Monday, 15 February 2021

Years of suffering and billions of euro in global health care costs, arising from osteoporosis-related bone fractures, could be eliminated using big data to target vulnerable patients, according to researchers at Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software and National University of Ireland Galway. A study of 36,590 patients who underwent bone mineral density scans in the West of Ireland between January 2000 and November 2018, found that many fractures are potentially preventable by identifying those at greatest risk before they fracture, and initiating proven, safe, low-cost effective interventions.  The multi-disciplinary study, led by Lero’s Professor John J. Carey, Consultant Physician in Medicine and Rheumatology, Galway University Hospital, Mary Dempsey, Mechanical Engineering, NUI Galway, and Dr Attracta Brennan, Computer Science, NUI Galway has just been published in the British Medical Journal. The Irish dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) Health Informatics Prediction (HIP) project on bone mineral density now plans to assess current diagnostic classification and risk prediction algorithms for osteoporosis and fractures, according to Prof. Carey. Professor Carey pointed out that while Ireland has one of the highest osteoporosis rates globally, currently there is no national public or government policy to address the healthcare requirements of osteoporotic fractures, with costs rising rapidly.  “In Ireland, public hospital bed days have increased by almost 50% in the past decade for osteoporotic fractures and outnumber heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses that receive much greater attention,” he said. “Preliminary estimates suggest the number of fragility fractures and deaths following fracture for Irish adults aged 50 years and older in 2020 was similar or greater to the numbers with COVID infection, but there is no daily report on the numbers tested, hospitalised or who die following a fracture. Use of these and other data could help close those gaps,” he continued. Professor Carey said there is a global osteoporosis health crisis, with predictions of American medical costs associated with osteoporotic-related fractures including productivity losses and caregiving expenditure to exceed $94 billion (€77.6bn) annually by 2040. He added that previous studies have shown, for example in 2010, approximately 43,000 European deaths were fracture-related while expenditure related to osteoporosis exceeded €37 billion. “A modest 5% reduction in those costs would result in an annual saving of €1.85bn at 2010 prices,” he stated. “We now have big datasets, similar to the one utilised in our study, available throughout the globe. Cost-effective, innovative forms of data interrogation such as AI  (Artificial Intelligence) will enable the timely identification and treatment of patients vulnerable to osteoporosis fractures, providing them with better care and using precious resources efficiently. There will be many opportunities to provide better patient outcomes and save billions of euro,” he added. Professor Carey believes this collaboration between clinicians, big data scientists, engineering and computer scientists in Ireland, Britain and China will help leverage innovation, critical thinking and international partnerships to accelerate their programme and opportunities. Director of Lero, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, said the utilisation of AI, as envisaged by Professor Carey and his team, shows how software development initiatives can directly impact people’s lives at a fundamental level. Lero is a world leader in research on connected health and human performance. “When Lero’s work can help alleviate suffering, improve patient outcomes and free up resources, then we are doing the job we were established to do, and that’s very rewarding for all concerned,” he concluded. -Ends-

Monday, 15 February 2021

Lesbian and gay youth are twice as likely to engage in volunteer work as heterosexual teens, research by academics at NUI Galway has revealed. The findings are part of studies by the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Ireland team, based in the Health Promotion Research Centre at the University. Of the 3354 young people participating in the study, 3% reported being attracted to the same sex, while 6.3% said that they are attracted to both boys and girls. A report on the study - Connected, Respected, and Contributing to Their World: The Case of Sexual Minority and Non-Minority Young People in Ireland - revealed that bisexual youth were more likely than the other groups to be discriminated based on their age and gender. It also found that bisexual youth were less likely than their heterosexual peers to report high family support or having a caring adult whom they can trust and that they were half as likely to feel that they are valued and respected. Bisexual youth were also less likely to report that they feel comfortable while being with their friends. Analysis also showed that lesbian and gay young people were almost twice as likely to report often taking part in volunteering work. Dr András Költő, of NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre and lead author of the report, said: “Not surprisingly, sexual minority adolescents were more likely to feel discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. They were also more likely to report discrimination based on their age and gender. However, a positive finding is that lesbian and gay youth are almost twice as likely to be engaged in volunteer work. “This an aspect of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people’s lives that Irish studies have not previously explored. Lesbian and gay adolescents, probably because they have often faced discrimination and bullying, are often more aware of social inequalities and injustice than their non-minority peers and therefore may be driven to fight against injustice by volunteering. Other studies had shown that LGBT+ individuals often have compassion and empathy towards other minority groups (e.g., people with immigrant background or living with a disability) and are ready to advocate for their interests. “LGBT+ communities often provide a safe haven and a source of support and care to them. It is important to make bisexual youth also feel welcome in LGBT+ communities and in society.” Dr Költő added: “The results we have detailed are a key piece of research as part of the wider study of youth behaviour trends. It suggests that we should not think about LGBT+ young people as a uniform group. Our findings support that those identifying as bisexual are faring worse than those who identify as lesbian or gay. “It is important to note, however, that there are adolescents who are still exploring their sexual orientation, and it may change even in adulthood. Those young people who feel that they are attracted to both boys and girls or identify as bisexual may need more help and support from their families, peers and teachers.” The study compared findings across sex and social classes in the overall sample of 15 to 17-year-olds. While a large majority of young people were not likely to report experiencing discrimination, girls were more likely to feel discriminated against based on their gender and age than boys. Dr Elena Vaughan, contributing author of the report, said: “This finding suggests that sexism is an ongoing concern among young people in Ireland. Further studies to investigate how and in what contexts this is experienced by girls and young women would be helpful in identifying and implementing policy measures to address this issue.” Dr Költő and Dr Vaughan said they hope that these findings will complement Ireland’s National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy 2018-2020, the world’s first governmental strategy that aims to improve sexual and gender minority young people’s health and wellbeing.  Ends

Friday, 12 February 2021

The Mincéirs Whiden Society at NUI Galway has awarded Owen Patrick Ward honorary life membership. Mr Ward, a programme coordinator in the University’s Access Office, has been honoured for his involvement in the society since its inception and for his distinctive contribution to its work. Jason Sherlock, chairperson of the Mincéirs Whiden Society, said: "It is a great privilege that we can recognise Owen for the work he has done for Irish Travellers in NUI Galway and the wider community. “Owen never shies away from a challenge and he is always there to support any student, not only Irish Travellers but any student who might experience educational disadvantage. He was an early school leaver with no Junior or Leaving Certificate and he has overcome many barriers in his life to be where he is today. He is an inspirational role model.” Mr Ward is a Programme Coordinator in the NUI Galway Access Centre and last year was elected to the University's Governing Authority, Údarás na hOllscoile. He completed his Masters in NUI Galway, he is a fully qualified post-primary school teacher and he was key to the organisation of the hugely successful NUI Galway Irish Traveller Ethnicity Day on campus in February 2020. Vice-chairperson of the Mincéirs Whiden Society Anna Keane said: “Our members will forever be in Owen’s debt due to his work, endeavours and the support he has given. Owen is a true inspiration to all.” Dean of Students at NUI Galway Professor Michelle Millar said: “Owen has proved himself to be a brilliant ambassador for both the Travelling community and for our student body. He embodies the meaning of inclusion. I am delighted to see him honoured by his peers and look forward to celebrating and supporting him and his work as he helps our University to build on our shared values, including openness and respect.” NUI Galway Mincéirs Whiden Society, which means Travellers Talking in the Cant language, is the first Irish Traveller student society. Since 2018, it has contributed to increased Traveller participation in third-level education, while providing a safe and welcoming space on campus. The society has also built positive relationships with the student and staff body in the University, by winning the NUI Galway Best New Society for 2020. When the society was launched in 2018, Mr Ward said: "One of the main objectives of the society is to empower members of the Travelling community to enter third-level education while being encouraged and supported by NUI Galway. At present, there are a small number of Traveller students studying at NUI Galway across numerous disciplines. Also, it is of paramount importance to build positive alliances and relationships between Traveller students and the student and staff body at NUI Galway as well as the wider community." Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer, said: “We are immensely proud to be the first third level institution in Ireland to count Mincéirs Whiden among our list of societies. It has been a joy to work with Owen and all the other talented and inspiring students who have provided a platform and a welcoming space for future students from the Travelling community. Praise is indeed due to Owen for his foresight and vision in making this a reality." Ends

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Cuirfear tús le sraith de cheardlanna amhránaíochta fiorúil ar an sean-nós le Saileog Ní Cheannabháin, atá ceaptha mar Amhránaí Cónaitheach ag OÉ Gaillimh, 2021. Beidh na ceardlanna a reachtáil gach Céadaoin ag a 7pm ar an 17 agus 24 Feabhra, agus 3, 10 agus 24. Is cainteoir Gaeilge ó dhúchas í Saileog a tógadh le Gaeilge i mBaile Átha Cliath. Is as Aill na Brón a hathair, an t-amhránaí clúiteach Peadar Ó Ceannabháin, agus is é Peadar an chéad fhonnadóir a chuaigh i bhfeidhm go mór uirthi. Chaith Saileog roinnt mhaith ama ó bhí sí an-óg ag éisteacht le fonnadóirí as Iorras Aithneach agus tá Seán 'ac Dhonncha, Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, Dara Bán Mac Donncha agus Seáin Jeaic 'ac Dhonncha i measc na bhfonnadóirí is mó a chuaigh i bhfeidhm uirthí. Tá dhá album eisithe ag Saileog I bhfíor-dheiriú oidhche, cnuasach amhrán a bhailigh Séamus Ennis in Iorras Aithneach sna 1940idí, agus Roithleán. Tá na ceardlanna saor in aisce ar Zoom agus beidh fáilte roimh chách. Beidh an nasc Zoom ar fáil anseo: https://bit.ly/2O7geu3. Tá tuilleadh eolais le fáil ag www.facebook.com/NUIGalwayCentreforIrishStudies. Tuilleadh eolais ó Samantha Williams ag 091-512428 nó samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie Is iad Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta, An Chomhairle Ealaíon agus Ionad Léann na hÉireann, OÉ Gaillimh, a mhaoiníonn an tionscnamh seo. -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Saileog Ní Cheannabháin, the Sean-Nós Singer-in-Residence at NUI Galway, will give a series of online sean-nós singing workshops beginning on Wednesday, 17 February at 7pm. The weekly online workshops will take place on the 17 and 24 February, and the 3, 10 and 24 March. A sean-nós singer, musician and composer, Saileog learned and played both traditional and classical music from a very young age. She grew up listening to singers from Iorras Aithneach and cites Seán 'ac Dhonncha, Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, Dara Bán Mac Donncha agus Seáin Jeaic 'ac Dhonncha as formative influences on her approach and singing. She has released two albums; I bhfíor-dheiriú oidhche , a collection of songs collected by Séamus Ennis in Iorras Aithneach in the 1940s, and Roithleán. The workshops are free and open to all via Zoom at https://bit.ly/2O7geu3. More information is available at www.facebook.com/NUIGalwayCentreforIrishStudies. Further information available from Samantha Williams at 091-492051 or samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie This project is funded by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta and An Chomhairle Ealaíon in association with the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Monday, 8 February 2021

Research aims to identify what can help people cope during a pandemic The study will explore the relationship between adverse events in people’s childhood and their coping styles during this enduring pandemic New research being conducted by NUI Galway’s School of Psychology will explore how childhood experiences affect adult wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what helps people cope in the current climate. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on both people’s lives and wellbeing, with recent research showing rising rates of psychological distress globally. This disconcerting time may be particularly difficult for people who have experienced adverse childhood events, as these events often cause people to develop an over-active fear system that is set at a higher resting level than others and which may have never switched off since childhood. Children and adults develop coping mechanisms to help them stay safe, for example, a child may stay quiet if the person whom they are afraid of is also their primary caregiver or parent. This might mean they learn to not seek help from available support systems as an adult. This study is particularly interested in exploring adult wellbeing and outcomes of those who have experienced emotional abuse during childhood. Two important aspects being, a person's ability to be gentle or compassionate with themselves rather than judgemental and self-attacking, and helping people to manage any feelings of guilt or shame, commonly experienced by those with a history of adverse childhood events. These questions are a key part of the research. The study is being conducted by Hilary Groarke, a Clinical Psychologist in Training, with her supervisor and trauma researcher, Dr Jonathan Egan, a Chartered Health and Clinical Psychologist from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway. Hilary Groarke said: “It is critical that we identify factors that contribute to people’s recovery or obstacles that can block recovery following difficult childhood experiences and what empowers people to live a fulfilling life, particularly during a period of such disconnection, uncertainty and disillusionment.” The researchers hope that the study will help deliver a better understanding of how to support people’s recovery during periods of heightened distress and disconnection in order to inform the development of adapted forms of therapeutic treatments that work under ever-changing life circumstances. Dr Jonathan Egan stated: “Our recent peer-reviewed article from 2017 suggests that being able to reach out and learning to speak about feelings may reduce the number of people reporting to their GP with physical complaints. It is frightening for many however, to start to learn to move towards relational closeness, when staying away from it was probably a clever thing to do as a child, particularly if your carers were not in a place to be the most effective parents at the time. In the 2017 study, those who felt less integrated and fully present had twice the levels of anxiety, depression and worries about their physical health. That was back in a time when we were not living in a pandemic. A pandemic raises all fear levels, it opens doors to the past which before we could keep closed; for many, these doors are now blown open and the nights are long and the days are dead. There is little to distract us from aches and pains, from internal tape recordings of voices we heard a long time ago in our distant past; ‘you are not good enough’ ‘you are stupid’, ‘you are too much’, or just the absence of voices, the sense of not being cherished, cared about; ‘I am invisible’.” The research team are seeking at least 1,000 individuals who are aged over 18 years old to participate by completing a 15-20 minute online questionnaire, which asks questions about childhood experiences, relationship styles and current wellbeing. There is also the option to enter a raffle to win a €100 gift voucher. All responses will be  anonymised and participants are not asked for names or contact details. To participate in the study visit: https://bit.ly/3tc6Cy6. -Ends-

Monday, 8 February 2021

A new study of the impact of Covid-19 on Gaelic games in Ireland during the first lockdown has been published by NUI Galway academic Dr Seán Crosson and Dr Marcus Free, lecturer with Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. The study, entitled ‘“This Too Shall Pass”: Gaelic Games, Irish Media, and the Covid-19 Lockdown in Ireland’, is included in a new collection, Time Out: National Perspectives on Sport and the Covid-19 Lockdown which examines the impact of Covid-19 on sport across a broad range of themes. The collection is the first major academic engagement with the topic and includes contributions from practitioners and international scholars. It provides a comprehensive overview of the immediate consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown on local and national sport in a broad range of contexts. Focusing on the period from 12 March, 2020, when the Irish government announced initial Covid-19 restrictions (followed shortly thereafter by the suspension of Gaelic games fixtures,) to 10 May (the broadcast date of the first 2020 episode of RTÉ’s “The Sunday Game”), Dr Crosson’s and Dr  Free’s contribution examines Covid-19’s impact through an analysis of the media discourses surrounding these sports. As with other sports internationally, the gaps in sports media programming left by the absence of fixtures were filled with retrospective items focusing on classic moments and players from the past. Apart from retrospection, the authors identify two prominent themes that dominated Gaelic games coverage in this time period. Firstly, there was a recurring focus on the serious impact on the GAA, its athletes, and national sports-media of the cancellation of its elite and local level events over its peak Spring-Summer season. However, a second major theme was the GAA’s key role in responding to the crisis and in articulating a discourse of overcoming, both in terms of the Association’s challenges and wider Irish society. Dr Seán Crosson from NUI Galway's Huston School of Film and Digital Media and leader of the Sport and Exercise Research Group in the Moore Institute, said: “As amateur sports that dominate the Irish sporting calendar each year, typically attracting the largest attendances and occupying a key role within communities, Gaelic games provide a unique focus in a collection such as this. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of sports’ organisations and sport media in facilitating and encouraging responses at local and national level to the challenges Covid-19 has brought. In the Irish context, the rhetoric of shared sacrifice and collective discipline that was evident during the early months of the Covid-19 crisis signifies the GAA’s unique role as an amateur organization touching every part of Irish society through its players’, administrators’, volunteers’, and supporters’, family and social connections." The collection was edited by Jörg Krieger, April Henning, Paul Dimeo, and Lindsay Parks Pieper, and published by leading international academic publisher Common Ground, Further information on the collection and Dr Crosson’s and Dr Free’s chapter is available at the following link where copies of the book can also be purchased: https://bit.ly/36F7iSZ. -Ends-

Monday, 8 February 2021

Tá staidéar nua ar thionchar Covid-19 ar chluichí Gaelacha in Éirinn i rith na chéad dianghlasála foilsithe ag an Dr Seán Crosson, acadóir in OÉ Gaillimh agus an Dr Marcus Free, léachtóir i gColáiste Mhuire gan Smál, Ollscoil Luimnigh. Tá an staidéar, dar teideal ‘“This Too Shall Pass”: Gaelic Games, Irish Media, and the Covid-19 Lockdown in Ireland’, san áireamh i mbailiúchán aistí nua, Time Out: National Perspectives on Sport and the Covid-19 Lockdown ina ndéantar cíoradh ar thionchar Covid-19 ar an spórt trí réimse leathan téamaí. Is é an bailiúchán seo an chéad uair a ndeachthas i ngleic leis an ábhar seo ar bhonn acadúil agus san áireamh ann tá ailt ó chleachtóirí agus ó scoláirí idirnáisiúnta araon. Tá léargas cuimsitheach ann ar an gcaoi a ndeachaigh dianghlasáil Covid-19 i bhfeidhm láithreach bonn ar an spórt áitiúil agus náisiúnta i réimse leathan comhthéacsanna. Agus é ag díriú ar an tréimhse tar éis an 12 Márta 2020 nuair a d’fhógair rialtas na hÉireann sriantaí tosaigh Covid-19 (agus nuair a cuireadh an liosta cluichí Gaelacha ar fad ar fionraí go gairid ina dhiaidh sin) chomh fada leis an 10 Bealtaine (dáta craolta chéad eagrán na bliana 2020 de “The Sunday Game” ar RTÉ), díríonn alt an Dr Crosson agus an Dr Free ar thionchar Covid-19 trí anailís a dhéanamh ar na dioscúrsaí a bhaineann leis na spóirt seo sna meáin. Mar a bhí amhlaidh le spóirt eile sa domhan mór, líonadh na bearnaí a d’fhág an easpa cluichí ar an sceideal clár spóirt trí mhíreanna ón gcartlann a dhírigh ar na heachtraí sin a mhair i mbéal an phobail agus ar imreoirí cáiliúla ón am a caitheadh. Chomh maith leis an tsúil siar, aithníonn na húdair dhá phríomhthéama a bhí go mór chun cinn sna scéalta faoi chluichí Gaelacha a bhí sna meáin sa tréimhse seo. Ar an gcéad dul síos, bhí fócas leanúnach ar an éifeacht thromchúiseach a bhí ar Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, ar a lúthchleasaithe agus ar na meáin spóirt náisiúnta nuair a cuireadh na cluichí ardleibhéil agus áitiúla ar ceal i rith shéasúr mór an Earraigh agus an tSamhraidh. Anuas air sin bhí an dara mórthéama ann, an ról lárnach a bhí ag an GAA freagra a thabhairt ar an ngéarchéim agus dioscúrsa an tsáraithe a chur in iúl, i gcomhthéacs dhúshláin an Chumainn féin agus shochaí na hÉ‏ireann trí chéile. Seo mar a labhair an Dr Seán Crosson ó Scoil Scannán agus Meán Digiteach Huston, OÉ Gaillimh agus ceannaire an Ghrúpa Taighde Spóirt agus Aclaíochta in Institiúid de Móra: “Tugann cluichí Gaelacha fócas uathúil i mbailiúchán cosúil leis seo sa mhéid is gur spóirt amaitéaracha iad a dtugtar tosaíocht dóibh i bhféilire spóirt na hÉireann gach bliain, go meallann siad an líon is mó lucht féachana agus go bhfuil ról lárnach acu sa phobal. “Tá an phaindéim tar éis aird a tharraingt ar a thábhachtaí atá eagraíochtaí spóirt agus na meáin spóirt ó thaobh aisfhreagraí ar dhúshláin Covid-19 a éascú agus a spreagadh ag an leibhéal áitiúil agus náisiúnta. I gcomhthéacs na hÉireann, meabhraíonn reitric na híobairte roinnte agus an fhéinsmachta choitinn a bhí le feiceáil sna chéad mhíonna de ghéarchéim Covid-19 dúinn ról uathúil an GAA mar eagraíocht amaitéarach atá fite fuaite le sochaí na hÉireann trí naisc teaghlaigh agus sóisialta na n-imreoirí, na riarthóirí, na n-oibrithe deonacha agus an lucht tacaíochta.” Ba iad Jörg Krieger, April Henning, Paul Dimeo, agus Lindsay Parks Pieper a chuir an bailiúchán in eagar, agus is é Common Ground, an foilsitheoir acadúil idirnáisiúnta mór le rá, a chuir i gcló é. Tá tuilleadh eolais faoin mbailiúchán agus faoi chaibidil an Dr Crosson agus an Dr Free ar fáil ag an nasc seo a leanas, áit ar féidir cóipeanna den leabhar a cheannach chomh maith: https://bit.ly/36F7iSZ. -Críoch-

Monday, 8 February 2021

#Tech2Students campaign aims to deliver more than 5000 devices nationwide The Access Centre at NUI Galway has urged the public and businesses to get behind a new #Tech2Students appeal to secure and supply laptops and devices for disadvantaged schools. In partnership with Trinity College Dublin and Camara Ireland, the University has teamed up with Insight, the SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, the Galway City Partnership and Galway Chamber, as part of a drive to bridge the digital divide for post-primary school students. The #Tech2Students campaign aims to raise more than €1 million and to deliver more than 5000 devices nationwide. Imelda Byrne, Head of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the disadvantages faced by students who are financially vulnerable. Remote learning is a challenge to all students, but in particular to those who have no access to a device. “We are appealing to members of the public and businesses who are in a position to support this scheme to donate and to contribute to minimising the digital divide faced by thousands of young people.” #Tech2Students was developed last April by Trinity Access and Camara Ireland in response to the digital divide experienced by students in DEIS schools which was exacerbated by Covid-19. Phase 1 raised more than €300,000 and delivered more than 1,000 devices. How can the public and businesses support the #Tech2Students appeal? There are three options - donate laptops made in or after 2015; donate Chromebooks; or make a financial contribution to the fund for refurbishing laptops. Who is going to benefit? All donations will be targeted towards post-primary students who are most in need, along with students living in direct provision and disadvantaged students in adult education. What happens to the devices which have been donated? All laptops and Chromebooks will be refurbished by being restored to factory settings. Any data on the hard drive will be wiped using a certified process. A new operating system will be installed before the device is given to a student. Tablets cannot be accepted. Schools and organisations will retain the devices after the students use them for the academic year. How can laptops or devices be donated? Any member of the public or business wishing to get involved or seeking to donate can contact tech2students@nuigalway.ie A dedicated information page and portal for financial donations as well as hardware has also been set up at www.nuigalway.ie/accesscentre/tech2students/ Galway Chamber is facilitating a special organised drop-off, in line with Covid restrictions, tomorrow Tuesday 9th February, from 2pm to 4pm, at the Galway Chamber office. People can also donate by post by filling out a donation form online. The Tech2Students team will make follow-up contact and issue An Post FreePost labels and instructions on sending a device through the local post office. Kenny Deery, chief executive of Galway Chamber, said: “The Tech2Students campaign has shown that more than half of students in DEIS post-primaries reported that they had limited or no access to a digital device. This campaign is so important as the Level 5 Covid restrictions have meant that virtually all students are relying on technology to access education. Many of us in business know that we have spare equipment that could make a huge difference and Tech2Students is a perfect opportunity to do so.” - Ends-

Thursday, 4 February 2021

NUI Galway scientists find signatures of long-term survival in the genomes of the most common type of breast cancer Researchers at NUI Galway have identified genomic signatures in women developing the most common type of breast cancer that can be associated with long-term survival. The NUI Galway team analysed the genomes of breast cancer patients to look for associations with survival rates using advanced statistical techniques. Carried out by Lydia King during her studies in NUI Galway’s MSc in Biomedical Genomics programme, the research has been published in the international journal PLOS ONE. Early detection by national screening programmes and timely treatment for patients diagnosed with “luminal” types of breast cancer have resulted in excellent prognoses with survival rates of over 80% within five years of treatment. The challenge of long-term survival however is not as well understood and studies have shown that more than half of all recurrences for luminal breast cancers takes place after this time point. Identifying patients most likely to suffer relapses would therefore be invaluable to patient monitoring and choice of therapies. Genomes are the collection of all DNA in the chromosomes of cells containing all of our inherited genetic information. Cancer is often described as a disease of the genome because it is a consequence of alterations in the instructions encoded within some of our cell's DNA that lead to them proliferating without restraint. These alterations are a hallmark of a tumour and can range from single base-pair errors in the DNA code to the duplication or deletion of entire chromosome arms. The level of alterations in the genome of a cancer cell is known as 'genome instability'. The NUI Galway team focused on whether an overall measurement of genome instability in cancer cells from luminal breast cancer patients, observed at diagnosis and before treatment started, could provide additional information in predicting their long-term survival. To test this hypothesis, they analysed data from the Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium (METABRIC) led by Cambridge University. METABRIC is one of the first multi-centre studies aimed at uncovering links between the clinical and genomic properties of biopsies taken from over 2000 patients suffering from primary breast carcinoma enrolled between 1977 and 2005. The richness of having both high quality genomic data and the up-to-date clinical data makes the METABRIC database a very powerful resource for researching breast cancer. Lydia and her colleagues calculated the level of genome instability across all 2,000 patient genomes, then used multivariable statistical modelling to identify distinct long term survival outcomes for luminal subtype breast cancer patients. This enabled them to confirm the significantly worse prognoses for luminal A patients suffering from the most extreme levels of genome instability in their tumour biopsies. Importantly, the NUI Galway researchers were able to stratify the patients into groups and link the genome instability score with clinical classifications. This provided clear evidence that patients diagnosed with Luminal A breast cancer that had high levels of genome instability exhibited similar patterns of reduced survival commonly seen in patients suffering from the more aggressive Luminal B subtype. Since patients identified as either Luminal A or B subtypes normally receive different treatments, the result suggests that incorporating genomic analysis into clinical care could improve diagnosis and allow oncologists to tailor treatments for individual patients. This approach of using genomic analysis is known as “precision (or genomic) medicine” and is helping to define a new standard of care in many areas of clinical practice. Senior author of the paper, Dr Aaron Golden of NUI Galway’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics, said: “This is an excellent example of how interdisciplinary research is supposed to work in the genomics data sciences. This started out as a speculative idea between myself, a physicist, and my colleague Dr Andrew Flaus, who is a biochemist from the School of Natural Sciences, and was taken by Lydia for her MSc dissertation project. We then received the invaluable assistance of our statistician colleague Dr Emma Holian and through Lydia's phenomenally hard work we could demonstrate the promise of precision genomics in cancer treatment.” Commenting on this result, Dr Pilib Ó Broin, Programme Director of NUI Galway's MSc in Biomedical Genomics, added: “This is a fantastic result for Lydia and her supervisors and highlights the enormous benefits of training interdisciplinary scientists like Lydia who possess both the statistical and computational skills as well as the domain knowledge necessary to generate new biological insights from genomics data with the potential to improve patient care.” Lydia has since graduated with her Masters and has taken up a place as a PhD student in the Science Foundation Ireland funded Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science led by NUI Galway where she is continuing her work on the analysis of cancer genomes. The PLOS ONE manuscript titled ‘Survival outcomes are associated with genomic instability in luminal breast cancers’ can be read at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0245042  -Ends-

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Sínithe fadmharthana aimsithe ag eolaithe OÉ Gaillimh i ngéanóim ón ailse bhrollaigh is coitianta Tá sínithe géanómacha a bhfuil ceangal acu le fadmharthain aitheanta ag lucht taighde in OÉ Gaillimh i mná a bhfuil an cineál ailse brollaigh is coitianta ag teacht orthu. Rinne an fhoireann in OÉ Gaillimh anailís ar ghéanóim na n-othar ailse brollaigh ag iarraidh teacht ar chomhcheangail idir iad agus fadmharthain ag úsáid ardteicnící staidrimh. Is í Lydia King a rinne an taighde nuair a bhí sí ag staidéar ar an gclár MSc i nGéanómaíocht Bhithleighis in OÉ Gaillimh, agus foilsíodh é san iris idirnáisiúnta PLOS ONE. De thoradh ailse a bheith á haithint go luath faoi chláir scagthástála náisiúnta agus cóir leighis a bheith á cur in am ar othair a bhfuil cineálacha “lúmanacha” ailse brollaigh orthu tá prognóisí den scoth á bhfáil ag othair agus rátaí marthanais os cionn 80% acu taobh istigh de chúig bliana ón uair a fuair siad cóir leighis. Ach is beag í ár dtuiscint ar dhúshlán na fadmharthana agus léiríonn na staidéir atá déanta go mbuaileann cineálacha ailse brollaigh lúmanaí níos mó ná leath na n-othar arís i ndiaidh an phointe ama seo. Dá bhrí sin bheadh sé an-luachmhar dá bhféadfaí na hothair ar mó seans go mbuailfeadh an tinneas arís iad a aithint le go bhféadfaí monatóireacht a dhéanamh orthu agus rogha teiripí a chur ar fáil dóibh. Is éard atá i ngéanóim bailiúchán den DNA ar fad i gcrómasóim na gceall ina bhfuil an t-eolas géiniteach ar fad atá linn ón mbroinn. Is minic a dhéantar cur síos ar ailse mar ghalar géanóim de bhrí gur toradh é ar athruithe ar threoracha atá códaithe laistigh de DNA ár gcuid ceall a chuir orthu scaipeadh gan srian. Is saintréithe siada iad na hathruithe seo agus bíonn idir earráidí aonair a bhaineann le péirí bunanna sa chód DNA agus dúbláil ar ghéag iomlán chrómasóim nó géag iomlán a scriosadh i gceist leo. Tugtar ‘neamhsheasmhacht ghéanóim’ ar an leibhéal athruithe i ngéanóm ceall ailse. Bhí foireann OÉ Gaillimh ag iarraidh a fháil amach cé acu an bhféadfadh tomhas iomlán neamhsheasmhachta i ngéanóim i gcealla ailse ó othair le hailse bhrollaigh lúmanach, ar breathnaíodh orthu nuair a bhí an diagnóis déanta agus sular tosaíodh ar an gcóir leighis, eolas breise a thabhairt maidir lena bhfadmharthain a thuar. Chun an hipitéis seo a thástáil, rinne siad anailís ar shonraí ó METABRIC faoi stiúir Ollscoil Cambridge. Tá METABRIC ar cheann de na chéad staidéir in ionaid éagsúla a bhfuil sé mar aidhm leis ceangail a aimsiú idir airíonna cliniciúla agus géanómacha bithóipsí a tógadh ó bhreis agus 2000 othar a raibh carcanóma brollaigh príomhúil orthu agus a cláraíodh idir 1977 agus 2005. De bhrí go bhfuil sonraí géanómacha d’ardchaighdeán mar aon leis na sonraí cliniciúla is déanaí ar fáil do bhunachar sonraí METABRIC, is áis an-chumhachtach é le taighde a dhéanamh ar ailse bhrollaigh. Rinne Lydia agus a comhghleacaithe an leibhéal neamhsheasmhachta géanóm i measc ghéanóim an 2,000 othar a ríomh, agus ansin d’úsáid sí samhlú staitistiúil ilathraitheach le torthaí fadmharthana ar leith a aithint i gcás na n-othar a bhfuil fochineál ailse brollaigh lúmanaí orthu. Chuir seo ar a gcumas na prognóisí a bhí i bhfad níos measa i gcás na n-othar le hailse bhrollaigh lúmanach a bhfuil na leibhéil neamhsheasmhachta géanómaí is measa ina mbithóipsí siada a dhearbhú. Bhí lucht taighde OÉ Gaillimh in ann na hothair a shrathú ina ngrúpaí agus an scór neamhsheasmhachta géanóim a nascadh le ranguithe cliniciúla, rud a bhí tábhachtach. Chuir seo fianaise shoiléir ar fáil go raibh na pátrúin chéanna maidir le marthain laghdaithe a fheictear go coitianta i measc othar a mbíonn an fochineál Lúmanach B atá níos tréine orthu ar othair a bhfuarthas go raibh an fochineál ailse brollaigh Lúmanach A orthu agus a raibh leibhéal ard den neamhsheasmhacht ghéanómach iontu. Ó tharla go gcuirtear cóir leighis éagsúil de ghnáth ar othair a n-aithnítear gur fochineál Lúmanach A nó B atá orthu, cuireann an toradh in iúl go bhféadfadh an diagnóis a bheith níos fearr dá ndéanfaí an anailís ghéanómach a ionchorprú sa chúram cliniciúil agus go dtabharfadh sé deis d’oinceolaithe cóir leighis a chur in oiriúint d’othair ar leith. Tugtar “leigheas beachtais (nó géanómachta)” ar an gcur chuige seo maidir le hanailís ghéanómach agus dá bharr tá caighdeán nua cúraim á chur i bhfeidhm i réimsí éagsúla den chleachtas cliniciúil. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag údar sinsearach an pháipéir, an Dr Aaron Golden ó Scoil na Matamaitice, na Staitisticí agus na Matamaitice Feidhmí in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is sárshampla é seo de bhuanna an taighde idirdhisciplínigh sna heolaíochtaí sonraí géanómaíochta. D’eascair sé seo ó theoiric a bhí agam féin, ar fear fisice mé, agus mo chomhghleacaí an Dr Andrew Flaus, ar bithcheimiceoir é, ó Scoil na nEolaíochtaí Nádúrtha, agus ghlac Lydia leis dá tionscadal miontráchtais MSc. Ansin fuaireamar cabhair an-luachmhar ónár gcomhghleacaí, an Dr Emma Holian, staitisteoir, agus a bhuíochas leis an obair an-chrua a rinne Lydia bhí muid in ann a léiriú go bhfuil gealladh faoin ngéanómaíocht bheachtais sa chóir leighis don ailse.” Ag trácht dó ar an toradh seo, bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Dr Pilib Ó Broin, Stiúrthóir MSc i nGéanómaíocht Bhithleighis OÉ Gaillimh: “Is toradh iontach é seo do Lydia agus dá stiúrthóirí agus léiríonn sé na buntáistí iontacha a bhaineann le hoiliúint ildisciplíneach a chur ar eolaithe ar nós Lydia a bhfuil na scileanna staidrimh agus na scileanna ríomhaireachta acu mar aon leis an eolas cuí ar an réimse le léargais bhitheolaíocha nua a ghiniúint ó shonraí géanómaíochta a chuirfeadh leis an gcúram a thugtar d’othair." Ó shin tá an Mháistreacht bainte amach ag Lydia agus is mac léinn PhD í san Ionad Oiliúna Taighde in Eolaíocht Sonraí Géanómaíochta atá á mhaoiniú ag Fondúireacht Eolaíochta Éireann agus atá faoi stiúir OÉ Gaillimh, áit a bhfuil sí ag leanúint dá cuid oibre ag déanamh anailíse ar ghéanóim ailse. Tá an lámhscríbhinn PLOS ONE dar teideal ‘Survival outcomes are associated with genomic instability in luminal breast cancers’ ar fáil ag: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0245042.  -Críoch-

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

NUI Galway teamed up with the Irish embassy in Mexico to highlight the role women play as the “unsung heroes” of the agriculture sector in the two countries. Dr Maura Farrell, lecturer in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies, chaired the day-long webinar which was organised to mark St Brigid’s Day. Dr Farrell said: “Women in Irish and Mexican agriculture are often considered and referred to as the ‘unsung heroes’ of the farm family. Historically, women engaged in agriculture have given their time, expertise and for many their life to the land and the farm family, with little recognition. The webinar - St Brigid’s Day: A Celebration of Women in Agriculture in Ireland and Mexico - was hosted by the Irish embassy in Mexico City. The panel contributors included Guadalupe Aguirre Pérez Oronoz, who runs the Agua Escondida Agroecological ranch over the last 30 years demonstrating how agriculture can have no impact on the environment. Other contributors were Paula Fitzsimons, founder of Fitzsimons Consulting and national coordinator for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in Ireland, Alison Fagan of Ornua, Senator Beatriz Elena Paredes Rangel, the first woman Governor of Tlaxcala and Lina Pohl, director for Central America of Heinrich Boll Foundation and former Environment Minister in El Salvador. Dr Farrell added: “By joining the embassy’s online event we seek greater recognition for the contribution women make to agriculture and rural development and the key role they play in the stability of the family farm. We also look for an end to the patriarchal agricultural environment of the past and open the doors to young girls and women wishing to make farming and agriculture a future life and career.” Ends

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

NUI Galway will lead a major new European project on pandemic preparedness and response, starting February 2021 The PANDEM-2 Project will develop IT systems and processes to improve the European Union’s preparedness and response to future pandemics New solutions developed by PANDEM-2 will enable the simulation of future pandemics and the training of pandemic managers on a national and pan-European basis PANDEM-2 tools will also allow for improved planning and management of critical resources including hospital beds, PPE and vaccines NUI Galway has been awarded almost €10 million funding by the EU to develop a suite of novel concepts, services and IT systems to improve how the EU prepares for and responds to future pandemics. The two-year project, known as PANDEM-2, aims to create a more consistent and futureproof approach to pandemic management. The Problem: While Ireland and Europe have responded robustly to the current pandemic, there is room for improvement in the analysis of real time data, in the sharing of information across borders and in adopting common and consistent policies. Future pandemics are to be expected with population growth, international air travel and environmental factors increasing the likelihood of diseases crossing from animals to humans. Protecting the health and security of citizens across Ireland and the EU in the face of these pandemic threats requires member states and agencies to share information and to collaborate on joint policies and approaches. The Solution: The PANDEM-2 Project will develop IT systems to improve the EU’s preparedness and response to future pandemics. The outputs will enable pandemic managers to prepare for a wide variety of different pandemic scenarios and possible responses. PANDEM-2 technologies will also enable improved pan-European planning and management of critical resources including hospital beds, PPE and vaccines. This will position Europe to respond coherently and effectively to the next pandemic, whenever it comes and whatever form it takes. Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said: “I am delighted to see further EU investment in research and innovation which will help us prepare at a national and European level for future pandemics. I would like to congratulate and thank NUI Galway for their leadership of this project, which will seek to harness the learning from COVID-19 in the development of a range of innovative technologies to further support and improve the European Union’s preparedness and response to future pandemics. While we are still facing many challenges with COVID-19, it is critical that we also focus on longer term developments for pandemic preparedness, as this project will. I am delighted that Irish research will be central to this work.” Professor Máire Connolly, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway and Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project, said: “COVID-19 has had devastating ecoonomic, social and health impacts on countries worldwide. The PANDEM-2 Project aims to better prepare EU member states for future pandemics through innovations in technology, training and cross-border collaboration. The state-of-the-art tools that will be developed by PANDEM-2 have the potential to transform how Europe prepares for future large-scale healthcare crises through improved analysis of surveillance and contact tracing data, innovative pandemic modelling, better resource allocation and training of pandemic managers using simulations across Europe.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “I would like to congratulate Professor Connolly and the project consortium on receiving this significant EU funding award. As we continue to experience the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is reassuring to know that NUI Galway and the PANDEM-2 consortium will be at the forefront of developing systems to improve the EU's preparedness and response to future pandemics. One of our strategic priorities at NUI Galway is to ensure our research and teaching brings excellent outcomes for the public good. There is no greater need in that regard right now than public health. As a university, we play an important role in shaping society and this project amplifies our commitment to contributing to the health, wellbeing and security of society throughout the EU.” The Team: The project consortium, led by NUI Galway, brings together European leaders from the health, security, defence, microbiology, communications, information technology and emergency management fields, ensuring that the most modern science serves the real-world needs of healthcare, government and society. This consortium includes two other Irish companies, Carr Communications and Pintail Ltd. PANDEM-2’s Advisory Board membership includes the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Professor Jim Duggan, School of Computer Science, College of Science and Engineering, NUI Galway, said: “We are very excited to start working on PANDEM-2. Our role within the project builds upon our work from PANDEM which involved research on pandemic response and the development of a resource modelling tool, PANDEM-CAP. This project will aid the development of an IT dashboard that will host pandemic-relevant data from across Europe. This data will enable pandemic managers in capacity building and developing operational strategy for cross border pandemic response so that Europe will be as well positioned as possible for any future pandemic that may arise.” The Foundations: PANDEM-2 builds upon key insights and lessons learned in several previous EU-funded projects including the original PANDEM. PANDEM was established to identify gaps and priority research needs for pandemic preparedness and response in Europe. PANDEM-2 will build upon this research and ensure better preparedness for the future to ensure better decisions are made to improve health systems and pandemic management in the future. For more information please visit https://pandem-2.eu or for regular updates follow PANDEM-2 on Twitter (https://twitter.com/PANDEM2H2020) and LinkedIn (https:www.linkedin.com/PANDEM2H2020). -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

NUI Galway is the leading academic partner for the EU LIFE Peatlands and People Project The European Commission has announced the funding of €10million towards a project to highlight the power of peatlands to effect significant climate action wins. The EU LIFE Peatlands and People project is co-ordinated by Board na Móna, together with NUI Galway, with National Parks and Wildlife Service (of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage), the Environmental Protection Agency, and ERINN Innovation Ltd. The Peatlands and People project is a major national initiative that will contribute to the long-term implementation of Irelands Climate Action Plan. The plan aims to engage people in Ireland and across the European Union with the benefits of peatlands restoration, in particular to realise the power of peatlands to effect positive climate action. With additional co-financing from Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the project will work with peatlands in Ireland’s midlands and the communities around them to deliver capacity and support related to a low-carbon economy. Dr Christine Domegan, who is leading Pillar 3 - People’s Attraction and Activities of the project, and Senior Lecturer and Head of the Applied Systems Thinking unit, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, said: “Most of us recognise that everyday life today is not the same as it was with climate change, the pandemic and so much more.  It is a world shaped increasingly by collective as well as individual choice, and by systems, social and behaviour change all rolled into one. In this emerging complex world, NUI Galway as the leading academic partner in Ireland’s EU LIFE Peatlands and People work, is already into a future of radical transformation. The call to action is to get on board now, be the Change Catalyst in your life, your family and your community to open the door to a new sustainable world for all.” The project will establish: A Peatlands knowledge Centre of Excellence in Ireland that will explore and carry out best practices in peatland restoration and rehabilitation and design methodologies to monitor and analyse carbon fluxes. Over time the peatlands are expected to store more carbon and also support multiple ecosystem service benefits. A Just Transition Accelerator programme that will focus on low-carbon and circular economies to support the midlands region economically. It intends to provide a range of services for the development of new sustainable products, services, enterprises and value chains. An immersive People’s Discovery Attraction in the midlands that will be designed to introduce the importance of climate action and peatlands to citizens. Its long-term aim is to progress with the establishment of an educational space that cultivates curiosity and climate literacy, providing a forum for dialogue and discovery. Announcing the project, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan TD said: “Our peatlands are a precious resource in terms of storing carbon, restoring biodiversity and supporting local communities in new jobs taking care of our environment.  I am delighted to welcome another major project just months after we announced Government support for the rehabilitation of a huge tract of Bord na Móna peatlands. The Peatlands Centre of Excellence, Just Transition Accelerator, and the new Discovery Attraction supported by this EU LIFE project put the spotlight and investment where it should be, on Peatlands AND People.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Distinguished Galway accordion player, Sharon Shannon along with guitarist Jim Murray, will open NUI Galway’s 2021 Arts in Action programme with a free concert online on Wednesday, 17 February at 1pm to launch her new partnership with NUI Galway’s Music degree. The concert will be presented as the 2021 Jean Ritchie Lecture and will celebrate Shannon’s musical virtuosity as well as the future potential arising from her engagement with NUI Galway's Music students as the next generation of emerging artists. The new partnership entails Sharon Shannon delivering a series of masterclasses that look at different facets of the creation, performance and production of traditional Irish music along with her long-time collaborator, Irish-American fiddle player, Win Horan. These masterclasses will be used as part of the teaching of traditional music modules within the new BA in Music. Sharon and Win will follow up the masterclasses with six live workshops per year, in which they will discuss traditional Irish music directly with the students. This will also be the first Arts in Action programme to be presented following the death of the programme’s founding director and curator, Mary McPartlan, the accomplished folk singer and educator, in spring 2020. In celebration of McPartlan, the theme of this limited 2021 programme is 'art as legacy', and it features traditional and classical music, drama, performance and literary-focused events. The programme, which runs from February to May, reflects specifically on the legacy left by Mary McPartlan as the programme draws on many of her frequent collaborators and the university/Arts in Action partnership with Music for Galway. The entire programme will be presented online free of charge providing viewers nationally and internationally a chance to share in this unique Arts in Action programme. The range of art forms and artists represented within the Arts in Action programme reflects the diversity and strength of the creative arts at NUI Galway, including the work of staff. Acclaimed novelist Mike McCormack and internationally recognised digital artist EL Putnam who lecture in English and Digital Media at NUI Galway will contribute a new work to the programme in April. Speaking about the new partnership with NUI Galway and Arts in Action programme, Sharon Shannon, says: “I’m delighted to be involved with the Music Department, and am really excited about sharing my music with the students at NUI Galway via the online masterclass series we have developed. It’s also a great honour to perform along with Jim Murray in celebrating Arts in Action in 2021 and to help re-launch the late Mary McPartlan’s great series.” Head of Music at NUI Galway, Dr Aidan Thomson, says: “I am thrilled that our Music students will have the opportunity to work with a musician of the calibre of Sharon Shannon. Galway has a rich history of traditional music, and it is wonderful that one of its greatest exponents should be able to share her expertise with our students, and in turn greatly enhance their learning. The next three years will be a very exciting time for the BA in Music.” Interim Arts in Action Artistic Director, Dr Charlotte McIvor, says: “Celebrating Arts in Action, Sharon Shannon and our students together is the most fitting tribute I can think of to honour Mary’s legacy with the relaunch of her beloved series. Mary had intended to have Sharon headline this year, and we are glad to carry forward her wishes and reignite her legacy through the presentation of this 2021 Arts in Action programme.” This year's Arts in Action will present a rich programme of music that will feature performances from: Máirtín O’Connor, Seamie O’Dowd and Cathal Hayden; Sean Ryan, Mick Crehan and Greg Cotter; Leah Redmond, soprano and Dearbhla Collins, piano, and Simon Mawhinney in association with Music for Galway. The programme will also include a beautiful theatre production of Sacrificial Wind Revival in memory of Mary McPartlan; and RTÉ broadcaster Vincent Woods in conversation with traditional Irish musician, Mick Moloney in ‘Green Fields and Granite Songs’. To learn about the Bachelor of Arts in Music at NUI Galway, visit https://www.nuigalway.ie/artsmusic/. To attend free live streamed Arts in Action events register here: https://bit.ly/3j3vgMJ or logon to www.eventbrite.ie and search for 'Arts in Action Sharon Shannon'. For more about Arts in Action visit: www.nuigalway.ie/artsinaction. -Ends-

Monday, 1 February 2021

150 projects to date, resulting in 43 patent applications  1,712 journal publications, 10 licence agreements and five spin-outs Researchers have matched €40 million in EU grant funding in first six years CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway has received a significant funding award of €46,372,380 from Science Foundation Ireland. The investment was announced today (1 February 2021) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD. The announcement demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to reinvesting in CÚRAM and the MedTech industry in the West and Ireland, supporting the continuation of strong academic, industry and clinical collaborations that are central to CÚRAM's work. The investment will support up to 520 researchers at CÚRAM over the next six years. CÚRAM's strategic mission is to establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device Research and Development Centre in the development of diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. In doing so, the Centre partners with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. CÚRAMs Research Programme aims to enhance researchers' creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative potential and focus on the translation of key CÚRAM technologies into clinical devices. Research is focused on three clinical areas of chronic cardiovascular, neural and soft tissue pathologies. These pillars have been structured to meet patients' current clinical needs with the aim of developing devices to improve daily management of chronic conditions. Research activities are enhanced through entrepreneurship and public engagement programmes and are informed by market, patient and clinical needs. Centre Growth The first phase of CÚRAM, established in 2015, has positioned the Centre well to exploit its innovation and commercial potential. The centre has had many significant scientific accomplishments in Phase one that contribute to advances in knowledge and the development of medical devices for the treatment of unmet clinical needs. Based at NUI Galway, CÚRAM is becoming recognised globally as a 'go-to' Centre for undertaking medical device research. The collaborative partnerships established to date indicate the value that the industry is already seeing in its partnerships with CÚRAM. CÚRAM currently employs 190 researchers in 10 partner institutes and to date has 38 industry partners that include 15 multinational corporation partners and 23 SME's . A total of 150 projects to date have been completed resulting in 43 patent applications; 1,712 journal publications; 10 licence agreements; and five spin-outs. In addition CÚRAM’s funding has been matched by its researchers securing over €40 million in EU grant funding in its first six years. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: "I'm delighted to be attending today's Government announcement and would like to congratulate Professor Pandit and his excellent team at CÚRAM on being awarded this significant funding from Science Foundation Ireland. This reinvestment to sustain CÚRAM in the next phase recognises and respects our standing as a global leader in medical device research in and for the world. We know now more than ever that research in health and wellbeing is critical to our humanity. The values of excellence, openness, respect and sustainability are strategic values to which we aspire at NUI Galway. CÚRAM's dedication to world class research and development of medical devices to treat a diverse range of health needs in society is testament those values." Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director, CÚRAM, NUI Galway, said: "We are very much looking forward to the next stage of CÚRAM's journey. The Centre has matured significantly over the past six years and the foundation which has been laid down over that period now positions CÚRAM well for making a continued global impact and developing novel and innovative medical devices to meet clinical needs. The transition from a Centre having a highly diverse set of projects, to a focused Centre with a balanced portfolio of prototype devices will be exciting, challenging and rewarding to our ecosystem." Today's Government announcement sees an investment of €193 million in five SFI Research Centres that includes CÚRAM for a further six years. This investment by Science Foundation Ireland will support approximately 1,060 graduate and Post-Doctoral students and Research Fellows employed by the Centres. Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to announce this significant Government investment in five SFI Research Centres, which reflects Ireland’s position as a world leader in research and innovation. The investment will ensure that we are prepared for the changes and disruption that we are facing in addressing global societal and economic challenges. “The five centres will also work to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to the wider public through extensive Education and Public Engagement outreach. These initiatives include summer computer camps, developing secondary school education modules, and residency programmes for filmmakers, artists and teachers to forge collaborations between researchers and the community." A panel of stakeholders attended today's launch including Cameron Keighron, an NUI Galway student and member of the young adult panel with the Public Patient Involvement research programme, PPI Ingite@NUIGalway, who took part in CÚRAM's 2020 Science on Screen documentary, The Patient Effect. "CÚRAM's work in opening up their research to the public raises awareness about the world class research happening right here on our doorstep. The Centre's public engagement programme invites participation and contributions from community members and patient groups which have been empowering for audiences, and I really look forward to staying involved as the Centre continues to grow", they commented. Michael Gilvarry, General Manager at the Neuro Technology Centre in Galway for CERENOVUS, part of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies, also spoke at today’s event about the industry benefits of partnering with CÚRAM. "We began our collaboration with CÚRAM in 2017 and the partnership has had a significant impact on our ability to grow and scale our centre of excellence. I’d like to wish CÚRAM every success in the next stage of its evolution and look forward to continued partnerships and collaborations in the future", he said. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “To maintain and build on Ireland’s global standing in research, innovation, and discovery, it is crucial that we invest in excellent ideas and research with impact. SFI Research Centres support both basic and applied research, spanning a wide range of sectors at varying levels and stages, and as a country we have benefited from their considerable contributions in the recent Covid-19 pandemic. “They have made transformational progress in just six years, with increased academic and industrial collaboration, extensive training of PhD students for future skills needs, winning competitive funding from the EU, producing excellent scientific results and driving vital public engagement. We look forward to further strengthening our ability to positively impact our society and economy through excellent scientific research, with continued support from the Government and industry in the years ahead.” For more information about CÚRAM visit: www.curamdevices.ie or follow on twitter @CURAMdevices. -Ends-

Monday, 1 February 2021

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of Professor Alma McCarthy as the next Head of School at J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics. Professor McCarthy has commenced the role as of January 2021. Professor Geraint Howells, Executive Dean for the College of Business Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway, said: "Having recently commenced my role at NUI Galway I have been impressed to learn about the wonderful transformation, which J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics has undergone in recent years. I am delighted to announce Professor McCarthy in the role of Head of School, and am confident that she will continue to lead tremendous innovation, transformation and distinctness in her new role. Professor McCarthy brings a wealth of experience to the role, and I look forward to working alongside her in the years to come." Professor Alma McCarthy said: “I am honoured to take up the role of Head of School.  The School has grown substantially in recent years with over 2,700 students and 130 staff. The School’s success is recognised through the achievement of various international accreditations and awards. I look forward to working with my colleagues to build on the successes of our School and developing and leading the strategic plan for the next stage of the School’s development, and engaging with key external stakeholders including alumni, industry and policy makers and ensuring the School’s research and teaching has regional and global impact.” A native of Labasheeda, Co. Clare, Professor McCarthy was selected for her passion and dedication to education, her strong leadership experience, and her numerous distinctions and achievements. She joined the university in 2002 as a Lecturer and Researcher in the Discipline of Management and has previously served as the Head of the Management Discipline at NUI Galway, and as Programme Director for the MBA. Professor McCarthy’s research interests include public sector leadership and human resource development among others, which has led to co-authored books, several chapters in edited books and many articles in highly ranked journals such as the Human Resource Management Journal, the International Journal of Human Resource Management, Public Administration Review, and Human Resource Management Review. Professor McCarthy is a Chartered Member of the CIPD, the American Academy of Management, the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology, and recently served as elected Vice-Chair and Chair of the Irish Academy of Management. She recently led a senior civil service leadership development evaluation project and report commissioned by the Department of Expenditure and Reform and is Principal Investigator for the Science Foundation Ireland funded talent management in national science foundations’ research project gathering data in Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, US, Hong Kong and Singapore.  Professor McCarthy, along with Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at Western Development Commission, recently led significant research into the area of remote working in light of COVID-19, providing insights on how remote working has changed employees’ work and employment experiences. Her remote working research has been used in the Government’s National Remote Work Strategy recently published by An Tánaiste. More information on the Remote Working National Survey is available at https://bit.ly/3iVChPr. NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics has introduced significant innovation in recent years, including the launch of the Bachelor of Commerce Global Experience, which offers work placement and study abroad opportunities for business students. The School has also expanded its postgraduate suite of programmes and increased its student body in recent years. For more information on J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/business-public-policy-law/cairnes/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

NUI Galway academic examines use of software, tech and AI in justice system as part of SFI Public Service Fellowship  The rapid development and increased use of software and technology for legal services and in the courts could reduce costs and improve access to justice but deepen the digital divide and strengthen existing biases in the justice system, research from NUI Galway has cautioned. Dr Rónán Kennedy, lecturer in the University’s School of Law, examined the availability and growth of “lawtech” in an advisory paper for the Oireachtas Library & Research Service. Dr Kennedy was awarded a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Public Service Fellowship to carry out the research as part of the Spotlight series, which gives TDs and Senators in-depth briefings on a single policy issue or topic.  The research paper “Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market”, outlined the pros and cons of increased use of software and technology in the legal sector. Dr Kennedy said: “Lawtech has been part of a wave of change and innovation in the legal services market, globally and in Ireland. It could save consumers and businesses money and time, and be a sector for economic growth.  “However, it is not a silver bullet to solve the problem of access to justice. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used more by lawyers and courts, it could lead to fairer outcomes or repeat existing biases.” The research paper noted: Lawtech could reduce costs and provide better access to justice by making it easier for lawyers to create standard documents or allowing people to access legal information and advice online, including through automated apps. It could worsen the digital divide in society and solidify existing biases in the legal system, by preventing those without IT skills from accessing legal services or by relying on historical data which is prejudiced. Areas for immediate legislative intervention include expansion of the validity of digital signatures for uses such as wills or legal proceedings, and the admissibility of digital recordings in court. Members of the Oireachtas could consider longer-term policy questions, such as whether AI professions should be regulated or how to manage the use of AI by lawyers and judges. The Oireachtas and Government may need to explore whether some legislation should be “born digital”’ - written both in a human language and computer language from the outset. Dr Kennedy’s research noted that AI software programs may also “learn” to discriminate in ways that are illegal, focusing on characteristics that are proxies for social class, race or gender such as home address or height. “It is unlikely that AI can or will ever replace humans, but it may allow faster, cheaper, and fairer judging. However, if this software is not carefully designed, it could make prejudice even more difficult to remove from the justice system,” he said.  Dr Kennedy said: “The paper explores technology which is already bringing about significant transformation in legal practice and in the courts, and may change it radically in the future. “The SFI Public Interest Fellowship provided a very interesting opportunity to learn more about how the Oireachtas operates, the important work of legislators, and how researchers can contribute to the development of policy.  “My findings raise important questions that lawmakers and everyone involved in legal services should consider. The pandemic has shown how useful technology can be, but we need to have a debate about how we manage tools like remote court hearings and AI assistants for lawyers and judges to ensure that all of the impacts are positive.” Ends

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The award marks a commitment to the increase of both female senior leadership roles and male student intakes in Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery has been awarded a departmental Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of their commitment to advancing gender equality in nursing and midwifery in higher education, and in creating cultural change within the University. The award represents the School’s strong commitment to equality and highlights the work undertaken within the School to identify gender equality issues, such as the underrepresentation of men in the discipline alongside under representation of women at senior grades.  NUI Galway Vice President for Equality and Diversity, Professor Anne Scott, said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear of the awarding of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award for colleagues in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. To have managed to get the Athena SWAN application successfully completed and submitted was a significant achievement in a really difficult year for many. To successfully achieve Bronze accreditation is definitely ‘the icing on the cake’. Nursing and Midwifery is our first predominantly female school to apply for and achieve Athena SWAN Bronze and will serve as a very effective model as a number of our other predominantly female disciplines work towards Athena SWAN accreditation.” Professor Tim O’Brien, Executive Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “I am very proud to have the School of Nursing and Midwifery awarded the Bronze Athena SWAN award. This is a clear recognition of our College’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, and to increasing equity in both healthcare education and practice. This award, along with the existing  School of Medicine Bronze Athena SWAN award, is aligned with our College’s goal to prepare healthcare practitioners to be the best in their field, and to support our local communities. This has never been more apparent than during the pandemic. Our staff and students have shown real resilience and excellence in providing critical services to our communities.” Following the announcement of the award, Professor Dympna Casey, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “I look forward to supporting the implementation of our Action Plans to generate an environment where all staff feel they have opportunities to reach their potential irrespective of gender. Nurses and midwives make up more than half the global healthcare workforce, and approximately 90% of the nursing workforce worldwide is female, providing care to individuals of all ages and in all settings. "However, gendered issues continue to impact our professions- for example social gender norms, gender bias and stereotyping hinder women taking on leadership roles, while gender norms, biases and stereotypes also hinder the recruitment of men entering the professions. In the pursuit of gender equality in nursing and midwifery, we therefore need to address both male under-representation and female progression. This award marks the School’s engagement with both the ‘leaky pipeline’ of female senior leadership, as well as increasing male student intake into Nursing and Midwifery.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

The University’s MSc in Medical Physics has received re-accreditation until 2025 from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programmes This year, NUI Galway’s MSc in Medical Physics will celebrate 20 years of providing first-class education, with a large number of EU and non-EU applicants having accepted places to commence the course in September. This week the course also received re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programmes (CAMPEP) until 2025. Initially accredited by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, UK, in 2015 NUI Galway’s MSc in Medical Physics was the first European MSc programme to be awarded accreditation from CAMPEP, and the second programme worldwide outside North America. The MSc in Medical Physics programme is designed to meet the demand for qualified medical physicists. It is primarily geared toward training for physicists in the application of radiation physics in medicine but maintains a reasonable exposure to key aspects of clinical engineering so that students receive a comprehensive knowledge of the application of physical sciences and engineering to medicine. Past graduates have also pursued roles in further academic research and in the medical technology industry. The requirement for medical physicists to have appropriate training is increasingly recognised worldwide, with both the European Commission and professional bodies worldwide have issued guidelines on this training. One such body is CAMPEP, which is supported by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, American College of Radiology, American Society for Radiation Oncology, Canadian Organisation of Medical Physics and the Radiological Society of North America. Being awarded a degree from a CAMPEP accredited MSc is a condition of entry into CAMPEP Residency training programmes in the USA and Canada and is also an indication of the quality of the programme. Dr Christoph Kleefeld, Clinical Director of the MSc in Medical Physics, NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway, said: “The re-accreditation of the MSc in Medical Physics programme in North America underlines the high quality of the course and further enhances its international reputation attracting students not only from North America but worldwide.  At the same time, the accreditation creates opportunities for our graduates to pursue careers in the US and Canada.” In the last five years, the MSc in Medical Physics at NUI Galway has seen a 100% increase in the average student intake per year, compared to the first ten years. This growth opportunity materialised in part due to the demand for qualified Medical Physicists, and also the North American accreditation of the programme by CAMPEP. Sustaining this remarkable growth will be challenging as the programme has a very strong emphasis and input from clinical physicists. With increasing student numbers and more recently the global pandemic it has been very challenging to ensure clinical access, and the recent growth has been facilitated by national and international collaborations with hospitals and research institutions. Dr Mark Foley, Academic Director of the MSc in Medical Physics, NUI Galway added: “This MSc programme is an excellent example of a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional effort. The success of the programme has been driven predominately by the tremendous efforts of the hospital physicists supplemented by University staff. I must acknowledge the vision of our colleague the late Professor Wil van der Putten, a former Adjunct Professor of Medical Physics who was a key figure in Medical Physics education and establishing the UHG and Galway links in the early 2000’s. It was a pleasure for me to establish and name one of our three scholarships after Wil.” Information on CAMPEP can be found at www.campep.org, and further information on the MSc in Medical Physics at NUI Galway is available at http://www.nuigalway.ie/courses/taught-postgraduate-courses/medical-physics.html -Ends-

Monday, 29 March 2021

Students from NUI Galway have developed a unique initiative to support people in high risk groups during the Covid-19 pandemic by sending parcels to help ease isolation. The Build-a-Box campaign is being run by the University’s occupational therapy students, in partnership with COPE Galway, Galway City Partnership and a local Deis primary school. The charitable initiative was designed and brought to life by third year undergraduates in the service-learning module Community Engagement, with the aim of mitigating isolation and the impacts of social distancing and cocooning for some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Around 100 boxes filled with items to reduce the negative effects of confinement are being delivered to older adults living alone, women in Direct Provision, homeless women and children with additional needs and in lower socio-economic groups. Commenting on the initiative, President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: "In the context of ongoing clinic​al and academic demands, we commend our occupational therapy students for helping to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Initiatives such as the Build-a-Box campaign emulate NUI Galway’s vision and values of openness and respect, of our students and staff as citizens connected to and contributing to community and society in Ireland and internationally for the public good." Dr Sinéad Hynes, lecturer in Occupational Therapy in NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “Loneliness and isolation are significant issues for many people, particularly older people, and this has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. The students have taken ownership of this project and partnered with community organisations, which is especially difficult when working remotely. It is our hope that the Build-a-Box campaign might be one way in which we can support those in our society who may be more severely impacted by the restrictions.” Dr Hazel Killeen, also a lecturer in Occupational Therapy at NUI Galway, said: “In tough times our students responded with great compassion to very vulnerable people in our community. They showed a willingness to overcome the barriers of organising all aspects of a very practical project through virtual means. This was more than a grade for them, they wanted to be part of the solution, and did so with heart.” Occupational therapy student Maria Stapleton, from Loughrea, said: “It was really interesting to learn about the impact of the pandemic on different vulnerable groups, and working with the community partners gave us a different perspective on the effect it has had.” Fellow student Lorraine Moloney, from Corrandulla, added: “The Build-a-Box campaign was a rewarding and challenging experience. It gave me a better understanding of the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable groups, while providing our class with an opportunity to address these issues and make a difference in their lives.” The Build-a-Box project is supported by funding from the Community Knowledge Initiative, NUI Galway, with the boxes provided by Carabay Packaging. Ends

Monday, 29 March 2021

30% Club Scholarship aims to advance female leadership and executive representation in business organisations  Following the recent announcement of their global AACSB accreditation (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics are now accepting applications for its 30% Club Scholarship for September 2021. Now in its fourth year, the scholarship aims to advance female leadership in business organisations and is a key influence in the increased number of female participants applying to and joining the University’s MBA programme.  The 30% Club Ireland was officially launched in January 2015 with a goal to achieve better gender balance at all levels of business in Ireland. The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and executive leadership not only encourages better leadership and governance, but further contributes to better all-round board performance, and ultimately increased corporate performance for both companies and their shareholders.    MBA Programme Director, Martin Hughes, said: “We are delighted by the continued partnership between the 30% Club and the NUI Galway MBA programme in promoting female leadership in all fields of business. Each year, we welcome a high calibre of female candidates to the MBA programme, with the aim of supporting and contributing to greater representation in management education for women. We congratulate Sharon Fahy and Sharon Walsh on their accomplishment as this year’s scholarship recipients and commend them as ambassadors of female leadership amongst our impressive female MBA members.”    In 2020, the 30% Scholarship, worth in excess of €13,000, was jointly awarded to Sharon Fahy, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Medtronic and Sharon Walsh, Vice President, Technology Management at Fidelity Investments. Sharon Fahy said: “As a leader in a global Medtech company, inclusion of diverse perspectives is central to the success of my role.  Completing an Executive MBA with the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, has introduced me to a diverse network with a wealth of experience from a wide range of professional backgrounds. I am humbled and honoured to be a recipient of the 30% Club scholarship. The need for a diverse workforce, where inclusive practices and flexible work arrangements allow females to lean-in, continues to be of critical importance, and the 30% Club provides a great platform for raising this awareness.”  Sharon Walsh said: “I am very grateful to be the recipient of the 30% Club scholarship in partnership with NUI Galway for the Executive MBA.  Diversity in leadership is good for business, and organisations that are led by inclusive and diverse leadership teams make effective decisions that deliver better results. Working for a company that is committed to increasing the diversity within our company at all levels, obtaining an MBA with close to fifty percent gender representation on the program, and receiving support from the 30% Club represents the positive collective change needed for inclusion and diversity in business.  I have been fortunate to have a very successful career in the finance and technology industry spanning two continents. To now study alongside like-minded, multi-cultural, established professionals with a diverse set of expertise across many sectors is an opportunity for a transformational experience. I am very appreciative to the 30% Club, NUI Galway, and Fidelity for their collective support.”    Martin Hughes continues: “2020 has been a stellar year for female participation in the NUI Galway MBA programme. Of our 26 Year 1 class members, 12 are female, demonstrating the space that exists for greater diversity in management and leadership. With gender parity achievable, we are eager to sustain equal opportunity for female leaders looking to expand their professional development. We look forward to our continued relationship with the 30% Club into the future.”  Applications to the 30% Club Scholarship and the other MBA scholarships on offer are now open. For more information on the scholarship application process, or to submit your application please contact Michelle Lantry, MBA Programme Administrator at mba@nuigalway.ie.   NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics will also hold its MBA Open Evening on Wednesday, 21 April, at 6pm. To register, visit https://bit.ly/3sdfd2M. Further information on the MBA programme at NUI Galway is available at https://www.nuigalway.ie/mba/.   -Ends- 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

CARE CONNECT project aims to build on the successful 'ICU FamilyLink' platform in the absence of healthcare face-to-face support during the pandemic Children in Paediatrics have already nicknamed the social robot "SuperMario!" Platform aims to provide support to critical care settings, end-of-life situations, and vulnerable patients that rely on family for support Researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, supported by global technology company, Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration programme, are launching the CARE CONNECT project that will see social robot 'MARIO', used alongside a video-conferencing platform to improve patient-family communications in Paediatrics. During the first wave of Covid-19, a bespoke video-conferencing platform called 'ICU FamilyLink' was successfully implemented at University Hospital Galway to connect patients in critical care to their families. The CARE CONNECT project aims to build on this successful pilot and extend beyond the Intensive Care Unit to other healthcare settings impacted by Covid-19 while also looking to the future use of telemedicine in Ireland post-pandemic. Existing technology, including teleconferencing platforms, social robots, and digital tools, have been rapidly adopted since Covid-19. Due to Covid-19, visiting restrictions were introduced in healthcare settings worldwide. These pandemic-related restrictions create a problem as regular face-to-face communication is severely impacted. This problem will likely last for months, even years, due to the unpredictable nature of Covid-19. While restrictions may fluctuate, physical visiting will probably be limited in comparison to pre-pandemic times. Therefore, the need to create effective alternative modes of communication across multiple healthcare settings is immediate, urgent, and, unfortunately, a long-term need. Professor Derek O'Keeffe, CÚRAM Investigator and project lead at NUI Galway explains: "The Covid-19 pandemic has restricted patient's families from visiting them in hospital and healthcare settings and therefore isolating them from their loved ones. Communication is a vital part of providing medical care and addressing patients' biopsychosocial needs and their families. This is particularly important in critical care settings, end-of-life situations, and vulnerable patients who rely on family support. It is widely accepted in clinical care that effective communication is key to reducing the psychological burden for patients and their families and patients. "The CARE CONNECT project also builds on our NUI Galway experience in healthcare robotics using the MARIO platform, which was an EU funded project led by my collaborator Professor Dympna Casey. Our first study will be using social robot MARIO with our video-conferencing platform to improve patient-family communications in Paediatrics, where the children have already nicknamed him "SuperMario"! We will examine the efficacy of using our system to remotely educate parents and family members about the management of newly diagnosed acute medical conditions, such as Type 1 Diabetes." Dr Aoife Murray, clinician-researcher and a NUI Galway BioInnovate Ireland alumna, who was part of the ICU FamilyLink core team, says: "The key to the successful implementation of telemedicine and digital solutions is tailoring the solution to meet patient's and healthcare provider's needs. The Medtech and Technology ecosystem in Galway and longstanding relationships with University Hospital Galway create the perfect environment to develop and test technology to ensure it is effective and appropriate for a healthcare setting." Shane Heraty, Cisco Country Manager, Ireland and Scotland, said: "Helping people remain connected throughout this unprecedented time, and in these challenging circumstances, is something that we are incredibly proud of. This project and our partnership with CÚRAM brings the perfect blend of expertise together to enable us to have a direct and significant impact on patient wellbeing. "We are committed to building a digital and inclusive society, and having successfully implemented the ICU FamilyLink project at the start of the pandemic, we welcome the opportunity to build on it to bring the platform to a broader patient group." For more information about CÚRAM visit www.curamdevices.ie or Follow on Twitter @CURAMdevices. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Study reveals life-threatening complications for patients requiring respiratory life support Some 40% of critically ill patients who undergo tracheal intubation to support their breathing suffer a life-threatening complication, research from NUI Galway has revealed. The study, published today in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 2,964 critically ill men and women. It was carried out across 29 countries from 1 October 2018 to 31 July 2019 to determine the risk of adverse events arising from the invasive procedure. John Laffey, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at University Hospital Galway, was co-author of the study. “Placing a critically-ill patient on a ventilator is one of the most common forms of life support we can offer someone in intensive care,” Professor Laffey said. “But in order to provide this treatment clinicians have to perform tracheal intubation - an invasive procedure where a tube is inserted via the mouth into the windpipe. “A better knowledge and understanding of the complications associated with this procedure is of particular importance as we respond to the impact of Covid-19. The pandemic is forcing us medics to do far more of these procedures than usual and understanding the associated complications is the first step to finding ways to avoid them in future, and hopefully reduce the risk to our patients.” Findings from the INTUBE research study have been presented by Professor Laffey at the Society of Critical Care Conference. Key findings included: :: 45.2% of patients experienced at least one life-threatening complication following intubation. :: Some 42.6% of patients suffered severe cardiovascular instability. :: 272 patients, 9.3% of those in the study, suffered severe hypoxemia or very low oxygen levels. :: 93 patients, 3.1% of those in the study, suffered cardiac arrest. :: Patients who were at highest risk of life-threatening complications had hemodynamic instability prior to intubation. :: Successful tracheal intubation on the first attempt at the procedure was associated with a lower risk of complications compared to repeated intubation attempts. Professor Laffey added: “As clinicians we have relatively limited information on complications associated with tracheal intubation, how they affect our patients and how we can minimise the risk. “Our research shows a surprisingly high incidence of life-threatening complications associated with the procedure - with almost half of patients affected in this way. More importantly it shows that some of these complications might be potentially preventable with different approaches and that we can improve outcomes for patients undergoing these high-risk procedures. “A particular concern is that our research showed that patients who suffered an adverse event related to intubation were more likely to die either in the intensive care unit or within 28 days of the adverse event.” Professor Tim O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician with Saolta University Healthcare Group, said: “Clinical research in intensive care units is challenging but it is critically important to guide clinical practice and is essential to improve survival rates. Studies like this have a major impact on clinical practice and of course the relevance of this study is accentuated as a result of Covid.” Kevin Clarkson, Clinical Director of Critical and Perioperative Care at the Saolta Hospital Group/University Hospital Galway, said: “This international observational study, in which NUI Galway and Saolta Hospital Group investigators played a lead role, emphasises the ongoing need to invest in postgraduate training, equipping and simulation in this hazardous environment. “The study sheds light in areas of practice that need improvement and will likely lead to better patient outcomes. Specifically, instruments to facilitate tracheal intubation and use of equipment to detect carbon dioxide in a correctly placed breathing tube are clear opportunities to reduce risk. Training opportunities at local University Hospital level, regional groups and national training body programmes are vital along with participation in research such as this to highlight the needs of critically ill patients from the outset of their acute illness.” Ends

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

NUI Galway has become a Centre of Excellence as part of Basketball Ireland's ambitious plans for 10 Centres of Excellence, which will be located nationwide. NUI Galway and Ulster University in Jordanstown are the first two universities to have confirmed partnerships with Basketball Ireland this month.   NUI Galway's Centre of Excellence will provide access to expertise, such as strength and conditioning, sports medicine, sports psychology, diet and nutrition, sports management and administration, coach development and training. It will also have media and meeting facilities. This Centre of Excellence will be used as a national training camp for international sides, along with Basketball Ireland academies. There will also be the ability to host international fixtures, national senior competitions, intervarsity competitions, along with local schools cups and blitzes. Mike Heskin, Director of Sport and Physical Activity at NUI Galway, said: “We are very excited about this new partnership with Basketball Ireland’s High Performance Programme. The University has been developing partnerships with a number of the High Performance Sport programmes in Ireland, involving both domestic and Olympic sports. We are certain these partnerships will prove hugely beneficial to our University athletes by providing a clean pathway for them to achieve their athletic goals. We are especially delighted to be in partnership with Basketball Ireland to build on the existing relationship." Basketball Ireland CEO, Bernard O’Byrne, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with NUI Galway who have wonderful facilities and a proven track record in sport, developing athletes for elite competition. This Centre of Excellence is a major infrastructural initiative by Basketball Ireland to deliver world-class facilities and will give our international players and teams the best chance of success when they compete. These Centres of Excellence will be geographically spread, meaning there will be top of the range resources available to the local basketball communities in every corner of the country. We want everyone participating in the sport to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We have seen a surge in interest in basketball in Ireland and we are determined to continue its growth.” See a short video announcing the partnership here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT2ZTUaDtJc. For more information on NUI Galway Sport Follow on Twitter @NUIGalwaySport, Instagram @NUIGSport, and Facebook at NUIGSport https://www.facebook.com/NUIGSport. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

NUI Galway research shows novel policy changes from the onset of the pandemic helped engender support for public health measures Public trust in Government soared in 2020 as a result of policies to improve income protection during the Covid-19 crisis, research from NUI Galway has revealed. Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, Established Chair in Social and Public Policy at NUI Galway, examined how social protection was funded during the pandemic and how the protection of people’s purchasing power led to increased support for Government and public health measures. The research, which has been presented at both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, looked at social policy responses to the Great Recession of 2008-2012 and the Covid-19 crisis and assessed their impact on preserving living standards in Ireland. Data showed public trust in the Government reached a low of 18% in 2009, whereas the efforts taken in 2020 to protect people’s purchasing power saw the same measure reach a peak of 66%. We find that trust in government saw a big rise between 2019 and 2020 and the growth continued before it plateaued into 2021. Professor O’Donoghue said: “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Ireland’s economy and public finances has been deeper, faster and more broadly felt than the devastation wreaked by the financial crises that swept Europe from 2008 to 2012. “But rapid response and novel initiatives to protect living standards of a large proportion of the population ensured trust in Government and backing for difficult but necessary public health measures.” The research paper, published by the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, identified a number of issues around the building of public trust, including: :: Welfare generosity and coordinating private institutions enabled the protection of purchasing power or capacity to spend. It was a demonstration of “in it together”. :: The inadequacy of the existing social protection system was acknowledged at the onset of the crisis. New more generous policy instruments were introduced to insulate citizens from the shock and more than 900,000 people drew upon Covid related payments in May 2020. :: Due to the importance of non-discretionary spending - housing costs, child care and commuting - policies were targeted at the private sector such as mortgage interest deferrals, rent freeze and non-completion of child care contracts. Transport savings added another layer of protection right across the income distribution, unlike in the financial crisis, where every decile saw a reduction. :: The reforms created political sustainability as more have a stake in the system that was there when they needed it. :: Improving trust made it easier to get cooperation among the public and the transmission rate of the virus under control. There was a 14% increase in Trust in Government between 2019 and 2020. There was a 54% fall in Trust in Government after the 2008 crash. :: The European Central Bank took a faster more sensitive approach to providing liquidity in the pandemic. Ireland’s good track record since the 2008 crash ensured the state could avail of lower interest rates and cheaper borrowing. :: The IMF have reported that Ireland, as a % of GDP, spent the 8th highest of 24 European countries reported. The European Commission found that only four other European countries had welfare policy impacts that had a greater impact on disposable income (Austria, Germany, Latvia and Malta). Professor O’Donoghue added: “The extent of the Covid-19 crisis posed significant challenges to Ireland’s welfare state due to the number of people who suddenly became unemployed, the higher share of all family members losing their job and a higher share of middle class families out of work. “In an era of volatility in relation to climate change, globalisation and ageing, there is an ongoing need for institutions to protect people from economic swings to provide confidence in future and enhance trust in institutions.” The study forms part of a Health Research Board funded research programme on the Covid-19 response. Ends

Monday, 22 March 2021

Hypertension affects in excess of 50% of people over 50 years of age in Ireland   Lifestyle change is a critical element in blood pressure control Hypertension control is only effective when the individual understands their condition and are empowered to take action New research completed by NUI Galway, Croí­ - the West of Ireland Cardiac and Stroke Foundation, and the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health, has explored the impact of a structured hypertension educational intervention programme on patient knowledge, lifestyle behaviours and blood pressure control. The study, published in the international medical journal SN Comprehensive Clinical Medicine, found a significant improvement in hypertension knowledge and awareness and a measurable increase in blood pressure control. First author of the paper Dr Haroon Zafar, Programme Lead for the Masters in Interventional Cardiovascular Medicine at NUI Galway, and Science Foundation Ireland and Irish Research Council funded Principal Investigator, said: “Hypertension (raised blood pressure) is an increasingly prevalent condition in Ireland, affecting in excess of 50 per cent of those over 50 years of age. While many people undergo adequate clinical treatment, their standard of blood pressure control still remains sub-optimal mainly due to poor medication adherence fuelled by poor awareness level. “Providing a tailored educational intervention programme can have a positive impact on hypertension control, knowledge and self-care management within community-based settings. With upward trends for hypertension and cardiovascular disease across Ireland, the need for a new model to effectively treat and control hypertension among the Irish community becomes indispensable.” Over 100 participants from disadvantaged/underserved communities in County Mayo participated in the study. Participants from the interventional group were invited to attend the structured interactive educational programme on lifestyle management of hypertension. The aim of this session was to create knowledge and awareness on hypertension and was delivered by a multidisciplinary group including a Specialist Nurse, Dietician, Physiotherapist and Cardiologist. Educational topics included understanding and taking control of blood pressure, the effects of exercise and diet on blood pressure, smoking cessation, stress management, and current medication updates and adherence. Eligible participants (adults of 40 years and older) with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to either a control group or an intervention group. The control group were given standard care, which included blood pressure and Body Mass Index measurements, lifestyle guidance, and referral to General Practitioner in accordance with European Society of Cardiology guidelines, and the interventional group received an educational session to improve knowledge and understanding of hypertension. A follow-up assessment was conducted for all participants four-six months after the educational interventional programme. Participants from the intervention group showed higher blood pressure reduction by the end of the study on each of the four measured blood pressure indicators (SBP-R, SBP-L, DBP-R and DBP-L), compared to participants from the control group. The educational session provided to intervention participants also raised their awareness level regarding hypertension and the importance of exercise in controlling hypertension along with reduction in alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking altogether. Professor Faisal Sharif, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at University Hospital Galway and senior author of the paper, said: “The study highlights the importance of patient empowerment and engagement in management of chronic diseases such as hypertension. Through patient education we can achieve superior clinical results by modifying the patient’s behaviour. Further, larger studies are required to confirm this effect. Also, it will be interesting to assess the long-term effects of patient intervention on clinical outcomes.” Neil Johnson, Chief Executive of Croí - the West of Ireland Cardiac and Stroke Foundation, and the National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health, commented: “Raised blood pressure remains the biggest single risk factor for heart attack and stroke, which constitute the leading cause of death and disability in Ireland and across the world. Effective treatments for high blood pressure are readily available and relatively cheap. However, a critical element in blood pressure control is lifestyle change which is only effective when the individual understands their condition and are empowered to take action. This research study confirms the significance of patient empowerment through education and it’s a good example of the significant impact of the work of Croí in the local community.” The research was funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Global Medtronic Philanthropic Foundation and an Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant. A copy of the full study, published in the journal SN Comprehensive Clinical Medicine is available at: https://bit.ly/3cIkLfc. -Ends-

Friday, 19 March 2021

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has announced two new tripartite partnerships as part of the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. These partnerships will develop new technologies to treat cardiovascular disease and create new mechanisms for large-scale transport of high-quality therapeutic cells. The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across three jurisdictions: the United States, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the goal of increasing collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry across the three jurisdictions. This collaboration aims to generate valuable discoveries and innovations that are transferable to the marketplace or lead to enhancements in health, disease prevention, or healthcare. Dr Siobhan Roche, Director of Science for the Economy at SFI, said: "I am delighted to announce these two new partnerships involving CÚRAM. Our national SFI Research Centre network puts Ireland in a firm position to meet and respond to global challenges. International collaborations between leading research institutes such as these can accelerate innovation and create valuable global healthcare advances. We look forward to sharing their successes." The first partnership is the Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership, driven by a shared understanding of the fundamental need to develop regenerative medicine technologies to treat cardiovascular disease. The primary approach of cardiac tissue engineering is to create cardiac grafts that can be efficiently implanted, regenerating the tissue and giving rise to a fully functional heart without causing side effects. Recently, there has been considerable effort to develop functional scaffolds that are designed for cardiac repair. These scaffolds help recreate or mimic the body's environment to allow cells embedded in the scaffolds to reach their full biological potential. Beyond developing engineered scaffolds for repairing cardiac tissue, the ability to scale-up the fabrication of these scaffolds is critical to their successful translation into everyday clinical practice. Professor David Bishop, Director of the CELL-MET ERC at Boston University, said: "The creation of functional engineered cardiac tissue with electromechanical properties that mimic the human heart on a scalable platform has the potential to transform the treatment of chronic heart disease. The fabrication of scaffolds is an interdisciplinary challenge combining chemical, biological, and physical properties." Professor Gerard O'Connor, School of Physics, NUI Galway, explains: "Of all of the causes of cardiovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease remains a major cause of death worldwide. Cardiac tissue and cells damaged during a heart attack, for instance, cannot regenerate and are usually replaced by fibrotic scar tissue, which means that the only option for patients with end-stage heart disease is whole heart transplantation. Tissue engineering holds enormous promise for restoring functionality in these scarred regions of the damaged heart." The Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership is a collaboration between the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Cellular Metamaterials (CELL-MET), headquartered at Boston University, CÚRAM the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queens University Belfast. The Global Cell Manufacturing and Delivery Partnership is the second new collaboration for CÚRAM under the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. For this three-year project, CÚRAM is collaborating with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), headquartered at Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queens University Belfast. The aim of this research team's partnership is to use their combined expertise in biomaterials, characterisation and production of clinically-relevant cell types, to develop the technology to allow for the transport of high-quality, therapeutic cells at room or ambient temperature. The partners will scale-up, model and test a hydrogel-based system and make it clinical trial-ready. Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM project lead and Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, NUI Galway, said: "Cell therapies represent the next generation of therapeutic products that have the potential to regenerate damaged or degenerating tissues and treat a broad range of chronic illnesses. One of the global challenges that need to be resolved in order to make these therapies broadly available is the challenge of how to transport and distribute these cells. The key aim of this partnership is to develop a system that will allow us to transport cells for several days in ambient conditions, eliminating the need for cryopreservation for transport." Cryopreservation, which is currently required to transport cells, can negatively affect cell potency. Ultimately this partnership aims to solve a critical challenge of transportation and distribution to improve access to and reduce the cost of these therapies globally. Professor Krishnendu Roy, Director of the NSF ERC, Georgia Institute of Technology, said: "This partnership builds on CMaT and CÚRAM’s complementary expertise and brings together existing industry and academic networks and infrastructure to address a significant unmet need in cell therapy manufacturing and supply-chain. Low-cost, ambient temperature transport of cellular therapies with minimal cold-chain requirement is a global grand-challenge, and by coming together under this partnership, we hope to develop the technical and regulatory knowledge required to address it and improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness worldwide." This unique partnership's broader implications will be the stimulation of an innovation network between the US, Ireland, and the UK in cell manufacturing and cell therapies transport. This project will provide the groundwork for the realisation of greater access to cell therapies and nurture a climate of innovation and creativity in research-led, clinically informed, and industry influenced problem-solving for cell manufacturing. -Ends-

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Chuir OÉ Gaillimh agus Comhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe fáilte roimh fhógra an Rialtais inniu maidir le maoiniú €4.3 milliún don Cheantar Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta i nGaillimh. Tá forbairt Oileán Altanach agus Oileán an Iarla mar lárionad de Cheantar Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta ina croílár de phlean na Gaillimhe chun na hacmhainní go léir atá ag Gaillimh a nascadh le chéile. Is éard a bheas sa Cheantar Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta ná campas cois abhann mar chuid d’athghiniúint uirbeach chathair na Gaillimhe mar aon le spás mór cultúrtha agus taibhithe, agus aithneofar ról na hOllscoile mar institiúid chultúrtha náisiúnta agus an cion atá déanta aici ar son na Gaillimhe mar Phríomhchathair Cultúir. Sa phlean claochlaitheach seo freisin tá an méid seo a leanas: Spás taibhithe chun saol ealaíona na cathrach a shaibhriú agus cruthaitheacht na rannpháirtíochta cultúrtha a fhorbairt. Mol nua nuálaíochta agus campas cois abhann chun an chuid seo de Ghaillimh a athghiniúint agus na naisc idir gnó, taighde agus cathair bheo a neartú. Fearann poiblí nua do gach duine a chónaíonn sa chathair nó a thugann cuairt uirthi. Glasbhealach ó Ghaillimh go Conamara a leathnú tríd an gcathair agus campas na hollscoile, go Maigh Cuilinn, Uachtar Ard agus siar go dtí an Clochán. Beidh dhá limistéar ar leith san fhorbairt a bhaineann leis an gceantar Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta – Tuaisceart agus Deisceart. Beidh eispéireas, atmaisféar agus dáimh áite ar leith ag baint le gach ceann acu. Cuimseoidh limistéar an Tuaiscirt Foirgneamh Acadúil, a athneartóidh ról agus cion OÉ Gaillimh don chathair agus don réigiún, ionad cultúrtha ilchuspóireach, agus óstán a bheidh nasctha leis an ollscoil go fisiciúil agus i dtéarmaí úsáid pleanáilte agus úsáid atá comhtháite leis an teagasc. Bainfidh an limistéar frámaithe le réimse poiblí inbhuanaithe chun tacú le rannpháirtíocht leis na huiscebhealaí agus le tírdhreacha nádúrtha na timpeallachta uirbí seo. Tá dhá phríomhlimistéar ghníomhaíochta i Limistéar an Deiscirt. Le haghaidh a thabhairt ar an ngá atá le tuilleadh tithíochta i gceantar uirbeach, beidh Baile Uiscebhealaí cónaithe i Limistéar 1. Is i Limistéar 2, na Muilte athfhorbartha, a bheidh an t-ionad Nuálaíochta, Saotharlann Chathrach, Ionad Oideachais Aosaigh OÉ Gaillimh, ionaid for-rochtana agus taispeántais lonnaithe chun cruthaitheacht agus rannpháirtíocht an phobail, agus a lán spásanna sóisialta nua eile, a spreagadh. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Ollamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le Comhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe, leis an Roinn Tithíochta, Pleanála agus Rialtais Áitiúil, agus leis na páirtithe leasmhara go léir a cheadaigh an t-iarratas seo, céim thábhachtach sa tacaíocht don tionscadal riachtanach seo i nGaillimh agus ar a son. Is céim mhór chun tosaigh í seo i gcéim phleanála an Cheantair Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta nua seo. Ciallóidh sí go mbeidh Saotharlann Chathrach ann mar aon le spás cultúrtha agus taibhithe ilchuspóireach a dhéanfaidh athrú ó bhonn ar Ghaillimh agus ar an réigiún níos leithne, le maireachtáil ann agus le bheith ag obair ann. “Tá OÉ Gaillimh tiomanta do leas an phobail agus tagann an fhorbairt seo go mór leis an éiteas seo agus lenár mbunluachanna: Oscailteacht, Meas, Inbhuanaitheacht agus Barr Feabhais. Agus na luachanna seo mar threoir againn, leanfar ag forbairt an phlean d’Oileán Altanach, a dtacaíonn an maoiniú seo leis, tar éis dul i gcomhairle lenár bpobal áitiúil. Tar éis an fhógra maoinithe seo, táimid ag tnúth le tuilleadh rannpháirtíochta lenár bpobal chun an tionscadal is fearr agus is féidir inár réigiún a sholáthar, dár ré.” Déanfaidh OÉ Gaillimh agus Comhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe teagmháil iomlán leis na páirtithe leasmhara go léir. Rinneadh comhairliúchán poiblí tosaigh cheana féin agus leanfar le tuilleadh comhairliúcháin le páirtithe leasmhara le linn an phróisis. Dúirt Brendan McGrath, Príomhfheidhmeannach, Comhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe: “Táim an-bhuíoch den ghrúpa iontach daoine a chomhoibrigh agus a d’oibrigh ar bhealach chomh díograiseach sin ar an tionscadal seo. Is toradh iontach é seo do Chomhairle Cathrach na Gaillimhe agus don Chathair agus déanfaidh an scéim seo athrú ó bhonn ar an gcathair agus ar an réigiún. Táimid ag tnúth le bheith ag obair le OÉ Gaillimh agus leis na páirtithe leasmhara go léir ar phleananna chun Ceantar Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta den scoth a fhorbairt do Ghaillimh.” Chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil faoin gCeantar Nuálaíochta agus Cruthaitheachta féach: www.nuigalway.ie/buildings/nunsisland/. -Críoch-

Thursday, 18 March 2021

A joint investment of €13.5 million was today announced through a tripartite research and development partnership between the United States, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The seven awards will support more than 60 research positions across 14 research institutions, for three to five years. CÚRAM based at NUI Galway will collaborate in two research projects. The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions. The programme involves multiple funding partners across the three jurisdictions, working together collaboratively to support the most excellent and impactful research. The funding agencies involved in the awards announced today (17 March 2021) are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Health Research Board (HRB) in the Republic of Ireland; the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA, and the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (HSC R&D) and the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland. Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme continues to support and encourage strong collaborative relationships between our countries. It recognises and highlights Ireland’s significant scientific standing internationally and the societal and economic benefits that can be realised when we work beyond our borders. I wish all of the partners every success in this important collaboration.” The programme, which uses a ‘single-proposal, single-review’ approach, focuses on prioritised thematic areas, including sensors, nanoscale science and engineering, telecommunications, energy and sustainability, and health. The Irish components of research projects in the area of health are jointly co-funded by SFI with the Health Research Board. Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, is partnering with Queen’s University Belfast and the Georgia Institute of Technology (US) led NSF Engineering Research Centre for Cell Manufacturing Technologies to develop a Global Cell Manufacturing and Delivery partnership. The team aims to develop technologies to allow ambient transfer of complex cell-based therapies for chronic disease including heart disease and non-healing wounds, which could reduce the costs of cell products while maintaining their safety and potency. The partners will scale-up, model and test a hydrogel-based ambient transport system to make it clinical trial ready. Professor Gerard O’Connor, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway,is working withQueen’s University Belfast (NI) and Boston University (US) in a Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership to create a functional engineered cardiac tissue with electromechanical properties that mimic native human myocardium on a scalable laser-enabled manufacturing platform with the potential to transform the treatment of chronic heart disease. Commenting on the awards, Health Research Board Chief Executive, Dr Mairéad O'Driscoll said: “Health research makes a real difference to people’s lives. We’ve seen how the recent pandemic has sparked huge public interest in both health and research. The HRB plays an essential role in advancing research, and is committed to supporting highly innovative international collaboration through the US-Ireland R&D Programme. I welcome the announcement of these new awards, which will generate health benefits in Ireland and internationally.” In congratulating the researchers on these awards,Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director,  Health and Social Care (HSC) Research and Development, Northern Ireland, said: “More than ever, we can see the immense value of international research collaboration, as supported by the US Ireland R&D Programme. This bringing together of researchers from across Ireland and the US is strengthening knowledge transfer and improving health outcomes with global impact.”   Trevor Cooper, Director of Higher Education in the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership supports ground-breaking trans-Atlantic research which will help to further develop Northern Ireland’s research and innovation capabilities, driving competition with the potential to deliver significant economic impact.” For more information on the programme, visit https://www.sfi.ie/funding/funding-calls/us-ireland-rd-partnership/. -Ends-