Monday, 10 October 2011

On Saturday, 15 October, at the University of Limerick, the search for Ireland’s best female mathematical problem-solvers will start. All girls who currently attend a second level school in Ireland are eligible. In recent months, the lack of mathematical problem-solving skills among Irish second level school students has been in the focus of the media. What is less well-known is that for nearly 25 years, five universities in Ireland have been running successful Mathematical Enrichment Programmes for second level students. Many of those who have participated in these programmes are now lecturers or PhD students of mathematics in Ireland or abroad. A strong motivation for those who actively participate in the Enrichment Programmes is the possibility of competing in Mathematical Olympiads. In order to increase the level of interest in mathematical problem solving among female students, the inaugural European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) will take place in Cambridge, England from 10 April until 16 April, 2012. Ireland will be represented there by a team of up to four second level mathematicians. But all participants of the Mathematical Enrichment Programmes, not only the most successful, will benefit from the training offered between October and December and improve their problem solving skills. The training will be facilitated by a series of online lessons and challenges coordinated by mathematicians from NUI Galway, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, University of Limerick, UCD, UCC, and NUI Maynooth. Mathematical enrichment courses at these centres will follow later in the academic year, and Ireland’s first EGMO team will be selected early in 2012. It is likely that the successful students will have already completed their Junior Certificate. Dr Rachel Quinlan from NUI Galway, who will lead the Irish team to the EGMO, said: “Female students have historically been underrepresented at Mathematical Olympiads internationally. Female mathematical talent seems to be an underused resource, and an initiative aiming at mobilising this talent is a brilliant idea. Often, girls who participate in Mathematical Olympiads do this at the highest level. For example, the German student Lisa Sauermann was the only competitor at this year’s International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) to achieve a perfect score. She now holds the leading position in the IMO Hall of Fame with 4 Gold and one Silver medal, outperforming all other participants of 52 years of IMO.” Young mathematicians of both sexes are invited to participate in the programme of problem solving offered through the Enrichment Programmes at five universities in Ireland. The students in these programmes will be included in the search for Ireland’s team for the 2012 International Mathematical Olympiad which will take place in Argentina in July. Those who are interested in this mathematical problem-solving day need to register online at www.irmo.ie/egmo.html by Tuesday, 11 October. More detailed information about the training and EGMO will be provided during the problem-solving day in Limerick from 11am until 3.30pm. -ENDS-  

Friday, 7 October 2011

Astronomers at four Irish third level institutions have participated in the detection of pulsed gamma-ray emission from the Crab Pulsar at energies far beyond what current theoretical models of pulsars can explain. With energies exceeding 100 billion electron volts the surprising gamma-ray pulses were detected by the international VERITAS collaboration using an array of telescopes at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona.  Their results are published in a paper in the October 7th issue of the prestigious journal Science The Irish scientists have been involved in the search for this pulsed emission for over two decades.  The Irish team members include Dr John Quinn at University College Dublin, Dr Gary Gillanders and Dr Mark Lang at the NUI Galway, Dr Paul Reynolds at Cork Institute of Technology and Dr Pat Moriarty at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The Crab pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, the collapsed core of a massive star that exploded in a spectacular supernova in the year 1054, leaving behind the brilliant Crab Nebula with the pulsar at its heart.  Spinning at 30 times a second the pulsar emits a rotating beam of radiation like a lighthouse beacon.  Current theoretical models of the pulsar predict that the maximum energy of pulsed gamma-rays should be about 10 billion electron volts so it was very significant to find emission with energies ten times higher.  Further observations to characterise the very high energy gamma-ray emission and new theoretical models will be required to explain the physical mechanism behind it. The Irish involvement in VERITAS is part funded by Science Foundation Ireland. More information on the discovery is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15203788

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, recently announced the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme at NUI Galway. First launched in Ulster University, the Victory Scholarships Programme has this year been extended to universities in the Republic of Ireland, with NUI Galway being the first University to adopt the programme. The inaugural NUI Galway USNI Victory scholars are Timothy Coyne from St. John Fisher College in New York State and Will Archambault from Davidson College in North Carolina, who will both undertake a Masters in International Management at NUI Galway’s School of Business. The Victory Scholarship Programme assists deserving American students in obtaining a scholarship package to study at Masters level in Ireland. While studying in Ireland these students continue to play or develop sport at all levels; work in the wider community with young people and gain valuable work experience through internships and mentoring with local businesses. Both scholars will also play for NUI Galway in colleges and varsity competitions as well as playing and coaching for the Titans, a Galway City based basketball club, with 400 adult and junior members. According to President Browne, “The USNI Victory Scholarship Programme is a great initiative which facilitates improved access to education at NUI Galway while also deepening linkages through sport with our wider community in Galway. The programme is a natural fit for the University’s Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) which aims to promote greater civic engagement in academic activities, namely teaching, research and service at all levels of University life. I gratefully acknowledge the support of Galway University Foundation and its donors in the United States for the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme and I thank USNI Sport and Titans Basketball Club for their participation in this initiative.” Under the initiative, NUI Galway students are encouraged to participate in community activities locally, nationally and internationally. The Victory Scholarship programme also reinforces NUI Galway’s relationship with the United States. With over 700 Junior Year Abroad students attending the University annually, NUI Galway is one of the leading Irish destinations for American students. In addition, the University has academic partnerships with several universities and an active alumni community in the United States. Gareth Maguire, Director of USNI Sport, added: “USNI Sport Foundation believes that ‘sport changes life’. We believe that providing a programme that enhances personal development, academic achievement and sporting excellence will pay dividends for the scholars as well as all the young people in Galway they will work with over the course of their year. This year will transform the outlooks of our scholars and bring positive sport and diversionary programmes to young people in the area. We are delighted that NUI Galway is the first university in the Republic of Ireland to offer this exciting initiative and have every belief that it will be a huge success for all concerned.” Padraic Fogarty, Chairman of the Titans Basketball Club, also welcomed the initiative: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with NUI Galway in the expansion of the USNI Victory Scholarship Programme to the Republic of Ireland. We are a progressive club with deeply embedded core values. This initiative aligns well with our values and in particular the promotion of inclusiveness through engagement with a number of communities in Galway City and also our approach of developing strong international links. It’s great to welcome Tim and Will to the club who have quickly established themselves in Galway and are already making a positive contribution to Titans. We thank NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Gareth Maguire of USNI for establishing the link with Titans and in particular the US based donors, without whom this fantastic Programme would not be possible.” -ENDS-

Monday, 3 October 2011

A postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway has been awarded a fellowship at a prestigious University in Germany to advance his work in the field of cardiac tissue engineering. Michael Monaghan was awarded the fellowship by the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and will allow Michael to further his research in Germany until January 2012.   Michael Monaghan, originally a graduate of NUI Galway’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering, will spend three months working with the Franhofer IGB Institute and University Tübingen in Stuttgart, which have a long history of cardiovascular and tissue engineering research.  Describing the opportunity Michael, from Mohill, Co Leitrim, says: “This fellowship will allow me a unique opportunity to test our functional biomaterial in one of the best research labs in Europe. These three months should prove invaluable to my research career and create collaborative links with some of the best scientists in Europe.”Michael is in the final year of his PhD programme under the supervision of Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), an SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster at NUI Galway. His research on the delivery interfering RNA (RNAi), an emerging field of non-viral gene therapy, is leading to a clearer understanding of RNAi’s therapeutic potential. Specifically, Michael is investigating the modulation of scarring of the myocardium following myocardial infarction (MI) aiming to aid the body to heal itself by silencing detrimental cell processes.  Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of morbidity in the developed world and there is currently no technique for regeneration of infarcted myocardium. One of the NFB’s goals is to develop scaffold-based cardiac gene therapy to minimize damage, promote regeneration and modulate the fibrotic response in cardiac tissues following MI. The research conducted by Michael would ultimately be of benefit to patients at risk of heart failure following MI, leading to a decrease in morbidity and improved heart function.  According to Professor Pandit: “NUI Galway has established a critical mass in the area of developing the next-generation biomaterials in Ireland. Each individual researcher is playing an important part in our work and Michael is a perfect example.  His research is advancing the field of tissue engineering and will have possible applications in cardiac and skin regeneration following injury.”   -ends-

Monday, 3 October 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research are looking for volunteers to participate in a medical research study.  The aim of the study is to increase understanding of the impact of chronic pain on learning, memory and attention. Healthy volunteers, with no history of chronic pain, are being sought to participate in this study as part of the ‘control’ group. Participants must be over 18, with no pre-existing cognitive impairment, and no history of major psychiatric illness, epilepsy, seizures or diabetes. Participants will be required to complete some questionnaires and simple assessments that measure memory, attention and other functions, such as problem solving. Orla Moriarty from Renmore in Galway, is the PhD student at NUI Galway behind the project: “What we should point out, is that this will be a pain-free experience for our volunteers.  In total we will need to find about 40 suitable candidates to participate. As with so much of science, a ‘control’ group is vital to our research. We really hope we will find the people we need.” The team at the Centre for Pain Research already have people who suffer from chronic pain to participate in the study, through its Pain Clinic.  Chronic pain affects up to 35% of the Irish population and is increasingly recognised as a disease in its own right. Chronic pain is sometimes associated with psychological effects, which may in some cases include forgetfulness, and difficulties in focusing attention, planning tasks and making decisions. As part of ongoing work at the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and funded by the Higher Education Authority under PRTLI4, researchers are attempting to investigate the relationship between pain and cognitive function. Drs David Finn and Brian McGuire are Co-Directors of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway. According to Dr Finn: “Our goal is to compare the cognitive performance of patients with chronic neuropathic pain or radicular pain to that of healthy control volunteers, to gain a better understanding of how pain and cognition are related and to determine what types of cognition are most affected.” The assessment will take place at NUI Galway, lasting one to one and a half hours, with participants offered a small amount of compensation. Those who may be eligible and might like to take part in the study should contact Orla Moriarty on 086 3918862 or 091 495246 or email o.moriarty1@nuigalway.ie -ends-

Monday, 17 October 2011

NUI Galway’s new Engineering Building has been shortlisted for the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards. The public will decide who will win this prestigious award, with an online vote deciding among the eight finalists. Voting closes on 3 November. According to Engineers Ireland, the new Engineering Building ‘reflects the University’s commitment to engineering, in its innovation, quality and scale’. Situated on the north campus, just under the Quincentenary Bridge, the immense glass, steel and zinc structure officially opened in July 2011, and is now home to 1,100 students and 110 staff. The building supports an emerging generation of engineers, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship, and become engaged in a new wave of technologies. In fact, the building has been designed to be an interactive teaching tool in itself; a ‘living laboratory’ is how it was described by the Irish Times. Viewing panels have been created so that the students can literally peer into the foundations. Sections of the steel embedded in the cement walls for reinforcement can be seen. Also on show is an array of ‘green’ building methods which will help inform students about a raft of modern sustainable technologies. Live data from numerous sensors measures the behaviour of the structure and its energy consumption, and is used as a teaching tool for structural engineering and building performance concepts. Pipes and ducting labelled in corridors and rooms have been left exposed. The entire building was described as a ‘gross anatomy’ lesson of sorts for engineering students. The Engineering Building was designed by award-winning architects RMJM from Scotland in partnership with Mayo-based Taylor Architects. Speaking about the new building, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, Professor Gerry Lyons, said: “The design of this 14,250m2, engineering teaching facility reflects not only the history of engineering but also a testimony to the role of engineering in Ireland’s future.  We have created an inspirational environment for learning and for nurturing the spirit of enquiry into the science and art of engineering.” The winning project will be judged on the largest number of online votes received by midnight on Thursday, 3 November, with the winner announced at a special awards ceremony in the Four Seasons Hotel, Dublin on Friday, 4 November. To vote for the Engineering Project of the Year 2011 visit http://www.engineersireland.ie/about-us/what-we-do/excellence-awards/   -ends-

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pre-clinical research has generated some very promising findings about a prototype drug for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The findings, from work carried out by scientists at NUI Galway, are published in this month’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. The research introduced a molecule, or prototype drug, to blood samples from patients with the type of blood cancer known as CLL. The findings indicated that the prototype drug kills leukemia cells circulating in the blood, including cells with features often associated with chemotherapy resistance. Additionally, it was found that the molecule also has the potential to target dividing leukemia cells within lymph nodes. With current standard treatment, these cells can act as a reservoir of resistant cells, which can then give rise to relapse.For the last two and half years, NUI Galway’s Professor Corrado Santocanale, along with Professor Michael O’Dwyer and Professor Afshin Samali, among others, have been researching this molecule ‘PHA-767491’ for treating CLL. According to Professor Corrado Santocanale, who works in NUI Galway’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES) and in the Centre for Chromosome Biology (CCB): “Generally, the prognosis for patients diagnosed with CLL, one of the commonest types of blood cancer, is not as positive as we would like. However these laboratory results provide some hope for the future, especially as related trials with patients are already underway”. The molecule is the parent compound of a drug now being tested in a phase one clinical trial led by Professor Michael O’Dwyer at the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway. The success of the laboratory research was an important factor in developing the clinical trial. Frank Giles, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics and Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, commented: “Enormous progress in anti-cancer therapy is being made as pre-clinical identification of an optimal target, the development of small molecule that modulate the target, and the conduct of early phase human studies, are becoming a seamless process. The conduct of these early studies is a top priority for our NUI Galway CRF and demonstrates Ireland’s increasing strength in this critical biomedical sector.” Pre-clinical cancer biology research at NUI Galway encompasses multidisciplinary research clusters who are working to understand the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer, and to develop new and better cancer therapies. The University also has a strong translational and clinical research programme with the objective of translating research discoveries into improved patient care.  -ends-

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

NUI Galway has launched the 2011/2012 Arts in Action Programme, which invites students to engage with the creative arts during their studies. Aimed at students across the campus, Arts in Action offers access to a variety of international-standard arts events throughout the academic year. The new programme, a development and promotion by the College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, has been radically extended from previous years to allow for concerts, theatre performances and many other artforms to take place on a weekly basis throughout the academic year. The 2011/2012 programme is themed around music and languages and it also showcases some of the gifted performers who have formal links to NUI Galway. Included are performances by the Abbey Theatre, NUI Galway Medical Orchestra, NUI Galway student and TG4 Young Musician of the Year, Pádraic Keane, ConTempo, Martín O’Connor and Frankie Gavin. The Creative Director of Arts in Action, Mary McPartlan, says “NUI Galway’s continuing commitment to the arts, its contribution to the many current initiatives on and off campus, is founded in the strong belief that the relationship between academic studies and the arts is significant. The Arts has a role to play in the development of highly qualified graduates, active citizens and leaders in many fields of endeavour, shaping future lives.” The programme of activity, with the exception of three events at the Town Hall theatre, all take place at lunchtime in Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway. All of the events are free to attend, apart from the events at the Town Hall Theatre which have a fee of €5. The programme will run from September 29 to March 2012. To view a full programme of events visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/arts/artsinaction.html     -ENDS-

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

NUI Galway's Centre of Astronomy will continue its programme of open evenings at its Imbusch Observatory in Dangan. The Observatory provides state-of-the-art observing facilities for NUI Galway's Astrophysics students and the Open evenings are an opportunity for the general public to come in and visit. Weather permitting, the free open evenings will take place on 12 and 26 October, 9 and 23 November and 7 and 21 December at 7pm. An informative hour-long lecture will be followed by a hands-on viewing of the sky by night, weather permitting. The Imbusch Astronomical Observatory was opened in 2004 and is used by students studying Physics and Astronomy at NUI Galway. The observatory is equipped with a modern computer controlled 16" telescope and camera, and a radio telescope with a hydrogen line spectrometer, which is able to map out and measure the velocity of the sun and the Milky Way. There is also a 10" portable telescope - computer controlled – for visual observations of planets, star clusters, nebulae and other bright objects. Bookings are limited to two tickets per person and is strictly by ticket only, on a first come first served basis. All bookings are by email and those interested should send requests to tara.shanahan@nuigalway.ie -ENDS-

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Brazilian student is the first recipient of a new NUI Galway scholarship for students from a non-EU country to study at the University. Heictor Gonzaga, now living in Gort, Co. Galway, has taken up a place in the Bachelor of Engineering degree course. Heictor Gonzaga and his family came to Ireland three years ago where, after a couple of months with the English Language Support system, he entered the Leaving Certificate class in Gort Community School. The scholarship, funded by Galway University Foundation, is for a student from a non-EU country who has completed at least the final two years of their secondary school studies in Ireland, but who are not eligible for fees at EU rates.  Director of the Galway University Foundation, Tom Joyce, says: “Galway University Foundation has developed a special scholarship fund to assist deserving Leaving Certificate students from non-EU backgrounds to attend NUI Galway. We are pleased to support the University’s efforts to broaden access to third-level education.” For the past decade Gort Community School has seen an influx of international students with the majority of students from the Brazilian community. Principal of Gort Community School, Denis Corry, says: “We are delighted to see Heictor getting this award not just for himself and his family, but for the whole Brazilian Community.   From not knowing a word of English three years ago, to getting 510 points in his Leaving Certificate this year, is a remarkable achievement by any standards.   I would also like to commend his teachers and most particularly his Language Support Teacher, Margaret Geraghty, for her wonderful support to all the Brazilian Community over the last ten years. This was very much a team effort.” The value of the scholarship will be the annual non–EU fee for the relevant programme less the Student Levy element of the fee. The Scholarship is payable for each year of the full-time undergraduate degree programme for which the student registers.   -ENDS-

Monday, 26 September 2011

Over ten thousand visitors descended on Salthill last Friday for Ireland’s first participation in European Researchers Night. Billed as ‘Sea2Sky’ by organisers NUI Galway, the celebration of science and research ran in parallel with events across 320 cities in Europe. The Galway event was visited by European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.  This was the first time Ireland participated in European Researchers Night and NUI Galway collaborated with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria to deliver a successful event. Hundreds of researchers displayed their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Commenting at the event, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: “Researchers’ Night is an exciting, pan-European project that aims to engage young people in the magic of research and science, and I am proud that the European Commission is supporting Researchers’ Night in 320 cities all over Europe this year. Research and science hold the answers to many of the major challenges we face in Europe, including climate change, the need for safe, sustainable food and the needs of our ageing population. We need one million new researchers in Europe if we are to rise to these challenges. By bringing science and research alive, I hope that the Sea2Sky Researchers’ Night will help to encourage the young people of Galway to consider careers in research and science.” Visitors to Leisureland chatted to scientists about their research, participated in experiments, and watched demonstrations and simulations. Throughout the event, which was open to schools from 11am, parallel exhibits were run in the Galway Atlantaquaria. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says: “Around the world, Ireland’s reputation is growing as a hub of science, discovery and innovation. It was great to see such a great turnout for the first Irish participation in European Researchers Night. There is a genuine thirst for knowledge and interest in science among schools and the general public, which helped in turn to make our event such a success.” Organisers also thanked over 75 volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the day and night, and in the run up to the event. The Sea2Sky event was funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. -ENDS-

Monday, 26 September 2011

Three leading researchers hailing from Hungary and the United States have arrived at NUI Galway to begin their three year doctoral studies. The researchers are part of a €3.7 million European Union Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded, Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets (DREAM) programme, which is being led by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. The PhD students, Magdolna Birtha, Abigail Rekas and Anna Arstein- Kerslake, are members of an international team of 14 researchers who will explore options for European disability law and policy reform in light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). The students will also receive paid placement with leading NGOs such as the European Disability Forum in Brussels.  The Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway was awarded the grant to direct the Europe-wide network over the next three years. It is understood that this is the single largest EU Framework 7 grant won by a research centre in an Irish Law School. Partners in the network include several leading European universities. Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway, Professor Gerard Quinn, says, “The object of the network is to create the next generation of disability policy entrepreneurs at European level and to generate research that helps the process of implementation of the disability treaty.  We look forward to working with the three new Marie Curie researchers to meet those aims.” For more information contact: Marie Kennedy, Centre for Disability, Law & Policy, NUI Galway, 091 494011, email marie.kennedy@nuigalway.ie   -ENDS-

Monday, 26 September 2011

Celebrating International Year of Chemistry, the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway will acknowledge the contribution of its research graduates in Ireland and beyond at a special reunion celebration. The event will take place at a gala dinner in the Meyrick Hotel on Saturday, 1 October. NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry has recently conferred its 300th PhD graduate and the majority of the research graduates have made major contributions to Ireland’s highly successful chemical, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.  A significant portion of the graduates are contributing to the provision of services in the public sector, such as the State Laboratory and the Forensic Laboratory. Many have and continue to contribute to education and research in second and third-level institutions.  Linked to this celebration, the School of Chemistry will host a discussion seminar entitled The PhD in Chemistry in Ireland - What's the Future? This public meeting will include contributions from Science Foundation Ireland, IRCSET, the American Chamber of Commerce, PharmaChem Ireland, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and heads of Schools of Chemistry from universities throughout Ireland.  The objective of the seminar is to develop policy and strategy so that Chemistry Schools across Ireland can continue to provide highest possibly quality research graduates with appropriate skills to continue to contribute to Enterprise in Ireland.  The seminar will take place on Friday, 30 September, in the John Hynes Boardroom, Quadrangle, NUI Galway at 10.30am. Professor Paul Murphy, Head of School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, says: “The chemical and pharmaceutical industry continues to be one of the strongest performing sectors in Ireland and the economy will continue to benefit from investment in PhD graduates in Chemistry Schools in Ireland.” The event has been organised jointly by the Alumni Office and School of Chemistry at NUI Galway.  Sponsorship of the event has been provided by Pfizer Ireland, Roche Ireland and NUI Galway. For more information, or to book a place at the reunion, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the NUI Galway Alumni Office at 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie. -ENDS-

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

NUI Galway’s Alumni Office is inviting all graduates and friends from the classes of 1971 and 1981 to attend a reunion to celebrate the 30th and 40th anniversaries of their graduation on Saturday, 8 October, 2011.   The reunion will begin at 3pm in the Quadrangle with a reception and photo exhibition, followed by a bus tour of campus. The celebrations will continue later that evening in Galway’s Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel) with a special reunion dinner.   Sandra Butler, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chairperson, encourages everyone to attend: “Reunions are special opportunities for graduates and friends to revisit NUI Galway and renew old acquaintances. These events come around just once a decade. So book your place now and get in contact with your classmates and friends and encourage them to come too.”   For further information and to book a place, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway have developed a super-sized model of a heart valve which may lead to a new generation of cardiovsacular devices. Every year, mechanical valves are inserted into approximately 125,000 patients with heart valve disease around the world. However, the valves can lead to unnatural blood flows, which can trigger a clotting reaction. Because of this, patients with prosthetic heart valves must take medication daily, which can lead to side effects. The work at NUI Galway is trying to better understand how blood flows through prosthetic valves and in particular through the valve hinges, so that the clotting reaction can be ameliorated. Researchers have developed a working model valve which is six times the size of a normal valve and runs 100 times slower. They use laser light and digital imaging to measure flow accurately and calculate the stresses experienced by blood cells as they move through the valve. The work has been carried out by Dr Nathan Quinlan and Dr Alessandro Bellofiore of the Biofluid Dynamics group at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science (NCBES), NUI Galway. Dr Quinlan, who teaches courses in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, explains: “Medicine has been using artificial heart valves, quite successfully, since the 1950s but there is certainly room for improvement. The challenge is to develop a valve which will avoid the thrombotic or clotting reaction. We’ve scaled up and slowed down the flow through the valve – without altering the underlying mechanics – so that we can measure it at very high resolution. We can see very small and short-lived eddies that are only about 10 times larger than blood cells. This is giving us new insights into what damages blood cells and causes dangerous clots.” The work is an example of the research carried out at the Centre for Biomechanics Research (BMEC) in NUI Galway, which is focused on both fundamental and applied research and where the principles of engineering mechanics and biology are combined to generate discovery and understanding.  Dr Quinlan concluded: “Research like this is crucial in the design and manufacture of new medical devices. The approach we’ve developed could be used not only for heart valves, for any device implanted in large blood vessels. Further down the line, the understanding that comes out of this work can lead to better devices.” Results from the heart valve model feature in this month’s issue of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. The group has recently received funding from Science Foundation Ireland’s 2011 Research Frontiers Programme for another project which will build on this work.   ENDS

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, will officially open the Irish segment of European Researchers Night. The event takes place on Friday, 23 September, across 800 venues in 320 cities. In Ireland, festivities take place in Galway through a celebration called Sea2Sky, organised by NUI Galway. The purpose of Sea2Sky, is to give the public free access to scientists and their research. Organisers at NUI Galway have planned a one-day celebration of science and research in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Events will take place in Leisureland, Galway Atlantaquria and along the Prom in Salthill. While school visits will take place throughout the day, at 3pm Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will officially open the evening event, to coincide with events starting right across Europe. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “As European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and a Galway-native, it is a very significant occasion that Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is officially opening this European-wide event. It is an exciting and important time to celebrate Ireland’s reputation and involvement in research.” At Sea2Sky, visitors of all ages will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Galway Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. The event will also feature music and entertainment for younger and older visitors. NUI Galway’s President, Dr James J. Browne, will also attend the official opening: “It is an honour to have someone as distinguished in European research circles as Máire Geoghegan-Quinn open our event. There is significant European funding of research projects at NUI Galway, reflecting our growing international research reputation.” The Sea2Sky event is being organised by NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, and is funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free family event and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, from 11am-11pm.  To view the full programme, or for more information, visit www.sea2sky.ie -ENDS-

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD today announced a €1.6m investment in neoSurgical Ltd led by Kernel Capital.  The syndicated investment comprises of a €500k investment by the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund, with the remainder of the funds provided by Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors including experienced promoters from the Irish Med Tech industry.   “neoSurgical is an excellent start-up, we are impressed with their cohesive team, whom previously held senior executive positions in Johnson and Johnson Ireland. neoSurgical has developed a strong patent family, excellent product roadmap and the team has vast global experience in selling medical device products,” said Dawn Guiney, Kernel Capital. neoSurgical working in collaboration with practicing surgeons is committed to developing and delivering innovative products that enable simpler, safer and more efficient laparoscopic abdominal surgery for better patient outcomes.  The company's lead product neoClose* offers a new, superior method of closing laparoscopic wounds that can reduce or prevent herniation complications while giving hospitals the opportunity to realise significant cost savings. Laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery within the abdomen involves ‘keyhole’ incisions some of which may require closure.  Ineffective closure can lead to an operative complication called a hernia, the complication rate of which is published to be in up to 3.1% and can be significantly higher in obese patients. In the US it has been estimated to cost the healthcare system in excess of $20,000 per patient to repair the hernia. Commenting on the announcement, Dr. James J. Browne, President of National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) which is an investor in Kernel Capital said: “NUI Galway recognises the importance of translating research into innovative products. I am delighted that the MedTech Accelerator Fund, in which NUI Galway is a partner, is investing in neoSurgical Ltd. I wish neoSurgical every success.” Donal Duffy, Head of Enterprise Ireland Relations, Bank of Ireland said: “Bank of Ireland is very pleased to add neoSurgical Ltd to the list of companies supported through the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund managed by Kernel Capital. This funding will enable the company develop and deliver innovative market leading products and take their place in the global med tech market.” Welcoming the announcement, Seamus Bree, Director for West Region at Enterprise Ireland, said: “We have no hesitation in co-investing in NeoSurgical. This cutting-edge company, although fairly new, is a very innovative and growing player in the prospering medical devices sector. NeoSurgical’s commitment to research and development is impressive and leaves no doubt that this Galway-based company has great potential to internationalise their business.” Barry Russell, CEO, Neosurgical Limited added: “The neoSurgical team is proud to have reached this significant funding milestone and in particular to have secured Kernel Capital as an investor with their great knowledge of our sector and strong validation of our technical and commercial roadmap. This investment will enable us to complete our device development and take our place in the global med tech market.  neoClose* is the first in a portfolio of medical device projects that neoSurgical plan to develop to market in the coming years with the associated positive spin off to the Irish economy in terms of high value jobs and exports.”-ENDS-

Monday, 19 September 2011

A Health Research Board (HRB) funded study carried out by the J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has found that there are significant differences in cancer screening uptake across income groups, and that the main determinant of this difference for breast, colorectal and prostate cancer screening was the possession of private medical insurance.   According to Brendan Walsh, a HRB/ National Cancer Institute Fellow in Health Economics at NUI Galway: “Our research demonstrates both inequality in the uptake of cancer screening in Ireland, and the role that private health insurance plays in contributing to this.   We examined data on 10,364 adults from the SLÁN 2007 study (Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland) and focused our analysis on the uptake of breast, prostate, colorectal and cervical cancer screening in the previous 12 months.  Through a process called decomposition analysis we were able to unpack the variables that contribute to the levels of inequality that we observed.  Decomposition analysis allows you to establish and rate the importance of particular components which contribute to the overall inequality.  The results of this permit a clearer identification of possible policy actions which can then be taken to help reduce the level of inequality.   The research found that there was a clear link between income and better uptake of screening programmes.  Typically for the four cancers mentioned there was a 10 percentage point difference in uptake rates between the highest socioeconomic group and the lowest.  However for three of those cancers, breast, colorectal and prostrate, medical insurance was the largest factor contributing to the inequality.”   According to Professor Ciaran O’Neill of the J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, a co-author on the paper (along with Dr Mary Silles): “When you have a complex healthcare system as in Ireland, with a mix of public and private services, if people feel that they can access other parts of the service faster because they have private insurance, then they seem more likely to avail of screening services.  Our research seems to indicate that just because you have a publicly funded cancer screening programme, it doesn’t mean that you will see equal uptake of screening services or the end of differences in morbidity or mortality associated with cancer.  Because screening is just the start of a process in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the journey should be viewed as a whole and no one part in isolation. Individuals may be more likely to go for screening if they think insurance will afford them faster access to diagnostic or treatment services. Hence publicly funded screening programmes on their own may not eradicate differential health outcomes across income groups.  This finding has major implications for health policy.   The research also highlighted the importance of marital status in several of the cancers. Greater uptake was evident among those who were married than those who were not in the case of prostate, colorectal and cervical screening, perhaps reflecting the value of pester power.”   According to Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board; “These are very important findings which have the potential to help address health inequalities, here and abroad. It is a clear illustration of the role for research to inform policy for the betterment of society as a whole.”   The full research paper is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hec.1784/full   Ends

Monday, 19 September 2011

NUI Galway will hold their annual Open Days on Friday, 30 September and Saturday, 1 October. The Open Days will provide an opportunity for prospective students to talk to NUI Galway students and staff, explore the campus and its facilities, and find out more about courses of interest. Friday's Open Day, on 30 September, will run from 9am to 3pm and is aimed at school groups, although individuals are also very welcome to attend. Running from 10am to 3pm, Saturday's Open Day on 1 October is for students thinking about university and their parents and families.   The Open Days are expected to attract some 8,000 visitors and are tailored towards Leaving Certificate and mature students who are interested in studying at NUI Galway. Parents, guardians and teachers are also invited on campus to sample life at university.   With over 60 degree programmes on offer at NUI Galway, lecturers and students will be on hand at more than 80 exhibition stands to answer questions on courses, CAO points and possible potential career paths. Many of the newer courses at the University have been designed to be responsive to the changing needs of the employment market and meet the needs of the Smart Economy.   Two talks specifically for parents, ‘Focus on your Career’ and ‘Parents’ Guide to University’ on Saturday, will give an introduction to university life and an overview of the career paths of NUI Galway graduates, as well as looking ahead to the job market of the future.   The Open Days will feature a mix of taster sessions and short lectures to provide a feel for university life. Events will include hands-on science workshops, interactive demonstrations with cameras, media equipment and podcasts and interactive sessions with IT systems and robotics.   Commenting on the importance of the NUI Galway Open Days, Caroline Loughnane, Director of Marketing and Communications, says:"Choosing a university is one of the most important decisions a student will ever make. Parents play a key role in supporting students as they take this important next step. Open Day is the perfect opportunity for parents to ensure they have access to all of the information they need to support sons and daughters through their university career. We are encouraging anyone with an interest in studying at NUI Galway to come along, talk to our lecturers and current students, find out about the courses, check out the facilities and decide for yourself whether NUI Galway feels right for you".   During the Open Days, tours of the campus will allow prospective students to visit the new Engineering Building, the largest of its kind in Ireland; state-of the-art sports complex and gym, home to 45 student sports clubs; and Áras na Mac Léinn, the base for over 100 student societies. Tours of the University library and student accommodation will also be available to visitors on the day.   For further details on NUI Galway Open Days, or to view the full programme, visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/opendays/.   -ENDS-

Monday, 19 September 2011

For Culture Night 2011, which takes place on Friday, 23 September, the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway will be opening up its unique literary, theatre and landed estates archives. Marking the first involvement of NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections in Culture Night, the Library has announced a programme that will allow the public share these archival collections. The programme of events will begin at 7pm when Special Collections Librarian, Marie Boran and Archivist Brigid Clesham, will talk about their new project, The Irish Landed Estates Database. This is an invaluable resource for those interested in tracing their family history or looking at the history of the landed estates of Ireland. At 8pm, Fergus Fahy, Institutional Repository and Digitisation Librarian, will discuss the personal archive of writer John McGahern. Having catalogued the McGahern Archive, he will deliver a detailed and insightful overview of this wonderful collection of hand-written novels, drafts, stories and correspondence, created over a lifetime’s work by one of Ireland’s most celebrated and intriguing writers. The evening will be topped off at 9pm by screenings from the award-winning DruidSynge series. The screenings will include Riders to the Sea and The Shadow of the Glen by playwright J.M. Synge. John Cox, University Librarian, comments: “Culture Night offers a great opportunity to engage a wider audience with the Library’s archives and special collections, and the events planned will provide fascinating insights into their significance.” All events are taking place in the Patrick Fottrell Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway, next to the James Hardiman Library. A free shuttle bus service will be available on the night to bring guests to and from Culture Night venues. For more information and updates on the NUI Galway Archives and Special Collections programme for Culture Night, contact barry.houlihan@nuigalway.ie, follow on Twitter: @nuigarchives, Theatre Archives blog http://nuigarchives.blogspot.com/ or go to our homepage http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/. -ENDS-

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Coinciding with the European Year of Volunteering 2011, the tenth annual NUI Galway Volunteering Fair will take place on Tuesday, 27 September, in the Bailey Allen Hall from 1-5pm. With over 2,000 students, staff and members of the general public expected to attend, the Fair will be officially opened by Galway City Mayor Hildegarde Naughton. Over 80 charities and community organisations will showcase the wide range of volunteer opportunities. The Fair is part of a week-long celebration of volunteering at NUI Galway, the culmination of which will coincide with the National Day of Volunteering on Friday, 1 October.  The Galway Community Circus will be performing and welcoming attendees on stilts.Lorraine Tansey is the Student Volunteer Coordinator at NUI Galway, “We are really looking forward to celebrating community life as not only is this the European Year of Volunteering 2011, but also this is our tenth year at NUI Galway promoting volunteering, active citizenship and engagement.” “Students are actively seeking volunteering prospects with homework clubs in local schools, fundraising for national charities, befriending people with a disability, or volunteering abroad. Students benefit enormously from getting involved and gain valuable experience, while bringing energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.”Exhibitors at the Volunteering Fair will include: Youth Work Ireland, Gorta, Galway; One World Centre; ISPCC; Galway Samaritans; IWA and the European Voluntary Service. Lorraine Tansey added: “We are delighted to not only welcome community organisations to highlight their work and opportunities for volunteers, but also to welcome members of the public onto campus.”Through NUI Galway’s volunteer programme, ALIVE, students can access an online database of volunteer opportunities. The programme also includes a series of workshops to help students make the most of their volunteering experience. At the end of the academic year students can apply for an ALIVE Certificate which is awarded by NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, at a special ceremony in recognition of their commitment to volunteering. To book a stand, or for further information, please contact the ALIVE office on 091 493823 or email alive@nuigalway.ie.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The programme for Ireland’s participation in European Researchers Night, which takes place on 23 September, was officially launched today. Showcasing science on a grand scale, the Irish event, Sea2Sky, takes place in Salthill, Galway. In total, 800 venues across 320 cities in Europe will celebrate this momentous occasion. Sea2Sky is a free, family-oriented event at which hundreds of scientists will showcase their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. The event will also feature music and entertainment for younger and older visitors. Sea2Sky is being organised by NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria.  Exhibits throughout the day will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Galway Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. Scientists will be on hand in the main exhibition hall in Leisureland where stands will display areas of science from energy research and marine life to the study of the solar system. Visitors will have a chance to explore the mini-sea exploration vehicle which was used by scientists in the recent discovery of hydrovents deep in the Atlantic.  Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “This is a very unique opportunity for the public to participate in experiments and demonstrations. The jam-packed programme offers something for people of all ages, and gives children and adults alike the chance to be a scientist for one day.” Doors to the Galway Atlantaquaria will be open throughout the day, allowing visitors to explore Ireland’s largest splash tank and huge Ray Pool. They will also be able to see the 60 foot long Fin Whale skeleton and get their hands wet in the Touch Pool where experts will help the curious and brave to handle real starfish and crabs. Representatives from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group will also be present to discuss their work. The walk between the two venues, Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, will see amateur astronomers and their telescopes stationed along Salthill’s famous Promenade affording amazing views of the night sky after dark. Local artists will add a theatrical flair during the day as Cups and Crowns Theatre perform ‘Lenny the Water Daughter’, Rab Swannock Fulton will weave tales for young and old with his dramatic storytelling skills, and puppeteer extraordinaire Tommy Baker will put on a show with ‘The Ecological Brothers’. In the evening adult can participate in a special storytelling session. Also for adults is the opportunity to share their thoughts and learn from experts in the Cafe Scientifique ‘What’s in your Water?’ led by NUI Galway’s Professor Martin Cormican and hosted by renowned broadcaster Leo Enright. After night fall on the beach there will be a dramatic fire show before returning to the main hall for a musical finale to end the event. Organisers are looking for 70 volunteers to help out on the day to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. A science background is not needed to volunteer as information and training will be given in advance of the event. To sign up for volunteering visit www.sea2sky.ie The Sea2Sky event is funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free family event and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, from 11am-11pm.  To view the full programme, or for more information, visit www.sea2sky.ie.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

NUI Galway will host the ninth annual RECOMB (Research in Computational Molecular Biology) Satellite Workshop on Comparative Genomics from 8 to 10 October. The workshop is part of the prestigious RECOMB series of meetings and usually alternates between a North American and European location, but this is the first time that the meeting will take place in Galway. The workshop will bring mathematicians and computer scientists together with biologists to share ideas and approaches for the comparison of genomes. The objective of the meeting is to achieve a greater understanding of genomics and genome evolution by comparing the genome sequences of different species. This provides a rich source of information and a valuable perspective on how genomes function. Keynote speakers for the conference will include: Professor Ed Green, UC Santa Cruz, USA; Professor Kateryna Makova, Penn State University, USA; Professor Julian Parkhill, Sanger Institute, UK; Professor Nicolaus Rajewsky, Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany; and Dr Chris Greenman, Sanger Institute, UK. Professor Green was a leading contributor to the Neanderthal genome sequencing project, the results of which were published in Science in 2010. Analysis of the Neanderthal genome revealed that non-African humans interbred with Neanderthals and that consequently humans outside of Africa share some of their DNA with Neanderthals. Conference organiser, Professor Cathal Seoighe from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway, said: “The life sciences have recently moved from the genome era to the era of many genomes. Massive advances in DNA sequencing technologies mean that the genomes of many human individuals and representatives from many different species are now available. This brings the era of personalised genomics closer and offers great opportunities to understand the basis of genome function and genetic diseases and phenotypes.” The RECOMB Conference Series bridges the areas of computational, mathematical, and biological sciences. Founded in 1997, the series provides a scientific forum for theoretical advances in computational biology and their applications in molecular biology and medicine. The conference features keynote talks by preeminent scientists in the life sciences, together with presentations of refereed research papers in computational biology. Delegates can register right up to the date of the event (8-10 October). Posters and late-breaker oral presentations may still be submitted until Tuesday, 20 September. More information is available from the website, www.recombcg.org.   -ENDS-

Friday, 9 September 2011

WIN bucks trends in assisting one third of participants reengage in workplace Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, T.D., today [Friday, 9 September] launched WIN – West of Ireland Networking (WIN); the training, mentoring and networking forum for unemployed professionals and entrepreneurs at the Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway. WIN, based in the West, is a unique volunteer organisation that plays a substantial role in getting unemployed participants back into the work place while providing further supports to those seeking to start their own business or is already running a small enterprise. Speaking at the launch, Minister Bruton said: “Jobs are at the very top of this government’s agenda, and I am determined to do everything possible to achieve the job-creation we so badly need. Government does not create jobs, people and businesses do, and the role of government is to support an environment in which job-creating entrepreneurs and businesses can flourish. “WIN - West of Ireland Networking is an excellent example of what people and communities can do to help people get back to work and to help entrepreneurs start the successful businesses we so badly need. The get-up-and-go, self-help spirit embodied by this organisation is exactly what we need to help turn our fortunes around, and I am delighted to see it is alive and well. I am determined that government will keep its side of the bargain and do everything it can to get people back to work”. With unemployment at 14.4%, WIN is bucking current trends, assisting one third of participants reengage in the workforce. WIN’s success is based on its innovative approach to helping the unemployed through consistent and regular supports including: bi-weekly group networking sessions including relevant and flexible training programmes; one to one mentoring, building confidence and self esteem of participants. A recent survey sampling 106 participants of WIN indicated the impact of the organisation with 34% reengaging in the workplace; 14% actively interviewing; 28% working on potential business start-up; and 24% new participants. CEO and Founder of WIN, Caroline McDonagh: “We at WIN are very excited about the contribution we have made to getting people back to work and supporting start up enterprises. WIN is a lean organisation working with minimum resources with a strong commitment to value and committed to addressing previously unmet needs. To date there has been a lack of support, training and services for the ‘unexpected unemployed’ or the ‘new unemployed’ in Ireland and WIN has successfully filled this gap. WIN recognises that if these skills are lost to Ireland, they could be gone forever. WIN is the necessary vehicle to ensure that these skills are retained and enhanced and used to drive and grow our economy.” President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, said: “I am delighted to host the formal launch of WIN on our campus. The spirit of partnership, volunteerism and enterprise embodied by this unique, innovative volunteer organisation is exactly what Ireland needs more of at this time. We at NUI Galway are pleased to support WIN’s objectives of training, mentoring and networking for unemployed work seekers, entrepreneurs and small enterprise owners. Our support is an example of how the University partners with local organisations to ensure that we meet the legitimate demands of all the stakeholders in our region.” WIN Board Members include: Seamus Bree, Director, Western Region, Enterprise Ireland; Breda Fox, CEO, Galway County and City Enterprise Board; P.J. O’Reilly, Regional Manager Technology Transfer and R&D, Enterprise Ireland; Dr Emer Mulligan, Head of School, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway; John Liddy, St Vincent De Paul; Caroline McDonagh, CEO, WIN – West of Ireland Networking; Majella Connelly, Financial Consultant, Hennelly Insurance; Gert O’Rourke, Owner, Gert O'Rourke Training and Development; and Ralph Smith, Managing Director, Do My Books. WIN is assisted by the Maureen O’Connell Fund of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. ENDS

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The annual NUI Galway Alumni Association Golf Outing will take place at Mullingar Golf Club on Friday, 16 September. An opportunity to meet up with fellow NUI Galway graduates, old and new, attendees will also be in with a chance of winning two tickets to the All-Ireland Football Final. Renowned sculptor, and NUI Galway graduate, John Coll has donated a new perpetual trophy for the winner of the golfing competition. Event Organiser, RTÉ Presenter and NUI Galway graduate, Seán O’Rourke, says: “This year we’re delighted to announce our new perpetual trophy, created by graduate John Coll, one of the country’s most renowned sculptors. We are also delighted to offer our golfing guests the opportunity to win two stand tickets for the much anticipated All-Ireland Football Final. It promises to be a wonderful outing and we hope as many alumni and friends as possible join us in Mullingar.” The entry fee of €55 includes green fees, prizes and dinner that evening. Bookings and further details available from NUI Galway Alumni Office on 091 493750 or online at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends   ENDS

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Biomaterials may prove key to healing chronic wounds in Diabetic patients, delegates will hear today at the 24th European Conference on Biomaterials. Over 950 delegates are at the event in Dublin, which is jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown. Delivering therapeutic genes using a new biomaterial-based delivery system to the site of chronic wounds in diabetes patients may enhance wound healing. Researchers at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway hope that technology being developed at the University may reduce the rate of limb amputation and morbidity in diabetic patients.   Diabetes related chronic wounds and subsequent lower limb amputation are major causes of morbidity in diabetic patients, incurring enormous medical, economic and social burden. The rigorous treatment regimes in clinics have had only modest success in lowering the overall amputation rate. The major reason behind the failure is rooted in the fact that diabetes affects all the wound healing cells not only functionally but also genetically. This molecular disarray is not completely understood yet, so treatment regimes aimed at rectifying the genetic problem are needed for tangible therapeutic benefit. Researchers at the NFB are working on a project investigating the genetic dysregulation but also combined novel and complementary genes to normalize wound healing.   The work has found that success of the gene therapy depends largely on how it is delivered. The gene delivery system developed gives a protective scaffold and also allows controlled delivery with components carrying different genes and degrading at different rates. The gene delivery method is, in effect, micron-size spheres embedded in mesh made from protein fibers, a tiny but very complex biomaterial product. Overall results are very encouraging with enhanced wound closure, complemented by increased blood vessel formation and reduced inflammation. According to the NFB’s Mangesh Kulkarni, “We envision that the combined new gene therapy and delivery system can aid in reducing the amputation rate by enhancing wound healing. This has the potential to make a real change when applied to chronic diabetic wounds. Since the components of the system have a relatively good safety profile, clinical trials can be conducted to prove the therapeutic benefit in human patients.” Full details of the research will be presented today at what is Europe’s largest biomaterials conference, which is taking place in the Dublin Convention Centre and runs until Thursday. With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB and conference co-chair, Professor Abhay Pandit said: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. This is a significant conference, as the latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond are being presented over the course its five-day programme.” -ENDS

Monday, 5 September 2011

William Ronan, PhD student in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, has won first prize in the PhD Student Paper Competition at the American Society of Mechanical Engineering Biomedical Engineering Conference, a leading US conference in the field of biomedical engineering and biomechanics.  William, from Cloneen, Co. Tipperary, was shortlisted as one of six finalists in the category of cell mechanics from over 150 international applicants and based on his submitted paper and podium presentation he was awarded first prize. Currently in the third year of his PhD research under the supervision of Dr Patrick McGarry, William has developed advanced computational models that predict the active response of biological cells to different mechanical environments.  His winning paper is entitled “Simulation of Stress Fiber Remodeling and Mixed-mode Focal Adhesion Assembly During Cell Spreading on Elastic Substrates”. Speaking of this success, Professor Seán Leen, Head of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “William’s achievement is a testament to the high quality of research being carried out in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway and, in particular, by his supervisor Dr McGarry. This type of internationally-leading performance is also evidence of the exceptional talent being developed in Irish Universities with the support of successive Irish governments and industry.” William is funded by an Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) scholarship and the research is also supported by Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme (SFI-RFP) and the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC). This is the second major international award won by a member of Dr McGarry’s research group in 2011, with PhD student Emer Feerick also winning first prize at the Annual Symposium on Computational Orthopaedic Biomechanics inthe US in January.   ENDS

Monday, 5 September 2011

NUI Galway lecturers, Dr Gerard Turley and Maureen Maloney of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, have just completed the fourth edition of the successful textbook Principles of Economics: An Irish Text, with co-author Dr Francis O'Toole of Trinity College Dublin. Principles of Economics: An Irish Text introduces the theory and practice of economics within an Irish and European context. There is reference to both recent and current economic conditions, including reflections on the post Celtic Tiger years, the economic downturn caused by the international recession, the banking crisis and the property crash, and the latest on the eurozone and sovereign debt crisis. Marion O'Brien, Educational Publisher at Gill & Macmillan, said: “Principles of Economics: An Irish Text is an extremely accessible and popular text with both students and lecturers alike. As a bestselling text, it continues to provide the reader with a solid theoretical grounding in both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, and is extensively prescribed in all Institutes of Technologies, in many Universities and Private Colleges throughout Ireland.” New topics in the fourth edition of Principles of Economics: An Irish Text include: new material reflecting the changed economic conditions of the Irish economy resulting from the banking and fiscal crises that began in 2007; revised chapter on economic growth and the Irish economy, which includes the banking crisis and the property crash; reflections on the Celtic Tiger era, including causes and consequences; new section on the eurozone and sovereign debt crisis; and new case studies and questions, with answers now available online. Published by Gill & Macmillan, it is accompanied by a free interactive CD, and additional lecturer resources, details of which can be found at http://www.gillmacmillan.ie/economics/economics/principles-of-economics-4th-edition -ENDS-

Monday, 5 September 2011

Volunteers are being sought to support Sea2Sky, a free, family-oriented event taking place in Salthill on Friday, 23 September. Organisers NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, are looking for 70 volunteers to help out on the day. At the event, hundreds of scientists will showcase their work in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Visitors to Sea2Sky will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “This is first time Ireland has participated in the European Researchers Night and we are proud to be the first host of such an important occasion. By bringing together researchers and the public, everyone can be a scientist for one night. There is growing excitement around this event, and I encourage and welcome volunteers who want to get involved and help out with this unique occasion.” The Sea2Sky event is being funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free event open to all ages and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, with doors open from 11am-11pm.  A science background is not needed to volunteer as information and training will be given in advance of the event. For more information and to sign up for volunteering www.sea2sky.ie   -ENDS-

Friday, 2 September 2011

Now recognised as a significant player in the international biomaterials industry, Ireland will be the venue the 24thEuropean Conference on Biomaterials from 4-8 September. Jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, this is the first time the annual meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) will be held in Ireland. Some 950 delegates will attend ‘ESB 2011’ at the Dublin Convention Centre, including members from academia, medicine and industry. The latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond will be presented over the course of the five-day conference. With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, Professor Abhay Pandit commented: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. New understanding at cellular and molecular levels, coupled with innovative concepts in scaffolding technologies and advances in nanotechnology, have increased the range of areas biomaterials can improve human health. Already we are seeing success in the treatment of wounds, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.” The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, has said that this is a very significant conference and it is great to see it being hosted in Ireland: “Biomaterials enable the development of innovative healthcare technologies which provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients and healthcare professionals. High quality scientific and clinical research of these technologies is critical to ensure that these products are safe, effective and valuable to patients and healthcare professionals.” A $280 billion industryBased at NUI Galway, the NFB was set up in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish a critical mass of biomaterials activity in Ireland. Ireland’s capacity in the field of biomaterials is ever-increasing, and at the conference podium presentations will be delivered by 48 researchers from 13 Irish-based, academic and industrial research groups. The global medical technologies industry is valued at $280 billion, and is growing at approximately 7% per annum. According to Professor Pandit, “Ireland is a well-established hub in the global medical technology field. Ireland is home to 15 of the world’s top 20 Medical Technology Companies, with significant manufacturing and R&D operations coming out of Ireland. In fact, exports of medical devices and pharmaceuticals continue to grow, providing a beacon of hope for economic recovery.” The opening day of the conference will be Industry Day and is sponsored by global healthcare products company Covidien. The day will bring together companies in the medical device market and entrepreneurial academics, who will share their experiences taking innovative biomaterial concepts to the clinic and the market.  Conference Programme Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, will open the conference proceedings on Monday, 5 September, which is expected to bring an estimated €3 million boost to the local economy. Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “I know the significant presence of medical device firms and research activities in Ireland was a key factor in securing this major event. We look forward to welcoming all delegates, including young Irish researchers who will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience and network with many of the top names in the field.” Experts in the biomaterials field will travel to Dublin from across the world to deliver plenary speeches and keynote addresses. Keynote speakers will include: Professor Messersmith, from Northwest University, USA, who works on the biological adhesives of shellfish and geckos.  He will be discussing research on biologically inspired biomaterials, and their roles in the medical field, from surgical adhesives to cancer drug delivery. Professor Frechet from King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia, has a wide range of research interests including targeted drug delivery. His plenary address will detail the design of macromolecules to facilitate improved drug delivery. Professor Catts of the University of Australia is a unique academic, bridging the gap between the creative arts and biology.  A past art project involved the culture of ‘steaks’ and ‘jackets’ in the laboratory to interrogate the possibility of victimless animal products.   Thematic sessions planned for the conference, include recent advances in the use of biomaterials for therapeutics; vascularisation, innervations, and tissue integration; advances in nanotechnology and materials science and host response. The Young Scientists Forum (YSF), designed to stimulate and engage the next generation of researchers, is an integral part of the programme.   -ends-