Monday, 24 August 2020

13 gold medals were awarded to students in the area of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2020 NUI Galway has been acknowledging student excellence through the award of gold medals in Medicine for over 100 years, and this year, in partnership with the Community Knowledge Initiative, an additional gold medal was awarded to a student in the Health Sciences for their Civic Engagement contribution. Civic Engagement activities can take many forms including student volunteering, service learning, collaborate research projects and other activities that benefit both the community and the university including its’ students and staff. Orlaith Lyons, a final year Speech and Language Therapist from County Clare, was awarded the inaugural Gold Medal in Health Sciences for her outstanding record of civic engagement service and achievement. Orlaith has been volunteering with the civil defence providing emergency first aid to the public for community and national events year-round, and has training in search and rescue and has various qualifications for local/national missing person’s searches, body recoveries and severe weather events. Orlaith acts as casualty for major emergency simulations, and Fire Service and Civil Defence training and volunteers with Hear Me! and Communication Partner Programme  to raise awareness of communication disabilities. As part of her Speech and Language qualification she provides six weekly visits to a person living with aphasia to learn how they communicate and live, and since COVID-19 began she has been providing meals on wheels to those who are cocooning.  Speaking on the award of her gold medal Orlaith said: “It is an honour to be announced as the inaugural winner of the CKI Civic Engagement Gold Medal Award. Emerging as a new graduate, my civic engagement achievements will enable me to bring transferable and desirable skills to the work force. Many hours spent at Civil Defence training, community duties and emergency call-outs have instilled in me a combination of skills, values, and self-motivation. Leadership, team work, communication and problem solving skills will be transferable to all aspects of my life and my career as a Speech and Language Therapist. The academic team of the NUI Galway Speech and Language Therapy Department fostered my self-confidence, adaptability and work ethic. This gave me the boost I needed to take on new roles and responsibilities in Civil Defence and the Equestrian Club as the course progressed.” Professor Caroline McIntosh, Head of the School of Health Sciences and Professor of Podiatric Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “This civic engagement medal will be awarded annually to the graduate with the most outstanding record of service to his/her community, and to society in general. We hope that this medal will encourage our students to become more active in their communities, to give of their time and energy to work in collaboration with our patients, the communities in which they live, patient representative organisations and other community groups.”   Dr Lorraine McIlrath, Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) Co-Ordinator at NUI Galway, acknowledged the calibre of all the applicants for the gold medal: “The Community Knowledge Initiative has supported the Civic engagement Medal in Medicine since its inception in 2013, and we are now delighted to support the new Medal for Civil Engagement in Health Sciences. The standard of applications means that all applications are so deserving and we are delighted to award this inaugural medal to Orlaith Lyons, a BSc Speech and Language Therapy Student.” This year, building on a tradition of rewarding excellence for over 100 years, a total of 13 gold medals in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences were awarded to final year students. Twelve medals were awarded to final year Medicine students including a second Gold Medal for Civic Engagement. This medal was awarded to Dr Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh from Dublin for his fundraising and his dedication to the representation of student voice through NUI Galway’s Student Union, and the NUI Galway Healthcare Society. The twelve gold medals include awards for General Practice, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics, Radiology, Psychiatry, Surgery, Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, and the IUMC Comerford Award, the John D. Kennedy Award for Health and Disease, and the John Flynn Medal for Health and Disease and the James Devaney Medal in Perioperative and Intensive Care Medicine. -Ends-

Monday, 24 August 2020

NUI Galway spin-out company Aquila Bioscience have been successful in their bid to become an approved supplier of PPE to the Education sector allowing up to 4,0000 educational institutions to avail of their decontamination product. Their pioneering decontamination technology Anti Bioagent Decontamination (ABD), which was developed in collaboration with the Czech University of Defense and Defense Forces Ireland to deal with biological contamination, is essential PPE that protects against harmful bacteria and viruses such as coronavirus.   ABD’s are class I sterile medical devices and are used in emergency situations. It is the only product available in the market that can be used on sensitive skin surfaces like the eyes, nose and mouth, and it can also be used on surfaces not suitable for biocide decontamination. ABDs are ideally suited for keeping staff and students safe, particularly those with underlying health conditions or special needs. Including ABD Devices into every first aid kit, Isolation room, classrooms, office, and community areas ensures all staff and students will benefit from the technology and it will help save lives while supporting the education sector in keeping institutions open. Unlike standard wipes and sanitisers, ABDs are free from alcohol, biocides and other toxic chemicals and so do not cause skin irritation or destroy skin cells. The wipe is made of biodegradable material and is environmentally friendly. ABDs are contained within individual pouches and so are easily distributed throughout schools. Cormac Lynch, CEO of Aquila Bioscience, said: "Being approved by the Department of Education to supply our ABD Devices is welcomed, and is a significant decision that will enhance the safety and protection of all staff and pupils in Ireland as our schools reopen." For more information visit -Ends-

Friday, 21 August 2020

Students are being asked to adhere to public health advice and University guidelines and to act and behave responsibly  NUI Galway has today (Friday August 21st 2020) announced that students will be asked to commit a new community promise – Cúram Dá Chéíle as part of the University’s COVID-19 response plan. NUI Galway President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said the University was asking the university community to support the need for a deepened sense of maturity and responsibility for the collective good for the new academic year. “We are asking each student to commit to be part of our university community, to behave appropriately, to consider others, to follow our advice and public health guidelines, to act responsibly and to respect everyone in the university and the wider community. "This commitment asks students to respond in an open, positive, and respectful way if their actions are challenged and to avoid scenarios and environments that run counter to these principles. “Cúram dá Chéile sets a challenge. It has the power to be a guiding light - for our university, as a civic institution, to show solidarity with the wider community and reduce the spread of Covid-19.” -Ends-

Friday, 21 August 2020

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, is now enrolling for its Teachers in Residence Programme for the fifth year, with applications being accepted up to Monday, 28 September, 2020. This year the programme will provide and develop resources to help teachers overcome the extra challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, this year's programme will use a blended learning approach. The online sessions will be held twice a month, from 7-8pm. Teachers will receive 10 ECTS through the NUI Galway's Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development fully funded by CÚRAM. During the residency, teachers will speak directly with world-leading researchers to learn about the medical device's research at CÚRAM to improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Teachers from all disciplines are invited to participate, in support of encouraging multidisciplinary approaches to teaching science. Participants will learn about and receive resources for the classroom including science engagement activities, science capital teaching approaches, and lesson plan kits developed by teachers for teachers, that are linked with the primary and junior cycle science curricula. "We are delighted with the innovation and creativity shown by the primary and secondary teachers who have participated in this programme", said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM. "If we can continue to support and inspire our teachers by providing access to current, cutting edge Irish research and work with them to incorporate it into classroom activities, our hope is that they, in turn, can inspire their students for years to come. We also want to provide practical support through resources that can be used in classrooms and online to cater to current challenges that teachers will face as schools reopen in September." The programme has places available for five primary and five secondary school teachers and will run from October 2020 over ten evenings until March 2021. Teachers will work directly with CÚRAM researchers to develop high-quality content for the classroom that is relevant, engaging, and practical to use. The material generated during the residency will be shared with all participants and their schools. Lesson plan kits developed from previous years' teachers, including homeschooling resources, can be downloaded at CÚRAM is a partner in the Department of Education and Skills' Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) STE(A)M in Junior Cycle initiative. The goal of the initiative is to provide Professional Learning Experiences (PLEs) for Junior Cycle teachers that allow for interdisciplinary responses to societal challenges in subject-specific and cross-curricular contexts. To apply for a place in the Teachers in Residence Programme or find out more, please contact -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

NUI Galway’s Societies Office is partnering with local artists and creators for the first NUI Galway Virtual Summer Festival. The festival will run from 26-29 August and feature a selection of theatre, visual art, music, film, gaming, and social events for all age groups and interests. Festival Director and NUI Galway Societies Officer Riona Hughes said: “This event is designed to celebrate Galway’s wealth of artistic and creative talent both within the University and in the wider community, and the creative community has responded to the pandemic with an exciting virtual programme. We hope you will join us at" The Festival will include a number of theatre performances including the Irish Student Drama Association (ISDA) Awards which will be hosted online, allowing an opportunity to see Ireland's top student productions as they compete for the coveted Irish Student Drama Awards. The twelve performances, ten of which are original works, will be screened twice each over the course of the festival before the Awards ceremony is streamed live on Saturday, 29 August, at 9.30pm. According to Kate O’Mahony, NUI Galway ISDA Festival Director: “We were very disappointed when we could not host the Awards ceremony this year but are delighted that we are able to host a virtual version as part of the NUI Galway Virtual Summer Festival, as the event is very important in the student drama societies’ year. A number of well-known theatre figures began their careers in student drama, including Pauline McLynn, Fiona Shaw and Donal Gleeson. We look forward to sharing student theatre with a wide audience.” The festival runs from August 26th -29th. For a full list of events and booking details for the Virtual Summer Festival visit -Ends-

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Study published in the IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology identified technologies which could be used in response to COVID-19 and future pandemics NUI Galway Professor of Medical Device Technology and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe, is among a 60-person expert task force organised by the team at the Harvard Motion Analysis Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to examine the role of mobile health (mHealth) technologies in the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, ‘Can mHealth Technology Help Mitigate the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic?’ was published in the IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology today (Wednesday, 12 August). The aim of the study was to review mHealth technologies and explore their use to monitor and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force identified technologies that could be deployed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and would likely be suitable for future pandemics. They found that mHealth technologies are viable options to monitor COVID-19 patients and be used to predict symptom escalation for earlier intervention. Professor O’Keeffe said: "Digital health technology, which has shown tremendous promise for many years, is now ready to be a major tool in helping us to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. In this comprehensive study, we reviewed the full spectrum of mHealth systems and research enabling us to identify both what can be used to address COVID-19 now and also in the future. The research focussed on all aspects of COVID-19 care from using novel technologies to help improve diagnostic triage to the physiological monitoring of field hospital patients and front line workers using wearable sensors and AI tools. "The alarming growth of COVID-19 cases has highlighted the shortcomings of healthcare systems, governmental policies, and wider societal issues. Therefore in this important research work we have developed a framework to rapidly assess digital health solutions to help the public, patients and clinicians to deal with this pandemic. Clinically we have divided our findings into the distinct domains of preventative, acute and recovery care. Our approach gives authorities an evidence based toolbox to implement state of the art remote patient and frontline worker vital sign monitoring solutions. In addition we outline the ideal criteria and examples of both occupational and general public contact tracing solutions, such as the recent HSE COVID-19 Tracker App." Paolo Bonato, PhD, Director of the Spaulding Motion Analysis Lab, was the lead author on the study. “To be able to activate a diverse group of experts with such a singular focus speaks to the commitment the entire research and science community has in addressing this pandemic. Our goal is to quickly get important findings into the hands of the clinical community so we continue to build effective interventions,” said Dr Bonato. Telehealth usage and mHealth technologies has gained the attention of the public at large. While telehealth has allowed patients to stay connected for ongoing appointments and check-ins, wearable mHealth technologies provide a significant opportunity for data collection and mHealth technology could be used to monitor patients with mild symptoms who have tested positive for COVID-19. These patients are typically instructed to self-quarantine at home or undergo monitoring at community treatment centers. However, a portion of them eventually experience an exacerbation, namely the sudden occurrence of severe symptoms, and require hospitalisation. In this context, mHealth technology could enable early detection of such exacerbations, allowing clinicians to deliver necessary interventions in a timely manner thus improving clinical outcomes. The Task Force paper concluded that Smartphone applications enabling self-reports and wearable sensors enabling physiological data collection could be used to monitor clinical personnel and detect early signs of an outbreak in the hospital/healthcare settings. They also reported similarly, in the community, early detection of COVID-19 cases could be achieved by building upon prior studies which showed that by using wearable sensors to capture resting heart rate and sleep duration it is possible to predict influenza-like illness rates as well as COVID-19 epidemic trends. Professor O’Keeffe continued: "Practically we have identified several Telemedicine options for the provision of chronic clinical care using state of the art wearable physiological sensors. We have also looked to the future horizon at emerging mHealth technology solutions (e.g. robotics) to establish what new techniques we could harness to improve our management COVID-19. Finally we have highlighted the importance of cross platform data integration, AI tools and privacy issues to ensure the use of optimum mHealth solutions." “The better data and tracking we can collect using mHealth technologies can help public health experts understand the scope and spread of this virus and most importantly hopefully help more people get the care they need earlier. Our hope is to build on more studies from here and continue to expand our understanding,” said Bonato Individuals can visit to learn more about the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Tá an tOllamh Breandán Mac Suibhne ceaptha ina Stiúrthóir Léinn ar Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in OÉ Gaillimh. Is é Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge príomhaonad na hOllscoile a bhfuil de chúram air ról na hOllscoile maidir le feabhsú, forbairt agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge agus an Ardoideachais i nGaeilge a stiúradh; ar sprioc í sin atá sainmhínithe sa reachtaíocht. Is ráiteas tábhachtach ag an Ollscoil é Stiúrthóir Léinn a cheapadh ag leibhéal Ollaimh chun tacú le cur chun cinn na Gaeilge sa tír i gcoitinne agus sna Gaeltachtaí go háirithe. Is de bhunadh iarthar Dhún na nGall é Breandán agus tá sé ag teacht go OÉ Gaillimh tar éis saol acadúil a chaitheamh sna Stáit Aontaithe agus in Éirinn. Is scoláire agus staraí mór le rá é ar shochaí agus ar chultúr na hÉireann sa nua-aois. Ainmníodh a leabhar The End of Outrage: Post Famine Adjustment in Rural Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2017) mar Leabhar Neamhfhicsin na Bliana de chuid an Irish Times in 2017, ba é an chéad údar é ar ar bronnadh Duais Dhébhliantúil Michel Déon don Neamhfhicisin de chuid Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann agus ghnóthaigh sé Duais Donnelly do Leabhair faoin Stair agus faoin Eolaíocht Shóisialta ón gComhdháil Mheiriceánach do Léann na hÉireann. Ba é Mac Suibhne agus an criticeoir Seamus Deane céad eagarthóirí an Field Day Review (2005-), iris faoin bpolaitíocht agus faoin gcultúr liteartha. Agus fáilte á cur aige roimh an gceapachán nua, deir an tOllamh Cathal O’Donoghue, Déan na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh: “Is deis ollmhór é an ról ceannaireachta seo chun uaillmhianta na hOllscoile maidir leis an nGaeilge a mhúnlú agus a stiúradh agus chun ceannaireacht a thabhairt don fhoireann ghairmiúil is mó sa tír a bhfuil d’aidhm acu an teanga a chur chun cinn. Tá an-taithí agus an-chumas ag an Ollamh Mac Suibhne le tionchar suntasach a imirt sa ról seo.” -Críoch-

Monday, 10 August 2020

Call for the public to help discover if recreational water users are more at risk of picking up lethal bacteria A team of researchers at NUI Galway is calling on swimmers and surfers to take part in a project to find out if recreational water users are more at risk of picking up superbugs. The Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbial Ecology Research Group at the University is launching the PIER study (Public Health Impact of Exposure to antibiotic Resistance in recreational waters), funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Researchers are hoping to recruit 300 people to take part – one group of 150 sea swimmers, surfers and people who regularly use the sea, lakes or rivers for recreation, along with a second group of 150 people who rarely take to the water. Anyone aged 18 or over who lives on the island of Ireland can take part and those interested in supporting the research can find out more and sign up at the PIER website A key part of the project will be understanding how superbugs get into human populations, particularly to help scientists learn how to control the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is hoped that the findings of this study will contribute to improving policy regarding environmental monitoring of antibiotic resistance and the release of waste containing superbugs to recreational waters. Professor Dearbháile Morris, Principal Investigator on the PIER project says: “In healthy people antibiotic resistant bacteria behave very similarly to other common bugs, they live harmlessly on the skin, in the nose or in the bowel. This is called colonisation. As long as a bug stays on the skin or in the bowel, it usually does not cause a problem. “However, once a superbug gets into a wound, into the bladder or into the blood, it can cause an infection that can be difficult to treat. This mostly happens in sick or vulnerable people with weaker immune systems, such as those in intensive care, the very old or the very young, and special antibiotics are then required for treatment, as ordinary antibiotics do not work.”   Professor Morris continues: “Unfortunately, superbugs can transfer easily from healthy colonised people to vulnerable people. The more people who are colonised with antibiotic resistant bugs, the higher the risk that these bugs will spread to vulnerable people and cause serious infection.” Dr Liam Burke, Co-Investigator on the PIER project, says: “Some superbugs are now very common in the environment due to increased antibiotic use in humans and animals and the release of sewage, manure and effluent containing antibiotics and antibiotic resistant superbugs, which can end up in our lakes, rivers and seas. “Although bathing waters are routinely tested for some bacteria, they are not tested for antibiotic resistant bacteria, so we don’t really know to what extent they are present. PIER will look into whether people who regularly use Irish waters for recreation are at risk of becoming colonised with superbugs.” For more information and to register to take part visit -Ends-

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

NUI Galway Societies win three awards at 24th annual awards NUI Galway has retained its position as the top ranked third level institution for societies after collecting the two top best society awards at the national society awards. At an event livestreamed by the Board of Irish College Society (BICS) Awards from the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone, NUI Galway brought its tally for awards since 1996 to 75. Following detailed entries for the awards including a portfolio and short video presentation, NUI Galway excelled in three categories at the 2020 awards night: Best Society in a Charity of Civic Field – Sláinte Society Best Society in a Cultural, Academic or Social Field – Dramsoc Best Event – Akumakon, Anime & Manga Society Ríona Hughes, NUI Galway Societies Officer and BICS Executive Member, said: “As a member of the BICS Executive and co-host of the event I am thrilled we were able to produce such an interactive event for our 23 member colleges and even more so that NUI Galway once again proved what a top class institution it is for the whole student experience. “Months of planning went into the interactive awards night for students and staff. We featured an impressive new set-up with over 250 groups streaming the awards live, at zoom parties or in person at socially distancing parties implementing all Government Covid-19 guidelines. “It’s yet another demonstration of the can do attitude of colleges and universities in the face of such challenging times. “As NUI Galway Societies Officer I could not be more proud of our societies and I am humbled with the way they have coped with lockdown and continue to engage with us and their members, under very trying circumstances - it augurs well for the coming semester.” Ms Hughes congratulated all NUI Galway societies nominated for awards. Ms Hughes added: “We want to build on the successes of our societies and we are deep in to planning for the NUI Galway Virtual Summer Festival from August 26-29 which will feature a wide array of events from NUI Galway and the creative Galway community. Anyone who is interested can get details on www.socs.nuigalway.” Ends

Featured Stories