All 2011

NUI Galway Classes of 1971 and 1981 Reunion

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

NUI Galway’s Alumni Office is inviting all graduates and friends from the classes of 1971 and 1981 to attend a reunion to celebrate the 30th and 40th anniversaries of their graduation on Saturday, 8 October, 2011.   The reunion will begin at 3pm in the Quadrangle with a reception and photo exhibition, followed by a bus tour of campus. The celebrations will continue later that evening in Galway’s Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel) with a special reunion dinner.   Sandra Butler, NUI Galway Alumni Association Chairperson, encourages everyone to attend: “Reunions are special opportunities for graduates and friends to revisit NUI Galway and renew old acquaintances. These events come around just once a decade. So book your place now and get in contact with your classmates and friends and encourage them to come too.”   For further information and to book a place, contact Colm O’Dwyer in the Alumni Office on 091 493750 or email   -ENDS-

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Super-sized Heart Valve Provides Clues to Blood Flow

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Researchers at NUI Galway have developed a super-sized model of a heart valve which may lead to a new generation of cardiovsacular devices. Every year, mechanical valves are inserted into approximately 125,000 patients with heart valve disease around the world. However, the valves can lead to unnatural blood flows, which can trigger a clotting reaction. Because of this, patients with prosthetic heart valves must take medication daily, which can lead to side effects. The work at NUI Galway is trying to better understand how blood flows through prosthetic valves and in particular through the valve hinges, so that the clotting reaction can be ameliorated. Researchers have developed a working model valve which is six times the size of a normal valve and runs 100 times slower. They use laser light and digital imaging to measure flow accurately and calculate the stresses experienced by blood cells as they move through the valve. The work has been carried out by Dr Nathan Quinlan and Dr Alessandro Bellofiore of the Biofluid Dynamics group at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Science (NCBES), NUI Galway. Dr Quinlan, who teaches courses in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, explains: “Medicine has been using artificial heart valves, quite successfully, since the 1950s but there is certainly room for improvement. The challenge is to develop a valve which will avoid the thrombotic or clotting reaction. We’ve scaled up and slowed down the flow through the valve – without altering the underlying mechanics – so that we can measure it at very high resolution. We can see very small and short-lived eddies that are only about 10 times larger than blood cells. This is giving us new insights into what damages blood cells and causes dangerous clots.” The work is an example of the research carried out at the Centre for Biomechanics Research (BMEC) in NUI Galway, which is focused on both fundamental and applied research and where the principles of engineering mechanics and biology are combined to generate discovery and understanding.  Dr Quinlan concluded: “Research like this is crucial in the design and manufacture of new medical devices. The approach we’ve developed could be used not only for heart valves, for any device implanted in large blood vessels. Further down the line, the understanding that comes out of this work can lead to better devices.” Results from the heart valve model feature in this month’s issue of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. The group has recently received funding from Science Foundation Ireland’s 2011 Research Frontiers Programme for another project which will build on this work.   ENDS

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European Commissioner to Officially Open Sea2Sky

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, will officially open the Irish segment of European Researchers Night. The event takes place on Friday, 23 September, across 800 venues in 320 cities. In Ireland, festivities take place in Galway through a celebration called Sea2Sky, organised by NUI Galway. The purpose of Sea2Sky, is to give the public free access to scientists and their research. Organisers at NUI Galway have planned a one-day celebration of science and research in the fields of Marine, Atmospherics and Astronomy. Events will take place in Leisureland, Galway Atlantaquria and along the Prom in Salthill. While school visits will take place throughout the day, at 3pm Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn will officially open the evening event, to coincide with events starting right across Europe. Chief organiser, NUI Galway’s Dr Andrew Shearer, says “As European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and a Galway-native, it is a very significant occasion that Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn is officially opening this European-wide event. It is an exciting and important time to celebrate Ireland’s reputation and involvement in research.” At Sea2Sky, visitors of all ages will be able to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, watch demonstrations and simulations and to exchange ideas with the researchers. Different exhibits will allow the public to learn more about whales and dolphins, take a 3D tour of the universe, tour the Galway Atlantaquaria, check-out scientific demonstrations, and take part in a variety of other hands-on activities. The event will also feature music and entertainment for younger and older visitors. NUI Galway’s President, Dr James J. Browne, will also attend the official opening: “It is an honour to have someone as distinguished in European research circles as Máire Geoghegan-Quinn open our event. There is significant European funding of research projects at NUI Galway, reflecting our growing international research reputation.” The Sea2Sky event is being organised by NUI Galway, in collaboration with the Marine Institute and Galway Atlantaquaria, and is funded under the European Union’s Marie Curie Programme and by Discover Science & Engineering. Sea2Sky is a free family event and will take place in Leisureland and Galway Atlantaquaria, Salthill, from 11am-11pm.  To view the full programme, or for more information, visit -ENDS-

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Bank of Ireland MEDTECH Accelerator Fund Leads €1.6m Investment in neoSurgical Ltd

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD today announced a €1.6m investment in neoSurgical Ltd led by Kernel Capital.  The syndicated investment comprises of a €500k investment by the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund, with the remainder of the funds provided by Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors including experienced promoters from the Irish Med Tech industry.   “neoSurgical is an excellent start-up, we are impressed with their cohesive team, whom previously held senior executive positions in Johnson and Johnson Ireland. neoSurgical has developed a strong patent family, excellent product roadmap and the team has vast global experience in selling medical device products,” said Dawn Guiney, Kernel Capital. neoSurgical working in collaboration with practicing surgeons is committed to developing and delivering innovative products that enable simpler, safer and more efficient laparoscopic abdominal surgery for better patient outcomes.  The company's lead product neoClose* offers a new, superior method of closing laparoscopic wounds that can reduce or prevent herniation complications while giving hospitals the opportunity to realise significant cost savings. Laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery within the abdomen involves ‘keyhole’ incisions some of which may require closure.  Ineffective closure can lead to an operative complication called a hernia, the complication rate of which is published to be in up to 3.1% and can be significantly higher in obese patients. In the US it has been estimated to cost the healthcare system in excess of $20,000 per patient to repair the hernia. Commenting on the announcement, Dr. James J. Browne, President of National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) which is an investor in Kernel Capital said: “NUI Galway recognises the importance of translating research into innovative products. I am delighted that the MedTech Accelerator Fund, in which NUI Galway is a partner, is investing in neoSurgical Ltd. I wish neoSurgical every success.” Donal Duffy, Head of Enterprise Ireland Relations, Bank of Ireland said: “Bank of Ireland is very pleased to add neoSurgical Ltd to the list of companies supported through the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund managed by Kernel Capital. This funding will enable the company develop and deliver innovative market leading products and take their place in the global med tech market.” Welcoming the announcement, Seamus Bree, Director for West Region at Enterprise Ireland, said: “We have no hesitation in co-investing in NeoSurgical. This cutting-edge company, although fairly new, is a very innovative and growing player in the prospering medical devices sector. NeoSurgical’s commitment to research and development is impressive and leaves no doubt that this Galway-based company has great potential to internationalise their business.” Barry Russell, CEO, Neosurgical Limited added: “The neoSurgical team is proud to have reached this significant funding milestone and in particular to have secured Kernel Capital as an investor with their great knowledge of our sector and strong validation of our technical and commercial roadmap. This investment will enable us to complete our device development and take our place in the global med tech market.  neoClose* is the first in a portfolio of medical device projects that neoSurgical plan to develop to market in the coming years with the associated positive spin off to the Irish economy in terms of high value jobs and exports.”-ENDS-

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Private Health Insurance has Major Impact on Cancer Screening Uptake

Monday, 19 September 2011

A Health Research Board (HRB) funded study carried out by the J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has found that there are significant differences in cancer screening uptake across income groups, and that the main determinant of this difference for breast, colorectal and prostate cancer screening was the possession of private medical insurance.   According to Brendan Walsh, a HRB/ National Cancer Institute Fellow in Health Economics at NUI Galway: “Our research demonstrates both inequality in the uptake of cancer screening in Ireland, and the role that private health insurance plays in contributing to this.   We examined data on 10,364 adults from the SLÁN 2007 study (Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland) and focused our analysis on the uptake of breast, prostate, colorectal and cervical cancer screening in the previous 12 months.  Through a process called decomposition analysis we were able to unpack the variables that contribute to the levels of inequality that we observed.  Decomposition analysis allows you to establish and rate the importance of particular components which contribute to the overall inequality.  The results of this permit a clearer identification of possible policy actions which can then be taken to help reduce the level of inequality.   The research found that there was a clear link between income and better uptake of screening programmes.  Typically for the four cancers mentioned there was a 10 percentage point difference in uptake rates between the highest socioeconomic group and the lowest.  However for three of those cancers, breast, colorectal and prostrate, medical insurance was the largest factor contributing to the inequality.”   According to Professor Ciaran O’Neill of the J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, a co-author on the paper (along with Dr Mary Silles): “When you have a complex healthcare system as in Ireland, with a mix of public and private services, if people feel that they can access other parts of the service faster because they have private insurance, then they seem more likely to avail of screening services.  Our research seems to indicate that just because you have a publicly funded cancer screening programme, it doesn’t mean that you will see equal uptake of screening services or the end of differences in morbidity or mortality associated with cancer.  Because screening is just the start of a process in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the journey should be viewed as a whole and no one part in isolation. Individuals may be more likely to go for screening if they think insurance will afford them faster access to diagnostic or treatment services. Hence publicly funded screening programmes on their own may not eradicate differential health outcomes across income groups.  This finding has major implications for health policy.   The research also highlighted the importance of marital status in several of the cancers. Greater uptake was evident among those who were married than those who were not in the case of prostate, colorectal and cervical screening, perhaps reflecting the value of pester power.”   According to Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board; “These are very important findings which have the potential to help address health inequalities, here and abroad. It is a clear illustration of the role for research to inform policy for the betterment of society as a whole.”   The full research paper is available at   Ends

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