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December 2013 press releases

Queen’s Professor named one of top 400 global researchers

A Queen’s University Professor has been named on a global list of the most ‘Highly Influential Biomedical Researchers’.

Professor Mike Clarke, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, is among 400 scientists named on the worldwide list compiled by US researchers.  The list, published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, was based on journal articles and citations from 1996 to 2011.

During the period analysed, Professor Clarke, who is the Director of the All Ireland Hub for Trials Methodology Research based within the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s, published more than 300 papers, receiving almost 30,000 citations.

Professor Clarke has 25 years’ experience of the conduct and oversight of randomised trials, systematic reviews and other types of prospective research. He has been involved in many rigorous evaluations of health care, including some of the largest ever trials in breast cancer, maternity care and stroke. He has also conducted numerous systematic reviews of research studies, the largest of which is the Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group overview of the treatment of women with breast cancer.

Professor Mike Clarke, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, said: "It's an honour to be part of this list and I am delighted that the research I'm involved in is drawing such wide attention in the scientific literature. Even more satisfying is the impact that our large-scale systematic reviews and randomised trials have had. They provide a key part of the evidence base for people making decisions and have helped improve health care and health for people around the world." For further information on the list of most Highly Influential Biomedical Researchers visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eci.12171/full#eci12171-note-0002

For more information on Professor Clarke’s work visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforPublicHealth/

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s fertility expert wins international award

A Queen’s University Professor has received international recognition for her research into male infertility.

Professor Sheena Lewis fought off competition from more than 70 innovators, researchers and business women from across Europe to win the Gold Award for Innovation at the European Women Inventors & Innovators Network (EUWIIN) awards last week in Stockholm.

The award also means that the next EUWINN event in 2015  is likely to be in Professor Lewis' home city of Belfast.

EUWIN was launched at the European Parliament in 2006.  Since then EUWIIN winners have been entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, technologists or designers from all sectors across Europe and beyond.  Each winner has created a new device or system or process capable of impacting millions of people for the better.

Professor Sheena Lewis, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, said: “I am delighted and honoured to have won the gold award for innovation at the European Women Inventors & Innovators Network awards.  It is great to have my work recognised at an international level by such a prestigious award.  It is testimony to the high level of research being undertaken at Queen’s University and the opportunity to  translate this research into the benefit of society as we have been able to do through Queen’s spin out Lewis Fertility Testing Ltd  with the help of our  business hub QUBIS.”

Diane Morris, Chair of the EUWIIN Judging Panel, said: “The EUWIIN Judging panel, who represented different countries and professional expertise reviewed over 70 nominations, were impressed by Professor Lewis’ research and her enthusiasm for it’s potential.”

The Sperm Comet test, developed in 2011 is a ground-breaking test for male infertility, which saves time, money and heartache for couples around the world.  The SpermComet provides unique information that no other test offers. By measuring damaged DNA in individual sperm, it can predict the success of infertility treatments and fast-track couples to the treatment most likely to succeed, leading to significantly reduced waiting times and improved chances of conception.

For further information on Professor Lewis’ work visit: http://lewisfertilitytesting.com/

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s food safety expert publishes review of UK food supply

The UK Government and industry must do more to urgently tackle food crime. That’s according to Queen’s University Belfast food safety expert Professor Chris Elliott, who today (Thurs 12 December) published the initial findings of his official independent review of the UK’s food supply network.

Professor Elliott, who is Director of Queen’s University’s Institute for Global Food Security, was appointed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Health in June 2013 to lead the independent review in light of the horsemeat fraud. Professor Elliott is a world-leading expert on food integrity and traceability.

In his interim report, Professor Elliott identifies a range of weaknesses across the existing control systems in the UK and recommends ways to address those weaknesses. 

Professor Elliott said: “UK consumers have access to perhaps the safest food in the world but the focus now urgently needs to turn to tackling food crime.

“Not enough evidence is collected about food crime and we don’t yet know the extent of how this global problem affects the UK food and drink market, worth £188bn. Estimates of the level of criminality vary, so further investigation needs to be a priority. I will look at this in more detail in the next phase of my review and will look to Government, industry and consumers to help develop the evidence here.

“The UK food industry is currently too vulnerable to criminals wishing to perpetrate fraud.  We need a culture within businesses involved in supplying food that focusses on depriving those who seek to deceive consumers. Government, and in particular a more robust Food Standards Agency has a major role to play partnering these efforts.  

“A food supply system which is much more difficult for criminals to operate in is what we need to deliver, working together.”

Professor Elliott is examining the causes of the systemic failure that enabled the horsemeat fraud, the roles and responsibilities of businesses throughout the food supply chain to consumers and how to support consumer confidence. The ongoing review, which will continue in 2014, focusses on consumer confidence in the authenticity of all food products and any weaknesses in food supply networks which could have implications for food safety and public health. His findings will form recommendations to Defra and the Department of Health on how the UK might be able to increase the resilience of its food systems. The final report will be published in Spring 2014. Professor Elliott leads Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security. The £33M Institute plays a key player in improving global food safety, and in national and global efforts to provide the world’s population with a sustainable, safe and secure supply of high quality food.

That will be the key theme of a major international conference to be hosted by the Institute next Spring. ASSET 2014 – The Food Integrity and Traceability Conference - will take place at Queen’s in April and will attract leading scientists, food standards regulators and agri-food producers from around the world.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the Institute celebrated the graduation of the first set of students from its MSc Advance Food Safety degree – one of a number of teaching programmes drawing on the Institute’s research strengths in areas as diverse as nutrition, diet and health, chemical engineering, biomedical sciences and biochemistry. A range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses aim to produce well-qualified graduates who will ensure the agri-food sector remains innovative, sustainable and globally competitive.

Earlier this week, Professor Elliott took part in a debate with key representatives from the Northern Ireland Agri-Food sector. Hosted by the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s and corporate law firm A & L Goodbody, ‘Growing our Agri-Food Industry: Challenges and opportunities for 2014’, addressed a range of topical issues for the local agri-food industry, which provides around 85,000 jobs and generates sales of £5.2 billion each year. Key challenges, including the implementation of the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s Going for Growth action plan, ensuring a high level of food integrity while competing in the international marketplace, and the effect of EU legislation on the Northern Ireland food sector, were discussed at the event.

For more information on Professor Elliott’s review visit https://www.gov.uk/government/policy-advisory-groups/review-into-the-integrity-and-assurance-of-food-supply-networks

For more information on the Queen’s Unviersity Institute for Global Food Security visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/InstituteforGlobalFoodSecurity/

Media inquiries and interview bids for Professor Elliott should be directed to Claire Gibbard at Defra Direct line: 020 7238 5054 Mobile: 07823 534 174 Out of hours: 0845 0518486
Queen’s University Communications Office contact Michelle Cassidy +44 (0)28 9097 5310 email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk.

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Age is no barrier for Queen’s newest graduates

Age really is just a number when it comes to higher education, and this certainly applies to John Templeton who, at 69, is receiving his third degree from Queen’s today.

John, who is originally from North Belfast but now lives in Omagh, will graduate with Master of Laws with commendation from Queen’s School of Law.

Originally from Old Park Road in Belfast, John left school at 15 to work in a shipyard, later deciding that education was a potential route to better career prospects. While working full- time, John pursued his education while completing his career in the health service where he worked for 30 years.

In 1977 he came to Queen’s as a mature student and studied Economics and then a Masters in Social Sciences: “I have a picture of myself and my daughter Victoria outside Queen’s on my first graduation in 1980. When she was growing up I always said she would be back at Queen’s with me when I would graduate with a law degree.”

Victoria herself is now a lawyer in London and will be with John and his wife Patricia at his graduation ceremony this week.

Commenting on his love of learning he said: “Every year I set myself a challenge to pass one exam and learn something new. Today represents the completion of a personal challenge I set myself on retirement – to fulfil my lifelong ambition to study Law at Queen’s. I can now strike this off my ‘bucket list’. I would encourage anyone to come back to education, no matter how old they are. My time at Queen’s has enhanced my life experience immeasurably and now I’m wondering what I should study next.”

Also pursuing legal interests later in life is 51 year old former teacher Alison Blackwell. She is graduating with a distinction in Masters in Legal Science.

Having taught English Literature in three Northern Ireland grammar schools she decided, as her 50th birthday approached, to fulfil a long-held ambition to study law.

Alison, originally from Donaghadee, now living in Ballymena, now has a permanent post with global law firm, Allen & Overy.

Reflecting on her career change, Alison said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Queen’s in the Law department, and was very impressed by how the facilities in the new library and the use of ICT and technology generally have improved the student experience since I first studied at Queen’s in the 1980’s. My fellow students - while generally younger than me by 20- 25 years, made me feel one of them, and learning with them was a very positive and rejuvenating experience.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being a student again after almost 30 years and much of that was due to the professionalism and dedication of the Law department teaching staff. I hope that my positive experience as an 'older' student will inspire others to enrol at Queen’s in order to follow their interest or passion.”

Also celebrating her graduation is Beverley Dewart from Waringstown. 23 year old Beverley has will graduate with a Nursing degree and will celebrate alongside her parents Mary and Mervyn, both of whom are profoundly deaf. Beverley feels her own capabilities were often doubted because of her parents’ deafness, but that with support and determination she has been able to fulfil her dream of becoming a Nurse.

Beverley said: “My parents have supported me in everything I have done in my life, and I am delighted to make them proud as we celebrate my graduation. Over the years, the support and encouragement I received from family, supportive school teachers and my university tutors have helped me achieve my ambition of embarking on a nursing career and correcting the doubts people may have had. My fiance Ryan Holgate was also very supportive to me over the 3 years of the Nursing course and helped me further pursue my dream."

“As I collect my degree certificate today I will remember, in particular, my Granny Frances who dedicated a lot of her time to helping develop my speech and language skills as well as helping me with my studies. Unfortunately she passed away shortly before I got in to Queen’s, but I know she would be very proud of my achievements.”

For more information about Queen’s Winter Graduations visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation  or follow @QueensUBelfast #QUBgrad

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Watch the Q in 60 Winter Graduation video

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The ‘Queen’s Experience’ lands Amy and Owen their dream jobs

Graduating at Queen’s today are two students, Amy Keegan from London and Owen McMeel from Moneyglass, who have helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

Amy who graduates today with a BA Hons in International Politics and Conflict Studies, from Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, has just started working for Childreach International, a London-based global development charity.

During her time at Queen’s Amy was Chair of RAG (Raise and Give) – the fundraising body of the Queen’s Students’ Union. She helped raise a record breaking £109,000 for charity and won Student Volunteer of the Year at the 2012 Volunteering Excellence Awards and The Childreach International Lifetime Achievement Award 2013.  On top of this, she still had time to climb Kilimanjaro twice, raising thousands of pounds for charities.

In her new role at Childreach International, Amy is currently organising a project to build schools in Tanzania, which will also involve current RAG students at Queen’s.

Speaking ahead of her graduation, Amy said: “Being involved in RAG at Queen’s has provided me with some amazing opportunities, working in Nepal, climbing Kilimanjaro and now it’s helped me secure my dream job at Childreach International. I’ve loved every minute of my time at Queen’s and I’m using skills and knowledge I’ve gained during my time there every single day.”

Owen, 23, studied Product Design and Development at Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and is now working as a Financial Engineer for Newry based company First Derivatives.

After finishing his degree in May, Owen was part of the management team of the Washington Ireland Programme, which he became involved in through the University. As a previous participant in 2011, he spent this summer working and managing the program in Washington DC. Participants of the programme gain first-hand experience of the American political process and develop a vision for the future of post-conflict Ireland.

Speaking about his experience at University, Owen said: “My time at Queen’s has enabled me to do some wonderful things. Summer work experience in Washington and India with the Washington Ireland Programme and Infosys Instep not only enabled me to travel but has given me vital skills to take into employment. I was also lucky enough to be President of the Queen’s Students in Free Enterprise, selected as a British Council Global Changemaker and being the first winner of the Queen’s Apprentice Competition was fantastic.

“I am in no doubt that all of these experiences, and the many opportunities presented to me at Queen’s – from volunteering and leadership programmes to entrepreneurial workshops - helped me to develop the skills necessary entering the current competitive workplace.”

For more information about Queen’s Winter Graduations visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation  or follow @QueensUBelfast #QUBgrad

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Watch the Q in 60 Winter Graduation video

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Queen’s student returns from job in USA to graduate
It’s a double celebration for Maeve Shannon from Newcastle, Co. Down, who graduated with a MSc Advanced Food and Safety and received the course’s Bank of Ireland Student of the Year Award. Maeve is pictured alongside Dr Mark Mooney from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences (left) and William Thompson, Agri-Manager NI at Bank of Ireland. Maeve is going on to study at PhD at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security.
It’s a double celebration for Maeve Shannon from Newcastle, Co. Down, who graduated with a MSc Advanced Food and Safety and received the course’s Bank of Ireland Student of the Year Award. Maeve is pictured alongside Dr Mark Mooney from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences (left) and William Thompson, Agri-Manager NI at Bank of Ireland. Maeve is going on to study at PhD at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security.

A Queen’s University graduate has flown home from the USA to attend his graduation after missing it first time around because he had started his dream job in America.

Neil Darragh, from Cushendall graduates today from Queen’s with a BSc in Actuarial Science and Risk Management. He missed his graduation in July because he was in the US starting a new job with Pramerica - a business and technology operations subsidiary of U.S.-based Prudential Financial Inc. 

Neil is one of three Queen’s Actuarial Science graduates who were offered jobs with the company. Although based in Letterkenny, the job involves frequent trips to the United States for first hand training with actuaries there.

Speaking about his graduation, Neil, said: “The course has been excellent and with the third year placement I was able to apply the theory of what I had learnt in a real workplace environment. 

“Having secured such a coveted job with Pramerica meant I missed my graduation first time around so I’m delighted to be home now celebrating with my family.”

Celebrating Neil’s graduation with him are his mother Ann, and sisters Julie, Cathy and Donna.

Also celebrating this week  is Maeve Shannon from Newcastle, Co. Down, who is among the first cohort of students to graduate from Queen’s MSc in Advance Food Safety. Maeve this week received the course’s Bank of Ireland Student of the Year Award.

The MSc in Advanced Food Safety was launched last year and is delivered by research active scientists within the University’s £33M Institute for Global Food Security.

Speaking ahead of her graduation Maeve said: “I did the course because I hoped to do a PhD in the area of food safety and believed doing the masters would provide me with the appropriate knowledge and experience for a PhD. I really enjoyed the course and loved the balance of written and practical work with opportunities to attend conferences and visit industry.

“I am delighted to have been named Bank of Ireland Student of the Year. It’s great to see all of the hard work has paid off.”

Also joining the festivities at Queen’s Winter Graduations was teacher and mother of three, Noella Murray. Noella, from Derrynoose in Co. Armagh, graduated with an MSC in Collaborative Leadership.

Noella started her Masters just six weeks after giving birth to her daughter and is a senior teacher in St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook. She is one of 50 teachers and educationalists to complete the course, which is part-funded by the Sharing Education Programme (SEP) at Queen’s School of Education.

Noella said: “As a mother of three young children, with a demanding role as a senior teacher, embarking on a Masters was daunting but exciting. The support and dedication shown by the staff in the School of Education was first class and I know that I am graduating with skills and knowledge that will be of great value in my teaching and leadership roles.” For more information about Queen’s Winter Graduations visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation  or follow @QueensUBelfast #QUBgrad

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Watch the Q in 60 Winter Graduation video

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Queen’s leads €6million European study to combat bowel cancer

Queen’s University has announced it is to lead a €6 million European study to find new treatments for bowel cancer.

The research, which involves 13 partners in eight different European countries, will look at two major genetic factors which make bowel cancer difficult to treat.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second major cause of cancer mortality. It is the third most common cause of cancer in Europe, with over 200,000 deaths per year. Currently over 50 per cent of colorectal cancer patients develop an aggressive form of the disease which spreads quickly and does not respond to standard therapy.  Patients’ survival more than five years after diagnosis of this form of colorectal cancer is less than five per cent.

The new research, which takes place under a recently established European Consortium (MErCuRIC), led by Queen’s University and funded by the European Commission’s Framework VII Programme, will build on recent studies which have increased the understanding of what goes wrong in the colorectal cancer cell. 

The new study is aiming to develop new diagnostics and therapies through a programme of research which will include a translational clinical trial of over 1000 people and involving a number of SME and industrial partners including Pfizer.

Dr Sandra van Schaeybroeck, Co-Ordinator of the Research Programme from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s, said: “Our research has identified two key genes that are contributing to the aggressive spread of colorectal cancer.  The research being carried out by MErCuRIC will allow us to bring this research to the next level by developing and conducting a clinical trial that targets the products of these two genes in patients with metastic or aggressive colorectal cancer.”

The pan European clinical trial component of the Programme of Research is being led by the University of Oxford.   Professor Tim Maughan from the University of Oxford and who has led a number of key clinical trials programmes in colorectal cancer, said: “This is an important study which has the potential to develop new approaches to treat patients who have what is essentially an incurable disease.  Bringing together world leading researchers from across Europe has the potential to make important developments in the war against this very aggressive form of cancer.”

Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, said: “At a local level, the collaborative nature of the research that led up to the successful grant award, involving the CCRCB and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, emphasises the importance of a bench to bedside continuum linking the researcher and the clinician, with the patient at the centre of this process.”

The Consortium brings together world leading researchers from the UK, Ireland, Spain, Belguim, France, Italy and the Czech Republic

For further information visit http://mercuric.eu/

Hear from Dr Sandra van Schaeybroeck

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s trio secure jobs with global giants
Joseph McCrory from Castlederg, who is graduating with a MSc in Management from Queen’s University Management School, beat off competition from hundreds of students to secure an internship with Coca-Cola at their Atlanta headquarters.
Joseph McCrory from Castlederg, who is graduating with a MSc in Management from Queen’s University Management School, beat off competition from hundreds of students to secure an internship with Coca-Cola at their Atlanta headquarters.
Former champion hurdler Damian McIlroy from Glengormley is jumping for joy at Queen’s graduations this week, where he will receive his BEng in Aerospace Engineering before taking up his dream job with Ford Motor Company at their headquarters in Dagenham.
Former champion hurdler Damian McIlroy from Glengormley is jumping for joy at Queen’s graduations this week, where he will receive his BEng in Aerospace Engineering before taking up his dream job with Ford Motor Company at their headquarters in Dagenham.

Three Queen’s students looking forward to Winter Graduations at the University this week have a double reason for celebrating – they’ve all secured their dream job.

Joseph McCrory from Castlederg is off to work for Coca Cola in the US, Damian McIlroy from Glengormley will take up at the Ford Motor Company headquarters, and Harry Thompson from Holywood has joined a City of London based insurance company.

The trio will join the 94 per cent of Queen’s graduates who are currently in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

Joseph is graduating with a MSc in Management from Queen’s University Management School. The 22 year has been selected from hundreds of students to take part in the US-NI mentorship programme, securing an executive HR internship with Coca-Cola at their Atlanta headquarters. The year-long programme will promote trade between Northern Ireland and the States, with participants seeking out opportunities for further investment.

Speaking ahead of graduation, Joseph said, “I am delighted to be one of only nine students picked to take part in this prestigious programme. I can’t thank Queen’s enough for helping me take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Queen’s experience provides much more than a degree and I would to encourage all students to avail of the many opportunities on offer to help them develop the attributes necessary to get ahead of the competition and make a great impression on potential employers.”

Another Queen’s student looking forward to starting his dream job in January is Damian McIlroy.

The 22 year old from Glengormley has been offered a graduate position in the Powertrain Department at Ford Motor Company in Dagenham after completing five stages of assessment and interviews.

Damian is graduating from Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with a BEng in Aerospace Engineering: “I’m really excited about starting at Ford and I’m feeling confident about taking the first step of my career equipped with the knowledge and skills I’ve gained during my time Queen’s. I think it’s easy to see why 80 of the Top 100 companies in Northern Ireland have Queen’s graduates in senior management positions.”

Damian is celebrating his graduation with his parents, brother and sisters and his girlfriend, who’s studying Maths and Computer Science at Queen’s.

Also graduating this week is Harry Thompson. Harry has completed an MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. He is now a trainee underwriter for the global speciality and property insurer Catlin Group, based in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.

He joined the graduate scheme in September. Catlin Group provides insurance for a wide range of risks, from terrorism and war, to earthquakes and hurricanes. The company has also gained worldwide recognition for its environmental work in Artic and sea surveying.

Speaking about his job, Harry said: “I am proud to be working for such a well-respected company in the insurance market, in a highly stimulating and interesting field, putting the invaluable skills I gained during my degree at Queen’s to use on a daily basis, I have been given real responsibility from a very early stage.”

Queen’s Winter Graduation ceremonies will see over 2,000 graduates collect their degree certificated during six graduation ceremonies in the Whitla Hall.

Congratulating the University’s newest graduates, Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor James McElnay said: “Graduation marks the successful end of a period of study, but it also opens a door to the world that will see these graduates begin their journey as Queen’s people and global citizens.

“This week’s graduates have been given opportunities and experiences that have equipped them with the skills and knowledge to enable them to make a positive contribution to Northern Ireland and across the world.

“From volunteering to enterprise programmes, and from student societies to leadership programmes, the Queen’s Experience is about more than what happens inside the lecture hall or laboratory. All this helps prepare our students for what lies ahead and the importance of securing that first job, and that is why Queen’s is among the top 20 UK universities for employability. I congratulate all this week’s graduates and wish them every success in their future career.”

For more information about Queen’s Winter Graduations visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation  or follow @QueensUBelfast #QUBgrad

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087/3091 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Watch the Q in 60 Winter Graduation video

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Queen’s and Tandragee company named best KTP Partnership in UK
Queen’s University winners at the national KTP Awards in London. (L-R) Phil Smith,  Chief Executive Officer of Cisco UK & Ireland; Dr Mohamed Sonebi, Queen’s; Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Skills & Enterprise; Richard Morton, KTP Associate at Bullivant Taranto Ltd; Simon Bullivant, Director of Bullivant Taranto Ltd; Niall Woods, Bullivant Taranto Ltd; Professor Su Taylor, Queen’s.
Queen’s University winners at the national KTP Awards in London. (L-R) Phil Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Cisco UK & Ireland; Dr Mohamed Sonebi, Queen’s; Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Skills & Enterprise; Richard Morton, KTP Associate at Bullivant Taranto Ltd; Simon Bullivant, Director of Bullivant Taranto Ltd; Niall Woods, Bullivant Taranto Ltd; Professor Su Taylor, Queen’s.

Queen’s University and a Tandragee-based concrete company have been named as the UK’s Best Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) at this year’s national KTP Awards in London.

Queen’s and Bullivant Taranto Ltd won £10,000 for their partnership which was formed to drive innovation in the construction products industry. Their collaboration aims to reduce energy costs and the environmental impact in the manufacture of pre-cast concrete.

KTPs enable companies to work with university staff to transfer knowledge, skills and expertise into their organisation. Queen’s is currently the UK’s leading university for KTPs, with 31 partnerships ongoing across the University, more than any other UK institution. Queen’s KTP programmes are part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board and Invest Northern Ireland.

Dr Mary Flynn, Head of KTP & Business Networks at Queen's University said: “This award is national recognition of the difference Queen’s University makes to businesses every day. It is a fabulous acknowledgement of the work that goes into making a successful KTP. I would like to congratulate the team at Queen’s and Bullivant on winning the top award and also for being ‘highly commended’ in the Engineering Excellence category.”

Simon Bullivant, Managing Director of Bullivant Taranto, said: “We are delighted that our project won the Best Partnership category in what is a really prestigious awards event in the field of innovation. The partnership we’ve embarked on with Queen’s University Belfast and Richard Morton has brought innovations to our sector which we are really proud of. The winning of this award really is testament to all of the hard work and time we’ve invested in our project.”

Also successful at the awards ceremony was Northern Ireland company, Seven Technologies which won the 2013 award for Business Impact as a result of their KTP with Queen’s University.

Carol Keery, Invest NI’s Director of Research and Development, said: “Northern Ireland businesses such as Bullivant Taranto are increasingly aware of the value of collaboration and the rewards it can bring. KTPs help get the best minds working together to solve problems, respond to challenges and spark creativity, thus stimulating growth and helping to drive future economic prosperity. I congratulate Bullivant on its success and hope that many more Northern Ireland companies continue to take advantage of the benefits of KTP.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Once again we have been inundated with entries for the KTP Awards 2013, which really do showcase the outstanding and innovative collaborations which have taken place right here in the UK. Having seen the excellent work of this KTP, we felt it only right that it was confirmed as the Best Partnership winner at this year’s Awards event. What’s more we hope to see many more excellent innovations developed by it in the near future.”

For more information about KTP at Queen’s visit www.qub.ac.uk/home/ResearchandEnterprise/KnowledgeTransferPartnerships/

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Tribute to Nelson Mandela from Queen’s University Belfast

Queen’s University has paid tribute to its Centenary Honorary Graduate and Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday.

Speaking today, the University’s acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay said: “The Queen’s family is deeply saddened by the news of Nelson Mandela’s death. He was an international statesman whose selfless commitment to justice, equality and reconciliation, coupled with courage and leadership, transformed a nation. He was a truly inspirational global citizen.

“The University extends its sincere sympathy to his wife Graça Machel, and his family circle”.

Nelson Mandela responding to his honorary degree from Queen’s University Belfast

The Nobel Peace prizewinner, who led the struggle against apartheid, received an honorary Doctorate for distinction in public service from Queen’s University Belfast in 2008. On accepting his honorary degree Nelson Mandela said:

“Thank you for the honour bestowed upon us today. I regret not being with you in person. My grandchildren will be impressed when I can boast with an honorary doctorate from such an esteemed institution.   “Queen’s University Belfast plays a central role in the life of Northern Ireland and is key to its future.

“We have long admired the people of Northern Ireland who have evolved much and who, like our own people in South Africa, are now working together to build a new society.   “I have often said before, education is the greatest liberator of all.

“My university education was unconventional and an experience far removed from that of your students. Throughout Africa children still find it too difficult to get even a basic, formal education. The educators have a duty to use the skills they developed to give something back to the world.   “We are honoured to have learnt that the student body decided to name the hall at the University after us to highlight the cause of the people of South Africa during Apartheid.

“We thank you for your efforts.   “In honouring us, you honour the people of South Africa too.

“We thank you for that.”

 

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N.Ireland breast cancer survival rates highest in UK and Ireland according to Queen’s researchers

Northern Ireland has the highest breast cancer survival rates in the UK and Ireland, and is among the highest for melanoma survival in Europe, according to Queen’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.

The data for Northern Ireland was provided by the Queen’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry to the EUROCARE 5 study. It analysed survival of over 10 million cancer patients diagnosed between 2000 and 2007 and followed up through 2008.

The research, which was part of a European-wide study into cancer survival rates, found that survival rates for breast cancer in Northern Ireland were 81.9 per cent, compared with 79 per cent in the Republic of Ireland, 79.3 per cent in England, 78.2 per cent in Wales and 78.5 per cent in Scotland. The overall survival rate for breast cancer across Europe is 82.4 per cent.

Skin melanoma survival rates in Northern Ireland were 90.7 per cent, which is 7 per cent higher than the European average, compared with 86.4 per cent in the Republic of Ireland, 85.3 per cent in England, 80 per cent in Wales and 88.8 per cent in Scotland.

The Europe-wide study found that cancer survival rates are improving across Europe but still vary widely between European countries.  Northern Ireland’s survival rates for breast, rectum, prostate and non-hodgkins lymphoma are similar to the European average.  Northern Ireland’s survival rates for stomach, colon lung, ovary and kidney cancers however are lower than the European average.

Dr Anna Gavin, Director of Queen's Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, said: “While this study shows that cancer survival has improved in Northern Ireland and across Europe there is still a lot of work to be done.  Survival among the elderly remains poor and late diagnosis is dragging our survival rates down. Survival rates of tobacco related cancers remains very low, and therefore efforts to reduce smoking need to continue.  Reports like these show the value of data from high quality cancer registries like the one based at Queen’s University and funded by the Public Health Agency.”

Edwin Poots, MLA, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, said: “I am delighted to see that the latest cancer survival rates indicate that Northern Ireland is performing very well in terms of UK and European performance, particularly so in terms of breast cancer survival where we have the best rate in the UK and Ireland.

“We work continuously to raise our standards and keep cancer services here up to modern quality standards – it is particularly encouraging to see that these figures indicate that we have been doing just that.

“However there is no room for complacency in meeting the challenge of cancer and I would continue to encourage people to take greater responsibility for their own wellbeing and avoid the lifestyle choices, such as smoking, which increase the risk of cancer. It is also important that we should all be vigilant making full use of the screening programmes for breast, cervical and bowel cancer that are available and seeking medical advice at the first signs or symptoms of cancer – early detection is clearly linked to improved outcomes for cancer and we must continue to do all we can to build on this success.”

The full study is available at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(13)70546-1/abstract Ends

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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One of Ireland's most significant historic documents comes to Queen’s

One of Ireland's most significant historic documents is coming to Queen’s University.

The Morpeth Roll, a unique testimonial signed by over 160,000 people across Ireland in 1841, will be on show at the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University from 5 December to 26 January 2014.

The Roll was created in 1841 as a public tribute to George William Frederick Howard, Lord Morpeth, on his departure from Ireland after six years as Irish Chief Secretary.

The roll demonstrated the popularity of both the man himself and the reforming Whig government in which he served. The Roll, which measures 420 metres in length and comprises hundreds of sheets of paper, was recently re-discovered in the archives of Castle Howard in Yorkshire.  It has been conserved at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and digitised for its wealth of pre-Famine genealogical information by Ancestry.com.

To coincide with its visit to Belfast, Special Collections and Archives, Queen’s Library, the School of History and Anthropology, and the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies have collaborated to host a seminar on the history and interpretation of the Morpeth Roll at 3pm on Thursday 5 December in the Canada Room, and a public launch of the exhibition in the Naughton Gallery at 4.30pm on the same day.

Members of the public are welcome to attend both events at Queen’s. Special Collections and the School of History and Anthropology have also compiled a complementary exhibition on ‘Irish Politics in the Era of the Morpeth Roll’ in the Naughton Gallery foyer, to run concurrently with the Morpeth Roll Exhibition.

For further information visit http://www.naughtongallery.org/sites/NaughtonGallery/Exhibitions/#d.en.425024

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3087 and comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s Professor appointed to world’s largest scientific society

A Queen’s University Professor has been elected as a fellow of the world’s largest general scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Professor John Agnew, from the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s, and who is also Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, received the honour for his research on the analysis and understanding of political, economic, and resource geography and the development of the field of geopolitics.

Members are chosen for their distinguished efforts to advance science and serve society. The selection of fellows has been an AAAS tradition since 1874.

Professor Agnew’s research interests include sovereignty and globalization, the geopolitics of the world economy and the political geography of water. One of his current research projects involves analysing how climate change will increase the accessibility of transport in the Arctic and how this will affect competition over oil and gas resources.

Speaking about receiving the honour, Professor Agnew, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  It is a real honour that my research and work is recognised in this way.”

Professor Keith Bennett, Head of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s, said: "I congratulate Professor Agnew on his appointment to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  The appointment to such a prestigious society recognises the high calibre of Professor Agnew’s research, and is a well-deserved honour. The School is delighted to see this acknowledgement of the quality of our overall approach to research activity."

Professor Agnew is among 388 scholars selected this year. The new fellows will be honoured at the annual AAAS meeting in Chicago on 15 February 2014.

For further information on the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/gap/

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s unveils new GAA Festival at Croke Park
Pictured are, from left, Caroline O'Hanlon, Armagh and QUB, Walter Walsh, Kilkenny and UCD, Pat Quill, President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Karl Oakes, Queen’s University Belfast, Bryan Menton, Meath and DIT, Aileen Lawlor, President of the Camogie Association, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill and Grace Walsh, Kilkenny and UL. Croke Park, Dublin
Pictured are, from left, Caroline O'Hanlon, Armagh and QUB, Walter Walsh, Kilkenny and UCD, Pat Quill, President of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Karl Oakes, Queen’s University Belfast, Bryan Menton, Meath and DIT, Aileen Lawlor, President of the Camogie Association, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill and Grace Walsh, Kilkenny and UL. Croke Park, Dublin

A new GAA Festival is being unveiled at Croke Park later today by the Presidents of the GAA, Camogie Association and Ladies Gaelic Football Association.

Queen’s GAA Festival has been created to mark the fact that in 2014 Queen’s University Belfast is to become the first institution to host all four Sigerson, Ashbourne, Fitzgibbon and O’Connor Cup finals in the one year, and at the one venue.

The four competitions are the flagship events in the Higher Education sporting calendar and over 2,250 players, and thousands of supporters, will converge on Queen’s Upper Malone playing fields when the Festival throws in next year.

The Upper Malone site, formerly known to many as ‘The Dub’, was reopened earlier this year after a £13 million redevelopment.

Queen’s GAA Festival will run across consecutive weekends, beginning with Camogie’s Ashbourne Cup on 13 February 2014, and continuing with the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup (20-23 Feb), the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup (27 Feb-2 Mar) and, following those, the O’Connor Cup from 20-23 March.

Alongside the action on the field, Queen’s GAA Festival will offer a packed programme of music and comedy nights, squad reunions, talks from well-known sports personalities, and advice on nutrition, mental health and wellbeing, as well as opportunities to try other sports.

Speaking ahead of the Festival announcement today, Queen’s University’s acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: “Queen’s is delighted that its commitment to delivering world-class sporting facilities for its students has helped to bring four of the most high profile sporting events on the island of Ireland to the University and to Belfast.

“I congratulate our staff and students in having the ambition to organise the Queen’s GAA Festival, a cross-community celebration of heritage and sporting achievement, and look forward to welcoming the thousands of players and supporters to Belfast in 2014.”

The finals of the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup Final, the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup Final and the O’Connor Cup will be covered live on TG4 and the finals will also be broadcast live online at www.tg4.tv

Speaking at the Festival unveiling, Aileen Lawlor, Uachtarán, An Cumann Camógaíochta, said: “I am delighted Queens University are launching their Festival of Gaelic games by announcing the hosting of the Ashbourne, Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and the O’Connor Cups in February 2014. These annual colleges competitions are held in very high esteem and are much awaited for in the sporting calendar.

“The continued involvement in sport of club players while studying at third level colleges is vital to the growth and development of any player along their pathway in any given sport. I wish Queens University the very best of luck in their endeavours in 2014. I know they will be great hosts, in a great venue, showcasing our Gaelic Games with such fantastic facilities on hand in Belfast.”

Liam O'Neill, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, added: “It gives me great pleasure to officially endorse the Queen's GAA Festival which will see an extravaganza of Gaelic games descend on Belfast in the early months of next year. It is hard to cite a proposed event that better encapsulates the plans we have for integration in the GAA and the staging of these superb third level competitions at the impressive Upper Malone Sports Grounds really captures the imagination.

"Of course this will involve a huge logistical undertaking and top level organisation. I laud everyone involved in Queen’s University connected with this undertaking, and I have no doubt that these events will showcase everything that is positive about football, hurling and camogie between mid-Feburary and late March. Go néirí libh go léir."

Pat Quill, Uachtarán, Cumann Peil Gael na mBan, whose O’Connor Cup for Ladies Gaelic Football will close the Festival, commented: “We are very much looking forward to the O’Connor Cup in March. Queen’s will, I am sure, be fantastic hosts for this great competition and have a fantastic pedigree in Ladies Gaelic Football as they are the defending O’Connor Cup Champions. I would like to wish them the very best of luck as they host all four competitions.”

Speaking on behalf of the competing students, Queen’s Ladies Football squad member, and Armagh All-Star, Caroline O’Hanlon, said: “Players from colleges and universities across the island of Ireland, in all four sports, will be delighted to hear the announcement about Queen’s GAA Festival today.

“At Queen’s we are already the envy of our peers for the standard of sporting facilities we have, and now many of Ireland’s elite players and their families will be able to experience what we have on offer for themselves. As a Queen’s student and player I am tremendously proud, because while everyone knows the standard of competition each year is high, next year our Festival and facilities will match it.”

John Devaney, Chair of the event’s Organising Committee at Queen’s, added: "Hosting all four championship finals weekends will be a daunting challenge, but we are determined to make the most of it. Queen's have always been proud of our reputation as a good host and this is a unique opportunity to showcase our top-class facilities, our huge network of student volunteers and our reach beyond the University. The Festival will be a one of the highlights for the GAA in Ulster in 2014 and an important event for Belfast."

Queen’s GAA Festival runs from 13 Feb to 23 March, 2014. Further information on Queen’s GAA Festival is available online at www.gaafestival.com

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 90 97 5384 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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£2.25 million trial for vascular dementia treatment at Queen’s

Researchers at Queen’s University aim to find out if a drug for blood pressure could be effective in treating vascular dementia in a new £2.25million clinical trial.

The trial, which is funded jointly by the Alzheimer’s Society and the British Heart Foundation, is the first ever large clinical trial for patients with subcortical vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia is caused by problems with the blood supply to the brain and affects over 150,000 nationwide and 18,000 people in Northern Ireland. Those with high blood pressure, heart conditions, high cholesterol and diabetes are especially at risk, and it can be triggered by a stroke. There are currently no available treatments for vascular dementia.

Researchers from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s will recruit nearly 600 people with vascular dementia for the trial. The researchers, led by Professor Peter Passmore, hope to show that 10mg a day of the drug can significantly improve memory and cognitive health. As amlodipine is already licensed and known to be safe, the treatment – which costs the NHS just £1.07 a month – could be in use as a treatment within five to ten years.

Amlodipine belongs to a class of drugs known as calcium channel blockers, which are widely used to treat high blood pressure. This will be the largest study to specifically test the drugs in people with vascular dementia, the most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. This trial will test the drug on people with the most common form of vascular dementia, but not in those whose condition was triggered by stroke.

Amlodipine is used to treat high blood pressure, a major risk factor for vascular dementia. It is known to enter the brain and researchers think it might work by protecting brain cells from damage when blood supply to the brain is poor.   Professor Peter Passmore from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, and lead investigator, said:   “Vascular dementia is a very common disease and to date no major trial has been successful in developing an effective treatment for this disease.  We hope, using evidence from previous research, and by trialling the drug amlodipine we may get a step closer to improving the outcomes of patients with vascular dementia within the next decade.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society said:  “It’s scandalous that despite affecting 150,000 people there are no effective treatments for vascular dementia and very few new treatments under investigation. This groundbreaking trial could be the best hope we have to get an effective treatment in use in the next decade.

“Developing new drugs from scratch can costs hundreds of millions and take up to twenty years but our flagship Drug Discovery programme aims to test existing drugs in people with dementia, fast-tracking the process and bringing new treatments to market faster and more cheaply.”

Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: “The 2.3 million people living with coronary heart disease in the UK are at increased risk of developing vascular dementia. Unfortunately, as yet, there are no effective treatments for this devastating condition.

“Amlodipine is a widely prescribed, blood pressure lowering treatment that has shown some promising effects in vascular dementia. The BHF and Alzheimer’s Society have joined forces to fund this definitive study. If positive, it would pave the way for an affordable treatment for vascular dementia in the near future.”

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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New research to help pinpoint key dates in history

A Queen’s University scientist has helped develop a new method for accurately dating key events in history.  

Professor Paula Reimer from Queen’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, along with Professors Paul Blackwell and Caitlin Buck from the University of Sheffield, have developed a new, internationally agreed radiocarbon calibration curve.  

The curve will provide improved accuracy to archaeologists, environmental scientists and climate researchers who rely on radiocarbon dating to put their findings onto a reliable time-scale. The research has just been published in the international journal Radiocarbon.  

The release of the new curve will mean that more precise date estimates can be obtained than previously possible. It will also reduce uncertainty about the timing of major events in the history and development of humans, plants and animals and the environments in which they lived.  

The radiocarbon calibration curve would allow researchers to date reliably everything from items like the bones of King Richard III, excavated recently in a car park in Leicester, to confirm they were from the right time period, to baby woolly mammoths preserved in permafrost in Siberia. It also provides reliable time-scales for those seeking to understand ancient environments, including members of the International Panel on Climate Change.  

Professor Reimer, who is Director of Queen’s 14CHRONO Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology, said: “This project built on research begun in the 1980s at Queen’s and elsewhere and is essential for the continued utility and development of radiocarbon dating.”  

Professor Caitlin Buck from the University of Sheffield, said:  “We are proud to have developed such an important tool for archaeologists and environmental scientists, allowing them to more accurately date their findings and reduce uncertainty about the timings of major events. We’re also grateful to the more than 30 other scientists who have shared data and research ideas with us to make it all possible.”  

The release of the new curve is the culmination of five years of research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and more than ten years of research by the teams at Sheffield and Queen’s, which involved collation of data from colleagues across the world, development of rigorous quality control procedures for selecting the best data, building of tailored statistical models and the writing of thousands of lines of computer code.

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

Or Clare Parkin at the University of Sheffield on 0114 222 9851 email clare.parkin@sheffield.ac.uk

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Drug testing without the pain at Queen’s


Microneedles on a sticking-plaster-like patch may be the painless and safe way doctors will test for drugs and some infections in the future, thanks to work in Queen’s School of Pharmacy, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Samples of the rough, absorbent patches are being tested in the laboratories at Queen’s by award-winning researcher, Dr Ryan Donnelly.

The experiments are showing that the forest of tiny polymer needles on the underside of the patch, when pressed into the skin, can absorb the fluid in the surface tissue, taking up at the same time the salts, fatty acids and other biological molecules found there as well.

“The important thing is that we typically find the same compounds in this interstitial fluid as you would find in the blood,” Dr Donnelly explains. “But, compared with drawing blood, our patches can get their samples in a minimally invasive way. And it’s far safer than using a conventional needle. These microneedles, once they have been used, become softened, so that there’s no danger of dirty needles transferring infection to another patient, or one of the healthcare workers. Two million healthcare workers are infected by needlestick injuries every year.”

The microneedle sampling technique is a development of earlier and ongoing experiments using similar patches to deliver drugs and vaccines painlessly – the sensation when they are pressed onto the skin is a bit like the roughness of Velcro, Dr Donnelly reports.

The microneedles are made of polymer gel – similar to the material used in superabsorbent nappies. For their original, injecting function, they are pre-loaded with vaccine or drug compounds that will be released into the skin on contact with the interstitial fluid.

But the flow can go both ways. So that for the sampling variants, the backing material can be made chemically attractive to target compounds, encouraging them to diffuse into the gel with interstitial fluid drawn out of the skin and locking them in place for later analysis.

Real-time monitoring could be a realistic option in the future and might involve combining the microneedle technology with simple laser-based detection (“SERS”) of drug compounds inside the gel. The group already has proof-of-concept for this idea and are now looking to extend the range of drug concentrations that can be detected in this manner. Electrochemical detection is another attractive possibility that might allow patients to use the technology in their own homes. If connected wirelessly to their healthcare provider, they could then have their medicines or doses changed based on the microneedle readings, both enhancing patient care and saving NHS resources.

Children’s charity Action Medical Research, through a generous donation from The Henry Smith Charity, is now funding Dr Donnelly to develop the minimally-invasive microneedle sampling technology for monitoring therapeutic drug levels in babies.  

“Premature babies have very limited blood volumes and are prone to bruising and scarring when blood samples are taken,” Dr Caroline Johnston, Research Evaluation Manager at Action Medical Research for children explains. “There is a real need for a safe, reliable and painless way to monitor these babies’ drug levels, and these microneedles are so far proving to have all the right characteristics.” 

The group is currently in discussions with a major medical manufacturer with a view to producing prototype commercial devices, the first stage ahead of full clinical trials.

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

Visit the EPSRC website.

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