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11-2011 Press Releases

Global finance giant to share his secrets with Northern Ireland business leaders

One of Europe’s most successful private equity investors, Tim Pryce, CEO of Terra Firma, will pass on the secrets of his success to Northern Ireland business leaders at an event at Queen’s University’s new Executive Education Centre, Riddel Hall, Stranmillis.

The event, on Wednesday 30 November, is the first official meeting of the Riddel Hall Founders’ Club, the group of 20 leading companies from across Northern Ireland who together have pledged more than £1m to the new Centre at Queen’s.

Tim Pryce has had an exceptional career to date. He was a founder member of Terra Firma in 2002 and has overseen the group’s multi-million pound investment into a broad portfolio of businesses including Odeon Cinemas, William Hill bookmakers, Le Meridien hotels, Phoenix Natural Gas and many more.

At the event, up to 40 business leaders will hear Tim’s unique perspective on the world’s changing economic climate. They will also have the opportunity to meet with Queen’s business academics to help create more synergy between the business and academic communities in Northern Ireland.

Entrepreneur Ed Vernon, Chief Executive of local private equity firm Synetecs, and Chair of Riddel Hall Founders’ Club, said: “The Founders’ Club is honoured that Tim has agreed to be its first guest speaker and address head-on some of today’s key challenges for local business leaders. Whilst established economies in the US and Europe are struggling, many countries are enjoying growth. Tim’s insight into developing successful international businesses during these difficult economic times will be invaluable.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson, who will host the event, said: “Terra Firma creates value for businesses and investors by delivering improved strategy, operations and management. That’s precisely the sort of thing Northern Ireland needs to hear more about - especially in the current economic climate. This event, the first of many, is all about learning from others so that Northern Ireland companies, and those that have invested here, can make informed choices concerning the future direction of Northern Ireland plc.”

Riddel Hall Founders’ Club meetings will become regular slots in the business calendar with at least two meetings of senior executives per year. The programme of events over the next five years will focus on enhancing and building Northern Ireland as a powerhouse for economic growth, combining the best of what our top academic and business leaders can offer, and driving this strategy forward.

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Royal recognition for Queen’s-Health Service partnership to combat cancer

Northern Ireland’s Comprehensive Cancer Services programme – a major partnership between Queen’s University and Health and Social Care services, which has led to improved survival rates for patients – is to be honoured by Her Majesty the Queen.

Queen’s, in partnership with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and other Trusts providing cancer services in Northern Ireland, has led the way in significantly reorganising cancer services across Northern Ireland. The University and its health partners have invested over £200 million in infrastructure and personnel for cancer treatment and research in Northern Ireland over the past 10 years. During the same period, the survival rates for cancer patients have improved year on year, despite the increasing incidence of cancer.

At a special ceremony in St James’s Palace, the programme was announced as one of the winners of the Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education. The awards – part of the national honours system – recognise and honour outstanding achievement by universities and colleges in the United Kingdom.

Welcoming the announcement, Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “We are delighted to learn of the award of a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Northern Ireland’s Comprehensive Cancer Services programme, and I congratulate all those involved.

“This recognition of Northern Ireland’s Comprehensive Cancer Services reflects the excellent partnership between Queen’s, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety , Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the other Trusts providing cancer services in Northern Ireland. The University’s commitment to high quality translational research has led to new techniques for early detection, diagnosis and therapy, and improved outcomes for cancer patients.

“It has already produced life-saving and life-enhancing results, reflecting the drive by Queen’s and Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care services to become a global force in the worldwide fight against cancer.”

Health Minister Edwin Poots said: "I would like to congratulate Queen’s on receiving this prestigious award and I am delighted that patients in Northern Ireland are benefiting from innovative approaches to delivering cancer services. This longstanding partnership between my Department, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Queen’s illustrates the importance of investing in research and development and the contribution that translational clinical research can make to our health and to our local economy.

“As well as honouring Queen’s, this prize honours all the people, in the University and the Belfast Trust, who have worked so hard over so many years to improve the outcomes for cancer patients through research. Our cancer research network, based in the Comprehensive Cancer Centre, offers cancer patients across Northern Ireland the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of novel treatments. I am personally committed to encouraging innovation, research and development as part of the wider knowledge economy and my Department will continue to invest in cancer research and to encourage the NHS to collaborate with our local universities to deliver future improvements in cancer care."

Jennifer Welsh, Director of Cancer and Specialist Services for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said: “Our Trust has valued the importance of research in enhancing standards of care and outcomes in the management of patients with cancer. We have worked with our colleagues in Queen's University to make the support of research a key goal of our service development in Oncology. We look forward to continued collaboration with our University colleagues to keep this momentum and achieve greater benefits in the years to come.”

The University-led Comprehensive Cancer Centre (CCC), based on the United States National Cancer Institute model, is recognised nationally and internationally for its excellence and is seen as a flagship for health research in Northern Ireland. It comprises the Clinical Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology and Northern Ireland Cancer Registry at Queen’s.

Professor Patrick Johnston, Dean of the University’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, said: “The CCC’s strength lies in its multidisciplinary ethos, through teams of scientists and clinicians working together across academic and NHS boundaries on behalf of cancer patients and their families.

“In research terms the CCC has pioneered the concept of developing personalised therapeutic approaches for patients, an approach which has revolutionised cancer care. Queen’s Medical School is honoured to be part of this initiative which has led, and continues to lead, to direct benefits for the cancer patient population in Northern Ireland and around the world. It has partnered with local companies such as Almac, as well as with the international pharmaceutical and biotech industry, in delivering new drugs and diagnostics for cancer treatment.”

Queen’s has won an award in five rounds of the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes. The University was previously honoured for world-class excellence in law, environmental research, palaeoecology and green chemistry. The Queen's Anniversary Prizes will be presented at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in February.

Media inquiries to: Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs, at 028 9097 3259 / 07813 015431 or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s enterprise educator wins national award
David Gibson with the Vice-Chancellor collecting his award for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
David Gibson with the Vice-Chancellor collecting his award for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year Photograph by Charles Fox
An enterprising academic from Queen’s University Management School, whose work has inspired 30,000 students across Europe, has won a prestigious national award.

At the Times Higher Education (THE) awards ceremony in London last night David Gibson, a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Queen’s University Management School, received the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year title.  The award recognises the academic whose imagination and passion have transformed a course and inspired students.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Queen’s University has been recognised at the THE Awards.  The University received the Times Higher Excellence and Innovation in the Arts in 2008, THE Entrepreneurial University of the Year in 2009, and THE Outstanding Engineering Research Team of the Year in 2010.  David Gibson’s award of the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year is further recognition of the spirit of innovation and enterprise at Queen’s that underpins its exceptional research and teaching.

Congratulating Mr Gibson, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “This honour recognises the vital work which David and his colleagues carry out to nurture entrepreneurial skills among all our students, and builds upon his award earlier in the year as Global Entrepreneurship Educator.

 “The development of our pioneering model of entrepreneurship education was a crucial factor in Queen’s receiving the Times Higher Education Entrepreneurial University of the Year title in 2009. Enterprise education is now embedded in 116 pathways across all academic disciplines, reaching 11,000 students across the University, and has led to over 1,100 students directly engaging in business activity.”
In their citation, the judges said: “David has made enterprise studies into a reality to over 30,000 students in subjects as diverse as history and physics.
“His strong focus on student engagement, his genuine cross-discipline approach and his ground-breaking model of venture-based learning have had an impact not only locally but also in universities across the world.”

In 2003 David Gibson introduced a new curriculum-based Certificate in Entrepreneurship Studies at Queen’s University Belfast. The aims were to embed entrepreneurship skills into the curriculum of all non-business students throughout the University, and for students to develop “enterprise for life” skills. His unique teaching model, called “venture-based learning”, allowed students to develop real-life business and social enterprises, and to reflect and learn from their success or failure.

In 2010-11, Mr Gibson’s teaching model was adopted by the European Training Foundation to enhance the employability of graduates across the EU by providing them with enterprise, business and entrepreneurial skills.

The award is the latest accolade for David Gibson. Earlier this year he was named the world’s ‘number one’ enterprise educator by the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 2890975391 / 07814422572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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New autism interventions to be unveiled at Queen’s
Dr Karola Dillenburger, School of Education at Queen’s University
Dr Karola Dillenburger, School of Education at Queen’s University

Fifteen thousand people in Northern Ireland could benefit from new studies and intervention methods for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) which will be unveiled at Queen’s University today.

Researchers from around the world are gathering in Belfast to discuss development in language intervention programmes, video modelling as well as presenting new evidence to support Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) as the most effective framework for treatment of ASD.

The Queen's University Autism Research and Treatment (QUART) Centre’s Ambitious for All: Current research on Autism Spectrum Disorders event will be attended by almost 200 people including key note speakers from Australia, India and the UK.

Dr Karola Dillenburger, from the School of Education at Queen’s University, said: "An estimated 15,000 people in Northern Ireland have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, this includes approximately 3,000 school-age children. It is thought that about 1:100 children born every year will later be diagnosed with the condition. The provision of evidence-based treatment for these children is vital and that is what we aim to discuss at today’s conference.

“Current language intervention programmes are based on a receptive–expressive framework while a new approach to be unveiled today looks at conditions under which language is learned and uses this knowledge to develop ways of teaching children with autism how to communicate better. This will allow them to be included in mainstream society much more effectively because they will understand what others say and want and others will be able to understand what they say and want as well.

“Another innovative treatment is video modelling which has been reported to be effective for teaching social, communication and functional skills to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The research presented at the conference will outline the value and efficacy of video modelling in teaching academic skills.”

The one day conference, at the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen’s University, will offer a forum for local, national and international research best practice to be disseminated. It will allow practitioners, parents, individuals with a diagnosis and academics to network and establish lasting links that will benefit anyone affected with ASD to lead more fulfilling and more inclusive lives.

For more information visit www.qub.ac.uk/quart

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For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s scientists win grant to improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Scientists at Queen’s University are embarking on a promising study that could improve the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to a £30,000 grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity. It’s hoped the study could also uncover new clues about the causes of the disease.

For Dr Stewart Graham, who will lead the study in the Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use (IAFLU), the research also has personal meaning, as his grandmother died after a ten-year struggle with Alzheimer’s.

Researchers at the University will use cutting-edge techniques to study metabolites – tiny molecules that are the end products of reactions between different proteins in the body. These molecules act as ‘chemical fingerprints’, offering clues about what has happened inside our cells. As part of the one-year pilot study, the team will use a range of techniques to extract the molecules from brain samples, enabling them to see a detailed picture of metabolites within the brain.

The scientists will compare samples from Alzheimer’s patients and healthy people to identify complex changes in metabolites that occur in Alzheimer’s disease. Positive results could then be used to study metabolites in blood samples, allowing the researchers to develop a simple blood test to diagnose the disease in its early stages. It’s hoped the study will also improve our understanding of the causes of Alzheimer’s, by shedding light on the cellular processes that are involved in the disease.

Dr Graham was inspired to focus his research on Alzheimer’s disease after his grandmother, Bridget Duncan, died with the disease in 2004, having been diagnosed ten years before. He said: “Seeing my grandmother’s decline was incredibly difficult for my family, and having seen first-hand the impact that Alzheimer’s can have, it gives me another reason to go into the lab every day.

“I’m thrilled to have secured this funding, which could help us find a way to detect Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages. By building a picture of what happens in the brain during Alzheimer’s, we also hope to uncover clues about the causes of the disease, which is vital for developing new treatments. Dementia can only be beaten through research, and I’m optimistic that this study will yield results that could really benefit people like my grandmother.”

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We’re delighted to be backing this promising research, which should help us improve the way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. The ability to detect Alzheimer’s earlier would allow new treatments to be tested in the early stages of the disease, when they are likely to be most effective.

“More than 15,000 people in Northern Ireland are currently affected by dementia, and with a rapidly ageing population that number is expected to soar. We urgently need to improve diagnosis and find new treatments, yet dementia research is still desperately underfunded. If we are to make a real difference for the future, we must invest in research now.”

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford on 028 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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