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President Higgins announced as Patron of Year of Light
Thursday, 12 March 2015
The UN has designated 2015 the UNESCO International Year of Light and President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has been announced as the LIGHT2015 Ireland Patron. NUI Galway is coordinating Ireland’s involvement and a series of events will take place across the country, and schools will be invited to learn more about the science of light and the contribution of light to our communities. Leading this initiative in Ireland is Professor Martin Leahy from NUI Galway and he is the recipient for two funding awards from the European Union for these efforts. “Light particles, or photons, are harnessed for use in the world around us. Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting photons. Photonics underpins technologies of daily life from smartphones to laptops to the Internet to medical instruments to lighting technology. We have truly entered the Photonics Era.” “We are delighted to have such high profile patron and distinguished orator supporting our efforts to promote the Year of Light in Ireland. Ireland has a rich history of light science and engineering from Newgrange 3200 BC to the modern scientific discoveries of Stokes, Hamilton, Joly, Jellet and Tyndall among others. The President’s reputation in social justice and the arts will assist us in bringing the power of light to a much wider audience.” LIGHT2015 represents a unique opportunity to marry science, engineering, medicine and the arts – particularly cinema and the fine arts. As part of the International Year of Light, children will have the chance to have their art projected onto walls in city centre locations and app enthusiasts will get access to new apps. “We are no longer in the electronic age, the 21st century is all about harnessing light through photonics. Water treatment, the internet, cinema, the fine arts, scientific discovery as well as medical diagnosis and therapy – all use photonics. This is what we want to celebrate during 2015,” added Professor Leahy. Recent recognition by Science Foundation Ireland through the award of €30 million to establish the Irish Photonics Integration Centre, and a previous award from the Higher Education Authority of €30.5 million for the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform, demonstrate its continuing importance to Ireland and the Irish economy. Photonics is also recognised by the Irish Government as one of the six platform technologies and is directly underpinning many of the identified research priorities and, more recently, the €7 billion partnership between Photonics21 and the European Commission will have a substantial impact on future growth and job creation, and significantly assist the EU’s continued economic recovery. LIGHT2015 is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. To watch a video about the International Year of Light 2015 click here https://youtu.be/rcoMeWV0jZc
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NUI Galway Holds First Climate Congress
Monday, 16 March 2015
NUI Galway will hold its first climate congress highlighting national and international approaches, adaptation and mitigation. Focusing on the need for action on climate change, the event will take place on Wednesday, 25 March in the Bailey Allen Hall from 11am-8pm. Guest speakers will include: Tara Shine, Independent Expert and Special Adviser to the Mary Robinson Foundation. Tara will give a talk on the recent climate change negotiations, the new climate agreement, the link to the sustainable development goals and climate justice. Ian Lumley from An Taisce, who will discuss climate change and food production from an Irish perspective, what can or should Ireland contribute. Carla Sarrouy from the Warwick Crop Centre who will discuss her work concerning food security in Senegal. There will also be a networking event featuring a variety of NGO’s and NUI Galway societies who will present their work in relation to climate change. The event is organised by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Society (CCAFS Society), which began operating in NUI Galway in September 2014. This event is free to attend. For more information, or to registration for the event, visit https://www.eventbrite.ie/myevent?eid=15615628766. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Host Public Talk with Writer and Broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
The talk is part of the Martin Reilly Lecture Series NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies and Comhrá Ceoil has announced details of the second Martin Reilly Lecture of 2015. Taking place on Tuesday, 31 March at the Galway City Library at 6.30pm, the talk will be delivered by writer and broadcaster Dr Deirdre Ní Chonghaile. Deirdre’s talk, ‘Sean-nós song in Pennsylvania, 1884-1935: the Reverend Daniel J. Murphy Collection’, explores the work of the scholar Reverend Murphy (1858-1935) from the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. During his life-time, Reverend Murphy, together with JJ Lyons of Glenamaddy, collected over 1000 Irish language songs in Philadelphia and the surrounding coal-mining towns. From the Aran Islands Deirdre is co-ordinator of the on-going project Amhráin Árann - Aran Songs and is currently writing a book about music-collecting in Ireland. This series of talks is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated Galway uilleann piper, and gives an opportunity to researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their work in a public forum. Admission is free to all the talks in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Further information on all the talks in the series available on Facebook at Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series or e-mail Martinreillylectureseries@gmail.com. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Professor Elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Professor Peter McHugh was elected Science Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy at the Stated General Meeting of the RIA recently. The Royal Irish Academy is Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities. Founded in 1785 The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann is a publicly funded institution established for the promotion of Irish academic research. Professor Peter McHugh holds a BE in Mechanical Engineering from UCG (1987), and an MSc (1990) and PhD (1992) in Mechanics of Solids from Brown University, Providence, USA. He joined NUI Galway in 1991, where he is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Head of Discipline of Biomedical Engineering, within the College of Engineering and Informatics. His research is focused on fundamental developments and applications of computational and experimental methods in biomechanics, tissue mechanics and medical implants and devices. He has taken a leadership role in the development of biomedical engineering in Ireland through high quality and prolific research and publication output, and undergraduate and graduate education programme generation. He has received numerous awards, including membership of the Royal Irish Academy (2011), the Silver Medal of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (Section of Bioengineering) in 2011, the Presidential Nominee Fellowship of Engineers Ireland in (2009), and the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1995).
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Galway Projects To Benefit From Research Funding Partnership
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Irish Research Council announce partnership with The Wheel The Irish Research Council (IRC) has announced that a number of Galway based projects will receive funding under a newly launched partnership with The Wheel, aimed at engaging community and voluntary organisations in academic research. Researchers from the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) are collaborating with organisations such as COPE, Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks, EmployAbility, Galway Simon Community, Burrenbeo Trust and Rape Crisis Network Ireland, to address pressing societal issues. Under the partnership, the IRC is awarding almost €400,000 to support collaborative projects between community and voluntary groups and researchers around the country. Galway Research Projects Dr Josephine Boland, NUI Galway, is working on one such research project. In association with Galway Simon Community, the research will develop a participatory approach to planning a new resettlement service which empowers young adults to exit homelessness, and transition to independent living. Other projects awarded funding include: COPE - Home Movies: Using Community Filmmaking to Explore Perspectives on Belonging. Aiseanna Tacaíochta Networks - Self Directed Support and Disability – Achieving Good Lives. EmployAbility – A series of events to explore the options of piloting a Community Café that employs people with disabilities for the new ILAS (Institute for Lifecourse and Society) building at NUI Galway. Burrenbeo Trust - ‘Find out’: How to record objects from the past. Rape Crisis Network Ireland - “Sexy Consent”: Devising Workshops to Empower Young Adults to Negotiate Consent to Sexual Activity. Commenting today, Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the IRC, said: “Research can add value to all of society, benefiting all sectors, whether enterprise, government or civic, and ultimately benefits all citizens. “The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel is a new departure for the research sector. It provides a targeted research funding mechanism which includes community and voluntary groups. The research findings from these projects will not only benefit grassroots communities, and inspire the work of researchers, but will also inform national policymaking for civic society.” Official Launch by Minister Jan O’Sullivan The partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel was officially launched in Dublin by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD. Commenting at the launch, Minister O’Sullivan said: “Effective engagement between higher education and the community and voluntary sector is a key objective of the National Strategy for Higher Education. “This partnership between the Irish Research Council and The Wheel will facilitate researchers to exchange knowledge and spread their work beyond academia. At the same time, it will allow community and voluntary groups to access leading research expertise and to collaborate on cutting-edge research projects. Ultimately, this will increase awareness of the benefit of research on society, and on our quality of life. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the projects funded under this initiative.” For more information, visit www.research.ie. ENDS
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An Taoiseach Enda Kenny Helps Launch Visionary Initiative to be Supported by €300 Million Euro Fund
Thursday, 19 March 2015
The Global Sustainability Initiative (GSI), an innovative global impact investment project, joins the fight against global warming with the creation of a safe economic model for sustainable production and consumption of food, water and energy in disadvantaged regions of the world will have an initial focus on southern Africa. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach Damien Ryan and Mayo County Chief Executive Peter Hynes, were on hand in Washington DC for the announcement on Monday 16 March, and welcomed GSI’s launch, the result of five years of development and planning by Dublin-based OpenSparkz LP and its partners. Mayo County Council Enterprise and Investment Unit has worked with OpenSparkz to select suitable sites for GSI operations in the county and is delighted with this significant announcement today following detailed discussions regarding the project since last summer. NUI Galway will support research and development at the Global Sustainability Centre to be based in Castlebar. According to Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, who was in Washington DC for Monday’s announcement: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting and innovative new project. NUI Galway’s priority areas of research and development align closely with the Global Sustainability Initiative’s vision. We hope to work together and to apply our support and expertise to great effect.” “Ireland was chosen as headquarters for GSI given the country’s strong technology and skills base in sustainability, and in particular, its leadership in food technology and its long-term friendly relationships with Africa and other less developed markets,” says Paul Lindsey, CEO of Opensparkz.” In addition, the level of practical support we have received from the Mayo County Council and the Irish Government agencies provided a concrete stepping stone towards securing the necessary locations to allow substantial operations take place in Co. Mayo." OpenSparkz and leading innovative partner companies will develop a technology hub within the Castlebar facility to be called the Global Sustainability Centre, expecting to generate more than 250 new jobs. The financing of the Centre and GSI’s initial projects in Africa are led by investment bank BPA International Group in partnership with OpenSparkz. BPA. With formal approvals from the Luxembourg Regulator, the CSSF, BPA has launched an alternative investment fund “GSF1” in Luxembourg and is now taking investment commitments for some €300 million, forming the basis of a listed offering when GSI’s projects are sufficiently developed. “Investments into GSI projects will come from the impact investment sector, as well as sovereign wealth funds, multilateral and supranational bodies and the multinational corporate and institutional brands,” says Stephen Johnson, Chairman of the BPA International Group. “In fact, these organisations strongly supporting global sustainability and are actively increasing their investments in development projects like GSI.” GSI and GSF1 The GSI initiative will play a role in helping to provide solutions to a series of world-scale challenges, including the development of viable new sustainable biomass fuel supplies which will be essential in helping Governments tackle the threat of global warming. GSF1 intends to secure land rights in South Africa which will be used to produce these biomass energy fuels in collaboration with local communities, who will benefit from the investment that will be made in improving their nutritional, health, education and technology conditions. The land will also be developed to produce large scale supplies of healthy bio-organic foods and new bio-diversity wildlife reserves to secure the survival of endangered species, including animals like the rhino, which are under increasing threat from poaching. The GSF1 approach is unique in that 40% of the profits generated by the initiative will be reinvested as social dividends dedicated to the development of urgently needed social projects within these local and other communities, such as farming for food supply, water purification, health clinics, schools for education, energy and IT / tech connectivity. Global Sustainability Center Partners Research and development at the GSC will be supported by Irish universities and institutions, including the NUI Galway, GMIT and Mountbellew Agricultural College as well as the Western Development Commission. Opensparkz is also working closely with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland to help us to attract more leading global companies into the Centre and Ireland. Opensparkz has already started to attract global partners to the GSC in Castlebar including: Viridis Aquaponics (U.S) - food production through the use of aquaponics and high tech methodologies. (www.viridisaquaponics.com) New Generation Biogas (England) - technologies and equipment for local community power production and bio-fertilizers through anaerobic digestion. (www.ngbiogas.com) IFood Systems (Canada) - packaging technology that extends the shelf life, safety and vitality of agricultural food products. (www.ifoodsystems.com) Flexiway Solar Solutions (Australia) a subsidiary of NRS International that creates fit-for-purpose solar lights for the humanitarian aid and international development sectors (www.nrs-international.com) Hedviga Group (Czech Republic) products that convert organic materials from waste (rubber granules, sorted plastics, biomass and sorted municipal waste) into useable products and fuel. (www.hedviga.cz) Arcadian Biomass (US) expertise in project development, construction, commissioning and operation of lumber, wood chipping, co-generation and wood pelletising operations. (acadianbiomass.com) Aquiva Foundation (England) a registered charity delivering sustainable desalination project based on the innovative memsys technology in developing countries using waste heat from power generation or solar (www.aquiva-foundation.com) Risk Management International, Ireland's longest established firm providing risk management and project assurance. (www.rmi.ie) Indaba Mobile, a South African-based mobile-focused enabling company that extends social networking and communication to the last mile in frontier markets. (www.indabamobile.co.za) OpenCarb LP, an Irish-based enterprise, that secures, trades and assures biodiversity rights from sustainable projects for the benefit of those communities protecting the environment. (www.opencarb.com) “This project has resulted from many years of research and development on a new economic model and best in class technologies that will work in less developed markets and deliver impact at scale to communities. The GSC will be a one stop shop to facilitate the delivery to communities of both capital and technologies. It will focus on the big six basic community needs including Food, Energy, Water, Healthcare, Education and IT access, using an economic model based on trade rather than aid. This new approach of investment for impact provides both investors and communities alike better outcomes at scale,” says Declan Conway, Chairman and Founder of OpenSparkz LP. This is just the beginning of what is to become a major co-operation between developed countries and the developing ones but also the many powerful institutions, organisations and businesses that have already expressed interest in being involved - for a better world for everybody. The Global Sustainable Fund initiative was inspired from a commitment to action with the Clinton Global Initiative, a US-based group which was established by Bill Clinton to help support worthwhile projects globally. Accordingly, GSI is looking to play it's part in helping to solve some very big world-scale issues, including developing new sustainable fuel supplies to replace coal with biomass and providing sustainable food production which can help us all to tackle the catastrophic risks created by the threat of global warming. -ends-
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Become a Scientist at NUI Galway’s Bio-EXPLORERS Easter Science Camp
Monday, 23 March 2015
NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences Bio-EXPLORERS programme is now taking bookings for its Easter Holiday Science Camp running from 7-10 April. The camp is open to all young scientists aged between 8 and 13 years old and participants will get a chance to work as real scientists by performing and analysing experiments in a real research environment. The Bio-EXPLORERS programme is composed of two science communication and public engagement initiatives, Cell EXPLORERS directed by Dr Muriel Grenon and Eco-EXPLORERS directed by Dr Michel Dugon. With Dr Dugon, the host of RTÉ’s Bug Hunters, children will participate in activities such as discovering local and exotic plants and animals, studying their habitats and understanding how they interact with their environment. With the dynamic team of Cell EXPLORERS, children will learn how cells make our bodies work. They will run their own experiments, build models, observe their own cells under microscopes and extract DNA from cells. The Bio-EXPLORERS programme’s primary goal is to inspire interest in science in the general public and to impact positively on science education. It proposes activities that are designed to engage children in a hands-on way and stimulate their interest in exploring science-related themes. The programme has engaged thousands of children in the West of Ireland since its creation and has been very active during the last Galway Science and Technology Festival. Last year Bio-EXPLORERS ran three successful science holiday camps at Easter and Summer time. These camps provide a fun take on science where children can get involved and experiment as real scientists do. Small participant numbers, hands-on activities and a good ratio of well-trained, interactive demonstrators maximise the learning environment. The Easter Science Camp will run over four days from 9.30am to 4.30pm each day. The cost is €140 per child, €125 for additional siblings for this course which is packed with fun and exciting activities. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. For further information or to book a space on the Camp email email@example.com or visit www.cellexplorers.com for more details on our activities. -Ends-
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Public Seminar on Overseas Development and International Volunteering
Monday, 23 March 2015
International volunteering and development will be the topic of a public seminar on Thursday, 26 March, from 10am to 1pm at NUI Galway. The event will be an opportunity to discuss development topics and learn about overseas development being carried out by the European Commission. This event will be of particular interest to the general public and those interested in volunteering overseas. The seminar is organised by the Europe Direct Information Centre, Ballinasloe Library in association with the Centre for Global Women's Studies at NUI Galway. It takes place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway (located near the Corrib Village entrance) and will be opened by Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the Child & Family Research Centre and UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement. A panel discussion and Q&A will be chaired by Dr Niamh Reilly, Co-Director, Centre for Global Women's Studies, School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway. According to Dr Reilly: “We are organising this event in response to the European Year for Development 2015, a European Commission designated theme to nurture and engage development themes. The citizens of Galway and Ireland have a long held involvement in overseas development and volunteering, and this will be an opportunity to catch up on the latest initiatives.” The European Year for Development 2015 was launched in Dublin Castle by President Michael D. Higgins, earlier this year. At the time the President was quoted as saying, “This process will succeed only if it is nurtured by the energy, creativity and legitimacy of a wide range of social actors. Parliaments and citizens must not avert their gaze. They must hold governments to account to ensure that decisions are truly based on the needs of the people, including those who are marginalised and most vulnerable, our sisters and brothers in the human family.” Other speakers will include: Kerry Smith-Jefferys, Head of Advocacy PlanUK, who has a background in Human Rights Law with a career in the development sector specialising in conflict resolution, humanitarian response, children's rights and gender issues. Genet Adam and Faith Amanya, MA Students in Gender, Globalisation and Rights at NUI Galway, who will speak about their NGO background and their journey to an Irish Aid Scholarship. Lorraine Tansey, Coordinator at NUI Galway ALIVE Volunteering Programme, who will deliver a presentation on the current volunteering landscape. Paula Kenny of Irish Aid at the Department of Foreign Affairs will discuss funding. To find out more or register to attend visit www.europedirect.ie -ends-
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Young people are ‘happier and healthier’ than a decade ago
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
NUI Galway lead Ireland’s involvement in study across 40 countries Young people are happier and healthier than their counterparts a decade ago, according to a major new study into the wellbeing of adolescents across Europe and North America. A study, part of collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), sheds new light on the habits and happiness of 11 to 15 year-olds in over 40 different countries across a 16 year period (1994-2010). The Irish partners, Drs Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Michal Molcho and Colette Kelly from the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway co-authored the study launched today. Findings include some significant improvements in how young people report their own health and well-being. Overall, the results suggest that contemporary adolescents are in a better position than past generations. NUI Galway’s Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Principal Investigator for Ireland, commented, “Adolescence is a crucial stage in life when you lay the foundation for adulthood, whether that’s healthy or otherwise. While there is much to celebrate about the health and well-being of many young people today, others continue to experience real and worrying problems.” Over the last decade in Ireland there has been a decline in school-aged children drinking alcohol weekly and in experiencing multiple injuries. There have also been improvements in both self-rated health and ease of communication with parents. However, the study found increased pressure from schoolwork and no reductions in bullying. The study also identified a significant rise in Ireland of children from less affluent families having more health complaints. “By comparing today’s young people with their counterparts a decade ago we can better understand how their health is influenced by the circumstances in which they live; of real concern must now be the increases in social inequalities in Ireland, where children from poorer homes are more likely to report ill-health, and the gap between rich and poor has increased over time,” added Dr Nic Gabhainn. Trends in young people’s health and social determinants ‘Trends in young people’s health and social determinants’ is published today in The European Journal of Public Health. The study, led by St Andrews in Scotland, is the only study of its kind in Europe and North America. It features 20 papers from researchers taking part in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, a cross-national collaboration with the WHO. HBSC Ireland is funded by the Department of Health. The papers included in the report describe how trends can be interpreted when looking at patterns and differences between countries, across areas such as eating habits, obesity, physical activity, bullying, safe sex, communication at home, and the use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. Despite the generally positive findings, many - if not the majority - of adolescents living in Europe and North America, still do not meet the recommendations for healthy living. Critically, several key groups still remain at risk of poor health, with potentially damaging and long-lasting consequences. The detailed analyses revealed that girls, older children and in particular those in Northern European countries experience lower levels of life satisfaction. Findings also reveal that in the majority of countries, children from less affluent families had more health complaints. This inequality has increased significantly over time in Ireland, as it has in Austria, Canada, France and Lithuania. The report suggests that while the overall optimistic picture seems surprising considering that many countries faced a severe economic crisis in the last decade, policies and actions to improve public health were implemented in many countries in the same period. It also concludes that the general feeling that young people are better off today could also be attributed to changes in fashions, behavioural norms and societal values. Dr Nic Gabhainn continued, “For almost 20 years the Irish HBSC study and research network has built up an increasingly detailed picture of trends and developments in adolescent health. This valuable database can support strategies to disrupt negative cycles that take root in the second decade and contribute to health inequities in the long-term. Policy makers can use this work to ensure that their decisions are targeted, effective and have their roots in the real world. Evidence such as this give all of us an opportunity to act to secure the health of the next generation.” ENDS
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CÚRAM hosts successful polymers in medicine conference
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
First time annual AFPM conference has been held in Ireland A major conference on the future developments of polymers for medicine opened in Galway yesterday, and is being hailed a huge success by organisers. This is the first time the Advanced Functional Polymers in Medicine (AFPM) annual conference has been held in Ireland, and it continues until tomorrow. The Chair of the local organising committee is Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of the newly established Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, a Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre. Speaking about the conference, he said: “CÚRAM will use cutting-edge research in biomaterials to design medical devices to respond to the body’s environment and to deliver therapeutic agents, such as drugs, exactly where needed. We are delighted for CÚRAM to host the AFPM 2015 as our first conference because the research presented greatly compliments the aims of our research centre.” The aim of the AFPM 2015 conference is to strengthen multi-disciplinary collaborations between chemists, material engineers, physicists, biologists and clinicians to develop advanced functional polymers for medicine. Leading experts from across Europe and the international community in the field, are presenting the current status, challenges and requirements for future developments of polymers for medicine. A total of 120 delegates have gathered at the Hotel Meyrick for the event. Twenty-three international experts from across Europe, America and Asia are speaking at the meeting. These include major international scientific speakers such as Professor Todd McDevitt, Georgia Tech, USA and Professor Ali Miserez, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. One of the highlights of the conference has been a talk by Professor Dennis Discher from University of Pennsylvania, USA. His research involves developing novel polymers to shrink tumours and treat genetic diseases. In addition to the invited speakers, young researchers also participated in the conference giving oral and poster presentations. The conference is in conjunction with the Marie Curie funded AngioMatTrain Research Summer School 3, the aim of which is to train researchers at the early stages of their career. PhD students and post-doctoral researchers played a significant role at the conference, which provided an outstanding opportunity to help young scientists in their career development and offer them an interdisciplinary discussion forum within an exclusive circle. The conference organisers gratefully acknowledged the support they have received from several funding agencies including EU Seventh Framework Programme for research, Science Foundation Ireland, Irish Research Council, Fáilte Ireland, Zwick and Stryker. -ends-
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