Friday, 26 April 2013

Students and staff at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine recently collaborated in hosting a major international conference addressing healthcare issues of global significance. TEDMED Live was held at the University on Friday, April 19 as a satellite event of the annual TEDMED conference taking place at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, USA. NUI Galway is one of the first institutions outside the United States to receive permission from TEDMED, a multi-disciplinary community of innovators and leaders working together to address the societal causes of ill health, to stage a local conference. The NUI Galway TEDMED Live event attracted over 250 delegates, comprising medical students and academic staff, who contributed to the pre-conference discussions using social media. Organised by Tariq Esmail, a third-year medical student from Canada studying at NUI Galway, the event featured four local NUI Galway speakers, each of whom delivered a short presentation on one of TEDMED’s 20 Great Challenges in Medicine. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway, explored innovative approaches to human tissue regeneration. Professor Laurence Egan, a Consultant in Gastroenterology, tackled the topic of chronic disease management. Dr Francis Finucance, a Consultant Endocrinologist at University Hospital Galway, gave a captivating perspective on societal approaches to managing the obesity crisis. Professor Matt Griffin, Professor of Transplant Biology at NUI Galway, highlighted the central role of the patient in healthcare in his engaging talk entitled Patient-centred care has been and always will be a winning philosophy. All of the local speakers’ presentations were professionally recorded and will be shared with a global audience on www.TEDMED.com. TEDMED has committed to inviting the most creative and engaging speakers to next year’s main conference in the USA. The organisation granted permission to NUI Galway to transmit their preferred session from the TEDMED conference in the USA to their local delegates at last Friday’s event. This webcast featured six international speakers, including such luminaries as Dr Francis S. Collins, an American physician-geneticist renowned for his leadership of the International Human Genome Project and currently serving as Director of the National Institutes of Health in the USA. Reflecting on the success of this international partnership, Dr Gerard Flaherty, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine and Medical Education at NUI Galway and academic adviser for the conference, said: “The School of Medicine at NUI Galway is proud to have been the first Irish institution to host a TEDMED Live satellite conference. The success of this initiative owes much to the vision and diligence of Tariq Esmail, one of our most capable international medical students, to the MedSoc student society, to the enthusiastic student and academic delegates attending the event, and to the powerful impact of the four local speakers, whose presentations have now reached a global audience. Dr Flaherty added: “We are planning to create a novel special study module, entitled TEDMED, which will give ownership of the event to our students and allow us to stage a TEDMED conference annually and invite a larger audience from the wider University and the general public. TEDMED is a forum for innovative approaches to complex global health problems and NUI Galway is proud to be an active partner in this influential community of thinkers and opinion leaders.” -ENDS-

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Details are emerging from a recent research expedition to the Sub-Tropical North Atlantic. The objective of the expedition was to study the salt concentration (salinity) of the upper ocean. Scientists aboard the Spanish research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa, including National University of Ireland Galway’s Dr Brian Ward with two of his PhD students, Graig Sutherland and Anneke ten Doeschate, explored the essential role of the ocean in the global water cycle. This oceanographic research campaign is aimed at understanding the salinity of the upper ocean, which is a much more reliable indicator of the water cycle than any land-based measurement. How the water cycle evolves in response to global warming is one of the most important climate change issues. The experiment was located in the North Atlantic Salinity Maximum, which has the highest salt concentration of any of the world’s oceans. Dr Ward explains: “It is not the depths of the ocean which is its most important aspect, but its surface. Everything that gets exchanged between the ocean and atmosphere, such as water, must cross the air-sea interface. We are trying to better understand how small scale turbulence is responsible for the air-sea exchange of freshwater. What is surprising is that these small-scale processes can affect large-scale patterns over the North Atlantic, and we are trying to connect the dots.” The initial part of this ocean field campaign was to conduct a survey of the area to map out horizontal and vertical distribution of salinity using an instrument that was towed behind the ship. “We found quite a lot of fresher water intermingled with the background salty water, but it is moving around quite a bit due to ocean currents, and when we returned to the fresh patch, it had moved. We were currently hunting for this freshwater, as one of the objectives is to understand the spatial inhomogeneity of the upper ocean salinity”, explains Dr Ward. Studying the processes at the ocean surface requires specialised instrumentation, as most measurements ‘miss’ the upper few meters. The National University of Ireland Galway’s AirSea Group are measuring the salinity, temperature, and turbulence of the upper 10 metres of the ocean with very fine detail using their Air-Sea Interaction Profiler (ASIP). The torpedo-shaped device, which is deployed into the water to gather data autonomously, is unique and the only one of its kind. Dr Ward explains: “The ocean surface has been the focus of my research for several years, but there was no easy way to measure what is going on here as there were no instruments available, so we built our own.” The ability to make these unique measurements has resulted in international recognition for the research being conducted at National University of Ireland Galway. Dr Ward’s Research Group is the AirSea Laboratory, which is affiliated with the Ryan Institute and resides in the School of Physics at the National University of Ireland Galway. The main objective of the AirSea Laboratory is to study the upper ocean and lower atmosphere processes which are responsible for atmosphere-ocean exchange.  This experiment is concerned with air-sea exchange of water, but other studies that the AirSea Laboratory have been involved with were looking at how carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, is transported between the air and sea. Dr Ward explains: “The ocean and atmosphere are a coupled system and therefore need to be studied in unison. A major part of our research is to determine how this system affects and is affected by climate and environmental change.” This Irish and Spanish collaboration is part of a bigger international effort called SPURS - Salinity Processes in the Upper Ocean Regional Study. There was also an American research ship in the area participating in the SPURS study, and the Spanish ship was visited by Dr Ray Schmitt from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).  Dr Ward collaborates extensively with the WHOI scientists: “The WHOI scientists have autonomous gliders with microsensors attached, similar to our ASIP. During our measurements, they directed their gliders to the same area as ASIP, and we provided them with data to ground-truth their measurements. This was an excellent opportunity to enhance our links with WHOI, who are the largest oceanographic research institution in the USA.” One of the biggest motivators for SPURS was the recent launch of two satellites for measuring ocean salinity: the European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS), and NASA’s Aquarius mission. Dr Ward explains: “It is envisioned that with the combination of the in-situ measurements, satellites, and computer models, we can improve our estimates of global climate change and the water cycle. These data will also be used to improve weather forecasting, and we worked with the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting during this field experiment.” The research vessel left the Canary Islands on 16 March and completed its journey in the Azores on 13 April, during which time the vessel was home to 19 scientists, 6 technicians and 18 crew members. -ends-

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sligo-based blue chip company ProTek Group have announced that it has acquired the business of Galway-based medical device design firm AP Design which is based in the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre. Based in Sligo’s IDA Business Park, ProTek Medical is one of Ireland’s leading contract manufacturing providers to international blue chip medical device companies. ProTek Medical specialises in injection moulding components for critical care medical device applications such as, stent delivery devices used in minimally invasive cardiovascular surgeries. According to Enterprise Ireland the medical device sector is worth €7.2bn to Irish exports each year. The new ProTek Design facility in Galway puts the company in the centre of Europe’s largest medical device hub. Employing over 125 highly skilled people in a state of the art facility, the additional capabilities mean ProTek is poised to generate job growth across a variety of disciplines over the next 12 months. AP Design has been supporting companies in new product development since 2006. The acquisition means AP Design will continue to deliver innovative product design together with the infrastructure, resources and support services of ProTek Medical to become a complete outsourcing provider to Medical Device and Healthcare companies. Des Regan Owner of AP Design, said: “The company is committed to our existing projects and has strategic integration plans prepared to ensure projects run seamlessly. The entire team here at AP Design will remain in our Galway office with myself assuming the role of Design Director at ProTek Medical. We are very excited of this new venture and are looking and are looking forward to providing added manufacturing capabilities that complement our design services.” Speaking on behalf of the Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway, Fiona Neary said: “We in NUI Galway are delighted to hear about the acquisition of AP Design and Protek Medical one of Ireland’s leading contract manufacturers, we are confident this enhanced team will deliver innovative products and design and continue to go from strength to strength. We look forward to building further relationships with Protek Medical as we have with AP Design and NUI Galway is happy to offer any supports required going forward. I wish you every success for the future as you grow and strengthen your collaboration." ENDS

Monday, 4 March 2013

Pat McCabe makes a return to Galway for a public interview hosted by the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 20 March. The interview will be conducted by Kevin Barry, author of There are Little Kingdoms, which won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2007, City of Bohane (2011) and Dark Lies the Island (2012). Pat McCabe’s 1992 novel The Butcher Boy, which ‘takes you seductively to places you had no wish to visit’ as ‘Dennis the Menace becomes Jack the Ripper’ (The Observer), was awarded the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Prize for fiction and brilliantly adapted to film by Neil Jordan. His subsequent novels include The Dead School (1995), Breakfast on Pluto (1998), also adapted to film with Cillian Murphy in the lead role, and Winterwood (2006).  During his visit to NUI Galway, where he was writer in residence in 1999, McCabe will contribute to the Centre for Irish Studies Archive of Irish Writers. The archive includes recordings of more than 25 authors, including John McGahern, Eugene McCabe, Hugo Hamilton, Dermot Healy, Desmond Hogan, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Biddy Jenkinson, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan. The public interview will take place in the O’Flaherty Theatre at 8.00pm.  Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend. For further details, contact Samantha Williams at 091 492051 or samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie Ends

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

NUI Galway, in conjunction with Coláiste Iognáid, is delighted to announce the final concert of the Arts in Action concert series on Thursday, 21 March in The Bailey Allen, featuring special guests Cora and Breda Smyth. Performing also on the night, the University Medical School Orchestra directed by Carl Hession, the newly formed Choral Scholars of the St Nicholas Schola Cantorum directed by Mark Duley, The Jes Choir and a special appearance by Frankie Gavin and Michelle Lally. The programme for the finale concert is a fundraising event for the local Jesuit Secondary School Building Fund (Coláiste Iognáid) and promises to be a compelling concert featuring a mix of musical styles and song that includes classical, traditional, and Jazz, among many others, artfully juxtaposed to create a truly remarkable and enjoyable experience. Cora Smyth is a musician and performer of the highest quality. Whether it’s lighting up a stage for Prince Albert of Monaco or bringing Michael Eavis to his feet at Glastonbury festival Cora never ceases to bring her audience under her charm. Cora gained years of valuable experience performing alongside Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance”, “Feet of Flames” and “Celtic Tiger”. In January 2011 and 2012 Cora was nominated for “Top Fiddle” in the IMA awards in the US. Breda Smyth plays fiddle and tin whistle and has won many All-Ireland titles. She has toured extensively not alone with Lord of the Dance but also with her own solo performances. She released her debut album ‘Basil and Thyme’ in 2002 and was subsequently nominated as female traditional musician of the year by the ‘Irish Music Magazine’. She has recorded and performed with many international artists including Paul Brady, Eddie Reader, Sharon Shannon, Gerry Douglas, Luka Bloom, Hazel O’Connor and many more. The Medical Orchestra at NUI Galway has been in existence for two years and it has already established itself as a very positive initiative with a number of high profile public performances. In September 2012 NUI Galway and the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas entered into a new partnership with the establishment of twenty choral scholarships for promising young NUI Galway student singers. The scholars form a small chamber choir offering a high level of engagement. Arts in Action concerts are free for students at NUI Galway but this fundraising event will have an admission of €15 for the general public. Students will need ID on the night to gain admission. The Arts in Action concert in the Bailey Allen Hall on Thursday, 21March will start at 8pm sharp. Tickets can be purchased directly from Catherine Hickey at Coláiste Iognáid on 091 – 501550 or on the door on the night. Ends

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Third-level student volunteers from NUI Galway and GMIT, together with Transition Year students from Taylor’s Hill and Salerno Secondary schools were acknowledged for their volunteering throughout the 2012 Galway Science & Technology Festival at a special ceremony at NUI Galway recently. Professor Tom Sherry, College of Science at NUI Galway and Vice-Chairman of the Galway Science & Technology Forum and Tom Hyland, Chairperson of the Galway Science & Technology Forum presented certificates to 70 students for their volunteering efforts at the Main Exhibition of last year’s festival. Professor Sherry highlighted the contribution of the Volunteers to the festival: “The group of student volunteers we are thanking today contributed significantly to the success of the Festival Main Exhibition last November. Over 25,000 members of the public, young and old, visited the NUI Galway campus to see the extremely informative and interactive industrial and research exhibits and the highly entertaining science shows aimed at the younger visitors.  Members of the public, young and old alike were full of praise for these volunteers without whom the festival could not have been such a success.” Tom Hyland also congratulated the student Volunteers for responding to the call to help out at this great annual event: “Science, technology, engineering, innovation and research are extremely important to the economic future of Galway and Ireland.  This annual festival captures the interest and imagination of young people and encourages them to imagine future careers in these areas. Our message to these young people is to continue to study and be interested in the STEM subject areas – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” -ENDS-

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

As part of the international Brain Awareness Week, staff and students of NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre will hold a public information exhibit from 13-14 March in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway. Members of the public and children from local schools will have the opportunity to visit the exhibit to learn more about how the brain and nervous system work. The exhibit will consist of interactive displays where visitors can learn more about the nervous system in a hands-on way.  For example, there will be various puzzles and tests of hand-eye coordination, visual perception, left/right handedness, creativity and many others. Approximately 180 million Europeans are thought to suffer from a brain disorder, at a total cost of almost €800 billion per annum and visitors will have the chance to learn more about the brain and related disorders through a series of large information posters prepared by the staff and postgraduate students of NUI Galway Neuroscience Centre.  The posters will cover a variety of illnesses including: Epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Stroke, Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury. Information leaflets obtained from brain-related charities and organisations will be displayed and available for the public to take away, such as MS Ireland, Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, Aware, Chronic Pain Ireland, Shine, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and Brainwave. Microscopes which can be used to view brain cells and brain tissue sections will be available for those interested in seeing what a brain cell and brain tissue really looks like. Additional features include plastic models of the nervous system, and even Play-Doh and colouring books for the very young! There will be short talks on the brain by neuroscientists from NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital. Dr Una Fitzgerald, lead organiser of the exhibit, said: “We hope that this event will increase public awareness about how the brain and nervous system work, and increases awareness of brain disorders and the need for further research and investment in this area.”   NUI Galway’s Neuroscience Centre acknowledges funding from the Dana Foundation and the University’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

New findings about how the brain functions to suppress pain have been published in the leading journal in the field Pain, by NUI Galway researchers. For the first time, it has been shown that suppression of pain during times of fear involves complex interplay between marijuana-like chemicals and other neurotransmitters in a brain region called the amygdala. The work was carried out by Dr David Finn and his research team in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, NUI Galway. The research builds on previous breakthrough findings from Dr Finn’s research group on the role of marijuana-like chemicals in the brain’s hippocampus in pain suppression during fear. Pain is both a sensory and an emotional experience and is subject to modulation by a number of factors including fear and stress. During exposure to a high-stress environment or stimulus, pain transmission and perception can be potently suppressed. This important survival response can help us cope with or escape from potentially life-threatening situations. One brain region that is integral to the processing and expression of both emotional responses and pain is the amygdala. Working with Dr Finn, first author Dr Kieran Rea was able to confirm the amygdala as a key brain region in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia). Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in the amygdala.  Furthermore, fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the amygdala. Further experimentation revealed that these effects involved an interaction between endocannabinoids and the classical neurotransmitters GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid) and glutamate. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.  Dr David Finn, Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and study leader says: “The body can suppress pain when under extreme stress, in part through the action of marijuana-like substances produced in the brain. This research provides information on the complex interactions between multiple neurotransmitter systems including endocannabinoids, GABA and glutamate in times of stress and pain. This research which was funded by a grant from Science Foundation Ireland, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” -ends-

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The final Exponential, an NUI Galway funded event which allows the public to meet start-up founders, students, techies and entrepreneurs in a fun and casual way, will take place in Kelly’s Bar on Tuesday, 19 March at 7.30pm. Guest speaker for the final will be Barry O’Sullivan, Senior Vice President at Cisco Systems and one of the new “Dragons” on RTÉ’s Dragon’s Den show. Over the past four months, Exponential has given hundreds of students the opportunity to meet some of Ireland’s technology start-up companies and innovative entrepreneurs, to share ideas, and to learn how some NUI Galway graduates started their own business, right out of college. The final event will centre around a “fireside chat” with one of Ireland’s top technology leaders, Barry O’Sullivan. As well as his role as SVP at Cisco, he is a technology investor and co-founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), a network of Irish and Irish American technology leaders. Some of the topics for discussion on the night will include Barry’s take on how he found the whole Dragon’s Den experience, how start-up companies should go about getting funding, and some advice for people on what to do, and not to do when starting with their business model. Throughout the night, students and other attendees will be able to interact with other start-up company founders, speak to potential employers, and learn what it takes to develop a business idea, form a team, raise finance, set up and run a company. Those who already have a novel idea for a product or business can share their idea and get advice and feedback from fellow students and other entrepreneurs. This is a free event, open to all, but you do need to register at http://exponential4.eventbrite.com/ or via the Exponential website at http://exponential.ly/ Exponential is a project undertaken as part of the NUI Galway/Students’ Union EXPLORE initiative. Further details on this initiative are available at http://www.su.nuigalway.ie/explore/. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Pre-clinical research has generated some very promising findings using adult stem cells for the treatment of diabetic wounds. The research carried out by scientists at the National University of Ireland Galway, is published in Diabetes, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association. The work showed that a particular type of stem cell, known as the mesenchymal stem cell (MSC), could increase wound healing when applied together with a biomaterial made from collagen. Diabetic patients have an impaired ability to heal wounds and there is a critical need to develop new treatments to improve healing particularly in patients with foot ulcers. In fact, foot ulceration will affect up to 25% of people suffering from diabetes during their lives and may result in amputation. For the past number of years, lead-author on the research paper Dr Aonghus O’Loughlin has been funded by Molecular Medicine Ireland to work in the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at National University of Ireland Galway and Galway University Hospitals. He collaborates with Professor Timothy O’Brien, Director of REMEDI, to develop new ways to increase healing of diabetic wounds. Professor O’Brien, principal investigator on the research project, said: “This data will now allow us proceed to apply for approval to carry out first in human studies of this therapeutic approach. We are currently preparing the regulatory submission to undertake a human clinical trial. Meanwhile, part of the funding needed to pursue the human clinical trial has been received from Diabetes Ireland.” “MSC’s have many attractive therapeutic properties”, Professor O’Brien added. “They can be isolated from adults and are easy to grow in the laboratory. It has been shown in Galway and by other scientists that they release special factors that can help new blood vessels to grow. Increasing blood flow is a key step in wound healing.” REMEDI is a Science Foundation Ireland-funded research centre, led by National University of Ireland Galway, with partners in University College Cork and NUI Maynooth. The research centre is a partnership between scientists, clinicians and industry and is the leading centre in the area of stem cell and regenerative medicine in Ireland. REMEDI is a part of the National University of Ireland Galway’s translational and clinical research programme with the objective of translating research discoveries into improved patient care. -ends-

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Secondary school students interested in NUI Galway are invited to an information evening in Derry on Thursday, 21 March. Parents and guardians are also particularly welcome to the event which runs from 7-9pm in the Everglades Hotel, Prehen Road, Derry City. The evening will begin with short talks about NUI Galway and some of the 60 courses it offers. Afterwards, current students and NUI Galway staff will be on hand to answer any questions in relation to courses and practical issues including accommodation, fees and scholarships, and the wide range of support services available to students. The ever-increasing popularity of NUI Galway is in-part due to a whole suite of innovative new programmes, developed in response to the changing needs of the employment market. Unique programmes include a Bachelor of Arts with Human Rights, an Energy Engineering degree which is taught in the University’s new Engineering Building, Ireland’s largest School of Engineering, and a Maths and Education degree aimed at training maths teachers. Visitors to the information evening will also get information on NUI Galway’s newest degree programmes, a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and a Bachelor of Arts with Journalism which are brand new for 2013. “NUI Galway has a great deal to offer. Our own students tell us our lecturers are inspirational and challenge them to achieve their full potential. The student experience in Galway is second to none, and we want to bring a taste of that to Derry, while also providing all the practical information on accommodation, CAO points, fees, scholarships and courses. With so many courses on offer, this event in Derry is a perfect opportunity to meet current students and our lecturers to see what degree might be the right fit”, says Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway. To find out more about the information evening in Derry, contact NUI Galway’s Schools Liaison Officer, Gráinne Dunne on 087 244 0858 or grainne.dunne@nuigalway.ie. ENDS

Friday, 15 March 2013

NUI Galway’s School of Education recently hosted a seminar in Disciplinary Literacy for teachers, teacher educators, researchers and others involved in teacher professional development.  Disciplinary literacy refers to the language, thinking and literacy practices underpinning learning and development within different school subjects and contexts. Professor Elizabeth Birr Moje, Associate Dean of Research and Community Affairs in University of Michigan and Dr Brendan Mac Mahon, School of Education, NUI Galway, shared their expertise in this area and their experiences of helping young people negotiate this difficult and sometimes confusing terrain. In her talk, Professor Moje drew from her research to exemplify what disciplinary literacy is and to illustrate the process of teaching both young people and their teachers how to navigate the many literacy contexts they encounter in and out of school. Professor Moje's goal as a literacy researcher, teacher educator, and former high school teacher, is to inform teaching practice and policy in ways that support young people to negotiate the literacy of their school subjects. Dr Brendan Mac Mahon welcomed the national strategy on Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life, and focused on the role that post-primary teachers of all subjects have in developing students' literacy skills. He presented findings from his own research and outlined implications for the implementation of the strategy and the challenges which will be faced. Dr Mary Fleming, Head of Education at NUI Galway, said: “The attendance from across the spectrum of teacher education and professional development at this event emphasises the importance and current relevance of this topic in the field of education.” -ENDS-

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

GAA All-Star to Launch Anniversary Ceremony A significant milestone in volunteering in Ireland has been reached this year. NUI Galway’s student volunteering programme celebrates ten years of promoting civic engagement at third-level. The ALIVE programme was the first of its kind in Ireland and its success has been emulated by other third-level institutes across the country. ALIVE - A Learning Initiative and the Volunteering Experience – was established by the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) at NUI Galway to harness, acknowledge and support the contribution the University students make to Galway by volunteering. Collectively 6,000 NUI Galway students have given 240,000 hours of voluntary activity over ten years with a contribution to the local economy to be estimated at a €2 million. In addition, students have directly raised over €2 million for a range of charitable causes and community organisations. Tony Griffin, GAA All-Star, author, and founder of Soar Foundation will be guest speaker at anniversary Certificate Ceremony, on Wednesday, 27 March at NUI Galway. Tony will discuss his inspiring journey across Canada on a bike which raised €1 million for cancer research and the building of self-esteem and confidence programmes in schools across Ireland. Galway City Mayor Councillor, Terry O' Flaherty, will also attend the ceremony to acknowledge this year’s student volunteers and commemorate the tenth anniversary, which celebrates 6,000 student recipients of the award. In 2012-2013 alone, 1,000 students volunteered with Ballinfoyle Youth Development Project, Brothers of Charity, Galway Simon Community, Belarussian Orphanage Project, School Completion Programme Eastside and Music for Galway to mention a few. Students also made valuable contributions to enhancing their fellow student’s experiences though peer mentoring, sporting, cultural and artistic programmes through student led clubs and societies. NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said: “The ALIVE programme has been an innovative force in Irish higher education and has been emulated by a range of educational institutions.” Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Volunteer Programme Coordinator,said: “Our community partners co-educate our students who seek to volunteer to gain experience and learn new skills while gaining confidence in the vital role they play as citizens with something to give back to society.” -ENDS-

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

to tackle heart disease, cancer, diabetes and mental illness NUI Galway is spearheading Ireland’s involvement in a new network focussed on preventative science. The Science for Prevention Academic Network (SPAN) is a new network to advance scientific expertise and help prevent non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and mental illness. “Non-communicable diseases are the most significant burden to society, and are often preventable, yet only a small proportion of national health budgets are spent on combating them. There’s a real mis-match here,” explains Dr Michal Molcho from the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway who is leading Ireland’s involvement in the network. “In terms of dealing with these non-communicable diseases, most of our health budget is spent treating them yet what they spend on prevention can be as little as three or four per cent.” SPAN will enable an international group of prevention scientists based across Europe to work together. In total, 32 universities and institutions will be involved in the project led by Oxford Brookes University, and funded initially by £500,000 from the European Commission. Heart disease and cancer are caused by four main risk behaviours: smoking, excessive drinking, poor diet and lack of exercise. SPAN will help prevent these diseases in people before they manifest serious symptoms as they grow older. Dr Michal Molcho added: “The future of preventative science, research and education will be given a tremendous boost by the launch of this international network of experts. We will build a strong scientific base in this important field and build collaboration which has not existed across Europe in this area until now. We aim to build science in this area, attract more young scientists to the field and make sure that the latest research is shared across Europe.” The initial funding will allow the experts conduct an audit of the preventative science sector across the continent, improve education and training, build networks and run workshops with researchers, in particular young researchers. The Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway is a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborative Centre for Health Promotion Research, linking directly with WHO world Headquarters in Geneva. -ends-

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Conflicts in Ireland over how to best use natural resources – from oil and gas extraction to wind and fish farms – continue to make headlines. A new book from researchers with the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway titled Methods of Sustainability Research for the Social Sciences offers fresh insights into how to understand local conflicts over natural resources, and their connections with [un]sustainable development. “Recent efforts to exploit Ireland’s natural resources such as the Corrib Gas development, the proposed fish farm in Galway Bay, plans for hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and the erection of wind farms and pylons have been met with strong local opposition,” says Dr Henrike Rau, one of the book’s editors. She adds “Citizens across the country have voiced their concern over the potentially negative impacts of these projects for people and the environment. A recent event in Galway saw more than 1,000 people protest against the proposed fish farm in Galway Bay. Across the country people increasingly question the unsustainability of development that ignores local people’s interests and threatens their living environment.” Methods of Sustainability Research is a collection of insights on innovative ways to examine sustainability questions. Its aim is to be a practical and useful resource for students, academics and practitioners interested in sustainability research.   Co-editors Dr Frances Fahy and Dr Henrike Rau, both of NUI Galway, brought together geographers, sociologists, psychologists, human ecologists and political scientists from Ireland and Europe, in an attempt to create a body of work that could offer real solutions informed by rigorous research. The book came in response to increased public interest in NUI Galway courses related to sustainability issues such as Environmental Planning, Sustainable Development in Ireland, Geographies of Sustainable Consumption and Sociology of the Environment. Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, says “Sustainability research has gained considerable momentum in recent times in both the natural and social sciences, partly because academics, policy makers and the public have grown increasingly aware of pressing social and environmental sustainability issues. The work of Drs Fahy and Rau and their team is making an important contribution to tackling our climate and energy crises. I am delighted to see the expertise that they and their colleagues have brought together has resulted in a format that so many can access.”   The book is being launched next Tuesday, 26 March at 5pm , in ‘The Space’, Áras na Mac Léinn, at NUI Galway.  The launch is free, and all are welcome. -ends-

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Over 65 students were recognised by NUI Galway today (Thursday, 21 March) at a special ceremony when they were conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne. One student, Dr John Kelly, was also conferred with a DSc on Published Work. Degrees on published work are higher doctorates and are the highest qualifications awarded by the University. They are awarded to scholars who have, over a sustained period, published a substantial body of ground-breaking and influential work in a field of specialisation and who have achieved outstanding distinction internationally in that field. All Colleges of the University were represented at the ceremony, with graduands from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, the College of Business, Public Policy and Law; the College of Engineering and Informatics; the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; and the College of Science. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said: “I would like to congratulate each graduate on their achievement in earning their doctorate degrees. We in NUI Galway are determined that this University will play its full part in producing the graduates and the leaders who will create the future. We have significantly increased our number of PhD graduates in recent years as we strive to meet the needs of the knowledge and innovation economy.” The next conferrings to take place at NUI Galway will be the conferring of Honorary Degrees on Friday, 14 June and the summer conferring on Wednesday, 26 June. -ENDS-  

Friday, 22 March 2013

An Irish-based scientist has been involved in a new discovery showing that there is only one species of the enigmatic giant squid worldwide. The subject of mariners tales since ancient times, this huge 10 armed invertebrate can grow to 13 meters and lives at depths of up to 1000 meters under the sea. Dr Louise Allcock of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway was a member of an international team, led by the University of Copenhagen, which studied the genetic code of the giant squid, which can weigh over 900 kg. It is less than a year since the giant squid was first filmed alive in its natural element, at a depth of 630 meters by a submarine near Japan. “The giant squid is extremely rarely seen, except as the remains of animals that have been washed ashore, and placed in the formalin or ethanol collections of museums,” explains Dr Allcock. “For a long time it has remained unclear how many species of giant squid exist. Our mitochondrial DNA data strongly point to the existence of a single species.” The research was led by PhD student Inger Winkelmann and her supervisor Professor Tom Gilbert, from the Basic Research Centre in GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen University. The study, which is published today in the esteemed journal, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed DNA from the remains of 43 giant squid collected from all over the world. The results show, that the animal is genetically nearly identical all over the planet, and shows no evidence of living in geographically structured populations. One possible explanation for this is that although evidence suggests the adults remain in relatively restricted geographic regions, the young that live on the ocean’s surfaces must drift in the currents globally. Once they reach a large enough size to survive the depths, the authors of the paper believe they dive to the nearest suitable deep waters, and there the cycle begins again. Scientists have yet to discover how old the creature gets, how quickly they grow and how they might have been affected by climate change in the past. “These are fascinating creatures, living in one of the planet’s most extreme environments, yet growing to gigantic proportions”, concludes Dr Allcock. “There is still so much we to learn about them, and ultimately about our planet.” -ends-

Friday, 22 March 2013

NUI Galway announced the recipients of the 2013 Sports Awards at a special ceremony last night (Thursday, 21 March). The awards recognise sporting performance, leadership and participation, as well as those that contribute to the running and development of the NUI Galway Sports Clubs. This year’s individual award winners include Des Leonard who won his second World Junior Kickboxing title this year and Darren Wallace who set a new Irish University record in Archery this year. Darren was also part of the NUI Galway Archery team which dominated the Irish Varsity scene this year and who are in receipt of one of the team awards. The Tom Tuohy memorial award remembers one of Ireland’s greatest ever rowing coaches who contributed to the NUI Galway boat club for 30 years. The award recognises outstanding achievement in the past year by an individual or crew and this year goes to Robert O’Callaghan who was part of the Senior 8 that won the National title last summer. Kathy Hynes, Development Office, Sports Clubs and Participation, NUI Galway said: “Each year NUI Galway recognises the outstanding contribution of student athletes across many diverse sporting disciplines for their achievements in sport. This year’s awards ceremony extended to reflect not only the achievements of students in terms of performance sport but also the contribution of the clubs to campus life and the importance of participation in sport and exercise. Five such awards were awarded to reflect this important contribution to university life.” The Table Tennis Club and Surf Club were joint winners of the ‘Leadership Alumni Award’,a dedicated leadership programme for all Club Captains and committee members. The programme is a partnership between the University’s Sports Clubs and Galway Alumni Office. The ‘Club Captain’s Award’, which recognises the enormous contribution of individual students to the successful running of sports clubs, was presented to Gráinne Conway. ‘Most Improved Sports Club Recognition’ was awarded to the Ladies Soccer club, under the direction of team Captain Rosa Shine, who, with her committee, raised the profile of their club through increasing student numbers, evaluating training methods and providing a strong foundation for their future success. Sporting life on campus is not just for the elite performers and this is reflected in the ‘Outstanding Recreational Participation Award’ which this year was awarded “Fresh N Cool” a group of young men who have participated in the indoor Futsal leagues for the past three years. These individuals have been selected from several different teams for their participation within the Futsal league, their sense of fair play, camaraderie and the sense of community they provide to all students involved in the league. The ‘Special Achievement Award’ recognises, over a period of time, the excellence of a club or club member. This year’s recipient was Hannah Smith who as Club Captain, committee member and team player raised the profile and success of Women’s rugby at a local and national level. This is the 30th year of the awards and past winners include current Galway Hurling manager Anthony Cunningham, Irish Soccer International Meabh De Burca, Olympians, Éadaoin Ní Cheallaráin, Olive Loughnane, Paul Hession, Alan Martin and Cormac Folan, as well as a long list of All-Ireland winners and Internationals. Gary Ryan, NUI Galway’s Development Officer for Elite Sport, said: “When you look at the list of the people who have won these awards over the years some of the most recognisable names in Irish Sport are amongst them. There are also dozens of former students who have contributed enormously to sport locally and nationally since then in a variety of different roles. It is striking to see how many past award winners are now involved in coaching and administration and reinforces how important the learning experience of being involved in University Clubs can be.” 2012 Sports Award Winners: Individual Awards Archery: Darren Wallace from Portlaoise, Co. Laois Ladies Soccer: Jennifer Byrne from Ballinsloe, Co. Galway Cricket: Waqar Ul Hassan from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo Pool and Snooker: Stephen Darren Dempsey from Monaghan Town Swimming, Lifesaving and Waterpolo: Kevin McGlade from Galway City Hurling: Kevin Moynihan from Ennis, Co. Clare Camogie: Orlaith Duggan from Clooney, Co. Clare Men’s Gaelic Football: Ciaran McDonald from Aherlow, Co. Tipperary Hockey: Síle Johnson from Bandon, Co. Cork Tom Tuohy Award for Achievement in Rowing: Rob O’Callaghan from Galway City Kickboxing: Des Leonard from Riverstown, Co. Sligo Team Winners     Team Award - Archery Club        Team Award - Swimming and Lifesaving Team Team Award - Mystics (Ladies Basketball) Team Award - Volleyball Club    Most Improved Club: Ladies Soccer Club Outstanding Recreation Participation Award: Futsal winners "Fresh N Cool" Club Captains Award: Surf Club - Captain Gráinne Conway from Westport, Co. Mayo Special Achievement Award: Hannah Smith from Ennis, Co. Clare, past Captain and now secretary of Women’s Rugby Club Leadership Alumni Award: Joint winners – Table Tennis Club and Surf Club -ENDS-

Monday, 25 March 2013

NUI Galway is delighted to announce that the Dr Tony Ryan Trust has made a significant donation to the University to support scholarship and innovation in environment, marine and energy as well as the University’s access programme. In addition to supporting the access programme, this significant philanthropic gift of over one million euro will specifically provide fully funded research scholarships for five PhD students.  The Dr Tony Ryan Research Scholarships will offer opportunities to pursue a postgraduate degree in the key research areas of environment, marine and energy.  The scholarships will specifically focus on research priorities at The Ryan Institute in the University, including: Innovation in energy-efficient technologies and bio-energy Research and development in aquaculture, fisheries, offshore renewable energy resources and bio-discovery Development of technologies for monitoring, modelling and mitigation of environmental pressures Speaking on behalf of the Trustees of the Dr Tony Ryan Trust, Emma Lane-Spollen said: “We are proud to support so many Irish and migrant students to access NUI Galway’s degree programmes with €125,000 per year for 4 years. We also look forward to supporting the development of the marine industry and the exploration of marine ecosystems in Ireland by supporting Galway’s ability to attract the best PhD students through these 5 full scholarships, putting Galway at the forefront of marine research and innovation.” Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway said: “This scholarship funding amplifies the generous support received in the past from the Ryan family.  NUI Galway remains indebted to the late Dr Tony Ryan and the Ryan family for the vision and the enlightened philanthropy which led to the capital development of the Ryan Institute in the 1990s.  The Ryan Institute is the leading centre for environment, marine and energy research in Ireland.  Increasingly these areas are becoming crucial to the global economy, generating new and sustainable technologies.  Support for scholarship and innovation in these areas is a strategic and important decision by the Trust and I would like to thank the Trustees for their philanthropy. The Dr Tony Ryan Trust’s funding of the NUI Galway Access Programme will also enable talented students facing financial challenges to realise their full educational potential.” The Ryan Institute Award In addition to the Dr Ryan Scholarship Fund, a substantial Ryan Institute Award will feature annually, as a new means to support and foster entrepreneurship and innovation.  The Award, which will be presented each year for five years, will be coupled with the above scholarship opportunity to drive innovation, entrepreneurship and spin-outs from postgraduate research at NUI Galway.  An annual University competition, targeted at researchers and/or postgraduate students within the Ryan Institute, will assess business ideas arising from research.  This award is to enable the winner to commercialise or develop their idea, including through further research at home or abroad. The Ryan Institute has over 300 researchers making it Ireland’s largest research institute to focus on some of the most pressing environmental and energy issues of the 21st century.  NUI Galway’s formal research in this area goes back to the early-1990s when Dr Tony Ryan, funded the Marine Research Building, named in memory of his father Martin Ryan. Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway said: “NUI Galway has a long history of engaging with vital environmental and marine issues through our research, especially in the areas of climate change, water resources, marine ecosystems, biodiversity and sustainability. We strongly welcome this support for research scholarship and look forward to further collaboration with the Dr Tony Ryan Trust as the fund and award scheme realise the bright minds of the future.” -ends-

Monday, 25 March 2013

Doing the Leaving Certificate and looking ahead to University? NUI Galway is holding a University Taster Day for Leaving Certificate students during the Easter break. The Taster Day will combine a series of revision sessions on aspects of the Leaving Certificate curriculum, together with some taster workshops in new Arts subjects. Participants will gain unique insights into Leaving Cert subjects in revision sessions taught by University lecturers. A choice of 17 subjects is on offer in areas like English, Irish, French, History, Geography and more. Students will also enjoy taster workshops in University level Arts subjects like Psychology, Drama, Film Studies and Sociology and Politics. Organiser of the University Taster Day, Joe Mac Donnacha explained: “Students are focused on their revision for the Leaving Certificate at this time of year. The aim of the NUI Galway Taster Day is to help them maximize their revision in key subject areas, while also giving them an enjoyable introduction to some of the subjects taught on the University’s Arts degree.” The Arts degree at NUI Galway is the second largest undergraduate course in the country, attracting over 1,000 new students every year.   Commenting on the ongoing popularity of the Arts degree at NUI Galway for students, Dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, Dr Edward Herring, said: “Arts and Social Science students are very creative. More start-up enterprises are founded by Arts graduates than Business graduates. You find successful Arts and Social Sciences graduates in almost every walk of life. Of course, we need scientists, engineers, doctors, and entrepreneurs but we also need those people who understand and can critique human behaviour, social values and cultural creativity. That is what Arts graduates are trained to do.” The NUI Galway Taster Day runs from 9.30am to 3pm on Friday, 5 April, in the Engineering Building on the NUI Galway campus. Advanced booking is essential for this FREE revision session and taster day. Bookings can be made online at:  www.nuigalway.ie/university_taster_day. Enquiries should be directed to (091) 494 145 or email visit@nuigalway.ie   ENDS

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Bishop John Fleming of the diocese of Killala, Co Mayo and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, are pleased to announce that Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa will endorse the proposed new Mary Robinson Centre with the presentation of a Welcoming Stone at an ecumenical event in St Muredach’s Cathedral, in Mrs Robinson’s home town of Ballina, Co Mayo on Saturday, May 11 next at 6pm (18:00hrs). The Mary Robinson Centre is being developed by a partnership including National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), Mayo County Council, Ballina Town Council, the local community and the Robinson / Bourke families together with Government support.  Representatives of all will attend the event. Archbishop Tutu and Mrs Robinson, who has just been announced as the UN’s new Special Envoy to Africa’s troubled Great Lakes region, will engage in a shared reflection which will be conducted in St Muredach’s Cathedral and chaired by the renowned Irish journalist and current affairs presenter, Olivia O’Leary. The Archbishop will also visit the site of the new Centre at Mary Robinson’s birthplace, the Bourke family home on Victoria Terrace at Ballina, directly opposite the Cathedral.   Ends

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The fourth international Nursing and Midwifery conference, Building and Promoting Excellence in Practice, will take place from 15-16 April in Áras Moyola, NUI Galway. Organised by NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, in partnership with Galway University Hospital and the Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Units (West), the conference will bring together leaders in the field of nursing and midwifery to share their experiences of clinical care and research. Building and Promoting Excellence in Practice will cover topics relevant to the fields of chronic illness, mental health, older people, maternity care and women’s health, and teaching and learning in practice. With over 200 delegates expected to attend, the conference will feature over 100 presentations from national and international speakers and will be of interest to health professionals working in nursing or midwifery, along with medical and allied health professionals. This year's keynote speaker will be Dr Julie Barroso, Distinguished Professor at the Duke University School of Nursing in North Caroline, USA. Dr Barroso’s research is in the areas of qualitative research methodology and chronic illness and has written prolifically on these topics. She has specific expertise on synthesizing qualitative research and this will be the topic of her keynote address. The conference will also feature a keynote discussion from Dr David Tovey, Editor-in-Chief with The Cochrane Library. A previous Editorial Director for the BMJ Evidence Centre, Dr Tovey’s keynote discussion will focus on evidence-based practice. Professor Declan Devane, Conference Chair and Professor of Midwifery at NUI Galway, said: “We are really excited about this year’s conference. Faced with rapidly changing healthcare contexts, new research initiatives and demanding resource constraints, the opportunity for health care professionals to come together to discuss best practice is vital. Thoughtful practice based on the best available evidence is key to making a difference to those accessing our health care services; this conference provides an opportunity for nurses and midwives to come together share their experiences to build and promote excellence in practice.”   For more information on the conference, please visit the conference website at  www.nursingmidwifery.ie. -ENDS-   

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Eight NUI Galway postgraduate courses have been shortlisted for the national gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2013. The award winners will be announced on Thursday, 18 April at a reception in the Mansion House in Dublin. The annual Postgraduate Course of the Year Awards, sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), recognises excellence amongst Irish postgraduate course providers. The winning courses are judged on the success of the course including employability of graduates, recognition of the course’s quality or ranking by external bodies, research record of academic staff, and providing a good experience for students. Judges also take feedback from students into consideration when selecting a winner. With eight courses in contention, NUI Galway is the higher education institution with the most shortlisted entries this year, a notable achievement, considering there were 126 entries to the competition in total. NUI Galway courses shortlisted for the Business Award are: the Executive MBA, which also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year; MSc in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management; and MSc in International Management. The MSc in Biolnnovation Fellowship programme is shortlisted in the Best New Course category.  Two NUI Galway courses are nominated as Best IT Course: LLM in Law, Technology and Governance and the Masters in Digital Media. In the Engineering category NUI Galway has one of two courses in the shortlist, the Masters of Applied Science (Enterprise Systems). Similarly it has one of only two courses shortlisted in Science, the MSc in Biomedical Science (Distance Learning). Valerie Leahy, Postgraduate Recruitment Officer at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to again make the shortlist for these important national awards; it’s great that the calibre of our postgraduate courses is being recognised. The courses in question are accepting applications now so those interested can apply online via the Postgraduate Applications Centre at www.pac.ie. This year we’re also offering full-time taught masters scholarships for first class students, so that’s another good reason to consider NUI Galway for your postgraduate studies.” NUI Galway offers a wide range of fourth-level courses, developing programmes based on its traditional academic strengths of Arts, Social Sciences, Celtic Studies, Commerce, Medicine, Nursing, Health Science, Law, Engineering, Informatics and Science. These areas have been augmented with innovative Research Centres in areas as diverse as Biomedical Engineering, International Human Rights, Digital Media & Film Studies, and Regenerative Medicine. Almost 3,500 postgraduate students (including international students) currently attend NUI Galway. NUI Galway awards Postgraduate Scholarships, valued at €1,500 per student, to all students studying a postgraduate taught Masters programme in the year 2013/14, who have a first class honours undergraduate degree. The new initiative is open to postgraduate students, applying for a fulltime Taught Masters programme. Scholarships will be awarded to students accepted on a fulltime taught masters and who fulfill the criteria as outlined by the University. For further information on any of the postgraduate courses available at NUI Galway call 091 495148 or visit www.nuigalway.ie/courses. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

NUI Galwaycancer researcher Dr Eva Szegezdi has been applauded for reaching the finals of the Irish Cancer Society’s ‘Researcher of the Year’ Award. Dr Szegezdi works in the Apoptosis Research Centre at the University’s School of Natural Sciences. Professor Afshin Samali, Director of Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Reaching the final three of this prestigious award is a major achievement. This is a testament to high quality, relevance and impact of Dr Szegezdi’s research at the Centre. Dr Szegezdi is the leading scientist in her field of research in Ireland and is an opinion leader whose work is at the cutting edge of cancer research.” The Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway is composed of an interactive network of researchers investigating cell death and its relationship to human disease. Dr Eva Szegezdi was shortlisted for her research entitled, ‘Blazing a new TRAIL in cancer therapy’. “TRAIL is a protein produced by immune cells to kill newly developed cancer cells”, explains Dr Szegezdi. “TRAIL has the ability to selectively find and kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells, which give it advantage over standard chemotherapeutic drugs. The aim of our research is to use the cancer-selective characteristics of TRAIL, synthesize and process it outside the body and to convert it into a cancer drug that possesses high anticancer potential, in fact higher than natural TRAIL produced by immune cells.” Research carried out by Dr Szegezdi is also supported by Science Foundation Ireland and funding from NUI Galway. Last year, NUI Galway’s Dr Róisín Dwyer a postdoctoral research fellow in the Discipline of Surgery at NUI Galway was announced as the first Irish Cancer Society ‘Researcher of the Year’. Dr Dwyer scooped the top prize in 2012 for her research that investigated the potential of adult stem cells as vehicles for targeted delivery of therapeutic agents to breast tumours, which aims to significantly reduce tumour growth. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Leukaemia and myeloma research efforts in Galway have received a huge boost with a generous donation of €12,500 by the Cloonacool Community in Co. Sligo. The money raised was donated to Galway University Foundation to support research at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospitals facilitated by Professor Michael O’Dwyer. The fundraising took place initially following the personal experiences of local families who had loved ones diagnosed with leukaemia. It soon gathered momentum through a table quiz in Brennans of Cloonacool, and culminated in an outdoor event ‘The Westport Sea2summit Challenge’. ‘The Westport Sea2summit Challenge’ saw 23 people undertake a gruelling 4km run, 8 km cycle, 3km ascent and descent of Croagh Patrick, 8 km cycle and finally a 4 km run to Westport. To add to the monies collected, The South Sligo Gun Club contributed €1200. Professor Michael O’Dwyer and his research team are extremely grateful for the donation: “We are trying to improve the outcomes for those diagnosed with leukaemia and myeloma. Every euro raised is really appreciated and will help us in our research efforts. I applaud the community of Cloonacool for their extreme and inventive fundraising efforts. For us and the patients, knowing we have that kind of moral support is something you can’t put a price on.” To support leukaemia and myeloma research at NUI Galway please visit www.guf.ie     -Ends-

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Dr David Finn of NUI Galway has been awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Award for best paper published in an indexed journal in 2012 in the Pain/Anaesthesia category. Dr Finn, lecturer in Pharmacology, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research, and Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, received the award at a ceremony held the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin. The first author of the winning paper was Dr Weredeselam Olango who did the work during his PhD under the supervision of Dr Finn and Dr Michelle Roche in Physiology, NUI Galway. The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Awards are presented each year to Irish or Irish-based researchers who are judged to have published the best research papers in international, peer-reviewed journals.   The winning paper confirmed the key role of a midbrain region called the periaqueductal grey in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia). Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in this part of the brain. Furthermore, fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the periaqueductal grey. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.  Dr David Finn, senior author on the paper, said: “We are very pleased that our work has been recognised with this prestigious award. This research which was funded by grants from Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” -ends

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The West Ocean String Quartet: Seamus McGuire and Niamh Crowley - violin, Ken Rice – viola and Neil Martin – cello in partnership with NUI Galway College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences will perform in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway on 18 April at 8pm. The concert marks the new album An Indigo Sky. Proceeds on the night will go toward Voluntary Services Abroad (VSA). A potent collage of timbres and hues, An Indigo Sky is bold, passionate and unapologetic. Central to it is Neil Martin’s four-movement suite from which the album takes its name, commissioned in memory of Joseph Browne, a former medical student of NUI Galway from Knockmeal on the Clare/Galway border who died tragically in 2006.  Additionally, alongside traditional and newly-composed pieces sits music by Turlough O’Carolan and Thomas Moore. In a rare and much-coveted 5 star review of the album, The Irish Times talked of this “magnificently elegiac recording” being “a shimmering delight”.  The concert will also draw from the quartet’s three other albums. Formed in 1999, the West Ocean String Quartet’s vision, eclectic repertoire and style have won them global praise. Their music lies somewhere in between the worlds of classical and traditional. Disregarding rules and boundaries, they have found for themselves a unique voice, and have collaborated with many leading artists, both on stage and in the studio, including Christy Moore, Matt Molloy, Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill, Mary Black, Liam O’Flynn and Brian Kennedy. The quartet's debut CD, Unwrapping Dreams (2004), was released to very considerable acclaim both in Ireland and around the globe. It won the award for Best Newcomers Album in Chicago’s American Live Ireland Awards that year and a BBC television documentary on the quartet followed. Universal praise continued with their second cd, The Guiding Moon (2006) featuring The Chieftains' flute player Matt Molloy.  Their third cd, Ae Fond Kiss (2009), with special guest Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill, similarly garnered applause worldwide. The quartet has performed widely, including sell-out performances in Dublin's National Concert Hall, Belfast's Waterfront Hall and Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall.  Their music has taken them to USA and France and their appeal is truly universal - all three of the quartet’s cds were played aboard the International Space Station in 2011.  Tickets are priced at €20 euro, students €15 euro and can be obtained from the Galway Arts Centre on Dominic Street; School of Medicine at NUI Galway; Socs Box in NUI Galway or at the door on the night. ENDS

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A group of second year Biomedical Science students from NUI Galway recently hosted a two-day art exhibition at the Galway museum.  The ‘Art in Science’ exhibition featured striking images acquired from research labs in Anatomy, Biochemistry and Pharmacology disciplines in the University. The project was undertaken as part of a Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) module.   The images were mostly derived from subcellular structures of components too small to see with the naked eye and required sophisticated imaging systems. Students designed and produced brochures to accompany each image which gave details of how the image was generated and its significance in the progress of scientific research. The images were regarded as particularly interesting as standalone art pieces in addition to their scientific significance and therefore were able to bridge the gap between science and art.    Dr Lynn O’Connor, Lecturer in Biomedical Science at NUI Galway, said: “We are very proud of the efforts of the students to share the ongoing research efforts taking place in Biomedical Science in NUI Galway with the general public.  They successfully managed to convey not only the enormous research strides that are taking place in NUI Galway but also to convey an appreciation of the artistic merits of the images produced as part of that research effort. They have bridged the gap between science and the arts. Over the course of the two day exhibition children from local schools, tourists and local people viewed the images and spoke with the students about their work which was received with great interest.”    NUI Galway scientists who contributed to the exhibition included: Drs Maura Grealy and  Eilis Dowd from Pharmacology; Dr Lynn O’Connor, Biomedical Science; Professor Peter Dockery, Alex Black and Drs Dara Cannon and Fabio Quondamatteo from Anatomy; and Professors Noel Lowndes, Brian McStay and Ciaran Morrison, and Dr Andrew Flaus from Biochemistry. -ENDS-

Friday, 1 February 2013

According to the gradireland 2012 Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends Survey almost half (48.4%) of all graduate jobs created in 2011 were in the accountancy and financial management sector.  This far exceeds any other sector, including the high profile IT and telecoms sector which comes in at second with 13.6% of graduate jobs.   Dr Emer Mulligan, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway concurred with the survey findings saying: “On the ground we continue to see strong demand for our graduates locally, nationally and internationally.  Recent curriculum changes in our programmes ensure all our graduates have the necessary skills for the workplace and are accordingly in demand by industry.” With a career in accounting such an attractive prospect, it is surprising that fewer students are choosing accounting at second level. However, although a C1 in leaving certificate accounting is a prerequisite for the BComm Accounting programme at NUI Galway, there is no requirement for accounting for students on the mainstream BComm, as they can specialise in accounting in final year of study. Current Student Perspective Students like Ruth Guinane and James O’Brien, both from Galway and studying at NUI Galway, bear out the truth of this survey.  Ruth is a student on the BComm (Accounting) and James is a student on the BComm, who has chosen to specialise in Accounting in his final year. Both of these programmes offer the opportunity in second year to apply for an optional international experience year which extends the degree from three to four years.  The international experience year typically includes a semester in a university abroad and a semester on placement with a relevant employer.  Ruth spent a semester at the State University of New York at Albany NY and worked on placement for six months with Deloitte in Dublin.  “The opportunity to study in the US was fantastic, I got to immerse myself completely in another culture, study different subjects and travel all around New York and even up to Canada.  The placement gave me a real insight into my future career and Deloitte have already offered me a training contract when I finish my degree.” James also opted for the international experience year “I worked at Alkermes Plc. in Athlone for seven months in the accounting department. I learned a lot while working there including the importance of hard work, team work and the need to be flexible as I was presented with different challenges every day. Overall, it was an incredible opportunity; I got experience working in a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation which gave me a great understanding as to what would be expected of me in the workplace. I studied at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. I visited North Carolina, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore and Toronto. It was definitely a semester that I will never forget! I’m in my final year now and the experience was huge help in securing job offers with Accounting firms.  It really gave me a taste for international experience and so I have accepted a job with Ernst & Young in Luxembourg, starting next September.&rdqu o; The BComm at NUI Galway is a three year programme which allows students to specialise in Economics, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Business Information Systems and Accounting.  Students who select the international experience year have the opportunity to study abroad and engage in a work placement converting it into a four year programme. -ENDS-

Friday, 1 February 2013

“The beneficial effects of a good quality environment on human health and well-being are very considerable,” according to author Tony Juniper.  “Exposure to green space and the natural environment has been shown to improve our well-being, and that is very valuable to society, including in an economic sense,” the internationally-acclaimed environmentalist told some 300 delegates this morning at the ENVIRON2013 conference at the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway. Juniper is visiting Ireland to deliver the conference’s keynote lecture on ‘Nature for Health - Opportunities for People and the Environment’. Protecting our environment from pollution, abuse and mismanagement, and providing a good quality natural environment can do more to benefit our health and well-being than many other measures, he told the audience. In his new book released earlier this month, What Has Nature Ever Done for Us – How Money Really Does Grow on Trees, he highlights the potential economic benefits of working with nature instead of simply seeing it as a supplier of resources and a place to dump waste. According to Tony Juniper, nature provides the world economy with more than €100 trillion worth of goods and “natural services” every year.  He explained how the loss of these “natural services” can trigger huge economic costs. Tony Juniper is a campaigner, writer, sustainability adviser and one of the world’s most influential environmentalists. From 2003 to 2008 he was the Director in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of Friends of the Earth and from 2001 to 2008 he was the Vice Chair of the 70-strong network of national organisations that comprise Friends of the Earth International. For more than 25 years he has worked for change toward a more sustainable society at local, national and international levels.  Juniper presently works as a Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales Charities’ International Sustainability Unit, having previously worked (2008-2010) as a Special Advisor with the Prince’s Rainforests Project. He is a Senior Associate with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership working as a member of the teaching faculty. During his visit to NUI Galway he also launched the Centre for Health from Environment at the Ryan Institute, which was established to encourage research and teaching on the ways in which the environment benefits human health and well-being. The Centre brings together interdisciplinary researchers from areas of medicine, science, engineering, political science, geography, and other disciplines who are all working together to place sustaining health through environmental stewardship at the centre of public policy. The Centre’s on-going and planned research intersects four thematic areas: Air Quality, Water Quality, Public Policy, and Food and Soil.  “We benefit much more from clean air, pure water, good food and exercise and strong communities than we do from hospitals, medicines and clinics,” said Professor Martin Cormican, Director of the Centre for Health from Environment at the launch of the centre this morning. He stated that “In recent decades we have seen major improvements in outdoor air quality through control of emissions from coal and motor vehicles, improvements in indoor air quality through changes in cigarette smoking, improvements in water quality through control of discharges into rivers and lakes and we’ve witnessed important social changes that promote acceptance of diversity in communities. The Centre seeks to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the principle that if we take good care of the environment, than it takes good care of us.” Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute added: “The launch of the new Centre for Health from Environment is timely. Nature and biodiversity have often been considered only relevant to biologists or ecologists, but a growing body of research makes clear that it is equally relevant to health-related disciplines.” The ENVIRON 2013 conference continues until tomorrow, with a Career Expo as one of the highlights this afternoon. The ‘ENVIRON Career Expo and CV advice shop’ is open to all members of the public, and will feature representatives from NGOs, environmental consultancies, research institutes, and semi-state bodies who are all actively recruiting. The Career Expo takes place in the foyer of the Bailey Allen Hall on Thursday, 31 January, from 1-5pm. -ends-