Friday, 23 September 2022

Empowering MedTech scientists to be advocates for research

CÚRAM launches White Paper exploring how MedTech researchers and research centres can work to help bridge the research-policy gap  CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at the University of Galway, has launched their ‘Science Advocacy in MedTech’ White Paper at a public event entitled Pathways to Policy. Key recommendations of the White Paper include the need for more training support for researchers in effectively communicating and engaging with policy audiences, raising awareness of the policymaking process in Ireland and internationally, and providing networking and knowledge exchange opportunities for researchers and policy audiences.  The White Paper was developed through a collaboration between CÚRAM and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at University of Galway. Emanating from six years of research at CÚRAM, the White Paper takes lessons learned in other countries and other research fields with more experience connecting their research to policy and practice, e.g. environmental science and social sciences.  Lead author, Dr Brendan Dolan explains: “One of our underlying drivers when developing this White Paper was to look to see how other fields, ones with perhaps more obvious links to policy development, work to connect their work with policy audiences, including political representatives, civil servants and community organisations. To this end, the project's interdisciplinary nature has proven incredibly beneficial. “We see Science Advocacy as active support of science, technology, engineering and maths, with researchers directly informing policy audiences about their research and engaging with the policymaking process. To this end, we focus more on individual researchers' role in advocating for their research.” The launch event brought together leading researchers and policymakers for keynote talks and a panel discussion on creating more effective research-policy interactions and collaborations.  The event was hosted by Professor Abhay Pandit, CÚRAM Scientific Director. High-profile speakers and panel participants for the event included University of Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh; Denis Naughten TD, Oireachtas Friends of Science & Technology; Kate Morris, Campus Engage; University of Galway Vice President Research and Innovation Professor Jim Livesey; Leonora Harty of the newly established Evidence for Policy Unit at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; and Dr Karen Doyle, CÚRAM Funded Investigator. Speaking at the event, University of Galway President, Professor Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh said: “It is increasingly important that public policy be evidence-based and that our researchers are empowered to have a positive policy impact on society. True to our values of openness and excellence, our researchers will continue to break down barriers and connect with non-academic audiences so we can help create a better informed and engaged society.” Speaking at the event, Professor Abhay Pandit said: “National centres such as CÚRAM can begin to embed and develop a culture of science advocacy through providing training, networking and knowledge brokerage opportunities with policy audiences, incentives for science advocacy efforts, even simply through highlighting the work already carried out by their researchers in this realm. The research-policy ecosystem needs more pathways to policy for researchers, but efforts are being made to bridge this gap.” The full White Paper and a two-page infographic summary are now available here. Ends

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Friday, 16 September 2022

A one million euro Cisco – CÚRAM funded partnership will implement and evaluate an innovative digital health infrastructure to improve patient care Researchers at the Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE) Laboratory, University of Galway will use state of the art medical device technology including remote sensors and artificial intelligence software as part of a suite of interventions to deliver next generation chronic disease management in the community. Modern medicine has meant that people are living longer and correspondingly there has been an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and therefore new approaches are needed to deliver this care efficiently and effectively, as was evidenced during Covid public health restrictions.  The Home Health project combines video consultations with remote physiological monitoring, including blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, to deliver more useful virtual care.  It aims, through supporting and adding to existing healthcare provision, to improve the management of patient care for the 165 residents on Clare Island and make the island a beacon for the delivery of digital health solutions.  Its multi-stakeholder engagement will ensure a sustainable and scalable solution is created though the Health Service Executive living lab framework. Dr Noreen Curtis, GP in Clare Island, said: “I am very excited with the Home Health project and anticipate that improving virtual care will augment the current services and improve overall care for the patients here." Project Principal Investigator and CÚRAM-Funded Investigator Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Digital health is the future of medicine and data empowers the patient and allows them and their clinicians to make better medical decisions.” The Home Health project will also investigate the development of a dynamic medical appointments architecture, whereby patients are scheduled to be reviewed based on clinical need rather than the traditional static calendar appointments. In addition the project will evaluate novel health promotion interventions, drone delivery of medications and robotic triage simulation. To overcome the digital divide, a central part of the project is the development of a new, private 5G network on the island to enable monitoring of data. Brian Jordan, Head of Innovation and Industry Solutions, Cisco Ireland said: “There is a transformative opportunity to map virtual care digital technology to the entire patient care continuum. Bridging the capabilities of AI, connectivity, the world of IOT enabled medical devices and cybersecurity will enable this. Cisco are delighted to work with the University of Galway, HSE, and the wider healthcare ecosystem to bring the ‘Shift Left, Stay Left’ HSE vision into reality.” Commenting on the significance of the project, CÚRAM Director Professor Abhay Pandit, said: “This project is one of the largest industry collaborations our centre has supported to date. It is an excellent example of the impact that collaborations between CÚRAM and industry can have on local communities and society at wide.” As well as CÚRAM and Cisco, the project has multiple stakeholders including the island community, HSE and the Western Development Commission. Public Patient Involvement (PPI) is a central theme of the HOME HEALTH project, having the island community involved in all aspects of the project planning, development and implementation. Ends

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Nobel Peace prize winner Dr James E Muller will deliver a public lecture at University of Galway on the issue of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. The talk, entitled Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity- a fifty year perspective, will take place at the University’s O’Donoghue Centre for Drama Theatre and Performance on Monday September 26 at 5pm. Dr Muller is an academic cardiologist and entrepreneur who has worked to prevent three threats to humanity - nuclear war, heart attacks and sexual abuse of children by priests. In 1980 Dr Muller was one of the founders of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the organisation awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2007, IPPNW co-founded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Muller visited Moscow in his work against nuclear arms four months before the invasion of Ukraine and he has spoken widely on the role of health professionals in the prevention of nuclear war.  In his work as a cardiologist, along with Dr Peter Stone and Dr Geoff Tofler, Dr Muller is credited with introducing the term “vulnerable plaque” in 1989, a concept now widely used in cardiology which describes a build-up in the arteries which can break away and cause heart attack or stroke.  Dr Muller is attending University of Galway as part of a meeting of international cardiologists, The Imperial Vulnerable Patient and Plaque Meeting, where he is a keynote speaker.  The meeting, which runs from September 27-29 in Galway and is jointly organised by Imperial College London and University of Galway, serves as a think-tank and includes world-leading scientists, clinical opinion leaders, industry experts and decision makers. It is a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge skills and experience in the field of heart disease.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of the annual meeting with a multitude of technical advances and clinical trials having been conceived during the conference down through the years. The programme addresses the developments in fundamental mechanisms of the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls and the risks associated with this, along with recent developments in clinical trials in this area.  Places for the public lecture are limited and registration is essential. To register or for more information visit  Ends

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Report examines State of Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture in the Near East and North Africa A University of Galway academic has played a key role in a landmark United Nations report which warns that food systems in parts of Africa are at breaking point. Dr Una Murray, from the Discipline of Geography and a Principal Investigator in the University’s Ryan Institute was writer and editor for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’s 1st edition of the State of Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture of the Near East and North African countries. This report has just been published with the warning that food and agriculture systems in the region are at a breaking point, with human pressures on the systems of land, soils and fresh water intensifying and the impacts of climate change worsening. It is available The report provides a major contribution to a range of the Sustainable Development Goal targets, in particular the targets relating to SDG1 (No Poverty), SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and SDG15 (Life on Land). The UN Food and Agriculture Report provides information and analyses on trends and challenges facing two of the most important agricultural production factors: land and water. Land and water are central to agriculture and rural development, and are deeply linked to the region’s challenges of food insecurity and poverty, rapid urbanization trends and climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as the degradation and depletion of natural resources. All of these challenges affect the livelihoods of almost 420 million people in the region. Over the past 70 years, the population of Near East and North African countries has grown sixfold, compared with a threefold increase worldwide. Current projections indicate that the population will reach more than 633 million by 2050, with almost three-quarters living in the region’s cities. This translates into increased demand for food, with urban populations demanding diversified diets. Near East and North Africa is one of the world’s regions predicted to be most affected by climate change, which is already altering crop productivity and growth cycles. An increase in mean temperatures, floods and droughts affects smallholders the most, as well as poorer populations with low capacities to adapt and populations experiencing conflict. Land and water resources are under severe stress in the region. To address these challenges, future agricultural production will need to be transformative, focused on climate-resilient farming systems and crops that most efficiently use water resources. Key messages for policymakers, policy implementers and stakeholders are contained in the report, which covers Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen, as well as West Bank and Gaza. Ends

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