New Sean-nós Dancer in Residence at Centre for Irish Studies

New Sean-nós Dancer in Residence at Centre for Irish Studies-image

Monday, 13 January 2014

NUI Galway’s Centre for Irish Studies has announced the appointment of Gearóid Ó Dubháin as Sean-nós Dancer in Residence for 2014. A native of Ardmore, Connemara, Gearóid draws his dancing from both sides of his family. Séamus Ó Dubháin (or Séamusín Devaney as he is widely known) is a well-known sean-nós dancer, as was his father before him, Colm Ó Dubháin and his brother Joe. Annie, his father’s sister is also a renowned dancer. Sean-nós dancing runs through the generations, as Gearóid’s own brother Pádraig is known in his own right for his award-winning sean-nós style. Dancing was also in Gearóid’s mother’s family and the strength of this family background contributes to his own dance style and skill. Gearóid has been successful in many competitions including: Oireachtas na Samhnna (2010), Craobh na hÉireann (2011), Féile na Mí (2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012), Féile Chóilín Clesham and many others. Now teaching workshops to young and old throughout Galway, Gearóid also gives workshops and master classes nationally. Key to Gearóid’s teaching and performance philosophy is to keep faithful to the older dance style of his father, and this is apparent in his dancing. During his residency, Gearóid will participate in a series of performances and workshops at the Centre for Irish Studies and other venues in Galway. A selection of his repertoire will also be recorded to deposit in the Sean-nós Archive at the Centre for Irish Studies.  Sean-nós dance workshops will take place at 7pm in the Aula Maxima, NUI Galway, commencing on Wednesday, 5 February. These workshops which run for five weeks are free of charge and all are welcome to attend. This project is funded by Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta and An Chomhairle Ealaíon in association with the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway. -Ends- Rinceoir Cónaitheach ar an Sean-nós 2014, ceaptha ag Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh, OÉ Gaillimh Tá sé fógartha ag Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh, OÉ Gaillimh, go bhfuil Gearóid Ó Dubháin ceaptha mar Rinceoir Cónaitheach ar an Sean-nós as seo go ceann bliana. D'fhás Gearóid aníos ar an Aird Mhóir i gConamara agus is ann a fuair sé a chuid steipeanna. Damhsóir sean-nóis cáiliúil é a athair, Séamus Ó Dubháin, nó Séamuisín Devaney mar is fearr aithne air. Bhí athair a athar, Colm Ó Dubháin, ina dhamhsóir ar an sean-nós, chomh maith lena dheartháir, Joe. Ina theannta sin, bíonn deirfiúr a athar, Annie, ag rince ar an sean-nós. Is damhsóir aitheanta é a dheartháir, Pádraig, a bhfuil neart duaiseanna bainte amach aige ar fud na tíre. Ní hamháin sin, ach bhí damhsa ar thaobh a mháthar freisin. Is beag an t-iontas, agus a leithéid de dhúchas aige, go bhfuil an rince de dhlúth agus d’inneach in Gearóid. Tá go leor duaiseanna bainte amach ag Gearóid mar dhamhsóir ar fud na tíre, ina measc tá Oireachtas na Samhna (2010), Craobh na hÉireann (2011), Féile na Mí (2006, 2008, 2010 agus 2012), Féile Chóilín Clesham (buaite cúpla uair), mar aon le neart comórtais eile.  Tá Gearóid i mbun ranganna damhsa ar an sean-nós le blianta beaga anuas, i gConamara agus in áiteanna eile i gContae na Gaillimhe. Go deimhin, tá máistir-ranganna tugtha aige fud fad na tíre. Tá sé tábhachtach do Ghearóid go gcoinneofar sean-stíl a athar beo sa sean-nós agus tá sé sin le feiceáil ina chuid damhsa. Beidh sraith de cheardlanna ar siúl ar feadh cúig seachtaine san Aula Maxima ag tosnú ag 7pm ar an 5ú Feabhra, 2014. Is iad Ealaín na Gaeltachta, Údarás na Gaeltachta agus An Chomhairle Ealaíon, i bpáirt le hIonad an Léinn Éireannaigh, atá ag maoiniú an togra seo. -Críoch-

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NUI Galway Students to Hold Annual Teddy Bear Hospital!

NUI Galway Students to Hold Annual Teddy Bear Hospital! -image

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The 9th annual Teddy Bear Hospital at NUI Galway will take place Thursday and Friday, 23 and 24 January. The event will see over 1,000 sick teddy bears admitted to the hospital, accompanied by their minders, 1,000 primary school children! The event is organised by the Sláinte Society, the NUI Galway branch of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations, and up to 200 medical and science students will diagnose and treat the teddy bears. In the process, they hope to help children, ranging in age from 3-8 years, feel more comfortable around doctors and hospitals. Over the years, children have come along with teddy bears suffering from an imaginative range of sore ears, sick tummies and all kinds of others weird and wonderful ailments. Mícheál Ó Braonáin, a first-year medical student at NUI Galway and co-organiser of Sláinte Society, said: “We have had unprecedented demand for Teddy Bear Hospital this year, and are delighted that so many teddies and their owners can be accommodated. This is one of the biggest community outreach programs in NUI Galway, and it always proves to be a fantastic day, not only for the children but also the students who volunteer!” This year, 24 local primary schools are participating in the event. On arrival at the Teddy Bear Hospital on campus, the children will go to the ‘waiting room’, which contains jugglers and face painters. Then the children and their teddy bears are seen by a team of Teddy Doctors and Teddy Nurses, who will examine them.  The students will have specially designed X-ray and MRI machines on hand, should the teddy bears need them.  Recuperating teddy bears can avail of medical supplies from the Teddy Bear Pharmacy, stocked with healthy fruit from Total Produce, along with medical supplies from Cara pharmacy to help poor teddy recover. After all this excitement the children can enjoy a bouncy castle and entertainment from the juggling society in the college. Further sponsorship for the came from print that on campus and medisource pharmacy. Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway’s Societies Officer, said: “The Teddy Bear hospital is a magical opportunity for the society to invite the children and their teddies to campus and provide a valuable learning experience for all.  It is one of the NUI Galway societies' most colourful and endearing community outreach programme and we are thrilled with its success. Congratulations to Sláinte Society who engage such a large number of our students in this event for such a positive purpose and we look forward to a rewarding few days for all involved.” -ends- Otharlann na mBéiríní á reáchtáil ag Mic Léinn OÉ Gaillimh Den naoú bliain as a chéile, beidh Otharlann na mBéiríní ar oscailt in OÉ Gaillimh Déardaoin an 23 agus Dé hAoine an 24 Eanáir. Tiocfaidh breis agus 1,000 béirín tinn chun na hotharlainne lena bhfeighlithe, 1,000 páiste bunscoile. Is é an Cumann Sláinte, craobh OÉ Gaillimh de Chónaidhm Idirnáisiúnta Chumann na Mac Léinn Leighis, agus suas le 200 mac léinn leighis agus eolaíochta a bheidh ar láimh le scrúdú leighis a dhéanamh ar na béiríní agus le cóir leighis a chur orthu. Tá súil acu go gcuideoidh an ócáid le páistí, idir 3-8 mbliana d’aois, a bheith ar a suaimhneas nuair a bheidh siad ag an dochtúir nó san otharlann. Thar na blianta, thug páistí béiríní chuig an otharlann agus iad ag samhlú go raibh réimse leathan tinnis ag gabháil dóibh cosúil le cluasa tinne, boilg bhreoite agus gach cineál gearán eile faoin spéir. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Mícheál Ó Braonáin, mac léinn leighis sa chéad bhliain in OÉ Gaillimh agus comheagraí an Chumainn Sláinte: “Bhí an-éileamh ar Otharlann na mBéiríní i mbliana agus tá an-áthas orainn a bheith in ann freastal ar an oiread sin béiríní agus a gcuid úinéirí. Tá sé seo ar cheann de na cláir for-rochtana pobail is mó a reáchtálann OÉ Gaillimh agus bíonn lá iontach ann i gcónaí. Baineann na mic léinn an oiread sásaimh as an lá agus a bhaineann na gasúir!” I mbliana, tá 24 bunscoil áitiúil páirteach san ócáid. Nuair a thagann na páistí chuig Otharlann na mBéiríní ar an gcampas, rachaidh siad chuig an 'seomra feithimh', áit a mbeidh lámhchleasaithe agus maisitheoirí aghaidheanna ag fanacht orthu. Ansin buailfidh na páistí agus na béiríní le foireann de Dhochtúirí Béiríní agus d’Altraí Béiríní a chuirfidh scrúdú leighis orthu.  Beidh meaisíní speisialta X-gha agus MRI ag na mic léinn ar fhaitíos go mbeidís ag teastáil ó na béiríní.  Beidh Cógaslann Béiríní ann chomh maith, agus beidh torthaí sláintiúla ó Total Produce ann mar aon le soláthairtí leighis ó Chógaslann Cara le cóir leighis a chur ar na béiríní. Nuair a bheidh an méid sin curtha díobh acu féadfaidh na gasúir am a chaitheamh ar phreabchaisleán agus beidh cumann lámhchleasaíochta an choláiste ag cur siamsaíochta ar fáil. Tháinig urraíocht eile don ócáid ó Print That ar an gcampas agus ó chógaslann Medisource. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Ríona Hughes, Oifigeach na gCumann in OÉ Gaillimh: “Is deis iontach é Ospidéal na mBéiríní don chumann chun  cuireadh a thabhairt do pháistí agus a mbéiríní chuig an gcampas agus chun taithí luachmhar foghlama a thabhairt do chách.  Tá sé ar cheann de na cláir for-rochtana pobail is deise agus is spraíúla ag cumainn OÉ Gaillimh agus táimid an-bhródúil as chomh maith agus a éiríonn leis an ócáid. Comhghairdeas leis an gCumann Sláinte a thugann deis do líon chomh mór dár gcuid mac léinn a bheith rannpháirteach san ócáid seo do chúis chomh dearfach agus tá súil againn go mbainfidh gach a mbeidh páirteach an-sult as an gcúpla lá seo.” -críoch-

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NUI Galway Rugby Wins Both Intervarsity Cups and Celebrates Academy Success

NUI Galway Rugby Wins Both Intervarsity Cups and Celebrates Academy Success-image

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

NUI Galway holds both the Irish Universities’ Rugby Union Maughan Scally Cup and the Kay Bowen Cup NUI Galway Rugby, has for the first time, won both women’s and men’s intervarsity rugby competitions this year, while the NUIG Rugby Academy have won the first trophy for the University at underage level. The men’s team are current holders of the Irish Universities' Rugby Union (IURU) Maughan Scally Cup, and the women’s squad won their Intervarsity honours, the IURU Kay Bowen Cup, in UCD in November. The NUIG women’s team did not concede a single try during, and remained unbeaten throughout the entire competition, while the men’s team held UCC scoreless in the final of the Irish Junior Intervarsities, which they also hosted in Dangan. Established in 2011, the NUIG Rugby Youth Academy also continues to go from strength to strength. The Youth Academy U13s squad and coaches celebrated success last season, as the first side to win an underage rugby trophy for the University. With many graduates from last season’s successful U13s, the NUIG U14 squad remains unbeaten this season. The U15s finished 3rd in their league and look forward with confidence to the cup which starts at the end of January All this reflects increased participation in rugby in NUI Galway. In recent seasons, NUIG Rugby has grown participation in rugby on campus significantly, and now fields four adult rugby teams. This includes a second men’s squad and an U20s team that participates in the South West Conference of the highly competitive Munster U20 league, as part of an amalgamated team with Corinthians RFC. Significantly NUIG U20s also played in the Conroy Cup U20 intervarsity competition this year, for the first time since 2005, and advanced to the play-off stages. NUIG men’s team’s next Connacht Junior League fixture is against Sligo RFC in Dangan on Sunday 19th January, kick-off: 2.30pm. There is a pre-match function in the Westwood Hotel for alumni and friends. For pre-match function tickets and further information, please contact Club Chairman, Dr Michael O’Mahony, 086-8339715 or Club Treasurer, Gearóid Ó Broin, 091-493115. The men’s side will play their next intervarsity fixture when they host touring American university side, Yale University RFC on Saturday 15th March in Dangan. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Conference to hear Extent of Obesity Problem in Ireland from Leading Experts in Economics, Medicine and Publi

NUI Galway Conference to hear Extent of Obesity Problem in Ireland from Leading Experts in Economics, Medicine and Publi-image

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Most recent available data (2007) shows that 37% of Irish adults are overweight and a further 24% of adults are obese The Health Economics and Policy Analysis research group at NUI Galway will host a one day conference on obesity on Friday, 17 January. Obesity is a complex, interdisciplinary problem that involves genetics, physiology, the environment, psychology, and economics. Economic factors have played a significant role in the development of the obesity crisis and economics offers many insights into various solutions to improve the crisis and to prevent more people from becoming obese. Keynote speaker, Professor John Cawley from Cornell University, will focus on several aspects of the economics of obesity including the economic contributors to obesity, the economic consequences of obesity, and economic strategies for treatment and prevention. Other speakers and topics to be addressed include: Professor Tim O’Brien, NUI Galway; An overview of the extent of the obesity problem in Ireland Dr Francis Finucane, NUI Galway; Cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery Brendan Walsh, NUI Galway; Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood obesity in Ireland Michelle Queally, NUI Galway; Exploring individual preferences for obesity treatment and willingness to pay for treatments   Professor Fidelma Dunne; Obesity in Pregnancy and Gestational Diabetes in Ireland Dr Anne Dee, Mid-West HSE; Economic cost of obesity in Ireland Professor David Madden, UCD; The distributional effects of a ‘fat tax’ in Ireland The conference will be of interest to researchers, clinicians and policymakers working in this area and will take place in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway. For more details please contact Brendan Kennelly at brendan.kennelly@nuigalway.ie or 091 493094. -Ends-

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NUI Galway Announce 2014 Alumni Award Winners

NUI Galway Announce 2014 Alumni Award Winners-image

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

NUI Galway has announced the winners of the 2014 Alumni Awards to be presented at the 14th annual Alumni Awards Gala Banquet on Saturday, 1 March, 2014 in the Bailey Allen Wing located in Áras na Mac Léinn on campus. The Alumni Awards recognise individual excellence and achievements among the University’s more than 80,000 graduates worldwide. The Awards programme boasts an impressive roll call of 79 outstanding graduates who have gone on to honour their alma mater, including, for example, Michael D. Higgins, Ciarán FitzGerald, Sean O’Rourke, Professor Frank Gannon, Dr Luke Clancy and Gráinne Seoige. After a highly successful sporting year at NUI Galway, this year’s banquet will focus on sport. The winners of the five alumni awards to be presented at Gala 2014: Award for Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies - sponsored by AIB  - Norah Gibbons, Chairperson, Child and Family Agency.  Alumni Award for Business, Public Policy and Law – sponsored by Bank of Ireland   -  Helen Ryan, Former CEO and Non-Executive Director of Creganna-Tactx Medical.  Alumni Award for Engineering and Informatics – sponsored by Bank of Ireland  - Michael McNicholas, CEO, Bord Gáis.  Alumni Award for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences – sponsored by Medtronic  - Professor Ray Dolan, Professor of Neuropsychology, University College London and Head of the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience at the Institute of Neurology, London.  Alumni Award for Science – sponsored by Aramark  - Professor Gerald Jennings, Emeritus Professor, School of Physics, NUI Galway and former Director of the Environmental Change Institute, NUI Galway.             Speaking on the announcement of the Awards recipients, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our Alumni Awards programme recognises the many Galway alumni who are leaders in their chosen fields. These awards celebrate the life-long value of an NUI Galway education and recognise individual achievements among the University’s more than 80,000 graduates worldwide. I congratulate each of the Award winners and look forward to welcoming them back to campus for the Gala Banquet in March.” For ticket and booking information contact the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email alumni@nuigalway.ie. Online bookings at www.nuigalway.ie/alumni-friends   ENDS  

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NUI Galway Joins Intel Parallel Computing Centre Programme to Boost Parallel Application Performance in High Performance

NUI Galway Joins Intel Parallel Computing Centre Programme to Boost Parallel Application Performance in High Performance-image

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) will host the research that has likely applications in materials science, meteorology and data analytics.   NUI Galway and Intel have signed an agreement to jointly conduct research on many core technology in High Performance Computing (HPC) and big data analytics. The research will be carried out at the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) in NUI Galway. The new parallel computing centre aims to significantly improve parallelism, scalability and efficiencies of existing High Performance Computing applications.  The agreement to establish the ‘Intel Parallel Computing Centre between NUI Galway and Intel’ was announced by NUI Galway president Dr Jim Browne and Intel vice president and director of Intel Labs Europe, Martin Curley at a ceremony in NUI Galway. NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said, “we in NUI Galway are proud of our long association with ICHEC, since its establishment and are very pleased to support their ongoing work. We believe that ICHEC’s mission is vital for Ireland and that its services are very important to academia and industry alike. Today’s signing is a wonderful example of the work of ICHEC. We are delighted to be working with Intel in this way and look forward to our continuing partnership.” Intel will fund the research programme led by director of the ICHEC, Professor JC Desplat. The programme will foster the uptake of current and next generation Intel many core technology, such as the Intel® Xeon Phi™ Coprocessor. “Intel is pleased to expand our Intel® Parallel Computing Centre program by collaborating with National University of Ireland, Galway and ICHEC,” said Intel vice president and director of Intel Labs Europe, Martin Curley. “This new centre creates an opportunity for Intel, NUI Galway and ICHEC to innovate and optimize applications which benefit industry and science in Ireland, Europe, and globally.” Principal investigator Professor JC Desplat said “ICHEC has been chosen for this programme following its track record of excellence in many-core solutions. We are delighted to be part of the development of this exciting new technology. As a country, Ireland excels in the effective use of high-performance computing, and today’s partnership consolidates that standing. The outcome of this ambitious programme will be improved software solutions in areas such as materials science, weather forecasting and data analytics.”       -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Study Shows Salmonella Biofilms Resistant to Powerful Disinfectants

NUI Galway Study Shows Salmonella Biofilms Resistant to Powerful Disinfectants-image

Friday, 17 January 2014

Research by Dr Mary Corcoran was prompted by 2012 European Salmonella Agona outbreak resulted in over 160 cases of gastroenteritis in 10 countries.   An NUI Galway researcher has discovered that once Salmonella gets into a food processing facility it is very difficult to remove it. Microbiologist Dr Mary Corcoran attempted to kill Salmonella biofilms on a variety of hard surfaces, using three types of disinfectant. The research, to be published in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, shows that once Salmonella has established itself for seven days, it was not possible to kill Salmonella using three disinfectants, even by soaking the Salmonella in disinfectant for an hour and a half. The research found that all of the types of Salmonella studied were able to adopt the specialised biofilm lifestyle on all of the surfaces looked at. These included glass, stainless steel, glazed tile, concrete and plastic. It shows that the biofilm of Salmonella gets more dense over time, and becomes more firmly attached to the surface. The findings will serve as a warning to food processors in particular highlighting that once Salmonella gets into a food processing facility and has an opportunity to form a biofilm on surfaces, it is likely to be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to kill it. Dr Mary Corcoran said “Food processing facilities must take strict care to keep Salmonella out of the clean areas where cooked foods get further processing and packaged, and ask whether disinfectants that are promoted as killing various types of bacteria are really as effective as claimed.” The research was prompted by the Salmonella outbreak in Europe in which over 160 people in 10 countries developed gastroenteritis from the Salmonella Agona strain of Salmonella. That outbreak was traced to meat from a major food-processing facility.  Dr Corcoran said “it seems that the outbreak entered into the environment in the part of the facility where meat that was already cooked was being handled, and it had survived and contaminated the cooked meat. Interested in finding out that Salmonella might have something special about it that makes it better at surviving in the environment of a food processing facility, we asked was it better at forming a dense biofilm, or was it more resistant to disinfectants than other Salmonella? We discovered it was not.” The three disinfectants used against Salmonella in the research were sodium hypochlorite (household bleach), sodium hydroxide, and benzalkonium chloride. The research shows that a lot of the time, the disinfectant may add very little, if anything, to good cleaning and appropriate food handling practices and that there is a need for more research to define better methods for killing Salmonella biofilm.”   -ENDS-

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Dr Peter Sutherland to deliver 2014 Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture at NUI Galway

Dr Peter Sutherland to deliver 2014 Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture at NUI Galway-image

Thursday, 16 January 2014

 ‘European Integration and the Taming of Nationalism’ is theme of lecture with a response by Professor Gerard Quinn, NUI Galway School of Law The 2014 Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture will be given by Dr Peter Sutherland and hosted at NUI Galway by NUI Chancellor Dr Maurice Manning and President of NUI Galway Dr Jim Browne. Dr Sutherland will speak on the topic of ‘European Integration and the Taming of Nationalism’ and Prof. Gerard Quinn, School of Law, NUI Galway will respond. Dr Peter Sutherland is Chairman of the London School of Economics and the UN Special Representative for Migration and Development. He served as European Commissioner between 1985 and 1988, having been appointed as Ireland’s Attorney General by Dr Garret FitzGerald in 1981. NUI Chancellor Dr Maurice Manning said 'Nothing delighted Dr Garret FitzGerald more than public discourse and the articulation and defence of ideas. In seeking to honour him, the Senate of the National University of Ireland thought it appropriate to initiate an annual series of lectures in his memory.   This year’s lecture by Peter Sutherland is on a topic that Garret would have found of great interest'.  NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said “The Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture commemorates one of Ireland’s leading statesman and a former Chancellor of NUI.  We in NUI Galway are honoured to host the 2014 Memorial Lecture and look forward to welcoming Dr Peter Sutherland, a close and long standing friend of Dr FitzGerald, to campus for what promises to be a fascinating and stimulating address.” Professor Gerard Quinn, NUI Galway School of Law, will respond to Dr Sutherland’s view on ‘European Integration and the Taming of Nationalism’. The lecture will be held in the Aula Maxima at 6pm on Friday, 31 January 2014 and is open to the public, who can register at www.conference.ie   Advanced booking is essential as places are limited. The Dr Garret FitzGerald Memorial Lecture is held annually by the National University of Ireland at constituent colleges. A former Taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald was Chancellor of the NUI between 1997 and 2009, and had previously served as a member of the Senate of the University from 1972 until 1997. -ends-

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NUI Galway-IITA-Irish Aid research collaboration helps develop vitamin-A rich maize to combat micronutrient malnutrition

NUI Galway-IITA-Irish Aid research collaboration helps develop vitamin-A rich maize to combat micronutrient malnutrition-image

Monday, 20 January 2014

Up to 500,000 children in developing countries go blind each year due to Vitamin A deficiency The NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) has been closely working with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on the development of more nutritious and higher yielding crops for smallholder farmers in Africa since 2009. The NUI Galway – IITA research has now been published in the international scientific journal BMC Plant Biology. Vitamin A deficiency in the diets of the poor is currently a global health problem affecting millions of people in Africa and other regions of the world.  Vitamin A deficiency retards growth, increases risk of disease, and can cause reproductive disorders. IITA, Irish Aid and NUI Galway are engaged with the international Harvest Plus initiative of the CGIAR and national agricultural research systems to develop and disseminate new varieties of staple crops (e.g. maize, sweet potato, beans) that contain higher levels of essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc.  Up to 500,000 children in developing countries go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency, with over half of these children dying within a year of becoming blind. For instance, in Malawi 73% of children currently do not have enough Vitamin A in their diets.  The high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency amongst mothers and children (particularly during the first 1000 days of life) perpetuates cycles of poverty. A key aim is develop even more improved maize varieties which have sufficiently high levels of vitamin A to impact on human health and which are high yielding under African growing conditions. Working closely with Prof. Charles Spillane (NUI Galway) and Dr. Abebe Menkir (IITA), a PhD student and maize breeder Girum Azmach has been conducting research between NUI Galway and IITA on development of vitamin A rich maize varieties for African smallholder farmers and growing conditions.   Working within IITA’s maize breeding program, Girum has identified combinations of naturally-occurring genes in maize lines that result in major increases of the level of vitamin A in the types of maize varieties that are grown by farmers and consumed by poorer households in Sub-Saharan Africa.   Girum has been able to screen and identify maize lines within the IITA breeding program that recorded as high as 17 microgram per each gram of a dry maize kernel. This concentration of provitamin A is much higher than that of commonly grown maize cultivars, which is mostly less than 2 micrograms per each gram of dry maize kernel. This means that IITA and other maize breeding programs in Africa now have access to lines that have levels of provitamin A that are necessary for biofortified maize varieties to reduce the levels of vitamin A deficiency amongst the poor in Sub Saharan Africa. The identification of these gene combinations and high vitamin A maize lines now allows IITA and national research programs to better develop vitamin A biofortified tropical maize varieties adapted to growing conditions and consumer preferences in Africa. IITA in collaboration with national partners in Nigeria has released the first generation of two pro-vitamin A rich hybrids and two open-pollinated varieties. An open-pollinated variety with intermediate level of pro-vitamin A was also released in Ghana in 2012. Seeds of the released pro-vitamin A rich open-pollinated maize varieties have been sent to Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone for testing, multiplication and deployment with the support from HarvestPlus and AGRA. The high vitamin A lines identified by Girum will be provided to national breeding programs in countries such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Liberia for use to develop their own vitamin A rich varieties for smallholder farmers and the rural poor. Overall, the development of staple crops with improved micronutrient composition and content for African smallholders is set to contribute to both improving smallholder agriculture and prevention of maternal and child undernutrition in Africa. -ends-

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Free Introduction to Computer Courses Resume in NUI Galway

Free Introduction to Computer Courses Resume in NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

NUI Click and Connect introduction to computer classes will resume again in NUI Galway on the week beginning 27 January. These classes, which are free to learners, have to date trained over 500 people in basic computing skills. Running for two-hours a week, four weeks in a row, the classes are aimed at those with little or no computer experience. The classes will cover topics such as introduction to the internet, online shopping and booking tickets, setting up and managing email, and using the computer in conjunction with a digital camera. Many of the class participants have never used a computer before, and the classes are run in a relaxed and fun way to encourage confidence in the “new surfers”. Student volunteers support the learners to practice their new skills in the college’s computer labs. Classes are small with a maximum of 12 people and there is usually one-to-one support from the student volunteers. Each learner is a given a supporting booklet with simple instructions so that they can practice their skills outside class times if they wish. All those who complete the course receive a certificate of attendance. Pat Byrne, Manager of Click and Connect and a lecturer with the discipline of Information Technology in NUI Galway, is delighted with the feedback received from those who have completed the programme. “Many of our learners have been older people who are finding that using the internet is opening up a whole new world to them. They are able access services easily and use email and Skype to communicate with friends and family both at home and overseas. Our learners are also delighted to be able to compare prices and shop online, and follow their hobbies too. Whether they are looking for a job or searching for a new recipe, access to the internet makes their life so much easier. Everyone can pick up these basic skills and our classes provide a supportive environment in which to do so”. The classes are funded by a small grant from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, and are offered free to participants. For further information and to book a place on one of the classes, call 087 0571967 or 091 493332. -Ends-

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