All 2012

NUI Galway Named The Sunday Times University of the Year Runner-up

Friday, 5 October 2012

Sunday Times University Guide to be published Sunday, 7 October, 2012 Completing a full sweep of successes with third-level rankings in recent weeks, NUI Galway has been named as the runner-up in The Sunday Times University Guide 2013, a special 64-page supplement to be published with the newspaper this weekend (7 October, 2012). This news comes just days after it was announced that NUI Galway had risen dramatically in a separate prestigious world ranking. The Sunday Times University Guide 2013 is a definitive guide to higher education in Ireland and the UK. The 2013 guide ranks third-level institutions against six key indicators, including Leaving Certificate points for entry, top degrees awarded, graduate job prospects and income generated from research. NUI Galway was lauded for having one of the lowest dropout rates among all third-level institutions across Ireland and its excellent record for graduate employment. According to Kate Butler, jourmalist and co-author of the Sunday Times University Guide: “NUI Galway's excellent performance in terms of job progression (with 93.7% of graduates going on to jobs or further education), of the amount of research funding it secures per academic staff member (it came fourth nationally in this category) and its high completion rate (just 16% students dropped out, one of the lowest rates amongst Irish universities) meant that the west coast university secured the runner up position of the Sunday Times University of the Year Award. Other factors that commended NUI Galway were its academic initiatives including credit for volunteering and its successful access record, as well as its strong performance in the creation of start-ups and patents.” NUI Galway was previously named University of the Year 2009 in The Sunday Times University Guide, securing the prestigious accolade for a second time having won the inaugural University of the Year in 2002. The Sunday Times Irish University of the Year’ award is made not solely on league table position but also on the University’s contribution on a local, national and international level, the quality of the student experience and the overall robustness of the institution. President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, commented: “This is all very good news for NUI Galway as it confirms that our position nationally and internationally is on the rise and that we are succeeding in our efforts to achieve recognition in selected priority areas. In spite of substantial cuts in overallfunding at third-level in Ireland, our University has gone against the tide to secure a marked improvement in these very competitive rankings." President Browne continued: "The University offers our students world-class teaching and encourages active engagement with the learning experience through opportunities such as volunteering, work placement, international exchange programmes, sports clubs and vibrant student societies. Our focus on student engagement contributes to our leading retention rate among universities and strong employment figures for our graduates.” Earlier in the week NUI Galway jumped to third place in the country in this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. NUI Galway is now ranked 336th in the THE Rankings 2012/2013,an increase of 31 places on last year’s position. NUI Galway was one of only two universities improving their world ranking this year, with Trinity College Dublin also increasing their position by seven places to 110. This increase in position follows on from a similar result in the QS World University Ranking last month, where NUI Galway was again one of only two Irish universities to increase its position, with a rise of 11 places to 287th in the world. Earlier this year, the University was also awarded the top award of a five star rating by the QS Stars system, a new rating system designed to provide a more detailed comparison of world universities than the rankings provide. University College Dublin (UCD) is awarded the accolade of The Sunday Times University of the Year, with Limerick Institute of Technology as The Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year, with Dundalk IT the runner-up. Cambridge is the top university in the UK, with Oxford in second place, among the 126 degree-awarding institutions in Britain and Northern Ireland profiled in The Sunday Times University Guide, out this weekend.   Ends

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Maths Week Events at NUI Galway

Monday, 8 October 2012

The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics at NUI Galway will host a number of events as part of Maths Week Ireland from 13-21 October to promote appreciation, understanding and an awareness of maths in society. On Friday, 19 October, Andrew Jeffrey, also known as ‘The Mathemagician’ will give workshops to primary and secondary school audiences at NUI Galway. Andrew is a teacher, lecturer, magician, and keynote speaker and has been described as a mathematical evangelist. He is the author of several books, including Be A Wizard With Numbers, Magic for Kids, 100 Top Tips for Top Maths Teachers, Top 20 Maths Displays, and the new Cool, Calm and Calculators. A former vice-principal, Andrew believes that the fundamentals of mathematics can be taught via practical experiments and travels Europe inspiring and entertaining teachers and students alike with his Magic of Maths shows. Dr David O'Keeffe, one of the organisers of Maths Week events at NUI Galway, said: “ The concept behind Maths Week is to illustrate the relevance and beauty of this subject in a fun and interactive way. It coincides with a mathematical discovery made by Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Ireland’s greatest mathematician, who in a flash of inspiration while walking along the Royal Canal in Dublin on 16 October 1843 created a novel algebraic structure, the so-called quaternions. Subsquently quaternions have been used in areas such as computer graphics and animation in film making.” Also this year's PRISM contest, Problem Solving for Irish Second level Mathematicians, take place during Maths Week on Thursday, 18 October. Teachers and schools wishing to participate are asked to email to with their name and email address, and the name and address of the school. Schools throughout Galway and beyond are encouraged to participate in these special events to make maths accessible to a wider audience and schools can register on the Maths Week website, For further information on Maths Week at NUI Galway contact Dr Tim Downing at -ENDS-

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The Institute of Chemistry of Ireland Annual Lecture to be held at NUI Galway

Monday, 8 October 2012

Professor Lesley Yellowlees of the University of Edinburgh will deliver the Eva Philbin Lecture of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland at NUI Galway on Tuesday, 9 October. Entitled Powering Ahead with Solar Energy, the lecture will take place in the Larmor Lecture Theatre at the University. Professor Yellowlees is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and completed research positions in Brisbane, Australia. Since returning to the University of Edinburgh, she has held the position of Head of the School of Chemistry and gained a personal chair in Inorganic Electrochemistry. Currently Professor Yellowless is Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Science and Engineering. Her research interests include inorganic electrochemistry and spectroelectrochemistry, EPR spectroscopy, solar energy and CO2 conversion. Active in the Royal Society of Chemistry since 1990, she has held many positions and was appointed Fellow in 2005, elected a Council Member 2005-09, and was elected as first female President last year. Professor Yellowlees was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to science, selected as a 2011 IUPAC distinguished woman in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012. Assistant by An Cumann Ceimice at NUI Galway, the meeting will be followed by a reception.  For further information contact Dr Niall Geraghty in the School of Chemistry, NUI Galway at -ENDS-

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Ireland’s Leading Stem Cell Scientist Applauds Nobel Laureates

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ireland’s leading expert in stem cell science, Professor Frank Barry of NUI Galway, has sent congratulations to the Nobel Prize winners Professor Shinya Yamanaka and Professor John Gurdon. The two pioneers of stem cell research will share the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology, it was announced today.   “The discoveries made by these two scientists, although many years apart, both changed the way we think about cells and how they regulate their behaviour,” said Professor Barry. The discovery of methods in cell reprogramming, in particular, has had a huge impact. It has given us extraordinary new insight into what stem cells are and how they work.  It has also given us powerful new tools to study human development and what causes certain diseases.  We at REMEDI send our heartfelt congratulations to Drs. Gurdon and Yamanaka.  The award of the Nobel Prize in Medicine to them is richly deserved.” Professor Frank Barry is Director of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) at NUI Galway and also Scientific Director of the University’s Regenerative Medicine Institute. His particular research interest is in the therapeutic application of adult stem cells, especially mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from bone marrow. For 10 years he has directed a series of research programmes focusing on the isolation and characterization of adult stem cells, and on the development of methods for their delivery in a variety of clinical indications. This has included cardiovascular and arthritic diseases. He has also developed approaches for the use of MSCs for the delivery of specific therapeutic genes, for example in rheumatoid arthritis. In addition he has an interest in proteomics and mass spectrometry for the identification of surface molecules on cells. Some of his more recent work is focussed on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), along with NUI Galway’s Professor Sanbing Shen. -ends-

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Camouflage for Cardiovascular Stents

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

NFB and Microbiology Researcher to Lead €1.2 million EU Project on Stent Development A new type of cardiovascular stent, coated in antibodies to improve biocompatibility and effectiveness, is now under development in Ireland and Poland. Scientists at National University of Ireland Galway are to lead a €1.2 million EU project which aims to reduce re-narrowing of arteries and the need for further interventions, through the development of novel cardiovascular stent materials. National University of Ireland Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), a Science Foundation Ireland funded strategic research cluster, and the University’s microbiology department will head the four year project. This is the fifth successful EC funded grant that NFB has secured in the last two years. “About half of all deaths from cardiovascular diseases are due to coronary artery disease, which occurs when the coronary arteries become hardened and narrowed due to the build-up of plaques on their inner walls or lining,” explains National University of Ireland Galway microbiologist Dr Gerard Wall, who is leading the project. “This EU project brings together researchers from important medical device clusters in Ireland and Poland, involved at all stages of the stent design and development pipeline, to develop a novel product to reduce restenosis, which is one of the major current limitations of stent performance.” “Our plan is to create a new type of coating on the stents using human antibody fragments,” explains Dr Wall. “Once the stent is in place, we hope these antibodies will attract a layer of the patient’s own epithelial cells. This should effectively camouflage the stent as far as the body is concerned, and it will no longer be such a foreign object. Our theory is that this will reduce the potential for rejection, the level of clot build-up, and also significantly improve the long-term outcome of surgical interventions.” Coronary heart diseases, including myocardial infarction, are commonly triggered by the build up of plaques in the inner walls of coronary arteries, leading to stenosis and reduced blood flow to the heart. This is the most common cause of death in Europe, accounting for approximately two million deaths each year. This condition can be successfully treated by angioplasty to reopen blockages and the insertion of a stent to keep arteries open. However, not all stents continue to perform perfectly over time. Cells such as macrophages and smooth muscle cells can grow over the stent surface and cause clot formation, once again clogging the arteries. While anti-clotting drugs can be used, the risk of rejection of the foreign stent material remains a problem. The project brings together three academic partners National University of Ireland Galway, and Poland’s Wrocław University of Technology and Wrocław Medical University. These are joined by Vornia, a Galway-based start-up biomedical company and the multi-national stent manufacturer Balton, which has its headquarters in Poland. The project is funded under the Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) scheme of the EU’s FP7 2012 People Work Programme. The programme will provide cross-sectoral research training, career development opportunities and knowledge sharing pathways to 16 researchers involved in the project, in addition to hosting networking and dissemination events open to 30-40 additional researchers in the partner groups. “The project is an excellent example of the importance of strong industry-academia cooperation in the development of commercially viable products,” adds Dr Wall. “Both university and industry-based researchers will spend considerable time working in the opposite work sector during the project as both sectors recognise that genuine partnership in this manner is the best way to nurture creative research ideas into leading edge products that have unmet clinical need.”  -ends-

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