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10-2007 Press Releases

31/10/2007: Three new planets found by Queen's astronomers           
30/10/2007: How the peace was made - Queen's debates Northern Ireland conflict on international stage
29/10/2007: Engineers develop new cements to heal spinal fractures
26/10/2007: Citizenship can create a vibrant Northern Ireland
25/10/2007: Festival of Hockey at Queen's
25/10/2007: Vaccines of the future explored at Queen's
24/10/2007: Lunch dates with a difference on the menu at Queen's
24/10/2007: Engineers develop new cements to heal spinal fractures
23/10/2007: Major employers target Queen's students
23/10/2007: Queen's doctor to assess eye problems in Alzheimer's patients
23/10/2007: Revealed: The hidden history of 1150 Lough Neagh place names
18/10/2007: Time Team 'dig' Northern Ireland's archaeological heritage
18/10/2007: Politics students learn of Croatian peace process
16/10/2007: 'Greater business-industry collaboration essential' - Gregson
16/10/2007: Queen's scientists reassess heart disease causes
15/10/2007: More mental health nurses needed in Northern Ireland
15/10/2007: Chef Deane cooks up healthy eating at Queen's
12/10/2007: Booker Prize evening at Queen's
12/10/2007: World leading DNA experts in Belfast
12/10/2007: BP's top scientist to talk on tomorrow's energy
12/10/2007: Bangor student elected into top medical post
11/10/2007: Flying visit aids Queen's astronomers
10/10/2007: Research starts on solving schizophrenia
08/10/2007: NI coaching scene receives boost from Queen's Sport
08/10/2007: 'Lock'-ed and loaded for Belfast Festival fun!
05/10/2007: Declawing crabs questioned by Queen's academic
04/10/2007: Northern Ireland improvements in cancer survival
04/10/2007: Student teacher tops the class at Queen's
03/10/2007: Leading UK Poets dream up National Poetry Day at Queen's
01/10/2007: Queen's research shapes Thailand's education system

Three new planets found by Queen's astronomers
Exoplanets: An artist's impression
Exoplanets: An artist's impression

The UK's leading team of planet-hunting astronomers has announced the discovery of three new planets. 

Originating from Queen’s, SuperWASP is the most ambitious project in the world designed to discover large planets. The project team are the first to have found transiting planets in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Using data produced by SuperWASP’s cameras, which monitor up to 400,000 stars every minute, the new extra-solar planets were discovered as they were seen to pass in front of their host star.

Explaining the discovery, Dr Don Pollacco of Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre said: “We take pictures of the sky and measure the brightness of stars. If a planet is going around one of these stars and it happens to pass across the face of that star, our cameras will pick up the light from the star getting a little fainter.

“Discoveries such as these open up a whole new area of astronomy. Such transiting planets are important because they are the only ones that can have their mass and size measured directly. Astronomers can determine what they are made of and armed with this information we can begin to understand how these solar systems were formed.”

All three planets are similar to Jupiter, but are orbiting their stars so closely that their ‘year’ lasts less than two days. “These are among the shortest orbital periods yet discovered.  Being so close to their star, the surface temperatures of the planets will be more than 2000 C, so it is unlikely that life as we know it could survive there. However, the finding of Jupiter-mass planets around other stars supports the idea that there are also many Earth-sized planets waiting to be discovered as the technology employed by astronomers improves,” added Pollacco.

Further information on the work of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s is available at http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk .


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How the peace was made - Queen's debates Northern Ireland conflict on international stage

Ten years on from the Good Friday Agreement, international leaders past and present - led by Senator George Mitchell - are gathering at Queen's University to examine how the conflict in Northern Ireland ended and whether other conflict zones across the globe can learn from our experiences.

Participants at the Mitchell Conference on 22 and 23 May 2008 include former Irish President Mary Robinson, Lord Trimble, Albert Reynolds, Seamus Mallon, Desmond Tutu and Fergal Keane. They will be joined by politicians, academics, lawyers, and community and youth workers.

Senator Mitchell, who is Queen's Chancellor, said: "Northern Ireland has come a long way in the past 10 years. The fabric of society has changed beyond all recognition and its people are enjoying the benefits of a settled society. Although not perfect, so much has been achieved and a strong local Assembly is in place.

"The two days in May will bring people together from different walks of life, all of whom were integral to building peace and securing future stability. The conference embraces the political leaders involved in negotiations and community workers who did so much at grassroots level.

"Northern Ireland's lasting legacy could be in showing the way to possible solutions in other conflicts such as Iraq."

Queen's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson said: "It is appropriate that 10 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, Queen's should bring together those who forged it and those who can learn from it. The conference will make a significant contribution to our understanding of how best to manage and resolve conflict situations.

"Senator Mitchell played a key role in negotiating the Agreement. He is a towering international statesman who has made an enormous contribution to Queen's and to Northern Ireland. I am delighted that he has given his name to this event, that he has played such an important role in developing the programme and that he will give the opening address."

The conference is one of a series of events taking place to strengthen academic links between Mitchell's alma mater in Washington (Georgetown University where he received his Law degree in 1961) and Queen’s University.  Last year Queen’s signed a formal agreement with Georgetown University, committing both universities to co-operation on a programme of shared activities and interests. A distinguished delegation from Georgetown will take part in the symposium.

Full details on the conference can be obtained by visiting www.qub.ac.uk/MitchellConference

Media enquiries to Press and PR Unit on 00 44 (0)28 9097 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Engineers develop new cements to heal spinal fractures
Dr Fraser Buchanan, Dr Nicholas Dunne and Dr Susan Clarke, co-investigators on new research into bone cements
Dr Fraser Buchanan, Dr Nicholas Dunne and Dr Susan Clarke, co-investigators on new research into bone cements
Dr Fraser Buchanan of Queen's University who is leading research into new bone cements to help heal spinal fractures
Dr Fraser Buchanan of Queen's University who is leading research into new bone cements to help heal spinal fractures

New research could offer hope for victims of the most devastating spinal injuries - typically those caused in car crashes.

Biological cements to repair ‘burst fractures’ of the spine are being developed and tested in a major new collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Leeds. The team has been awarded just under £500,000 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop and examine the effects of novel cement materials for the treatment of burst fractures.

Bone cements, similar to those used in joint replacement surgery, are already being used to strengthen damaged vertebrae of patients with diseases such as osteoporosis, in a procedure known as vertebroplasty, but ‘burst fractures’ to the spine, injuries often sustained in major impact accidents and falls, are much more difficult to treat. They account for over 1,000 emergency NHS admissions each year and often require highly complex, invasive surgery and a long stay in hospital.

To be able to use bone cements for burst fractures would be a major leap forward. It would be simpler, quicker and much less invasive for the patient, reducing both recovery times and NHS costs.

The project team at Queen’s has expertise in developing and testing synthetic biomaterials for the repair of bone defects.

Dr Fraser Buchanan, of the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, said: “These materials can be delivered to the fracture site by injection and mimic the chemical composition of bone itself.”

Dr Ruth Wilcox, of Leeds University Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, said: “This type of fracture causes the vertebra to burst apart and in severe cases fragments of bone can be pushed into the spinal cord. Surgeons may be able to join bone fragments together and stabilize the spine with the use of metal screws and rods, but patients with these injuries are often in a really bad way, so the less invasive the treatment, the better.”

Dr Buchanan added: “Clearly we need to develop biomaterials that more closely match the properties of real bone and this project offers the perfect opportunity to use the range of complimentary skills of this grouping to predict the effects of newly developed cements and even incorporate biological agents to assist the body’s own healing process.”

“This study demonstrates the significant benefits of working in a multidisciplinary team within Queen’s. In this case between the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, to address issues relating to tissue repair and regeneration.”

Statistically, burst fractures are seen more in younger people, and not enough is currently known about the long term consequences of using existing cements for the treatment of this type of injury.  There is evidence to show that some patients with osteoporosis, who tend to be older, can develop fractures in the vertebrae adjacent to those treated with vertebroplasty.

“We think this may be because current cements are stiffer than the bone itself causing an imbalance in the way the spine bears weight. This may increase loading on the neighbouring vertebrae, which can lead to further damage,” said Dr Wilcox.

At Leeds the team has expertise in computational modelling of the spine and will be able to provide Queen’s with data to assist in the development of novel biomaterials and to simulate how they will perform in patients.

Media enquiries to Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5384 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk ; Simon Jenkins, press officer, University of Leeds on 0113 343 5764 or email s.jenkins@leeds.ac.uk or Jo Kelly, campuspr on 0113 258 9880, M: 07980 267756 or email jokelly@campuspr.co.uk


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Citizenship can create a vibrant Northern Ireland

A vibrant Northern Ireland can be created through citizenship, provided hard work and patience is given, according to a Queen’s lecturer, Dr Phil Larkin from the School of Law.

He was speaking ahead of a symposium on citizenship, which will be hosted by Carmel Hanna, MLA at Stormont today.

Organised by the Northern Light Review (NLR), the aim of the symposium is to increase awareness of the importance of shared and inclusive cultural activity in delivering a prosperous and vibrant community.

Speakers will discuss different concepts of culture and how they apply to Northern Ireland and its past divisions, as well as suggestions for present day solutions.

Dr Larkin said: “This event will provide an opportunity to discuss how citizenship can best create a vibrant Northern Ireland. Should we continue to our notions of citizenship along French lines, which involves creating a type of ideal and uniform "citizen", without reference to religion, culture, or social group?”

“This is not necessarily the correct route to follow. The currently flexible idea of British citizenship, which can be likened to a group of interlinking concentric circles, can allow the two main communities here in Northern Ireland the opportunity to retain one identity or another, or a combination of the two. The cultural divide cannot be fully bridged though without hard work, and it is here where the concept of citizenship must be seen to be proactive.”

As an organisation, NLR advocates that a concept of citizenship can provide a basis for a common culture and shared identity that is forward looking and compatible with modern economic development. As well as, reconciling divisions and supporting a shared future for all citizens.

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391.

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Festival of Hockey at Queen's
Queen's Men's hockey team celebrate a recent Linden Cup victory
Queen's Men's hockey team celebrate a recent Linden Cup victory

For the first time in 12 years the blue riband event of third level hockey will be staged at Queen’s playing fields this weekend.

Queen’s Men’s hockey team, under the guidance of former Ireland coach John Clarke, are hopeful they can lift the Mauritius Cup.

The men’s team have lifted the Linden Cup the past two years and now have their sights on an even bigger prize.

Ten teams will compete for the prize including Queen’s, University of Ulster, University of Limerick, Royal College of Surgeons, Trinity, DCU Dublin, UCD Dublin, UCC Cork, CIT Cork and the NUIG Galway.

Ten ladies teams from the same colleges will compete for the Chilean Cup. The ladies competition has been in existence since 1951. This trophy was presented on behalf of the Chilean government by Senor Bernardo Blejer, Chilean Consul to the Irish Free State. The Queen’s ladies team are currently training under new coach Simon Bell who previously managed the Belfast Harlequins team.

Group matches will be held on Saturday and Sunday. Monday is the day of the semi-finals and finals.

Matches will be played at the Dub, Shaws Bridge (Instonians) and Deramore.  The first match at the Dub is Queen’s men against Trinity on Saturday at 9am. Matches continue to 6.30pm.

Chair of the Organising Committee and final year Queen’s student Chris O'Flaherty is looking forward to the event. He said: “A lot of hard work has gone into the planning and preparation for the event. I have no doubt the standard of play over the course of the weekend will be of the highest quality. Hopefully we will also be able to report some success for the Queen’s teams.”

For further information telephone Chris O'Flaherty on 07912 796707.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Vaccines of the future explored at Queen's
Queen's lecturer Dr Ultan Power will be speaking at the 'Vaccines-Past, Present and Future' symposium.
Queen's lecturer Dr Ultan Power will be speaking at the 'Vaccines-Past, Present and Future' symposium.

The battle against infectious diseases, including pandemic flu, is far from won, according to a Queen’s academic.

The warning comes ahead of a symposium at Queen’s next Monday with the theme ‘Vaccines-Past, Present and Future’.

Dr Ultan Power, Chairperson of Ulster Immuniology Group pointed out ten per cent of human deaths in the UK are caused by infectious diseases and they provide the top four reasons for primary care consultation.

He said: “The battle against infectious diseases such as pandemic flu is far from won. Lesser known diseases such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia caused by respiratory viruses, are proving elusive to vaccine intervention, despite the major burden they place on our health care system every winter.

“Given the huge burden that infectious diseases continually place on our society and the potential for future disasters, such as pandemic flu, we have a responsibility to citizens to increase our research efforts.  We must ensure our research breakthroughs are translated into effective weapons in the fight against infectious diseases.”

Dr Power, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Virology at Queen’s added: “This event provides a forum to reflect on the incredible impact of vaccines and identify current disease indications that may soon be targeted by effective vaccines. We will also be discussing vaccine prospects for major infectious diseases.”

Among the speakers will be Dr David Sailsbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health in the UK.

The event is open to the public and will run from 4-7pm on Monday, 29 October, in the North Lecture Theatre in the Medical Biology Centre at Queen’s University. For further information contact Dr Lisa Connolly, Lecturer in Toxin Food Safety, on (028) 9097 6668, e-mail: l.connolly@qub.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Lunch dates with a difference on the menu at Queen's
The BBC's William Crawley who will be serving up the 'Out to Lunch' series at Queen's
The BBC's William Crawley who will be serving up the 'Out to Lunch' series at Queen's

The chance to hear from Northern Ireland’s leading writers, broadcasters and academics while also enjoying a unique dining experience is on the menu at Queen’s University.

Queen’s ‘Out to Lunch’ initiative features a series of interviews by BBC presenter William Crawley at which guests can enjoy a three-course lunch in the magnificent surroundings of the University’s Great Hall.

The programme, devised by Queen’s Welcome Centre, kicks off on Wednesday 31 October when William Crawley’s first guest will be Roy Foster, Professor of Irish History, Hertford College, Oxford. Writer and broadcaster Sam McAughtry and playwright Dr Marie Jones will be in the interview chairs on Wednesday 14 November. Queen’s Professor of Geography and Intellectual History David Livingstone will be in conversation with William Crawley during a Christmas lunch on Wednesday 12 December. 

The series will continue in the New Year with playwright Martin Lynch and comedy writer and performer Nuala McKeever, writer Glenn Patterson and community worker Baroness May Blood.

Tickets, priced £16, can be obtained (in advance only) from Queen’s Welcome Centre, Lanyon Building, telephone 028 9097 5252 or email queens.welcomecentre@qub.ac.uk

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Engineers develop new cements to heal spinal fractures
Dr Fraser Buchanan, Dr Nicholas Dunne and Dr Susan Clarke, co-investigators on new research into bone cements.
Dr Fraser Buchanan, Dr Nicholas Dunne and Dr Susan Clarke, co-investigators on new research into bone cements.

New research could offer hope for victims of the most devastating spinal injuries - typically those caused in car crashes.

Biological cements to repair ‘burst fractures’ of the spine are being developed and tested in a major new collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Leeds. The team has been awarded just under £500,000 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop and examine the effects of novel cement materials for the treatment of burst fractures.

Bone cements, similar to those used in joint replacement surgery, are already being used to strengthen damaged vertebrae of patients with diseases such as osteoporosis, in a procedure known as vertebroplasty, but ‘burst fractures’ to the spine, injuries often sustained in major impact accidents and falls, are much more difficult to treat. They account for over 1,000 emergency NHS admissions each year and often require highly complex, invasive surgery and a long stay in hospital.

To be able to use bone cements for burst fractures would be a major leap forward. It would be simpler, quicker and much less invasive for the patient, reducing both recovery times and NHS costs.

The project team at Queen’s has expertise in developing and testing synthetic biomaterials for the repair of bone defects.

Dr Fraser Buchanan, of the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, said: “These materials can be delivered to the fracture site by injection and mimic the chemical composition of bone itself."

Dr Ruth Wilcox, of Leeds University Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, said: “This type of fracture causes the vertebra to burst apart and in severe cases fragments of bone can be pushed into the spinal cord. Surgeons may be able to join bone fragments together and stabilize the spine with the use of metal screws and rods, but patients with these injuries are often in a really bad way, so the less invasive the treatment, the better.”

Dr Buchanan added: “Clearly we need to develop biomaterials that more closely match the properties of real bone and this project offers the perfect opportunity to use the range of complimentary skills of this grouping to predict the effects of newly developed cements and even incorporate biological agents to assist the body’s own healing process.”

“This study demonstrates the significant benefits of working in a multidisciplinary team within Queen’s. In this case between the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, to address issues relating to tissue repair and regeneration.”

Statistically, burst fractures are seen more in younger people, and not enough is currently known about the long term consequences of using existing cements for the treatment of this type of injury.  There is evidence to show that some patients with osteoporosis, who tend to be older, can develop fractures in the vertebrae adjacent to those treated with vertebroplasty.

“We think this may be because current cements are stiffer than the bone itself causing an imbalance in the way the spine bears weight. This may increase loading on the neighbouring vertebrae, which can lead to further damage,” said Dr Wilcox.

At Leeds the team has expertise in computational modelling of the spine and will be able to provide Queen’s with data to assist in the development of novel biomaterials and to simulate how they will perform in patients.

Media enquiries to Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5384 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk.

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Major employers target Queen's students

Demand for well-qualified graduates in the local economy continues to rise, according to Jean Stirrup, Head of Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s University.

Ms Stirrup was speaking ahead of the University’s Autumn Careers Fairs this week, in which more than 120 major employers are taking part.

She said: “Demand for well-qualified graduates is growing as many companies now compete on a global basis for the talent of the future. The Careers Fairs are therefore of mutual benefit to our students and their prospective employers as a forum for information exchange.

“They provide an excellent opportunity for students to meet face to face with leading companies. This enables students to consider the employment options available and make informed decisions about their future careers as they approach graduation."
 
Bank of Ireland, Mazaars, Deloitte, NI Electricity and Quinn Group were among the large employer groups promoting opportunities in areas such as administration, finance and management on Tuesday.  Engineering and Information Technology companies such as Airbus UK, Cummins, Bombardier Aerospace, Liberty IT, mFormation, Cemex, Intel and Microsoft take their place on Wednesday. On Thursday companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Almac Group, Abbott Ireland, Terex and Faber Maunse will promote opportunities in the areas of science and the environment. 

The Fairs, organised by Careers, Employability and Skills at Queen’s in association with Bank of Ireland, continue in the Whitla Hall on Wednesday and Thursday, 24 and 25 October, from 11am to 4pm.


For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's doctor to assess eye problems in Alzheimer's patients
Queen's medical doctor Dr Michael Williams is looking for volunteers for his Alzheimer's research project examining eye problems
Queen's medical doctor Dr Michael Williams is looking for volunteers for his Alzheimer's research project examining eye problems

A Queen’s medical doctor is seeking volunteers to help with research into whether eye problems may be more common in people with Alzheimer’s than in people who do not have the disease.

Dr Michael Williams, a Clinical Research Fellow, will compare two different groups of people one with Alzheimer’s and one without. This follows news that the number of Irish people suffering from Alzheimer’s is expected to more than double over the next 20 years.

Dr Williams is looking for 300 volunteers for the research. Each volunteer will spend an hour with Dr Williams in the City Hospital.

He said: “I am looking at age related macular degeneration, (eye problems), in connection with Alzheimer’s, and at one of the genes we think might be involved in Alzheimer’s to see if eye problems are more common in people with the disease.

“We will talk to the volunteers and take a photograph of the back of their eyes. I can show each volunteer the photographs of their retina as soon as they are taken if they want: most people are naturally very interested.

“Whether people have particular eye problems or not is irrelevant. I am keen to see anybody who is over 65 years of age and does not have dementia.

“With the first group, the people who have Alzheimer’s, there’s no age limit. The second group, the people without, have to be 65 or over. Most people with Alzheimer’s will be more elderly.”

“Both Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration are characterised by abnormal debris being deposited in the brain and retina respectively. We hope that by examining the eye, as the ‘window to the brain’, we can gain insight into dementia.
 
“Our study is not about predicting the risk of getting Alzheimer’s based on looking at peoples eyes, rather it is about concern that eyesight problems may be neglected in patients who already have dementia.

“If macular degeneration is more common in people with Alzheimer’s, then it may be that screening and simple ophthalmic interventions, such as provision of low visual aids, could be of significant benefit.

“Crucially such a finding would also offer intriguing clues about processes that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Expenses can be arranged to cover travel arrangements and car parking.

Anyone interested in assisting with the study can contact Dr Michael Williams on either 028 9097 2157 or 0776 282 1529.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Revealed: The hidden history of 1150 Lough Neagh place names

The history and origins of 1150 place-names surrounding Lough Neagh, are revealed in a new book entitled Lough Neagh Places: Their Names and Origins by Patrick McKay and Kay Muhr.

The first illustrated book on place names in Ireland, it features over 200 photographs and illustrations and is published within Queen’s University Belfast by Cló Ollscoil na Banríona.

Researched and written by the staff of the Northern Ireland Place-Name Project, which is based in the Department of Irish and Celtic Studies at Queen’s, the book takes the form of a journey around Lough Neagh, starting and ending at the historic town of Antrim.

In addition to an explanation of each place name, a mix of modern Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland maps and numerous historical maps illustrate the area’s past and how cartographical representations of it have changed.

Publisher of the book, Dr John Kirk, from the School of English at Queen’s, said: “When the idea for this book first came about, I was struck by how hidden Lough Neagh is for many people in Northern Ireland. What I think we have succeeded in doing with this book is to open the lough up and make it more visible for everyone.”

“I have no doubt that this book will enrich and enthrall all its readers. From Ballyronan on the west side of Lough Neagh, to Ballyginniff on the east, this publication will delight and inform in equal measures.”

Lough Neagh Places will occupy its own milestone in the historiography of the lough and serve as a work of reference for a long time to come.”

The publication of Lough Neagh Places also coincides with the publication of a completely revised version of A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names by Patrick McKay, also published by Cló Ollscoil na Banríona.

Both publications are available from the Bookshop at Queen’s or by contacting John Kirk directly at j.m.kirk@qub.ac.uk or by telephone on + 44 (0)28 9097 3815.

Lough Neagh Places: Their Names and Origins is available in paperback at £15 and in hardback at £30. A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, Second Edition, costs £10.50.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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Time Team 'dig' Northern Ireland's archaeological heritage

Channel Four's Tony Robinson and Dr Nichola Whitehouse from Queen's, will launch the Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum today in Dungannon. The event coincides with Time Team's excavation of the former residence of Hugh O'Neill, ancient King of Ireland.

The excavation of the Castle Hill site in Dungannon is set for broadcast on Channel Four later this year. In addition to Tony Robinson and his team, the programme will also feature local archaeologists from the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s led by Dr Colm Donnelly.

A cross-sectoral group, the new Forum is hoping to raise awareness of Northern Ireland’s archaeological heritage among members of the public and politicians. It also hopes to help conserve Northern Ireland’s heritage and promote lessons from the past.

Speaking from the Time Team excavation site in Dungannon, Tony Robinson said: “The launch of the Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum shows there is now a real desire among the people of Northern Ireland to engage with their past in a positive way.

“This site at Castle Hill is just one example of the rich archaeological heritage of the country which can now be explored in a spirit of openness. Hopefully the work Time Team, Queen’s University and the Environment and Heritage Society are doing here will help show just how important and exciting this journey can be.”

Dr Whitehouse, who is based in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeocology at Queen’s added: “Archaeology is about uncovering, recording and interpreting the story of our fascinating heritage.

“The launch of this new forum will create many opportunities for people to celebrate their heritage and also act as a vital call to action for our new Assembly. It is imperative that proper recognition and investment be given to the value of our rural, urban and maritime historic environment in Northern Ireland.”

Serviced by Northern Ireland Environment Link, further information on the Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum can be found at www.niaf.co.uk. Anyone wishing to join the forum should contact Sue Christie on 028 9045 5770 or email sue@nienvironmentlink.org

Notes to editors
Media Opportunities are available from 12.30pm to 1.00pm at the Time Team excavation site at Castle Hill, Dungannon. Tony Robinson and Dr Nicki Whitehouse will be speaking at the launch of the NIAF at 2.00pm in Viscount’s Restaurant, Dungannon.

The Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum (NIAF) facilitates individuals and organisations to protect, study and promote the historic environment. It is a network of individuals and organisations interested in its aims, with a very open and inclusive membership ethos. The Forum’s remit is Archaeology, but it is enthusiastic to work with others to promote the historic environment. The Forum was formed in 2006.

Members of NIAF include Archaeological Development Services Ltd; Council for British Archaeology; Department of the Environment; Archaeological Development Services Ltd; Council for British Archaeology; Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Down County Museum; Environment and Heritage Service; Gahan & Long Ltd; Historic Monuments Council; Institute of Field Archaeologists; Margaret Gowen & Co Ltd; Mourne Archaeological and Geological Group; National Museums Northern Ireland; Northern Archaeology Consultancy Ltd; Northern Ireland Environment Link; Queen's University Belfast; RSK Ireland Ltd; The Heritage Council; The National Trust; Ulster Archaeological Society; Ulster Museum; University College Dublin; University of Ulster.

For media enquiries please contact: Judith Rance, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5292, Mob: 07866 106 887, j.rance@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Politics students learn of Croatian peace process
Croatian President Stejpan Mesić (second right) with (from left) Professor Shane O’Neill, the Vice-Chancellor, and Josip Paro, the Croatian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Croatian President Stejpan Mesić (second right) with (from left) Professor Shane O’Neill, the Vice-Chancellor, and Josip Paro, the Croatian Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

President of the Republic of Croatia Mr Stjepan Mesic today spoke about the reconciliation process in his country during an address to Politics students at Queen's.

President Mesic, who is leading a group of Croatian business people visiting Northern Ireland to forge stronger economic links, gave his address to an audience of students and staff from the University’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy.

He was welcomed to the University by Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson, and Professor Shane O’Neill, Head of the School. Professor O’Neill said: “The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy runs a very successful Masters course in Comparative Ethnic Conflict and the opportunity for students on this course to hear from a speaker of President Mesic’s stature was extremely valuable.”

During his visit, President Mesic viewed a model of the University’s £45 million Sir Anthony O’Reilly Library, due to open in 2009, and viewed the current exhibition in the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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'Greater business-industry collaboration essential' - Gregson

Greater business and university collaboration is essential to ensure future economic growth in Northern Ireland, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson has said, ahead of a visit by CBI Director-General Richard Lambert.

Mr Lambert, author of the influential Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, will be taking part in a question-and-answer session with local business and public sector leaders at Queen’s on Wednesday evening. The event has been organised jointly by the CBI and the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s.

Professor Gregson said: “We are delighted to welcome Richard Lambert to Queen’s. The Lambert Review stressed that a strong, healthy partnership between business and higher education is not only desirable but essential if the UK is to compete effectively in the global economy. And I believe that there is a clear onus on all of us in universities and the business world to make such a relationship work.

“Put most simply, universities create knowledge, and industry and commerce can exploit that knowledge to create wealth. 

“At Queen’s we have a strong working partnerships with the business community, both locally and internationally. We contribute to economic growth via cutting-edge research, promoting an entrepreneurial culture amongst our staff and students, and developing global networks and partnerships."

Richard Lambert took up the post of Director-General in July 2006. .A former Editor of the Financial Times, he played a pivotal role in refocusing the paper as a more UK-centred title, almost doubling its circulation during his time at the helm. He also expanded the publication by creating New York, Frankfurt, Tokyo, and Paris editions and also moved the paper online. In 2003 he became the first non-economist ever to sit as an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.

Wednesday’s event will be chaired by the distinguished economist and journalist, John Simpson, a former senior lecturer and Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Queen’s.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209.

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Queen's scientists reassess heart disease causes
Professor Alun Evans
Professor Alun Evans examines local heart disease risk

Almost 3,000 Northern Ireland people are to take part in a Queen’s study analysing their risks of developing heart disease in the future.

The study is part of a survey of blood protein levels in 140,000 people across Europe. Scientists from Queen’s Department of Epidemology are working alongside scientists from Mainz, in Germany and Helsinki, Finland.

Professor Alun Evans, from Queen's, said: “Coronary heart disease has been declining as a cause of death in Northern Ireland for the past 25 years but still remains an enormous public health problem.  Some of the markers we are studying appear good at predicting future heart failure.”

Each person involved in the study will have their cholesterol, body mass index and blood pressure measured. Factors such as whether they smoke or not will also be taken into account.

Looking forward to this latest research project for which Queen’s scientists received a £500,000 grant Professor Evans added: “The aim of this project is to derive a best set of markers which can predict individuals who are at increased risk of developing disease in the future. In this way prevention strategies can be applied.

“Protein markers, measured on healthy individuals will be analysed in relation to those who subsequently develop cardiovascular disease and compared.

“New technology allows many analyses to be carried out simultaneously on tiny amounts of the sample."

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk.
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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More mental health nurses needed in Northern Ireland

More mental health and learning disability nurses are needed in Northern Ireland, according to the Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s.

Professor Jean Orr made the call ahead of the School of Nursing and Midwifery's job fair taking place at Queen’s this Wednesday.

She said:  “The University is working in partnership with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), who are running a campaign next month to increase numbers of mental health and learning disabilities nurses.  The timing of this campaign will coincide with Queen’s recruitment advertisements for undergraduate nursing courses for 2008-2009.

“A mental health course at Queen’s begins in September and the learning disability course is offered from March. We would welcome increased applications. Queen’s is the only provider of undergraduate learning disability nursing in Northern Ireland.”

Five new health trusts will be represented at the Jobs Fair on Wednesday.

Professor Jean Orr added: “This is a key event in our calendar.  Year on year the attendance from employers has increased with many interviewing potential candidates on the day.”

The Jobs Fair will take place in the Sir William Whitla Hall between 9.30am and 12.30pm on Wednesday 17 October 2007.

Further information on the event is available from Ms Thomasina O’Kane, School of Nursing and Midwifery on (028) 9097 5709.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 or at e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk.

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Chef Deane cooks up healthy eating at Queen's
l-r: Jess Tyrell, Healthy Living Co-ordinator at Queen's, Michael Deane, celebrity chef and restaurateur, and Judith Rance, one of the 1,000 members of staff at Queen's who had a lifestyle assessment
from l-r: Jess Tyrell, Healthy Living Co-ordinator at Queen's, Michael Deane, celebrity chef and restaurateur, and Judith Rance, one of the 1,000 members of staff at Queen's who had a lifestyle assessment

Celebrity chef, Michael Deane will host two cookery demonstrations on healthy eating for staff at Queen’s on Monday, 15 October, as part of the University’s Healthy Living initiative. More than 1,000 members of staff have already taken a Lifestyle Assessment since the initiative was introduced last year.

Michael Deane said: “We all have such busy lifestyles, juggling work, families and social lives that we often overlook the very source of energy that sustains us, our food. We are all guilty of eating fast, convenience foods which are high in fat and salt and we often neglect to take the time to cook fresh, healthy meals.

“I’m hoping to convince both staff and students at Queen’s that healthy cooking can be fast, affordable and fun. You don’t need to be a professional chef to create a healthy meal and, by using fresh local ingredients, I’m hoping to inspire people to change their eating habits and adopt a more balanced approach to what they eat.”

Organised by Queen’s Sport and Occupational Health, two sittings will take place from 12.00pm - 12.45pm and from 1.15pm - 2.00pm. Staff will be offered new healthy eating options for their lunch and evening meals and have the opportunity to participate in cooking. 

Jess Tyrrell, Healthy Living Co-ordinator, said: “Over 1,000 members of Queen’s staff have already taken a health and fitness assessment as part of the initiative. We plan to build on this in year two with a series of Health Awareness campaigns on smoking, stress, alcohol and cancer. This will include ongoing activity programmes and further health assessments for the benefit of staff.”

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on  +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209.

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Booker Prize evening at Queen's

Literary writers, critics and broadcasters will meet at Queen’s to discuss the shortlist for the Booker Prize 2007, on Monday, 15 October at 7.30pm, the eve of the announcement of this year’s winner.

The panel for discussion include: Fran Brearton, reader in English and assistant director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's; William Crawley, presenter, BBC Sunday Sequence; Fionola Meredith, broadcaster and journalist; Robbie Meredith, broadcaster and journalist; Malachi O'Doherty, broadcaster and journalist, and chair Ian Sansom, BBC Writer in Residence.

Among those shortlisted are: Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate), The Gathering by Anne Engright (Jonathon Cape), The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamis (Hamish Hamilton), Master Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray), On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape) and Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster)

The Booker Prize evening will take place at the Harty Room at Queen’s. It will be open to the general public and admission is free. 

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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World leading DNA experts in Belfast

Two of the world’s leading experts on DNA will be in Belfast this weekend.

Professor Dan Crane from Wright State University, Ohio and Professor William Thompson, from the University of California, Irvine, specialise in educating lawyers about the court room application and investigation of the latest DNA techniques.

The academics will be speaking at a DNA workshop taking place at the Canada Room at Queen’s on Saturday 13 October from 10am - 4pm.

Organised by SLS Legal Publications Northern Ireland at Queen’s and the Criminal Bar Association, both experts will use numerous practical examples from cases to demonstrate what can go wrong in testing DNA and where problems can occur.

Areas that will be covered at the workshop will include:
• What DNA tests can do for: prosecution, defence, post-conviction testing
• The evolution of DNA technology
• What can go wrong and where problems might occur
• Gross errors in the handling of samples (mislabelling, cross-contamination, mix-ups)
• Erroneous, misleading statistical estimates
• Mistaken assumptions about the nature/source of samples
• Steps in evaluating DNA evidence: discovery, finding relevant experts and communicating with judges and jurors

For further information on the event and to attend, please contact Miriam Dudley
Director, SLS Legal Publications on 028 9066 7711 or m.dudley@qub.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk . Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209.

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BP's top scientist to talk on tomorrow's energy

The chief scientist of one of the world’s largest energy companies, BP, will share his insights on future developments with Northern Ireland’s business community next week.

In an Innovation Lecture at Queen’s University on Tuesday, Dr Steven Koonin, the company’s Group Chief Scientist, will highlight how emerging technologies are meeting the global challenges of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Dr Koonin is responsible for BP's long range technology plans and activities, particularly those "beyond petroleum”.  He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on numerous advisory bodies in the United States, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy and its various national laboratories. His research interests include theoretical nuclear, many-body, and computational physics, nuclear astrophysics, and global environmental science. In 1999 he received the prestigious E.O. Lawrence Award in Physics from the United States Department of Energy.

The Chair of Innovation initiative brings world experts in innovation to Northern Ireland to share their insights and knowledge with local business audiences.

Entitled “Energy Trends and Technologies”, Dr Koonin’s Innovation Lecture will be held on Tuesday 16 October in the Council Chamber, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University, starting at 6pm. Anyone wishing to attend should contact the Regional Office at Queen’s University on 028 9097 2575.

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on + 44 (0) 28 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk .

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Bangor student elected into top medical post
Gemma Owens
Gemma Owens, the new Medsin President

Queen’s medical student Gemma Owens has been elected National President of Medsin, an international network of healthcare students. Their activities aim to educate and act upon health inequalities in local and global communities.

Bangor born Gemma, a fourth year medical student, said: “Now is a very exciting time for Medsin. Not only is the organisation growing in size and voice, but Medsin is a pioneer in the global health field.

"Medsin has broken the barriers of conventional medical student organisations and is penetrating the vocabulary of arts and social sciences students. I will make it my priority to ensure that Medsin’s development continues to gain momentum as we move into our second decade.

“The majority of Medsin’s projects are public health ones. These include ‘Marrow’ which look to sign students and the public up to the bone marrow register and the ‘Teddy Bear Hospital Project’ which aims to decrease children’s fear of hospital settings through roleplay.”

Medsin currently run 100 professional exchanges where UK medical students study for a period of four weeks with their counterparts in another country and international students study in the UK for four weeks.

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk.
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209.

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Flying visit aids Queen's astronomers
L to R: Stephen Anton, Head of Marketing and Recruitment at Queen's, Professor Rafael Moreno, Ambassador of Chile and The Right Honourable, The Lord Ballyedmond.
L to R: Stephen Anton, Head of Marketing and Recruitment at Queen's, Professor Rafael Moreno, Ambassador of Chile and The Right Honourable, The Lord Ballyedmond.
Javier Jaimovich, MA Sonic Arts, from Santiago, Chile and Professor Rafael Moreno, Ambassador of Chile.
Javier Jaimovich, MA Sonic Arts, from Santiago, Chile and Professor Rafael Moreno, Ambassador of Chile.

Chile’s Secretary of State for Mining, Ms Karen Poniachik and Professor Rafael Moreno, Ambassador of Chile, visited Queen’s yesterday to promote educational and cultural links between their country and the University.

Organised by The Right Honourable, The Lord Ballyedmond, Honorary Consul for Chile, the Chilean delegation were at Queen’s to learn more about the University’s research links with Chile in the areas of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Agri-Food and Biosciences.

Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s, Professor Philip Dufton, explained the importance of Chilean telescopes to his work, saying: “Research carried out by Queen’s astronomers in Chile has led to the discovery of asteroids passing perilously close to earth, a planet orbiting another star and the search for exploding stars in other galaxies.”

The delegation also met with Professor Jim McAdam from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Involved in agricultural/environmental research in the Falklands for over 30 years, Dr McAdam’s work is now tied in with the University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Queen’s signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Magallanes in 2004, which has since seen an increase in the exchange of information, staff and students between the two institutions.

Media enquiries to Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5384 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk .

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Research starts on solving schizophrenia
Professor Gavin Reynolds
Professor Gavin Reynolds

Queen’s scientists have started research on a human gene that will lead to a better understanding of schizophrenia.

The research identifies brain abnormalities and what causes them. This better understanding of the abnormalities will lead to improved treatment and preventative approaches that stop the problems developing.

Led by Professor of Neuroscience Gavin Reynolds, the group is studying human post-mortem brain tissue to understand the nerve cell changes resulting in the symptoms of schizophrenia.

He said: “Schizophrenia remains a huge mystery to us still; we understand very little of what causes it, while the treatments available are not very effective. 

“We have found that the changes in a gene (Neuregulin), which increases the liability of contracting schizophrenia, also causes nerve cell changes in the brain.

“The genetic risk factors are inherited from parents as common variations in our genes.  Having these risk factors has only a small effect on whether someone develops schizophrenia.” 

The Queen's research is backed by the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

Professor Reynolds added: “It has been recognised that Queen’s has experience and expertise in the study of post-mortem brain tissue and how we identify the problems in the brain that cause schizophrenia.”

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk.
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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NI coaching scene receives boost from Queen's Sport
Putting education into training are (L to R): Queen's student Ferdia Carson, Director of Queen's Sport, Maureen Cusdin and coach of Queen's Volleyball, Alan Wright
Putting education into training are (L to R): Queen's student Ferdia Carson, Director of Queen's Sport, Maureen Cusdin and coach of Queen's Volleyball, Alan Wright

Sports coaching in Northern Ireland is set to receive a welcome boost thanks to an extensive new CoachEd programme from Queen’s University.

Providing for an extensive range of levels and disciplines, CoachEd aims to create and aid the coaches, volunteers, administrators and leaders of tomorrow.

Open to all, but of particular interest to teachers, sports clubs and students, over 30 courses are now on offer from the Queen’s Sport-based programme.

The programme includes national governing body sports awards through to more generic courses such as volunteer and leadership workshops for those who have thought about taking up a coaching role but, until now, have been unsure how to do so.

“This exciting new CoachEd Programme, delivered by Queen’s Sport, will contribute significantly to the next generation of coaches and volunteers in Northern Ireland and beyond,” said Cathy Gallagher, Development Manager for Student Sport at Queen’s.

“The diverse courses on offer are available to students, teachers and members of the local community, while the sporting programme within Queen’s will also provide opportunities for the practical use of the skills and training acquired. 

“It is yet another opportunity for students at Queen’s, and members of the local community, to gain valuable personal development skills through the medium of sport,” she added.

At the heart of sports development, coaches play a vital role at every level. Henry Duffin, a teacher at St Bride’s Primary School in south Belfast, said: “Queen’s PEC is ideally located to host such an extensive range of coaching courses and workshops. Physical Education is becoming increasingly more important within curricular teaching. By attending these courses teachers can equip themselves with the necessary skills to deliver an effective coaching session.”

In addition to those courses offered by Queen’s Sport such as Health/Wellness/Nutrition, Introduction to Strength Training and Core Stability and First Aid at Work/Sport, several are taking place in conjunction with Sport NI. The GAA Academy at Queen’s, in association with TJ Developments and the Ulster Council’s Higher Education Programme, is also offering a range of Gaelic sports training courses.

Other sports-specific courses include: An Introduction to Rugby, IFA Grassroots, Introduction to Netball, Introduction to Hockey Coaching, Swimming (assistant Teachers Award) and an Introductory Badminton Award.

Further information on the range of courses available can be found online at www.qub.ac.uk/sport or by telephoning (028) 9068 1126. Application forms are also available from reception at the PEC, Botanic Park.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk.

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'Lock'-ed and loaded for Belfast Festival fun!
Sean Lock
Sean Lock

Due to public demand, Belfast Festival at Queen’s has announced that comedian Sean Lock’s gig on Saturday 20 October will be moving from the Elmwood Hall to the higher capacity Whitla Hall.

Described by Ricky Gervais as “one of the most influential British stand ups of the past 10 years”, Sean Lock’s unique mix of hyperactive imagination, surreal imagery and insightful observations on the human condition make him one of the great live comedians. 

Star of Channel 4’s 8 out of 10 Cats and host of TV Heaven Telly Hell and the groundbreaking BBC sitcom 15 Storeys High, Sean is also the  winner of a coveted British Comedy Award for Best Live Peformer.  

This is Sean’s first major national tour since 2003 and subjects covered in the new show include his views on the smoking ban, his thoughts on green issues and his lament at his own lack of hobbies.

He’s like your funniest mate from down pub, who just happens to be transposed onto a stage in front of several hundred people!

Tickets for Sean Lock are £13.50 and are currently on sale online at www.belfastfestival.com, from the box office on (028) 9097 1197 or in person at Queen’s Film Theatre, 20 University Square, Belfast.

For further information, artist images and interview requests for all festival events, please contact:  Sarah Hughes, Communications Officer, on (028) 9097 1398, email s.hughes@qub.ac.uk   or mobile 07905 276399.

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Declawing crabs questioned by Queen's academic
Professor Bob Elwood with a crab at a Singapore restaurant
Professor Bob Elwood with a crab at a Singapore restaurant

The future sustainability of UK fishermen who declaw edible sea crabs has been questioned by a Queen’s academic.

Professor Bob Elwood, from the School of Biological Sciences, studied crabs’ reaction to declawing. Crabs felt increased stress and had a lower survival rate after the removal of one claw.

He said: “Should a crab survive declawing it will not be able to feed effectively and may subsequently die of starvation.”

Under current UK laws, fishermen can legally remove both claws and then put the animal back into the sea. According to Professor Elwood, this can result in stress and a high mortality rate for crabs.

Professor Elwood said: “We found a strong stress response within ten minutes of taking off one claw and this stress remained after 24 hours. The stress response was greater if the crab was declawed rather than being induced to cast off a claw. So, the stress is not due specifically to claw loss but to the manner of the claw loss.

“In the past, declawing has been defended because it has been likened to claws being naturally cast off, but this study shows clearly the two are very different.

 “Of particular concern was that claw removal resulted in a substantial mortality within 24 hours that appeared to occur when the wound size was large. The typical fishery practice of removing two claws is likely to result in a much higher mortality than that observed in these experiments and so will have marked implications for the sustainability of crab claw fisheries.”

Looking at the declawing process around the world he said: “A fishery in the USA only allows removal of one claw. This is difficult to regulate because it cannot easily be determined if two claws are from the same crab or different crabs. In most other places the whole crab is used for food not just the claws.”

“In our experiments we were aware of ethical concerns about repeating the practice of claw removal in a scientific investigation. We believe though that the small number of animals is justified as it gives important data that might save very large numbers of crabs from this experience.”

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Northern Ireland improvements in cancer survival

There have been improvements in cancer survival in Northern Ireland between 1993 and 2004, according to a new report from the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR), launched at Queen’s today.

Survival of Cancer Patients in Northern Ireland: 1993 – 2004 shows relative survival rates have improved in both males and females diagnosed from 1997 - 2000 compared with 1993 -1996. Between 1993 and 2004, there was a drop of 1.3 per cent in male mortality rates and 0.8 per cent in female mortality rates.

One of the best indicators as to the efficiency of diagnostic and treatment methods for cancer in Northern Ireland is survival. Survival is a measure of many aspects of cancer care including delays in diagnosis, the standard of treatment, its timeliness and the overall quality of care.

According to the report, during 1993-2003 there was significant and continuous improvement in both one and five-year relative survival for the category ‘all cancers’. Estimates using period analysis also suggest that five-year survival will improve further for patients diagnosed in 2001 to 2004.

Welcoming the report, Dr Anna Gavin, Director of the NICR said: “This publication will play a significant part in the future development of cancer care in Northern Ireland. The study is also included in Eurocare 4 which allows comparison of information between 83 cancer registries in 22 European countries. This in itself is a very important development for Northern Ireland.

“The report also emphasises the impact of smoking in the changing patterns of cancer incidence. While tobacco use in males and females is now similar, we are still seeing the effects of tobacco use in the population 20 to 30 years ago when men smoked at least twice as much as women. 

“This has resulted in levels of lung, stomach and oesophageal cancer in males, which is one and a half times those in females.  Unfortunately, these cancers have poor relative survival – lung cancer at 5 years is 9 per cent, stomach 17 per cent and oesophagus 13 per cent.  In addition people with a tobacco related cancer tend also to have other tobacco related diseases, especially heart disease, which reduces the chance of a full recovery.

“People in Northern Ireland are reluctant to bother their GP and so often neglect the early signs of cancer: a lump, change in bowel habit, weight loss, a sore which does not heal, a cough which does not clear up, unusual bleeding or pain.  These may indicate an early cancer and a simple check up could save a person’s life. Breast and cervical cancers may be picked up early by screening and so women invited for such programmes should attend.

“There are ongoing moves within the Health Service to improve services for cancer patients and reduce waiting times.  This should improve the treatment of cancer patients and survival.  Prevention is, however, still better than cure and people are urged to take simple lifestyle steps to reduce their risk of ever getting cancer.” 

Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Timely, detailed and accurate statistical information is crucial in the fight against cancer. As this comprehensive report illustrates, the work of Dr Gavin and her team in the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry plays a vital and valued role in this respect by providing key information to support research, planning and education.

“It is the close working relationship between the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology led by Professor Paddy Johnston, coupled with Queen's links with the National Health Service, which places Northern Ireland at the forefront of worldwide initiatives to relieve the human suffering of cancer.”

Professor Roy Spence, Consultant Surgeon and Chairman of the Council of Northern Ireland Cancer Registry added: “There have been many recent changes to Cancer Services in Northern Ireland such as advice on alarm symptoms, screening for breast and cervical cancer and the re-organisation of cancer services.

“These survival statistics provide a window through which we can measure the impact of change and even though the time of follow up is short it is pleasing to note detectable improvements. While measuring these improvements, this data also highlights areas where survival has remained unchanged and where we need to concentrate our efforts. Much has been achieved and there is still much to do.”

Further information and date from the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry is available from www.qub.ac.uk/nicr or on (028) 9063 2573. Email nicr@qub.ac.uk

Media enquiries to Lisa Mitchell, Press and PR Unit on +44 (0)28 9097 5384, m +44(0)7814422572 or email lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk.

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Student teacher tops the class at Queen's
l-r Sally McKee, Chair, GTCNI and Catherine Creighton, winner of the GTCNI Student Teacher Award   with Professor Tony Gallagher, Head of the School of Education at Queen's
l-r Sally McKee, Chair, GTCNI and Catherine Creighton, winner of the GTCNI Student Teacher Award with Professor Tony Gallagher, Head of the School of Education at Queen's

Queen’s University student teacher, Catherine Creighton, from Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh, has won the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) Student Teacher Award.

Catherine was presented with her award at the annual Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), prizegiving ceremony in the School of Education at Queen’s.

Now a teacher of French in Foyle and Londonderry College, Catherine was chosen after a vigorous interview process which included a presentation.

She said, “It’s a great honour to accept this award. I will find it a huge confidence boost as I begin my career as a teacher. I look forward to sharing it back in the classroom."

Professor Tony Gallagher, Head of the School of Education at Queen’s, said “We are always impressed at the quality and commitment of the students on our PGCE and feel they will make an enormously important contribution to the lives of young people when they start working as teachers. We are particularly pleased to recognise the achievements of our prizewinners who represent the very best from among an outstanding group of students.”

Sally McKee, Chair, GTCNI, said: "The GTCNI is very pleased to initiate this student teacher award across all our higher education providers. It demonstrates the excellence within, and our support for, initial teacher education providers. It is also an acclamation of our faith in student teachers who are the future of the profession in Northern Ireland."
 
For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Leading UK Poets dream up National Poetry Day at Queen's
Patience Agbabi, leading UK poet from the Dream Tour who will perform at Queen's for National Poetry Day
Patience Agbabi, leading UK poet from the Dream Tour, who will perform at Queen's for National Poetry Day
Robert Crawford, from the Dream Tour, who will perform at Queen's for National Poetry Day
Robert Crawford, from the Dream Tour, who will perform at Queen's for National Poetry Day

Four of the UK's best living poets - Gywneth Lewis, Patience Agbabi, Robert Crawford and Gearoid Mac Lochlainn - will recite poems based on their dreams at Queen's on Thursday 4 October to celebrate National Poetry Day. 

From Northern Ireland as well at England, Scotland and Wales, the four poets are bringing their Dream Tour to Northern Ireland for the first time, having appeared in Cardiff, Edinburg and London this week.

Hosted by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in the School of English, the Dream Tour will vividly bring alive the poet's contemporary poetry for a public audience.

"Queen's University has been long recognised as a fount of poetic excellence, with its graduates including poets Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian and Frank Ormsby," said Professor Ciaran Carson.

"Since its inception in 2003, the Seamus Heaney Centre has been at the heart of poetic development in the University and the wider community, and it is privileged to host the National Poetry Day Dream Tour. Dreams are an imaginative realm; so is poetry. This event is an opportunity to listen to the dreams of poets."

The Dream Tour is made possible by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in partnership with Academi, the Poetry Society and the Scottish Poetry Library. It will be a rare opportunity to hear a dialogue between the poetic traditions of the poet's islands.

The show begins at 7pm in the Great Hall. Tickets are available from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry on +44 (0)28 9097 1070 and by emailing shc@qub.ac.uk. Prices are £5 and £8.

For media enquiries please contact: Roisin Duffy, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0) 28 9097 5391, roisin.duffy@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209

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Queen's research shapes Thailand's education system
Professor Carol McGuinness from the School of Psychology
Professor Carol McGuinness from the School of Psychology

This week sees Thailand Ministry of Education officials visiting Queen’s to increase their knowledge of educational developments in Northern Ireland.

Professor Carol McGuinness, from the School of Psychology at Queen’s, is advising Thailand’s Ministry of Education on classroom methods and teacher development.

The invitation from the British Council follows from Professor McGuinness’s research in over 50 primary schools in Northern Ireland through the ACTS (Activating Children’s Thinking Skills) research project. Due to this work Professor McGuinness advised the Thai Ministry on how best to develop similar practices in Thai classrooms. 

During their visit to the School of Psychology, the Thai visitors will be participating in a workshop examining Northern Ireland classroom methods and discussing how local teachers are supported at regional level by curriculum officers from the Belfast Education and Library Board.  They will also be advised on developments in the Northern Ireland Revised Curriculum.  

Professor McGuinness explained the significance of the visit. She said: “This is an excellent example of ‘knowledge transfer’, how research about learning and thinking processes can affect national policies and practices both at home and abroad. It is also an example of international links and how Queen’s has a sufficiently strong international reputation to attract the interest of foreign ministries of education.”

There are about 12 million pupils in primary and secondary education in Thailand. They have a strong national curriculum organised around subject groups, (maths, science, social studies, language). Since 2006 there has been a deliberate policy to help pupils learn more independently. This is why the ‘Thinking Classroom Project' has been launched in Thailand.

Professor McGuinness has visited Thailand twice in the past year, to advise on the development of a thinking curriculum in their schools. She admits her visits to Thailand have been a learning process for herself saying: “In order to implement educational reforms, the Thai Ministry has set up ‘model’ schools around the country to showcase new approaches and methods. Teachers are very enthusiastic to embrace change and there is support for teachers professional development.” 

Colm McGivern, Director of the British Council in Northern Ireland said: “The British Council is delighted to be able to connect Queen’s with Thailand in this way. This will be a mutually beneficial relationship, allowing schools and children in Northern Ireland and Thailand to benefit from this shared experience of fresh thinking and innovative educational practice. Professor McGuinness’s reputation and work are world class, and we’re proud to be able to work with her.”

For media enquiries please contact: Eugene McCusker, Press & PR Unit, on +44 (0)28 9097 5320, e.mccusker@qub.ac.uk
Out of hours pager: 07699 785 209.

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