Thursday, 24 September 2020

Health and safety of students, staff and the wider community is a top priority as campus reopens NUI Galway reopened its campus this week to welcome its First Year students to a three-day dedicated online and on campus orientation. Senior University staff are leading familiarisation sessions with students as part of efforts to help them navigate their way in this new environment of learning and being on campus. Returning students and teaching staff will return to the blended teaching model from Monday, 28 September. In adherence with Government and Public Health Guidelines the University has undertaken significant measures to encourage new behaviours on campus that are necessary for everyone to work together to keep students, staff and the wider community safe. Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Deputy President and Registrar of NUI Galway, said: “As we begin an academic year like no other, our top priority is obviously the safety of our community, both on campus and locally. For various reasons, an online only model will not suit many students, and we are doing our utmost to deliver a safe blended teaching model, so students get the best possible learning experience. This group of students carry a responsibility that no other group has had to bear before them, as the usual rites of passage of college life will have to be reimagined, so that we can keep each other safe. We are asking our community to work with us to make that happen. “As with every community in Ireland, the NUI Galway community has been impacted by COVID-19. The University orientation is heavily focused on the safe behaviours required to be a student during this pandemic and to remind the community of the severity of the illness.” Lynn Porter, a second year Commerce student at NUI Galway, who overcame Covid-19 last March, said: “I want to make all students aware of how serious this virus is and that we all have to work together to stop it spreading. When I was in hospital, I never felt fear like it because of the unknown and the uncertainty of how bad I could get. I was lucky to come out the other side, but it’s an experience nobody wants to go through and we know how to avoid it. Wear a mask, wash your hands, socially distance and follow the public health advice. College life might be different this year, but missing a few parties is a small price to pay and could save lives.” The University has undertaken comprehensive steps to reopen safely that includes: All NUI Galway taught programmes will be delivered using blended online and on-campus classes, including tutorials, seminars, lab work, distanced meet-ups and digital options like podcasts, streaming and videos. In line with public health guidelines, teaching spaces are being laid out and managed in order to safeguard the health of both staff and students. All students are being asked to download three Apps – NUI Galway App; the Blackboard App to access education; and the HSE Covid Tracker App. The library, campus sports facilities and most restaurants and social spaces will be open and operating under public health guidance. NUI Galway has been allocated funding from the Higher Education Authority to enhance mental health and wellbeing support for students. Staff are individually phoning (and text to unanswered call) all incoming First Year students who accepted their place in NUI Galway, to welcome and introduce the students to the University. A laptop rental scheme, thanks to a Government Covid-19/HEI support fund, has been setup to help students and up to 800 laptops will be loaned to students through the Access Office. Signage, directional arrows and one-way systems have been installed throughout campus buildings to support safe social distancing. Hand sanitisers have been installed throughout the campus and staff and students are asked to sanitise as often as possible. Sanitising wipes are available in all teaching rooms for students and staff to sanitise their hands and their workstations. Face coverings are being provided to all staff and students for use when indoors on campus. As part of the University’s commitment to suppress the spread of Covid-19, the Cúram Dá Chéile initiative is asking its students and staff to commit to be part of our university community, to behave appropriately, to consider others, to follow advice and public health guidelines, to act responsibly and to respect everyone in the university and wider community. NUI Galway is also playing an active role in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Within two weeks of the initial lock-down, a research team was enabling healthcare professionals to offer novel, emerging therapies to extremely ill patients. Our top academics in the fields of haematology, immunology and ID were enabling rapid profiling of the immune response of severely ill patients with a view to guiding therapeutic options. By the end of April we were working to expedite diagnosis of COVID-19 in a clinical setting, using artificial intelligence enabled analysis of CT scans, improve long-term patient recovery and reduce disability after COVID-19 critical illness with microRNA-based approaches. And identifying mental health needs and best practice for psychological support of frontline healthcare workers for this and future pandemics. For more information about starting and returning to campus visit: or download the NUI Galway App. -Ends-

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

JediGlove uses bat sonar to alert users to objects and obstacles to help them move around safely Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab, led by Professor Derek O’Keeffe, have adopted the sophisticated sonar of bats to develop new technology to help people with visual impairment. Using echolocation, the prototype JediGlove sends sequential micro-vibrations through the users’ fingers and thumb proportional to an object's distance, helping them sense obstacles in their path. Derek O’Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician at University Hospital Galway, said: “We have nicknamed the device the JediGlove because it lets someone who is visually impaired ‘feel the force’ of objects in their environment. “It is hugely innovative technology with significant potential. "Not only can it help people with visual impairment but it could also have applications for first responders in emergency situations, like firemen and rescue teams entering buildings and environments that may have low visibility.” The JediGlove uses ultrasound sensors, like a bat, to echo-locate obstacles. Then, using a bespoke algorithm, the technology sequentially activates micro-vibration motors in each finger of the glove to give the user immediate haptic feedback about objects, obstructions or obstacles which they are approaching. Professor O’Keeffe said: “This technology is a great example of patient centred care and interdisciplinary innovation. “Traditionally with research we talk about a bench to bedside pathway. An idea is developed in a lab and then it goes to the patient for evaluation. What we are trying to do at NUI Galway is to change the paradigm and innovate from bedside to bench to bedside. So, we start first with the patient and identify the problems that matter to them and then we go to the lab to push the technological envelope to develop solutions to improve their care." “During a clinic visit, one of my patients who has visual impairment mentioned that one of the most common navigation aids, a white cane, hadn’t changed much for over 100 years. It can also be both physically and socially burdensome to use. “The prototype JediGlove came about after thinking through potential technological solutions that are more ergonomic for people with visual impairment.” Professor O’Keeffe worked with Mouzzam Hussain, who is studying a Masters in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, to develop the concept. Mr Hussain said: “The JediGlove has been an exciting project to be involved with – putting patients’ needs first in a way that allows me to use my hardware and software skills to help them in their daily routines. It is very gratifying to work on something that will directly benefit someone in such a unique and tangible way.” Sinead Hanrahan, a patient with visual impairment, was one of the first to test the technology. Ms Hanrahan said: “The JediGlove works really well and is a new way finding out what objects are around me - The potential is undoubtedly huge. “There are so many technological solutions for other parts of my life but for mobility there’s only two options to help me be more independent – the cane and a guide dog. “I don’t have a guide dog yet and I don’t particularly like the cane so it is nice to think I could have other options to help with my mobility. "Technology like this is a game changer - it would reduce the need for me to rely on other people. Down the line, when it is more refined, I think it will make a huge difference for people with visual impairment.” The JediGlove technology has been developed in the spirit of Open Source Innovation and all documentation and files are shared in a publically accessible repository: -Ends

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

On Monday the 28th of September, at 12pm, it will be exactly 25 years since Flirt FM, Galway’s Campus, and Community of Interest Radio Station based at NUI Galway went live on fm. For our 20th anniversary, we had a silent disco, gala dinner, photo exhibition and afternoon of broadcast and a childrens’ arts and crafts table. All very hands-on. This year, we'll have to do it differently: so we’re organising a 25hr live, extremely socially distanced broadcast marathon from noon on Monday the 28th to 1pm on Tuesday the 29th. We'll be linking station alumni to the studio live over Zoom from locations as varied as Paris, California, Vietnam and… Mayo. The contributors that have already signed up are keen to quiz, reminisce, entertain and surprise you. Normally broadcasting from our Áras na MacLéinn studios in NUI Galway, the move to remote working in March took us all by surprise. The team didn’t miss a beat however, and instead of shutting down, applied to extend the station’s broadcast hours and continued to broadcast from bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms around Ireland and further afield. Off air for some much needed rest and research time in August, staff and volunteers alike are excited to head into an unprecedented and challenging new academic year. Station Manager Paula Healy; “The year ahead is going to be strangest the station has had in its history, but we're a great team - we’ve proven that with our determination to keep broadcasting through all the obstacles so far, and we're going to make it work. A quarter of a century is huge; it’s a testament to the thousands of people involved over the years, from volunteers to guests to staff that the station is here and thriving.” Flirt FM 101.3 is Galway City's award winning Student, Community & Alternative Station, based in NUI Galway since September 1995. We're part of the 20+ member Community Radio Ireland network. With one full-time and two part-time paid staff looking after operations and compliance, the station is home to up to 120 volunteers and many more contributors annually.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Active* Consent Toolkit includes eLearning module to close gaps in students’ understanding of sexual violence and harassment, including the legal definition of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and how to access support services  The comprehensive Toolkit for consent education will be rolled out across 22 Higher Education Institutions featuring new resources and research released led by NUI Galway’s Active* Consent Programme Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, has today (21 September 2020) launched the Active* Consent Toolkit: Developing a Consent Strategy for your Higher Education Institution, produced by NUI Galway’s Active* Consent Programme. The Active* Consent Toolkit: Offers guidance to Higher Education Institutions in developing an Action Plan on consent, sexual violence and harassment, as well as addressing consent education through a sustainable and joined up strategy across each campus community. Provides resources and research from NUI Galway’s new online Active* Consent Programme designed to meet the call for consent education for all students in 2020-2021. Is aimed at Higher Education staff and administrators, including managers, academic, and support staff; Student representatives working with their Students’ Unions, Societies and Sports Clubs, or on behalf of their academic disciplines; and the wider community including external stakeholders such as the rape crisis movement, advocacy groups, and post-primary education.  This toolkit on practical resources, research, and strategy development comes at a time when all Higher Education institutions have been requested by Minister Harris to devise Action Plans to address consent, sexual violence and harassment in third level education, including making consent workshops, developed by NUI Galway, available to all students. Minister Simon Harris, said: “The Sexual Experiences Survey clearly shows us there is so much work to be done. We have to do more to raise awareness and support students, and the Active Consent Toolkit will greatly assist institutions in a really practical way. I want to see all of our higher education institutions further embed the Consent Framework into their policies and procedures so as to ensure a deep and lasting impact. All institutions have now been asked to develop and publish, by February next, specific institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment and provide an annual report on their progress in implementing the Framework. I believe the higher education sector to take on a leadership role in our societal response to sexual violence and harassment, and these are important steps forward to advance that aim.”  President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “I'd like to thank Minister Harris for attending today’s virtual launch of this very important Toolkit and welcome his prioritisation of this critical issue by making consent workshops mandatory and available to all students. I would also like to congratulate the Active* Consent team at NUI Galway for the excellent work and leadership they have shown throughout the ongoing development of this programme and the workshops that have been openly shared and sustainably scaled up to the 22 Higher Education Institutions to date. “Respect for our students and staff is one of our University’s core values which we take very seriously. Education and support around the subject of consent for our student community is a critical learning component that should be made available to everyone during their university journey. Supporting the safety, health and wellbeing of our students and staff is our top priority.” Taking into account the impact of Covid-19, the Toolkit features a new three-stage Higher Education Institution consent education programme for 2020-2021 that can be delivered fully online – and which makes direct use of the findings from the Active* Consent/Union of Students in Ireland ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ released in June 2020. Stage One of this new programme, the Active* Consent Online Workshop, will be rolled out to First Year students across 22 Irish Higher Education Institutions and counting in autumn 2020. As part of the toolkit, Active* Consent is also launching an eLearning module, Sexual Violence and Harassment: How to Support Yourself and Your Peers, available for use from 15, October 2020. This Active* Consent eLearning module helps to close gaps in students’ understanding of sexual violence and harassment as reported in the ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’, including the legal definition of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and how to access support services. Students will be active participants, taking part in quizzes, polls, and activities to support learning about consent, sexual violence and harassment, and responding to case studies to find out how to support peers with empathic communication and by taking action to intervene when they see something that is harmful. Dr Padraig MacNeela, Active* Consent Programme Co-Lead, NUI Galway, said: “Our latest research shows that teenagers in schools and young adults in colleges strongly support the idea that consent means having the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and having their partners hear and respect these preferences. But the research also shows that the confidence to act on this understanding can be undermined by embarrassment and shame, including misperceptions of what your peers actually think. There is also now evidence to show that a number of young people either agree with or do not actively reject misinformed and potentially harmful rape myths.” Key new research findings included in the Active* Consent Toolkit This complex picture of consent is demonstrated by findings from NUI Galway’s ‘Sexual Experiences Survey’ last June that have not been released before that include: 37% of female college students and 53% of male college students gave a ‘neutral’ or ‘agree’ response when asked whether asking for consent is awkward. 63% of female college students and 37% of male college students said they were ‘very likely’ to say something to intervene if a friend was taking a drunk person back to their room at a party. 26% of female college students and 51% of male college students gave a ‘neutral’ or ‘agree’ response to the rape myth that, if a girl initiates kissing or hooking up, she should not be surprised if a guy assumes she wants to have sex. Dr Charlotte McIvor, Active* Consent Programme Co-Lead and Editor of the Active* Consent Toolkit, NUI Galway said: “The Toolkit offers significant opportunities for learning, culture and behaviour change in the area of sexual violence and harassment in higher education, not only doubling down on the Active* Consent Programme’s key message that Consent is OMFG (ongoing, mutual and freely-given) through an accessible and comprehensive usable toolkit format but also providing a new fresh vision of how to work together sustainably within and across Higher Education Institutions to achieve lasting change in these areas.” Dr Pádraig MacNeela, concluded: “Schools and colleges are important settings for education on positive, active consent that in turn works against tolerance of sexual violence and harassment. The Consent Framework for colleges is one of the best strategies available internationally for enabling the Higher Education sector to seize the opportunity to achieve this potential – and in providing support for colleges to meet the challenges faced while developing the capacity to do so. By providing supports like the Consent Toolkit, we are asking our colleges to embrace change on all levels, to work together to meet the needs of those affected by sexual violence and harassment, and to promote a culture of positive, active consent consistent with healthy development.” To receive a toolkit please email and for further information about the Active* Consent Programme, visit: or on Instagram -Ends-

Monday, 21 September 2020

Online event to discuss research on the future of regenerative medicine NUI Galway is today hosting an online forum for the inaugural meeting of 17 Confucius Institutes around the world which are dedicated to the study of Chinese Medicine. The newly established Global Alliance of Confucius Institutes of Chinese Medicine (GACICM) is for the first time bringing together academics, healthcare specialists and researchers from 17 institutes in 13 countries. The Alliance is being led by the Confucius Institute of Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galway, which was established in 2019, with a distinct focus on researching the potential benefits of Chinese herbal products in developing new therapies. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University, said: “The Global Alliance of Confucius Institutes for Chinese Medicine is a unique opportunity – for NUI Galway, for our patients, for science and for research and discovery with colleagues across the globe. “It opens doors to study potential therapies for conditions for which we currently don’t have good treatments. It is phenomenally exciting to be leading an ambitious team to see if we can discover new drugs from herbal products used in Chinese Medicine and whether they can be used in the treatment of conditions of unmet medical need, for which we have stem cell models at our flagship lab in NUI Galway.” “Researchers at NUI Galway have been paving the way in regenerative medicine research for over 16 years. Now we are charting a new and ambitious path, with the goal of analysing Chinese Medicine herbal products in a bid to discover molecules which have regenerative capabilities.” In advance of attending the meeting, NUI Galway President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “We are delighted to virtually host the inaugural Global Alliance of Confucius Institutes of Chinese Medicine. We are honoured to be joined by esteemed colleagues from China, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine and representatives from across the globe. NUI Galway has committed itself to fostering such partnerships. “As set out in our strategy, Shared Vision, Shaped by Values, we are here for the public good. We look forward to research in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy leading to the development of innovative treatments to improve healthcare for all.”  NUI Galway’s Confucius Institute involves a partnership between clinicians and scientists at the University’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), where Professor O’Brien is Director, and the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. NUI Galway’s partnership with Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine is the only link-up of its kind focusing on the interface between Chinese and Regenerative Medicine. It also creates an international link between research teams and the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland in NUI Galway and the only facility in Ireland licensed to produce Mesenchymal Stem Cells for human administration in regulated clinical trials. The online meeting is being chaired by Prof O’Brien. Among those attending will be Mr Lingshan Zhao, the Vice President and Secretary-General of Chinese International Education Foundation; representatives from Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine including Professor Zhiguang Sun, Vice President International; Confucius Institute Directors and University Presidents from the 17 institutes including Ireland, UK, Australia, Japan, Hungary, Portugal, Korea, Thailand, South Africa, USA, Cuba, Brazil and Slovakia. -Ends-

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

In a study of cognitively healthy adults, elevated levels of two biomarkers measured in the blood, GDF15 and NT-proBNP, were associated with an increased risk of developing dementia in later life  New research from Boston University, Harvard Medical School and NUI Galway’s HRB-Clinical Research Facility, has identified two blood biomarkers that could help identify those at risk of developing dementia later in life. The study was published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.  The researchers measured blood levels of (GDF15) (a biomarker of vascular stress, thought to play a role in inflammation) and (NT-proBNP) (a biomarker of an enlarged heart, associated with worsening heart failure), both potential biomarkers for dementia, in almost 1,600 participants from the Framingham Heart Study. The research team found that GDF15 and NT-proBNP blood levels were associated with an increased risk of dementia as well as signs of vascular injury on MRI brain scans. When combined with traditional risk factors for dementia (e.g. age, high blood pressure, or a history of heart disease), these two biomarkers improved dementia risk classification suggesting their potential use in predicting dementia risk.  Dr Emer McGrath, Consultant Neurologist and lead author of the study at NUI Galway and investigator with the Framingham Heart Study (the research was completed during her previous position at Harvard Medical School), said: “Identifying biomarkers for dementia could improve our ability to predict a person’s risk of dementia and his or her future outcomes. Establishing which individuals are at increased risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is key to developing new therapies to slow or reverse cognitive symptoms. However, current strategies are limited, both in terms of accuracy and the ability to incorporate them into routine practice. Unlike cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers that require a spinal tap (lumbar puncture), plasma biomarkers can be extracted from the blood, making their collection much less invasive and much more appealing for patients. Novel biomarkers could also help to monitor dementia severity and progression and select suitable participants for future clinical trials.”  While GDF15 has previously been associated with heart attacks, this is the first study to demonstrate an association between GDF15 and later-life dementia risk. The authors also confirmed an association between NT-proBNP levels and risk of dementia, combining their results with those from a Japanese cohort.   Dr McGrath, added: “Our findings validate the results of previous studies within a community-based setting. Blood levels of NT-proBNP are already routinely measured clinically in patients with heart failure. If we could identify appropriate clinical cut-offs for dementia, blood levels of this biomarker could prove to be useful for predicting the risk of dementia in patients.”   The authors caution that the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort is predominantly Caucasian, which may limit the generalizability of the findings to more diverse populations. They were also unable to explore the association between changes in plasma biomarker values over time and cognitive outcomes. Further studies will be required to replicate and validate the authors’ observed association between plasma GDF15 and dementia.  Funding for this work was provided by an Alzheimer’s Association Clinician Scientist Fellowship, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.   The full study is available at  -Ends- 

Friday, 11 September 2020

3,500 new students expected to take up places across many courses at NUI Galway, with additional offers made on high demand programmes NUI Galway to phone all first year students in special pre-orientation outreach initiative In this exceptional year for Leaving Certificate students, NUI Galway will welcome an intake of 3,500 First Year students in late September. Mindful of the current challenging context, and correspondingly exceptional increases in CAO points as demand for popular programmes intensified, the University made an additional 190 offers to CAO applicants. Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, said: “We’d like to congratulate the class of 2020 who have illustrated resilience through the challenges of the past year. Managing a safe return to campus and the wellbeing of our students, staff and wider community is our top priority at NUI Galway. We look forward to welcoming our First Year students to their university. While we know it will be a year with a difference and an unusual start to our students’ University journey, it remains an exciting journey where we will endeavour to provide a safe, meaningful on-campus experience for our students with a corresponding reliance on online provision. “Consistent with our values and respecting the health and safety of our community, we appreciate the work being done by many colleagues and students to ensure a safe return to campus and we ask our university community to support the need for a deepened sense of responsibility for the collective good for the new academic year ahead.”  CAO points have risen across all four of NUI Galway’s Colleges and across many of its programmes. A strong focus on public health remains a high priority with a significant surge in points for Nursing, Health Sciences, Medicine and Psychology programmes that offer future careers aimed at improving health and wellbeing. This follows a trend in recent years of increased interest in fields of study with the potential for graduates to have a powerful and positive impact on the world around them. Similarly, demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programmes grew, with NUI Galway’s strong reputation for excellence in Biomedicine once again resulting in points increases for Biomedical Science. The traditional professions like Law, Accounting and Business all saw an increase in points as applicants opted for programmes with clearly defined career paths. NUI Galway introduced four new programmes this year: a BSc in Geography and Geosystems; two new Law degrees: Law and Taxation and Law: Criminology and Criminal Justice; and a BSc in Genetics and Genomics, and all proved popular choices for applicants. Arts programmes also saw points increases for Creative Arts options and in particular, Music; Film and Digital Media; and Drama, Theatre and Performance courses, reflecting Galway’s cultural and artistic reputation as the European Capital of Culture for 2020. For incoming First Year students, an undergraduate orientation will take place in the week commencing 21 September in a safe way, adhering to Covid-19 public health guidelines. Orientations will comprise of a mix of online and on-campus activities to help students familiarise themselves with the university, understand the structures and demands of student life, learn about the supports available to them and get to know their fellow classmates who will in time become lifelong friends. NUI Galway is putting in place a ‘Pre-Orientation Outreach’ initiative to individually call all incoming First Year students. The initiative involves the Chaplaincy team calling (and text to unanswered call) all incoming First Year students who accepted their place in NUI Galway, to welcome and introduce the students to the University.  Jimmy McGovern, Support Worker at NUI Galway’s Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care Centre, said: “We believe it is important to connect with our new students - to congratulate them on accepting their course, to let them know what being a student in NUI Galway will look like, and to welcome them into our University community.” A comprehensive blended learning model of online and on-campus teaching will be provided this year to ensure a top quality educational experience – delivering on students’ expectations and learning outcomes. NUI Galway is building on-campus learning to ensure a meaningful student experience. This will be delivered through a mix of on-campus tutorials, seminars, distanced meet-ups and/or laboratories, based on the needs of various courses. At all times capacity in rooms will conform to public health advice. Large-scale lectures will be adapted for online delivery, as well as some smaller classes where it is not possible and safe to deliver them on-campus. The majority of online lectures will not be timetabled in specific slots but will instead be made available in advance of any related timetabled classes such as seminars, tutorials and lab work. Other online lectures will be provided through podcasts, other digital platforms, interactive Q&A’s, a mix of online real-time tutorials and lectures, and the ‘Covid and Philosophy’ project, which involves projects for assessment but also an end of year public presentation of results. A dedicated First Year Hotline is now open to answer questions and help students, parents and guardians as they prepare for an academic year with a difference, college studies and college life at NUI Galway. NUI Galway First Year Student Hotline and Opening Hours Phone: +353 (0) 91 493999 or visit  The hotline is now open until the 28 September 2020 Monday to Friday from 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm Round two offers are due to be issued on Wednesday, 23 September at 9am. For more information about studying at NUI Galway, attending campus safely and the University’s Covid-19 Access to Campus Protocol, visit: -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Study highlights that effective, continuous training for online and distance learning in education and teaching will be of critical importance in the event of recurring school closures Researchers from NUI Galway’s School of Education have led the publication of a comparative study of learning with mobile technology in collaboration with universities and technology consultants in Europe, the UK and Australia. The international team of researchers found a ‘digital use divide’ in learning with mobile technology in schools, highlighting the need for appropriate, continuous training and supports for teachers, alongside investment in devices and infrastructure. Lead author on the study, Dr Tony Hall, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology and Deputy Head of the School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “Looking at the history of pandemics and their impact on schooling, but also the differences between the current and previous viruses, there is the real risk of continuing school and campus closures. This means that mobile and distance learning will remain of crucial importance in supporting young people, parents, families, and teachers in ensuring continuity of learning where the pandemic makes learning at school impossible. “A significant finding of our research, which looks at mobile technology in schools in six countries: Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, The Netherlands, UK, and Ireland, is a prevailing gap, not only in terms of those who have technology and access, but also those who can access the required expertise and support they need to use mobile devices effectively. Our study highlights that investment in providing technology alone will not be sufficient, especially if the situation necessitates the large-scale return to mobile and online learning – outside of classrooms.” Through its work developing mobile devices and technologies collaboratively with teachers and schools, and like other projects internationally, Designing and Evaluating Innovative Mobile Pedagogies (DEIMP) has developed resources that can help provide real support to schools and teachers where they need to move their learning online. Dr Hall continued: “The current situation also presents opportunities to rethink education, and to try to make it more inclusive and engaging for all young people, where we can lessen the pressures of formal examinations and assessments. For example, the current situation is reminding us of the importance of learning outside school, and in informal education environments. In our research for the European DEIMP Project, we have developed resources for teachers and educators to use, to guide and develop best practice, including an app, multimedia case studies, and an open online training course for mobile learning. We have also generated 21 principles for effective learning with mobile applications and devices, which can help to guide positive change through mobile learning in education, both in and outside of classrooms. These principles emphasize fundamentally important aspects of learning, education and teaching, including: authenticity, collaboration, and student choice.” The research paper, “Education in precarious times: a comparative study across six countries to identify design priorities for mobile learning in a pandemic” is published in the international journal, Information and Learning Sciences is available at -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland are invited to make a short science video to win €1000 for their school or youth organisation NUI Galway is challenging young science enthusiasts and filmmakers in Ireland and Northern Ireland to produce fun short science videos for the innovative ‘ReelLIFE SCIENCE’ competition. With a prize fund of over €5000, the best videos from primary schools, secondary schools and youth organisations will each win €1000. Videos can be up to three minutes in length and can communicate any aspect of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics),on one of the following topics:How Things Work, Climate Action, Healing the Body and Science on the Farm. Filming can be on smartphones, tablets or cameras and the closing date for entries is Friday, 23 October. The best videos will be screened for the public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival on 22 November.  Speaking about the competition’s launch, Ferne Corrigan, BBC wildlife and children’s presenter and judging panellist for ReelLIFE SCIENCE 2020, said: “It seems that we are in a time when science is at the forefront of massive, impactful conversations and what is exciting is that it is this generation, and the next generation that will bring about critical changes and keep the conversation going. Science needs passionate young people and it is programmes like this that help to get it out there. Science isn’t all lab coats and Bunsen burners and we need to make it engaging and accessible for all. I am so excited to be a part of the judging panel for the videos and I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.” Since launching in 2013, more than 14,000 young people in 450 schools and youth organisations in Ireland have taken part in the ReelLIFE SCIENCE programme, which is organised by Dr Enda O’Connell and a team of scientists from NUI Galway. ReelLIFE SCIENCE is supported by Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme, the Community Knowledge Initiative, the CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices and the Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme. More information about taking part can be found at -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

New director and associate director for the HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway  NUI Galway today announced the appointment of Professor Andrew Smyth and Professor Fidelma Dunne as Director and Associate Director of the Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility Galway.  The HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway (HRB-CRFG) is a joint venture between Galway University Hospitals (GUH), Saolta University Health Care Group and NUI Galway, which has been in operation since March 2008. The HRB provides funding to the Clinical Research Facility Galway to support the infrastructure, physical space, facilities, expertise and culture needed for translational research. They focus on studies aimed at understanding a range of diseases and speedily translating the knowledge obtained through this research work into regulatory approved advances in patient care. Andrew Smyth, appointed Director, is the Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at NUI Galway and a Consultant Nephrologist at Galway University Hospitals. His personal research interests are in the epidemiology of chronic kidney disease, particularly modifiable risk factors and the relationship between diet and health outcomes. Through his role at HRB-CRFG, he has been heavily involved in clinical trials across an array of clinical specialities that include: gestational diabetes mellitus; stem cell treatments for limb ischaemia; haematology; breast cancer investigations; and psychiatry. He was the first Irish-based recipient of a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellowship and collaborates closely with the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University Canada. Speaking on the announcement Professor Smyth, said: “My vision for HRB-CRFG is to maximise the ability for local patients and investigators to access contemporary clinical research projects and clinical trials to directly impact and improve the health and wellbeing of the population through executing clinical research studies to the highest regulatory standards and ethical frameworks in line with international best practice.” Fidelma Dunne, appointed Associate Director, is a Professor in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and a Consultant physician in Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism at Galway University Hospitals group. Originally a graduate of NUI Galway Medicine, she has previously held a number of leadership roles.* Professor Dunne’s major research interest is in the area of pregnancy and diabetes and her research group are conducting a number of studies as part of the ATLANTIC DIP programme including the EMERGE randomized controlled trial of the drug Metformin, the investigation of a biomarker (CD59) in Gestational diabetes mellitus pregnancies and a 10-year follow up (metabolic and cardiovascular) of women with prior gestational diabetes. In addition, Professor Dunne has been involved in international studies that include CONCEPTT, funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research charity, which examined the benefits of continuous glucose monitoring in women with Type 1 Diabetes during pregnancy, and DALI, a multicentre European funded trial on the prevention of Gestational diabetes mellitus using Vitamin D and lifestyle intervention. More recently she has been the Irish lead for EVOLVE, a pan European cohort study examining pregnancy outcomes of women with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes across Europe, and is currently the Irish lead for the EXPECT study examining a new insulin (Insulin Degludec) in women with Type 1 Diabetes in pregnancy. Speaking on her appointment Professor Dunne highlighted her vision during her tenure: “My vision for HRB-CRFG is to provide a research infrastructure that is safe and conducts research in accordance with best international practice, where all patients irrespective of geography have access to contemporary clinical trials exploring new medicines and treatments, novel screening and detection methods, and state of the art monitoring systems.” Congratulating Professors Smyth and Dunne on their appointments Professor Tim O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway and Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Saolta University Healthcare Group, said: “NUI Galway is fortunate to have top-tier talent with substantial experience in clinical research to fill these leadership roles within the CRFG. The next phase for this facility is exciting and this team will provide the infrastructure that will progress healthcare for patients with the highest regulatory standards.” Professor O’Brien also acknowledged the role of previous Director, Professor Martin O’Donnell in the development of the facility. “Professor O’Donnell is a highly cited, internationally recognized clinician investigator who led the HRB-CRFG through its formative stages and we are grateful for his outstanding contribution.”  The HRB-CRFG is currently involved in 50 clinical trials including specialist areas such as stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and nutrition. For more information about the HRB-CRFG, visit: -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Award winner is also part of a research team working with NPHET to understand why people do or do not adhere to Covid-19 physical distancing guidelines Dr Hannah Durand, a Post-Doctoral researcher in the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, has received the Herman Schaalma Award of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS). The Herman Schaalma award is awarded annually to acknowledge a PhD dissertation in the field of health psychology of outstanding excellence in terms of originality, significance, and rigour. Dr Durand’s research explored reasons why people with hard-to-control blood pressure do or do not take their medications as prescribed. She is the only Irish recipient of the Herman Schaalma Award in its history. Dr Durand’s research was supervised by Dr Gerry Molloy of the School of Psychology and Professor Andrew Murphy of the Discipline of General Practice at NUI Galway. Professor Evangelos Karademas, President of the EHPS, said: “The Herman Schaalma Award aims to highlight excellence in PhD level research and to reinforce early career researchers to address key challenges in health psychology and adopt novel and rigorous theory and methodology. I offer my sincere congratulations to Dr Durand on her well-deserved success.” Galway native, Dr Durand is one of several researchers at NUI Galway leveraging their expertise to address aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With funding from the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council, researchers from the School of Psychology are working with the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to understand why people do or do not adhere to physical distancing guidelines. A protocol for this research is freely available from the Health Research Board at Dr Hannah Durand said: “We are using insights from health psychology to understand what motivates individuals’ behavioural responses to the pandemic. Our aim is to utilise our research findings to inform and refine future government communications about physical distancing.” The first aspect of this research, an online survey conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre, is currently accepting responses. For more information or to take part in the survey visit, The Herman Schaalma Award ceremony, which was due to take place at the European Health Psychology Society annual conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, was recently held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Research conducted by NUI Galway academic Dr John Murray has led to the recovery of a medal, thought long-lost, belonging to a Great War veteran from Dublin who was decorated for bravery. The soldier, James Murray, first joined the British army as a young man and fought with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). After returning to civilian life, he married his first wife Mary in 1904 and they had two children. They lived in some of the poorest tenement slums in Dublin and by mid-1909, through a combination of sickness and tragedy, James had lost his entire first family. He remarried in 1912 and started a second family. During the First World War James re-enlisted with his old regiment and participated in both the Battle of Messines and the Passhendaele offensive in 1917. He received two separate commendations for gallantry and also the Military Medal for Bravery during those significant actions. Dr Murray of NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, has been researching his great grandfather James Murray over a number of years and commented: “During the Great War James had to leave behind a very young family, including my own grandfather Michael who was only three years old. They must have waited very anxiously at home for him during all of the times he faced extreme danger in the trenches of the Western Front. He was immensely brave and experienced a number of highs and lows in life. It was a privilege to unearth his life-story, and also something of an emotional roller-coaster.” James Murray was reunited with his young family following the Armistice and returned to working class life in Dublin. He died in 1949 and his widow Jane survived him by some 28 years. Tragedy struck in 1963 when her dilapidated tenement home on Fenian Street catastrophically collapsed, killing two young girls. Jane lost everything in that disaster, and the event helped to precipitate the Dublin housing crisis of the 1960s, which eventually led to the clearing of the remaining tenement slums and the reshaping of Dublin’s urban landscape. During the course of his investigation Dr Murray discovered, quite by chance, that eight years previously someone else had been searching for information online about the very same Great War soldier. Gerard ‘Del’ Delaney, originally from Dublin and now living in the UK, had inherited some old medals from his mother and one of them, a WW1 Victory Medal, clearly bore James Murray’s name and regimental number on the rim. With help from a member of an online military discussion forum, the pair made initial contact. Del, himself a decorated former soldier with the Royal Logistic Corps who actively participates in commemorations and archaeological excavations on the Western Front, said: “I was never quite sure how James’s medal came to be in my family’s possession, particularly as no clear relationship could be traced back to him. When John and I first spoke by phone, I immediately realised the importance of returning this precious item to James’s direct descendants.” Del and John finally met for the first time in Dublin last year and Private James Murray’s Victory Medal was presented back to the Murray family. On the occasion of its return, John commented: “My entire family had believed that so much of the story had been lost, particularly in the Fenian Street tenement collapse. We are all deeply grateful to Del for very kindly returning James’s Great War medal and providing us with a tangible link to our shared past. This literally feels like finding a needle in a haystack.” Del Delaney also added: “It has been a privilege for me to have been a custodian of James’s medal and I am delighted that it is back in the family’s possession. You never know, the publicity surrounding its return may go towards helping establish the whereabouts of James’s other medals - stranger things have happened!” Full details of James Murray’s remarkable life, the Fenian Street tenement collapse and the return of his Victory Medal are published in the current edition (September/October) of the magazine History Ireland. Editor Tommy Graham commented: “This is an amazing story, combining 'big picture' events like the Boer War and the First World War with the detail—and many tragedies—of Dublin working class life. And it has a happy ending of sorts, with the rediscovery of James Murray's First World War Victory Medal by his surviving family.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Professor Conor Brady, the former Editor of The Irish Times, has been appointed an Honorary Professor at NUI Galway. Professor Brady will work with NUI Galway in the development of a new innovation stream on the University’s MA in Journalism programme, designed to prepare graduates to work in future roles as digital content creators and innovators in the media industry. Professor Brady will also lecture in the history of media to BA Journalism students and will chair the University’s Editorial Advisory Board, a group of external journalists and editors that advises the university on best practice in journalism education. Head of Journalism and Communication Tom Felle said: “Professor Brady would bring a wealth of experience to his new role. NUI Galway has a long history of journalism education and our BA Journalism – relaunched in 2019 – is the top points programme in the country in its category. Our prestigious MA Journalism and MA Sports Journalism and Communication now attract graduates from around the world. “2020 marks the start of a major period of expansion for NUI Galway in media and the creative industries. We have ambitious plans to develop new streams in global financial journalism; climate action; human rights; and a very specialised programme in digital journalism incorporating social media as well as data analytics. We are delighted that Conor has agreed to join us to help us achieve our goals at NUI Galway as we strive to develop an international centre of excellence in journalism and wider media education in the West of Ireland.” Professor Brady said: “I am greatly honoured to be invited to contribute to the development of journalism and media studies at the vibrant and progressive NUI Galway. The technologies, the delivery vehicles, of 21st Century journalism are changing constantly. But it is essential in parallel to preserve Irish journalism’s legacy values of truthfulness, courage, respect and fairness and to ensure that they are embedded in contemporary practice.” Conor is one of Ireland’s more experienced journalists and editors. He served as Editor of The Irish Times from 1986 until 2002, and previously worked for RTÉ and the Sunday Tribune. He worked in a number of postings for the Times including in Northern Ireland, the London Bureau, and the European Desk. He reported on the conflict in Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe, in the 1970s, and was chair of the World Editors’ Forum from 1996 to 2000. Professor Brady has previously held academic positions as Visiting Professor at John Jay College, City University of New York, and as a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Smurfit Business School in UCD. He was a member of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission from 2005 to 2011. He is chair of the Top Level Appointments Commission (TLAC), which selects leadership for senior public service positions. He is a director of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) and is vice chair of Midlands Radio 103. Professor Brady is also co-founder of Caliber AI, an Enterprise Ireland-funded project, currently developing artificial intelligence to assist in the pre-publication detection of defamatory or toxic content.  -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Researchers from five universities awarded prestigious Lero Director’s Prizes Three NUI Galway researchers, Professor Kieran Conboy, Dr Darragh Mullins, and Mariead O’Connell, were among eight researchers from five leading Irish universities who were awarded Lero Director’s Prizes at an online ceremony today. This is the second year of the annual awards presented by Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, to honour members working across its 11 academic partner institutes nationwide. Awards were presented to academics, researchers and support staff from NUI Galway, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Maynooth University and Dublin City University. The Lero Director’s Prizes were presented at the annual gathering of Lero members which was held online this year for the first time in the centre’s 15-year history. Closing the conference, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Lero, told members that their resilience and dedication has meant that Lero has continued and, in many cases, expanded its ground-breaking work despite the COVID-19 pandemic: “I am constantly impressed by the women and men who are the backbone of our world-leading research centre. Their resilience, ingenuity and ambition to provide research-based solutions and insights to resolve problems, have not been derailed by a pandemic that has transformed so many other facets of modern living. “This year, Lero celebrates the 15th anniversary of its foundation. Since 2005, Lero has established itself as one of the top software research centres in the world and this is because of its people. 2020 has brought unique challenges to our members and our world. Today we recognise the resilience and ingenuity of Lero’s academics and researchers in providing scientific and technological solutions to global issues. We also acknowledge their dedication to the centre, to engaging the public and industry and to diversity and inclusion in our work and in our world,” Professor Fitzgerald said. This is the first year that the Professor Rory O’Connor Prize for Outstanding Service to Lero was presented, in memory of the late Lero and DCU researcher. “The Professor Rory O’Connor Prize for Outstanding Service to Lero is a highlight of the Lero Director’s Prize programme and we are very grateful to the family of our late colleague Rory for allowing us to name this prize in his honour. Such was the strength of nominations in this category, we decided to present two awards – one to Lero Principal Investigator Professor Kieran Conboy of NUI Galway and a second to Dara O’Connor, a member of the centre’s support team based in University of Limerick,” Professor Fitzgerald stated. The Lero Director’s Prize for Research Excellence was awarded to Dr Jim Buckley of University of Limerick. Earlier this summer, Dr Buckley received a Science Foundation Ireland COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding award for COVIGILANT, a research project with colleagues in UL and NUI Galway to gather evidence informing and optimising Ireland’s digital contact-tracing strategy and practice. Lero Director’s Prizes for Education and Public Engagement were awarded to Dr Darragh Mullins of NUI Galway and Professor Markus Helfert and his team at Maynooth University. Lero Director’s Prizes for Diversity and Inclusion were presented to PhD students Abeba Birhane of University College Dublin and Mairead O’Connor of NUI Galway. -Ends-

Friday, 4 September 2020

GIAF’s once-off autumn programme welcomes audiences to safely experience visual arts, music, theatre, and talks live in person while facilitating those who may prefer to engage from home Galway International Arts Festival’s Autumn Edition began on Thursday 3 September, with an exciting programme which includes both live arts and an enhanced digital component, giving audiences a choice as to how they wish to engage with it, in person (both indoors and outdoors) or at home digitally.  The aim is that while moving forward and bringing live experiences back to the fore, no one is left behind, especially those who are unable to travel to Galway or are currently staying at home.  Acutely aware of public health concerns, the programme is designed to be presented within public health and Government guidelines, allowing for limited attendance and social distancing. The centrepiece of the programme will be the world unveiling of a major new visual arts commission for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. Presented outdoors in Galway city and in Connemara, John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion installation, using cutting edge digital technology, will be one of the largest outdoor installations ever to be seen in Ireland and will be in situ on the Claddagh Quay from 3-26 September (this will move to Connemara in October). From 5 September at the Festival Gallery explore new work from Hughie O’Donoghue and Three Women from American video art pioneer Bill Viola. The first weekend of First Thought talks will take place 5 & 6 September. A mix of live in-person, from the Black Box Theatre, and other online talks will explore the big issues and challenges of 2020 including:  Pandemic Reflections 1: The Spanish Flu: Dr Ida Milne, Fergal Bowers  Dr Catriona Clear / Pandemic Reflections 2: Covid-19: Prof Luke O’Neill, Dr Catherine Motherway, Prof Paul Moynagh, Dr Mary Favier, David McCullough / Black Lives Matter: Experiences of Racism in Ireland: Tobi Lawal, Felicia Olusanya, Amanda Adewole in conversation with Roisin Ingle/ The State of the UK: John Lanchester, Fintan O’Toole, Martina Fitzgerald/ Bloody Sunday 1920: Prof Paul Rouse, Associate Prof Anne Dolan, Prof Diarmuid Ferriter/ Climate: What has changed or can change?: Includes Minister Eamon Ryan, Tara O’Neill, Mai Sheehan / What May The Post– Pandemic Future Hold? Fintan O’Toole in conversation with Catriona Crowe / Italia 90: Colm Toibin, Eamon Dunphy, Mark Duncan. Meanwhile host Tiernan Henry talksfavourite music and memories with special guests  in a new series of live Vinyl Hours conversations at Róisín Dubh, Dominick Street, on 6 September the first of his guests, renowned Irish conductor and GIAF regular with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra David Brophy will be talking all things music. The full programme is available at "While this has been a very challenging time for everyone, we were determined to present a programme in Galway this year despite everything and we are set to do just that with our Autumn Edition. We wanted this to be a love letter from the arts to our audience during a very difficult period for people. We have had to radically rethink how we do things but one thing's for sure, we look forward to safely gathering again to celebrate great art with everyone - either in person or online – this Autumn.”John Crumlish, Chief Executive, Galway International Arts Festival. “Over the last few months the importance of culture has been more evident than ever before as we all embraced our favourite art forms to help us through such a difficult time. We are hugely excited to re-establish live experiences between artists and audiences alongside online experiences for those who cannot join in person. As the country emerges from lockdown, we hope Galway International Arts Festival will help elevate the mood of the nation and enrich many hearts and minds as we present this Autumn Edition. It will also be a particular thrill to unveil the spectacular Mirror Pavilion by John Gerrard on the Irish landscape.”Paul Fahy, Artistic Director, Galway International Arts Festival Attend and experience in person, in Galway:  Galway International Arts Festival Autumn Edition will kick off on 3 September with the unveiling of Mirror Pavilion, a major new commission from internationally renowned Irish artist John Gerrard known for his spectacular, large scale outdoor works such as Western Flag in the Coachella desert, California. Presented by GIAF and Galway 2020 as part of Galway’s European Capital of Culture. The Pavilion is a beautiful and striking structure, with three sides and the roof clad in a highly reflective mirror and the fourth wall a high–resolution LED wall. This structure will host two new artworks Corn Work and Leaf Work which will unfold on the LED screen presented in two locations; Corn Work at the historic Claddagh Quay in Galway City (3-26 September) and Leaf Work at the spectacular 4,000–year–old Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara (11-31 Oct). The works reflect and respond to the landscape of both locations. Mirror Pavilion is a response to the escalating climate crisis and fearlessly pushes the boundaries of digital art using simulation. Gerrard has taken digital technology, usually employed by the commercial gaming industry, to create virtual worlds that simulate extremely detailed and authentic landscapes. The characters and landscapes we see on the LED screen may look like video or film but they are not. Commissioned by Galway International Arts Festival for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture, the Festival is delighted to honour that commitment to premiere Mirror Pavilion in Ireland this year. Watch John Gerrard in his studio, talk about creating Mirror Pavilion in this short video. A ‘one-night-only' peek at a new Enda Walsh play, Medicine, at a work-in-progress stage. Medicine will see Domhnall Gleeson return to the stage, alongside Clare Barrett, Aoife Duffin and jazz percussionist Sean Carpio.  Produced by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival, Medicine is devastatingly funny and profoundly moving, and examines society’s response to mental health concerns while deconstructing the fabric of theatrical performance. Please note this development showcase will not be streamed and there is a limited audience capacity to facilitate social distancing.  (26 September, 4pm, Black Box Theatre – SOLD OUT) Visual arts programming is always a key element of the Galway International Arts Festival programme. Last summer GIAF moved into a new Festival Gallery space in the heart of the city centre. Housed in An Post’s network of buildings just off William Street, the unused space behind the main GPO was completely transformed by the Festival team. GIAF is delighted that An Post has made the space available again and will this year host a major new exhibition by celebrated Irish artist Hughie O’Donoghue. This exhibition features a number of large-scale works. (5-26 September, Festival Gallery).  Internationally acclaimed video artist Bill Viola’s work focuses on the fundamental human experiences. Audiences this Autumn can explore his workThree Women, which is part of the Transfigurations video series (5-26 September, Festival Gallery). There is a new Room to explore, Changing Room written by Enda Walsh and designed by Paul Fahy, the seventh in their series.This latest addition to the evolving Rooms series sees Enda once again collaborate with GIAF’s Artistic Director to share the story of a character who has inhabited that room. (9-20 September, Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway – SOLD OUT). Always a hugely popular part of the festival, First Thought Talks returns exploring the big issues and challenges of the day with speakers including Samantha Power, Professor Luke O’Neill, Marion McKeone, Colm Tóibín, Gaia Vince, Eamon Dunphy and Fintan O’Toole.  A selection of talks will be live-streamed and some guests will join by video link. First Thought Talks are presented in association with NUI Galway. Meanwhile host Tiernan Henry talksfavourite music and memories with special guests Julie Feeney, David Brophy and Liz Nugent in a new series of live Vinyl Hours conversations. (6 & 12 September, Róisín Dubh, Dominick Street). These will be available to listen to on the Festival’s new First Thought podcast. Experience through headphones, as you walk through the streets of Galway, Cascando by Samuel Beckett directed by Gavin Quinn, from Pan Pan who make their long–awaited GIAF debut this year. The audience are led through the city streets, the unhurried pace of Andrew Bennett’s deep and riveting voice provide a rhythm for their steps, as they listen to Voice’s struggle to tell a story. Along this journey, the tremendous pulse of Jimmy Eadie’s music threatens to overwhelm, rising in a wave of crashing strings. (17-20 September, 1pm, 4pm & 7pm and 19 September, 11am, 1.30pm & 4pm. Meeting point at the Galway Rowing Club, Wood Quay – SOLD OUT). To celebrate 250 years since the birth of Beethoven, ConTempo will perform a series of live concerts featuring some of his most-loved pieces for strings quartets. (22-25 September, St Nicholas’ Church). Experience GIAF online at home: Galway International Arts Festival is acutely aware that some may not be in a position to experience these in person in Galway this autumn. With that in mind the Festival presents an enhanced digital programme for audiences who cannot visit Galway to attend in person this year, or may prefer to engage from home. A selection of these will be live streamed on our online platforms, some digital only. Additional events will be presented on Facebook Live and Instagram. Check the Festival’s online platforms for regular updates. Watch a Mirror Pavilion video series on the ‘Making of Mirror Pavilion’ featuring stunning footage from both locations at Galway City and Connemara, allowing you to experience this groundbreaking work from the comfort of your home. Continue your exploration of visual arts with a virtual tour of Hughie O’Donoghue’s new show as you are ‘walked’ around the stunning Festival Gallery space and watch a conversation with the artist discussing his spectacular new exhibition. GIAF also welcomes back renowned photographer Sarah Hickson who has been working on a festival commission around those who have lived / are living in Direct Provision in Galway. This online only exhibition brings together photographs that resonate with the theme of ’home’ and explore personal stories of displacement, migration and belonging. This Festival commission will conclude in 2021. (Experience online only from 14 September) A number of First Thought talks will be broadcast across GIAF’s social media channels and on YouTube. For full details see This year the Festival is also launching a First Thought Podcast series, which invites listeners to discover new perspectives, people and more, through conversations on creativity and the big issues of the day. Pop your headphones in and listen anywhere.  Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of its principal funding agencies the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland, Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, Education Partner NUI Galway, Festival Energy partner Flogas and Drinks Partner Heineken®. ENDS  

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Results may help identify patients for novel treatments to halt the growth of cancerous cells  A new study by molecular biologists at NUI Galway has uncovered genetic differences which could be used to identify patients who would benefit from drugs which stop the growth of cancerous cells. The research team from the University’s Centre for Chromosome Biology has been studying the molecular response of cells to a drug that blocks the first step of DNA replication.  The research paper, published in the prestigious journal Cell Reports, states that its findings can be applied to help develop novel cancer treatments. When both normal and cancer cells divide their DNA needs to be replicated, so that both mother and daughter cells get a complete copy of the DNA.  CDC7 is a protein that is needed at an early stage in the process of DNA replication and new drugs that block the action of CDC7 are being developed as anti-cancer therapeutics. But they can also impact the growth of normal cells. Previous research from Professor Corrado Santocanale’s team at the Centre for Chromosome Biology in NUI Galway showed that CDC7 targeting drugs can kill cancer cells while temporarily blocking the growth of normal cells.  Dr Michael Rainey, honorary research lecturer at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and the main contributor to the study, said: “These drugs are likely to have significantly less of the toxic side effects associated with other chemotherapeutic drugs that kill both normal and cancer cells. “But now our research has given us two other key findings on CDC7 targeting drugs and their impact on cells.  “We have uncovered a molecular pathway which influences whether cells either stop growing or die when treated with CDC7 targeting drugs. Even more importantly, we identified a number of genes that are required for the cell growth block - and if these genes are mutated cells can actually grow in the presence of the drugs.” Professor Santocanale and Dr Rainey say these findings pave the way for the identification of cancer patients who may benefit from CDC7 targeting drugs. It would also help to identify those patients who would not respond to treatment with these drugs and can instead be redirected to alternative treatments.  Dr Rainey added: “Using sophisticated molecular genetic technologies we have screened all human genes and found a number of genes that are critical for the cells to stop growth in the presence of CDC7 targeting drugs. Excitingly this work has also helped us to understand how cells coordinate the process of DNA replication and the partitioning of DNA into mother and daughter cells.” Professor Santocanale, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the Centre for Chromosome Biology and Discipline of Biochemistry in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, added: “Many novel drugs are being developed worldwide to fight cancers. However, because cancers are very different at the molecular level, not all patients respond to treatment in a similar manner. So, for each new drug, the big challenge is to identify the molecular signature that allows us to predict whether a tumour will respond to treatment or fail treatment.  “Major advancements and investments in genomics technology have been pivotal in increasing our molecular understanding of how cells copy the genetic information and in understanding how CDC7 targeting drugs work, which is essential to maximise their therapeutic potential.” This study is published in the prestigious journal Cell Reports and is available at Ends

Thursday, 17 September 2020

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, will once again collaborate with artists Anne Cleary and Denis Connolly to create interactive art and science workshops for children. Having participated in CÚRAM’s Artists in Residence programme in 2017-2018, Cleary Connolly developed AfterImage, an art-science project with Galway’s Westside community. The Baboró International Arts Festival for Children is a welcome opportunity for further collaboration between CÚRAMs researchers and award-winning artists. The project, Wavelengths will enable school children to meet the artists, Cleary Connolly over Zoom, and be shown their exciting Science Foundation Ireland supported exhibition, Invisible Light, at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork. Participants will see fantastic artworks and Cleary Connolly will introduce the electromagnetic spectrum, using every day and familiar objects to help demystify each type of light. “We are very excited to be working once again with Cleary Connolly on this talk and seeing their new work at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.  Anne and Denis have an amazing way of connecting art and science while making complex scientific ideas accessible and fascinating to any audience,” says Andrea Fitzpatrick, Artist in Residence programme manager at CÚRAM.  Like the visible spectrum, the electromagnetic spectrum is divided into seven sections or types of lights, most of which we cannot see. Although most of this light is invisible to the naked eye, scientists have devised many ways of seeing them and using them in medicine, astronomy, meteorology, security, etc. Now Cleary Connolly explores these invisible forms of light as art. Researchers from CÚRAM, SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, Dr Vijaya Krishna Kanala and Vaishali Chugh, will be participating in the online experience to explain how they use ultraviolet light and fluorescence in the laboratory for the imaging of cells in their research. Funding for the project has been provided by NUI Galway to celebrate Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, says: “This project is another great opportunity for our researchers to communicate their work to new audiences. It exemplifies CÚRAM’s commitment to developing relationships with the community through art and science, and we are delighted to partner with talents such as Cleary Connolly.” CÚRAM’s public engagement programme ‘Breaking Barriers’ supports the Science Foundation Ireland goal of having the most engaged and scientifically informed public. Wavelengths will take place online over Zoom on Monday, October 12th and Tuesday, October 13th and is suitable for 5th and 6th class students.  Full details, including how to book, are available on the Baboró website at

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

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Investigators at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, have demonstrated the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) delivery using a three-dimensional microgel platform, to assist with tissue repair in patients suffering from critical limb ischemia and other peripheral arterial diseases. Peripheral arterial disease is a chronic vascular disease characterised by impaired circulation to the lower extremities. Its most severe stage, known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), puts patients at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, infected and non-healing wounds, amputation, and death.   CLI affects millions of patients globally. Advancing age combined with other risk factors such as diabetes and smoking suggests that the condition will only increase in the near future. CÚRAM’s research in innovative ‘smart’ medical devices and implants aims to benefit patients with chronic soft tissue ailments such as CLI, as well as cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neural, renal and respiratory diseases. This study, ‘Temporal Changes Guided by Mesenchymal Stem Cells on a 3D Microgel Platform Enhances Angiogenesis In Vivo at a Low-Cell Dose’ published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the most influential journals on scientific progress, illustrates how a low dose of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) embedded in a three-dimensional microgel cell delivery platform, can induce rapid blood vessel regeneration and tissue repair. Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells found in the bone marrow that are important for making and repairing skeletal tissues. Therapeutic factors secreted by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) promote the regeneration of blood vessels. Still, delivery of these stem cells to the patient in isolation and outside of their normal environmental conditions offers only a limited benefit to patients, with issues such as poor graft survival. The delivery of stem cells on an extracellular matrix (ECM)-based platform; however, changes cell behaviour and enhances the potential for tissue repair, reduces inflammation and further tissue damage. “Our fundamental research adds to current knowledge about cell encapsulation strategies by highlighting the importance of preconditioning or priming the capacity of biomaterials through cell-material interactions. Obtaining therapeutic efficacy at a low-cell dose in the microgel platform is a promising clinical route that would aid faster tissue repair in patients suffering from peripheral arterial diseases such as Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)” said Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM and lead author on the paper. Further basic investigation of the biochemical nature of the 3-D delivery platform and its influence on the over or under expression of cellular receptors will be the focus of a future study. From a cell therapy point-of-view, the 3-D model platform developed during this research offers a significant benefit over other cell delivery platforms with the use of a twenty-fold lower cell dose than that of the gold-standard used in pre-clinical ischemia studies. This illustrates the importance of preconditioning the MSCs on a 3-D microgel platform that allows the use of a low-cell dose as a localised therapy to reverse ischemia. According to Professor Pandit: “These findings will be increasingly significant, as future studies will investigate ECM-based three-dimensional niches using our platform technology for engineering constructs that will allow replication of native cellular microenvironments for enhancing the regenerative capacity of stem cells. Besides, we are very keen on transferring this technology to the clinic with our clinical collaborators.” The multi-disciplinary research team led by Professor Pandit involved Professor Tim O’Brien, Co-PI at CÚRAM and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, CÚRAM researchers Dr Dilip Thomas, Dr Grazia Marsico, Dr Gianluca Fontana and Dr Isma Liza Mohd Isa, Dr Arun Thirumaran and Dr Xizhe Chen, Dr Bart Lukasz and Dr Brian Rodriguez from the Conway Institute, University College Dublin and Professor Martina Marchetti-Deschmann from the Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, TU Wien of the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. This research was supported by Science Foundation Ireland and co-funded by the ERDF as well as through EMBO short-term fellowships with use of core-facilities and technical assistance at NUI Galway. The full paper can be accessed at For further information, please contact Claire O’Riordan at -Ends-

Monday, 27 July 2020

NUI Galway and the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC), affiliated with the Ministry of Education in China, have announced the acceptance of ten Chinese students to pursue a PhD at NUI Galway. Eight of these students have been accepted for PhDs under supervision of academics at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences while a further two students will receive supervision from the School of Engineering. Each of the ten successful applicants will receive full scholarship support. All eight students intending to study at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway will come from Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University and are preparing for careers as academic clinicians. Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University was founded in 1914 and is one of the earliest medical schools to introduce western medicine into China. Following a rigorous selection process in China the students have been chosen after to undertake projects proposed by researchers at NUI Galway. The CSC is the Chinese Ministry of Education’s non-profit organisation that provides support for international academic exchange with China. The CSC provides both funding for Chinese citizens and residents to study abroad, and for students and scholars from around the World to study in China. In welcoming this announcement Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences and Director of the Confucius Institute for Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galwaysaid: “This is the first year of a new partnership with Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University and we look forward to the arrival of these outstanding students in Galway.  This partnership will promote joint clinical research between the EU and China. It is proposed that NUI Galway will host an annual symposium for the Chinese Scholarship Council PhD fellows commencing in 2020/2021.” Professor Becky Whay, Vice-President for Internationalisation at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to welcome these students who have gone through a rigorous competitive process to be selected to study with our academic teams here at NUI Galway. We look forward to the outputs of their research and the cultural interchange this scheme provides.” Professor Sanbing Shen, Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and Associate Director of Confucius Institute of Chinese and Regenerative Medicine at NUI Galway, said at the announcement: “We are grateful to Chinese Scholarship Council for promoting Ireland-China scientific exchanges and to Professor Xiaochuang Wu and Xingcan Zhou at the Xiangya School of Medicine of Central South University for initiating this program. We look forward to welcoming the CSC-funded students to NUI Galway and to turning this program into a successful example of friendship and international scientific collaboration.” -ENDS-  

Friday, 24 July 2020

Livestock farming contributes one third of Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, posing a unique challenge to achieve a national commitment to achieving net zero GHG emissions post 2050. The EPA-funded SeQUEsTER project seeks to chart potential pathways for Irish agriculture and land use that can deliver net zero GHG emissions. There are a number of challenges and some fundamentally differing perspectives on Ireland’s role in global actions on climate change and food security. To that end, SeQUEsTER will launch The Sequester Journal, a new blog series that will feature high profile national and international experts from academic, social and political spheres. Contributing authors to date include: CCAFS Flagship Leader for Low Emissions Development, Dr Lini Wollenberg; Basque Centre for Climate Change Livestock GHG Modelling Specialist, Professor Agustin del Prado; Professor of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College Dublin and member of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Alan Matthews; Molecular ecologist and agro-ecosystem analyst at the James Hutton Institute, Dr Pietro Iannetta; and Life Cycle Assessment Scientist for AgResearch New Zealand, Dr Andre Mazzetto. The series will cover topics related to four themes: The potential role of Ireland’s farm forestry in an EU Green Deal. Opportunities for Ireland’s bio-economy in an EU Green Deal. The importance of a carbon neutral Irish agriculture sector: An international perspective What can Ireland learn from other countries as it transitions agriculture towards carbon neutrality Principal investigator on the project, Dr Dave Styles, who has contributed the blog’s inaugural piece, highlighted the importance of encouraging dialogue, saying:  “The significant changes required to meaningfully tackle the climate emergency will entail disruption, challenges and opportunities. There is an urgent need to engage the public in the choices we face if we wish to prosper through the transformations necessary to leave a decent world for future generations to enjoy.” NUI Galway Postdoctoral Researcher and Model Integration Lead, Dr Colm Duffy, also emphasized the need for engagement: “We are acutely aware that we need to effectively communicate our work to all stakeholders, and we are endeavouring to make our work and our research team as accessible as possible.” The Sequester Journal’s first edition will be live from Friday, 24 July, and engagement from the public is welcomed to provide a broad spectrum of perspectives and balance to this crucial debate. To access the blog or find out more about the sequester project visit and follow on twitter. For more information or to contribute an article to the blog contact Dr Colm Duffy at -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Attendees will hear from a number of experts including Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy of WHO Director General on COVID-19 The Centre for One Health at NUI Galway will launch its Spotlight Series on Monday, 27 July, from 2.30- 4pm with a live online event ‘COVID-19: A One Health Challenge’. The One Health concept recognises that human health is linked to the health of animals and the environment we share. It is essential to take a One Health approach to tackle many of the human health challenges we face in today’s world. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is believed to have spread from bats via an intermediary host to humans and therefore COVID -19 is an example of a zoonotic disease, which is a disease spread from animals to humans. Professor Dearbháile Morris, Director of the Centre for One Health and Head of the Discipline of Bacteriology, School of Medicine, NUI Galway, said: “It is estimated that six out of every ten known infectious diseases in humans originate in animals, and three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Therefore is it only by taking a One Health approach that we can adequately address issues such as COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics.” To register for this free event which will be delivered on Zoom visit For further details, contact Professor Dearbháile Morris at -Ends-