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World-Renowned Surgeon to Deliver Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture at NUI Galway

World-Renowned Surgeon to Deliver Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture  at NUI Galway-image

Monday, 1 September 2014

NUI Galway will host Ireland’s largest surgical conference, the 39th Sir Peter Freyer Memorial Lecture and Surgical Symposium, on 5-6 September 2014. Internationally renowned surgeon, Dr John Birkmeyer will deliver the Memorial Lecture entitled ‘Strategies for Improving the Quality of Surgical Care’. John Birkmeyer, MD is the George D. Zuidema Professor of Surgery and Director of the Centre for Healthcare Outcomes & Policy at the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School. His research career has focused on performance measurement, understanding variation in hospital outcomes and cost-efficiency, and strategies for improvement. Formerly a series editor of the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, Dr. Birkmeyer has leading roles in several regional collaborative improvement programs involving over 50 hospitals in Michigan, with support from Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. He serves on the blue ribbon expert panel on hospital safety ratings for the Leapfrog Group and as Chief Scientific Officer for ArborMetrix, Inc. Dr. Birkmeyer was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. Professor of Surgery at NUI Galway, Michael Kerin, who is hosting the event along with his colleague Professor Oliver McAnena, says: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Birkmeyer to our University. Dr Birkmeyer is focused on improving the quality of the health care system which will serve the lives of the people and communities for generations to come.” On the second day of the Surgical Symposium, Mr James Sheehan, CEO, Galway Clinic, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Co-Founder of Blackrock Clinic, Galway Clinic and the Hermitage Clinic will deliver the State of the Art Lecture entitled ‘Reflections on the Past and a Vision for the Future’ on Saturday, 6th September at 12.45 p.m. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and he holds an M.Sc in Bioengineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Surrey. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland and the Irish Academy of Engineering. He specialised in the design of artificial hip and knee prostheses. Since co-founding the Blackrock Clinic in the 1980s, his name has become synonymous with healthcare provision, as well as innovations. For further information on event, please contact 091 524390 or www.freyer.ie -ends-

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Gold for NUI Galway Academic at Para-Cycling Road World Championships

Gold for NUI Galway Academic at Para-Cycling Road World Championships-image

Monday, 1 September 2014

NUI Galway academic, Dr Eoghan Clifford has stormed to his second World Title winning the Men’s C3 Road Race at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in Greenville, South Carolina in the USA yesterday. The Men’s C3 Road Race was seven laps of a 10.2km course and the NUI Galway Lecturer in Civil Engineering pushed ahead with three laps to go, winning by a margin of almost two minutes. This is a sensational World Championship debut for the rider who won gold in the MC3 Time Trial on Friday. Speaking after the Men’s C3 Road Race, Dr Clifford said: “I can’t believe it. I had planned to not show in the first few laps, but it was very explosive, and I was struggling pretty bad, so hung in towards the back. I felt that as they tired and lost the explosiveness, I stayed the same. At the start/finish area with three laps to go, I got about 20-30 metres in the technical section, and put my head down to see what would happen. I am the kind of rider that if I can get a gap I can hold it, and they would have to commit to a chase to catch me, I didn’t want it to come to a sprint. When I got up to two minutes ahead, I knew I had it.” Dr Clifford added a special note of thanks to his fellow teammates: “I would like to thank the rest of the Irish team and management here. They made it really easy for me; the other squad members have so much experience, and were really helpful.” Para-cycling has been officially administered by the UCI since an agreement to transfer governance of the discipline from the International Paralympic Committee was signed in February 2007. This discipline is divided into road and track races for a total of seven events. The competitions comprise four groups of handicaps (blind and visually impaired riders, people with cerebral palsy, locomotor disabilities and handcycling) and a total of 14 functional categories for men and women in all the age categories defined by the UCI. Riders are placed in the appropriate category in the light of their functional capacity. -Ends-

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NUI Galway’s Novel Science Competition for Primary and Secondary Schools is Launched

NUI Galway’s Novel Science Competition for Primary and Secondary Schools is Launched-image

Monday, 1 September 2014

Guest judges include Mathematics Lecturer Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin Primary and secondary school students from all over Ireland have been challenged by NUI Galway to compete in a new science communication competition. Students are invited to make entertaining and educational short videos on a range of science topics for ReelLIFE SCIENCE. With over €3000 in prizes, the makers of the best video at primary and secondary school level will each receive €1000, to be spent on promoting science in the winning school. Second and third-placed entries at each level will receive €300 and €200, respectively. Closing date for submissions is Friday, 17 October and the winning schools will be announced during the week beginning 10 November to coincide with Science Week 2014. Topics include ‘The Power of Science’, ‘Science Heroes’ and ‘Physics in Real Life’. ReelLIFE SCIENCE was piloted in Galway schools last year with great success and was conceived by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell who said: “There is huge enthusiasm among students for using hands-on science to investigate the world around them, whether it’s exploring the plants and animals in their school garden or the food in their lunchbox. A great way of communicating this is by using video cameras, tablets or even smartphones to make a short movie for their friends, parents and teachers to enjoy.” The secondary school winner of the 2013 pilot competition was Michael McAndrew, a student from St Enda’s College in Galway with an animated video, entitled ‘Astrobiology – Life in Space’. Michael’s winning video can be viewed at http://youtu.be/JbyZ9z3CS3o. Michael has since launched his own website design and hosting company, Corrib Digital, while finding the time to podcast every week about new technology and, of course, study for his Leaving Certificate. Videos will be selected by special guest judges: Stephen Curry, Professor of Structural Biology at Imperial College London and Science writer with The Guardian; Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Lecturer in Mathematics at University College Dublin, Radio and TV broadcaster, columnist and author; and Paul Clarke, St. Paul’s College, Raheny, winner of the SciFest National Final 2013 and Overall Winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2014. More information about the competition and application process can be found at www.reellifescience.com. The initiative is in collaboration with the Cell EXPLORERS School of Natural Sciences outreach programme, and is supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme, which seeks to promote the awareness and engagement of the Irish public with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). -Ends-

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GAA seen as ideal model for engaging youth with society

GAA seen as ideal model for engaging youth with society-image

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The GAA was put forward as a shining example for fostering youth engagement at an international UNESCO symposium in Croke Park today. The symposium was organised by three UNESCO Chairs in the field of youth studies from NUI Galway, University of Ulster, and Penn State University, USA. Professor Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development at Penn State University, believes other countries can learn from the GAA’s model. According to Professor Brennan: “The Gaelic Athletic Association is a true grassroots organisation. It empowers, involves and invigorates not just individual young people but their families and wider communities. We hear a lot about the ‘fabric’ of society. Organisations such as the GAA are examples of a wonderful type of clever stitching which can make this fabric strong and support young people as they develop. Sport has such potential to strengthen society around the world by engaging young peoples around the world and nations can learn from each other about what works best.” Speaking at the symposium, NUI Galway’s Professor Eamon O’Shea, who is also the Tipperary Hurling Manager, spoke of the importance of sport. “How we contextualize a child’s engagement with sport can impact how they learn about success and failure. Sport is mainly about failure - learning to go back on the pitch and say, ‘look, things will get better’. If at the end we can say we stayed the course, took the knocks, were resilient, it doesn’t matter how we end up. The journey is the critical piece in how children develop in sport.” Delegates heard that involvement in sport is key for positive youth development. Apart from obvious physical health gains through fitness, it also has a positive effect on mental health and enables both dealing with stress and coping. Sport enables young people to learn and deal with success and disappointment, which is a useful preparation for later life. Of particular importance, delegates heard, was the mentoring aspect of sport and also the potential for developing emotional intelligence. Other speakers at the event included Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway and Professor Alan Smith, UNESCO Chair in Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster. Some of the representatives from sport included Alan Kerins, former GAA Intercounty hurler and footballer, and founder of Alan Kerins Projects, and Hugo MacNeill, Irish rugby star and Managing Director Goldman Sachs. Attendees heard that youth citizenship, sponsored through sport and recreation has the power to bring communities together and create a prosperous and peaceful environment for all. A declaration was put forward, which contained a ‘call for all youth worldwide to receive the attention needed for them to be empowered to take ownership for their lives and development of their societies’.  The declaration will be signed on Saturday, at half time during the American football clash between Penn State and University of Central Florida. -ends-

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Exciting proof-of-concept for acoustic dispensing of single cell stem cells

Exciting proof-of-concept for acoustic dispensing of single cell stem cells-image

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway and Irish start-up Poly-Pico Technologies Ltd. have successfully executed a new and exciting scientific proof-of-concept involving the use of sound waves to dispense living stem cells. Using the Poly-Pico micro-drop dispensing device, the researchers were able to isolate individual adult stem cells from a bone marrow sample. The ability to isolate individual stem cells in a quick, scalable and cost-efficient manner is attractive to scientists working in the field, as current methods are often time-consuming and costly. Individual cells can then be replicated into exact copies of themselves for experimental purposes, or various drug compounds could be applied to the individual cells to see what effects occur. Further down the line, there is the tantalising prospect of perhaps being able to use such dispensing devices as a form of tissue engineering. Poly-Pico Technologies Ltd. is an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-up (HPSU) company, which spun out from the University of Limerick and is now based in Galway. The company has developed a unique, accurate and highly versatile device, which uses sound energy to accurately dispense a wide range of fluid / materials at very low volumes (picolitre to nanolitre). The novel technology uses disposable cartridges to dispense materials such as proteins, antibodies, DNA and other compounds for biological applications as well as providing industrial solutions for the precise dispensing of adhesives, lubricants; and coatings. Now, for the first time, REMEDI scientists have successfully used the same technology to dispense stem cells, thereby demonstrating a capability of the instrument which will open up further applications in life sciences. In the proof-of-concept experiments, living stem cells were dispensed one at a time onto different surfaces using the sound wave technology.  The delicate stem cells remained viable and continued to grow after being dispensed. “This gives us some ideas about new uses for the instrument”, says Frank Barry, Scientific Director of REMEDI at NUI Galway.  If we can deliver stem cells accurately and rapidly, we can potentially engineer new tissues in the laboratory based on complex arrays of dispensed cells.  If we try to look into the future, it is possible to envisage that human tissues could be manufactured using this kind of technology, thus avoiding the need to identify tissue donors for transplants.” Alan Crean, CEO of Poly-Pico Technologies, commented: “We are delighted to see this new technology opportunity emerge at the interface between biology and engineering.  We look forward to working with REMEDI and NUI Galway on developing stem cell applications using our acoustic methods. There are other exciting applications of Poly-Pico’s unique technology in, for example, drug screening and DNA amplification. Our objective here is to make our technology available to companies, and researchers, and add value to what they are doing. This is one example of such a success.”  This proof-of-concept was carried out under the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. The technology was then advanced using an Innovation Voucher, an Enterprise Ireland initiative developed to build links between Ireland’s public knowledge providers (i.e. higher education institutes, public research bodies) and small businesses. ENDS

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Symposium on Youth and Sport Kicks off Croke Park Classic

Symposium on Youth and Sport Kicks off Croke Park Classic-image

Monday, 25 August 2014

A symposium on youth development and sport, organised by UNESCO experts, takes place on Thursday, 28 August. The symposium is organised by three UNESCO Chairs in the field of youth studies from NUI Galway, University of Ulster, and Penn State University. It kicks off the Croke Park Classic Weekend, which will feature an American football clash between Penn State and University of Central Florida. According to the symposium organisers, with half of the world’s population aged 25 or younger, there is a pressing need for innovative strategies to engage youth. And with 85% of all youth living in less developed countries, active engagement of youth is essential to international security, stability, and regional capacity building. Dr Mark Brennan of Penn State University explains how sport can help: “We believe that a dedication to youth citizenship sponsored through sport and recreation will bring communities together and create a prosperous and peaceful environment for all.” ‘The UNESCO Croke Park Symposium on Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership through Sport and Recreation’ will look at the effects sport can have on youth in terms of leadership, peace building, empowering women and social inclusion. Key speakers will include, among others: Professor Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development, Penn State University. Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, NUI Galway. Professor Alan Smith, UNESCO Chair in Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster. Don Mullan, author, founder of the Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project. Alan Kerins, Irish GAA star and founder of Alan Kerins Projects; Hugo MacNeill, Irish rugby star, Managing Director Goldman Sachs; Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos (the organisation founded by J.K. Rowling which works to support children in institutions.) NUI Galway’s Professor Pat Dolan, the first person to be awarded the prestigious UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement in the Republic of Ireland, commented: “We are focussed on knowledge creation around ‘what works’ in the real world of practice and on utilising community based approaches to working with and for young people.” Explaining the organisers’ approach, University of Ulster’s Professor Alan Smith, said: “The symposium will bring together a range of voices, from youth involved in citizenship and peacebuilding projects, to policy makers and organisations tasked with building resilient and thriving communities.” The Symposium will result in significant policy initiatives and a major formal declaration on utilising sports and recreation as mechanisms for youth development worldwide. This declaration will be announced at halftime during the Croke Park Classic football match and presented to the UN, UNESCO, and UNICEF as a platform for them to build global programming and policy. The UNESCO Croke Park Symposium on Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership through Sport and Recreation will be held on Thursday, August 28, 2014 from 9am to 4.30 pm at Croke Park, Dublin. Click here for full symposium agenda.  ENDS

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