Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Researchers at NUI Galway are aiming to use a national survey into HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings to tackle the issue and improve health outcomes for people with the disease. The first Joint National Survey on HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings will mean Ireland will be the first country in Europe that will have this kind of national-level data. The study is being launched this week by researchers at the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway. It can be accessed at www.nuigalway.ie/hiv-stigma-survey. It is the first of its kind in Europe as the researchers aim to learn both from people living with HIV and also those who provide healthcare for them. The survey aims to measure stigma in healthcare settings, and is part of a wider study to develop guidelines to reduce HIV-related stigma and improve healthcare outcomes for people living with HIV.  Dr Elena Vaughan, NUI Galway researcher and principal investigator on the Addressing HIV-stigma in Healthcare settings study, said: “This research will help us to get a sense of what the needs and priorities are - both of people working in healthcare and people living with HIV - so that a collaborative approach may be taken to address stigma in healthcare settings. “Experiences of stigma in healthcare settings can put people off engaging with healthcare services. This can have negative impacts on a person’s health. There is also evidence to suggest that stigma inhibits people from accessing testing and treatment, and so is a driver of the epidemic more broadly.” Approximately 7,000 people are living with HIV in Ireland.  Massive strides in the treatment of HIV mean that it is now easily managed with medication. People living with HIV are living long healthy lives and cannot pass on the virus when they are on effective treatment. However, stigma remains a serious problem for many people living with HIV, and this can affect their health and well-being Reducing HIV-related stigma is widely acknowledged as a key part of addressing the HIV epidemic.  In 2019, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway were signed up to the Fast Track Cities Initiative – a global collaboration between UNAIDS, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), and 300 cities and municipalities worldwide. The objective is to work towards reaching zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination by 2030. Stigma reduction is also a stated aim of the Sustainable Development Goals, to which Ireland has also committed.   Dr Elena Vaughan said: “Stigma in healthcare settings is among the key indicators recommended by UNAIDS to measure and evaluate the HIV response in individual countries. In addition to providing important information to help us reduce stigma in healthcare settings, the data generated from this project will be useful to programme and policy-makers in tracking progress in meeting commitments both to the SDGs and the Fast Track Cities Initiative. Ireland will be the first country in Europe that will have this kind of national-level data.” The survey is being launched just ahead of Irish AIDS Day on June 15, 2022 and will be live for the month of June. The project is supported by HIV Ireland and funded by the Irish Research Council. Ends

Monday, 30 May 2022

Survey shows that 30% of respondents will change jobs - even if it means a pay cut - if their remote working preferences are not facilitated    Researchers from the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway and the Western Development Commission have revealed that almost one third of workers are willing to move to a new job to secure their remote working preferences. The findings are from the third annual National Remote Working Survey, led by Professor Alma McCarthy and Noreen O’Connor at NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin and Deirdre Frost at the Western Development Commission. The survey gathered responses from more than 8,400 employees, in late April and early May, on their current experience of remote working. Findings include: -      Of those who could work remotely, 52% were currently working hybrid, 40% fully remotely, and only 8% were fully on-site -      If their future remote working preferences were not facilitated, 30% of all respondents indicated that they will change job, with 33% indicating they may change jobs even if it meant a pay cut -      37% indicated that they will change job and 27% indicated they are open to the possibility of changing jobs, even if it means less promotion opportunities if their future remote working preferences were not facilitated. -      49% of all respondents clock more hours while remote working, compared to working on-site; 45% work the same hours, and 6% reported that they work fewer hours -      30% of respondents indicated they spent 30 minutes to an hour of the time they saved commuting working; 27% spent up to half an hour; and 14% spent 1 to 1.5 hours -      Almost half, 49%, believe remote working has no impact on opportunities for promotion, with 33% not yet knowing the impact. 9% believe there is a positive impact while 9% believe there is a negative impact on promotion opportunities. Minister for Rural and Community Affairs, Heather Humphreys, T.D., said: “The Government’s Rural Development Policy, Our Rural Future, clearly recognises the vital role that remote working can play in achieving balanced regional development. Remote workers support local economies and help sustain communities. “At a time when there are labour market shortages, remote working can help companies attract and retain talent. So much excellent work has been done in the last few years to support remote workers and employers - these survey results will build on that work, providing up-to-date information on remote working experience of employees. I have no doubt that this will help enable us to make the right decisions at this crucial time. “With the support of the Western Development Commission, NUI Galway and other institutions, my Department has played a leading role in making remote working a permanent reality for so many post Covid-19. Through continued investment in our Digital Hub infrastructure, underpinned by the Connected Hubs initiative, we will continue to build on this work throughout 2022.” Professor Alma McCarthy, Head of the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “The third annual NUI Galway/Western Development Commission national remote working survey has, once again, gained huge interest with more than 8,400 responses. “We added a new module asking if remote working was a key factor in changing employer and career decision making. It is interesting to see that of those who changed employer since the outbreak of Covid-19, nearly half - 47% - indicated that remote working was a key factor in their decision to change employer.” Tomás Ó Síocháin, chief executive of the Western Development Commission, said: “The findings of the latest national survey highlight a further change in the way we view remote working and indicate that Irish workers expect to continue working remotely either all of the time or to find a balance in line with their lifestyle. “Leaders will now be challenged to look at ways of supporting their staff and find that balance to avoid retention issues. The ConnectedHubs.ie network now with over 230 hubs onboard across the country can play a key role offering a suitable workplace close to home, a space for offsite meetups and an opportunity for companies to cut down on their carbon footprint.” Further data from the National Remote Working Survey showed - While more than half of respondents (58%) had never worked remotely before the pandemic, 76% either agreed or strongly agreed that working remotely makes their job easier, and 95% either agreed or strongly agreed that working remotely makes their life easier.  Some 27% of respondents have changed employer since 2020. Of these, 47% indicated that remote working was a key factor in their decision as their new employer offered better opportunities in this area. The top five activities for which respondents spent the time saved on commuting are - household duties (e.g. cleaning, shopping, DIY); exercise; working on their main job; relaxation; and caring responsibilities. When asked about the future of remote working the survey showed: -      50% of respondents said their organisation has confirmed how they will work in the future, while 22% are in a trial phase. -      Of the 50% whose organisations have confirmed their future working patterns, 61% of respondents indicated that they will work hybrid; 30% will work completely remotely; and only 9% will work fully on-site. -      Of those who will work hybrid into the future, 36% are expected to be on-site a minimum of two days a week; 24% a minimum of three days; 17% a minimum of one day; and 3% are expected to be on-site a minimum of four days a week; 8% are expected to be on-site several days a month; and 12% indicated “other” expectations of their employer about being on-site. The vast majority of respondents indicated remote working is impacting employee attraction and retention in their organisation. 88% strongly agree and agree with the statement that their organisation needs to offer remote/hybrid working to attract staff and 90% strongly agree and agree with the statement that their organisation needs to offer remote/hybrid working to retain staff.   The research team has expedited the analysis of initial summary findings of the third annual national remote working survey and the report can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3a0W2F2. The reports from the 2020 and 2021 Remote Working Surveys are available from NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute, https://bit.ly/3lyVAk1, and the Western Development Commission, https://bit.ly/3wKx30z. Ends

Friday, 20 May 2022

Three primary schools have been named top of the class in a national competition showcasing randomised trials. The Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) is held every year, with this year’s best randomised trials awarded the START Trophy 2022. This year, the top three are all from Galway, with their success and their trial questions celebrated at a special event at NUI Galway, as part of the Health Research Board-Trials Methodology Research Network. The primary schools are:  Scoil Bhríge agus Bhreandáin Naofa, Corrandulla, Galway Do 5-minute movement breaks between subjects help improve concentration? Gaelscoil Dara, Renmore, Co. Galway:  An bhfoghlaimíonn páistí níos fearr ó mhúinteoir ná ó chéile? Do children learn better from a teacher or from each other? Claregalway Educate Together, Claregalway, Co. Galway Does 5 minutes of exercise help children focus for a test compared to children who do not exercise As part of the START competition, primary schools were invited to create their very own fun randomised trial, with the top three brought on campus to celebrate their achievements and explain some of their work. It is a fun, project-based approach to learning about randomised trials. It also helps meet key aspects of the current school curriculum in several subjects including maths, science, SPHE and ICT. Commenting on the START competition, Professor Declan Devane, Scientific Director of the HRB-TMRN at NUI Galway, said: “We started this competition for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to raise awareness of the importance of randomised trials with children. Secondly, we wanted to harness the creativity and imagination of children in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of trials. The high standard and variety of applications we receive each year demonstrates that the START competition has indeed raised the awareness of randomised trials and capitalised on children’s innate ability to explain difficult concepts clearly and in a fun way. We are very proud of all our applications.” Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said: “The questions devised by each of these finalists are fascinating. The curiosity and creativity of their bright young minds perfectly captures the essence of the START competition. I really look forward to seeing the answers their randomised trials deliver. However, I do not envy the judging panel as it will be extremely difficult choosing a winner! The best of luck to all finalists from everyone at the HRB.” START encourages children to learn more about healthcare decisions and how we can improve health and wellbeing by learning about randomised trials.  Sometimes called clinical trials, randomised trials are a type of research study often used to find out if a new medicine or treatment works. The decision about which treatment a person gets is decided at random (often by a computer) rather than being decided by the doctor or research participant. This means that we can be more certain that any differences in the results between the groups are caused by the treatment, and not by differences in the characteristics of the people who take part in the trials.  The competition is run by the Health Research Board-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TRMN), which is a collaborative Network across five University partners - NUI Galway, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the University of Limerick. It is held to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day and the anniversary of the first clinical trial carried out in 1747 in the British Navy. Three judges selected the three shortlisted schools : Iseult Mangan, Former Primary School Principal Cloghans Hill NS (2017 START winner) and Teen Turn Mentor  Professor Shaun Treweek, Professor of Health Services Research, University of Aberdeen, UK Sarah Chapman, Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK. To learn more about START visit: https://startcompetition.com Follow on social @STARTSchools or facebook.com/hrb.tmrn Ends

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Cell Explorers has celebrated ten successful years of informing, inspiring and involving the public in hands-on modern biology.  The science education and public engagement programme, based at NUI Galway, is delivered nationally by the University and its nine partner institutions: Atlantic Technological University in Donegal Letterkenny and Galway City; Dundalk Institute of Technology; Future Neuro, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases; Munster Technological University in Cork and Kerry; South East Technological University, Carlow; Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands MidWest; University College Cork; University College Dublin in the National Virus Reference Laboratory; and University of Limerick. First created in 2012 by founding director Dr Muriel Grenon and ten project students, Cell Explorers was piloted with funding from the EXPLORE Innovation initiative: a project by NUI Galway and its Student’s Union, which supported collaborations between staff and students.  The next two years saw the Cell Explorers educational outreach model developing further with funding from Royal Dublin Society, the Galway Science and Technology Festival, Science Foundation Ireland, and The Wellcome Trust. Ten years later, Cell Explorers has expanded nationally to 13 teams. It has delivered either in-person or remotely-facilitated hands-on science to 750 classes in 500 schools, and activities to 26 counties across the Republic of Ireland.  Having raised close to €1 million for several projects, and secured Science Foundation Ireland support since its inception, it has trained more than 2,600 Cell Explorers scientists, students and staff. It has engaged more than 45,000 young people and their families in hands-on science in Ireland.  The programme has also started to develop its own research to understand how to combat misconceptions and stereotypes that relate to science and scientists and which prevent young people from seeing that science could be for them. Professor Phillip Nolan, Director of Science Foundation Ireland, noted: “I would like to pay tribute to all involved in the Cell Explorers programme, in particular past and present volunteers and coordinators of its 13 teams. By acting as authentic role models and sharing your excitement in research and innovation, you are helping to engage our young people, so that they maintain an interest in science and consider pursuing a career in research. Thank you for making a real difference to our society and the growth of the research community in Ireland.” The Cell Explorers programme has become a reference in terms of public engagement in science in Ireland and internationally. In 2019, the programme received the Outstanding Contribution to Science Communication award by Science Foundation Ireland. It is a member of the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA) and a part of Scientix, the community for science education in Europe, as well as the 'Falling Walls Engage' community, ranking in the top 50 of their global competition in 2021. Professor Ciarán Ó hOgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “As I reflect on and note the Cell Explorers mission - to Inform, Inspire and Involve - a mission that the team has remained true to throughout the exponential growth in their first ten years, I can’t help but hear echoes of our own Institutions core values - respect, excellence, openness and sustainability.  “These are the values that NUI Galway strives to uphold, to sustain and support each other and, through combined effort, to work for the public good and enhance our university’s distinctiveness. That these very same values have underpinned the Cell Explorers model from its onset a decade ago speaks to the value this programme brings to our University community and society more generally.” For further information on Cell Explorers network visit https://www.cellexplorers.com/our-teams. -Ends-

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Controlling high blood pressure and diabetes and following a healthier lifestyle from an earlier age could reduce risk of dementia in older age  NUI Galway teams up with Boston University and the University of Texas with study urging personalised rather than one size fits all approach to risk prediction International research led by NUI Galway has identified the most important risk factors for dementia in middle-aged and older people.  The study, which also involved researchers in Boston University, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio, examined data from 5,000 people to assess potential predictors for loss of cognitive function. The most important vascular risk factors for dementia were: at age 55 - high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus at age 65 - cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attacks or angina) at ages 70 and 75 - diabetes mellitus and previous stroke at age 80 - diabetes mellitus, previous stroke and not taking blood-pressure lowering medication The study was published today in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology and was led by Professor Emer McGrath, Associate Professor at the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Neurologist at Saolta University Hospitals. The researchers measured risk factors for dementia, including age, sex, blood pressure, use of blood pressure lowering medication, a history of cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation and diabetes mellitus. The patient data was sourced from thousands of people who took part in the US-based Framingham Heart Study. Risk factors were measured at mid-life (i.e. 55) and again at ages 65, 70, 75 and 80 years-old. Professor McGrath said: “Accurately predicting a person’s future risk of dementia could inform personalised approaches to risk factor and lifestyle modification to help reduce that risk. However, predicting this is challenging as the relationship between dementia and vascular risk factors such as diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease and stroke varies with age.” “We found that people who had diabetes at the age of 55 were four times more likely to go on to develop dementia than people who did not have diabetes at that age” “People with heart disease at age 65 were nearly twice as likely to later develop dementia as those who did not have a heart condition, while people with a stroke at age 70 were over three times as likely to develop dementia compared to those with no stroke”. “Our study shows that predicting a person’s risk of dementia needs to be very much tailored towards the individual, taking into account their age, sex, vascular risk factors and evidence of organ damage, such as previous heart attack or stroke.  “Based on this research, we should probably be looking at more individualised, age-specific dementia risk scores, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to dementia risk prediction.” According to the Alzheimer’s Association of Ireland, 64,000 people are living with dementia in Ireland. It is estimated that the number of people with the condition will more than double in the next 25 years to more than 150,000 by 2045.  Professor McGrath said: “Our research has important implications for dementia prevention at a population-level. Controlling vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus, adopting healthier eating habits and following an active lifestyle, particularly at the early to mid-life stage, could significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia down the line.” Professor Sudha Seshadri, co-author of the study, is Professor of Neurology and Director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio and Senior Investigator with the Framingham Heart Study.  Professor Seshadri said “At younger ages, vascular risk factors like blood pressure seemed more important. At older ages, the effects of long-standing exposure to risk factors in the form of organ damage, such as stroke, seemed to best predict risk of dementia.” “Diabetes has been identified as one of seven risk factors responsible for up to one-third of cases of Alzheimer’s disease dementia and represents an important modifiable target for dementia prevention at a population-level.” Ends

Monday, 16 May 2022

The scholarship, valued at €10,000 per student, supports undergraduate students from County Roscommon each year   Monday May 16, 2022: NUI Galway and the Jones family have announced the extension of the Pauline and Bunnie Jones Scholarship Scheme for 2022.    Supported by the Jones family of Tulsk, Co Roscommon, in honour of their parents Pauline and Bunnie Jones, the scholarship was established to encourage academic achievement and support students from the county who are enrolling in an undergraduate degree at NUI Galway.   Now in its third year, the scholarships are valued at €10,000 per student. They are awarded to four students - two from Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown, and two others to students of any other secondary school in Co. Roscommon, who present the highest Leaving Certificate scores.   Speaking about the scholarship, Adrian Jones said: “We are investing in Roscommon’s future, in honour of our parents who made great sacrifices to invest in us. They both believed passionately in the transformative power of learning. Our father’s formal education ended at 12 but, in his 40s, he earned a Diploma in Social Studies, made possible by the dedication of Michael D. Higgins, then lecturing at NUI Galway. Our mother went back to NUI Galway, her alma mater, in her 70s to study Archaeology.” In 2021/2022, scholarships were awarded to: Gwen O’Rourke, Ciara Kennedy and Kellie McDermott of Scoil Mhuire in Strokestown; Shane Carr from Abbey Community College in Boyle; Michael Lohan, Vocational School, Roscommon; and Ronan Tumbek of Castelrea Community School. To be eligible for the award, students are required to have attended and sat the Leaving Certificate at any school in County Roscommon. They must apply for any full-time undergraduate course at NUI Galway through the CAO system, and upon receipt and acceptance of a CAO offer, register as a student of NUI Galway by the due registration date. Students are required to complete an expression of interest in the scholarship on or before Sunday, 1 August 2022. Full details of the scholarship scheme and the expression of interest form are available online: www.nuigalway.ie/roscommonscholarship/ Ends

Monday, 16 May 2022

NUI Galway is now accepting applications for its Taught Masters Scholarship Scheme. The merit-based scheme are valued at €1,500 per student and is open to all EU students undertaking a full-time Taught Masters Programme who have a first-class honours (or equivalent) in a Level 8 primary degree. NUI Galway offer 200 taught postgraduate programmes across all disciplines. Over 50 of the postgraduate courses are delivered fully online or via blended learning, so especially suit those who are working full or part-time, want to upskill, and enhance their career prospects. For the 2021–22 academic year, NUI Galway awarded 254 Taught Masters Scholarship towards student’s postgraduate studies. NUI Galway Masters student Emily Atkinson said: “The postgraduate scholarship is a fantastic opportunity that rewards and incentivises the hard work it takes to achieve first class honours. The scholarship allowed me prioritise finding the right postgraduate course for me, and to focus on my studies during my MSc Consumer Psychology.” Scholarship recipient Christina Gleeson said: “Without the postgraduate scholarship, it would have been more financially challenging to take on a Master’s degree after my undergraduate degree. The scholarship was a driving factor to not only achieve my goals in getting a ​first-class honours undergraduate degree in Psychology, but also it stood to me financially, and in feeling confident in my level of education going into my MSc in Clinical Neuroscience.” Applications are now open those starting graduate studies in September 2022, and the closing date for applications is 31 August 2022.   For more information on the scholarship scheme email postgrad@nuigalway.ie or visit https://www.nuigalway.ie/postgraduate_scholarships/. Ends

Friday, 13 May 2022

NUI Galway has announced the first student to be awarded the Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship.    Alan Donnelly, a native of Killala, Co Mayo, is a first year BSc Financial Mathematics and Economics student. During his fifth year in Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, he developed a suite of Digital Flashcards to help with revision when he was travelling to school on the bus.  The Digital Flashcards become very popular with classmates and teachers, Alan created a charity donation list, and students who donated were sent a copy of the cards. The Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship is funded through the generous philanthropic support of the Liffey Trust. The scholarship will help to support students in the University’s newly launched student innovation and entrepreneurship hub, IdeasLab. It will also help to promote the concepts of job creation, entrepreneurial development and education for life for undergraduate students commencing their studies.  Alan said: “I am incredibly honoured to be the inaugural recipient of the Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship. I was very fortunate to have wonderful teachers in Gornor Abbey who supported my entrepreneurial spirit. Being a student in NUI Galway I can develop these skills further through working with the IdeasLab and the Consultants and Entrepreneurship Society.  “Through the award of the Scholarship, I am also connected with students from across Ireland through The Liffey Trust and I look forward to developing my knowledge and my network through all of these opportunities.” Alongside his studies at NUI Galway, Alan is actively engaged in the student entrepreneurship community working with IdeasLab and the NUI Galway Consultants and Entrepreneurs Society. Chairman of The Liffey Trust, Aidan Corless said: “Alan has what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and we are delighted to sponsor his journey through NUI Galway, who are leading the way in promoting entrepreneurs. Alan joins other Seamus McDermott Entrepreneurial scholars from other institutions and is now connected to our business hub in Dublin.”  The Liffey Trust was established more than 30 years ago and has been supporting entrepreneurs to establish and grow new businesses since then. The NUI Galway scholarship is named in honour of the founder of the Liffey Trust, Galway native Séamus McDermott, in recognition of his contribution to entrepreneurship in Ireland.  First year undergraduate students at NUI Galway can apply for a scholarship valued at up to €9,000 for the duration of their studies at the University. The next call for applicants will commence in October 2022.  For further information on the scholarship contact ideaslab@nuigalway.ie.  Ends

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

NUI Galway co-leads European dialogue highlighting its place as a world top 50 university for sustainable development  The planned regeneration of Nun’s Island in Galway City is to feature at a special event held as part of NUI Galway’s role in the European ENLIGHT University Alliance. The European Dialogue conference is hosted by Uppsala University, Sweden and co-led by NUI Galway and takes place this week, May 11-12, 2022 on the theme of Sustainable Urban Development. The conference will involve representatives from Galway City Council, the Western Development Commission and Galway Chamber as stakeholders in the development of the west of Ireland and Galway region.  This week’s ENLIGHT European Dialogue is an opportunity for the universities and stakeholders from across the nine regions in the partnership to connect, learn and reflect on novel approaches to the pressing challenge of sustainable urban development. Key sustainable urban development projects will be showcased and discussed, including NUI Galway’s partnership with Galway City Council on the regeneration of Nun’s Island to create collaborative cultural spaces. Professor Becky Whay, NUI Galway’s Vice President International, said: “The ENLIGHT alliance exemplifies NUI Galway’s commitment to openness and diversity in our University, creating international opportunities for students and staff, as well as connecting Galway and the wider western region with the ENLIGHT cities and regions. NUI Galway wants to excite our students and staff, attracting world class partners that better enable us to contribute to broader transformations at local, national and global levels and ENLIGHT is a key contributor to this.” NUI Galway is the number one university in Ireland and a world top-50 for sustainable development, according to the Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings.  Paul Dodd, NUI Galway’s Vice President Engagement, said: “NUI Galway is building on the foundation of strong regional partnerships through ENLIGHT to enable deeper engagement on big challenges facing society.  “ENLIGHT affords us and our stakeholders a great opportunity to create a dialogue on sustainable urban development at a European level and showcase best practice in the university – a world top-50 for sustainable development.  “Our focus is also on learning from challenges being put forward by colleagues across the network and using these to form the basis for challenge-based education projects and research collaborations, and new opportunities for our students and staff.” ENLIGHT is a partnership of nine universities, supported by the Government and the European Commission, to build a platform for the creation a new type of European university campus where students and staff have increased opportunities for international study, training, teaching, research and sharing of services. The ENLIGHT University Alliance includes - NUI Galway; Comenius University, Bratislava (Slovakia); University of Groningen (Netherlands); University of Bordeaux (France); Gent University (Belgium); University of Tartu (Estonia); University of Gottingen (Germany); University of the Basque Country (Spain); Uppsala University (Sweden). ENLIGHT aims to collaboratively transform higher education, addressing societal challenges and promoting equitable quality of life, sustainability and external engagement with the communities of the partner universities. Ends

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Sligo students at the University’s School of Law named Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholars Two NUI Galway law students from Sligo have been awarded special scholarships created in partnership between the global law firm DLA Piper and the University’s School of Law. Annie Forde, from Enniscrone, Co Sligo, and Joan Ighile, from Sligo Town have been named the Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholars for the academic year 2021/2022. Both students are undertaking the undergrad degree Law (BCL), Criminology and Criminal Justice, at NUI Galway’s School of Law. The Terence O’Malley DLA Piper Scholarship is named after the Chairman Emeritus of the law firm who has family roots in the west of Ireland. It provides funding and support to enable and empower successful students to study a law degree at NUI Galway and is awarded in-part on academic merit. Maura Dineen, Partner at DLA Piper, met with the scholars on campus and shared interesting insights into her fascinating career advising domestic and international clients on tax matters. Ms Dineen said: “We are proud to partner with NUI Galway’s School of Law to support deserving students like Annie and Joan, as they pursue their studies in law. It was a pleasure to visit the campus, talk to the students about their experience and hear the positive impact the Terence O’Malley DLA Piper scholarship has had on their studies so far. We wish all of the students the very best in their studies and look forward to seeing what innovative thinking they contribute to the industry in the future.” Professor Martin Hogg, Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to have the continued support by DLA Piper of two more students under this scholarship programme. The educational opportunities which these scholarships afford are highly valued by the School and by the scholars and we’re very grateful to DLA Piper for this investment in two lawyers of the future.” The scholarship supports scholars throughout their four-year law degree to the value of €2,500 annually (total value of €10,000 per scholar). It is open to first year students who are enrolled in one of NUI Galway’s five full law degrees and have a home address in the west of Ireland (to include all counties in Connacht plus counties Donegal and Clare).  Annie Forde said: “Studying Law at NUI Galway has been a highly enjoyable experience and I am grateful that DLA Piper are able to support me in my academic endeavours. This scholarship has had a positive impact on my life and I hope that in my future legal career that I can make a positive change in people’s lives.” Joan Ighile said: “This scholarship has given me the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy my study of Law at NUI Galway with lessened financial stress. It has been a great support to me, and I’d like to thank DLA Piper for their great generosity in continuing to support Irish students pursuing a career in Law." The Scholarship was launched in 2020 at NUI Galway following Terence O’Malley’s retirement from a highly-regarded legal career, serving in various roles including as DLA Piper's US Managing Partner, US Co-Chairman, and Global Co-Chief executive officer. The inaugural scholars were Ava Cullinan, Law (BCL) student from Kilrush, Co Clare and Emily Donnellan, Law (BCL), Criminology and Criminal Justice student from Maree, Co Galway. In addition to the scholarship, a separate annual Terence O’Malley DLA Piper bursary is awarded to a NUI Galway Law student achieving the highest grade in the University’s Law and Innovation module.  DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. DLA Piper established in Ireland in 2019 with offices in Dublin.  DLA Piper clients range from multinational, Global 1000, and Fortune 500 enterprises to emerging companies developing industry-leading technologies. For full details about this scholarship, including terms and conditions, visit: www.nuigalway.ie/dlapiperscholarship   Ends

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

NUI Galway has launched a short documentary - ‘From Tehran to Galway: Professor Afshin Samali’s journey from refugee to cancer research scientist’.    The production tells the story of Professor Samali, Professor for Cancer Biology at NUI Galway, who came to Ireland as a refugee in his late teens in 1985.  The short film highlights Professor Samali’s family’s experience escaping a conflict zone and their integration into Irish society.   In highlighting Professor Samali’s story, NUI Galway - a designated University of Sanctuary - hopes to inspire its community to be more accepting of cultural differences, open to new experiences and to better participate in welcoming our diverse community.   Professor Samali was born in Iran and is a member of the Baháʼí faith which advocates peace and unity and equality between men and women. As one of the Baháʼí leaders, Afshin’s stepfather was wanted by the authorities where he potentially faced imprisonment and execution, like other Baháʼí leaders.  Rather than denounce their religion, Afshin’s family abandoned their privileged life, raising money to pay smugglers to take them from Iran, navigating traitorous mountains, ravines and deserts, and negotiating with boarder control to Pakistan where they registered as refugees with UNHCR. As part of a group of 26 refugees, Afshin’s family as were resettled in Ireland in response to Ireland's humanitarian remit, and in December in 1985 the Samali family began their new life in Sligo.  Professor Samali said “I believe that we have interlinked responsibilities both to work on our own personal development and progress, and to collaborate with each other towards the betterment of our society. Education plays a central role in this dual moral responsibility as we develop our core values and a common vision for the type of society we want to live in. This belief has been a guiding compass in my personal journey.”  As a University of Sanctuary, NUI Galway has many entrance pathways and opportunities in higher education to support and inspire refugees.  In launching the documentary, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “The history of Ireland is a history of refugees. When NUI Galway was founded in 1845, Ireland was facing challenging times and our university made a profound and positive difference since in the progress of our region, the development of our nation and in international citizenship and human rights. Today, we continue that contribution of kindness by welcoming refugees to our university. The sharing of experiences enhances and positively changes both their lives and ours, as a university, as a community and as individuals.  “Consistent with our university’s values of Openness and Respect, Afshin’s journey as a refugee, illustrated so vividly in this documentary, is a truly inspiring example for all our students and staff alike. He has made an excellent contribution here, sustaining our mission in research, teaching and engagement. We are a better place for his presence and thank him for being here with us.”    Associate Professor Mary Dempsey, Vice Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, College of Science and Engineering, said: “Afshin’s academic contribution to our university has enriched both learning and research. His personal contribution has reinforced our core values and the importance of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.  “The College of Science and Engineering remains committed to supporting our University of Sanctuary scholars and as part of our Diversity initiative, highlighting role models such as our inspirational colleague Afshin, whilst giving our students a safe space, hope and an impetus to succeed.” ‘From Tehran to Galway: Professor Afshin Samali’s journey from refugee to cancer research scientist’ can be view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbFrGUyMDPw.  Ends 

Monday, 9 May 2022

Session to outline options for Access Programmes and Foundation Studies Diploma courses NUI Galway is hosting a special information session for prospective students eligible for alternative pathways into university. The event will be open to anyone seeking advice on courses available through the Access Centre and for people applying for part-time courses as mature students. The information session takes place on Thursday May 12 from 6.30-7.30pm in the O’Flaherty Theatre, Arts/Science Building. It will focus on Access Programme or Foundation Studies Diploma courses in 2022-23. Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager of NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said: “There are several options available to prospective students who are looking for an alternative admissions route to NUI Galway and who may require some extra guidance in deciding on their educational pathway and we are here to help, guide and support. “Our courses are designed to provide students with a strong foundation as they progress to third level. We have some fantastic graduates who have come through our courses and have gone on to great things.” Representatives from the Access Centre and Programme Coordinators will be at the information session to advise and answer questions and to support those who wish to take that first step into third level education. The Access Centre is currently accepting applications from school leavers and mature students for its full-time Access Programmes and its part-time Foundation Studies Diploma courses in Science, Technology and Engineering, and Business, Law, and Arts. The Access Programme is designed specifically as an alternative admission route to third level education for people from socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented at third level. It aims to support students to build confidence in themselves and their academic ability, and to support them to reach their full potential through core modules such as academic writing, IT skills, study skills and education guidance. Students also get the opportunity to do taster courses as an introductory to university before choosing an undergraduate degree. The Foundation Studies Diploma courses are intensive part-time courses taught over 26 weeks. They are open to mature applicants, aged 22 or over, who are interested in applying for entry to full-time undergraduate courses. For more information and to register for the information session visit www.nuigalway.ie/access, or contact access@nuigalway.ie for further details. Ends

Friday, 6 May 2022

Research reveals how cells rewire to survive and spread   Scientists at NUI Galway have discovered how cells related to one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer can rewire themselves to have a better chance of surviving and spreading to other sites in the body. The breakthrough finding by the team at the Apoptosis Research Centre in the University shows that a specific cell behaviour - known as the IRE1 stress response pathway - adapts the metabolism of triple negative breast cancer cells. Afshin Samali, Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Most importantly, our research at NUI Galway shows that in fact this cell behaviour can be reversed through the use of specialised drugs inhibiting IRE1.” The findings have been published today (6 May 2022) in the internationally renowned Nature Communications journal. The research focuses on cell behaviour in triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive and difficult to treat forms of breast cancer. It accounts for about 15% of all breast cancers diagnosed and is more common in younger women.  Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there are no targeted therapies available for triple negative breast cancer. The research highlighted how fast growing tumours often experience nutrient deprivation - meaning they lack what is required to grow and spread. However, cancer cells can rewire their metabolism - often referred to as metabolic reprogramming - to compensate for a low availability of nutrients.  The team at NUI Galway, led by Professor Afshin Samali and Professor Adrienne Gorman, demonstrate for the first time how the IRE1 stress response pathway rewires cancer cell metabolism. It does this by altering the levels of a key enzyme in lipid metabolism, which in turn increases the resistance of triple negative breast cancer cells to low nutrient conditions that often occur in the tumour. The research also shows how this resistance can be reversed through targeted treatment.  Afshin Samali, Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of the Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “The new era of precision oncology aims to tailor treatments to individual cancer patients. Here at NUI Galway, we have made a breakthrough and it is hugely exciting to identify new therapeutic target for triple negative breast cancer. “Our previous research showed that inhibition of IRE1 improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces relapse of this highly aggressive form of breast cancer. Building on that, we can now demonstrate that this same cell pathway works to create an environment which makes it easier for these breast cancer cells to survive.   “What our research also shows is that targeting IRE1, or switching off the response mechanism of IRE1, could be particularly beneficial for the many patients whose cancer cells rely on the specific metabolic reprogramming it induces.”   Professor in Biochemistry, Adrienne Gorman, said: ‘We are getting ever closer to understanding the intricacies of cancer. Identifying new therapeutic targets such as IRE1 that are part of the tumour’s support system is very significant in offering another way to combat cancer.’ Dr Katarzyna Mnich, one of the research team at NUI Galway, said: “This work has uncovered a previously unknown role for IRE1 in triple negative breast cancer and it shows we need further investigation into the biology of IRE1. Most importantly for patients, the research also supports further development of IRE1 inhibitors as therapeutics for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer.” The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the EU under the Horizon 2020 programme. Ends

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Teaching excellence at NUI Galway was celebrated at a special ceremony, where awards were presented to staff members for outstanding efforts in teaching. The President’s Awards for Teaching Excellence and the College Awards for Teaching Excellence recognise the commitment of teaching staff who strive to ensure students at the University receive the best learning experience. Professor Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Today’s event is an important event in the University’s calendar. It is about recognising, demonstrating our appreciation, and rewarding the very significant teaching contributions made by our staff. “Excellence is a core strategic value of NUI Galway with an objective to respect and support the ambition of our students and staff and these awards recognise and celebrate that pledge. On behalf of the University community, I want to commend the recipients for their commitment to enriching the student learning experience, particularly during the recent times of using remote learning, alternative and innovative technologies to engage with our students.” Recipients of the 2022 President’s Awards for Teaching Excellence: Dr John Murray, School of Natural Sciences Ms Ursula Connolly, School of Law Dr Rónán Kennedy, School of Law Dr Lindsay Myers, School of Languages, Literature and Culture  2022 College Awards for Teaching Excellence: College of Business, Public Policy and Law:  Dr Rónán Kennedy; Dr Sheila Malone; Ursula Connolly College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies Dr Lindsay Myers; Dr Richard Hull; Dr Su-Ming Khoo College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Dr Leo Quinlan; Dr Sharon Glynn; Dr Yvonne Finn College of Science and Engineering Dr Attracta Brennan; Dr Eoghan Clifford; Dr John Murray Deputy President and Registrar, Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, said: “Inspirational teaching has always been a key feature of the learning experience at NUI Galway and I wish to congratulate both those receiving College Awards and the winners of the President’s Awards - it is a tremendous recognition of your commitment to enriching the student learning experience. I would also like to congratulate the awardees from 2019/20 and 2021 who were nominated and recognised during the pandemic. It is wonderful to be able to mark your excellence over the last two years. “All winners this year and over the previous two years demonstrated a passion for teaching, evidenced strongly by outstanding student feedback on their teaching methods and approaches.” The Teaching Excellence ceremony also celebrated the 2021 and 2020 awardees, who were announced during online events during the pandemic. 2021 President’s Awards for Teaching Excellence  Dr Giuseppe Zurlo, College of Science and Engineering; Dr Eamon Ó Cofaigh, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; Dr Lorraine Morgan, College of Business, Public Policy and Law; and Dr Maeve O’Rourke, College of Business Public Policy and Law Team Award: Dr Katrina Lacey and Professor Gerard Wall, College of Science and Engineering 2019/20 President’s Awards for Teaching Excellence  Professor Mary Dempsey, College of Science and Engineering; Dr Aisling McCluskey, College of Science and Engineering; Professor Frances McCormack, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies; and Dr Ella Murphy, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Team Award: Therese Conway, Mike Hynes, and Professor Frances Fahy, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies Ends

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Rinneadh Feabhas Teagaisc a cheiliúradh in OÉ Gaillimh ag searmanas speisialta, mar ar bronnadh duaiseanna ar chomhaltaí foirne i ngeall ar sháriarrachtaí teagaisc. Le Gradaim an Uachtaráin don Fheabhas Teagaisc agus le Gradaim Choláiste don Teagaisc aithnítear tiomantas na foirne teagaisc a dhéanann a ndícheall le cinntiú go mbeidh an t-eispéaras foghlama is fearr ag mic léinn na hOllscoile. Dúirt an tOllamh Ó hÓgartaigh: “Is ócáid thábhachtach í ócáid an lae inniu i bhféilire na hOllscoile. Is é is ábhar di ná an cion suntasach teagaisc atá déanta ag ár bhfoireann a aithint, ár mbuíochas a chur in iúl as, agus gradaim a bhronnadh dá bharr. “Is croíluach straitéiseach de chuid OÉ Gaillimh é an barr feabhais agus tá sé mar aidhm againn meas a léiriú agus tacú le huaillmhian ár gcuid mac léinn agus comhaltaí foirne agus aithnítear agus ceiliúrtar an gealltanas sin leis na gradaim seo. Ar son phobail na hOllscoile, is áil liom na buaiteoirí a mholadh as ucht a dtiomantais d’éispéireas foghlama an mhic léinn a shaibhriú, go háirithe le deireanas le linn úsáid na dteicneolaíochtaí malartacha, nuálacha a bhaineann leis an bhfoghlaim chianda lenár gcuid mac léinn a theagasc.” Buaiteoirí Ghradaim an Uachtaráin 2022 don Fheabhas Teagaisc -      An Dr John Murray, Scoil na nEolaíochtaí Nádúrtha -      Ursula Connolly, Uasal, Scoil an Dlí -      An Dr Rónán Kennedy, Scoil an Dlí -      An Dr Lindsay Myers, Scoil na dTeangacha, na Litríochtaí agus na gCultúr Gradaim Choláiste 2022 don Fheabhas Teagasc: Coláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí agus an Dlí: -      An Dr Rónán Kennedy; an Dr Sheila Malone; Ursula Connolly Coláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta, agus an Léinn Cheiltigh -      An Dr Lindsay Myers; an Dr Richard Hull; an Dr Su-Ming Khoo Coláiste an Leighis, an Altranais agus na nEolaíochtaí Sláinte -      An Dr Leo Quinlan; an Dr Sharon Glynn; an Dr Yvonne Finn Coláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta -      An Dr Attracta Brennan; an Dr Eoghan Clifford; an Dr John Murray Bhí le rá ag an Uachtarán Ionaid agus Meabhránaí, an tOllamh Pól Ó Dochartaigh: “Bhí scoth an teagaisc ina ghné bhunúsach den eispéireas foghlama in OÉ Gaillimh riamh agus is mian liom comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leo siúd a bhfuil Gradaim Choláiste á mbronnadh orthu mar aon le buaiteoirí Ghradaim an Uachtaráin – is aitheantas iontach é ar bhur dtiomantas d’eispéireas foghlama an mhic léinn a shaibhriú. Ba mhaith liom tréaslú freisin le buaiteoirí 2019/20 agus 2021 a ainmníodh agus ar tugadh aitheantas dóibh le linn na paindéime. Is iontach an rud é a bheith in ann an barr feabhais atá bainte amach agaibh le dhá bhliain anuas a cheiliúradh. “Tá paisean teagaisc léirithe ag gach buaiteoir i mbliana agus an dá bhliain roimhe seo, rud atá le sonrú in aiseolas mac léinn den scoth faoina gcuid modhanna teagaisc. Rinneadh buaiteoirí 2021 agus 2020 a cheiliúradh ag an searmanas don Fheabhas Teagaisc, a fógraíodh i gcaitheamh ócáidí ar líne le linn na paindéime. Gradaim an Uachtaráin 2021 don Fheabhas Teagaisc  -      An Dr Giuseppe Zurlo, Coláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta; an Dr Eamon Ó Cofaigh, Coláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh; an Dr Lorraine Morgan, Coláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí agus an Dlí agus an Dr Maeve O’Rourke, Coláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí agus an Dlí Gradam na Foirne: An Dr Katrina Lacey agus an tOllamh Gerard Wall, Coláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta Gradaim an Uachtaráin 2019/ 20 don Fheabhas Teagaisc -      An tOllamh Mary Dempsey, Coláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta; an Dr Aisling McCluskey, Coláiste na hEolaíochta agus na hInnealtóireachta; an tOllamh Frances McCormack, Coláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh; agus an Dr Ella Murphy, Coláiste an Leighis, an Altranais agus na nEolaíochtaí Sláinte Gradam na Foirne: Therese Conway, Mike Hynes, agus an tOllamh Frances Fahy, Coláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh Críoch

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Researchers at three universities in Ireland, Scotland and Wales are joining forces to develop new tools for identifying drugs to treat multiple, currently incurable, neurological diseases. More than 40 different human disorders, including Huntington’s disease and myotonic dystrophy, are caused by an increase in number of repeated DNA sequence within the associated gene. The DNA sequence is usually less than 30 repeats in the general population but is more than 40 repeats in affected patients. The more DNA repeats a person inherits, the earlier the age at onset of symptoms and the worse the disease. Most interestingly, the repeat also grows in number throughout the lifetime of the individual, accelerating the disease process. Stopping the repeat from growing during an individual’s lifetime thus presents as a novel therapeutic approach. In this new project, the three teams will work together to develop novel technologies to monitor how the number of repeats changes in cells grown in the laboratory. This system will then be used to identify new drugs that slow the rate at which the repeat grows. The hope is that one such drug could then be used to treat multiple inherited disorders, including Huntington’s disease and myotonic dystrophy. Professor Bob Lahue, of the Centre for Chromosome Biology and the Galway Neuroscience Centre at NUI Galway, said: “There are several related neurological diseases, such as Huntington’s, for which we do not have treatments that can alter the course of the disease. The focus of the research in this project is to develop new technologies which allow us to better understand what causes these diseases.” Professor Lahue is leading the research and working with research groups at the University of Glasgow, led by Professor Darren Monckton, and at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University, led by Professor Vincent Dion. “We are very fortunate that Professor Monckton at the University of Glasgow and Professor Dion at Cardiff University are part of the efforts to learn more about these neurological diseases. The three of us have complementary strengths in a common cause to understand and combat disease-causing genetic mutations known as triplet repeat expansions.” The project is titled TRXassay - Development of a novel pre-clinical assay to detect triplet repeat expansions and is co-funded by the European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases (EJP-RD) and by LoQus23 Therapeutics Ltd of Cambridge, UK.   Speaking on behalf of the EJP-RD, Dr Christine Fetro of the Foundation for Rare Diseases said: “The TRXassay was one of three projects selected for funding within the Rare Diseases Research (RDR) Challenges call led by Fondation Maladies Rares and EJP-RD. This collaborative project brings together academic innovators with an industry partner to drive rare disease research towards effective treatments, which is at the very heart of this European funding initiative.” Dr David Reynolds, chief executive of LoQus23, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting project with leading academics in the field. The project has potential to deliver assays suitable for discovering therapeutics to treat Huntington’s and other triplet repeat diseases.” Ends

Monday, 4 April 2022

Five NUI Galway researchers have secured funding as part of an initiative to support new academic and industry research collaborations on behalf of Science Foundation Ireland. The SFI Industry RD&I Fellowship Programme will support the temporary placement of academic researchers in companies to undertake research projects across a variety of areas including orthopaedic implants, biomedical science, mechanical engineering, virtual reality (VR), and chatbots optimisation. The five funded projects will be led by: Dr Eimear O'Hara, Mechanical Engineering, who will work with Zimmer Biomet on sustainable additive manufacturing of orthopaedic implants Dr Marie Le Berre, Biomedical Science, will partner with Analog Devices, Inc. on a project entitled ‘Putting the Bio in Biosensing: Bioassay Development for a Silicon-based Electrical Transduction Platform’ Dr Akash Pisharody, Civil Engineering, who will be part of a research collaboration with EireComposites Teo on the mechanical behavior of recycled carbon fiber composites subject to hygrothermal exposure Dr Lukasz Porwol, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, will collaborate with Fidelity Investments Ireland on ‘The Next-Gen VR-driven Serious Communication & Collaboration Hybrid Infrastructures for Business’ project Dr Jamal Nasir, College of Science and Engineering, will partner with Fidelity Investments Ireland on goal-oriented chatbots optimisation with reinforcement learning Welcoming the announcement, Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President for Research and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “I’d like to commend our researchers on being awarded the SFI Industry RD&I Fellowships for their innovate projects. This initiative will allow research fellows and industry to benefit from each other’s invaluable knowledge and expertise.”  The Fellowship programme is designed to help kick-start postdoctoral academic researchers’ careers in industry and to maximise the impact of their training. The programme also supports academic faculty researchers who want to spend time in industry alongside their academic responsibilities. Simultaneously, the placement will allow industry partners to benefit from their research fellows’ knowledge to collaborate on bringing innovative solutions to industry challenges. Ends

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