NUI Galway to Celebrate 50 Years of Biochemistry

NUI Galway to Celebrate 50 Years of Biochemistry-image

Monday, 12 May 2014

Distinguished alumni from the USA, Australia and Ireland will speak at anniversary symposium to represent the history of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and the influence of the University on their scientific careers NUI Galway will host an Anniversary Symposium on Thursday 10th July to mark 50 years of Biochemistry within the University. The Department of Biochemistry was founded in 1963 by Professor Colm Ó hEocha who subsequently went on to become President of NUI Galway. Professor Patrick Fottrell, his successor as Professor of Biochemistry, also served as President of NUI Galway and is former Chairman of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland. A variety of distinguished alumni from the USA, Australia and Ireland will speak at the symposium to represent the history of Biochemistry at NUI Galway and the influence of the University on their scientific careers. These presentations will represent the breadth of rich contributions made across five decades of research and teaching. Past graduates of Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Biomedical Science along with current staff and researchers at NUI Galway are warmly invited to participate in the symposium. In addition to the talks, attendees will also be able to enjoy a tour of the current Biochemistry facilities in the main Arts and Sciences Building on campus, along with a tour of the new Biochemistry laboratories in the NUI Galway Bioscience Research Building in Dangan, which was opened in February by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. The festivities will conclude with a Gala Dinner at the Ardilaun Hotel in the evening. The current discipline of Biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences includes 17 academic staff members and over 70 researchers. It maintains the tradition of innovation established by its founders with a highly active research programme funded by significant grants from national and international sources. The Biochemistry research programme graduates a number of postgraduate students with PhD degrees each year, as well as students with an MSc in Cancer Research. At the same time Biochemistry delivers courses covering areas such as protein biochemistry, gene technology and molecular genetics, cancer biology, and human nutrition, to over 400 undergraduate students each year. Over 70 students will complete undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry, Biotechnology or Biomedical Science this year. The one-day Symposium will take place on July 10 from 9am to 5.30pm and will feature a morning session of talks, lunch, an afternoon session of talks, a tour of the Biochemistry and the new Bioscience Research Building, followed by a Gala Dinner at the Ardilaun Hotel at 8pm. It promises to be an exciting event on the University calendar this summer and a great opportunity for alumni to reunite with old friends and colleagues. For registration and further details visit

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NUI Galway Pain Researchers Win Prize for Best Research Paper

NUI Galway Pain Researchers Win Prize for Best Research Paper -image

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

For the second year running, Professor David Finn of NUI Galway has been awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Award for best paper published in an indexed journal in 2013 in the Pain/Anaesthesia category. The first author of the winning paper was Dr Kieran Rea, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Finn’s laboratory. Professor Finn, Lecturer in Pharmacology, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research and Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, received the award at a ceremony held in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. The winning paper confirmed the key role of a brain region called the basolateral amygdala in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia). Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in this part of the brain. Furthermore, fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the basolateral amygdala.  The paper also showed that the mechanism was likely to involve interactions between the endocannabinoid system and the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems in this brain region. An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.  Professor David Finn, senior author on the paper, said: “We are very pleased that our work has been recognised for a second time with this prestigious award. This research which was funded by grants from Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.” The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Awards are presented each year to Irish or Irish-based researchers who are judged to have published the best research papers in international, peer-reviewed journals.   -Ends-

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‘Caring for our Community’ Focus of NUI Galway’s new Public Lecture Series

‘Caring for our Community’ Focus of NUI Galway’s new Public Lecture Series -image

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

 First lecture to focus on suicide prevention NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery will commence a new and innovative community outreach initiative this semester, focusing on sharing knowledge and expertise on health topics that are of interest to local communities. The first knowledge exchange event which will focus on ‘Suicide Prevention’ will take place on Tuesday, 27 May at 7pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Áras Moyola. Research studies, including those conducted by the School of Nursing and Midwifery have found that giving people the knowledge, information and support they need is key to enabling them to better manage their own health or the health of those that they care for. NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, through outreach knowledge exchange sessions, aims to provide communities with health information in an interactive and easily accessible format on topics of relevance to the community. It is hoped that this will address the difficulty people have in knowing where to go to find or interpret the information they need. Adeline Cooney, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, commented, “It is never easy to make life style changes or live with a chronic illness, we aim to provide the public with information and skills on health topics of relevance to them with a focus on helping people to get healthy and to stay healthy. These sessions will be interactive, allowing full community engagement and we look forward to active and lively discussions.” Preliminary work conducted with community members indicate that communities would value information and knowledge concerning such topics as; How much exercise do you need to stay healthy and what type of exercise is best? How to maintain good mental health and to recognise mental health issues in others? How do I stay healthy during pregnancy? What is dementia? How best to care for someone with dementia? This is an initial list of topics and the School of Nursing and Midwifery invites the public to make suggestions for other health topics to be covered. To suggest any future health topics to be covered during the lecture series please contact John Quinlivan at or Mary Gannon at There will be two further events over the coming year and these will focus on: Keeping healthy in pregnancy: 7pm, Tuesday, 30 September 2014. Getting fit: 7pm, Tuesday, 27 January 2015. All events are open to the public. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Gets a First in EU University Ranking for Arts Graduate Employment and Internships

NUI Galway Gets a First in EU University Ranking for Arts Graduate Employment and Internships-image

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

New global university ranking, funded by the EU, also scores NUI Galway highly on graduate employability, innovation and commercialisation, international academic staff, doctorate degrees and joint publications NUI Galway has been given the highest ranking in a number of areas in U-Multirank, a new EU Commission-led initiative to measure excellence in higher education and research institutions worldwide. The indicators, published today across Europe show that NUI Galway ranked highest in nearly half of the metrics included in this, the first year of published data. NUI Galway was awarded the top ranking for both Arts Graduates working in the region and Masters of Arts graduates working in the region. Student internships in the region also scored highly. NUI Galway's focus on internationalisation was also recognised as the University was rated highly for the mobility of its students. As one of Ireland's leading universities for technology transfer, NUI Galway scored top marks for innovation and bringing new products to market; patents awarded and patents filed. The University's track record in creating a sustainable funding base for research and development was also commended with a top ranking for sourcing external research income and sourcing income from private sources for research. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne, welcomed today’s results saying "I welcome the EU’s effort to create a more transparent system of recognising excellence in the university sector. I’m particularly pleased to note the strong performance in securing regional employment for our humanities graduates and internships for current students, confirming NUI Galway’s role as a vital economic driver of employment, learning and research." U-Multirank is a new global university ranking funded by the European Commission and takes a different approach to existing global rankings of universities; it is multi-dimensional and compares university performance across a range of different activities grading them from “A” (very good) to “E” (weak). It does not produce a league table of the world’s “top” 100 universities based on composite scores. Instead, it allows users to identify a university’s strengths and weaknesses, or the aspects that most interest them. “We are delighted to have been able to design and implement this new user-driven and multi-dimensional ranking that goes beyond simplistic league tables and that addresses many of the criticisms of existing global university rankings,” said Professor Dr Frans van Vught, from the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, one of the lead partners of the consortium. The fields of study selected for assessment in 2014 were Business, Physics and Mechanical Engineering. The ranking system currently includes over 850 universities from 70 countries around the world; 62% in Europe, 17% in North America, 14% in Asia and 7% from Oceania, Latin America and Africa. Further information on U-Multirank is available at -ends-

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NUI Galway Symposium celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Naming of Neanderthal Man by Galway-based Scientist

NUI Galway Symposium celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Naming of Neanderthal Man by Galway-based Scientist-image

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

2014 marks 150th anniversary of the naming by William King, Professor of Geology at the then Queen's College Galway. He remains the first scientist ever to name a new species of human. President Michael D. Higgins will attend a special international symposium to mark the 150th anniversary of the coining of the term of Homo neanderthalensis by William King, Professor of Geology at Queen's College Galway in the 19th century. This proposal by King represents one of the first steps towards our understanding today of human evolution. The NUI Galway symposium is dedicated to the life and times of William King and the distant prehistoric people to whom he gave a name. The meeting will welcome the world's leading authorities in the field of human evolution, a gathering never before seen in Ireland, to celebrate this remarkable achievement. At the heart of it all the organising committee hope the symposium will be a fitting tribute to a pioneer in the field of human evolution, who worked at a time when this field was still very much in its infancy, but who has never really received the scientific recognition he deserves. Dr John Murray, one of the symposium organisers, said "this event will celebrate where we have come from as human beings. Professor King’s work represents a scientific milestone in the history of our understanding of human origins. The term ‘Neanderthal’ is globally recognised and understood, but had King not coined this phrase during his time in Queen’s College Galway, they would most likely be known by a completely different name today.” William King’s proposal in 1864 was to formally designate Neanderthal people as a separate species from ourselves (Homo neanderthalensis). His suggestion was both extraordinary and revolutionary for its time - Charles Darwin’s masterpiece ‘Origin of Species’ had been published just five years beforehand. William King remains the first to name a new fossil human species; a privilege afforded to very few scientists. Professor Svante Pääbo, Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people, will deliver the main keynote address of the symposium. President Higgins along with members of the King family, will attend this free public talk, which is specifically aimed at a general audience. It will take place at 5.30pm on Saturday 24th May in O'Flaherty Theatre in NUI Galway and those interested in attending are asked to register at General information regarding the full weekend symposium, entitled ‘From Fossils to the Genome’, is available at The meeting has been made possible with the assistance of: The Quaternary Research Association, The Irish Research Council, Roche, NUI Galway, Galway City Council, Bord Fáilte, The Geological Survey of Ireland, The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, The Institute of Geologists of Ireland, Beta Analytic Limited, Connemara Marble Industries Limited and the Burren Geopark. -ends-

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NUI Galway Insight Group Win Prestigious BBC #newsHACK II Prize

NUI Galway Insight Group Win Prestigious BBC #newsHACK II Prize-image

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Insight’s Digital Humanities and Journalism Group Compete with Sky News, the Financial Times, Storyful and the BBC to win ‘Connecting the News’ category prize at BBC #newsHACK II Insight’s Digital Humanities and Journalism group at NUI Galway were the winners of the Connecting the News category prize at the BBC #newsHACK in Dublin on 1 and 2 May. The team developed ‘Hash2News’, a Chrome Extension, which enables users to find the news stories behind Twitter hashtags at the click of a button. The group competed alongside teams from other academic institutes as well as news organisations such as Sky News, the Financial Times, Storyful and the BBC. The #newsHACK is an initiative of the BBC NewsLabs, an innovation programme for the whole of BBC News, and organised by BBC Connected Studio and the Global Editors Network (sponsored by Google), and aims to foster digital innovation in news. The 2014 theme was ‘The Future of News Curation’ and was held in Dublin and Glasgow earlier this month. Inspired by the belief that a hack should identify and solve a particular problem, the Digital Humanities and Journalism (HuJo) group at Insight decided to use their expertise with handling Twitter streams and entity extraction to find the news articles most relevant for any given hashtag. They plan to finalise their ‘Hash2News’ extension and make it freely available online in the near future. Social media, especially Twitter, presents a large stream of discussion to users, often informed by external news events. The result is that users often feel like they are ‘out of the loop’, and want to find out what is behind ongoing social media discussions. By providing a direct link from Twitter content to relevant news articles, HuJo’s Chrome Extension enables Twitter users to find ‘the news behind the noise’, the news articles relevant to social media conversations. Dr. Bahareh R. Heravi, Insight’s HuJo Group Leader said, “We are very happy to have been selected as a winning team at the BBC #newsHACK. The team had to compete with large and prestigious news organisations, and come up with a unique and useful product within a day and a half. This required a high degree of intellectual work, as well as great team work. Being a winning team among such strong groups of participants was a great accomplishment, particularly for a young research team such as HuJo.” The judges saw the utility of ‘Hash2News’ and awarded the group the prize for Connecting the News, which requires the team to “pique audience interests, to tap into social media habits, and support consumption across devices.” Other category winners were BBC Location Service (Explaining the News), The Independent (Tools for Journalists), Sky News (Theming the News), University of the West of Scotland (NewsCrack award) and BBC archives (Visually Inspired). The Best in Show winners were The Financial Times (Glasgow) and The Times/Sunday Times (Dublin). Hash2News team members were Ravindra Harige, Dara McHugh, Prashant Khare, Pablo Torres, and team leader, Dr. Bahareh Heravi. The Insight Centre for Data Analytics is a joint initiative between researchers at NUI Galway, UCD, UCC, DCU, and other partner institutions. It will bring together a critical mass of more than 200 researchers from Ireland's leading Information Communications and Technology (ICT) centres to develop a new generation of data analytics technologies in a number of key application areas. For further information on HuJo-Insight’s work at the BBC #newsHACK II visit -Ends-

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NUI Galway Information Evening to Highlight Clinical Research

NUI Galway Information Evening to Highlight Clinical Research-image

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway (CRFG) is holding a public information evening on Tuesday, 20 May from 5-7pm in the Clinical Sciences Institute, NUI Galway (on the grounds of Galway University Hospital). The information evening will highlight how ongoing clinical research studies may lead to significant medical breakthroughs and the development of new treatments. It is also an opportunity to find out more about current research projects and to meet current CRFG staff. Professor Martin O’Donnell, Acting Director, HRB CRFG, said: “Clinical research involves a collaboration between clinicians, patients, volunteers and research staff. Therefore, public engagement is an essential part of clinical research. Over the past six years, the HRB CRFG has developed a strong clinical research group, conducting studies across a wide spectrum of medical conditions. We strive to conduct cutting-edge research, which adheres to the highest standards.” The HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway is a joint venture between NUI Galway, Galway University Hospitals and West Northwest Hospital Group, and has been in operation since March 2008. The Facility provides the infrastructure, physical space, facilities, expertise and culture needed to optimally support patient-focused research studies and clinical studies aimed at understanding a range of diseases and translating the knowledge obtained through this research work into evaluating novel therapies for various clinical conditions. Over the past six years, clinical research outputs from the HRB CRFG have made important contributions to clinical medicine, in both prevention and treatment of common disease. Work has begun on the new Clinical Research Facility and Translational Research Facility (CRF-TRF) building located on the grounds of Galway University Hospital. The building is due to be completed in January 2015. The CRF-TRF will facilitate cutting-edge medical research. This facility will form part of the Irish Network of Clinical Research Facilities which will conduct state of the art clinical research in a variety of clinical areas, such as Cardiology, Cancer, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, etc. So, what is a Clinical Trial?   A Clinical Trial is a research study to answer specific questions about a new medical treatment (medicine/drug, medical device, new therapies, vaccines), or new ways of using known treatments. Clinical Trials (also called medical research and research studies) are used to determine whether such new treatments are both safe and effective. Carefully conducted Clinical Trials are the fastest and safest way to find new and effective treatments that work in people. The CRFG Information Evening is free to attend, however advance registration is requested by emailing . -Ends-

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NUI Galway Students' Union 50th Anniversary Reunion

NUI Galway Students' Union 50th Anniversary Reunion-image

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

All past and present NUI Galway Students' Union officers, staff, journalists, colleagues and friends are invited to join with us to celebrate as NUI Galway Students’ Union turns 50.  The reunion is taking place in the College Bar, NUI Galway from 7pm onwards on Saturday 7th June 2014. Former Students’ Union Presidents include President Michael D Higgins, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore. Tickets are €15 which includes BBQ, dessert, refreshments, entertainment and lots of surprises along the way.  If you have any queries about the event or would be interested in contributing to our special 50th anniversary publication for the event - with photos or words - please contact or phone 091 493704 ASAP!   -Ends-    

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REDDSTAR Shines at the ISCT 2014 Paris Conference

REDDSTAR Shines at the ISCT 2014 Paris Conference-image

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

REDDSTAR Co-ordinator and Professor of Medicine at NUI Galway, Tim O’Brien, and Orbsen Therapeutics’ Head of Research, Dr Steve Elliman took part in an interactive workshop during the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) 20th Anniversary meeting. The workshop showcased ‘EU-funded projects on Cellular Therapies’ and was held in Paris recently. REDDSTAR (Repair of Diabetic Damage by Stromal Cell Administration) is an EU funded project which will develop and test stromal cell therapy to treat for diabetes mellitus. The objective is to control blood glucose while also addressing a range of diabetic complications. Steve Elliman added, “The 20th ISCT Meeting in Paris featured some outstanding updates in the translational development of cell therapies. I personally enjoyed the Plenary Session of the development of cell therapies for leukaemias and inherited immunodeficiences, which included an inspirational discussion of the challenges and successes of gene-modified cell therapies by Professor Adrian Thrasher from Great Ormond Street Hospital in the London and Professor Bruce Levine from University of Pennsylvania. In addition, there was a well-attended and detailed discussion of the development of clinical MSCs for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which was very informative for groups entering the clinical phase of cell therapy testing.” In response to the EU-funded projects’ workshop and REDDSTAR’s involvement, Massimo Dominici, MD, President of the International Society for Cellular Therapy 2014-16 remarked, “The presence of highly valuable speakers representing EU funded research projects represented true added value within our 20th Anniversary Meeting. The feeling I have is that cell therapy in Europe has grown incredibly and, certainly, the EU FP7 granting has provided the proper boost in translating basic concepts into clinical realities for still as yet untreatable diseases. As a global society, ISCT looks forward to showcasing again these EU-based achievements in our future events worldwide.” The REDDSTAR-sponsored session (Workshop 5) was chaired by Dr Mark Lowdell of the Royal Free and University College Medical School, University College London, UK and Dr David Gancberg from Directorate Health, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission. In addition to Professor O’ Brien and Dr Elliman, the workshop also featured Prof. Anne Dickinson, MD, of Newcastle University, UK, a project leader in Celleurope and Dr Pierre Layrolle, Co-ordinator of Reborne based at INSERM in Toulouse. -Ends-

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Limited Places Still Available for NUI Galway Engineering Summer School

Limited Places Still Available for NUI Galway Engineering Summer School-image

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics still has a few spaces available on their one-day Engineering Summer School. The summer school is specially designed to give prospective students a real taste of university life through a wide range of hands-on practical activities and students interested in attending have a choice of two different days to participate, Thursday, 19 June, or Friday, 20 June. The summer school, which will take place in the new state-of-the-art Engineering Building on campus, is a free event which provides second-level students the opportunity to learn more about the various fields of engineering which can be studied in NUI Galway.  “We have seen a huge interest once again this year amongst both senior and junior cycle second-level students in our Engineering Summer School, but we have a few remaining spaces which students can apply for”, according to Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. “The places in the free summer school are competitively awarded so we would invite any students who would be interested in learning more about Electronic, Mechanical, Civil, Biomedical or Energy Systems Engineering to apply for these last few places.” Interested students find out more information at and can apply by email to before Friday, 6 June. -Ends-

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