Tuesday, 27 October 2020

University partners with Sahajanand Medical Technologies to test new device for interventional cardiology NUI Galway and leading medical device company Sahajanand Medical Technologies (SMT) have teamed up to conduct a clinical trial of a new generation of stents on patients suffering the most severe form of coronary artery disease. The Multivessel Talent trial is running at more than 50 locations in eight countries and involves 1550 patients with three-vessel coronary artery disease, which affects about one fifth of all people with heart disease. The trial is sponsored by NUI Galway and will be centrally coordinated by the University’s Corrib Research Centre for Advanced Imaging and Core Laboratory. University Hospital Galway (UHG) is the first European site that has start enrolling patients in the trial. So far four patients have been successfully treated. The trial will run over several years and the research team will periodically assess participating patients. The principal investigator on the trial in Ireland, Professor Faisal Sharif, Professor of Translational Cardiovascular Medicine and Innovation at NUI Galway and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at UHG, said: “As well as it being the most severe form of coronary artery disease, three vessel disease is increasingly an issue for younger people. “Coronary heart disease means that the blood supply to heart muscle is reduced or blocked due to build-up of fatty tissue, which is known as atherosclerosis. There are many risk factors for this condition but unhealthy lifestyle plays a critical role in its progression. “Coronary artery stenting has made great progress in terms of ease of use, clinical outcomes and technological advances. Three vessel coronary artery disease represents one of the most severe forms of the disease and this clinical trial is important as it will assess a new generation of coronary stents for these high-risk patients." Professor Sharif added: “The key aim of the study is to assess future treatments of coronary arteries, long-term patient survival and quality of life.” Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “The commencement of this Multivessel Talent trial, sponsored and led by NUI Galway in partnership with Sahajanand Medical Technologies, will enhance engagement with the regional, national and international medtech industry. “It highlights the central role NUI Galway plays in the medtech sector, both in Ireland and internationally, and it marks a momentous recognition of the excellence of research and development and clinical trial activities here in the University. It also aligns closely with the University’s and national strategic priorities in medtech.” The Multivessel Talent trial is a randomized, multi-centre study implementing best practice interventional cardiology to compare clinical outcomes between two CE-mark approved contemporary coronary devices - SUPRAFLEX Cruz and SYNERGY drug eluting stents. The trial will take place in 50 centres across Europe. All patients will be treated for three vessel disease. This severe form of coronary artery disease is usually seen in patients with diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, a strong family history of heart disease and smoking. Eligible patients from the west of Ireland who have not previously had by-pass surgery will be offered the opportunity to participate in the trial. The trial is co-chaired by CORRIB Research Center for Advanced Imaging and Core Laboratory Professor Patrick W Serruys, Established Professor of Interventional Medicine and Innovation at NUI Galway, and Professor William Wijns, Science Foundation Ireland Professor of Interventional Cardiology at NUI Galway, both of whom are internationally renowned experts in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular disease. Prof Yoshi Onuma, Professor of Interventional Cardiology and medical director of CORRIB Research Centre, is deputy chairman of the trial. Prof Helge Moellmann (Dortmund), Prof Manel Sabate (Barcelona) and Prof Azfar Zaman (Newcastle) will act as global Principle Investigators. Professor Serruys said: “The Multivessel Talent trial is a pan-European trial, applying best practice principles endorsed by the European Society of Cardiology. In addition to assessing the contemporary stents, the trial will also investigate novel methods to assess coronary artery stenosis severity. “SMT is a forefront manufacturer of stents in India, with an international reputation for state-of-the-art stents with ultra-thin struts. This company is partnering with NUI Galway and the CORRIB Research Centre at NUI Galway which will coordinate this study.” Professor Onuma added: “All angiographies will be centrally analysed with Quantitative Flow Reserve (QFR) using MEDIS software in the independent CORRIB Core Lab at NUI Galway that will provide the investigators with clear identification of flow-limiting narrowing. “The hope is that this trial will simplify the treatment for patients with three vessel disease undergoing coronary angioplasty, a non-surgical procedure used to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries of the heart.” NUI Galway has partnered extensively with the medical device industry in both research and development and in clinical trial activities through the HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway. Ends      

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Projects created to foster innovation and collaboration between the research community and public sector Four NUI Galway researchers have received SFI Public Service Fellowship funding awards announced (22 October) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD. The Minister announced 12 research Fellowship awards representing a total grant funding in excess of €700,000. The SFI Public Service Fellowship programme offers academic researchers a unique opportunity to be seconded to Government Departments, agencies and the Library and Research Service of the Oireachtas, to work on specific collaborative research projects. The fellowships awarded will foster innovation within the Public Sector by supporting the development and implementation of data-driven and evidence-based approaches. Minister Harris, said: “I am delighted to support the SFI Public Service Fellowship initiative which will contribute to the Government’s objective of promoting a culture of innovation through collaboration, knowledge exchange and the development of data-driven and evidence-based solutions. The successful researchers will play a pivotal role in enhancing collaboration between the research community and Government for the benefit of society.” The Fellowships will have a duration of between three and 12 months and the researchers from NUI Galway will undertake the following research projects: Dr Áine Ní Leime, Deputy Director, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, received a funding award of €88,751 and will be hosted by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for her project, The Economic Cost of Discrimination and the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace. Dr Ní Leime’s project will measure the cost of discrimination and assess the benefits of diversity in the workplace in order to understand both the needs and potential of a more diverse workforce in Ireland. The research will also assess how the benefits of workplace diversity can be measured and the factors that maximise those benefits both for the economy and for individual organisations. It will assess the cost to the economy of not managing workplace diversity and will help identify the barriers that prevent access to the workplace of people in specific groups - particularly people with disabilities and migrant groups. It will also identify barriers to promotion for certain groups, including migrants and certain groups of women. Dr Rónán Kennedy, School of Law, NUI Galway, received a funding award of €26,460 and will be hosted by the Oireachtas Research and Library Services for his project, Algorithms, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in the Irish Legal Services Market. Dr Kennedy’s project will examine how information technology is enabling new approaches to legal practice and the work of courts, and how Irish law should respond to the rapid innovation that is taking place. Artificial Intelligence-based tools could reduce legal costs and make it easier for individuals to get better-quality legal advice where and when they need it. However, they could also lead to smaller firms being left behind, and the use of Artificial Intelligence to assist with judicial decision-making (as already happens in other countries) could take control away from judges and strengthen existing social biases and prejudices. Dr Kosala Yapa  Mudiyanselage, Discipline of IT, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, received a funding award of €67,288 and will be hosted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for his project, Distributed Ledger Technology - Identifying and Solving Public Service Problems Using the Blockchain. Dr Kosala’s project will explore how to use blockchain technology to improve public sector services. Blockchain is a promising technology to develop trusted and transparent applications. He investigates potential use cases and develops prototypes while discussing with relevant departments. Currently, Dr Kosala has developed a prototype to check the authenticity of courts’ judgements for the courts service in Ireland. Dr Fatemah Ahmadi Zeleti, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway, received a Fellowship award for her project, Research on measuring the benefits and impact of Ireland’s Open Data Initiative, and will be hosted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland said: “Congratulations to all of the Public Service Fellowship award recipients announced today during Public Service Innovation Week. The SFI Public Service Fellowship programme recognises the importance of connecting the Irish research community with public sector organisations to help inform new policy and improve the services that they deliver. The projects announced today will enhance collaboration of the research community with public bodies while also allowing researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers.” -Ends-

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Researchers at NUI Galway have found that being in nature makes us feel better, more connected to one another, and helps us to care for the environment. The NEAR Health project, jointly funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE), was one of the first in Ireland to investigate how Nature and Environment can help society Attain and Restore Health. The findings emphasise the need to invest in and plan for greater access and use of nature-rich outdoor public spaces, ethically and sustainably. People value nature for multiple reasons, for example social, spiritual, emotional, environmental as well as economic, but some people feel disconnected from nature. Recognising the lack of accessible “how to” guides, the NUI Galway researchers have produced a toolkit to help people individually and, in their communities, to engage with nature. The toolkit highlights: how people value and experience nature, health and wellbeing the barriers and bridges to nature connection what people want from their healthy future environment how nature-based activities benefit people’s health and wellbeing. These insights are supported by in-depth, participatory research and collaboration with almost 600 people from communities across Ireland with relevance for individuals, groups, voluntary sector, practitioners and educators, health professionals, policy-makers, planners and local authorities. Workshop participants co-created action plans for a healthy future environment which are a template to live more sustainably helping to build community resilience, as the public make transformative changes post-pandemic and adapt to climate change.  Nature-based activities (NBAs) in Ireland include sea swimming, surf therapy, sailing, nature walks and bat monitoring. Involving a diverse mix of groups, including asylum seekers, those who are less able-bodied, and those recovering from ill-health including mental health, across the lifecourse, benefits included enhanced social connection and wellbeing, reduced stress and anxiety. Dr Caitriona Carlin, NEAR Health project leader, said: “These activities build a sense of pride, and purpose; encouraging people to be more active as well as promoting environmental awareness. Clean-ups and other citizen science initiatives help our environment and contribute valuable records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, while helping to implement Getting Ireland Active, as part of Ireland’s National Physical Activity Plan, and meet other Healthy Ireland targets. Momentum could be gained from funding partnerships across sports, recreation, health, education and nature conservation sectors. In Ireland, biodiverse spaces have high potential for activities that foster a greater sense of connectedness (with ourselves, with others, and with nature), as well as promoting an ethic of care. “Connecting with nature helps us make sense of the world in changing times, and helps us to feel better, but not everyone has equal access or opportunity to do.We need to share, promote, and celebrate new stories and experiences about how and why a healthy, biodiverse environment matters for our health and wellbeing, and lead to a deeper care for the environment.” The toolkit is available at http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/health/nearhealth-toolkit.html The full report is available at http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/health/research348.html or view highlights of the project at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1lO8SN1CNs&feature=youtu.be This project is jointly funded by HSE and EPA. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Environment, Communications, and Climate Action. It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of co-ordinating and promoting environmental research. -Ends-

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Ireland’s first science film festival asks audiences to ‘Join the conversation’ in a time when the public rely heavily on accurate and sensitive scientific facts and research Today marks the official launch of the ‘Science on Screen Film Festival Ireland’ an exciting new annual Irish Film Festival, running from the 5-8 November 2020 online. The free online Festival will showcase the best of science in film and this year incorporates themes of representation and diversity in science and the value of art-science collaborations. The Festival tagline, ‘Join the conversation’ invites audiences of all types to immerse themselves in scientific storytelling, hear from filmmakers and researchers on critical topics such as climate change and health research, and take the opportunity to question leading scientists on cutting-edge research. The Festival is hosted by CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, and Galway Film Centre who established the successful Science on Screen scheme in 2016. The Festival programme will be announced at the end of October 2020 and will include science themed feature films and short film programmes, as well as all of the original Science on Screen documentaries. These documentaries tell the stories of patients living with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s, diabetes and stroke recovery and the Irish researchers working to improve their quality of life. Over 200 primary school children from around Ireland have submitted their questions for the ‘Ask A Scientist’ panel session, to be broadcast online on Friday, 6 November at 11am, following a selection of three minute science films created by school children for ReelLIFE SCIENCE’s programme in recent years. The Ask A Scientist session will be chaired by two sixth class students from Gaelscoil Riabhach in Loughrea, Co Galway, who will put the questions to a panel of three top researchers in biological, engineering and environmental sciences. The opening feature for the Science on Screen Film Festival, called ‘Picture a Scientist’ will be hosted as part of the Science Foundation Ireland Annual Summit. Picture a Scientist chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries - including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists - who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all. The film will be followed by a panel discussion on representation and diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director, CÚRAM, NUI Galway, said: “We are very proud to be launching the first Science on Screen Film Festival this year. Ireland really is a nation of scientists and storytellers, something that has been illustrated particularly well through the award winning documentaries produced through the Science on Screen programme in recent years. CÚRAM’s public engagement programme aims to provide easy opportunities for the public to ‘join the conversation’ about Irish research and the role of science in society generally. This year the programme will focus on themes of representation, diversity and public trust in science, as well as looking at ideas and opportunities for greater collaboration between science and the arts to create better access to and awareness of research that impacts us all.” Alan Duggan, Manager, Galway Film Centre, said: “We are delighted to be launching Ireland’s first Science Film Festival in partnership with CÚRAM. Building on the success of the Science on Screen documentaries, which have reached an audience of over one million worldwide, the festival will showcase the engaging and thought provoking content that is born from collaboration between our industries. In a time when our reliance on the accurate and sensitive portrayal of scientific facts and research is more important than ever, there is no better moment to ask audiences to join the conversation.” Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), said: “SFI has been developing initiatives to improve the participation of women in STEM careers for some time, as well as funding projects that can help to ensure inclusivity and a diversity of voices in STEM research. There is still much collective work to be done however, to address bias, harassment and the lack of opportunity, diversity and equality for underrepresented groups, such as people of colour, those with disabilities, migrants, those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and the LGBTQ+ community. “I am particularly pleased to see the Science on Screen Festival promote the ‘Join the conversation’ hashtag, as it is only through multiway dialogue, and by actively listening to those impacted, that we can really improve institutional and toxic workplace culture. The ‘Picture a Scientist’ film is a powerful example of courageous individuals breaking barriers, which in turn can create lasting cultural and political change, which I believe will prove to be both inspirational and motivational to the research community here.” The Science on Screen Film Festival forms part of CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’, which aims to forge collaborations between researchers and the community to support the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most informed and scientifically engaged public. ‌ View the Festival Trailer here: https://vimeo.com/470302101 Further information on the film programme, speakers and themes will be released on the Festival website at the end of October at www.curamdevicesengage.ie. For more information contact sosfestival@galwayfilmcentre.ie. The Festival is free to attend, but ticket numbers are limited and registration is essential. -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The book interrogates the human consequences of conflict and displacement, challenges the thinking of statist security agendas that divide the world into zones of sanctuary and abandonment, and reflects critically upon our interconnected global sense of precarity NUI Galway Lecturer, Dr John Morrissey has published his fifth book, Haven: The Mediterranean Crisis and Human Security, which presents a transformative understanding of security in responding to the Mediterranean refugee crisis by drawing critically on the UN concept of ‘human security’. From a range of Arts, Humanities and Social Science disciplines, and through case studies incorporating key governmental, NGO and refugee perspectives, the book critiques the major geopolitical, economic and social issues of the crisis. It documents the prioritisation of population management techniques that are underpinned by conventional territorial logics of security, before considering the alternative priorities of human security that can facilitate an active human rights framework and a more holistic and humanitarian interventionism. In advancing a human security approach to the crisis, Haven: The Mediterranean Crisis and Human Security interrogates the human consequences of conflict and displacement, challenges the impoverished thinking of statist security agendas that divide the world into zones of sanctuary and abandonment, and reflects critically upon our interconnected global sense of precarity, particularly so in the Covid-19 world. Dr Morrissey said: “Haven: The Mediterranean Crisis and Human Security was inspired by three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s tragic drowning in September of 2015. I was deeply affected by the photographs of his little body washed up and hauntingly alone on a Turkish beach. The book is dedicated to all those who have died in the Mediterranean over the last five years, and dedicated too to a determined calling out of our responsibility in Europe to safeguard human rights and human security for all. “My thanks to the wonderful colleagues and graduate students who fed so inspiringly into an Irish Research Council project I received funding for in 2016. The book is a culmination of that project, and the contributions, which come from leading international writers, Irish Navy personnel, students and activists, reflect a deep empathy and concern for solidarity in an interconnected world – a world whose precarities have become even more acute and visible since the outbreak of Covid-19.” Dr Morrissey is a Senior Lecturer in Geography, Programme Director of the MA in Environment, Society and Development, and Associate Director of the Moore Institute for Humanities at NUI Galway. He has published widely in the areas of geopolitics, security and international development. His other books include: Negotiating Colonialism; Key Concepts in Historical Geography; Spatial Justice and the Irish Crisis; and The Long War: CENTCOM, Grand Strategy and Global Security. His research has been supported by various grants, from the British Academy and UK Economic and Social Research Council, to the Irish Research Council and Clinton Institute for American Studies, and in recent years he has held prestigious visiting fellowships at City University of New York, Virginia Tech, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and Australian National University. The book was supported by the Academic Council on the United Nations System, an NUI Publications Prize and an NUI Galway Grant-in-Aid Award. -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The first session of this semester’s Druid Academy, open to NUI Galway students and staff, will take place today (Wednesday, 21 October) from 4pm- 6pm online. Following on from NUI Galway’s close partnership with Druid Theatre Company, the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies are delighted to work with Druid to present the Druid Academy, where students have the opportunity to connect with, and learn from, practitioners working in the field across a large number of roles - from producing, directing, performance and playwrighting, to creative roles such as costume and set design, to administrative roles such as marketing and fundraising. Professor Patrick Lonergan, Drama and Theatre Studies, NUI Galway, says: “This week’s focus is Costumeand we will be kicking off the Druid Academy for this semester with an interview with Clíodhna Hallissey, costume designer for Druid's recent production of Tom Murphy’s one-act play On the Outside and costume supervisor for Druid’s landmark tour of the one-act plays of Lady Gregory, DruidGregory. Clíodhna is a graduate of the Drama and Theatre Studies department and we’re delighted to have her back to speak about her career in professional theatre to date.” The session will take the form of a 45 minute interview followed by questions. Clíodhna will talk about her work in costume supervision and costume design, and early-career trajectories in theatre in Galway and Ireland. The following is the full schedule for the Druid Academy for this semester (please note that this is subject to change, based on practitioners’ availability).  All sessions will take place online on Wednesdays from 4pm - 6pm. Druid Academy Schedule 2020-2021 – Semester 1 28/10/20 - Reading and Development Week 04/11/20 – Brian Fenton, Producer – Starting out as a producer, commissioning new work and producing during a pandemic 11/11/20 - Sonja Kelly, Playwright – Playwrighting, writing for a commission, creating and acting in your own work 18/11/20 – Sara Joyce, Director – Directing and assistant directing 25/11/20 – Alison Greene, Marketing and Communications – Audience engagement, marketing and communications (Alison is a former graduate of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway) Clíodhna Hallissey is arecent graduate of the BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and English at NUI Galway. Clíodhna was the 2019/2020 recipient of the Marie Mullen Bursary for female theatre artists working in the fields of design, directing and dramaturgy. Clíodhna has worked with Druid on a number of productions, most recently as Costume Designer for On the Outside and Costume Supervisor for DruidGregory.  She was Assistant Costume Designer and Dresser for The Cherry Orchard and Costume Dresser for DruidShakespeare: Richard III at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Her other work in theatre includes: Costume Designer for Ar Ais Arís (Brú Theatre/Galway 2020); An Dara Réalt, Yummy Mummy (An Taibhdhearc); Aisling? (Ealaíon na Gaeltachta); BAOITE (An Taibhdhearc / Abbey Theatre); Costume Assistant and Dresser for Grief is the Thing with Feathers (Landmark Productions); The Country Girls (Abbey Theatre). Clíodhna’s work in film and television includes: Costume Designer for Living with a Fairy 2; Costume Assistant for Mr. Mender and The Chummyjiggers; Costume Trainee for Wild Mountain Thyme. The Druid Academy is a ten year partnership with NUI Galway that covers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Drama, Theatre and Performance, as well as PhD research opportunities. Borne out of a vision of Galway as a location for the creation of excellent theatre, teaching in the Druid Academy follows the Druid approach, focusing on ensemble as a mode of performance, rigorous critical analysis of theatre, by both practitioners and audiences, and an awareness of the importance of audience, in a variety of locations: locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The Druid Academy sessions take place online through Blackboard and can be accessed at: https://eu.bbcollab.com/guest/5ab05488c4cf44658e63a2124c2652a5. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

NUI Galway has contributed to a documentary about the death by hunger strike, one hundred years ago, of Terence MacSwiney, who is regarded as one of the most important events in the history of the Irish revolutionary period. 74 Days: The Hunger Strike of Terence MacSwiney will broadcast on Wednesday, 21 October on RTÉ One at 9.30pm. Presented by NUI Galway historian, Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, ’74 Days’ uses contemporary science insights alongside the original medical notes recorded during MacSwiney’s hunger strike to recreate the story of the last 74 days of his life, and to shine fresh perspective onto a pivotal moment in recent history. Terence MacSwiney’s 74-day hunger strike is one of the longest on record. His actions subsequently inspired similar acts worldwide, most notably by Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Born in Cork in 1879, Terence James MacSwiney was an Irish playwright, author and politician. He was elected as Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. He was arrested by the British Government on charges of sedition and imprisoned in Brixton Prison where he died by hunger strike on October 1920. MacSwiney’s hunger strike was a catalyst for the intensification of Ireland’s War of Independence. Following his death, and the publicity garnered across the world by the circumstances in which he died, the British government returned to the negotiating table in respect of Ireland. The eventual outcome of which was the establishment, in 1922, of the Irish Free State. Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, Discipline of History, NUI Galway, said: “Terence MacSwiney’s hunger strike is not only a pivotal moment in the history of the Irish revolution, but in the history of resistance and activism globally. Central to this story are the women in MacSwiney’s life, his sisters Mary and Annie and his wife Muriel and their treatment both during the strike and after his death. For me, the programme reveals much about how this strike felt and was experienced, while also exploring MacSwiney the individual, his life, his family, and his legacy.” Terence MacSwiney’s hunger strike is one of the great, marginal stories from modern Irish history: he is arguably better known internationally - in places like Vietnam and Catalonia – than he is at home. Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley argues that his story needs to now be told at home.  In this documentary, Dr Buckley builds a thesis using the personal letters, diaries and witness statements of three extraordinary women central to the hunger strike and who were by MacSwiney’s bedside throughout it: his wife Muriel and his sisters Annie and Mary. These three women were witnesses to history, as well as active participants and victims of it. Elsewhere, Sarah-Anne works closely with Dr Phil Kieran and Clinical Psychologist Eddie Murphy to shed contemporary medical insight onto the impact of hunger striking. Combining first-person, eye-witness testimony from the period with high-end digital technology, they re-create a contemporary medical model that captures MacSwiney’s hunger strike on a day-by-day basis.  Contributors include John Borgonovo, Ciara Breathnach, Daniel Breen, Linda Hogan, Tomás MacConmara, Laurence McKeown, William Murphy, Niall Murray, Helene O’Keeffe, and Anne Twomey. 74 Days: The Hunger Strike of Terence MacSwiney was directed by Ciara Hyland of ForeFront Productions for RTÉ and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence fee. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

NUI Galway has launched a unique dual Medicine-Engineering, or Physicianeer, programme. The new dual programme will allow students to pursue a specialised Engineering stream in their Undergraduate Medical degree programme, awarding the student with both a Medical and Biomedical Engineering degree (MB, BCh, BAO, BE) upon completion. Developed by NUI Galway’s Professor Derek O’Keeffe and Dr Ted Vaughan, this is the first European dual Medicine-Engineering academic degree track which is currently only available in select institutions worldwide including the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences Technology programme USA and the National University of Singapore. This world class dual Medicine–Engineering programme will only be available to a stellar cohort of less than five students, who will be selected to the Physicianeer programme based on aptitude, academic merit and interview. Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology NUI Galway and Consultant Physician at University Hospital Galway, said: “Physicians working in the healthcare environment regularly identify clinical problems that need to be solved and Engineers have the skillset to achieve this. This combined Physicianeer programme offers an interdisciplinary learning environment and will allow the development of technology, systems and solutions encompassing the full innovation cycle from bedside to bench to bedside. “The Physicianeer programme at NUI Galway represents a new paradigm in medical education by integrating Engineering training to produce patient centred innovation. We are looking for students with a strong track record of academic excellence, the best of the best to take part in this pioneering programme to improve patient lives.” Dr Ted Vaughan, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “This programme will build upon the strong links between Biomedical Engineering and Medicine at NUI Galway and will deliver a breadth of knowledge across both disciplines, placing a significant emphasis on problem-solving skills that will produce future innovators for the med-tech sector.” Dr Vaughan continued: “Ireland is uniquely placed to develop a dual Medicine–Engineering Undergraduate degree as we have a leading role in the global medical technology sector. We currently have 450 medical technology companies in Ireland of which 50% are indigenous and eight of the top 10 global medical technology companies are represented here in Galway. “Over 29,000 people are employed in this sector, the highest per capita proportion of workforce than any country in Europe. Ireland is currently the world leader in the production of drug eluting stents and produces half of the world’s hospital ventilators and a third of all contact lenses globally. We are currently the second largest exporter of medical technology products in Europe valued at €12.6 billion.” Dr Sinead Keogh, Director of Med-Tech and Engineering at IBEC, welcomed the announcement saying: “This innovative Physicianeer programme will produce graduates ideally placed to contribute to and grow the medical technology sector as well as improving patient care.” The first student intake of the Physicianeer programme will be in September 2021. For more information visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/physicianeerdegree/. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2020

NUI Galway will host their Autumn Undergraduate Open Day on Saturday, 24 October from 12-4pm. The event, which has been reimagined as a virtual event in line with current public health guidelines, will provide an extensive interactive online experience which will allow students, parents and guidance counsellors to explore courses and careers and to connect with NUI Galway staff and students throughout the day. During the Open Day participants will have the opportunity to explore courses, careers and support services by visiting the virtual exhibition which will include 89 virtual stalls, where visitors can download relevant details, watch videos, and web chat to the stall representatives.  NUI Galway offers over 70 undergraduate courses which can be explored both at the relevant stalls and also at the live online presentations. The 45 live presentations will take place across five parallel rooms and visitors are encouraged to view the schedule in advance and plan their day. Live online talks include introductions to broad subject areas including arts, business, law, engineering, science, medicine and nursing, as well as introductions to more niche, specialised courses. New courses for entry in 2021 are also featured in the schedule of live talks including the new Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) and the new Bachelor of Arts (Global Media). A key part of any open day is the opportunity to hear from current students and their experiences. The Virtual Open Day will begin with a live panel discussion, ‘Student Voices: Preparing for College 2021’, featuring students from across a range of disciplines sharing their top tips for choosing courses, starting college and managing pressure. Sarah Geraghty, Director of Student Recruitment and Outreach at NUI Galway, said: “The Leaving Certificate class of 2021 are facing a challenging year and the aim of our Open Day is to support students and parents as they start to think about college options for next year. We hope the Open Day will be an informative and dynamic event which will help students to focus on the study and career opportunities that awaits them, and how they can prepare now for their life at university.” Representatives from NUI Galway’s support services teams will be available to chat with students and parents, including stalls dedicated to accommodation, admissions, fees and other professional and support services. The Access Centre will provide information on the alternative entry routes to third level education including Mature Students’ entry, HEAR/DARE schemes and QQI/FETAC Level 5 places. Staff from Shannon College of Hotel Management and St. Angela’s College Sligo will also be available on the day. Registration is required in advance of the event to access the virtual open day platform at www.nuigalway.ie/opendays, or email visit@nuigalway.ie for further information. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2020

Reáchtálfaidh OÉ Gaillimh Lá Oscailte Fochéime an Fhómhair Dé Sathairn, an 24 Deireadh Fómhair ó 12-4pm. Is ócáid fhíorúil a bheidh anseo de réir na dtreoirlínte sláinte poiblí reatha ach is eispéireas fairsing idirghníomhach ar líne a bheidh ann a thabharfaidh an deis do dhaltaí, do thuismitheoirí agus do chomhairleoirí gairmthreorach eolas a chur ar chúrsaí agus ar ghairmeacha) agus nascadh le foireann agus le mic léinn OÉ Gaillimh i rith an lae. Le linn an Lae Oscailte beidh deis ag rannpháirtithe eolas a chur ar chúrsaí, ar ghairmeacha beatha agus ar sheirbhísí tacaíochta trí chuairt a thabhairt ar thaispeántais fhíorúla ina mbeidh 89 seastán fíorúil, áit ar féidir le cuairteoirí sonraí ábhartha a íoslódáil, féachaint ar fhíseáin, agus comhrá gréasáin a dhéanamh le hionadaithe na seastán.  Cuireann OÉ Gaillimh os cionn 70 cúrsa fochéime ar fáil. Is féidir iad a fheiceáil ag na seastáin ábhartha agus ag na láithreoireachtaí beo ar líne freisin. Beidh na 45 cur i láthair beo i gcúig sheomra ag an am céanna agus moltar do chuairteoirí breathnú ar an sceideal roimh ré agus a lá a phleanáil. I measc na gcainteanna beo tá blaiseadh de réimsí leathana ábhair cosúil leis na dána, gnó, dlí, innealtóireacht, eolaíocht, leigheas agus altranas, chomh maith le blaiseadh beag de chúrsaí eile níos sainiúla. Tá cúrsaí nua a bheidh ag tosú in 2021 i measc na gcainteanna beo lena n-áirítear an Baitsiléir Eolaíochta nua (Eolaíocht Talmhaíochta) agus an Baitsiléir nua sna Dána (Meáin Dhomhanda). Cuid lárnach d’aon lá oscailte is ea an deis cloisteáil ó mhic léinn reatha faoina dtaithí féin. Tosóidh an Lá Oscailte Fíorúil le plé painéil beo, ‘Guthanna na Mac Léinn: Ag ullmhú do Choláiste 2021’, áit a mbeidh mic léinn ó réimse disciplíní ag roinnt a gcuid leideanna maidir le cúrsaí a roghnú, tosú sa choláiste agus brú a bhainistiú. Bhí an méid seo le rá ag Sarah Geraghty, Stiúrthóir Earcaíochta Mac Léinn agus For-rochtana in OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá bliain dhúshlánach os comhair rang Ardteistiméireachta 2021 agus is é aidhm ár Lá Oscailte tacú le daltaí agus lena dtuismitheoirí agus iad ag tosú ag smaoineamh ar roghanna coláiste don bhliain seo chugainn. Tá súil againn go mbeidh neart eolais le fáil ag an ócáid dhinimiciúil seo a chabhróidh le daltaí díriú ar na deiseanna staidéir agus gairme atá rompu, agus ar an gcaoi ar féidir leo ullmhú anois dá saol ollscoile.” Beidh ionadaithe ó sheirbhísí tacaíochta OÉ Gaillimh ar fáil freisin le labhairt le daltaí agus le tuismitheoirí agus beidh deis lóistín, iontrálacha, táillí agus ceisteanna eile gairmiúla agus tacaíochta a phlé ag seastáin ar leith. Cuirfidh an tIonad Rochtana eolas ar fáil faoi na bealaí iontrála éagsúla chuig oideachas tríú leibhéal cosúil le háiteanna do Mhic Léinn Lánfhásta, scéimeanna HEAR/DARE agus áiteanna QQI/FETAC Leibhéal 5. Beidh comhaltaí foirne ó Choláiste Ósta na Sionna agus ó Choláiste San Aingeal, Sligeach ar fáil ar an lá freisin. Ní mór clárú roimh an ócáid chun rochtain a fháil ar ardán fíorúil an lae oscailte ag www.nuigalway.ie/opendays, nó seol ríomhphost chuig visit@nuigalway.ie le haghaidh tuilleadh eolais. -Críoch-

Monday, 19 October 2020

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission shows that 23% of respondents would consider relocating, while 7% have already moved Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have published summary data from the second phase of the national remote working survey. The remote working study findings inform employers about employee experiences of remote working. The survey focused on those employees who are currently working fully remotely or a mix of and onsite and remote.  The survey gathered responses from more than 5,600 employees six months after lockdown. Led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at Western Development Commission, the survey found that, among those who can work remotely, 94% were in favour of working remotely on an on-going basis for some or all of the time. The majority of those, 54%, said they would like to work remotely several times a week, 27% said five days a week, and 13% said several times a month. Those who would like to work remotely five days a week (27%) is more than double those who shared that view in the first national survey conducted by the NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission team in April when it was 12% in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown. The overwhelming majority (94%) is a significant increase from the 83% who wanted to work remotely in the April survey. Conversely, only 6% indicated in the second phase that they did not wish to work remotely to any extent – a drop from 16% who gave that response in April. The number of respondents working fully remotely fell from 87% in April to 68% in the first week of October as there was more of a mix of onsite and remote in the latest survey. 23% of respondents said they would consider relocating within Ireland based on their experience of remote working since COVID-19. A further 7% said they had already moved and the West (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon), the South-west (Cork and Kerry) and the Mid-West (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary) were the top regions respondents have relocated to. 16% said they may consider moving, while just over half (54%) said they would not consider relocating. Loneliness and isolation, staying motivated and difficulties with the physical workspace were identified as the main challenges to working remotely. These challenges had changed since April, when not being able to switch off from work, collaborating and communicating with colleagues and poor physical workspace were the main challenges identified. There was no change to the top three benefits of working remotely; identified as no traffic and no commute, greater flexibility in how to manage the working day and reduced costs of going to work and commuting. Interestingly, in the context of work/life balance, 36% of respondents said that they did not respond to emails outside of working hours. Of all respondents, one in four (26%) respond because they choose to, while another 26% respond because of workload. It is important to note that the survey asks about remote work, which includes both working from home and working from another location, for example a hub. Speaking about the second national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The second NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with over 5,600 responses. There is a resounding demand from employees to continue to work remotely post-crisis. The remote working experience presents a game-changer for how many organisations will manage their workforce into the future.  For those who can work remotely, they seem to have settled into it quite effectively six months on from lockdown.”     Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “The information collected in these surveys will help to ensure that the correct measures are in place to support those working remotely. Identifying the opportunities and challenges will mean that remote working infrastructure such as broadband and remote working hubs, for example, will allow both individuals and communities to minimise the challenges and to make the most of this fundamental shift in the way we work.” The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the second national remote working survey which are available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites.  Further publications will be made available. The report and key statistics from the first national survey in April are also available on these websites. To view both surveys on the Whitaker Institute’s Project page, visit: http://bit.ly/remote-working-survey. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2020

UCD calls on Galway company who specialize in advanced digital assessment solutions used in medical exams to facilitate online clinical exams after Dublin moves to Level 3 restrictions Qpercom, a Galway-based IT company and NUI Galway spin out has provided a software solution to facilitate the first of a series of final year clinical skills exams using remote video technology, for UCD School of Medicine and Medical Sciences. Qpercom Observe is an advanced digital assessment solution used in medicine, nursing, veterinary, dentistry and health sciences by universities across the globe. With video integration added to help universities maintain their exam schedules during the Covid-19 pandemic, the technology is now seen as crucial and is available to a wider educational community. St. Vincent’s University Hospital and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital are the two main centres where UCD Medical students carry out their Psychiatry clinical placements but the introduction of Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions in Dublin meant that clinical exams could not go ahead at these venues as normal this semester. Every year, approximately 200 students attend St Vincent’s or the Mater to participate in a staged Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), an examination used by education institutions to test clinical skills. When it became clear that Dublin was to be placed under Level 3 restrictions, Professor Allys Guérandel of St Vincent’s Department of Psychiatry embraced the option of facilitating the exams using video technology and called on Dr Thomas Kropmans, Qpercom’s CEO and a senior lecturer at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine, to facilitate. Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO, Qpercom, said: “Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet have changed the world of communications, however this particular exam requires a flow of students going through a series of consecutive stations (video rooms) with simulated patients or actors while examiners complete their assessment form while observing the same video room. This functionality is missing in these established platforms but Qpercom’s platform can manage the process with ease.” Professor Allys Guérandel, St Vincent’s Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, said: “These exams are crucial for our medical students and we are obliged to ensure that students are competent and well equipped to practice medicine. Adding video to Qpercom Observe is unique in its kind and allows us to assess students remotely, no matter where they practice medicine.” On designing the online clinical exams, Enda Griffin, Technical Sales Executive at Qpercom, said: “It was not easy. Technically and logistically it was a major challenge but thankfully we managed the examination and 90% of students were examined remotely without being in close contact with actors or examiners. This opens doors for other oral examinations and communication skills examinations in many other industries.” David Cunningham, Qpercom co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, saying: “Moving students from one video station to the next, while all parties participate remotely, be they actor/patients or examiner/interviewer and the retrieval of assessment data, all represent major logistical and technical challenges but they are challenges which we believe we have solved using Qpercom Observe.” Kelvin Nunn, Project Manager at Qpercom, said: “We’re not fully there yet but we are very grateful to Professor Guérandel and her team for their trust today as the first research department in Europe supporting this proof of concept.” For more information about Qpercom visit: https://www.qpercom.com. -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2020

NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences have announced the appointment of Derek Stewart OBE as Honorary Professor for his work as a patient advocate involved in health research. Born in Ayr, Scotland, Derek was treated successfully for cancer of the larynx in 1995. A former teacher in Glasgow and Nottinghamshire, he subsequently became involved in numerous aspects of patient involvement at local, national and international levels. Derek has made significant contributions to Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in research in the UK, holding many important roles over the years and was awarded an OBE in 2006 for his services to health, in particular cancer care. He is recognised internationally as a public involvement champion and brings meaning and insight into the value of PPI for research. In recent years, he has played a key role supporting the development of PPI in NUI Galway, contributing substantially to many programmes of research including PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway, the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network and Evidence Synthesis Ireland. PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway aims to bring about a change in how research is planned and conducted, so that the communities or people who will be affected by the research findings work as partners with researchers to increase the relevance and improve the quality of the research. The HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, among many other areas of work, are creators of iHealthFacts.ie where the public can quickly and easily check the reliability of a health claim circulated by social media and also led The People’s Trial, a public-led virtual randomised trial. Evidence Synthesis Ireland was responsible for providing up-to-date evidence in answering COVID-related questions for national and international decision-makers during the pandemic. Derek willingly shares his knowledge and experience of PPI with researchers across the University, and brings his experienced patient perspective to help shape complex research studies. As a champion of patient involvement in researchhis reflective and incisive contributions to research discussions present new, public and patient perspectives to researchers, often challenging conventional thinking. He has contributed significantly to the growing recognition of NUI Galway as a leader in PPI. On achieving this Honorary Professorship Derek Stewart OBE said: “I feel very privileged to be associated in this manner with NUI Galway, an internationally recognised centre of learning, particularly in the way the public can get involved with health research.” Mary Roche, a PPI Contributor in NUI Galway, said: “When I heard Derek talking about his PPI work, I found him inspirational, enlightening, humorous and thought-provoking. Given Derek’s journey through his care and treatment for throat cancer, I will never forget his powerful statement ‘while you’ve still got a voice, use it’. Derek made me feel confident that, as a PPI contributor, it is precisely my direct experience that can provide insights that are of great value to those providing health and social care services or seeking to do research.” Professor Declan Devane, Professor of Midwifery, NUI Galway, said: “I am very pleased that Derek has been appointed as Honorary Professor to NUI Galway. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Derek across a number of important projects. He brings not only a wealth of expertise but a generosity in sharing his insight to ensure that patient and public involvement and engagement in research is both meaningful and purposeful. Partnerships between patients, the public and the University and its work are important goals in our University's strategy. I am delighted for Derek, his wife Pat and his family, and for our University. I have no doubt that Derek’s contribution will also help ensure that our contribution remains focussed on, and develops further, in a meaningful and purposeful way." Professor Sean Dinneen, Professor of Diabetic Medicine, NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist, Galway University Hospitals, Galway, Ireland has welcomed this conferral: “Honorary Professor Derek Stewart has been a huge support to our local efforts in NUI Galway to embed PPI in our research processes. His understanding of what constitutes meaningful PPI has been an inspiration to us. We look forward to further contact with Derek in the years ahead.” NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh will welcome Honorary Professor Derek Stewart in delivering his Inaugural Professorial Lecture online on Wednesday, 4 November at 1pm. The lecture is open to the public and registration is via Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/DerekStewartHonProf For further information please contact the PPI Ignite Office @ NUI Galway at ppi@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 16 October 2020

NUI Galway, in collaboration with Foróige, have been awarded research funding for a new project “Bridging Worlds - New Learning Spaces for New Times”, which aims to bridge the gap between formal and non-formal learning context and space. Funded by Rethink Ireland and the Innovate Together fund the project has been conceptualised, from the outset to support young people, teachers, school leaders and youth workers - with a shared focus on the quality of all young people’s learning. While the focus is on all learners, the project has a core objective of enhancing and reimagining the educational infrastructure around learning spaces for marginalised and disadvantaged learners who typically struggle. The project is seeking participation from schools in Galway city and county, Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon – particularly Transition Year teachers. The project wants to work with and provide training for TY teachers who would you like to upskill in new projects that could be interesting and delivered in TY. Training in online and blended  learning provision will be provided along with learning more about youth work and nonformal approaches to education provided by Foróige. The project will introduce innovative evidence based programmes developed for nonformal settings to be delivered in and out of school. The “Bridging Worlds - New Learning Spaces for New Times” project is a collaboration between NUI Galway’s School of Education and UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and Foróige, collaborating with Insight Research Centre for Data Analytics and NUI Galway Student Services. The research is being led by a team at NUI Galway - Dr Cornelia Connolly, Dr Bernadine Brady, Dr. Cliona Murray, Professor Gerry MacRuairc, and Professor Pat Dolan, and Seán Campbell, CEO and Sarah Haslam, Director of Programmes & Research from Foróige. Dr Cornelia Connolly, School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “The legacy of this work will be contributing to a reconceptualization of where and how children and young people learn, with specific reference to an outcome that ensures that all children and young people can benefit from the intersection of formal and non-formal education.” For more information about the project please contact learningspaces4newtimes@gmail.com or follow on twitter @bridging_worlds -Ends-

Friday, 16 October 2020

NUI Galway will host the 29th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2020) virtually from 19-23 October 2020. With over 700 already registered, CIKM, which started in 1992, is one of the major conferences in the domain of Knowledge Management and Data Science. The conference seeks to identify challenging problems facing the development of future knowledge and information systems, and to shape future directions of research by soliciting and reviewing high quality, applied and theoretical research findings. Professor Mathieu d'Aquin, CIKM2020 General Co-Chair, Data Science Institute, NUI Galway, said: “With AI and Data Science being core components of the university's research strategy, hosting such a prestigious conference as CIKM is very exciting. Having to move to an online conference was a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to reach out to more people around those topics and it fits perfectly with our sustainability theme!” An important part of the conference are the Workshops and Tutorial programs which will focus on timely research challenges and initiatives –bringing together research papers, industry speakers and keynote speakers. This year's themes are sustainability, transparency and fairness, and will feature four keynote speakers: Xin Luna Dong, Principal Scientist at Amazon Dr Michel Dumontier, Distinguished Professor of Data Science at Maastricht University and co-founder of the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data principles Carlo Curino, Principal Scientist Manager at Gray Systems Lab Timnit Gebru, Co-lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence research team at Google The conference will feature a research track, applied research track, posters and demos, AnalytiCup challenges, and for the first time a resource track and a doctoral consortium for PhD students to share their research topics. Live Q&A sessions will be provided after the live presentations, where forums and direct messaging will feature on the Whova conference app, and two CIKMConnect sessions will allow sponsors to meet with attendees who are interested in opportunities. To register or for more information on CIKM2020 visit https://www.cikm2020.org/ or follow on Twitter @cikm2020. -Ends-

Thursday, 15 October 2020

NUI Galway researchers and the public work together to answer the question ‘Does reading a book in bed make a difference to sleep compared to not reading in bed?’ The Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway has today announced the results of The People’s Trial. The study is one of the first of its kind to involve members of the public in co-creating their own online randomised trial. The overall aim of The People’s Trial is to support the public’s understanding of randomised trials and their processes, so that the public can be better informed as to why clinical trials are important and how they can be used to answer important health questions. Randomised trials are instrumental in providing reliable and robust evidence on the benefits, harms and costs of health care, so that people can make informed choices. Using an online, custom-built, platform, the People’s Trial team at NUI Galway handed every step of the trial process over to members of the public, from selecting the question the trial should try to answer and developing the trial design, to carrying out the trial and reporting its findings. In that way, the public became citizen scientists and carried out their own randomised trial. People representing over 40 countries across the world decided that The People’s Trial would try to find out the answer to: Does reading a book in bed make a difference to sleep compared to not reading in bed? During December 2019, almost 1,000 members of the public from 43 countries agreed to take part in a trial to help tackle this question. These 991 people were put into one of two groups: 496 (50%) went into the ‘reading a book in bed’ group (the Intervention Group) and 495 (50%) went into the ‘not reading a book in bed’ group (the Control Group). Categorisation of participants in each group was decided by chance (called randomisation), which meant that everyone had an equal chance of being in the Intervention Group or in the Control Group. Participants were asked to participate in their category for seven consecutive days. Overall, it was found that reading a book in bed before going to sleep improved sleep. 42% (156 people) in the ‘reading a book in bed’ group felt their sleep improved compared to 28% (112 people) in the ‘not reading a book in bed’ group. Professor Declan Devane, Scientific Director of the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network, NUI Galway, said: “We set out to meaningfully involve the public in designing, conducting and sharing the findings of their own randomised trial. Over 3,000 members of the public, from 72 countries, participated in The People’s Trial. This shows that initiatives such as this can help the public learn about randomised trials, to understand why they matter, and to be better equipped to think critically about how health research is conducted.” “We are delighted that so many people got involved and because they did, we are able to make a reliable claim that in people similar to those who took part in this trial, reading a book in bed before sleeping, in the manner done in this trial, has a positive effect on quality of sleep compared to not reading a book in bed. Personally, I’m going to start reading in bed again!” To learn more about The People’s Trial visit: https://thepeoplestrial.ie/ and for more information email info@thepeoplestrial.ie or follow on Twitter @thepeoplestrial, Facebook and Instagram. The study is funded by the Health Research Board under the Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme Award. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

NUI Galway researchers designed toolkit to identify and address barriers to hand hygiene compliance Research led from NUI Galway has resulted in the publication of a toolkit to help staff in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to identify barriers to hand hygiene compliance, and the interventions that can be used to addressed these barriers. This toolkit is the accumulation of more than three years of Health Research Board funded research on hand hygiene in the ICU, and was carried out with the collaboration of ICU staff from across Ireland, the public, and national and international researchers. Healthcare associated infections, infections acquired in a healthcare setting such as a hospital, are the most frequent complications experienced by hospital patients, and affect 4% of patients worldwide and account for almost 100,000 deaths annually in the United States. Healthcare associated infections are of particular concern in the ICU, where prevalence rates between 20% and 30% have been reported. Effective hand hygiene practices are considered to be one of the most important strategy for preventing these types of infections. The aim of the recently completed Health Research Board funded project ‘A Moment for Hand Hygiene in the Intensive Care Unit: How Can Compliance Be Improved?’ was to take a scientific approach to identifying how to improve hand hygiene in Irish ICUs. This project was led by Dr Paul O’Connor from NUI Galway’s School of Medicine, with support from leading national and international researchers, and ICU staff- particularly from the Saolta Healthcare group. Dr O’Connor said: “Although hand hygiene practice is simple to carry out, the behaviour related to hand hygiene is complex and is not readily understood, explained, or changed. International bodies, such as the World Health Organization, have made recommendations for how to improve hand hygiene practices. However, there are serious weaknesses in the research evidence to guide the implementation of these recommendations. As a result, interventions to improve hand hygiene practices are often not based on sound scientific knowledge, may be of limited effectiveness, and limited resources are not being used efficiently.” Dr Michael Power, Co-Principal Investigator on the project and Clinical Lead of the National Clinical Programme for Critical Care, stated:  “The project is a rigorous analysis of the factors influencing hand hygiene behaviour in Ireland. We know that hand hygiene interrupts the transmission of bacteria and viruses - it is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The project found that there was potential to improve hand hygiene practice in ICUs. In general ICUs in Ireland had the required equipment and resources to carry out hand hygiene, and ICU staff recognised the importance of hand hygiene in preventing infection. However, it was found that ICU staff may over-estimate how often they engage in hand hygiene practice, and did not think that frequently used approaches to improving hand hygiene such as standardised training packages and audits were effective. It was also clear that each ICU has a unique set of barriers to improving hand hygiene practice. Recognising the issues with improving hand hygiene practice, the project team worked with researchers, ICU nurse, ICU doctors, and members of the public to identify 21 potential interventions for improving hand hygiene practice. These interventions were then rated in terms of how effective they were likely to be. Ensuring the availability of essential supplies was regarded as the most important for encouraging hand hygiene practice. Senior leaders acting as role models, and individual focused training were also well regarded. Punitive methods such as punishment letters were not well regarded. Dr Power added: “This realistic and relevant NUI Galway study of Hand Hygiene is welcomed as an important contribution to Hand Hygiene improvement in the acute hospital setting in Ireland.” Dr O’Connor continued: “Hand hygiene is crucial to infection prevention and control. There is no universal solution to improving hand hygiene practice. There is a need for an intervention to be tailored to the specific needs of a particular unit rather than a one-size fits all approach. The toolkit developed as part of the moment for hand hygiene project will support ICU staff to identify the barriers to hand hygiene practice in their unit, and interventions that are appropriate to address these barriers.” According to Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board: “Covid-19 has forced everyone to think about hand hygiene differently. Compliance with good practice is even more important in Intensive Care settings. Because this toolkit is based on evidence about people’s behaviour and responses to hand hygiene measures in ICU, and it’s tailored based on individual experience, we believe it will be very effective to help address any barriers to compliance.” To download the hand hygiene toolkit visit: https://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/handle/10379/16192, or watch a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siiOavW8Czo&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

New report shows nature-based solutions can address the triple threats of climate change, biodiversity loss and food security Wednesday, 14 October, 2020: NUI Galway has contributed to the fourth State of the World report from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which takes a deep dive into the state of the world’s plant and fungal kingdoms globally. The report highlights the pressing need to explore the solutions that plants and fungi could provide to address some of the pressures facing people and the planet. The new data, the result of a large international collaboration bringing together 210 scientists from 42 countries, shows how we are currently using plants and fungi, what useful properties we are missing, and what we risk losing. The authors found that 1,942 plants and 1,886 fungi were named as new to science in 2019. Among these exciting discoveries are species that might be valuable as foods, drinks, medicines or fibres. Kew’s 2016 State of the World’s Plants report estimated one in five plants were at risk but new analyses this year show that extinction risk may be much higher than previously thought, with 39.4% plants estimated to be threatened with extinction. Accounting for under and over-represented plant groups and geographical areas enabled the scientists to estimate extinction risk more accurately. The new approach used by scientists this year predicted the overall proportion of threatened species to be 39.4%, almost double the 21% of global plant species estimated to be threatened with extinction in 2016. Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at RBG Kew, says: “The data emerging from this year’s report paints a picture of a world that has turned its back on the potential of plants and fungi to address fundamental global issues such as food security and climate change. Societies have been too dependent on too few species for too long. “At a time of rapid biodiversity loss, we are failing to access the treasure chest of incredible diversity on offer and missing a huge opportunity for our generation. As we start the most critical decade our planet has ever faced, we hope this report will give the public, businesses and policymakers the facts they need to demand nature-based solutions that can address the triple threats of climate change, biodiversity loss and food security.” Dr Karen Bacon, a plant ecologist from Botany and Plant Science at NUI Galway looked at how the responses of plants to environmental upheaval today compares to that of plants millions of years ago during previous major climatic shifts and mass extinction events. Dr Bacon contributed to the international study that reviewed qualitative and quantitative evidence to provide a critical overview of extinction risk estimates for plants and fungi and analysis revealed that approximately two in five plant species are at risk of extinction. Biases in assessment mean that woody perennials (plants that live for more than two years) are over-represented and national endemics (plants only found in one geographic area/nation) are under-represented. For example, plants that are useful to people are more likely to have been assessed than plants that people think are at risk of extinction or threatened in some way. Species are also more likely to be assessed if they are in some geographic regions where it is easy to go to assess plants compared to other areas that are not easy to access. Dr Karen Bacon, Lecturer in Plant Ecology, Botany and Plant Science, NUI Galway, said: “Plants and fungi are essential for life on Earth. The results of the study clearly show that many plants are at risk of extinction. Given that plants have been previously thought to be robust to extinction events when we consider the fossil record, this is concerning. However, by continuing to assess species and learning more about the risks that plants and fungi face, we can take action to help conserve both our species and our ecosystems.” Dr Bacon added: “Our understanding of previous mass extinctions comes from the fossil record. Mass extinctions record spikes in extinction of species, particularly for animals. Today, both plant and animal extinction rates are higher than expected for non-mass extinction levels and are approaching a similar rate to those observed in the fossil record for previous periods of mass extinction. “This is particularly concerning for plants because they are generally thought to be less likely than animals to experience such high extinction rates. Evidence for global trends in plants supports a pattern of ongoing decline, although clades (present unbroken lines of evolutionary descent) show considerable variation with extremes such as the highly threatened cycads and conifers.” Managing risks to plants and fungi, requires updated extinction risk assessments for as many species as possible. Novel artificial intelligence approaches show potential to deliver extinction risk estimates for each species, given that formal assessments seem unlikely for all plants and impossible for fungi on the urgent timescale needed to address modern extinction risk. Other report highlights found that: Medicine – 723 of the plants we use for medicine is at risk of extinction Food and fuel – new data shows we use a tiny fraction of existing species Two in five plants threatened – extinction risk may be worse than previously thought 4000 newly named species – potential new foods, medicines and timber found in 2019 Race against time – pace of finding, naming and conserving species is too slow The report shows that of the 5,411 medicinal plants that have been assessed for their conservation status (out of 25,791 documented medicinal plants), 723 (13%) are categorised as threatened. For fungi, only six medicinal species have been assessed, one of which, eburiko (Fomitopsis officinalis), a wood-inhabiting parasitic fungus with antimicrobial properties, has already been pushed to the brink of extinction. There are 7,039 edible plants which hold potential as future foods, yet just 15 plants provide 90% of humanity’s food energy intake, and four billion people rely entirely on three crops – rice, maize and wheat. Relying on a handful of crops to feed the global population has contributed to malnutrition and left us vulnerable to climate change. The report identified 7,039 plants listed as ‘human food’ from a Kew dataset of useful plants, of which only 417 (5.9%) are considered as major food crops. Meanwhile, for the purpose of producing energy, there are 2,500 identified plants that could be used for fuel or bioenergy, but only six crops – maize, sugarcane, soybean, palm oil, rapeseed and wheat – generate 80% of global industrial biofuel. This landmark report is the first time plants and fungi have been combined in one global State of the World’s assessment, with the underlying data also published in a series of 12 scientific research papers, made freely available in the leading journal Plants, People, Planet.  To download a copy of the State of the World’s Plants and Fungi Report, please click here and read online here: https://www.kew.org/science/state-of-the-worlds-plants-and-fungi. A three-day online symposium on the report findings will take place from 13-15 October. For more information and to register to attend, please click here. -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Hardiman Library at NUI Galway has launched a new archive belonging to the actress and writer, Genevieve Lyons. The archive documents the career in the theatre in Dublin during the 1940s and 1950s, by one of its most acclaimed and talented performers, Genevieve Lyons and includes a range of photographs, annotated scripts, letters, diaries, press cuttings, and other papers from Lyons’ career on the Dublin stage. Genevieve Lyons was born in Dublin in 1930. A diary kept by Lyons in the late 1940s and early 1950s offers a personal insight into the emerging career of a young actress as well as being a social record of life in Dublin city at the time. Working in the city, Lyons’ love of the theatre saw her join the Brendan Smith Academy in 1948, where she learned and honed her craft, graduating with a Diploma in Acting in 1950. Lyons was a central member of the new Globe Theatre Company. Founded in 1954 by Godfrey Quigley and others including Michael O’Herlihy and Dennis Brennan, the Globe was an independent theatre company established in Dublin as “a unique experiment in the Irish theatre”. The company sought to create a space outside of the urban centre of Dublin city for professional theatre. The first play presented by the Globe Theatre Company was the American funeral parlour comedy, The Biggest Thief in Town by Dalton Trumbo (1954). Based primarily at the Gas Works Theatre in Dun Laoghaire, the company regularly performed on major stages such as the Gate Theatre, the Olympia Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre and were frequently part of the annual Dublin Theatre Festival. The group specialised in international theatre, as well as Irish plays, and premiered many new international works for Irish audiences. Key performances by Lyons include the role of Marion in the Irish premiere of J.P. Donleavy’s stage adaptation of his novel, The Ginger Man, famously censored and shut down after three performances in 1959; Lydia Lubey in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Gate Theatre, 1954; Christine in Gabriel Marcel’s A Broken World, 1959; and as Sally Bowles in John Van Druton’s I Am a Camera, which was seen by over 15,000 people at the Gas Works Theatre in Dun Laoghaire in 1956. Lyons married her fellow actor and Globe company member Godfrey Quigley in Autumn 1954. She performed with the company until the 1960s before moving to London. There, while raising her daughter, Lyons taught drama, wrote children’s books and also later wrote over twenty other books and novels. Lyons passed away in London in 2018. Dr Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI Galway, said: “The archive of Genevieve Lyons is a really significant collection. Genevieve was a hugely talented actress who brought so many new roles to life on the Dublin stage, from the Globe Theatre to the Pike Theatre, and to great acclaim. It is wonderful to be able to share this archive online with a global audience and preserve the papers among the vast number of theatre collections of the Hardiman Library.” Michele McCrillis, daughter of Genevieve Lyons, said: “I grew up captivated by the many stories my mother told me about the productions and actors she worked with in the 1950s.  Going through her photographs, reviews and papers after her death, I was struck by the richness of this history and I am thrilled by the care the Hardiman Library has taken in preserving its place within this important archive of Irish theatre. I know my mother would be truly delighted that these materials will be available to the academic and theatre community.” A new digital collection from the Genevieve Lyons Archive presents over sixty never seen before photographs from Dublin Theatre in the 1940s and 1950s, from stages such as the Gas Works Theatre in Dun Laoghaire to the famous Pike Theatre on Herbert Lane. The digital collection reveals images now seen for the first time of past stars of Irish stage and screen, including Anew McMaster, Pauline Delaney and Milo O’Shea, as well as key moments from Lyons’ career in the theatre. John Cox, Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to add this important collection to the Library’s family of theatre archives and are very grateful to receive such a diversity of materials relating to the career of Genevieve Lyons. The digital availability of this collection will enhance its use as a valuable resource both on and beyond the NUI Galway campus.” Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies, Patrick Lonergan warmly welcomed the opening up of this collection, saying: “Researchers of Irish history and culture will find this collection exceptionally useful and stimulating. Genevieve Lyons’ diaries, photographs, and other materials offer us a fascinating insight into Irish cultural life during the mid-century period – those important decades when the nation became more open to international influences. “By working with the Gas Works and Pike in particular, Genevieve Lyons played a key role in that process of opening-up, performing in new plays that challenged old orthodoxies. For students of Drama, Literature, Children’s Studies, and History, this resource will be both inspirational and exciting – and for researchers in the same areas it will help us to re-tell the story of Irish cultural history from important new perspectives.” To access the Genevieve Lyons digital collection, visit: https://digital.library.nuigalway.ie/islandora/object/islandora%3A7324 or https://bit.ly/3hWPhT9 -Ends-

Friday, 9 October 2020

NUI Galway interventional cardiologists identify new model to weigh up risk and benefits of surgery versus stenting for treatments of complex coronary artery disease    Findings of research team led by Professor Patrick W Serruys published in The Lancet  Researchers at NUI Galway’s CORRIB Research Centre for Advanced Imaging and Core Laboratory have developed a new model for assessing treatments to improve outcomes for patients with complex coronary artery disease. The group have expanded clinical assessment modelling which may improve the ability of medical professionals to inform patients and their families about the potential risks and benefits of alternative treatments for a disease that causes the death of 17.9 million people worldwide each year. The new assessment model will also support more open and shared decision-making process between doctors, patients and their families. The research is led by world renowned expert on interventional cardiology, Professor Patrick W Serruys, who was the first person to treat patients with a drug-eluting stent in 1999 and further revolutionized the field of interventional cardiology when introducing the use of fully biodegradable drug-eluting scaffolds. This study, ‘Individualized Decision Making between Percutaneous and Surgical Revascularization in Patients withComplex Coronary Artery Disease: Redevelopment and Validation of the SYNTAX Score 2020’, has been published in world leading medical scientific journal The Lancet (today Thursday, 8 October 2020). The research aims to enhance understanding of the optimal treatment strategy for individual patients with complex coronary artery disease. It also aims to negate the bias of individual doctors towards certain treatments (i.e. bypass or stenting), in favour of a more personalized, rounded and better considered method of treatment based on a patient's medical history, condition and other factors.   The SYNTAX Score 2020 analyses a number of factors including age, kidney function, ability of the heart to pump blood around the body, compounding heart disease and diabetes and smoking status. This range is used in order to individually predict the patient's 10-year mortality and 5-year major adverse cardiac events and help the Heart Team in the hospital identify whether the patient would benefit more from bypass surgery or treatment with stents. The research team used data from a landmark SYNTAXES clinical trial to develop a predictive model that explicitly considers baseline outcome risk, so that they can distinguish between patients who benefit from bypass surgery and those who may benefit from stent application.  The SYNTAXES study demonstrated no significant difference in 10-year all-cause death between patients randomized to bypass vs stenting. In contrast, the predictive model from the NUI Galway analysis provides a more nuanced interpretation of the results by identifying patients who derive substantial survival benefit from bypass surgery versus stenting, and those for whom there is little expected difference between the strategies.  Professor Serruys said: “We consider that one treatment (bypass) versus another (stent) is not globally superior, inferior or equal, but a specific treatment is superior, inferior or equal for a specific patient. “For this individualized decision-making, the SYNTAX Score 2020 model generates a prediction of treatment benefit for individual patients based on their angiographic and clinical variables.”  Professor Serruys expands: “The ratios of different treatment choices vary across Europe and even across regions in European countries, where doctors may prefer a particular treatment based on their experience, specialty or background. These do not always represent guideline recommendations, potentially resulting in inaccurate risk assessment and the choice of inappropriate treatments with suboptimal outcomes. “If the Heart Team in a hospital uses our model for a patient, it should enable a more individualized and patient-centered care in patients with complex coronary artery disease.”  Prof Serruys and the extended study team, including Professor Yoshinobu Onuma, Director of Coronary Imaging and Atherosclerosis Research at CORRIB Core Lab at NUI Galway, have recommended further studies based on adequately powered randomized trials of bypass versus stenting, with 5-10 year follow-up using contemporary revascularization techniques, devices and adjunctive medical therapy to prospectively validate the SYNTAX Score 2020 model. Prof Onuma added: “Our new model provides expected probabilities of 5 and 10 year outcomes. This may improve the ability of the Heart Team to inform patients and their families about the potential risks and rewards of alternative treatments for complex coronary artery disease and support a more transparent shared decision-making process.”  The full text of the article is being made available here http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32114-0/fulltext -Ends- 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

NUI Galway has been awarded €7.5 million in funding this week for its ‘ASPIRE: Next Generation Graduates’ project as part of the Human Capital Initiative funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. The goal of ASPIRE is to enable every student to succeed in the future world of work. ASPIRE will ultimately empower every student to design their personalised skills development pathway, and to have their transversal skills achievements recognised on graduation alongside their degree. This approach, if more widely adopted, could position Ireland as a leader in innovative, student-centred and enterprise-engaged education in Europe. ASPIRE will initially transform undergraduate Arts and Science programmes and then building out to all students. Innovative methods of teaching and delivery will be promoted in this project, so that learners will benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses, providing lifelong learning and upskilling opportunities for all. Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3, Innovation and Agility is the final pillar to be announced of this initiative and commands a total budget of €197 million over the 5-year period, 2020 to 2024. Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3 will deliver 22 projects in higher education institutions, 17 of which involve collaborations between institutions. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, said: “I am delighted to be able to announce the broad range of projects that will be funded under the HCI Pillar 3. These projects will develop and change teaching and learning. This global pandemic has reinforced the need for us all to be agile and diverse. Crucially though it requires us to develop new skills and equip the next generation with the critical importance to the economy and the workplace of the future.” Caroline Loughnane, Secretary for Governance and Academic Affairs, NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding and endorsement of our approach for a student-centred skills development programme. ASPIRE will establish education partnerships with enterprise, address education gaps identified by student union officers and staff alike, and adopt best practise from leading universities abroad. We look forward to collaborating with our campus community and in our region to make this happen.” Higher Education Authority CEO, Dr Alan Wall, has congratulated all of the higher education institutions receiving funding under the HCI scheme: “It is great to see the culmination of this process as it represents hundreds of hours of work by the Higher Education Authority working with the higher education institutions and our international panel.” The ASPIRE: Next Generation Graduates project is led by NUI Galway, partnered by a consortium of large and small enterprises, and draws on best practice in design thinking and trans-disciplinary learning pioneered by Stanford University and Georgia Institute of Technology in the US and the University of Strathclyde in Europe. ASPIRE is strategically aligned with NUI Galway’s ambition to transform undergraduate education, starting with Arts and Science. All of the West of Ireland’s key industry clusters are represented in this project including Medtronic and Boston Scientific, Aerogen, Veryan Medical, Mbryonics, SAP and Channel Mechanics, Rent the Runway and Galway International Arts Festival. -Ends-

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

NUI Galway research project is aimed at understanding the mental health needs of Irish and Italian frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic NUI Galway researchers in collaboration with the University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, are leading The Frontline Worker Support (FLoWS) project to develop guidelines for alleviating psychological distress in frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To inform these guidelines, the researchers are seeking Irish and Italian frontline healthcare workers who came into repeated contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients during the pandemic to share their experiences. This includes frontline workers of all professional backgrounds such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, cleaning or catering staff working in the health service, and levels of experience in their profession ranging from junior, intermediate and senior staff. Recent findings (from a number of international studies) have indicated the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of frontline healthcare workers due to worries about contracting the virus and spreading it to loved ones, long working hours, and being unable to effectively treat patients due to limited treatment options. In order for mental health practitioners to effectively address these symptoms, it is necessary to understand the risk factors for psychological stress (such as age, type of occupation and professional experience), the types of psychological distress symptoms being experienced, and the most effective methods for promoting resilience in healthcare workers. However, due to a scarcity of research, the specific mental health needs of frontline healthcare workers remain poorly understood. Professor Brian McGuire, Professor of Clinical Psychology, NUI Galway, said: “As we will be living alongside COVID for some time, the development of guidelines to support the long-term psychological wellbeing of healthcare workers is crucial. We need healthcare workers to contribute to the project to ensure these guidelines will accurately reflect and address the worries and issues that they are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.” The FLoWS project will comprise of two studies that will collect information concurrently over the coming weeks; an online survey will assess symptoms of psychological distress, personal and professional experiences throughout the pandemic, and insights into how psychological distress can be most effectively alleviate; and an interview study where researchers will meet virtually with healthcare workers to discuss their experiences in more depth. To participate in the study, please visit www.flowsproject.eu or email info@flowsproject.eu.  -Ends-

Monday, 5 October 2020

Researchers are asking the public for their views to develop an online programme to support healthy behaviours to prevent Diabetes Researchers from the School of Psychology in NUI Galway are inviting people to share their views on Diabetes, diet, physical activity, and a programme that uses a smartphone app and live health coaching to help people improve their health.   The PRE-T2D (Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes) study is a 15-minute online survey that is open to all people aged over 18 living in Ireland and findings will be critical to the development of an online Diabetes Prevention Programme to be delivered in Ireland. According to the Healthy Ireland Survey, over 800,000 adults over 40 in Ireland either have, or are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. This condition can be prevented through healthy eating and regular physical activity. However, maintaining healthy behaviours can be challenging, particularly during a pandemic. Luke Van Rhoon, PhD Candidate in Health Psychology, Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway, said: “We aim not only to prevent Diabetes, but help people to better manage their diet, exercise, and daily stress in the long run. This is particularly important as we currently face many new physical and psychological challenges due to the emergence of Covid-19. Technology is becoming increasingly vital in the self-management of our health and how we communicate with health care professionals, friends, and family. Although online Diabetes Prevention Programmes have been successfully implemented in other countries, it is important to create a unique programme that suits the needs of the Irish population.” This study is funded by the Irish Research Council and is supervised by Professor Molly Byrne and Dr Jenny McSharry, Directors of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group at NUI Galway. Professor Molly Byrne, said: “In Ireland, like in many countries around the world, we are seeing an increasing prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in the community, linked with growing levels of obesity and lower levels of physical activity. Developing new programmes which people really want to engage with to prevent Diabetes is a priority for our health services. “Online programmes can overcome some of the challenges affecting face-to-face programmes and we now know from the research that digital health interventions can be effective in increasing physical activity, changing diets and promoting weight loss. Our research which is being conducted in collaboration with the National Programme for Diabetes, will provide really important findings to ensure that online Diabetes Prevention programmes which are developed in Ireland are usable by the people who will benefit most from them.” For more information about the Diabetes Prevention Study visit, http://www.pret2d.com/survey or to request a paper-based survey with free return postage, contact Luke Van Rhoon at l.vanrhoon1@nuigalway.ie. All participants will be entered into a draw to win one of two €100 One4All gift cards. There is also the opportunity to participate in a follow-up phone or video interview study, if participants choose to do so.  -Ends-

Monday, 5 October 2020

Researchers recommend to NPHET that communications emphasise positive outcomes of adherence to guidelines  Research from NUI Galway as part of a global study of attitudes towards Covid-19 public health guidelines shows that threats of arrest, fines or quarantine do not help encourage people to behave in line with the advice. The International Covid-19 Awareness and Responses Evaluation (iCARE) research is being carried out in collaboration with the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre (MBMC) in Canada to understand the socio-demographic, behavioural and economic determinants of adherence to physical distancing guidance. Wave 5 of the iCARE survey is currently underway. To find out more and to take part visit https://mbmc-cmcm.ca/covid19. Data from the study is being fed back to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) Subgroup on Behavioural Change, which is advising the Government on its communications strategy. Dr Hannah Durand, iCARE collaborator and behavioural science researcher at NUI Galway said: “The research is yielding tangible and useful results as it helps to provide data-driven recommendations to governments on how to optimise policy and communication strategies. “After half a year of observing physical distancing, working remotely and wearing masks, one of the starkest warnings from the research is that we have evidence that a fatigue is setting in. “Tellingly, people are consistently reporting the best motivator of adherence to physical distancing and other preventive measures is receiving feedback on how their behaviour is slowing the spread of the disease and saving lives. It suggests that behaviour may be changed by highlighting signs of success. “We have also seen a surprising twist in how campaigns are received by the public. Threats of arrest, fines or quarantine do not appear to be helpful. Likewise, messages about the negative consequences of ignoring health recommendations - like an elderly relative will get sick and die - were found to be less effective than those that emphasised positive outcomes. “This needs to be reflected in the ways we communicate with the public to bring about change in behaviour.” Some of the key findings of the iCARE study to date include – :: The vast majority of people are doing the right things, such as following government and health authority directives designed to limit the spread of the virus. Of all prevention measures, wearing a mask had the poorest adherence (49%). :: Respondents say they are following safety measures less rigorously now than they did in March. :: Just over 16% of people who tested positive for Covid-19 or suspect they have the virus have reported not self-isolating. :: Most people reported they are adhering to physical distancing guidelines, specifically staying two metres away from others (84%) and avoiding large gatherings (90%), most of the time. :: Adherence to hand hygiene guidelines (89%) and good coughing etiquette (86%) was also high. :: The top concern for people was that a relative who they do not live with would be infected with Covid-19 - eight in ten were somewhat or greatly concerned about this. :: More than half of the people surveyed (58%) were somewhat or greatly concerned about being isolated. Dr Simon Bacon, co-lead of the iCARE study, said: “The research is showing that it tends to be men more often than women, usually in their 20s and early 30s who are not following the isolation measures in full. There are several explanations for this, including greater risk-taking propensity among young men. However, we must acknowledge that young people are more likely to work in low-paid, public-facing jobs that make it difficult to adhere to restrictions. They are a key group of people we need to re-engage with.” NUI Galway iCARE collaborator Dr Durand added: “Based on the results so far we believe targeted messaging is key to getting populations to follow public health guidelines. Government-sponsored efforts at encouraging adherence must be customised to the group they are designed to reach.” Dr Kim Lavoie, co-lead of the iCARE study, said: “A one-size fits all message does not seem to be reaching everyone. Some are motivated by health concerns, others by economic and social concerns. The trick is figuring out what message will resonate with whom and tailoring accordingly.” Ends

Monday, 5 October 2020

NUI Galway, OmniSpirant Limited and Aerogen Limited have been awarded major funding to develop a new aerosol treatment with potential benefits across acute and chronic lung diseases, including COVID-19 An Irish consortium involving NUI Galway, OmniSpirant Limited, a start-up biotechnology company and Aerogen Limited, have been awarded €11.6 million under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The funding will be used to develop a new exosome based inhaled treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which is responsible for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths. Research from the JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that more than 40% of individuals in the study hospitalised for severe and critical COVID-19 developed ARDS, and over 50% of those diagnosed died from the disease. This cutting edge treatment also has the potential to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is a disease that affects hundreds of millions of patients worldwide, it is the third leading cause of death globally and is currently lacking any effective treatments. The Global Burden of Disease Study reports a prevalence of 251 million cases of COPD globally in 2016. Globally, it is estimated that 3.17 million deaths were caused by the disease in 2015, 5% of all deaths globally in that year. The three-year grant funded programme aims to complete Phase 1 clinical trial studies in ARDS patients and to complete the preclinical development needed to support clinical studies in COPD patients. Professor John Laffey, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway and Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Galway University Hospitals, said: “Current pharmacologic therapies are of marginal benefit for COVID-19 patients suffering with ARDS, and advanced support of respiratory function in Intensive Care Units remains the main therapeutic approach. Aerosolized delivery of engineered cell products that can target the inflammatory response to COVID-19 could prevent or even reverse severe COVID-19 induced respiratory injury, which would be game-changing in reducing mortality from this devastating infection. It also shows very promising anti-infection benefits, which in addition to having knock-on benefits for COPD patients, could also be applied to other aggressive lung conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis patients.” OmniSpirant will provide the technological expertise to produce exosomes from genetically modified stem cells. OmniSpirant have also developed a method to enhance the delivery of these exosomes into lung tissues. These exosomes will then be delivered by an inhaled aerosol to recode diseased lung cells in patients, using Aerogen’s expertise and best in class technology in this area. The Centre for Cell Manufacturing at NUI Galway will industrialise the scalable manufacturing process for this new treatment. Gerry McCauley MPharm, MPSI, CEO OmniSpirant Limited, said: “We have entered the age of advanced therapeutics, where cell based and gene therapies have curative potential for complex diseases. Our proprietary technologies unlock huge potential to effectively deliver novel treatments into the lung to address many serious lung diseases. Specifically, the DTIF funding is aimed at developing OS002, an innovative treatment which could address two major global pandemics. The death rate for ARDS shows that it has a mortality rate of 30-40% of those diagnosed with the disease. This currently lacks effective treatments and due to COVID-19 is causing a devastating global death toll. Even in a world without COVID-19 ARDS affects an estimated three million people every year. Secondly, OS002 could also prove transformational for chronic lung diseases, particularly the 100’s of millions of COPD patients globally who are currently suffering with no access to effective treatment options.” Aerogen Ireland was founded in 1997 and are world leaders in the field of aerosol delivery devices. Drug delivery of cell therapies by aerosol of this nature has traditionally been complex and Aerogen are partnering on this new and novel treatment to provide the expertise and the technology which will be used to develop devices to deliver the exosome treatments by aerosol. Dr Ronan MacLoughlin, Head of Respiratory Science at Aerogen Limited, said: “Aerogen are delighted to be involved in this potentially transformative project that leans on a unique combination of disruptive technologies. Over 12 million patients have benefited from Aerogen technology to date and we look forward to bringing to bear Aerogen’s unique expertise in this field and working with OmniSpirant and the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland at NUI Galway over the coming years in bringing this technology to patients worldwide.” The Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) at NUI Galway is the first and only approved cell manufacturing facility in Ireland. This purpose built fully-licensed centre is designed to manufacture Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, such as stem cells, for use in human clinical trials. Dr Janusz Krawczyk, Clinical Director of the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI), NUI Galway, said: “In collaborating with OmniSpirant and Aerogen, the CCMI will apply our unique expertise to develop the manufacturing process of exosome-based therapy. The Centre is ideally placed, with experience and expertise in bringing treatments such as this from bench to pre-clinical stage to early clinical trials. I am delighted to see the CCMI involved in a second DTIF project which ensures that this unique resource in Ireland fulfils its translational potential in stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine. The programme is also aligned with NUI Galway’s ambition to partner with national and multinational industry to ensure that research discoveries have a beneficial impact on patient care. This partnership will confirm the University’s leadership in world-class research and positions Ireland as a strategic global leader in the development of new regenerative medicine technology.” Dr Imelda Lambkin, Enterprise Ireland, said: “The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland is a big opportunity for both large companies and SMEs to collaborate with research bodies to produce technologies that have the potential to really change a market or sector. Indeed, the funding awarded to OmniSpirant Limited, Aerogen Limited and NUI Galway to develop a new treatment for Covid-19 will potentially save lives. The third call for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will open later this month and we strongly encourage companies and researchers with a disruptive idea or technology to apply.” The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500 million Project Ireland 2040 fund confirmed under the National Development Plan in 2018.  -Ends-

Monday, 5 October 2020

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission is seeking participants to give their experience of remote working six months after lockdown Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have launched the second phase of the national remote working survey. The survey will gather data on employees’ experiences of remote working six months after lockdown. The survey is led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Dr Katerina Bohle-Carbonell at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at Western Development Commission.  The study will provide insights on how remote working has changed employees work and employment experiences. The second survey builds on the survey the research team undertook in April this year soon after the national lockdown which mandated remote working for those employees who could do so. The second phase survey will enable trend analyses on changes in employees’ experiences between Phase 1 (April 2020) and now, six months later (October 2020) in what has become a prolonged change in work habits for many employees who continue to work remotely. Data will also capture commuting habits and how remote working impacts emissions and the environment. Speaking about the second national survey, Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics,  said: “The first survey we did in April 2020 was of huge interest to the public and we got over 7,200 responses from employees who were working remotely across the country. 83% of respondents at that time indicated they would like to continue to work remotely for some or all of the time after the crisis is over. The crisis potentially presents a game-changer for how organisations manage their workforce and employee workplace preferences. It is now timely to examine remote working six months on from lockdown.”  Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “The information collected in these surveys will help to ensure that the correct measures are in place to support those working remotely. Identifying the opportunities and challenges will mean that remote working infrastructure such as broadband and remote working hubs, for example, will allow both individuals and communities to minimise the challenges and to make the most of this fundamental shift in the way we work.” The research team will analyse the findings of the second national remote working survey and make them publicly available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites by the end of October. The report and key statistics from the first national survey are also available on these websites. The remote working study findings will be available to inform employers about employee experiences of remote working. The research team will provide recommendations for employers on how to better manage remote working in the current crisis as well as more generally. To complete the survey visit https://bit.ly/3kXjH9w.   To view both surveys on the Whitaker Institute’s Project page, visit: https://bit.ly/3nbxSK8. -Ends-

Friday, 2 October 2020

Free online events will challenge the various stereotypes of young people - from being ‘snowflakes’ who lack resilience, to being uncaring ‘COVID delinquents’  The School of Psychology at NUI Galway will host a series of Youth Mental Health lunchtime webinar events from 5-9 October, leading up to World Mental Health Day on Saturday, 10 October. Some of the questions being addressed at the webinar events include: Why do young people feel the need to meet up so much, even when this is apparently disregarding COVID-19 related public health advice? Why are anxiety levels so high among Irish young people? How can we effectively respond to their needs for support using online and other strategies? Professor Gary Donohue, School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “A variety of perspectives and studies will be presented and discussed to expand our understanding of young people, their mental health, and their health service needs. Challenging the various stereotypes of young people - from being ‘snowflakes’ who lack resilience, to being uncaring ‘COVID delinquents’ - this conference will present latest evidence on psychological development and mental health. It will touch on the variety of factors that influence wellbeing, the supports necessary, as well as the challenge for mental health services in responding to those needs.” Professor Margaret Barry, Head of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research at NUI Galway will discuss the need to reframe the challenge of improving youth mental health in terms of resilience building supports that include access to skills, resources and life opportunities. Dr Aileen O’Reilly, Research and Evaluation Manager for Jigsaw, the National Service for Youth mental health, will present data highlighting how anxiety is a normal response to uncertainty, with COVID-19 adding to the already high anxiety experienced by young people, who live in a complex world where they have already a lot to navigate through. Professor Siobhan O’Neil, Professor of Mental Health Sciences at the University of Ulster and Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland in her talk on suicide prevention will discuss the genuine losses that young people have experienced at a critical developmental stage -loss of the life transition rituals, uncertainty and debate over the validity of their exam results, and the damage of limitations to the social and peer connections that are necessary to cope.   Tony Bates, Founder of the Jigsaw services in Ireland will host a forum on the challenges to sense of self and mental health currently experienced by young people. In addition to national and international experts discussing the mental health needs of young people aged from 12-25 years, a first person account of lived experiences of young people using mental health services and supports in Ireland will also be shared. The online events each day are free and tickets are available at www.eventbrite.ie, search for ‘YOULEAD 1st Annual Youth Mental Health Research Lunchtime Webinar Series’. -Ends-

Friday, 2 October 2020

The findings are the result of research carried out by a team from NUI Galway’s Journalism and Communications discipline A new study by NUI Galway has found that online abuse of female politicians is on the increase and has included threats of physical and sexual violence against them and their families. Current and former female members of the Oireachtas, as well as female councillors from all major political parties were interviewed in the qualitative study. The interim findings are part of a study carried out by a team from NUI Galway’s Journalism and Communication discipline. The findings were presented today (Friday, 2 October) to a webinar ‘Cyber Harassment: Women in Politics and Online Abuse’ organised by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the National Women’s Council of Ireland. Some 96 per cent of those interviewed as part of the study have received social media or email messages that used threatening language or ‘hate mail’; while three quarters say they have been threatened with physical violence via online or social media. Almost two in five reported they had been threatened with sexual violence, with a quarter saying they have been verbally abused in public. One politician had faeces thrown at her in public while another was threatened with an acid attack. A former TD said: “I was repeatedly threatened by a troll who threatened to throw acid in my face. Another once said he knew where I lived and he’d be standing in my garden waiting for me.” Other respondents admitted to: receiving threatening and abusive phone calls at home and on their mobile phone being worried about their family’s safety as a result of threats on social media not feeling comfortable attending large public meetings alone having considered quitting politics as a result of the abuse received A small minority say they have reported the abuse, but of those that made complaints a number said they found it hard to get gardai and social media companies to take threats seriously, as there was a perception that politicians were ‘fair game’. Tom Felle, Head of Journalism and Communication at NUI Galway, said: “Some of these results are truly shocking. Social media has become a den of misogyny, a cesspit of trolls, where many female public representatives are abused and bullied regularly. Threats of physical violence are criminal acts and abuse of this nature is abhorrent. “At a time when society needs to see more women entering politics there is a real danger that this behaviour will have a chilling effect and discourage women from running for public office. The findings are particularly telling in local government.” The findings are part of ongoing research at NUI Galway. The first series of 69 interviews was carried out between November 2019 and March 2020, with further interviews planned. -Ends-

Friday, 2 October 2020

NUI Galway’s J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and the School of Physics have been awarded a departmental Bronze Athena SWAN Award in recognition of their commitment to advancing gender equality in higher education and creating cultural change within the University. NUI Galway received an Institutional Bronze award in 2018 along with the University’s School of Medicine NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “I would like to congratulate the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and the School of Physics on the Athena SWAN Bronze Award. It is a reflection on the excellent work of all those involved and is truly impressive that this work was completed as we simultaneously faced the challenges of Covid-19, and sustains our commitment to advancing equality to all staff and students consistent with our values of openness and respect.”  Speaking upon the announcement of the award, Dr. Tom Acton, Head of School of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, said: “Following two years of data gathering, gap analysis and self-assessment, leading to the development of a comprehensive and ambitious Action Plan, the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway is delighted to learn that it has been awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Award. We are committed to inclusion, equality and diversity and to implementing the principles that underpin the Athena SWAN Charter and are thrilled that our hard work and commitment has been recognised with this award.” Professor Gerard O’Connor, Head of NUI Galway’s School of Physics, said: “I wish to convey my sincere thanks to staff and students for this important public recognition of our commitment to inclusiveness, equality and diversity in the School of Physics. We see this Athena SWAN Award as a milestone rather than a destination –one which is aligned with the School’s future competitiveness in research and teaching and which is integral with all our students future employability.” The Athena SWAN charter launched in the Republic of Ireland in early 2015. The extension of the charter to Ireland was made possible through funding from the Higher Education Authority. Engagement with the charter is a key pillar of Ireland’s national strategy for gender equality with progress linked to institutional eligibility for funding from Ireland’s major research agencies. The Athena SWAN Gender Equality Charter was originally established to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. Since 2015 the charter recognises work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly. -Ends-

Thursday, 1 October 2020

NUI Galway Professor discusses the scientific basis of alien life, and its probable extent across the many recently discovered exoplanets, in his new book ‘The Biological Universe’ Wallace Arthur, an NUI Galway Emeritus Professor of Zoology and a distinctive voice in the growing field of astrobiology has published a new book, The Biological Universe. The book brings together the latest discoveries in biology and astronomy to examine the issues of the probable nature of extra-terrestrial life, its extent across the vastness of the Universe, and our chances of finding conclusive evidence for it within the next couple of decades, using the new generation of space telescopes. In addressing these issues, The Biological Universe tackles the many riddles of our place and fate in the Universe that have intrigued human beings since they first gazed in wonder at the night-time sky over ancient Africa.  Wallace Arthur, NUI Galway Emeritus Professor of Zoology, said: “This is a fascinating time in the history of science’s quest to discover life beyond the Earth. Our past speculations about the existence of planets and life beyond our own solar system are fast being replaced by facts, many of which are described in this book. The last 25 years have seen incredible growth in our knowledge of exoplanets – planets that orbit not our own Sun, but distant stars, which are of course suns in their own right. The first exoplanet was discovered in 1995. By the turn of the millennium we knew of a few dozen. By 2010 the number had reached a few hundred. Now, in 2020, it’s more than 4,000 and growing fast.” Many of the newly discovered planets are in the habitable zone – the zone within which liquid water can exist on their surfaces in the form of lakes and oceans, as it does here on Earth. Professor Arthur explains: “We now have the technology to analyse the atmospheres of these planets, looking in particular for biosignature gases, such as oxygen and ozone. And our ability to conduct such analyses will be greatly enhanced by the next generation of space telescopes, currently at an advanced stage of planning at NASA. If evidence of extra-terrestrial life is indeed found soon, and the enduring question of ‘are we alone in the Universe?’ is finally answered with a resounding ‘no’ as seems likely, it will be the most significant discovery in the history of humanity.” For more information on The Biological Universe, which will be will be published this month by Cambridge University Press, visit: http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2020/08/are-we-alone-in-the-universe/.  -Ends-