12-2012 Press releases

New book spreads an enterprising Christmas message
David Gibson with boxer Ricky Hatton
David Gibson with boxer Ricky Hatton

A Queen’s University enterprise expert is spreading a Christmas message with a difference – encouraging would-be entrepreneurs to turn their business dreams into reality.

You are an Entrepreneur by David Gibson is a fictional tale which follows the story of Clark, who loses his job at Christmas time. With the help of his ‘Uncle Dave’, an entrepreneurship guru, Clark uses his entrepreneurial skills to turn his fortunes around and help others over the festive period.

David, from Ballinderry, Co. Antrim, is one of the world’s leading enterprise educators. A Senior Teaching Fellow at Queen’s University Management School, he has won international awards for his pioneering model of enterprise education, which is now embedded across all disciplines at Queen’s.

He wrote the story to help a young graduate to turn his career around and start his own business. It has been endorsed by well-known sportspeople including boxer Ricky Hatton and Queen’s Park Rangers and England footballer Andrew Johnson. Hatton said the book “shows what you can do if you think of others, take risks and learn from your mistakes”.

David said: “You are an Entrepreneur is aimed at anyone who wants to make a change in their business, career or personal development. The story is deliberately set at Christmas time. This is the ideal time for people to take stock, put their difficulties behind them and realise that anything is possible. So this Christmas, get hunting for the business opportunity in your life and have an enterprising new year.

“The economic downturn is affecting people from all walks of life. Perhaps you thought you were in a job for life, but now you are facing redundancy. Maybe you are a young person or a graduate finding it difficult to get a foot on the career ladder, or a business owner trying hard to make ends meet.

“While it might be tempting to bury your head in the sand and hope that everything will be ok, the best thing you can do is to look for the opportunities in your own situation and make things happen. In other words, find your inner entrepreneur.

“Being entrepreneurial is not necessarily about making millions; instead it is about having a mindset which is geared towards making a contribution, and the skills to turn opportunity into reality. This is what I teach my students at Queen’s, and it is the foundation for You are an Entrepreneur.”

The book rounds off a busy year for David, which saw him named among the top three entrepreneurial educators in the world and the most innovative educator in the UK, for the third year running. Earlier this year, David received the OBE for services to education. He also received the Business Education Award at the 2012 UTV Business Eye Awards.

You are an Entrepreneur  is available to download (£10) from or by emailing  All proceeds will go to cancer charities in Northern Ireland.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email

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Recognition for community-minded Queen’s students
Science Shop 2012 winners Nuala Carney, Elizabeth Watson & Jane Millar with
Boyd McDowell, Department for Employment and Learning,  Maria Lee and
Prof Tony Gallagher, Queen’s.
Science Shop 2012 winners Nuala Carney, Elizabeth Watson & Jane Millar with Boyd McDowell, Department for Employment and Learning, Maria Lee and Prof Tony Gallagher, Queen’s.

Three Queen’s University students who worked with Dunlewey Substance Abuse Centre and the Springfield Charitable Association on community-based research projects have been announced as winners of the 2012 Science Shop Award.

Over 500 projects have been completed with a wide range of community organisations through the Science Shop at Queen’s since 2004.

First-placed winners were Criminology undergraduates Nuala Carney from Belfast and Elizabeth Watson from Whiteabbey who worked with the Dunlewey Substance Abuse Centre in Belfast. The students researched the perceived benefits and limitations of drug treatment from the perspective of those who have experienced problem drug misuse, and also how wider societal factors impact women’s experiences compared to men’s in treatment from substance misuse.

Annette Goodall-Daykin from Dunlewey, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the findings and have gained new insights, as well as reminders of particular aspects of interventions, that as a service we had become so familiar with and therefore given less emphasis to.  Nuala and Elizabeth both conducted their research with a minimum of disruption to the overall service and with a great regard and respect for the participants who engaged in the interviews.  The tangible outcomes from the projects have provided a renewed focus, with refreshed insights, which has in turn generated renewed energy and enthusiasm of staff.”

Speaking about their experience, Nuala Carney said: “Working on our Science Shop project gave us an invaluable insight into the real-life issues faced by those who provide and use the services in the Dunlewey Substance Abuse Centre. It’s very rewarding to know that by applying the knowledge gained during our degrees we have helped others. I want to say thank you to our supervisors at Queen’s and everyone at Dunlewey for encouraging us to enhance our knowledge and skills by helping others.”

Second prize was awarded to Jane Millar, a Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition degree student from Benburb.  Following a request from Springfield Charitable Association in West Belfast, who work with clients with dementia, Jane’s work focused on the role of diet in preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.

Emma McKenna, Co-ordinator of Queen’s Science Shop said: “Each year through The Science Shop at Queen’s, our students and staff work with community-based organisations across Northern Ireland in assisting them to address issues of importance to them. The Science Shop has had many successes and I would like to encourage those from community groups who may have a project they need help with to contact us at to see if we may be able to match them with the skill set available within our student population.”

Other community-group based organisations who worked with The Science Shop in the last year included Drumellen Community Association, Craigavon; Voluntary Arts Ireland; Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust; Mourne Heritage Trust and Cloughey and District Development Association, Co. Down.

The Science Shop Award, with prizes totalling £1,000, is made each year to those students who have made a difference to local community-based organisations by applying their knowledge, skills and experience to real-life issues faced by each group. 

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email

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Award winning nurses at Queen’s

Lisa Hughes from Kilkeel is celebrating at Queen’s University today (Friday 14 December) after being named this year’s best overall nursing and midwifery graduate. 

Lisa was awarded the Florence Elliott Prize at this afternoon’s graduation ceremony. Voted for by School teaching staff, and staff on the wards where the students carried out placements, the Florence Elliott Prize recognises outstanding academic and clinical achievement.

Lisa said: “I am overwhelmed but very honored that I have been given the Florence Elliot Prize. I would like to pay tribute to all the staff at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, without their support and guidance I would not have achieved this great award.  I am sad that my training has come to an end, however I had a brilliant time and met some great people over the past three years. I look forward to embracing the start of my new career and I feel my time at Queen's has definitely prepared me for this.”
Awards for Academic Excellence are awarded to the nursing students with the highest marks from the University-based aspect of the degree, while Clinical Excellence awards are given to those who have received outstanding feedback from staff in the wards where they completed their nursing placements.

Another eight students have also been recognised by the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s for academic or clinical excellence. The winners are:

  • Jenny Powell, East Belfast
  • Grainne Murphy, Newry
  • Jodie Kenny, Dromore
  • Victoria Jones, Banbridge
  • Katherine McGuigan, Bangor
  • Sara Raplh, Downpatrick
  • Sarah Ellerby, South Belfast, originally from Yorkshire
  • Fiona Trainor, South Belfast

Professor Linda Johnston, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s said: “The School of Nursing and Midwifery is delighted to reward the hard work and dedication of our students on their graduation day. Queen’s is the foremost provider of Nursing and Midwifery education in Northern Ireland. Our graduates play a central role in delivering healthcare to us all and I congratulate Lisa and her fellow award winners for their hard work and dedication.”

During the graduation ceremony all students will receive their certificate and Nursing Badge, which they must wear while on the wards.

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Double celebration as friends land jobs together

It will be a double celebration for two friends when they graduate from Queen’s today (Friday 14th December) as they have both landed jobs in the same firm.

Gerarde Sweeney and Christopher Brady are both graduating with a PhD from the School of Pharmacy. They have been offered jobs as Formulation Development Scientists within the pharmaceutical development department of Warner Chilcott UK Limited based in Larne.

The two friends, who met in their undergraduate Pharmacy course at Queen’s in 2002, have studied together for nine years.

Chris, from Carnmoney, said: “It was a coincidence that we both landed jobs in Warner Chilcott in Larne as we applied at different times. It's great to continue working together after having spent nine years studying at Queen's. To secure such exciting jobs so soon after finishing is excellent for us both.”

Gerarde, from Downpatrick, said: “The PhD degree was great experience and has prepared Chris and I very well for the working world.  The course improved my knowledge of experimental techniques, while our experience of presenting results and conducting scientific literature reviews is particularly beneficial in the jobs we have in Warner Chilcott.”

Gerarde will celebrate his graduation with his parents, Freda and Gerry.

Chris will celebrate his graduation with his parents, Brendan and Ethna, and fiance, Gill.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Degree designer and lecturer graduates with his students

An award-winning lecturer, who is behind the design, management and teaching of the popular Actuarial Science and Risk Management degree course at Queen’s, will today (Friday 14 December) graduate himself.

Colin O’Hare, who lives in Crossgar, will graduate with a PhD in Actuarial Science from the Queen’s University Management School alongside some of the students he has taught and supervised. Colin’s PhD in Actuarial Science is the first to be awarded on the island of Ireland.

Colin said: “I have been at Queen’s for five years working as the Actuarial Science Director for the University.  In this role I have been involved with the design, management and teaching of Actuarial Science.  The course has proven to be a huge success with the actuarial profession and with employers, so it is particularly special to be celebrating my graduation alongside some of my students today.”

Colin has won numerous teaching awards including a Queen’s University teaching award in 2010. He was shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards Most Innovative Teacher of the Year title in 2011 and was also a Queen’s University National teaching fellowship scheme nominee in 2012.

Colin will celebrate his graduation alongside his wife Diane, daughter Lottie and his mother and father.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Northern Ireland business leader honoured at Queen’s

One of Northern Ireland’s leading business figures, Stephen Kingon CBE, will be honoured at Queen’s University Belfast today (Friday 14 December).

Stephen Kingon CBE will receive an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce during the University’s winter graduation ceremonies.

Mr Kingon, from Holywood Co. Down, is former Chair of Invest Northern Ireland, and Chair of the Northern Ireland Centre for Competitiveness, Balcas Lmited and NIE Energy.

Mr Kingon said: “I am honoured to receive this honorary degree from Queen’s at a time when the University is playing an ever-increasing role in helping Northern Ireland to rebalance its economy.

“Queen’s is a leader for innovation and enterprise in Northern Ireland, and has long been a magnet for inward investment. The quality of its graduates, including those receiving their degrees alongside me today, and their loyalty to Northern Ireland, is a strong factor in attracting international companies to the region. As the University continues to help put Northern Ireland business on the world stage, I am delighted to become part of the Queen’s family.”

Mr Thomas Lynch, Chair of Queen’s University Belfast Foundation, will deliver the citation for Stephen Kingon. He said: “In business development, economic life, and through his charitable interests, Stephen Kingon’s dedication and personal vision have made an enormous contribution to Northern Ireland over many years. He has been a champion for the Northern Ireland business community, working to help Northern Ireland on its path to economic growth.

“Stephen is an inspiration to today’s graduates and students, particularly those of Queen’s University Management School at Riddel Hall, which the University has developed into a new portal to meet the needs of Northern Ireland business.”

Stephen Kingon is a former member of the Northern Ireland Economic Advisory Group and has held directorships with a number of Northern Ireland and UK companies.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email

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Nothing to separate graduating twins

Twins Damien and Patrick Hegarty will both graduate from Queen’s University today with distinctions in MSc Finance degrees from Queen’s University Management School.

Despite having very different personal interests the brothers, from Schull in County Cork, have always ended up studying similar things.

Damien said:  “We’re not identical twins but we always seem to have ended up studying similar things.  Neither of us knew that the other was applying to study at the MSc in Finance at Queen’s – it was just pure coincidence.  By further coincidence we both did our dissertation with Professor Michael Moore and both had it completed in June.”

Patrick said: “We have travelled, lived, and studied together most of our lives, although our interests in sports are very different. I am into sailing and have represented Ireland and Damien is a keen GAA man and has represented Cork at county level.  Although we’ve done many things together and are graduating together we’ve both secured jobs in different companies. Damien is working in a graduate role with Coca Cola and I’ve secured a job in Citibank in Dublin.”

Patrick and Damien will celebrate their graduation alongside their parents Paddy and Nuala Hegarty, their aunt Kathleen Hegarty and sister Linda Hegarty.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Eminent Chinese scientist honoured at Queen’s University

One of China’s leading scientists will be honoured at Queen’s University Belfast today (Thursday 13 December).

Professor Xuhong Qian, President of the East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST), will receive an honorary doctorate from Queen’s for services to science.

Located in Shangai, ECUST is the most important university of China in the field of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. President Qian is Professor of Bio-organic Chemistry and Engineering. With over 350 papers published, he is well-known in the international science community. A graduate of ECUST, he has won numerous awards and honours, including the prestigious Cheung Kong Professorship, which recruits renowned researchers and academics to help enhance China’s intellectual competitiveness.

President Qian has expressed his delight at his honorary doctorate and is encouraging Queen’s newest graduates to go out and make their mark on society. He said: “Today you graduate from Queen’s University and begin your new path in life. Tomorrow, Queen’s will be proud of the credit you will bring back to your alma mater. It is now time for you to write your own story and make your mark on the world.”

Delivering the citation for President Qian, Professor Chris Hardacre, Head of Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, said:  “President Qian is globally renowned for his research into anti-tumour agents, pesticides and fluorescent probes, particularly for the detection of toxic mercury – areas on which he has built strong research groups at ECUST.

“Alongside his groundbreaking research, President Qian has successfully positioned ECUST to compete with the best universities in China and the world. He has supported a strong programme of international activities for ECUST students, which seen a number of his students study at Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. We are delighted to welcome President Qian into the Queen’s family, and we hope that the relationship between our two institutions will continue to flourish.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email

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Chair of British Council honoured by Queen’s University

Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair of the British Council, will be honoured by Queen’s University Belfast today (Thursday 13 December).

Sir Vernon will receive an honorary doctorate for public service during the University’s winter graduation ceremonies.

Sir Vernon is Chair of the British Council, which works in over one hundred countries to bring international opportunities to people in the UK and around the world. Queen’s works with the British Council on a range of initiatives to create international opportunities for its students and staff, and to encourage students from around the world to study in Belfast.

Sir Vernon said: “I am delighted to receive this prestigious honour from Queen’s, a university with which the British Council has such strong links.

“Only six weeks ago I was at the University to hear the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, deliver the British Council’s Annual Lecture as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s. It was the first time our Annual Lecture had moved outside London. I think that says a lot about the growing stature of Northern Ireland culturally, and Queen’s, with its strong cultural heritage, has been at the centre of that growth.

“All over the world, people want greater educational opportunities. Education enhances lives and, in an increasingly globalised society, higher education has an ever-growing international dimension. Through British Council initiatives, which share the UK’s expertise and encourage the best and brightest international students to study here, Queen’s is raising educational standards at home and around the world. It is a huge privilege to be here today, to be honoured for the work that I enjoy doing so much, and to become part of the Queen’s family.”

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tony Gallagher will deliver the citation for Sir Vernon. He said: “Queen’s is committed to encouraging our students to develop as global citizens, with an awareness of the importance of making best use of their abilities and qualities, and understanding the sense of responsibility that comes with accomplishment and success. After a successful career in business, Sir Vernon Ellis has devoted his considerable energy in recent years to support music and opera and, in particular, to support young, developing musicians. He has also worked hard to encourage better understanding of the role of philanthropy in supporting the arts. His example provides a role model for our students and graduates in their future role of global citizens.”

Sir Vernon has a background in both business and the arts. Until 2010, he spent all his working life at Accenture in a number of major roles overseeing a period of extraordinary growth. He is President of the English National Opera, having served as Chairman from 2005 until 2012. He is President of the Classical Opera Company and a Fellow of the Royal College of Music. He was knighted for services to music in 2011 and is Chair of the Arts and Media Honours Committee.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email

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‘Winter’ wonderland for West-Belfast actress

Graduation at Queen’s University promises to be a ‘Winter’ wonderland for one West-Belfast actress and lecturer today.

Brenda Winter-Palmer, who is full time a lecturer in Drama at Queen’s, will swap her costume for a doctoral robe as she graduates with a PhD in Drama from the University.

The actress is currently in rehearsals for the role of Emilie Beattie in the recording of BBC Radio Ulster's Christmas Special It's William Caulfield, So It Is!
Brenda came to academic life after a thirty year career as an actress, writer and director in theatre, film and television. She was a founder member of Charabanc, the legendary women's theatre company which launched the writing career of Marie Jones. She also founded and was the first artistic director of Replay, Northern Ireland's foremost educational theatre company. She has appeared in all the major theatres in Northern Ireland and has numerous film and television credits to her name.

Brenda, who returned to education in 2006 to take a Masters programme in drama, said: “I decided to do the MA in drama just for fun and really enjoyed every minute of the course. I was then persuaded by my supervisor and mentor Professor Anna McMullan to do a PhD - something I never thought would be within my capabilities. Three years into my course I was offered a job as a lecturer in Drama Studies. I didn't think twice about taking it. At 55 as most of my friends were looking forward to retirement I was taking on a whole new career. They thought I was mad. But I looked on it as just the natural extension of what I had done all my life.

“Doing the PhD has helped me understand better all the things that I did instinctively as a theatre practitioner. Now I can pass on some of the skills I have learned to my students. It has all been such a life-enhancing experience. To return to studying at doctoral level in your fifties is a challenge but the rewards for me have been terrific.”

It’s William Caulfield So It Is! will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Saturday 22 December at 12.03pm and then on Saturday 29 December  also at 12.03pm.

Brenda will celebrate her graduation alongside her husband Richard and four year old grandson Thomas - who now calls Brenda ‘Doctor Nanny’.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Musical brothers hit a high note at graduation

Two brothers from India, who have gathered quite a following on the local music scene during their time in Belfast, will graduate from Queen’s today.

Lionel and Lenin Pinto, from Mumbai in India, who are both graduating with an MA in Sonic Arts and Music Technology from the School of Creative Arts, have had their music featured on BBC Radio Ulster and are booked for performances in venues across Belfast, including a concert in St George’s Market on the 19th of December.

The pair have just released their debut album, Belfast In My Heart, Dublin On My Mind, and have also performed in front of the former President of Ireland Professor Mary McAleese.

Lenin said: “Lionel and I have been Software Engineers by profession for a number of years and we’ve both always been passionate about making music. Coming to Belfast to study a Masters Degree in Sonic Arts and Music Technology at Queen’s was the perfect way for us to combine our passion for music and the arts, with our technological and engineering expertise.  We have been able to accomplish so much in our time here including making an album. We wouldn’t have been able achieve what we have without the outstanding facilities and staff at Queen’s.”

Lionel said: “When we came to Queen’s we couldn’t have imagined the opportunities that have opened up to us through the School of Creative Arts.  The skills we have developed during our time at Queen’s have caught the attention of several important figures both in the IT sector and the music world.  We hope to continue our journey for at least another year or two in this part of the world perhaps working as engineers by day and musicians by night. A song we wrote The World in One Place was inspired by the international mix of friends and colleagues we’ve met at our time at Queen’s.”

Lionel and Lenin will celebrate their graduation alongside friends Martin and Catherine McCaughan from Ballycastle, Stephanie Twedt from the US, who will attend the ceremony on behalf of the brothers’ parents Ronald and Florine Pinto, and their sister Eilish in India.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Second graduation after 40 years for June Jordan

June Jordan from East Belfast will graduate for the second time from Queen’s University today after a gap of almost 40 years.

June first graduated from Queen’s in June 1973 with a degree in English Language and Literature. This week she will be awarded a Certificate in Liberal Studies from the School of Education.

A librarian for many years, June took early retirement in November 2009, and since then has participated in a diverse range of work, courses and volunteering work including working as Front of House Manager at this year’s Queen's Festival.

June said: “I do not remember my first graduation ceremony, so, for me to walk the Whitla Hall stage a second time, almost 40 years later, for another earned qualification, is all the sweeter as I shall really remember the experience this time.”

June will celebrate her graduation with her husband Ronnie Jordan, also a Queen’s graduate and her son, David, a Queen’s undergraduate.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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A case of LA Law for graduating Queen’s student

A Ballymena student who originally missed her summer graduation as she was completing a prestigious legal internship Los Angeles, will graduate from Queen’s today (Wednesday 12 December).

Emma McIlveen, who graduates with a Law with Politics LL.B won a scholarship of £4,000 to complete the Irish American Bar Association internship.

The Queen’s law student spent her first two weeks in LA working in the State Court in Downtown LA which gave her the chance to observe criminal proceedings.

Emma also successfully completed another legal internship in China with CRCC Asia. While there she worked with King & Bond Law where she attended legal consultations at Embassies and had the opportunity to work with international lawyers and assist with English translation. Emma also volunteered with adults with learning disabilities, participated in Mandarin lessons and attended many cultural events.

Emma said: “My time at Queen’s has been unbelievable and the opportunities offered to me far exceeded my expectations.  I’m very humbled and privileged to have had the chance to do not one, but two, exceptional internships abroad.  I am so grateful to Queen’s and to leading internship provider, CRCC Asia for the opportunities given to me.

“Since my return from China, I have returned to work in J W McNinch & Son solicitors in Ballyclare. McNinchs have been a great support to me throughout my law degree and the experience I have gained through working in the firm has been invaluable. I have recently made an application to Harvard Law School for September 2013 where I hope to study on their LL.M. programme to gain experience in Child Advocacy.”

Emma has also been awarded the Rory Conaghan prize for obtaining the highest mark in the evidence examination.

Emma will celebrate her graduation with her father Ian, mum Sharon, brother Samuel and grandmothers Cassie and Janet.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or

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Hillsborough Report author awarded Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Prize

Professor Phil Scraton, the primary author of the report published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Impact Prize at Queen's University Belfast.

Professor Scraton’s previous research into the context, circumstances and aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which claimed the lives of 96 men, women and children, led to the publication of two reports and the much-acclaimed book Hillsborough: The Truth. In 2010 he was appointed to the Panel by the Home Secretary to lead its research.

The Queen’s-based research team analysed 400,000 documents disclosed by over 80 organisations. Its forensic analysis, published in a 395 pages, revealed how 153 key findings ‘add to public understanding’. It brought an apology to the families from the Prime Minister in parliament, a full inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, an application by the Attorney General to quash the inquest verdicts and a review by the Secretary of State for Health into the UK's procedures for emergency response to disasters.
In announcing the winner, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: "I am delighted to present Professor Scraton with my inaugural Impact Prize.  There can be no doubt that his work has answered many of the questions asked by the bereaved families of the victims of Hillsborough and will have a far reaching impact on the practice of responding to such controversial events. 

“This Impact Prize celebrates the diverse range of activities taking place across Queen’s that engage the public and external organisations with our research.  From law to cancer therapies, cyber-security to archaeology, our academics collaborate with businesses, government and charities to bring their ground breaking research into practice.”

Along with his fellow nominees tonight, Professor Scraton highlights the positive role Queen’s plays at home and across the world in benefiting society.”

Accepting the award, Professor Scraton said: “I receive this award with humility but on behalf of the families and survivors, my fellow researchers and all who have worked tirelessly and with integrity on the Panel. It emphasises the significance of critical, independent research and its contribution to knowledge and to our teaching. Tonight’s event demonstrates the excellent, international impact of Queen’s research and I am honoured to have been recognised alongside such outstanding colleagues.”

The awards were presented by Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson during the annual Chief Executives' Club Gala Dinner in the University’s Whitla Hall.

Also receiving awards last night were Dr Karl Malcolm, from the School of Pharmacy for his work on the Microbicide Vaginal Ring Protecting Women against AIDS/HIV, and Professor Kenneth Seddon from Queen's School of Chemistry for his work on Mercury Removal from Natural Gas Streams.

The Vice Chancellor's Impact Prize aims to celebrate the impact Queen's University's research has on the wider community. The top three submissions received contributions to their research group of £5k, £3k and £2k respectively.

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Queen's in new study to improve Alzheimer's diagnosis

Researchers from Queen’s are embarking on a project that could bring a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s disease a step closer.

Thanks to a £100K grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, Queen’s scientists are set to use a state-of-the-art-technique to find ways of identifying people with Alzheimer’s and people who are at greater risk of developing the disease.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 15,000 people in Northern Ireland alone, yet currently there are no treatments to stop the disease in its tracks.

The two-year project will see Dr Brian Green and his team, from the School of Biological Sciences, investigate how metabolites – tiny molecules that are involved in chemical reactions in the body – may be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease. These molecules act as ‘chemical fingerprints’, offering clues about what is happening inside our cells. The researchers hope to be able to identify different patterns of metabolites that are most associated with Alzheimer’s, as the first step to developing a new test to diagnose the disease in its earliest stages.

The team has already tested several different ways of profiling metabolites, using brain samples from people who died with Alzheimer’s and people without the disease. One specific method, which analyses thousands of metabolites in one 15-minute test, was able to detect Alzheimer’s in these samples with 97 per cent accuracy. The researchers now want to see whether this method can detect the disease at a much earlier stage.

As part of the project, the researchers will team up with clinical collaborators at Belfast City Hospital’s memory clinic to recruit volunteers to take part in the study. Using blood samples from healthy volunteers and people with Alzheimer’s, the researchers will search for different patterns of metabolites that can distinguish between the two. The study will also include people with mild memory problems, who are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, to see whether metabolites can be used to predict which of them will develop the disease.

Dr Green said: “A simple, reliable blood test for Alzheimer’s is a Holy Grail for clinical diagnosis, and we hope our study could form the foundation for such a test to predict and diagnose the disease. By understanding what changes in metabolites are associated with Alzheimer’s, we should also gain more understanding about what happens as the disease develops – potentially aiding the development of new treatments. We’re extremely grateful for this funding, which will allow us to build on our results and take us closer to a new way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s.”

Alison Smith, from Belfast, knows only too well the impact Alzheimer’s disease can have, as her granddad Jim had a long struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s before he died four years ago. She said: “Seeing my dear granddad become more and more confused was heartbreaking, and had a huge impact on the whole family. He was only in his 50s when he was diagnosed, and it was devastating to see him gradually robbed of his memories and abilities – especially knowing there was little we could do to help. I chose to support Alzheimer’s Research UK because I believe research is crucial to tackle this disease, so it’s great to see money going to research here in Belfast.”

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this study, which has real potential for improving the way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is notoriously difficult to diagnose, and an accurate test for the disease could make a real difference to people’s lives, allowing them to access care and existing treatments far sooner. The ability to predict Alzheimer’s would also be a huge boost for research, allowing people to be recruited to clinical trials in the earliest stages of the disease, when treatments are more likely to be successful.”

“Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which affects more than 15,000 people in Northern Ireland alone, yet currently there are no treatments to stop the disease in its tracks. If we are to find treatments for the future, we must invest in research today.”

For further information, or to speak with Dr Brian Green or Dr Simon Ridley, please contact Kirsty Marais, Media Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK on 01223 843304, 07826 559233 or email 

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Lord Bew honoured for contribution to public life

One of Northern Ireland's most renowned political experts has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to scholarship and public life.

Professor Lord Paul Bew, Professor of Politics at Queen's University Belfast, received the Special Recognition Award at the Political Studies Association annual awards ceremony held in London at Church House, Westminster.

Professor Bew was recognised for his immense contribution to political history scholarship and public life. As well as being an accomplished academic, Professor Bew made a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. His role was acknowledged with an appointment to the House of Lords in 2007.

Professor Bew has been a member of Queen's faculty since 1979, where he has taught hundreds of students of Irish history and politics at the University’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. He is a fellow of the Royal Irish Academy and his latest book, Enigma: A new Life of Charles Stewart Parnell, was named biography of the year by the Sunday Times.

He said: “I am delighted to receive this award. As well as a personal honour, I regard it as a tribute to the engagement with political theory and practice that is at the heart of Politics at Queen's, and has been since the days of Professor John Whyte who was the University's first Professor of Irish Politics. Professor Whyte will be remembered at Queen's later this week at a memorial lecture in his honour, which will focus on partition and the question of Irish unity.

“Queen's students are the leaders of tomorrow, and at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy they benefit from world-class teaching and research, which well equips them for a career in political or public life.”

The Annual John Whyte Memorial Lecture at Queen's, entitled ‘Living with partition: institutions, public opinion and the question of Irish unity’ will be delivered by Professor John Coakley of University College Dublin, at 5pm on Thursday 6 December (Peter Froggatt Centre, Room 02.017).

The Political Studies Association Awards Jury said: “Professor Bew's major role in the Northern Ireland peace process, his contribution as historical adviser to the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, and his recent efforts as Chair of the Education Secretary’s external review of Key Stage school tests ensure that he is a deserving recipient of this award.”

For more information on Politics at Queen’s visit

For more information contact Anne-Marie Clarke on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email

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