All 2011

NUI Galway PhD Student Wins Floating Wind Turbine Prize at International Conference

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ciaran Kennedy, a PhD student in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, was recently presented with two prizes at the 30thInternational Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (OMAE 2011) held in The Netherlands. Originally from Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Ciaran was presented with first prize for innovation, and second prize overall, in a floating wind turbine challenge, as part of a team of four international PhD students. The challenge was organised by the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) and the International Network on Offshore Renewable Energy (INORE). Congratulating Ciaran on his award, NUI Galway’s Professor Sean Leen, said: “Ciaran’s achievement is an example of high quality, innovative work starting to come to fruition at NUI Galway, in the area of materials for renewable energy devices. His research involves direct collaboration with EireComposites, an indigenous, university spin-out company, based in Furbo, who manufacture high performance engineering components from fibre-reinforced composite materials for the energy, aerospace, marine, automotive and other sectors. Ciaran is driven by a real commitment to renewable energy and sustainability.” The topic of Ciaran’s PhD is ‘Fatigue of Composite Materials for Ocean Energy’, supervised by Dr Conchúr Ó Brádaigh and Professor Sean Leen, Lecturers in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway. Ciaran also presented a paper entitled ‘A study on the effect of seawater on the fatigue life of polymer composites for tidal turbines’ at the OMAE 2011 conference. Ciaran has a strong interest in renewable energy and engineering design, having worked in the wind turbine industry in the US in the 1990s, whilst studying for his undergraduate engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. Ciaran designed, manufactured and tested a 300W wind turbine for his final year project in the US and subsequently worked as a research test engineer in the US wind turbine industry. Since then, Ciaran also worked for nine years in the medical devices industry with Creganna, Galway. -ENDS-

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NUI Galway Host International Active Citizenship and Disability Conference

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway will bring together key international thinkers and actors who have transformed disability policy and service provision for a one-day conference. The Active Citizenship and Disability Conference will be held in the Clayton Hotel in Galway City on Friday, 4 November. The event will be a forum in which participants can reflect on the sharp break needed between traditional welfare-oriented supports for persons with disabilities and a newer model that aims to underpin independence, choice and active citizenship. Since the Health Service Executive report on deinstitutionalisation entitled 'A Time To Move On' in July this year, Ireland has been on the cusp of a major reform agenda of its antiquated and outmoded institutions for persons with disabilities. The Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway is dedicated to inform and lead that change. Director of the Centre, Professor Gerard Quinn, who co-drafted the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, says: “The conference is important in that it will provide a meeting point between theorists who bring important perspectives from the new UN disability convention, policy makers interested in redesigning service delivery models, service providers interested in re-imagining their services in the decades to come, and persons with disabilities anxious to ensure that future services are adequate to ensure their right to live independent lives and be included in the community.” Conference speakers include Martin Routledge, Director of Operations at In Control and who has been a key figure in the reform of adult social care services at the Department of Health in the UK, and Brian Salisbury, Strategic Director at Community Living British Columbia, who has driven service reform and individual funding in British Columbia. In addition, Patricia Fratangelo from New York, a world-renowned expert in service transformation, will speak about her experiences in grappling with change.  Each of these international speakers are also giving more time to discuss the finer details of reform at a workshop event hosted by the Federation of Voluntary Bodies on Thursday, 3 November.  For further information, including the conference programme, registration and a list of speakers, see For other enquiries contact Mary McQuinn at 091 495888 or   -ENDS-

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Major Funding Boost for Pain Research at NUI Galway

Monday, 17 October 2011

Researchers at the NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research were recently granted two major research funding awards.  Dr David Finn was awarded a grant worth almost €1 million under the Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator programme and Dr Brian McGuire received funding of over €700,000 under the Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement programme, which aims to develop leading Irish health researchers. Dr David Finn, Co-Director of Centre for Pain Research and Lecturer in Pharmacology was awarded the grant for his research programme entitled The role of the endocannabinoid system in anxiety-induced modulation of pain: sites and mechanisms of action. The programme seeks to advance our understanding of the neurobiology of anxiety-pain interactions and will employ two postdoctoral researchers and PhD students.  Dr Finn will collaborate with Dr Michelle Roche, Lecturer in Physiology at NUI Galway, and with colleagues at University College London and the University of Nottingham on a series of experiments to investigate how the body’s own marijuana-like substances regulate pain during times of stress and anxiety.  Dr Finn said: “Anxiety and pain often occur together and there is evidence that anxiety can trigger the onset of pain and magnify existing pain, so anxiety may be an important target for new therapies in people with pain problems. Increased understanding of the effects of stress on pain is important and could pave the way for identification of new medications and other treatments for pain and anxiety disorders.” Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Dr Brian McGuire’s research programme will focus on chronic pain (pain that lasts more than 3 months). The award will fund three post-doctoral researchers from psychology, health promotion and health economics for a period of three years. The research programme will look at a number of important aspects of chronic pain. The first study will examine the problem of chronic pain in young children aged 5 to12 years and will aim to find out how many children have chronic pain, how it affects them and their families, and how much it costs in economic terms. In the second study, researchers will evaluate a pain management programme using cognitive behavioural therapy which will be delivered over the internet.  The third study will examine how GPs make clinical judgments about treating people with chronic low back pain and will provide information to the GPs with the aim of helping them to make better decisions. The project involves collaborators from the disciplines of general practice, medicine, health promotion, psychology and economics. Commenting on his project, Dr McGuire said: “These projects have the potential to provide valuable information for health professionals, managers and policy makers.  Most importantly, this research will help people who live with chronic pain on a daily basis.” More information about NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research can be found at -ENDS-

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Unlocking the Value of Public Data...from the Obama Administration to Fingal County Council

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A worldwide movement which aims to unlock the value of public data will be the focus of a free symposium ‘Opening Up Government Data’ on 8 November. Organised by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at NUI Galway, the event will show the potential benefits of Open Data to public authorities, businesses, organisations and citizens. The goal of the Open Data initiative is to motivate governments to make public information freely available and easily accessible online. The benefits of Open Data are economic, through the identification of new business opportunities, and also social, through increased transparency and accountability. DERI is at the forefront of this movement, developing tools and technologies that are being adopted around the world. Web standards developed at the institute have been adopted by the Obama administration in their Open Government initiatives. In Ireland, DERI collaborates closely with local authorities such as Fingal County Council and the Local Government Computer Services Board, as well as the National Cross-Industry Working Group on Open Data to promote Open Data. Deirdre Lee, eGovernment Leader at DERI, explains: “One of the leading examples of opening up government data is, the US Open Data website launched by the Obama administration. Soon after, the UK launched, and in total more than 140 regions and countries now publishes their data online. In Ireland, one of the early adaptors has been Fingal County Council, with DUBLinked, a consortium of Dublin councils, set to launch a similar Open Data website.” Today’s local and national governments generate and collect valuable information, be that demographic information, roads extension plans, teacher-pupil ratios in schools, hospital attendance rates or planning applications. Often this information is not publicly available. Even if available, public information is often locked away in proprietary formats, making it difficult and expensive to find, analyse and reuse. Professor Stefan Decker, Director of DERI at NUI Galway, says: “Open Data is key to supporting a truly transparent and participatory democratic system. It also enables entrepreneurs to build innovative applications and businesses around this data, resulting in job creation and general economic benefit. DERI’s eGovernment and Linked Data Research is leading the way nationally and internationally.” With over 140 researchers, DERI is one of the world's leading international web science research institutes, and has a specific focus on the Semantic Web and Networked Knowledge. DERI is a Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) established in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland. As a CSET, DERI brings together academic and industrial partners to boost innovation in science and technology, with its research focused on the Semantic Web. DERI has leveraged its SFI CSET funding to add significant additional research funding from the European Union, Enterprise Ireland, and industry sources. The event on Tuesday, 8 November, is called Opening Up Government Data, and takes place at DERI’s headquarters in NUI Galway. For further information, go to or contact Deirdre Lee, eGovernment Leader in DERI on 091 495336, email -ends- 

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Preparing graduates for jobs in Ireland’s knowledge economy

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An exciting PhD programme to prepare science graduates for jobs in Ireland’s knowledge economy was launched today, 10 October 2011, in Newman House by Minister Sean Sherlock TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Research and Innovation. The Clinical and Translational Research Scholars Programme (CTRSP) was developed by Molecular MedicineIreland and its academic partners, NUI Galway,TrinityCollege, UCC and UCD, and was awarded funding of €4.3m earlier this year under Cycle 5 of the Government’s Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI). The CTRSP also benefitted from the extensive involvement of industry partners such as Amgen, Pfizer, Creganna-Tactx, Merrion Pharmaceuticals as well as the Irish Medicines Board. The CTRSP is a four year structured PhD programme which will train scholars to translate patient and disease-focused research into clinically effective and commercial applications. These are the kind of skills required by knowledge industries in the health sector and in start-up companies. Twenty science graduates have enrolled on the programme following a competitive selection process. Four of these scholars Edel McGarry, NUI Galway, Eilis Dockry, TCD, Wesley van Oeffelen, UCC and Trudy McGarry, UCD spoke at the launch giving their views on why they were attracted to the CTRSP and their future career plans. One of the unique features of this collaborative programme is that during the first year, the scholars have the opportunity to attend each of the four participating institutions for taught modules. The first 20 scholars - five each from NUI Galway, UCC,TrinityCollegeand UCD - begin the programme tomorrow with a four week period of taught courses in UCD andTrinityCollege. This will be followed by short placements in academic research groups, clinical research centres and in industry and specialist taught modules. Tom Lynch, the Chair of MMI said that, “The CTRSP will address the deficit in the number of scientists in Ireland undertaking innovative patient and disease-focused research with a key understanding of how to translate research results to the clinic.”  The CTRSP combines collaborative teaching, research and clinical expertise of academic medical centres, industry, and the Irish Medicines Board in a structured PhD programme that provides graduates with research training of the highest quality and an in-depth understanding of the clinical, commercial and regulatory environment essential for effective careers in healthcare research. In launching the CTRSP, Minister Sherlock said, “I strongly believe this new programme is very important on a number of strategic levels. It will deliver more scientists inIreland who are undertaking innovative patient and disease-focused research, and then crucially bringing their findings from the bench to the clinic for the ultimate benefit of our population’s health.” Minister Sherlock continued by saying, “I am delighted to see further tangible evidence of howIreland’s higher education sector, in developing this type of programme, is delivering for our enterprise needs. For me, a major source of encouragement to be taken from the CTRSP is the strong focus on commercialisation – on the critical need to translate our research discoveries into commercial outputs, and in this regard I want to commend Molecular MedicineIreland and all involved in this initiative.” Speaking at the launch, Professor Laurence Egan, Department of Clinical Pharmacology at NUI Galway, a director of MMI and the Principal Applicant on the CTRSP application, said “This important collaborative programme focuses the clinical and translational research expertise and resources of four institutions, working together through MMI, to develop future leaders to bring innovative discoveries to the market and to patients. These scholars will be well trained to work with clinicians, for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry or to start their own companies.” For additional information please contact MMI’s Education and Training Team at 01 477 9817 or email

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