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NUI Galway Symposium celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Naming of Neanderthal Man by Galway-based Scientist
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
2014 marks 150th anniversary of the naming by William King, Professor of Geology at the then Queen's College Galway. He remains the first scientist ever to name a new species of human. President Michael D. Higgins will attend a special international symposium to mark the 150th anniversary of the coining of the term of Homo neanderthalensis by William King, Professor of Geology at Queen's College Galway in the 19th century. This proposal by King represents one of the first steps towards our understanding today of human evolution. The NUI Galway symposium is dedicated to the life and times of William King and the distant prehistoric people to whom he gave a name. The meeting will welcome the world's leading authorities in the field of human evolution, a gathering never before seen in Ireland, to celebrate this remarkable achievement. At the heart of it all the organising committee hope the symposium will be a fitting tribute to a pioneer in the field of human evolution, who worked at a time when this field was still very much in its infancy, but who has never really received the scientific recognition he deserves. Dr John Murray, one of the symposium organisers, said "this event will celebrate where we have come from as human beings. Professor King’s work represents a scientific milestone in the history of our understanding of human origins. The term ‘Neanderthal’ is globally recognised and understood, but had King not coined this phrase during his time in Queen’s College Galway, they would most likely be known by a completely different name today.” William King’s proposal in 1864 was to formally designate Neanderthal people as a separate species from ourselves (Homo neanderthalensis). His suggestion was both extraordinary and revolutionary for its time - Charles Darwin’s masterpiece ‘Origin of Species’ had been published just five years beforehand. William King remains the first to name a new fossil human species; a privilege afforded to very few scientists. Professor Svante Pääbo, Director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and the first person to sequence the DNA of Neanderthal people, will deliver the main keynote address of the symposium. President Higgins along with members of the King family, will attend this free public talk, which is specifically aimed at a general audience. It will take place at 5.30pm on Saturday 24th May in O'Flaherty Theatre in NUI Galway and those interested in attending are asked to register at http://bit.ly/Neanderthal150 General information regarding the full weekend symposium, entitled ‘From Fossils to the Genome’, is available at www.neanderthal150.org. The meeting has been made possible with the assistance of: The Quaternary Research Association, The Irish Research Council, Roche, NUI Galway, Galway City Council, Bord Fáilte, The Geological Survey of Ireland, The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, The Institute of Geologists of Ireland, Beta Analytic Limited, Connemara Marble Industries Limited and the Burren Geopark. -ends-
NUI Galway Insight Group Win Prestigious BBC #newsHACK II Prize
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Insight’s Digital Humanities and Journalism Group Compete with Sky News, the Financial Times, Storyful and the BBC to win ‘Connecting the News’ category prize at BBC #newsHACK II Insight’s Digital Humanities and Journalism group at NUI Galway were the winners of the Connecting the News category prize at the BBC #newsHACK in Dublin on 1 and 2 May. The team developed ‘Hash2News’, a Chrome Extension, which enables users to find the news stories behind Twitter hashtags at the click of a button. The group competed alongside teams from other academic institutes as well as news organisations such as Sky News, the Financial Times, Storyful and the BBC. The #newsHACK is an initiative of the BBC NewsLabs, an innovation programme for the whole of BBC News, and organised by BBC Connected Studio and the Global Editors Network (sponsored by Google), and aims to foster digital innovation in news. The 2014 theme was ‘The Future of News Curation’ and was held in Dublin and Glasgow earlier this month. Inspired by the belief that a hack should identify and solve a particular problem, the Digital Humanities and Journalism (HuJo) group at Insight decided to use their expertise with handling Twitter streams and entity extraction to find the news articles most relevant for any given hashtag. They plan to finalise their ‘Hash2News’ extension and make it freely available online in the near future. Social media, especially Twitter, presents a large stream of discussion to users, often informed by external news events. The result is that users often feel like they are ‘out of the loop’, and want to find out what is behind ongoing social media discussions. By providing a direct link from Twitter content to relevant news articles, HuJo’s Chrome Extension enables Twitter users to find ‘the news behind the noise’, the news articles relevant to social media conversations. Dr. Bahareh R. Heravi, Insight’s HuJo Group Leader said, “We are very happy to have been selected as a winning team at the BBC #newsHACK. The team had to compete with large and prestigious news organisations, and come up with a unique and useful product within a day and a half. This required a high degree of intellectual work, as well as great team work. Being a winning team among such strong groups of participants was a great accomplishment, particularly for a young research team such as HuJo.” The judges saw the utility of ‘Hash2News’ and awarded the group the prize for Connecting the News, which requires the team to “pique audience interests, to tap into social media habits, and support consumption across devices.” Other category winners were BBC Location Service (Explaining the News), The Independent (Tools for Journalists), Sky News (Theming the News), University of the West of Scotland (NewsCrack award) and BBC archives (Visually Inspired). The Best in Show winners were The Financial Times (Glasgow) and The Times/Sunday Times (Dublin). Hash2News team members were Ravindra Harige, Dara McHugh, Prashant Khare, Pablo Torres, and team leader, Dr. Bahareh Heravi. The Insight Centre for Data Analytics is a joint initiative between researchers at NUI Galway, UCD, UCC, DCU, and other partner institutions. It will bring together a critical mass of more than 200 researchers from Ireland's leading Information Communications and Technology (ICT) centres to develop a new generation of data analytics technologies in a number of key application areas. For further information on HuJo-Insight’s work at the BBC #newsHACK II visit http://hujo.deri.ie/hujo-newshack-ii/ -Ends-
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NUI Galway Information Evening to Highlight Clinical Research
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
The HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway (CRFG) is holding a public information evening on Tuesday, 20 May from 5-7pm in the Clinical Sciences Institute, NUI Galway (on the grounds of Galway University Hospital). The information evening will highlight how ongoing clinical research studies may lead to significant medical breakthroughs and the development of new treatments. It is also an opportunity to find out more about current research projects and to meet current CRFG staff. Professor Martin O’Donnell, Acting Director, HRB CRFG, said: “Clinical research involves a collaboration between clinicians, patients, volunteers and research staff. Therefore, public engagement is an essential part of clinical research. Over the past six years, the HRB CRFG has developed a strong clinical research group, conducting studies across a wide spectrum of medical conditions. We strive to conduct cutting-edge research, which adheres to the highest standards.” The HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway is a joint venture between NUI Galway, Galway University Hospitals and West Northwest Hospital Group, and has been in operation since March 2008. The Facility provides the infrastructure, physical space, facilities, expertise and culture needed to optimally support patient-focused research studies and clinical studies aimed at understanding a range of diseases and translating the knowledge obtained through this research work into evaluating novel therapies for various clinical conditions. Over the past six years, clinical research outputs from the HRB CRFG have made important contributions to clinical medicine, in both prevention and treatment of common disease. Work has begun on the new Clinical Research Facility and Translational Research Facility (CRF-TRF) building located on the grounds of Galway University Hospital. The building is due to be completed in January 2015. The CRF-TRF will facilitate cutting-edge medical research. This facility will form part of the Irish Network of Clinical Research Facilities which will conduct state of the art clinical research in a variety of clinical areas, such as Cardiology, Cancer, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, etc. So, what is a Clinical Trial? A Clinical Trial is a research study to answer specific questions about a new medical treatment (medicine/drug, medical device, new therapies, vaccines), or new ways of using known treatments. Clinical Trials (also called medical research and research studies) are used to determine whether such new treatments are both safe and effective. Carefully conducted Clinical Trials are the fastest and safest way to find new and effective treatments that work in people. The CRFG Information Evening is free to attend, however advance registration is requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . -Ends-
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NUI Galway Students' Union 50th Anniversary Reunion
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
All past and present NUI Galway Students' Union officers, staff, journalists, colleagues and friends are invited to join with us to celebrate as NUI Galway Students’ Union turns 50. The reunion is taking place in the College Bar, NUI Galway from 7pm onwards on Saturday 7th June 2014. Former Students’ Union Presidents include President Michael D Higgins, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore. Tickets are €15 which includes BBQ, dessert, refreshments, entertainment and lots of surprises along the way. If you have any queries about the event or would be interested in contributing to our special 50th anniversary publication for the event - with photos or words - please contact email@example.com or phone 091 493704 ASAP! -Ends-
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REDDSTAR Shines at the ISCT 2014 Paris Conference
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
REDDSTAR Co-ordinator and Professor of Medicine at NUI Galway, Tim O’Brien, and Orbsen Therapeutics’ Head of Research, Dr Steve Elliman took part in an interactive workshop during the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) 20th Anniversary meeting. The workshop showcased ‘EU-funded projects on Cellular Therapies’ and was held in Paris recently. REDDSTAR (Repair of Diabetic Damage by Stromal Cell Administration) is an EU funded project which will develop and test stromal cell therapy to treat for diabetes mellitus. The objective is to control blood glucose while also addressing a range of diabetic complications. Steve Elliman added, “The 20th ISCT Meeting in Paris featured some outstanding updates in the translational development of cell therapies. I personally enjoyed the Plenary Session of the development of cell therapies for leukaemias and inherited immunodeficiences, which included an inspirational discussion of the challenges and successes of gene-modified cell therapies by Professor Adrian Thrasher from Great Ormond Street Hospital in the London and Professor Bruce Levine from University of Pennsylvania. In addition, there was a well-attended and detailed discussion of the development of clinical MSCs for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which was very informative for groups entering the clinical phase of cell therapy testing.” In response to the EU-funded projects’ workshop and REDDSTAR’s involvement, Massimo Dominici, MD, President of the International Society for Cellular Therapy 2014-16 remarked, “The presence of highly valuable speakers representing EU funded research projects represented true added value within our 20th Anniversary Meeting. The feeling I have is that cell therapy in Europe has grown incredibly and, certainly, the EU FP7 granting has provided the proper boost in translating basic concepts into clinical realities for still as yet untreatable diseases. As a global society, ISCT looks forward to showcasing again these EU-based achievements in our future events worldwide.” The REDDSTAR-sponsored session (Workshop 5) was chaired by Dr Mark Lowdell of the Royal Free and University College Medical School, University College London, UK and Dr David Gancberg from Directorate Health, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission. In addition to Professor O’ Brien and Dr Elliman, the workshop also featured Prof. Anne Dickinson, MD, of Newcastle University, UK, a project leader in Celleurope and Dr Pierre Layrolle, Co-ordinator of Reborne based at INSERM in Toulouse. -Ends-
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Limited Places Still Available for NUI Galway Engineering Summer School
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics still has a few spaces available on their one-day Engineering Summer School. The summer school is specially designed to give prospective students a real taste of university life through a wide range of hands-on practical activities and students interested in attending have a choice of two different days to participate, Thursday, 19 June, or Friday, 20 June. The summer school, which will take place in the new state-of-the-art Engineering Building on campus, is a free event which provides second-level students the opportunity to learn more about the various fields of engineering which can be studied in NUI Galway. “We have seen a huge interest once again this year amongst both senior and junior cycle second-level students in our Engineering Summer School, but we have a few remaining spaces which students can apply for”, according to Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. “The places in the free summer school are competitively awarded so we would invite any students who would be interested in learning more about Electronic, Mechanical, Civil, Biomedical or Energy Systems Engineering to apply for these last few places.” Interested students find out more information at http://www.nuigalway.ie/summer-schools/ and can apply by email to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday, 6 June. -Ends-
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Free Lunchtime Film Screenings at NUI Galway to Celebrate Ageing
Monday, 12 May 2014
The third ‘Reel Lives Film Festival’, organised by The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, is offering free lunchtime screenings of international films and documentaries celebrating ageing across the life-course from 19-23May as part of the Bealtaine Festival. The lunchtime screenings are open to the public and will begin each day at 1pm, apart from Tuesday, 20 May which will take place at 2pm, in IT125G, IT Building, NUI Galway. Each film will be followed by a short audience discussion and refreshments. Film themes include retirement, adventure in later years, attachment to home-place, technology, carers, and reminiscence. A short, informal audience discussion follows each film. Additional attractions include a pre-screening reading of a short story about ageing by Galway writer, Moya Roddy, on Monday 19 at 1 pm. Galway tour-guide, Brendan Hynes will take audience members for a Corrib riverside walk and talk on Friday 23, post-screening. Preceding Tuesday’s films is the launch of the Galway Age Friendly Alliance Strategy. The Galway Age Friendly City and County Alliance is a partnership of key local groups that is committed to making the City and County better places in which to grow older. The new Strategy will be launched at 12.30pm on Tuesday, 20May by sports commentator and raconteur Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh in IT125. Programme: Monday - Short film: ‘Analogue People in a Digital Age’ by Keith Walsh [13 mins]. An Irish bar discussion on coping with technology. Main film: ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ (2011), starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith [124 mins]. The exotic lives of India’s hotel for the well-heeled British retirees are portrayed in rich performances by an all-star cast. Tuesday - Short film: ‘4 Bhanrion’ ( as Gaeilge with sub-titles) by Vittoria Colinna, starring Geraldine Plunkett [15 mins]. A deadly game of poker dictates which sister will mind mammy in her dotage. Main film: ‘Song for Marion’ (2012), starring Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave [93 mins]. Singing in her community choir, whilst dying of cancer is a life-changing experience for all, especially for Marion’s husband Terence Stamp. Wednesday – Short film: ‘Blue Rinse’ by Matt Leigh [11 mins]. Life inside a Dublin hairdressing salon for older women. Main film: ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ (1985), starring Geraldine Page, Rebecca de Mornay [107 mins]. Based on Oscar-nominated screenplay, Geraldine Page won an Academy award for best actress for her performance. A longing to see her home-place before she died leads Page to recount the story of her life in this poignant tale. Thursday - Short film: ‘Forty Foot’ by Paul McGrath and Leticia Agudo [9 mins]. Stories from the swimmers who use Dublin’s famous 40-foot sea spot. Main film: ‘Harry and Tonto’ (1974), starring Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, Larry Hagman [111 mins]. Evicted from his home, Art Carney embarks on a road trip across America with his cat ‘Tonto’. Friday - Short film: ‘Foxes and Donkeys’ (2013) by Eileen Gibbons [13 mins]. Stories by residents of St Brendan’s Nursing Home, Loughrea. Main film: ‘My Afternoons with Margueritte’ (2010, French with English sub-titles), starring Gerard Dépardieu [82 mins]. The highly watchable Dépardieu’s performance as an illiterate and lonely man befriending an older and well-read woman makes this a gentle gem. The screening venue has all facilities available to hand; including cafés, restrooms, and a lift is available to the lecture theatre for easy access. The lecture theatre is wheelchair friendly. Films are courtesy of Screenclick; Bord Scannán na hEireann/The Irish Film Board; film collector Liam Bluett, and Directors. Reel Lives Film Festival poster designed by artist Marina Wild, NUI Galway. Soft drinks and confectionary are courtesy of the Students’ Union Shop NUI Galway. Spot prizes are sponsored by NUI Galway’s Kingfisher Sports Centre, and Masterchefs Hospitality NUI Galway. Further information contact event organiser, Alison Herbert at 091 495461 or 087 2830757, www.icsg.ie. -Ends-
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Explore Galway’s Natural History with the new NUI Galway Guidebook!
Monday, 19 May 2014
A new guidebook has been published by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences to help people explore the natural history of the Galway area. The booklet was produced as part of NUI Galway’s EXPLORE initiative that promotes and sponsors innovation through student and staff collaboration. Entitled Self Guided Fieldtrip – Galway Area, the booklet was compiled by Alina Wieczorek, a third year undergraduate student with the School of Natural Sciences, and Professor Martin Feely, Earth and Ocean Science at NUI Galway. The tour includes a visit to the James Mitchell Museum, in NUI Galway’s Quadrangle Building, to introduce the rocks, minerals and fossils of the Galway area and from around the globe. The guide highlights the natural history of the coastal zone stretching from Galway city westwards to Salthill and beyond. The reader can explore that history using the map and the many field illustrations of bedrock geology, as well as the flora and fauna that live on the bedrock; highlighting the many links between the Natural Sciences of Geology, Botany and Zoology. Those who use the guide are encouraged to share and discuss their discoveries through the webpage, www.exploregalway.npage.eu. A downloadable version of the guide is also available on this webpage. A hard copy is available from NUI Galway’s James Mitchell Museum in the Quadrangle Building, or the Zoology Museum in NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute, or the Earth and Ocean Sciences office on the second floor of NUI Galway’s Quadrangle. The museums are open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. -Ends-
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Risks for psychosis could be identified through tell-tale signs in IQ, memory or social intelligence tests
Monday, 19 May 2014
The study’s findings, led by NUI Galway Professor Gary Donohoe, have been published in the leading international peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry A new study has revealed that genetic variants associated with risk for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are also associated with performance on measures of IQ, memory and social cognition. The discovery was made by NUI Galway Professor of Psychology Gary Donohue, in association with colleagues from Trinity College, Dublin and has just been published in leading journal, JAMA psychiatry. Professor Gary Donohoe said: “These findings support the view that the genetics of schizophrenia and cognition overlap. The findings also raise the possibility that the risk of developing schizophrenia may be identified by changes in cognitive ability; tell-tale signs found in IQ, memory or social intelligence tests. These cognitive deficits often appear before the emergence of clinical symptoms and go on to predict individual levels of disability. Understanding how genetic variants contribute to this aspect of disability, both individually and interaction, is an important step towards understanding the underlying biology and developing better and more personalized treatments.” Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder affects about one in 50 Irish adults. Treatments are available, but the successful treatment rates vary. It is as yet unknown what causes or triggers schizophrenia. Disability in these disorders is significantly affected by difficulties with a wide range of neuropsychological problems, including general cognitive ability, memory function, and cognitive abilities relevant to engaging and dealing with others. Dr. April Hargreaves and Dr. Kristen Nicodemus were joint first authors on the paper. The study also included contributions from a broad network of collaborators in Europe and the US. Co-first author Dr. Hargreaves said ‘what is perhaps most novel about the study is the move from focusing on single genetic variants to considering the effects of multiple, related risk variants at the same time. The fact that we were able to account for a greater proportion of the variance in cognitive performance by looking at multiple variants, suggests that this approach represents an important next step in modeling the genetic complexity of cognition and identifying risk factors for psychosis’. The study, which was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, assessed performance on a number of cognitive functions known to be affected in psychosis. A total of 424 patients participated in the study, including 340 with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and 83 with bipolar or major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Patients were given individual scores based on their loading for genetic variants interacting with ZNF804A, the first genome wide significant variant to be identified for schizophrenia. Across patient groups, higher scores on this ZNF804A interaction pathway were associated with poorer performance on multiple cognitive measures, including both general cognitive ability and a measure social cognition, often popularly referred to as social intelligence. -ends-
Medical Device Week at NUI Galway
Monday, 19 May 2014
Week designed to educate the public about medical devices in creative ways The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway will be celebrating Medical Device Week from 3-6 June. The Week is designed to educate the public about medical device research in unique ways, with each day assigned a different theme for various topics. The week kicks off on Tuesday with the theme of ‘New Foundations’ which involves a seminar series entitled ‘Engineering the Nanobiointerface’ at the new Biosciences Building. Invited speakers include: Professor Joachim Spatz from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany; Professor Laura Ballerini from the University of Trieste, Italy; and Dr Matteo Palma from Queen Mary University of London, UK. Tuesday’s activities will end with a wine reception to celebrate “Chimera: Art of Exploration”, an exhibition which will be open to the public from 12-4pm, Wednesday to Friday. The exhibition is of art work by professional artists Paul Maye, Siobhan McGibbon, and Marie Connole. Additionally, the exhibition will present works by students of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, GMIT, who are participating in a short research project to create works in response to what they have seen and experienced in the NFB research laboratories. Medical devices from local companies including Boston Scientific, Vornia, Aerogen, and Osteoanchor will be displayed as well as artwork from staff in the Biosciences building inspired by their research. The week continues on Wednesday with”Reaching Out” entailing a public lecture at 1:00 at the Galway City Museum. During this lecture NFB PhD students will give an informal talk about the future of medical devices with regard to hernias, cardiovascular problems, orthopedics, and Parkinson's disease. Also on Wednesday, NFB researchers will visit local primary schools to present to children concepts of the anatomy, physiology, and disease of the heart through a series of hands-on activities. A link to the outreach activity can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrv_wx27qwQ Thursday is “Translation” involving a seminar series, ‘Medical Devices and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products – Challenges and Opportunities in the Post Recession Era’, at the Biosciences Building. Invited speakers from the medical device industry will be presenting from companies such as Covidien, DSM, and Orbsen Therapeutics. The week concludes Friday with “Meet the Curator” encompassing guided tours of the Chimera art exhibition. For further details and a full programme please go to www.nfb.ie or call 091 495833. -Ends-
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