NUI Galway Pioneers Postgraduate Training in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

NUI Galway Pioneers Postgraduate Training in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention -image

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

NUI Galway is set to become the first university in Ireland to provide postgraduate training to Masters level (MSc) in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in a unique community partnership with the heart and stroke charity Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation. Croí has led the development of this programme through a collaboration with industry partners Kerry Group and MSD Ireland; HSE West and NUI Galway. The University is currently recruiting its first intake of students to the one year full-time in service course, due to commence in September of this year. Programme Director for the new Masters course in Preventive Cardiology, which also has a postgraduate Diploma stream, Dr Gerard Flaherty, who has recently been appointed Honorary Academic Director at the new Croí Heart and Stroke Centre, Galway says; “With all of the expensive high technology interventions in medicine, it is easy to neglect the fundamentals of prevention, yet the evidence for cardiovascular disease prevention is compelling despite the challenges of translating it into effective patient care.” This innovative postgraduate course is only one of two of its kind in the world and the collaboration with Croí makes it unique. The founder course at Imperial College London is fully supportive of the NUI Galway programme. Assistant Course Director of the Galway programme, Jenni Jones, recently joined Croí from Imperial College London, where she was Programme Leader for their Masters in Preventive Cardiology course. Commenting on the partnership, Croí CEO Neil Johnson, said: “This exciting collaboration will contribute significantly to translating scientific evidence to practice in reducing mortality and morbidity from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, the programme strengthens the links between Croí and the School of Medicine at NUI Galway where earlier this year five members of the Croí Health Team were awarded Honorary Clinical Fellowships for their contribution to medical education through the delivery of special study modules to medical students.” This new educational development at NUI Galway comes about due to the success of the Croí MyAction lifestyle and behavioural change programme which was established in Galway by Croí almost five years ago. Since then, thousands of individuals at risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes have benefited from changes to their lifestyle in terms of diet, weight, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol reduction. “We believe that for Irish healthcare professionals to have access to a Masters in Preventive Cardiology will ultimately be of enormous benefit to Irish patients” said Mairead McCaul of MSD who also announced their sponsorship of a bursary fund for the programme. “We are very pleased to be involved in this partnership and to further enhance our commitment to Croí and NUI Galway. We are delighted to announce that successful applicants to the Masters programme can apply through Croí for the MSD Preventive Cardiology Bursary.” Announcing details of the new postgraduate programme, Dr Flaherty said: “This course will equip a diverse array of healthcare workers with the knowledge and practical skills required to implement the evidence-based international guidelines in clinical practice. The course will comprise three core modules to be completed in semester 1 and one of three elective advanced modules in semester 2. All of the teaching will be delivered in the state-of-the-art Croí Heart and Stroke Centre in Galway. Masters candidates will also complete a supervised research project in semester 2 and submit a ready-for-publication dissertation by an August deadline.” Dr Flaherty added: “It is expected that the course will appeal to doctors, nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, sports scientists, healthcare managers, health promotion graduates and health economists, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of preventive cardiology.” The new Masters in Preventive Cardiology programme is being supported by an honorary advisory council which is comprised of experts in areas such as cardiology, endocrinology, obesity, stroke, medical education and industry. Among its membership is Galway businessman Pádraig Ó’Céidigh who has recently spoken publicly of his own heart health issues. ENDS

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NUI Galway Welcomes Elite University Leaders from Across Europe

NUI Galway Welcomes Elite University Leaders from Across Europe-image

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Creativity, Research and Innovation topic at Coimbra Conference Video links to all speeches at the 2013 Coimbra Group Annual Conference are available below NUI Galway has announced that the 2013 Coimbra Group Annual Conference will be addressed by President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins and will take place from 22 - 24 May at the University. The theme of this year’s conference is Creativity, Research and Innovation in Universities. Founded in 1985 and formally constituted by Charter in 1987, the Coimbra Group is an association of long-established European multidisciplinary universities of high international standard. NUI Galway is a long-standing member of the Coimbra Group and last hosted the Coimbra Group annual conference in 1988, twenty-five years ago. Other members include leading institutions such as University of Edinburgh, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Università di Bologna, Saint Petersburg State University and Trinity College Dublin. The Coimbra Group is committed to creating special academic and cultural ties in order to promote, for the benefit of its members, internationalisation, academic collaboration, excellence in learning and research, and service to society. It is also the purpose of the Group to influence European educational policy and to develop best practice through mutual exchange of experience. The symposium ‘Creativity, Research and Innovation in Universities’ on Friday, 24 May, will include a keynote address by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins. Other keynote speeches and panel discussions on the day will include contributions from: Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research,  Innovation & Science Professor Carol Becker, Dean of the Arts, Columbia University, New York Professor Joep  Leerssen, Professor of Modern European Languages, Universiteit van Amsterdam Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland & Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government of Ireland. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “NUI Galway is a proud member of the Coimbra Group since 1986. As a university on the western edge of Europe we value deeply the rich network of connections and links which the Group has fostered to promote excellence in scholarship, research and service to society. It is particularlyfitting that the conference returns to Galway in the year in which Ireland holds the Presidency of the European Union and at a time when the conference theme of Creativity, Research & Innovation in Universities could not be more relevant or timely for our European universities.” Commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science, who will speak at the event, said: “If we want to tackle our biggest societal challenges and develop technology-based business, we need an excellent science base and we need to train creative graduates and foster critical and innovative mind-sets. In my view, universities should become 'innovation centres' for their region. They should train and retrain the workforce in cooperation with industry. Mobility between industry and academia should become the norm.” Speaking in advance of the conference, Dorothy Kelly, Chair of the Coimbra Group Executive Board, commented: “We are delighted to be revisiting NUI Galway after 25 years. This year the theme is a reflection of the central role universities play in societal progress and wellbeing as open, diverse and critical spaces for the pursuit of knowledge something we look forward to discussing at length. We are particularly honoured this year to welcome to our meetings both the President of the Republic of Ireland, Dr Michael Higgins, and the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science, Maire Geoghegan Quinn, as we hold our 29th General Assembly in Ireland and under the Irish presidency of the European Union.” To view President Higgins' speech at the 2013 Coimbra Group Annual Conference click here Videos from Coimbra Conference President of Ireland, Dr Michael D. Higgins (43 minutes) Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science (22 minutes) Professor Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty and Professor of the Arts at Columbia University School of the Arts, New York (19 minutes) Professor Joep Leerssen, Professor of Modern European Literature, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (25 minutes) Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland & Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland(29 minutes)    ENDS

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WHO Partnership Working Meeting and Health Promotion Conference at NUI Galway

WHO Partnership Working Meeting and Health Promotion Conference at NUI Galway -image

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

On Tuesday, 28 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research at NUI Galway will host a Partnership Working Meeting with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. This meeting will focus on WHO priorities and collaborative actions in the field of Health Promotion including; the Health 2020 European health policy framework for action across governments and society to improve health and wellbeing of populations and reduce health inequalities; and the implementation of the European Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2012-2016.  The event will be addressed by leading Health Promotion experts from: WHO Regional Office for Europe; EuroHealthNet; International Union for Health Promotion and Education; the Department of Health, Health Service Executive; and the Public Health Institute in Ireland.  Presentations will be given by the directors of WHO Collaborating Centres in Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the UK.  The Health 2020 policy responds to the changing context for population health in Europe and the growing health inequities within and between countries. “WHO is committed to strengthening efforts for improving the health of citizens and the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases in the European region. Within the Health 2020 policy framework, specific actions are identified to which Member States, WHO and partners can commit themselves over the coming years”: says Dr Gauden Galea, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion at WHO Europe, who will address the meeting. Professor Margaret Barry, Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research at NUI Galway, said: “This Partnership Working Meeting provides an important opportunity for WHO Collaborating Centres to provide the necessary research to support the implementation of new policy frameworks for promoting health and wellbeing in the European region.” OnWednesday, 29 May,NUI Galway will also host the 17th Annual Health Promotion conference,entitled Health in All Policies: Strengthening Multisectoral Health Promotion in an Irish Context. Speakers will include: Dr Erio Ziglio, Head of the European Office for Investment for Health and Development, WHO Regional Office for Europe           WHO European Strategy Health 2020 Dr Stephanie O Keeffe, Director of the Health and Wellbeing Programme, Department of Health, Ireland           New Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing Margaret Whitehead, Professor of Public Health at the University of Liverpool, England           Paddling Upstream? Obstacles and opportunities for tackling inequalities in health “The conference provides an opportunity to discuss global, national and local approaches for promoting health and wellbeing across different sectors”, said Dr Michal Molcho, Health Promotion at NUI Galway and Chair of this year’s conference. For more information visit -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Only Regional MBA to Attain International Accreditation in Ireland

NUI Galway Only Regional MBA to Attain International Accreditation in Ireland -image

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

NUI Galway has today (22 May) announced the attainment of the global AMBA accreditation for its MBA programme offered in the School of Business and Economics. AMBA provide the only dedicated accreditation regime for MBA Programmes and now positions NUI Galway against the best worldwide. The Association of MBAs (AMBA) accreditation is internationally recognised as the global standard for all MBA programmes. AMBA accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement in MBA education and is earned only by the best programmes. AMBA accredits 200 Schools in over 70 countries.  “The number of MBA qualifications available worldwide is now in the thousands, but only a small percentage of these would achieve accreditation if they were submitted to our rigorous international criteria” says Mark Stoddard, Accreditation Manager at AMBA. The NUI Galway MBA is one of the leading management development programmes in the country. A general management programme which enhances and develops business and management capabilities while preparing students for strategic leadership roles, the programme places an emphasis on strategic decision making and develops practical and professional skills for success in increasingly complex environments. Speaking about the achievement, Dr Alma McCarthy, Executive MBA Programme Director, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The NUI Galway MBA this year celebrates its 40th anniversary and it is fitting that we successfully attained AMBA accreditation demonstrating the world-class quality of our MBA programme. Employers and top business recruiters looking to acquire the best managers and future business leaders know that graduates of the AMBA accredited programmes have received the highest quality management education. We are proud to now confirm that to recruit a graduate from the NUI Galway MBA is to recruit top talent in Ireland.” Dr McCarthy added: “We know for students, the decision to study an MBA represents a major commitment, both in terms of time and money. This AMBA accreditation ensures that students' investments are rewarded with the finest MBA education available. We have constant engagement with the business community and our programme reflects and aligns with developments in industry both nationally and internationally. Our class sizes are kept small, our lecturers are leading experts in their respective fields and keep teaching relevant to the changing demands of the business world which overall results in greater one to one attention and learning experience.” Graduates of the NUI Galway Executive MBA have significantly advanced their careers with many being promoted, starting their own business, or changing careers after completing the programme. Applications for the next programme will be accepted from September 2013. Further information on the Executive MBA at NUI Galway is available at ENDS

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Polymer Breakthrough Inspired by Trees and Ancient Celtic Knots

Polymer Breakthrough Inspired by Trees and Ancient Celtic Knots-image

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

New method of polymerisation creates possibilities for medical devices, drug delivery, elastics and adhesives A new slow-motion method of controlling the synthesis of polymers, which takes inspiration from both trees and Celtic Knots, opens up new possibilities in areas including medical devices, drug delivery, elastics and adhesives. Scientists at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) in the National University of Ireland Galway have just published their breakthrough polymerization method in Nature Communications. Their new polymerization technique allows for the easy creation of new complex, multi-functional, branched compounds. The research team was led by NFB’s Dr Wenxin Wang at the National University of Ireland Galway, who said: “The versatility of our synthesis process could allow us to tailor polymer properties, such as structure, functionality, strength, size, density and degradation - with previously unimaginable ease.” The researchers took inspiration from ancient arts, and use their new technique to build up ‘Celtic Knots’. These materials have chains that only link to themselves in an interlaced pattern. In addition, the new technique can also create hyper-branching polymers, which branch and spread outwards like trees. Polymers are a broad class of natural and synthetic compounds, built up of many parts known as monomers, which connect together in fast growing chains. Until now, creating more complex branched polymers, known as dendrimers (from the Greek word “dendron” meaning “tree”), has been a labour intensive and time consuming process.   Now, for the first time, “dendritic” or tree like polymers have been synthesised in bulk, with branch points after every few monomers of the build process. This allows a far higher degree of branching than previously obtainable, and opens up new possibilities for the use of polymers. The new process developed by the team, in collaboration with Dr Julien Poly from the Institut de Science des Matériaux de Mulhouse, France, is called ‘vinyl oligomer combination’. In effect the process allows a simple “one-pot” procedure that leads to easy up-scale of the process.The expectation is that these intricate woven and branched polymers will be cheap to produce and high in quality, as the technique is fully scalable. Dr Wenxin Wang is trying to uncover therapies for diseases such as diabetic ulcers and Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes chronic skin conditions: “We are currently investigating the use of these new materials for biomedical applications such as drug/gene delivery, cross linkable hydrogel materials and skin adhesives. However, in reality this synthesis method could be used for a wide range of materials outside the biomedical field.” Dr Wenxin Wang continued: “It is interesting to note the period of difficulty often encountered with break through developments. For example, the road to acceptance of dendrimer materials was long and winding. Because this work contradicts long-standing theories about polymerization, we too have faced the challenge of acceptance. Finally, researchers are seeing the importance of these materials, and the ease at which new structures can be synthesized. Although these are early steps, we are looking forward to seeing the future realization of these structures in a wide range of applications.” The research, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB), DEBRA Ireland and DEBRA Austria is published in Nature Communications journal. -ends-

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Parents of Children with Autism Invited to Major International Conference at NUI Galway

Parents of Children with Autism Invited to Major International Conference at NUI Galway-image

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Parents of children with autism are invited to a conference at NUI Galway on 11-12 June to share their experiences and hear the latest research and practical advice. With estimates that one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder, the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway, in collaboration with the US science and advocacy group Autism Speaks, is making parents a particular focus of this the 2nd International Autism Conference. The event ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Research to Practice’ will feature keynote talks, as well as workshops aimed at providing parents, practitioners, teachers and researchers, with the latest evidence-based approaches to diagnosis, clinical management and adult service provision. The conference will place a special emphasis on providing practical solutions for parents struggling with autism on a daily basis. Workshops will be delivered on managing behaviour in the home, sleep, toileting, interventions for non verbal, minimally verbal and verbal children and how to manage transitions effectively. There will be an emphasis on the needs of adolescents and adults with autism, as Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of ICAN, explains: “Much of the research literature to date focuses on the needs of young children with little, if any, discussion paid to the needs of adolescents. For many parents, they are either currently dealing with teenagers challenged with autism, or are anticipating this new phase in a few short years. We are hosting a practical workshop as part of the conference on ‘Adolescence, growing up and sexuality.” Professor Peter Gerhardt from the McCarton School, New York, will also deliver an address focusing on issues relating to employment, quality of life and inclusion for adults on the autism spectrum.  The conference will also be highly relevant to the needs of practitioners and teachers. Professor Susan Swedo, of the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, will update delegates on the latest changes to the diagnostic categorisations of autism. Professor Deborah Fein from the University of Connecticut will discuss what determines best outcomes for children on the autism spectrum, while Professor Richard Hastings from Bangor University will discuss what the research is telling us in relation to effective autism interventions. Practical workshops addressing mood, anxiety, ADHD and the role of medication and from early signs through to diagnosis will also be provided. “Autism has become a national epidemic. This conference will bring the worlds leading experts in diagnosis, clinical management and education to NUI Galway as well as catering for the needs of parents,” said Dr Leader. “International evidence indicates an alarming rise in the prevalence of autism, as reflected in the recent data from the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which estimates that one in 88 children, including one in 54 boys, has an autism spectrum disorder.” “By way of comparison, these estimates represent more children currently diagnosed with autism than diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome combined.” To register for the conference visit A special early booking fee is available until 4 June. -ends-

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Eight Research Projects for NUI Galway as Minister Sherlock Announces €6.9 Million Investment

Eight Research Projects for NUI Galway as Minister Sherlock Announces €6.9 Million Investment-image

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD, has today announced Government funding through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) of €6.9 million encompassing 62 research awards. NUI Galway received 8 of these awards to a total value of almost €1 million. The investment is being made through SFI’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme, in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland.  Minister Sherlock said, “The TIDA programme focuses on commercially relevant research projects. It will enable numerous research teams to take the first steps in developing new discoveries and inventions with commercial potential.” Commenting on the awards, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway researchers are taking on some of the greatest challenges of our times. With today’s announcement, we will go further to commercialise and exploit opportunities arising from our research to deliver excellent research with impact and contribute to economic development.” The eight NUI Galway projects funded under the Programme and their leaders are: Dr Stephen Cunningham, Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) Novel direct detection of early bacterial infection for bovine mastitis Dr Cunningham will develop a method for the early detection and screening of bacterial infection for bovine mastitis. Effective control of mastitis to ensure milk quality is an ongoing challenge facing the dairy industry. The basis of detection is focused on the use of surface coat polysaccharides of the mastitis pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, which could be adapted for individual and continuous in-line monitoring of herd milk production. Professor Stefan Decker, Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) Feasibility study into the social semantic journalism Professor Decker will develop a Semantic Web assistant for journalists or news organisations, creating breaking news stories by sourcing, aggregating, filtering and verifying User-Generated Content (UGC) from various social media platforms, integrate them and place a structure on them in order to make it machine readable and therefore more easily searchable and verifiable. Currently, this is done manually and is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process for media organisations. Professor Manfred Hauswirth, Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) Research, Design, and development of a demonstrator integrating private commercial data, Public Sector data and geographic mapping data with a simple visual user interface to support retail business planning Professor Hauswirth is developing software which will integrate public and private data with a simple and intuitive user interface to support retail business planning. There is a huge potential in leveraging existing internal private commercial data, public sector data, and geographic mapping data to decrease costs and improve quality of decision making in the context of planning, managing, and developing a retail business going forward. There is a vast amount of data available but the fundamental challenge is that it is fragmented, difficult to find and consolidate in order to make it meaningful. Dr Donal Leech, School of Chemistry Development of a biological oxygen demand monitoring system for wastewaters Dr Leech is applying his TIDA award to develop an in-situ sensor for measurement of the level of dissolved oxygen in waste water treatment plants.  Biochemical oxygen demand or BOD is widely used as an indication of the organic quality of water. It refers to the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms in a body of water to break down organic material present in a given water sample. The standard BOD test can take up to 5 days and there is thus a real need for an in-situ, real time measurement which is the focus of this proposal.  Professor Paul Murphy, School of Chemistry New macrocyclic peptidomimetics with potential in cancer therapy Professor Murphy has developed a compound to inhibit proteins which are involved in the progression of cancer. The project deals with an unmet clinical need in targeting a protein called Mcl-1(myeloid cell leukemia-1). There are very few potent inhibitors of Mcl-1 identified to date and Mcl-1 is a very important target. Dr Thomas Ritter, Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) Regulating immunogenicity and tolerogenicity through cell surface glycosylation (Acronym: GlycoShield) Dr Ritter is evaluating the use of glyco engineered cells to assess their ability to suppress immune response from host cells during tissue or organ transplantation. Glyco engineering involves coating the cell surface with carbohydrates that are recognised by the host recipient as self, ensuring that cell rejection does not occur. This method will permit researchers, clinicians and industries to perform transplants with no adverse immune reaction from the host and will have wider implications on the engineering of immune-tolerant tissue transplants. Professor Charles Spillane, Plant & AgriBioscience Centre (PABC) Application of unique lineage-specific orphan gene cassettes to confer drought stress tolerance in crop plants of commercial importance. Professor Spillane is using his TIDA award to develop genetically-modified crops which are tolerant to drought. He has identified unique lineage-specific genes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana which are tolerant to drought. The TIDA award will enable him to determine if these genes can be deployed and commercially developed across multiple crop species.  Dr Eva Szegezdi, National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) Development of Ex Vivo Diagnostic Multivariate Index Assay for Prediction of Treatment Efficacy in Acute Leukemias Dr Szegezdi is developing a theranostic assay for use in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).  AML is a heterogeneous and aggressive disease and the current mainstream therapy is unsatisfactory. Refractory and relapsed disease is a major problem that occurs in 70-80% of AML patients. Although a number of potential drugs exist, there are no tools to aid the decision of which drug combinations may be effective and safe in a given patient. The assay under development is based on the extraction of bone marrow from the patient, and testing of a series of chemotherapeutic drugs on the bone marrow ex-vivo. This will enable the testing of medications for possible reactions and the tailoring of optimum treatments based on the test results. The TIDA Programme Minister Sherlock concluded by outlining the thinking behind these awards. “A key part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to support the commercialisation of excellent research and ultimately help to create the quality sustainable jobs we need. These 62 TIDA awards will release vital funding to allow the development of early discoveries and inventions with commercial potential, thereby feeding into our Action Plan.” The Director General of SFI, Professor Mark Ferguson, said, “As set out in Agenda 2020, one of SFI’s strategic objectives is to become the best scientific funding agency in the world at creating impact from excellent research and demonstrating clear value for our research investment. Each submitted project has been through a rigorous review process and ultimate selection was on the basis of the quality and novelty of the proposed innovation, its potential impact, and its fit with the National Research Prioritisation areas. Additionally, the commercial expertise that Enterprise Ireland brought to the TIDA selection process played a key role in further underpinning the market potential of the award recipients.” Incorporated into the TIDA programme is an entrepreneurship training course to consolidate and intensify the entrepreneurial skills of postdoctoral researchers active in SFI funded research labs. This course, which will support over 100 personnel, is designed to develop the skills necessary for SFI funded researchers to assess the market for potential commercial developments from research discoveries. It is also designed to create a network of researchers with business acumen who will interact regularly with each other, with SFI, Enterprise Ireland and Ireland’s Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) established across the higher education institutes -ends-

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Mural Design Competition For Galway Bike Workshop

Mural Design Competition For Galway Bike Workshop-image

Thursday, 23 May 2013

NUI Galway’s Ecology Society and Galway’s Community Bike Workshop, An Mheitheal Rothar, are running a competition for an outdoor mural. The competition is open to those aged between 12-24 from schools, art colleges, youth or other groups, and individuals. The the winning design will be painted on the exterior of the community workshop, The Ecospace, based at Earl’s Island. The selected designs will be painted in the first two weeks in June by a professional artist, on the exterior of the Ecospace. The completed mural will be launched on Sunday, 16 June as part of the opening weekend of National Bike Week 2013 (15-23 June). The winning design(s) will be chosen on the merit of its quality and relevance by The Ecology Society, An Mheitheal Rothar and the selected artist. The winner or winning group will have their design professionally illustrated and painted by the artist. They will also receive a prize of a participatory workshop with the artist to paint part of the mural. Paul O’Donnell, Auditor of NUI Galway’s Ecology Society, said: “We invite the submissions to be as creative as possible and make use of the ability to paint onto the double door entrance to the workshop as well as other features such as the gable end of the building which is 4.5 metres tall at the peak. Groups are more than welcome to contact us to visit the space in person.” Designs can be submitted electronically in a digital format, hand-drawn or painted with most formats will be taken as long as the dimensions of the building are considered. Entrants must be aged between 12 and 24 on the closing date for submissions, Sunday, 2 June at 6pm. Submissions should reflect the themes of the workshop including: cycling, and a vibrant culture around cycling; community based action on climate change; and education and awareness of the environment. An Mheitheal Rothar (The Bicycle Community) is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit bicycle workshop, providing a free practical facility to the Galway community for bicycle maintenance and repairs. Their aim is to encourage a culture of cycling in Galway City by establishing a practical facility and social hub which will support a strong community and promote the health and environmental benefits of cycling. The Ecospace is also the home of NUI Galway’s Ecology Society and is a participatory community space encouraging each individual visiting to be a creative participant while there, resulting in a dynamic and friendly atmosphere, where community project ideas are supported and can take shape. The mural is part of a wider series of community-based events being organised by NUI Galway’s Ecology Society and An Mheitheal Rothar called ‘Be the Chainge!’ and is part funded by the European Commission through the Youth in Action Programme. For images and dimensions of the exterior of the The Ecospace visit, or contact 091 494347 or -ENDS-

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Irish Swimming Goes High Tech

Irish Swimming Goes High Tech-image

Monday, 27 May 2013

Swim Ireland Teams Up with NUI Galway to Pioneer Ground Breaking Performance Analysis Technology Swim Ireland has teamed up with NUI Galway with a view to developing a new high performance analysis system for competitive swimming. The development work is well under way on the new system which utilises innovative kinematic sensing technology. The new technology which is in test mode is being designed to deliver performance information in real time both to the swimmer and his/her coach. The technology is the brainchild of PhD student Robert Mooney who is a former Swim Ireland employee. The development team is led by Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin of NUI Galway’s Discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Funding for the research is being provided both by Swim Ireland and by the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme. It is hoped to have the prototype system up and running by early 2014. Once developed, the system will be tested on elite Irish swimmers to measure, record and track their technical improvements achieved with training. Athletes to be tested will include swimmers based at the recently established Swim Ireland Connacht Performance Centre, based at the Kingfisher facility on the NUI Galway campus and which was officially launched last November. Lead researcher Robert Mooney commented: “A coach can often observe where improvements need to be made, but having hard evidence to back this up is key. We want to facilitate a new approach to swimming coaching, allowing for improved analysis of stroke mechanics, race performance and energy expenditure as well as real-time feedback to the swimmer, enabling more efficient, competitive and quantitative swim coaching.” “Any competitive swimmer will tell you just how demanding their sport is.  In a sport of narrow margins where the difference between winning and not winning can be little as one one-hundredth of a second, the availability of the proposed system might make all the difference”, explains Professor Ó Laighin. “With this in mind we are capitalising on low-cost, high-performance Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMs) technology coupled with innovative algorithms to achieve our goals.” Peter Banks is Performance Director with Swim Ireland, the national governing body for aquatic sports in Ireland. Banks is no stranger to success, having coached US swimmer Brooke Bennett to three gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. “We have seen a marked increase in the success of Irish swimmers on the international stage in recent years, with medal winning performances by the likes of Gráinne Murphy, Sycerika McMahon and Melanie Nocher. This type of technology is very exciting for Irish swimming to be involved with, the project gives our coaches and swimmers an opportunity to learn more about how athletes perform in the training pool and helps us make more informed decisions around their training programmes.” -ends-

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NUI Galway Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development

NUI Galway Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant For Groundbreaking Research in Global Health and Development-image

Monday, 27 May 2013

Summary: National University of Ireland Galway-led program with Concern Worldwide wins prestigious Gates Foundation funding for participatory research on improving agricultural tools to reduce labour demands on smallholder women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa The Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The NUI Galway collaborative research programme with Concern Worldwide has been awarded a US $100,000 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to pursue an innovative global health and development research project (3D4AGDev) on participatory 3D rapid-prototyping of agricultural/cropping tools to reduce labour demands on women smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. The 3D4AgDev team’s project is one of the Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 grants announced this week by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To receive funding, the 3D4AgDev teamand other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global health and development topic areas that included agriculture development, neglected tropical diseases and communications. Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2013.  This, the tenth round of GCE funding, is the first round in which any Irish institution or university has been successful in being awarded a Gates Foundation GCE award. While the initial Phase I grants are for US $100,000 each, projects showing promise have the opportunity to receive additional funding of up to US $1 million. In the most recent (tenth) round of GCE funding there were 1,300 proposals submitted worldwide, while 61 awards were made.  The 3D4AgDev Program within the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) will be conducted in close partnership with Concern Worldwide, focusing on labour-saving agri-tool innovations for women smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The 3D4AgDev Program project team consists of: Professor Charles Spillane, NUI Galway PABC agricultural research scientist; Dr Una Murray, NUI Galway PABC gender in agriculture expert; Carol Morgan, Concern Worldwide’s Regional Director for Central Africa; and Paul Wagstaff, Agriculture Advisor for Concern. Over 1000 million smallholder farmers (predominantly women) are farming using labour intensive agricultural hand tools. Such agricultural tools include ones for tasks such as weeding, planting, harvesting and crop/food processing. Professor Spillane stressed that: “Smallholder agricultural systems remain largely dependent on human labour, having minimal access to alternative energy sources for cultivation and agri-processing such as draught animals or fossil-fuel powered mechanization. Routes out of poverty for smallholder rural communities will require a swathe of innovations that improve the labour productivity of their agricultural systems. Smallholder farmers living on less than a dollar a day face this challenge in an era when energy demand and energy costs are increasing to their disadvantage. The innovation challenge is how to enable smallholders to generate more income and agricultural produce while reducing the labour burden on women and rural children so that their livelihoods can improve.” User-led innovation is where the end-users are involved in the research and design of an innovative product or process. The overall aim of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of user-led innovation with Rapid Prototyping (e.g. via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmer groups in Sub-Saharan Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program will facilitate a participatory technology development program with women smallholders farmers so that the farmers can develop their own agricultural tool and labour-saving innovations. Dr Una Murray highlighted that: “Labour saving tools for women smallholders can have major impacts, including leading to higher yields, higher incomes, more time for other activities, and reductions in harmful child labour in rural areas”. Through linking the women smallholder farmer groups to rapid-prototyping user innovation processes, Paul Wagstaff from Concern indicated that “there is significant potential to improve the status of rural women through fostering an enterprise-oriented ‘maker culture’ for agri-tool innovations”. -ends-

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