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Is the secret to increased physical fitness in your back pocket?
Monday, 30 June 2014
Smartphone app study sees participants walk extra half mile or 1000 steps per day Is the secret to increased physical fitness in your back pocket? Using a smartphone app, participants in an eight-week trial were found to walk over 1,000 steps - or half a mile - extra per day. The research was carried out by the National University of Ireland Galway and is published today in the British Journal of General Practice. This is thought to be the first randomised controlled trial research evidence showing that use of a smartphone pedometer app, which provides feedback on physical activity and goal achievement, is associated with a clinically meaningful increase in physical activity. Not only did participants see improvements in step count, but some of those who used the smartphone app also had decreases in blood pressure and weight. A growing body of evidence shows that behaviour-change programmes using computer tailoring can be effective in changing lifestyle risk factors, such as physical activity. The emerging field of captology — the study of computers as persuasive technology — has described many of the mechanisms by which mobile phones have become such an important platform for changing human behaviour. Dr Liam Glynn, a Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the National University of Ireland Galway, and a practicing GP, led the research project called SMART MOVE: “Captology is a very interesting area for medical practitioners. The penetration of smartphones into our everyday lives, along with the availability of so many apps promoting physical activity, represents a unique opportunity in population health. There is real potential within healthcare to use these devices to explore, understand, and positively change human behaviour. “Our research has shown that significant improvements in physical activity rates can be achieved, which we know can lead to long term health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes”. “Rather than just providing more evidence that tracking in any form supports behaviour change, the results of this trial represent an important step forward in the challenging issue of physical activity promotion by describing an intervention that is effective, accessible and potentially sustainable. Further data with longer follow-up are being collected from the current trial of the pedometer app conducted across six European countries,” added Dr Glynn. Methodology The trial recruited 90 participants, which were randomly divided into two equal groups. A control group who did not use the app and an intervention group who did. The app was based around the concept of a pedometer with a live and accurate recording of step count as the participant went about their daily activity. This provided constant feedback and tracking of physical activity with a visually appealing graphic display of step count history and the ability to goal set and receive visual rewards for goals achieved. Both groups in the trial were given similar physical activity goals and information on the benefits of exercise. However, and crucially, only the intervention group was told how to use the app to help them achieve these goals. The results from the trial were striking in that use of a smartphone application increased physical activity over an eight week period, compared to the control. The magnitude of change (over 1000 steps/day or approximately a half mile), is clinically meaningful and, if continued is expected to result in long term health benefit. While the control group demonstrated an initial increase in physical activity, this was followed by a decrease to baseline activity by the end of the trial period while the increase in activity seen in the intervention group was maintained. The potential advantage of using a smartphone application is that no additional piece of technology such as pedometer is required and people generally carry their mobile phone devices on their persons continuously. It has been suggested that significant improvements in public health in the future are more likely to come from behavioural change rather than from technological or scientific innovation. The results of this smartphone app trial would suggest that novel technologies such as mobile devices and related smartphone applications may become an important driver for the behavioural change process. Funding for the research was awarded by the European Union’s Northern Periphery Programme 2007–2013, through the Implementing Transnational Telemedicine Solutions Project. For further information visit www.galwayconnectedhealth.ie/ -ends-
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Minister Ruairí Quinn Officially Opens New Hardiman Research Building and NUI Galway School of Psychology
Thursday, 1 May 2014
An exhibition of the digital Abbey Theatre Archive opens to the public for the first time today to mark the launch of the Hardiman Research Building. Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn TD today opened two new buildings at NUI Galway; the Hardiman Research Building for research in the humanities and social sciences, and a new home for the University’s School of Psychology. The new buildings, with a combined investment of €23 million, will offer world-class teaching, learning and research facilities for staff, students and the public. The Hardiman Research Building, recently named the 2014 Irish Building & Design Architectural Project of the Year, is situated at the heart of NUI Galway’s campus, adjacent to the James Hardiman Library. Home to NUI Galway’s unique collection of more than 350 literary, theatrical, political and historical archives, the Hardiman Research Building will house the digitised Abbey Theatre Archive, the world’s largest digital theatre archive, in development since 2012. An exhibition of the digital Abbey Theatre Archive opens to the public for the first time today to mark the launch of the Hardiman Research Building. The ‘Performing Ireland’ exhibition features a taste of the more than 1 million items that comprise the Abbey Theatre Archive, dating from 1894. The Hardiman Research Building brings together the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies and the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change. The Moore Institute is a leading voice in digital humanities, medieval and early modern history and literature and travel and cultural encounter. The Whitaker Institute, honouring the enduring contribution of public servant T.K. Whitaker, is the largest national business and social science institute on the island. Together these institutes have secured nearly €30m in competitive funding awards. The new NUI Galway Psychology building opened today by Minister Quinn brings both students and staff under one roof for the first time in the School of Psychology’s 40-year history. A new electro-physiological laboratory will further enhance the School’s standing as a centre of excellence for Health Psychology; it counts two of Ireland’s total of six Health Research Board Leaders amongst its 20 staff. Built at a cost of €8m, the Psychology building will cater for more than 200 students. Funding for this project was made through HEA and Department of Education and Skills, with additional support from private sources. Speaking at the launch, Minister Ruairí Quinn said: “The investment we celebrate today is a very welcome enrichment of facilities to support the humanities and social sciences at NUI Galway. The Hardiman Research Building is a unique platform for digital humanities and social sciences research in Ireland and will further develop NUI Galway’s reputation as a major international research centre in the field of digital humanities” NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said “these new, landmark buildings at the heart of our campus are testament to the breadth of the humanities and social sciences; from the creative arts to the complexity of the mind. They will be centres of education and research, home to future generations of scholars and to NUI Galway’s unique collection of archives from the past.” The €15 million Hardiman Research Building project was partially funded under the Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. €10 million of funding was provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through PTRLI Cycle 5 and the balance from private sources through Galway University Foundation. The ‘Performing Ireland 1904-2014’ exhibition to mark the opening of the Hardiman Research Building and the NUI Galway Psychology building is open to the public in the foyer of the Hardiman Research Building and will run until October. Further details available at www.nuigalway.ie/AbbeyTheatre -Ends- Osclóidh an tAire Ruairí Quinn Áras nua Taighde Uí Argadáin agus Scoil Síceolaíochta nua OÉ Gaillimh Osclófar taispeántas de Chartlann dhigiteach Amharclann na Mainistreach don phobal den chéad uair inniu chun ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar sheoladh Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin. Inniu, d’oscail an tAire Oideachais Ruairí Quinn TD dhá fhoirgneamh nua in OÉ Gaillimh; Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin do thaighde sna daonnachtaí agus sna heolaíochtaí sóisialta, agus ionad nua do Scoil Síceolaíochta na hOllscoile. Bhí infheistíocht €23 milliún i gceist leis na foirgnimh nua, agus cuirfidh siad áiseanna teagaisc, foghlama agus taighde den scoth ar fáil don fhoireann, do mhic léinn agus don phobal. Ainmníodh Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin mar Thionscadal Ailtireachta na Bliana 2014 ag Gradaim Foirgníochta agus Dearaidh na hÉireann, agus tá sé lonnaithe i gcroílár champas OÉ Gaillimh, in aice Leabharlann Shéamais Uí Argadáin. Is in Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin atá bailiúchán uathúil de bhreis is 350 cartlann litríochta, amharclannaíochta, polaitíochta agus stairiúil, agus is ann a bheidh Cartlann dhigitithe Amharclann na Mainistreach, an chartlann dhigiteach amharclannaíochta is mó ar domhan, atá á forbairt ón mbliain 2012. Osclófar taispeántas de Chartlann dhigiteach Amharclann na Mainistreach don phobal den chéad uair inniu chun ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar sheoladh Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin. Tugann an taispeántas ‘Performing Ireland’ blaiseadh de bhreis is aon mhilliún mír atá i gCartlann Amharclann na Mainistreach, ag dul siar go dtí an bhliain 1894. Tá Institiúid de Móra do Thaighde sna Daonnachtaí agus sna hEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus Institiúid Whitaker don Nuálaíocht agus don Athrú Sóisialta anois lonnaithe in Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin. Tá Institiúid de Móra ina ceannródaí maidir leis na daonnachtaí digiteacha, stair mheánaoiseach agus nua-aoise luaithe agus litríocht agus taisteal agus cultúr. Is i gcuimhne ar an obair mhór a rinne T.K. Whitaker, fostaí sa tseirbhís phoiblí, a ainmníodh Institiúid Whitaker agus tá sí ar an institiúid náisiúnta ghnó agus eolaíochta sóisialta is mó ar an oileán. Ar an iomlán tá beagnach €30 milliún i maoiniú iomaíoch faighte ag na hinstitiúidí seo. I bhfoirgneamh nua Síceolaíochta OÉ Gaillimh, a d’oscail an tAire Quinn inniu, tagann mic léinn agus comhaltaí foirne le chéile faoi aon díon amháin den chéad uair ó bunaíodh Scoil na Síceolaíochta 40 bliain ó shin. Cuirfidh saotharlann nua leictrea-fhiseolaíoch le seasamh na Scoile mar ionad sárchaighdeáin don Síceolaíocht Sláinte; tá beirt den seisear Ceannairí Boird Taighde Sláinte mar chuid dá foireann de scór duine. Chosain an foirgneamh Síceolaíochta €8m agus beidh níos mó ná 200 mac léinn in ann leas a bhaint as. Fuarthas maoiniú don tionscadal seo ón HEA agus ón Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna, chomh maith le tacaíocht bhreise ó fhoinsí príobháideacha. Ag labhairt dó ag an seoladh, dúirt an tAire Ruairí Quinn: “Is iontach an saibhriú ar áiseanna tacaíochta do na daonnachtaí agus na heolaíochtaí sóisialta in OÉ Gaillimh an infheistíocht seo atá á ceiliúradh againn inniu. Is ardán uathúil é Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin do thaighde sna heolaíochtaí sóisialta agus sna daonnachtaí digiteacha in Éirinn agus cuirfidh sé le cáil OÉ Gaillimh mar lárionad idirnáisiúnta taighde i réimse na ndaonnachtaí digiteacha.” Dúirt Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh an Dr Jim Browne, “Is teist iad na foirgnimh nua, shuntasacha seo i gcroílár an champais ar fhairsinge na n-eolaíochtaí sóisialta; ó na healaíona cruthaitheacha go castacht na hintinne. Ionad oideachais agus taighde a bheidh iontu, áit a mbeidh scoláirí an todhchaí mar aon le bailiúchán uathúil OÉ Gaillimh ar chartlanna ón am atá caite.” Fuarthas roinnt den mhaoiniú €15 mhilliún d’Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin faoin gClár um Thaighde in Institiúidí Tríú Leibhéal (PRTLI) agus fuarthas cómhaoiniú faoi Chiste Forbraíochta Réigiúnaí na hEorpa. Chuir an Roinn Post, Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta €10 milliún ar fáil trí PTRLI, Timthriall 5 agus fuarthas an chuid eile ó fhoinsí príobháideacha. Tá an taispeántas ‘Performing Ireland’ ag déanamh ceiliúradh ar oscailt Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin agus foirgneamh Síceolaíochta OÉ Gaillimh agus tá sé ar oscailt don phobal i bhforhalla Áras Taighde Uí Argadáin as seo go dtí mí Dheireadh Fómhair. Tá tuilleadh eolais ar fáil ar www.nuigalway.ie/AbbeyTheatre -Críoch-
NUI Galway Researchers Awarded €3.5 Million in SFI Research Funding
Friday, 2 May 2014
NUI Galway has been successful in securing two substantial research grants announced this week by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D. and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock T.D. The €47 million funding grants for pioneering research initiatives were delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, through the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme. The Programme will provide funding over a three to five year period, for 36 research projects involving over 200 researchers. Professor Noel Lowndes, Established Professor of Biochemistry at NUI Galway, was awarded €1.8 million in funding for his project ‘The ATR and ATM kinases: new roles in maintaining genome stability’. The second project, ‘Role of NRXN1 in neurodevelopmental disorders: from stem cells to clinical phenotypes’ was awarded €1.73 million in funding. The project is a collaboration between Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Fundamental Stem Cell Biology with REMEDI at NUI Galway, and Professor Louise Gallagher from TCD. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Professor Lowndes' and Shen's research proposals being selected by international peers and SFI for funding. This funding allows us to continue the excellent research in NUI Galway with partner institutions.” Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD said: “Central to our Action Plan for Jobs is ensuring that we focus our on research and innovation on job-creation – turning good ideas into good jobs. The funding we are announcing today will directly support over 200 highly skilled researchers in Ireland through to 2019, and is linked to 62 private sector companies. This investment through SFI helps to develop Ireland’s international reputation for excellent research with impact. This allows us to continue to attract foreign-direct investment, as well as to support Irish companies, long-term economic competitiveness and most importantly ultimately job-creation.” Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD said: “This major investment will support world-class research in key priority areas that support economic and social development in Ireland. By concentrating on sectors of strength, the SFI Investigators Programme aligns funding to areas of increasing national and international importance. This will create many opportunities for successful collaboration between industry and Ireland’s science ecosystem.” The Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme supports excellent scientific research that has the potential to impact Ireland’s economic and societal development. The 36 projects were selected by competitive peer review by 400 international scientists, focusing on excellent research with potential impact. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Participate in Defining Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda On Big Data Value
Friday, 2 May 2014
Insight @ NUI Galway participate in defining intelligent use of data that will revolutionize decision making in businesses, sciences, and society through Big Data Value At the recent European Data Forum in Athens the European Partnership for Big Data Value launched the public consolitation for a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) on Big Data Value, which Insight @ NUI Galway participated in defining. The objective of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) is to describe the main research challenges and needs for advancing Big Data Value in Europe in the next five to ten years. The SRIA will be an important channel for providing input to the European Big Data Value Partnership that aims to establish a Public Private Partnership on Big Data Value within Horizon 2020. The intelligent use of data will revolutionize decision making in businesses, sciences, and society in the future. Value creation from Big Data could become the major driver of the European digital economy. Big Data is one of the key assets of the future. Mastering the creation of Value from Big Data will enhance European competitiveness, will result in economic growth and jobs, and will deliver societal benefit. “Strategic investments are needed by industry and governments to enable Europe to take a leading position in the global big data economy”, said Dr. Edward Curry, Insight @ NUI Galway who participated in defining the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). The European Partnership for Big Data Value (EP-BDV) sets out the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) which must be achieved in order to realise this. Curry explains that the draft SRIA was the outcome of many months of analysis with inputs from a pan-European multi-stakeholder group from industry and commerce, including large enterprises and SMEs, research and academic institutions, and users of Big Data in different sectors. Europe needs research and innovation in deep analysis, to improve data understanding, in optimized architectures for analytics of data at rest and in motion, in advanced visualization and user experience, and, underpinning these, in data management engineering. Alongside vital research and innovation in technologies and applications, many infrastructural, economic, social and legal challenges will have to be addressed in an interdisciplinary fashion. Underpinning successful exploitation will be the availability of highly and rightly skilled Big Data Scientists and Big Data Engineers. The EP-BDV proposes a contractual Public Private Partnership (cPPP) to deliver this SRIA within the European research and innovation landscape of Horizon 2020 and national and regional initiatives. For maximum impact, the cPPP must build upon, continue and accelerate these initiatives, federating national and European activities, reinforcing and augmenting a Europe-wide research and innovation effort, with clear strategies for exploitation, skills development, and investment to maximise take-up. The new initiative is a common effort with new stakeholders welcome to provide their views on the SRIA. Survey is open to all and will be accessible until 5 May 2014 and will take around 15 minutes to complete at http://www.bigdatavalue.eu Feedback will be integrated in the final version of the SRIA and presented to the NESSI summit 2014 on 27 May in Brussels. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Adds Law as One of Seven Summer Schools For Second Level Students
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
NUI Galway is offering secondary school students the choice of seven separate summer schools in June, across the disciplines of Business, Nursing, Computing, Engineering, Science and Law. The summer schools are specially designed to give prospective students a real taste of University life through a wide range of hands-on practical activities. The Nursing Summer School will take place on Wednesday, 4 June. This initiative will give students the opportunity to learn more about studying Nursing and the careers available to them upon graduation. Activities at the Summer School will focus on lifesaving skills include CPR, recognising vital signs and hand hygiene. Spaces for this Summer School are limited to 32 students and are on a first-come, first-served basis. NUI Galway’s one week Computing Summer Camp introduces computing in a novel, fun and interactive way. Students will have the opportunity to explore and experiment with a range of digitally-inspired topics including Programming, Games, Modelling and Robotics. The summer camp will also give students a sense of the exciting possibilities in computer science and information technology, and will also provide an insight into the range of topics that form part of the highly successful BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology. The camp takes places from 9-13 June from 9am-4pm and is open to all secondary school students from 13 -17 years of age. In addition there will be a Computer Science and Information Technology Experience day, aimed specifically at transition year students, which will run on Thursday, 12 June. Students interested in the Engineering Summer School have a choice of two different days to participate, Thursday, 19 June, or Friday, 20 June. Taking place in the University’s new Engineering Building, the Summer School offers a unique hands-on practical experience to get a taste of life as an engineer. Activities include a robo-soccer game, go-kart design for future Formula 1 engineers, designing an eco-house, remote control of a wastewater treatment plant and building and testing a pace-maker circuit. There will also be a 'Frankenstein Design’ feature on how bioengineers make new body parts. From Wednesday 25 to Thursday 26 June, the Science Experience Summer Event will offer students two days to delve into a wide range of scientific disciplines in world class research facilities and institutes. The workshop will feature all disciplines of the College of Science including Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Prospective students will get a taste of life as a scientist with the opportunity to do their own lab experiments and demonstrations, find out more about careers in Science and hear about the latest discoveries and inventions. The closing date for applications for the Science Experience Summer Event is Thursday, 15 May. Students interested in working in the exciting and dynamic world of business won’t want to miss the opportunity to experience the Business Summer School. Open to all secondary school students the Summer School is made up of workshops and lectures bases around the five subject areas taught by the School of Business and Economics; Marketing, Human Resource Management, Accounting, Economics and Business Information Systems. Activities include five 45 minute workshops providing insights into each subject, tours of student facilities at NUI Galway and students will have the opportunity to find out about the financial positioning of their local businesses. Students will get a taste of life as a business student and see how their learning will be applied in the Business World. The Summer School will run on Tuesday 24 June. New for 2014 is a one day Law Summer Camp, organised by the University’s School of Law. A degree in law opens up a broad range of career opportunities in a many different areas. The Camp will be interactive with students learning about criminal law, corporate law and topical legal issues. This will be a fun and productive introduction to law, and why studying law at NUI Galway is your best option. This event will take place on Friday, 6 June, and spaces are limited to 30. Early booking is advised for all Summer Schools. For further information, or for application form, visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/summer-schools/. -Ends-
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NUI Galway Wins 2014 Business Postgraduate Programme of the Year
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
For the second year running NUI Galway was awarded the ‘Best Business Postgraduate Course of the Year Award’ at the national gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2014 which took place in Dublin recently. This year, the prize was awarded for the University’s MSc in Marketing Practice programme. Judges commented on the strong links the MSc in Marketing Practice has with industry, responding to emerging skillsets required by employers particularly in the areas of Digital Marketing Management, Sales, Market Intelligence, and Marketing Communications (from advertising and PR to event management and CRM). According to Programme Director, Ann Walsh, “Over 95% of graduates of the MSc in Marketing Practice secure employment as a direct result of being on the programme, so competition for places on the programme is intense and means we attract the highest calibre students from third level institutions all over the country each year.” Host companies that return repeatedly in search of students from the NUI Galway include; Multinationals such as GSK, Creganna Tactx, Fintrax, KPMG; SMEs: Smyths Toys, Supermacs, Dubarry of Ireland, Irish Pride State Agencies; Bord Bia, ESB International, ESB ecars, Failte Ireland Not-for-profit organisations: Croí, Simon Community, Sophia, Galway Arts Festival Specialist marketing agencies: Strategem, Aró, Maverick, The Marketing Department and many locals SMEs. Graduate of the programme, Michael Walsh, Marketing Director, Dubarry of Ireland said, “Dubarry of Ireland has been taking graduates from the MSc in Marketing Practice programme over the past 30 years. It is a programme with a very strong emphasis on the practical application of the graduate’s knowledge to challenges in their working environment. The back-up support and workshops provided as an integral part of the programme are also very helpful to both company and graduate alike. We are proud to say that there are a number of very successful people out there today both here in Ireland and overseas that have used Dubarry and the MSc Marketing Practice programme as a launch platform for their careers.” Companies interested in a marketing intern from NUI Galway’s MSc in Marketing Practice programme can contact email@example.com or call Programme Director, Ann Walsh on 091 492575. -Ends
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NUI Galway & Orbsen Therapeutics Lead €6M Research Programme Tackling Complications Arising from Corneal Transplantation
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
Three NUI Galway based organisations – The Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), the Centre for Cell Manufacturing in Ireland (CCMI) and Orbsen Therapeutics – will collaborate with a number of European groups in developing a stem cell therapy and new diagnostic tests in the area of corneal transplantation. NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and Orbsen Therapeutics will lead a €6M EU FP-funded project known by the acronym “VISICORT” (Adverse Immune Responses and their Prevention in Corneal Transplantation), to develop new diagnostic tests and a cell therapy for the prevention of immunological complications in people receiving corneal transplants. Corneal transplantation is the most common transplant carried out worldwide with over 100,000 procedures per year. It is often the only treatment available to restore sight to people who have lost vision due to diseases of the cornea – a layer of clear tissue at the front of the eye which allows light to pass through the pupil and lens to the retina. The EU FP 7-funded collaborative research programme will be jointly coordinated by Immunology researchers Professor Matthew Griffin and Dr Thomas Ritter of NUI Galway’s REMEDI in partnership with Orbsen Therapeutics and 10 other academic and industry-based partners from a total of 5 European countries. President of NUI Galway, Dr James Browne congratulated Professor Griffin and Orbsen on their success commenting, “The VISICORT project is a great example of how NUI Galway’s visionary approach to research and commercial entities housed side by side on campus, can deliver major European Union funding successes like this. The collaboration between NUI Galway, Orbsen Therapeutics and a number of European partners, demonstrates the ‘ecosytem of research’ that is part of a long-term strategy to enable the university to become a world player in the biomedical science area. I would like to congratulate all involved in this project and on this research success” Ciaran Cannon TD Minister of State for Training and Skills at the Department of Education and Skills added his congratulations stating, “This is an excellent win for Galway and for Ireland and it underlines the benefits of combining university research excellence with commercialisation expertise in a single site. I am delighted to see this model in action on campus in NUI Galway. I want to congratulate President Browne, Professor Griffin, Dr Ritter and all at Orbsen Therapeutics on their success and wish them the very best with this project.” Speaking about the successful funding of the project, Professor Matthew Griffin said, “It is extremely exciting to have the opportunity to collaborate in this way with such an outstanding group of researchers and experts from different parts of Europe. Our common goal of further improving the results of corneal transplantation for patients with loss of vision through a better understanding of the immune response can only be achieved by combining the skills and resources of all the partners.” Dr Thomas Ritter added, “In recent years, our Immunology research programme at REMEDI has focused at a basic level on understanding the immune response to transplanted tissues such as the cornea as well as on the immune modulating effects of stromal stem cells. By combining our expertise with that of each of our partners in this project, VISICORT now gives us the chance to directly apply these research areas to people with severe eye disease who can benefit from new tests and cellular therapies.” Laboratory studies for VISICORT will be carried out by Dr Ritter’s and Professor Griffin’s team at the REMEDI laboratories in NUI Galway’s recently-opened Biosciences Building. They will collaborate with leading researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Fios Genomics Ltd in the United Kingdom and at Nantes University in France as well as with Biostór, an Irish company specialising in the transport and storage of biological samples. Clinical studies involving over 700 corneal transplant patients will be carried out by leading experts in eye surgery and tissue banking at the RCSI-affiliated Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin, the Charité University in Berlin, Germany, the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and Nantes University Hospital in France. Orbsen Therapeutics CEO Brian Molloy added “Orbsen are delighted to be a part of VISICORT and look forward to seeing our cell therapy product being manufactured here on campus in NUI Galway by the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI). Projects such as this highlight the continuing development of Galway as a global hub for Bioscience research and therapy development. Orbsen is very proud to be playing a significant role in this process.” The VISICORT project is a strong validation of the research funding policy that has been adopted by Government and implemented by bodies such as Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the university sector. The CCMI and REMEDI are both SFI funded centres based on the NUI Galway campus. Orbsen Therapeutics is a privately held company founded and located on campus at NUI Galway. Within VISICORT these elements come together with a research plan lead by REMEDI investigators, a cell therapy product developed by Orbsen and clinical-grade cells to be manufactured for use in patients at CCMI. The €6M EU funding for this project will enable additional high value jobs to be created and ultimately may aid the discovery of a new cell therapy to improve corneal transplant outcomes across the globe. -Ends-
NUI Galway Invites Parents, Young Adults & Children to Join in and Help Make Galway the ‘Youth Coding Capital’ of Europe
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
A showcase ‘Coderdojo’ computer programming youth club will offer a taste of life online for parents, young adults and younger children at one of a number of centres in Galway Parents, teachers, teenagers and children interested in computer programming are invited to attend a Coderdojo event at NUI Galway. Members from Coderdojo, one of lreland’s fastest growing volunteer youth clubs will showcase their own computer games and digital stories on Saturday, May 17 from 12pm to 2pm at NUI Galway’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics (formerly DERI), Dangan Business Park, Galway. The event will coincide with International Scratch Day. Coderdojo is an open source, volunteer-led movement orientated around running free not-for-profit coding clubs for young people in a relaxed and social environment. At a dojo (Japanese term for training centre), young people between the ages of 5 and 17 learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs and games. Dojos are setup, managed and taught by volunteers. The first Coderdojo was established in Cork in June 2011 by James Whelton and Bill Liao. Since then it has become an Irish technology export success story active in forty-three countries. Brendan Smith, one of Coderdojo Galway’s co-founders and Insight’s Outreach Officer said, “There is a real appetite amongst our young people to learn how to code. They want to move on from playing computer games to making their own versions. This is shown by the fact that every Saturday, in towns across Galway including Athenry, Clifden, Eyrecourt, Kinvara, Loughrea, Mountbellew and Tuam as well as in NUI Galway, hundreds of enthusiastic children and teenagers create their very own games, digital stories and web applications facilitated by volunteer Coderdojo mentors.” Coding is the new literacy of the 21st century; it is as important for children to learn how to programme as it is how to read and write. It is vital for Ireland to develop a sustainable knowledge economy and society, to create the next generation of products and processes using the creativity of today’s youth. May 17 is International Scratch Day. Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Scratch is the world’s most popular computer language for young people. It has a cross-disciplinary ethos and structure that combines mathematics with elements of arts, engineering and personal development. So we are using this opportunity to encourage our young coders or ‘ninjas’ to showcase their projects to the general public.” East Galway TD Ciaran Cannon, Minister of State for Training and Skills at the Department of Education and Skills has taken a very pro-active ‘hands-on’ approach in promoting digital creativity in schools and amongst communities. Government educational reform has ensured that five decades after the tentative introduction of computing into Irish schools, coding will soon become part of the national post-primary curriculum at junior cycle level. This has resulted in the birth of the first generation of Irish children that can code, people who are truly ‘digital creators’ rather than just passive ‘digital users’. Galway is quickly becoming the Youth Coding Capital of Ireland and possibly of Europe. During the inaugural Europe Coding Week last November, not only was Ireland the most active country but Galway city and county hosted the highest concentration of events of any region in Europe. Over the last year, volunteer tutors from NUI Galway, GMIT, Hewlett Packard and Fidelity have worked together to coordinate the delivery of computer programming courses to thousands of pupils and students in over sixty primary and post-primary schools across counties Mayo, Westmeath and Galway. Local young people’s clubs such as ‘091 Labs’ and the Coderdojos are providing informal after-school digital makers’ environments. Insight at NUI Galway is part of a cross Ireland university research centre designed to provide a national ICT research platform based on world-class research programmes that will serve as a global beacon for the science and application of Big Data Analytics. -Ends-
Prestigious Discover Primary Science & Maths Excellence Squad Visit Renmore School
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
Scoil Chaitriona Junior School in Renmore today played host to a visit from a member of the prestigious Discover Primary Science & Maths Excellence Squad to celebrate their involvement in the DPSM Awards of Science and Maths Excellence. 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the awards and to celebrate a panel of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) scientists are capturing the imagination of primary school pupils around the country during visits to a number of lucky schools. Sarah Gundy, Project Officer at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials at NUI Galway, today introduced the pupils of Scoil Chaitriona to the concepts of anatomy, physiology, and disease of the heart through a series of hands-on activities. Pupils acted as tissue engineers to fix heart shaped cookies using various decorations. Icing of differing colours was used to represent the types of scaffold materials available, and marshmallows and sprinkles were used to represent components that can be added to enhance scaffolds such as medicine and cells. Speaking at Scoil Chaitriona, Sarah Gundy said, “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to visit Scoil Chaitriona today to introduce pupils to our work on tissue engineered scaffolds. It is so encouraging to see children and teachers genuinely engaged with and enjoying science and maths. By sparking children’s interest in these subjects at an early age, they are enthused to engage with science and maths as they grow older which may lead them to explore the possibility of a career in these areas in the future.” Jane McLoughlin, DPSM Coordinator at Scoil Chaitriona Junior School said, “The DPSM programme develops children’s confidence and enthusiasm for science and maths. The concepts are broken down into manageable activities that facilitate learning in an enjoyable manner. Over the last number of years, the Award of Science and Maths Excellence has given us something to work towards as a school and there is a real sense of achievement in meeting the criteria to achieve the award while also engaging in fun practical activities which help the children to gain an understanding of the world around them.” The Awards of Science and Maths Excellence are awarded to schools who present evidence of meeting five criteria which encourage a whole school approach to the Discover Primary Science and Maths (DPSM) programme over the course of the school year. SFI hopes to present awards to over 500 schools this year. Hundreds of schools around the country are already participating in Greenwave, a nationwide project to track the arrival of spring, and in doing so are meeting one of the award criteria. Evidence of the completion of the five criteria is recorded in a log book and submitted to Discover Primary Science & Maths in May. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “We expect to present DPSM Awards of Science and Maths Excellence to over 500 primary schools this year and it is encouraging to see how the DPSM programme has grown since it was first introduced in 2003. Through their involvement in the initiative, primary school pupils are gaining an appreciation of the fundamental importance of science and maths in our everyday lives. The quality of work being done by the schools involved is outstanding and we are delighted to be able to acknowledge some of that work with visits from the Discover Science & Maths Excellence Squad.” For further details and to enter the awards, visit www.primaryscience.ie. For information on Greenwave, log on to www.greenwave.ie -Ends-
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NUI Galway Hosts International Gathering on The Future of Super-Telescopes
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
The workshop coincides with the design of the €1bn European Southern Observatory super-telescope; with a 39m mirror, it is ten times bigger than the world’s largest telescope today NUI Galway will host an international workshop on the development of large astronomical telescopes for the next decade. Such telescopes will enable astronomers to see faint objects such as the first galaxies, formed just after the big bang, and also to see planets similar to Earth, near other stars. The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) with a 39m diameter mirror is currently being designed by the European Southern Observatory. Discussions about the role Ireland could play in this ambitious project are taking place with the Government. Professor Andy Shearer of NUI Galway said “This international workshop acknowledges the role astronomers from NUI Galway have played in developing the most advanced astronomical instrumentation. It also recognises the potential Irish industry has for participating in this massive international project. At the moment there is a debate about Ireland's membership of the European Southern Observatory. As members, Irish scientists and Irish industry would be able to take part in, and bid for, some of the most technologically challenging projects in the world." The workshop “Speed and Sensitivity: Expanding Astronomical Horizons with ELTs” http://astro.nuigalway.ie/speedandsensitivity/ will be held in NUI Galway from May 13th to 16th. Astronomers in the Centre for Astronomy NUI Galway are very pleased to have been chosen to host the workshop to discuss what science and what instruments will be needed by the ELT over the next decade. The largest telescope in use today uses a mirror 11 metres across - the bigger the mirror the fainter and further a telescope can ‘see’. Astronomers require bigger telescopes to see fainter objects in the universe. The European Southern Observatory is currently designing a telescope, with a 39m mirror, known as the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). This billion euro project will become the most powerful astronomical facility in the world. It will enable astronomers to see faint objects such as the first galaxies which formed just after the big bang and planets like the earth around other stars. Speed and Sensitivity is sponsored by the European Union through its Opticon [http://www.astro-opticon.org/] project and through Science Foundation Ireland. An important part of the workshop will be a discussion to involve industry in developing new instruments for the telescopes. Ireland’s photonics industry will be well-place to benefit from this project. -ends-
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