New DNA Test to Help in Global Effort to Control TB

New DNA Test to Help in Global Effort to Control TB-image

Friday, 29 June 2012

A new diagnostic DNA test has been developed by a team at the National University of Ireland Galway to help in the global effort to control tuberculosis (TB). The rapid laboratory test allows for the identification of the exact bacteria causing a patient’s TB which will give valuable information for their treatment. According to World Health Organisation data, tuberculosis (TB) is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent. In 2010, 8.8 million people fell ill with TB and 1.4 million died from TB, with over 95% of cases and deaths in developing countries. In humans, TB is caused by a group of eight bacteria collectively known as the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC). National University of Ireland Galway’s Molecular Diagnostics Research Group has developed and validated a new assay or laboratory test called SeekTB to identify all members of the MTC. Dr Thomas Barry at the University, along with his colleagues Dr Justin O’Grady and Dr Kate Reddington, realised there was a need to rapidly and accurately detect and identify each member of the MTC for better treatment of TB. “The optimal patient treatment can be different, depending which of the eight bacteria are causing the TB, as some of these bacteria are naturally resistant to a commonly used anti-TB drugs”, explains Dr Barry. The new test, called SeekTB, could also prove useful to centralised clinical reference labs for the purposes of tracking and conducting epidemiological studies on the various mycobacterium species comprising the complex. “Identifying the specific member of the MTC is currently not routinely performed in testing laboratories and therefore it is unknown what the true impact each member of the MTC has on the global TB epidemic,” says Dr Barry, who lectures in Microbiology at National University of Ireland Galway. The advance in what is a global battle against TB, is the result of international co-operation. The novel technology was initially validated by testing a large number of previously isolated MTC bacteria provided by Professor Dick van Soolingen,  Bilthoven in the Netherlands and Dr Stefan Niemann, Borstel in Germany. Subsequently, through collaborations with Professor Alimuddin Zumla and Dr Matthew Bates at University College London, SeekTB was used to successfully analyse patient samples from Lusaka in Zambia to demonstrate the technology’s suitability. The results of this analysis demonstrated the rapidity, the test only takes 1.5-3 hours to perform, validity and robustness of SeekTB. In its current format, SeekTB is likely to be predominantly used in central testing laboratories, in Africa for example, on culture positive TB patient samples to guide appropriate treatment and control measures. “Ideally, in the future, SeekTB could be used directly on patient samples with the test configured onto a handheld machine for use at point-of-care in resource poor settings. This could be a huge benefit to medical care provision in remote areas, however, it will likely take years of research and development to achieve such a goal,” concluded Dr Barry who acknowledged National University of Ireland Galway and the Thomas Crawford Hayes award for funding this work. The research has recently been published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and PLoS ONE. -ends-

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NUI Galway Honours Four Outstanding Individuals with Honorary Degrees

NUI Galway Honours Four Outstanding Individuals with Honorary Degrees-image

Friday, 29 June 2012

Four outstanding individuals were conferred with honorary degrees from NUI Galway today (Friday, 29 June). Those honoured were playwright and novelist, Sebastian Barry; The New York Times opinion columnist, Maureen Dowd; Executive Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company, Irial Finan; and Canadian Finance Minister,  Jim Flaherty MP. Speaking on the announcement, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said:  “NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history and those being honoured this year form a particularly distinguished group. Each one has made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to the diverse fields of literature, journalism, business, public administration and government. NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals.” Sebastian Barry was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa). Born in Dublin in 1955, he began to write in 1977, publishing a number of books of fiction and poetry, and in 1986 became increasingly involved in theatre work. He published a novel The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), followed by Annie Dunne (2002) and then two Man Booker Prize shortlisted books – A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008). The latter earned him the Costa Book of the Year award, the Independent Booksellers’ Prize, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, among others. Barry’s most recent novel, On Canaan’s Side, was also longlisted for the Booker, and shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, the Irish Book Awards and the Galaxy International Author of the Year. He has written twelve plays, among them the award-winning The Steward of Christendom (1995), Our Lady of Sligo (1998), and The Pride of Parnell Street (2007). He won the Ireland Fund Literary Award in 1997. He has been Writer in Association at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and was Heimbold Visiting Professor at Villanova University in 2006. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia in 2010, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His work is translated into more than thirty-five languages. Maureen Dowd was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa). She is a 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, in the commentary category, for her “unsparing columns on the hypocrisies involved in the Lewinsky affair and the effort to impeach President Clinton”. She was appointed a columnist of The New York Times’s Op-Ed page in January 1995 (where she joined in 1983). Previously, she served as a correspondent in its Washington bureau since August 1986. There, she covered two Presidential campaigns and served as White House correspondent, gaining a wide following of admirers and imitators for her witty, incisive and acerbic portraits of the powerful. She also wrote a column, "On Washington”, for The New York Times Magazine. She began her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for the Washington Star where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter, and feature writer. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting in 1992, Ms Dowd received the Breakthrough Award from ‘Women, Men and Media’ at Columbia University in 1991 and a Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications in 1994. She was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year for 1996 and won the Damon Runyon award in 2000 for outstanding contributions to journalism. Dowd is the author of two bestselling books Bushworld:  Enter at Your Own Risk (2004) and Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide (2005) Born in Washington, D.C., on 14 January, 1952, Miss Dowd received a BA degree in English from Catholic University (Washington) in 1973. Irian Finan was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). He is Executive Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company and President of Bottling Investments responsible for managing a multi-billion dollar bottling business, Bottling Investments Group (BIG), which has operations on four continents (South America, Europe, Africa and Asia), with revenues of over $8 billion and employs over 85,000 people. Additionally, he is responsible for stewarding The Company’s Equity Investments and leading Global Supply Chain. Irial has over 29 years experience in The Coca-Cola System. From 2001 to 2003, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola HBC, during which time he managed the merger integration of Coca-Cola Beverages plc and Hellenic Bottling SA, and led the combined company's operations in 26 countries. Irial joined the Coca-Cola Company in 2004 as President, Bottling Investments and Supply Chain and was named Executive Vice President of the Company in October 2004. From 1995 to 1999, he was managing director of Molino Beverages, with responsibility for expanding markets, including the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Nigeria. Prior to that role, Irial worked in several markets across Europe. From 1991 to 1993 he served as managing director of Coca-Cola Bottlers Ulster, Ltd., based in Belfast. He was finance director, Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland, Ltd., based in Dublin from 1984 to 1990. Irial serves on the board of directors of Coca-Cola FEMSA, Coca-Cola HBC, Coca-Cola Central Japan, the Supervisory Board of CCE AG (Germany), Smurfit Kappa Group, and the American Ireland Fund. He also serves as a non-executive director for Co-operation Ireland and NUI Galway Foundation. Irial holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from NUI Galway and is an Associate (later Fellow) of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants. Minister Jim Flaherty MP was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa). He is a third-term Member of Parliament for Whitby–Oshawa (Ontario). He serves as Canada’s Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for the Greater Toronto Area. He is a Governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As Minister of Finance he is an ex-officio member of all Cabinet Committees. Minister Flaherty was recently awarded Euromoney Magazine’s Finance Minister of the Year award. Euromoney credited him with enhancing Canada’s reputation for sound fiscal policy while taking full account of social justice and overseeing a strong regulatory regime that has kept the financial sector out of chaos. He has also been described as a pillar in both the G-7 and the G-20. In 2010, Minister Flaherty was chair of the G-7 Finance Ministers and chair of the annual Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting. Previously, for more than 10 years, he served as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby–Ajax (Ontario). He served as Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, Attorney General and Minister of Labour. He graduated from Princeton University cum laude and then graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the Bar in Ontario with honours and practised law for more than 20 years before being elected to public office. These four graduands join the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include, among many others, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Christy O’Connor Snr and Jnr, Enya, Anjelica Huston, Fionnuala Flanagan and Margaret Atwood. For more information and a video on the Honorary Conferrings click -ends-

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Immortal Marine Invertebrate Helps Stem Cell Scientist

Immortal Marine Invertebrate Helps Stem Cell Scientist-image

Friday, 29 June 2012

Dr Uri Frank announced as a recipient of SFI Principal Investigator Programme Award A leading stem cell scientist at NUI Galway, Dr Uri Frank, was today announced as a recipient of an SFI Principal Investigator Programme Award by Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation. A native Irish marine invertebrate, with amazing powers of regeneration, is the focus of Dr Frank’s research with NUI Galway’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI). Hydractinia echinata has the power to regenerate any lost body part throughout its life, can clone itself, does not age biologically, and in theory – lives forever. A relative of jellyfish, sea anemones and corals, this tiny creature is perfect for understanding the role of stem cells in development, ageing and disease. “Hydractinia has some stem cells which remain at an embryonic-like stage throughout its life, so the potential for research is immense”, explains Dr Frank. “Not only that, but it is small and translucent and so enables the observation of experimentally labelled stem cells in the living animal.” Dr Frank and his team have already made a discovery which may have important implications in understanding normal development, congenital defects and cancer biology. “Recently, we have been able to demonstrate a hitherto unknown link between heat shock proteins and Wnt signalling in Hydractinia stem cells. These two cellular signalling mechanisms are known to play important roles in development and disease, so they have been widely, though separately, studied. We have shown that they talk to each other, providing a new perspective for all scientists in this field,” says Dr Frank. Also of interest to Dr Frank’s research team is the evolution of animals and humankind. Scientists believe that all animals living today, including invertebrates and humans, are the descendants of a single common ancestor that lived hundreds of millions of years before the times of the dinosaurs. Therefore, invertebrate stem cells should be very similar to their human counterparts and studying them may provide information on human stem cells. “It sounds gruesome, but if Hydractina has its head bitten off, it simply grows another one within a few days using its embryonic or ‘pluripotent’ stem cells. So why don’t humans keep their pluripotent cells as adults? Why do we lose them when we age?”, asks Dr Frank. Dr Frank’s SFI-funded project is an example of how basic research on model organisms can contribute to human health. By discovering things that are difficult to study in more complex animals, it complements work done on mammals, is informative, cheap and free of ethical considerations. ENDS   Photo by Dr Yuki Katsukura

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May 2012

The Miracle of the Parish: Máire Mhac an tSaoi Symposium at NUI Galway

The Miracle of the Parish: Máire Mhac an tSaoi Symposium at NUI Galway-image

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway is delighted to announce a symposium on the work of Máire Mhac an tSaoi, one of the most significant Irish poets of the twentieth century, and the most important living poet in Irish. The event will take place on Wednesday, 23 May in the Moore Institute at 9.00am With Máirtín Ó Direáin and Seán Ó Ríordáin, Máire Mhac an tSaoi revolutionised the practice of poetry in Irish in the 1940s and 50s and paved the way for a new generation of women poets who emerged in Irish and in English in the 1970s and 80s. A generation before Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Eavan Boland, and in more difficult circumstances, Máire Mhac an tSaoi gave voice to the intimate and subversive aspects of women’s experience in poems that challenged the moral orthodoxies of the time. “Although her work and influence is acknowledged by poets and critics alike,” according to Louis de Paor, Director of the Centre for Irish Studies, “this is the first such event dedicated entirely to her work and includes contributions from some of the finest scholars and critics of poetry in Irish. Given her connection with the University where she was appointed Honorary Professor of Irish Studies in 2004, and her uncle Monsignor Pádraig de Brún, served with such distinction as president, we are delighted to recognise her unique contribution to Irish writing.” Máire Mhac an tSaoi’s autobiography The Same Age as the State, published in 2003, was described by Seamus Heaney as ‘thrilling and exemplary’ and a bilingual selection of her poems An Paróiste Míorúilteach/The Miraculous Parish was launched by Fiach Mac Conghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre, at a gala event inDublinCastle in November 2011. Invited speakers to the NUI Galway symposium include Micheál Mac Craith, Margaret Mac Curtain, Máire Ní Annracháin, Máirín Nic Eoin, Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, Ríóna Ní Fhrighil, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Patricia Coughlan, and the proceedings will be recorded by RTÉ radio for broadcast later in the year. Admission to all sessions is free and everyone is welcome to attend.  For further details, contact Samantha Williams at irishstudies@nuigalway.ie or 091 492051 ENDS

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Government Must Ensure Businesses Respect Human Rights

Government Must Ensure Businesses Respect Human Rights-image

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A new report calls on the Government to ensure that companies respect human rights and to provide guidance to businesses on the requirements of human rights due diligence, including when operating overseas. Such due diligence should be a mandatory requirement underpinned by legislation, according to the report’s authors at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway. ‘Business and Human Rights in Ireland’ aims to contribute to policy, practice and law on business and human rights in Ireland. The report will be officially launched this evening by Professor Michael O’Flaherty, who is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Illustrative examples of business negatively impacting on human rights provide a context for the report. Prominent examples mentioned in the report include Irish technology companies implicated in Syrian censorship, the Corrib gas dispute involving Shell and Statoil, the working conditions of migrant workers engaged in mushroom picking, the treatment of GAMA construction workers, and the working conditions in the supply chain for Penneys/Primark. Multinational companies headquartered in Ireland, such as Apple, are also relevant according to the report authors, as they have been criticised for their human rights record. In 2011, the United Nations adopted Professor John Ruggie’s Framework for Business and Human Rights, which emphasises a state duty to protect human rights, a corporate responsibility to respect human rights and the need to strengthen remedies to respond to violations of human rights by business. This UN framework provides guidance for States such as Ireland, although aspects of its practical impacts on issues such as Irish businesses operating abroad have yet to be put into practice. Ireland represents an obvious case study in this context, given the presence of numerous multinational corporations, increasing privatisation of public services and allegations of corporate involvement in human rights violations both in and outside of Ireland. “State representatives frequently assert Ireland’s commitment to the United Nations and human rights, although the Government has yet to issue a comprehensive policy document on business and human rights,” explained Dr Shane Darcy of NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights. In the context of an open export-led economy reliant on foreign direct investment with numerous multinational corporations present in Ireland, extraterritorial jurisdiction is particularly could prove of considerable relevance here. “The concept of extraterritorial jurisdiction as a means of ensuring the State protects against human rights violations by business when acting outside of its territory is particularly relevant in the context of a globalised economy and the transnational nature of many business activities. Ireland provides for some limited oversight or adjudication of extraterritorial activities of Irish companies, but it remains underutilised as a means of ensuring compliance with the State duty to protect human rights in the context of business. Another recommendation of the report is that there be requirement of human rights compliance and reporting by business for public procurement contracts, State investment or listing on the Irish Stock Exchange. A full copy of the report is available at www.nuigalway.ie/human_rights -ends-

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Clinical Trial Targets Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome with Cholesterol Drug

Clinical Trial Targets Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome with Cholesterol Drug-image

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast are leading a clinical trial to investigate the possibility that statins, a drug commonly used to combat cholesterol, might help patients with acute severe respiratory failure. Some 150 patients have been recruited into the trial, which is being run in collaboration with the Irish Critical Care Trials Group, across multiple intensive care units on the island of Ireland, and in England and Scotland, with a target number of 540 patients. The research is being funded by the Health Research Board, and the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation programme which is funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, and is managed by the NIHR. When people become critically ill, for various reasons including major surgery or following injury in a road traffic accident, or infections such as H1N1 influenza, their lungs often fail, which is termed ‘Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome’. This condition, which is primarily caused by the body’s immune system response to the injury, is common, can affect any age group, and is often fatal. Furthermore, even after recovery from lung injury, patients subsequently experience a poorer quality of life. Many survivors of this condition are unable to return to work or look after themselves. “Unfortunately, to date there is no effective treatment for this lung injury”, said Professor John Laffey who is Professor of Anaesthesia at NUI Galway and Consultant Anaesthetist at Galway University Hospitals. “We are investigating if the drug simvastatin, commonly used to treat high cholesterol, is safe and effective in the treatment of this lung injury. A unique feature of this study is that it is a study generated from Irish research efforts, and is an Irish-led multi-national study, being conducted across the island of Ireland, and also in intensive care units in England and Scotland.” Professor Laffey continued: “This study builds on a series of studies using simvastatin, including a smaller clinical trial funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division, Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland and REVIVE, carried out by Professor Danny McAuley and his team in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, who are our partners in this study. These studies offer considerable hope that simvastatin might help sufferers from this devastating disease. The study may take up to five years to complete, but if simvastatin is effective, it would help save the lives of these sufferers, improving the quality of life of survivors and potentially reduce costs, by reducing time spent in intensive care units.” The study team comprises experts in study design based at the HRB Galway Clinical Research Facility and at the Clinical Research Support Centre in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, as well as senior doctors who work in critical care units, and experts in acute lung injury. Professor Danny McAuley, who is Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast and Consultant Intensivist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, explained: “We will also take blood samples to measure markers of inflammation which will allow us to determine if simvastatin can reduce the immune response which causes the lung injury. In addition, we will determine how severe the damage to the patients’ lungs is, and how fast they recover.” People will be randomly divided into two groups; one group will be given the active drug and the other a placebo. This design means that any difference in the experience of patients will be due to whether or not they received simvastatin and not to any other difference that could influence the outcome of treatment. Frank Giles, who is Professor of Cancer Therapeutics at NUI Galway, is also Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, which is helping co-ordinate the clinical trial in Ireland: “Participants in this trial are helping address a vital and difficult medical problem. This study is typical of an increasing number of multi-center trials that are possible because of increasing collaboration between Ireland’s HRB-funded Clinical Research Facilities. The studies involve patients with a very broad spectrum of health challenges. The conduct of these studies, which involve our patients and their families, community health-care staff, hospitals, research institutes and industry partners, improves health care and ensures that Ireland continues to make a significant increasing contribution to global medical progress.” ends

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WHO Report Reveals Teenagers Do Not Get a Fair Deal on Health

WHO Report Reveals Teenagers Do Not Get a Fair Deal on Health-image

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Widespread inequalities mean that many young people in the WHO European Region and North America are not as healthy as they could be, according to a new report on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, published today (Wednesday, 2 May) by the WHO Regional Office for Europe.* The HBSC Ireland study is based in the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway. “Adolescence is a crucial life stage, when young people lay the foundation for adulthood, whether healthy or otherwise,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “This report shows us that the situation across Europe is not fair: health depends on age, gender, geography and family affluence. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This report gives policy-makers an opportunity to act to secure the health of the next generation. Once again, young people have used the opportunity provided by HBSC to speak. It now falls to us – who cherish their aspirations, ambitions, health and well-being – to act.” Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, Principal Investigator for HBSC Ireland of the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway said: “This data are vital to support young people to be healthy and happy, policy makers and practitoners need to recognise that differences in the context of young people’s lives are important and we need to be sensitive to age, gender and socio-eoncomic differences.” The report gives the results of the 2009/2010 HBSC survey, covering 39 countries and regions across the European Region and North America. The survey collected data from 11-, 13- and 15- year-olds on 60 topics related to their health and well-being, social environments and behaviour. HBSC reports have been issued every four years since 1996. Cross-national differences The latest report reveals important inequalities between countries. For example, rates of overweight and obesity for girls aged 11 range from 20% in Portugal and 30% in the United States of America, to only 5% in Switzerland (18% in Ireland, rank 3rd). Smoking rates, although fairly similar at age 11 (under 1%), differ dramatically across countries by age 15: over 25% in Austria and Lithuania, but 10% in Norway and Portugal (13% in Ireland, rank 30th). This suggests that the socioenvironmental context can be changed to benefit young people’s health. Young people’s experience of school also differs; 89% of 11-year-old girls in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia like school, in contrast to 17% in Croatia (34% in Ireland, ranks 31st). Long term effects of adolesent health Health inequalities emerge or worsen during adolescence, and may translate into lasting inequalities in adulthood if, for example, academic potential is not achieved. Adolescence is clearly a key stage for mental health, especially for girls. Girls’ satisfaction with their lives declines between ages 11 and 15. In Poland and Sweden, this decrease is around 15%, in contrast to 5% for boys (in Ireland the decrease is 12% for girls and 6% for boys, ranking 13th at age 11 and 30th at 15). In addition, health-compromising behaviour increases during the adolescent years. Between ages 11 and 15, the average proportion of young people who report weekly smoking and drinking increases by 17%. Many of these young smokers will continue the habit throughout adulthood. Similarly, early sexual activity is an important marker for poor sexual health in adulthood, as well as other risk behaviour in adolescence. The report reveals that, on average, 26% of 15-year-olds are sexually active (in Ireland 22%, rank 28th). In addition, healthy behaviour, such as eating breakfast and fruit, declines. Gender differences Boys and girls display different patterns of healthy and unhealthy behaviour, particularly at age 15. Although boys are more likely to be involved in fights and bullying at all ages, a 15-year-old boy in Latvia is more than 12 times more likely to be bullied by his peers than a girl in Italy (in Ireland bullying is reported by 4% of 15 year old girls and 10% of 15 year old boys, ranking 27th) . In Armenia, boys are almost five times more likely than girls to have been drunk by age 15. In some Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom, however, 15-year-old girls are more likely than boys to have been drunk, and to have had sexual intercourse (among 15 year olds in Ireland 28% of girls and 30% of boys have been drunk, ranking 22nd). Further, girls are more concerned about being too fat and to be on a diet, but less likely than boys to be overweight. Overall, around 40% of girls aged 15 report being dissatisfied with their bodies (46% in Ireland, rank 13th), and 22% are on a diet (21% in Ireland, rank 18th), although just 10% are actually overweight or obese (12% in Ireland, rank 11th). Family affluence Unsurprisingly, family affluence is associated with a healthier lifestyle: higher levels of fruit intake, breakfast consumption and physical activity. It is also associated with better communication with parents, greater support from classmates and numbers of close friends, and better mental health (in Ireland only fruit and breakfast consumption are higher among those with higher family affluence). The picture for risk-taking behaviour is more complex. In many countries and regions, family affluence has less influence on patterns of smoking and drinking; other social factors – such as the influence of peers – may be more important. Further, injuries increase with higher family affluence (this holds for Ireland). Protective factors Support from family and classmates protects young people from negative influences; those who report easy communication with their parents are more likely to report positive health outcomes. Having close friends and peer support is also a strong predictor of positive health. The more sources of support, the more likely young people are to report good health. The HBSC report shows that addressing the social determinants of health inequalities in childhood and adolescence can enable young people to maximise their health and well-being, ensuring that these inequalities do not extend into adulthood, with all the potential negative consequences for individuals and society. ENDS

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Mindfulness Goes Online to Help Headache and Migraine Sufferers

Mindfulness Goes Online to Help Headache and Migraine Sufferers-image

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting people with chronic or recurrent daily headaches to take part in an online pain management programme. The study offers individuals with chronic daily headache the opportunity to avail of six online sessions of mindfulness training tailored specifically for headache pain by Dr Jonathan Egan, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, NUI Galway. The sessions, which are free of charge, will focus on active self-management, instruction in a range of relaxation techniques, coping skills and cognitive behavioural therapy techniques (CBT) to help identify negative thinking and coping patterns. The overall technique being used is known as a mindfulness-based pain management programme, and it is hoped mindfulness training may offer some relief to people with recurrent headache. Unlike other chronic pain patients, people suffering chronic or recurrent headache are an under-researched population. Prevalence rates indicate 12-15% of the Irish population suffer from migraine alone. The disability and productivity lost as a result of severe headache can be significant. The online programme is part of a research project being carried out at NUI Galway by Angeline Traynor who is the principal researcher: “We know that a combination of psychological and mindfulness techniques are beneficial, particularly for people managing chronic or recurrent pain. Our intention is to see whether this approach can also work for people with chronic headache pain. This online setting is particularly fitting for individuals with chronic headache as it may be accessed at their convenience for the purpose of prevention, and management. The programme layout is modular to ensure ease of use and time efficiency for busy individuals who would like to log on and receive additional support in managing their pain.” The researchers are specifically interested in hearing from people who have chronic daily headache (CDH), defined as chronic head pain which occurs on 15 or more days per month over a period of three to four months and this includes tension-type headache, migraine and medication overuse headache.   Dr Egan said: “Many people find that the combination of cognitive and relaxation therapies which are offered in this headache management programme enable them to take back control of their lives and engage more in daily activities with the knowledge they have the tools necessary to better manage their pain. This project is hoping to establish if mindfulness training may be delivered effectively in an online format to help these individuals. The programme is designed to be accessible to all people who have a computer. Patients can continue with their normal treatments while also taking part in the study. GPs, physiotherapists, friends and family are encouraged to refer interested individuals to participate. For further information, please contact Angeline Traynor, at a.traynor2@nuigalway.ie, 0860378562, or go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/headachemanagement -ends-

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Irish Fiddler to Present Second Martin Reilly Lecture

Irish Fiddler to Present Second Martin Reilly Lecture-image

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fiddle player, teacher and researcher, Dr Máire O’Keeffe, will deliver the second lecture in the Martin Reilly Lecture Series. Organised by Comhrá Ceoil, the Music and Dance Studies at the NUI Galway Centre for Irish Studies, the lecture will take place on Thursday, 17 May.  This series is dedicated to Martin Reilly, the celebrated East Galway uilleann piper, who left a rich musical legacy to generations of pipers.  The lecture series gives an opportunity for researcher-practitioners in Irish traditional music and dance to present their research in a public forum. The lectures are illustrated with musical examples, and insights from the practitioner’s perspective. Galway and the West of Ireland has long been an important centre of traditional dance, music and song and this lecture series reflects the increasing interest in the study of these traditions. Originally from Tralee, Co. Kerry, Dr O’Keeffe has many different musical interests including the fiddle traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Shetland, and Cape Breton, as well as the music of Galicia in North West Spain. The title of her talk is ‘Journey into Tradition: The Irish Button Accordion’, and it is the culmination of extensive research that traces the development of the button accordion within the Irish music tradition. It considers some of the key factors in the evolution of the button accordion in Ireland and some of the players who have contributed to an identifiably Irish style of playing. The lecture will take place at 6.30pm in the Galway City Library. All are invited to attend and admission is free. For more information on the Martin Reilly lecture series visit http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Martin-Reilly-Lecture-Series/289147347801522 or email Martinreillylectureseries@gmail.com. ENDS

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Antarctic Octopus Points to New Evidence of Ice-Sheet Collapse

Antarctic Octopus Points to New Evidence of Ice-Sheet Collapse-image

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Scientists have found that genetic information on the Antarctic octopus supports studies indicating that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed during its history, possibly as recently as 200,000 years ago.   The team, which included scientists from NUI Galway, Liverpool University in the UK and La Trobe University in Australia, found that the octopuses from Ross and Weddell Seas, which are now separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, are genetically almost identical. This finding suggests that these two regions may have once been connected and may contribute to recent studies demonstrating the potential impact that increasing global temperatures could have on the changing Antarctica environment. Genes from more than 450 Turquet’s octopuses, collected from species in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, were analysed to shed new light on how animals disperse across the varied ocean landscape.  Adult Turquet’s octopuses tend to live in one place and only move to escape predators, leading scientists to believe that creatures from areas either side of Antarctica would be genetically different. Dr Louise Allcock from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, explained: “A previous study has shown evidence that the Ross and Weddell Seas could have been connected. We wanted to investigate whether there was any genetic information that could tell us what the past environment could have been like, and this octopus species, with its large populations around the region and limited movements, was an ideal species to use for this. “The fact that we found more similarities than we did differences supports the theory that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed in the past.  It also provides further evidence that scientists should continue to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on Antarctica today.” The research has been published in the prestigious journal Molecular Ecology. Dr Phill Watts, from Liverpool University’s Institute of Integrative Biology, explains: “We looked at information gathered by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, which allowed us to examine genetic data on a scale that had not been done before in this area of the world.   We expected to find a marked difference between Turquet’s octopuses living in different regions of the ocean, particularly between areas that are currently separated by approximately 10,000km of sea.  These creatures don’t like to travel and so breeding between the populations in the Ross and Weddell Seas would have been highly unusual. “We found, however, that they were genetically similar, suggesting that at some point in their past these populations would have been in contact with each other, perhaps at a time when the oceans were connected and not separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.  These findings agree with climate models indicating repeated periods in history when the climate was warmer, which would have released water from the ice and increased the sea levels, allowing dispersal of creatures between the Ross and Weddell Seas.” Data on octopuses from other parts of Antarctica, not separated by this particular ice sheet, support the theory that the creatures are genetically different. They found that the depth of the ocean and its currents limited the movement of the octopus in certain areas, as would have been expected for those living on either side of the West Antarctic Ice sheet. This added further evidence that at some point in recent history this particular ice sheet might have collapsed.  The research is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the collaborative scheme for systematic research (CoSyst). -ends-

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