All 2012

Public Invited to Three-Minute Competition

Monday, 10 December 2012

Ever wondered how research at NUI Galway affects you, your family and community? The public are invited to a competition which might just answer that question on Monday, 17 December, at 7.30 pm in Jigsaw Galway on Fairgreen Road. The THREESIS competition will see NUI Galway staff and students present their research to the audience and a panel of judges in accessible language a non-expert can understand, in three minutes or less. Each of the 15 finalists will have only three slides and be under strict time pressure to communicate their research area and relevancy. Competitors are judged on how well they convey the subject of their thesis and their ability to communicate to a general audience. Each of NUI Galway’s five priority research areas will be represented, with topics ranging from wastewater treatment to the cost of drug treatment for diabetes. The winner will receive a generous prize and award, based on the decision of the judges who will include: Liam Bluett Director of Ballybane Enterprise Centre; Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, and Frances Shanahan, Journalist with RTÉ Radio. Professor Terry Smith said: “This will be a fun event and we would really encourage people to come along and enjoy these short sharp presentations. This is an opportunity to get a feel for the type of world-leading research which takes place right here in Galway.” NUI Galway is forward-thinking and global in scale in terms of its research. Its work is focused on translational research that has a positive impact on society, leading the field in many areas. Some 448 research staff and 1,246 postgraduate research students make NUI Galway their home, and this event is a chance for the general public to get an insight into what they do.  The event is free and refreshments will be served on the night. -ends-

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NUI Galway IT Award Winners Create Applications of the Future

Monday, 10 December 2012

An innovative musical score application for a mobile device, using genetic algorithms to crack encryption codes and an online hotel booking system are just some of the new technologies which graduates of NUI Galway have won awards for recently. Prizes were awarded to recent graduates, who in their final-year, excelled in projects which span a wide range of fascinating topics, reflecting the diversity of research and career opportunities for graduates of Information Technology.  The Best Project in the BSc in Computer Science and Information Technology, sponsored by Cisco System, was awarded to graduate Elise Karlsson. Originally from Sweden and now living in Galway City, Elise developed an innovative musical score application for a mobile device to enable experienced music composers to easily and quickly visualise and compose music notation. Best Project in the HDip/MSc in Software Design and Development, sponsored by Cisco Systems, was presented to Gearóid Joyce from Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Colm Kavanagh from Annaghdown, Co. Galway and Darren Tighe from Strandhill, Co. Sligo. The team’s project focused on online security and encryption, developing a system that applied genetic algorithms to code cracking. Sean Coleman from Loughrea, Co. Galway and Roseanne Carroll from Athlone, Co. Westmeath were presented with the prize for Best Project in the BA in Information Technology, sponsored by NUI Galway’s College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies for their creation of a complete online hotel booking system. It contained both a back-end database and a web based user interface. Each year a special Entrepreneurship Prize is awarded to the students who produce the best business plan during the academic year. These plans are evaluated by external business experts from WestBIC. This year the prize was awarded to Elise Karlsson and Niall Dolan from Loughrea, Co. Galway for their ‘Grown@Home’ system. Essentially the application and backend will provide users such as consumers, farmers, third party suppliers, with an infrastructure to source, buy, advertise and promote locally produced produce. Dr Michael Madden, Head of Information Technology at NUI Galway, said: “Information Technology is central to the development of the Smart Economy in Ireland. It is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and attracts the kind of creative people who want to invent and promote technology based products and services.  At NUI Galway, students of the BSc in Information Technology study Professional Skills and Business Planning as part of their core academic work.” Dr Madden also welcomed Cisco Systems as the corporate sponsor for Best Projects in the Information Technology degree programmes. “We believe this is a strong endorsement of the commercial relevance of our degree programmes, and underlines our commitment to innovation, professionalism and research at NUI Galway. We place a huge emphasis on Final Year Project work. These projects are a proving-ground for research and commercial business opportunities. Partnering with a blue-chip global company like Cisco gives students the added motivation and ambition to deliver excellent work. -ENDS-

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Major Award for Cancer Researcher at NUI Galway

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Galway cancer researcher has been awarded a Research Fellowship Award of €230,000 to develop new strategies to help improve treatments for patients with colon cancer. Dr Aideen Ryan from Ballinasloe in Co. Galway, received the award from the Irish Cancer Society. Colon cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths in Ireland and represents a significant health problem. In many instances, colon cancer spreads to other organs, which is called metastasis. When this happens it is most likely to result in death. New ways to tackle the problem of colon cancer metastasis have had very little success, but Aideen’s research is taking a fresh approach by focusing on the cancer cells interaction with the immune system. Aideen collaborates with mentor Professor Laurence Egan at NUI Galway, and collaborators Professor Matthew Griffin also of NUI Galway and Dr Aileen Houston at UCC. Their previous research has shown how the body’s own immune system affects how colon cancer cells spread. The team aims to discover the factors that control the immune systems interaction with colon cancer. Dr Ryan states: “Blocking these factors would enable us to develop new drugs that could, in turn, be used to make our immune response to cancer stronger. This novel approach to cancer treatment could potentially result in better treatments and consequently a better prognosis and quality of life for patients with colon cancer.” -ends-

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Treating Autism, Can Stem Cells Help?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Stem Cell Scientists and Autism Research Groups at TCD and NUI Galway to outline New Research Project Public Forum, Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, 7pm, 12 December, 2012 Often seen as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, iPS - or induced pluripotent stem cells - are adult stem cells reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state.  IPS cells are increasingly of interest to scientists studying brain disorders such as autism, since accessing brain tissue is so difficult. Recent breakthroughs in autism genetics research have revealed that a small but significant minority of individuals with autism may have rare genetic changes that are potentially causative of their condition. The TCD autism research group, which has investigated the genetic causes of autism for over a decade, has teamed up with scientists at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) in NUI Galway to apply stem cell technology to further the understanding of autism that may lead towards the identification of better treatments. In a first for Ireland, REMEDI has already begun producing iPS cells from the skin cells of people with autism and their siblings. This new research project hopes to find out how rare genetic changes might impact on the functioning of brain cells using iPS cell models. This research may ultimately help to identify drugs that could help to treat symptoms of the disease pathology. TCD’s Autism Research Group, and REMEDI scientists are reaching out to families who may be willing to participate in this innovative research. A public forum entitled ‘Treating Autism, Can Stem Cells Help?’ will be held on Wednesday, 12 of December at 6pm at the Science Gallery at TCD. Professor Louise Gallagher, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Principal Investigator of the TCD Autism Research Group will discuss the recent breakthroughs in autism genetics emerging from the work of the TCD group and how this has begun to inform some understanding of the causes of autism; REMEDI’s Outreach Officer Danielle Nicholson will explain about Stem Cell technology and Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at REMEDI will discuss the work from his lab which has begun producing iPS cells from the skin cells of people with autism and their siblings. The event will be chaired by Dr Geraldine Leader, Director of Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUI Galway. “Our research in autism genetics over the last 10 years or more has revealed interesting rare genetic causes of autism. By applying this new and exciting technology to further investigate autism we may identify the underlying mechanisms of these genetic anomalies in causing autistic spectrum disorders”, explains Professor Louise Gallagher. Over the years we have been indebted to over 300 individuals with autism and their parents and families who have participated in our active research programs and biorepository collections. We are hoping that this exciting public forum will provide a further opportunity to engage with the autism community and provide information about this exciting initiative in autism research. Professor Sanbing Shen explains the science: “We are in the very early stages of research, but by reprogramming skin cells, we may provide a way to study neuronal cells in autism and to test new therapies. These iPS cells can specialize into different cell types raising the possibility to treat patients with their own stem cells. This is exciting news for people who are affected by conditions that have no treatment.” The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”. This Irish initiative now hopes to bring this science to bear on autism. The prevalence of autism is on the rise. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children will be diagnosed with autism.  Among boys the incidence is 1 in 70. “Although there are no comparable studies on autism in Ireland, it is believed the prevalence is similar to that found in the US,” says Dr Geraldine Leader. “A diagnosis of autism can have a devastating effect on a family and the lack of autism services in Ireland places an enormous burden on parents. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism affect individuals and their families across the life span. Yet parents and families are the true advocates for those diagnosed. Stem cell research like this is the cutting edge of science, and is one of many opportunities which we would like to provide to families.” NUI Galway has become a leading centre of translational research in adult stem cells involving its National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and REMEDI, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The REMEDI team, which includes Professor Timothy O’Brien and Professor Frank Barry, are partnering with academics and clinicians from all over Ireland including Trinity College Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons and Galway University Hospitals, to study iPS cells and their clinical potential in the treatment of many different diseases. For more information on the public forum visit -ends-

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NUI Galway Sailing Yacht Awarded ‘Boat of the Year’

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

NUI Galway’s sailing campaign has been named the Irish Cruiser Racing Association's (ICRA) ‘Boat of the Year’. The prize was presented to NUI Galway in Kilkenny at the recent association’s annual conference which was attended by Ireland’s leading sailors, race organisers and industry professionals such as Olympic race officer Jack Roy and Volvo Ocean Race champion Damian Foxall. ICRA is the organising authority of Irish yacht racing. Nine boats from around Ireland were shortlisted for their ‘Boat of the Year’ award for having excelled at national and international level. Ultimately the judges favoured NUI Galway for the award on the basis of the exceptional level of preparation, training, competitive racing and achievement from the young crew. NUI Galway’s sailing yacht is a Reflex 38 based out of Galway Bay Sailing Club who raced in the 2012 Round Ireland Yacht Race. The crew finished sixth place in the overall standings, and first in their class, in the race. The team, one of the youngest to compete in the competition, was the second Irish boat to cross the finishing line in their 38-ft racing yacht which they chartered especially for the race. They were also the Class 1 winners in the Wales to Wicklow Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) race which they did as preparation for Round Ireland race. The boat was also raced by a number of the NUI Galway students in the 2012 Irish Cruiser Racing Nationals in Howth and Cork Week with the boat owner Martin Breen. The NUI Galway crew is made up of students and graduates from various disciplines including engineering, science and commerce and include Ben Scallan, Eoghan McGregor, Eoin Breen, Joan Mulloy, Mark Armstrong, Ruaidhri De Faoite, Conor Kinsella, David Fitzgerald, Louis Mulloy and Cathal Clarke. Kathy Hynes, Sports Officer NUI Galway, said: “This group of young people represent the future of sport through energy, passion and their high skill level ensure that NUI Galway sport is moving in the right direction.” -ENDS-

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