Monday, 23 January 2012

Special guest, poet Rita Ann Higgins, has launched the 12th annual NUI Galway Arts Festival programme, Múscailt, which runs from 6-10 February. The Festival contains a superb programme of music, art, performance and film, with many free events to which the public are welcome. This year’s theme is Illumination/Soilsiú and fun features include pop-up sculptures, protest art, street art, origami, hip-hop and a ‘yarn bomb’, where structures on campus receive bespoke knitwear.  Deep Sea/Deep Space, a video installation created for the Sea2sky Festival held in 2011, will be on show in the University Art Gallery. Marielle MacLeman, artist in residence with Geology and Zoology, will show new works at the Zoology and Marine Biology Museum and will be in residence at the James Mitchell Geology Museum throughout the week. Special guest artist, Sinéad Aldridge, will launch Artsoc’s annual show ‘Derelicte’ and deliver an illustrated lecture entitled ‘Stop Making Sense-Play Havoc’, on protest art or the aesthetics of resistance. Anthony J. Faulder-Mawson will transform a glass bridge on campus and five selected artists will show proposals for large-scale original art-works for the NUI Galway campus. Former MA students of Art Therapy will also present new work in ‘Sacred Space-Porous Place’ in the Arts Millennium Building. Juggling and magic join forces as guest artiste Yann Frisch performs a superb magic manipulation act in the Bailey Allen Hall. The Galway Musical Society, GUMS, will perform the new musical, ‘Spring Awakening’, in the Town Hall Theatre. The ‘Witless Band Competition Final’ takes place in the Student Union Bar with judges and public vote, while Music for Galway features the remarkable Rolf Hind on piano, playing ‘Debussy and Beyond’ in the Aula Maxima. NUI Galway Orchestra, Tradsoc, Choralsoc and Diplóma in Trad music students also perform. The Bank of Ireland Student Theatre will host ‘Mise Scéal Cailín’, the hit puppet show from Branar; a Poetry Slam with MC Pete Mullineaux; new writings and performances from NUI Galway’s students and staff in ‘Solo Show’ and a production of ‘The Clean House’ by Sarah Ruhl, performed by Dramsoc. Comicsoc takes on the ‘24 Hour Comic Book Challenge’ where these bright young artists will draw, write, edit and publish a comic within one full day. Huston Film School students present a selection of their new works and Anime Manga soc and Filmsoc show their favourites. Current staff and alumni will showcase published fiction and poetry and local filmmakers will present new short works. NUI Galway’s President Jim Browne extends an open invitation to the public to attend the closing event of Múscailt, ‘The Galway Music Residency-NUI Galway Sponsor’s Concert’, at 1pm on Friday, 10 February, in the Bailey Allen Hall. The specially chosen programme includes Air by J.S. Bach, Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns, and the exciting ‘Finale from the American Quartet’ by Antonin Dvorák, all performed by Galway ensemble-in-residence, ConTempo Quartet, in association with Arts in Action. Commenting on this year’s line up, Fionnuala Gallagher, NUI Galway Arts Officer says, “Our theme this year, Illumination, represents a bursting forth of ideas from all of the art-forms. Múscailt 2012 will be provocative and fun and there is room for interaction, debate and feedback throughout the week. Everyone is welcome to participate.” All exhibitions are open Monday - Friday. For full information see www.muscailt.nuigalway.ie. For a copy of the programme contact the Arts Office at 091 493766 or 091 495098. Tickets for events and info on Society events will be available from the Socsbox at 091 492852 or socsbox@socs.nuigalway.ie. Spring Awakening tickets are also available from Town Hall Theatre www.tht.ie or 091 569777. -ends-         -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                Seolann OÉ Gaillimh an 12ú Féile Bhliantúil EalaíonInniu sheol an t-aoi speisialta, an file Rita Ann Higgins an 12ú clár bliantúil d’Fhéile Ealaíon OÉ Gaillimh, Múscailt, a bheidh ar siúl ón 6-10 Feabhra. Tá clár iontach ceoil, ealaíne, léirithe agus scannáin ag an bhFéile, agus tá go leor de na himeachtaí saor in aisce agus fáilte roimh chách chucu.Is é Soilsiú téama na bliana seo agus i measc na nithe iontacha a bheidh le feiceáil beidh preabdhealbha, ealaín agóide, ealaín sráide, origami, hip-hap agus “buama cniotála", áit a bhfaighidh struchtúir ar an gcampas ábhar cniotála aonuaire. Taispeánfar Deep Sea/Deep Space, físeán a rinneadh don Fhéile Sea2sky, i nGailearaí Ealaíne na hOllscoile. Beidh saothair nua le Marielle MacLeman, an tEalaíontóir Cónaitheach le Geolaíocht agus Zó-eolaíocht, le feiceáil ag doras Mhúsaem na Zó-eolaíochta agus in situ i Músaem Geolaíochta James Mitchell ar feadh na seachtaine.Seolfaidh aoi speisialta, an t-ealaíontóir Sinéad Aldridge, ‘Derelicte’, seó bliantúil an Artsoc agus tabharfaidh sí léacht le léaráidí dar teideal ‘Stop Making Sense-Play Havoc’, léacht faoi ealaín agóide nó aeistéiticí friotaíochta. Léireoidh Anthony J. Faulder Mawson droichead gloine ar an gcampas agus taispeánfaidh cúigear ealaíontóirí roghnaithe tograí do bhunsaothair ealaíne ar mhórscála do champas OÉ Gaillimh. Taispeánfaidh iar-mhic léinn Teiripe Ealaíne saothar nua in Sacred Space-Porous Place in Áras Dán na Mílaoise.Tiocfaidh an chleasaíocht agus an draíocht le chéile nuair a fheicfear Yann Frisch, aoi-thaibheoir, i mbun a cheirde i Halla Bailey Allen. Cuirfidh Cumann Ceoldrámaíochta na hOllscoile an ceoldráma nua, ‘Spring Awakening’, i láthair sa Dubhlann. Beidh ‘Craobhchomórtas na mBannaí Witless’ ar siúl i mBeár Chomhaltas na Mac Léinn, áit a mbeidh vóta ag na moltóirí agus ag an bpobal. Chomh maith leis sin beidh Rolf Hind le cloisteáil ar an bpianó ag casadh ‘Debussy and Beyond’ san Aula Maxima mar chuid de Music for Galway. Beidh Ceolfhoireann OÉ Gaillimh, an Tradsoc, an Choralsoc agus mic léinn ón Dioplóma sa cheol traidisiúnta ar stáitse chomh maith.I measc na rudaí a bheidh le feiceáil in Amharclann Bhanc na hÉireann beidh ‘Mise Scéal Cailín’, an seó puipéad ón gComhlacht Amharclainne Branar; Craobh Filíochta le Duaiseanna agus Pete Mullineaux mar fhear an tí; scríbhinní agus léirithe nua ó mhic léinn agus ó fhoireann OÉ Gaillimh sa ‘Seó SOLO’ chomh maith le léiriú de The Clean House le Sarah Ruhl, á chur i láthair ag an Dramsoc. Beidh dúshlán ‘Leabhar Grinn 24 uair an chloig’ ar siúl ag an Comicsoc, áit a ndéanfaidh na healaíontóirí óga is cumasaí i nGaillimh leabhar grinn a tharraingt, a scríobh, a chur in eagar agus a chur ar fáil laistigh de lá amháin.  Cuirfidh mic léinn ó Scoil Scannán Huston rogha dá saothair nua i láthair agus taispeánfaidh an cumann Anime Manga agus an Filmsoc na saothair is ansa leo. Taispeánfaidh cuid den fhoireann reatha agus an alumni ficsean agus filíocht atá foilsithe, agus cuirfidh lucht áitiúil scannánaíochta saothair nua ghearra i láthair.Tugann an tUachtarán James J. Browne cuireadh oscailte don phobal chuig searmanas dúnta Múscailt, ‘Ceolchoirm Urraithe OÉ Gaillimh leis an Galway Music Residency’ Dé hAoine, an 10 Feabhra ag 1pm i Halla Bailey Allen. Ar an gclár speisialta seo tá Air le J.S. Bach, Swan le Camille Saint-Saëns, agus an ‘Finale spleodrach ón Quartet Meiriceánach’ le Antonin Dvořák, agus iad ar fad á léiriú ag Ensemble Cónaithe na Gaillimhe, ConTempo Quartet i gcomhar le Arts in Action.Agus í ag tagairt d’imeachtaí na bliana seo, dúirt Fionnuala Gallagher, Oifigeach Ealaíon OÉ Gaillimh, “Cuimsíonn téama na bliana seo, Soilsiú, maidhm smaointe ó gach cineál ealaíne. Beidh Múscailt 2012 gríosaitheach agus spraíúil agus beidh neart deiseanna idirghníomhaíochta, díospóireachta agus aiseolais le linn na seachtaine. Tá fáilte roimh chách a bheith páirteach.”Beidh na taispeántais ar fad ar oscailt Dé Luain – Dé hAoine. Chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil féach www.muscailt.nuigalway.ie.  Chun cóip den chlár a fháil déan teagmháil leis an Oifig Ealaíon ag 091 493766 nó 091 495098. Beidh ticéid do na himeachtaí chomh maith le heolas faoi imeachtaí ar fáil ón Socsbox ag 091 492852 nó socsbox@socs.nuigalway.ie.  Is féidir ticéid do Spring Awakening a fháil chomh maith ó Amharclann na Cathrach ag www.tht.ie nó 091 569777.-críoch-

Monday, 23 January 2012

Ireland has one of the highest incidences in the world of a blood cancer known as multiple myeloma, a gathering of clinicians and scientists heard last week. The event was a workshop hosted by NUI Galway, on behalf of the Myeloma Ireland Consortium (MIC), with the support of Science Foundation Ireland. MIC was established within the past year with the aim of increasing collaboration between ‘like-minded’ researchers from different academic institutions and hospitals in a co-ordinated approach to maximise research potential and improve patient outcomes in multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that arises from plasma cells, the white blood cells that produce antibodies. In effect, the cancer causes overproduction of antibody producing plasma cells leading to problems such as anaemia, bone damage, kidney failure and elevated calcium levels. The primary purpose of the meeting, which took place in Maynooth, was to highlight current research activities and encourage co-operation between the various research groups in Ireland working in the multiple myeloma field. In addition to updates from research groups from NUI Galway, Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, and the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, delegates also heard from international experts. Dr Aldo Roccaro from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston spoke about new insights into the interaction of myeloma cells with the bone marrow microenvironment, including the role of exosomes. Dr Dirk Hose from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, covered the use of gene expression profiling for risk stratification and target assessment in clinical practice. Professor Frank Giles, who leads the HRB Clinical Research Facility in Galway and is Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin discussed Irish early-phase studies in myeloma in the context of the National Clinical Research Framework. An update on current multiple myeloma trials being conducted by the all-Ireland Cooperative Clinical Oncology Research Group (ICORG) was given by Dr Peter O’Gorman, Chair of the ICORG Haematology study group. Professor Micheal O’Dwyer, Professor of Haematology at NUI Galway and Consultant Haematologist, University Hospital Galway, who convened the event stated: “While treatments have improved over the last decade, and most patients are living longer, multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease. It is vital that scientists across the entire Irish research spectrum work together to find new treatment approaches and improve patient outcomes.” Throughout the event, there were opportunities to discuss the practicalities of undertaking translational research and potential opportunities for collaboration in Ireland. This workshop was also supported by Janssen and Celgene. -ends-

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A new study from NUI Galway has shown a significant improvement in managing breathing difficulties among people suffering from COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Health Research Board (HRB) - funded study trialled a community-based approached, through nurses, GP practices and physiotherapists, to help sufferers better manage their condition. COPD is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. The disease can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms. While cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust, may also contribute to COPD. The PRINCE (Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Nurse-led Community Environment) study was funded by the HRB, and consisted of a two-armed randomised cluster trial. In one arm (intervention group), persons with COPD received a structured education pulmonary rehabilitation programme, while the other arm (control group) received usual care. The study is one of the largest pulmonary rehabilitation trials conducted in primary care. The pulmonary rehabilitation programme was specifically designed by the study team for clients living in the community with COPD. The programme was delivered in GP practices or venues close by and facilitated by practice nurses and physiotherapists who were trained by the PRINCE study team to facilitate the programme. The content of the programme included medication management, breathing techniques and exercise training. It was delivered two hours per week over eight weeks. The study found that people who attended the programme were significantly better able to manage their breathing difficulties than those who did not attend. Principal study investigators Professor Kathy Murphy and Dr Dympna Casey, from the School of Nursing at NUI Galway, are excited by the study findings. Professor Murphy commented: “We both feel strongly that healthcare research must make a real difference to patients’ lives and we are delighted that the findings of our large trial does just that. Our study found that a community based pulmonary rehabilitation programme facilitated by trained physiotherapists and practice nurses who had no prior COPD expertise, is feasible, safe, and effective. Not only that, but it makes a real difference to patients with moderate to severe COPD by improving their dyspnoea and physical functioning.” Dr Casey added: “A key strength of this study is that by involving the practitioners who work within primary care and training them to facilitate delivery of the pulmonary rehabilitation programmes, we have helped to strengthen and build capacity within the Irish primary health care setting to manage COPD more effectively. Our work shows that it’s possible to expand the scope of pulmonary rehabilitation practice in Ireland from hospital-based to community-based programmes.” The comprehensive findings of the PRINCE Study were presented at a Respiratory Symposium sponsored by Pfizer and co-ordinated by the PRINCE research team, which was held in NUI Galway on 21 January 2012. The symposium, which focuses on respiratory management, was chaired by Dr Andrew Murphy Professor of General Practice, NUI Galway, and member of the PRINCE research team. The symposium also included a number of key note speakers including Dr Joe Clarke, HSE Primary Care Clinical Lead, and Professor JJ. Gilmartin, Respiratory Consultant, GUH, Galway. -ends-

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The next in NUI Galway’s series of public talks on sports technology will focus on ‘Re- Engineering the Swimmer: the Science and Technology of Swimming’. The free event takes place in room 3035 of the new Engineering Building on campus, on Tuesday, 31 January at 6pm. The lecture will be given by Dr Gavin Corley of NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics, who is himself a competitive swimmer. Dr Corley’s talk will focus on emerging technologies which are being used to enhance swimming coaching and performance. “More people in Ireland and the UK participate in swimming than in any other sport, with many of these people swimming at a competitive level,” explains Dr Corley. “Despite this, mainstream swimming hasn’t yet seen the same degree of adoption of new technologies as many other sports such as running or cycling. This is set to change. Recent developments in sensing, communication and material technologies are leading the way for a number of new innovations in swimming performance and coaching.” Following an overview on the history and physics of swimming, these emerging technologies will be discussed in depth with some conclusions on the future of the technological swimmer.” Dr Corley has been swimming competitively for most of his life and has spent the last 10 years teaching and coaching swimming. He currently swims with the NUI Galway swimming club.    Dr Gavin Corley is a post-doctoral researcher in the Bioelectronics Research Cluster at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science and Adjunct Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. He is working on the commercialisation of therapeutic and sensing technologies for older people. He is also an editor for the online medical device journal, Medgadget, where he writes about emerging medical, health and sporting technologies. The series of Sports Technology talks is being organised as part of NUI Galway’s degree programme in Sports & Exercise Engineering, whose students are being educated to design the next generation of sports and exercise systems and devices. For more information on the sports technology talks, which are supported by Engineers Ireland (West), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, visit www.ExerciseEngineering.com or call 091 492728. -ends- 

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting patients with back pain to take part in the Pain Disability Prevention Programme (PDP) trial..  The study offers patients with back pain the opportunity to avail of 10 sessions with a clinical psychologist trained in pain rehabilitation. The sessions, which are free of charge, will focus on active rehabilitation, instruction in a range of pacing techniques, cognitive therapy to help identify negative thinking patterns and the development of effective challenges, stretching and exercising to improve physical function.  The study, funded by the HSE, will take place in counties Galway, Dublin, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Limerick and Cork.  GPs and physiotherapists in these counties are being encouraged to refer suitable patients to the study.Miriam Raftery, Researcher at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway says: “We know that a combination of psychological and physical therapies provided at the early stages of back pain are beneficial, particularly for people at risk of long term disability.  However this type of service is often only accessible via specialised hospital-based pain management teams.  In this trial we will offer this type of service to people locally and at the earlier stages of injury. Ms Raftery added: “Many people find that a combination of cognitive and physical rehabilitation like the PDP programme enables them to take back control of their lives, to do more and feel better.  By trialing this early-intervention programme we can assess if this type of service is beneficial for people with chronic pain.”Patients can access physiotherapy and all medical services as usual while involved in the trial.  Clinicians are attached to the trial in each of the participating counties so appointments take place locally for patients.  In Limerick, Cork, Dublin and Galway appointments take place in the city, while in Donegal appointments are held in Letterkenny and Buncrana.  For patients in the Mayo region, appointments take place in Swinford, while in Sligo appointments are in Sligo town.The researchers are specifically interested in hearing from people who have back pain for no longer than 12 months and are either off work or on reduced work hours due to pain.For further information, please contact Miriam Raftery, Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, email miriam.raftery@nuigalway.ie , phone 091 495 830 or see the website www.nuigalway.ie/pdp  GPs interested in referring suitable patients to the trial can also contact this number.ENDS

Monday, 30 January 2012

The conservation and sustainable use of our agricultural biodiversity is critical to future sustainable development, both in Ireland and internationally. In response to this, on Thursday, 9 February, the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Centre is hosting AgBioDiv2012.The free event is Ireland’s first Annual AgroBiodiversity Conference. Agricultural biodiversity or agrobiodiversity refers to all biological and genetic diversity which is directly relevant to agriculture and food production.Agrobiodiversity concerns the variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture, including crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries. It comprises the diversity of genetic resources (varieties, breeds) and species used for providing the food, fodder, fibre, fuel and medicines that we depend on for our everyday lives.AgBioDiv2012 organiser Professor Charles Spillane, Head of Plant and AgriBiosciences at NUI Galway, highlighted that: “Since the early 1990s there has been a tremendous upsurge in activity to conserve Ireland’s rare livestock breeds and threatened crop varieties. A coalition of activities by the Department of Agriculture and Food, universities, NGOs, and dedicated individuals across Ireland has led to a vibrant community now involved in agrobiodiversity conservation and sustainable use.”Professor Spillane said:“The time is right for an annual conference to bring everybody together to take stock of what has been done, what can be done and what is necessary to do over the coming years to ensure that agrobiodiversity contributes to a vibrant and sustainable food and agriculture sector in Ireland.”He added: “Such agrobiodiversity conservation efforts have ensured that native livestock rare-breeds such as Galway sheep and Kerry bog ponies and many threatened plant varieties have not become extinct over the past decade. Many such rare-breeds and varieties have become eligible for REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) support. Ireland now has a national genebank, and we now store Ireland’s threatened crop varieties in the long-term Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitzbergen inside the Arctic circle.”The line up of 19 invited speakers assembling for AgBioDiv2012 includes international speakers from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Bioversity International, and the National History Museum in Paris. A wide range of speakers from Ireland will cover agrobiodiversity topics including rare breeds of livestock, rare and threatened crops wild relatives, seed saving, forestry and tree conservation, seaweed diversity, horticultural and ornamental plants, energy crops, and honey bees.Dr Danny Hunter, Adjunct Lecturer in AgroBiodiversity and Leader of the AgroBiodiversity research theme in the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Centre highlighted that: “The recent State of Knowledge, Ireland’s Biodiversity 2010 report highlights the importance of biodiversity to the national economy with an estimated contribution of over €2.6 billion. Agricultural biodiversity, that element of biodiversity important for agriculture and food production, contributes substantially to this figure. The pollinators of our crops alone contribute about 80 million euro. Irish agriculture and food security depends on this diversity of animal, plant and microbial genetic resources. However, these biological resources are increasingly threatened and this requires urgent action to ensure they are effectively conserved for future generations.”NUI Galway AgroBiodiversity researcher Ms Angela Mina-Vargas said: “AgBioDiv2012 will provide opportunities to learn more about Ireland’s national activities and priorities regarding conservation of agrobiodiversity resources including rare breeds, rare crop and horticultural varieties, and a host of other diverse organisms including seaweeds, bryophytes, birds and bees that are important for the sustainability of future food and agricultural systems. Agrobiodiversity conservation and sustainable use is critical to future sustainable development and to ensuring food and livelihood security in societies across the globe, particularly in developing countries.”Dr Danny Hunter stressed that: “AgBioDiv2012 will hopefully contribute to an improved understanding of the current status of conservation and utilisation of agricultural biodiversity in Ireland including how we are meeting our commitments and obligations to global biodiversity Conventions and Treaties. It should also highlight gaps in our knowledge and provide a platform for greater networking among partners to address these. It is fitting that such a conference is taking place a few weeks after the death of Dr Erna Bennett, one of Ireland’s great unheralded scientists and an early pioneer of the science and practice of genetic conservation and champion of small farmers all over the world who have been the custodians of the planet's agricultural biodiversity.”AgBioDiv2012 will be held at NUI Galway on Thursday, 9 February, 2012 and is open to all who are interested. Registration is available at the conference website http://agbiodiversity.org, and is supported by the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, the NUI Galway Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre, and Genetic Heritage Ireland. -ends-

Monday, 30 January 2012

A new learning resource developed by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, NUI Galway for Gaeltacht and all-Irish primary schools will be launched by the Head of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Edel Ní Chuireáin, on Wednesday (2pm) 1 February 2012, in Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim, Carna.  The launch will be broadcast live on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta. The new iTunes U – COGG (An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta) Channel comprises audio and video resources that have been carefully selected from both the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and NUI Galway archives, as part of a research project undertaken by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge. The 300 new learning resources include songs, poems, stories, interesting points of information and history in the different dialects that are aimed at stimulating language acquisition and enrichment among Gaeltacht and all-Irish primary schools, particularly in 5th and 6th class.  A learning plan has also been developed for teachers to assist in the effective use of the resources in the classroom.  The Channel will also have resources for other learner groups.Muireann Ní Mhóráin, Chief Executive of COGG comments: “Digitial resources of a high standard are a prerequisite for the contemporary classroom.  The new Channel will add significantly to the current corpus of Irish language teaching resources available to Gaeltacht and all-Irish primary school teachers and to the student learning experience.  And with the Channel being launched on the Feast of St. Brigid it’s great see to our rich cultural heritage and new technology  being intertwined to develop Irish language learning resources in such an attractive and efficient way.”Commenting on behalf of the research team at NUI Galway Séamas Ó Concheanainn says: “This project  reinforces the role of research in third-level institutions in addressing the contemporary needs of primary schools with regard to the availability of excellent digitial teaching resources for the classroom.  The project draws on the expertise being developed in the digitial humanities at Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge and at the Acadamh Centre at Carna, in particular.  The exploitation of modern learning tools and traditional resources together has the potential to significantly contribute to language acquisition and therefore this project underpins one of the Centre’s key strategic objectives, that of sustaining and strengthening the Irish language in the Gaeltacht and throughout the country.”Ends _________________________________________________________________________ Cainéal iTunes U de chuid COGG le seoladh beo ar RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Seolfaidh Ceannaire RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Edel Ní Chuireáin áis fhoghlama úrnua atá forbartha ag Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, OÉ Gaillimh do bhunscoileanna Gaeltachta agus lán-Ghaeilge, ar an gCéadaoin (2 p.m.) an 1 Feabhra 2012, in Áras Shorcha Ní Ghuairim, Carna. Craolfar an seoladh beo ar an gclár Ardtráthnóna ar RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.Is éard atá sa Chainéal nua iTunes U - COGG (An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta) ná cnuasach saibhir d’acmhainní físe agus fuaime a roghnaíodh go cúramach ó Chartlann RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta agus ó Chartlanna Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh féin, mar chuid de thionscadal taighde atá curtha i gcrích ag Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge.  Áiríonn an Cainéal 300 mír fhoghlama ina bhfuil amhráin a gcasadh, dánta á n-aithris, scéalta spraíúla á n-insint, eolas á roinnt agus míreanna staire á gcur i láthair i gcanúintí éagsúla.   Tá na míreanna dírithe ar shealbhú agus ar shaibhriú na Gaeilge i measc daltaí i mbunscoileanna Gaeltachta agus lán-Ghaeilge, go háirithe daltaí Rang 5 agus 6.  In éineacht leis na hacmhainní féin, tá plean foghlama deartha a bheidh mar áis sa seomra ranga ag múinteoirí bunscoile agus iad ag úsáid na míreanna foghlama.  Tá acmhainní foghlama atá feiliúnach do spriocghrúpaí eile ar fáil ar an gCainéal freisin.Deir Príomhfheidhmeannach COGG, Muireann Ní Mhóráin:“Teastaíonn acmhainní digiteacha den chéad scoth sa seomra ranga. Cuirfidh an cainéal nua le stór acmhainní teagaisc mhúinteoirí bunscoile i ranganna 5 agus 6 ach go háirithe. Ba cheart go gcuirfeadh an cainéal go mór le heispéireas na foghlama i scoileanna Gaeltachta agus i nGaelscoileanna ar fud na tíre. Agus an cainéal á sheoladh ar Lá Fhéile Bríde, is maith liom go bhfuil an sean agus an nua ag obair as lámha a chéile agus go bhfuil saibhreas na muintire á roinnt an athuair ar shlí atá saoráideach agus snasta.”Thar ceann fhoireann an tionscadail in OÉ Gaillimh deir Riarthóir Ionad an Acadaimh, Carna , Séamas Ó Concheanainn:“Tionscnamh eiseamláireach é seo a dhaingníonn tábhacht an taighde ar an gceathrú leibhéal le freastal ar riachtanais chomhaimseartha múinteoirí bunscoileanna trí acmhainní digiteacha teagaisc den scoth a chur ar fáil don seomra ranga. Cuireadh an togra i gcrích a bhuíochas den saineolas sna daonnachtaí digiteacha atá á saothrú in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge trí chéile ach go háirithe in Ionad na hOllscoile anseo i gCarna. Cothaíonn saothrú an léinn nua-aoisigh agus an chultúir traidisiúnta in éineacht deiseanna ar leith don sealbhú teanga agus tacaíonn an tionscadal taighde seo go láidir mar sin le ceann de phríomh chuspóirí an Ionaid, sé sin an Ghaeilge a bhuanú agus a threisiú sa Ghaeltacht agus ar fud na tíre.”CRÍOCH

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

NUI Galway, in collaboration with software industry partners, has been awarded HEA funding for an innovative industry-focused Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development. This goal of this one-year post-graduate conversion course, co-designed with industry experts, is to increase the supply of skilled graduates to meet the needs of Ireland’s high-growth software industry. It will provide graduates with a fast-track, focused computing qualification, and presents them with an opportunity to obtain valuable industry work experience.The new Diploma builds on the existing strengths of collaborative academic-industry interaction in the Galway region, and will provide graduates with: a solid foundation in key software design knowledge; a choice of software architecture specialization in either .NET or Java Enterprise; and a guaranteed work placement to gain relevant experience, and so provide the opportunity to kick-start their career as software developers.The industry partners include Avaya, Ericsson, Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), Fidelity Investments, Hewlett Packard, Storm Technologies and the Marine Institute, and the new course will be delivered as part of the Information Technology Discipline’s complimentary portfolio of postgraduate degrees.Welcoming news of the award, Dr Jim Duggan, Lecturer in Information Technology at NUI Galway, commented: “This is a wonderful opportunity for highly motivated analytical graduates from engineering, science, business, and arts to invest just one year of their time in further education, and, through placement experience with our Industry partners, they will have an excellent prospect for recruitment as software developers in Ireland’s high tech ICT sector.”ENDS

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Four NUI Galway Medical students were recently presented with prizes from the Health Research Board (HRB). The overall winner of the Watts Medal was fourth-year medical student Dympna O’Dwyer from Mullagh, Co. Clare, with second place going to Sarah Cormican from Oranmore, Co. Galway, a third-year medical student at the University.Fourth-year medical student Urszula Donigiewicz from Carrigtwohill, Co. Sligo was presented with first place in the Watts Poster competition and third place was awarded to third-year medical student Maria Duignan from Boyle, Co. Roscommon.The Watts Medal is an annual prize awarded for the best presentation of scientific work to a lay audience. Undergraduate students who win a HRB Summer Scholarship are entitled to enter. Their entries are reviewed by scientists, and the best entries are selected for entry into the Watts Poster competition, with the top projects from that selected to compete for the Watts Medal proper.Commenting on the competition, HRB CEO Enda Connolly said: “The quality of the work on display both in the poster competition and the Watts Medal presentations was truly astounding. The students have shown ingenuity, commitment and drive to have accomplished so much in the eight weeks that their HRB Summer Scholarships lasted. They have been able to tackle complex problems, come up with genuine solutions, and place their research into the wider social context of how it translates to making people healthier and delivering better treatments.”Professor Fidelma Dunne, Head of School of Medicine at NUI Galway, hopes to build further on this outcome by encouraging clinical and biomedical research as an integral part of undergraduate medical education, “Research is an extremely important component of disease specific knowledge and treatment but also contributes significantly to population health and health services research. The awards have occurred as a result of the commitment of undergraduate students to research, the supervision and mentoring of students by staff within the school, and the high calibre of the research being conducted” she said.-ENDS-

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Hewlett Packard Galway and NUI Galway recently launched a Masters Fellowship in Commerce as part of the 40thanniversary celebrations of HP Galway. This research based Masters Fellowship in commerce will examine the impact of HP Galway on the regional and national economy over the last 40 years. The research will investigate the spill over effects of HP Galway in terms of the economic development of Galway, the Western region and nationally and will also focus on other impacts particularly the development of the ICT industry in Ireland, management capabilities, the creation of start-ups, educational support at secondary and teritary levels.  Speaking on the launch of the fellowship Dr Chris Coughlan HP Galway “The forty years of Digital to HP in Galway had a profound and positive effect on Galway and Ireland, with this fellowship we hope to document and analyse this and apply the lessons learned to help industries to grow and increase employment.” Dr James Cunningham, Director of the Institute for Business, Social Sciences and Public Policy added: “We are delighted to collaborate with Dr Chris Coughlan and his colleagues at HP Galway and this study will compliment our research activities at NUI Galway in understanding the impacts of HP Galway on Galway city and the region.” Details of the masters fellowship are available at www.nuigalway.ie/cisc and the closing date for applications is the Wednesday, 18 January, 2012.   -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Diagnosing cancer, maintaining a healthy gut, and improving baby formula are just some of the challenges which glycoscience researchers at NUI Galway are undertaking. This area of research is expanding at the University within the Glycoscience Group under the direction of Professor Lokesh Joshi. In total, the research has secured over €3 million in funding this year. Glycoscience is the study of the complex sugars which cover all cells in the human body, and many of the proteins in the bloodstream. These sugars and the proteins they bind to are like glue, linking our cells together. Understanding how these sugars change as the body grows or as disease develops could lead to some scientific breakthroughs. According to Professor Lokesh Joshi, who heads up the Glycoscience Group at NUI Galway and also works with the University’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES): “We are delighted with the additional funding of our research which is really gathering momentum here in Galway. Our research is aimed at the development of new tools for the detection and measurement of carbohydrates in biological systems and the identification of new pathways for exploitation of these important biomolecules as diagnostic targets, therapeutics or novel food components. This is a relatively new scientific field and a very exciting area for us to be involved in.” Recent new funding announcements include two projects in the Glycoscience Group under the Food Institutional Research Measure (FIRM) programme, as announced recently by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD. In total, 23 projects in 13 research institutions were funded for collaborative research projects in the agri food area, to a total value of €10 million.  The NUI Galway projects, which will be carried out in collaboration with researchers in Teagasc Research Station in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, aim to study the sugar components of milk with a view to benefiting the Irish infant formula industry, a major producer of infant formula for the world market. The Glycoscience Group has also been successful in securing Technology Innovation Development Awards (TIDA), from Science Foundation Ireland in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland. The Glycoscience Group will lead one of the successful awards and is a collaborator on two others, the goal of which includes the identification of innovative glycoscience research ideas for commercial benefit. A further raft of funding for the Science Foundation Ireland supported Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (www.AGRC.ie) has also been agreed. The AGRC, established in 2009, is a collaboration between glycoscientists and alimentary microbiologists from a number of Irish universities and research institutes and led by NUI Galway. It also has several industrial partners. The main focus of the AGRC is to explore the role of sugars in the gut, with a view to developing novel ways of combating gut pathogens, and improving probiotic/prebiotic treatments to foster and maintain a healthy gut. In the field of cancer diagnostics, a young Galway medical doctor has recently joined the Glycoscience Group to investigate the role of glycosylation in the development and progression of Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of antibody-producing plasma cells in the bone marrow. Dr Siobhan Glavey, a graduate of NUI Galway, received a prestigious award from the Health Research Board under their National SpR/SR Academic Fellowship Programme 2011 to fund this work, which will be carried out under the direction of Professor Joshi and Professor Michael O’Dwyer of the Haemotology Department at University Hospital Galway. Arising from these new funding awards, a number of vacancies now exist for qualified researchers in Glycoscience Research at NUI Galway (see www.nuigalway.ie/about-us/jobs/).   -ends-  

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Focusing on preparing students for the challenging jobs market NUI Galway recently held Career Mentoring events. The events, organised by the NUI Galway J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, were attended by 40 students from the University and 20 mentors from a range of international and national industries and professions. During the events students participating in the career mentoring were given the opportunity to meet with a number of mentors on a one to one basis, to gain insights into the world of employment. The mentors shared their experiences and wisdom with the students allowing them the opportunity to get advice and discuss their career direction and employment goals. Speaking about the events, Dr Emer Mulligan, Head of the School of Business and Economics said, “We are delighted to once again host these career mentoring events.  This initiative highlights the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics commitment to preparing its students for careers in the real world.  It also complements our newly introduced modules focusing on Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise and Skills for Work Life on all of our undergraduate business programmes.” Keith Rynhart, second year Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student, found the opportunity to meet with senior professionals invaluable. “The career mentoring session was a wonderful experience, it really helped me clarify the path that I wish to take in the future and make some contacts in the business world.”   -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

NBCRI has donated €1 million to the development of the Translational Research Facility at NUI Galway through Galway University Foundation.     The Translational Research Facility at NUI Galway is being developed on the grounds of University Hospital Galway adjacent to the Clinical Sciences Institute. It will house ten principal investigators and one hundred and twenty researchers across a broad range of disciplines in cancer biology as well as other key research programmes in clinical disciplines. The capacity for this space to be flexible and adaptable to different research needs means that there will be a continual flow of research programmes throughout its lifetime. This will be achieved by creating open-plan wet laboratory space, with an adjoining open plan write-up area, allowing research groups to expand and contract as their requirements change. The ten offices for principal investigators together with support facilities such as tissue culture and microscopy will be situated around the open plan area. The design of the building will, because of its open plan nature, help to facilitate the growth of multidisciplinary approaches to clinical problems. Professor of Surgery at NUI Galway Michael Kerin: “The NBCRI has an extraordinary track record in funding breast cancer research since its establishment in 1991.  This latest gift will enhance the ability of the University to be internationally competitive and will ensure that the NBCRI has a footprint in the exciting Sate of the Art Translational Research Facility.  The infrastructure here will now be on a par with the world’s great Research Facilities and will enhance clinical developments and translational science for the West of Ireland’s population.”  Medical Research at NUI Galway NUI Galway is continually responding to the needs of the transforming healthcare service through aggressing research programmes and state of the art capital developments. The University’s vision in developing research Institutes and programmes in selected areas where we have a critical mass of experience and are recognised internationally has resulted in the development of many renowned research institutes such as the Regenerative Medicine Institute and the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science. Interdisciplinary team-based research in regenerative medicine, cancer biology and therapeutics, biomedical engineering, glycoscience and neuroscience is focused on developing innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions to medical challenges including cardiovascular disease, orthopaedics, neurological disorders and cancer. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “NUI Galway is very pleased to accept this generous donation towards the development of our Translational Research Facility.  This new facility will allow our researchers to ‘translate’ their work into practical strategies which will help patients and those facing currently intractable health problems.  The cutting edge work being done by Galway scientists and clinicians will be brought from ‘bench to bedside’ in the new Translational Research Facility.  On behalf of NUI Galway I would like to sincerely thank the NBCRI, who do such sterling work to raise awareness of breast cancer.  Their generous support will enable cancer sufferers to benefit from innovative treatments to address their health concerns in the future.”  NCBRI The National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) is a voluntary based charity located at the Clinical Science Institute, University College Hospital, Galway. Launched in 1991, the key objective of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute is to conduct relevant, ethical research into the biology of breast cancer, to determine the cause of this disease and improve the treatment for patients. The National Breast Cancer Research Institute also work to raise awareness of breast cancer and fundraise to provide improved breast cancer services for women throughout Ireland. Up to 2000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in Ireland each year. As yet breast cancer cannot be prevented, its incidence can only be reduced by early detection. The cause and mechanism of action of breast cancer remain unknown. Treatments are available for breast cancer but ongoing research is essential to ensure the optimal treatment for all patients, to reduce their side effects, improve their quality of life and, primarily, increase their chance of survival. The research team at The National Breast Cancer Research Institute are currently investigating the presence of biological markers involved in the detection, development and spread of breast cancer. The NBCRI funds postdoctoral scientists and postgraduate researchers and provides financial support for the running of the research laboratory.   ENDS

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

For the sixth year in a row, an NUI Galway School of Nursing and Midwifery student has won first prize in the prestigious national NUI Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Medical Scholarships Awards. This competition is open to all the NUI universities and the award is based on student’s results from the final degree examinations in Nursing or Midwifery.  NUI Galway students were first awarded the top prize in 2006 and since then students from the School of Nursing and Midwifery have been presented with the first prize in the awards every year. This year Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Medical Scholarships awarded first prize awards to Ester Afolalu and Laura Coyne, both General Nursing students and from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. Second prize was awarded to NUI Galway Midwifery student, Siobhan Eccles from Ennis, Co. Clare.  Professor Kathy Murphy, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, said: “Winning again this year is yet another great achievement for the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Our students have now got first place each year for the past six years, that's a remarkable achievement and demonstrates the high calibre of NUI Galway students.” NUI Galway’s Professor Declan Devane, Ireland’s first Professor of Midwifery, commented, “I am delighted for Siobhan and her colleagues on their wonderful achievement. It is fitting recognition to the quality of their work and to the quality of the nursing and midwifery education at NUI Galway. I have no doubt that they will each make a substantial contribution to the quality of health care.”   -Ends-

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, T.D., recently presented the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Gold Medals to the international human rights scholar Professor William Schabas and engineer Professor John O’Scanlan in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the Social Sciences and the Engineering Sciences. The RIA Medals acclaim Ireland’s foremost contributors to the world of learning and science. The Gold Medals are awarded to two outstanding academics each year and are recognised as a truly national expression of celebration for scholarly achievement. The medals are sponsored by The Higher Education Authority and The Irish Independent. In presenting the medals, Minister Quinn said, “The Academy Gold Medals acclaim Ireland’s foremost contributors to the world of learning and science. The work of this year’s recipients illustrates Ireland’s high standing in the world of learning.” Professor William Schabas, Chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, is one of the leading scholars in the field of international criminal law. His work is closely linked with a range of international judicial institutions including, the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court (ICC). His writings are regularly cited by international courts and tribunals, including the ICC and the European Court of Human Rights. Professor Schabas’ seminal book on the Genocide Convention was cited in the opinions of the ICC in the 2007 Bosnia v. Serbia judgement and clearly influenced the thinking of the court as a whole. Professor John O’Scanlan, UCD, is widely recognised as one of the leading international living circuit theorists who has made a fundamental contribution to the field of electronic engineering, including electronic circuit and system design, digital circuits and computing, communications and signal processing. Professor Scanlan has many awards and distinctions, a former President of the Royal Irish Academy (1993-1996); he is also a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and is a recipient of the Golden Jubilee Medal of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. Welcoming this award NUI Galway President Dr Jim Browne said: “On behalf of NUI Galway, I extend warmest congratulations to our colleague, Professor Schabas on receiving this wonderful distinction from the RIA.  This accolade will undoubtedly add lustre to his international academic standing, as well as underscore this University’s reputation as a centre of world-class research and teaching.”    -ENDS-

Friday, 16 December 2011

GMIT AND NUI GALWAY LAUNCH CODE NINJA STUDENT COMPETITION A new competition ‘Code Ninja’ has been launched for students at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and NUI Galway. Code Ninja is an App development competition, designed to train and encourage students to be creative in the cultivation of their own tech ideas. The competition is open to all disciplines of students in NUI Galway and GMIT, either individuals or groups, who want to build a web or mobile App. Students who enter the competition will get all the skills required to build their own App, including training, workshops, design, web and mobile App building, coding with feedback and mentoring from App experts. A range of prizes includes an iPad, iPod Touch and cash awards. Code Ninja will foster students’ spirit of creativity and enable them to cultivate their own technology ideas. According to Dr Jim Duggan, NUI Galway, and Dr Sean Duignan, GMIT, “This is a unique opportunity for NUI Galway and GMIT students from any discipline to work on the leading edge of web technology. Students from any discipline can learn new skills, network with the technology entrepreneurs and academic experts with a view to fostering a culture of creativity, excitement as well as adding value to their curriculum vitae.”  Code Ninja demonstrates how NUI Galway and GMIT are fostering a culture of innovation across their respective campuses and this is supported by the local business community. Galway technology entrepreneurs Mike FitzGerald, CEO, OnepageCRM and Paul Killoran, CEO of Starlight.ie, agree that this is an opportunity which sows a seed to build on the blossoming tech start up culture that exists in Galway whilst building links with NUI Galway, GMIT and the Galway tech scene.  Code Ninja is supported by the Bright Ideas Initiative at NUI Galway, GMIT, ExOrdo for Academics and OnepageCRM. More information about the competition Code Ninja is available at http://codeninja.ie/   -ends-

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

NUI Galway law lecturer, Donncha O’Connell, has been appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, TD, to the new Legal Aid Board. Announcing the membership of the new Board yesterday, Mr Shatter said: “I am delighted to announce this new Legal Aid Board.  In the last four years there has been a considerable increase in demand for legal services and this coincides with the downturn in the economy.  Evidence internationally has pointed towards a greater need for access to legal services in areas such as family law, debt and employment during times of economic stress and Ireland appears no different in this regard.  This has inevitably created huge pressures for the Board and its capacity to deliver legal services within a reasonable period of time.  There are many challenges ahead for this new Board, including piloting, early in 2012, a somewhat different approach to the provision of legal services by way of an attempt to ensure that every applicant for legal aid gets an appointment within a period of three or four weeks. In November of this year, I also announced the formal integration of the Family Mediation Service with the Legal Aid Board and the functions of the Legal Aid Board have now been extended under Part 16 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act to include a family mediation service.  The Board is also, in taking a range of other measures, keeping all of its services under review with a view to ensuring that its resources are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.  I am confident that the new Board members will all bring their considerable skills and expertise to the work of the Legal Aid Board and that their presence on the Board will ensure that it continues to operate as innovatively, efficiently and effectively as it has always done, in what is, a much more difficult economic environment than at any time in its history.” O’Connell was the Dean of Law at NUI Galway from 2005-2008 and he continues to teach European Human Rights and Constitutional Law in the School of Law. He has extensive experience on European human rights bodies having served as the Irish member of the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights established by the EU Commission in 2002 and as the senior Irish member of FRALEX, the legal expert group that advised the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights based in Vienna. He spent the academic year 2009-2010 as a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights LSE and is the editor of the Irish Human Rights Law Review published annually by Clarus Press. Donncha was the first full-time Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) from 1999-2002 and he has, in the past, been a board member of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) Ltd and Amnesty International-Ireland. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the London-based NGO, INTERIGHTS – The International Centre for the Legal Protection of Rights. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a project of FLAC.   ENDS

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

NUI Galway has embarked on a new initiative with Transition Year students from the Presentation Secondary School in Galway City. The students have devised a new e-Commerce module which is facilitated by their business teacher Eleanor Fogarty. The project involves developing an e-Marketing strategy for an illustrated children’s book called Willou Mac Wiggle and the Dive Dive Birds.  This children’s story was illustrated by Rebecca Kane, one of the Transition Year students in the Presentation School and written by Declan Clarke. Aimed at children between two and six years of age, Willou Mac Wiggle and the Dive Dive Birds has already been launched on iTunes as an e-book for the iPad, and is *available to buy for €3.99. Dr Ann Torres, Lecturer in Marketing with the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “The MSc Strategic Marketing cultivates students’ practical skills through the application of theory to real business situations, such as developing an e-marketing strategy for an e-book. It is this link between practice and theory that enhances the MSc. students’ capability to perform as an effective marketer. Further, NUI Galway’s involvement with the Presentation Secondary School is a valuable gateway in which secondary school students may gain an insight into the opportunities associated with third-level education.” Introducing the students to e-Commerce is essential as the world moves towards buying and selling online. Part of the Transition Year students’ project will be to devise an e-marketing campaign to promote the book and to expand the network of interest through Facebook. The students will gain a real-life understanding of the launch of the new book which will be an extremely valuable experience for them.   -ENDS-

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

NUI Galway has announced the appointment of the Republic of Ireland’s first Professor of Midwifery. Professor Declan Devane, himself a midwife, is based at NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. With approximately 700 students, the School is at the forefront of nursing and midwifery education and research in Ireland. Over his 22-year career in nursing and midwifery, Professor Devane has established an international reputation as a leading researcher and scholar in his areas of expertise, which include the implementation and evaluation of models of maternity care and on methods of assessment of fetal wellbeing. While other institutions have Chairs in nursing and midwifery, this is the first university appointment of a Chair in Midwifery. This focus on the profession of midwifery reflects trends internationally that recognise the unique and important contribution midwifery makes to high quality maternity services. Professor Devane has taken up the Chair in Midwifery at a time when over 75,000 babies are born every year in Ireland. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Devane said that he was delighted and honoured to accept the new role: “My hope is that my appointment will enable me to work with those who seek a better service for childbearing women and their children. Most births take place against a backdrop of sub-optimal infrastructure, in large and aging hospitals with too few delivery suites. There are also concerns about operating theatres shared for childbirth and for other surgeries. This scenario is compacted by substantial understaffing of our maternity services in terms of both midwives and obstetricians, while our community maternity services are also terribly under resourced.” Commenting on the organisation of maternity services in Ireland, Professor Devane added: “Unlike some other areas of healthcare, there is no evidence to support that the centralisation of maternity services in large hospitals improves outcomes for women and their infants. On the contrary, there is substantial high-quality evidence demonstrating benefits for midwifery units in which the skills and expertise of midwives are used to their full potential. Common sense suggests, and scientific evidence demonstrates, that it doesn’t make clinical, social or economic sense for most women to give birth in large, centralised hospitals that are heaving at the seams. Yet, this is precisely what is happening. Midwives, obstetricians and GPs each have their place and their role in the provision of collaborative maternity care, and no one model of care, care-giver or birth setting should be advocated for all women. However, every woman should experience the best possible care from the most appropriate professional, chosen by her, to ensure the best outcomes for her and her baby. It is vital that we make these choices a reality for women. There is bound to be a lot of new challenges ahead but that’s part of the excitement of the job.” Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “Professor Devane has a proven record of excellence in teaching and research. Through his research work, his professional activities and his interest in developing international collaborations, Professor Devane will make a valuable contribution to the success of our School of Nursing and Midwifery, which has established a growing research reputation.” Professor Devane qualified as a nurse in Galway and as a midwife in Bristol and Gloucestershire, where he worked before returning to Ireland to work in the Rotunda, the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital and in Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Expert Network of Research Advisors, a member of the Midwifery Committee of An Bord Altranais, and an Honorary Visiting Fellow of both the UK Cochrane Centre and the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital. Professor Devane is passionate about the care of children with serious illnesses, particularly those with life-limiting illness, and is a Director of the children’s cancer charity for the West, Hand in Hand (http://www.handinhand.ie). In 2009, combining fundraising activities for this charity with his love of scuba diving, he raised over €35,000 for charity and simultaneously set a Guinness World Record for the ‘Longest open saltwater SCUBA dive (cold water)’.   -ends-

Monday, 5 December 2011

Three research projects undertaken at NUI Galway were highlighted in the Health Research Board’s annual Picture of Health report. Launched recently by Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, the report communicates the findings of recently funded research to a general audience. Included in the document, from NUI Galway, is Dr Roisin Dwyer’s and Professor Michael Kerin’s work looking at breast cancer signals in the bloodstream, and Professor Larry Egan’s research into manipulating gut bacteria to help minimise radiation damage for cancer patients. Professor Egan spoke about his research at the launch event. Also featured in the report is research by NUI Galway’s Dr Liam Glynn. Chronically high blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to serious medical problems such as heart disease and stroke - so keeping blood pressure under control is an important public health issue. Yet only 25 - 40 per cent of patients who take anti-hypertensive drug treatment manage to achieve their blood pressure goals, and that figure has remained unchanged for decades. However, a HRB-funded Cochrane review study by Dr Liam Glynn has identified practices in community-based care that could help tackle the problem. The research analysed 72 randomised controlled trials in the published literature that looked at dealing with hypertension in the community-care setting. Overall, the review found that education aimed at patients or healthcare professionals does not appear to be effective - what works best is good organisation that sees patients regularly followed up and recalled for appointments. Other strategies for success encourage patients to monitor their own blood pressure or involve other health professionals such as nurses and pharmacists in blood pressure management in the community. “It has direct translation to everyday clinical practice,’ says Dr Glynn, a Senior Lecturer in General Practice at NUI Galway and GP in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. “We need to improve organisation in terms of diagnosing, treating and following up patients with hypertension; and that can include nurse-led care, the use of technology such as text messages to remind patients to take their medication or come to appointments and also getting patients more involved in the monitoring of their own illness.” The three research projects connected to NUI Galway are part of over 40 projects highlighted in the Health Research Board’s annual Picture of Health 2011 publication. -ends-

Monday, 5 December 2011

NUI Galway recently presented 85 certificates to students for successful completion of the Access courses during the academic year 2010/2011, both on campus and in Outreach Centres in Clifden and Ballinasloe.   Also receiving awards were 55 Access students who graduated with degrees in Arts, Commerce, Law, Engineering and Nursing in 2011. A further 18 students who received post-graduate diplomas in Education, Health, Arts and Business Studies and post-graduate degrees in Marketing, Social Work, Community Development and Law were also acknowledged.  In addition, eight students who received postgraduate diplomas and degrees in 2010 were acknowledged at the ceremony.   In the last ten years, 390 graduates and 133 post-graduates have been admitted to NUI Galway through its Access Programme.  The ceremony was to mark the achievement of those inspirational students and to commend all on their perseverance, dedication and hard work.    The function of the NUI Galway Access Programme is to address and respond appropriately to the issues of equality of access, equity of life long opportunities and responding to the issues of rural (and to a lesser extent, urban) social exclusion in the Border, Midland and Western Region and County Clare. All elements of the access programmes have important initiatives designed to give everyone a chance to benefit from third level education.    -ENDS-

Thursday, 1 December 2011

James Kofi Annan was sold into slavery in Ghana when he was six years old. He comes to NUI Galway on Wednesday, 7 December, to share his story and continue his campaign against child slavery. He will deliver a public talk at 1pm at an event organised by the University’s Irish Centre for Human Rights and the organisation Frontline Defenders. Like most of his other 11 siblings James was sold as a slave, at the tender age of six. He was sent to work in the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana where small children are used to do heavy work with the nets and are sent down to free the nets if they become snagged. He recalls being beaten every day. After seven years he managed to set himself free but he wasn’t welcome back either in his family or in his village, where he was seen to have disobeyed his father. From then on he was on his own. James educated himself by becoming friendly with the children who were attending the local kindergarden school and used their books to teach himself to read and write. James eventually was able to complete his university education and got himself a job with Barclay's Bank. However he could not leave his memories of slavery behind and set up a new organisation called Challenging Heights to help other child slaves like him. “James’s story is compelling and his campaigning and support for child slaves is outstanding. Estimates of a staggering 27 million people in slavery today, many of whom are children, should give us all pause for thought. The blatant disregard for human rights and humanity shown by modern day slavery or human trafficking, must be challenged around the world”, said Professor Ray Murphy of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. Because James challenges the very profitable status quo he is vilified and attacked and receives death threats on a daily basis by email, text and by phone. Despite the threats and the danger, James Kofi Annan refuses to cease his work to free the victims of child slavery and to end the practice in Ghana. Asked why he chooses to do this dangerous work he replies, “I had nothing left to lose – I had already lost everything I had to lose as a child.” James’s organisation Challenging Heights helps children escape slavery and rebuild their lives by providing them with shelter, rehabilitation and education. All are welcome to this free event at 1pm on Wednesday, 7 December, in the Huston School of Film at NUI Galway (opposite the Cathedral).   -ends-

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Mohit Agrawal, an NUI Galway economics student, has been awarded one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, a Rhodes Scholarship to study economics at Oxford University. Mohit is currently studying for an MA in Economic Policy Evaluation and Planning at NUI Galway and plans to begin his studies in Oxford in September 2012. Born and raised in West Lafayette, Indiana, in the US, Mohit enrolled in NUI Galway during September 2011, after being awarded a George J. Mitchell Scholarship, allowing him to do a postgraduate degree at any university on the island of Ireland. Mohit chose the NUI Galway programme because he said it enabled him to further his major career goal, to combine a background in mathematics and politics to help craft economic policy. Mohit completed his undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science at Princeton University in the United States. Mohit’s interests and achievements extend well beyond the classroom. At Princeton, for example, he was a prominent member of ‘Engineers Without Borders’ and served as the manager of a project to build a library in Ghana. He is interested in politics and has contributed to debates at the Literary and Debating Society in NUI Galway and has also written several articles for the student newspaper SIN including some insightful pieces on the recent Presidential election. The Head of the Economics Discipline at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, Professor John McHale, described Mohit’s achievement at winning a Rhodes Scholarship as a fantastic testimony to his outstanding intellectual ability: “We were very pleased that Mohit chose the economic policy evaluation programme at NUI Galway for his Mitchell Scholarship. Mohit has been a wonderful addition to the economics discipline at this University where he has helped countless undergraduate students as a tutor for one of our main undergraduate courses as well as contributing in lectures and seminars. I have no doubt that Mohit will do extraordinary well in his future career and I am especially pleased that Mohit had decided to focus his career on economics with a special emphasis on economic policy.” ENDS

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

NUI Galway and UCC recently celebrated the first intake of Malaysian students on a twinned medical degree programme. The medical programme is offered by both universities in partnership with the Allianze University College of Medical Sciences (AUCMS), Kapala Batas, in northern Malaysia.   2011 sees the first intake of 100 students, 50 studying at NUI Galway and 50 at UCC. The students will study medicine for the first two and a half years of their degree in Ireland and then go on to complete the remainder of their five-year degree in Malaysia. The partners will deliver a five-year medical programme, under the approval of medical councils in each country. On successful completion, those students who commenced their studies in Galway will be awarded the NUI Galway degree of MB, BAO, BCh*.   NUI Galway and UCC each have a strong tradition of Malaysian students coming to completing their full medical degree over five years. The new partnership however is the outcome of discussions which began in 2005 when the Ministry of Health in Malaysia approached the Irish universities, seeking to develop sustainable Malaysia-based medical education capacity into the future. The Cooperation Agreement which underpins the partnership, was signed in Penang in January 2009. This initiative shifts the clinical training of the students to their home country. However they will still obtain an Irish medical qualification to be approved and accredited by the professional accrediting authorities of Ireland and Malaysia.   The recent Foundation Day event in UCC was officially launched by the Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon, and attended by the Irish and Malaysian partners, dignitaries from both counties and by the NUI Galway and UCC students.   Speaking at the launch in UCC, Professor Gerard Loftus, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “The programme is a very exciting augmentation of the strong tradition we have in the education of Malaysian medical students over the years.  The Malaysian Government recognises that our Malaysian students achieve high clinical standards. I am particularly pleased also that the many very able and committed people who have worked on this project from the outset back in 2005 are here today, when all their efforts come to fruition.”   Current NUI Galway student, Mohamad Sharifudin Dzulkefli said: “Studying in two institutes of higher learning in Ireland and Malaysia really gives us a lot of advantages in terms of knowledge as well as experience. NUI Galway has a lot to offer for the AUCMS students. Gaining basic medical knowledge in Ireland and applying it during the clinical years back in Malaysia gives us the upper hand in the medical field.”   -ENDS-

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Beidh Ceolchoirm am lóin ar siúl ar an Luan, 5 Nollaig, ón 1-2i.n. i dTéatar Uí Chearbhalláin in Áras na Gaeilge in OÉ Gaillimh. Is mic léinn ón gcúrsa Dioplóma sna Dána: Cóiriú agus Stáitsiú an Cheoil Thraidisiúnta a chuirfidh an ceolchoirm speisialta seo i láthair.  Tá an cúrsa á reáchtáil sa Spidéal ag Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge i gcomhar le Stiúideo Cuan. Meascán spéisiúil a bheas ann a chlúdóidh réimse leathan ceoil, idir seoidíní traidisiúnta, ceol nua-chumtha, amhránaíocht agus, dár ndóigh, ríleanna, poirt agus pólcaí spleodracha, spraoiúla.   Is ó chian agus ó chóngar a tháinig na ceoltóirí agus na hamhránaithe seo le chéile mar aon ghrúpa amháin agus dá réir snítear tionchair agus stíleanna éagsúla lena chéile ina gcuid ceoil. Tá roinnt mhaith ceolchoirmeacha déanta acu mar ghrúpa. Ó thosaigh siad le chéile i mí Meán Fómhair i mbliana rinne siad ceolchoirm lóin in Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge ar an gCeathrú Rua agus i seanscoil Shailearna. Ní le ceol amháin a bhíonn siad ag plé ar an gcúrsa seo, áfach, mar go mbíonn siad ag tabhairt faoi ghnéithe teicniúla an cheoil chomh maith. Chuige sin rinne siad clár raidió a thaifead sa stiúideo.  Is é Seán Ó Flatharta, Oifigeach Teanga agus Cultúir, OÉ Gaillimh, atá ag eagrú na hocáide seo i gcomhar le Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Riarthóir Aonad na dTaibhealaíon.  Ní bheidh aon táille ar an doras. Tuilleadh eolais le fáil ó: Marianne Ní Chinnéide, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, OÉ Gaillimh ag 087 9080194 nó marianne.nichinneide@oegaillimh.ie, nó Seán Ó Flatharta, Oifigeach Teanga agus Cultúir, ag 091 493518 nó s.oflatharta2@nuigalway.ie. -Críoch-

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A new clinical study has opened in Ireland for a rare but devastating type of bone marrow cancer. Irish patients with advanced myelofibrosis will have access to a new study of combined oral medications for their disease.  Frank Giles, Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin, is leading the study with Eibhlin Conneally, Consultant Haematologist at St James’s Hospital, Dublin. The Irish study is being run in conjunction with centers in France, Italy, and the UK and patients may be enrolled at either Galway University Hospitals or St James’s Hospital.  The study involves a combination of Ruxolitinib, manufactured by Novartis, along with another pill that also targets the abnormal pathways that drive myelofibrosis. This news comes within weeks of Ruxolitinib becoming the first and only product approved for this disease by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Myelofibrosis is a life-threatening cancer of the bone marrow that results in bone marrow failure because the normal spaces in which blood cells are formed become progressively filled with fibrous tissue. In an attempt to maintain normal blood cell counts, the body then begins to make these cells in abnormal sites including the liver and spleen. In turn, these can then become enlarged and painful. Patients not alone are at risk from marrow failure, but in some patients, myelofibrosis changes into a particularly aggressive form of acute leukemia.  According to Professor Frank Giles, who is also Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway, a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals and NUI Galway: “We are delighted to finally have our first effective therapy for patients suffering from advanced myelofibrosis. This is a significant positive advance in treatment for these patients. We are very pleased to be able to offer this study to patients here in Ireland, especially as Ruxolitinib has just been approved in the US. We hope that approval in Europe will happen soon but in the interim we have an opportunity to build on this, our first broadly effective therapy for a very debilitating illness, and hopefully offer even better therapy with a combination of medications in the near future.” Ruxolitinib is specifically directed at an abnormally active enzyme or kinase that has been recently defined as a key driver of myelofibrosis. “This kinase, called Jak-2, has emerged as a key target for therapy in myelofibrosis”, said Dr Conneally. “It is a central driver of the disease and inhibiting its function with Ruxolitinib directly improves many patients’ symptoms and reduces their spleen swelling. It is the latest big success in our move away from non-specific cell-killing drugs towards safer, more targeted drugs that are really directed at the fundamental drivers of cancer.” Professor Giles, who has been involved with the development of both of the drugs  being combined in the study, said: “Success in anti-cancer therapies are increasingly driven by a continuous process which involves pre-clinical scientists unlocking the puzzles of what actually makes a cancer cell behave differently from its normal counterpart. Once you have mapped the cancer process, you can define a cancer cell’s key vulnerabilities which leads you to relatively selective targets. Next steps are the creation and testing of drugs or other approaches directed at these targets that will  alter cancer cell behaviour in terms of either killing it or forcing it to behave more like a normal cell. Once these approaches are available to our patients, we return to pre-clinical science to refine and improve anti-cancer therapy, for example, by combining agents with different targets as we are doing on this study.” He concluded: This ‘bench-to-bedside-to-bench’ process has allowed not only the development of Ruxolitinib but allowed us to develop logical ‘next-wave’ potential therapies for patients with myelofibrosis. Collaborations over the last decade between scientists around the world have led to Ruxolitinib being available. Collaborations within Ireland and with our European colleagues have allowed us to offer this study in such a timely manner to Irish patients – a very encouraging template for future success.” -ends-

Monday, 28 November 2011

The 2011 Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, part of Discover Science’s National Science Week, was held on the NUI Galway campus last Sunday and attracted 24,000 visitors. The event was officially opened by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and guest speakers included Dr James Browne, President of NUI Galway, Mayor of Galway City Cllr Hildegarde Naughton and Mr Tom Hyland, Festival Chairman. The European Commissioner commented, “It is a great pleasure for me to welcome everyone to the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition. The foundation and nurtuing of this festival took vision and dedication and its existence is thanks to the vision of Noel Treacey whose brain-child it is. His work and that of strong supporters like Dr Jim Browne and Tom Hyland as well as many of the companies, educational institutes and researchers, have made this a festival of which to be very proud. For the past two weeks over thousands of young people have taken part in the Festival and engaged with scientists and researchers, asking questions and really getting in touch with science and technology. These young people are the scientists and innovators of tomorrow, and events like this festival are very important in stimulating their curiousity. As a former teacher, I know very well the importance of capturing a child’s imagination at an early age. This is especially important in the case of science and technology, since they pervade almost every aspect of modern life. In today’s economic climate it is more important than ever to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills that they need to succeed. And we need science and technology to get our economy back on track.” The event ran extremely well with up to 100 volunteers, which included students from the Dominican College Secondary School, NUI Galway and members of the public, who provided information and directions to families attending the 80 interactive exhibition stands and the various shows and workshops throughout the University campus. Families and children enjoyed an array of colourful stands including Medtronic who demonstrated how blood pumps around the body, Boston Scientific’s amazing stand with a large stent for children to examine, SAP provided a First Lego League, Hewlett Packard with the help of sixth class students from Briarhill School explained Cloud Computing while other amazing stands were hosted by CISCO, Covidien Avaya and Lake Region. The Galway Enterprise Board stand included local company Starlight and a new App “Ireland: Are we there Yet” by local developer Ann Brehony.  The stands allowed children and adults alike to participate in experiments, watch demonstrations and discuss ideas with researchers. Lots more interatactive exhibitions took place from NUI Galway, GMIT, Marine Institute and many more. A lego competition sponsored by Smyth’s Toys Superstore was in huge demand and accommodated over 300 eager technic lego builders while the 5ft tall Buzz Light Year made of Lego was on loan from Smyth’s for the day was a huge hit with hundreds of children. Sue McGrath’s Chemistry Show was seen by 1,000 people, the Mad Scientist entertained and excited young children about science while Robert Hill explained the Outerworld in his own amazing and engaging way. The RCX Mindstorm lego workshop was in huge demand and Magic Mathworks demonstrated a great way of engaging with maths.  Kitchen Chemistry ran shows throughout the day and educated visitors on how to conduct experiments in the kitchen using regular household products while Bubble Magic had the audience screaming with excitement creating huge bubbles and filling them with smoke. One of the major successes of the Exhibition was a total of 18 Primary and Secondary Schools encompassing 350 students exhibiting their own brilliant science and technology projects while many other students took part by participating with the international companies and helped them demonstrate their products. The opportunity for these young people to attend and work at the Exhibition and engage with the public is of enormous experience for them. Festival Chairman, Tom Hyland commented, “Special thanks must go to the Volunteers who helped in running the event so smoothly and allowing families enjoy their day out. The prebooking system of shows worked wonderfully and really helped people plan their day and those without tickets were also accommodated. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our main sponsor Medtronic and all other sponsors and the multi-national companies who have agreed to take part in our Mentoring Program where 11 different companies participating in this initiative will visit schools over the next few months and talk to the students about their subject choices, give practical career advice and share their work experience. I would also like to thank NUI Galway for providing the campus facilities to host this truly wonderful event.” Mr Hyland also presented special awards on behalf of the Festival Committee to Brother Niall of the Patrician Brothers with the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Person of the Year Award for his commitment to the Festival over the 14 years and an award to 12-year old sixth class whizz kid Harry Moran from Westport on becoming the world’s youngest app developer of Pizzabot based on a pizza shooting red sauce at slices of salami which he developed in one month. Visit www.galwayscience.ie to view some of the photos and videos captured during the Festival Exhibition.ends

Monday, 28 November 2011

Come rain or shine, a new website showing the current weather conditions in Galway is now available to the general public. The site uses real-time data collected by a weather station at NUI Galway to show temperature, humidity, pressure, wind, rain and sunshine.   Behind the project is the Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Energy (IRUSE) at NUI Galway, under the leadership of Dr Marcus Keane. IRUSE focuses on achieving the goal of energy efficient buildings. In order to support ongoing and future research activity, IRUSE installed an automated weather station at NUI Galway.   Information from the weather station now appears in real-time on a website http://weather.nuigalway.ie/ thanks to students of the HDip / MSc in Software Design and Development. Colin Divily from Corofin, Co Galway and Naomi Ono, originally from Japan, implemented the website through a collaboration with the Discipline of Information Technology. They were supported by Johann Ott, Magdalena Hajdukiewicz and other members of the IRUSE group.   Dr Marcus Keane explains: “The website displays the live weather data, as well as 12-hour and monthly trends and provides essential data for the research carried out at the University. With the weather being such a constant topic of conversation for everyone in this country, we thought it only right to share this data with the general public.”   The weather station was installed in June 2010 on the roof of the Concourse building on campus. The data loads to the new website every minute from all of the sensors, except for rainfall which is reported hourly.   As well as for IRUSE’s research, the weather station is also used as part of teaching for the Energy Systems Engineering degree programme at NUI Galway.   -ends-

Thursday, 24 November 2011

BioInnovate Ireland is now seeking Expressions of Interest for its medical device innovation Fellowship programme. This programme is modelled on the prestigious and internationally-recognised Biodesign programme offered at Stanford University, California.  The recruitment of eight Fellows to work in two elite multidisciplinary teams is now underway. These two teams will focus on a specific clinical area, identifying unmet needs, inventing solutions to meet those needs and implementing the solutions, and mapping a route to commercialisation to enable these solutions to enhance patient care. The Fellowship teams will complete an intensive five week training period, commencing in August 2012, before spending two months of clinical immersion working with top surgeons and medical staff in numerous hospitals around Ireland. The Fellowship teams will then focus on inventing and implementing solutions to address specific problems for the remainder of this 10 month programme. According to BioInnovate Ireland Programme Director, Dr Mark Bruzzi from NUI Galway: “The BioInnovate Ireland Programme offers a unique opportunity for individuals to come together to work in teams to develop novel solutions that impact patient care, and gain access to a network of industry, academic and clinical leaders to guide their solutions from concept to commercialisation.” The Fellowship Programme is full-time, stipend supported and the next programme will commence on 1 August, 2012. In addition to the Fellowship Programme, there are two BioInnovate classes open to postgraduate students of the BioInnovate Academic Partners which include NUI Galway, University of Limerick, Dublin City University, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland and University College Cork.  The BioInnovate class will be mentored by, and work with the Fellows on the newly identified clinical needs.  Marie Travers, a current Galway BioInnovate Fellow, said: “The experience so far is exciting. I feel very privileged to have been able to access experts, patients and clinicians as part of the research. I see great potential for identifying innovations for patient care.” The BioInnovate Fellowship teams are multi-disciplinary and eligible applicants should have a background in medicine, engineering, technology or business. Applicants with a postgraduate degree or relevant professional experience are particularly welcome.  Medical and surgical registrars or specialist registrars with an interest in innovation and improving patient care through technological advancements are also encouraged to apply for the Fellowship. Candidates will be assessed for their leadership potential, interest in technology innovation, demonstrated potential for creativity and invention, and ability to work in a team. For an Expression of Interest form or further details contact Clodagh Barry, BioInnovate Programme Manager at NUI Galway, on 091 494212 or clodagh.barry@nuigalway.ie                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -ENDS-

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

For years, doctors have warned that too much salt is bad for your heart. Now a new study co-led by an NUI Galway clinical researcher suggests that both high and low levels of salt intake may put people with heart disease or diabetes at increased risk of cardiovascular complications.   The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that moderate salt intake is associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular events, whereas higher intake of sodium was associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular events while low intake was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalisation for congestive heart failure.   The research was co-led by Professor Martin O’Donnell, Professor of Translational Medicine, NUI Galway and Dr Salim Yusuf, Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University in Canada and Hamilton Health Sciences. Professor O’Donnell is also Associate Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway.   “This research addresses an important population health issue – the association between sodium (salt) intake and cardiovascular disease,” said NUI Galway’s Professor O’Donnell. “This area has become topical again, with the recent publication of another paper in JAMA reporting an association between low-sodium intake and cardiac death. In general, previous observational studies have either reported a positive association, no association or an inverse association between sodium intake and heart disease and stroke. This has resulted in a lot of controversy. Our study is the first to report a J-shaped association between sodium intake and cardiovascular disease, which may explain why previous studies have found different results.”   Compared with moderate sodium excretion (between 4 to 5.99 grams per day), the researchers found that sodium excretion of greater than 6-7 grams per day was associated with an increased risk of all cardiovascular events, and sodium excretion of less than 3 grams per day was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalisation for congestive heart failure.   The findings call into question current guidelines for salt intake, which recommend less than 2.3 grams (or 2,300 mg) per day. The guidelines are mostly based on previous clinical trials that found blood pressure is lowered modestly when sodium intake is reduced to these levels (which was also found in the present study), but there are no large studies looking at whether such low levels of sodium intake reduce the incidence of heart attacks and stroke. Clarifying the optimal daily intake of sodium is particularly important in patients with established heart disease, as they may be especially vulnerable to the cardiovascular effects of very high- and low-salt intake and are most likely to receive recommendations on restricting sodium in their diets, the authors concluded.   “Our research confirms the association between high sodium intake and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which emphasizes the importance of salt reduction in those consuming high-sodium diets (over 6-7g per day) and the importance of efforts to reduce sodium content of many high-salt manufactured foods. However, our study, together with other recent studies, raises uncertainty about whether those with moderate/average sodium intake should reduce their intake further. The only way to resolve this uncertainty is with a large randomized controlled trial that determines whether reducing moderate sodium intake to lower levels results in lower rates of heart disease and stroke. While we accept there are challenges to conducting such trials, they are required urgently given their public health implications’ said Professor O’Donnell.   For the observational study, the researchers examined 28,880 people at increased risk of heart disease from the ONTARGET and TRANSCEND trials, which were conducted from 2001-2008. The researchers estimated 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion from a morning fasting urine sample. During follow-up, over 4,500 cardiovascular events occurred making this the most powerful study examining the relationship between sodium excretion (which is a surrogate measure of sodium consumption), as well as potassium excretion and cardiovascular events. Extensive and careful statistical analytic methods were used to determine the association of urinary sodium and potassium with cardiovascular events – heart attack, stroke, hospitalisation for congestive heart failure and death.   In addition to the sodium findings, the researchers found higher urinary potassium excretion was associated with lower stroke risk. They concluded this is a potential intervention that merits further evaluation for stroke prevention.   -ends-