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2014

NUI Galway Researchers Seek Participants For Project On Chronic Pain In Children

NUI Galway Researchers Seek Participants For Project On Chronic Pain In Children-image

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Children in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Galway who experience chronic pain are invited to help develop an effective pain management programme Researchers with the School of Psychology at NUI Galway are currently inviting children aged from 7-12 years who have experienced chronic or recurrent pain for a period of three months or more, and their parents, to help develop an effective pain management programme for young children which will be computer-based and accessed online.  Group sessions will be run at a number of locations across Ireland including Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast. Children with any type of chronic or persistent pain including abdominal pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, headache and combined or widespread pains, are invited to participate. Children and their parents will use art materials to think, draw or write about ideas or topics which they think are important for children and parents dealing with chronic pain. Participants will be shown a computer-based programme designed to support pain management and are invited to give feedback, based on their personal experiences of chronic pain management.  The project will involve just one meeting with a group of children and one meeting with a group of parents to enable the researchers to decide what course of action would work best for this type of treatment programme. Group sessions will be fun and interactive, lasting 30-40 minutes. Participant views and personal experiences are extremely valuable and their input will greatly enhance research in the development of an intervention for children who suffer with chronic pain. They may also benefit from sharing their experiences and thoughts about chronic pain management with others in a similar situation, in a casual environment, while offering complete confidentiality. NUI Galway PhD student and group facilitator, Angeline Traynor said: “Chronic pain is increasingly prevalent in young people and can have a significant impact on the day-to-day quality of life. The most common types of chronic pain in children are abdominal pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, headache and combined or widespread pains.” Ms Traynor continued, “Given the impact of chronic pain and the increasing focus on technology as a means of treatment delivery, it is essential to identify and address the needs of young children with respect to pain management. Participation is voluntary and anything you say during the group session is strictly confidential. These sessions will give children and their parents the chance to inform our research by telling us of their own personal experiences with chronic pain management.” This programme is part of a PhD research project being carried out at NUI Galway by PhD student Angeline Traynor with Dr. Brian McGuire of the university’s School of Psychology and the Centre for Pain Research. The study is supported by Galway University Foundation. Each group session will include 6-8 other volunteer participants and will be led by Ms. Traynor and Dr. Siobhan O’Higgins of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway. Refreshments will be provided to participants. If you would be willing to help with this important study or would like further information, please contact Angeline Traynor at a.traynor2@nuigalway.ie or 086 0378562 or go directly to www.helpkidswithpain.com  

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NUI Galway Appoints Professor Timothy O’Brien as Dean of the College Of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

NUI Galway Appoints Professor Timothy O’Brien as Dean of the College Of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences -image

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

NUI Galway has appointed Professor Timothy O’Brien as Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. Professor Timothy O’Brien is recognized as an international expert on vascular wall gene delivery. Professor O’Brien returned to Ireland in July 2001 as Professor of Medicine and Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Metabolism at University College Hospital Galway.   Professor O’Brien has since established a gene therapy research group the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI). As Director of REMEDI, he has played a key role in establishing both the new Bioscience Building at NUI Galway the Clinical Research Facility in the hospital. Speaking about his appointment Professor O’Brien said, “NUI Galway has a long and proud tradition of serving the local, national and global communities by educating the health care providers of the future. I look forward to building on that success and working with colleagues across the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and Healthcare systems to integrate the education of our future health care providers. In particular, I look forward to working closely with our colleagues in the West Northwest Hospital group to this end. This success in our education programmes is recognised by prestigious scholarship schemes such as the Henry Hutchinson Stewart Medical Scholarships and we will strive to continue and expand on our traditional success in that programme.” Professor O’Brien continued, “The College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences will continue to promote excellence and international competitiveness in selected research areas. We will pursue an innovation agenda with a focus on generation of impact. The research themes will be aligned with University and National priority areas and approaches will emphasize collaboration between our faculty members, hospitals and industry.  We will strive to enhance patient care and contribute to economic recovery in Ireland through our research performance. In addition, we will work to contribute to the Irish Government’s aim to win €1.3 billion in funding from the EU Horizon 2020 programme.” A native of Cork, Professor O’Brien received an honours MB BCh BAO degree from UCC in 1984. He went on to do an internship and general professional training at Cork University Hospital and one year as Registrar to Professor DJ O’Sullivan. He completed a two year residency in internal medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in 1990 followed by a sub-specialty fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN in 1992. He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Physicians in Ireland and London in 1986 and 1987, respectively and to Fellowship of the American College of Physicians in 1995 and the American College of Endocrinology in 1996. He was awarded MD (1993) and PhD (1997) degrees from the National University of Ireland. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology and Metabolism in the USA and is a registered specialist in both specialties in Ireland. Since returning to Ireland Professor O’Brien has been a principal or co-applicant on grants worth in excess of €73 million. He has been a reviewer for 16 international journals, was a member of an American Heart Association Study Section, has acted as an invited reviewer on an NIH study section, and has been a reviewer for the Wellcome Trust and the Finnish Academy of Science. He served as associate editor of Endocrine Practice, the journal of the American College of Endocrinology from 1999-2006 and the e-journal of Translational Medicine. To date Professor O'Brien has published 240 original papers in peer-reviewed journals.  He has contributed to 21 books, and has been invited to present his research at over 150 national and international scientific conferences. He is an author on seven patent applications. He is the Director of the MSc in Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galway and has supervised 18 PhD students to graduation. Professor O’Brien is Director of the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) and he is also a co-founder of a spin-out company, Orbsen Therapeutics. Professor Timothy O’Brien will succeed Professor Gerry Loftus who recently retired.

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EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn to Open 52nd Annual Irish Science Teachers Association Conference at NUI Galway

EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn to Open 52nd Annual Irish Science Teachers Association Conference at NUI Galway -image

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

‘Inspiring Science from Ireland’s Silicon Valley’ is the theme of the Irish Science Teachers’ Association (ISTA) Conference NUI Galway will host the 52nd Annual Irish Science Teachers’ Association (ISTA) Conference from the 11-12 April. European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan Quinn and President Jim Browne of NUI Galway will officially open the Conference entitled “Inspiring Science from Ireland’s Silicon Valley”. The Irish Science Teachers' Association is the professional association of science teachers in the Republic of Ireland. It is over 50 years in existence and is the longest established provider of Continuous Professional Development for science teachers, with internationally renowned speakers invited to present frontier science to teachers. The Conference will host a total of 30 exhibitors in the area of science education. On Saturday 12 April there will be a full day of events in the Arts/Science Building at NUI Galway, starting with parallel talks and workshops in the morning and plenary sessions in the afternoon. Topics vary from ‘The Physics of Cancer’ to ‘Life Saving Chemistry’. Professor Donal O’Shea will give a talk on Childhood Obesity and FameLab science communicator Fergus McAuliffe will also be on stage. Workshops in biology, chemistry and physics will be conducted by teams from the Professional Development Service for Teachers, and there will also be short presentations on EU linked projects such as SCIENTIX, TEMI (Teaching Enquiry with Mystery Incorporated) and Chain Reaction. Primary Science is also included, as Dr Maeve Liston from Mary Immaculate College will present a practical workshop for primary school teachers. In the first plenary session of the afternoon the Nottingham based Professor Martyn Poliakoff, of Periodic Table Videos fame, will give a talk entitled ‘From Test-Tube to YouTube’. This will be followed by the launch of the Hyland Report which looks at International best practice in the design of science syllabi for second level schools. European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will provide the keynote address at the opening of the Conference and added, “I am delighted to be able to join you for the Irish Science Teachers’ Association Annual Conference this year. The work you do as an association and as individual teachers every day in the classroom, provides the foundation upon which Irish children and young adults are successfully equipping themselves for careers as researchers, academics, scientists in industry and informed citizens. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn continued, “Science and innovation are at the core of our daily lives and will, I believe, unlock a bright new future for generations. As teachers you have the privilege and responsibility to inspire and nurture our young people. I have great confidence in your ability and willingness to step up to the challenge, and continue to produce Europe’s brightest and best young scientists.” Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome the Irish Science Teachers’ Association to NUI Galway for your annual conference. This University has a long and proud tradition of scientific excellence in teaching and research. From our popular degree courses to world-leading research, science has been a cornerstone of the University for well over a century. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Irish Science Teachers’ Association continued success for the future. The work that you do to ignite curiosity and inspire young scientists is pivotal to the future of science and technology in Ireland.” The first lecture will be presented by Professor Elaine Fox from the University of Oxford and is entitled: ‘Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain; From Pessimist to Optimist, can we really change?’ It will take place at the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway on Friday 11 April at 8pm. Professor Fox’s work has been discussed in New Scientist, The Economist and the New York Times. There will also be an update from ISTA members on the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment development groups in relation to new syllabi at the Annual Business Meeting; this is the only session that is for members only. The closing talk will be given by the well renowned Professor Jim Al Khalili from the University of Surrey in which he will address the question: ‘Is Life Quantum Mechanical?’ Events take place on Saturday 12 April in the Arts/Science Building. The Association for Science Education representatives from the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland will attend the conference and Professor Teresa Kennedy from the USA will represent ICASE. Both events take place on Saturday 12 April in the Arts/Science Building. The organisation, led by Mary Mullaghy, National Chairperson of ISTA, is one of the pioneers of collaborative learning in association with the Department of Education and Skills, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, State Examinations Commission, Professional Development of Secondary Teachers, Institutes of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Technology Exhibition, BT Young Scientist, SciFest, industry and third level institutions. Many organisations communicate their outreach initiatives through the association as there is an extensive communication network. A Conference dinner and awards ceremony will take place in Hotel Meyrick and will be attended by some of the founding members of the Association including Sr Mercedes Desmond aged 92 years. Advance booking is advised. Full programme details and bookings are available on www.ista.ie and on social media @IrishSciTeach and Facebook. For registration visit http://istaannualconference2014.weebly.com

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September 2014

NUI Galway’s Novel Science Competition for Primary and Secondary Schools is Launched

NUI Galway’s Novel Science Competition for Primary and Secondary Schools is Launched-image

Monday, 1 September 2014

Guest judges include Mathematics Lecturer Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin Primary and secondary school students from all over Ireland have been challenged by NUI Galway to compete in a new science communication competition. Students are invited to make entertaining and educational short videos on a range of science topics for ReelLIFE SCIENCE. With over €3000 in prizes, the makers of the best video at primary and secondary school level will each receive €1000, to be spent on promoting science in the winning school. Second and third-placed entries at each level will receive €300 and €200, respectively. Closing date for submissions is Friday, 17 October and the winning schools will be announced during the week beginning 10 November to coincide with Science Week 2014. Topics include ‘The Power of Science’, ‘Science Heroes’ and ‘Physics in Real Life’. ReelLIFE SCIENCE was piloted in Galway schools last year with great success and was conceived by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell who said: “There is huge enthusiasm among students for using hands-on science to investigate the world around them, whether it’s exploring the plants and animals in their school garden or the food in their lunchbox. A great way of communicating this is by using video cameras, tablets or even smartphones to make a short movie for their friends, parents and teachers to enjoy.” The secondary school winner of the 2013 pilot competition was Michael McAndrew, a student from St Enda’s College in Galway with an animated video, entitled ‘Astrobiology – Life in Space’. Michael’s winning video can be viewed at http://youtu.be/JbyZ9z3CS3o. Michael has since launched his own website design and hosting company, Corrib Digital, while finding the time to podcast every week about new technology and, of course, study for his Leaving Certificate. Videos will be selected by special guest judges: Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College London and Science writer with The Guardian; Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Lecturer in Mathematics at University College Dublin, Radio and TV broadcaster, columnist and author; and Paul Clarke, St. Paul’s College, Raheny, winner of the SciFest National Final 2013 and Overall Winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2014. More information about the competition and application process can be found at www.reellifescience.com. The initiative is in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS School of Natural Sciences outreach programme, and is supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, which seeks to promote the awareness and engagement of the Irish public with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). -Ends-

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Gold for NUI Galway Academic at Para-Cycling Road World Championships

Gold for NUI Galway Academic at Para-Cycling Road World Championships-image

Monday, 1 September 2014

NUI Galway academic, Dr Eoghan Clifford has stormed to his second World Title winning the Men’s C3 Road Race at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Greenville, South Carolina in the USA yesterday. The Men’s C3 Road Race was seven laps of a 10.2km course and the NUI Galway Lecturer in Civil Engineering pushed ahead with three laps to go, winning by a margin of almost two minutes. This is a sensational World Championship debut for the rider who won gold in the MC3 Time Trial on Friday. Speaking after the Men’s C3 Road Race, Dr Clifford said: “I can’t believe it. I had planned to not show in the first few laps, but it was very explosive, and I was struggling pretty bad, so hung in towards the back. I felt that as they tired and lost the explosiveness, I stayed the same. At the start/finish area with three laps to go, I got about 20-30 metres in the technical section, and put my head down to see what would happen. I am the kind of rider that if I can get a gap I can hold it, and they would have to commit to a chase to catch me, I didn’t want it to come to a sprint. When I got up to two minutes ahead, I knew I had it.” Dr Clifford added a special note of thanks to his fellow teammates: “I would like to thank the rest of the Irish team and management here. They made it really easy for me; the other squad members have so much experience, and were really helpful.” Para-cycling has been officially administered by the UCI since an agreement to transfer governance of the discipline from the International Paralympic Committee was signed in February 2007. This discipline is divided into road and track races for a total of seven events. The competitions comprise four groups of handicaps (blind and visually impaired riders, people with cerebral palsy, locomotor disabilities and handcycling) and a total of 14 functional categories for men and women in all the age categories defined by the UCI. Riders are placed in the appropriate category in the light of their functional capacity. -Ends-

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World-Renowned Surgeon to Deliver Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture at NUI Galway

World-Renowned Surgeon to Deliver Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture  at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 1 September 2014

NUI Galway will host Ireland’s largest surgical conference, the 39th Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture and Surgical Symposium, on 5-6 September 2014. Internationally renowned surgeon, Dr John Birkmeyer will deliver the Memorial Lecture entitled ‘Strategies for Improving the Quality of Surgical Care’. John Birkmeyer, MD is the George D. Zuidema Professor of Surgery and Director of the Centre for Healthcare Outcomes & Policy at the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School. His research career has focused on performance measurement, understanding variation in hospital outcomes and cost-efficiency, and strategies for improvement. Formerly a series editor of the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, Dr. Birkmeyer has leading roles in several regional collaborative improvement programs involving over 50 hospitals in Michigan, with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. He serves on the blue ribbon expert panel on hospital safety ratings for the Leapfrog Group and as Chief Scientific Officer for ArborMetrix, Inc. Dr. Birkmeyer was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. Professor of Surgery at NUI Galway, Michael Kerin, who is hosting the event along with his colleague Professor Oliver McAnena, says: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Birkmeyer to our University. Dr Birkmeyer is focused on improving the quality of the health care system which will serve the lives of the people and communities for generations to come.” On the second day of the Surgical Symposium, Mr James Sheehan, CEO, Galway Clinic, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Co-Founder of Blackrock Clinic, Galway Clinic and the Hermitage Clinic will deliver the State of the Art Lecture entitled ‘Reflections on the Past and a Vision for the Future’ on Saturday, 6th September at 12.45 p.m. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and he holds an M.Sc in Bioengineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Surrey. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland and the Irish Academy of Engineering. He specialised in the design of artificial hip and knee prostheses. Since co-founding the Blackrock Clinic in the 1980s, his name has become synonymous with healthcare provision, as well as innovations. For further information on event, please contact 091 524390 or www.freyer.ie -ends-

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Galway Hosts the Seventh Annual World Robotic Sailing Championship and International Robotic Sailing Conference

Galway Hosts the Seventh Annual World Robotic Sailing Championship and International Robotic Sailing Conference-image

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Galway Harbour will transform this month when Galway City will host the seventh World Robotic Sailing Championship (WRSC) from 9-13 September 2014. Fully autonomous and unmanned sailing boats, up to 2.5m in length will compete over a series of short distance racing, navigation and autonomy challenges with teams from Galway, Wales, US, Finland, France, Portugal and Russia participating. This is the first time that Ireland has hosted the event. Organised in conjunction with the WRSC, the International Robotic Sailing Conference (IRSC) will take place on Monday 8 September, in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway. IRSC provides a platform to discuss the broad range of scientific problems involved in the design and development of autonomous sailboats. NUI Galway Engineering Lecturer and event Co-Chair, Dr Fearghal Morgan, said: “The International Robotic Sailing Conference provides international researchers with the opportunity to present and exchange ideas on their work on a wide range of topics related to autonomous surface marine robotics, particularly robotic sailing. Previous IRSC/WRSC events have been hosted in France, Wales, Germany, Canada, Portugal and Austria. We invite participation from anyone who might be interested in this work, particularly from engineering-related and marine sectors.” Robotic sailing offers the potential of long range and long term autonomous wind propelled, solar or wave-powered carbon neutral devices. Robotic sailing devices could potentially contribute to monitoring of environmental, ecological, meteorological, hydrographic and oceanographic data. These devices can also be used in traffic monitoring, security, assistance and rescue. ‌ The WRSC competitions propose tasks such as station, speed in different conditions, accuracy, obstacle avoidance, target tracking, endurance and cooperation, all performed autonomously. The competition, originally designed for sailboats, also includes a motorboats category in order to bring together the scientific communities that work on different types of autonomous marine vehicles. A bottle boat competition will also be held with several Irish entries competing. Event Co-Chair Dermot Tynan of Hewlett Packard, Galway said: “The dependency on changing winds and sea conditions presents a considerable challenge for short and long term route and stability planning, collision avoidance and boat control. Building a robust and seaworthy autonomous sailing robot presents a truly complex and multi-disciplinary challenge for boat designers, naval architects, mechanical engineers, electronic and embedded systems engineers and computer scientists. Since 2004, events such as Sailbot, Microtransat Challenge, World Robotic Sailing Championship and the International Robotic Sailing Conference have sparked an explosion in the number of groups working on autonomous sailing robots. To date, the longest distance sailed autonomously is almost 400km. Many of the challenges in building truly autonomous sailing robots still remain unsolved.” Mr Tynan continued: “We are looking forward to welcoming international teams, many of whom are travelling long distances by sea and overland to bring robotic sailing boats to the West of Ireland. This demonstrates their enormous dedication and enthusiasm.” GMIT has two boats competing in the sailing challenge, Seol and Malendroke, involving students from several engineering departments in the college - electronic & electrical engineering, energy engineering and mechanical engineering. The Seol team are 3rd year electronics students John Lynam and Janet Hardiman, 4th year electronics student Brian Cunnane, and 4th year energy engineering student Brendan Henry. The Malendroke team are 3rd year electronics students Ciunas Low Bennett and Rastislav Petras, 3rd year energy engineering student Christoph Schellenberg, and 1st year mechanical engineering student Brendan Divilly. The challenges begin on Tuesday 9 September at the Claddagh Basin, Galway city. Sean Coffey, lecturer in the GMIT School of Engineering and the competitors' mentor, says "that the challenge presents an enjoyable and exciting opportunity for students to apply and develop their high-tech skills." The IRSC/WRSC event also includes two free public exhibitions in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway on Sunday, 7 September from 2-5pm and on Monday, 8 September from 11am-4pm, at which several of the robotic sailboats will be exhibited. All are welcome. School groups are asked to contact the organisers in advance. IRSC 2014 and WRSC 2014 are sponsored by Hewlett Packard, NUI Galway, Port of Galway, Galway Bay Sailing Club and Intel. Information on each WRSC team entries and schedule is available at http://wrsc2014.com/teams. Details of the conference programme and delegate registration can be found at http://wrsc2014.com/. -Ends-

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NUI Galway report highlights positive effect of reminiscence therapy for dementia sufferers

NUI Galway report highlights positive effect of reminiscence therapy for dementia sufferers-image

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The positive effect of reminiscence therapy on the quality of life of people with dementia in long-stay care has been shown in a new report from NUI Galway. The report is the result of a major trial undertaken over the course of three years and involving over 300 dementia sufferers. The trial is the largest of its kind internationally in the area of reminiscence therapy in long-stay settings, and was funded by the Health Research Board. At its simplest, reminiscence is recalling an individual’s past memories and experiences, often through prompts such as photographs, music and familiar household items. “The results showed positive effects of reminiscence for people with dementia,” explains Professor Eamon O’Shea of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway. “Reminiscence is increasingly seen as important in the care and support of people with dementia, given its potential to draw on early memories, which often remain intact for people with dementia, thereby highlighting the person’s preserved abilities rather than any cognitive impairment. While pharmacological interventions have been the mainstay of caring for people with dementia, increasing attention is being paid to the role of psychosocial interventions in the care of people with dementia.” Professor O’Shea added: “The results confirm the importance of a person-centred approach to the care of people with dementia in long-stay care settings. There are a range of psychosocial interventions, such as reminiscence therapy, cognitive stimulation, and art. Interestingly, there is reciprocity at play with the care givers, everyone gains through a more person-centred approach to care in long-stay settings. Fifteen years ago Professor Eamon O’Shea wrote the first Action Plan for Dementia for Ireland and he has been influential in preparing the ground for the new National Strategy on Dementia which will be published by the Government in the coming months. The cost of caring for people with dementia worldwide was estimated to be US$604 billion in 2010. While there have been no comprehensive prevalence studies on dementia carried out in Ireland, current estimates suggest that there are currently 47,746 people with dementia in the country. Approximately 4,000 new cases of dementia arise in the general Irish population every year. The cost of dementia in Ireland has been estimated at just over €1.69 billion per annum, 48% of which is attributable to informal care provided by family and friends to those living with dementia in the community. The trial - the DementiA education programme incorporating REminiscence for Staff (DARES) - was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a reminiscence-based education programme. The intervention was a structured education reminiscence-based programme for care staff, who subsequently engaged in individualised reminiscence with long-stay residents under their care. The primary research question focused on the impact of reminiscence therapy on the self-reported quality of life of residents with a diagnosis of dementia. -ends-

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Researchers see potential in stem cells to fight cornea transplant rejection

Researchers see potential in stem cells to fight cornea transplant rejection-image

Friday, 5 September 2014

New research from NUI Galway is using adult stem cells in the fight against cornea transplant rejection. The research has been published in the American Journal of Transplantation, and underpins a pan-European project which hopes to help the 100,000 people worldwide who undergo cornea transplant procedures each year. Corneal eye disease is the fourth most common cause of blindness in the world and it affects more than 10 million people worldwide. An unhealthy cornea affects vision by scattering or distorting light and causing glare and blurred vision. The most widely used treatment for this condition is cornea transplantation (or keratoplasty) where the diseased or scarred corneal tissue is replaced with healthy tissue from an organ donor. Although these procedures have been performed for over 100 years, unfortunately about 30% of transplants are unsuccessful due to rejection by the patient’s own immune system. Researchers, led by Dr Thomas Ritter from NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), showed in a model system that transplant rejection rates could be reduced to as low as 10% by administering a certain type of stem cell called a mesenchymal stem cell (MSC). MSCs can be readily obtained and grown from the bone marrow of adult donors. ‌ Dr Ritter explained: “In recent years, our Immunology research programme at REMEDI has focused at a basic level on understanding the immune response to transplanted tissues such as the cornea as well as on the immune modulating effects of stromal stem cells. It is hoped this work will lead to much improved outcomes for the 100,000 people worldwide who undergo cornea transplant procedures each year.” Previous research from the team at REMEDI which showed that these cells have certain properties which can modulate the immune system led them to study their usefulness in combating cornea transplant rejection. Dr Oliver Treacy, the lead scientist on the team at NUI Galway, showed that the MSCs release chemicals capable of adjusting the immune system balance in the body. This led to an increase in cells called regulatory T-cells, which dampen down inflammation, and a decrease in the number of natural killer cells, key players in the rejection process. Mr Gerry Fahy, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Galway University Hospital, who was involved in the study said: “Corneal transplant rejection can result in blindness and is not uncommon in high risk patients. This important research presents a potentially new avenue of treatment to prevent transplant rejection and save vision in this vulnerable group of patients.” In a follow-up €6 million study now underway, the research team from REMEDI have teamed up with 11 collaborators from all over Europe to look at the process of cornea transplant immune rejection in much greater detail. The five year project which is called ‘VISICORT’ is being funded by the EU Framework Programme 7, and the final year will involve a clinical trial carried out in Galway using stem cells made at the NUI Galway, Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI) facility. Based in NUI Galway, REMEDI (www.remedi.ie) was established in 2003 through a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET) award, and industry funding.  REMEDI is part of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science and manages the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland, an Irish Medicines Board licensed facility for the manufacture of stem cells. -ends-

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NUI Galway and Kingfisher Club Announce Details of Annual 8km Race in aid of Jigsaw

NUI Galway and Kingfisher Club Announce Details of Annual 8km Race in aid of Jigsaw-image

Monday, 8 September 2014

NUI Galway, in association with the Kingfisher Club, will host its second annual charity 8K Run/Walk on Saturday, 11 October at 10am. The route consists of a traffic-free, mixed terrain run around the University’s campus and along the banks of the river Corrib. The official charity partner for this event is Jigsaw Galway and coincides with global events around World Mental Health Day. Jigsaw Galway is a free and confidential service supporting the mental health and well-being of young people, aged 15 – 25, living in Galway city and county.  Jigsaw also provides advice and guidance to parents, family members, friends and other professionals worried about a young person.  All proceeds raised from this event will go to Jigsaw Galway. This charity event is forming part of the NUI Galway Alumni reunion programme which takes place from 10-12 October on campus and will be an opportunity to bring together students, staff, alumni and friends of NUI Galway in one place to take part in a fun event for all ages and abilities. NUI Galway Vice President for the Student Experience Dr Pat Morgan said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to welcome staff, students and alumni to the campus as part of the Alumni Reunion programme. Equally, however, it is part of a wider campus initiative to encourage physical activity and perhaps more importantly a great opportunity to show support for Jigsaw and get moving towards better mental health and it is fitting that such an event should take place around World Mental Health Day.” The event is open to everyone, with runners and walkers of all fitness levels catered for. To register for the NUI Galway 8K please log on to the Run Ireland Website http://www.runireland.com/events/nui-galway-8k. Updates are also available on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NUIGalway.8kRun. Local Kingfisher Fitness Clubs will be running training sessions over the next six weeks to help with your preparation and details are available at www.kingfisherclub.com. All queries on the event can be sent to nuigalway8k@kingfisherclub.com. -Ends-

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