Thursday, 19 January 2017

Soft robot can help a heart to pump

 A new robotic device could aid failing hearts by mimicking healthy cardiac muscles An innovative soft robotic sleeve which can help a heart to beat has been developed by researchers including Dr Ellen Roche of National University of Ireland Galway. The soft robotic sleeve wraps around the organ, twisting and compressing in synch with the beating heart, potentially opening new treatment options for people suffering from heart failure. The research has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine today. Dr Roche is the paper’s first author and former PhD student at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and The Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. The research took place at Harvard and at Boston Children’s Hospital. While other therapeutic systems known as ventricular assist devices (VADs) are already used to sustain end-stage heart failure patients awaiting transplant, they extend lives albeit at a high risk due to the number of complications that can occur resulting from their design. Complications include the risk of clotting requiring patients to take potentially dangerous blood thinner medications. Unlike VADs, the soft robotic sleeve does not directly contact blood, avoiding that risk. With heart failure affecting 41 million people worldwide, the hope is the device may one day be able to bridge a patient to transplant or to aid in cardiac rehabilitation and recovery. “This research demonstrates that the growing field of soft robotics can be applied to clinical needs and potentially reduce the burden of heart disease and improve the quality of life for patients,” explains Dr Roche, now a postdoctoral researcher with Professor Peter McHugh in biomedical engineering at National University of Ireland Galway, where she also previously studied for her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering. To create an entirely new device that does not come into contact with blood, the researchers took inspiration from the heart itself. The thin silicone sleeve uses soft pneumatic actuators placed around the heart to mimic the outer muscle layers of the mammalian heart. The actuators twist and compress the sleeve in a similar motion to the beating heart. The device is tethered to an external pump, which uses air to power the soft actuators. "The sleeve can be customized for each patient", said Dr Roche. If a patient has more weakness on the left side of the heart, for example, the actuators can be tuned to give more assistance on that side. The pressure of the actuators can also increase or decrease over time, as the patient’s condition evolves. More research needs to be done before the sleeve can be implanted in humans but the work is an important first step towards an implantable soft robot that can augment organ function. “This research is really significant at the moment because more and more people are ending up with heart failure,” said Roche. “Soft robotic devices are ideally suited to interact with soft tissue and give assistance that can help with augmentation of function, and potentially even healing and recovery.” Senior authors on the study are Professor Conor Walsh, director of the Harvard Biodesign Lab, and Dr Frank Pigula, who was at Boston Childrens Hospital when the research was conducted. The study was co-authored by Markus A. Horvath, Isaac Wamala, Ali Alazmani, Sang-Eun Song, William Whyte, Zurab Machaidze, Christopher J. Payne, James Weaver, Gregory Fishbein, Joseph Kuebler, Nikolay V.Vasilyev and David J. Mooney. It was supported by the Translational Research Program grant from Boston Children’s Hospital, a Director’s Challenge Cross-Platform grant from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Science Foundation Ireland. -ends-


News Archive

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The 12th annual Teddy Bear Hospital at NUI Galway will take place Thursday and Friday, 19 and 20 January. The event will see over 1,300 sick teddy bears admitted to the hospital, accompanied by their minders, 1,300 primary school children. The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, NUI Galway’s branch of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations, and up to 200 medical and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 3-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Over the years, children have come along with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of other weird and wonderful ailments. Sally Cahill, a second year medical student at NUI Galway and co-auditor of Sláinte Society, said: “This year we are celebrating the 12th annual Teddy Bear Hospital. Over the past couple of years, demand from schools to attend the event has increased and as a result the event has become ever bigger in an attempt to cure all of the sick teddies of Galway. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first ‘patients’ on Thursday, 19 January and hope to create a relaxed and enjoyable ‘hospital’ environment for the children.” This year, 25 local primary schools are participating in the event, equating to over 1,300 children. On arrival at the Teddy Bear Hospital on campus, the children will go to the ‘waiting room’, which contains jugglers and face painters. Then the children and their teddy bears are seen by a team of Teddy Doctors and Teddy Nurses, who will examine them. The students will have specially designed X-ray and MRI machines on hand, should the teddy bears need them.  Recuperating teddy bears can avail of medical supplies from the Teddy Bear Pharmacy, stocked with healthy fruit from Burkes Fruit and Veg and Fyffes, along with medical supplies sponsored by Matt O’Flaherty Chemist. After all this excitement the children can enjoy a bouncy castle and entertainment from the juggling society in the college. Further sponsorship for the event came from Bank of Ireland, Dunnes Stores, Mr Price Terryland, Butlers Chocolates, MPS and Evergreen. Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer, said: “The Teddy Bear hospital is a magical opportunity for the society to invite the children and their teddies to campus and provide a valuable learning experience for all. It is one of the NUI Galway societies’ most colourful and endearing community outreach programme and we are thrilled with its success. Congratulations to Sláinte Society who engage such a large number of our students in this event for such a positive purpose and we look forward to a rewarding few days for all involved.” -Ends-   Déanann Mic Léinn Leighis OÉ Gaillimh ceiliúradh ar Dhá Bhliain Déag d'Ospidéal na mBéiríní  Den dara bliain déag as a chéile, beidh Otharlann na mBéiríní, ar oscailt in OÉ Gaillimh, Déardaoin, an 19 agus Dé hAoine, an 20 Eanáir. Tiocfaidh breis agus 1,300 béirín tinn chun na hotharlainne lena bhfeighlithe, 1,300 páiste bunscoile. Is é an Cumann Sláinte, craobh OÉ Gaillimh de Chónaidhm Idirnáisiúnta Chumann na Mac Léinn Leighis, agus suas le 200 mac léinn leighis agus eolaíochta a bheidh ar láimh le scrúdú leighis a dhéanamh ar na béiríní agus le cóir leighis a chur orthu. Tá súil acu go gcuideoidh an ócáid le páistí, idir 3-8 mbliana d’aois, a bheith ar a suaimhneas nuair a bheidh siad ag an dochtúir nó san otharlann. Thar na blianta, thug páistí béiríní chuig an otharlann agus iad ag samhlú go raibh réimse leathan tinnis ag gabháil dóibh cosúil le cluasa tinne, boilg bhreoite agus gach cineál gearán eile faoin spéir. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Sally Cahill, mac léinn leighis sa dara bliain in OÉ Gaillimh agus comh-iniúchóir an Chumainn Sláinte: “I mbliana táimid ag déanamh ceiliúradh ar dhá bhliain déag d'Ospidéal na mBéiríní. Le roinnt blianta anuas, tá méadú tagtha ar líon na scoileanna atá ag iarraidh freastal ar an ócáid agus, dá bharr sin, tá an ócáid i bhfad níos mó anois chun béiríní na Gaillimhe ar fad a leigheas. Beimid ag súil go mór na chéad ‘othair’ a fheiceáil Déardaoin, an 19 Eanáir agus tá súil againn ospidéal taitneamhach a chruthú do na gasúir ar an lá.” I mbliana, tá 25 bunscoil áitiúil páirteach san ócáid, sin os cionn 1,300 gasúr. Nuair a thagann na páistí chuig Otharlann na mBéiríní ar an gcampas, rachaidh siad chuig an 'seomra feithimh', áit a mbeidh lámhchleasaithe agus maisitheoirí aghaidheanna ag fanacht leo. Ansin buailfidh na páistí agus na béiríní le foireann de Dhochtúirí Béiríní agus d’Altraí Béiríní a chuirfidh scrúdú leighis orthu. Beidh meaisíní speisialta X-gha agus MRI ag na mic léinn ar fhaitíos go mbeidís ag teastáil ó na béiríní.  Beidh Cógaslann Béiríní ann chomh maith, agus beidh torthaí sláintiúla ó Burkes Fruit and Veg agus Fyffes ann mar aon le soláthairtí leighis urraithe ag Cógaslann Matt O’Flaherty le cóir leighis a chur ar na béiríní. Nuair a bheidh an méid sin curtha díobh acu beidh deis ag na gasúir spraoi a bhaint as preabchaisleán agus beidh cumann lámhchleasaíochta an choláiste i mbun siamsaíochta. Rinne Banc na hÉireann, Dunnes Stores, Mr Price Thír Oileáin, Butlers Chocolates, MPS agus Evergreen urraíocht ar an ócáid chomh maith. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Ríona Hughes, Oifigeach na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is deis iontach é Ospidéal na mBéiríní don chumann chun cuireadh a thabhairt do pháistí agus a mbéiríní chuig an gcampas agus chun taithí luachmhar foghlama a thabhairt do chách. Tá sé ar cheann de na cláir for-rochtana pobail is deise agus is spraíúla atá idir lámha ag cumainn OÉ Gaillimh agus táimid an-bhródúil as chomh maith agus a éiríonn leis an ócáid. Comhghairdeas leis an gCumann Sláinte a thugann deis do líon chomh mór dár gcuid mac léinn a bheith rannpháirteach san ócáid seo do chúis chomh dearfach agus tá súil againn go mbainfidh gach a mbeidh páirteach an-sult as an gcúpla lá seo.” -críoch-

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Information evening specially designed for mature students, Leaving Certificate students and parents/guardians. NUI Galway will hold a special information evening for prospective students on Wednesday, 18 January from 5.30-8:30pm in the Arts Millennium Building. The event is aimed at mature students, Leaving Certificate students and parents/guardians. The mature students’ element of the information evening is designed for anyone aged 23 or over, who may be considering studies at NUI Galway in 2017. The evening will focus on the benefits and supports for returning to education, career opportunities and subject specific information which will be given through a series of lectures and presentations. A talk will also be given on applying to Medicine as a mature student with information on the HPAT test and the interview process. Trish Bourke, Mature Students Officer at NUI Galway, said: “The evening is specially designed for those who wish to find out more about the degree programmes on offer, the services that the University provides, the CAO application procedure, funding and life as a student on campus. Having studied an Arts degree at NUI Galway myself, I know the value of it and the opportunities it gave me to plan a successful career. There is a place for everyone at NUI Galway whether it is through an Access course or through our Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development Programmes.” Leaving Certificate students and their parents will have the opportunity to explore in detail the over 60 courses available at undergraduate level. Over 25 subject specific talks are being held on the evening including an Admissions Talk and College talks for Arts, Business, Law, Engineering and Informatics, Science, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. For students who are undecided on their career or course choice, the event will include a Career Clinic and a Course Clinic for students and parents to meet University guidance counsellors and school liaison officers to help guide them through the many avenues available. All the relevant support services including Fees, Sports, Admission and Access will be available on the night to provide information and answer any queries.   Sarah Geraghty, Student Recruitment and Outreach Manager at NUI Galway, said: “With so many courses on offer, this event is a perfect opportunity for prospective students and their parents to meet lecturers on campus and to see what degree might be the right fit for them. It is also a chance find out more about new programmes being offered at NUI Galway including the Bachelor of Commerce (Global Experience), Bachelor in Children’s Studies and the BSc (Applied Social Sciences), all of which feature relevant work placement as part of the programme structure.”   For further information on the programmes and opportunities for students at NUI Galway, please visit: www.nuigalway.ie/cao.   -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

In a tribute to the late Dr T.K. Whitaker, former Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway said: “On behalf of NUI Galway, I want to express great sadness at the passing of one of the Ireland’s most exemplary public servants. In a career defined by innovation and dedication, led the transformation of Irish economic policy which has shaped modern Ireland. His service to the State continued long beyond his retirement in 1976 and had a major impact on many of facets of Irish life with more than 40 organisations having benefited from his wisdom and leadership. For those of us in academic life, we remember with fondness and high regard his Chancellorship of the National University of Ireland for over 20 years, from 1976 to 1996, at a time when higher education in Ireland underwent its most radical transformation. We are honoured that the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway stands as acknowledgement of his stature as a policy leader whose legacy will be to have shaped modern Ireland as a sustainable economy, an inclusive society, and a healthy democracy where academic debate and public discourse engage together to advance the greater good. I would like to extend sincere sympathy to his family and friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.” RÁITEAS AR BHÁS AN DR T.K. WHITAKER  In ómós don Dr TK Whitaker, nach maireann, iar-Sheansailéir Ollscoil na hÉireann, dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr Jim Browne: “Thar ceann OÉ Gaillimh, ba mhaith liom ár mórbhrón a chur in iúl go bhfuil duine de mhórsheirbhísigh eiseamláireacha poiblí na hÉireann ar lár. Ba cheannródaí tiomanta an Dr TK Whitaker ar feadh a shaoil ghairmiúil agus stiúraigh sé an claochló ó bhonn a tháinig ar pholasaí eacnamaíoch na hÉireann a mhúnlaigh Éire na linne seo. Thug sé seirbhís don Stát i bhfad i ndiaidh dó dul ar scor in 1976 agus bhí mórthionchar aige ar an iliomad gné de shaol na hÉireann. Chuaigh a chuid ceannaireachta agus géarchúise chun tairbhe bhreis agus dhá scór eagraíocht. Cuimhnímidne sa saol acadúil, le hardmheas agus le cion, ar a théarma Seansailéireachta ar Ollscoil na hÉireann ar feadh tréimhse de scór bliain, ó 1976 go 1996, tráth a ndeachaigh mórathrú ar an ardoideachas in Éirinn. Cúis bhróid dúinn gurb ann d’Institiúid Whitaker in OÉ Gaillimh ar aitheantas é ar a sheasamh mar cheannródaí polasaí. Clocha ar a charn gur mhúnlaigh sé Éire na linne seo mar gheilleagar inbhuanaithe, mar shochaí chuimsitheach agus mar dhaonlathas folláin, áit a mbíonn caibidil acadúil agus an dioscúrsa poiblí ag cur lena chéile chun leas an phobail. Is mian liom ár gcomhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh lena theaghlach agus a chairde. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”  


Events Calendar

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The public are invited to a fascinating public lecture of a winter expedition with the German icebreaker “Polarstern” to Antarctica. The talk will be delivered by Professor Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany on Wednesday, 14 September, at 7.30pm in the Colm O’hEocha Theatre in the Arts Millenium Building at NUI Galway. Professor Lemke has participated in nine polar expeditions with the German research icebreaker “Polarstern”, and has collections of stunning photographs depicting the Antarctic landscape and intriguing experiences to share. He is visiting Galway to participate in the Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme which is a week-long intensive, accredited workshop examining how climate and oceans interact, with particular examples from the Atlantic Ocean and higher latitudes. The lecture is open to members of the public and is part of a workshop organised by Dr Pauhla McGrane of the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART) being held in Galway, from 12-19 September,offered to international postgraduate students of marine, atmosphere and climate-related sciences. “Polar regions play an important role for our climate, but direct observations are difficult to obtain and can only be achieved with greatest effort. This is especially true in wintertime” said Professor Lemke. “Severe blizzards, being trapped between thick ice floes and forced to drift with the ice, the darkness of the polar night and temperatures around minus 30°C. This presentation will take you along on an extraordinary winter expedition into the Antarctic Ocean. It shows the beauty of the frozen ocean, presents some insight into polar and climate research, and demonstrates everyday life on a research icebreaker,” he continued. High latitudes have received attention recently because of significant changes in the atmosphere, sea ice, and ocean, and on land, especially in the Arctic. The surface air temperature in the Arctic has increased about twice as fast as the global air temperature. The Arctic sea-ice extent in summer has decreased by 35% since 1979, and the sea-ice thickness during late summer has declined in the Central Arctic by about 40% since 1958. A warming has also been observed at depth in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. But surprisingly there is no negative trend observed in the Antarctic sea ice. Both, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing mass, and the sea level is rising. Most of these observed trends are in agreement with warming scenarios performed with coupled climate models, which indicate an amplified response in high latitudes to increased greenhouse gas concentrations. But details of the complex interaction between atmosphere, sea ice and ocean, and the impacts on the ecosystem and the human society are still only marginally understood. Results will be shown from the latest Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and from a winter expedition the speaker has lead into the ice-covered Weddell Sea (Antarctica). Dr Pauhla McGrane, coordinator of SMART said: “We are delighted that Proffessor Lemke has agreed to provide his unique insight into carrying out climate research in hostile polar environments, particulaly when accompanied by such beautiful stark images. This is especially relevant as this year we will run the second North South Atlantic Training Transect on-board the RV Polarstern from Germany to South Africa which will train 24 postgraduate students, including seven Irish students, in researching climate, ocean and atmospheric interactions at sea. These innovative offshore international collaboarations, developed with AWI, the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) and funded by the Nippon foundation are essential in developing excellent climate and ocean scientists to measure and understand our changing planet”. Professor Lemke continues to work on the observation of climate processes in atmosphere, sea ice and ocean and their simulation in numerical models for the polar components of the climate system. On six expeditions on Polarstern he acted as chief scientist.  For more than 30 years he served on many national and international committees on polar and climate research. He was the Coordinating Lead Author for Chapter 4 (Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground) of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Al Gore in 2007. For the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC published in 2013 Proffessor Lemke worked as Review Editor of Chapter 4 and as Lead Author of the Technical Summary. All members of the public are welcome and refreshments will be served afterwards. The Atlantic Ocean Climate Scholars Programme is a collaboaration between SMART, NUI Galway, AWI and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) that is funded by the Nippon foundation under NF POGO Regional Training fund.  -ends-