Friday, 29 April 2022

Ta ceithre bhád rámhaíochta nua ainmnithe ag OÉ Gaillimh in ómós do lúthchleasaithe i measc na mac léinn reatha agus i measc alumni a rinne cion fir le go n-éireodh leis an bhfoireann agus le agus go dtiocfadh bláth uirthi. Is iad na alumni atá i gceist Chris O’Dea agus an Dr Donnacha Ó Donnchadha, nach maireann, a bhí tráth ina rámhaithe le Coláiste Iognáid agus le Club Rámhaíochta OÉ Gaillimh. Is iad na mic léinn atá i gceist na lúthchleasaithe Cliodhna Nolan a bhuaigh bonn óir i gCraobhchomórtais na hEorpa 2020, agus Fiona Murtagh, a bhuaigh bonn cré-umha i gCluichí Oilimpeacha Thóiceo 2021. Deir an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá lúcháir orainn a bheith in ann aitheantas agus ómós a thabhairt do thiomantas agus do dhíograis Dhonnacha, Chris, Fiona agus Chliodhna agus iad ag tabhairt go paiteanta faoi éachtaí rámhaíochta agus spóirt thar ceann na hOllscoile. “Is ambasadóirí den chéad scoth iad don Ollscoil agus do luachanna na hOllscoile, go háirithe an luach a bhaineann le barr feabhais a bhaint amach. D’fhéadfá a rá gur a bhuíochas le tacaíocht, spreagadh agus díocas na mac léinn agus na alumni a baineadh na héachtaí sin amach.” Bhí an méid seo le rá ag Ciro Prisco, Príomhchóitseálaí Chumann Rámhaíochta OÉ Gaillimh: "Deis cuí is ea searmanas ainmnithe bád chun aitheantas a thabhairt do na alumni agus do na lúthchleasaithe a bhí lárnach sa chaoi ar éirigh chomh maith sin le Club Bád OÉ Gaillimh. “Bhí ról nach beag ag an tiomantas, an tacaíocht agus an uaillmhian a léirigh Chris O’Dea agus an Dr Ó Donnchadha leis an gcinneadh post Cóitseálaí Rámhaíochta Ardfheidhmíochta a bhunú san Ollscoil. Chuir a gceannródaíocht bonn faoi fhorbairt conairí do mhic léinn ar lúthchleasaithe iad a thabharfadh deis dóibh a n-aisling a fhíorú agus a bheith ag iomaíocht ag na leibhéil is airde. "Ní hamháin go n-éiríonn lenár mic léinn ar lúthchleasaithe iad agus iad ag iomaíocht ar fud an domhain ach seasann siad le luachanna an chlub agus is dea-shampla iad do mhic léinn agus do lúthchleasaithe eile.” Críoch

Friday, 29 April 2022

Study found that hedgehogs are more abundant in urban than rural areas Researchers urging citizen scientists to play their part and report sightings  Researchers from NUI Galway, working with a team of enthusiastic volunteers, have recorded more than 5,000 hedgehog sightings across the island of Ireland, with the small mammals turning up more often in the town and city surveys. Launched in 2020, the Irish Hedgehog Survey encourages members of the public to report hedgehog sightings online using a recording scheme with the National Biodiversity Data Centre.  Oisín Duffy, Surveys and Records Officer for the National Biodiversity Data Centre, said: “Hedgehog was the most recorded of all plant and animal species in 2021. In total, across the 32 counties on the island, 1,977 individual recorders submitted 3043 sightings through the Citizen Science Portal.  “This is a phenomenal level of recording activity and shows the importance of targeted projects and recording initiatives, like the Irish Hedgehog Survey.” In 2021, the research team sought volunteers to conduct a more detailed hedgehog survey in their local area using footprint tunnels. Between June and September, 112 local area surveys were carried out by volunteers across the whole country with hedgehogs recorded in 45% of sites. Elaine O’Riordan, lead researcher on the project with the University’s Mammal Ecology Unit, said: “We were surprised at the difference; just over a third of surveys conducted in rural landscapes found hedgehogs while 70% of urban surveys recorded them. We know from recent reports from the UK that rural hedgehogs have suffered a greater decline than their urban cousins who have made their homes in gardens and parks.”  To help researchers understand how hedgehogs use gardens in Ireland, more than 500 householders also volunteered to participate in the Garden Hedgehog Survey, reporting findings via an online questionnaire.  Early results indicate that urban and rural gardens are a very important habitat for hedgehogs. Ms O’Riordan said: “We are still in the early days of our research and we are looking to deepen our understanding of hedgehog’s habitats. That’s why we are encouraging citizen scientists to get involved with the survey this summer again.” The Irish Hedgehog Survey will continue for one more season, from May to September this year, with the help of citizen scientists. Sightings can be reported via the online portal at https://bit.ly/3v3PJZB  Katy Bell, Senior Conservation Officer with Ulster Wildlife, said: "We are delighted to team up with NUI Galway again for this all-Ireland survey. More than 700 people in Northern Ireland signed up last year helping to shed light on this under-recorded species, but we need more volunteers to take part to help build a bigger picture, especially in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Antrim." Volunteers who want to do some “hands on” surveys can take part in the Garden or Local Area hedgehog surveys. These would be suitable for interested individuals, schools, local wildlife or conservation groups and community and youth groups. Further information on the surveys as well as details of training events are on the project website https://www.irishhedgehogsurvey.com/ For more information or to be informed on training and survey news email irishhedgehogsurvey@gmail.com Workshops will be offered in early summer 2022 for interested persons to learn more about the survey and to provide volunteers with instructions and equipment needed.  Both online and live training events are planned throughout the summer with the Hedgehog Survey project partners – The National Biodiversity Data Centre, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Heritage and Biodiversity Officers in the County Councils of Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Kilkenny, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Dublin City. Ulster Wildlife are facilitating the survey in Northern Ireland.  Ends

Thursday, 28 April 2022

University is number 5 in the world for Responsible Consumption and Production  NUI Galway is Ireland’s number 1 higher education institution in THE Impact rankings  NUI Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development. The 2022 edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings ranks the University 47th out of 1,406 institutions around the world - breaking into the top 50 after being in 82nd position last year. The report also puts NUI Galway as the fifth best university in the world for Sustainable Development Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production. Assessments for THE Impact rankings are based on submissions from universities around the world in line with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It is a measure of the extent to which institutions are having a positive social and economic impact on the planet; from climate action and gender equality, to good health and well-being. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “The sustainable development goals are arguably the most important targets for the world to meet, and it’s heartening to know we are making a positive impact towards creating a sustainable future for our planet.  “At NUI Galway, sustainability is one of our core values, and we look forward to progressing our work to address these global challenges as part of our central mission to serve the public good.”   Deputy President and Registrar of NUI Galway, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Chair of the University Sustainability Advisory Board, said: “I’d like to commend the hard work of our team of staff, students and community partners and their commitment in establishing the University as a leading institutional model for sustainability and sustainable development.  “It was primarily our students who put the issue of sustainability on the agenda in our University, and with that we vowed to try to respond to challenges that we face while staying true to our University’s values of Respect, Openness, Sustainability and Excellence.” NUI Galway performed strongly and increased its position in a number of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including: SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, ranked 5th SDG 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities, ranked 31st  SDG 14: Life Below Water, ranked 31st  SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing, ranked 51st  SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, ranked 58th SDG 16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institution, ranked 59th SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals, ranked 63rd  SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy, ranked 75th  SDG 13: Climate Action, ranked 101-200  SDG 5: Gender Equality, ranked 101-200 SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, ranked 201-300 Further information on our progress can be accessed here Ends

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Tá an Ollscoil ag uimhir 5 sa domhan maidir le Tomhaltas agus Táirgeadh Freagrach OÉ Gaillimh ar an institiúid ardoideachais is fearr de réir ranguithe Tionchair THE  Tá OÉ Gaillimh ainmnithe mar an ollscoil is fearr in Éirinn maidir le forbairt inbhuanaithe. In eagrán 2022 de Ranguithe Tionchair an Times Higher Education tá an Ollscoil sa 47ú háit as 1,406 institiúid ar fud an domhain – ag baint áit amach i measc an 50 ollscoil is fearr tar éis a bheith sa 82ú háit anuraidh. De réir na tuarascála chomh maith tá OÉ Gaillimh ar an gcúigiú hollscoil is fearr ar domhan maidir le Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe 12 – Tomhaltas agus Táirgeadh Freagrach. Tá measúnuithe do ranguithe Tionchair THE bunaithe ar aighneachtaí ó ollscoileanna ar fud an domhain i gcomhréir le 17 Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe na Náisiún Aontaithe. Is léiriú é ar an tionchar dearfach sóisialta agus eacnamaíoch atá ag institiúidí ar an bpláinéad; lena n-áirítear gníomhú ar son na haeráide, comhionannas inscne, dea-shláinte agus folláine. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Tá na spriocanna forbartha inbhuanaithe ar na spriocanna is tábhachtaí atá le baint amach ag an domhan, agus is cúis áthais dúinn go bhfuil tionchar dearfach againn maidir le todhchaí inbhuanaithe a chruthú dár bpláinéad. “In OÉ Gaillimh, is ceann dár gcroíluachanna í an inbhuanaitheacht, agus táimid ag tnúth le cur lenár gcuid oibre d'fhonn aghaidh a thabhairt ar na dúshláin dhomhanda seo mar chuid dár misean lárnach le freastal ar leas an phobail.”  Dúirt Uachtarán Ionaid agus Meabhránaí OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Cathaoirleach Bhord Comhairleach Inbhuanaitheachta na hOllscoile: “Ba mhaith liom an obair chrua atá ar siúl ag ár meitheal foirne, mac léinn agus comhpháirtithe pobail a mholadh mar aon lena dtiomantas chun an Ollscoil a bhunú mar mhúnla institiúideach ceannródaíoch don inbhuanaitheacht agus don fhorbairt inbhuanaithe. “Ba iad ár gcuid mac léinn go príomha a chuir ceist na hinbhuanaitheachta ar chlár oibre na hOllscoile, agus leis sin gheallamar iarracht a dhéanamh freagairt do na dúshláin atá romhainn agus muid dílis do luachanna ár nOllscoile – Meas, Oscailteacht, Inbhuanaitheacht agus Sármhaitheas.” Rinne OÉ Gaillimh go han-mhaith agus d’éirigh linn dul chun tosaigh i roinnt mhaith de na 17 Sprioc Forbartha Inbhuanaithe (SDGanna) lena n-áirítear: -      SDG 12: Tomhaltas agus Táirgeadh Freagrach, rangaithe sa 5ú háit -      SDG 11: Cathracha & Pobail Inbhuanaithe, rangaithe sa 31ú háit  -      SDG 14: Beatha faoi Uisce, rangaithe sa 31ú háit  -      SDG 3: Dea-shláinte & Folláine, rangaithe sa 51ú háit  -      SDG 10: Éagothroime Laghdaithe, rangaithe sa 58ú háit -      SDG 16: An tSíocháin, an Ceartas agus Institiúidí Láidre, rangaithe sa 59ú háit -      SDG 17: Comhpháirtíocht do na Spriocanna, rangaithe sa 63ú háit  -      SDG 7: Fuinneamh Inacmhainne & Glan, rangaithe sa 75ú háit  -      SDG 13: Gníomhú ar son na hAeráide, rangaithe idir 101-200 -      SDG 5: Comhionannas Inscne, rangaithe idir 101-200 -      SDG 9: Tionsclaíocht, Nuálaíocht agus Bonneagar, rangaithe idir 201-300 Is féidir teacht ar thuilleadh eolais faoinár ndul chun cinn anseo Críoch

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Údarás na hOllscoile, the Governing Authority of NUI Galway, has today approved the renaming of the institution to Ollscoil na Gaillimhe - University of Galway.  The University is planning to formally adopt the new name at the end of the summer.  From then the bilingual title of the university - Ollscoil na Gaillimhe – University of Galway - will be used on all official documentation. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “I would like to thank Údarás na hOllscoile for the consideration they have given to the future name and identity of our university “The decision to rename our University is something to which we have given a lot of thought and it is a decision which is being taken following detailed assessment of the issues and comprehensive consultation and internal discussion. We are extremely grateful to everyone who engaged in that work. “This university has been in Galway and of Galway since the mid-nineteenth century. Ollscoil na Gaillimhe, University of Galway, gives a clearer sense of who we are as an institution and of being of our place. Galway is a place of industry and creativity, of citizenship and debate. An in-between place, at the centre of a network of campuses stretching from Shannon to Donegal, including in our Gaeltacht regions, on the edge of and between continents, we here see the horizon everyday.  “Like all good explorers, all good adventurers, all good researchers, we know we serve our students and our society best by always wondering what’s beyond the horizon.  “As a community of scholars in a community of scholarship, we will continue this long and distinguished tradition and trajectory of curiosity, this ambition for our place and from this place, as we progress our values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability, for the public good. “The university is proud of the role it has played in Galway's journey to become a global city. City and university have grown together and our new name encapsulates that history and is a promise for the future." Ends

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Cinneadh déanta ag Údarás Rialaithe OÉ Gaillimh gur Ollscoil na Gaillimhe-University of Galway a thabharfar ar an institiúid feasta Tá sé ceadaithe inniu ag Údarás na hOllscoile an institiúid a athainmniú mar Ollscoil na Gaillimhe – University of Galway.  Tá sé beartaithe ag an Ollscoil glacadh leis an ainm nua go foirmiúil ag deireadh an tsamhraidh.  Uaidh sin amach, úsáidfear teideal dátheangach na hollscoile – Ollscoil na Gaillimhe – Univerity of Galway – ar gach cáipéis oifigiúil. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le hÚdarás na hOllscoile as a machnamh a dhéanamh ar theideal agus ar fhéiniúlacht ár n-ollscoile amach anseo.  “Tá go leor machnaimh déanta againn ar an gcinneadh ár nOllscoil a athainmniú agus is cinneadh é atá á ghlacadh tar éis mionmheasúnú a dhéanamh ar na saincheisteanna chomh maith le comhairliúchán cuimsitheach agus plé inmheánach. Táimid thar a bheith buíoch de gach duine a thug faoin obair sin. “Tá an ollscoil seo i nGaillimh agus is í ollscoil na Gaillimhe í ó lár an naoú haois déag. Tugann Ollscoil na Gaillimhe, University of Galway, léargas níos soiléire ar cé muid féin mar institiúid agus ar ár n-áit. Is áit tionsclaíochta agus cruthaitheachta í Gaillimh, áit saoránachta agus áit díospóireachta. Áit idir eatarthu, agus i lár líonra campas ó Shionainn go Dún na nGall, ar an imeall agus idir ilchríocha, bímid ag breathnú chun cinn anseo gach lá.  “Ach an oiread le gach taiscéalaí maith, gach eachtránaí maith, gach taighdeoir maith, tuigimid gurb é an rud is fearr don mhac léinn agus don tsochaí muid a bheith ag smaoineamh ar cad atá amach romhainn i gcónaí.  “Mar phobal scoláirí i bpobal léinn, leanfaidh an traidisiún fada mór le rá seo agus treocht na fiosrachta, an uaillmhian seo dár n-áit agus ón áit seo, agus muid ag cur chun cinn ár luachanna measa, sármhaitheasa, oscailteachta agus inbhuanaitheachta, ar mhaithe le leas an phobail.  “Tá an ollscoil bródúil as an ról a bhí agus atá aici in aistear na Gaillimhe le bheith ina cathair dhomhanda.  Tá fás tagtha ar an gcathair agus ar an ollscoil le chéile agus cuimsíonn ár n-ainm nua an stair sin agus is gealltanas é don todhchaí.” Críoch

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Researchers point to groundbreaking potential to screen for those at high risk of disease and for clinical trials of new treatments  New research from NUI Galway and Boston University has identified a blood biomarker that could help identify people with the earliest signs of dementia, even before the onset of symptoms. The study was published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The researchers measured blood levels of P-tau181, a marker of neurodegeneration, in 52 cognitively healthy adults, from the US-based Framingham Heart Study, who later went on to have specialised brain PET scans. The blood samples were taken from people who had no cognitive symptoms and who had normal cognitive testing at the time of blood testing.  The analysis found that elevated levels of P-tau181 in the blood were associated with greater accumulation of ß-amyloid, an abnormal protein in Alzheimer’s disease, on specialised brain scans. These scans were completed on average seven years after the blood test.  Further analysis showed the biomarker P-tau181 outperformed two other biomarkers in predicting signs of ß-amyloid on brain scans. Emer McGrath, Associate Professor at the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Neurologist at Saolta University Health Care Group was lead author of the study. “The results of this study are very promising - P-tau181 has the potential to help us identify individuals at high risk of dementia at a very early stage of the disease, before they develop memory difficulties or changes in behaviour,” Professor McGrath said. The research team said the identification of a biomarker also points to the potential for a population screening programme.  Professor McGrath said: “This study was carried out among people living in the community, reflecting those attending GP practices. A blood test measuring P-tau181 levels could potentially be used as a population-level screening tool for predicting risk of dementia in individuals at mid to late-life, or even earlier.  “This research also has important potential implications in the context of clinical trials. Blood levels of P-tau181 could be used to identify suitable participants for further research, including in clinical trials of new therapies for dementia. We could use this biomarker to identify those at a high risk of developing dementia but still at a very early stage in the disease, when there is still an opportunity to prevent the disease from progressing.” The research was funded in Ireland by a Health Research Board Clinician Scientist Award and in the US by an Alzheimer’s Association Clinician Scientist Fellowship, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.  The full study is available to view here. Ends

Monday, 25 April 2022

Survey led by NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission is seeking participants to give their experience and preferences for remote working and insights on how remote working is impacting career choices. Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission are seeking participants for the annual national remote working in Ireland survey.  The survey will gather data on employees’ experiences and preferences for remote working and assess how remote working is impacting their career choices. The survey is led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission.   Building on two previous annual national surveys undertaken by the team, the 2022 study will provide insights on how remote working has changed employees work and employment experiences.  Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD welcomed the initiative and encouraged workers to take part in the survey, commenting: “So much excellent work has been done in the last few years to support remote workers and employers. It is imperative we do not lose momentum now.  “The Government’s Rural Development Policy, Our Rural Future, clearly recognises the vital role that remote working can play in achieving balanced regional development. Remote workers support local economies and sustain communities, and I am determined to do all I can to encourage more to work remotely.   “This survey will help to ensure that we have the data to make the right decisions in this crucial area.” Professor Alma McCarthy, Professor of Public Sector Management and Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The 2020 and 2021 annual surveys were of huge interest to the public and we got over 12,000 responses from employees who were working remotely across the country.  “The findings have impacted policy including the national remote working strategy. The way we work has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 pandemic. It is timely to capture the trends, preferences and career choice impacts two years on.”   Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission, said: “Breaking the link between work and location has been transformative and while challenges remain in ensuring equality of opportunity for all regardless of location, this survey is really important to inform the decision making about balanced future development in our country, and helping the transition to a low carbon economy. The development of connectedhubs.ie with between 200 and 300 hubs already on the platform illustrates the ongoing demand for remote work, for hybrid work and for suitable work facilities close to where people live.” The remote working study findings will be available to inform employers about employee experiences of remote working. The research team will provide recommendations for employers on how to better manage remote working following the Covid-19 crisis as well as more generally. The research team will analyse the findings of the 2022 national remote working survey and make them publicly available on both NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute and the Western Development Commission websites in May 2022. The report and key statistics from the first and second national annual surveys are also available on these websites.   To complete the survey, visit https://bit.ly/remoteworkingsurvey2022  To view the 2020 and 2021 survey results visit: https://bit.ly/3mFwgZg.   Ends

Thursday, 21 April 2022

NUI Galway scientists show that smaller scorpion species pack the most potent venoms Researchers in NUI Galway have shown, for the first time, that smaller species of scorpions, with smaller pincers, have more potent venoms compared to larger species with robust claws. The scientists tested the theory from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which warned of the dangers of small scorpions, and that “when it comes to scorpions, the bigger the better”.  While this may have simply been a throwaway movie line from the adventurous archaeologist Indiana Jones, the research shows there is truth to it. The team of scientists at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute put the quip to the test by analysing 36 species of scorpions to show that larger scorpions have less potent venoms and really are better in terms of avoiding a nasty sting. The results of the research have published in the international journal Toxins.  It shows the smallest scorpions in their analysis, like the Brazilian yellow scorpion, where over 100 times more potent than the largest species they studied, such as the rock scorpion.  The potency pattern was not just about body size, but also pincer size, with venoms found in species with the smallest pinchers, including the South African thick-tail scorpion, which is more than 10 times more potent compared to species with the largest and most robust pinchers, such as the Israeli gold scorpion. Dr Kevin Healy, Lecturer of Zoology at NUI Galway and senior author of the study, said: “Outside of entertaining movie trivia there are good evolutionary reason to expect the results and important medical implications for such patterns.”  The researchers highlighted that while scorpions use both their venomous sting and their pinchers to capture prey and for defence there is an evolutionary trade-off between these weapons. Energy used to make bigger pincers means less energy is available for its chemical arsenal. This results in larger scorpions which can use their physical size are less reliant on venoms, while smaller species have evolved more potent venoms. Dr Healy added: “When we look at the most potent, and dangerous, scorpion venoms we find they tend to be associated with species such as the deathstalker which are relatively small. In contrast, the biggest species such as rock scorpions have venoms that are likely to only cause slight pain.” Alannah Forde, an NUI Galway graduate student and lead author of the study, said: “Not only did we find that bigger is better – when it comes to people being stung - we also found that bigger pincers are better when it comes to assessing the danger level of a scorpion. While species such as large-clawed scorpion might be small to medium in size, they mainly rely on their large pincers instead of their relatively weak venom.” Scorpion stings are a global health problem with more than 1 million cases and thousands of deaths every year. Identifying the species involved with a sting is vital for treatment, hence general rules such as “bigger is better” are often used to help with treatment.  The team aim to test these evolutionary rules to what makes some species more potent to help develop better medical approaches to scorpion stings. Dr Michel Dugon, Head of the Venom System Lab at NUI Galway and a senior author of the study, said: “As scientists, our job is also to put popular wisdom to the test. Most victims hospitalised with severe symptoms following scorpion stings are children below the age of 15. Identifying the species responsible is essential to administer the correct treatment, and a simple rule such as ‘bigger is better’ is a first small step toward saving lives.” The full study in Toxins is available at https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/14/3/219 Ends

Monday, 11 April 2022

New IT solution will allow the integration, collection and standardisation of real-time pandemic data Open-source tool reflects a variety of data sources including Influenzanet, ECDC Atlas and Covid19-datahub Real-time updates will strengthen capacity among European public health agencies for rapid response to future health emergencies European pandemic preparedness and response project PANDEM-2 has launched the first version of ‘Pandem-source’, an IT solution that will support the work of pandemic managers by facilitating an efficient response to future pandemics across the European Union. These technologies are being created and produced by project partners and experts in the field including Epiconcept (France), UCLouvain (Belgium), Clarisoft (Romania), and NUI Galway (Ireland). Pandem-Source is open-source and designed to meet the specific needs of public health agencies, governments and international organisations such as the ECDC and WHO. It enables the integration of real-time pandemic-relevant data from international systems (ECDC, TESSy), laboratory systems, social media (Twitter) and participatory surveillance which is web-based reporting of symptoms by volunteer citizens (e.g. Influenzanet). The platform is open to the public and will particularly benefit those focused on systematically analysing and comparing various sources of pandemic-related data. Pandem-Source will feed into the upcoming ‘PANDEM-2 Dashboard’ where its components relating to situational awareness will be further developed through state-of-the-art visual analytics. Commenting on this major milestone for the project, Francisco Orchard, Head of Data Science at Epiconcept said: “We’re proud to announce the first release of "Pandem-Source". We hope that this tool will support the work of pandemic managers across Europe by connecting them to real-time information from traditional and non-traditional sources. The tool means officials involved in the response to public health emergencies will have case numbers, hospitalisations, deaths, vaccination uptake to name a few at their fingertips. In doing so, we hope it can play a role in coordinating data involved in one location. It is open-source, easy to install and customisable. We encourage users from the industry to install and test out its compatibility and variety of data-rich sources.” The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that our capacity to respond to pandemics was largely nation-based. Pandem-Source aims to play a role in a cross-border effort to create a system aimed at implementing a coordinated EU-wide response. Its flexibility will support the specific needs of pandemic managers across the EU by addressing the challenge of quick adaption and facilitating an efficient response to future pandemics as a result. However, the ultimate success of the system relies on a community effort across Europe.    Professor Máire Connolly of NUI Galway, PANDEM-2 Coordinator and expert in global health said: “I would like to acknowledge all partners involved in achieving this major milestone in the PANDEM-2 project. COVID-19 has affected every corner of society and had devastating health, economic and social impacts on countries worldwide. In the event of a future pandemic, we hope that the Pandem-Source tool will play a role in the conversations that public health experts and policymakers are having. Pandem-Source will provide them with the comprehensive, accurate, up-to-the-minute data  that they will need to make better decisions.” ‘Pandem-Source’ is available to download here, feedback is welcomed and can be sent to info@pandem-2.eu ENDS

Monday, 11 April 2022

NUI Galway and other universities to administer scholarships and support services to eligible students  The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of Optum Ireland’s parent company, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), has announced a new scholarship program designed to grow the health care workforce in Ireland. The program is focused on underserved students seeking degrees in primary or specialised care, or emerging health care technologies. The Ireland Health Care Scholarship Program builds on the success of the pilot program started by Optum Ireland in 2018. “As a partner institution, NUI Galway has been involved in delivering the scholarship program since 2018,” said Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar of NUI Galway. “The benefits of the program are clear. The program is widening access to students by alleviating financial pressure on the scholars and their families and through the provision of support services. There are currently 7 health care scholars from Donegal studying healthcare and innovative technology programs in NUI Galway. We are delighted to renew the partnership with Optum Ireland and the United Health Foundation in 2022.” According to the Irish College of General Practitioners, nearly 15% of the current general practitioners are expected to retire in the next five years. Due to the national shortage, the medical community has expressed urgency in recruiting and training additional medical practitioners. The scholarship program developed to address the shortage includes partnerships with the Royal College of Surgeons Dublin, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ulster University, National University of Ireland, Galway, and Queen’s University Belfast. “The United Health Foundation is committed to helping cultivate a modern, diverse health workforce in Ireland,” said Padraig Monaghan, Managing Director of Optum Ireland and UK. “We are honoured to continue this scholarship program with NUI Galway.” More than €350,000 will support 31 students across the five academic partners. All scholarship students will be paired with a mentor and will participate in community volunteer activities. The Ireland Health Care Scholarship Program for 2022-23 is open for applications, with application forms available on each of the partnering university websites. The deadline for applications is Friday, May 27, 2022. "This scholarship is of real benefit as I am able to study away from home and it has taken a lot of undue pressure away from myself and my family. Just knowing that I have that security over the next few years has been massive for me. I can focus on my studies and get the most out of my college experience,” said Halim Egberongbe, an Ireland Health Care scholar in his first year studying biotechnology at NUI Galway. Ends

Friday, 8 April 2022

University plans special conference in September on Travellers and the Irish state as part of the Decade of Centenaries programme NUI Galway is marking International Traveller and Roma Day with a webinar examining the experience of Irish Travellers since the foundation of the Irish state.  The event is a collaboration between Traveller activists and allies and NUI Galway and is also being used a platform to launch a special conference - Irish Travellers/Mincéirs and the State 1922 – 2022: The Struggle for Equality – which is being held on September 16-17, 2022 as part of the Decade of Centenaries.  Today, Friday April 8, is International Traveller and Roma Day which marks the first World Romani Congress was held in London on 8th of April, 1971. It was the beginning of a European movement to lobby against the inequalities faced by Roma and Travellers.   The NUI Galway events will be launched by Senator Eileen Flynn, with participants including President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, President of NUI Galway Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, and broadcaster Vincent Browne. President Higgins said: “It is particularly apt that the launch of this conference takes place on International Traveller and Roma Day, a day which invites us to reflect on the many challenges still facing Roma and Travellers and the strategies necessary to meet these challenges. The distinctive history, identity and tradition of Irish Travellers is woven deeply into the story and culture of Ireland and it has made a significant and positive contribution to Irish society.” The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. welcomed the NUI Galway events as a means to discuss the experience of Irish Travellers/Mincéirs and the Irish State from 1922-2022, the impacts of that experience, and lessons to be learned. The conference was proposed by Traveller activist Patrick Nevin and psychologist Elaine Martin, and will be hosted in collaboration with the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class at NUI Galway and supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media as part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023. A rich and diverse programme will include academic papers, Traveller narratives, discussions of Traveller activism, and artistic events. Minister Catherine Martin said: “I am very pleased to support this important conference reflecting on the experiences of Irish Travellers/Mincéirs since the foundation of the independent Irish state.  For too long, the travelling community has been treated with disrespect and this conference presents an opportunity to have an honest and meaningful reflection.  Events such as this, grounded in original research and scholarship, have been welcomed by the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations. The ethos of the Decade of Centenaries programme is inclusive, authentic, meaningful and respectful commemoration and this provides a timely opportunity to include a community often historically overlooked in the commemorative narrative.”   President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “The University is pleased to host this important conference, which is organised by Traveller activists and allies in conjunction with members of the staff of NUI Galway.  In showcasing research on the lived experience of Irish Travellers during the hundred years of Irish statehood, and in exploring the cultural traditions of the Traveller/Mincéir community, the conference reflects our university’s commitments to inclusion, respect, diversity and openness.  That the conference is part of the Irish government’s Decade of Centenaries programme is both appropriate and truly welcome.”   Psychologist Elaine Martin said: “There is a blind spot in the Irish psyche about Travellers. We denigrate Irish Travellers in the same way as Irish people were othered throughout history; the shoe is merely on the other foot.” Traveller activist Patrick Nevin said: “The project by the new Irish state from 1922 to the present, was to deny, assimilate, absorb, and to attempt to eradicate Tinker/Traveller identity. It has been an organised and concerted effort from the start.” NUI Galway’s Traveller Education Officer, Owen Patrick Ward, stated: “This conference will highlight the many contributions made by Irish Travellers since the foundation of the Irish State; contributions, that for so long has been ignored and erased from public discourse. I want to commend all involved in this collaboration and NUI Galway for continuing to play a leadership role in this area.” Ends

Friday, 8 April 2022

NUI Galway research shows an 85% drop in the proportion of Irish adolescents consuming sugary soft drinks on a daily basis Across Europe, one fifth of the least affluent young people are more likely to drink sugary soft drinks on a daily basis than their most affluent peers Young people in Ireland have enjoyed the sharpest decline in the consumption of sugary soft drinks across Europe, researchers at NUI Galway have found. A new study published by the University’s Health Promotion Research Centre reveals a dramatic shift in habits of Irish adolescents between 2002 and 2018. The research, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, analysed data dating back almost 20 years on more than 530,000 school children aged 11, 13 and 15, across 21 European countries. What has the research into sugary soft drink consumption found? :: Daily consumption of sugary soft drinks declined in all 21 countries from 2002-2018 :: Ireland experienced the sharpest drop in consumption - from 37.4% to 5.7% of respondents saying they consumed sugary soft drinks everyday (a fall of 84.8%). :: Only the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland had higher frequency of consumption than Ireland as a starting point for the research. :: Ireland’s dramatic fall was followed by England, with a fall of 74.9%, and Norway, with a fall of 72.1%. In most countries, including Ireland, boys were more likely to report daily soft-drink consumption than girls.  Professor Colette Kelly from the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, and co-Principal Investigator of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, said: “While we welcome this substantial reduction in frequency of consumption of soft-drinks, choosing water or milk is the healthier choice for adolescents.” The research identified trends in soft drink consumption by socio-economic group, with differences in daily consumption between less affluent and more affluent groups getting larger over time in some countries, including in Ireland. In 2018, daily consumption of sugary soft drinks was more prevalent among the least affluent adolescents in 11 out of 21 countries - the 20% least affluent adolescents were more likely to report daily drinking of sugary soft drinks than their most affluent peers. In Ireland, 11% of children in the lowest social class group reported intake of sugary soft drinks on a daily basis, compared with 4% of children from highest social class groups.  Professor Kelly said: “Factors such as a whole school approach to health promotion and access to drinking water in schools contributed to the decrease in sugary soft drink consumption. While it is positive to note the reduction, inequalities are still evident and need attention.  “It is clear that more work is required to address dietary inequalities. Specific mechanisms to target dietary inequalities include wide availability of school meals - this means that all students get the same food and thus reduces any stigma related to food support or subsidies. This is a universal means of providing healthy meals and reducing sugar consumption.” Professor Kelly said: “As well as serving as a monitoring and a knowledge-generating function, one of the key objectives of the Health Behaviours in School-aged Children study has been to inform policy and practice, with the Irish section of the study being funded by the Department of Health. The cross-national survey covers diverse aspects of adolescent health and social behaviour, including self-assessment of mental health, body image, dietary habits, engagement in physical activity, support from families and peers, tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use, and bullying. “Data collected for the study are based on surveys completed by thousands of adolescents. The study provides high quality evidence calling for more effective and targeted interventions by governments and policy-makers to tackle the effects of inequalities among young people in Europe.” Ends

Friday, 8 April 2022

The NUI Galway Mincéirs Whiden Society has been named Best Cultural, Academic, and Social Society at this year’s National Board of Irish College Societies annual awards. This is the first time that a university society for Irish Travellers has won the prestigious award.  Mincéirs Whiden means Travellers talking in the Cant language spoken by the Irish Traveller community. The society was co-founded by Traveller students at NUI Galway in 2019. The award was secured at a special ceremony in Wexford town. Riona Hughes, Societies Officer at NUI Galway, said: “It was fitting that our Mincéirs Whiden Society secured the award on the eve of International Traveller and Roma Day which is celebrated today, April 8th.  “Respect and openness are core values at NUI Galway and it is evident that it is these values that guide the ongoing work of the society, its committee, and its members. We are very proud of all its accomplishments.” The Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) judging panel were impressed by the exemplary standard set by the society, the dedication and pride of its representatives and by its sense of community.  Founder member and NUI Galway alumnus Jason Sherlock said: “Every university and college should have a Traveller student society and we will support anyone to achieve this outcome. The key to our success is the strong relationship between the Traveller students and our allies within both higher education and the wider community. We want to personally thank everyone for their ongoing support.” The Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) is an annual event that celebrates the achievements of student led societies on the island of Ireland.  NUI Galway’s Traveller Education Officer Owen Ward said: “The Mincéirs Whiden society has played a key role in creating a safe space for Traveller students on campus and acts as a model for good practice to ensuring Traveller inclusivity in education. This has empowered us all to continue to work together to create a more inclusive and diverse campus for all students.”  The following is the full list of awards secured by NUI Galway societies at this year’s BICS ceremony –  :: Medical Society - Best Departmental Society and Best Promotional Campaign for 100 Miles with Medsoc :: Energy Society - Best Green initiative for Anti Fast Fashion Week :: India Society - Best Photo :: Musical Society - Best Poster Ends

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Representing the culmination of more than a decade of research, two breakthrough papers published in the journal Nature [today, Wednesday April 6, 2022] have identified more than 280 regions of the genome that contribute to the genetic risk of developing schizophrenia. The work has involved the efforts of researchers from more than forty countries and the participation of more than 300,000 people. Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway researchers, led by Professor Aiden Corvin and Dr Derek Morris respectively, studying data from  over 2,000 patients in Ireland contributed to both studies.   Current treatments for schizophrenia, which affects almost 1% of the adult population, are only partially effective, reflecting limited understanding of the biology involved, which has frustrated efforts to develop better treatments for many decades. In the first of these studies the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC, of which both Trinity NUI Galway are members) reported an investigation of almost 70,000 patients and 240,000 controls. The study, an analysis of genetic variants that are common in the population, identified 287 genomic regions that have subtle, small effects on schizophrenia risk across the population. These findings were concentrated in genes expressed in the central nervous system, particularly those implicated in synaptic organization, differentiation, and transmission. “The present study not only vastly increases the number of these associations, but provides tighter links to specific genes, rather than broader regions, representing a key step on our journey of discovery”, said Professor Aiden Corvin, from the Psychiatric Research Group at Trinity College. These findings represent a significant advance, by explaining a quarter of the genetic variance in  schizophrenia susceptibility they represent a framework for further discovery. Although many if not most people will carry some of these variants, their individual contribution to risk is subtle, increasing risk from the general population level of about 1% to 1.2%. Dr Derek Morris, Director of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, and geneticist at NUI Galway, said: “Although there are large numbers of genetic variants involved in schizophrenia, the study showed they are concentrated in genes expressed in neurons, pointing to these cells as the most important site of pathology. The findings suggest abnormal neuron function in schizophrenia affects many brain areas, which could explain its diverse symptoms, which can include hallucinations, delusions and problems with thinking clearly.” A second  study, published in parallel in Nature took a different approach to provide a clearer view of the molecular mechanisms likely to be responsible.  This work, coordinated by researchers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and published by the international SCHEMA Consortium (of which Trinity is a member) involved many of the same samples. The focus here was on extremely rare protein-disrupting mutations that significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing schizophrenia. The work identified 10 such genes, in one instance, increasing risk by more than 20-fold.  The mutations were individually rare (e.g., present in 1 in a 1,000 cases), and were only confirmed because of the scale of the study, which involved genome sequencing of 24, 248 affected individuals. Significantly both studies converged in identifying genes involved in the formation and maintenance of synapses between neurons, including those involved in the function of the glutamatergic neurotransmitter system. Dr Joshua Gordon, Director of National Institute of Mental Health, United States (NIMH), said: “These results, achieved through a global collaboration unprecedented in scope, mark an important step forward in our understanding of the origins of schizophrenia. The findings will allow researchers to focus on specific brain pathways in the ongoing hunt for novel therapies for this serious mental illness.” Both studies, when examined together show  the importance of the regulation of synaptic function across the brain in the development of schizophrenia. However, both studies also highlighted that other mechanisms involving how genes are transcribed and old proteins are recycled are also likely to be involved in this complex condition. The studies also found that the common and rare variants implicated overlap significantly with genes involved in other brain disorders including autism, epilepsy and developmental disorders. The SCHEMA study identified a spectrum of risk where more damaging mutations in the genes were associated with more adverse consequences and more severe disorders. This offers hope that biological insights from this work will have wider implications across brain disorders. Professor Aiden Corvin, Psychiatric Research Group at Trinity, said: “More than 3,000 Irish people have participated in our gene discovery programme over more than twenty years. We realised early on that only large scale collaborations would yield the kind of power needed to make real breakthroughs. It has been a privilege to work with international colleagues through PGC and SCHEMA, to make this happen.” Scientists at NUI Galway and Trinity College, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the NIMH are building on this work to develop more detailed datasets and to explore the molecular mechanisms involved. ENDS

Monday, 4 April 2022

Five NUI Galway researchers have secured funding as part of an initiative to support new academic and industry research collaborations on behalf of Science Foundation Ireland. The SFI Industry RD&I Fellowship Programme will support the temporary placement of academic researchers in companies to undertake research projects across a variety of areas including orthopaedic implants, biomedical science, mechanical engineering, virtual reality (VR), and chatbots optimisation. The five funded projects will be led by: Dr Eimear O'Hara, Mechanical Engineering, who will work with Zimmer Biomet on sustainable additive manufacturing of orthopaedic implants Dr Marie Le Berre, Biomedical Science, will partner with Analog Devices, Inc. on a project entitled ‘Putting the Bio in Biosensing: Bioassay Development for a Silicon-based Electrical Transduction Platform’ Dr Akash Pisharody, Civil Engineering, who will be part of a research collaboration with EireComposites Teo on the mechanical behavior of recycled carbon fiber composites subject to hygrothermal exposure Dr Lukasz Porwol, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, will collaborate with Fidelity Investments Ireland on ‘The Next-Gen VR-driven Serious Communication & Collaboration Hybrid Infrastructures for Business’ project Dr Jamal Nasir, College of Science and Engineering, will partner with Fidelity Investments Ireland on goal-oriented chatbots optimisation with reinforcement learning Welcoming the announcement, Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “I’d like to commend our researchers on being awarded the SFI Industry RD&I Fellowships for their innovate projects. This initiative will allow research fellows and industry to benefit from each other’s invaluable knowledge and expertise.”  The Fellowship programme is designed to help kick-start postdoctoral academic researchers’ careers in industry and to maximise the impact of their training. The programme also supports academic faculty researchers who want to spend time in industry alongside their academic responsibilities. Simultaneously, the placement will allow industry partners to benefit from their research fellows’ knowledge to collaborate on bringing innovative solutions to industry challenges. Ends

Friday, 1 April 2022

NUI Galway has officially opened the Cubbie Sensory Hub - a safe space on-campus for students and staff to balance sensory needs. The event was held today to mark World Autism Day, Saturday April 2nd.  The opening of the Cubbie forms part of NUI Galway’s wider efforts to break down barriers to inclusion by investing in facilities and supports to make the campus friendlier for autistic people.  President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “The continued development of our campus to be a more supportive and accessible space for all is an important aspect of the University’s work going forward. In line with our values of openness and respect for others, significant strides are being made to ensure that not only do we welcome everyone to NUI Galway, but we also endeavour to ensure that their experience as part of our campus community is an equitable and rewarding one.”  The Cubbie is a wheelchair accessible, multi-sensory, safe space which can be used by both students and staff. It can be accessed by one person at a time and delivers a bespoke sensory audio/visual programme, helping people who may feel overwhelmed to regulate emotions and feelings and so better participate in daily activities.  The space can pre-empt overloads and balance sensory needs by regulating, alerting or calming senses, and helping with anxiety and mindfulness.  Any student or staff member who wishes to use the Cubbie sensory hub is encouraged to go along to Level 1, Áras Uí Chathail (upstairs from the Access Centre) where it is located. There is no requirement to be registered for disability support with the University’s Disability Support Service or with Human Resources to access this sensory hub. If a student or staff requires an individual sensory profile please contact christian.short@nuigalway.ie for further information. Ends

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Researchers at NUI Galway are aiming to use a national survey into HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings to tackle the issue and improve health outcomes for people with the disease. The first Joint National Survey on HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings will mean Ireland will be the first country in Europe that will have this kind of national-level data. The study is being launched this week by researchers at the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway. It can be accessed at www.nuigalway.ie/hiv-stigma-survey. It is the first of its kind in Europe as the researchers aim to learn both from people living with HIV and also those who provide healthcare for them. The survey aims to measure stigma in healthcare settings, and is part of a wider study to develop guidelines to reduce HIV-related stigma and improve healthcare outcomes for people living with HIV.  Dr Elena Vaughan, NUI Galway researcher and principal investigator on the Addressing HIV-stigma in Healthcare settings study, said: “This research will help us to get a sense of what the needs and priorities are - both of people working in healthcare and people living with HIV - so that a collaborative approach may be taken to address stigma in healthcare settings. “Experiences of stigma in healthcare settings can put people off engaging with healthcare services. This can have negative impacts on a person’s health. There is also evidence to suggest that stigma inhibits people from accessing testing and treatment, and so is a driver of the epidemic more broadly.” Approximately 7,000 people are living with HIV in Ireland.  Massive strides in the treatment of HIV mean that it is now easily managed with medication. People living with HIV are living long healthy lives and cannot pass on the virus when they are on effective treatment. However, stigma remains a serious problem for many people living with HIV, and this can affect their health and well-being Reducing HIV-related stigma is widely acknowledged as a key part of addressing the HIV epidemic.  In 2019, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway were signed up to the Fast Track Cities Initiative – a global collaboration between UNAIDS, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), and 300 cities and municipalities worldwide. The objective is to work towards reaching zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination by 2030. Stigma reduction is also a stated aim of the Sustainable Development Goals, to which Ireland has also committed.   Dr Elena Vaughan said: “Stigma in healthcare settings is among the key indicators recommended by UNAIDS to measure and evaluate the HIV response in individual countries. In addition to providing important information to help us reduce stigma in healthcare settings, the data generated from this project will be useful to programme and policy-makers in tracking progress in meeting commitments both to the SDGs and the Fast Track Cities Initiative. Ireland will be the first country in Europe that will have this kind of national-level data.” The survey is being launched just ahead of Irish AIDS Day on June 15, 2022 and will be live for the month of June. The project is supported by HIV Ireland and funded by the Irish Research Council. Ends

Monday, 30 May 2022

Survey shows that 30% of respondents will change jobs - even if it means a pay cut - if their remote working preferences are not facilitated    Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have revealed that almost one third of workers are willing to move to a new job to secure their remote working preferences. The findings are from the third annual National Remote Working Survey, led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission. The survey gathered responses from more than 8,400 employees, in late April and early May, on their current experience of remote working. Findings include: -      Of those who could work remotely, 52% were currently working hybrid, 40% fully remotely, and only 8% were fully on-site -      If their future remote working preferences were not facilitated, 30% of all respondents indicated that they will change job, with 33% indicating they may change jobs even if it meant a pay cut -      37% indicated that they will change job and 27% indicated they are open to the possibility of changing jobs, even if it means less promotion opportunities if their future remote working preferences were not facilitated. -      49% of all respondents clock more hours while remote working, compared to working on-site; 45% work the same hours, and 6% reported that they work fewer hours -      30% of respondents indicated they spent 30 minutes to an hour of the time they saved commuting working; 27% spent up to half an hour; and 14% spent 1 to 1.5 hours -      Almost half, 49%, believe remote working has no impact on opportunities for promotion, with 33% not yet knowing the impact. 9% believe there is a positive impact while 9% believe there is a negative impact on promotion opportunities. Minister for Rural and Community Affairs, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said: “The Government’s Rural Development Policy, Our Rural Future, clearly recognises the vital role that remote working can play in achieving balanced regional development. Remote workers support local economies and help sustain communities. “At a time when there are labour market shortages, remote working can help companies attract and retain talent. So much excellent work has been done in the last few years to support remote workers and employers - these survey results will build on that work, providing up-to-date information on remote working experience of employees. I have no doubt that this will help enable us to make the right decisions at this crucial time. “With the support of the Western Development Commission, NUI Galway and other institutions, my Department has played a leading role in making remote working a permanent reality for so many post Covid-19. Through continued investment in our Digital Hub infrastructure, underpinned by the Connected Hubs initiative, we will continue to build on this work throughout 2022.” Professor Alma McCarthy, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The third annual NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with more than 8,400 responses. “We added a new module asking if remote working was a key factor in changing employer and career decision making. It is interesting to see that of those who changed employer since the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly half - 47% - indicated that remote working was a key factor in their decision to change employer.” Tomás Ó Síocháin, chief executive of the Western Development Commission, said: “The findings of the latest national survey highlight a further change in the way we view remote working and indicate that Irish workers expect to continue working remotely either all of the time or to find a balance in line with their lifestyle. “Leaders will now be challenged to look at ways of supporting their staff and find that balance to avoid retention issues. The ConnectedHubs.ie network now with over 230 hubs onboard across the country can play a key role offering a suitable workplace close to home, a space for offsite meetups and an opportunity for companies to cut down on their carbon footprint.” Further data from the National Remote Working Survey showed - While more than half of respondents (58%) had never worked remotely before the pandemic, 76% either agreed or strongly agreed that working remotely makes their job easier, and 95% either agreed or strongly agreed that working remotely makes their life easier.  Some 27% of respondents have changed employer since 2020. Of these, 47% indicated that remote working was a key factor in their decision as their new employer offered better opportunities in this area. The top five activities for which respondents spent the time saved on commuting are - household duties (e.g. cleaning, shopping, DIY); exercise; working on their main job; relaxation; and caring responsibilities. When asked about the future of remote working the survey showed: -      50% of respondents said their organisation has confirmed how they will work in the future, while 22% are in a trial phase. -      Of the 50% whose organisations have confirmed their future working patterns, 61% of respondents indicated that they will work hybrid; 30% will work completely remotely; and only 9% will work fully on-site. -      Of those who will work hybrid into the future, 36% are expected to be on-site a minimum of two days a week; 24% a minimum of three days; 17% a minimum of one day; and 3% are expected to be on-site a minimum of four days a week; 8% are expected to be on-site several days a month; and 12% indicated “other” expectations of their employer about being on-site. The vast majority of respondents indicated remote working is impacting employee attraction and retention in their organisation. 88% strongly agree and agree with the statement that their organisation needs to offer remote/hybrid working to attract staff and 90% strongly agree and agree with the statement that their organisation needs to offer remote/hybrid working to retain staff.   The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the third annual national remote working survey and the report can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3a0W2F2. The reports from the 2020 and 2021 Remote Working Surveys are available from NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute, https://bit.ly/3lyVAk1, and the Western Development Commission, https://bit.ly/3wKx30z. Ends

Friday, 20 May 2022

Three primary schools have been named top of the class in a national competition showcasing randomised trials. The Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) is held every year, with this year’s best randomised trials awarded the START Trophy 2022. This year, the top three are all from Galway, with their success and their trial questions celebrated at a special event at NUI Galway, as part of the Health Research Board-Trials Methodology Research Network. The primary schools are:  Scoil Bhríge agus Bhreandáin Naofa, Corrandulla, Galway Do 5-minute movement breaks between subjects help improve concentration? Gaelscoil Dara, Renmore, Co. Galway:  An bhfoghlaimíonn páistí níos fearr ó mhúinteoir ná ó chéile? Do children learn better from a teacher or from each other? Claregalway Educate Together, Claregalway, Co. Galway Does 5 minutes of exercise help children focus for a test compared to children who do not exercise As part of the START competition, primary schools were invited to create their very own fun randomised trial, with the top three brought on campus to celebrate their achievements and explain some of their work. It is a fun, project-based approach to learning about randomised trials. It also helps meet key aspects of the current school curriculum in several subjects including maths, science, SPHE and ICT. Commenting on the START competition, Professor Declan Devane, Scientific Director of the HRB-TMRN at NUI Galway, said: “We started this competition for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to raise awareness of the importance of randomised trials with children. Secondly, we wanted to harness the creativity and imagination of children in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of trials. The high standard and variety of applications we receive each year demonstrates that the START competition has indeed raised the awareness of randomised trials and capitalised on children’s innate ability to explain difficult concepts clearly and in a fun way. We are very proud of all our applications.” Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said: “The questions devised by each of these finalists are fascinating. The curiosity and creativity of their bright young minds perfectly captures the essence of the START competition. I really look forward to seeing the answers their randomised trials deliver. However, I do not envy the judging panel as it will be extremely difficult choosing a winner! The best of luck to all finalists from everyone at the HRB.” START encourages children to learn more about healthcare decisions and how we can improve health and wellbeing by learning about randomised trials.  Sometimes called clinical trials, randomised trials are a type of research study often used to find out if a new medicine or treatment works. The decision about which treatment a person gets is decided at random (often by a computer) rather than being decided by the doctor or research participant. This means that we can be more certain that any differences in the results between the groups are caused by the treatment, and not by differences in the characteristics of the people who take part in the trials.  The competition is run by the Health Research Board-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TRMN), which is a collaborative Network across five University partners - NUI Galway, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick. It is held to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day and the anniversary of the first clinical trial carried out in 1747 in the British Navy. Three judges selected the three shortlisted schools : Iseult Mangan, Former Primary School Principal Cloghans Hill NS (2017 START winner) and Teen Turn Mentor  Professor Shaun Treweek, Professor of Health Services Research, University of Aberdeen, UK Sarah Chapman, Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK. To learn more about START visit: https://startcompetition.com Follow on social @STARTSchools or facebook.com/hrb.tmrn Ends

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Cell Explorers has celebrated ten successful years of informing, inspiring and involving the public in hands-on modern biology.  The science education and public engagement programme, based at NUI Galway, is delivered nationally by the University and its nine partner institutions: Atlantic Technological University in Donegal Letterkenny and Galway City; Dundalk Institute of Technology; Future Neuro, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases; Munster Technological University in Cork and Kerry; South East Technological University, Carlow; Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands MidWest; University College Cork; University College Dublin in the National Virus Reference Laboratory; and University of Limerick. First created in 2012 by founding director Dr Muriel Grenon and ten project students, Cell Explorers was piloted with funding from the EXPLORE Innovation initiative: a project by NUI Galway and its Student’s Union, which supported collaborations between staff and students.  The next two years saw the Cell Explorers educational outreach model developing further with funding from Royal Dublin Society, the Galway Science and Technology Festival, Science Foundation Ireland, and The Wellcome Trust. Ten years later, Cell Explorers has expanded nationally to 13 teams. It has delivered either in-person or remotely-facilitated hands-on science to 750 classes in 500 schools, and activities to 26 counties across the Republic of Ireland.  Having raised close to €1 million for several projects, and secured Science Foundation Ireland support since its inception, it has trained more than 2,600 Cell Explorers scientists, students and staff. It has engaged more than 45,000 young people and their families in hands-on science in Ireland.  The programme has also started to develop its own research to understand how to combat misconceptions and stereotypes that relate to science and scientists and which prevent young people from seeing that science could be for them. Professor Phillip Nolan, Director of Science Foundation Ireland, noted: “I would like to pay tribute to all involved in the Cell Explorers programme, in particular past and present volunteers and coordinators of its 13 teams. By acting as authentic role models and sharing your excitement in research and innovation, you are helping to engage our young people, so that they maintain an interest in science and consider pursuing a career in research. Thank you for making a real difference to our society and the growth of the research community in Ireland.” The Cell Explorers programme has become a reference in terms of public engagement in science in Ireland and internationally. In 2019, the programme received the Outstanding Contribution to Science Communication award by Science Foundation Ireland. It is a member of the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA) and a part of Scientix, the community for science education in Europe, as well as the 'Falling Walls Engage' community, ranking in the top 50 of their global competition in 2021. Professor Ciarán Ó hOgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “As I reflect on and note the Cell Explorers mission - to Inform, Inspire and Involve - a mission that the team has remained true to throughout the exponential growth in their first ten years, I can’t help but hear echoes of our own Institutions core values - respect, excellence, openness and sustainability.  “These are the values that NUI Galway strives to uphold, to sustain and support each other and, through combined effort, to work for the public good and enhance our university’s distinctiveness. That these very same values have underpinned the Cell Explorers model from its onset a decade ago speaks to the value this programme brings to our University community and society more generally.” For further information on Cell Explorers network visit https://www.cellexplorers.com/our-teams. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Controlling high blood pressure and diabetes and following a healthier lifestyle from an earlier age could reduce risk of dementia in older age  NUI Galway teams up with Boston University and the University of Texas with study urging personalised rather than one size fits all approach to risk prediction International research led by NUI Galway has identified the most important risk factors for dementia in middle-aged and older people.  The study, which also involved researchers in Boston University, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, examined data from 5,000 people to assess potential predictors for loss of cognitive function. The most important vascular risk factors for dementia were: at age 55 - high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus at age 65 - cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attacks or angina) at ages 70 and 75 - diabetes mellitus and previous stroke at age 80 - diabetes mellitus, previous stroke and not taking blood-pressure lowering medication The study was published today in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology and was led by Professor Emer McGrath, Associate Professor at the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Neurologist at Saolta University Hospitals. The researchers measured risk factors for dementia, including age, sex, blood pressure, use of blood pressure lowering medication, a history of cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation and diabetes mellitus. The patient data was sourced from thousands of people who took part in the US-based Framingham Heart Study. Risk factors were measured at mid-life (i.e. 55) and again at ages 65, 70, 75 and 80 years-old. Professor McGrath said: “Accurately predicting a person’s future risk of dementia could inform personalised approaches to risk factor and lifestyle modification to help reduce that risk. However, predicting this is challenging as the relationship between dementia and vascular risk factors such as diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease and stroke varies with age.” “We found that people who had diabetes at the age of 55 were four times more likely to go on to develop dementia than people who did not have diabetes at that age” “People with heart disease at age 65 were nearly twice as likely to later develop dementia as those who did not have a heart condition, while people with a stroke at age 70 were over three times as likely to develop dementia compared to those with no stroke”. “Our study shows that predicting a person’s risk of dementia needs to be very much tailored towards the individual, taking into account their age, sex, vascular risk factors and evidence of organ damage, such as previous heart attack or stroke.  “Based on this research, we should probably be looking at more individualised, age-specific dementia risk scores, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to dementia risk prediction.” According to the Alzheimer’s Association of Ireland, 64,000 people are living with dementia in Ireland. It is estimated that the number of people with the condition will more than double in the next 25 years to more than 150,000 by 2045.  Professor McGrath said: “Our research has important implications for dementia prevention at a population-level. Controlling vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus, adopting healthier eating habits and following an active lifestyle, particularly at the early to mid-life stage, could significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia down the line.” Professor Sudha Seshadri, co-author of the study, is Professor of Neurology and Director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio and Senior Investigator with the Framingham Heart Study.  Professor Seshadri said “At younger ages, vascular risk factors like blood pressure seemed more important. At older ages, the effects of long-standing exposure to risk factors in the form of organ damage, such as stroke, seemed to best predict risk of dementia.” “Diabetes has been identified as one of seven risk factors responsible for up to one-third of cases of Alzheimer’s disease dementia and represents an important modifiable target for dementia prevention at a population-level.” Ends

Monday, 16 May 2022

The scholarship, valued at €10,000 per student, supports undergraduate students from County Roscommon each year   Monday May 16, 2022: NUI Galway and the Jones family have announced the extension of the Pauline and Bunnie Jones Scholarship Scheme for 2022.    Supported by the Jones family of Tulsk, Co Roscommon, in honour of their parents Pauline and Bunnie Jones, the scholarship was established to encourage academic achievement and support students from the county who are enrolling in an undergraduate degree at NUI Galway.   Now in its third year, the scholarships are valued at €10,000 per student. They are awarded to four students - two from Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown, and two others to students of any other secondary school in Co. Roscommon, who present the highest Leaving Certificate scores.   Speaking about the scholarship, Adrian Jones said: “We are investing in Roscommon’s future, in honour of our parents who made great sacrifices to invest in us. They both believed passionately in the transformative power of learning. Our father’s formal education ended at 12 but, in his 40s, he earned a Diploma in Social Studies, made possible by the dedication of Michael D. Higgins, then lecturing at NUI Galway. Our mother went back to NUI Galway, her alma mater, in her 70s to study Archaeology.” In 2021/2022, scholarships were awarded to: Gwen O’Rourke, Ciara Kennedy and Kellie McDermott of Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown; Shane Carr from Abbey Community College in Boyle; Michael Lohan, Vocational School, Roscommon; and Ronan Tumbek of Castelrea Community School. To be eligible for the award, students are required to have attended and sat the Leaving Certificate at any school in County Roscommon. They must apply for any full-time undergraduate course at NUI Galway through the CAO system, and upon receipt and acceptance of a CAO offer, register as a student of NUI Galway by the due registration date. Students are required to complete an expression of interest in the scholarship on or before Sunday, 1 August 2022. Full details of the scholarship scheme and the expression of interest form are available online: www.nuigalway.ie/roscommonscholarship/ Ends

Monday, 16 May 2022

NUI Galway is now accepting applications for its Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme. The merit-based scheme are valued at €1,500 per student and is open to all EU students undertaking a full-time Taught Masters Programme who have a first-class honours (or equivalent) in a Level 8 primary degree. NUI Galway offer 200 taught postgraduate programmes across all disciplines. Over 50 of the postgraduate courses are delivered fully online or via blended learning, so especially suit those who are working full or part-time, want to upskill, and enhance their career prospects. For the 2021–22 academic year, NUI Galway awarded 254 Taught Masters Scholarship towards student’s postgraduate studies. NUI Galway Masters student Emily Atkinson said: “The postgraduate scholarship is a fantastic opportunity that rewards and incentivises the hard work it takes to achieve first class honours. The scholarship allowed me prioritise finding the right postgraduate course for me, and to focus on my studies during my MSc Consumer Psychology.” Scholarship recipient Christina Gleeson said: “Without the postgraduate scholarship, it would have been more financially challenging to take on a Master’s degree after my undergraduate degree. The scholarship was a driving factor to not only achieve my goals in getting a ​first-class honours undergraduate degree in Psychology, but also it stood to me financially, and in feeling confident in my level of education going into my MSc in Clinical Neuroscience.” Applications are now open those starting graduate studies in September 2022, and the closing date for applications is 31 August 2022.   For more information on the scholarship scheme email postgrad@nuigalway.ie or visit https://www.nuigalway.ie/postgraduate_scholarships/. Ends

Friday, 13 May 2022

NUI Galway has announced the first student to be awarded the Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship.    Alan Donnelly, a native of Killala, Co Mayo, is a first year BSc Financial Mathematics and Economics student. During his fifth year in Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, he developed a suite of Digital Flashcards to help with revision when he was travelling to school on the bus.  The Digital Flashcards become very popular with classmates and teachers, Alan created a charity donation list, and students who donated were sent a copy of the cards. The Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship is funded through the generous philanthropic support of the Liffey Trust. The scholarship will help to support students in the University’s newly launched student innovation and entrepreneurship hub, IdeasLab. It will also help to promote the concepts of job creation, entrepreneurial development and education for life for undergraduate students commencing their studies.  Alan said: “I am incredibly honoured to be the inaugural recipient of the Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship. I was very fortunate to have wonderful teachers in Gornor Abbey who supported my entrepreneurial spirit. Being a student in NUI Galway I can develop these skills further through working with the IdeasLab and the Consultants and Entrepreneurship Society.  “Through the award of the Scholarship, I am also connected with students from across Ireland through The Liffey Trust and I look forward to developing my knowledge and my network through all of these opportunities.” Alongside his studies at NUI Galway, Alan is actively engaged in the student entrepreneurship community working with IdeasLab and the NUI Galway Consultants and Entrepreneurs Society. Chairman of The Liffey Trust, Aidan Corless said: “Alan has what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and we are delighted to sponsor his journey through NUI Galway, who are leading the way in promoting entrepreneurs. Alan joins other Seamus McDermott Entrepreneurial scholars from other institutions and is now connected to our business hub in Dublin.”  The Liffey Trust was established more than 30 years ago and has been supporting entrepreneurs to establish and grow new businesses since then. The NUI Galway scholarship is named in honour of the founder of the Liffey Trust, Galway native Séamus McDermott, in recognition of his contribution to entrepreneurship in Ireland.  First year undergraduate students at NUI Galway can apply for a scholarship valued at up to €9,000 for the duration of their studies at the University. The next call for applicants will commence in October 2022.  For further information on the scholarship contact ideaslab@nuigalway.ie.  Ends

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

NUI Galway co-leads European dialogue highlighting its place as a world top 50 university for sustainable development  The planned regeneration of Nun’s Island in Galway City is to feature at a special event held as part of NUI Galway’s role in the European ENLIGHT University Alliance. The European Dialogue conference is hosted by Uppsala University, Sweden and co-led by NUI Galway and takes place this week, May 11-12, 2022 on the theme of Sustainable Urban Development. The conference will involve representatives from Galway City Council, the Western Development Commission and Galway Chamber as stakeholders in the development of the west of Ireland and Galway region.  This week’s ENLIGHT European Dialogue is an opportunity for the universities and stakeholders from across the nine regions in the partnership to connect, learn and reflect on novel approaches to the pressing challenge of sustainable urban development. Key sustainable urban development projects will be showcased and discussed, including NUI Galway’s partnership with Galway City Council on the regeneration of Nun’s Island to create collaborative cultural spaces. Professor Becky Whay, NUI Galway’s Vice President International, said: “The ENLIGHT alliance exemplifies NUI Galway’s commitment to openness and diversity in our University, creating international opportunities for students and staff, as well as connecting Galway and the wider western region with the ENLIGHT cities and regions. NUI Galway wants to excite our students and staff, attracting world class partners that better enable us to contribute to broader transformations at local, national and global levels and ENLIGHT is a key contributor to this.” NUI Galway is the number one university in Ireland and a world top-50 for sustainable development, according to the Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings.  Paul Dodd, NUI Galway’s Vice President Engagement, said: “NUI Galway is building on the foundation of strong regional partnerships through ENLIGHT to enable deeper engagement on big challenges facing society.  “ENLIGHT affords us and our stakeholders a great opportunity to create a dialogue on sustainable urban development at a European level and showcase best practice in the university – a world top-50 for sustainable development.  “Our focus is also on learning from challenges being put forward by colleagues across the network and using these to form the basis for challenge-based education projects and research collaborations, and new opportunities for our students and staff.” ENLIGHT is a partnership of nine universities, supported by the Government and the European Commission, to build a platform for the creation a new type of European university campus where students and staff have increased opportunities for international study, training, teaching, research and sharing of services. The ENLIGHT University Alliance includes - NUI Galway; Comenius University, Bratislava (Slovakia); University of Groningen (Netherlands); University of Bordeaux (France); Gent University (Belgium); University of Tartu (Estonia); University of Gottingen (Germany); University of the Basque Country (Spain); Uppsala University (Sweden). ENLIGHT aims to collaboratively transform higher education, addressing societal challenges and promoting equitable quality of life, sustainability and external engagement with the communities of the partner universities. Ends

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Sligo students at the University’s School of Law named Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholars Two NUI Galway law students from Sligo have been awarded special scholarships created in partnership between the global law firm DLA Piper and the University’s School of Law. Annie Forde, from Enniscrone, Co Sligo, and Joan Ighile, from Sligo Town have been named the Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholars for the academic year 2021/2022. Both students are undertaking the undergrad degree Law (BCL), Criminology and Criminal Justice, at NUI Galway’s School of Law. The Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholarship is named after the Chairman Emeritus of the law firm who has family roots in the west of Ireland. It provides funding and support to enable and empower successful students to study a law degree at NUI Galway and is awarded in-part on academic merit. Maura Dineen, Partner at DLA Piper, met with the scholars on campus and shared interesting insights into her fascinating career advising domestic and international clients on tax matters. Ms Dineen said: “We are proud to partner with NUI Galway’s School of Law to support deserving students like Annie and Joan, as they pursue their studies in law. It was a pleasure to visit the campus, talk to the students about their experience and hear the positive impact the Terence O’Malley DLA Piper scholarship has had on their studies so far. We wish all of the students the very best in their studies and look forward to seeing what innovative thinking they contribute to the industry in the future.” Professor Martin Hogg, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to have the continued support by DLA Piper of two more students under this scholarship programme. The educational opportunities which these scholarships afford are highly valued by the School and by the scholars and we’re very grateful to DLA Piper for this investment in two lawyers of the future.” The scholarship supports scholars throughout their four-year law degree to the value of €2,500 annually (total value of €10,000 per scholar). It is open to first year students who are enrolled in one of NUI Galway’s five full law degrees and have a home address in the west of Ireland (to include all counties in Connacht plus counties Donegal and Clare).  Annie Forde said: “Studying Law at NUI Galway has been a highly enjoyable experience and I am grateful that DLA Piper are able to support me in my academic endeavours. This scholarship has had a positive impact on my life and I hope that in my future legal career that I can make a positive change in people’s lives.” Joan Ighile said: “This scholarship has given me the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy my study of Law at NUI Galway with lessened financial stress. It has been a great support to me, and I’d like to thank DLA Piper for their great generosity in continuing to support Irish students pursuing a career in Law." The Scholarship was launched in 2020 at NUI Galway following Terence O’Malley’s retirement from a highly-regarded legal career, serving in various roles including as DLA Piper's US Managing Partner, US Co-Chairman, and Global Co-Chief executive officer. The inaugural scholars were Ava Cullinan, Law (BCL) student from Kilrush, Co Clare and Emily Donnellan, Law (BCL), Criminology and Criminal Justice student from Maree, Co Galway. In addition to the scholarship, a separate annual Terence O’Malley DLA Piper bursary is awarded to a NUI Galway Law student achieving the highest grade in the University’s Law and Innovation module.  DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. DLA Piper established in Ireland in 2019 with offices in Dublin.  DLA Piper clients range from multinational, Global 1000, and Fortune 500 enterprises to emerging companies developing industry-leading technologies. For full details about this scholarship, including terms and conditions, visit: www.nuigalway.ie/dlapiperscholarship   Ends

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

NUI Galway has launched a short documentary - ‘From Tehran to Galway: Professor Afshin Samali’s journey from refugee to cancer research scientist’.    The production tells the story of Professor Samali, Professor for Cancer Biology at NUI Galway, who came to Ireland as a refugee in his late teens in 1985.  The short film highlights Professor Samali’s family’s experience escaping a conflict zone and their integration into Irish society.   In highlighting Professor Samali’s story, NUI Galway - a designated University of Sanctuary - hopes to inspire its community to be more accepting of cultural differences, open to new experiences and to better participate in welcoming our diverse community.   Professor Samali was born in Iran and is a member of the Baháʼí faith which advocates peace and unity and equality between men and women. As one of the Baháʼí leaders, Afshin’s stepfather was wanted by the authorities where he potentially faced imprisonment and execution, like other Baháʼí leaders.  Rather than denounce their religion, Afshin’s family abandoned their privileged life, raising money to pay smugglers to take them from Iran, navigating traitorous mountains, ravines and deserts, and negotiating with boarder control to Pakistan where they registered as refugees with UNHCR. As part of a group of 26 refugees, Afshin’s family as were resettled in Ireland in response to Ireland's humanitarian remit, and in December in 1985 the Samali family began their new life in Sligo.  Professor Samali said “I believe that we have interlinked responsibilities both to work on our own personal development and progress, and to collaborate with each other towards the betterment of our society. Education plays a central role in this dual moral responsibility as we develop our core values and a common vision for the type of society we want to live in. This belief has been a guiding compass in my personal journey.”  As a University of Sanctuary, NUI Galway has many entrance pathways and opportunities in higher education to support and inspire refugees.  In launching the documentary, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “The history of Ireland is a history of refugees. When NUI Galway was founded in 1845, Ireland was facing challenging times and our university made a profound and positive difference since in the progress of our region, the development of our nation and in international citizenship and human rights. Today, we continue that contribution of kindness by welcoming refugees to our university. The sharing of experiences enhances and positively changes both their lives and ours, as a university, as a community and as individuals.  “Consistent with our university’s values of Openness and Respect, Afshin’s journey as a refugee, illustrated so vividly in this documentary, is a truly inspiring example for all our students and staff alike. He has made an excellent contribution here, sustaining our mission in research, teaching and engagement. We are a better place for his presence and thank him for being here with us.”    Associate Professor Mary Dempsey, Vice Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, College of Science and Engineering, said: “Afshin’s academic contribution to our university has enriched both learning and research. His personal contribution has reinforced our core values and the importance of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.  “The College of Science and Engineering remains committed to supporting our University of Sanctuary scholars and as part of our Diversity initiative, highlighting role models such as our inspirational colleague Afshin, whilst giving our students a safe space, hope and an impetus to succeed.” ‘From Tehran to Galway: Professor Afshin Samali’s journey from refugee to cancer research scientist’ can be view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbFrGUyMDPw.  Ends 

Monday, 9 May 2022

Session to outline options for Access Programmes and Foundation Studies Diploma courses NUI Galway is hosting a special information session for prospective students eligible for alternative pathways into university. The event will be open to anyone seeking advice on courses available through the Access Centre and for people applying for part-time courses as mature students. The information session takes place on Thursday May 12 from 6.30-7.30pm in the O’Flaherty Theatre, Arts/Science Building. It will focus on Access Programme or Foundation Studies Diploma courses in 2022-23. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “There are several options available to prospective students who are looking for an alternative admissions route to NUI Galway and who may require some extra guidance in deciding on their educational pathway and we are here to help, guide and support. “Our courses are designed to provide students with a strong foundation as they progress to third level. We have some fantastic graduates who have come through our courses and have gone on to great things.” Representatives from the Access Centre and Programme Coordinators will be at the information session to advise and answer questions and to support those who wish to take that first step into third level education. The Access Centre is currently accepting applications from school leavers and mature students for its full-time Access Programmes and its part-time Foundation Studies Diploma courses in Science, Technology and Engineering, and Business, Law, and Arts. The Access Programme is designed specifically as an alternative admission route to third level education for people from socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented at third level. It aims to support students to build confidence in themselves and their academic ability, and to support them to reach their full potential through core modules such as academic writing, IT skills, study skills and education guidance. Students also get the opportunity to do taster courses as an introductory to university before choosing an undergraduate degree. The Foundation Studies Diploma courses are intensive part-time courses taught over 26 weeks. They are open to mature applicants, aged 22 or over, who are interested in applying for entry to full-time undergraduate courses. For more information and to register for the information session visit www.nuigalway.ie/access, or contact access@nuigalway.ie for further details. Ends

Friday, 6 May 2022

Research reveals how cells rewire to survive and spread   Scientists at NUI Galway have discovered how cells related to one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer can rewire themselves to have a better chance of surviving and spreading to other sites in the body. The breakthrough finding by the team at the Apoptosis Research Centre in the University shows that a specific cell behaviour - known as the IRE1 stress response pathway - adapts the metabolism of triple negative breast cancer cells. Afshin Samali, Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Most importantly, our research at NUI Galway shows that in fact this cell behaviour can be reversed through the use of specialised drugs inhibiting IRE1.” The findings have been published today (6 May 2022) in the internationally renowned Nature Communications journal. The research focuses on cell behaviour in triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive and difficult to treat forms of breast cancer. It accounts for about 15% of all breast cancers diagnosed and is more common in younger women.  Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there are no targeted therapies available for triple negative breast cancer. The research highlighted how fast growing tumours often experience nutrient deprivation - meaning they lack what is required to grow and spread. However, cancer cells can rewire their metabolism - often referred to as metabolic reprogramming - to compensate for a low availability of nutrients.  The team at NUI Galway, led by Professor Afshin Samali and Professor Adrienne Gorman, demonstrate for the first time how the IRE1 stress response pathway rewires cancer cell metabolism. It does this by altering the levels of a key enzyme in lipid metabolism, which in turn increases the resistance of triple negative breast cancer cells to low nutrient conditions that often occur in the tumour. The research also shows how this resistance can be reversed through targeted treatment.  Afshin Samali, Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “The new era of precision oncology aims to tailor treatments to individual cancer patients. Here at NUI Galway, we have made a breakthrough and it is hugely exciting to identify new therapeutic target for triple negative breast cancer. “Our previous research showed that inhibition of IRE1 improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces relapse of this highly aggressive form of breast cancer. Building on that, we can now demonstrate that this same cell pathway works to create an environment which makes it easier for these breast cancer cells to survive.   “What our research also shows is that targeting IRE1, or switching off the response mechanism of IRE1, could be particularly beneficial for the many patients whose cancer cells rely on the specific metabolic reprogramming it induces.”   Professor in Biochemistry, Adrienne Gorman, said: ‘We are getting ever closer to understanding the intricacies of cancer. Identifying new therapeutic targets such as IRE1 that are part of the tumour’s support system is very significant in offering another way to combat cancer.’ Dr Katarzyna Mnich, one of the research team at NUI Galway, said: “This work has uncovered a previously unknown role for IRE1 in triple negative breast cancer and it shows we need further investigation into the biology of IRE1. Most importantly for patients, the research also supports further development of IRE1 inhibitors as therapeutics for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer.” The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the EU under the Horizon 2020 programme. Ends