Tuesday, 29 June 2021

NUI Galway’s Access Centre recently delivered the virtual UNI 4 U primary schools initiative awarding Certificates of Achievements to 200 children in three Galway City schools. UNI 4 U is a primary school outreach programme delivered in partnership with NUI Galway and three DEIS primary schools, Scoil Bhríde in Shantalla, Scoil Chroí Íosa in Mervue, and Radhrac na Mara, Presentation Road. Each year students from fourth, fifth, and sixth class are selected by their teachers to participate on this programme where they spend six weeks on campus during the school term. While the students are on campus they participate in a number of specifically designed Easter and Summer camps including university taster modules, discussion-led classes, and a range of fun interactive activities all based on campus. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this year the programme took place online with the Access Centre team creating a series of recorded material and worksheets for students to use in class in their school. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager with NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “UNI 4 U is about demystifying the University and inviting primary school children onto campus to promote the value of education, and to develop their interpersonal, academic, and confidence skills. It is about enabling families to envision a future for their children in third level education, and in the broader context embracing diversity and inclusion, as core tenets of our work in schools.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Initiatives like UNI 4 U play a significant role in increasing equality of opportunity in our communities and increasing the diversity of our student population in years to come. UNI 4 U embodies NUI Galway’s vision and values of respect, openness, sustainability and excellence – contributing to our community and our society for the public good. The message that we want to give to these young students is that NUI Galway is their University, it is a part of their community, and we hope, in years to come that they will become a part of our campus community as they continue their education at third level.”  Frank Keane, Principal of Scoil Bhríde, Shantalla, Galway, said: “UNI4U has probably been the most significant and successful transition programme for schools enabling pathways through education, especially to third level for children from designated disadvantage schools.” The UNI 4 U initiative began in 2005, stemming from the University’s commitment in its strategic plan to advancing the social, economic, educational, and cultural needs of the Western region, and more recently The National Access plan which aims to increase equality of opportunity and increase diversity across Irish Universities. -Ends-

Monday, 28 June 2021

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, together with partners Galway Film Centre, are delighted to announce that the latest documentary produced through the Science on Screen public engagement programme will be broadcast on TG4 on Thursday, 1 July at 10.30pm. Written and directed by Karen Coleman and co-produced by Leeona Duff with SkyeByte Productions, the documentary 'Off The Bench' In am an Ghátair' focuses on the response of the Irish MedTech community to Covid-19 and the unprecedented collaborations that have taken place across academic, industry and clinical partners in Galway and beyond to create innovative solutions that have helped cope with the pandemic as it evolved. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway, says: “These collaborations between academics, clinicians, and industry partners in the MedTech sector have been in place since before the pandemic hit Irish shores. But the value of this network and the infrastructure that exists became obvious when it was needed the most. We knew it was important to document what was happening, and these stories illustrate the unique nature of the MedTech sector in Ireland. We hope it will build confidence in the expertise we have to hand and highlight some of the reasons why Ireland is regarded as a global hub for MedTech research and development.” The documentary focuses on several key innovations developed early in response to the pandemic, including establishing the INSPIRE project, an industry-academic partnership based at NUI Galway and University Hospital Galway designed to deliver fast-to-clinical medical devices to support the Covid-19 effort. CÚRAM Investigator, Professor Martin O’Halloran coordinated the INSPIRE project with physician and CÚRAM Investigator Dr John Laffey and his colleagues at University Hospital Galway. The INSPIRE network brought researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and others in the MedTech space together to collaborate in exceptional ways to design and develop medical devices that could be used for both healthcare workers and patients on Covid-19 hospital wards both in Ireland and abroad. This collaboration led to the VentShare project that developed a safe way to ventilate two patients from a single ventilator, led by Tim Jones (a graduate from the BioInnovate Ireland programme) amd Jack Connolly, graduate from the College of Science and Engineering at NUI Galway, and Dr David Hannon and Professor John Laffey (Critical Care) with technical support from Aerogen.  Other projects featured in the documentary include developing a transparent plastic helmet (C-PAP Hood) that can administer oxygen to patients in ways that reduce healthcare workers being exposed to the virus and the INSPIRE Guard - a shield that patients could use to mitigate the spread of the virus. Alan Duggan, Manager of Galway Film Centre, said “We are incredibly proud to be able to continue to work with CÚRAM, this time on the creation of the Science On Screen feature documentary 'Off The Bench: In am an Ghátair'. The impact that science has on our lives has never been more present than in the last year and this documentary highlights this in a very real and practical way. To have the documentary broadcast on national television on TG4 is a reflection of the hard work put in by all of the production team involved in bringing it to life. We are excited to see the audience’s reaction to it.” Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, says: “Our MedTech ecosystem in the West of Ireland has long been recognised as a global hub of excellence and innovation. This has never been more true than in its inspirational and speedy response to providing healthcare solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Outreach and public engagement are integral to research at NUI Galway and I congratulate CÚRAM, Galway Film Centre and the production team on this important and timely Science on Screen documentary. “As a research-led University, this documentary captures the very essence of how the MedTech community comes together to develop life saving devices, animating our university values of respect, openness, sustainability and excellence. This documentary allows .people to better understand how important public research and innovation is to the fabric of our lives and in particular when confronting global challenges like the pandemic.” 'Off the Bench: In am an Ghátair' was funded through the Science on Screen public engagement programme, a partnership between CÚRAM and Galway Film Centre. The programme has produced six science documentaries to date and aims to raise awareness of the impact of medical device research in society. The documentary was written and directed by the award-winning journalist and broadcaster Karen Coleman at SkyeByte Productions (www.skyebyteproductions.com), which makes documentaries and multi-media content for online platforms and broadcast outlets, and co-produced by Leeona Duff of Up on Blue Bridge Productions. An English language trailer can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/515300175. -Ends-

Monday, 28 June 2021

Is cúis áthais do CÚRAM, Ionad Taighde SFI d’Fheistí Leighis in OÉ Gaillimh, agus dá gcomhpháirtithe in Ionad Scannán na Gaillimhe, a fhógairt go gcraolfar an clár faisnéise is déanaí atá á léiriú faoi scáth an chláir rannpháirtíochta pobail Science on Screen ar TG4 Déardaoin, an 1 Iúil ag 10.30pm. Is í Karen Coleman a scríobh agus a stiúir an clár faisnéise ‘Off the Bench’ agus is í Leeona Duff a chomhléirigh é ag SkyeByte Productions. Díríonn an clár ‘In am an Ghátair’ ar an mbealach a ndeachaigh pobal Teicneolaíochta Leighis na hÉireann i ngleic le Covid-19 agus ar na comhthionscadail eisceachtúla a raibh comhpháirtithe acadúla, tionscail agus cliniciúla i nGaillimh agus níos faide i gcéin páirteach iontu chun teacht ar réitigh nuálacha a chabhraigh le daoine déileáil leis an bpaindéim de réir mar a tháinig borradh fúithi. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag an Ollamh Abhay Pandit, Stiúrthóir Eolaíochta CÚRAM in OÉ Gaillimh: “Bhí na comhthionscadail sin idir lucht acadúil, cliniceoirí, agus comhpháirtithe tionscail san earnáil Teicneolaíochta Leighis bunaithe sular bhuail an phaindéim an tír seo. Ach léiríodh a luachmhaire a bhí an líonra seo agus an bonneagar atá ann i gceart nuair a tháinig an crú ar an tairne. Bhí a fhios againn go raibh sé tábhachtach taifead a choinneáil ar an méid a bhí ag tarlú, agus léiríonn na scéalta seo gur earnáil ar leith í earnáil na Teicneolaíochta Leighis in Éirinn. Tá súil againn go gcothóidh sé muinín sa saineolas atá le fáil ar leac an dorais againn agus go léireoidh sé cuid de na cúiseanna a mbreathnaítear ar Éirinn mar mhol domhanda do thaighde agus d’fhorbairt na Teicneolaíochta Leighis.” Dírítear sa chlár faisnéise ar roinnt táirgí nuálacha a forbraíodh go luath chun dul i ngleic leis an bpaindéim, lena n-áirítear bunú an tionscadail INSPIRE. Is comhpháirtíocht idir an tionscal agus an saol acadúil é seo atá lonnaithe in OÉ Gaillimh agus in Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh ina gcuirtear gairis leighis chliniciúla ar fáil go tapa chun tacú leis an iarracht Covid-19 a chur faoi chois. Rinne an tImscrúdaitheoir le CÚRAM, an tOllamh Martin O’Halloran comhordú ar thionscadal INSPIRE in éineacht leis an dochtúir leighis agus Imscrúdaitheoir le CÚRAM, an Dr John Laffey agus a chomhghleacaithe in Ospidéal na hOllscoile, Gaillimh. Thug líonra INSPIRE taighdeoirí, fiontraithe, innealtóirí, eolaithe agus daoine eile i réimse na Teicneolaíochta Leighis le chéile chun comhoibriú le chéile ar bhealaí eisceachtúla chun feistí leighis a dhearadh agus a fhorbairt a mbeadh oibrithe cúram sláinte agus othair in ann iad a úsáid i mbardaí ospidéil a mbeadh Covid-19 ar dhaoine iontu in Éirinn agus thar lear. D’eascair an tionscadal VentShare ón gcomhpháirtíocht seo, tionscadal inar aimsíodh bealach sábháilte chun beirt othar a chur ar análaitheoir amháin, faoi stiúir Tim Jones (céimí ón gclár BioInnovate Ireland) agus Jack Connolly, céimí ó Choláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta in OÉ Gaillimh, agus an Dr David Hannon agus an tOllamh John Laffey (Cúram Criticiúil) le tacaíocht theicniúil ó Aerogen.  I measc na dtionscadal eile a fheicfear sa chlár faisnéise tá clogad plaisteach trédhearcach (C-PAP Hood) ar féidir leis ocsaigin a riar ar othair ar bhealaí a laghdaíonn an baol atá ann go dtolgfadh oibrithe cúraim sláinte an víreas agus Sciath INSPIRE – sciath a d’fhéadfadh othair a úsáid chun baol scaipthe an víris a mhaolú. Bhí an méid seo le rá ag Alan Duggan, Bainisteoir Ionad Scannán na Gaillimhe: “Tá ríméad orainn a bheith ag obair le CÚRAM arís, ar an ngnéchlár faisnéise Science On Screen 'Off The Bench: In am an Ghátair’ an uair seo. Is feiceálaí tionchar na heolaíochta ar ár saol le bliain anuas ná riamh, mar a léirítear sa chlár faisnéise seo ar bhealach an-réadúil agus praiticiúil. Is aitheantas é an clár faisnéise a bheith á chraoladh ar an stáisiún náisiúnta teilifíse TG4 ar an obair chrua a rinne an fhoireann léiriúcháin ar fad. Táimid ar bís go bhfeicfidh muid cad a cheapfaidh an lucht féachana de.” Bhí an méid seo le rá ag an Ollamh Jim Livesey, Leas-Uachtarán don Taighde agus Nuálaíocht in OÉ Gaillimh: “Tá aitheantas ag an líonra Teicneolaíochta Leighis in Iarthar na hÉireann le fada mar mhol barr feabhais agus nuálaíochta domhanda. Léirigh an bealach ar cuireadh réitigh cúraim sláinte ar fáil go tapa le linn phaindéim Covid-19 gur maith a bhí an t-aitheantas sin tuillte aige. Is cuid dhílis den taighde in OÉ Gaillimh iad gníomhaíochtaí for-rochtana agus rannpháirtíocht an phobail agus tréaslaím le CÚRAM, Ionad Scannán na Gaillimhe agus an fhoireann léiriúcháin as an gclár faisnéise tábhachtach agus tráthúil seo faoi scáth Science on Screen. Is Ollscoil í seo atá dírithe ar an taighde, agus feicfear sa chlár faisnéise seo pobal na Teicneolaíochta Leighis ag teacht le chéile chun gairis tarrthála beatha a fhorbairt, agus iad ag feidhmiú de réir luachanna na hollscoile maidir le meas, oscailteacht, inbhuanaitheacht agus barr feabhais. Gheobhaidh daoine tuiscint níos fearr sa chlár faisnéise seo ar an tábhacht atá le taighde agus nuálaíocht phoiblí sa saol ina mairimid, go háirithe agus muid ag tabhairt aghaidh ar dhúshláin dhomhanda ar nós na paindéime.” Rinneadh maoiniú ar ‘Off the Bench: In am an Ghátair’ tríd an gclár rannpháirtíochta pobail Science on Screen, comhpháirtíocht idir CÚRAM agus Ionad Scannán na Gaillimhe. Tá sé chlár faisnéise faoin eolaíocht léirithe faoin scéim go dtí seo agus tá sé mar aidhm leis an scéim cur leis an bhfeasacht faoin tionchar a bhíonn ag taighde faoi fheistí leighis ar an tsochaí. Is í an t-iriseoir agus an craoltóir Karen Coleman a scríobh agus a stiúir an clár faisnéise le SkyeByte Productions (www.skyebyteproductions.com), comhlacht a dhéanann cláir faisnéise agus ábhar ilmheán d’ardáin ar líne agus d’asraonta craolta, agus is í Leeona Duff ó Up on Blue Bridge Productions a bhí ina comhléiritheoir air.  Tá réamhbhlaiseadh den scannán le fáil anseo i mBéarla: https://vimeo.com/515300175. -Críoch-

Monday, 28 June 2021

A limited number of places on NUI Galway’s Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development Programme are now open and funded by the Higher Education Authority NUI Galway, in collaboration with 12 software industry partners, is now accepting applications for its award winning, innovative Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development Programme – Industry Stream. A limited number of places will be funded by the Higher Education Authority given the strategic importance of developing skills in this area. Successful applicants will pay no fees if they are unemployed, if they are employed or in part-time employment, they will pay a once off 10% fee which amounts to €650 90% of Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development graduates have secured immediate employment in software development roles, with many graduates gaining employment with some of Ireland’s leading software companies. NUI Galway has designed this one-year conversion programme in conjunction with 12 leading IT employers which enables graduates to reskill for employment in the software development area. The overall goal of this postgraduate conversion programme is to strategically increase the supply of skilled graduates to meet the needs of Ireland’s high-growth software industry. It will provide graduates with a fast track, focused computing qualification, and presents them with an opportunity to obtain valuable industry work experience. Successful applicants are paired with an industry partner from the start of the programme and are then trained in key technologies for that employer’s needs, and are then able to maximise the impact of a paid industry internship towards the end of the programme. Dr Enda Barrett, Course Director, said: “We are delighted to again to offer places on this unique programme completely funded by the Higher Education Authority and their Springboard initiative. This is a super opportunity for highly motivated analytical graduates particularly from cognate disciplines such as engineering, maths, business and science. We have had huge success with graduates from these areas due to their natural problem solving capacity. By investing just one year of their time in further education, and, through placement experience with our industry partners, they will have an excellent prospect for recruitment as software developers in Ireland’s high tech ICT sector. “The ICT sector is experiencing rapid expansion at the moment, and there is a growing skills shortage for ICT graduate roles that these students are ideally suited to fill. The highly intensive programme is designed for those with little or no knowledge of software development, but we are particularly keen to receive applications from those who have had some exposure to coding and feel that this is something they potentially have a flare for. People with technical or strong numerical backgrounds often perform best in these types of programmes and we strongly encourage applicants who have strong logical reasoning or maths skills. This could be a strong maths result from their leaving cert or from certain modules in their undergraduate degree. This isn’t essential, but often indicates a strong problem solving and logical skillset. Since this programme is funded under the ICT Skills segment of Springboard, there are no limitations regarding the applicant’s current employment or social welfare status.” The Higher Diploma in Software Design and Development builds on the existing strengths of collaborative academic-industry interaction in the Galway region, and will provide graduates with a solid foundation in key areas of software design and development. The final aspect of the course involves a three-month paid internship to gain industry experience, providing successful applicants with the opportunity to kick-start their career as a software developer. Each student progressing through the course will have their training content determined by their associated industry partner. On completion of the course, these students will have transformed their employability in the current economy, with a range of great options opening up to them for further progression either in industry or through more specialisation in a masters.  The industry partners include Avaya, Cisco, SAP, Insight, Sidero, Aspect Software, Genesys The Marine Institute and Schneider Electric. Dr Barrett continued: “The career prospects for our graduates are extremely strong and demand is dramatically outstripping supply. The programme is highly respected among many of Irelands leading software companies many of whom specifically want to recruit graduates who have come through our unique programme. Many of our graduates are receiving multiple job offers before they even complete the programme. Our recognition as Postgraduate Programme of the Year in Information Technology has propelled both the programme and our graduates to the front of the list for many recruiters and we are delighted with the feedback and positivity we have been receiving from our past graduates and their employers alike.” The programme is open to all those who have a level 8 degree or alternatively those with a level 7 degree with some relevant industry work experience. Those currently completing their studies or who are currently in some form of employment are all eligible to apply. NUI Galway is now processing applications and those interested can make their application through https://springboardcourses.ie/details/9168, or seek more information via the twitter account @hdipindustry. Significant interest in this funded course is expected and early application is advisable as applications are processed and interviews are held on a rolling basis. Deadline for final applications is Sunday, 1 August, 2021. For further information contact the Programme Director, Dr Enda Barrett at Enda.Barrett@nuigalway.ie. -Ends-

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, has announced a new research partnership with B. Braun, one of the world's leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions. The partnership will see the development of a novel drug delivery system for cannabinoids for more effective treatment of wound pain and improved wound healing, and the development of a device for the management of wound odour. Chronic wounds affect up to 4% of people over 65 years, with venous leg ulcers being the most prevalent of these, accounting for approximately 70% of all ulcers of the lower limbs. Chronic wounds are associated with reduced quality of life and affect the individual in physical, psychological and psychosocial domains. This in turn can impact family members and the individual’s ability to contribute to society fully. Among the many symptoms associated with chronic wounds, pain is cited as one of the worst aspects. While multiple forms of pain relief exist, these do not provide relief for all patients, and people with chronic wounds regularly state they do not wish to take more medication and have a fear of addiction. Professor Georgina Gethin, CÚRAM Investigator, project co-lead, and Director of the Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds, explains: “Members of our patient panel in Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds have recounted using a trial and error process to alleviate pain and often take to resting until the pain goes away. They have identified that research to develop interventions to relieve pain is a priority for them. The endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system plays a key role in pain modulation and also regulates wound healing. It represents a novel target for more effective dual management of both pain and wound healing.” Professor David Finn, an Investigator in CÚRAM, Head of Pharmacology, and Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research is a co-lead on the project. He brings over 20 years of expertise in cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system and pain to the project. His group will play a key role in advancing understanding of the endocannabinoid system in wound pain and healing, and in preclinical testing of the novel cannabinoid-eluting delivery system for more effective treatment of wound pain and improved wound healing. Professor Finn says: “This project is a clear example of our commitment to addressing pain and wound healing, two of the world's major health challenges, by translating cutting-edge biomedical research into new and effective treatments.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Stokes Professor of Glycosciences at NUI Galway and a collaborator on the project will be leading the management of wound odour in the device design. A novel component to wound dressing will lead to modified dressing to remove or to minimalise wound odour during wound healing. Professor Joshi says: “This project exemplifies our commitment to addressing major health challenges by translating cutting-edge biomedical research into new and effective treatments to have a positive impact on both the physical and social implications of chronic wounds.” Mr Pat McLoughlin, Site Director of B. Braun Hospicare, said: “B. Braun, a company that prides itself on “Sharing Expertise”, is delighted to work with and learn from this research project with CÚRAM. The project's main goal is to produce quality new products in the management of chronic wound pain and odour for the B. Braun portfolio. This is an exciting time in wound care production in Ireland. As we embark on this journey with CÚRAM, we hope to develop innovative solutions to make chronic wound care easier to manage at home for patients and practitioners. As a company, B. Braun aims to protect and improve the lives of people around the world. This project allows us to both gain insight and helps improve patient outcomes.” Mr McLoughlin added: “B. Braun recognises that most innovation in the chronic wound care sector focuses on management of wound exudate (fluid) and may not focus on other aspects of how the patient manages their conditions. The most exciting aspect of this research will be patients’ perspective of how they can best live self-determined lives and how we can help meet those needs.” Susan O’Mahoney, who leads the development of new products at B. Braun Hospicare, adds that CÚRAM has recognised how the industry works and has tailored the way they work to “make things easy for the industry” by providing “an up-front statement of work with clear timelines and deliverables, and quarterly updates which can be used to update steering committees on our side.” CÚRAM's strategic mission is to establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device Research and Development Centre to develop diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. In doing so, the Centre partners with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to increase employment in Ireland. The recent announcement of over €46 million in funding for the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to reinvesting in the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations central to CÚRAM's work. -Ends-

Monday, 21 June 2021

NUI Galway’s Science and Engineering students are making travel arrangements to participate in the International Summer Academy in Engineering for Women at the Univer­sity of Applied Sciences Upper Austria in July. Computer Science student, Emma Urquuhart from County Galway, and Engineering students, Niamh Hennigan from County Clare, Aoife Roche from County Wexford, and Aoife Prendergast from County Galway, were awarded scholarships in 2020 in a highly competitive environment to attend the academy in July 2020, but their plans were put on hold due to the global pandemic. Following rigorous safety procedures developed by NUI Galway for outward student mobility, the students are able to travel to Austria in July and attend the academy. The Academy, offered to only 30 female students from 15 different countries, is a two and a half week intensive programme com­bining theory with hands-on practical experience in engineering, informatics and natural sciences. In addition to knowledge transfer in these fields, social, cross-cultural and gender aspects are covered and discussed during lectures and workshops. The academy supports female students as they pursue their education goals. The Academy programme is based around thematic areas of Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and Computer Sciences and Informatics. Specific subject areas look at issues such as Synthetic biology: promises and dangers for society; Molecular biology: forensic DNA profiling and its computational analysis; Special high voltage applications in modern day technology; What computer science can learn from nature - Evolutionary optimization algorithms and data mining; Importance of online privacy; and Human and computer interaction. Speaking about the scholarships and the International Summer Academy, Mary Dempsey, Vice Dean in the College of Science and Engineering, NUI Galway, said: “Whilst our students have demonstrated extraordinary resilience in adapting to remote learning over the last 15 months, peer learning opportunities have been limited. Following a rigorous outgoing mobility assessment process, Emma, Aoife, Niamh and Aoife will be the first Science and Engineering students from NUI Galway to travel abroad for study since 2020. They will have an opportunity to; work with other students in STEM fields, broaden their technical and scientific knowledge and once again experience learning in a collegiate environment.” NUI Galway Computer Science student, Emma Urquuhart said: “We are really looking forward to embarking on our trip to Upper Austria to participate in the Summer Academy. After our initial applications to the Academy was accepted, we completed outward mobility assessments in NUI Galway to ensure that we are prepared for our first foreign excursion since the beginning of the pandemic. We are eager to embrace this opportunity to broaden our knowledge of our respective fields of study, and hope to learn about how different areas of engineering can complement each other through the teamwork projects and variety of workshops we will be partaking in. The unique cultural experience will undoubtedly be a highlight of the trip for us. We are excited to explore the region of Wels, make friends from different countries and gain new perspectives on engineering on the global scale. We appreciate the support of the scholarships and are very grateful to NUI Galway for granting us this wonderful opportunity.” -Ends-

Monday, 21 June 2021

DotMD Festival of Medical Curiosity, an award winning medical conference which hopes to inspire and rejuvenate doctors, will return to NUI Galway in the summer of 2022, running from 15-18 June 2022. Organised by Galway-based doctors Dr Ronan Kavanagh, Dr Muris Houston and Dr Alan Coss, the festival for doctors aims to “reawaken a passion and wonder for medicine that some might have lost along the way” according to dotMD Director Dr Ronan Kavanagh. With over 500 doctors from Ireland and around the world to Galway attending the last sold out festival in 2019, the 2022 meeting, now in its 8th year, has been extended from a two-day to a four-day hybrid to meet demand. The meeting will also be streamed online for those unable to travel to Galway.  Previous topics included in the meeting include medical story-telling, what doctors can learn from Jazz musicians, poetry, the use of cartoons in healthcare (graphic medicine), kindness, burnout, Buddhism, transhumanism, and artificial intelligence. Dr Kavanagh added: “Never has there been a more challenging time to be working in front line health care – and we wanted to create an experience that would help doctors reconnect with what matters in medicine, to reinvigorate and re-inspire them, and to help them find meaning in their working lives” The meeting will be open to doctors and to other health care professionals, and further details can be found at www.dotmd.ie. -Ends-

Friday, 18 June 2021

NUI Galway, within the frame of the Hydrogen Utilization and Green Energy (HUGE) project, will host a webinar entitled ‘Hydrogen Trucks: An Opportunity for Heavy Vehicles Decarbonisation’ on Tuesday, 22 June, from 11am-1pm CEST (10am-12pm Irish time). NUI Galway, as part of the HUGE project, oversees the transfer of hydrogen knowledge to a wide audience, including industry stakeholders, end-users and government agencies from a vast area in Europe, especially in Northwest Europe, Atlantic Area and Northern Periphery and Arctic regions. The webinar will feature a number of recognised specialists, including Alan Nolan, Coordinating Director with Hydrogen Mobility Ireland, and Mark Freymüller, CEO Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility AG, who will discuss the current situation of the decarbonisation of heavy vehicles in Europe, and presentations will focus on the present and future of hydrogen in the mobility sector. The webinar will share development plans for hydrogen trucks and their infrastructure in the partners’ regions in Ireland, Hydrogen Mobility Ireland, and Iceland, Icelandic New Energy, and will give an overview of the implemented hydrogen trucks project in Switzerland, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility, with emphasis on the challenges and opportunities, as well as the level of involvement of the Swiss government. Representatives from truck manufacturers Hyzon Motors and Volvo Trucks will also share the recent developments on the construction and delivery of hydrogen trucks on the road and the market opportunities they envisage. Webinar organiser, Dr Pau Farras Costa of NUI Galway’s School of Chemistry and deputy lead of the Energy Research Centre of the Ryan Institute, said: “Decarbonising road transport is an easier task than most people may think. The technology is available through either battery electric for small or fuel cell electric for small to large vehicles. To achieve the climate change targets for 2030 there is an urgency to put in place solutions that can impact on national carbon footprint in the short term. In this webinar, we aim to demonstrate that decarbonising the heavy vehicle sector is feasible if the necessary support is achieved.” Dr James Carton, Chair of Hydrogen Ireland, said: "Transport in Ireland represents an energy sector that must decarbonise not only to reduce climate changing emissions but also to enable breathable cities. Passenger car owners have seen a growth of suitable battery electric vehicles, as well as greater options for commuting such as walking and cycling; however trucking has few options to decarbonise. “Heavy duty vehicles account for only around 5% of vehicles on EU roads but they are responsible for 25% of all EU road transport emissions. Now we have a solution: hydrogen from renewables can be used to decarbonise trucks, buses and trains in Ireland. A survey conducted by Dublin City University revealed that if hydrogen trucks and hydrogen refuelling stations were available at similar costs to the incumbent, most truck fleet operators surveyed would invest in hydrogen vehicles, seeing them as future proof, zero emission vehicles. What Ireland needs now is our government to support the rollout of a national hydrogen refuelling infrastructure." To register for the webinar, or for more information visit Eventbrite at  https://bit.ly/2SGfbDV. -Ends-

Friday, 18 June 2021

A major EU-funded project led by NUI Galway has united with nine other EU H2020 projects to form the PREPARE Cluster (PREparedness and resPonse for emergency situAtions in euRopE. The two-year Irish-led project, PANDEM-2, aims to prepare Europe for future pandemics through innovations in training and to build capacity between EU member states responding to pandemics on a cross-border basis.The project has been awarded almost €10m in funding and is one of many in the PREPARE cluster that has recently received this support from the European Commission to work on different aspects of crisis management and response. PANDEM-2 will look specifically at developing a suite of novel concepts, services and IT systems to improve how the EU prepares for and responds to future pandemics. With combined funding of €72 million, each project in PREPARE has its own distinct aims and challenges, however, they all work towards one shared goal: to ensure better preparedness for future crises. While Ireland and Europe have responded robustly to the current pandemic, there is room for improvement in the sharing of information across borders and in adopting common and consistent policies. The PREPARE cluster will aim to strengthen Europe’s response to the ongoing pandemic and potential future crises by offering mutual support and developing research synergies. In recent years, there have been increasing instances of cross-border crises, including climate change, terrorism, international trade disputes and global health threats. These emergency situations require large-scale planning for preparedness and response for countries to be able to cope with unforeseen challenges. Protecting the health and security of citizens across Ireland and the EU in the face of these threats requires member states and agencies to share information and to collaborate on joint policies and approaches. It is for this reason that each of the ten projects is tackling challenges specifically looking at the preparedness and response phases of crisis management. Professor Máire Connolly of NUI Galway and Coordinator of the PANDEM-2 Project said: “We are delighted to be a part of the PREPARE cluster and working with so many excellent projects supported by the EU. COVID-19 has had a devastating economic, social and health impact on countries worldwide and we must adopt a collective approach in our response strategy to future crises. We look forward to will exploring synergies, research opportunities and delivering joint activities to to ensure Europe is better prepared for the next pandemic.” In working together, PREPARE will strive for stronger results and greater impact for crisis management. PANDEM-2, together with CO-VERSATILE, COVID-X, COVINFORM, EUR3KA, NO FEAR, PERISCOPE, PHIRI, STAMINA and STRATEGY will strengthen the response to the ongoing crisis and aim to be better prepared for future crises. -Ends-

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Academics at NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre have cautioned over the impact that the digital divide may have amid increasing use of eHealth for promoting health and wellbeing. Ahead of the 25th annual Health Promotion Conference at NUI Galway, the co-chairs of the event, Dr Victoria Hogan and Dr Jane Sixsmith, highlighted the need for ongoing research on the issue of unequal access to technology and digital information and services.   This year’s online conference - Health Promotion through eHealth: Challenges and Opportunities - is open to all, and it takes place on Thursday, 24 June 2021, between 9am and 4pm. Register online at https://col.eventsair.com/ahp2021/registration Dr Victoria Hogan, conference co-chair, said: “Given the ubiquitous nature of digital technology in everyday life, and the increasing importance of technology for health, this is considered a priority area for both health promotion research and practice.” Dr Jane Sixsmith, conference co-chair, said: “The increasing use of digital technology is an opportunity for the promotion of health but the challenge is the inequality in access as a result of the digital divide. As we further develop and use these technologies for health we must ensure equity of access.” The Health Promotion Conference will be attended by Frank Feighan T.D., Minister for State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy. This year's event brings together leading academics, researchers, practitioners and policymakers working with eHealth. They will explore the use of eHealth in various settings such as the workplace; children’s health; mental health; and health promotion apps. It is hosted in partnership with the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Association for Health Promotion Ireland. Professor Margaret M Barry, Established Chair in Health Promotion and Public Health at NUI Galway, will moderate a live panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of eHealth for health promotion.  Professor Deborah Lupton, SHARP Professor, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia will draw on projects she has led which have addressed people’s everyday experiences of digital health - from googling symptoms to using discussion forums, websites, social media groups, YouTube, apps and wearable devices. She will also touch on the future of digital health in Covid-19 times. Professor Ernst Bohlmeijer, Professor of Mental Health Promotion, University of Twente, the Netherlands will focus on the use of eHealth and mHealth in promoting public mental health. Ian Power, chief executive of SpunOut.ie and 50808, will speak on bringing information and support to young people and to where young people are. Muiriosa Ryan, Social Media Manager, Health Service Executive will speak on the HSE’s social media strategy and how it is used in a global pandemic. Niamh Connolly, Marketing Officer at NUI Galway, will deliver a workshop on the use of social media for health promotion. Ends

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

NUI Galway academic Dr Una Murray will present an evaluation she recently led for a UNICEF development programme on migrating children in the Horn of Africa at a webinar on Thursday, 17 June at 1pm. During the webinar, entitled ‘Evaluation of the Programme - Protecting Children On The Move in the Horn of Africa’, Dr Murray’s presentation will include inputs from programme focal points in each of the countries, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The UNICEF event presents the results of the evaluation of a UNICEF programme, funded by the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, which aimed to better understand and respond to the specific vulnerabilities of children on the move. The UNICEF programme was implemented between 2017 and 2020 to strengthen case management systems, develop capacities of social service workforce, improve access to integrated social and child protection services and information on available safe migration options, enhance knowledge about children on the move and to inform programming, and to improve access to legal protection for children. The results of the work undertaken by Dr Murray and her UNICEF team is informing strategy development, design and implementation of future UNICEF initiatives in the realm of protecting children on the move from violence, exploitation and abuse. The findings and recommendations generated by the evaluation are now strengthening global evidence about what does and does not work, how and why, across different contexts, for children facing different challenges.  Dr Una Murray, Lecturer in School of Geography, and Ryan Institute Principal Investigator at NUI Galway, said: “Our team’s evaluation began just as the Covid-19 pandemic struck making conditions for children on the move very difficult. The Horn of Africa Region is characterised by mixed movements of peoples, including refugees, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, smuggled migrants and unaccompanied minors. Although we mainly hear about migration routes into Europe, there are two other primary routes of migration that children follow, the Eastern route via Yemen and Saudi Arabia and beyond, and the Southern route, along an Eastern African corridor through Kenya to South Africa. There is also a high incidence of internally displaced children in Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.” For more details or to register for the webinar visit: https://www.unicef.org/evaluation/evaluation-programme-protecting-children-move-horn-africa-17-june-2021 The UNICEF Evaluation Report can be accessed at: https://evaluationreports.unicef.org/GetDocument?fileID=17407 -Ends-

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Beidh OÉ Gaillimh ag tairiscint 12 scoláireacht don bhliain acadúil 2021/22 d’Iarratasóirí Cosanta Idirnáisiúnta, teifigh, grúpaí inimirceacha leochaileacha agus Taistealaithe na hÉireann.  Beifear ag glacadh le hiarratais ar scoiláireacht Dé Luain, an 28 Meitheamh ag 9am, agus is féidir eolas a fháíl ag www.nuigalway.ie/sanctuary/scholarships  Tá an fógra á dhéanamh mar chuid de thionscnaimh OÉ Gaillimh mar Ollscoil Tearmainn chun Lá Domhanda na dTeifeach a cheiliúradh Dé Domhnaigh, an 20 Meitheamh 2021.   Beidh Cearnóg na hOllscoile soilsithe gorm, dath na Náisiún Aontaithe, thar an deireadh seachtaine chun tacú leo siúd atá ag lorg cosaint idirnáisiúnta ar fud an domhain.   Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh: “Ag croílár luachanna OÉ Gaillimh tá meas agus oscailteacht, agus tá an Ollscoil bródúil as a bheith in ann tacú le mic léinn trí chlár scoláireachta na hOllscoile Tearmainn.    “Tá ról na hOllscoile ar mhaithe le leas an phobail le feiceáil i ngnéithe éagsúla dár gcuid oibre: tá brí ar leith leis nuair a chuirtear deiseanna ar fáil do chuid den dream is leochailí sa tsochaí agus do dhaoine atá ag iarraidh barr feabhais a bhaint amach.”   Tá OÉ Gaillimh ag tacú le himeachtaí eile chun Lá Domhanda na dTeifeach a cheiliúradh agus ba mhaith linn an pobal a ghríosadh le páirt a ghlacadh ann.   :: Dé Sathairn, 19 Meitheamh 2021, 11am: Beidh ‘siúlóid ghairdín’ spraíúil timpeall ar Ghairdín Pobail an Taoibh Thiar mar chuid de Walk the Talk Galway agus an tionscadal BRIDGE. Cláraigh trí ríomhphost a sheoladh chuig walkthetalkgalway@gmail.com nó suzanne@gcp.ie    :: Dé Domhnaigh, 20 Meitheamh 2021, 2pm: Reáchtálfaidh tionscnamh Ollscoil Tearmainn OÉ Gaillimh, Gluaiseacht Thaistealaither na Gaillimhe, Taiscéalaithe na gCeall dhá cheardlann Zoom “Fantastic DNA at Home” as a saotharlanna san Ollscoil agus beidh daoine in ann a gcuid turgnaimh féin a dhéanamh sa bhaile, ag taispeáint gur féidir le duine ar bith a bheith ina (h)eolaí. Cláraigh trí ríomhphost chuig uni.sanctuary@nuigalway.ie   Cuirfidh Acadamh Óige OÉ Gaillimh roinnt áiteanna soar in aisce ar fail ar a gcampaí samhraidh I mí Iúil d’iarratasóirí cosanta idirnáisiúnta, teifigh, grúpaí inimirceacha leochaileacha agus Taistealaithe na hÉireann chun Lá Domhanda na dTeifeach a cheiliúradh. Beidh na campaí samhraigh ar siúl ón 12-16 Iúil, agus 19-23 Iúil. Chun áit a chur in áírithe ar na campaí samhraidh, no chun tuilleadh eolais a fháíl, seol ríomhphost chuig youthacademy@nuigalway.ie  Críoch  

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

NUI Galway has announced it will be offering 12 scholarships for the 2021/22 academic year for International Protection Applicants, refugees, vulnerable immigrant groups and Irish Travellers. Scholarship applications will open on Monday, 28 June at 9am, and information can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/sanctuary/scholarships/  The announcement is being made as part of initiatives by NUI Galway as a University of Sanctuary to mark World Refugee Day on Sunday 20 June 2021. The University’s Quadrangle building will be lit with the blue of the United Nations over the coming weekend in solidarity with those seeking international protection around the world. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “At the heart of NUI Galway’s values are respect and openness, and the University is proud to be in a position to support students through our University of Sanctuary scholarship programme.   “The University’s role for the public good can be seen in many strands of our work: it is particularly and profoundly meaningful when we provide opportunities for some of the more vulnerable sections of society and for people who are striving to excel.”  NUI Galway is supporting other events to mark World Refugee Day and the public are encouraged to get involved. :: Saturday, 19 June 2021, 11am: Walk the Talk Galway and the BRIDGE project will host a fun ‘garden walk’ around Westside Community Garden. Register via email to walkthetalkgalway@gmail.com or suzanne@gcp.ie   :: Sunday, 20 July 2021, 2pm: NUI Galway’s University of Sanctuary initiative, the Galway Traveller Movement, Cell Explorers Fantastic DNA at Home will run two live Zoom workshops from their labs at the University with people able to carry out their own experiments at home, showing that anyone can be a scientist. Register via email to uni.sanctuary@nuigalway.ie  NUI Galway’s Youth Academy will also offer a number of free places on their July summer camps to international protection applicants, refugees, vulnerable immigrant groups and Irish Travellers to mark World Refugee Day. The weekly summer camps will run from 12-16 July, and 19-23 July. To book a place on the summer camps, or for more information please email youthacademy@nuigalway.ie Ends 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Female health professionals are being encouraged to apply for a women-only scholarship for NUI Galway’s MBA programme. The McGinty Scholarships were established by alumna Dr Geraldine McGinty, a physician executive and radiologist, to empower a new cohort of women who will lead improved and impactful outcomes for patients and healthcare staff. A special online information forum will be held on Wednesday 24 June 2021 at 1pm for female healthcare professionals who are eager to learn what the programme offers. Anyone interested can register here. The McGinty Scholarships are available each year to support two women - one physician and one allied healthcare professional in the MBA programme at NUI Galway. Established in 2020, the scholarships were introduced to encourage and enable female physicians and allied healthcare professionals to engage in the MBA programme, to support them on a career path to leadership in the healthcare sector. Speaking about the value of women in healthcare leadership, Dr McGinty said: “Despite women making up the majority of the healthcare workforce they are typically underrepresented in the highest levels of leadership. We know diverse teams drive better results and outcomes so making sure women are prepared to assume senior leadership roles is a key goal.” Emergency Medicine physician Dr Odharna Ní Dhomhnalláin received the inaugural McGinty scholarship. She said: “Healthcare practitioners bring a unique insight, particularly with regard to patient care and healthcare problems that we encounter in our day-to-day practice. The MBA has been very helpful in broadening my thinking and exposing me to the business knowledge that I need in order to pursue leadership and management positions in the future.” Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operations Officer at Saolta University Health Care Group, said: “The hospital services operate with a predominantly female workforce, with women delivering and managing clinical services across our health service. Ensuring more women reach leadership roles will strengthen our teams. I am delighted that this scholarship has been made available to further develop key leadership pathways for women in the healthcare sector.” Professor Alma McCarthy, Head of J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at NUI Galway, said: “Research shows that diversity in senior management leads to better organisational outcomes. We are committed to supporting gender parity in leadership roles and providing women with female leaders who can act as role models. This MBA scholarship will help to nurture world-class female leaders who can have a significant impact in their organisations and throughout society.” Ends

Monday, 14 June 2021

Almost half of patients attending clinic have signs of damage to their kidneys Some 42% of patients attending a dedicated diabetes clinic have signs of established chronic kidney disease, the first detailed research of its kind in Ireland has revealed. The study was carried out by academics at NUI Galway and clinicians at University Hospital Galway Diabetes Centre and involved more than 4,500 patients in the west of Ireland. The findings suggest that, despite careful medical management, a relatively high proportion of people with diabetes in Ireland are developing chronic kidney disease over time and are at risk of kidney failure and other complications of poor kidney function. Diabetes is now the number one cause of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure worldwide. At least one in 15 people in Ireland has diabetes, three quarters of whom are adults with type 2 diabetes. Professor Matthew Griffin, consultant nephrologist at Galway University Hospitals and researcher in NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “When evidence of chronic kidney disease due to diabetes appears, it usually indicates damage to the kidneys that cannot be reversed and may well worsen over time.” The research is published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care http://drc.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/9/1/e002125?ijkey=QEorIBa0xCyzwPY&keytype=ref. It is the first comprehensive analysis of the overall burden of chronic kidney disease among people with diabetes in Ireland. It found that: :: 42% of patients at the clinic had evidence of abnormal kidney function, based on the results of commonly-performed blood and urine tests. :: The rate of chronic kidney disease among diabetes patients is more frequent than previously recognised. :: The frequency of chronic kidney disease was higher - almost 50% - in those with type 2 diabetes. :: The kidney function of more than one quarter of all the patients and nearly one third of those with type 2 diabetes was declining at a faster rate than expected. The research team said the findings of the prevalence of chronic kidney disease were particularly concerning because the number of people affected by type 2 diabetes is increasing steadily around the world. In the next 20 years it is expected to reach close to 700 million people. Dr Tomás Griffin, consultant endocrinologist specialising in diabetes care at Galway University Hospitals, Honorary Senior Lecturer at NUI Galway and lead researcher on the study, said: “The findings tell us that adults living with diabetes in Ireland have rates of chronic kidney disease and rapid decline in kidney function that are comparable to, or greater than, populations which have been studied in the UK, other European countries, the US and Asia. “The study provides important information for people with diabetes because new treatments and interventions are emerging which may offer better protection of kidney function over time when introduced in the early stages of chronic kidney disease.” Professor Griffin added: “Worryingly, many people with diabetes are unaware of the earliest evidence of diabetic kidney disease that can be identified in their blood and urine tests. This research shines a light on the need for greater awareness of these tests during the early stages of diabetes management and more collaborative care by diabetes and kidney specialists.” Professor Francis Finucane, co-author on the study and consultant endocrinologist specialising in the management of obesity and diabetes at Galway University Hospitals, said: “The more we can do to prevent type 2 diabetes and the factors that contribute to it by encouraging healthier diet and physical activity habits, the better our chances of reducing the burden of kidney disease.” The research paper is published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care with the following manuscript citation: Griffin TP, O’Shea PM, Smyth A, Islam MdN, Wall D, Ferguson JP, O’Sullivan E, Francis FM, Dinneen SF, Dunne FP, Lappin DW, Reddan DN, Bell M, O’Brien T, Griffin DG, Griffin MD. Burden of chronic kidney disease and rapid decline in renal function among adults attending a hospital-based Diabetes Centre in Northern Europe. BMJ Diabetes Res Care, March 14 2021. Ends

Friday, 11 June 2021

Researchers at NUI Galway have highlighted how different approaches to digital contact tracing were taken during the Covid-19 pandemic by jurisdictions with and without prior recent experience of epidemics. The analysis, authored by James O’Connell and Professor Derek O’Keeffe from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, has been published by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. In their work, James O’Connell and Professor O’Keeffe discuss how South Korea learned important lessons from their MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) epidemic in 2015 and put in place a political, legal and technological foundation that enabled an agile digital health response to the first wave of Covid-19. By comparison, Western countries struggled with both the societal and technical requirements needed to implement a digital solution to augment traditional manual contact tracing, which is a critical tool in managing infectious disease outbreak. Automation using geolocation tracking allowed teams of epidemiologic investigators in South Korea to trace not only contacts but also the setting in which contact occurred up to 14 days before symptom onset or diagnosis. This information allowed them to gain a greater understanding of the settings in which SARS-CoV-2 transmission was occurring and to implement more targeted health protection measures in response. In contrast, traditional contact-tracing systems in most Western countries had the capacity to identify and notify only people who had come into contact with an infected person within 48 hours before symptom onset or diagnosis. This digital limitation perhaps contributed to the first wave of Covid-19 in Western countries that outpaced the epidemic in South Korea. By the end of their first epidemic wave in April 2020, South Korea had reported 10,423 infections and only 204 deaths — a remarkable achievement given the population size of just over 50 million. In contrast, European countries saw more than 2.1 million cases and 180,000 deaths by the end of their first wave in June. James O’Connell, author and HIVE lab postgraduate researcher at NUI Galway, says: “This analysis highlights important learnings from this pandemic that will enable a better response to the next. We have all seen how important proportionate, effective, efficient and timely contact tracing is during this pandemic. Digital technologies can enhance the capacity of contact tracing systems to perform in this way, aiding efforts to achieve and maintain epidemic control.” Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician, Professor of Medical Device Technology and Director of the HIVE lab at NUI Galway, says: “This research highlights the importance of learning from critical events and then creating the necessary technological tools and political and legal frameworks, so that when it occurs again, we are ready to respond quickly.” The work also highlights the importance of realising the limitations of using digital contact tracing solutions in populations who are not able to access such technology (such as the digital divide ) and also in non-native language speakers (such as migrant communities). The NUI Galway authors also discuss the apparent idiosyncrasy that many people freely share significant amounts of personal data with large multinational corporations for no health benefit and yet had significant ideological issues in sharing similar data with governments during an emergency health scenario. As the first epidemic wave came to an end and the imminent threat of further loss of life eased, geolocation-based digital contact-tracing systems and their interference with personal privacy and data protection rights became less palatable. They became the subject of intense scrutiny in countries that used them, including South Korea and also Norway and Israel. In a pandemic that had the potential to last several years, many Western countries recognised the need for trustworthy, transparent, privacy-preserving digital contact-tracing technologies that were acceptable to Western populations. Following the example of Singapore’s Bluetooth Low Energy digital contact-tracing app TraceTogether, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, among others, set out to develop their own systems, which had varying uptake by target populations. Western countries tended to favor a decentralised, privacy-preserving protocol for contact tracing — meaning that rather than being sent to central government servers, the data collected stayed on the user’s device, are encrypted, and are automatically deleted after 14 days. By the end of 2020, there were at least 65 Bluetooth Low Energy–enabled digital contact-tracing systems worldwide, including 26 in the United States. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of Medicine, College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway, says “I am delighted to see this perspective by Professor O'Keeffe and James O'Connell published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Professor O'Keeffe's research and education activities reflect the convergence of Engineering and Medicine which is a priority at NUI Galway.  Professor O'Keeffe has used his training as an engineer and a physician to develop innovative approaches to dealing with the covid pandemic and we look forward to the launch of the new combined undergraduate degree in Medicine and Engineering to graduate the "physicianeers" of the future.” To read the full study entitled 'Contact Tracing for Covid-19 — A Digital Inoculation against Future Pandemics' in the New England Journal of Medicine, visit: https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMp2102256.  -Ends-

Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway has highlighted the need to increase resources and investment to embed research into nursing and midwifery care in order to support clinical academic career pathways. Professor Dympna Casey made the call ahead of a seminar to be hosted by the University as part of a series of events to celebrate the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The event will take place online from 1pm to 2pm on Friday, 25 June 2021. It is open to anyone who registers https://iuanursingmidwiferyresearch.eventbrite.ie Professor Casey said: “We need resources and government investment to embed research and a research culture into nursing and midwifery care and support clinical-academic career pathways.” NUI Galway’s School of Nursing and Midwifery is hosting the second seminar in the series - The Contribution of Schools of Nursing and Midwifery to Research - in partnership with Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick. It will illustrate examples of research led by nurses and midwives in vulnerable populations, capturing the views and experiences of healthcare workers and supporting high-quality research evidence for decision-making in policy and practice in Ireland and globally. Professor Casey will also moderate a live panel discussion with audience questions. “Nurses and midwives are not only at the frontline of healthcare delivery and have been critical during the response to Covid-19, but are also highly active in leading programmes of research that ensure evidence-based decision making in policy and practice,” Professor Casey said. “We are pleased to lead on this seminar in collaboration with DCU, UL and Trinity College Dublin, illustrating just some of the essential research and evidence that informs clinical practice and healthcare policy in Ireland and on a global scale.” The monthly seminar series being organised by the IUA’s Heads of Schools of Nursing and Midwifery Group will showcase the successes, challenges, research and innovations occurring in academic and clinical settings nationally. Dr Catherine Houghton, NUI Galway, will highlight the Emergency Evidence Response Service including responding rapidly to understand more about healthcare workers’ adherence to infection prevention and control guidelines. This will include NUI Galway research which informed the World Health Organisation guidance on Covid-19 infection prevention and control. Dr Briege Casey, DCU, will discuss nurse-led interventions among homeless populations during the pandemic, to identify the most effective practice in Covid-19 prevention, treatment and support among homeless populations to guide practice and policy development. Dr Fintan Sheerin, Trinity College Dublin, will describe the challenges to undertaking research among people with intellectual disability during the pandemic. It will focus on innovative approaches to ensure that the voices of these people are heard. Prof Alice Coffey, UL, will speak about RapidInfo4U, a service for health professionals established to provide access to knowledge relevant to clinical practice in the context of Covid-19. It provides a curated repository and a rapid response service for queries related to health professional practice and Covid-19. Ends

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

NUI Galway has been named as the world’s 258th best university in the world, according to the latest edition of the world’s leading university ranking. The eighteenth edition of the QS World University Rankings, released today (8 June 2021) by global higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, names the world’s 1300 best universities. NUI Galway rankings are third in Ireland, 195 in Faculty/Student Ratio, 165 in International Faculty Ratio, 238 in  International Student Ratio, and overall Ireland is the 38th-most represented location in the world. The rankings provide authoritative comparative analysis on the performance of the world’s top 1300 universities – 145 more than in 2021’s edition – which can be found in 97 locations. 6415 institutions were nominated for evaluation, 3775 evaluated as eligible, and 1673 were analyzed. The results also account for the distribution and performance of 14.7 million academic papers published between 2015 and 2019, and the 96 million citations received by those papers. Jack Moran, QS Spokesperson, said: “The positive reputational trends we are observing in our Irish dataset suggest that the country’s universities are continuing to command the respect of the world’s academics, and are nurturing graduates capable of succeeding in the modern workplace. So, too, are several upward movements observed in our internationalization indicators, suggesting that Irish universities remain attractive to both students and faculty across the world. The obstacles to further improvement are felt in the areas that require consistent investment: teaching capacity, and research impact. While a deeper-dive into our data suggests that, in many respects, Ireland’s institutions are performing well, there will, in an increasingly competitive global environment, be an upper-bound on their improvement as long as current funding constraints continue.” The full rankings can be found at www.TopUniversities.com from Tuesday 8th June, 20:00 GMT. -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

A policy roundtable on the views of older healthcare and financial sector workers on the proposed increases to the state pension age will take place on the Thursday, 10 June 2021. This virtual event, hosted by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, takes place from 12–2.30pm. The Commission on Pensions is due to issue its recommendations on the proposed increase in state pension age later this month. Dynamic of Accumulated Inequalities for Seniors in Employment (DAISIE) is a cross-national European project exploring the experiences of older workers (aged 50 and over) across five European countries: Ireland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, and three employment sectors: healthcare, financial sector and transport and their views about extending their working lives. At a time when the populations of countries across Europe are ageing more or less rapidly, one of the most common policies introduced to deal with the expected increases in pension costs is to increase state pension age and delay retirement. The prospect of working past state pension age can be very different depending on the kind of work involved, for example whether work is physically demanding or sedentary. The DAISIE project aims to inform us about the experiences of workers in different sectors and their views on and possibilities for extending their working lives. The webinar will be opened by Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President, followed by an overview of the international DAISIE project by Professor Nicky Lefeuvre, University of Lausanne, Principal Investigator for International DAISIE. Dr Áine Ní Léime, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUI Galway, and Principal Investigator of the Irish strand of the DAISIE project will deliver a presentation of findings of workers’ perspectives of the proposed increases in the State Pension Age. This will be based on analysis of interviews with workers in the healthcare (40 workers) and financial sectors (16 workers). The webinar will also see a policy roundtable involving representatives from IBEC and trade unions representing the healthcare and financial sectors,  representatives from Age Action and from Eurofound and Senator Marie Sherlock, Seanad Éireann to facilitate a broader discussion of extended working life policy in Ireland. The policy roundtable will be hosted by Dr Nata Duvvury, Global Women’s Studies Centre, NUI Galway. Professor Nicky Lefeuvre, Principal Investigator for International DAISIE, said: “Engaging with national stakeholders in each country is an important objective of the DAISIE project in order to stimulate debate on policies to extend working life and this timely policy event will fulfil that aim in Ireland.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “I’m delighted to open this policy event, hosted by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology here at NUI Galway. NUI Galway Strategy Shared Vision Shaped by Values is underpinned by four key values: Respect, Openness, Sustainability and Excellence. As part of our University’s public mission, we believe that our excellent research should contribute to and inform a broader policy conversation among civil society stakeholders, unions and employers - for the public good.”  To register for the webinar visit: https://bit.ly/2T6Hprh. -Ends-

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

NUI Galway is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Galway businessman Dr Donagh O'Donoghue. Donagh has been a long-standing advocate for the arts and innovation and played a key role over the decades in NUI Galway. He and his family provided generous philanthropic support in the establishment of the University's O'Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, which was named in Donagh's honour and officially opened in April 2017 by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. Dr Donagh O’Donoghue began his association with the University after he completed both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degrees in the 1960s. Donagh combined his academic work with an active involvement in extra-curricular activities. He was a member of Comhairle Teachta na Mac-Léinn (the Students’ Representative Council, predecessor of the Students’ Union), where fellow members included President Michael D. Higgins. The pioneering O'Donoghue Centre includes a 120-seat theatre space with retractable tiered seating allowing for multifunctional use and accessibility. It also comprises of studio spaces, classrooms, and a workshop and rehearsal room that has had a transformative effect not only on the University’s students but on the vibrant cultural hinterland that surrounds the campus. Dr Donagh O'Donoghue received an honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from NUI Galway in 2008 for his outstanding contribution as a prominent member of the Galway business community and a member of the University's Governing Authority. Donagh O'Donoghue succeeded his father as Group Managing Director of Thomas McDonagh & Sons Ltd. in 1975 and grew the company significantly over a twenty-five year period. His catalogue of directorships includes Bord na Móna, Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and Galway Airport. He has also served as board member of IBEC, Galway Chamber of Commerce and Druid Theatre Company. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: "We are saddened to hear of Dr Donagh O'Donoghue's passing and we extend our deepest sympathies to Marcia and his family. His deep commitment over a long number of years and in so many ways to our university and his, and to the arts in Galway and its hinterland, has played an important role in Galway's reputation as a groundswell for arts and culture. Openness is one of the University's core values and thanks to the incredible generosity of Dr O'Donoghue, we today have a Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, right and rightly in the heart of our campus that has provided an open place of excellence in learning, rehearsal and performance for our students, and a wonderful venue that has hosted and staged many cultural and artistic events. "We look forward to continuing to welcome the many stories that will be told, the careers that will be forged and the ideas that will be sparked in this wonderful building, thanks to the pioneering vision of Donagh O'Donoghue. Bhíodh sé féin agus m’athair ag treabhadh an ghoirt mar a bheadh laochra le chéile, mar shampla, in Aerphort na Gaillimhe agus ar an gCumann Tráchtála agus ba chairde agus comhghleacaithe riamh iad. Cuireann bás Donagh brón orainn ar son a chlainne, ar son a chathrach agus ar son chomhluadar na hollscoile i gcoitinne ach beidh cuimhne air i gcónaí ar an bhfód seo.” Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway said that: “Donagh’s loss is a huge blow to his family, friends, the university community, and the wider city. His gift to the university in the form of the O’Donoghue Centre has literally transformed the lives of hundreds of students already, and it will go on doing so for generations to come. The staff at the O’Donoghue Centre will miss Donagh’s good advice and his good humour: we will remember him fondly and with enormous gratitude. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife Marcia and all of the O’Donoghue Family.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Professor W.J.T Mitchell from University of Chicago will discuss politics, race, the environment, and creativity, and how images have represented these events in time Italian and The Moore Institute at NUI Galway have invited the leading expert in visual culture, Professor W.J.T Mitchell from University of Chicago, to an all Ireland event addressing issues of temporal iconology, the images representing time in culture and society. Professor Mittchell will present two lectures and join a panel of local and international experts to discuss politics, race, the environment, and creativity in two webinar events on the 9-10 June. Both lectures will look at how critical time can be understood, and how we can learn to shape the future justly and more sustainably. In an increasingly visual world, images can lead us to make sense of where we are and what we are, through an iconology of time. They can show what our time looks like. Crisis is around us. It’s the medical crisis generated by Covid-19, the demise of democracy, increasing economic, social, racial and gender inequalities, climate changes and environmental disasters. Times of crisis are also times of opportunity, renewal, and understanding. When is it a good time to think about time? The answer provided by these lectures is that there is no time like the present, especially the crazy, tense present of the year 2020. In this year four distinct scales of temporality converged: 1. A global pandemic that devastated the world economy and killed over two million people. 2. An infodemic of mass delusion and political madness launching an upsurge of authoritarianism in tyranny, especially in the United State. 3. An upsurge in the endemic condition of systemic racism and white supremacy in the U.S. 4. A global ecodemic that threatens the stability of the environment as a sustainable habitat for thousands of species, including humans. The first lecture on 9 June will offer an anachronistic gathering of images of time from ancient and modern sources, and in so doing suggests an iconology of time that may provide some useful tools for keeping our bearings in the midst of our epoch. Quarantined in monkish isolation by the pandemic, W.J.T. Mitchell has engaged in a set of reflections on convergent time scales. Instead of the classic (and unanswerable) philosophical question “what is time?” this lecture reflects on the ways we picture time in metaphors, figures, personifications, and diagrams. The lecture will be followed by a discussion with Dr Nessa Cronin from NUI Galway and Professor Jeannine Kraft, Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio, US. The second lecture, on 10 June will reflect on the role artists can play in building community and on the most important targets of resistance. This lecture will survey the role of activist artistic practices in a number of different sites, including demonstrations, murals, exhibitions, archives, and educational facilities. On the South Side of Chicago, the work of Theaster Gates and the Rebuild Foundation, and the recent collaboration of the Invisible Institute with Forensic Architecture will be discussed. In Israel-Palestine, the work of filmmakers, photographers, performance artists, and other groups that work across the Green Line will be central. The lecture will be followed by a discussion with Dr El Putnam from NUI Galway and Dr Timothy Stott from TCD. Dr Paolo Bartoloni, Established Professor of Italian at NUI Galway, said: “We are honoured and proud to host these two events with Tom Mitchell. He initiated the pictorial turn in the 1990s, emphasising the centrality of images in contemporary culture. He continues to pay witness to the challenges facing us with great passion, commitment, and knowledge. His scholarly work speaks to life in ways that remind us all of the humble but precious role academia plays in the world.” Professor Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. He is the editor of the leading journal of cultural studies Critical Inquiry, author of the seminal books Picture Theory (1994), What do Pictures Want? (2005), and Image Science (2015) and editor of the ground-breaking volume On Narrative (1980). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society. His books have been awarded several prizes including the Gordon E. Laing Prize and the Charles Rufus Morey Prize. The first lecture will take place at 4pm on Wednesday, 9 June and is titled 'Present Tense 2020: On the Iconology of Time'. 'What is time?' Register at https://tinyurl.com/uha5fd. The second lecture will take place at 4pm on Thursday, 10 June and is titled 'Art, Community, and Resistance. Register at https://tinyurl.com/3zr7jfhk. -Ends-

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences were recently awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards at the national Education Awards 2021. The Education Awards recognise, encourage and celebrate excellence in the third level education sector on the island of Ireland from both State and privately funded institutions. Dr Barry McDermott, representing the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway, was the winner of the Best Research Project category for his research, ‘BrainBox: Electrical Impedance Tomography with Machine Leaning for Stroke Diagnosis’. This project, which represented part of Dr McDermott’s PhD research, was focussed on the design, development, and implementation of a new medical device to be used to image and diagnose stroke with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI). Stroke is the second most common cause of death globally and a significant cause of morbidity with survivors often left with permanent neurological damage. A crucial part of the patient pathway for stroke sufferers is rapid and definitive diagnosis of the cause as being a bleed or a clot as only then can treatment start. This diagnosis requires CT or MRI scanning with delays leading to irreversible loss of brain function. Dr McDermott explained: “Our approach was to use impedance image – based on the idea that the electrical impedance patterns of the brain differ between normal, bleed, and clot cases. However, these patterns are often subtle and hard to tease out so the incorporation of AI was key. A prototype device has been developed, using a novel algorithm and testing on real human stroke patients has showed a diagnostic accuracy of 85%. “The device has been packaged as a low-cost, portable and robust unit suitable for use by first responders to allow rapid commencement of treatment. This means it is particularly useful for use in remote locations which might be some distance from main hospitals. The project has been a huge success with a number of international collaborations starting as a result of the work, and the commencement of an allied project based on the same technology, a surgical margin assessment in lung cancer patients.” This project is one of a large number of medical device design projects that are ongoing at the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway. These projects are targeted at having tangible impacts on patient care and support Ireland’s indigenous medtech industry. The Translational Medical Device Lab, along with the Adrenal Research Group from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences were shortlisted and won second prize for the Best International Collaboration Award, for their ongoing collaboration with the Kansas State University. Dr Laura Farina, postdoctoral researcher on the programme, said: “This research programme brings together clinicians, veterinarians, scientists, engineers, physicists, chemists and data scientists in a truly cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional and collaboration. This collaboration is one of the only of its kind internationally. The group looks at the development of a novel solutions and treatments for high blood pressure, which have been caused by excessive hormone production by the adrenal gland. Using a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach, the research team will build the necessary knowledge and innovation to develop medical devices, nanotechnology (tiny particles which are designed to travel to specific tumours and organs to produce their effects) and drug treatments for patients with a hormonal form of high blood pressure, known as primary aldosteronism. This form of hypertension occurs in 7.5% of all patients with high blood pressure and is potentially curable with the right knowledge and treatments." Dr Farina continued: “The knowledge gained from this research, and the treatments which are developed as a result each have the potential to benefit millions of patients worldwide. The partnership combines clinical expertise, scientific rigour and engineering excellence with extensive knowledge of medical device design and nanotechnology. Overall, this research provides an exciting opportunity to improve patient care by future translation of our findings using science and engineering to the create a clinical solution." The value of such a collaboration has been recognised and granted with prestigious research funding through the Science Foundation Ireland/ The National Institutes of Health US-Ireland Research and Development Award, awarded to Dr Conall Dennedy (NUI Galway), Professor Martin O’Halloran (NUI Galway), Punit Prakash (Kansas State University) and Liam McDain (University of Ulster) In congratulating the awardees Professor Tim O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “The research at this College is of impeccable standard. To have two projects acknowledged at national level shows the impact of the work being carried out in addressing some of the most common health challenges. Novel approaches are key to new discovery and this ethos is central to our research breakthroughs. I congratulate both teams sincerely for their successes.” A third short-listed application, ’Best Covid Response Award’ was awarded third place in the highly competitive category. This application reflected the breath of work undertaken at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences during the Covid-19 pandemic. Professor O’Brien added: “It is important to us as a College to have the culture of our entire community acknowledged. The way our College responded to the Covid-19 crisis over the last year reflects the University values of respect, excellence, openness and sustainability by coming together to be the best we can be. The application reflected the work of the research community in their response to some of the world’s biggest health challenges and the dedication of our teaching, professional services staff and technical teams. Crucially it also reflected how our students responded to the crisis through their support of the health service crisis by volunteering and their participation in civic engagement.” More information about NUI Galway’s awards can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/medicine-nursing-and-health-sciences/educationawards. -Ends-

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Public asked to take blue spaces survey nuigalway.ie/bluespaces A team of researchers at NUI Galway have detected bacteria of risk to public health in bathing waters deemed of good or excellent quality under European standards. The team is asking people to take the www.nuigalway.ie/bluespaces survey to build a picture of what is stopping people from fully utilising our seas, lakes and rivers and to help identify problem areas. To coincide with the survey launch, NUI Galway’s Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbial Ecology (ARME) group released new research which reveals the widespread contamination of some recreational waters over several years. Professor Dearbháile Morris said: “These findings highlight the need to consider revision of current EU bathing water quality monitoring criteria to consider characteristics of the organisms present.” The ARME research team has today published analyses on 111 samples taken from 50 locations in Galway city and county, Cork city and county and Fingal, Dublin, between 2016 and 2019. Analysis detected a pathogenic form of E. coli called Shiga-toxigenic E.coli (STEC) which can lead to potentially life-threatening infection in about 10% of cases. The bacteria was detected in 57% of 84 sea waters where samples were collected – all of which are deemed of good or excellent quality based on current EU bathing water monitoring criteria. STEC was also detected in 78% of the 27 lake and river samples tested. The nuigalway.ie/bluespaces survey is part of the four year PIER project (Public Health Impact of Exposure to antibiotic Resistance in recreational waters), funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The researchers are asking the public to take the survey to help identify the barriers and enablers for people’s interaction with blue spaces - our beaches, seas, lakes and rivers. Professor Morris, Principal Investigator on the PIER project, said: “The most recent bathing water quality data reports that 96% of our identified natural bathing waters meets the minimum required standard. “However, our research has revealed the presence of organisms of public health concern in waters designated as of excellent quality in some cases. “Other ongoing work in PIER will help us to understand the consequences of exposure to organisms in recreational waters, and combined with the findings of the blue spaces survey, it will help to improve water quality and people’s interactions and experiences.” NUI Galway researchers will use the findings from the PIER project to create a systems map to identify problem areas, identify and prioritise collaborative change strategies and explore stakeholder engagement opportunities. Dr Sinead Duane, postdoctoral researcher on the PIER project, said: “Engaging with different types of stakeholders is important, which is why the blue spaces survey encourages everyone to join this conversation. No matter how much or little you engage with our waters, your contribution will help co-design strategies to maintain and protect our waters for future generations.” For more information and to take part in the survey visit www.nuigalway.ie/bluespaces. Ends

Thursday, 29 July 2021

AI-enabled satellite remote sensing can provide solution for measuring climate change adaptation A research project at University of Galway has been announced today as the winner of the SFI Future Innovator Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Societal Good Challenge, for its ground-breaking AI-based satellite imagery analysis tool to measure climate change adaptation in agriculture. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, together with Minister of State for Overseas Development and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, TD announced the winning TAPAS project. The TAPAS team led by Dr Aaron Golden and Professor Charles Spillane from University of Galway, have been awarded €1 million for their interdisciplinary project resulting in a tool capable of providing objective data on the effectiveness of agricultural interventions for climate change adaptation.  The TAPAS project was co-funded with Irish Aid under SFI’s partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and has focused initially on test sites in Senegal that are subject to adaptation-strengthening agri-food interventions. Adaptation to climate change in developing countries is expected to cost $140-300 billion per year by 2030, so assessing the effectiveness of resilience-strengthening interventions through the measurement, reporting and verification of climate change adaptation in the agriculture and food sectors is a critical area of development. Over 130 countries are now prioritising agricultural adaptation in their national plans to meet the necessary ambition of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Speaking today, Minister Simon Harris said: “Congratulations to the TAPAS team at University of Galway on this fantastic achievement. Building resilience through climate change adaptation which will strengthen food security is a critical issue for governments across the world and this solution provides a way forward that will allow public and private enterprises to invest wisely by assessing effective interventions and helping to achieve the objectives set out in the national Climate Action Plan.” Commenting on the Award, Minister of State for Overseas Development and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, TD added: “Imagine that it hasn’t rained for a year or that your crops have been scorched by the sun. That’s the reality for communities across the developing world who rely on rain-fed agriculture. Climate change threatens the ability of millions of families to provide food and earn income. I welcome the ingenuity of Dr Golden and his team at University of Galway in developing this technology which will help communities adapt to our changing climate.” On winning the prize Dr Aaron Golden, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Maths, University of Galway, stated: “The TAPAS project team and I are absolutely delighted to receive this prize in recognition of the importance of the ground-breaking technology we are developing with TAPAS, which we believe has the potential to empower society across the globe to proactively reduce the impact of Climate Change, most especially those communities in the developing world whose economies are almost entirely dependent on agriculture. It has been an honour to work with such excellent collaborators at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and SFI’s unique and innovative Challenge based funding process has, with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, really helped us thrive as an interdisciplinary group of scientists to bring this transformative project to reality." The team co-lead Professor Charles Spillane, Ryan Institute, University of Galway, added: “Climate change adaptation is a critical 21st century challenge, particularly in the agriculture sector where almost 20 million (~40%) of the world’s agricultural land area is at risk of adverse effects of climate change. The current lack of a universally deployable system to measure adaptation to climate change motivated us to develop one, by combining AI with satellite remote sensing of agricultural systems. Moving forward from COP26, our TAPAS technology for measuring adaptation will inform both public and private investments to ensure that the most effective climate change adaptation interventions are deployed globally.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Congratulations to Dr Aaron Golden, Professor Charles Spillane and Dr Andy Jarvis. This novel solution shows exactly what can be accomplished when interdisciplinary expertise comes together under a challenge-based funding structure that facilitates ideation through to invention. I am delighted for the team and look forward to following TAPAS as the impact of this solution unfolds across the globe. “I would also like to extend my congratulations to the runners up, Professor Patricia Maguire and the AI_PREMie team, for the important work they are doing in advancing foetal health and women’s health with their state-of-the-art diagnostic application.” As part of the SFI AI for Societal Good Challenge, a runner-up award of €500,000 was awarded to Prof Patricia Maguire, University College Dublin (UCD), and her team AI_PREMie­ in recognition of the potential impact of their AI-powered risk stratification platform for preeclampsia. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

NUI Galway’s Access Programmes, which have been supporting students from backgrounds traditionally under-represented at third level education for over twenty years, have announced that applications for this year’s Access Programme for School Leavers opens on the 1 August 2021. Access courses introduce students to methods of study and writing that are required for successful participation in higher education, and also prepares students to make informed choices about further study options. Saoirse O’Connor, who completed the NUI Galway Access Programme for School Leavers this year, said: “This year the course was held online due to the pandemic, but I still had the opportunity to meet new people, make friends and overall I had an enjoyable experience throughout the programme. I also benefited from the ongoing supports of the access office, which helped me to do my best. I am hoping to begin a General Nursing Degree with NUI Galway in September.” Oisín Halligan, who also completed the Access Course at NUI Galway in 2020-21, said: “The access course was the opportunity I thought I’d never get academically, the course gets you far more prepared than secondary school and there are so many good people involved in the course that are there to help whenever possible.” The Access Course runs for 21 weeks, either full-time or part-time, during the academic year, and students who complete the Access Course receive a Diploma in Foundation Studies from NUI Galway. They are also eligible to apply for direct entry (via the CAO) to full-time University undergraduate degree courses. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager with NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “Access Centre is focused on widening participation and embracing diversity and inclusion at third level by bringing people into higher education who, for a diverse range of reasons, have not reached their potential through the traditional entry route. Our Access Programmes are designed not only to develop a student’s academic skills but to support students in building confidence in themselves and supporting them to reach their full potential.”  Applications for this year’s School Leavers Access Programme is open from 1 August until the 17 September, and is available to those who are 22 years of age or under and have not had the opportunity to study at third level. The Access Centre runs a number of Access Programmes both on-campus and at NUI Galway outreach centres at An Cheathrú Rua, Ballinasloe and St. Angela’s Sligo. Further information and the online application form is available at www.nuigalway.ie/access/school-leavers -Ends-

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

University’s societies win seven awards at the 25th Annual Board of Irish College Societies Award NUI Galway’s societies were the big winners at this year’s Board of Irish College Societies (BICS) Awards taking home an outstanding seven awards. BICS is a national organisation that was founded in 1995 and whose role is to provide a national forum for the societies in Ireland’s Universities, Colleges and Institutes of Education. The 25th Annual Board of Irish College Societies Awards ceremony was broadcast live from the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone recently. NUI Galway excelled in seven categories including: Best Individual (Large College): Hannah Aris, Auditor of Energy Society, and Vice Auditor of WiSTEM Society Best Fresher (Large College): Anna Lee Dowling, Incoming Auditor of the Law Society Best Event (Large College): ‘S.O.C. Stream’, an online society collaboration that comprised of a 12 hour and a 48-hour live stream, raising €2,000 for charity Best Publicity Campaign: Galway University Musical Society (GUMS) Best New Society (Large College): Society for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (WiSTEM) Best Poster: Galway University Musical Society (GUMS) and the Drama Society (Dramsoc) Best Promotional Video: Fantasy and Science Fiction Society (FanSci)   Over the 2020-21 academic year, NUI Galway had 96 actively running Societies representing over 10,000 students and holding 2,243 events online. Riona Hughes, NUI Galway Societies Officer, said: “Despite the unprecedented challenges faced by all of us due to the pandemic, with the hard work and dedication from all of our members we still managed to function as an organisation. Student societies are a path to a greater experience of higher education, to build friendships which will last far beyond your college years and gaining skills which are just as valuable as any you will learn in a lecture hall.” Acknowledging the contribution societies made to the student experience during lockdown, Riona Hughes added: “Our societies continued to do what they do best, create supportive communities of like-minded people and to entertain and educate each other while finding ways to remain human and connected in very challenging circumstances. Their creativity and generosity was outstanding.” Year on year, the Board of Irish College Societies continues to grow and now have 18 colleges, 742 societies with over 50,000 students represented across Ireland. They act as an information resource and support mechanism for society administrators, promoting the sharing of ideas and the implementation of best practice. For more information on NUI Galway Societies visit www.socs.nuigalway.ie -Ends-

Monday, 26 July 2021

Researchers are investigating whether psychological factors can contribute to medically unexplained physical symptoms and a sense of disconnection NUI Galway’s School of Psychology is seeking participants for a new study to investigate psychological factors that could contribute to medically unexplained physical symptoms and a sense of being disconnected from the environment. Laura McHugh, Psychologist in Clinical Training, and Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Doctorate Programme in Clinical Psychology at NUI Galway, are seeking adults who may experience: a sense of detachment from their body or the world around them; changes in senses such as vision, hearing, taste or smell; unexplained pain or numbness; or feelings of unreality. These recurring symptoms that have no medical explanation occur commonly in adults and have been found to be higher during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly amongst frontline healthcare staff. These symptoms can be burdensome, impacting social and occupational functioning as well as emotional wellbeing. The researchers plan to investigate the impact of psychological factors such as emotional awareness, style of relating to others and mood, as well as the role of childhood experiences in medically unexplained physical symptoms and feelings of detachment from the world around us. Dr Jonathan Egan, NUI Galway, said: “The more integrated we feel in our emotions, thoughts, body and actions, the higher a sense of self we experience. During Covid-19, our external environment went into shut-down and it was a non-supportive place to grow and develop. This meant we could not access activities which gave us a sense of shared experience and we all lost an aspect to ourselves, our glimmer of vitality was extinguished.   “For many, we also lost connection with others, we lost that sense of closeness; akin to a person moving country to an alien environment where there is no support available. In this case a person’s fear system may become activated and thinking becomes safety/danger oriented, with creativity, play and our sense of a hopeful future being jettisoned out with the bath water.” Dr Egan continued: “We then become a smaller and less integrated version of ourselves, contracted, de-conditioned, less open. This lowers our mood and we lose that sense of connection with ourselves and others. Many then focus inwards on their bodies for signs and symptoms of danger and ill health, as well as externally, people withdraw from others.  Our energy and vitality then plummets to the point of exhaustion and numbness at an emotional level, and our minds’ previous clarity becomes a constant fog with little memory of the beautiful vista which we once had. There no longer seems to be a point.” If you are over 18 years old and would like to take part in the study, please visit https://bit.ly/3evzSdi for more information and complete the anonymous online survey. -Ends-

Friday, 23 July 2021

Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, will give a presentation on ‘Transformative agrifood pathways for achieving global climate targets’ at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit on Tuesday, 27 July, 2021. The recent State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2021 report has highlighted the worsening global situation regarding chronic food insecurity, which has been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, humanity was already not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) commitments to end world hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. The recent State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 (SOFI 2021) report highlights that there are now 811 million people suffering from chronic hunger, up from 690 million before the pandemic. More than 2.3 billion people lack year-round access to adequate food, while 3 billion people do not have enough money to buy healthy diets. All of these indicators of food security and nutrition are currently going in the wrong direction. In September 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is convening a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The Summit aims to launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems. Over the past year, Professor Spillane has been commissioned by the Climate Division of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to research and develop a vision paper and policy brief on ‘Transformative agrifood pathways for achieving global climate targets’ as a knowledge input to the UN Food Systems Summit policy process in September 2021. A team from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway consisting of Professor Spillane, Dr David Styles, Dr Una Murray and Dr Peter McKeown have been working on the vision documents in close collaboration with colleagues across a range of FAO Divisions at their headquarters in Rome. On 26–28 July 2021 the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit will set the stage for the culminating global event in September by bringing together diverse actors from around the world to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The event aims to deliver the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches to food systems transformation from around the world, launch a set of new commitments through coalitions of action and mobilise new financing and partnerships. The Pre-Summit will take stock of the progress made through that process, laying the groundwork for an ambitious and productive UN Food Systems Summit, which will take place in September alongside the UN General Assembly in New York. Professor Spillane has been invited by FAO and UNDP to deliver a presentation on “Transformative agrifood pathways for achieving global climate targets“ and engage as a Panel Member at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit FAO/UNDP Session on “Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA)”. In addition to Prof. Spillane, the FAO/UNDP Session will have contributions from: Julia Wolf, SCALA Programme Coordinator; Rohini Kohli, Lead Technical Specialist NAPs, UNDP; John Chrysostom Birantana, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda; Vinod Ahuja, FAO Representative in Mongolia; and Greg Downing, Sustainability Director on Climate at Cargill. The FAO/UNDP Session will be held on Tuesday 27 July at 13:30-14:20 CEST with online registration available at https://bit.ly/36UQ8Az, or https://bit.ly/3wZgKuI. For further information on the Pre-Food Systems Summit 2021 visit: https://www.un.org/en/food-systems-summit/pre-summit.  -Ends-

Friday, 23 July 2021

Scientists show that different marriage systems within traditional farming communities in Africa affect the spread of variants of pandemic crop viruses Scientists from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway have analysed the social factors that influence the spread of viruses responsible for Cassava Mosaic Disease, one of the most important virus crop diseases in Africa. Their results revealed contrasting dynamics of viral diversity due to different marriage systems across traditional farming communities in Gabon, Central Africa, directly related to cultural differences in the way villages exchange cassava varieties through matrimonial networks. The study has been published today (23 July 2021) in the leading journal Nature Communications. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has made all of humanity acutely aware of how social interactions contribute to the spread of viral diseases. The research by Dr Marc Delêtre, Professor Charles Spillane and Dr Ronan Sulpice from NUI Galway, in collaboration with Dr Jean-Michel Lett from Cirad (France), has now shown that social factors that govern interactions between communities of farmers also influence the spread of pandemic crop viruses that threaten food security in Africa. The research combined anthropological field research by Dr Delêtre in Gabon with molecular plant virus epidemiology in the lab to analyse factors that influence the spread of viruses responsible for the Cassava Mosaic Disease, one of the most important virus crop diseases in Africa. Dr Marc Delêtre conducted the interdisciplinary research as a member of Professor Charles Spillane’s Genetics and Biotechnology lab in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway during his EU Marie Curie funded postdoctoral research project. Dr Delêtre analysed the DNA sequence of plant viruses in infected cassava plants collected from different villages across Africa and found that the diversity of the viral variants causing Cassava Mosaic Disease was much higher in matrilineal communities (where membership to the social group is inherited from the mother) compared to patrilineal communities (where descent is traced through the father). Dr Delêtre said: “I have been working in Gabon since 2004, interviewing farmers, recording varieties and collecting samples. I discovered that there is a strong relationship between rules that control exchanges of cassava landraces between smallholder farming communities and rules that govern the transmission of the clan (kinship), with a direct impact on the dynamics of crop genetic diversity.” In matrilineal societies, farmers readily import new cassava varieties through matrimonial networks, and as a result varietal diversity increases in the community. In patrilineal villages, farmers rely mainly on small sets of heirloom crop varieties. On average, cassava varietal diversity is five times higher in matrilineal villages than it is in patrilineal ones. However, communities who exchange germplasm are also more exposed to new viral variants. Dr Delêtre added: “Seed exchange networks play an active role in the dynamics of agrobiodiversity and can make smallholder farming systems more robust to pathogens where they favour the adoption of disease-resistant varieties. However, they can also make these systems more vulnerable if they facilitate the dissemination of seedborne plant pathogens. What we found is that there is also a cultural component to crop plant epidemiology.” Cassava mosaic disease is one of the most important virus crop diseases in Africa, causing losses of 20% to 95% of cassava harvests and economic losses estimated at US$1.2 to 2.3 billion each year in Africa. With the threat of other crop pandemics spreading across Africa, such as the Cassava Brown Streak Disease, an emerging threat to regional food security, understanding how social systems can drive transmission of crop viruses is key to designing and promoting local strategies for preventing or curbing the spread of crop pandemics. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, commented: “Understanding different social systems is critical for understanding the transmission and evolution of pandemic viruses, whether they are viruses infecting humans, livestock or crops. Genetic epidemiology combined with an understanding of social interaction systems can generate the knowledge necessary for reducing the transmission of viral diseases that are catastrophic for the poorest or most marginalised in society. The findings of this interdisciplinary research will inform new approaches for reducing the burden of viral disease on staple crops of smallholders in Africa.” Read the full study in Nature Communications here: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24720-6. -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

A new study, led by Dr Elaine Wallace at NUI Galway and senior academics from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, have investigated whether consumers follow a brand on social media that reflects their real self, or if they follow a brand to create more of an ideal self-image, and whether this would be associated with different outcomes offline.  Companies often try to understand the relationship between followers of their brands on social media, and how those brands perform in the offline, real world. When consumers follow brands on social media, they sometimes do so to signal something about themselves (the real self), or to create a self-image that might be more of an ideal.  The study explored if that meant some consumers’ relationships with brands on social media are more superficial.  Specifically, the study investigated whether individuals would pay a premium price for those brands offline, for instance would they still pay if the price of that good went up, or if it was more expensive than other brands in that category. The study also investigated whether these followers on social media would talk about that brand with their friends.   Participants in the study followed a brand on social media, which included fashion and sports clothing brands.  55% of the respondents were female, with an age range from 23-37 years.  56% of the participants were heavy social media users, spending at least three hours online daily.  The social media platforms used were Instagram (50% of users) and Facebook (40%), as well as sites such as Pinterest.  While 57% of the respondents were students, the majority of the remainder were working. The data was collected in Portugal.  In the study, the authors considered whether brand trust (measured as the credibility, integrity, and benevolence of the brand) would influence those outcomes such as willingness to pay a premium price.  In addition, the study investigated brand engagement, which is the degree to which social media users would spend time and interact online with the brand they follow. Both trust and engagement are typical characteristics of a strong brand relationship. As expected, when consumers believed that the brand they followed was a reflection of their true selves, they would pay a premium price for it, and talk about it with friends – but only when they trusted it and were engaged with it. Surprisingly, when consumers believed that the brand they followed helped them to show off an ideal self-image, they did not trust the brand or engage with it – yet they would still pay a premium price for it, and they would talk about the brand with their friends. Lead author of the study, Dr Elaine Wallace, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “We were surprised with our findings. Strong brand relationships are usually based on trust. Why would consumers sometimes pay more for a brand, even when they don’t trust it?  We believe that when brands are used to create an image on social media, consumers are willing to pay more for them in the real world, because they allow them to create an image offline too – yet this relationship might be somewhat superficial because they don’t necessarily trust that brand." “By contrast, when people follow a brand that reflects their true selves, they need to first trust that brand, before they will pay more for it. We believe this signals a more authentic relationship between the consumer and the brand.”  The full study is available in the Journal of Business Research: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.06.058 -Ends-