Friday, 18 June 2010

The INTERSTROKE study, published online and in an upcoming publication of medical journal Lancet, shows that a total of 10 risk factors (including high blood pressure, smoking, and waist-to-hip ratio) are associated with 90% of the risk of stroke. The international study, being presented today (Friday, 18 June) at The World Congress of Cardiology, Beijing, is written by Dr Martin O'Donnell of NUI Galway and formerly McMaster University and Dr Salim Yusuf, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada, and colleagues for the INTERSTROKE investigators. The contribution of various risk factors to the burden of stroke worldwide is unknown, particularly in countries of low and middle income where the largest burden of stroke occurs. In the first phase of the INTERSTROKE study, the authors aimed to establish the association of known and emerging risk factors with stroke and its primary subtypes, assess the contribution of these risk factors to the burden of stroke, and explore the differences between risk factors for stroke and heart attack. The authors used data from 6,000 people (3,000 cases of stroke and 3,000 controls) in 22 countries* worldwide, covering the period March, 2007 to April, 2010. Cases were patients with a first acute stroke (within 5 days of symptoms onset and 72 h of hospital admission). Controls had no history of stroke, and were matched with cases for age and sex. All participants completed a structured questionnaire and a physical examination, and most provided blood and urine samples. The authors calculated the increased risk and population-attributable risks (PARs) for the association of all stroke, ischaemic stroke, and intracerebral haemorrhagic stroke with selected risk factors. The authors found the following 10 risk factors to be significantly associated with stroke: high blood pressure, smoking, waist-to-hip ratio (abdominal obesity), diet, physical activity, lipids (fats), diabetes mellitus, alcohol intake, stress and depression, and heart disorders. Collectively, these risk factors accounted for 90% of the PAR for all stroke. These risk factors were all significant for ischaemic stroke (caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain), whereas high blood pressure, smoking, waist-to-hip ratio, diet, and alcohol intake were significant risk factors for intracerebral haemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain tissue). The ratio of bad to good blood lipids (apolipoproteins) was an important risk factor for ischemic stroke but not for haemorrhagic stroke. When looking at individual risk factors, the authors say it is important to note that the individual PARs for risk factors do not add up to the overall PAR for all risk factors combined. This is because many risk factors are inter-related. The study also addresses each risk factor independently, and found that high blood pressure was the most important for stroke, since it was associated with one-third of the risk of all stroke, and increased the risk of stroke more than two-and-a-half fold compared with no history of high blood pressure. Smokers were at double the risk of stroke compared with non-smokers, and smoking was associated with one in five strokes. Professor Martin O'Donnell, NUI Galway explained: "The INTERSTROKE study is the first large standardised case-control study of risk factors for stroke in which countries of low and middle income were included, and where all cases completed a brain scan (usually a CT scan). Our findings showed that five risk factors accounted for more than 80% of the global risk of all stroke (ischaemic and intracerebral haemorrhagic): hypertension, current smoking, abdominal obesity, diet, and physical activity. With the addition of five other risk factors, including apolipoproteins, the PAR for all stroke rose to 90%." The authors highlight that nine of ten risk factors (not including cardiac disorders) in INTERSTROKE are the same as in INTERHEART (also led by Dr Yusuf) which looked at risk factors for heart attacks. The relative importance of many of these risk factors is different for stroke and heart attack. For example, blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke, while blood lipids (fats) are the most important risk factors for heart attack. However, the nine risk factors in INTERHEART covered 90% of the PAR for heart attacks. They add that this work proves that a large international epidemiological study of stroke that requires routine neuroimaging is feasible in countries of low and middle income, and conclude: "Targeted population-based interventions that reduce blood pressure and smoking, and promote physical activity and a healthy diet, could substantially reduce the global burden of stroke." The investigators are currently undertaking Phase 2 of INTERSTROKE, which will include Ireland, aims to include 20,000 participants. This second phase will determine the importance of risk factors within different regions, different ethnic groups, and within ischemic stroke subtypes. In addition, the association between genetics and risk of stroke will be studied—this will require large sample sizes. In an accompanying Comment, Dr Jack V Tu, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Sunnybrook Schulich Heart Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, says: "Whilst hypertension is well established as the most important cause of stroke in high-income countries, INTERSTROKE confirms that it is also the most important risk factor for stroke in developing countries. This finding is particularly relevant because it highlights the need for health authorities in these regions to develop strategies to screen the general population for high blood pressure and, if necessary, offer affordable treatment to reduce the burden of stroke. It also provides an impetus to develop population-wide strategies to reduce the salt content in the diet of individuals in these countries." -Ends-

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Over 170 students from across the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Engineering and Informatics, Business, Public Policy and Law, Science, and Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies will be conferred by NUI Galway today (Thursday, 17 June). The largest cohort of students to graduate will be ninety-eight Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) students. Also graduating will be fifty PhD students from across all disciplines. International students will also be well represented at the ceremony, with the University welcoming graduates from, among other countries, Malaysia and Kuwait, who along with students from across Ireland will receive Diplomas, Degrees, Masters, and PhDs. Speaking at the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, spoke of the growth in research in the University and how it is reflected in the numbers of Ph.D. students graduating: "Our research student numbers continue to grow, as do the numbers in our wide range of taught postgraduate programmes. We have significantly increased our number of Ph.D. graduates in recent years. From a base of about 50 doctorates per year at the turn of the millennium, we now confer almost 3 times that number annually. It is very encouraging to see the number of research degrees conferred across all Colleges at this conferring ceremony." President Browne added words of encouragement to graduates conferred at the ceremony: "Do not lose hope or courage in this current economic climate. You have what it takes to make a difference in our society. The opportunities you have to create your own environment and to shape your own futures are enormous". The next conferring to take place at NUI Galway will be the conferring of Honorary Degrees on Friday, 25 June. -Ends-

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Rohingya minority group in Western Burma has been victim of human rights violations amounting tocrimes against humanity, according to a report released today (Thursday, 16 June) by the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The report, entitled Crimes against Humanity in Western Burma: The Situation of the Rohingyas, was officially launched by Micheál Martin, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, at Iveagh House, Dublin. "For decades now, the Rohingya minority group has endured grave human rights violations in North Arakan State. Every day, more Rohingya men, women and children are leaving Burma, fleeing the human rights abuses in the hope of finding peace and security elsewhere," said Professor William Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The Report is based on extensive open-source research and on a fact-finding mission to Burma, Thailand and Bangladesh conducted by experts in international criminal investigation. As well as interviewing organisations working in the region, investigators met with Rohingya victims in and around refugee camps in Bangladesh. The Rohingyas' plight has been overlooked for years and the root causes of their situation still remain under-examined. The Irish Centre for Human Rights' Report identifies and discusses some of these causes. The Report examines whether the apparent cases of enslavement, rape and sexual violence, deportation or forcible transfer of population, and persecution against the Rohingyas may constitute crimes against humanity. "Describing the violations as crimes against humanity raises the possibility that cases against those Burmese officials who are responsible could be referred to the International Criminal Court", Professor Schabas explained. The Report affirms that people committing, allowing, aiding and abetting these crimes must be held accountable. The international community has a responsibility to protect the Rohingyas, to respond to the allegations of crimes against humanity and ensure that violations and impunity do not persist for another generation, concludes the report Speaking at the launch of the Report, Minister Martin commended the work of the NUI Galway research team, stating that they have presented "compelling evidence suggesting that crimes against humanity have indeed been committed by the Burmese authorities against the Rohingya minority group". Noting the recommendation in the Report that the Security Council establish a Commission of Inquiry to determine whether there is a prima facie case that crimes against humanity have been committed, as well as similar recent comments by UN Special Rapporteur on Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, Minister Martin said that he fully supported these calls for all such alleged crimes to be formally investigated. The Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, is one of the world's leading university-based human rights research centres. The Centre, which marks its tenth anniversary this year, is dedicated to teaching, research and advocacy in the field of human rights. Report available at: www.nuigalway.ie/human_rights/projects/burma.html ENDS

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The NUI Galway Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) team was announced All-Ireland Champions after a historic win for the University at the recent MBA Association of Ireland's Inter-Business School MBA Strategy Challenge. Organised by the MBA Association of Ireland, the business strategy competition is open to all MBA programmes across Ireland. The NUI Galway Executive MBA team was announced champions after competing against teams from DCU, UCD, University of Ulster and Waterford IT. The final-year Executive MBA students strategically analysed a Harvard Business Case over four hours and then presented their findings to a judging panel chaired by Professor Patrick McNamee of the University of Ulster and member of the MBA Association of Ireland. In their winning presentation, the NUI Galway team demonstrated analytical rigour, effective teamwork, strategic and operational insights in outlining the future strategy for HTC Corp., the case study for this competition. Commenting on the win, Dr Alma McCarthy, Executive MBA Programme Director at NUI Galway, said: "The NUI Galway Executive MBA curriculum has a very strong focus on strategy and prepares students to excel as business and strategy analysts. Winning the MBA Association of Ireland's Inter-Business School MBA Strategy Challenge reinforces the excellent teaching and learning standards available to NUI Galway MBA students". The leader of the NUI Galway Executive MBA team, Brian Molloy, added: "This is an immense and historic result for NUI Galway. The skill-set and toolkit necessary for us to deliver a winning strategic analysis in just four hours came from the two year MBA programme at NUI Galway. Whilst there was a team of five performing on the day, this win demonstrates the calibre and capacity to deliver that every graduate of the NUI Galway MBA programme possesses and that future students will acquire if they take on the challenge of the MBA. It must be very reassuring for employers in the West to know that the local University is producing such a talented pool of MBA graduates". The winning team included Niall Cunningham, Brian Molloy, Devin Mettler, Bríd Seoige and Declan Staunton from the Executive MBA programme. -Ends-

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

NUI Galway will host the Science and Technology in the European Periphery (STEP) conference commencing on Thursday, 17 June and running until 20 June. STEP is an international group of historians of science, medicine and technology and includes scholars from all over Europe. STEP meetings happen every two years with the purpose of exploring the historical character of science, medicine and technology in regions and societies on the periphery of Europe. STEP was founded in 1999 and Galway is the seventh European city to host the organisation. The group was previously hosted by Istanbul in 2008 and Menorca in 2006. The Galway meeting features 70 speakers from all over Europe, as well as the USA, Japan and Brazil. Some of the speakers will challenge traditional notions of the periphery of Europe, by examining the exchange of scientific information between Europe and the East Indies, and with the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the Americas. The opening session will focus on Ireland's scientific heritage, particularly the institutions of science and medicine that emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Subsequent sessions of the conference will focus on the popularisation of science and technology, the role of women in science, science and religion, the role of universities and of experts, and the dissemination of scientific knowledge. The plenary lecture entitled "Some Historiographical Reflections on the Circulation of Science" will be delivered by Professor Nicholas Jardine, University of Cambridge. Dr Aileen Fyfe, Department of History at NUI Galway, says: "In our current climate, with so much emphasis on innovation, knowledge and the smart economy, it's crucial that we better understand the social and political contexts of science and technology. History of science is still a small discipline in Ireland, so it s great to have a big conference like STEP coming to town. It will put Galway on the map as the centre for the study of history of science and technology in Ireland; and will highlight the importance of collaboration with our European neighbours". Dr Faidra Papanelopoulou, University of Athens, says: "STEP celebrates its 10th anniversary in Galway. Valuable contributions from participants around the globe explore the historical character of science, medicine and technology in regions and societies in and beyond Europe. The meeting in Galway focuses on a variety of interesting topics, offering a useful range of perspectives in the field". Further information on STEP is available at www.cc.uoa.gr/step. -Ends-

Monday, 14 June 2010

This week NUI Galway welcomes 40 educators from Jordan and Lebanon for a seven-day bespoke study tour. The study tour is part of a new EU TEMPUS funded project which aims to develop service learning and civic engagement partnerships in Jordan and Lebanon. The EU project entitled the 'Tawasol Project', commenced in January 2010 and will run over three years. The project brings together five universities in Jordan and the Lebanon with four European university partners including NUI Galway, University of Gothenburg in Sweden, University of Plovdiv in Bulgaria and University of Roehampton in London. Following on from the success of the NUI Galway Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) in developing successful learning opportunities within community through service learning, the University was invited to collaborate with the other eight universities and create the Tawasol Project. While in Galway the group of educators will meet with over twenty members of the community who have been involve in service learning partnerships, including COPE Galway, the Gaf Youth Café and the Galway Traveller Movement. They will also meet over twenty NUI Galway lecturers and students who have developed innovative service learning partnerships. They will learn about how postgraduate IT students worked with the Gaf Youth café to help develop a youth centred website and up skilled staff in the use of new technologies. They will also meet with Philosophy students who examined through service leaning the ethical treatment of asylum seekers within the west of Ireland. Speaking at the first Tawasol Project meet in Amman, Jordan earlier this year, Lorraine McIlrath, CKI Coordinator, NUI Galway, said: "Working with universities in such a different cultural context makes our work in Ireland richer and more challenging as we are encouraged to look at the cultural implications of engaging student learning in communities within challenging circumstances. This project will bring together hundreds of students and academics in the next three years for intensive inter-cultural and civic engagement learning opportunities". On Tuesday, 15 June, the Tawasol Website will be launched by the NUI Galway's Deputy President and Registrar, Professor Jim Ward. The website, www.tawasol.org was designed and developed by a Galway based web design animation company, Starlight Solutions, who have used a system of social networking to bring the Tawasol Project members together through group sharing, interacting and engaging. -Ends-

Monday, 14 June 2010

NUI Galway is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Tom Scharf as the new director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG). Having previously directed a research centre at Keele University (UK) with a strong international reputation for its work on ageing, Professor Scharf is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to debates about ageing policy in Ireland. "Population ageing presents both opportunities and challenges for all nations. I am delighted to be taking up this post at a time when there is such an interest in issues arising from demographic change in Ireland. My aim is to ensure that NUI Galway continues to play a leading role in ensuring that public debates on ageing are well informed by research evidence," commented Professor Scharf. With a first degree in German and Politics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a doctorate in Political Science from Aston University, Professor Scharf comes to NUI Galway with more than 20 years' experience of conducting research on ageing. The quality and impact of this work was formally recognised in 2009 when Professor Scharf was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences – the body charged with promoting the social sciences in the UK for the public benefit. Professor Scharf's first post in gerontology was at Bangor University where he was researcher on an international study of ageing in rural communities. He moved to Keele University in 1992, initially as a lecturer in Modern German Studies. Professor Scharf spent two years as Visiting Professor of European Studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany, before returning to Keele in 1998 to join its Centre for Social Gerontology. During his time at Keele, Professor Scharf initiated a major programme of research on aspects of disadvantage faced by older people. This included a path-breaking project which addressed issues relating to social exclusion and quality of life of older people living in some of England's most disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. With a keen interest in public policy, Professor Scharf has subsequently conducted research for UK government departments, and for national organisations such as Help the Aged. He continues to be involved in a study of older people's participation in disadvantaged communities in Manchester, and a longitudinal study of ageing in a purpose-built retirement community. Professor Scharf takes over as ICSG director from Professor Eamon O'Shea. Professor O'Shea was instrumental in establishing ICSG in 2006 as a multidisciplinary research centre on ageing with a focus on research, education and training in the field of social gerontology in Ireland and internationally. In handing over to his successor, Professor O'Shea said: "The establishment of a new Chair in Social Gerontology at NUI Galway and Tom Scharf's appointment to the post puts Galway in a real leadership role in relation to ageing in Ireland and internationally". Professor Scharf welcomes the chance to build on the expertise that already exists at NUI Galway in relation to ageing issues. The first Centre of its kind in Ireland, ICSG offers research expertise and practical support to public, private and voluntary agencies involved in the formulation and implementation of public policy for older people at international, national, regional and local levels. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Scharf said, "This is a fantastic opportunity to make a positive contribution to research and education on a topic that should be at the top of everyone's agenda. I look forward to working with colleagues at NUI Galway to ensure that our work has a major impact on Irish society". -Ends-

Monday, 14 June 2010

A formal memorandum of understanding was signed today (Monday, 14 June, 2010) between NUI Galway and Ocean University of China (OUC), Qingdao. The agreement paves the way for student and faculty exchange and research collaboration. OUC is a comprehensive University renowned specifically for its disciplines in Oceanography and Fisheries and was the first University in China approved by the State as the base for fundamental scientific research and teaching staff training in Oceanography, Marine Chemistry and Life Science Technology. The University has over 20,000 registered students, including 4000 Doctoral or Masters degree students. Speaking at the event, President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for NUI Galway's Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute to collaborate with such a prestigious Chinese University. We look forward to welcoming their students and providing our own students with the opportunity to spend time on OUC's campus".

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway will today, (Monday, 14 June), open the first of two summer schools entitled, Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law. The event will take place from Monday 14 to Friday, 18 June 2010. During the following week, 20-24 June, the Centre will run a Summer School on the International Criminal Court. Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights said: "We held our first summer school in 2000, and the popularity and international reputation of both the International Criminal Court and Minority Rights programmes continues to grow". The 2010 Minority Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Law summer school will provide participants with an overview of the legal, political and philosophical issues pertaining to international human rights law and its relationship to minority rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. During the course participants seek to understand, assimilate and critically evaluate legal arguments with respect to the international minority rights regime and how it pertains to minorities and indigenous peoples. In addition they are encouraged to analyse the underlying philosophical basis of the subject and become familiar with current debates and cases with a special focus on issues such as the right to land, affirmative action policies, and effective political participation and restitution. The final day of the minority rights summer school will be dedicated to the issue of customary law and human rights, as part of a two day international conference being organised by the Irish Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the United Nations University and other partner institutions, on June 18-19. Participants of the summer school will be invited to attend as observers at the second day of this event which takes the form of an international roundtable dialogue on Customary Law Traditional Knowledge and Human Rights. The dialogue is designed to provide a forum for in-depth examination of the challenges and opportunities for securing effective respect and recognition of customary law in the international regulation of access to genetic resources and benefit sharing and protection of traditional knowledge. Anthony Taubman, Director of Intellectual Property issues at the World Trade Organisation will be a keynote speaker among others from indigenous peoples organizations, international universities, non-governmental organizations and legal practitioners. The Summer School on the International Criminal Court at the Irish Centre for Human Rights which starts on June 20 is widely acknowledged to be the premier programme of its kind. The programme will consist of intensive lectures, delivered by leading specialists in the field. Students are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its applicable law, its structures and its operations. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including universal jurisdiction, immunities and the role of the victim. The International Criminal Court is arguably the most important new international institution since the establishment of the United Nations. The aim of the International Criminal Court is in combating impunity for atrocities and it is at the forefront of a broader movement for achieving accountability. During the summer school, a lecture by NUI Galway's Professor William Schabas "Reflections on the International Criminal Court Review Conference", on Monday, 21 June will be open to the public. Professor Schabas will reflect on his experience of the review conference, which he will attend in Uganda in the first two weeks in June. The review conference itself will evaluate the International Criminal Court, and make it more effective in prosecuting the world s worst atrocities. Delegates at the Review Conference will discuss the Court s past and future, and will propose changes to the Court s founding treaty, the Rome Statute. . -Ends-

Friday, 11 June 2010

A team of researchers led by Chief Scientist Dr Louise Allcock and Project Leader Professor Mark Johnson from NUI Galway has just returned from a research mission to sample habitats on the edge of the continental shelf using the Marine Institute's vessel, the RV Celtic Explorer, and the deep water remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Holland I. The aim of this mission was to explore the little-studied habitats at the edge of the continental shelf, where the depth increases from approximately 400 m to over 3 km. Professor Mark Johnson of The Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute (MRI) at NUI Galway, said: "A feature of the continental margin is the presence of canyons, which increase the complexity of the margin and may be areas of high biodiversity. Up until quite recently, it has been difficult to sample canyons. Deep sea communities are normally sampled by sending down metal grabs or dredges. These methods do not work well in sloping complex habitats like canyons. In contrast, an ROV can manoeuvre to video and sample organisms with a high degree of precision". In addition to mapping sections of habitat, material sampled from the ROV and from cores was passed to taxonomists to help quantify the biodiversity and identify any species that may be new to science. Some sampled organisms will be frozen and returned to the biodiscovery laboratory hosted by the Marine Institute so that they can be made available to researchers looking for new compounds with pharmaceutical potential. Biodiscovery is the term used to describe the collection and analysis of organisms for the purpose of developing new products. Most of the new compounds derived from marine organisms have originated in warm water ecosystems such as coral reefs. To date, relatively little effort has been spent studying bioactivity in temperate waters and the deep sea, despite the abundance here of sponges and other groups known to have great potential for biodiscovery. Samples from the ROV were mostly collected on, or close to, underwater cliffs, some of which were over 100 m high. This sampling included the deepest dive to date with the Holland, to just short of 3000 m deep, twice the depth of the sea floor at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Organisms were collected using the robotic arms of the ROV, sometime using a suction hose to draw material into a collection box. On surfacing, the collected material was sorted, with material for biodiscovery frozen at minus 80 °C - the best way to preserve the molecules of interest. To make the best use of the mission, the scientific team was drawn from several institutes: NUI Galway, UCC, TCD and Queen's University Belfast. Scientists from UCC are interested in the biodiscovery potential of microorganisms from sponges. This work is complemented by microbiologists from NUI Galway working on the composition and function of microorganisms in the water column. The Trinity team are looking at the links between the canyon habitats and the cycling of nutrients. Queen's University Belfast researchers are interested in biodiversity, particularly the taxonomy of sponges. Links to the wider international research community have been made through associating this mission with the Census of Marine Life COMARGE project (http://www.ifremer.fr/comarge/en/index.html). This mission is partially supported by a Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery Research Award under the Sea Change Strategy and the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (2006-2013). The Beaufort Award is a 7-year project linking NUI Galway, UCC and QUB. It provides the human capacity to support this mission, including PhD studentships and postdoctoral appointments. The overall aim of the Beaufort awards is to develop Irish research capacity in five key areas identified in Sea Change, including Marine Biodiscovery, Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, Sensors and Communications Systems for the Marine Environment, Fish Population Genetics and Economic Research related to Development Dynamics of the Marine Sector in Ireland. These awards are managed and supported by the Marine Institute, and funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013. -Ends-

Thursday, 10 June 2010

NUI Galway has launched the Lucerna Project Report on Capability Transformation and Competitiveness as part of a one-day Symposium with contributions from industry, policy-makers and academics. The symposium included a keynote address by Professor Michael Best of the University of Cambridge and the University of Massachusetts, the Senior Advisor on the Lucerna project. The report is based on a new industry database developed over three years at the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC), NUI Galway. The Lucerna database consists of company and product-related information, which allows for a deeper understanding of technological change and industrial development in Ireland. It represents a systematic approach to identify key industrial clusters that are creating a competitive position for Ireland and consists of business demographics for key technology-based clusters in Ireland. The database allows for the examination of technological activities, the specification of technology-related clusters and most importantly, emerging technologies and technology management capabilities. The database and report is a key project of CISC, it will enable policy makers and academics to answer key questions on the genesis and sustainability of Irish indigenous industry. The project is funded under the EU's Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge program and reflects a partnership between NUI Galway and the University of Massachusetts, USA. The database details firms and the products they make – single or multiple – and the sectors they operate in. Many firms, particularly large ones, operate in more than one sector. Companies that straddle industry boundaries are most important in understanding industrial change and renewal as firms transition into new industries and products. Lucerna includes rapidly growing companies, those in transition and foreign Multi-National Company (MNC's) subsidiaries that drive industrial growth and, as such, are the carriers, developers and consolidators of regionally distinctive technological capabilities. The report suggests that from a capabilities perspective, Ireland has assimilated certain technological, manufacturing and managerial capabilities primarily from the presence of multinationals and supported by HEI investment that can be the drivers of renewed economic growth. Speaking at the launch of the report, CEO of Enterprise Ireland Frank Ryan said: "The increasing complexity and diversity of business requires new thinking around data and information capture. I congratulate the project team on the substantial work that they have achieved so far and I look forward to further iterations and other sectors being added to the analysis". Paul Ryan, CISC Principal Investigator on the project, said: "The Lucerna project research focuses attention on the real economy, that part that makes up the tax base and the wealth-creation. It puts the business enterprise at the heart of the innovation story. Successful firms have distinctive capabilities. These can be grouped across localised firms into distinctive regional capabilities. The Lucerna project focuses on the identification of the origins and development of such capabilities in high-tech firms in Ireland. These can be the foundations on which to build the road to recovery for the real economy". CISC is an inter-disciplinary research institute, based at J.E. Cairnes Business School of Business & Economic at NUI Galway, focused on building an internationally-recognised programme of research and education on innovation processes and policies that are fundamental to the development of a knowledge-based economy. -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Health Promotion Research Centre (HPRC) at NUI Galway will host its annual summer conference on Thursday, June 10 and Friday June 11, 2010. The focus of the conference will be on men's health. The aim of the event is to promote best practice in multidisciplinary approaches to improving men's health. The conference programme includes keynote addresses from two world leaders in the field of men's health; Professor Alan White of Leeds Metropolitan University, and Professor John MacDonald from the University of Western Sydney. Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D. will attend NUI Galway on the second day of the event and give closing remarks at the conference. The programme will provide delegates with key insights into best practice and innovative approaches to tackling men's health, focusing on important international and national developments in the area of men's health; key settings in which to target men's health initiatives (for example primary care, community settings, workplace); and examples of how to target different sub-populations of men including; young men, rural men and men in the travelling community). The conference programme will appeal to a wide audience including health promotion personnel, primary care teams, community workers, youth workers and voluntary agencies. The focus on men's health is timely in light of the publication, in 2009, of a National Men's Health Policy (NMHP) in Ireland. The NMHP sets out key areas of recommendation in men's health relating to areas including: Strengthening public policy on men's health, Promoting and marketing men's health, creating strategies to promote gender competency in the delivery of health and social services, building services with a focus on preventative health, developing supportive environments for men's health and strengthening community action to support men's health. Dr Margaret Hodgins, Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway said: "The conference builds on the development of a National Men s Health policy and aims to contribute to the successful implementation of this policy. A key focus of the conference will be on identifying national and international examples of successful health promotion interventions that address men s health concerns. The conference will also afford the opportunity to build partnerships and networks across agencies which facilitate multi-disciplinary work". Co-author of the NMHP and keynote presenter at the Conference, Dr Noel Richardson stated: "Much has been achieved in a relatively short space of time in promoting an increased focus and awareness of men's health issues in Ireland. This conference has an integral role to play in supporting those with an interest in or working in the area of men's health, by showcasing best practice across a broad range of men's health issues". For further information on the National Men's Health policy log on to http://www.dohc.ie/publications/national_mens_health_policy.html -Ends-

Friday, 4 June 2010

The Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) EU meeting to be held in Ireland for the first time will be hosted by the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway. The event will take place from 13-17 June in the Radisson Blu Hotel. TERMIS – EU meeting is the premier tissue engineering conference in Europe where scientists from the fields of biomaterials, scaffolds, stem cells and cell biologists come together in a combined forum. Some of the plenary speakers for the conference include: James Fawcett, Chairman of the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair; Helen M. Blau, Professor and Director of the Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine; Randall Moon, Director of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Washington; and Hans-Dieter Volk, Director of the Institute of Medical Immunology and the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies. Speaking about the upcoming event, Professor Abhay Pandit, TERMIS-EU 2010 Chair and Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, explained: "The Conference will offer delegates innovative and stimulating topics with a well-balanced programme of plenary speakers, invited symposia, oral presentations, rapid-fire sessions, poster sessions, a debate on the topic This House Believes that Active Biomolecules are more Important than Scaffold Materials in Tissue Engineering Products and educational workshops. In addition, there will be Student and Young Investigator Section activities that will stimulate and engage the next generation of researchers. The social programme will provide a taste of what Galway and the West of Ireland has to offer." In excess of 700 delegates are already registered to attend this high-profile meeting which will have a large focus on Irish researchers including principal investigators, postdoctoral researchers and students from Irish laboratories. The attraction of large groups of world-renowned researchers to Ireland to attend this conference will enhance the international visibility of Ireland, and more specifically Galway, to the global research and global high-tech business communities. TERMIS-EU will stimulate capacity-building in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, an important area of research in which Ireland is an emerging force. The NFB was set-up with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish a critical mass of biomaterials activity in Ireland. NFB has established partnerships with leading academic institutions, research laboratories, hospitals and companies both in Ireland and around the world aiming to support the translation of biomaterials from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside. The group continues to grow and currently there are 6 Principal Investigators, 7 Post Doctoral Researchers, 26 Post Graduate Researchers, 2 clinical interns and 4 research support staff making it one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. For more information or to register visit http://www.termis.org/eu2010/. -Ends-

Friday, 4 June 2010

In a unique collaboration, the graduating Executive MBA class at NUI Galway have completed a strategic study of the Alan Kerins Projects (AKP) charity. The study was undertaken with NUI Galway lecturer, Mike Moroney, during the second and final-year of the Executive MBA programme and was conducted on a pro bono basis. The study was presented to Alan Kerins and the Board of AKP at a recent function at NUI Galway. Welcoming the study as "very timely", Jacqui O'Grady, Chairperson of AKP, commented: "It certainly gives us food for thought particularly as we move into a new and exciting phase in our development. We will be reviewing carefully the findings and will take on board many of the suggestions". Dr James J. Browne, NUI Galway President, commented that the study was an exemplar of the University's civic engagement through its Community Knowledge Initiative. Based on in-depth research, the study represents a fundamental strategic review of AKP, which raises considerable funds for the benefit of thousands of poor and disadvantaged families in Zambia. The study outlines a platform for strategic renewal through investment in the capabilities, infrastructure and management of AKP. In addition to specific operational measures, it envisages augmenting management, leveraging AKP as a networked organisation and an international roll-out strategy. Commenting on the study, Alan Kerins said: "We are very grateful for this excellent report and we are overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in the study and by the quality of the analysis and proposals. We will be giving serious consideration to a lot of the proposed ideas and strategies". The study also has considerable learning and other benefits for the Executive MBA students involved. Brian Molloy, student class representative, found that working with Alan Kerins on the AKP study "was a truly humbling experience for the MBA class. Not only did we get to learn how to apply our skills in a 'live' environment under the expert guidance and mentorship of Mike Moroney, but we also got the opportunity to contribute in some small way to the great work that Alan is doing". Professor Willie Golden, Dean of the College of Business and Law, stated that it is policy to actively promote the engagement of students with businesses and other external organisations, which generates considerable two-way benefits. -Ends-

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fifteen NUI Galway applicants were among the recipients of the €8.5million recently awarded to some of Ireland's top scholars and fellows by the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS). These scholarships are awarded to fund research undertaken by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the humanities and social sciences over the next three years. Among the NUI Galway recipients were Dr Justin Tonra, from the School of Humanities and the Moore Institute, who was awarded the prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship 3 CARA and Clionadh O'Keefe, from the Global Women's Studies programme in the School of Political Science and Sociology, who received the Andrew Grene Scholarship in Conflict Resolution, which will be funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Thirteen NUI Galway applicants were awarded Postgraduate Scholarships including: Ciara Staunton, Mary Healy, Aisling De Paor, and Darragh Murray from the School of Law; Carol Staunton and Anna King from the School of Political Science and Sociology; Anne Marie Creaven, Cormac O'Beaglaoich and Triona Tammemagi from the School of Psychology; Cathal Smith and Paul McNamara from the School of Humanities; Aoife Connolly from the School of Languages, Literature and Cultures; and Richard Clutterbuck from School of Geography and Archaeology. Commenting on the awards, Dr Anthony Varley, Vice Dean (Research), at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, NUI Galway, said: "In view of the substantial rise in the number of applicants and the significant reduction in the number of scholarships, it is extremely heartening to see so many NUI Galway applicants succeed in the recent IRCHSS awards". This year the IRCHSS awarded 92 postgraduate scholarships, of which two were funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs under The Andrew Grene Scholarship in Conflict Resolution, and 25 Postdoctoral fellowships of which 10 were CARA Marie Curie European Commission co-funded fellowships that allow researchers to travel internationally for their studies. There was an increase this year of 50% in numbers seeking the fellowships, including an increase in the numbers of mature graduates and those returning to education. This year was highly competitive with members of the International Assessment Boards commenting on the high quality of applications received. Making the announcement, Professor Caroline Fennell, Chair of the Council, said: "While generally, scholarships are sought by those who have tended to follow an academic career, it is interesting to note the growing interest from those in the workplace wishing to engage in research. We are particularly keen to encourage greater collaboration between business and industry and the research community". "It is more important than ever before that we invest in our future academic pool. We need to encourage thinkers and creators to develop the ideas that will build 21st century Ireland". The IRCHSS was established by the Minister for Education and Science in response to the need to develop Ireland s research capacity and skills base in a rapidly-changing global environment where knowledge is key to economic and social growth. With the support of the National Development Plan, the IRCHSS funds cutting-edge research in the humanities, social sciences, business and law with the objective of creating new knowledge and expertise beneficial to Ireland s economic, social and cultural development. -Ends-

Monday, 31 May 2010

NUI Galway will hold the 8th Annual Symposium on Higher Education entitled Creative Thinking – Re-imagining the University. Hosted by NUI Galway's Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) the conference will take place on 10-11 June in Áras Moyola. This year's theme is 'Creativity in Higher Education' encompassing creative approaches to teaching, curricular design and the nurturing of students' creativity. The idea of creativity is not one which is just concerned with what are traditionally known as the 'creative arts', but rather creativity in its many forms across the sciences, engineering, arts, humanities, medicine, social sciences and commerce. This two day event will feature a range of distinguished keynote speakers and workshop facilitators from the US, UK and Ireland including: Professor Norman Jackson, UK – Imaginative Curriculum Project; Professor Anna Craft, University of Exeter; Professor Keith Sawyer, Washington University, St. Louis; Professor Tim Jones, Burren College of Art; Professor Finbarr Bradley, previously Professor at UCD, NUI Maynooth and DCU; and Dr Kevin Byron, Queen Mary, University of London. Dr Iain Mac Labhrainn, Director of CELT, said: "This is not only an opportunity to share ideas, but also to celebrate the innovative and creative approaches so many staff in higher education in Ireland and beyond take to their teaching. It's a timely reminder of the levels of commitment, passion and effort that exist in the sector". Registration and further details regarding the event are available at http://creativegalway.eventbrite.com/?ref=ebtn, or you can follow the pre and post conference blog at http://ollscoil.blogspot.com/. -Ends-

Monday, 31 May 2010

NUI Galway will hold their second annual Social Marketing Conference entitled Making it Happen – Changing Behaviours and Changing Policies on Friday, 4 June in the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics. In these demanding times, insights into enabling, encouraging and supporting human behaviour from Social Marketing provides new ways to successfully tackle social and public issues in, for example, health, the environment, the community, and policy formulation. Social marketing is the application of marketing concepts and techniques to achieve specific behavioural goals for a social good. Social Marketing has already had considerable success in tackling issues such as obesity, smoking, cancer screening, recycling and road safety in countries including the USA, Canada, Britain, France, New Zealand and Australia. For example, Social Marketing underpinned the recent Get Your Life in Gear Safefood intervention to tackle male obesity for truck drivers in a work setting across Ireland, resulting in positive behavioural change around food choices and physical activity. The leading world authority on Social Marketing, Professor Gerard Hastings, and Director with the Institute for Social Marketing will draw from his 30 plus years of practical experience in the field to deliver the keynote addresses at the event. In recent years Professor Hastings has acted as a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organisation on tobacco and alcohol marketing, as well as blinding trachoma, and a Special Advisor to the House of Commons Health Select Committee during their enquiries into the tobacco and food industries. He provides regular guidance on social and critical marketing to the Scottish, UK and European Parliaments. Professor Hastings has also acted as an expert witness in litigation against the tobacco industry and was awarded an OBE in the Queen s Birthday Honours List 2009 for his services to healthcare. Dr Christine Domegan, conference organiser and Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway explains: "For those new to the field, the conference will provide a comprehensive introduction to Social Marketing, encouraging participants to consider the scope for using marketing principles and techniques to effect social change and fundamentally alter the way we live for the better. It will demonstrate how professionals, seeking to bring about behavioural and social change, can apply it to practical situations in Ireland". Among the other keynote speakers at the conference are: Dr Ray Lowry, Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University, UK; Professor Jeff French, CEO, Strategic Social Marketing and former director of National Social Marketing Centre, UK; Dr Sally Pears, Bangor University, Wales and "Food Dudes" Healthy Eating Programme; and Professor Paulo Moreira, Deputy Head of the Health Communication Unit, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). To register, or for further details, contact Valerie Parker on 091 495971 or email valerie.parker@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) elected two of NUI Galway's top academics for admission today (Friday, 28 May 2010) in recognition of their academic achievement. This is the Academy's 225th admission of new Members since it was founded in 1785. Dr Sinisa Malesevic and Professor Stefan Decker were among only 24 academics on the island of Ireland to achieve this highest academic distinction. Professor Nicholas Canny, President of the RIA, and Director of the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at NUI Galway said that this group 'is as accomplished and as academically diverse as any cohort elected since our founding members signed the roll in 1785'. He also said that the promotion of research within universities must be related to, and integrated with, their teaching mission. Professor Canny went on to note that if government funding to support research is predicated to occur only where this funding can 'be seen to promote innovation, enterprise and immediate job creation, it would be better [to enforce such a model] in stand-alone research institutes rather than through cross-subsidisation from the teaching mission of higher-research institutions'. Professor Stefan Decker is Director of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, the largest and one of the most visible institutes dedicated to Web Science. He was an early pioneer of the Semantic Web. As a leading expert in web technologies, Professor Decker is one of the most widely known web scientists. Decker's dissertation work was quoted as one of the inspirations for the DARPA DAML program, which span the Semantic Web effort. His current research interests include semantics in collaborative systems and Web 2.0, Linked Data and distributed systems. He has published over 150 papers in journals and conferences. Dr Sinisa Malesevic is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway. His research interests include the comparative-historical and theoretical study of ethnicity and nationalism, ideology, war, violence and sociological theory. He is author and editor of 9 books including highly influential monographs The Sociology of Ethnicity (2004), Identity as Ideology (2006) and The Sociology of War and Violence (2010). Dr Malesevic has also authored over 50 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His work has been translated into several languages. Previously he was a research fellow in the Institute for International Relations (Zagreb) and the Centre for the Study of Nationalism (Prague). He also held visiting research fellowships in the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna) and the London School of Economics. The Royal Irish Academy is Ireland's premier learned body and vigorously promotes excellence in scholarship, recognises achievements in learning, direct research programmes and undertakes its own research projects, particularly in areas relating to Ireland and its heritage. The Academy now has 441 Members across the disciplines of the sciences, humanities and social sciences and in its entire history only 2,833 people have been Members. Competition for election to membership is keen as it is the premiere academic honour in Ireland and a public recognition of the highest academic achievement. Those elected are entitled to use the designation 'MRIA' after their name. -Ends-

Friday, 28 May 2010

NUI Galway's Professor William Schabas has been awarded the Vaspasian V. Pella Medal for International Criminal Justice by the Association internationale de droit penal. The award, which is named after the Romanian jurist who drafted the first statute of an international criminal court, is given by the Association to a single individual once every ten years. The medal has been awarded three times, the first two laureates being Benjamin Ferencz, who was one of the prosecutors at Nuremberg, and Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, who is now that honorary president of the Association. The recipient of the medal is designated by the previous laureate. Professor Bassiouni presented the medal to Professor Schabas at a ceremony in Siracusa, Italy on 24 May 2010, held at the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences. The Association internationale de droit pénale is the leading learned society in the field of criminal law, tracing its origins to the nineteenth century. William Schabas has held the chair in human rights law at NUI Galway since 2000. He is also director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. His most recent book, The International Criminal Court, was published by Oxford University Press earlier this year. ENDS

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Postgraduate Committee of Law Students at NUI Galway will host the Second Irish Conference for Law Masters Students on Thursday, 3 June, and Friday, 4 June, 2010. The title of the conference is: "Mastering Law: Conflicts, Challenges and Solutions in Today's Society". The format of the Mastering Law Conference has been designed to provide an exclusive opportunity for MA students of law to come together. Eligible students are invited to interact, present and discuss their areas of expertise in a formal and professional environment. Papers will be presented on all areas of law including: human rights, commercial law, constitutional law, criminal justice and European law. The event will be a forum to exchange ideas and a chance to explore the ways in which perspective fields of law intersect. The theme of the conference aims to facilitate stimulating and critical assessment of the legal climate of the past, present and future. Guest speakers will include Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission and Michael Farrell, Irish Human Rights Commissioner. A former Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland, Justice McGuinness is currently President of the Irish Law Reform Commission. She has a distinguished judicial career and also served in Seanad Éireann as an independent representing the Dublin University constituency. Since 2005 she has served as Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at NUI Galway. Justice McGuinness will be drawing on her wealth of experience to offer her views on the challenges facing Irish Law, and to discuss those areas of the Irish Justice system that might prove to be the most dynamic and engaging for young lawyers about to embark on their careers. Michael Farrell is a Senior Solicitor at the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC), an independent human rights organisation dedicated to ensuring equal access to justice within Ireland. He is also Vice-Chairman of the Law Society s Human Rights Committee, and in 2001 was appointed as a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights Commission, a position to which he was re-appointed in 2008. Mr Farrell was co-chair of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, he was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement in Northern Ireland and has since worked towards ensuring refugee rights, gay rights, and towards the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Thelma Byrne, Co-Chairperson of the conference organising committee, commented; "We are thrilled that NUI Galway will host the Mastering Law Conference this year as it is so vital for continuing professional development for students pursuing a legal career. We hope that events such as this one will continue to take place in NUI Galway into the future". The Mastering Law Conference is sponsored by The Millennium Fund, Clarus Press, AIB and The Irish Times. For more information please visit www.masteringlaw.org Ends

Monday, 24 May 2010

At a recent event in Dublin hosted by the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), a project of the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC), the Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, launched a new scholarly review, Irish Human Rights Law Review (IHRLR), to be published on an annual basis by Clarus Press. The IHRLR is edited by Donncha O'Connell of the School of Law, NUI Galway who is currently a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics. The inaugural edition of the Review contains articles and case notes by, among others: Hon. Justice Michael Kirby of the Australian High Court, Professor Rick Lawson of the University of Leiden, Colm Ó Cinnéide of University College London, Siobhan Cummiskey, Solicitor, Senator Alex White, BL and Dr Alpha Connelly, former CEO of the Irish Human Rights Commission. There are also contributions from NUI Galway academics Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement as well as Marie McGonagle, Ciara Smyth, Dr Padraic Kenna, Dr Laurent Pech and Emer Meeneghan of the School of Law. The Review, which should be of interest to academics, students, practitioners and activists working in the field of human rights, will focus on the domestic application of international human rights law and the critical analysis of human rights standards and processes. Opening the event, Michael Farrell, Solicitor for FLAC and member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, said: "At a time when the human rights of many vulnerable people are under attack as a result of the economic crisis, and the state s human rights and equality infrastructure has been undermined by disproportionate budget cuts, the launch of the Irish Human Rights Law Review is particularly timely." In her speech the Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, said: "Reading through the contributions in the IHRLR, I note that human rights activists, academics and lawyers are at times sensitive - rightly or wrongly - to a certain allergic reaction at the mention of human rights and this needs to be addressed by all sides in the human rights debate so that too many heels are not dug in to the detriment of the citizen. I see the annual publication of the Irish Human Rights Law Review as an important step in that process. More particularly, in the aftermath of Colm McCarthy s report and his recommendations to turn back the tide on the proliferation of single-function state agencies, I also think we all need to look at the intersections rather than the divergences in the work that we do. Human rights are principally about changing mindsets rather than the legalistic application of a set of rules. Perhaps if we thought about it also as the shared public values that enhance the life of every citizen, we can improve the chances of the realisation of those shared values in visibly tangible ways. Changing mindsets involves cultural change and through the investigation of complaints, a public sector ombudsman is uniquely placed to facilitate good public administration which is based on human rights principles." Responding to the Ombudsman, the Editor of the Irish Human Rights Law Review, Donncha O'Connell, said: "It must surely now be time to consider further the question of 'constitutionalising' the office of Ombudsman, a matter that was raised by the Constitution Review Group in 1996. As we approach the seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1937 Constitution in 2012, and as the Labour Party embarks on its innovative constitutional convention in the run-up to the 1916 Centenary, it is time to look more radically at how the Irish Constitution distributes power in the state. I would suggest that the following issues of potential constitutional reform are in need of serious analysis: The reorganisation of various statutory bodies for the protection and promotion of human rights and equality under a 'constitutionalised' office of Ombudsman with a clear and strong nexus to Parliament (akin to that of the Comptroller & Auditor General); The consequential reform of the office of Attorney General to remove the potential for conflict in the role of that office as notional guardian of the public interest and legal adviser to the Government. This would have the benefit of protecting the essential infrastructure for human rights and equality in the state from political interference; and appropriate provision could be made, by means of the Constitution, for guaranteeing the independence and effectiveness of such a reconfigured framework institution." He went on to say that he hoped that subsequent issues of the Irish Human Rights Law Review would provide a platform for the rigorous discussion of this and other matters connected to human rights. The Review can be ordered on www.claruspress.ie which contains a sample of contents and the inaugural editorial. ENDS

Monday, 24 May 2010

Professor Kathleen Martin Ginis, Professor of Health and Exercise Psychology in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, Canada will give a lecture at NUI Galway on "Innovations in the Study and Promotion of Physical Activity among People with Spinal Cord Injury" as part of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) Biomedical Distinguished Lecture Series on Wednesday, 26 May, 2010, in the NCBES Seminar Room at 3pm. Professor Martin Ginis' research program focuses on psychosocial influences and consequences of physical activity participation. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo, Canada in 1996 and completed postdoctoral training at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She received the Early Distinguished Career Award from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity and holds a CIHR New Investigator Award. She has published over 100 scientific journal articles and book chapters, and is a co-author of The Psychology of Exercise: Integrating Theory and Practice. Researchers in the NCBES at NUI Galway are currently investigating a range of potential therapeutic approaches to spinal cord injury. Glycoscience researchers are examining the role of glycans, or sugars, in the spinal cord and the role that those sugars play, both positive and negative, in spinal cord repair. Regenerative Medicine researchers are using gene therapy techniques to promote the regeneration of nerves damaged by spinal cord injury. Following acute trauma to the spinal cord a scar develops at the site of injury. This scar tissue inhibits the regrowth of nerves and prevents regeneration at the site of injury. Work is underway to understand the complex biology of scar formation and to develop therapeutic approaches that will prevent or reverse its development. Professor Frank Barry, Director of the NCBES, NUI Galway, said: "Researchers at the NCBES are focused on the development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions to spinal cord injury and our multidisciplinary approach is essential in addressing complex challenges in medicine and health. We appreciate the importance of alternative approaches when dealing with devastating and intractable medical problems and Dr Martin Ginis' lecture will present that alternative perspective which is both insightful and influential". Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Bioelectronics lead at the NCBES noted that the development of systems to support ambient assisted living is one of the themes of Bioelectronics at the NCBES, particularly those systems that encourage physical activity. "It is well established that exercise plays a central role in a healthy lifestyle. Professor Martin Ginis is an international expert in exercise psychology. As engineers attempt to develop more effective systems and devices to support physical activity, they will need to work with Health and Exercise Psychology experts like Professor Martin-Ginis to ensure that new developments incorporate the latest principles in exercise psychology". Professor Martin Ginis will also speak following the launch of 'The Jacinta O'Brien Collection' at the University's James Hardiman Library on Tuesday, 25 May at 4pm in the Martin Ryan Institute Annex Theatre. ENDS

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

On Wednesday, 19 May at 7pm RTÉ's Nationwide will visit the great plain of Rathcroghan, celebrated pre-Christian ritual capital and seat of the kings of Connacht. A team of Archaeologists and Geophysicists based at NUI Galway have been carrying out intensive fieldwork in this area for the past 12 years, building on Professor John Waddell's research of Rathcroghan over the course of three decades. A book detailing the extraordinary results of this work, Rathcroghan: Archaeological and Geophysical Survey in a Ritual Landscape, by Kevin Barton and NUI Galway's Professor John Waddell and Joe Fenwick, was published in 2009. The programme will also look at how the community in Tulsk has interpreted this historic landscape and developed the Cruachan Ai Heritage Centre to help us to understand the history of one of the most important royal sites in Europe. To view the Nationwide programme visit http://www.rte.ie/news/nationwide/. -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The College of Science at NUI Galway is delighted to announce that for the second year running it will host Science Experience Workshops for second-level students. The workshops will take place on 24 and 25 June and students will have the opportunity to delve into a wide range of scientific disciplines and explore future career opportunities. Students, limited to just 100 in total, will take part in unique hands-on activities and experience working in world class research facilities and institutes. Some of the institutes open to the students will include Applied Optics, the Environmental Change Institute, the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science and the Regenerative Medicine Institute. These centres are focused on a wide range of world class research activities such as stem cell research, climate modelling (including volcanic ash dispersion forecasting and assessment), next generation lens solutions, and innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions to biomedical challenges. Throughout the workshop, attendees also have the opportunity to shadow scientists and gain an invaluable insight into a wide range of scientific disciplines. Dr Mark Foley, Vice Dean of Communications and Strategy, College of Science, NUI Galway, says: "The Science Experience Workshop provides an excellent forum whereby students get information on the diverse range of science activity at NUI Galway. Participants have the chance to see the state-of-the-art teaching, research and sporting facilities while they will also get the chance to experience life on campus while learning about Science and interacting with students, staff and their peers from across the country". This year's event will include participation from the winners of the BT Business of Science & Technology Programme 2010. The third-level summer placements are funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). For further information on the College of Science or future Science Experience Workshops, call 091-492182 or visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/science/news.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Three NUI Galway researchers were among the recipients of the €8.5 million for 47 cutting-edge research projects announced today by Batt O'Keeffe T.D., Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. Dr Patrick McGarry and Dr Mark Bruzzi from Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, and Dr Peter Crowley from the School of Chemistry were awarded €539,500 for research projects which will create new jobs for the smart economy. Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Lecturer Dr McGarry's research, 'An experimental and computational investigation of the effect of strain rate on stress fibre remodelling, nuclear deformation and gene expression in cells', examines the effects of continuously changing forces within our bodies on the shape of our cells. This collaborative project also involves other researchers from the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway and UCD and is of interest to the medical device sector in the region. Dr Mark Bruzzi's project, 'Deformation and Fracture of Small Nitinol Structures', investigates the fundamental behaviour of nitinol through the use of both experimental testing and analytical methods. Quantifying how nitinol fundamentally behaves will allow the design and development of better and safer medical devices in Ireland. NUI Galway Chemistry Lecturer, Dr Crowley's research, 'Protein Probes: From Self-Assembly to In Vivo Trafficking', focuses on proteins which are large molecules that enable cells to grow and divide. This project will develop new tools to stick proteins together and develop our knowledge of how proteins get inside cells. The research will contribute to progress in the area of therapeutics. Minister O'Keeffe said the research areas are "profoundly linked to our health and wellbeing and the researchers' work will generate high-value downstream jobs". "The €8.5 million investment will create jobs and training opportunities for 105 researchers, mainly PhD students, and their work will in turn generate new jobs down the line which will have significant implications for our well-being as a nation," said Minister O'Keeffe. The 47 research projects are being funded under Science Foundation Ireland's Research Frontiers Programme. The programme supports internationally-competitive, high-quality exploratory research in higher education across the science, maths and engineering disciplines. "By helping researchers at a relatively early stage in their work, the programme is targeting our most promising scientists in building their research teams and track records and enhancing our competitiveness," said Minister O'Keeffe. Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Frank Gannon, said: "The Government's goal of becoming a hub for international research is further advanced by this Research Frontiers Programme investment. "Ireland's performance in the fields of scientific and engineering research is directly linked to our future competitiveness and our quest for a measurable transformation to the smart economy. Last year, the Research Frontiers Programme resulted in many notable outcomes such as 88 collaborations with 83 companies, 715 academic collaborations, and 537 scientific papers. "The programme has contributed to Ireland's rapid ascent in the ranking of scientific output, rising from 36th place in 2003 to recently breaking into the top 20. Ireland has joined countries such as Finland, Germany and the US in the scientific output stakes," Professor Gannon concluded. -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Important Research conducted at NUI Galway published by Royal Society A European project involving Irish scientists from NUI Galway and Queen's University Belfast has found that recently introduced seaweed types from areas such as Japan and California are spreading more rapidly in Europe than ever before. Professor Mark Johnson with The Martin Ryan Institute (MRI) at NUI Galway is the corresponding author on a paper which has gone online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The essence of this paper denotes how particular species of seaweed introduced to Europe have spread. This includes an increasing rate of spread in recent years. There are over 500 seaweed types in Ireland, and some 126 non-native species from Asia and the US have been recorded in Europe over the past century. The research paper published by the Royal Society (Fronts, Jumps and Secondary Introductions Suggested as Different Invasion Patterns in Marine Species, with an Increase in Spread Rates Over Time) is one of the outputs from a project known as ALIENS (Algal Introductions to European Shores). The research ran over four years and focused on the ecology, spread and impacts of introduced seaweeds. Professor Johnson remarked, "Research of this nature has relevance for marine and aquaculture policy into the future. This involves continuing with existing approaches to educate boat owners to clean their boats in order to stop the spread of invasive species of seaweed and protect native varieties. There are also efforts to control the spread with restrictions throughout the aquaculture industry. At present, some invasive species of seaweed can crowd out or displace native plants. It is important that we continue to protect our native species." PhD student Frederic Mineur, who worked with Professor Johnson on the project reconstructed the historical spread of seaweed dating as far back as 200 years ago. Species of seaweed introduced to a region often spread out from the point of introduction at a relatively even rate. However, other patterns can also occur. Most seaweeds introduced to Europe appear to have been introduced at more than one point or have unpredictable long range dispersal. Looking at the spread patterns over time, the rate of spread appears to be increasing for more recent introductions. This could be because there are more opportunities for seaweeds to associate with carriers like shipping or aquaculture. Another possibility is that the resistance of coastal environments to novel species' introductions is declining. This current study is complete but there are plans to extend the work to understand more about the dispersal of introduced species. There may be particular routes that more than one species has travelled by within Europe and conversely there may be barriers within Europe to the spread of species. To access the article featured in the Royal Society, follow the link below. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/04/20/rspb.2010.0494.abstract -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

NUI Galway charity Voluntary Services Abroad (VSA) have embarked on a final "bed push" from University College Hospital in Galway to Limerick city. A team of twenty NUI Galway medical students took to the streets of Galway, Ennis and Limerick, at the weekend pushing a hospital bed, with the aim of raising funds for the charity. Volunteers have fundraised over €70,000 in the past eight months by tirelessly holding events throughout the west. It is hoped that this final marathon event brings them closure to reaching their target of €100,000 before volunteers leave in June. "Where possible we spend money locally, in order to reduce transport costs and maximise the benefit the local economy" said auditor of VSA, Tadhg Sullivan. This summer, 37 medical student volunteers will travel to eight partner hospitals in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Senegal, providing financial and practical support in an increasingly difficult financial environment within the African healthcare system. VSA was founded in 1977 by Galway doctor, Dom Colbert, and is run by fourth year medical students, it raises funds for health care facilities in developing countries. Volunteers travel to hospitals and clinics abroad, personally funding their own travel and accommodation expenses, so that all funds raised can go towards the purchase of medical supplies and equipment. ENDS

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

NUI Galway is looking for new companies to join its successful Business Innovation Centre on campus. The centre offers office and research facilities and is ideally suited for start-up and early stage technology and creative businesses. Also on offer is access to creative facilities, equipment and know-how across the University, with additional support available from NUI Galway's Ignite Technology Transfer Office. NUI Galway consistently performs strongly when it comes to technology transfer activities, having formed seven spin-out companies in 2009, signing 17 license agreements and filing 48 patent applications. This commercialisation expertise is brought by the Ignite Technology Transfer Office team to the companies based in the Business Innovation Centre. Dr Neil Ferguson from NUI Galway's Technology Transfer Office, says: "The aim of the incubation centre is to create an environment, which promotes entrepreneurship and new business growth. It also offers suitable incubation space and support services for new knowledge intensive companies in sectors such as biotechnology, biomedical, ICT and Engineering. Companies currently based at NUI Galway have gone from strength to strength, despite the difficult economic climate". Some of the companies currently based at NUI Galway include network monitoring solutions company Netfort Technologies, Medical Device company Zuresa, learning solutions company Learn Skills, 3D content company RealSim, online accounting solutions provider SwiftAccounts.ie, and software company DSX Ltd. It is the energy, drive and commitment shown by these companies which will drive Ireland's Smart Economy forward with successes such as; Netfort Technologies increased profitability in 2009, Learn Skills launching SEEK Academy, RealSim awarded High Potential Start Up status by Enterprise Ireland, Zerusa recently received both the CE mark and FDA clearance for its innovative Next Generation Guardian II Hemostasis Valve and SwiftAccounts.ie on target to go live this summer Shane Hayes from DSX Ltd, which has been based at the University since its inception in 2006: "NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre is a great place to do business, because of the workspace suitability for start-ups, the technical infrastructure, the atmosphere of innovation and co-operation as well as having research and industry located together". With the potential to house 24 companies, as well as hot-desking and a bio lab facility, the Business Innovation Centre has many advantages for start-up companies such as: competitive rates for fully fitted space; access to expertise and specialists in the all sectors, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment; and strong support structures for new business development. For more information on how to get started in NUI Galway Business Innovations Centre please contact technologytransfer@nuigalway.ie or 091-492147. ENDS

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Dr Edward Curry, an eBusiness Researcher at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), NUI Galway will join senior executives from around the world as a featured panellist at the 2010 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, the premier international event for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and senior IT executives to become better business leaders. Dr Curry will be speaking about Enterprise 3.0 and is one of more than 50 presenters from a wide range of industries, as well as leading academics from the MIT Sloan School of Management. As a technology driven event the Symposium informs technology vision and discussion on better ways to advance technology leadership and enhance business performance for enterprises. As the volumes of data generated by the enterprise increases, so too must the organization s ability to link, acquire and decipher all the information to optimize performance. For many CIOs, Enterprise 3.0, a system of effective knowledge management, provides new services through more effective data integration. However, it also presents new challenges, particularly in the areas of solution's technology adoption and its integration into existing business units. According to Dr Curry, "Enterprise 3.0 is about breaking down barriers that stop or slow information flows within or between companies. Linked data technology, a cornerstone of Enterprise 3.0, is having a significant impact by simplifying the way businesses share and reuse their data assets". In the Enterprise 3.0 panel, experts on the Web of Data and Linked Data will discuss emerging approaches to Enterprise 3.0. The discussion will provide CIOs with more insights into upcoming approaches surrounding the global IT market and how these concepts can better serve a company. Edward Curry investigates the impact and adoption trends of emerging technologies within industry. His specific focus for the last number of years has been how linked data technology and the web of data are changing the way business work and interact with information. Dr Curry added: "The fundamental concept of linked data is that data is created with the mindset that it will be shared and reused by others. Linked data can empower employees to be creative and innovative when working with data, to combine, manipulate and analyse it to find unexpected reuses beyond its original intended purpose." "Our attendance remains high because we attract key academic contributors such as Dr Edward Curry," said Graham G. Rong, the 2010 CIO Symposium Chair. "By bringing together innovative leaders, we foster an environment where attendees gain great insight about how to drive growth and be successful in these challenging times." Sean O'Riain, eBusiness Unit at DERI comments that "DERI s core research theme is Enabling a Network of Knowledge and we are now experiencing significant uptake of technologies such as linked data a major step in the realisation of this goal". The MIT Sloan CIO Symposium is the premier global event for CIOs and senior IT executives to improve business leadership. In one day, CIOs and senior IT executives receive actionable information that enables them to meet the challenges of today s changing global economy. The annual event offers a day of interactive learning and thought-provoking discourse on the future of technology, best practices, and business that is not available anywhere else. The event attracts CIOs, senior business executives, senior IT decision makers and thought leaders from academia. Ends

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

NUI Galway Student Psychological Research Yields Interesting Findings New research suggests that reminding young male drivers of their own mortality through 'fear appeals', such as those used in many road safety campaigns, may actually increase their intentions to take driving risks. The research was carried out by Psychology student Ms Rachel Carey and Dr Kiran Sarma at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway. The study investigated how awareness of death among young male drivers, together with personality factors, can influence intentions to take driving risks. Findings suggest that many young males perceive 'fast driving' as central to who they are and when told that they should not drive fast because of the carnage that can ensue, they rebel against the message with intent to take more driving risks. The research also showed that high impulsivity was linked to risky driving. The research has implications for road safety campaigns that target young males through messages that portray the consequences of fast or dangerous driving. The NUI Galway study suggests that young drivers exposed to dangerous driving facts report a greater intention to drive fast after exposure than had they been presented with neutral facts. 80 male university students (aged between 17 and 24, all of whom were in possession of a full driver's license) were recruited on the campus at NUI Galway and asked to complete a questionnaire. This questionnaire first assessed the relevance of driving for participants' self-esteem. Half of the participants were then exposed to images of car crashes and facts about the potential death-related consequences of driving, such as "17 to 24 year old males account for over 1 in 5 driver deaths". The other half of the participants were presented with neutral driving facts. Participants then completed a personality inventory which measured impulsivity. Finally, they reported their intentions to take driving risks in real-life scenarios. "It would appear that young Irish males can view fast driving as part of their personal identity – who they are", says Rachel Carey who is currently completing her final year of a BA in Psychology at NUI Galway. "Driving is tied up in their self-concept and telling them not to drive fast because they might die, or they may kill others, is perceived as being an assault on their self-esteem. They react defensively by reporting a more marked intention to drive fast because, for many, doing so bolsters their self-esteem", she says. Rachel, from Headford, Co. Galway, recently received the highest undergraduate award for research at the annual Congress of Psychology Students of Ireland. The congress is supported by the Psychological Society of Ireland and the Northern Irish branch of the British Psychological Society. Ms Carey will now present her research to both professional bodies. Dr Kiran Sarma of the School of Psychology at NUI Galway who supervised the research said: "The research was designed in consultation with international experts and supports findings reported aboard. While conducted within the limitations of undergraduate research of this nature, its unique value is that it looks beyond the concept of self-esteem to personality factors and suggests that impulsivity may interact with self-esteem in predicting greater intention to take driving risks. Further research can explore these relationships with greater specificity and inform the design and content of deterrence information campaigns". The BA in Psychology at NUI Galway is a three or four-year accredited undergraduate degree that provides graduate basis for registration as a psychologist. The School of Psychology educates more than 1000 students in both undergraduate courses and post-graduate professional training in clinical psychology, health psychology and applied behaviour analysis. More information on the School can be accessed at www.nuigalway.ie/psychology. -Ends-