NUI Galway Researchers Discover New Risk Factor for Schizophrenia

NUI Galway Researchers Discover New Risk Factor for Schizophrenia-image

Friday, 31 January 2014

Research led by NUI Galway and the University of Aberdeen published in the Journal of Cell Science Professor Sanbing Shen of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway has led a multi-institutional study which has identified a novel rare risk factor linked with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disorder which although many genetic risk factors have been identified, no effective treatment is available. Professor Shen and his colleagues have identified for the first time that changes in a little known gene called ULK4 were observed in individuals with schizophrenia. Unlike many other genetic studies, Shen and colleagues have also characterised how ULK4 functions in the brain. When levels of ULK4 are decreased, neuronal (brain) cells tend to function less well, leading to reduced synaptic function and other changes which are also known as risk factors of schizophrenia. The scientists were also able to show that ULK4 is essential for the formation of the nerve fibres which connect the two sides of our brains. The research not only demonstrates that ULK4 dysregulation is a risk factor for schizophrenia, but also that ULK4 plays an essential role in proper brain formation. The findings published in the Journal of Cell Science (Thursday, 30th January) were supported by genetic data provided by the International Schizophrenia Consortium, and confirmed using new data generated from other mental illness groups including autism, major depression, and bipolar disorder. Follow up studies already underway in NUI Galway will lead to a better understanding of the disease and how drugs may be developed to target ULK4 for the treatment of mental illness. The research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway, Cunningham Trust, Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance, Medical Research Scotland and the University of Aberdeen. Link to Journal of Cell Science http://jcs.biologists.org/content/127/3/630 -ends-

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December 2013

NUI Galway Report Values Ireland’s Ocean Economy at €1.2bn or Equivalent to 0.8% of GDP in 2010

NUI Galway Report Values Ireland’s Ocean Economy at €1.2bn or Equivalent to 0.8% of GDP in 2010-image

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report shows the sector employed 16,300 and had a turnover of €3.5bn NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has published its second report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. Results from the report show that in 2010, the direct economic value of the Irish ocean economy was €1.2 billion or approximately 0.8% of GDP. The sector had a turnover of €3.5 billion, and provided employment for approximately 16,300 people (Full Time Equivalent). The report allows for the comparative analysis of the contribution of the marine sector to the national economy in the 2007-2010 period. Summary 2007-2010 Established marine industries such as shipping, maritime transport, marine tourism and marine manufacturing, construction and engineering recorded a significant fall in activity. Sea fisheries experienced a fall in overall turnover but gross value added and employment increased Aquaculture increased turnover and gross value added, but employment fell In comparison with the established marine industries, the emerging marine industries have seen growth. High tech marine products and services, marine biotechnology, bio-products and marine renewable energy all recorded an increase in turnover and employment but gross value added was unchanged or decreased. Marine commerce as an emerging sector saw a significant decrease, in line with the general economy and the international financial markets.    Dr Amaya Vega (SEMRU) said “Our research profiles the ocean economy, as a whole and by sector, in a way that allows us to observe and monitor progress on meeting the targets set out in the Government’s Integrated Marine Plan (IMP) for Ireland - Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) (2012). The full report is available to download online at www.nuigalway.ie/semru/publications.html Based in the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, SEMRU conducts research in a variety of marine related issues. The main research focus of the unit is on the economic importance of coastal and off-shore marine environments. This involves examining the economic utility of the marine environment (e.g. transportation, recreation) and ecological value (e.g. fisheries, aquaculture) derived from the productivity of associated ecosystems.  The coastal and contiguous marine environment surrounding Ireland and the EU in general provides the geographical focus for the research carried out in the unit. Consideration of the human dimension in the management of marine ecosystems is also a critical component of all research projects undertaken. Since its establishment in 2009, SEMRU has been successful in attracting research funding to support the expansion of its marine socio-economic research programme. The unit is now a partner in a number of European funded projects in the area of the socio-economics of the marine environment. For more information on SEMRU, please visit www.nuigalway.ie/semru/. Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Series is funded through the Beaufort Marine Research Award, which is carried out under the Sea Change Strategy and the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (2006-2013), with the support of the Marine Institute, funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013. ENDS

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NUI Galway Academic Receives Prestigious Human Rights Award

NUI Galway Academic Receives Prestigious Human Rights Award-image

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Dr Ciara Smyth of NUI Galway’s School of Law was presented with a prestigious Max van der Stoel Human Rights Award in Tilburg recently. Nominated by the Law Faculty Board of Leiden University where she graduated with a doctorate, she received the award for her PhD thesis on ‘The Common European Asylum System and the Rights of the Child: An Exploration of Meaning and Compliance’. Commenting on the award, Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “Dr Smyth’s work in the broad areas of asylum an immigration is cutting-edge and engaged. This award is concrete evidence of its rich academic value and impact internationally.” The Max van der Stoel Human Rights Award was established in 1995 as an incentive for students and PhD students who have written a thesis or any other academic work in the field of human rights. The award was an initiative of the Law Faculty and Studium Generale of Tilburg University and was joined by the School of Human Rights Research as of 1998.  Since 2002, the Human Rights Award is named after Max van der Stoel, the former OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, in honour of his work in that field. -Ends-

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CONSENSUS, Aimed at Capturing Sustainable Consumption in Ireland, Announces New Animations and Updated Website

CONSENSUS, Aimed at Capturing Sustainable Consumption in Ireland, Announces New Animations and Updated Website-image

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The CONSENSUS research project on sustainable consumption has designed a set of exciting video animations on their research. CONSENSUS, five year collaboration between NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin, represents the first comprehensive analysis of sustainable consumption in Irish households on an all-island basis. NUI Galway’s Dr Frances Fahy and Dr Henrike Rau lead CONSENSUS’s lifestyle, governance and mobility research. The new videos provide an overview of CONSENSUS’s key findings and innovative research processes, and coincide with the launch of a brand new project website, www.consensus.ie, containing CONSENSUS’s latest reports, publications and a regularly-updated blog. The website includes animation providing an overview of CONSENSUS's research on sustainable transport, food, energy and water consumption. Another animation discusses CONSENSUS’s collaborative visioning process that re-imagined how we might carry out our daily washing, eating and heating practices in the future. Finally, an animated infographic completes the video set depicting key results from CONSENSUS’s all-Ireland survey of 1,500 households on sustainable consumption. Since its launch in 2009, CONSENSUS has been committed to collaborative research, engaging over 100,000 members of the public and 100 government, private sector, and civil society stakeholders through workshops and interactive exhibits. Postgraduate and Postdoctoral researchers from NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology and School of Geography and Archeology, Mike Hynes and Mary Jo Lavelle are researching CONSENSUS's innovative work on sustainable transport and lifestyles. The short animations can be view here, or for more information on CONSENSUS visit www.consensus.ie  -Ends-  

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NUI Galway Medical Graduates Deliver Intern-led Teaching programme to Final Medical Students

NUI Galway Medical Graduates Deliver Intern-led Teaching programme to Final Medical Students-image

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The final year of NUI Galway’s undergraduate medical curriculum has been enhanced by an intern teaching programme, which has been developed and delivered in first semester of the current academic year. Newly graduated medical doctors teach NUI Galway’s final year medical students and simultaneously act as mentors and role models. This is achieved ‘by on the ward training’ whereby medical interns teach groups of five medical students and take them through the assessment of common patient presentations they encounter, covering history-taking, examination, clinical reasoning and management skills essential to becoming a competent doctor. Teaching takes place at the bedside, in a clinical context. This initiative was conceived and designed by Drs Jennifer Scott and Miroslawa Gorecka, two recent graduates from the University’s School of Medicine. The teaching is ward based and revolves around bedside and clinical teaching, with 20 interns participating in this programme in semester one. Dr Yvonne Finn, Academic Coordinator, School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “While the concept of intern teaching is not new, this is the first time that it has been developed into a structured programme. This allows teaching to cover topics in each of the key specialities and offers intern teaching to all final medical students who are currently on clinical placements in Galway University Hospitals.” There are plans to continue this Intern-led Teaching Programme into semester two when those students who have been in the Medical Academies in semester one return to Galway. The final medical students will themselves be graduating in June 2014, and it is anticipated that many of them, having experienced the benefit of the Intern-led Teaching Programme, will volunteer their time and skills to teach and thus continue this valuable teaching programme. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Biomaterial Based Research Institute (NFB) Wins Medical Technology Industry Excellence Award

NUI Galway Biomaterial Based Research Institute (NFB) Wins Medical Technology Industry Excellence Award-image

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) has been presented with a Medical Technology Industry Excellence Award for 2013. NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials has won the 2013 Academic/Emerging Medical Technology Company of the Year-Silver Award, was awarded at a ceremony in Galway recently. The awards, established in 2007, are supported by Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA), Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland and aimed at recognising and promoting outstanding performance in the medical technology sector in Ireland. The NFB is an academia-industry-clinician partnership which has established collaborative projects with a large number of leading medical device companies. These projects focus on trouble-shooting biomaterial-based issues in medical devices such as pre-clinical evaluation of prototypes, and validation of novel medical device technologies through clinician-led innovation. Joint efforts between the NFB and partners address biomaterial-based medical device solutions for unmet clinical niche markets. NFB’s unique biomaterial platform technologies help to enrich companies’ existing portfolios through product enhancements and adding value to their existing technology. Collaborative projects with the NFB add to existing devices through process and solution development and consultative support. The market share, head count and profitability of the NFB’s medical device industry partners represent significant economic benefit to Ireland. Professor Abhay Pandit, NFB Team Leader said, “It is an honour to be recognised at the Med Tech Awards. The NFB prides itself on its collaborations with the medical device industry having engaged with nearly forty companies, licenced one of our extracellular matrix technologies and created a spin out company. We are very thankful that our hard work and achievements have been acknowledged.” -Ends-  

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RTÉ’s Dragon part of Startup Dream Team Launching an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Galway

RTÉ’s Dragon part of Startup Dream Team Launching an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Galway-image

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Startup Galway’s first guest is Pat Phelan, CEO and Founder of Trustev – this week named by Forbes as one of the top 7 Tech Start-ups globally RTÉ Dragon and outgoing Vice President of Cisco Systems Barry O’Sullivan, John Breslin of NUI Galway and co-founder of Boards.ie, John Brosnan, CEO and founder of Netfort Technologies and Michael FitzGerald, CEO and founder of OnePageCRM have come together to create Startup Galway. Startup Galway aims to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Galway and this Thursday December 19 in McSwiggan’s at 8pm its first guest is Pat Phelan, CEO and Founder of Trustev, this week named as one of Forbes’ Magazine Top 7 Tech Startups Globally for 2013. Trustev, a real-time online identity verification service designed to eliminate fraud from e-commerce transactions has raised €3m in seed funding this year. CEO Pat Phelan is a serial entrepreneur in the internet, mobile, and telecoms sectors. It was his own negative experience with online fraud as an e-commerce merchant that led him to develop technologies to address this drain on revenues. RTÉ Dragon Barry O’Sullivan says “Startup Galway is about bringing together the tech community in Galway to share ideas and experience so we can grow successful companies, we want Galway to be the Birthplace of Ambition for future global technology companies.” NUI Galway’s John Breslin says "The presence of several national research labs, including Insight, a new national multi-location Centre for Data Analytics (formerly DERI), and the Irish Marine Institute contribute significantly to the number of PhD students and researchers working in Galway". “We have a great range of tech startups here in Galway, including the likes of OnePageCRM, Ex Ordo, Element Wave, Duolog, Netfort, BuilderEngine, Pocket Anatomy, Altocloud, SpamTitan, Meterlogix, RealSim, Tribal City Interactive and Alison.com. These are in close proximity to larger companies like DigitalOptics Corporation, Cisco, HP, Avaya, SAP, IBM and EA, and are all part of an ecosystem of tech here in the west.” he added. “Galway is well known as a great city to live in, has two excellent colleges, high-tech companies of all sizes with fantastic talent,” says John Brosnan of Netfort Technologies. “The objective of this group is to help develop and encourage the entrepreneurial culture in Galway. We want to build a community and organise regular events where people can learn from and help each other.” “To develop an entrepreneurial culture within Galway, especially amongst tech start-ups, it is essential that we expose what has been achieved already, and then build on it and learn from each other,” says Michael FitzGerald of OnePageCRM. “Startup Galway is the first step towards unifying that local spirit for global gain, showcasing Galway to the world as a great place to start and grow a tech business.” Registration is free for this and future events at www.startupgalway.org -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Academic is First Irish Researcher to Receive a European Research Council Grant in Any Field of Literature

NUI Galway Academic is First Irish Researcher to Receive a European Research Council Grant in Any Field of Literature-image

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The €2m European Research Council (ERC) Grant will fund five postdoctoral researchers for five years Dr Marie-Louise Coolahan, Lecturer in English at NUI Galway, has been awarded the highly prestigious Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council. It is the first such award ever made to an Irish researcher in any field of literature, and the only award made in Ireland this year in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The award, of just under €2m, will fund Dr Coolahan and a team of five postdoctoral researchers for a five-year period on her project ‘RECIRC: The Reception and Circulation of Early Modern Women’s Writing, 1550-1700’. Dr Coolahan’s project will produce a new, large-scale understanding of how women’s writing circulated in the early modern English-speaking world, using the results to analyse how texts, ideas and reputations gained traction. Dr Coolahan says “While there has been an increasing number of case studies on individual women writers in recent years, we have lacked an understanding of how and where women’s writing made an impact on a broader scale. “ The period in question, from 1550-1700, is particularly challenging because writing continued to circulate in manuscript, via handwritten copies, as well as in print. For women, in particular, manuscript circulation was more attractive as it offered a means to circumvent social anxieties about female authorship. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne congratulated Dr Coolahan and said “This is only the second time ever that a researcher in humanities in an Irish University has secured an ERC award. It is, as such, a remarkable achievement, not only for Dr Marie-Louise Coolahan but for the Discipline of English and for NUI Galway as whole.” Although focused on the English-speaking world,  RECIRC will attend to the international context by including writers who were read in Ireland and Britain as well as women who were born and resident in those countries. Dr Coolahan said “RECIRC will provide a comprehensive view of how texts were used and re-used, and of how gender shaped ideas about authorship. The methodologies we develop are designed to be transferable to other languages and geographies, enabling future work on an even larger European scale.” -Ends-

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Recognition for Ireland’s Scientists

Recognition for Ireland’s Scientists-image

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

NUI Galway’s Professor Robert Lahue receives Pharmaceutical Laboratory of the Year award The inaugural Irish Laboratory Awardstook place before an audience of almost 400 scientists drawn from industry, State and education sectors. The awards were supported by Science Foundation Ireland, Teagasc, IDA and media-partnered with the Irish Independent. NUI Galway’s Professor Robert Lahue Pharmaceutical Laboratory of the Year Award for The Lahue Lab, Centre for Chromosome Biology, NUI Galway. The need for the awards was signalled through the volume and diversity of entries. Judging Co-ordinator, Dr Catherine Dempsey, said “These awards were sorely needed. We know from the hugely successful Young Scientists Competition that recognition is a key enabler of fund raising and career progress. With over 100 entries in year one, the size and scope of the Lab Awards took us all a little by surprise. 2014 is going to be even bigger.” The judges said, “The Immune Regulation Group was a very strong collection of fantastic researchers, and was highly rated in one of Ireland’s most competitive areas of research. The group has secured more than €25 million of research grants and has published 155 peer- reviewed papers in the last 20 years.” Full a full review of the winners and to view the awards night video visit www.labawards.ie the official website for the Irish Laboratory Awards 2013. The awards were judged by: Dr Catherine Dempsey- Judging Co-Ordinator Dr Aoife McLysaght, Smurfit Institute of Genetics Dr Barry Heavey, IDA Ireland Dr Kevin Kavanagh, NUIM Dr Fionnuala Hickey, Trinity Health Kidney Centre Leonard Hobbs, Intel Ireland Dr Paul Simmons, Enfer Group Professor Declan McLoughlin, St. Patrick’s University Hospital & TCD Dr Kaye Burgess, Teagasc Food Research Centre Professor John Cryan, UCC Dr Paul Duffy, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Professor Brian Glennon, UCD Mary Mullaghy, ISTA Dr Andrew Roche, ICON Central Laboratories Dr Marie Coggins, NUI Galway Dr Keith O Neill, Enterprise Ireland Dr Graeme Horley, SFI -Ends-

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NUI Galway Neuroscience Centre holds its 6th Annual Research Day

NUI Galway Neuroscience Centre holds its 6th Annual Research Day-image

Monday, 16 December 2013

Winning research included work on effect of speed on foetal development and using human skin cells to help heal brain injuries NUI Galway Neuroscience Centre, based within the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) at NUI Galway, held its sixth Annual Research Day recently. This meeting showcased the very best of neuroscience research in the University with presentations from undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as post-doctoral research scientists from a number of different disciplines and research centres within the University. The award for the best oral presentation at the meeting was presented by Dr David Finn, Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, to Ms Kate McDonnell-Dowling (Pharmacology & Therapeutics, NUI Galway) whose work detailed the impact on foetal development of pregnant mothers taking the illicit drug, amphetamine (speed). Mr Martin Madill (Regenerative Medicine Institute, NUI Galway) won the poster presentation prize for presenting his work on the conversion of human skin cells into brain cells to use in repairing the brain after injury. Dr Honorata Kraśkiewicz (Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials) and Sinéad Healy (National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science) won the runner-up prizes for their work on the development of novel drug delivery systems for spinal cord repair and the development of novel systems to study the impact of iron on the pathology of multiple sclerosis. Dr Declan McKernan, organiser of the event, said “The quality and variety of presentations featured here today highlights the promising future that neuroscience research has at NUI Galway”. The presentations included the development of relevant models to study pain, depression and autism, the use of stem cell to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, and investigations into the underlying changes in the brains of patients with schizophrenia or multiple sclerosis. The meeting also featured keynote presentations from Professor Artur Swiergiel from the University of Gdansk in Poland on the brain’s response to chronic stress, as well as presentations from NUI Galway research scientists, Professor Gary Donohoe and Dr Derek Morris, on the psychiatry and genetics of schizophrenia. The meeting coincided with Galway Neuroscience Centre member, Prof. Bob Lahue, winning the Medical Laboratory of the Year and the Pharmaceutical Laboratory of the Year in the Irish Laboratory Awards which were held in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dublin. The mission of the Galway Neuroscience Centre is to develop Neuroscience in Galway through research, education and community initiatives. The Centre is truly multidisciplinary in membership, bringing together researchers from a range of clinical and preclinical disciplines, which enable the investigation of nervous system disease at a number of levels. The Galway Neuroscience Centre gained the status of Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration (COEN) after a national and international review process last year. ENDS

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