Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Three NUI Galway researchers have secured funding as part of a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish Research Council (IRC) to support Ireland’s emerging research talent. The announcement of an investment of €28.5 million was made by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris today.   The SFI-IRC Pathway programme aims to support early career research across all disciplines and to encourage interdisciplinary approaches. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to our researchers on being awarded the SFI-IRC Pathway funding for their innovate projects. This initiative allows researchers to develop the essential skills and experience necessary to become research leaders of the future, and I would like to thank the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland and the Government for supporting these important research projects.” Under the new partnership programme, one NUI Galway project will be supported in the area of STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths, with two supported in arts, humanities and social sciences. Each of the NUI Galway projects is supported with a research grant in the region of €500,000 over four years and support the appointment of a postgraduate student. :: Dr Eavan O’Dochartaigh - Exploring the Arctic Archive: Recovering Documentary Visual and Literary Sources of the Circumpolar North in the Long 19th Century. This project will explore the images and associated texts documenting the western Arctic environment - Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and the Nordic countries, during the period of intense exploration from 1789-1914. It will involve archival research in museums, institutes, and libraries around the world to recover little-known drawings, sketches, and small paintings. Such documents show biodiverse and inhabited places that sharply contrast with the icy realm in people’s imaginations. The work will use archival resources to challenge the persistent image of the Arctic as a “frozen wasteland” and aims to increase public understanding of the region. :: Dr Jane Conway - Characterizing the contribution of metacognitive deficits to socio-cognitive impairments in neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders. Social misjudgements can have negative outcomes, from momentary awkwardness to chronic problems that affect one’s health and wellbeing. Difficulties in understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings are a symptom of many neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders. However, making a mistake but realising that you have made an error is a step towards more accurate social inferences. This ability to evaluate the reliability of your own thoughts is called metacognition. This project examines the role metacognition plays in social skills by studying its relationship with mental health problems, and by investigating whether metacognitive training improves social judgements. :: Dr Alison Connolly - EIRE - nEonicotinoid Insecticide exposuREs: an environmental and occupational exposure study of neonicotinoid insecticides. Neonicotinoid insecticides (NNIs) are used intensively worldwide, and there are growing concerns regarding their possible adverse health effects on humans, as minimal information is available about the magnitude of NNI exposures. This study aims to measure NNI exposures among gardeners working with these products, their families, bystanders and the general population. The research requires the refinement of an analytical method to measure NNIs and their breakdown products in human urine. EIRE will revolutionise our understanding of human NNI exposures and their pathways and stimulate intervention development, such as public health policy, to eliminate or reduce exposures.  Ends

Monday, 29 August 2022

As part of NUI Galway’s Autumn Conferring, which saw more than 1,700 graduates return to campus, the University today recognised and celebrated one of the oldest graduates to have attended a conferring ceremony. Frank Feely, a retired teacher and politician, completed a Bachelor of Arts in History, Irish and English in the late 1950s but did not have the opportunity to attend his graduation ceremony. NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh welcomed Mr Feely back to campus and to the stage to be recognised and celebrated alongside his granddaughter Tara Savage, who was conferred with a Bachelor of Arts. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President, said: “All of us at the University are honoured to be able to recognise Frank Feely after all these years and in a special way on the day that his granddaughter Tara Savage is conferred. I am aware of Mr Feely’s regret at not being able to attend his own graduation ceremony with his classmates and it is a great delight that we got to play a small part in his celebration as he took to the stage with his granddaughter today.” Born in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo in 1937, Mr Feely was one of the youngest ever students to attend the University having commenced his studies in October 1955 aged 17. He earned a place after successfully completing the Matric Entrance Examination a year early as part of his studies as a boarder at St Nathy's College, Ballaghadereen, Co Roscommon. Mr Feely secured a role as a teacher in St Colman's College, Newry, within weeks of completing his degree and he went on to be Head of History in the school. In 1968, Mr Feely became involved in politics and the Civil Rights Movement and the foundation of the SDLP, remained involved in politics being elected the First Mayor of Newry and also being part of negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement.  Mr Feely’s political endeavours for peace in the North have been acknowledged in an exhibition in the museum in his home town of Kiltimagh. Mr Feely said: “I am very happy and incredibly grateful to be able to share this wonderful occasion with my granddaughter Tara. I loved the ceremony and to see the large number of people there today. When I was here in the 1950’s there was only a few hundred of students studying altogether, and most were male, but today about 70% were female so it’s fantastic to see the developments that have happened over the years. I would like to thank my family, the University and Tara for organising to allow me to come today and participate in the ceremony. It was well worth waiting over 60 years.” Tara said: “It has been a couple of months in the planning so it was great to be able to finally see it happen and to unveil the big surprise to him. It is such a special day, made even more special by being able to share it with granddad.” Now aged 84 Mr Feely and his wife Ella still lives in Newry, where they raised their three children, daughter Noreen and sons Kieran and Niall. The conferring celebrations for undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD degrees took place from Thursday August 25, to Monday August 29.  Ends

Monday, 29 August 2022

NUI Galway study shows Noble False Widow spider venom 230 times more potent than that of native spiders  A team of scientists from the Ryan Institute in NUI Galway has found that not only is the venom of the Noble False Widow much more potent than any of the common Northern European spiders they tested, but the spider is also able to adapt its attacking behaviour to prevail in different battle scenarios. In a bid to understand why the Noble False Widow spider is so successful at spreading in towns and cities throughout the world, the team investigated the potency of its venom and compared it with the venom of some of the native spiders it competes with for available resources.  The new study, published in the international journal Toxins, demonstrates that the Noble False Widow spider possesses venom up to 230 times more potent than that of native Northern European species it routinely encounters in and around our homes.  This may explain why Noble False Widows can tackle a range of organisms much larger than themselves, including lizards, bats, shrews, and other spiders. The study also found that Noble False Widows can make calculated decisions on whether to attack large or small prey depending on how much venom is left in their venom glands. If little venom is available, they avoid facing large opponents that could injure them, and instead focus on small prey.  Scientists also demonstrate that in a battle, the Noble False Widow does not inject its venom randomly, but instead targets the most innervated body parts of its enemy, where the neurotoxic venom is most efficient.  Overall, the Noble False Widow spider killed and ate 95% of its opponents over the course of the study. The Noble False Widow is known for its medical significance, having the ability to cause a range of mild to severe symptoms in people who are bitten, but little is known about its ecological impact on native species.  Over the past five years, the team at the University’s Venom Systems Lab, led by Dr Michel Dugon, have been studying a wide range of characteristics specific to the species including its venom, symptoms after envenomation, ecology and behaviour.  Dr Dugon, senior author of the study, said: “Over the years, we have learned a lot about the Noble false widow and its venom. This study is another important step to understand the true impact this species has on the ecosystems it invades throughout the world.” Dr John Dunbar, Irish Research Council Post-Doctoral fellow, Venom Systems Lab, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway and co-senior author of the study, said: “The Noble False Widow spider is a truly remarkable animal; at every turn this species has surprised us in its ability to become globally invasive and dominate habitats it occupies. The tiniest amounts of venom - about 1,000th of a raindrop - can cause medically significant symptoms in humans that are about 250,000 times larger than them. Each new study brings us closer to understanding how exactly they are achieving their success.” Originating from Madeira and the Canary Islands, the Noble False Widow spider Steatoda nobilis has the potential to become one of the world’s most invasive species of spider.  It was first reported in southern England in 1879. In recent decades it has increased its range and population density, spreading northwards towards Scotland and westward through Wales and Ireland. In that time the species has also spread globally across Europe, East Asia, North America, and South America.  Joint first author of the study and NUI Galway graduate, Sean Rayner, said: “Over the past number of years we have seen a noticeable increase in Irish populations of Noble False Widow. This study will help us further understand what makes them so successful and hopefully highlight their potential impact to our ecosystems.” Aiste Vitkauskaite, researcher at the Venom Systems Lab and a joint-first author of the study, said: “This is an important study which provided evidence of the Noble False Widow's superiority as a competitor in terms of its venom and predatory strategies against the native spider populations in the laboratory setting. We are hoping that our findings will lead to wider field-based studies to quantify the true impact of this alien species on native arachnids.” The team of scientists are encouraging members of the public to email them at falsewidow@nuigalway.ie to report sightings of the Noble False Widow spider. Read the full study in Toxins here: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/14/9/587 Ends

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Tá an tríú bliain de Scéim Iasachta na Ríomhairí Glúine do mhic léinn lánaimseartha agus páirtaimseartha fógartha ag OÉ Gaillimh. Glacfar le hiarratais don scéim ón lá inniu go dtí Dé Sathairn, an 15 Deireadh Fómhair 2022. Bhain corradh agus 960 mac léinn leas as Scéim Iasachta Ríomhairí Glúine OÉ Gaillimh le dhá bhliain anuas. Is cuid de phacáiste an scéim chun tacú le mic léinn faoi mhíbhuntáiste lena staidéir trí ríomhaire glúine a chur ar fáil do mhic léinn incháilithe ar iasacht fadtéarma a fhad is a mhairfidh a dtréimhse mar mhic léinn in OÉ Gaillimh. Seo mar a labhair Imelda Byrne, Ceann an Ionaid Rochtana in OÉ Gaillimh: “Ní beag an costas ríomhaire glúine a cheannach i gcás teaghlaigh ar ioncam íseal, agus ní féidir le mic léinn a bheith páirteach go hiomlán sa chóras oideachais dá uireasa. Is mór ag an Ollscoil luachanna na hoscailteachta agus bairr feabhais, agus tuigimid go bhfuil i gceist leis sin ní díreach rochtain ar oideachas tríú leibhéal ach an tacaíocht agus na hacmhainní atá de dhíth le go mbeidh duine in ann tabhairt faoina gcuid staidéar i gceart. “Rinne an scéim seo éascaíocht dúinn gléas digiteach a chur ar fáil go cothrom do mhic léinn arb as teaghlaigh ar ioncam íseal iad mar aon le mic léinn arb as grúpaí iad nach mbeadh traidisiún láidir acu freastal ar oideachas tríú leibhéal, agus ar an gcaoi sin an t-ualach airgeadais atá orthu a laghdú.” Seo mar a labhair Caroline O’Toole, mac léinn le hEolaíocht Bhithleighis in OÉ Gaillimh, a fuair a ríomhaire glúine faoin scéim: “’Aoibhinn beatha an scoláire’ a deirtear, ach bíonn dúshláin le sárú chomh maith agus ina measc siúd tá easpa airgid, agus gan a bheith in ann íoc as soláthairtí scoile. Bhí sé sin amhlaidh i mo chás. Ba mhór an faoiseamh é nuair a chuala mé faoi scéim iasachta na ríomhairí glúine, agus d’éirigh liom ríomhaire glúine a fháil ar feadh thréimhse mo chéime. Bhain sé an brú díom. Bhí cúnamh ag teastáil uaim, agus éisteadh liom.” Déantar incháilitheacht don scéim a rangú ar bhunús riachtanais an iarratasóra. Tá mic léinn arb as teaghlaigh ar ioncam íseal iad nó na spriocghrúpaí aitheanta atá in ann a thaispeáint nach bhfuil sé d’acmhainn acu ná ag a dteaghlach a leithéid de ghléas a cheannach, i dteideal iarratas a dhéanamh faoin scéim. Chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil faoin scéim, na critéir agus an próiseas iarratais, téigh chuig: www.nuigalway.ie/accesscentre/laptoploanscheme/ Críoch

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

NUI Galway has announced a third year of the Laptop Loan Scheme for full-time and part-time students. Applications for the scheme are being accepted from today until Saturday October 15, 2022. Over 960 students benefitted from the NUI Galway Laptop Loan Scheme over the last two years. The scheme is part of a package to support disadvantaged students by providing eligible students with a laptop, on long-term loan, to help them with studies for as long as they are students at NUI Galway. Imelda Byrne, Head of the Access Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Purchasing a laptop can be a significant financial consideration for low-income households and a barrier to students participating fully in their education. The University values openness and excellence and we understand that means students not only accessing third-level education but having the supports and resources necessary to participate in their studies to the best of their abilities.  “This scheme allowed us to provide students from low-income households and students who would not traditionally be well represented at third-level with equal access to a digital device and to reduce their financial burden.” NUI Galway Biomedical Science student Caroline O'Toole, who received a laptop under the scheme, said: "Being a student is an exciting and fun journey but also it can come with some challenges, for example financial issues, not being able to afford school supplies. This was an issue for me. When I heard of the laptop loan scheme, I was so relieved as I was given a laptop for the duration of my degree. This lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I needed help and I was heard." Eligibility is prioritised on a needs basis. Students from low-income households and the identified target groups who demonstrate that they or their family do not have the means to purchase such a device themselves qualify to apply for the scheme. For more information on the scheme, criteria and application process visit: www.nuigalway.ie/accesscentre/laptoploanscheme/  Ends

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Cuirfidh OÉ Gaillimh fáilte roimh breis agus1,700 céimí, a dteaghlaigh agus a gcairde chuig an gcampas an tseachtain seo ar ócáid bhronnta a gcéimeanna.  Reáchtálfar na searmanais bhronnta do mhic léinn céime, iarchéime agus PhD ón Déardaoin, 25 Lúnasa go dtí Dé Luain, 29 Lúnasa. Seo mar a labhair an tOllamh Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: “Ba mhaith liom, thar ceann OÉ Gaillimh, tréaslú le gach duine de na céimithe atá ag filleadh ar an gcampas i gcaitheamh na dtrí lá ar an lá mór seo ina saol. Ceiliúradh atá ann ar a dtiomantas, ar a gcumas agus ar a ndúthracht i rith na mblianta. Táimid ar iontaoibh 175 bliain de thraidisiún agus ar a bhfuil bainte amach ag na glúnta céimithe a chuaigh romhainn ón ollscoil seo, Ollscoil na Gaillimhe – University of Galway." Déanfar raon céimeanna a bhronnadh i rith na dtrí lá ar chéimithe ó Choláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta, Coláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí agus an Dlí, Coláiste an Leighis, an Altranais agus na nEolaíochtaí Sláinte agus Coláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh. Tá sceideal iomlán shearmanais bhronnta an Fhómhair le fáil ag https://www.nuigalway.ie/conferring/. Críoch

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

NUI Galway will welcome over 1,700 graduates, their families and friends to the campus this week for their conferring ceremonies.  The celebrations for undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD degrees take place from Thursday August 25, to Monday August 29. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President, said: “On behalf of NUI Galway, I would like to congratulate each of graduates returning to campus over the three days on what will be a milestone day in their lives. It is a celebration of their dedication, talent, and commitment over many years. We stand on the shoulders of over 175 years of tradition and the strength of generations of graduates from this university, Ollscoil na Gaillimhe – University of Galway.” Over the three days a range of degrees will be awarded to graduates from the College of Science and Engineering, College of Business, Public Policy and Law, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. The full schedule for the University’s Autumn Conferring ceremonies is available at https://www.nuigalway.ie/conferring/. Ends

Monday, 22 August 2022

Breakthrough study follows collaboration between NUI Galway and Massachusetts Institute of Technology A team of researchers from NUI Galway and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has devised a new design that prevents the build-up of scar tissue and extends the therapeutic lifespan of an implanted medical device.  The breakthrough device/development, which does not rely on immunosuppressing drugs, may assist efforts to develop an artificial pancreas to treat diabetes. The study was published in the international journal Nature Communications. Implantable drug delivery devices that release insulin into the body over long periods of time hold promise as an alternative way to treat diabetes without insulin injections or cannula insertions.  However, one obstacle that has prevented their use so far is that the immune system attacks them after implantation, forming a thick layer of scar tissue that blocks insulin release. This cascade of events, known as the foreign body response, can also interfere with many other types of implantable medical devices which leads to premature failure.  The NUI Galway-MIT research team incorporated mechanical actuation in their design which enabled small and regular movements of the implanted device. The research showed that just by moving the device every 12 hours, the device remained functional after eight weeks of implantation and was as good as a freshly implanted device. It also showed that this type of motion modulates how immune cells respond to the implanted device, which extends its lifetime and efficacy. NUI Galway’s Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineer Dr Eimear Dolan said: “We are very excited about the results of this study. We believe our approach holds promise to improve the performance of a range of implantable drug delivery devices - from insulin to cancer therapy delivery. It is a privilege to work with such a talented multi-disciplinary team and I look forward to continuing working together.” Professor Garry Duffy, Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, NUI Galway, said: “This is a continuation of our efforts to thwart the foreign body response to allow long term lifespan of implantable drug delivery devices with a specific focus on improving the lives of people living with Type 1 diabetes. Soft robotics allow us to make the implants active and to influence how the immune system perceives medical device implants. We will continue to translate this technology through to the clinic in the coming years.” Professor Ellen Roche from MIT said: “You can imagine that we can apply this technology to anything that is hindered by a foreign body response or fibrous capsule and have a long-term effect. I think any sort of implantable drug delivery device could benefit.” In this study published in Nature Communications, the team applied their design to diabetes to see if that immunomodulatory effect could help improve drug delivery over eight weeks. The team built a two-chambered device where one of the chambers acts as a drug reservoir, and the other acts as a soft, inflatable actuator. Using an external controller, the researchers can stimulate the actuator to inflate and deflate on a specific schedule.  They found that mechanical actuation clears away immune cells called neutrophils, the cells that initiate the process that leads to scar tissue formation, and it took much longer for scar tissue to develop around these devices. The research showed scar tissue did eventually form, but its structure was unusual - instead of the tangled collagen fibres that built up around static devices, collagen fibres surrounding actuated devices were more highly aligned, which the researchers believe may help drug molecules to pass through the tissue. The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the insulin release by measuring subsequent changes in blood glucose levels and found with the actuated device, effective insulin delivery was maintained throughout the eight weeks of the study.  Co-Founded by Professor Duffy, Professor Roche and Dr Dolan and led by CEO Robert Wylie, Fada Medical is developing fully implantable and partially implantable versions of this technology that will improve insulin delivery for people with diabetes. This venture will be supported by the unique NUI Galway innovation ecosystem drawing expertise from CÚRAM, the HRB Clinical Research Facility and leading clinicians.  The research was funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. The study builds on a strong collaboration between NUI Galway’s Dr Eimear Dolan and Professor Garry Duffy, and Professor Ellen Roche from MIT.  MIT postdocs William Whyte and Debkalpa Goswami, and visiting scholar Sophie Wang, are the lead authors of the paper, with contributions from NUI Galway researchers Niamh Ward, Dr Ruth Levey, Rachel Beatty, Dr Scott Robinson, Dr Declan Sheppard, Raymond O’Connor, Dr David Monahan, Lesley Trask, Robert Wylie, Dr Joanne O’Dwyer and Daniel Domingo. The full study is available in Nature Communications at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-32147-w  Ends

Friday, 19 August 2022

NUI Galway clinicians, computer scientists and engineers are using enhanced x-ray technology used to measure bone density in people across Galway, Leitrim and Sligo to develop new osteoporosis screening and testing strategies for early identification of the condition in patients.  Funded by the Health Research Board, the Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry Management Application Project (DXA MAP), uses state of the art machines to develop a personalised, patient-centred tool for osteoporosis screening and fracture prediction. Professor of Medicine at NUI Galway and Clinical Lead for DXA, Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disorders, at Galway University Hospitals, John Carey said: “The cross disciplinary expertise enables the development of a smart screening methodology to reduce health costs, maximise healthcare efficiencies, reduce waiting times and improve patient care and quality of life.” The DXA MAP tool will be underpinned by artificial intelligence, recommended diagnostic criteria, reference standards and visualisation approaches to support osteoporosis and fracture risk prediction, clinical interpretation and clinical-patient communication. The DXA MAP project also aims to support clinician interpretation through more automated processes and could predict Covid-19 and multi-morbidity risk using DXA secondary-data. The project will be carried out by the University’s College of Science and Engineering and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science, and led by Dr Attracta Brennan, Professor John Carey and Associate Professor Mary Dempsey.  The DXA MAP project includes patients and collaborators in Tsinghua University and Oxford University. Ends

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

NUI Galway’s longstanding education partnership with Galway International Arts Festival has led to a three-year Government funding package for a new programme focusing on creative arts management.  The investment through the Springboard+ initiative comes as the University and the Festival mark 11 years of the partnership.  Delivered in collaboration with Galway International Arts Festival, Druid Theatre and other creative arts partners, the Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Arts Management will provide skills in design, production, curation, business and management, while also offering an accredited work placement with a creative arts business.  Professor Patrick Lonergan, NUI Galway Vice-Dean for Engagement in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, said: “The new Springboard+ postgraduate certificate in Creative Arts Management will give participants the skills needed to play a leading role in the development of the creative industries.  “With the support and advice of our partners in Galway International Arts Festival, we’ll provide exciting modules that cover creativity, design thinking, producing and curation, and other essential skills. With a work placement and the option to study online or in person, this innovative new course is sure to prove popular.  “Huge credit for this support from Government is due to our University partnership with Galway International Arts Festival and the way in which it has grown and developed over the years.” As part of the programme, students will gain hands-on skills in practice-based modules delivered on-campus, with blended options available for those living away from Galway. It includes a strong focus on targeted career development, with students taking up an internship with an arts organisation and taking part in supervised work experience projects. John Crumlish, Chief Executive of Galway International Arts Festival, said: "We are delighted that the postgraduate Certificate in Creative Arts Management will be a beneficiary of the Springboard investment announcement by Minister Harris. “This is a very exciting development, as it opens up a new avenue for people who wish to develop a career in the creative industries while also adding significantly to the existing human capital in this area." Springboard+ courses are at Level 6 (Certificate) to Level 9 (Masters) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), and are delivered by public and private higher education providers around the country. Now entering its twelfth year, over 90,000 people have benefitted from the programme to date. The Springboard+ programme is managed by the Higher Education Authority, on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.  Along with the Certificate in Creative Arts Management, NUI Galway has a number of programmes available under Springboard+ 2022, including: Specialist Diploma in Automation and Control Specialist Diploma in Corporate Environmental Planning Specialist Diploma in Medical Device Science Diploma in Software Engineering MA in Digital Art, Design, and Cultures Certificate in Medical Technology Regulatory Affairs and Operations MSc AgInnovation Postgraduate Diploma in Cloud Computing and Software Development Postgraduate Diploma in Cybersecurity and Software Development Ends

Monday, 8 August 2022

New research involving patients in intensive care has highlighted that propofol, an anaesthetic drug commonly used to facilitate invasive mechanical ventilation, increases cardiovascular complications risk in the critically ill.  This collaborative international study, led by Professor John Laffey at NUI Galway and researchers at the University of Milan-Bicocca, sought to understand the impact of airway management in critically ill patients.  Dr John Laffey, Professor of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at the University’s School of Medicine and Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals, has led an international research team investigating the causes and impact of peri-intubation cardiovascular instability in almost 3,000 critically ill patients. This research is part of the International Observational Study to Understand the Impact and Best Practices of Airway Management in Critically Ill Patients (INTUBE) which is investigating global practice in performing tracheal intubation in patients from 29 countries.  The paper was published in the American Journal of Respiratory Care Medicine. As part of this research, the investigators identified important modifiable, previously poorly understood risk factors that increase the risk of critically ill patients developing shock and cardiovascular instability when undergoing urgent tracheal intubation to permit invasive mechanical ventilation, commonly referred to as ‘life support’.   The identification of variables that can be modified through changes in clinical practice was explored as part of this study and evidence suggests that one commonly used anaesthetic agent has a major role in the incidence of cardiac arrest and hypertension after intubation.  Professor Laffey explains: “Airway management is universal but prior to the INTUBE study data on the management of intubated patients has been scarce. Identifying risks is the first step in developing safer management approaches.  “Tracheal intubation is one of the most high-risk and frequently performed procedures in patients who are critically ill. Cardiovascular adverse events like low blood pressure and even cardiac arrest can be frequent after intubation. Different factors play a role in the increased risk in patients who are critically ill compared with patients undergoing the procedure for elective surgical procedures.  “To date, the research agenda on interventions to reduce risk in these patients in critical care has mainly focused on oxygenation optimisation and on methods to achieve intubation at the first attempt. “In our recent research as part of the INTUBE study we have identified that the commonly used anaesthetic drug – propofol – is strongly associated with an increase in the incidence of cardiac arrest and severe hypotension after intubation. This is an important discovery, and the first time that this has been investigated in a truly global patient cohort such as the INTUBE study. “As a result of this study it is our intention to conduct further clinical trials to develop and test alternative strategies to reduce the risk and severity or cardiovascular adverse events in critically ill patients requiring urgent tracheal intubation. In the meantime, our data strongly suggests that propofol use should be restricted in this patient group and even avoided where possible.  “Training in the use of this specialised drug is key. The drug suppresses reflexes which makes it particularly good for intubation, but equally it appears to be be this suppression that is causing risks for patients.”  Ends

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast collaborate under Shared Island fund to tackle issue of hospital acquired infections Researchers at NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast are investigating how attaching sugar molecules to plastics could give medical devices a new layer of protection from infection. The SUGARCOAT project is among 62 research collaborations supported by the Government’s Shared Island fund.  Early-career researchers Dr Joseph Byrne, NUI Galway, and Dr Matthew Wylie, Queen’s University Belfast, are working together to tackle the issue of hospital acquired infections associated with devices by taking preventative science to a new level.  The team is attempting to harness the science behind the interaction of sugar molecules with bacterial proteins to make fluorescent materials which glow at first, darkening when they become compromised by bacteria. The technology would be attached to plastics which coat medical devices - such as urinary catheters or endotracheal tubes - allowing clinicians to spot potential infection at an early opportunity and react faster.  Dr Byrne, Honorary Research Lecturer in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, NUI Galway, explained the concept: “Prevention of bacterial infections is key to fighting the challenge of antimicrobial resistance and if this isn't possible, then early detection through innovative sensing materials could act as an alarm, allowing devices to be removed and replaced before infection becomes a more serious risk to patient health.” Dr Wylie, Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Materials Science in Queens University Belfast, said: “Like many humans, sugar is something bacteria can’t resist getting a taste of. Many types of bacteria contain special proteins, which allow them to seek out and attach to sugar molecules, which they can use to grow and cause infection within the human body. Our new sugar-decorated coatings will exploit this interaction as an early warning, which has the potential to lead to the development of a new generation of medical devices, giving doctors and nurses tools to reduce risks of infection, bring down healthcare costs and decrease the need for antibiotic use in hospitals.” The project is being supported with €193,000 from the Government’s Shared Island initiative. The research team is supported by senior colleagues Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, and Professor Colin McCoy, Head of School of Pharmacy in Queen’s University Belfast.  Medical device-associated infections account for up to half of healthcare-associated infections and people who are immunocompromised people and those with cystic fibrosis (CF) are particularly at risk, with the island of Ireland having one of the highest number of people with CF per capita. These infections are a major health concern to patients and incur significant expense to healthcare systems, requiring longer stays and increased antibiotic usage. The rise of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria is an urgent problem, decreasing the effectiveness of existing antibiotics. It is estimated that across EU/EEA countries, 33,000 deaths per year in EU/EEA countries are associated with antimicrobial resistance, costing more than €1 billion to health services.  This project hopes to minimise the impact of this challenge by producing innovative coatings, which will prevent or detect bacterial build-up on widely-used medical devices before they lead to infection in a patient.  Dr Byrne, a CÚRAM collaborator, added: “Hospital-acquired bacterial infections are a major issue across the entire island of Ireland, and I’m excited to forge a new and lasting relationship with counterparts in Belfast to deliver meaningful new tools in fighting this challenge. “The research allows me to combine my chemistry research with more patient-facing researchers and healthcare stakeholders to increase our societal impact. Building all-island collaborations through this scheme will help us to unlock Ireland’s potential for innovation and cutting-edge science.” Dr Wylie added: “We are delighted to be able to pursue this innovative research under the Shared Island fund. Not only is it support for two early-career researchers, but it will open up opportunities for collaboration with industry and clinicians in both the North and South of Ireland, particularly as Galway is a global hub for major medical device companies and Queen’s has vast experience of collaborating with medical device companies across the UK and Ireland.” Ends

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