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Economic and Environmental Sustainability: A Burning platform or Ireland’s Opportunity?

Economic and Environmental Sustainability: A Burning platform or Ireland’s Opportunity?-image

Thursday, 3 September 2015

European bioeconomy employs an estimated 21.5 million people, with a market worth approximately €2 trillion - NUI Galway’s TCBB will identify 8 key opportunities for Ireland The BioÉire consortium involving NUI Galway’s Technlogy Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) will host its first seminar in the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin today (3 September) to present some of the context shaping its current research activities and to provide input for its market development project. Outcomes of this workshop will ultimately feed into the process of developing a coherent, national bioeconomy strategy for Ireland. Bart Bonsall, Technology Leader at the Technology Centre for Biorefining & Bioenergy (TCBB) at NUI Galway, notes the further potential that exists to utilise resources from the Irish agricultural sector beyond the food industry to explore new biochemical and biomaterial opportunities. Speaking of the need to emulate advances seen in other EU member states, Mr Bonsall highlights that: “The EU is transitioning its petro-chemical complex away from fossil-fuel based to biobased raw materials. Ireland has an opportunity to use its agricultural might to supply these enormous markets, over time matching or surpassing the value of its food outputs.” “When you see now a global household name like Coca-Cola using patented technology to convert natural sugars from plants into renewable plastic bottles, then you have to ask yourself what should Ireland be looking at to generate new economic opportunities for biobased materials and products? Should Ireland produce renewable plastics and renewable chemicals from sugar beet or other agricultural, forestry or marine outputs?” Mr Bonsall continued. Escalating challenges related to economic sustainability, climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, food security and growing populations highlight the need to transition to more sustainable, low-carbon ways of living. The bioeconomy concept offers one way to address these challenges, harnessing the optimal use of renewable biological resources and reducing dependence on fossil-fuel based resources, whilst still achieving economic growth. At the European level, the bioeconomy is estimated to employ some 21.5 million people, with a market worth approximately €2 trillion. These lucrative markets and sustainable, bioeconomic opportunities are only just beginning to be exploited, including in the Irish context. “This strategy is needed to help us to review and ultimately change, how we produce, process and recover biological feedstocks” according to Dr Maeve Henchion, BioÉire project coordinator at Teagasc. The development of a bioeconomy in Ireland producing biofuels, biofertilisers, biochemicals and bioplastics is particularly plausible given its abundant natural resources, thriving agriculture and marine sectors, growing forestry development, well-respected food industry and renowned research and development capabilities. Speaking in advance of the workshop, Dr Maria Hayes, Research Officer at Teagasc, reflects on the opportunities that are readily available in the marine sector in Ireland, a topic that she will explore in a keynote presentation. Commenting on the abundant marine resources around the Irish coastline, Dr Hayes states that: “The seas around Ireland contain a number of underutilised species, including seaweeds and Boarfish that at present are not being exploited to their full potential. These species are potentially a huge reservoir for novel protein ingredients and functional foods compounds that may be health beneficial and can provide an alternative to dairy, meat and plant proteins. Furthermore, with the clever use of biotechnological processes, marine discards can be considered ideal candidates for generation of natural bioactive materials such as chitin and chitosan that have huge commercial appeal.” These, and other opportunities, will form the heart of the discussion at the BioÉire workshop that aims to act as a platform for determining which opportunities merit further investigation in an Irish context. Eight key commercial opportunities will be recommended by the project to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The workshop will be attended by representatives across policy, academic, state and semi-state organisations. BioÉire is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Ireland’s national Technology Centre for Biorefining and Bioenergy (TCBB) is one of a number of competence centres established and led by industry, and initially funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. TCBB is co-hosted by 4 Irish universities, NUI Galway, University of Limerick, University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin. The BioÉire consortium comprises TCBB, Teagasc, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and University College Dublin (UCD). For further information on the seminar please contact Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Communications Programme Manager, TCBB, NUI Galway on 087 905 3806 or e-mail pohuiginn@tcbb.ie -Ends-

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Canadian Astronaut Announced as Guest Judge for Novel NUI Galway Science Competition

Canadian Astronaut Announced as Guest Judge for Novel NUI Galway Science Competition-image

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The science video competition, ReelLIFE SCIENCE, is open to all primary and secondary schools in Ireland Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, has been announced as guest judge for NUI Galway’s ReelLIFE SCIENCE 2015 competition. The University is challenging all primary and secondary school students across Ireland to produce engaging and informative short videos communicating a scientific topic for the this year’s competition. Supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, ReelLIFE SCIENCE will award €3,000 directly to the winning schools for science promotion. Joining Commander Hadfield on the judging panel is: Trinity College Dublin Professor of Molecular Evolution, Professor Aoife McLysaght; and BT Young Scientist and Technologists of the Year 2015, Ian O'Sullivan and Eimear Murphy from Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co. Cork. Speaking ahead of the competition, Commander Hadfield said: “I am very much looking forward to seeing the science videos that Irish students will be making! Discovery and creativity, turned loose by imagination. A great project that I am proud to be a part of.” Secondary school topics include ‘Incredible Life’ and ‘Heroines of Science’, while primary school students can choose from ‘Science in Space’, ‘The Soil is Alive!’ and ‘Design your Future’, among others. Closing date for submissions is Friday, 16 October. The winning schools will be announced on Monday, 9 November during Science Week 2015, when they will be invited to attend a public screening and awards ceremony during the Galway Science and Technology Festival on 22 November. ReelLIFE SCIENCE is organised by Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of science communication enthusiasts from NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS outreach programme from the University’s School of Natural Sciences. The competition has been running since 2013 and previous year’s videos, made with cameras, tablets and smartphones, have tens of thousands of views in over 100 countries. In 2014, the ReelLIFE SCIENCE challenge was taken up by thousands of students in 24 counties around Ireland, producing hundreds of three-minute science videos for the competition, in both English and Irish. Last year’s judge Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin said: “I was astounded by the calibre of the videos from both the primary and secondary schools. It is wonderful to see the thought, preparation, fun, and learning that went into all of the videos and it is very encouraging to see students enjoying and communicating science.” The 2014 primary school category winners were Sooey National School, Co. Sligo, with Leaving Certificate student Julien Torrades from Summerhill College, Sligo taking first place at secondary school level. For further information about the 2015 competition visit http://reellifescience.com/2015/08/31/its-launch-day-for-reellife-science-2015/ and previous year’s videos can be found at www.reellifescience.com. -Ends-

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New Programme to Get People Moving for Health

New Programme to Get People Moving for Health-image

Monday, 31 August 2015

NUI Galway, in partnership with Croí and the Kingfisher Fitness Club, has launched a new exercise programme, Exercise4Health designed specifically for those who due to a number of health issues are reluctant to engage in exercise. The aim of the programme is to make available an opportunity for those otherwise reluctant to engage in exercise or try getting fit. Being physically active prevents and helps control a multitude of health problems, especially, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Exercise4Health provides a locally accessible opportunity for those with diabetes, heart disease, pulmonary disease; those recovering from stroke or cancer or those with breathing difficulties or other long-term health conditions, to commence a safe and beneficial exercise programme. The programme is ideally suited to anyone trying to reduce weight or indeed improve their overall health and wellbeing. The six-week rolling exercise programme is specially designed to suit all levels of current fitness and prior to enrolling for the classes, participants will be provided with a medical assessment to ascertain their fitness level. This new programme, led by expert cardiac physiotherapists/exercise specialists from Croí and delivered in conjunction with the fitness team at Kingfisher Club, will provide participants with: • An assessment of their existing fitness level and a personalised plan for improvement • Fitness classes delivered at a level to suit everyone • Weekly heart-rate monitoring and personal progress tracking • A motivating and enjoyable fitness programme which can be continued at home and which if followed will provide a measurable improvement in fitness levels Professor Terry Smith, Professor of Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway said, “This exciting new partnership between NUI Galway, Croí and the Kingfisher Fitness Club aims to provide a community based exercise initiative which will significantly help to improve the health and wellbeing of people suffering from a range of chronic illnesses. Participants will only undertake exercise activities that suit their individual abilities and needs. The benefits are not just improved physical health, but meeting other participants and the fitness team at the Kingfisher Club also provides a great social outlet.” The Exercise4Health programme will take place in the Kingfisher Fitness Club at NUI Galway from 12pm-1pm every Thursday commencing on Thursday, 24 September. Individual assessments for participants will take place from 9am-12pm on Thursday, 10 and 17 September. For further information or to book a place on this exciting new programme call Croí now on 091 544310. -Ends-

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CÚRAM Director, Professor Abhay Pandit awarded Fellowship (TERMIS)

CÚRAM Director, Professor Abhay Pandit awarded Fellowship (TERMIS)-image

Monday, 31 August 2015

Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, is the first Ireland-based academic to be elected Fellow of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Group (TERMIS). The group (FTERM) was established in 2011 by the Governing Board of TERMIS and represents those who make significant contributions to the development and promotion of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The award recognizes Professor Pandit’s formative role in shaping and forming the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine field and the Society and his contributions in helping lay the foundation for the conceptualization, discovery, development and now clinical translation of novel approaches for functional tissue replacement. He will be recognized during a special session at the 2015 TERMIS World Congress which will be held in Boston, Massachusetts on Thursday, September 10th. Professor Pandit has established a critical mass of biomaterials expertise in Ireland. His research integrates material science and biological paradigms in developing solutions for chronic disease. He has developed next generation of biomaterials that have programmable degradation profiles and inbuilt gradients of physical and protective cues, which facilitates therapeutics to injury mechanisms at the molecular and cellular levels. These platforms have been developed for neural, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular clinical targets with numerous other targets currently under development. Professor Pandit has received numerous awards and distinctions. He has also been inducted as an International Fellow in Biomaterials Science and Engineering by the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering, published more than 180 papers in peer-reviewed journals, filed numerous patent applications and has licensed four technologies to medical device companies. He has co-ordinated three EU grants to date and currently hosts researchers from 25 countries. Commenting on the award Professor Pandit stated ‘I am extremely honoured to be elected Fellow to the FTERM group. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is a key area of expertise at CÚRAM and we are perfectly placed to continue to encourage and train the next generation of researchers who will sustain and further advance the principles of this important discipline. I look forward to fostering new activities within TERMIS and continuing my involvement with the Society.’ Based at the National University of Ireland, Galway and backed by Science Foundation Ireland and Industry funding, CÚRAM works with industry and clinical partners to radically improve health outcomes for chronically ill patients through the development of the next generation of ‘smart’ implantable medical devices. -Ends-

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CÚRAM Leads Novel Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

CÚRAM Leads Novel Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease-image

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

€4 million European research project secured through Horizon 2020 programme CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, has secured €4 million to lead a consortium of researchers on a new research project that will investigate novel treatments for Parkinson’s disease. The funding award has been made through the Horizon 2020 grant programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Networks Action. The official project title is ‘Development of Biomaterial-based Delivery Systems for Parkinson’s disease - an Integrated Pan-European Approach’ (BrainMatTrain). Currently, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are treated using drugs which do not address the underlying cause of the disease, or slow down progressive neuro-degeneration. The BrainMatTrain project will develop new technology to target both the inflammatory and neurodegenerative phases of the disease. This research hopes to develop the first disease-modifying therapy for Parkinson’s which could slow down the progression of the disease rather than offering mere symptomatic benefits. “The goal of the project is to engineer functionalised biomaterials that will induce neuroregeneration in the Parkinsonian brain” explains Dr Eilís Dowd, President of the Network for European CNS Transplantation & Restoration (NECTAR), and BrainMatTrain consortium co-lead. “These biomaterials will supply the local microenvironment around damaged tissue with appropriate therapeutic signalling factors.” The NUI Galway team of Professor Abhay Pandit, Dr Eílis Dowd and Dr Una Fitzgerald are leading the consortium that includes academic groups from the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique in France, Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria, Lund University in Sweden, and the Technical University of Denmark. Industry partners of the programme include Collagen Solutions Limited in the United Kingdom and Orbsen Therapeutics Limited in Ireland. The funding also provides for the recruitment of early stage and experienced researchers on the project, through a trans-national networking mechanism and provides a structure for high quality initial research training throughout European member states and associated countries. Speaking about the award, Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM said: “The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks award will fund the training and development of researchers in biomaterials and regenerative neuroscience research over a four-year period beginning in January 2016. The programme will foster increased scientific dialogue between lead academics, industry and clinicians; transfer key scientific and experimental knowledge between the institutions involved and encourage researchers from around the world to conduct research in the EU. We are extremely privileged to be considered for this highly competitive award.” CÚRAM is the National Centre for Research in Medical Devices and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and Industry partners. Its goal is to radically improve health outcomes for patients with chronic and degenerative disease through the development of ‘smart’ implantable medical devices. -Ends-

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NUI Galway to Host 18th Annual Irish Academy of Management Conference

NUI Galway to Host 18th Annual Irish Academy of Management Conference-image

Monday, 24 August 2015

NUI Galway’s J.E Cairnes School of Business and Economics will host the 18th Annual Irish Academy of Management Conference 2015 from 3-4 September. Formed in 1997, the Irish Academy of Management (IAM) is the leading professional association for management studies, research and education on the island of Ireland. The IAM conference has grown significantly in the past 18 years and now attracts leading academics in the business and management field in Ireland as well as academics from Universities across the globe. Over 240 delegates from 17 countries worldwide will come together at NUI Galway for this international event. During the course of the conference, over 140 research presentations will feature from a diverse range of speakers focusing on the conference theme which is ‘Towards Socially Responsible Management?’. Dr Alma McCarthy, IAM Conference Chair, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “We are honoured to host the 18th IAM conference in the Cairnes School of Business and Economics. The conference promises to provide lively debates and insights on a broad range of business and management issues across all disciplines. Galway is a great venue for international conferences and this year the IAM conference has attracted a particularly high number of international delegates from countries including Japan, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the US.” As well as research presentations, there are a number of keynotes and symposia taking place during the conference. A plenary roundtable discussion will examine the future of management education and research impact with panellists from Australia, the UK and Ireland. Three high-level thematic symposia will take place with panels of expert speakers. The conference keynote address will be delivered by Professor Andrew Pettigrew, Professor of Strategy and Organisation at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Professor Pettigrew’s address will examine the impact leaders have on organisational performance. A Gala Dinner will be held for delegates in Hotel Meyrick on the evening of Thursday, 3 September. Conference sponsors include Fáilte Ireland, The Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, the J.E Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway and Morans the Weir. Further information on the Irish Academy of Management is available at http://www.iamireland.ie -Ends-

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