresented at third level, who for a variety of reasons, did not reach their educational potential, and do not have the necessary conventional educational requirement to progress to third level. NUI Galway’s Access programmes aim to support students to build confidence in themselves, in their academic ability and to support them to reach their full potential. Representatives from the Access Centre and Programme Coordinators will be online to advise and answer questions and to support those who wish to take that first step into third level education. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The teaching and learning environment on our Access programmes is built on guiding and offering support to our students  at every stage of their progression. It is never too late to fulfil your ambition and our courses are designed to provide students returning to education with a strong foundation as they progress to third level. We are looking forward as always, to yet another new group of students to our 2021/22 programmes.” To register for the information session visit https://bit.ly/3uahrAq. Further information about the Access Programme for Mature Students is available at www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students. -Ends-

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

50 students will diagnose and treat sick teddy bears, and children will learn how to take care of their teddy’s health focusing on general health, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing For the 16th year running NUI Galway is inviting children to its award winning Teddy Bear Hospital, which will take place online on Saturday, 17 April from 12pm-3pm.  Over the years, children have attended the hospital with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful ailments. This year, childrens’ appointments will be carried out virtually, and will educate the children  on how to treat their sick teddy at home. The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, NUI Galway’s health promotion society that focuses on promoting all aspects of physical and mental health. Up to 50 medical, healthcare and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 4-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Tristiana Dalchand, second year Medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Sláinte Society, said: “Given the current circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe it’s really important to maintain engagement with as many children as possible through the Teddy Bear Hospital. We hope to remind children and their teddies that the doctor’s office and hospitals remain a fun, comfortable, and safe space.” On arrival at the virtual Teddy Bear Hospital, participants and patients will be greeted by two teddy doctor specialists. The children and their ‘patients’ will learn how to take care of their teddy’s health through three main themes: general health, lifestyle, and emotional wellbeing. Andrea Dimitrov, second year Medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Slainte Society said, “Covid 19 has been challenging for all of us and we hope to provide an engaging, fun, and educational event that the children can participate in and interact with each other. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of community, and we hope to continue bringing the community together through the Teddy Bear Hospital.” Due to limited capacity of this year’s virtual Teddy Bear Hospital, Sláinte Society are also holding a drawing contest. Children are encouraged to submit a drawing of themselves and their teddies to be in with a chance of winning one of two €50 vouchers for Smyths Toy Store.  To enter the drawing contest, please email submissions to tbh.drawing.contest@gmail.com and include, name, age, and hometown. The closing date for submissions is Wednesday, 14 April, and the two winners will be announced on Saturday, 17 April. Places for the virtual Teddy Bear Hospital are limited. To apply to attend the hospital please visit www.nuigalway.ie/teddybearhospital by 5pm on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Those selected to attend will be contacted by Thursday, 15 April. -Ends-

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Three NUI Galway based programmes will engage more than 385,000 members of the Irish public with science in 2021 Three NUI Galway public engagement and education outreach initiatives have been awarded funding of more than €339,000 through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme. It will fund projects dedicated to inspiring and empowering over 385,000 members of the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. The funding awards were announced by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, as part of a national investment of €5.2 million through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. NUI Galway Funded Projects Cell EXPLORERS (€267, 636 funding award) Cell EXPLORERS is a successful science education and public engagement programme locally delivering educational science outreach activities to school children and the Irish public. Led by Dr Muriel Grenon, College of Science and Engineering, the programme has the dual benefit of engaging children and the public, while developing graduate student and researchers’ public engagement skills in a way and at a scale that is unique in Ireland. It has reached more than 38,500 members of the public and involved more than 2,250 team members since its creation in 2012. In 2021 and 2022, the programme will run school visits and tailored activities nationally, through its network of 13 teams based in 15 institutes of technology and universities. New partnerships will include the Galway STEAM Project (a joint TUSLA and Foróige project) to provide better reach to those who do not typically engage with STEM.  The programme‘s research shows that many children (aged 10-12 years) have narrow and stereotypical views of what a scientist does and have had few opportunities to meet a scientist. Drawing from these findings and others Cell EXPLORERS will revise both its activities and practices by applying the Science Capital Teaching Approach, a specific way of teaching that employs social justice methods designed to both broaden young peoples’ views of what it means to be a scientist, and widen participation in Science. See www.cellexplorers.com. CÚRAM ‘Science Waves' Project (€43,719funding award) CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices will run an education and public engagement programme that aims to raise awareness of its research and increase understanding of preventative behaviours which can reduce the incidence of chronic illness.  The current Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for members of the public to better understand science and its impact on their lives. More than ever, there is a greater need for clear science communication. However, the pandemic has exposed the existing divide amongst children who have access to learning material online and those who don't. CÚRAM’s Science Waves project led by Andrea Fitzpatrick, aims to create content which is accessible to everyone and gives clear information about science. Science Waves is a series of six science radio shows co-created by children and scientists for children. CÚRAM will work with children from underrepresented communities to create accessible, engaging, and fun radio shows, which are aimed at children aged 10–12 years old. The radio shows will broadcast later this year on the NUI Galway student radio station, Flirt FM, and will also be released through the CRAOL network of community radio stations. See www.curamdevices.com. ReelLIFE SCIENCE (€27,987 funding award) ReelLIFE SCIENCE is a nationwide science video competition, which encourages young people and the general public to discover more about STEM and its impact on individuals, society and the environment, while developing their creativity, communication and digital skills. Young people from schools and youth organisations are challenged to research a STEM topic and communicate it to the public through an engaging and educational three-minute video. Led by Dr Enda O’Connell, College of Science and Engineering, ReelLIFE SCIENCE has enabled more than 16,000 young people from 500 schools and youth organisations all over the country, to engage with STEM in a novel way. In 2021, ReelLIFE SCIENCE will continue to engage students and teachers in primary and secondary schools across Ireland, while also specifically targeting, training and empowering youth workers and leaders in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon youth organisations.  The deadline for submitting this year’s three-minute video entries is Friday, 15 October with the best videos awarded €1,000 and will be screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival in NUI Galway. See www.reellifescience.com. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway. Engagement is a feature of all stages of research, and we value the insight we derive into the pressing scientific and social questions from our partners. Openness is one of our core strategic values. Open research is a proven path to inspire young minds to take on the challenges posed by the sciences and to creatively approach the evident social issues of the moment. These excellent and innovative programmes will create new energy, inspire young people to aspire to careers in the sciences, and broadcast the standards of excellence the community expects of us. I thank Science Foundation Ireland for their support of these programmes and look forward to the events and activities that are planned.” Speaking about the announcement Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to announce the 49 projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme. As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the issues that impact our collective future, and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions. These projects will play a role in starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. I wish all the recipients every success in the roll out of their projects.” Science Foundation Ireland has invested in public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach a wide audience of people in STEM Topic, while 49 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme, with successful awardees being carefully selected through international peer-review. -Ends-

Thursday, 1 April 2021

NUI Galway’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching has partnered with the University’s Inclusive Learning project team to host a virtual symposium on Inclusive Learning on the 7 and 8 April. The two-day symposium, with an international line-up of speakers and panellists, will explore issues of diversity and inclusion in higher education – locally, nationally and internationally.   The event will highlight the importance of centering the student voice through panel discussions and workshops on new insights into, and recommendations around, student experiences of inclusion and exclusion. As student populations become increasingly diverse, the symposium will look at what higher education institutions can do to create a truly inclusive learning environment. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “As our students bring increasingly diverse experiences to our university, representing all the talents in society, we recognise and respect the importance of exploring what we can do to create a truly inclusive learning environment. As a place of learning, we value openly listening, reflecting upon and responding to the needs and concerns of students, while also supporting our staff to navigate an increasingly complex teaching and learning landscape.” Speakers and panellists include: Dr Shivaun Quinlivan, NUI Galway Dr Lucy-Ann Buckley, NUI Galway Henriette Stoeber, European Universities Association Dr Ebun Joseph, University College Dublin Anne Marie Stokes, Galway Traveller Movement Dr Jesse Stommel, University of Mary Washington Professor Julie Rattray, Durham University Tracy Galvin, Queen’s University Belfast Hamsavani Rajeswaren, Alliance of Choice Dr Sharon Flynn Irish Universities Association The symposium will be of interest to those who are involved in Higher Education, with students particularly welcome to attend and contribute actively to the discussions. Tickets for the free two-day virtual symposium are available from https://bit.ly/3wa04RV  or visit www.eventbrite.co.uk and search for 'Virtual Symposium: Inclusive Learning in Higher Education'. -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

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

Monday, 10 May 2021

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

Monday, 10 May 2021

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

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

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

Friday, 18 December 2020

Over 40 research and innovation projects addressing COVID-19 challenges Over 40 new collaborations with industry Four new spin-outs NUI Galway responds to COVID19 with over 40 research and innovation projects, engages in 40 new projects with industry, and spins-out four new deep-tech companies Despite the numerous challenges of 2020, the research and start-up community at NUI Galway continued to thrive – garnering multiple awards, securing funding, and supporting entrepreneurship among students and the wider community. Supported by the University’s Innovation Office, the year featured over 40 substantial research collaborations with SMEs, indigenous industry, and multinational corporations - as well as the formation of new four spin-outs based on ICT, engineering and life science technologies developed at NUI Galway.   In addition, the university charted over 40 research and innovation projects directly responding to the challenges of the global pandemic. David Murphy, Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “The successes achieved in 2020 are a validation of the strength of our industry partnerships, the quality of our research, and the strength of our innovation communities at NUI Galway. While the pandemic presented many challenges, our team, our researchers, our entrepreneurs, and the companies we work with responded with determination and agility in what was a very unusual environment.” Some of the highlights of the year included: Multiple awards NUI Galway was named winner of the Knowledge Transfer Impact Awards Covid-19 Response Award for supporting, with industry partners Cisco and IBM, the ICU FamilyLink project at University Hospital Galway (UHG). The project connects patients, families and the clinical teams providing care in the constraints of the ICU setting. Galenband, pioneers of an unobtrusive wrist-worn device which records heart activity, was the ultimate winner at Big Ideas - Enterprise Ireland’s annual showcase of start-up innovation emerging from higher education institutes. Four of the 12 investor-ready companies pitching on the day were NUI Galway start-ups. Seven NUI Galway start-ups were shortlisted for the National Start-up Awards in 2020, with Galenband achieving Gold in the Medtech Startup category for their system to dramatically increase detection rates of atrial fibrillation. VorTech Water Solutions secured silver in the ‘Emerge Tech Startup Category” for their innovative, cost effective solutions in water and wastewater, and Feeltect achieved Bronze the Medtech Startup category for their wearable, connected health technology to measure and monitor sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy. Women’s health start-up Nua Surgical was named the overall winner of the 2020 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Based out of NUI Galway, Nua Surgical’s flagship product is SteriCision, a self-retaining retractor specifically designed for C-sections.  NUI Galway start-ups Vortech Water Solutions and HidraMed Solutions have been shortlisted for the annual Irish Times Innovation Awards. Three NUI Galway start-ups, Feeltech, Nua Surgical, BlueDrop Medical, were among the 2020 winners of Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s (HIHI) call for innovative ideas from companies, start-ups and SMEs.  Funding Successes NUI Galway researchers and company partners were awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund(DTIF), a fund established under Project Ireland 2040. Two of the funded projects will see teams at NUI Galway partnering with AuriGen Medical, an NUI Galway spin-out company specialising in electrophysiology and structural heart, dedicated to transforming the management of persistent atrial fibrillation. A third DTIF supported project will see the collaboration between teams at the NUI Galway Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI) and ONK Therapeutics Ltd, a Business Innovation Centre client company and spin-out. Aquila Bioscience, a medical technology spin-out from NUI Galway, successfully proved that its breakthrough Pathogen Capturing Technology safely removes 99.99% of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19) from human skin. The company also secured €1.9m in from the European Innovation Council. BioProbe Diagostics, a spin out company from Microbiology at NUI Galway, is the lead partner in an industry consortium awarded approximately €2m to advance one of the company’s products to market, namely Bio Lp-1, under the European Commission’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ funding mechanism. Dr Alison Liddy of NUI Galway received a €1m prize for her work developing a solution to treat chronic pain as the inaugural winner of the SFI Future Innovator Prize. Supporting entrepreneurship among students and the wider community NUI Galway was awarded €7.5 million funding under the Human Capital Innovation and Agility Initiative for it’s ‘ASPIRE: Next Generation Graduates’ project which will lead in innovative, student-centred and enterprise-engaged education. Together with itag, the University successfully launched a free structured coaching initiative for the female community covering many areas in all business environments – itag Coaching for Success . LaunchPad has supported over 1000 studentinnovators across campus spanning 11 modules and 6 co-curricular programmes. LaunchPad secured funding through EIT Health in 2020 to run a Summer School ‘ENERGHY’ in partnership with Medicine San Frontiers, Sanofi, IS Global, the University of Barcelona and Hospital Sant Joan de Deu.  LaunchPad, a partner of the Empowering Women in Health Entrepreneurship Project of EIT HEalth also hosted a module with the Karolinska Institute in May titled ‘Unlocking your Innovative Potential’, the module was attended by 60 participants from across 20 Countries.    During October, LaunchPad, in partnership with BioInnovate Ireland and the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics, ran its Ideas Academy Camp, attracting over 70 participants from schools across Ireland to develop innovations to support our community during Covid-19. To read about some of the research and innovation projects relating to COVID-19 visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/covid19/ -Ends-

Friday, 18 December 2020

New and pioneering GTCASP technology advancing the next generation treatments for cancers, disorders and disease A new collaborative research project has been launched at NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) to streamline cell manufacturing for the next-generation of treatments of cancers, autoimmune disorders and degenerative diseases. Cellix Ltd is partnering with REMEDI, NUI Galway’s a state-of-the-art research and cell manufacturing facility, and Trinity College Dublin thanks to €3.4 million funding from the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to spearhead the project. The aim is to advance the development of next-generation cell therapies by making it easier to select specific cells which have been genetically modified to make them more effective in treating a particular disease or disorder. Frank Barry, Professor of Cell Therapy at NUI Galway, said: “In the cell and gene therapy sector, manufacturing the product is a complex, challenging and expensive process.   “We are progressing new, ground-breaking treatments in a way that is more cost-effective and accessible. The research that we are pioneering in NUI Galway’s REMEDI will have a significant impact and will bring these new treatments closer to realisation in a dramatic and effective fashion.” The new technology being researched and pioneered at NUI Galway’s REMEDI, as part of the collaborative project, is the Gene Transfection Cell Analysis and Sorting Platform - GTCASP. Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English T.D., said:“GTCASP is an exciting project focusing on the development of a truly innovative technology, addressing the challenges in cell manufacturing for gene therapy. This is an exciting and far-reaching project which reflects what the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is designed to encourage and assist. “The project’s ambition is that the technology becomes a standard in the field of cell therapy and forms part of the redevelopment of Ireland’s biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry, as gene therapy forges new markets for personalised medicine. It also truly demonstrates the talent that is incumbent in Ireland for the sector. “I congratulate Cellix and their project partners in NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin for driving this innovation, which will showcase Ireland as a leader in cell and gene therapies.” How does GTCASP work? :: The GTCASP technology takes advantage of the electrical properties of cells to separate individual populations. :: Scientists are using GTCASP to separate cells that have been genetically modified to make them effective in treating a variety of serious disorders.  :: Specialists who are manufacturing cell therapies gain a profound advantage in this process as the cell populations with preferred characteristics are selected and other, less effecitve  cells, are discarded. :: GTCASP essentially provides manufacturers with the technology to select and use the preferred cells to target disease conditions. :: It will also lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs of cell therapy medicinal products, which at present is prohibitively high. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “Designed to facilitate the development of new treatments such as CAR T cell therapies, the GTCASP system will allow wider access to the next generation of genetic cell therapies for cancer and other conditions. In addition, new and advanced forms of stem cell therapy will come closer to reality. These therapies are regarded as a new revolution in medicine and one which will make a profound difference in the lives of patients and their families.” The collaborative project involving Cellix, REMEDI at NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin was launched in partnership with Government and Enterprise Ireland. Stephen Creaner, Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland said: “Cellix, in partnership with NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin, have joined forces to establish a ground-breaking and innovative platform to improve and enhance the process of cell manufacturing, with the potential to transform how people across the globe work and live. The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is aimed at supporting that transformative work and helping Irish companies realise their ambitions. Funding collaborative projects like the GTCASP is a clear signal of our desire to future proof Ireland to ensure that our indigenous enterprises become leaders in the face of disruptive technologies. Enterprise Ireland looks forward to continuing to work with Cellix and the team and is proud to be part of this ground breaking, disruptive project.” Ends

Friday, 18 December 2020

NUI Galway announced the recipients of its annual President's Awards for Research Excellence while also celebrating the performance of its researchers in European research funding programmes. As the current European Commission research funding programmes (2014-2020) draws to a close, the university acknowledged the success of its researchers across a range of competitive funding programmes. Over €100 million has been awarded to NUI Galway researchers over the last seven years by the EU, leading to its researchers participating in over 180 projects, and partnering with research institutions, companies and community groups in more than 30 countries. Speaking at the online Research and Innovation Symposium which marked the occasion, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Success in these funding programmes has allowed our research community to pursue impactful research, develop further their expertise, collaborate with colleagues across the globe. We have also developed tangible solutions to address societal challenges and to support new and existing industries. Underpinning our successes are all of the incredible individuals who make up our research community. This year, I would like to commend six exceptional individuals who embody research excellence and a commitment to our students. They are part of our collective efforts to achieve societal and economic impact and advance our research mission.” The President’s Awards for Research Excellence 2020, were awarded across three categories. The Research Supervisor Awardees are: Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems at NUI Galway. His research explores the psychology underlying engagement with interactive digital media such as smartphones, social networking sites, fitness tracking apps, and online gambling and gaming sites.   Professor Dearbháile Morris, Personal Professor of Antimicrobial Resistance and One Health in the School of Medicine. She is also Director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for One Health at NUI Galway. Her research includes antimicrobial resistance, food and water borne pathogens, emerging contaminants, the societal impact of infection and One Health. The Early Stage Researcher awardees are: Dr Thomas McDermott, Galway University Foundation Lecturer in the Economics of Climate Change and Development, based in the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, and Director of the MSc in Global Environmental Economics at NUI Galway. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics. His research focuses on environmental and development economics, the economic impacts of extreme weather events such as floods, and public policy related to adaptation to climate change. Dr Eimear Dolan, a Science Foundation Ireland Royal Society University Research Fellow and Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering. Earlier this year, she was named in MIT Technology Review’s annual list of ‘Innovators Under 35’as one of 10 global visionaries. Her key research interest is in innovative medical devices, their effect on the host cells and coupling therapies to minimally invasive delivery devices. The Established Researcher Category awardees are: Dr Jane Walsh is the Director of the Mobile Technology and Health (mHealth) Research Group at NUI Galway where she is leading research on the use of novel technologies to develop personalised interventions to promote health behaviour. She is leading and collaborating on over €8 million euro of projects including those funded by Horizon 2020, the Health Research Board, the Irish Cancer Societyand Science Foundation Ireland. Professor InesThiele, principal investigator of the Molecular Systems Physiology group at NUI Galway. Her research aims to understand how diet influences human health. Her team develops and uses comprehensive, computational models of human and gut microbial metabolism and applies them to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease. Professor Thiele is a European Research Council Fellow and was recently listed among the top 1% of highly-cited researchers in the world by Clarivate. At the event, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, spoke about the reach of the University’s research and innovation mission: “Reaching a milestone in European funding is a significant achievement which demonstrates a strong and ambitious research and innovation ecosystem here at NUI Galway. We have had great success also in national funding programmes and in leveraging other international and philanthropic resources in both research and innovation activities. This is complemented by excellence research in domains that cannot be measured by funding alone. With these successes, and with the support and recognition for our research, we are able to continue our mission to achieve a positive impact on society. Today we celebrate our people and our research community, who are the drivers of our successes.” European Success Of the €100 million awarded to NUI Galway researchers over the last seven years, €90 million has been secured through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme – including the prestigious European Research Council, which funds outstanding researchers in science, humanities, social sciences, medicine and engineering. There are now 14 European Research Council Fellows based at NUI Galway. Much of the Horizon 2020 research underway is focused on addressing the major societal challenges of health, climate change and food security. Other successes have come through the Interregregional cooperation programme; the European Space Agency; and the Erasmus+ Programme, which supports research on innovation and good practices in education, training, and youth systems. The symposium heard from the NUI Galway research community, all with extensive experience of EU funding programmes, these included: Louise Hannon, Head of International Research Programmes, Research Office; Professor Marie-Louise Coolahan, School of English and Creative Arts; Professor Stephen Hynes, School of Business and Economics; Dr Laura Farina,  Research Fellow within the School of Medicine in the Translational Medical Device Lab, and former Marie Skłodowska-Curie MedTrain Fellow at CÚRAM; Dr Marcus Keane, School of Engineering; and Claire O’Connor, Director of Planning and Institutional Research. Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland, contributed on the structure and aims of the new Horizon Europe Programme which is expected in 2021 as we enter the next seven years of European Commission research funding. More information on the President’s Awards for Research Excellence, including past recipients, can be found here. To read more about the research activity supported by the European Commission at NUI Galway click here.  -Ends-

Friday, 18 December 2020

An innovative project at NUI Galway that encourages students to explore the evolution of life on Earth through the medium of film has been honoured by the Palaeontological Association, one of the world’s leading learned societies in the field. The History of Life film project was recently presented with the 2020 Gertrude Elles Award, which was established to recognise and promote high-quality public engagement in the field of palaeontology. Since 2011, final year undergraduate science students taking the class History of Life have worked in small teams to produce short documentary-style films on a diverse range of topics, including the origin of life on Earth, the evolution of the first forests and land animals, catastrophic past mass extinctions and the emergence of early human ancestors. Created on shoestring budgets, these short films are uploaded to a specially created YouTube channel, where they have reached a wide global online audience. The award from the Palaeontological Association was named in honour of Gertrude Elles (1872-1960), a pioneering palaeontologist, geologist and scientist. She is highly respected for her work on graptolite fossils and in deciphering the age of the Earth, and she was also one of the first female lecturers at the University of Cambridge. During the First World War she organised a hospital for wounded soldiers, which led to her receiving an MBE in 1920. Throughout her academic career, Elles was an enthusiastic teacher, an influential supervisor to young researchers and she remained committed to public outreach and communication of science. Professor Charles Wellman, President of the Palaeontological Association, said: “The History of Life film project has not only led to students having a greater understanding of the topics within Earth history, but has also reached a wide audience, explaining key concepts of our science to YouTube viewers.” This is the second international award for NUI Galway’s History of Life project: in June 2019 it received a MEDEA Award from the Media and Learning Association in Leuven, Belgium, for best practice in the use of media in education. The project was developed and is run by geologist and palaeontologist Dr John Murray from Earth and Ocean Sciences in NUI Galway, with continuing support from the University’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). Commenting on the award, Dr Murray said: “We are delighted and extremely grateful to receive this award from the Palaeontological Association, particularly as it is named in honour of Gertrude Elles - a trailblazing palaeontologist and role model for those of us who aspire to teach science and encourage the next generation of researchers. “The History of Life project has always been firmly focused on public understanding and engagement in science, and has only been made possible because of the energy, creativity and imagination of the students who produced these short films. The incredible words and visuals they have created onscreen have been nothing short of inspiring; they illustrate and communicate a profoundly important scientific message - principally concerning the epic story of where ultimately all life on Earth has come from, including humans.” A short film compilation explaining more about the project, featuring music by alt-rock Dublin band Empire Circus, is available on the History of Life YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/0Y0RmQFb628 -Ends-      

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Stromal Cell specialists at NUI Galway and Galway biotech, Orbsen Therapeutics have published new work which could lead to new ways of treating people with cancer. Principal Investigator Dr Laura Barkley, a researcher at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway explains: “Tumour stromal cells are recently discovered and are an important component of solid tumours. Tumour stromal cells prevent the patient’s immune system from recognising and killing cancer cells and they also limit the effectiveness of many current cancer drugs including immunotherapies. Our research indicates that developing drugs that specifically target tumour stromal cells may enable current drugs to work better in patients.” This Irish Research Council funded collaboration discovered a new marker of breast cancer tumour stromal cells called Syndecan-2. Dr Barkley and Dr Paul Loftus at Orbsen Therapeutics have developed novel peptide therapeutics to bind and target Syndecan-2 specifically. These new peptides were then tested in breast cancer models for safety and efficacy. Dr Barkley continued: “The peptides caused immune cells to infiltrate the breast cancer, leading to a reduction in growth and notably, reduced the metastasis of the breast cancer to other organs. These studies suggest that targeting cancer specific tumour stromal cells represent a new modality in the treatment of cancer. We are very excited about the potential benefits of using tumour stromal cells-targeting drugs to improve patient outcomes in combination with current breast cancer therapies and immunotherapies.” Professor Michael Kerin, Chair of Surgery at NUI Galway and Research Director of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute and co-author in the study, said: “This work highlights the important collaborative patient focused research that is carried out in the Lambe Institute for Translational Research. It will open avenues for treatment for patients with particular breast cancer subtypes especially triple negative and targeting the appropriate cohort will require further research.” Professor Timothy O'Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway, Director and Founder of Orbsen Therapeutics, and co-author in the study, highlighted: “This research program illustrates the benefits of the Irish Research Council Employment based post graduate initiative. The research applies discoveries in stem cell biology to cancer therapeutics and may lead to innovative approaches to the treatment of breast cancer.” Dr Stephen Elliman, Chief Scientific Officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, said: “This Irish Research Council enabled research between Dr Barkley and Dr Loftus was a model of industry-academic collaboration. We’re delighted with the outcome and look forward to continuing this productive collaboration and advancing these peptides towards early safety Phase clinical one trials.” This work was published in the International Journal of Cancer and can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33383 –Ends–

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Online survey by NUI Galway, University of Limerick and Lero software research centre raises concerns over need to communicate value of mobile phone assisted contact tracing Almost four in ten users of the HSE’s Covid Tracker App are unsure of its benefit in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, researchers have revealed. Researchers at NUI Galway and University of Limerick (UL) said the results of the survey should be considered when planning communications around the value of smartphone-assisted tracking and tracing for Covid-19. The HSE Covid Tracker App was launched in early July and currently has over 1.3 million active users.  More than 5,500 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 since July have been able to warn other contacts who have the app that they may have recently been exposed to the virus. This means that more than 10,000 app users were warned about a Covid-19 contact that they may potentially have been unaware of. With public health restrictions relaxed in the run up to Christmas, the COVIGILANT research team said it is more important than ever to better understand the attitudes relating to the tracker app and the anonymised data it collects on your phone. Dr Mike O’Callaghan, GP and UL Research Fellow in the Lero COVIGILANT research group, said: “Contact tracing and asking people to reduce their social contacts is hugely important in reducing spread of the coronavirus. The Covid Tracker App is designed to strengthen our contact tracing system but a consistent message we are hearing from our survey is that many users of the app are yet to be convinced that it is helping.” Dr Jane Walsh, Director of the mHealth Research Group at NUI Galway, said: “While the vast majority of people say the app is user friendly and well designed, many of our survey respondents would like to see more detail from the HSE as to the effect it is having. However, it is very difficult for the HSE to give a detailed picture of where and how the app is helping, as it is specifically designed to protect peoples’ privacy. “As we need to use every tool available against this virus, we hope our research will highlight the need to inform the general public about the usefulness of the app. Simply put, the more people trust it and use it, the more contacts it will pick up and the more it can make a difference. “The survey signals a need to strengthen the communications around the benefits of the app, but it is also further proof that the app is living up to its security and privacy commitments. These are hugely important aspects in order to reassure the public.” Dr Liam Glynn, Professor of General Practice at UL’s School of Medicine, said: “As we try to open up society and the economy further next year, increasing our social contacts will mean increased risk of Covid-19 transmission. The app is potentially at its most powerful in crowded areas where people don’t necessarily know each other and where it can warn of anonymous contacts. “We feel ongoing public health messaging about the app and reassurance around the data security and privacy features will be vitally important if the Irish public are going to continue to use this app into the new year.” A recent online survey by the COVIGILANT research group, led by NUI Galway, UL and Lero received more than 2,800 responses. It showed: :: 93% think the Covid Tracker App is easy to use and 81% feel its main function is to help the HSE with contact tracing. :: 44% (1265) of respondents feel the app is helping our national effort against this virus. :: 38% (1089) are unsure if the app is helping in the national effort :: 40% (1158) of respondents reported that they have not seen evidence that the app is helping our national effort against Covid-19. :: 7% reported Bluetooth related problems when using the app, with battery life issues being the main issue of concern. Dr Walsh added: “We want to hear peoples' experiences directly by holding interviews over the phone or via video call in order to understand more about what they think about the app. “Online surveys can offer us a great deal but they don’t tend to reach older age groups and people who don’t use technology a lot and we are particularly interested in hearing from people who fall into one or both of these groups.” Manzar Abbas, PhD Scholar at software research centre LERO at UL, said: “While we will ask people who are interested in participating for their permission to record their interview, their responses will be anonymised. So if you are currently using, or have used the contact tracing app previously and you have some feedback we would like to hear it to inform ongoing app development.”  The research team is seeking people aged 18 or over to take part in their study. Participants will be asked to take part in a phone interview which would last 30-40 minutes. Interested members of the public can fill in the consent form at the following link https://forms.gle/31Jvdrw5J5XeVwSu6 or email the research team at manzar.abbas@ul.ie. Ends