Thursday, 11 May 2017

NUI Galway will host the first conference of the newly launched Digital Cultures Initiative, and the first conference in Ireland to focus primarily on literature that is native to digital platforms and ecosystems, such as electronic literature and born-digital literature. The conference starts today Thursday, 11 May and Friday12 May in the Hardiman Research Building. The conference title, ‘Other Codes – Digital Literatures in Context’, focuses attention on the various contexts for the production, dissemination and reception of digital literature in its different forms, as well as the cultural, national, geographical and institutional settings within which digital literary practice takes place. Against this backdrop the two-day international conference will feature presentations on topics such as, Twitter poetry, hyper-text fiction, storytelling through computer games, extended cinema and much more. Speaking about the conference, Professor Sean Ryder, Director of Digital Cultures Initiative at NUI Galway, said: “This conference is the first major gathering in Ireland of international scholars and practitioners of ‘digital literature’. Ireland’s rich literary heritage has traditionally been based on the medium of print. But the future will see writers exploring more and more the creative capacities of digital technology. The Other Codes conference will help us think about what that future may be like.” Participating speakers will feature several internationally renowned scholars and practitioners in the field including Sandy Baldwin (Rochester Institute of Technology, US), María Mencía (Kingston University, London), Jessica Pressman (San Diego State University, US) and Scott Rettberg (University of Bergen, Norway). Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, said: “No development in what we call ‘literature’ has more lasting significance than the emergence of the digital. I look forward to the ways in which this conference will deepen our understanding of this phenomenon which will only grow in significance over time.” The main organiser of the conference, Dr Anne Karhio at NUI Galway, commented on the event: “There is an increasing need for authors, artists and scholars to employ not only the creative potential of the digital domain, but also to interrogate these technologies, and explore their wide implications on our place in the world. Literature native to new platforms can explore and interrogate them from within.” The conference is funded by the Irish Research Council, the European Commission via Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and NUI Galway. For full conference details visit:  https://othercodes.wordpress.com/schedule/ and for registration visit: https://othercodes.wordpress.com/registration/ or email anne.karhio@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

For nearly a decade, the standard practice in Ireland for treating stings by the Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish (Physalia physalis) is to rinse with seawater and then apply ice. However, in a new study published last week, scientists from NUI Galway have found those measures are actually among the worst things to do if stung. Collaborating with jellyfish sting experts from the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa, the NUI Galway scientists re-evaluated which commonly recommended first aid actions (such as rinsing with seawater) are the most effective for Physalia stings. Their results, published in the international journal Toxins, overturn the current advice, and show that the best first aid is to rinse with vinegar, to remove tentacles and then immerse in 45°C (113°F) hot water (or apply a hot pack) for 45 minutes. There are two species of Physalia, the Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis) which occurs in the Atlantic, and the bluebottle (Physalia utriculus) which occurs in the Pacific. Both species are among the most recognisable stinging jellyfish with their bright blue tentacles and colorful inflated floating sails. Just last September, armadas of these painful stingers came ashore in Ireland. Taxonomically speaking, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a true jellyfish but a siphonophore, a closely related group of colonial animals. Dr Tom Doyle, Lecturer in Zoology from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “We had unprecedented numbers washing up from Cork to Donegal last September. Thankfully we had very few reported stings given the time of year. However, if this event had occurred during the summer months, then we may have had hundreds of stings. Our new evidence-based research conclusively shows that the best first aid for a man o’ war sting is rinsing with vinegar or a Sting No More Spray, developed by the University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa, followed by the immersion of the injured area in hot water or the application of a hot pack.” But although man o’ war stings are common around the world, there was little agreement on the best first aid responses to such injuries until now. Dr Tom Doyle and PhD student Jasmine Headlam at NUI Galway collaborated with Dr Christie Wilcox, lead author of the paper and postdoctoral fellow with the Pacific Cnidaria Research Laboratory at the University of Hawai‘i, and her colleague Dr Angel Yanagihara, assistant research Professor at the University’s Pacific Biosciences Research Center.  Commenting on the research, Dr Wilcox, said: “Physalia are often listed as exceptions to any blanket first aid recommendations for jellyfish stings. Without solid science to back up medical practices, we have ended up with conflicting official recommendations around the world, leading to confusion and, in many cases, practices that actually worsen stings and even cost lives.” Dr Wilcox and Dr Yanagihara first examined box jellyfish, some of the deadliest jelly species in the world, finding that common practices such as applying urine or scraping away tentacles only make stings worse. Applying these new rigorous testing methods to man o’ war stings was the obvious next step, in which they collaborated on with Dr Doyle at NUI Galway. In 2008, Dr Doyle set up the Jellyfish Advisory Group, an expert coalition that developed the Irish guidelines for the treatment of jellyfish stings as part of an Ireland Wales INTERREG project EcoJel. He was instrumental in implementing the current sting response protocols and was keen to ensure that Irish medical practitioners are giving the best care possible to sting victims. Dr Doyle added, “In the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting with members of the Jellyfish Advisory Group to discuss our new findings and how we can revise the current protocols.” Dr Doyle met Dr Yanagihara at a jellyfish conference in Japan and together they proposed a project to the International Fulbright Specialist program, and Dr Yanagihara was awarded a Fullbright Specialist Award to come to NUI Galway to share newly developed assay techniques with the NUI Galway research team. Dr Doyle and Ms Headlam performed experiments using the Atlantic man o’ war in parallel with those conducted by Dr Wilcox and Dr Yanagihara in Hawai‘i. The results from opposite sides of the world aligned beautifully. The venom delivered by a man o’ war sting was lessened if the sting site was rinsed with vinegar, regardless of which species of Physalia was used. The scientists showed that vinegar inhibited the animals’ stinging cells from firing, thus safely removing tentacles and stinging cells that can remain adhered to the skin and continue to deliver venom over time. Meanwhile, PhD student Jasmine Headlam is already working on her next research project. “After the Portuguese man o ‘war, the most venomous jellyfish in Irish waters is the lion’s mane jellyfish”, she explained. Lion’s mane (Cyanea capillata) are responsible for more bad jellyfish stings in Ireland than any other species, and in many such cases, the victims end up in the hospital. Ms Headlam added, “We are currently doing similar experimental work on the lion’s mane jellyfish and hope to submit this work for publication in due course.” To read the full study in Toxins visit: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/9/5/149/ and http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/9/5/149/pdf View this short video which summarises the results of the study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZirOV9wJ2jo&feature=youtu.be -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

New research projects to start in the areas of dementia care, cardiac care, and type 1 diabetes Three new research projects are to begin at NUI Galway, with the support of the Health Research Board, in the areas of dementia care, cardiac care, and type 1 diabetes. A total of €1.8 million has been allocated, with each project focused on improving patient care and outcomes. Dr Martin O’Donnell, Professor of Translational Medicine at NUI Galway has been funded under the ‘Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Award’ programme for research on Community Risk-based monitoring for an Atrial Fibrillation Trial. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Professor Sean Dinneen, Professor of Diabetic Medicine has secured a ‘Definitive Intervention and Feasibility Award’ for research aimed at improving outcomes for young adults living with type 1 diabetes in Ireland. The study team based across the NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital campuses will work with national and international collaborators including a public and patient involvement panel (consisting of 10 young adult service users living with type 1 diabetes) to test and pilot the feasibility of a new intervention, called D1 Now. Professor Eamon O’Shea, Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway, received an ‘Applied Partnership Award’ for resource allocation, priority-setting and consensus in dementia care in Ireland. The aim of this study is to address key questions regarding optimal service and support mix for people with dementia and to facilitate a more efficient and equitable resource allocation process that includes the delivery of personalised, community-based supports for people with dementia. Professor Eamon O'Shea will be working with the National Dementia Office through the Health Service Executive to develop Dementia care plans to address optimal resource allocation for different dementia case types. The Definitive Intervention and Feasibility Award scheme is designed to boost research activity in clinical trials and interventions, whereas the Applied Partnership Award scheme aims to encourage a partnership-based, co-funding approach to nationally relevant research topics. According to NUI Galway’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Lokesh Joshi: “The focus of these projects is to improve outcomes for patients with heart disease and diabetes, and to improve the provision of health services to people with dementia. We welcome the support provided by the Health Research Board for this patient-centred research which will impact on diverse patient communities.” Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said: “Findings from these projects have the potential to make a big impact on patient care and patient outcomes, in a relatively short space of time. Through these awards, the HRB is delivering on two key goals in our strategy. Firstly, to boost clinical trial activity in Ireland and secondly, to encourage partner driven research that addresses research questions which are directly relevant to the needs of our health service.” Commenting on the D1 Now Study, Mary Clare O’Hara, Programme Manager of the study at Galway University Hospital, said: “Living with type 1 diabetes is demanding whatever your age. Individuals with diabetes must self-inject insulin several times a day for their entire life and monitor its effects through frequent (and painful) self-monitoring of blood glucose levels to manage this challenging condition. Even in motivated patients it can be difficult to avoid day-to-day fluctuations in blood glucose levels. This is particularly true of for young adults who have busy social, work, family and student lives. Since 2014 we have been working with our panel of young adult service users to re-imagine the way we deliver care to this population and to co-design the D1 Now intervention that we will now trial in diabetes centres in Ireland and Northern Ireland.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

NUI Galway students address issues of sexual assault and the negotiation of sexual consent in a film co-produced with Galway Rape Crisis Centre, and supported by The Manuela Riedo Foundation Ireland Drama, Theatre and Performance students at NUI Galway will premiere the short film, Lucy’s House Party, directed by Dr Charlotte McIvor today (Tuesday 2 May), at the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The short film will be presented as part of a sexual violence prevention initiative, The Manuela Programme, aimed at transition-year students in over 120 secondary schools across Ireland. An NUI Galway and Galway Rape Crisis Centre co-production, Lucy’s House Party, created by the students is a film adaptation of a devised theatre play, 100 Shades of Grey. The play was initially responding to a report written by researchers at NUI Galway’s School of Psychology entitled, ‘Young People, Alcohol and Sex: What’s Consent Got to Do With It?’ The Manuela Programme is a six session, 12 hour classroom-based intervention of which the film, Lucy’s House Party will form an integral part. The necessity to have an Irish-based context film inserted to the programme was thought essential, and resulted in The Manuela Riedo Foundation Ireland committing funds to this film project. The short film will be used as a specific learning tool to create discussion, debate and learning around the issues of healthy relationships, sexual consent along with the context, consequences and attitudes to excessive alcohol and drugs within a group of friendships. After being piloted earlier this year at schools in Kerry, Wexford and Galway, The Manuela Programme has just been funded for expansion into 120 secondary schools with significant financial support from the European Commission for Justice, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and The Manuela Riedo Foundation Ireland. Manuela Riedo was a 17-year old Swiss student who was raped and murdered in Galway in October 2007 just two days after arriving to Galway on a language and cultural holiday. Commenting on the short film, Dr Charlotte McIvor at NUI Galway, said: “Sexual assault prevention particularly amongst young people is one of today's most pressing issues. Our drama and theatre studies students have passionately brought their skills to bear on adding to this conversation by making this film. We look forward to seeing our work used as part of the groundbreaking Manuela programme.” In October 2015 the Manuela Riedo Foundation Ireland invited and funded the 16 Rape Crisis Centres throughout Ireland to send delegates to a two-day conference in Galway. This was the first step in harnessing their expertise to build a nationwide, comprehensive, evidence-based education programme targeting 15-16 year olds in the area of sexual violence prevention. The outcome of this conference and continued research resulted in forming The Manuela Programme, which has the potential to be a powerful prevention programme to reduce sexual violence by empowering participants with the necessary skills, knowledge and behaviours. The programme draws on best practice from Ireland’s Rape Crisis Centres as well as building on international evidence in the field. Dr Sue Redmond, a social research consultant and facilitator in this area of expertise was the primary author of the final draft document. The film will be launched at the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance in NUI Galway on Tuesday, 2 May by Mary Roche, Senior Coordinator of Services for Sexual Violence at Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

St Angela’s College, Sligo together with NUI Galway presented the 2017 President’s Award for Student Volunteering at a special ceremony on Tuesday 25 April.  The 2017 recipients volunteered in a range of local community projects and have fundraised for a variety of causes and also participated in the campus mentoring programmes. The ALIVE Certificate is awarded to students that demonstrate a commitment to volunteering and reflect on their learning from the experience through an online portfolio.  Dr Anne Taheny, President of St Angela’s College said: “We are delighted to celebrate the student’s commitments as we strive to encourage an ethos of student volunteering and engagement with community activities.”  Partnering with the Sligo Volunteer Centre, the event is part of the European Capital of Volunteering Sligo 2017 programme. The students from St Angela’s College gave an average of 34 hours this year equating to €13,590 of in kind time to social, environmental, health and education programmes. This is an estimate amount of forty-five students earning the minimum wage. Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme Coordinator, said: “Through campus based volunteering roles like mentoring and class representative, students are building democracy skills like decision making, debating, listening and referrals. There is a real campus community of voluntary effort that also extends to local and international volunteering.” Gráinne O'Toole, a third year student studying Home Economics and Biology Teaching, said: “Mentoring ensures an effortless transition for students leaving secondary school and entering third level education. The programme provides a local and small community for first year students who may be nervous or homesick in making new connections with us and other mentors in their year group, and making them feel more at ease.” Students this year volunteered with Samaritans, Irish Girl Guides, Fáilte Isteach Conversation Classes, Foróige and Special Olympics to mention a few. Ann Coyle student volunteer with Foróige said: “Volunteering has enabled me to advance my career and I have brought happiness, energy and laughter to children at Foróige Sligo. I have impacted the first year students of my course by sharing my knowledge and experiences of my first year experience with them to help them settle into being away from home.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Three NUI Galway students have recently been awarded the Global Citizen Award through their volunteering with Nurture Africa and the Experiment Intercultural Learning (EIL) initiative, which was set up to assist and develop international engagement, sponsored by Irish Aid. The Gold Global Citizen Award went to NUI Galway students Aisling Miller, from Leap, Co. Cork who travelled to Uganda with Nurture Africa and to Cormac Pope, from Barna, Co. Galway who travelled to Thailand with the EIL. Seán Devny, also travelled to Uganda with Nurture Africa and he received the Bronze Citizen Award. Following their travels last year, the students completed action projects once back in Ireland to connect the learning of their intercultural experience and secured the Bronze and Gold awards at this year’s national ceremony. The Global Citizen Award aims to mobilise returned international volunteers, to inspire members of the Irish public, and to foster active global citizens by increasing their understanding of global issues. Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme Coordinator, said: “Partnering the Global Citizen Award is ideal for NUI Galway because this award has a very important message. Volunteers are encouraged to connect to their local communities and write reflective blogs with their overseas partner. Through this full circle approach, volunteers can truly remain connected in solidarity with their overseas partners, building on the learning and intercultural experience.” -Ends- 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

NUI Galway Mindful Way initiative in association with Mindfulness Ireland to host a weekend of mindfulness sessions and retreats with monastics from Plum Village The Mindful Way initiative at NUI Galway is delighted to once again welcome monastics from Plum Village back to the campus for a weekend of Mindfulness sessions in association with Mindfulness Ireland. Exploring the practice of mindfulness, a number of free events will take place from the 5-7 May in Aras Moyola, the School of Nursing and Midwifery and are open to the public. The mindfulness sessions will be presented by Teacher, Brother Phap Lai, and his colleagues from Plum Village in Bordeaux. Brother Phap Lai is a Senior Dharma Teacher within the Plum Village Mindfulness tradition and lives his daily life practicing mindfulness with his community and leading mindfulness retreats around the world. On Friday 5 May Brother Phap Lai will lead a Mindfulness session from 6pm to 8.15pm and again on Saturday 6 May from 6pm to 8.15pm. On Saturday 6 May from 2pm to 4pm ‘Wake Up Ireland’, an exciting new addition to the Mindful Way programme of events this year, invites young people between the age of 18 and 35 years to attend a separate mindfulness event. And on Sunday 7 May there will be a day long retreat from 11am to 4.30pm and participants are also invited to share a mindful vegan lunch with the Plum Village Monastics. These unique events are part of NUI Galway’s ongoing initiative towards integrating mindfulness into the University’s culture and the importance of mindfulness in higher educational institutions and the wider community. The event is open to all university staff and students, the general public, researchers, student counsellors and advisors, healthcare professionals, mindfulness practitioners, and anyone with an interest in mindfulness. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, and coordinator of the University’s Mindful Way initiative, said: “NUI Galway is on a journey to adopt a mindfulness culture to benefit both staff and students that is being shared with the wider Galway community. We are honoured to host Brother Phap Lai and his monastic colleagues from Plum Village and we hope that everyone who attends will enjoy this truly unique offering with such a globally revered group.” Plum Village, near Bordeaux in southwest France, is the largest international practice centre in the Plum Village tradition, and the first monastic community founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered around the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment - the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world. For more information about events email mindfulway@nuigalway.ie. All weekend sessions will take place in lecture hall MY243 in Aras Moyola, also known as the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway and opposite the Alice Perry Engineering Building. For directions visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/media/Aras-Moyola-map.pdf Parking on campus is free on Saturday and Sunday and after 5.45pm on Friday, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/media/buildingsoffice/files/services/parking/M12122_050916_Parking_CampusMapWEB.pdf. Those wishing to attend the Sunday Mindfulness retreat and lunch can register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/day-of-mindfulness-practice-with-plum-village-monastics-tickets-34065283179.       For more information about ‘Wake Up Ireland’ visit: http://www.wkupireland.org/. The Plum Village Monastics are in Galway as part of Mindfulness Ireland's Annual Retreat Programme, which takes place every year over the May Bank Holiday weekend. For more information please visit www.mindfulnessireland.org/ www.plumvillage.org and       https://plumvillage.org/about/wake-up-young-practitioners/ -Ends-

Thursday, 4 May 2017

NUI Galway’s Professor Henry Curran, a world expert in chemistry combustion, has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Boyle Higgins Gold Medal Award. Professor Curran’s research expertise informs the design of cleaner, more efficient energy systems. The Boyle Higgins Gold Medal Award is awarded by The Institute of Chemistry of Ireland. It is awarded for a significant contribution to chemistry made by an Irish chemist working in Ireland or abroad, or by a chemist of any nationality, working in Ireland. Professor Curran is Director of the Combustion Chemistry Centre at NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry and of the Energy Research Centre in the University’s Ryan Institute: “My research interest is in the study of the chemistry of how fuels burn in combustors, in order to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. It is truly an honour to be recognised by my peers in this way. Ireland has such a strong cohort of experts working in the field of chemistry, that to be chosen for this accolade is truly gratifying.” The Combustion Chemistry Centre at NUI Galway is engaged in fundamental research on the combustion of fossil and biofuels. Professor Curran and his team are concerned with the application  of  combustion  research  to  the  design  of  energy efficient  engine and  gas  turbine combustion systems, and the impact of their use on toxic and greenhouse gas emissions, towards helping address the problems of urban air pollution and climate change. On receipt of his award, Professor Curran delivered a lecture to the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland entitled ‘Developing Detailed Chemical Kinetic Mechanisms for Fuel Combustion’. Much of Professor Curran’s work is on internationally collaborative projects with companies including Shell Global Solutions, Rolls Royce Canada Ltd., Siemens Canada Ltd., Renault and Saudi Arabian Oil Company. Professor Curran is also involved in the EU-funded project, ECCO-MATE, which aims to create a research and training platform for the improvement of diesel engines. Professor Paul Murphy, Head of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said: “The School of Chemistry offers their most enthusiastic congratulations to Professor Curran on the award of the Boyle-Higgins Medal from the Institute of Chemistry, which recognises his contributions to both Pure and Applied Chemistry, given the strong relevance of his research for Industry. Professor Curran has provided pioneering expertise in his area and is fully deserving of this recognition by the professional body for Chemistry in Ireland.” Professor Henry Curran is ranked among the world’s top 1% of scientific minds by Clarivate Analytics, formerly the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters. He has been among the most highly cited researchers since the ranking started in 2014. -Ends-

Friday, 5 May 2017

GAA hurling demonstration for international scientists in Galway’s Pearse Stadium highlights how climate change will impact the future ‘clash of the ash’ Over 100 of the world’s leading experts in climate change, agriculture and food security converged in NUI Galway last week for a week-long International Conference on ‘Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security – Where is the cutting edge?’ The Conference was co-hosted by the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre and the global research program. The Conference delegates from around the globe identified portfolios of Climate Smart Agriculture practices and innovations for decarbonising agricultural systems to provide food and bioresources for an expanding global population. The delegates discussed approaches for improving the resilience of agriculture and smallholder livelihoods in developing countries to climate change. With support from the GAA, the international delegation of climate change scientists were given a presentation on the history and development of Gaelic games. The presentation was hosted in Pearse Stadium by Galway football legend, and current Connacht Provincial Games Manager, John Tobin. The scientists were taught some of the skills involved in Ireland’s native sports by local athletes and took part in a poc fada competition. NUI Galway agricultural economist, Kevin Kilcline explained how almost half a million hurleys are produced in Ireland each year. The delegation heard how hurley sticks have been made from ash trees by craftsmen since before the recorded history of Ireland. Due to the problems with sourcing healthy ash trees for hurleys, the GAA has approved a wood-free, synthetic carbon-fibre hurley, which the group compared on the pitch to the wooden versions made from ash. The GAA stars and NUI Galway scientists explained how the best hurleys can only be made from the ash tree, which is now threatened by the ash dieback fungal disease. As ash dieback is affected by temperature changes, it provided a good example of how our national sport can potentially be impacted by climate change. In recent weeks, the Mauna Loa Atmospheric Research Observatory in Hawai’i recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide (CO2) reading in excess of 410 parts per million. NUI Galway’s Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station has also recently been recording CO2 readings over 410 parts per million. Dr Peter McKeown, coordinator of the inter-disciplinary Masters (MSc) degree in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security associated with NUI Galway’s Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre, highlighted that children born today will likely never live in a world with CO2 levels below 400 parts per million.  The last time Earth had such levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide was about three million years ago. Back then, global average temperatures over long periods of time were estimated to be about 3.6 to 5.2 degrees warmer than it is today, and the planet may now be headed in that direction. While the conference was focused on the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security, it also highlighted global warming and extreme weather effects due to climate change will impact on all sectors of society in the years ahead. For instance, climate change will affect the geographic distribution of pests and diseases (of humans, animals and plants), with some diseases becoming more widespread, while others may become less prevalent. Global temperature increases have also affected the spread of ash dieback disease and emerald ash borer beetles, both of which represent significant threats to the security of European ash woodlands and forestry. Professor Charles Spillane, Head of the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: The impacts of climate change on the predicted spread and distribution of ash dieback disease across Europe are being analysed, in conjunction with plant breeding efforts to identify naturally occurring genes that can be hybridised to make ash trees that are resistant to ash dieback.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

NUI Galway’s Career Development Centre recently won the Employability Award 2017 for their innovative programme piloted this year called ‘EmployAbility – Transition to Employment’. The event was part of the Association for Higher Education Career Services (AHECS) and GradIreland Awards that were recently held in the Mansion House, Dublin. The AHECS is a professional association of careers advisory and placement professionals in higher education in Ireland. The Association provides higher education careers services across the 27 universities and Institutes of Technology in Ireland. EmployAbility is an award winning programme that supports students with disabilities and mental health issues. The programme prepares students for the world of work and transition towards fulfilling careers. The programme was a result of the collaboration between NUI Galway’s Career Development Centre, Disability Support Service, Student Counselling and all units within Student Services. The programme was led by Careers Advisers, Marie Laffey and Ananda Geluk. Dr Pat Morgan, Vice President for Student Experience who formally launched the programme in January said: “This programme has been a wonderful success and reflects NUI Galway’s and specifically Student Services commitment to supporting the personal development and employability of all our students.” The programme featured in the Student Services Smart Study, Smart Life programme and was also funded by the Student Project Fund. Aspects of the programme included collaboration with external partners such as AHEAD (Association for Higher Education Access & Disability) and employers such as the ESB and Google who support and promote access to the labour market for graduates with disabilities. The judging panel were very impressed with the submission and said: “NUI Galway’s Career Development Centre showed great initiative and drive to creatively engage with and support a specific cohort of students with a clear vision and strong employability deliverables.” -Ends- 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

NUI Galway is one of 20 European partners involved in the €5.5 million Horizon 2020 ‘Built2Spec’ project  NUI Galway’s Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Engineering (IRUSE) in the College of Engineering and Informatics is committed to realising the goal of energy efficient buildings. IRUSE’s research focuses on better predicting environmental conditions in buildings; ensuring healthy, comfortable and productive indoor environments; while reducing building energy consumption at the same time. Built to Specifications (Built2Spec), a four-year Horizon 2020 €5.5 million EU-funded project involving 20 European partners, seeks to reduce the gap between a building’s designed and as-built energy performance. To do this, the project will put a new set of breakthrough technological advances for self-inspection checks and quality assurance measures into the hands of construction professionals. This collection of smart tools will help building stakeholders at all levels in meeting EU energy efficiency targets, new build standards and related policy goals. The multi-million euro project shared among 20 European partners includes three from Ireland - NUI Galway, Oran Pre-Cast in Oranmore and Ecofix in Dublin. NUI Galway researchers, Dr Marcus Keane and Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz from IRUSE are leading the Work Package 4 of the Built2Spec project. Work Package 4 investigates Smart Materials, Imagery Techniques and Building Information Modelling as Inspection and Quality Multipliers. Their work was recently published in the international journal, Magazine of the Concrete Society and is an excellent example of the University supporting the construction industry regarding the development of innovative products and services allied with indigenous companies.   Commenting on the project, Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz from NUI Galway, said: “The Built2Spec project and collaboration with companies such as Oran Pre-Cast allow our research to be applied to real buildings to tackle the problems of quality checks during the construction, as well as energy efficiency and indoor environmental conditions of operating buildings.” The objectives of Work Package 4 are to: Develop a methodology for the use of sensor-embedded construction elements for continuous self-inspection and quality checks, utilising numerical modelling and real-time measurements in buildings. Design, prototype and test sensor embedded precast concrete construction elements, and link them to models that predict performance and enable continuous product life cycle quality checks. Develop an innovative system for embedding sensors in building elements, collecting information from the sensors (environmental, structural, radio-frequency identification) and presenting relevant information in a user-friendly, accessible manner to engineers, building managers, contractors and other stakeholders. Leverage work within the Google-driven ‘Tango’ project and 3-D scan capture to make possible 3-D scanning on mobile devices for the support of construction processes and checks. Leverage imagery comparison techniques for the self-inspection and quality check of construction worksites (plan area) and building elements as constructed via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or helicopter drone imagery. Make Building Information Modelling (BIM) technologically ready for self-inspection and quality checks. Bring BIM to the construction worksite. Built2Spec will expand upon a cloud based construction support platform, conceived following the most advanced integrated design and delivery framework for the building sector, and hosting applications that facilitate worksite activities and quality compliance by putting knowledge in the hands of contractors. This will be achieved in the form of shared design specifications and 3-D models, installation guidelines, information on regulatory frameworks, and help from construction experts on smartphones and tablets. The Built2Spec platform will be integrated into the operations of small and medium-sized enterprise contractors, large construction firms, and end user clients directly within the consortium and work program activities, assuring systematic and scientific performance measures, feedback and powerful exploitation and dissemination strategies. For more information on IRUSE visit: www.iruse.ie and on Built2Spec visit: https://built2spec-project.eu/ -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

European Regulators Approve First in Man Clinical Trial of Novel Cell Therapy for Diabetic Kidney Disease  NEPHSTROM, a large European Union Horizon 2020-funded research project coordinated by NUI Galway has successfully completed a major step in the European clinical trial approval process. NEPHSTROM, which includes 11 academic, clinical and commercial partners from Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and the UK, is carrying out a randomised, placebo controlled clinical trial of a novel allogeneic stromal cell therapy to treat diabetic kidney disease. Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the single leading cause of end stage renal disease in the industrialised world, accounting for 40% of new cases of end stage renal disease in the US and EU. The five-year mortality rate is 39% – a rate comparable to many cancers. To address the critical unmet need for a therapy for DKD, NEPHSTROM brings together key leaders in the clinical treatment of chronic kidney disease, leading researchers of the mechanisms of diabetic nephropathy, and experts in stromal cell therapy development in a multi-disciplinary team. The NEPHSTROM team is carrying out a first in man Phase 2a clinical trial of a novel stromal cell therapy (ORBCEL-M) for diabetic kidney disease. ORBCEL-M was discovered by Dr Stephen Elliman, Chief Scientific Officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, an NUI Galway spinout cell therapy company. ORBCEL-M has demonstrated significant improvements in kidney function in pre-clinical models of DKD. The NEPHSTROM clinical trial represents a significant step towards preparing this therapy for clinical use. The pan-European NEPHSTROM clinical trial is being led by the renowned nephrologist, Professor Giuseppe Remuzzi at the Mario Negri Institute in Bergamo, Italy with clinical trial recruitment sites in Italy, Ireland (HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway), and the UK (UHBFT, Birmingham and BHSCT, Belfast). The primary aim of the clinical trial is to establish the safety and efficacy of ORBCEL-M. The NEPHSTROM team of researchers also hope to show that important markers of DKD are improved, meaning that the therapy actually works, as well as being safe. An important milestone in this clinical trial is the successful completion of a voluntary harmonisation procedure (VHP). The VHP is designed to simplify clinical trials across multiple European member states by providing a centralised application procedure for clinical trial approval. Since the NEPHSTROM project commenced, the team have been compiling the data and preparing the documentation required for a voluntary harmonisation procedure submission. Following a submission to AIFA, the Italian Medicines Agency, the NEPHSTROM trial successfully secured VHP approval on 4 April 2017. Commenting on the approval, Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, and the coordinator of NEPHSTROM, said: “This approval is a vital step towards the successful completion of the NEPHSTROM trial. Achieving this has involved a tremendous amount of work on the part of the whole NEPHSTROM team.” Patient enrolment for the NEPHSTROM trial is expected to commence in the summer of 2017. For further information about NEPHSTROM (EC Project code 634086) visit: www.nephstrom.eu                                           -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Over the last few days, emergency services continue to battle the blazing gorse fire in the Cloosh Valley, Connemara area of County Galway. Apart from the obvious devastating effect on wildlife and the damage to tree crops, the forest fires are causing a major air pollution episode in the area with potential health impacts to the local population. In recent days, the wind diverted the pollution plume away from the most populated areas, however, around 4pm yesterday evening (Tuesday 9May), a change in wind direction engulfed the city in smoke pollution for a few hours. Such high pollution events can have significant health impacts on sections of the population including the elderly, immunosuppressed and those with chronic conditions such as Asthma. The smoke pollution event was recorded on a newly deployed ‘Citizen Science Air Pollution’ monitoring network, which engages second-level school students as part of a national air-monitoring network. The Galway City air-monitoring node is located in Coláiste Iognáid at Sea Road in Galway. The data, which is webcast live every five minutes clearly shows the smoke pollution peak hitting at least 20 times the normal background level. The air quality monitor is comprised of a low-cost particulate matter (PM) detector that streams data live over the 4G network. The measurement systems were built and deployed by the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies at NUI Galway, in a joint initiative with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Institute of Physics (IoP) and selected secondary schools. Currently, the pilot network comprises nodes in secondary schools in Galway, Claremorris, and two in Dublin (Lucan and Sutton). The air pollution caused by the gorse fires was also detected as far west as Carna, at the Centre’s Air Pollution and Climate Monitoring station at Mace Head. Professor Colin O’Dowd, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies and Professor of Physics, said: “Our urban and even rural air quality, all across the country, has been getting worse rather than better over the years, particularly with the increase in biomass domestic fuel consumption associated with the proliferation of wood and peat burning stoves.  In contrast to this low-cost Citizen Science network, we also have deployed a highly sophisticated air pollution network nationally, the most sophisticated in the world, which has identified that the burning of domestic biomass fuels causes a disproportionate amount of air pollution for very little heat generation. We have found that it is not uncommon in winter for pollution levels to quite regularly rival the air pollution levels in the most polluted megacities around the world such as Beijing.” Principal Scientist on the project, Dr. Liz Coleman, also from NUI Galway’s School of Physics and Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, said: “Expansion of air monitoring networks to enhance the regulatory monitoring systems serves two purposes; the first being the added information gained from pollution sources which are not necessarily incorporated into pollution forecast models; and the second, being the engagement of the next generation in air pollution issues and educating our citizens at an early enough age to respect and protect the environment and the air that we breath.”  The European Environment Agency recently updated its assessment for the health impacts of air pollution in the EU, and now estimates that in 2013 there were over 500,000 premature mortalities arising from air pollution in the EU overall, and that 1,500 occurred in Ireland. For more information about the Centre for Climate and Air Pollution at NUI Galway, visit: http://www.nuigalway.ie/c-caps/ -Ends- 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Royal Astronomical Society funds five public engagement projects to mark 200th anniversary NUI Galway in partnership with Galway City Museum, Galway Arts Centre and Croí na Gaillimhe has secured a Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) award to mark the bicentenary celebration RAS 200: Sky & Earth. This is the only project in Ireland to join four others from the UK to have received awards. RAS 200 projects involve partner organisations whose specialist knowledge brings effective ways to share the sciences. Led by Professor Andrew Shearer in NUI Galway, Making Space is a multi-layered project that will begin this year and culminate in a year of creative events, collaborations and a celebration of astronomy and geophysics in 2020. Developments such as an Outdoor Planetarium Exhibition at the City Museum and a Planetary Walk that stretches from the Galway Prom into the Spanish Arch and up river to the University, will be complemented by an education programme aimed at primary schools, early school leavers and children and adults in direct provision. Residencies and collaborations between artists and scientists will take place, creating new research and artworks with schools and the public. A new music piece will also be commissioned. The artistic commissions, residencies, scientific engagement and education projects all intertwine to contribute understanding, discussion and dialogue to the already vibrant arts and culture scene, and the science community in Galway city and county. The project will broaden and deepen this culture by celebrating the breadth of astronomy: weaving it into public installations, music, a creative events programme, and engagement with diverse communities across the region, with an impact that will stretch beyond 2020. Speaking of the award, Professor Shearer said: “With our RAS 200 project we want to address creativity and innovation for artists and scientists by showing that the astronomical sciences can stimulate artistic projects and ventures. We want this to be a two-way process hereby we can also, as astronomers, learn different ways of communicating our science to different audiences.” Making Space came to fruition after a public consultation meeting in Galway City Museum with representatives from the RAS in 2016. Making Space is informed by the contributions from this meeting and the multi-layered and collaborative approach of Making Space is reflective of the collective enthusiasm and innovation evident at that meeting. The Making Space partnership of Galway Arts Centre, Galway City Museum, NUI Galway and Croí na Gaillimhe will work together over the next four years in bringing astronomy to the heart of the Galway community. Professor John Zarnecki, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, offered his congratulations: “A major part of the work of the RAS is to foster interest in the sciences we support, namely astronomy and geophysics, and that’s why we’re celebrating our 200th anniversary with a revitalised public engagement programme. My hope is that RAS 200: Sky & Earth helps spur more people to pursue an interest, and perhaps even a career, in these fascinating disciplines.” Professor Steve Miller, who chairs the RAS 200 Steering Group that oversees the programme, added: “These projects led a competitive field, with more than 70 initial applicants, and it was a pleasure to announce their funding. I’m very much looking forward to working with all the winners, and seeing them make a real difference to the communities they serve.” Tactile stargazing for the blind, adventures in space for girls, astronomy and geophysics for rehabilitation of prisoners, and a science trailer for Cornwall make up the four other new public engagement projects supported by the Royal Astronomical Society. The projects, backed by the RAS 200: Sky & Earth programme that celebrates the run up to the Society’s bicentenary in 2020, were announced today at the RAS AGM in London. ENDS 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Developing software is an art form, according to the Information Technology Association of Galway (ITAG) and something that is reflected in this year’s AtlanTec '17 Festival. As part of this festival a conference themed ‘The Art of Software Development’ will take place on 25 May in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway. Up to 300 global software developers will convene at the one-day event to hear from world class speakers about the latest innovations and developments in the technology sector. The conference attracts software experts who develop and code products for global markets in the areas of cloud applications, enterprise software, financial services and medical technologies. Galway has long been established as a hub both for multinational technology companies such as Cisco, Avaya, HPE, IBM and indigenous start-up ventures including The Portershed, StartLab, SuperPixels Lab, New Frontiers GMIT and the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway. The AtlanTec ’17 Festival, which kicked off on 23 March includes a series of in-company events in the region focusing on specific technology themes. There will also be a ‘Women in Technology’ event on 24 May, which will see a panel of female leaders in the technology sector discuss how to challenge traditional norms. Speakers will include: Ann O’Dea, CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and founder of Inspire Fest; Dr Niamh Shaw, STEAM Artist; Reverend Geraldine Bown, Powerful Women; and Professor Anne Scott, Vice President for Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway. The Mothership Event on 25 May and Tech Tag World Championships on the 26 May will also take place as part of this year’s festival. The AtlanTec festival was founded to extol the unique strengths Galway has to offer and to allow the software development and technology community here a chance to come together. “We do believe that this is an art form, with some of the most instrumental coding and creation being instigated by teams based right here in Galway”, explained  Caroline Cawley, ITAG CEO. According to Patrick Eustace from Cisco Galway: “Galway city has a unique blend of business, industry, educational, social, cultural and sporting life. Cisco sees Galway as a world class destination to do business, develop software and engage with a highly skilled, vibrant workforce.” The conference will explore new and emerging trends in the software development community, with topics from Microservices to Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence (AI) infused chat bots to be covered by leading experts. David Murphy, Director of Innovation and Knowledge Transfer at NUI Galway, said: “Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. We have such highly creative and talented people in Galway, including the Insight Centre for Data Analytics here on campus. The University’s partnerships with industry are an integral part of what we do, and hosting this conference is an opportunity for us to exchange ideas and network.” Galway’s Information Technology heritage, which can be traced back to the establishment of the first European manufacturing operation by the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) then the world’s second largest computer company in the city in 1971, will also be recognised on the day. Exhibits from the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland, which is housed in Insight at NUI Galway, will also be on display for delegates. David Lawlor, Head of Architecture for Fintrax Group, the international financial services organisation which was founded in Galway in 1985, commented: “There is incredible experience and talent both embedded and drawn into the region, with so many multinational and indigenous companies having been associated with Galway. Indeed, Fintrax has grown continuously based on the technology developed in Galway, and will continue to grow especially with new customers in Latin America and Asia.” For registration and further information on the AtlanTec ’17 Festival visit: http://www.atlantec.ie or email contact@itag.ie. Early booking is advisable. -Ends-

Monday, 15 May 2017

Brendan Smith, Education and Community Outreach Officer of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, NUI Galway was recently announced as the Galway City Council Volunteer of the Year, at their fourteenth Annual Mayor’s Awards. The Mayor of Galway City, Cllr. Noel Larkin presented the top award to Brendan Smith in recognition of his many years of dedicated service to volunteering. In his professional capacity Brendan has worked extensively with a wide range of communities and educational groups to engage them in exploiting the potential of digital technologies for learning, cultural, heritage, social and economic purposes. Brendan also provides internet safety and cyberbullying awareness through workshops to parents, teachers and young people. Brendan is a long-time member on the Board of the Galway Science and Technology Festival. This is the largest annual science festival in Ireland. He is co-founder of the Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland based at NUI Galway,  the only such technology heritage facility of its kind in the country. He is also co-founder and mentor with Coderdojo Galway.  This is the fastest growing grassroots volunteer movement in Ireland which provides weekly digital makers classes to hundreds of children and their parents at NUI Galway. Outside of his professional commitments, Brendan is well known for his community involvement which includes: the Terryland Forest Park which he wants developed as an outdoor classroom; the Ballinfoile Castlegar Neighbourhood and Sports Centre; the Ballinfoile Mór Community Organic Garden; Cumann na bhFear aka Men’s Shed; Heritage Preservation; Greenway cycling advocacy; and he also provides educational, health and social programmes to asylum seekers and other socially excluded groups. The Mayors Awards are a yearly initiative by Galway City Council to acknowledge voluntary work carried out by people within Galway City. The awards acknowledge outstanding people and organisations that, through their commitment to participating in unpaid community and voluntary activities, have made a significant impact on the quality of their communities in Galway City. -Ends-

Monday, 15 May 2017

NUI Galway based Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network shortlists three primary school clinical trials as part of the START Competition  Three Primary Schools from Cork, Dublin and Galway have been shortlisted to showcase their randomised clinical trials at NUI Galway on Friday, 19 May, when the overall winner will be announced and presented with the START Trophy 2017. Now in its second year, the purpose of the competition is to help students become aware of the clinical trial process. The randomised trials created are part of the Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition, an initiative of the NUI Galway based Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN), to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day on 20 May. Sixth class students from St. Joseph’s Primary School from Macroom in County Cork created the trial, Colourful Concentration – Do children concentrate more or less when they use coloured pens? The trial was coordinated by their teacher, Lisa Cooper. Fourth class students from Scoil Mobhí National School in Glasnevin, County Dublin created the trial, Can interactive spelling games improve spelling? The trial was coordinated by their teacher, Fiona de Bhól. The entire school of 15 students from Cloghans Hill National School in Tuam, County Galway created the trial Music our memories – friend or foe? Does listening to music improve memory recall (or are our parents right and it is a distraction)? The trial was coordinated by their teacher, Iseult Mangan. Each school followed the START competition guidelines to design, carry out and evaluate their very own randomised trial, meeting several key aspects of the school curriculum. Students were asked to choose a simple, easy to answer question and use the proper steps of a clinical trial to answer it scientifically, using the resources provided on the HRB-TMRN website. Commenting on the START finalists and their projects, Professor Declan Devane, Director of the HRB-TMRN at NUI Galway, said: “We started this competition for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to raise awareness of the importance of randomised trials with children. Secondly, we wanted to harness the creativity and imagination of children in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of trials. The high standard and variety of applications we received demonstrate that the START competition has indeed raised the awareness of randomised trials and capitalised on children’s innate ability to explain difficult concepts clearly and in a fun way. We are very proud of all our applications and wish each of the finalist schools the very best on the 19th May in Galway.” Dr Máiread O’Driscoll, Acting CEO of the Health Research Board, commented: “If these kids are the future then I feel very comfortable. By designing and conducting their own randomised control trials, each team has shown they can be inventive, apply scientific rigour and report their results in an engaging way.” Dr Sandra Galvin, Coordinator of the HRB-TMRN at NUI Galway, said: “This initiative has really captured the children’s imagination and creativity but I also think we can learn so much from their approach. Trials can be complex and challenging for people to understand, and yet here we have children rising to this challenge so well. START is about breaking down the barriers in the understanding of trials, and helping people understand the power trials have to improve healthcare for all.”  At the awards ceremony in NUI Galway, the students and their teachers will be treated to 16 interactive and educational workshops featuring everything from live snakes, to bacteria, to squid dissections, and entertaining STEM shows; Kitchen Chemistry, Cell Explorers, Bug Doctor, Galway Neuroscience Centre, MARIO Project, Translational Medical Device Lab, Blood Cancer Network of Ireland, Human Physiology, REMEDI Stem Cell Therapy Clinical Trials, Marine Bio-Facts: Aquarium Show and Tell, Translational Statistics – HRB CRF Galway, Bacteriology NUI Galway, Toodlelou Labs Oranmore and Designer minds camps. As part of the event, students will also be given the opportunity to meet MARIO, a companion robot designed to support people with dementia mitigate the effects of loneliness and isolation, and view a demonstration of his various abilities, including playing music and reading the news. To learn more about the HRB-TMRN START competition visit: www.hrb-tmrn.ie or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/hrbtmrn or @hrbtmrn and Facebook at facebook.com/hrb.tmrn.  -Ends- 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A leading scientist at NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute for Translational Research has been awarded a grant worth over €100,000 by research charity Breast Cancer Now to identify the genetic factors that drive breast cancer progression, and develop new ways to predict the future outlook for patients. Many genetic factors influence how breast cancer develops and progresses. One such gene known to be involved in breast cancer progression is called HERV-K. The HERV-K gene is present in our cells as a result of viral DNA that entered the human genome millions of years ago, but in normal, healthy cells HERV-K is switched off. In two thirds of breast cancers, however, the HERV-K gene is active and provides the instructions for cells to produce four distinct proteins, called Env, Gag, Np9 and Rec. While Env has previously been found to be linked to increased risk of breast cancer spreading and reduced chances of surviving the disease, the exact functions of the other three proteins – and their roles in breast cancer growth and development – are unknown. Dr Sharon Glynn, based at NUI Galway, will lead a three year study to investigate how HERV-K and its associated proteins influence the development and progression of breast cancer. Dr Glynn hopes to uncover whether the four HERV-K proteins could be used as markers to predict whether an individual's breast cancer is likely to spread. The team will investigate whether Env and Gag proteins are able to drive tumour growth, and therefore whether they could be potential drug targets. They will reduce the production of these proteins in five different types of breast cancer cell in the lab and assess the impact on cancer cell growth and ability to invade their surroundings. Dr Glynn will also introduce the proteins Np9 and Rec to healthy breast cells that do not normally produce these proteins, to see whether they cause the healthy cells to behave like cancer cells, and may be involved in the development of breast cancer. This research will help her establish the usefulness of targeting HERV-K therapeutically.   The team will also measure the levels of HERV-K proteins present in tumour samples donated by over 700 breast cancer patients, and analyse patient data to identify any links between the quantities of the four HERV-K proteins and the chances of breast cancer spreading. Dr Glynn hopes to eventually develop a diagnostic laboratory test that could use HERV-K and its associated proteins as ‘biomarkers’ to predict the likelihood that breast cancer will progress, which could in the future be used to determine the best course of treatment for people diagnosed with the disease. Dr Sharon Glynn, Lecturer in Pathology at NUI Galway, said:“Breast Cancer Now’s funding both past and present has been instrumental to the advancement of my group’s breast cancer research. We are delighted that they are supporting our research into the role of HERV-K in breast cancer and believe that this will greatly advance our knowledge, allowing us to more accurately predict patient outcomes, which could lead to improved treatment for breast cancer patients.” Rachel Leahy, Research Communications Officer at Breast Cancer Now, said:“Dr Glynn’s research will enhance our understanding of the biological factors that contribute to breast cancer progression and may enable new drugs to be developed to target the HERV-K proteins. “This study could also lead to the development of new tests to more accurately predict how a person’s breast cancer might progress, and help us better tailor individuals’ treatment to the make-up of their tumour – improving their chances of surviving the disease.” Around 2,800 women in the Republic of Ireland are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and nearly 700 women in the country sadly die from the disease each year. -ENDS-

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

WoodProps project will maximise the value and use of Irish timber as our forests double production in the coming decades Minister of State for Food, Forestry, and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD, today (Tuesday 16 May) officially launched a new programme to support the value and market-reach of Irish timber. Led by NUI Galway, the ‘Wood Properties for Ireland’ or ‘WoodProps’ programme, will characterise the strength and properties of Irish timber for European regulatory authorities, expanding its potential market value. This Forest Sector Development Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has made the grant-aid award of €477,250 to Dr Annette Harte, Head of the Timber Engineering Research Group at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and who will lead the three-year initiative. In making the announcement, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD, stated: “Changes in growth patterns in forests and harvesting practices can affect wood properties. It is essential that we have a forest resource that is fit for purpose and can continue to supply quality roundwood of our main species, Sitka spruce for the manufacture of structural timber for home and export markets. This award and other project related funding from my Department is towards that end. We are also seeking to extend the use of other conifers such as Douglas fir and Norway spruce in the afforestation programme.” Minister Doyle added: “Recently published work by the European Forest Institute suggests that for each tonne of wood products used instead of non-wood products, there is an emissions reduction of approximately two tonnes of carbon dioxide. There are other advantages to using wood construction including speed of build, ability to prefabricate walls and floors and crane into place. NUI Galway and Dr Harte and her colleagues have taken a leading role in elaborating the opportunities that timber construction provides. Their work will be further supported by the funding I am announcing today.” Researchers from the Timber Engineering Research Group, based in the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway will collaborate with project partners in the Centre for Wood Science and Technology at Edinburgh Napier University. There will also be extensive collaboration with industry and private growers. Lead researcher, Dr Annette Harte, Vice-Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics, said: “Recent technological advancements coupled with the acceptance that wood products play a key role in addressing climate change and sustainable development have led to rapid growth in timber construction across the globe and this trend is expected to continue. Through the Wood Properties for Ireland programme, NUI Galway will work closely with the forestry and wood processing sector to ensure that the structural properties of our wood products are well characterised and certified so that the Irish forest sector will benefit from these developments.” The researchers will undertake an exchange of knowledge related to wood quality, products and standards with forestry and processing industries and provide expert advice to regulatory bodies related to construction of modern timber buildings. Roundwood production from Irish forests is forecast to double over the next two decades. One of the key challenges facing the forest sector is to mobilise this resource to market, and to ensure the material is fit for market by being well characterised as evidence of structural performance. Additionally, the climate change mitigation challenge implies a wider use of wood products in the built environment and elsewhere. This means providing evidence and expertise related to performance and specification of timber and wood-based building systems, particularly to the regulatory authorities. Speaking at the announcement, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Registrar and Deputy President at NUI Galway, said: “Woodprops is a great example of NUI Galway research in action and it highlights how our academics and researchers are contributing to national competitiveness and boosting employment. This project undertakes the technical research to support the increased use of timber as a sustainable construction material and will help industry to develop innovative and added-value engineered wood products. I’d like to congratulate Dr Annette Harte and her Timber Engineering Research Group. The Group has established a strong reputation for collaborating with industry partners and with this research, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, will directly support Irish enterprise and innovation, while at the same time working on sustainability of the built environment.” For more information about the Timber Engineering Research Group visit: www.nuigalway.ie/terg.-Ends-

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

NUI Galway researcher, Dr Derek Morris, has been awarded a National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation, for his research into risk genes that cause schizophrenia and how they contribute to cognitive deficits in patients. A NARSAD Grant is one of the highest distinctions in the field of mental health research. The Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation is the top non-governmental funder of mental health research grants, which awarded a total of $3.9 million to 40 mid-career scientists from 36 institutions in 10 countries. The funding will support basic research, new technologies, early intervention/diagnostic tools, and next-generation therapies for schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, PTSD, and other serious mental illnesses. Schizophrenia is a common but severe debilitating adult-onset mental illness characterised by hallucinations (for example, hearing voices), delusions (for example, believing that you are being followed), a lack of desire to accomplish goals or form social relationships, and problems with cognition (poor memory, IQ or attention). The disorder is highly heritable meaning that many of the risk factors for developing the disorder lie in our genes and can be passed from generation to generation. Our genes are encoded in our DNA, the genetic material that carries the instructions for life. Each of our 20,000 genes contains the instructions to produce proteins that help each cell in the human body to function. A change in the DNA code can stop a gene or protein from functioning properly with the knock-on effect by causing brain cells not to function properly, leading to illnesses like schizophrenia. New research has now identified many risk genes for schizophrenia but how most of these genes are involved in this complicated illness is unknown. Research Investigator, Dr Derek Morris from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “Schizophrenia is desperately in need of new drug treatments as current anti-psychotic drugs, discovered serendipitously more than 50 years ago, are only partially effective and do not treat the cognitive deficits in patients that most affect their quality of life.” Dr Morris’ research will focus on new schizophrenia risk genes that function in epigenetic mechanisms (controller) genes that regulate the functions of other genes. Epigenetic regulation has been shown to be an important part of the biology of cognitive performance. This is important because cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia and are key factors for explaining disability in schizophrenia, leading to significant unemployment and social isolation. The causes of disability are poorly understood and not effectively targeted by current treatments. One major reason for the drought in new treatments is a lack of understanding of the shared biology of cognition and schizophrenia. Dr Morris aims to identify the genes with epigenetic functions that contribute to cognitive deficits in patients and use this new knowledge to build towards new treatments. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Professor Donncha O’Connell of the School of Law at NUI Galway has been appointed by the Government to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. The Commission, which has been established in response to recent controversies involving An Garda Síochána and is modelled on the Patten Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland, will be chaired by Kathleen O’Toole, the Chief of the Seattle Police Department and former Chief Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate. The other members are: Ms Noeline Blackwell, Mr Conor Brady, Dr Johnny Connolly, Dr Vicky Conway, Mr Tim Dalton, Sir Peter Fahy, Dr Eddie Molloy, Ms Tonita Murray, Dr Antonio Oftelie and Ms Helen Ryan. Professor O’Connell recently completed a four-year term as Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway. He is also a Commissioner (part-time) of the Law Reform Commission and served, for four years, as a board member of the Legal Aid Board. He was, previously, a member of the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights that advised the EU Commission on a wide range of human rights issues. He was also the Senior Irish member of FRALEX, a legal expert group that advised the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna for a period of time. Speaking after the announcement of the Commission’s membership, Professor O’Connell said: “It is a great responsibility to be asked to serve on the Commission on the Future of Policing and I look forward to working with Kathleen O’Toole and the other members in an open-minded and rigorous manner so as to make credible and constructive proposals on the future of policing in Ireland.” Professor O’Connell joined the staff of NUI Galway in 1993 having studied at NUI Galway, The Honorable Society of the King’s Inns, Dublin and the University of Edinburgh. He took leave of absence in 1999 to become the first full-time Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) returning to NUI Galway in 2002. He was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) in the academic year 2009-2010. Professor O’Connell has served on the boards of a number of non-governmental human rights organisations including: INTERIGHTS, Amnesty International – Ireland and the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) Ltd. He was also, for nine years, a board member of Druid Theatre Company. More recently, he was a member of the Gender Equality Task Force in NUI Galway chaired by Professor Jane Grimson. He lives in Moycullen and comes originally from Swinford, Co. Mayo. -Ends- 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

International journal features NUI Galway research on producing higher value chemicals that could be used in drug discovery projects for Type-2 Diabetes and Gaucher Disease Researchers from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway have produced research that has been published this week in the international journal Synthesis, and has been featured on the journal’s front cover. The research involved the development of a strategy to convert biomass to high value molecules for investigation in new drug discovery projects such as Type-2 Diabetes, Gaucher’s disease and Fabry disease. Synthesis is devoted to the advancement of the science of synthetic chemistry and papers featured in the journal are noted as being ‘original papers of exceptional high quality and significance to the scientific community’. Professor Paul Murphy, Head of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, and a PhD researcher from the School, Rekha Chadda from Co. Sligo, worked together to develop a new strategy to convert mannose, a naturally occurring sugar manufactured from wood-based or other biomass, into higher value chemicals, called glycomimetics, that can be useful in drug discovery. Professor Patrick McArdle from the School of Chemistry, performed X-ray crystal structure analysis, which helped them confirm the molecular structure of substances produced in the research. Some glycomimetics are in clinical use and are used for the treatment of patients with Type-2 Diabetes, Gaucher’s disease (a genetic disorder) and Fabry disease (an inherited disorder that results from the build-up of a particular type of fat). A glycomimetic (UV4) is currently in clinical trials with a view to the therapy of infection caused by the Dengue virus and there is potential in treatment of other infections.    Professor Paul Murphy at NUI Galway, said: “The research demonstrates the value of Synthetic Chemistry. We used a renewable molecule, the sugar mannose, from biomass as a basis for generating higher value molecules that have potential in drug discovery projects. In future we would like to expand the application of the strategy to make other important molecules for drug discovery projects as well as see if the approach can have application in synthesis of pharmaceuticals.”    The team used a new strategy, not investigated previously, to produce the glycomimetics. These new agents are now available for evaluation of their potential in drug discovery and this will be shortly investigated. Synthesis is a practice used by chemists to discover and manufacture drugs in everyday clinical use. It is also used to produce materials, such as plastics, which find everyday applications in people’s lives. In this research, Rekha Chadda took a substance prepared from mannose and subjected the substance to two old chemical reactions combined in a novel way. The reactions are known as allylic azide rearrangement and Huisgen cycloaddition, and were originally developed more than 50 years ago by US and German scientists. This research study was funded by NUI Galway (PhD scholarship to Rekha Chadda), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the European Regional Development Fund. View the paper on:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0036-1588791 or see attached pdf file. -Ends-

Thursday, 18 May 2017

NUI Galway will host a public lecture entitled, ‘Evidence-based humanitarian work and research ethics’, presented by Dr Dónal O'Mathúna from DCU on Thursday, 25 May. Dr O’ Mathúna is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics, Decision-Making and Evidence at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in DCU, Director of the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Ethics, Chair of the Disaster Bioethics COST Action and Convenor for Cochrane Ireland.* The public lecture will focus on how humanitarian work and disaster responses are increasingly encouraged to be evidence-based and, as a consequence, more research and other evidence-generation activities are being conducted in disaster and humanitarian settings. This has led attention to the ethical issues in such research, and how they should be addressed. Questions have been raised about whether current research ethics governance is suitable for such research. Dr Dónal O’Mathúna will discuss these trends and report on initiatives he is involved with that attempt to facilitate appropriate research ethics engagement in disaster and humanitarian research. The event is organised by UNESCO Bioethics Ireland, based in the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis at NUI Galway, and the NUI Galway Research Ethics Committee. UNESCO Bioethics Ireland is the recently established Irish Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, held by Professor Amnon Carmi and under the European Division of the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics. UNESCO Bioethics Ireland at NUI Galway focuses on key concerns that include issues of safeguarding human well-being, ensuring fairness, safeguarding personal information and privacy, preventing harm, deeper questions of legitimate reach of biomedical intervention in shaping human beings in arguably new ways. Pressing issues include the regulation of development and research of new biomedical treatments and interventions; regulation of choosing traits for future offspring (via pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) - and who should decide; new developments in gene editing and assessing emerging international responses; ongoing issues in terms of surrogacy, the future of embryonic stem cell research, abortion, online security of sensitive personal health information, changing conceptions of traditional notions such as the family, genetic information, incidental findings and the rights to know and not to know, issues of asymptomatic conditions and the potential for discrimination in employment and insurance. Dr Oliver Feeney, Head of the Irish Unit at NUI Galway, said: “The initiative will promote excellence in bioethics education and reflection on future bioethical directions, particularly with regard to ethical questions raised by new biotechnologies and its implications for society. UNESCO Bioethics Ireland will encourage and help coordinate interdisciplinary research in topical bioethical issues as well as cataloguing the current state-of-the-art of research in the Irish context. In its work, the Irish Unit will seek to reduce the distance between bioethical, medical and scientific experts and the wider society, and will seek to foster greater understanding and clarity on these pressing questions of our time.” In addition to the public lecture, there will also be a roundtable workshop earlier in the day from 2pm-3.30pm featuring a mix of presentations and discussions to exchange information from the participants’ bioethical-related work and on the needs of the bioethics community in Ireland. The public lecture will take place from 5pm-6pm on Thursday, 25 May in the Bridge Room 1001, First Floor, Hardiman Research Building and will be followed by a drinks reception. Attendance is free and no registration is required. The roundtable workshop will take place in Room AM205 in the Hardiman Research Building. If you would like to attend this event, please contact feeney.oli@gmail.com For more details visit: https://unescobioethicsireland.eu/home/events/. -Ends- 

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility, Galway (HRB-CRFG) at NUI Galway are hosting an open day for past and present participants of clinical trials as well as the general public on Saturday the 20 May, to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day. The event will take place at the The event invites past and present participants in clinical trials and their families, to say thank you for their important contribution to research, and also to the general public to provide information regarding the ongoing activities in the HRB-CRFG and to promote awareness of clinical research. Visitors can meet healthcare providers, research staff and research participants, take a tour of the clinical research facility and learn about clinical trial research. Educational stands will be setup within the Clinical Research Facility providing information on Clinical Trial Concepts, Patient Recruitment, and information about the ongoing work in the facility. There will also be information stands about different medication studies, medical device studies and Stem Cell research. It will also feature health promotion stands that will include Croí. Speaking about the event, Mary Byrne, Clinical Trials Unit Manager at the HRB-Clinical Research Facility, Galway, said: “Patient participation in Clinical Trials in the HRB-CRFG has provided an immense contribution to scientific research whilst also affording patients access to novel and potentially life-saving treatments. This event is being run to show our appreciation to all participants, their families and friends, and to promote awareness amongst the general public of the various types of research currently ongoing within the facility.” Music will be provided by the NUI Galway Medical Orchestra and the Cancer Survivors ‘Something to Sing About’ Choir, and lots of children’s entertainment. The event will also feature talks from different Principal Investigators working in the HRB Clinical Research Facility speaking about the ongoing research being carried out. The HRB-CRFG has been in operation since 2008 and has recruited over 6,500 patients from Galway City and County onto trials to date, across a range of indications. There are a number of Principal Investigators working on a diverse range of clinical trials based at NUI Galway and Galway University Hospital. The facility is a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals (GUH), Saolta, and NUI Galway. For directions and further information and about the free event, visit: www.eventbright.com.  -Ends- 

Friday, 19 May 2017

A new study by researchers in NUI Galway and Queens University Belfast demonstrates that obesity should not be understood solely as a health issue but rather one that may have much broader economic implications. The findings provide evidence that the body mass index (BMI) of a child’s mother may influence teachers’ perceptions of the academic ability of that child. The study published in the journal Economics and Human Biology showed that children whose mother was obese were more likely to be rated by their teacher as below average in reading and in maths compared to those whose mother was leaner, after what the child actually obtained in terms of their actual test score in both maths and reading had been taken into account. Although not the focus of this study, it is notable that other variables such as the child's gender, other aspects of the mother (education, income) and in extended models teacher characteristics (gender and experience) were significant which could also potentially be worrisome. Michelle Queally, post-doctoral research fellow at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway and co-author of the study, said: “The study found a significant relationship between a mother’s BMI and the probability of the child's ability being assessed as below average by their teacher. This is potentially worrisome and clearly indicates the need for further research. Other findings of the study show that boys, for example, are more likely to be rated as below average in reading and girls are more likely to be rated as below average by teachers in maths. The size of the marginal effect for girls is 0.02, while that for a mother’s BMI is 0.003. In other words a 10 point increase in BMI, moving someone from normal to obese, for example, would be roughly equivalent in terms of its impact on the probability of being assessed as below average as would the child being female.” Using data collected as part of the first wave of the Growing up in Ireland Survey (a longitudinal cohort study of a nationally representative sample of over 8500 children from 900 schools in Ireland) the researchers from NUI Galway and Queens University Belfast investigated whether teacher’s assessments of a child’s academic ability is associated with the BMI of the child and/or its mother. Findings from the study are consistent with other studies that have shown disadvantage experienced by the obese and in particular obese women in various domains of life. The study notes that the potential for a mother’s weight status to influence teachers’ assessments of their children’s perceived ability could have long term ramifications for educational outcomes given the role of teachers in examination marking. While compelling, the analysis cannot be taken as definitive proof that teachers stereotype children based on an assessment of their mother’s obesity. It is probable, for example, that test scores form only a small part of the information used by teacher’s in making assessments of ability. Nevertheless the study highlights an area that warrants further investigation. To read the full study in Economics and Human Biology visit: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X16300624 -Ends-

Monday, 22 May 2017

A new symposium and broadside print commissioned by NUI Galway to commemorate the bicentenary of Thomas Moore’s Oriental epic poem, Lalla Rookh  The 200th anniversary of the publication of the renowned Irish poet, author, and songwriter Thomas Moore’s Oriental epic poem, Lalla Rookh, will be celebrated this week with an academic symposium on Moore’s work and the release of a new commemorative broadside letterpress print. To mark this occasion, NUI Galway lecturer Dr Justin Tonra has organised an international symposium on the poem and Moore’s broader work, to take place at Marsh’s Library in Dublin, where Moore completed research for his debut poetic collection, Odes of Anacreon, on Saturday 27 May. The symposium programme includes a range of prominent Moore scholars from Ireland and abroad who will present current research on Moore and Lalla Rookh. In addition, the School of Humanities at NUI Galway has supported the commission and publication of a limited-edition commemorative broadside letterpress print, which will be officially launched at the symposium and donated to civic, public, and cultural heritage institutions around Ireland to celebrate the occasion of this anniversary. In the nineteenth-century, Thomas Moore was Ireland’s unofficial national poet: the Bard of Erin. Best known for his Irish Melodies, a collection of lyrics set to traditional Irish airs, Moore was a writer whose reputation dwindled during the Gaelic Revival, but whose complexity has received renewed attention from scholars in recent decades in the form of biographies, essay collections, journal articles, dedicated conferences, and nationally and internationally-funded research projects. Dubbed “the cream of the copyrights” by its publisher, Thomas Longman, Lalla Rookh was an immediate commercial success, selling out six editions within six months of its initial publication. Longmans would eventually publish almost 100,000 copies of the work, including editions illustrated by prominent artists such as John Tenniel and Daniel Maclise. Lalla Rookh has enjoyed a rich cultural afterlife, with parts of the work set to music by Robert Schumann, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Anton Rubenstein, and numerous theatrical adaptations taking inspiration from Moore’s writing. As a major reference point in the genre of Romantic Orientalism, the work has maintained a prominent position in scholarly accounts of the poetry of the Regency period, and its depictions of the dangers of political demagoguery and appeals for religious tolerance still have a powerful and durable resonance. Despite its Oriental setting the work reflected many of the cultural and political issues of nineteenth-century Ireland, with readers finding many echoes of “Erin” in “Iran.” In addition, Dr Tonra has collaborated with Jamie Murphy and Niamh McNally of the Distiller’s Press at the National College of Arts and Design in Dublin to produce a limited-edition commemorative broadside letterpress print of the famous song, “Bendemeer’s Stream,” from Lalla Rookh, which was frequently set to music after the poem’s initial publication. Given the particular prominence of print and illustration in the history of Moore’s work (a topic which will be addressed at the symposium), a contemporary print representing Lalla Rookh is a fitting commemorative gesture. The newly-commissioned illustration was inspired by nineteenth-century luxury bindings of Lalla Rookh, and achieved through the process of pressure printing. This is an image-making technique where different objects are placed behind the press sheet during printing to create textures and patterns in the illustration. For this print, rose petals of the Irish variety Rosa Anna Livia are used to shape the illustration and echo the song’s floral themes. The commission and production of the print is made possible by the support of the Civic Engagement Fund of the School of Humanities at NUI Galway. Tickets for the symposium are priced at (€10-20) and available at https://lalla-rookh.eventbrite.com To read a copy of the first edition of Lalla Rookh, visit: http://bit.ly/lallarookh  -Ends-

Monday, 22 May 2017

NUI Galway conference to explore how to conduct research that engages with minority population groups on issues that impact them on a daily basis NUI Galway is bringing together world leaders in the field of participatory health research to explore how best to use participatory methods that empower groups, often ignored, to have a voice that can be heard. On the 23 May, the School of Psychology will host a one day conference to discuss the challenges of some of the greatest health problems we face and give those most affected a chance to share their perspectives on possible solutions.  Participatory Health Research is becoming increasingly important when planning health care resource allocation. The ‘International Collaboration for Participating Health Research Conference’ will include 20 experts in the field of participatory research. The conference will focus on underserved groups including transgender young people, asylum seekers, children living with chronic pain and those living with Aphasia.  The conference will give international experts a chance to share research from Canada, Europe, the UK, Australia and Ireland, through key note speakers, presentations and workshops sharing skills and insights. Audience participation at every stage will be encouraged. Speaking in advance of the conference, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “This is a great opportunity for researchers and students to meet people who have been leading the way in Participative Health Research globally.”  International guest speakers at the Conference will include:  Dr Jon Salsberg, McGill University, Canada, will discuss how best to work with communities so that they can articulate their needs to academies and be heard. Professor Anne MacFarlane, University of Limerick, will discuss the views of migrants and asylum seekers generated during the EU RESTORE project. Dr Anne O’Kelly, NUI Galway, will share insights gained from children and young people about their experiences of parental divorce. Dr Lisa Gibb, University of Melbourne, Australia, will talk about scaling up participatory research projects with children and the global network of participative researchers involved in ‘Kids in Action’. Dr Harry Shier, Centre for Education in Health and Environment (CESESMA), Nicaragua, will facilitate a workshop on what one needs to be an effective participative researcher. Dr Tina Cook, Northumbria University, UK and Dr Sarah Banks, Durham University, UK, will facilitate a Dilemmas Café – exploring ethical challenges in participatory research. For conference information and registration, visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=496 -Ends-

Thursday, 25 May 2017

NUI Galway hosts ‘Bioheterocyclees 2017’ XVII International Conference on Heterocycles in Bioorganic Chemistry More than 100 of the world’s leading chemists will gather in NUI Galway to discuss the use of heterocycles in the growing pharmaceutical industry that makes up more than half of the total exports from Ireland every year. Heterocycles are used as antibiotics to kill cancerous cells, and are used in more than 84% of drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Some of the smallest compounds in chemistry are responsible for some of the biggest advances in medicine. From Viagra to statins (medication which helps to reduce cholesterol) to drugs for treating cancer, most of these Irish-manufactured pharmaceuticals contain active ingredients that are heterocycles. Heterocyclic chemistry is the branch of organic chemistry dealing with the synthesis, properties, and applications of these heterocycles, which are used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. This is the first time Ireland has hosted the International Biannual Conference entitled ‘Bioheterocycles 2017’, which is expected to draw in participants from across Europe, the US, India and Japan. The convention began in the Netherlands in 1980 and is highly regarded for concentrating on advances in drug discovery, medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry. Conference Chairman, Dr Fawaz Aldabbagh, Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said: “This conference will showcase some of the heterocycles produced by Irish industry and by academia. Our goal is for an informal meeting where young scientists can interact with recognised international speakers. This is an exciting scientific and social program to look forward to.”  The conference will take place from 28 – 31 May 2017 in the Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway. For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=442 and http://www.conference.ie/content/Bioheterocycles2017.pdf -Ends-

Friday, 5 May 2017

Five NUI Galway students have been successfully selected to take part in an eight week international volunteering and cultural immersion programme this summer. The programme is funded by Experiment Intercultural Learning (EIL) and Irish Aid. The students will be prepared and supported to volunteer in local community projects in Africa, Asia and South America. NUI Galway students Danielle O’Brien, Sinead Regan, Aaron Kilboy, David O'Reilly and Orla Tubridy have all been awarded scholarship. The EIL Explore programme provides 39 awards to Irish residents interested in volunteering, cultural immersion, or language education abroad. This year EIL Intercultural Learning is allocating a budget over €120,000 to fund these overseas learning opportunities. David O’Reilly from Bishopstown, Co. Cork is a second year mature student of Creative Writing in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. David will be travelling to Vietnam in June teaching English in a school. Sinead Regan from Gort, Co Galway, is a second year mature student of Biomedical Science. Sinead will be travelling to Mexico. Also from Co. Galway, Aaron Kilboy is in his final year of Financial Mathematics and & Economics. Aaron will also be travelling to Mexico in June. Orla Tubridy from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath is a final year Arts student studying French and English. Orla will be travelling to Ecuador. Danielle O’Brien from Birr, Co. Offaly will also be travelling to Ecuador. Trish Bourke, NUI Galway’s Mature Students Officer said: “EIL Explore is a fantastic opportunity for students, particularly mature students, which have a real appetite for international travel. This is about being with a local community overseas and working together on environmental, arts, sports, health and education projects, over a long-term partnership.” -Ends- 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

NUI Galway and Tusla Child and Family Agency launches report on ‘Outcomes for Permanence and Stability for Children in Long-term Care’ in Galway and Donegal An important report on outcomes for children and young people in long-term foster care is to be launched in Galway and Donegal. The report entitled ‘Outcomes for Permanence and Stability for Children in Long-term Care’ is based on the views and experiences of foster carers, families of origin and young people who have been in long-term care between the period of 2008 and 2013. The study is focused on the factors that were found to affect the stability of foster care placements for children and youth in long-term care in Ireland. The major study was commissioned by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and was completed by researchers Dr Lisa Moran, Professor Caroline McGregor and Dr Carmel Devaney at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. The project was carried out in partnership with Tusla Child and Family Social Work in Donegal and Galway. The findings underline the significance of perceived service support, communication, and relationships as key factors that improve permanence and stability for children and youth in care. Underpinning all of these is the importance of continuity for the young person. The research shows the importance of having supportive adults and peers in young people’s social networks, such as foster carers, social workers, friends, and professionals. It also highlights the importance of children’s relationships with Tusla practitioners and contact with family members as factors that affect stability and permanence. Dr Carmel Devaney and Professor Caroline McGregor from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This study allows practitioners, managers and policy makers to hear from children and young people, their parents and their carer on the experience of being in care with the overall aim of improving their outcomes. The main focus of the study is on the factors that affect outcomes for permanence and stability for children in care and how we can best promote these within the care experience. The study produced key recommendations and practice guidance focused on how practitioners and TUSLA can enhance its service provision to improve outcomes for stability and permanence for children in long-term care. These include the importance of effective communication with all individuals within the system including the child's family of origin, their foster family and their wider networks, continuity in terms of placements, relationships with practitioners, with family of origin and with foster families. The report also highlights the huge importance of sibling relationships, which can sometimes be neglected. The importance of the allocated social worker having sufficient time and capacity to do essential direct work with young people while in care and transitioning out of care, and the need for planning ahead for additional resources to be available at times of instability is also emphasised.” The project report, alongside the accompanying literature review and practice guide was launched in Donegal on 22 of May and an additional launch will be held in Galway on 29 May. To read the full report, visit: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/ -Ends-

Friday, 26 May 2017

Shannon College of Hotel Management presented the 2017 NUI Galway President’s Award for Student Volunteering recently. The recipients volunteered in a range of local community projects, fundraised for a variety of causes and participated in campus cultural programmes. In order to achieve the award students completed a reflection portfolio. This is a set of writings that summarise the insights and experiences a student gained from practical assignments and also shared learning from their experiences. Student Diveema Thakur volunteered through a number of charity fundraisers such as Epilepsy Ireland and Novas, a voluntary organisation working with single adults, families and children who are disadvantaged and socially excluded. She said: “Volunteering helped me grow as a person, it gave me the opportunity to share my love. Joining the charity has helped me become more generous and patient.” Dr Phillip Smyth, Director at Shannon College of Hotel Management said: “We are delighted to celebrate the student’s commitments as we strive to encourage an ethos of volunteerism within young people, who have a real appetite to engage in community. This is our first year to award the students with Certificates of Recognition and we look forward to building the volunteering programme with students.”   The benefits of volunteering are experienced by students, particularly international students who reflect on community participation as a way to share their culture, meet new people and aid in settling into college in Ireland. April Whelan, Student Services Officer, at Shannon College of Hotel Management oversaw a drive to get students more involved in on-campus activities. She said: “I am so proud that our students are being recognised for their efforts this year. The volunteer spirit and promoting of clubs and societies is invaluable in enhancing the student experience and promoting our ethos here at Shannon College of Hotel Management.” The College GAA team was also reborn this year and entered the Munster Junior Football Championship this year. Students also shared that volunteering with the GAA helped them to have a physical and mental health outlet while studying full time.  -Ends-

Friday, 26 May 2017

A new film about the success of Coláiste Lurgan’s Irish-language music videos will be screened at the Huston School of Film and Digital Media at NUI Galway, as part of their annual PhD Research Symposium 2017 on Monday 29 May. The event is free and open to the public. The screening of Dúshlán Lurgan (The Lurgan Challenge) by Uinsionn Mac Dubhghaill, a PhD student at the Huston School, is just one of the many pioneering research projects taking place at the Huston School on the day. Other projects include punk cinema, digital comics, what New Media can learn from film, video and altermodernity, comedy in contemporary art practice, awe and the sublime in cinema, augmented reality, media practices and Irish identity in the United Kingdom, and transnational science-fiction. Dr Roddy Flynn from DCU is the guest speaker at the screening and will be presenting on the topic of ‘Broken beyond repair? Irish Broadcasting policy in the 21st century’. The presentation seeks to delineate the various political, economic, social and technical influences on the current Irish broadcasting landscape, to identify their impact and to predict as to the likely future shape of broadcasting in Ireland. Dr Flynn is Chair of the MA in Film and Television at the School of Communications at DCU. Dr Flynn writes and researches extensively on film and broadcasting policy in Ireland and Europe and is author (with John Horgan) of Irish Media History to be published by Four Courts Press in Autumn 2017. The Huston School of Film and Digital Media is the leading centre for research and teaching in film and digital media in the West of Ireland. The school offers teaching and research programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels (up to PhD), including pioneering MA degrees in Film Studies: Theory and Practice, Film Production and Direction, Digital Media, Arts Policy and Practice, Public Advocacy and Activism, and Film and Theatre. The PhD Research Symposium 2017 will take place on Monday 29 May from 11am to 6.30pm. For full programme details on the Research Symposium, visit: www.filmschool.ie and http://www.filmschool.ie/filmschool/news/phdresearchsymposium2017programme/. To view samples of film work and ongoing research created by students at the Huston School, visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/hustonfilmschool -Ends-

Monday, 29 May 2017

A first for Irish secondary school history students in partnership with a third-level institution to receive dedicated teaching using research archives and digital skills provision Over 120 Leaving Certificate students have graduated from an Archives research programme at NUI Galway. Breaking the S.E.A.L. (Schools Engagement with Archives through Learning) is a project developed by Dr Paul Flynn from the School of Education and Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI Galway, which partnered with local secondary schools in Galway to facilitate history students to access the unique archival collections of the University’s Hardiman Library. The project saw students choose a range of topics, spanning hundreds of years of local and international history, and develop a written history based on primary sources and archival material. The recent graduation ceremony held at NUI Galway brought together the participating students from Coláiste Mhuire in Ballygar, Presentation College Headford and St Joseph’s Patrician Academy in Galway, where they were presented with a published book of their work and a certificate of graduation. All students also received a digital badge in recognition of their work. The awards were presented by Dr Mary Fleming, Senior Lecturer in Education at NUI Galway. The publication, the Handbook of Second-Level Educational Research, which will also be published in the University’s online research repository database, ARAN, marks the first of its kind in Ireland for Leaving Certificate history students to partner with a third-level institution and receive dedicated teaching using archives for research, digital skills provision and academic writing tuition. Dr Paul Flynn and Barry Houlihan, Co-Directors of Breaking the S.E.A.L. said: “The project was a hugely rewarding experience – introducing a whole new generation of young historians to the skills of studying archives, handling fragile and priceless material, and the importance of critical thinking and writing skills to their education. The students were wonderful to work with and we are very proud of their achievements.” Also announced at the ceremony was that Breaking the S.E.A.L. has been inducted as the first Irish representative into the ‘EU Story’ network, a Europe-wide network of young historians. The project recently received a national Teaching Excellence 2016 Award from CONUL, the Consortium of University and National Libraries and is also nominated for the Irish Education Awards 2017. John Cox the University Librarian said: “Our archives are open to all researchers and it is very rewarding to see them so impressively used by Leaving Certificate students from local schools. Well done to all associated with this wonderful project.” Dr Mary Fleming added: “This is a wonderful initiative that connects Leaving Certificate students with the University. The project challenges the students to develop as Historians through using the primary sources available in the library in their Leaving Certificate projects. A visible outcome of the project is the students’ enhanced appreciation of History as a discipline as well as a deeper engagement with their own learning as students. Teachers, students and all involved are to be congratulated on the wonderful outcomes from the simple step of making the archives available, literally - breaking of the seal.”   For more information on NUI Galway’s Digitised Archives Collection, visit: http://library.nuigalway.ie/collections/archives/depositedcollections/digitisedarchives/ -Ends-

Monday, 29 May 2017

7th annual International Symposium on Service Learning (ISSL) NUI Galway will welcome over 200 international delegates from South Africa, Egypt, Vietnam, Ireland, UK, Germany and across the USA, to the 7th annual International Symposium on Service Learning (ISSL) which will take place from the 14-16 June 2017. The ISSL is a partnership between the University of Indianapolis, Stellenbosch University and NUI Galway. For three days the delegates will discuss the role of higher education within society through service learning.   Service learning is a teaching approach that connects student learning to the needs of community. Since 2004, NUI Galway has been offering up to 2000 students the opportunity to connect their learning to community. Lorraine McIlrath Director of the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway and Co-Chair of the ISSL said: “Students at NUI Galway have an opportunity to use their knowledge to connect with real world problems - engineering students design and build prototypes for people with physical disabilities, nursing students address the implications of nursing in an Irish multi-cultural context and law students offer pro bono legal information to community partners. We feel that this type of learning can open students’ minds to their role as agents of change within community and society.” The theme of the 2017 symposium is “Service Learning as a Response to Global Transitions in Higher Education: Opportunities for Transforming Higher Education on Advancing Social Impact.” Delegates will share knowledge across different cultural contexts on what matters and works when using service learning as a teaching approach.  Lorraine McIlrath also said: “It has been a fantastic opportunity for universities in South Africa, Europe and the USA to come together to showcase form international perspectives the challenges, opportunities and impact that service learning can have in terms of transforming the higher education experience and that of impact within community and society.” When reflecting on the 7th ISSL, President Robert L. Manuel from the University of Indianapolis said: “Service learning encompasses much more than providing on-site educational experiences or featuring community leaders in the classroom. It represents a true partnership to not only educate students but also instil in them the mind-set and thoughtfulness necessary to enhance their community - no matter where their life takes them. The inspiration ignited today will help us to translate these experiences to the next generation of influencers and community leaders.” For more information contact Lorraine McIlrath Director of the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway at Lorraine.mcilrath@nuigalway.ie or phone 0877682099 -Ends-


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