Thursday, 18 June 2020

New NUI Galway and University of Liege study show false widow spider can potentially deliver a more toxic bite than previously thought A team of scientists from NUI Galway and the University of Liege in Belgium have investigated the genetic and venom makeup of the Noble False widow spider, which is considered the most venomous spider in Ireland and the UK, and has been spreading worldwide over the past two decades. Results show that the Noble false widow spider produces a range of toxins found in Black widow venom. Just as the majority of black widow bites are not serious, so far most of the recorded bites from false widows are mild. However, this new study demonstrates that the venom of the Noble false widow spider can potentially deliver a more toxic bite than previously thought. These findings will help medical professionals to recognised and treat symptoms related to false widow bites. The Noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis originates from the Canary Islands and Madeira but has now spread throughout Europe, North Africa, West Asia and parts of North and South America. In parts of Ireland and the UK, it is one of the most common species of spiders in and around urban habitats. Venomous bites are becoming more prevalent, with victims usually experiencing intense pain and swelling for a few days. In some cases, victims have developed small wounds at the bite site, malaise and persistent stiffness in limbs. Scientists at NUI Galway and the University of Liege used cutting-edge genetic and protein-based methods to identify the toxins responsible for these symptoms. Out of a total of 140 toxins recovered, 111 were also found in their infamous cousins the “true” Black widows, including α-latrotoxins, the compounds known to disrupt the central nervous system of vertebrates, including humans. Dr Michel Dugon, head of the NUI Galway Venom Systems Lab said: “We know very little about spider venom and the way toxins act on the nervous system of animals and humans. The False widow spider is a new addition to Irish ecosystems and it is here to stay. It is therefore important to learn about its ecology and the potential risks associated with its bite.” John Dunbar, doctoral student in the Venom Systems and Proteomics Lab at NUI Galway and lead author of the study said: “Although our study shows that the venom of false widow spiders may be more potent than previously thought, it does not mean we need to fear them. In many parts of the world even “true” black widow bites rarely require medical attention. However, this new discovery will ultimately help medical professionals to diagnose and treat severe false widow bites.” This study is published in the Journal Toxins and is available at https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/12/6/402/htm -Ends-

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

The genome of an adult male from the heart of the world famous Newgrange passage tomb points to first-degree incest, implying dynasty and echoing local place-name folklore first recorded in Medieval times Far-flung kinship ties between Newgrange and passage tomb cemeteries in the west (Carrowkeel and Carrowmore, Co. Sligo) indicate an elite social stratum was widespread Before megalith builders arrived en masse, Ireland was home to a small hunter-gatherer population, whose genomes speak of long-term isolation from Britain and from Europe but there was some inter-breeding between this hunter-gatherer population and the incoming megalith builders on the Burren in County Clare The earliest case of Down Syndrome was discovered in a male infant from the famous Poulnabrone portal tomb A team of archaeologists and geneticists have shed new light on the earliest periods of Ireland’s human history. The survey of ancient Irish genomes, published today in leading international journal, Nature, suggests a man who had been buried in this chamber belonged to a dynastic elite. The research, led by the team from Trinity College Dublin, was carried out in collaboration with colleagues from NUI Galway, University College London, University College Cork, University of Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, Sligo Institute of Technology and the National Monuments Service, with support from the National Museum of Ireland and National Museums Northern Ireland. Among their incredible findings is the discovery that the genome of an adult male buried in the heart of the Newgrange passage tomb points to first-degree incest, implying he was among a ruling social elite akin to the similarly inbred Inca god-kings and Egyptian pharaohs. Older than the pyramids, Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland is world famous for its annual solar alignment where the winter solstice sunrise illuminates its sacred inner chamber in a golden blast of light. However, little is known about who was interred in the heart of this imposing 200,000 tonne monument or of the Neolithic society which built it over 5,000 years ago. “I’d never seen anything like it,” said Dr Lara Cassidy, Trinity, first author of the paper. “We all inherit two copies of the genome, one from our mother and one from our father; well, this individual’s copies were extremely similar, a tell-tale sign of close inbreeding. In fact, our analyses allowed us to confirm that his parents were first-degree relatives.” Matings of this type (e.g. brother-sister unions) are a near universal taboo for entwined cultural and biological reasons. The only confirmed social acceptances of first-degree incest are found among the elites – typically within a deified royal family. By breaking the rules, the elite separates itself from the general population, intensifying hierarchy and legitimizing power. Public ritual and extravagant monumental architecture often co-occur with dynastic incest, to achieve the same ends. “Here the auspicious location of the male skeletal remains is matched by the unprecedented nature of his ancient genome,” said Professor of Population Genetics at Trinity, Dan Bradley. “The prestige of the burial makes this very likely a socially sanctioned union and speaks of a hierarchy so extreme that the only partners worthy of the elite were family members.” The team also unearthed a web of distant familial relations between this man and other individuals from sites of the passage tomb tradition across the country, namely the mega-cemeteries of Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in Co. Sligo, and the Millin Bay monument in Co. Down. “It seems what we have here is a powerful extended kin-group, who had access to elite burial sites in many regions of the island for at least half a millennium,” added Dr Cassidy. Interestingly, one of the authors of the study, Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin, a Senior Archaeologist with Archaeological Management Solutions who received his PhD from NUI Galway recognised that a medieval myth resonates with these results and with the Newgrange solar phenomenon. First recorded in the 11th century AD, four millennia after construction, the story tells of a builder-king who restarted the daily solar cycle by sleeping with his sister. The Middle Irish place name for the neighbouring Dowth passage tomb, Fertae Chuile, is based on this lore and can be translated as ‘Hill of Sin’. “Given the world-famous solstice alignments of Brú na Bóinne, the magical solar manipulations in this myth already had scholars questioning how long an oral tradition could survive,” said Dr Ó Maoldúin. “To now discover a potential prehistoric precedent for the incestuous aspect is extraordinary.” The genome survey stretched over two millennia and unearthed other unexpected results. Within the oldest known burial structure on the island, Poulnabrone portal tomb, the earliest yet diagnosed case of Down Syndrome was discovered in a male infant who was buried there five and a half thousand years ago. Isotope analyses of this infant showed a dietary signature of breastfeeding. In combination, this provides an indication that visible difference was not a barrier to prestige burial in the deep past. Other significant findings came from the analyses of individuals buried in the Parknabinnia court tomb which was excavated by a team led by NUI Galway archaeologist Dr Carleton Jones. Here, a significant difference in the frequency of two Y chromosome haplogroups was found between individuals buried in the Parknabinnia monument and those buried in the nearby Poulnabrone portal tomb which suggests that distinct male line descent groups built and used these monuments. This is a remarkable discovery as the use of these two monuments overlapped for several centuries and they are both located on the Burren only 10km apart. The people who built and used both Parknabinnia and Poulnabrone were some of the earliest farmers in Ireland, descended from groups that arrived in Ireland shortly after 4000 BC, but what became of the earlier hunter-gatherer groups that inhabited Ireland for many thousands of years before these farmers arrived has long been an open question. One of the individuals from Parknabinnia tested in this study goes some of the way to answering this interesting question. “This individual could trace their ancestry to both the newly arrived farmers and to the indigenous hunter-gatherers of Ireland, showing that at least some mixing of these disparate populations occurred”, said Dr Carleton Jones. Genomes from the rare remains of Irish hunter-gatherers themselves showed they were most closely related to the hunter-gatherer populations from Britain (e.g. Cheddar Man) and northwest mainland Europe. However, unlike British samples, these earliest Irelanders had the genetic imprint of a prolonged island isolation. This fits with what we know about prehistoric sea levels after the Ice Age: Britain maintained a land bridge to the continent long after the retreat of the glaciers, while Ireland was separated by sea and its small early populations must have arrived in primitive boats. This work was funded by a Science Foundation Ireland/Health Research Board/Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership Investigator Award to Dan Bradley and an earlier Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholarship to Lara Cassidy. -Ends-

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Special Online Symposium – 'Trials in a Pandemic - embracing flexibility and ensuring integrity' The Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, in collaboration with colleagues in the University College Dublin and the University of Aberdeen, are hosting an special online symposium to address and engage in discussion on the conduct of trials in a pandemic. The symposium, Trials in a Pandemic – embracing flexibility and ensuring integrity, will take place from 30 June to 1 July. The initiative is one of the many ways researchers in NUI Galway, University College Dublin and the University of Aberdeen are meeting the challenges faced by the scientific community from COVID-19. In the face of the pandemic, many non-COVID-19 clinical trials have paused activity and many new clinical trials addressing new treatments for COVID-19, including vaccinations, have commenced globally. Ireland is one of the many global sites currently recruiting patients to COVID-19 clinical trials. Topics included in this free online event include: Conducting trials in a pandemic – shared experiences in navigating uncertainty; Current knowledge needs for COVID-19 trials; Mapping trials in a pandemic and reducing research waste; and Post-pandemic era – lessons for the future of trial research. A full list of invited speakers is available on the HRB-TMRN website at https://bit.ly/2YGkdPH' Professor Declan Devane, Scientific Director of the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network at NUI Galway said: “COVID-19 is a complex disease and there is relatively limited knowledge on the disease progression, its prevention, treatment and its impact. However, the global research response has been rapid, collaborative and extensive. This includes accelerated programs to develop a vaccine and other interventions for the prevention and treatment of the disease. The response is such that new knowledge is generated daily and will likely continue to do so as the pandemic unfolds. However, there are challenges in conducting COVID-19 trials and COVID-19 has impacted on heavily on the conduct of research focusing on other areas of health. This symposium brings together leading researchers who will share their experiences, knowledge and insights, which will help inform decisions on how we continue to do high quality research in and after a pandemic.” Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “The challenges facing the trial community to ensure the delivery of well-designed and managed clinical trials are significant. The speed at which research is happening is at unprecedented levels, and scientists have had to adapt to big changes. The HRB-TMRN actively supports the trial community in delivering the best methodological approaches to trials, and this event will help share valuable experiences by experts in this area both nationally and internationally.” Speaking about the initiative, Dr Mairead O’ Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said:  “Quick thinking and rapid response is essential during a pandemic. It is important that speed is matched with research quality and integrity. Having proper trial methodology, regulatory structures and an open approach to sharing findings is vital because we must build public confidence in decision making about new treatments, vaccines or practice. This symposium provides the perfect platform to centralise expertise on conduct of trials during a pandemic, share learning and inform future decisions.” The event is funded by the Health Research Board. For further information, visit: www.hrb-tmrn.ie or email hrb-tmrn@nuigalway.ie. Follow on Twitter @hrbtmrn. -Ends-

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Report from Institute of Public Health and NUI Galway shows concerning frequency of sunburn  HEALTH experts are emphasising the need to protect children’s skin in the sun as new research shows that nine out of 10 schoolchildren have experienced at least one episode of sunburn.  The report, published today by the Institute of Public Health and NUI Galway, examines for the first time children’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and sunbeds, UV skin protection behaviours, and sunburn. It will be used to inform implementation of the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan.  Nearly 90% of 10 to 17-year-olds said they have experienced sunburn in their lifetime. Around 74% said they experienced sunburn at least once during the past year.  Childhood sunburn, unprotected sun exposure and use of sunbeds increase the risk of developing skin cancers later in life. Repeated episodes of severe sunburn during childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma - the most serious form of skin cancer – in later life.   The report found that eight out of 10 schoolchildren reported wearing sunscreen, while seven out of 10 reported using sunglasses on sunny days.  However, the adoption of other sun protection measures, like covering up, wearing hats and avoiding peak UV hours, were less consistent. Just 32% of schoolchildren reported that they avoided peak UV hours of the day. Around 50% said they wore protective clothing to cover arms and legs when in the sun, while 17% reported never using sunscreen.  Girls were more likely to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, clothes that cover arms and legs as well as avoid peak UV hours on sunny days. Boys were more likely to wear hats on sunny days.  The report also found that 3% of children said they used a sunbed in the last 12 months. While the report found sunbed use by children under 18, it is not clear how much of this use is occurring in commercial premises. Providing a sunbed service to anyone under the age of 18 is contrary to Irish law as outlined in the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014. Dr Helen McAvoy, from the Institute of Public Health and co-author of the report, believes the message to protect skin when outdoors has never been more important as people spend more time outside during the Covid-19 restrictions. Dr McAvoy said: “The frequency of sunburn found in this report is concerning and shows there is a need for focused action and research on skin cancer prevention. Being outside and keeping active is good for children’s physical and mental health, but they also need to be sun smart. As measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are still in place, and as school holidays start, it is likely that more children will be outdoors playing.  We need to ensure that people are not over exposed to the sun, avoid peak UV hours, use sunscreen, and wear sunglasses, hats, and clothing to cover arms and legs.”  Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, from NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre, said the findings provide a vital insight into children’s sun behaviours in Ireland.   Professor Nic Gabhainn added: “This is the first time that children’s sun behaviours have been comprehensively recorded in Ireland, and it’s clear that this area requires focused development to protect children. This survey data will be important for planning future awareness programmes and targeting resources to those children and families who most need it.”  Dr Triona McCarthy, Director of Public Health at the National Cancer Control Programme, has welcomed the report.  Dr McCarthy said: “We are delighted to have linked with the Institute of Public Health and NUIG to deliver a comprehensive profile of school-children’s risk and protective behaviours relating to UV exposure as outlined in the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan.  UV exposure during the first 10– 15 years of life makes a disproportionately large contribution to lifetime risk of skin cancer.  This report will inform development of resources and implementation of programmes to support children and young people to enjoy being active outdoors safely. By adopting the ‘SunSmart 5 S’s’, the majority of skin cancers caused by UV sun exposure could be prevented.”  ENDS

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

RCSI, UCD and NUI Galway awarded €3.4m SFI Research Infrastructure grant A new National Preclinical Imaging Centre (NPIC) which will provide enhanced research data to inform new clinical trials that aim to improve patient outcomes, has been awarded funding of €3.4 million under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Infrastructure Programme. The Centre, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, is being established and co-funded by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, University College Dublin (UCD), and CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway. The Centre’s imaging infrastructure will support the development of new therapeutics and diagnostics in human disease areas including cancer, neurology, dementia, psychiatry, cardiology, medical devices, diabetes, tissue engineering, nanomedicine and inflammatory disease. The Centre will provide a national pre-clinical imaging resource open to all academic, industry and not-for-profit researchers, and will have locations in Dublin (RCSI, UCD) and Galway (NUI Galway). NPIC establishes a national pre-clinical magnetic resonance (MR) facility, a national high-field preclinical MR / chemical imaging platform and incorporates a high-resolution micro-computed tomography (CT) and Optical Imaging laboratory. “The National Preclinical Imaging Centre’s high resolution imaging technologies will allow the research community in Ireland to respond to future international research challenges and will provide important support infrastructure for SFI Research Centres, Irish academic institutes and industry collaborators,” commented Director of NPIC, Professor Annette Byrne, Head of the RCSI Precision Cancer Medicine Group, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics and Centre for Systems Medicine at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. “The Centre’s resources will allow us to work more collaboratively on research projects with clinicians and on training initiatives in radiology, which are critical elements of translating laboratory research finding to improvements in patient care in clinical settings,” Professor Byrne said. “This infrastructural funding provided by SFI, which is complemented by financial support from each of our partner institutions, along with in-kind contributions from industry, will provide an unparalleled national resource for advancing in vivo imaging. Our research in the area of precision oncology will benefit considerably from being able to image non-invasively tumour growth and spread, leading to improved understanding of disease and associated therapeutic options,” said Professor William Gallagher, Associate Director of NPIC, Director, UCD Conway Institute and Deputy Director, Precision Oncology Ireland. “I am delighted to see the establishment of NPIC as it will provide a significant boost to our existing capabilities across academic, industry and clinical networks allowing us to further progress medical device research and its clinical application in each of our disease target areas,” commented Professor Abhay Pandit, Associate Director of NPIC and Scientific Director at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway. The SFI Award is co-funded by all three Universities (RCSI, UCD and NUI Galway) and the application was supported by a diverse number of academic, not-for-profit and industry collaborators across the island of Ireland including Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, Technical University Dublin, Cancer Trials Ireland, Queens University Belfast, Pfizer, Roche, M2i Ltd and Boston Scientific. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Phase four of the population wide survey, the Corona Citizens’ Science Study will ask the public how well they feel the government is balancing the lifting of restrictions with that of economic and social well-being. It will also ask people about how well they feel they are coping with emerging from lockdown and, if a second wave of Covid-19 were to occur, would they adhere to a second nationwide lockdown and associated restrictions. The Corona Citizens’ Science Study is conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway) and is examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures (lockdown, social distancing) on daily life in Ireland*. Phase four of the survey commences on Wednesday, June 17th at 06.00am and will remain open for 24 hours. The fourth instalment of the nationwide survey, includes a large proportion of questions which have been submitted by the public. Respondents will be asked to comment on various aspects of their lives during lockdown, such as exercise, sex life and weight gain or loss while restrictions were in place. Others questions will ask if people would wear face coverings if it meant reducing social distancing from 2 metres to 1 metre and whether or not you would like to continue working from home in the future. Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist/Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine/Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, joint research lead said: “It has been six weeks since the last survey and a lot has changed. It is not only important to keep a record of the mood of the Irish people, but even more so, to understand how people feel about lockdown and restrictions today. The questions from the public will add a new and interesting dimension to the survey, and we are really curious to find out more.” Professor Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, DCU and joint research lead said: “We want to look at the reactions to lockdown, and in particular, how people feel about making a decision, whether to continue with lockdown measures in order to crush the curve, which is a point that is also being advocated for publicly.” -ends- 

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

The University has also announced the appointment of four new Adjunct Professors NUI Galway’s School of Law have announced details of a new postgraduate two year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) which will allow students to fast track to a career in law. The School of Law has also introduced an Irish-Language Stream for undergraduate law students and appointed four Adjunct Professors. The new course offerings and Adjunct Professors will further enhance the School’s innovative approach to teaching law, ensuring graduates acquire the practical and academic skills to adapt to an ever changing world.   The two year LLB is a full law degree, open to graduates from any discipline. It provides an excellent basis for work in legal practice, administration, business, government, the media, and many other areas. Speaking about the launch of the new course, Dr Rónán Kennedy, Programme Director of the LLB, said: “The LLB is an excellent conversion course for those who want to enhance their existing career, transfer to a career in law or develop their knowledge of the law for personal reasons. It provides a rapid route towards training for the legal professions in Ireland, offering all the subjects currently required for the solicitor and barrister entrance examinations in Ireland.” The new Irish-Language Stream has been developed in response to the demand for Irish Lawyer Linguists and is an optional stream available on the School’s undergraduate courses. The stream will allow students to develop their Irish-language skills throughout their four year full law degree with Legal Irish modules. In year three students will spend one semester studying at NUI Galway’s Gaeltacht campus in An Cheathrú Rua and one semester of professional work placement in an Irish-speaking legal environment.​ Dr Charles O’Mahony, Head of the School of Law, said: “It is the ideal qualification for students who want to build a career in law and open up a range of exciting job opportunities working through the Irish language. There are fantastic job opportunities for Irish Lawyer Linguists in the Institutions of the European Union.” The appointment of four new Adjunct Professors will give the School’s students further access to academic staff who are nationally and internationally recognised experts in their professions. The appointments include:   Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Judge of the Supreme Court, who has been appointed Adjunct Professor in conjunction with the School’s undergraduate course Law (BCL) Criminology and Criminal Justice. Professor Brendan Edgeworth, a Professor at University of New South Wales Law School and a distinguished property and housing law expert. Professor Edgeworth has been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the School of Law in connection with the School’s Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy Research. Professor Dr Guénaël Mettraux, Judge of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Member of the European Union's Human Rights Review Panel, and now Adjunct Professor (International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law) at the School’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Emily Logan, first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children - appointed Adjunct Professor (Human Rights Practice) at the School’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Newly appointed Adjunct Professor, Mr. Justice Peter Charleton said: “I'm delighted to be invited to assist in teaching in NUI Galway, a centre of excellence in legal education and a pioneer in the study of human rights law and of criminology in Ireland.” Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights, said: “Guénaël Mettraux is a leading expert and practicing international lawyer who has acted as Counsel before a variety of international criminal tribunals. His appointment and extensive international practice experience will contribute greatly to our LLM and PhD programmes in international criminal justice and humanitarian law. “Emily Logan’s appointment builds on our commitment to supporting skills and practice based learning for students on our international human rights law programmes. Students will have the opportunity to work with a leading human rights advocate, former Chair of the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, Ireland’s first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and first Ombudsman for Children.” For more information about NUI Galway School of Law’s new two year LLB commencing this September, the Irish-Language Stream and Adjunct Professors visit www.nuigalway.ie/law. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Tá ceapachán ceathrar Ollúna Taca fógartha ag an Ollscoil chomh maith D'fhógair Scoil an Dlí, OÉ Gaillimh sonraí faoi Bhaitsiléir Dlíthe (LLB) nua iarchéime a mhairfidh dhá bhliain agus a thabharfaidh deis do mhic léinn dlús a chur lena ngairm le dlí. Tá Sruth Gaeilge tugtha isteach ag Scoil an Dlí do mhic léinn dlí fochéime agus tá ceathrar Ollúna Taca ceaptha freisin. Cuirfidh na cúrsaí nua agus na hOllúna Taca le cur chuige nuálach na Scoile i leith theagasc an dlí, rud a chinnteoidh go sealbhóidh céimithe na scileanna praiticiúla agus acadúla le dul i ngleic le saol atá ag síorathrú.   Is céim iomlán dlí é an LLB dhá bhliain, atá oscailte do chéimithe ó réimse ar bith.  Soláthraíonn sé bunús iontach le tabhairt faoi obair i réimsí an chleachtais dlí, an riarachán, an gnó, obair in eagraíochtaí rialtais, na meáin agus réimsí go leor eile. Ag trácht ar sheoladh an chúrsa nua, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Dr Rónán Kennedy, Stiúrthóir Cláir an LLB: “Is cúrsa tiontaithe iontach é an LLB dóibh siúd ar mhian leo cur lena ngairm reatha, aistriú go gairm le dlí nó forbairt a dhéanamh ar an eolas atá acu ar an dlí ar údair phearsanta. Cuireann sé bealach gasta ar fáil i dtreo oiliúint sna gairmeacha dlí in Éirinn, agus na hábhair uile atá riachtanach do scrúduithe iontrála an dlíodóra agus an abhcóide in Éirinn á dtairiscint ann.” Forbraíodh an Sruth nua Gaeilge mar fhreagra ar an éileamh atá ar Dhlítheangeolaithe le Gaeilge agus is sruth roghnach é atá ar fáil ar chúrsaí fochéime na Scoile. Tabharfaidh an Sruth Gaeilge deis do mhic léinn a gcuid scileanna Gaeilge a fhorbairt agus iad i mbun céim iomlán ceithre bliana sa dlí. Sa tríú bliain, caithfidh mic léinn seimeastar amháin ag staidéar ar champas Gaeltachta OÉ Gaillimh ar an gCeathrú Rua agus seimeastar eile ar shocrúchán oibre gairmiúil i dtimpeallacht dlí ina labhraítear Gaeilge. Deir an Dr Charles O’Mahony, Ceann Scoil an Dlí: “Is í seo an cháilíocht is fearr do mhic léinn atá ag iarraidh gairm a mhúnlú dóibh féin sa dlí agus raon deiseanna fostaíochta spreagúla a bheith ar fáil dóibh sa Ghaeilge. Tá deiseanna fostaíochta iontacha ar fáil freisin do Dhlítheangeolaithe in Institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh.” Tabharfaidh ceapachán ceathrar Ollúna Taca nua rochtain bhreise do mhic léinn na Scoile ar fhoireann acadúil a aithnítear go hidirnáisiúnta agus go náisiúnta mar shaineolaithe ina gcuid gairmeacha. I measc na gceapachán tá:  An Breitheamh Onórach Peter Charleton, Breitheamh den Chúirt Uachtarach, a ceapadh ina Ollamh Taca ar chúrsa fochéime na Scoile sa Dlí, Coireolaíocht agus Ceartas Coiriúil. An tOllamh Brendan Edgeworth, Ollamh i Scoil Dlí Ollscoil New South Wales agus saineolaí iomráiteach ar dhlí réadmhaoine agus tithíochta. Ceapadh an tOllamh Edgeworth ina Ollamh Taca i Scoil an Dlí agus beidh sé ag obair go príomha san Ionad Taighde do Dhlí, Cearta agus Polasaí Tithíochta. An Dr Guénaël Mettraux, Breitheamh Shain-Dlísheomraí na Cosaive agus Ball de Phainéal Athbhreithnithe an Aontais Eorpaigh um Chearta an Duine, agus Ollamh Taca (Dlí Coirpeach Idirnáisiúnta agus Dlí Daonnúil Idirnáisiúnta) in Ionad na hÉireann do Chearta an Duine anois. Emily Logan, an chéad Phríomh-Choimisinéir ar Choimisiún na hÉireann um Chearta an Duine agus Comhionannas agus an chéad Ombudsman do Leanaí in Éirinn - ceaptha mar Ollamh Comhghafach (Cleachtas um Chearta an Duine) ag Ionad na hÉireann um Chearta an Duine. Deir an tOllamh Taca nuacheaptha, an Breitheamh Onórach Peter Charleton: “Tá lúcháir orm cuireadh a fháil chun tacú leis an teagasc in OÉ Gaillimh, atá mar ionad barr feabhais in oideachas an dlí agus ceannródaí i léann an dlí i leith chearta an duine agus léann na coireolaíochta in Éirinn. Deir an tOllamh Siobhán Mullally, Stiúrthóir Ionad na hÉireann do Chearta an Duine in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is príomhshaineolaí agus dlíodóir idirnáisiúnta atá ag cleachtadh a ghairme é Guénaël Mettraux a bhí ina Abhcóide os comhair réimse éagsúil binsí coiriúla idirnáisiúnta. Cuirfidh a cheapachán agus a thaithí fhairsing ar chleachtas idirnáisiúnta go mór lenár gcláir LLM agus PhD sa Cheartas Coiriúil Idirnáisiúnta agus sa Dlí Daonnúil. “Cuireann ceapachán Emily Logan lenár dtiomantas tacú le scileanna agus le foghlaim chleachtas-bhunaithe do mhic léinn ar ár gcláir i nDlí Idirnáisiúnta Chearta an Duine. Beidh deis ag mic léinn oibriú le príomhurlabhraí chearta an duine, iarChathaoirleach Líonra Eorpach na nInstitiúidí Náisiúnta um Chearta an Duine, an chéad Phríomhchoimisinéir ar Choimisiún na hÉireann um Chearta an Duine agus Comhionannas agus an chéad Ombudsman do Leanaí in Éirinn.” Le tuilleadh eolais a fháil faoin LLB nua dhá bhliain i Scoil an Dlí, OÉ Gaillimh atá le tosú i mí Mheán Fómhair, faoin Sruth Gaeilge agus faoi na hOllúna Taca téigh chuig www.nuigalway.ie/law. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

NUI Galway’s Moore Institute will host a webinar to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sport on Thursday, 25 June, at 4pm. Sport is one of the most important and popular areas of activity across society – for participants as well as fans. Cancellation of sporting events due to Covid-19 has had a huge impact in Ireland and around the world. This webinar brings together leading authorities to look at sport nationally and internationally during the crisis from a variety of perspectives, including the history of sport, sports governance and policy, sports practitioners and representative organisations, sport and the media, and gender and sport. Contributors to the webinar: Professor Paul Rouse, UCD, one of the leading experts on the history of Irish sport Dr Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, and All-Ireland winning player and All-Star with Cork in camogie and Gaelic football Dr Niamh Kitching, Mary Immaculate College, whose work focuses on gender equality and sport, including female athletes and coaches Dr Marcus Free, Mary Immaculate College, who specialises on media and sport Dr Borja García, Loughborough University, an authority on sports policy and governance and member of the European Commission’s expert group on sport policy The webinar will be chaired by Dr Seán Crosson of the Huston School of Film and Digital Media at NUI Galway, and leader of the Sport and Exercise Research Group in the Moore Institute. Dr Crosson said: “We are delighted to bring together such a distinguished range of speakers to contribute to our webinar on sport and covid-19. Sport, like all other areas of our lives, has been impacted upon in unprecedented ways since the advent of the current crisis. This has presented challenges to all those engaged with sport, but also perhaps opportunities to reassess the place and contribution of sport within society in the future.” The webinar forms part of the Moore Institute’s COVID-19 Response Series. Director of the Moore Institute, Professor Daniel Carey, said: “Access to sport is something we tend to take for granted, either for exercise or entertainment. Few areas generate the same level of excitement and commitment. Covid-19 has massively altered the landscape. But our attachments are still apparent in nostalgia for sport and the replaying of historic matches and contests. This webinar will offer us ways to think about sport and how we restart this area of major activity.” To attend please register using this link: https://bit.ly/2N2MDxX. For more on the Moore Institute’s COVID-19 Response Series visit https://mooreinstitute.ie/research-group/moore-institute-covid-19-response-group/ -Ends-

Monday, 15 June 2020

Game of Cones - Red squirrels making comeback as return of native pine marten spells bad news for invasive grey squirrel NUI Galway study finds Ireland’s native species recovering and returning to natural habitats  Monday, 15 June 2020: The number of red squirrels is on the increase in Ireland thanks to the return of the pine marten, a native carnivore, a new survey led by NUI Galway has found. The new findings indicate that the return of the red squirrel is due to the decrease in the number of grey squirrels, which compete with them for food and carry a disease that is fatal to the native species. The re-emergence of the pine marten, which had previously almost disappeared in Ireland, is linked to the local demise of the greys. High densities of pine martens were found in areas - particularly the midlands - where grey squirrels had disappeared, with red squirrel numbers recovering in many of these areas indicating that they are capable of sharing habitat with the native carnivore, unlike grey squirrels.  In urban areas, such as Dublin and Belfast, the grey squirrel continues to thrive. Grey squirrels were introduced to Ireland early in the twentieth century, and had spread to cover the eastern half of the island.  As a result, the red squirrel range had contracted over several years and the native species was struggling to survive. The citizen science survey, a cross-border collaboration with the Ulster Wildlife and Vincent Wildlife Trust led by NUI Galway, detected significant changes in the ranges of squirrels and pine martens particularly in the midlands and Northern Ireland. Dr Colin Lawton of the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway said: ‘This study brought together colleagues from institutions all across the island, and this collaborative approach gives us a full picture of the status of these three mammals in Ireland.  We are delighted with the response from the public, who were enthusiastic and showed a wealth of knowledge of Ireland’s wildlife.  It is great news to see two native species recovering and doing well.’ The report on the survey makes recommendations to ensure that the red squirrel and pine marten continue to thrive, with further monitoring required to allow early intervention if conservation at a local or national level is required. Dr Lawton added: ‘We encourage our citizen scientists to continue to log their sightings of Irish wildlife on the two national database platforms. Our collective knowledge is a powerful tool in conservation.’ The survey used online platforms provided by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (RoI) and Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (NI) to develop the data. It was funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The All Ireland Squirrel and Pine Marten Survey 2019 report (Irish Wildlife Manual No.121) can be downloaded at https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/IWM121.pdf

Monday, 15 June 2020

Oíche Oscailte Fhíorúil OÉ Gaillimh d’Fhoghlaimeoirí Fásta  Dé Luain, 15 Meitheamh 2020: Tá Oíche Eolais Bhliantúil OÉ Gaillimh d’Fhoghlaimeoirí Fásta le reáchtáil go fíorúil. Reáchtálfar an chéad oíche ar líne Dé Céadaoin, an 24 Meitheamh, ó 6.00-8.30pm. “I ngeall ar phaindéim COVID-19, táimid ag reáchtáil ár n-imeachta ar ardán fíorúil i mbliana”, a mhíníonn Nuala McGuinn, Stiúrthóir an Ionaid Foghlama agus Forbartha Gairmiúla d’Aosaigh in OÉ Gaillimh. “Tá gach príomhghné dár n-oíche oscailte thraidisiúnta a bhíodh tairbheach do mhic léinn fós againn rud a chuideoidh chun an réimse leathan cúrsaí páirtaimseartha agus cúrsaí foghlama solúbtha atá ar fáil san Ollscoil a roghnú thar a chéile.” I gcaitheamh na hoíche beidh deis ag mic léinn ionchasacha páirt a ghlacadh i bplé painéil beo ar Facebook ó 6-7pm, lena n-áireofar foireann teagaisc, mic léinn, ionadaithe ón Ionad Forbartha Gairmeacha agus ón tionscal chun plé a dhéanamh ar a mbíonn i gceist lena bheith i d’fhoghlaimeoir fásta, conas is féidir leat an cúrsa ceart a roghnú agus conas is féidir leat tuilleadh eolais a fháil faoi threochtaí earnála agus faoi riachtanais scileanna a thagann chun cinn. “Tá sraith cur i láthair ar líne eagraithe againn ina dtabharfar eolas mionsonraithe faoi na cúrsaí atá á dtairiscint againn agus ina dtabharfar deis labhairt le foireann acadúil agus le comhordaitheoirí cúrsa ar fhóram beo Ceisteanna agus Freagraí ó 7.00 go 8.30pm”, a deir Nuala McGuinn. I measc na gcúrsaí a chuirfear i láthair ag an imeacht tá Gnó agus Bainistíocht, Oideachas Pobail, Léann Oiliúna agus Oideachais d’Aosaigh, Staidéar Luath-Óige, Teangacha, Teicneolaíocht Faisnéise, Cothú Sláinte, Cúrsaí Réamh-Ollscoile, agus Eolaíocht agus Teicneolaíocht. Le linn na hoíche eolais seolfaidh an Ollscoil Dioplóma ar líne nua i Scileanna Gnó Criticiúla chomh maith, dioplóma atá deartha le cuidiú leo siúd nach bhfuil cúlra gnó acu barr a gcumais a bhaint amach agus dul chun cinn i dtreo róil mheánbhainistíochta. Beidh cur síos chomh maith ar chláir nua ón mbliain acadúil dhéanach i bhFoghlaim le Cuidiú Teicneolaíochta, Bainistíocht Athruithe agus Pleanáil Comhshaoil Chorparáidigh. Beidh siad seo ar fáil arís i Meán Fómhair mar gheall ar an tóir a bhí orthu.  I ngeall ar phaindéim COVID-19, déanfar gach cúrsa páirtaimseartha atá ar fáil tríd an Ionad Foghlama agus Forbartha Gairmiúla d’Aosaigh a theagasc go hiomlán ar líne i seimeastar 1 na bliana acadúla 2020/2021. “Agus taithí againn ar chúrsaí cumaisc agus foghlama ar líne a thabhairt le breis is 20 bliain anuas, is amhlaidh a dhéanfar freastal maith ar mhic léinn”, a mhíníonn Nuala McGuinn.  “Tá an-eolas againn i dtaca le cúrsaí a dhearadh don fhoghlaim ar líne agus tar éis dúinn bheith ag obair le foghlaimeoirí fásta le breis is 50 bliain anuas tá an-léargas againn ar na tacaíochtaí atá ag teastáil ó mhic léinn a roghnaíonn a gcuid staidéir a dhéanamh ar an mbonn seo ar líne.” Beidh eolas ar fáil freisin faoi chúrsaí Springboard+ ina dtairgtear áiteanna maoinithe d’iarratasóirí fostaithe agus dífhostaithe mar aon le heolas iarratais le haghaidh na scoláireachtaí Teagaisc don Fhoghlaim d’Aosaigh do mhic léinn a ndéanann an Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí íocaíochtaí sainiúla leo. Le tuilleadh eolais faoin imeacht seo a fháil agus le do spéis a chlárú, féach www.nuigalway.ie/adult-open-evening

Monday, 15 June 2020

NUI Galway’s Adult Learners Virtual Open Evening Monday, 15 June, 2020: NUI Galway’s annual Adult Learners Information Evening has gone virtual.  The open evening will take place online on Wednesday, 24 June, from 6.00-8.30pm. “In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year we have moved our event to a virtual platform”, explains Nuala McGuinn, Director at NUI Galway’s Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development.  “We have retained all the key elements of our traditional open evening which former students have found useful to help them choose from the extensive range of part-time, flexible-learning courses on offer at the University.” Over the course of the evening prospective students will have an opportunity to join the live Facebook panel discussion from 6-7pm which includes teaching staff, students, representatives from the Careers Development Centre and from industry to discuss what’s involved in being an adult learner, how to choose the right course and to find out more about industry trends and emerging skills needs. “We have a series of online presentations providing detailed information on the courses that we offer and the opportunity to chat with academic staff and course coordinators in a live Questions and Answers forum from 7.00pm to 8.30pm”, highlights Nuala McGuinn. Courses showcased at the event range from Business and Management, Community Education, Adult Training & Education Studies, Early Childhood Studies, Languages, Information Technology, Health Promotion, Pre-University Courses, and Science and Technology. The University will also launch a new online Diploma in Critical Business Skills during the information evening which is designed to enable those with non-business backgrounds, to fulfil their potential and progress to middle management roles. New programmes for the recent academic year in Technology Enhanced Learning, Change Management and Corporate Environmental Planning will also feature and will be on offer again from September due to popular demand.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all part-time courses on offer through the Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development will move to a fully online teaching format in semester 1 of the 2020/2021 academic year.  “Having experience in delivering blended and online learning courses for over 20 years, students will be in good hands”, explains Nuala McGuinn.  “We have a wealth of knowledge in designing for online learning and having worked with adult learners for over 50 years we have great insights into the supports that are required for students who choose to study in this online format.” Information on Springboard+ courses offering funded places to employed and unemployed candidates will also be available as well as application information for the Adult Learning tuition scholarships for students who are in receipt of specific payments from the Department of Social Protection. For further information on this event and to register your interest, see www.nuigalway.ie/adult-open-evening. -Ends-

Thursday, 11 June 2020

NUI Galway will host the 24th Annual Health Promotion Conference online on Thursday, 18 June, with this year’s theme being ‘Promoting Health and Wellbeing: Creating a more equitable and sustainable environment’. The conference is hosted by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway in collaboration with the World Health Organisation; Department of Health; the Health Service Executive; and the Association of Health Promotion Ireland. The virtual conference aims to promote exchange of ideas on research, policy and practice, as well as to act as a networking platform to promote future development of collaborative partnerships in the field of health, wellbeing and sustainability. Transitioning to an online conference complements the conference sustainability theme, decreasing collective consumption while maintaining a sense of open discourse and providing networking opportunities. The conference will bring together leading academics, researchers, practitioners and policymakers to present theoretically informed, empirical research and perspectives on health and wellbeing, sustainability, climate adaptation, livable healthy space and place, and equitable governance structures including: Dr Faten Ben Abdelaziz, Head of Enhanced Wellbeing Unit, Division of UHC/Healthier Populations at WHO-HQ Geneva Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director, Strategic Planning and Transformation, HSE Kate O'Flaherty, Head of Health and Wellbeing, Department of Health Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University, Australia Dr Trevor Hancock, University of Victoria, Canada Professor Anna Davies, Trinity College Dublin Matthias Braubach, European Centre for Environment and Health, WHO Regional Office for Europe The conference programme comprises a mix of plenary lectures, paper and poster presentations, interactive paper discussion sessions, and (Live interactive) panel discussions from leading academics, researchers and practitioners alike. Professor Sharon Friel will be discussing ‘Extinction thwarted: surviving global warming’ and said: “Climate change threatens humanity and the planet on which we live. Social inequities, including startling variance in the health outcomes that different population groups enjoy, also pose a threat to humanity, although less directly. Humanity can and must act to prevent catastrophic climate change and redress egregious global health inequities. With a focus on disrupting the existing ‘consumptagenic system’, there are necessary steps we must take to move from inertia towards effective and equitable climate change adaptation and mitigation through progressive public policy, sustainable business models and effective social mobilisation.” Dr Trevor Hancock will present his paper on ‘Gaia: The ultimate setting for health promotion’ and said: “The ultimate determinant of our health is Gaia - the living Earth - from whence comes all our basic needs; oxygen, water, food, materials, fuels and many other life-supporting services. We cannot be healthy if we harm the health of the Earth. So we have to rapidly transform our society, economy and way of life to one that is compatible with living well within the limits of this one planet that is our only home.” Professor Anna Davies will discuss ‘Food Sharing: Contributions to Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability’ and  Matthias Braubach will present on ‘Environmental health inequalities across Europe: evidence for action’. This event provides a platform for exchange of ideas for research, policy and practice developments in health promotion and sustainability. It also provides the opportunity to explore how issues of health, equity and sustainability can be encouraged, measured and governed at different scales. Dr Mary Jo Lavelle, Director of Outreach Programmes at the Discipline of Health Promotion at NUI Galway and Conference Co-Chair, said: “As the world faces the Covid-19 pandemic, our 24th Health Promotion conference focus provides a timely platform for connecting health, environmental sustainability and equity research in an increasingly globalised world. The conference theme reflects on the challenges required to create a transition towards a more equitable and sustainable environment to promote health and wellbeing. Humanity’s global consumption demands are causing irreversible impacts on global ecosystems and the Earth’s bio-capacity. Ecological issues (such as climatic change, ocean acidification, land degradation, water scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, and biodiversity loss) represent serious threats to human health. So too, does the future projected growth in urban environments and their impact on health outcomes through reduced air pollution and provision of green space as well as the magnitude of urban heat islands. Consequences of anthropogenic environmental change and degradation to the structure and function of the Earth’s natural systems represent a growing threat to human health and wellbeing that need to be considered if we are to promote and protect the future health and wellbeing of our population and planet. Promoting positive health and wellbeing cannot be achieved without an understanding of the need to conserve planetary biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as the need to transition towards more sustainable forms of consumption practices.” The conference is relevant to practitioners, researchers and policymakers alike. Registration details for attending this online event at https://bit.ly/2BPt1Ln. For further information on the conference, including latest news, updates and publications, please visit the https://bit.ly/2MHQRuK. For further enquiries contact NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre at hprc@nuigalway.ie or Dr Mary Jo Lavelle at mary.lavelle@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Thursday, 11 June 2020

An NUI Galway researcher, Pietro Marchese, will be awarded a Fulbright Irish Awards for 2020-21 by Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D. today. At a time when international education programmes face huge challenges, the enduring Fulbright Programme will 36 remarkable academics, professionals and students from Ireland to go to the USA and collaborate with their U.S. counterparts.  Pietro Marchese is a PhD student at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine, funded by the Irish Research Council. He holds a BA in Biological Sciences and a M.Sc. in Plant Biotechnology from the University of Turin in Italy. His doctoral research focuses on marine natural products drug discovery for regenerative medicine, implementing high throughput screening strategies to detect drug candidates produced by marine filamentous fungi. As a Fulbright-Marine Institute Student Awardee to the University of South Florida in Tampa, he will investigate the chemistry of fungal strains isolated from the deep Atlantic Ocean in order to identify new bioactive molecules for diseases such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. While at USF, he will also improve the drug discovery program by testing a library of deep-sea fungal compounds for new medical targets.  Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, said: "I am delighted to extend my congratulations to Peitro Marchese. Exchanges such as Fulbright, expand knowledge bases and provide opportunities for new discovery. These academic and cultural exchanges, such as Pietro's project to identify new bioactive molecules for diseases and drug discoveries, help expose the talent of NUI Galway's research internationally." The resilient Fulbright programme has served to strengthen international relations throughout turbulent times for over seventy years. Founded in 1946, it has enabled academic and cultural exchanges between more than 2,500 Irish and American citizens since 1957. With an emphasis on cultural immersion and building long-term academic and professional connections, the Fulbright programme selects excellent candidates from all over Ireland to work with top U.S. Institutions across all disciplines ranging from science, technology and business, to the arts and culture. Minister Ciarán Cannon T.D. said: “The role of Fulbright Awardees in driving international research and keeping global channels of communications open is more important than ever. Fulbright has always propelled collaboration between the brightest minds. I wish this year’s Awardees every success for their time in the United States.”  The next round of applications for Fulbright Irish Awards will open on 31 August 2020, interested applicants should visit www.fulbright.ie for more information.  -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Research finds Ireland can improvise well in a major crisis, but “silo mentality” a barrier to long-term environmental planning New research by NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute has shown Irish policymakers can respond in fast and imaginative ways when put under pressure by disruptive crises. However, it shows failure to plan for long-term environmental challenges. Known as the EPIIC (Environmental Policy Integration: Innovation and Change) project, which was funded by the EPA, the initiative explores how well environmental policy is integrated into Ireland’s system of government and public administration. It looked at emergency responses, how they’re dealt with in the short-term, and how they impact the long-term. The research found that Irish policies for energy poverty and conservation were quickly and creatively developed, even in the face of the 2008 financial crisis.   Throughout the process 38 interviewees expressed strong views on a lack of environmental data sharing, on the suitability of voluntary agreements that aim to go beyond compliance, and the importance of subsidies, specifically feed-in tariffs, for new renewable technologies in Ireland such as anaerobic digestion or biogas. Interviewees suggested that awareness of the Environmental Policy Integration concept was limited because of a ‘silo mentality’. It suggested that the State could engage more with the citizen to achieve buy-in when formulating responses for the long run. This will require institutional change, adaptation, and evolution along with a dedicated ‘network agent’ to broker formal policy networking. Environmental Policy Integration is not a new concept, nor is it unique to Ireland, but the EPIIC project showed how it requires a renewed effort to ‘mainstream’ environmental and climate concerns into all other policy sectors, notably into agriculture, energy, transport, and health. The research commended policy ‘champions’ for using this approach including specialist agencies, larger multi-national firms and also not-for-profit NGOs. Dr Brendan Flynn, NUI Galway, Principal Investigator for EPIIC and one of the Ryan Institute authors explained: “This research is more relevant than ever right now. Our approach was to explain how policymaking is increasingly having to improvise in a global era of disruption -and that was long before COVID-19. However, with the scale and lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is not just an opportunity -but a necessity -to get joined-up policies working. Our research explains how, for example, retrofitting for energy conservation was so successful in getting ‘silos’ ranging from health to energy to jobs working together, during the last great recession in the late 2000’s. That success story can be replayed and built upon.” Pádraic Ó hUiginn, co-author, elaborated: “Our research identified areas of cross-sectoral pressures on the Irish environmental policy system and the gaps and opportunities for joined-up thinking. We followed our own ‘epic’ process of thirty-eight interviews, across three jurisdictions, aimed at giving voice to the experiences, insights and learnings of those on the frontline of environmental policy delivery. We think the EPIIC report offers something like a ‘Rough Guide’ or a ‘Lonely Planet’ travel guide for those in government and public administration faced with the daunting challenges of delivering joined-up environmental policies. It offers tips on the ‘must see’ and ‘best to avoid’ routes to policy integration.” EPIIC was published as part of the EPA Research Programme 2014–2020. The programme is financed by the Irish Government. It is administered on behalf of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment by the EPA, which has the statutory function of co-ordinating and promoting environmental research. -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Tá An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar le teachtaireacht speisialta a thabhairt do chéimithe le linn an tsearmanais Reáchtálfaidh OÉ Gaillimh Bronnadh Fíorúil an tSamhraidh Dé Máirt, an 16 Meitheamh, a chraolfar beo ar Facebook do 155 céimí agus dá muintir. Bronnfaidh an Ollscoil roinnt Céimeanna Baitsiléara Onóracha, Ard-Dioplómaí, Dioplómaí agus Teastais Iarchéime, Máistreachtaí, Céim Dhochtúireachta le Litríocht (DLitt) agus Céimeanna PhD ar mhic léinn ó Choláiste an Leighis, na nEolaíochtaí Sláinte agus an Altranais; Coláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta; Coláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí agus an Dlí; agus Coláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh. Baineann péire de na grúpaí céimithe is mó leis an MA Obair Shóisialta agus leis na cláir fhochéime sna hEolaíochtaí Sláinte, lena n-áirítear Teiripe Shaothair, Cosliacht, agus Teiripe Theanga agus Urlabhra. Le linn an tsearmanais craolfar físeán ina ndéanfaidh an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar comhghairdeas leis na céimithe nua as an éacht atá déanta acu. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, roimh an searmanas: “Is tréimhse neamhghnách í seo agus is daoine iontacha iad ár gcéimithe, agus ar son OÉ Gaillimh, ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh le gach céimí as an obair chrua agus as an éacht atá déanta acu. Táimidne in OÉ Gaillimh diongbháilte de go ndéanfaidh an Ollscoil seo a cion féin le céimithe a oiliúint a fhágfaidh a lorg ar an domhan trí chéile, agus a bheidh in ann freastal ar riachtanais ár sochaí amach anseo. Baineann ár gcéimithe nua le réimsí éagsúla agus baineann go leor acu le hEolaíochtaí Sláinte agus le taighde, agus muid ag breathnú chun cinn ar an tráth a dtiocfaimid as an bpaindéim seo, beidh siad ag teastáil go géar ónár dtír agus ónar ndomhan chun go dtiocfaimid chugainn féin. Beidh a gcumas, a smaointeoireacht chruthaitheach, a dtaighde den chéad scoth, agus thar aon rud eile a gcomhbhá ag teastáil uainn agus táimid ag súil go mór leis an tráth a nglacfaidh siad páirt ghníomhach i dtéarnamh ár dtíre. Táimid ag súil le héachtaí ár mac léinn a cheiliúradh leo féin agus lena muintir ar dhóigh fhíorúil ach ar dhóigh a mbeidh thar a bheith speisialta freisin.” Beidh neart mac léinn idirnáisiúnta páirteach sa searmanas chomh maith, agus cuirfidh an Ollscoil fáilte roimh chéimithe ón tSín, an Mhalaeisia, Stáit Aontaithe Mheiriceá, an Indinéis, an Bhrasaíl, Meicsiceo, Neipeal, an Ríocht Aontaithe, agus tíortha eile nach iad, mar aon le mic léinn ó fhud fad na hÉireann. Craolfar an searmanas bronnta beo ag 2pm ar www.facebook.com/nuigalway -Críoch-

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to deliver special message to graduates during the ceremony NUI Galway will hold its Summer Virtual Conferring on Tuesday, 16 June, which will be broadcast live through Facebook to 155 graduates and their families. The University will award a number of Undergraduate Honours Bachelors, Higher Diplomas, Postgraduate Certificate and Diplomas, Masters, Doctor of Literature (DLitt) and PhDs to students graduating from the College of Medicine, Health Sciences and Nursing; College of Science and Engineering; College of Business, Public Policy and Law; and the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. Two of the largest cohorts of graduates come from the MA Social Work and undergraduate programmes in Health Sciences, including Occupational Therapy, Podiatry, and Speech and Language Therapy. A video from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar congratulating the new graduates on their achievement will be broadcast during the ceremony. Speaking ahead of the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “These are extraordinary times and our graduates are extraordinary people, and on behalf of NUI Galway, I would like to congratulate each graduate on their hard work and achievement. We in NUI Galway are determined that this University will play its full part in developing graduates who will make a real difference in the world and for the world, and will shape the future needs of our society. Our newest graduates come from a variety of fields with many from the Health Sciences and research, and as we look ahead to emerging from this pandemic, our country and our world will need them in our recovery. We will need their capacities, their creative thinking, their high quality research, and above all their compassion, and look forward to them all playing an active part in our country’s recovery. We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our students with them and their families in a virtual but no less special way.” International students will also be well represented at the ceremony, with the University welcoming graduates from, among other countries, China, Malaysia, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Nepal, and the United Kingdom, along with students from across Ireland. The conferring ceremony will be streamed live at 2pm on www.facebook.com/nuigalway -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

The University now ranked in top 1% in the QS World University Rankings NUI Galway continues to perform strongly in the 2021 QS World University Rankings released today (Wednesday, 10 June), moving up another 21 places.  It is now ranked 238th in the world’s top 1,000 institutions. This ranking confirms its position among the world’s elite educational institutions, placing it in the top 1% of universities in the world, and in the top 20% in the QS World Ranking. In these rankings, NUI Galway is the leading University in the Republic of Ireland outside Dublin, and is ranked 100th in Europe. Since 2014 NUI Galway has moved up 42 places, having improved its ranking in 8 of the previous 9 years. NUI Galway continues to perform strongly in its International scores, reflecting the welcoming and vibrant population of Galway City. In particular, this year, NUI Galway has improved substantively with regard to its academic and employer reputation internationally. Speaking on the announcement of this year’s QS rankings, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “This announcement provides welcome news during these uncertain times, and reflects the commitment of our campus community to the highest standards in our work.  Excellence is a core strategic value of NUI Galway with an objective to respect and support the ambition of our students and staff so they are enabled to be excellent in their contributions to our communities.  The openness and diversity of our university empowers us as we forge further links around the world to sustain and strengthen our mission.” In total, eight Irish universities feature among the world’s top 1000 institutions. As a group, all eight Irish universities improved their Academic Reputation score over the past twelve months, indicating increasing regard for their academic standards among the 102,000 faculty surveyed by QS. NUI Galway has adapted its research focus in recent months to enable a multi-disciplinary response to the COVID-19 emergency, with agile modes of teaching and learning facilitating its community around the world. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh continued: “Our response to the pandemic has highlighted our commitment to together looking globally for the public good and we look forward to tackling the challenges that face us and our society with bravery and ambition in times ahead.  As the world seeks to contain, rebuild and learn from this crisis, the role of academia and investment in education are vital one to the global effort, underpinning our commitment to public health and to reimaging our humanity.” The full rankings can be found at www.TopUniversities.com. -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Tá an Ollscoil i measc an 1% is fearr áit i Ranguithe Ollscoile Domhanda QS anois Tá gaisce déanta arís ag OÉ Gaillimh i Ranguithe Ollscoile Domhanda QS 2021 a eisíodh inniu (Dé Céadaoin, 10 Meitheamh), agus é ag bogadh suas 21 áit eile. Tá an Ollscoil anois sa 238ú háit i measc an 1,000 institiúid is fearr ar domhan. Deimhníonn an rangú seo seasamh na hOllscoile i measc scoth-institiúidí oideachais an domhain, agus í i measc an 1% is fearr d’ollscoileanna ar domhan, agus i measc an 20% is fearr i Rangú Domhanda QS. Sna ranguithe seo, is é OÉ Gaillimh an Ollscoil is airde ar an liosta i bPoblacht na hÉireann lasmuigh de Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus tá sé rangaithe sa 100ú háit san Eoraip. Ó 2014 i leith tá OÉ Gaillimh i ndiaidh bogadh suas 42 áit ar an liosta, agus tá ardú tagtha ar a rangú in ocht mbliana as na naoi mbliana roimhe seo. Tá OÉ Gaillimh ag déanamh gaisce sna ranguithe idirnáisiúnta i gcónaí, agus is léiriú é sin ar a fháiltiúla atá cathair na Gaillimhe agus ar an bpobal bríomhar atá sa chathair. I mbliana go háirithe, tá feabhas mór tagtha ar OÉ Gaillimh maidir lena cháil acadúil agus a cháil mar fhostóir go hidirnáisiúnta. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, nuair a fógraíodh ranguithe QS na bliana seo: “Tá fáilte mhór roimh an bhfógra seo san am éiginnte seo, agus léiríonn sé tiomantas chomhluadar ár gcampais do na caighdeáin is airde inár gcuid oibre. Is croíluach straitéiseach de chuid OÉ Gaillimh é an barr feabhais agus tá sé mar aidhm againn meas a léiriú agus tacú le huaillmhian ár gcuid mac léinn agus comhaltaí foirne ionas go bhfuil ar a gcumas barr feabhais a bhaint amach ina gcuid oibre ar mhaithe lenár bpobail. Tugann oscailteacht agus éagsúlacht na hollscoile cumhacht dúinn agus muid ag cruthú naisc bhreise ar fud an domhain chun ár misean a chothú agus a neartú.” San iomlán, tá ocht n-ollscoil in Éirinn luaite i measc an 1000 institiúid is fearr ar domhan. Mar ghrúpa, chuir gach ceann de na hocht n-ollscoil Éireannacha feabhas ar a scór maidir le Cáil Acadúil le dhá mhí dhéag anuas, rud a léiríonn go bhfuil béim níos mó ar chaighdeáin acadúla i measc an 102,000 comhalta foirne a ndearna QS suirbhé orthu. Tá OÉ Gaillimh i ndiaidh a bhéim taighde a oiriúnú le cúpla mí anuas chun freagairt ildisciplíneach ar éigeandáil COVID-19 a chumasú, le modhanna solúbtha teagaisc agus foghlama ag déanamh éascaíocht dá phobal ar fud an domhain. Dúirt an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh: “Tharraing ár bhfreagra ar an bpaindéim aird ar ár dtiomantas féachaint le chéile ar fud an domhain don rud atá ar leas an phobail agus táimid ag tnúth le dul i ngleic leis na dúshláin atá romhainn féin agus ár sochaí le crógacht agus le huaillmhian sna laethanta amach romhainn. Agus an domhan ag iarraidh an ghéarchéim seo a chur faoi smacht, atógáil ina diaidh agus foghlaim uaithi, tá ról na hacadúlachta agus infheistíocht san oideachas ríthábhachtach don iarracht dhomhanda, agus mar bhonn agus taca lenár dtiomantas do shláinte an phobail agus d’athmhúnlú ár ndaonnachta.” Beidh na ranguithe ar fad le feiceáil ag www.TopUniversities.com. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Minister Humphreys announces 11 new COVID-19 research and innovation projects building on previous investment Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today announced an investment of €1.4 million in 11 projects under the SFI-coordinated research and innovation response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment builds on previous funding and complements the existing research work underway in higher education institutions across the country. Amongst the projects announced today is NUI Galway project ‘A rapid test for COVID-19 antibodies’ led by Professor John Pius Dalton. The team at NUI Galway will develop a fast, lab-based test known as an ELISA, that can measure antibodies in blood and determine whether a person has been infected with SARS-CoV-2. The team has already made a short-list of antigens, the features of the virus that prompt antibodies, and will use these as a basis for developing antibody tests that can be rolled out at scale to test large populations.  Professor John Pius Dalton, Professor of Molecular Parasitology at NUI Galway, says: “Essentially, this is community tracing using immune status, but the information gained is an essential element in the overall control measures employed to stop the spread of disease, as well as understanding its distribution, infectivity and epidemiology.” Speaking at today’s announcement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said: “I am delighted to announce this further investment in research and innovation related to COVID-19. These projects will address immediate priorities to assist us with the challenges we face as we seek to reopen our society and economy, and get the country running again. Research and innovation from our higher education institutions, in collaboration with our health services and industry, can support us in delivering solutions to the many challenges the pandemic has thrown at us. Working together we can find solutions and move forward towards recovery.” Commenting on the awards, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, said “The COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation programme exemplifies the high international standards, agility and responsive nature of our research community. This programme has been delivered by a high level of interagency and higher education institutional collaboration. We are stronger when we work together, and we will continue to collaborate with our colleagues to share the latest knowledge, developments and innovations, and to support ideas that will generate solutions to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The eleven new projects cover the following: Putting COVID-19 infections on the map in Ireland – TU Dublin Remote blood-pressure monitoring in pregnancy in the COVID-19 pandemic – University College Cork A rapid test for COVID-19 antibodies – NUI Galway Rapid Advanced Production Responses to Frozen Supply Chains in Hospitals - University of Limerick Ireland’s medium-term future in the COVID-19 pandemic – Maynooth University Expanding lab tests for the COVID-19 virus – Waterford IT COVIGILANT - Evidence to inform Ireland’s digital contact-tracing strategy – University of Limerick New antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2 – Maynooth University 3D printing PPE for healthcare settings – University College Dublin  Identifying Protective Immunity in Frontline Healthcare Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic- Trinity College Dublin  SARS-CoV-2 in sewage and bodies of water – University College Dublin Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan added: I am proud of how the Irish research community has mobilised so rapidly and intensively in focusing on this issue. Ireland’s investment in research allows us to move rapidly and coherently in a crucial area such as Covid-19 research. This will have benefits for Ireland but also for the wider world.  This could not be done without our ongoing long-term investment in our higher education and research and shows the need for continuing investment in these areas at all times. The Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme was established by Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council. Today’s announcement builds on the previous investment of €3.5million across 26 projects and the ongoing work in our universities and institutes of technology that are adding significantly to the national effort to combat the virus and assist us on the path to recovery. More than 500 applications were received by the agencies.  All of the projects funded have been internationally peer reviewed at the assessment stage. Further announcements will be made over the coming weeks as the reviews are completed. The agencies, working with partners across our public service and health system are now evaluating areas of priority with a view to issuing thematic calls as the next phase of the programme. The focus for the second phase will be on important scientific and engineering research that will contribute in a meaningful way to re-opening Ireland. ENDS

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

NUI Galway are inviting the public to take part in a questionnaire that is designed to find out how people’s attitudes to food has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey, which is being carried out by the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, is part of a European-wide research project into measuring to what extent this crisis has changed people’s relationship to food in terms of  planning, purchasing and growing food as well as in the preparation, the ingredients used and in dietary aspects. Brendan Smith of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway said: “For some people food is purely about subsistence. For others it can be about good health, connection with nature and with family, in expressing one’s cultural identity and way of life. Have these attitudes being reinforced, increased or lessened as a result of the lockdown? There is no doubt that, in some individual cases, there has been a behavioural shift towards what is eaten and how it is eaten. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been a rise in the amount of people that are now growing vegetables, herbs and fruits at home; in trying to decrease food waste; in cooking and baking new types of recipes, with banana bread for instance becoming a recent social media sensation; in families sharing meals together; in concern about the impact of ‘food miles’ on the environment and society and in where one buys food. Yet there also seems to be an increase in families purchasing takeaways as a substitute to eating out. So we want to find out, amongst other things, how extensive these changes actually have been and if people intend to continue with these changes post COVID.” To support the European-wide citizen science project please complete the questionnaire at https://www.food-covid-19.org/. All data will be treated anonymously and confidentially at every stage of the research that fully complies with the EU's GDPR regulations. -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

A study by the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway, Ireland, in partnership with the University of Zurich, has uncovered new insights into how the replication of DNA  occurs  which can be applied to help develop novel cancer treatments.   The breakthrough research looked at a protein called CDC7 which is a trigger for cancer cells to replicate their DNA and form tumors.  The NUI Galway research shows how drugs that block CDC7 work, indicating how they could be further developed to stop cancer growth. The key characteristic of all cancers is that cells divide in an uncontrolled  way forming a tumour. When a cell divides into two cells its DNA needs to be replicated so that both mother cell and daughter cell get a complete copy of the DNA. There are specific points on the DNA called origins of replication and CDC7 works by activating a set of proteins at these origins to trigger the initiation of DNA replication. Drugs that act against CDC7 block initiation of DNA replication and therefore block the growth of cancer cells.   Professor of Molecular Medicine at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and Discipline of Biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, Corrado Santocanale said: “Cancer incidence is continuously increasing both in Ireland and around the world with scientists and researchers constantly looking for new and innovative treatments. My team has shown that CDC7 has another role to play in addition to activating proteins at replication origins.” He added: “We know that many types of cancers are stressed by constantly replicating their DNA and we have discovered that when replication stress occurs in cancer cells, CDC7 works with another protein called MRE11 to overcome the stress and restart replication, so the cancer cells can keep growing. However, if drugs that block CDC7 are added, the cancer cells are unable to overcome the replication stress.” The new research is particulary relevant for the more aggressive cancers such as pancreatic and colon cancers which have high levels of replication stress, diseses in which drugs that block CDC7  are likely to be particularly effective. The researchers also found that if cells have a mutation in the breast cancer gene BRCA2, CDC7 actually increases DNA damage, increasing the likelihood of breast cancer developing and suggesting that drugs that block CDC7 could also be investigated to help in the prevention of certain types of breast cancers.  Professor Noel Lowndes, Director of the Centre for Chromosome Biology said “ This study, published in the prestigious journal EMBO Reports, demonstrates how basic research, that increases our knowledge biological processes, is vital to uncover new directions to take in the effort to develop  effective cancer treatments. The full study is available at https://www.embopress.org/doi/10.15252/embr.201948920 -Ends-

Monday, 8 June 2020

NUI Galway is now accepting online applications for its Access programmes. The Access Programmes are designed particularly for school leavers aged 22 or under, and mature students aged 23 or over, who never had the opportunity to study at third level and could not for a diverse range of reasons perform to their full potential academically. The deadline for applications is Friday, 19 June, at 5pm. The Access Programmes are delivered at a number of NUI Galway campuses including: the main campus in Galway City; St. Angela’s College, Sligo; Ballinasloe, Co. Galway; and An Cheathrú Rúa, Co. Galway. NUI Galway’s Access Programmes provide an opportunity for students who are generally under-represented at third level to progress to University. It is aimed primarily at those on a low income and/or who have long-term disabilities. The NUI Galway Access Courses aim to support students build confidence in themselves, in their academic ability and also to support them all to reach their full potential. Imelda Byrne, Head of Access Centre at NUI Galway, said: “The Access Programme is more than just a group of people, young and not so young, from all walks of life, coming together to avail of this educational opportunity. It is about providing those who have experienced educational disadvantage an opportunity. It is about supporting those who do not have the confidence previously, to progress to NUI Galway. It is about giving all the participants on the Access Programme an opportunity to come together to draw support from each other. And it is about giving a strong message to those in governance that points in the leaving certificate is not the only determinant of success in higher education.” Tom Murphy, a current undergraduate at NUI Galway, said: “The lecturers could not have been friendlier or fairer. At no time did I feel alone or cast adrift. For someone who had been out of education for such a long time the syllabus was just the right degree of challenging. The rate of the Access Course was just right. Not too hard and not too easy. The Access Course was also a great opportunity for me to make some new friends. While the work is not overwhelming people have different abilities and different learning dispositions. Certain camaraderie builds up and new friendships are forged that last all through college.” The online applications may be found on the Access Centre webpage at www.nuigalway.ie/access. -Ends-

Monday, 8 June 2020

The annual AtlanTec Festival went virtual in 2020 for the first time in its six year history. For five days, from May 18-22, the festival’s 30 online events reached a total audience of over 2,500 people. Virtual presentations covered topics and trends in tech and digital innovation in the fields of AI, cybersecurity, fintech, medtech, mindfulness and leadership. This year’s line-up also included a special focus on COVID-19 and featured NUI Galway researchers who are responding to the pandemic with innovative solutions. There were speakers and attendees from 23 countries and over 350 different companies and universities, in what was an AtlanTec Festival like no other this year. Speaking about the festival, Caroline Cawley, CEO of itag, said: “'Virtual work methods have catapulted us as fast as COVID-19 itself and the strong tech cluster along the Atlantec Gateway rallied in the fall-out to host a real world virtual technology festival.  Supported by Cisco Webex Platform and our amazing tech companies we brought over 30 keynote speakers to devices around the world.  Congrats to everyone involved especially the AtlanTec Festival Committee and our supporters.” The AtlanTec festival usually takes places around various Galway venues during April/May with in-company events hosted by the many large tech companies and vibrant start-ups in the region. Traditionally, the festival culminates with a day-long conference at NUI Galway with up to 400 attendees. This year, the multiple-event festival was run on the Cisco Webex conferencing platform. Cisco, with a 200+ strong R&D site in Galway supporting the Webex platform, has long been a partner of the festival. The festival is supported by Avaya, Cisco, itag Skillnet, Fidelity Investments, Genesys and NUI Galway. To see the recordings of the sessions or to find out more about Atlantec, visit atlantec.ie. -Ends-      

Friday, 5 June 2020

<>Findings based on Chinese data also indicate even greater risk of dying from COVID-19 if high blood pressure not treated by medication A team of five global cardiology experts at NUI Galway have collaborated to interpret a study into high blood pressure linked to increased risk of dying from COVID-19. The study has found that patients with raised blood pressure have a two-fold increased risk of dying from the coronavirus COVID-19 compared to patients without high blood pressure, according to new research published in the European Heart Journal today (Friday, 5 June) as a fast track publication. In addition, the study found that patients with high blood pressure who were not taking medication to control the condition were at even greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Professors Patrick W. Serruys, Osama Soliman and Yoshi Onuma recently enhanced the contingent of global experts in the field of cardiology at NUI Galway, which includes Professor William Wijns and Professor McEvoy, all co-authors on this paper. The expert team at NUI Galway collaborated with a team in China and have analysed data from 2866 patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to Huo Shen Shan hospital in Wuhan, China, between 5 February and 15 March 2020. Of these patients, 29.5% (850) had a medical history of high blood pressure (hypertension). They found that 34 out of 850 hypertensive patients (4%) with coronavirus died compared to 22 out of 2027 patients without hypertension (1.1%) – a 2.12-fold increased risk after adjustment for factors that could affect the results, such as age, sex and other medical conditions. Among the patients with hypertension who were not taking medication for the condition, 11 out 140 (7.9%) died from coronavirus compared to 23 out of 710 (3.2%) of those who were taking medication – 2.17-fold increased risk after adjusting for confounding factors. As fewer cases of COVID-19 are being diagnosed now in China, a grant for a randomised clinical trial has been submitted at NUI Galway by Professors J. William McEvoy and Patrick Serruys, who are co-authors of the EHJ paper. In a meta-analysis, the researchers pooled the data from the Huo Shen Wan patients with data from nearly 2,300 patients in three other studies to investigate the death rates in patients being treated with drugs to control blood pressure levels by targeting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). These drugs include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Other, non-RAAS inhibiting drugs used for treating high blood pressure include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers (CCBs) or diuretics.  They found a lower risk of death among the 183 patients treated with RAAS inhibitors than in 527 patients treated with other drugs. However, the researchers say this result should be treated with caution as the number of patients in this analysis was small and so it could be due to chance. Professor Patrick W. Serruys said: “There are three remaining questions, and we hope our clinical trial in Ireland will answer the first two: what kind of medication should be given to COVID-19 patients with hypertension – RAAS inhibitors or non-RAAS inhibitors – and could these medications mitigate the risk of dying in these patients? The last question is whether or not RAAS inhibitors influence the risk of infection for COVID-19.” “As for the last question, a recent population-based study in the New England Journal of Medicine has suggested that antihypertensive medications, such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs are not associated with an increased risk of testing positive for COVID-19.” As this is a retrospective and observational study, it cannot show a causal relationship between RAAS inhibitors and the risk of dying from COVID-19. Other limitations include the inability to include all relevant confounding factors; some data, such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) were not recorded in detail; and the impact of antihypertensive medications can only be assessed in the short-term, with prospective studies needed to see longer-term effects. Professor Patrick W. Serruys took up the role of Established Professor of Interventional Medicine and Innovation at NUI Galway in recent months. He is an expert in interventional cardiology since 1979 and he has held many of the most senior roles in his field throughout his career. Through his many innovations he has been instrumental in changing the course and treatment of coronary artery disease over the last three decades. His innovations include the introduction of the use of drug-eluting stents into clinical practice for the first time and in 2006 the discovery of fully biodegradable drug-eluting scaffolds so that a permanent metallic stent would no longer need to be implanted in patients. He has been a Principal Investigator on more than 80 European and Multinational cardiovascular clinical trials. Professor Serruys has been joined by Professor Osama Soliman as Medical Director of the CORRIB Corelab for Structual Heart Imaging, Heart Failure and Cardio-oncology, and by Professor Yoshi Onuma as Medical Director of the CORRIB Corelab of Coronary Imaging and Atherosclerosis Research. Professors Soliman and Onuma bring decades of experience in the field of noninvasive and invasive coronary imaging, novel coronary devices, cardiovascular imaging, clinical trials, innovation in medicine and education of cardiologist researchers. These three brought a group of cardiologist researchers (academic team) who are originated from various countries including Japan and China; the academic team triggered the current intercontinental collaborative research between Ireland and China. Professor David Wood, former President of the World Heart Foundation, also joined NUI Galway as Adjunct Professor of Preventive Cardiology last year. Professor Wood is a cardiologist committed to prevention of cardiovascular disease. He has contributed to international policy and guidelines on cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention through the World Health Organisation, World Heart Federation and the European Society of Cardiology. Professors Serruys, Wood and Wijns have all received the Gold Medal of the European Society of Cardiology, which is the highest honour the Society can bestow on exceptional scientists for their contribution to cardiovascular medicine. Professor William McEvoy has also recently returned to Ireland from John Hopkins University School of Medicine USA and has been appointed as Professor of Preventive Cardiology, Consultant Cardiologist at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals and also hold the role of Research & Medical Director National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health (NIPC)in partnership with Croí. Speaking on the appointments Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and lead Consultant Endocrinologist for Saolta University Healthcare Group has welcomed this new research. “NUI Galway is developing a leading role in advancing cardiovascular healthcare globally aligned with Government and agency strategy to promote Ireland as a global cluster of medical device research. Research, such as this study on high blood pressure linked to increased risk of dying from COVID-19, shows that by bringing together global experts we can make significant advances in healthcare. We have expanded our team to provide the full suite of cardiovascular expertise - prevention, imaging, treatment, and of course, technology innovation. These appointments provide an incredible opportunity for clinicians and researchers to collaborate to advance patient care.  The investigators will also participate in CURAM, the SFI Centre in Medical Device Research.” NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “The appointments of Professors Patrick W. Serruys, Osama Soliman and Yoshi Onuma epitomises NUI Galway’s respect for and commitment to excellent research in the health sector. Research advances of real value to people will result from the combination of their expertise in the field of cardiology and the exceptional research teams currently in NUI Galway. This study into high blood pressure linked to increased risk of mortality from COVID-19 is an example of this combination and commitment. I welcome their appointments with great anticipation of the opportunities to ultimately deliver better health outcomes for patients, for the public good.” -Ends-

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Presidents from NUI Galway, University of Bristol, University of St. Andrews, and Uppsala University will discuss the way forward for higher education during the crisis and its aftermath NUI Galway will host an online seminar to address the issues faced by universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The seminar, ‘Universities and the COVID-19 Crisis: Problems, Prospects and Pathways’, will take place on Thursday, 11 June at 4.30pm. Immense challenges face universities as a result of COVID-19. Teaching missions have been complicated by the move to online instruction, with uncertainties about whether campus opening will be possible, requirements around social distancing, and how to engage new and existing students. The financial position of institutions is under threat due to reliance on international students to fund the system and reduced income generally. At the same time, universities are a source of vital research on the pandemic as society as a whole looks for a solution and plans for the future. This online seminar brings together leaders of four major universities: NUI Galway; University of Bristol, UK; University of St. Andrews, Scotland; and Uppsala University, Sweden, to discuss these challenges. It is a rare opportunity to hear from people in charge of diverse institutions about their approaches and the way forward for higher education during the crisis and its aftermath. The session features contributions from internationally recognised authorities: Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President, NUI Galway Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol, UK Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St. Andrews, Scotland Professor Eva Åkesson, Rector, Uppsala University, Sweden Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, has convened the session which will address university staff members, students, alumni and the public. Speaking about the importance of the occasion, Professor Carey said: “This is a unique moment for higher education, with huge risks but also the chance to make a difference and to find new ways to teach, research, and address social challenges. Leaders based in four different countries will provide perspectives on problems and pathways during the current crisis.” To attend the online seminar visit https://www.facebook.com/nuigalway/live/ -Ends-

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A person’s health is determined by their inherent genetic differences combined with lifestyles and the environments in which they live.  This unique identity means that a “one size fits all” approach is no longer accepted as the best way to manage an individual’s health.  There is a demand for new “personalised” approaches to better manage our health and to target therapies to achieve optimum health outcomes. By combining and analysing information about our genome, with other clinical and diagnostic information, patterns can be identified that can help to determine our individual risk of developing disease, detect illness earlier and determine the most effective interventions to help improve health, be they medicines, lifestyle choices, or even simple changes in diet. Researchers, led by Professor Ines Thiele, a Principal Investigator at APC Microbiome Ireland Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre, who is based at NUI Galway, have developed whole-body computational models - Harvey and Harvetta. These virtual humans represent whole-body metabolism, physiology, diet and the gut microbiome. These new models successfully predict known biomarkers of inherited metabolic diseases and enable exploration of potential metabolic interactions between humans and their gut microbiomes at a personal level. Precision, or personalised, medicine requires realistic, mechanistic computational models that capture the complexity of the human representing each individual’s physiology, dietary habits, metabolism and microbiomes.  Molecular biology has yielded great insight into the ‘parts list’ for human cells, but it remains challenging to integrate these parts into a virtual whole human body. The Virtual Human Physiome project has generated comprehensive computational models about the anatomy and physiology of human organs but has yet to be connected with molecular level processes and their underlying networks of genes, proteins, and biochemical reactions. Prof Thiele’s team tackled this challenge to develop the first whole-body, sex-specific, organ-resolved computational models of human metabolism, which mechanistically connect anatomy and physiology with molecular level metabolic processes. Their study is published today in the prestigious journal Molecular Systems Biology.  Harvey and Harvetta are virtual male and female human metabolic models, respectively, built from literature and data on human metabolism, anatomy and physiology as well as biochemical, metabolomic and proteomic data. They are anatomically interconnected as whole-body metabolic models, comprised of more than 80,000 biochemical reactions distributed over 26 organs and 6 types of blood cell. Moreover, they can be expanded to include gut microbial metabolism. These unique models enable generation of personalised whole-body metabolic models using an individual’s physiological, genomic, biochemical and microbiome data. Generating personalised whole-body metabolic models is an interdisciplinary effort. The development of whole-body models of metabolism required the development of novel algorithms and software for constraint-based modelling of high-dimensional biochemical networks. “A whole-body model is generated by starting with a set of anatomically interconnected generic reconstructions of human metabolism”, says Assistant Professor Ronan Fleming, a co-author of the study from the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research, Leiden University. “This draft model had in excess of 300 thousand dimensions, which was then pared down to approximately 80 thousand organ-specific reactions using efficient algorithms and high-performance computing facilities.” “Harvey and Harvetta will usher in a new era for research into causal host-microbiome relationships and greatly accelerate the development of targeted dietary and microbial intervention strategies” said Prof Ines Thiele, who lead the research. “These models could accelerate insights into pathways involved in sex-specific disease development and progression. Moreover, thanks to the ability to personalize the whole-body metabolic models with clinical, physiological, and omics data, they represent a significant step towards personalised, predictive modelling of dietary and drug interventions and drug toxicity, which lies at the heart of precision medicine.” To view the full study visit https://doi.org/10.15252/msb.20198982 This study was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 757922), the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) through the ATTRACT programme (FNR/A12/01), the National Centre of Excellence in Research (NCER) on Parkinson’s disease, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 668738. -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Irish scientists have collaborated to develop an innovative autonomous drone platform to deliver sterilising ultraviolet light from above to disinfect public surfaces and therefore reduce the transmission of coronavirus and other microbial threats Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab have developed a novel method of providing sterilising ultraviolet light radiation in a wide variety of environments by harnessing the versatility of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. The project is led by NUI Galway’s Professor Derek O’Keeffe and Dr Ted Vaughan, with Dr Kevin Johnson from the University of Limerick. As the world recovers from the first surge of COVID-19, there is a real need for a novel and versatile solutions to sanitise the wide terrain variety of public places. These include hospital wards, restaurants, trains, buses, planes, shopping centres, airport terminals, restrooms, amongst other. To help combat this issue the research team have developed @UVCDrone which uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilise surfaces. UV light (10-400 nm) is not visible to the human eye and is divided into three bands UVA, UVB and UVC. The @UVCDrone uses UVC (100-280nm) which is high frequency, short wavelength radiation that can destroy the genetic material of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and thereby providing the ability to sterilise surfaces. Its germicidal action has been used for decades in water, air, laboratory and medical applications. Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “We need innovative solutions to fight COVID-19 and our @UVCDrone solution allows the delivery of sterilising ultraviolet light to a wide variety of public space landscapes from staircases to shop floors.” UVC light is harmful to humans, so the @UVCDrone delivers the UVC light when the public space is unoccupied, such as at night time. The drone is programmed to switch on at a pre-defined time, autonomously fly around the public space using a bespoke AI algorithm and when finished cleaning, land again for recharging. Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick added: “COVID19 is a public health emergency and @UVCDrone is another important tool to help us defeat it.” For more information visit www.uvcdrone.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

<>Survey aims to capture data on the numbers and distribution of hedgehogs in Ireland to monitor future populations The humble Hedgehog, probably one of Ireland’s favourite mammals, is the subject of a new national survey led by researchers at NUI Galway and the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The public are asked to take on the role of ‘Citizen Scientists’ and help out in recording hedgehogs for the survey. There are a number of ways in which volunteers can take part: Firstly, as casual recorders, people are asked to report any sightings of live or dead hedgehogs whenever they see them via the Biodiversity Ireland website here https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/additional-survey-schemes/irish-hedgehog-survey/. For those who would like to get more actively involved, there is a Garden Hedgehog Survey where volunteers can survey their garden for hedgehogs using a footprint tunnel that can be made at home, or a trail camera if they have one. Volunteers can take part whether they know they have hedgehogs or not. The simple survey requires that the tunnel or camera be left in place for five nights and checked every day for signs of hedgehog activity. Volunteers may survey their own garden, a friend or relative’s garden, school garden or a green area in an estate – as long as they are compliant with the current CODID-19 restrictions. Results of the survey are submitted via an online recording form. Instructions for making a footprint tunnel, the survey method and online form can all be found on the project website www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com. There is also an online questionnaire survey for farmers on the website which aims to gather information on hedgehogs on farmland habitats across the country. It is a short, simple survey and farmers are asked to please fill it out whether they believe they have hedgehogs on their land or not. The Irish Hedgehog Survey forms part of the research of PhD candidate Elaine O’Riordan from the Zoology Department at NUI Galway: “Hedgehogs are one of the most understudied mammal species in Ireland. We have very little data on the status of the Irish hedgehog population. Thus, it is not known if Irish hedgehog numbers are experiencing similar declines as seen in Britain and other countries across Europe.” Recent studies in the UK estimate losses of up to 50% of hedgehogs in rural areas and 30% in urban areas over the last 20 years. These losses have been largely attributed to habitat loss and damage due to changing farming practices and increased urbanisation and infrastructure. It is hoped the current study will provide information on the numbers and distribution of hedgehogs in Ireland that will enable us to monitor their population in the future. The Irish Hedgehog Survey will run for the next two years and will expand in 2021 to include a countryside hedgehog survey. -Ends-      

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The cardiology team at Galway University Hospitals (GUH) and NUI Galway researchers have carried out a first-in-man clinical trial for a sensor which detects changes in the health of patients with heart failure and securely transmits the information to the care team for review, allowing for clinical intervention to prevent a heart failure flare-up resulting in urgent hospitalisation. This technology is particularly relevant now during restricted movements when patients with underlying conditions are cocooning to minimise the chances of contracting COVID-19. Over the past 18 months, seven patients with advanced heart failure have had a Cordella Sensor implanted in their right pulmonary artery to monitor their heart pressure. Using a secure cloud-based system, the physiological data from the sensor can be read daily by the clinical team in the hospital who can identify if there is a change in the patients’ condition and modify their medication and make other decisions on their care. Dr Faisal Sharif, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Director of Cardiovascular Research and Innovation Centre at NUI Galway is the lead for the clinical trial. He said, “Patients with advanced heart failure usually have 3 or 4 hospital admissions per year with each stay lasting between 2 and 3 weeks in order to get their flare-up under control. However, there are changes in the pressure of the pulmonary artery around a week before a flare-up and if these changes are detected in time, myself or my colleague Dr John Barton can make changes to the patients’ medication which will prevent the flare-up and the subsequent hospital admission. “To monitor the pressure in the pulmonary artery we insert a tiny sensor into the artery – it is a simple procedure that just requires an overnight in hospital. We can then receive the data from the patients when they are at home via a hand-held reader which they hold over the sensor and this in turns transmits the information directly to our clinic by wifi. “In addition, the Cordella System includes Bluetooth-enabled devices to measure blood pressure, weight, heart rate and oxygen saturation which all connect to our clinic. We then have all the data we need to assess the patient without the patient having to leave home. “Since the clinical trial started 18 months ago, none of the patients who have taken part have been admitted to hospital with heart-related illnesses. Also, they no longer need to travel to outpatient clinics which would typically involve 6 or 8 visits per year. This greatly improves the quality of life for our patients and during this time of cocooning, it is one less worry for them. “Besides the convenience of being able to check their condition at home, this new technology allows the patient to become actively involved in their treatment. The patients become part of the team and are empowered and motivated to get involved in managing their own care themselves.” John O’Connor, a patient from Galway City said, “This technology gives me peace of mind that my heart pressures are being monitored constantly by hospital staff without the need for me to go into the hospital. Since I’ve had the sensor I’ve had no hospital admissions for almost two years. I would highly recommend this to other patients.” Dr Pat Nash, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Chief Clinical Director, Saolta University Health Care Group added, “This pandemic is forcing us to look at new and innovative ways to deliver high quality care to our patients while also taking precautions against the risks that are associated with close contact that is the normal part of a clinical examination. The success of this clinical trial can be measured in the improvements in the patients’ quality of life, the dramatic reduction in the need for hospitalisation and the enhanced role that the patients are able to play in their own care. All of these successes are even more significant in light of the current public health measures and the need to protect patients with long-term underlying conditions.” Ms Chris Kane, General Manager, Galway University Hospitals said, “As we continue to contend with the challenges of resuming to a new-normal, we will need to embrace technology where it is appropriate for the clinical setting and our patients. This is an excellent example of providing quality care in a patient’s own home environment to a level as close as possible to a hospital visit.” The second phase of the clinical trial has just commenced and is open for patients with heart failure, who meet certain criteria and are being treated at the Heart Failure Clinic in GUH. The technology has been developed by a US-based company called Endotronix. The trial has been running simultaneously in Ireland and Genk, Belgium. Ends