NUI Galway announces Awards for Outstanding Graduates

Thursday, 20 February 2003

Press release: 3 February, 2003 NUI Galway announces Awards for Outstanding Graduates The NUI Galway Alumni Awards will be presented at the Fourth Annual Gala Banquet in the Radisson SAS Hotel, on Saturday, 1 March, 2003. Funds raised at the banquet will support the University's Access Programme, which has been developed to provide educational opportunities for those whose socio-economic backgrounds have prevented them from participating in third-level education. Awards will be presented in five categories to graduates who have made a distinctive contribution in their chosen careers. Through the awards programme, the University recognises individual excellence among the more than 43,000 graduates worldwide. Hewlett-Packard Award for Literature, Communications and the Arts Sean McGinley, Actor McGinley has an impressive list of credits in film, theatre and television. His portrayal of Charlo in the four part television series Family brought him both critical and popular acclaim. His film credits include John Boorman s The General, Neil Jordan s The Butcher Boy and Michael Collins; Jim Sheridan s The Field and Mel Gibson s Oscar winning Braveheart. His theatre performances have won him Best Actor Award for Whistle In The Dark, and The Shaughran. McGinely currently plays Fergal Collins in the RTÉ original drama On Home Ground. ntl: Award for Engineering, IT and Mathematics John McGowan, Vice President Technology and Manufacturing Group, and Director, Corporate Services of Intel Ireland An Engineering graduate of 1970, McGowan has occupied senior management positions in Intel for many years. He is a fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, and a member of the Institute of Directors. The Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland honoured him with the Engineer of the Year Award in 2000. Intel has a major wafer fabrication facility in Leixlip, designated Ireland Fab Operations (IFO). Bank of Ireland Award for Business and Commerce Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Owner, Managing Director of Aer Arann Express. Ó Céidigh first worked as an accountant and later taught for several years in Coláiste Iognáid, Galway. He studied law and started his own legal practice in Galway City. In 1994, he purchased Aer Arann with Eugene O'Kelly when it was merely a passenger service, operating up to 25 flights per day between Connemara Regional Airport and the Aran Islands. Under their ownership, Aer Arann, now called Aer Aran Express, has expanded to become the fastest growing regional airline in Europe. Pádraig was recently named Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2002 in Ireland. Medtronic AVE Award for Health Care and Medical Science Professor Maurice Manning, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Medical College of Ohio. A Science graduate of 1957, Dr. Manning has been doing peptide hormone research since 1961 and has worked with two Nobel Prizewinners at Cornell University Medical College and at Rockefeller University. His lab supplies scientists with molecules that are used in the investigation of various subjects, including hypertension, cancer, kidney disease, memory and childbirth. He holds 12 patents and his lab designed the original molecules that contributed to the development of a new drug — currently undergoing clinical trials — to prevent premature birth. There also is a peptide named after him, the Manning Compound, which blocks the actions of vasopressin (the hormone that affects blood pressure and body fluids) on the receptors in blood vessels. NUI Galway Award for Law, Public Service and Government: HE Sean O'hUiginn, Ambassador - Embassy of Ireland, Berlin After graduating from NUI Galway in 1967 with an MA degree, Sean O'hUiginn entered the Department of Foreign Affairs as a Third Secretary and moved through the ranks of the Department in various positions both in Ireland and abroad. While serving in the Anglo-Irish Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs, O'hUiginn was deeply instrumental in fostering the Irish peace process and the all-party negotiations in Northern Ireland that eventually resulted in the triumph of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. As ambassador to the United States (1997-2002), he continued to be closely involved in the implementation of the agreement. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091-750418; Mobile: 087-2986592

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NUI Galway Symposium to explore Women's Voices in Islam

Monday, 17 February 2003

Release date: 17 February, 2003 NUI Galway Symposium to explore Women's Voices in Islam The Women's Studies Centre at NUI Galway is hosting a Symposium entitled 'Exploring Islam: Women's Voices' at 10.00a.m. on Saturday 22 February 2003, in the Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway. Panelists will include Professor Shaheen Ali (Warwick); Dr Fauzia Ahmad (Bristol); Dr Nancy Lindisfarne (London); Hebah Nashat (Galway); Nuria Dunne (Galway); and a representative from the Islamic Cultural Centre, Dublin. All are welcome to attend. The significant increase in the number of Muslims now living in Ireland has not been matched by an increase in an ability to comprehend the nature of the relationship between Muslims and their religion – particularly those living in non-Muslim countries – or the relationship between Muslims from different regions of the world. In the current political climate, in which there is an increasingly singular and homogeneous understanding of the usually negative differences between 'east' and 'west,' it seems more difficult than ever to explore the diversity of voices that make up the Islamic world. This diversity includes Islamic women who are often presented as having been silenced by their own belief systems, but who are, more often than not, actually silenced by misunderstanding and misinformation from non-Muslim sources. The Symposium is designed specifically to facilitate an exploration of the diversity of Muslim women's voices, and forms part of the Women's Studies Centre's commitment to promoting a better understanding of women and their relationship to the various societies in which they live. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091-750418

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Flies may help curb one of Agriculture's greatest scourges

Monday, 31 March 2003

Press Statement: 31 March, 2003 Flies may help curb one of Agriculture s greatest scourges It is a very serious problem for most farmers in the west of Ireland. Urban dwellers are familiar with it from radio advertisements promoting products for its eradication. What is it? It's liver fluke – often regarded as one of the world's greatest agricultural pests. However, scientists in NUI Galway, with the help of Mother Nature, are well on the way to arresting the scourge of liver fluke, thus saving the Irish and global economy millions of Euro each year. Scientists led by Dr. Mike Gormally at the Applied Ecology Unit (AEU) at the National University of Ireland, Galway have been investigating marsh fly biology. Research over the last three years by Rory Mc Donnell (PhD student) and Collette Mulkeen (Honours Environmental Science student), have produced encouraging results. It is possible that a humble group of insects called marsh flies might indeed prove to be the liver fluke's Nemesis. Liver fluke parasites live in the bile ducts of sheep, cattle, deer, rabbits and even humans. The eggs pass out of the host animal with its dung, hatch into a larvae and must then find a special type of snail, called a mud snail, in order to complete its development. After reproducing up to 600 times within the snail, new larvae emerge, crawl up blades of grass and form weather-resistant cysts, which are then ingested inadvertently by passing grazing animals. The immature flukes then penetrate the gut wall and make their way to the bile ducts causing extensive liver damage along the way. Enter the marsh fly! Dr. Mike Gormally and his team at NUI Galway have discovered that several Irish marsh fly species attack, kill and feed on the mud snail, which is so crucial to liver fluke development. Marsh flies, which are generally no bigger than a common house-fly, are yellowish-brown in colour and are found on all continents except the Antarctic. "In Ireland, we have 52 different kinds and they are usually found in marshy areas," explains Dr. Gormally. " If mud snail numbers can be reduced in an area by releasing these insects, then the incidences of liver fluke in livestock is also likely to decline." The NUI Galway research is aimed at gaining an understanding of the growth patterns, feeding behaviour and habitat requirements of these snail-killing flies. "This information is essential before we can release these insects into fluke-prone areas and expect them to do their job," says Rory McDonnell, who is currently finishing his Ph.D thesis. "We need to know the conditions they prefer, how long they feed on snails, how many snails they kill and which kinds they like most," he says. Results to date show that these insects are voracious predators that are easily reared under laboratory conditions for release into problem areas. The next step in the NUI Galway research is the release of marsh flies into areas where liver fluke is a problem and assessing their efficacy in the wild. This is a crucial stage as the marsh flies will have to deal with factors such as predation, competition, diseases and adverse weather conditions which they were not faced with in laboratory testing. It is perhaps difficult to see how such a small organism as liver fluke can be such a scourge to world agriculture but the statistics speak for themselves: · Liver fluke costs the global economy US$2,000 million (€1,850 million) annually. · 600 million animals are now infected worldwide. · 2.4 million people are now parasitised by liver fluke (the chief avenue of human infection is by eating watercress contaminated by liver fluke cysts). · In Ireland (where the disease is common in wet pastures), liver fluke cost our agricultural sector €25 million in 2001. "Traditional methods of keeping fluke at bay, such as land drainage, are no longer an option in most areas, now that many Irish wetlands are a priority habitat for conservation," says Collette Mulkeen. Modern control methods using drugs which target adult and immature flukes in livestock, were initially very successful but the development of resistance by flukes to many of these chemicals has now raised considerable concern. McDonnell points out that; "If the global economic loss due to liver fluke is reduced by a meagre 0.5% by using marsh flies, then the world will be US$10 million better off and it will be a lot less worrying having to eat a watercress salad"! Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091-750418; 087-2986592

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Mandela to visit Galway

Thursday, 27 March 2003

Press statement: 27 March, 2003 Mandela to visit Galway The President of NUI Galway, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh announced today (27 March) that former President of South Africa and world statesman, Nelson Mandela, will be conferred with an Honorary Degree at the University, on Friday, 20 June, 2003. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091-750418; 087-2986592

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Nobel Prize Winner to give public lecture at NUI Galway

Wednesday, 19 March 2003

Release date: 13 March, 2003 Nobel Prize Winner to give public lecture at NUI Galway Professor Sir Paul Nurse, FRS, who with two colleagues, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001, will deliver a public lecture entitled "Controlling the Cell Cycle," at 8.00 p.m., Friday 28 March 2003, in the O'Flaherty Theatre, NUI Galway. Director of Cancer Research UK, Paul Nurse, identified, cloned and characterized with genetic and molecular methods, one of the key regulators of the cell cycle, CDK (cyclin dependent kinase). CDK drives the cell through the cell cycle by chemical modification (phosphorylation) of other proteins. All organisms consist of cells that multiply through cell division. An adult human being has approximately 10,000 billion cells (or 10 trillion cells), all originating from a single cell, the fertilized egg cell. In adults there is also an enormous number of continuously dividing cells that replace dying cells. Before a cell can divide it has to grow in size, duplicate its chromosomes and separate the chromosomes for exact distribution between the two daughter cells. These different processes are coordinated in the cell cycle. Nurse and his colleagues, Timothy Hunt and American scientist, Leland Hartwell, made seminal discoveries concerning the control of the cell cycle. They identified key molecules that regulate the cell cycle in all eukaryotic organisms, including yeasts, plants and animals. These fundamental discoveries have a great impact on all aspects of cell growth. Defects in the regulation of the cell cycle may lead to the type of uncontrolled proliferation observed in cancer cells. Understanding this process may open new possibilities for cancer treatment. In October 2001, Nurse, Hunt and Leland were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discoveries of "Key Regulators of the Cell Cycle." Using yeast as a model system, Paul Nurse's 'eureka moment' came when he discovered the gene CDC2, which has a key function in the control of cell division. In 1987 Nurse isolated the corresponding gene in humans, and it was later given the name CDK1 (cyclin dependent kinase 1). Nurse showed that activation of CDK1 is dependent on reversible phosphorylation, i.e. that phosphate groups are linked to, or removed from, proteins. On the basis of these findings, half a dozen different CDK molecules have been found in humans. Nurse was not born with the proverbial 'silver spoon' in his mouth. Brought up in London, where his father worked as a mechanic and his mother as a part-time cleaner, he attended Harrow Grammar School where his classmates came from far more privileged backgrounds. Although naturally gifted at science subjects, Nurse failed O-Level French, thus preventing entry to University. However, an enlightened professor at Birmingham University recognised his talent and arranged entry for the brilliant young student to the School of Biology. "Apart from being a fantastic scientist, Paul has a tremendous sense of humour, which makes him great company", says Professor Noel Lowndes, of NUI Galway's Department of Biochemistry, who was a colleague of Nurse's for some years at Cancer Research, UK. " He is a child of the Sixties who threw himself into the radical student politics of the time." Even now, Nurse retains that spirit of adventure. The man, with a passing facial resemblance to the actor Robin Williams, can be seen in the environs of Cancer Research UK, weaving in and out of traffic on his 500cc gleaming Kawasaki, purchased with the proceeds of the Nobel Prize. Ends Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI Galway. Tel. 091-750418; 087-2986592

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