Major Conference Marks Ireland’s Standing in Biomaterials Industry (4-8 September)

Major Conference Marks Ireland’s Standing in Biomaterials Industry (4-8 September)-image

Friday, 2 September 2011

Now recognised as a significant player in the international biomaterials industry, Ireland will be the venue the 24thEuropean Conference on Biomaterials from 4-8 September. Jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, this is the first time the annual meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) will be held in Ireland. Some 950 delegates will attend ‘ESB 2011’ at the Dublin Convention Centre, including members from academia, medicine and industry. The latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond will be presented over the course of the five-day conference. With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, Professor Abhay Pandit commented: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. New understanding at cellular and molecular levels, coupled with innovative concepts in scaffolding technologies and advances in nanotechnology, have increased the range of areas biomaterials can improve human health. Already we are seeing success in the treatment of wounds, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.” The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, has said that this is a very significant conference and it is great to see it being hosted in Ireland: “Biomaterials enable the development of innovative healthcare technologies which provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients and healthcare professionals. High quality scientific and clinical research of these technologies is critical to ensure that these products are safe, effective and valuable to patients and healthcare professionals.” A $280 billion industryBased at NUI Galway, the NFB was set up in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish a critical mass of biomaterials activity in Ireland. Ireland’s capacity in the field of biomaterials is ever-increasing, and at the conference podium presentations will be delivered by 48 researchers from 13 Irish-based, academic and industrial research groups. The global medical technologies industry is valued at $280 billion, and is growing at approximately 7% per annum. According to Professor Pandit, “Ireland is a well-established hub in the global medical technology field. Ireland is home to 15 of the world’s top 20 Medical Technology Companies, with significant manufacturing and R&D operations coming out of Ireland. In fact, exports of medical devices and pharmaceuticals continue to grow, providing a beacon of hope for economic recovery.” The opening day of the conference will be Industry Day and is sponsored by global healthcare products company Covidien. The day will bring together companies in the medical device market and entrepreneurial academics, who will share their experiences taking innovative biomaterial concepts to the clinic and the market.  Conference Programme Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, will open the conference proceedings on Monday, 5 September, which is expected to bring an estimated €3 million boost to the local economy. Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “I know the significant presence of medical device firms and research activities in Ireland was a key factor in securing this major event. We look forward to welcoming all delegates, including young Irish researchers who will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience and network with many of the top names in the field.” Experts in the biomaterials field will travel to Dublin from across the world to deliver plenary speeches and keynote addresses. Keynote speakers will include: Professor Messersmith, from Northwest University, USA, who works on the biological adhesives of shellfish and geckos.  He will be discussing research on biologically inspired biomaterials, and their roles in the medical field, from surgical adhesives to cancer drug delivery. Professor Frechet from King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia, has a wide range of research interests including targeted drug delivery. His plenary address will detail the design of macromolecules to facilitate improved drug delivery. Professor Catts of the University of Australia is a unique academic, bridging the gap between the creative arts and biology.  A past art project involved the culture of ‘steaks’ and ‘jackets’ in the laboratory to interrogate the possibility of victimless animal products.   Thematic sessions planned for the conference, include recent advances in the use of biomaterials for therapeutics; vascularisation, innervations, and tissue integration; advances in nanotechnology and materials science and host response. The Young Scientists Forum (YSF), designed to stimulate and engage the next generation of researchers, is an integral part of the programme.   -ends-

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August 2011

Pulsars Discoveries by NUI Galway Astronomers

Pulsars Discoveries by NUI Galway Astronomers-image

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Astronomers from NUI Galway’s Centre for Astronomy have made an important breakthrough in the understanding of how pulsars work, and have recently published their findings in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team, led by NUI Galway’s Dr Andy Shearer, compared optical observations with a detailed model of the structure of the pulsar. From this, using their inverse mapping or reverse engineering approach, they were able to establish for the first time that most of the light from the pulsar comes from close to the star’s surface. This is contrary to most pulsar models and points to a new way of analysing observational data from pulsars. Dr Shearer said: “This is the culmination of ten years work. Our success is based upon having some talented post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers combined with looking at the problem in a different way. The result shows the importance of our approach of combining numerical models run on large supercomputers with detailed observations. To follow these calculations we will use the SFI funded Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP)* to finally establish the conditions around a pulsar and solve a forty year old problem - how do pulsars work?” In another development, NUI Galway astronomers, working with colleagues in Italy, the UK and US, have discovered an X-ray bright tail coming from a pulsar. The tail was discovered by combining optical observations taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-Ray observatory. The pulsar, known as PSR J0357, is about half a million years old and is located 1,600 light years from Earth with a tail of over four light years across. These findings have been recently published in The Astrophysical Journal. Despite over forty years of observation and theory, pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars, have defied an explanation of how they work. Pulsars are about one and a half times the mass of the sun, but are so small they could fit into Galway Bay. Consequently they represent extreme matter. They have a magnetic field which can be greater than a million billion times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field. Their density is also about a million, billion times greater than the density of the Earth. They are formed during a massive explosion at the end of a star’s life known as a Type II supernova. During a supernova, the light from a single star outshines its host galaxy which contains up to a hundred billion stars.  The work at NUI Galway involved observations of the Crab pulsar formed in April 1054 when it was observed as a daytime star – unusually, very few observations of this event come from Europe, although it was observed by Irish monks and recorded in the Irish Annals. ENDS

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Competition Kicks Off Ahead of Europe-wide Celebration of Science

Competition Kicks Off Ahead of Europe-wide Celebration of Science-image

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Showcasing science on a grand scale, European Researchers Night will take place in 800 venues across 320 cities on Friday, 23 September. Galway will be the venue for Ireland’s first participation in this event, under the theme ‘Sea2Sky’. The free, fun, family event will see hundreds of scientists presenting their research from the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Thousands are expected to visit Leisureland in Salthill on the night, to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, to watch demonstrations and simulations, to exchange ideas and get to know the researchers. In the build-up to the big event, details of a schools competition were announced today by  organisers NUI Galway in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria. The competition is open to 8-18 year-olds, and prizes include a two-night family break at the McWilliam Park Hotel in Co. Mayo, membership to the Aquarium and book hampers. The challenge is to design a ‘futuristic’ Research Vessel for the year 2040, where the Sea2Sky scientists, inventors and dreamers team will use it for exploring new discoveries from the ocean to the sky. NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer is heading up the event: “It is very exciting to be part of such a large European celebration, and in terms of research, Ireland has much to celebrate. Around the world our reputation is growing as a hub of science, discovery and innovation. This event on 23 September offers the opportunity for us to explore the future being created on our doorstep. We envisage an evening full of fun, surprise and wonder.” Details and entry guidelines for the competition are available at www.sea2sky.ie. Closing date for entries is Wednesday, 21 September, and all designs will be displayed during Sea2Sky at Leisureland on 23 September. The Sea2Sky event is being funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free event open to all ages and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill from 11am-11pm.  The event offers the opportunity to explore the future being created on your doorstep in an evening full of fun, surprise and wonder. ENDS

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Connemara Symposium to Celebrate Creative Force of Tim Robinson

Connemara Symposium to Celebrate Creative Force of Tim Robinson-image

Monday, 29 August 2011

NUI Galway has announced it will host the Connemara Symposium, a two day series of events in September in celebration of the work of Tim Robinson, the internationally acclaimed writer, map-maker and thinker based in Roundstone, Co.Galway.  A series of free events will run from 9 to 10 September. Tim Robinson is best known for his two-volume studyStones of Aran: Pilgrimage and Labyrinth (republished by New York Review of Books Classics Series 2008-9).  He is currently completing the final volume of a trilogy, Connemara: Listening to the Wind (2006) and The Last Pool of Darkness (2008).The recipient of a major European Conservation Award in 1987, Robinson was Parnell Visiting Fellow in Irish Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, this last year. Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran was described by the Irish Times as ‘one of the most original, revelatory and exhilarating works of literature ever produced in Ireland' and by the London Review of Books as ‘a wonderful achievement'. This year is the 25th anniversary of the first publication of Tim Robinson's Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage.The Connemara Symposium offers a unique opportunity to engage with his work and follows a previous meeting in Cambridge University (Watch a video of the Cambridge University meeting). The Connemara Symposium brings some of the world's leading creative thinkers and artists engaged with questions of human society and the environment toGalway.  Events include a screening of Pat Collins’s film ‘Tim Robinson: Connemara' in Roundstone Community Hall on the evening of Friday, 9 September; lectures and talks in the Galway City Museum by an international assembly of writers including John Elder, Eamonn Wall, Briona Nic Dhiarmidha and Kelly Sullivan; and readings in the Druid Theatre by Andrew McNeillie, Manchán Mangan, Moya Cannon, Eamon Grennan and Tim Robinson on the evening of Saturday, 10 September. “Tim Robinson’s writing about landscape and the human place within it is one of the world’s cultural treasures.  We are delighted to bring writers, academics and artists to celebrate his achievement and to discuss his work, which continues to speak to readers around the world.  Tim’s engagement with the west ofIreland, its people and languages, has added to a rich cultural tradition that extends back over centuries.  Our aim is to invite the community to join in the free and public events we have organised in conversation with Tim’s work.  The film screening, readings, lectures and discussions all offer different points of access to one of our greatest living writers’, says Nicholas Allen, Moore Institute Professor at NUI Galway.” In 2006, Tim Robinson and his wife Máiréad bequeathed their house, Folding Landscapes on the sea wall at Roundstone to NUI Galway. Folding Landscapes is a specialist publishing house and information resource centre dealing with three areas of particular interest and beauty aroundGalwayBay, the Aran Islands, the Burren andConnemara. The Robinsons continue to reside in the house, Folding Landscapes. At the same time the house has become a venue for the University to engage with the local community and to share the resources and knowledge of the institution's many visitors, academics and practitioners.  The Robinsons have a long-standing relationship with NUI Galway. Tim received an Honorary Degree in 1997 from the University. The Symposium is hosted by the Atlantic Archipelagos Research Project, a collaboration between the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at NUI Galway, Folding Landscapes and theUniversityofExeter, with funding from theBritishAcademy. For a full schedule of the Connemara Symposium please see http://www.nuigalway.ie/mooreinstitute                                                                      ENDS

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Ten Projects at NUI Galway Win Research Frontiers Funding

Ten Projects at NUI Galway Win Research Frontiers Funding-image

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Ten exciting research projects at NUI Galway have been funded as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s 2011 Research Frontiers Programme. The awards, which were announced recently by the Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock T.D., aim to support the development of Ireland’s human capital by providing employment and training to some of Ireland’s most talented researchers. In total, the Government committed funding of €15 million to be provided over the next four years to 79 research projects, across 15 research institutions. The ten cutting-edge projects at NUI Galway are: Dr Eilís Dowd: Harnessing adult stem cells for neurotrophin delivery to the degenerating brain. Dr Andrea Erxlebe: Functionalized locked nucleic acids that cleave the RNA component of human telomerase. Dr Dane Flannery: A new foundation for computing with linear groups over infinite domains. Dr Conor O'Byrne: Stress perception in the human pathogen Listeria monocytogenes: seeing the light. Professor Colin O'Dowd: (INFORM) Integrated volcanic ash forecasting system. Dr Zoe Popper: Characterisation of algal cell wall components for future biotechnological applications. Dr Nathan Quinlan: Towards a non-thrombogenic prosthetic mechanical heart valve: measurement of hinge flow fields at microscale resolution. Dr Michelle Roche: Endocannabinoid regulation of neuroinflammatory responses following bacterial and viral infection. Dr Gerhard Schlosser: Evolutionary innovation by rewiring of gene networks - Origin of sense organs in the vertebrate New Head. Dr Cindy Smith: Pathogen detection, survival and sheltering in a model water distribution system. Making the announcement, Minister Sherlock said: “It is vital that Ireland has a robust and competitive research environment that contributes to economic recovery. The projects announced today are very much part of this drive to further build Ireland’s research capability in support of our economic development. Science Foundation Ireland is a key organisation in driving this in terms of indentifying opportunities for top-class research in Ireland.” Minister Sherlock added “These projects are of direct relevance to our daily lives. Discoveries that can be achieved in these sectors will have an impact on computer science, the environment, health and other important fields with the potential to create and sustain top-quality jobs in Ireland.”   ENDS  

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NUI Galway Launches Rugby Youth Academy

NUI Galway Launches Rugby Youth Academy-image

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

NUI Galway has announced the establishment of a Rugby Youth Academy to cater for teenagers in Galway. The Youth Academy is an integral part of the existing University Rugby club which was formed in 1874 and is a founder member of the IRFU. Notable rugby graduates of NUI Galway Rugby Club include Ciaran Fitzgerald who captained both Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. The development of the Youth Academy, coupled with the University’s Sports Scholarship, is aimed primarily at strengthening the University’s AIL U20 squad in the medium-term. According to Dr James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway: “The youth academy is a good fit for the University’s outreach and community support initiatives. It is envisaged that this new academy will add greatly to the development of youth rugby in the city and its environs. It will also be of great benefit for the University Rugby Club into the future.” In its first season, the academy will cater for U13 boys only, but will expand over the next five years up to under 18’s. Coaching, mentoring, and administrative resourcing will come from within the existing University Rugby Club and will be augmented by support from the mini rugby club - Na Bairneachaí (U8s to U12s) established in Barna/Knocknacarra area in 2007. Neil Keaveney, President of Na Bairneachaí, said: “We are very excited by this new venture within NUI Galway. It builds on the hard work and community involvement in the development of Rugby in the west side of Galway city. Simply put, it is a great opportunity for more kids to play more games in what we hope will be an enjoyable yet competitive setting.” The NUI Galway Youth Academy enjoys the full support of the Connacht Branch of the IRFU who are delighted to see the expansion and high profile the game is attracting, especially in the first year of Connacht’s participation in the European Rugby Cup. Gerry Kelly, CEO of Connacht Rugby, commented: “Connacht Rugby has enjoyed huge success in the last year and we are particularly excited about this year’s inclusion in the Heineken Cup. We see this development as a reflection of this success while also confirming the important role the University plays in Connacht Rugby.” Open day and registration will take place on Saturday, 3 September, in Dangan, Galway for NUI Galway Youth Academy and Na Bairneachaí. Training for U13 Boys, born in 1999, commences 17 September at 10.30am in Dangan. ENDS

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Final Call to Job Seekers for Applications for Free NUI Galway Places

Final Call to Job Seekers for Applications for Free NUI Galway Places -image

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

NUI Galway has issued a final call for applications to the six courses it is offering as part of the Springboard initiative.  These programmes range in subject area from Environmental Sustainability, to Medical Device Science and Technology Commercialisation, to Innovation Management. All of these part-time courses are available in a modular, flexible format and can be taken via distance learning for students who are unable to attend the campus on a weekly basis. The Springboard initiative offers free higher education for jobseekers, without affecting the social welfare benefits they receive. “Springboard is primarily designed to help people who have lost their jobs as a result of the recession, and who need to up-skill or re-skill to gain sustainable employment again”, explains Nuala McGuinn, Adult Education Development Officer at NUI Galway.  “These courses would suit those who want to attain a qualification while actively seeking employment. The subject areas are directly focused on employment and the emerging skill needs of Irish industry.” While five of the six courses the University is offering as part of Springboard are level 8 and level 9, NUI Galway is also putting in place a Foundation Diploma in Science, Technology and Engineering. This level 6 programme is designed for people who have been out of the formal education system for some time and provides an ideal starting point for those wishing to embark on a longer term diploma or degree programme NUI Galway has a long history of working with adult learners, either those approaching third-level for the first time or those returning to study. Extra supports are put in place to provide students with the additional skills, computing and study skills, which they may need as part of their studies. All of the Springboard courses commence in early September so interested candidates are advised to check out course details as soon as possible.  Details and an online application process is available on www.bluebrick.ie/springboard.  Alternatively contact the Adult Education Office at NUI Galway on 091 495845. -ENDS-

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Demand Follows Jobs Market as Points Increase at NUI Galway

Demand Follows Jobs Market as Points Increase at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

This year CAO applicants had their eyes firmly fixed on the job market as programmes in Science and Technology were among the most popular college choices at NUI Galway. Points for General Science, Information Technology and Biomedical Science all soared in the CAO first round offers from NUI Galway to prospective students hoping to start their third-level education this autumn. NUI Galway’s popular Biomedical Science degree jumped 30 points to 515 this year. As Ireland’s leading university for biomedical science, graduates of the programme enjoy excellent career opportunities, with many of Ireland’s multinational and indigenous medical device companies clustered in the Galway region. The Computer Science and Information Technology course also saw a huge leap from 325 to 390 points. This increase in interest in Information Technology is hugely significant and reflects the strength of the IT sector in the West of Ireland. Also particular to the west is the area of Marine Science, with NUI Galway offering the country’s only denominated Marine Science degree which increased by 30 points to 400 this year, reflecting this niche area of research and study at NUI Galway. While the General Arts degree is down in points nationally, NUI Galway’s denominated Arts choices continue to remain popular. In particular Arts with Creative Writing (495 to 505), Human Rights (455 to 470) and Irish Studies (400 to 415) all jumped points this year. The University’s Maths and Education course, which was developed to meet the shortage of qualified Maths teachers, also leaped by 40 points bringing it to 420 this year. Commenting on the overall trends and increases, NUI Galway President, Dr James J. Browne, said: "We are seeing a clear trend this year towards programmes in the Science, Technology and Engineering fields as students focus on the job market of the future. Applicants are making well-informed decisions; they are choosing courses where the University has unique strengths and a well-established reputation. In particular, our Biomedical Science, IT, Engineering, Human Rights and Creative Writing courses have proved very popular this year". NUI Galway’s new Engineering Building, the largest of its kind in Ireland, was recently opened and appropriately Engineering programmes at the University have increased in popularity. In particular the Biomedical (405 to 425), Environmental (310 to 470) and Mechanical (430 to 435) Engineering courses all saw substantial increases in CAO points levels. The new world-class teaching and research facility will open its doors in September to accommodate some 1,100 students and 110 staff. The 14,250 sqm building will support an emerging generation of engineers, engaged in a new wave of technologies, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship. -ends-

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Applying Artificial Intelligence Theme of NUI Galway Events

Applying Artificial Intelligence Theme of NUI Galway Events-image

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The 7th Reasoning Web Summer School, bringing together an international group of postgraduate students and renowned lecturers, commenced today at NUI Galway. The event will be followed next week by the 5th International Web Rules and Reasoning Conference. Both events are organised by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway. The Reasoning Web Summer School and the Web Rules and Reasoning Conference are established international events in the area of applying Artificial Intelligence on the Web. Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI, says: “It is the first time these two events are held together and we are proud to have attracted them both to NUI Galway. By co-locating the summer school and conference and also by providing low registration fees particularly for students attending the conference, we aim to further promote interaction between researchers, practitioners and students in this exciting research field. This will also raise the international profile ofGalwayas a centre of excellence for high-tech research and employment.” The summer school received over 100 applications from students worldwide, from which 70 students were chosen to attend. This year, the focus is on reasoning for the emerging ‘Web of Data’, with 15 distinguished lecturers from theUS,South America,Germany,Switzerland,Slovenia, theUKandIreland. NUI Galway’s Dr Aidan Hogan is one of the participating lecturers: “The Reasoning Web Summer School is all about making the Web smarter and easier for us to navigate. If you take a step back and look at the global phenomenon that is the Web today, it is utterly astonishing. Now imagine the Web in five, ten, twenty, fifty years time. We are planting those seeds right now.” Dr Hogan added: “As more and more structured data like Wikipedia becomes available on the Web, we can deploy smarter techniques to better leverage this information for the users, enabling more intelligent Web searches or allowing companies linking data from the Web with their own databases in unforeseen ways.” The co-located conference will attract researchers and practitioners exchanging latest research results, including keynotes by Professor Marcelo Arenas (Chile) and Professor Marie-Laure Mugnier (France) as well as an industry tutorial from IBM. Some 50 international participants from academia and industry are expected to attend the conference which will focus on cutting-edge research results on applying intelligent inference methods to the Web. The Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) is a Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) established in 2003 with funding from Science FoundationIreland. Since 2003, DERI has grown to over 120 people. The Institute has strong ties to local and national industry with involvement by multinational companies and SMEs, and is leading research in its fields in various national and European research projects.  DERI emphasises education and technology transfer, which directly contributes to the Irish government’s plan of transformingIrelandinto a competitive knowledge economy. Current research results include semantic search engines, novel collaborative and social media, as well as sensor network technologies.   -ENDS-  

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NUI Galway Conference Highlights European Marine Biotechnology

NUI Galway Conference Highlights European Marine Biotechnology-image

Monday, 22 August 2011

Marine biotechnology is the focus of a one-day conference being hosted by NUI Galway on Thursday, 25 August, entitled ‘Networks as Knowledge – Biotechnology Networks in the Atlantic Area’. The event is organised by the Marine Institute initiative Marine BiotechnologyIrelandand the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway, with the support of the European INTERREG project ShareBiotech and in association with the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) in NUI Galway. The conference will present the results of a recent survey that examined the needs and barriers in the biotechnology R&D sector inIreland, and will discussIreland’s position in the wider Atlantic area. Invited speakers fromIreland,Franceand theUKwill describe their experiences in the creation, management and use of shared skills and infrastructures in the life sciences sector. The objectives of the conference are to learn how networks of knowledge and infrastructures can contribute to innovation and to investigate what models oforganisation are available for the marine biotechnology sector. Speaking on behalf of NUI Galway and SEMRU, Dr Ilaria Nardello - National Coordinator of Marine BiotechnologyIreland, and ShareBiotech principal investigator, said, “The first objective of the Atlantic Area Trans-National Programme is to promote transnational entrepreneurial and innovation networks, which is fully in support of Marine BiotechnologyIreland.” Dr Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, stressed howIreland, though the implementation of the programmeoutlined inSea Change,Ireland’s Marine Knowledge, Research & Innovation Strategy 2007-2013 is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits from an early investment in supporting such research. “Marine BiotechnologyIrelandis engaged in an array of activities that are relevant toIreland’s efforts to become a leader in the commercial exploitation of our extensive marine bioresources by continuing to develop and build onIreland’s excellence in marine biotechnology research.”This free event will take place in NUI Galway, at 10am on Thursday, 25 August. A tour of one of the technological core facilities (TCF) on campus will also take place as part of the conference on the day. For full details and online registration, please visit: http://www.conference.ie .   -ENDS-

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