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May 2013 press releases

Study reveals negative impact of flag protests on 16 year olds

The flag protests towards the end of 2012 had a negative impact on community relations among 16 year olds in Northern Ireland. That’s according to the findings of the Young Life and Times (YLT) Survey, published today (Thursday 23 May) by Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster. This is against the backdrop of an otherwise largely positive trend in community relations attitudes over the last ten years.

The YLT Survey was completed by 1,210 16 years olds across Northern Ireland in November and December 2012. Undertaken by ARK, a joint initiative by Queen’s and the University of Ulster, the survey gives in insight into the lives of 16 year olds across Northern Ireland and their attitudes to a number of issues including community relations, shared education and Community Relations Equality and Diversity Education (CRED).

Community Relations
The survey results showed:

  • A 11 per cent drop in the percentage of young people who felt that relations between Catholics and Protestants were better now than they were five years ago (53 per cent of respondents felt that relations between Catholics and Protestants are better now than five years ago, as opposed to 64 per cent in 2011).
  • 45 per cent of respondents felt that relations between Catholics and Protestants would be better in five years’ time. This is down from 50 per cent in 2011.
  • Over three in four respondents believed that religion will always make a difference to how people in Northern Ireland feel about each other. This proportion has been decreasing slightly over the past ten years.

A Shared Society
Despite the negative effect of the flags dispute on community relations, there was continued evidence of the desire among 16 year olds to live in a shared society:

  • 86 per cent of respondents felt that libraries in their local areas were shared between communities, 83 per cent said that leisure centres were shared and 80 per cent felt their local parks were shared.
  • 75 per cent said they would prefer to work in mixed workplaces, and 56 per cent said they would like to live in mixed neighbourhoods.
  • More than half of respondents said that if they had children, they would prefer to send them to mixed religion schools.

CRED and Sharing Education.

  • 70 per cent of respondents had received some Community Relations Equality and Diversity Education (CRED). 57 per cent of respondents had been involved in CRED programme in school, 14 per cent in a youth setting only, and 29 per cent in both. More than two thirds of respondents felt that CRED activities resulted in more positive feelings among participants.
  • 71 per cent of respondents had experienced shared education with pupils who were from a different religious background to them, with the vast majority reporting that they had enjoyed the experience.

Whilst the experiences of those 16-year olds who had experienced CRED education and shared education projects were overwhelmingly positive, overall the views towards more sharing in schools was quite diverse.

  • 27 per cent of all respondents felt favourable towards greater sharing in schools in general, and 36 per cent felt that the government should think about not having separate schools for Catholics and Protestants when planning for schools.
  • 39 per cent, however, felt unfavourable towards more sharing. By far the most concern about sharing among 16-year olds was the possibility of having to share with disruptive young people.

As well as being asked questions, survey participants were given the opportunity to write comments they wish to make about community relations. Many of the respondents commented on the tension surrounding the flag disputes which were ongoing at the time of the survey and several highlighted how much, or how little, the union flag meant to them.

Dr Dirk Schubotz from Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is the Director of Young Life and Times. He said: “Community relations have been a constant feature of the YLT survey since it began in 2003. The slight downturn in the perception of cross-community relations shown by the 2012 survey results is not unexpected, given the tension surrounding the flag protests, and it serves to highlight the vulnerability of the peace process.

“On a positive note, the survey also shows that education programmes implemented in schools to encourage better understanding among young people from different backgrounds, have a positive influence on those who participate.”

More information and results from the 2012 YLT survey are available at  www.ark.ac.uk/ylt 

Media inquiries to Jane Veitch 028 9097 5310 at Queen’s University Communications Office or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s wins major award in Silicon Valley

Queen’s spin-out company Analytics Engines which specialises in high performance data analytics has scooped the “ITLG Emerging Technology Award 2013” at the Global Technology Leaders Summit, which took place at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus last week.

Analytics Engines improves the ability of data servers to handle and analyse information by using hardware accelerators that are up to 20 times faster than software. Their products offer huge benefits to companies who need to run faster more accurate analytics on large volumes of data, such as those in the banking, medical and retail sectors where they partners with a number of world leading firms.

The event hosted by the Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) and chaired by Dr. Craig Barrett, past Chairman of Intel, is a two-day executive gathering that highlights the significant economic, political and commercial trends affecting global technology industries. The goal of the Silicon Valley Global Forum & Technology Leaders Awards 2013 is to identify the most promising entrepreneurial opportunities and investments in the global tech industry.

Speaking at the event, Analytics Engines Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stephen McKeown commented on the win: “We’re delighted to accept this award. For a Belfast based technology company spun-out from Queen’s, this represents a major endorsement from the heart of the global technology industry - Silicon Valley.  It’s also been a great opportunity to strengthen links with some of the world’s biggest companies and see the impact and role our technology can play on a global scale.”

Analytics Engines attended the two day summit along with MOF Technologies, another successful spin-out company from Queen’s. MOF Technologies works closely with Queen’s to develop a revolutionary new class of highly porous materials that can store, separate and capture specific gases. The company recently secured its first order with a US chemicals company and hopes to build on that success with new business developed during the visit.

The summit also saw Queen’s sign a memorandum of understanding with ITLG to promote stronger links between the University and leading technology companies in Silicon Valley. It will explore the development of mentoring schemes connecting Queen’s research teams with senior executives based in California and graduate internships with leading technology companies.  At the signing, Head of Commercial Development at Queen’s, Dr Paul Donachy, said: “In working with ITLG, we recognise the value of collaboration in supporting commercialisation of high quality research and exploring mechanisms to strengthen connections between the University and US based technology partners including leading corporations in Silicon Valley.“

Analytics Engines is based in Belfast where it employs 8 full time staff and it is expanding its operations both there and in the USA.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3091 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Pioneering project looks at impact of Good Friday Agreement 15 years on

The team behind a pioneering research project on the impact of the Good Friday Agreement on life in Northern Ireland 15 years on is appealing for members of the public to get involved.

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with the University of Ulster, Swansea University and University College Dublin, want to promote widespread discussion on a range of issues including parading, dealing with the past, institutional change, the impact of dissidents, spoilers and physical and psychological barriers to peace.

Speaking about the project, Dr Joanne Murphy from Queen’s University Management School said: “This project, funded by the British Academy, and launched on the 15th anniversary of the historic North/South Referenda, is the first truly inter-disciplinary attempt to contextualise the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement and to begin to define current challenges facing society here.

“Our team wants to study the progress that has been made on a wide range of issues over the past fifteen years, while considering what obstacles to positive change still remain today, and we want to encourage widespread public discussion around these issues.”

In order to make it easy for people to get involved, the team have launched a Twitter account (@transformpeace), a blog (www.promiseofpeaceni.wordpress.com) with regular audio boos to spread the word about the project and will be encouraging citizen engagement alongside academic research.

The team which includes academic lawyers, sociologists, political scientists, management scholars, literature and culture specialists and contemporary archaeologists, will also be running a series of events, including seminars and workshops. The project will culminate with a major conference at Queens University Belfast next April.

The project leaders are Professor Colin Harvey, Dr Joanne Murphy, Dr Stefanie Lehner and Prof Matthias Beck from Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Cillian McGrattan Swansea University, Dr Maire Braniff University of Ulster and Dr Laura McAtackney University College Dublin.

For more information on the project visit www.promiseofpeaceni.wordpress.com

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Queen’s University honours President Clinton’s contribution to Northern Ireland peace process
President Clinton pictured receiving his honorary degree from Queen's at the University in 2001.
President Clinton pictured receiving his honorary degree from Queen's at the University in 2001.

Queen’s University today honoured US President Bill Clinton’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process by naming its recently opened Leadership Institute, the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall, after him.

“I am honoured to be associated with this Institute,” said President Clinton. “It will prepare future business leaders for a time that requires economic innovation, and in the process, will demonstrate the determination of Queen's in Northern Ireland to seize the opportunities that peace has made possible."

Making the announcement, the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “Queen’s is proud to honour President Bill Clinton for the part he and his administration played in helping deliver the Northern Ireland peace agreement. President Clinton’s role should not be underestimated and Northern Ireland owes him a great debt of thanks.”

Explaining why the University chose to honour the President’s contribution in this way, Professor Gregson said: “The aim of the Leadership Institute at Queen’s is directly aligned to the goals of the Clinton Foundation. It will provide a focus at the heart of the local business community, supporting ongoing economic development to shape its future. Through direct engagement with both public and private sectors, its impact will be felt across business and the professions; there will be a special emphasis on supporting the development of small businesses upon which the Northern Ireland economy depends.  This development provides an enduring legacy for a remarkable President.”

Anne Clydesdale, Director of the newly named Institute, said: “At Queen’s, it is our mission to be innovative educators, to engage in research of global significance and to be a stimulus of growth in Northern Ireland. Queen’s is viewed as the ‘powerhouse’ of the regional economy and as such is central to Northern Ireland’s ambition to become an internationally competitive region. To be associated with President Clinton who, during his Presidency, was viewed as a ‘powerhouse’ of the political world can only help the Institute achieve its goals of meeting the needs of local and global business.”

Welcoming the announcement United States Consul General in Belfast Gregory Burton said: “The U.S. Consulate commends the work of the Leadership Institute at Queen’s University, whose members offer valuable synergies that help Northern Ireland’s economic position.   We warmly welcome the Institute’s new association with President Clinton who has enjoyed significant connections to Northern Ireland both during, and beyond, his Presidency.  We have every confidence that this exciting partnership will augment the outstanding reputation of Queen’s University as a centre for professional training and academic excellence”.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University’s Head of Communications and External Affairs, Kevin Mulhern at +44 (0)28 9097 3259 / +44 (0)7813 015431 or k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s goal to establish a more peaceful world supported by Nobel Prize winner
Former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari will today officially launch the new Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University Belfast.
 
For many years, researchers at Queen’s have been engaged in transformative work right across the world: in the Middle East, South Asia, Eastern Europe and in Northern Ireland. The new Institute will build on their achievements and create new opportunities, providing a harmonious space where researchers and political figures can engage with society.
 
The Institute is led by its Director, Professor Hastings Donnan, who is an expert on border areas which have experienced conflict and on how people there have suffered. Commenting on the new Institute, Professor Donnan said: “No university in the UK or Ireland can claim to be a more appropriate place in which to establish an Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. These are significant issues in Northern Ireland every single day.
 
“During the first ten years of our own transformation, Queen’s was honoured to have as its Chancellor Senator George Mitchell who will forever hold a place in history for his work in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Now our Institute has been launched officially by another distinguished international peace negotiator, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari who played such a vital role in overseeing arms decommissioning in Northern Ireland.
 
“This Institute will be inspired by these outstanding diplomats but also by the achievements of our own academics. Their work has not gone unsung but by its very nature it is carried out beyond the glare of the headlines. It is work that requires patience and it requires trust that can easily be lost.”
 
Officially launching the new Institute Nobel Laureate President Martti Ahtisaari said: “In order to really understand the nature of conflicts, we need to invest in thorough, high-quality research and analysis.  I´m pleased to witness this taking place now here in Queen´s University Belfast. Conflict studies have to be approached in a multidisciplinary manner and the fact that the Institute has decided to focus on challenges of social justice proves us that the direction is right.”
 
The Institute will provide a stimulating and harmonious space where researchers, policy-makers and political activists from different parts of the world can connect. It will add to that experience by providing public engagement. Next month the Institute will host a lecture by the author, academic and former politician Michael Ignatieff who has written extensively on nationalism and peacekeeping.
 
Other leading academics at the Institute include Professor John D. Brewer, an authority on peace processes and the role of religion, Professor Peter Shirlow, an expert on ex-combatants and how society views them, Dr Cathal McCall, who is part of an international consortium examining post-Cold War European border issues, Dr Neil Jarman, who is well-known for his work on all aspects of conflict research in Northern Ireland  and recently appointed Research Fellows exploring the Cyprus conflict and the Occupy movement, the Israel-Palestine situation and the role of civil society in building peace.
 
Concluding his remarks Professor Donnan said: “The Institute is creating a graduate programme which is open to the best students worldwide. Here they will study for research degrees in peace-building, transition, human rights – amassing a wealth of knowledge and experience that will make a difference.
 
“It is vital that we create an open environment where research-users, people who make policy, community groups and non-academics will all feel involved. This is not a walled-in institution – our doors are open to everyone who has a contribution to make to greater understanding.
 
“At Queen’s we pride ourselves on the impact we make around the world. We change lives through scientific research, through medical innovation and discovery. At the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice we offer opportunities for progress towards healing of a different kind – the healing of hearts and minds and the repair of social and cultural relationships.”
 
Media inquiries to Head of Communications and External Affairs, Kevin Mulhern at +44 (0) 28 9097 3259 or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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China’s global reach stretches to Queen’s University

Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the UK, His Excellency Mr. Liu Xiaoming, will make a significant address to Queen’s students and staff today, when he visits the University (Monday 20 May).

During the visit, His Excellency Liu Xiaoming will address Queen’s students and staff about New  Prospects for China-UK Relations. 

Welcoming the Ambassador, Queen’s University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “Today’s visit builds upon the Chinese government’s support of Queen’s partnerships in their country and, in turn, also allows us to reaffirm our commitment in developing mutually beneficial collaborations.

“Last year, at the visit to Queen’s of Vice Premier Madame Liu Yandong, (then State Councillor) we announced our intention to establish a China Queen’s College in partnership with the China Medical University, in Shenyang, one of the country’s top ranked universities for Health Sciences. Today’s visit by China’s UK Ambassador will allow him to witness at first hand the exceptional higher educational offering that Queen’s can deliver and one that we hope will be available to Chinese students in their own country later this year.

“With over 400 Chinese students at Queen’s and the many research partnerships, such as the Science Bridge project, I look forward to further developing our links with China and the long term academic, economic and social benefits for both countries that will develop as a result.”
 
For media enquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on +44 7772649694 or email c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s to help build Northern Ireland ‘Food Fortress’

A global food safety expert has called on the government to work together with Queen’s University and local food producers to build a Northern Ireland ‘Food Fortress’.

The call follows the publication today of the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s report on the future of the Northern Ireland agri-food sector. The report has strongly endorsed a ‘Food Fortress’ approach from Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, recommending that the Institute be commissioned to review the Northern Ireland food supply chain.

Professor Chris Elliott, a world authority on food safety and Director of the Institute for Global Food Security, says the report presents a golden opportunity for the Northern Ireland government to work together with Queen’s world-leading scientists, local farmers and food producers to help secure the future of the industry.

Warmly welcoming the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s report, Professor Elliott said: “Northern Ireland has a strong and proud agricultural heritage, but years of problems such as BSE, foot and mouth disease, low prices and food scares, have taken their toll. Today’s report outlines the vision for our agri-food industry to compete in an ever-growing global market by creating 15,000 new jobs and increasing our agri-food industy by 60 per cent and our exports by 70 per cent.  As stakeholders in the Northern Ireland economy, we must all insist that action is taken to make that vision a reality.

“Central to that is the building of a Northern Ireland ‘Food Fortress’. The ‘Food Fortress’ will ensure that everything we import – from the feeds given to our farm animals to the raw materials we use to manufacture foods – is of the highest quality, and that everything we sell locally and internationally is 100 per cent safe, nutritious and authentic.

“This will require a joined up approach from industry, government and academia. It is a huge challenge, but one that Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security is ready to meet head-on. Our world-leading researchers are already working closely with industry to improve the security of the agri-food chain. We are developing cutting-edge techniques to identify food fraud and contamination and have unique risk identification and management systems developed, and that has been acknowledged in today’s report.

 “By building the ‘Food Fortress’ we can secure and further build Northern Ireland’s reputation for producing high quality, safe and authentic foods. As consumers around the world increasingly question the source and safety of the food they eat, that reputation will be key to our competitiveness in the global marketplace. The ‘Food Fortress’ will not only protect consumers, it will create much-needed jobs in our agri-food sector and help secure the future of our farmers and food producers.”

Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security is a £33 Million centre which plays a leading role in making sure that the world’s growing population has a sustainable, safe and secure supply of high quality food. It was launched by Tesco CEO Philip Clarke in March when he announced the supermarket would double the amount it spends on buying fresh beef, pork and chicken from Northern Ireland farmers. In April 2014 the Institute will welcome experts from around the world for the second Food Integrity and Traceability Conference.
 
Follow the Institute for Global Food Security on Twitter @IGFS_Official or visit www.qub.ac.uk/igfs   

Media inquiries to Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5310 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s scientists develop ‘magic bullet’ nanomedicine for Acute Lung Injury

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have devised a ‘magic bullet’ nanomedicine which could become the first effective treatment for Acute Lung Injury or ALI, a condition affecting 20 per cent of all patients in intensive care.

There are 15,000 cases of ALI every year in the UK. The main causes are road traffic accidents and infections, and many with the condition die as a result of lung failure.

ALI patients can become critically ill and develop problems with breathing when their lungs become inflamed and fill with fluid. These patients frequently require ventilators to aid breathing within an ICU hospital unit. An ICU bed costs the NHS in excess of £1800 per day.

There are currently no effective treatments for this serious condition, but in a joint collaboration between the School of Pharmacy and Centre for Infection and Immunity at Queen’s, a team of scientists and clinicians have developed a new drug that could revolutionise clinical management of patients in intensive care units.

Their new drug is a nanoparticle, measuring around one billionth of a metre. The patient can inhale it, taking the drug directly into the lungs and to the point of inflammation. Current treatments are unable to target directly the inflammation and can result in unpleasant side effects.

Speaking about the development, Professor Chris Scott from the School of Pharmacy, who is leading the research, said: “Nanoparticles are perhaps one of the most exciting new approaches to drug development.  Most research in the area focuses on how the delivery of drugs to the disease site can be improved in these minute carriers.  Our own research in this area focuses on how nanoparticles interact with cells and how this can be exploited to produce therapeutic effects both in respiratory disease and cancer.”

The new nanoparticle from Queen’s has a surface which allows it to recognize and bind to immune cells called macrophages in the lungs - key to the uncontrolled inflammation that occurs in ALI.  This binding induces a rapid reduction in the inflammation, and has the potential to prevent the damaging effects that will otherwise occur in the lungs of ALI patients.

The project is developing the new nanomedicine towards clinical evaluation within the next three years, and is currently sponsored by a £505,000 grant for two years from the Medical Research Council Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme.

Professor Danny McAuley from the Centre for Infection and Immunity, a partner in developing the new nanomedicine, added: “This funding allows us to evaluate a completely novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of ALI and if successful, this nanomedicine could also have application in other common lung disorders such as COPD and Cystic Fibrosis.”

Further information on the School of Pharmacy is available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofPharmacy/, while further information on Queen’s Centre for Infection and Immunity can be found online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforInfectionandImmunity/

For media inquiries please contact the Communications Office on 02890975391 or email c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s ranked among the world’s best universities

Queen’s University Belfast has been ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world according to a new report by the QS World University Rankings by Subject.
 
Out of 30 subjects evaluated, Queen’s now has 5 subjects in the top 100; English, History, Geography, Law, and Politics and International Studies, with a further 13 in the top 200.
 
For these rankings, QS Intelligence Unit (QSIU), evaluated 2,858 universities and ranked 678 institutions in total. Now in its 3rd year, the QS World University Rankings by Subject series takes into the account the opinion of academics and employers via a global survey.
 
Professor Shane O’Neill, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen’s said: “It is a marvellous accolade for the University to have so many key subjects in the Faculty confirmed externally as being in the world’s top 100. This recognition demonstrates that the courses we offer and the research we do are of the highest international quality. It adds a premium to the value and global standing of the degrees we award to our students.”
 
Professor Keith Bennett, Head of Queen’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology added: “We are delighted about the international recognition for Geography and for the work of our staff, it is testament that what we are doing is of the highest quality. Geography’s rankings at Queen’s have improved steadily over the past few years, and we must now build upon this global top 100 recognition.”
 
In addition to the top 100 rankings, Queen’s also has 13 subjects in the top 200. Agriculture, Environmental Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, Philosophy, and Statistics and Operational Research have all entered the list.
 
The rankings series is the only international evaluation that allows prospective students to compare universities in their particular area of interest. The by-subject categories are designed to provide comparative information at discipline level and to highlight the excellence of institutions in specialist areas. Six indicators are used to calculate the rankings - academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty-student ratio, proportion of international students and proportion of international faculty.

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs at Queen’s Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 3259 or email k.mulhen@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s leads €5M European effort to ReNEW approach to waste

A new €4.88 million research project at Queen’s University Belfast is aiming to recover valuable materials from the estimated 5.2 tonnes of waste we generate per person each year.

Known as ReNEW, the QUESTOR Centre at Queen’s is leading the project and is working with the Department of the Environment and Belfast City Council to identify the needs of Northern Ireland’s waste management industry and facilitate innovation among SMEs in the waste sector.  Through the project the DoE will fund a new member of staff for WRAP, the Waste Resources Action Programme to develop policy areas related to resource recovery.

ReNEW (Resource Innovation Network for European Waste) is a European initiative to bring together researchers, public authorities and businesses to explore new ways to extract valuable resources – such as metals, nutrients and chemicals – from household and industrial waste.

Dr Elaine Groom at Queen’s is General Manager of QUESTOR, which next year will celebrate 25 years as an industry-collaborative centre for world-leading environmental research. She said: “Europe produces an estimated 5.2 tonnes of waste per person each year. This includes around 600-700kg per person of domestic waste, and 17kg per person of electrical goods waste. Much of this waste contains valuable resources, so we are missing a huge opportunity by simply disposing of it and sending it to landfill.

“Mobile phones, for example, are a valuable source of gold. Per gram, mobile phones contain more gold than gold ore - the average household has 22g of gold lying around in old mobiles. Similarly, valuable chemicals can be extracted from food waste and used to make bioplastics; while the extraction of phosphorus – a key ingredient in fertilisers - from food waste is becoming more and more important due to the depletion of natural phosphorus sources and increased mining costs.

“Waste is big business, and the recovery of valuable resources from waste presents huge opportunities for SMEs in Northern Ireland and across Europe. Many, however, face barriers in their efforts to develop new techniques for resource recovery. The best ideas require input and support from many disciplines - industry, entrepreneurs and scientists. ReNEW aims to bring these disciplines together to facilitate partnership working in the development of new technologies that will benefit the environment, the economy and society.”

Dr Groom has recently returned from Germany where she led a series of ReNEW engagement events with businesses who are keen to get ahead in the global market for raw materials derived from waste. Tomorrow (14 May), she will speak at the ATWARM Conference (Advanced Technologies for Water Resource Management) in Dublin about research and innovation and will meet companies at the ATWARM brokerage event on 15 May, which will be opened by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Dr Groom continued:  “Waste represents a problem and an opportunity. While many businesses are aware of this, the limited options for processing waste present huge challenges which they cannot overcome by themselves. Through the ReNEW project, QUESTOR and partners will work with companies across Europe to raise awareness of the opportunities in this area, and to showcase and further develop new techniques for resource recovery. Ultimately, waste companies will become providers of raw materials, and we at QUESTOR will help them to be at the forefront of that journey.”

ReNEW is part-funded (€2.44Million) by the European Union’s INTERREG IVB North West Europe scheme. Partners were required to provide 50% matched funding – this was mainly provided from local government agencies or in-house.

Commenting on the ReNew project Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "It is essential we are an integral part of European projects such as ReNEW.  Northern Ireland’s involvement in this innovative project which is bringing together organisations from across the island of Ireland and Europe, by our own Queen’s University Belfast. This project will develop our knowledge base and skills to attract investment and allow our businesses to compete globally. We need to move faster and be decisive in accessing EU funding opportunities. Queen's are one of our best examples of what can be done. Government must be full-square behind this type of organisation. We have to escalate what we do.

“The ReNEW project yet again highlights the potential value of waste when it arises. Considering waste as a resource will assist in making our society more sustainable and resource efficient resulting in jobs and benefits to our economy and the environment.”

Councillor Pat McCarthy, chairman of Belfast City Council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: “Belfast City Council recognises the importance that resource management will have for the future economy both for the city and the north as a whole. This programme offers the opportunity for ‘green’ growth in the economy and will provide opportunities to reap the benefits of state-of-the-art thinking. The council will always seek to promote opportunities in this sector and it is fantastic to see one of our local universities leading the way in this field.”

The QUESTOR centre has also been awarded €3.8 Million to lead a four year project to develop research and training for the European biogas industry. ATBEST (Advanced Technologies for Biogas Efficiency, Sustainability and Transport), is funded by Marie Curie ITN and involves research and industry partners in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Sweden. It will develop new technologies for the biogas sector to enable Europe to implement its Energy 2020 strategy and to address the challenges of increasing energy demands and costs.

For more information about the ReNEW project visit www.renew-network.eu  For more information about QUESTOR visit www.questor.qub.ac.uk

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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New Director of Belfast Festival at Queen’s appointed

Internationally renowned arts programmer and producer Richard Wakely has been appointed as Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

Formerly Managing Director of the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, Richard is a member of the Board of Directors of Dance Ireland and regularly produces for Junk Ensemble (Ireland) and Claire Cunningham (Scotland). He has a breadth of experience across the genres including dance, drama and film and has produced and co-produced 18 productions into London’s West-End and Broadway.

Internationally, his role as Commissioner for the China-Ireland Cultural Exchange Programme for the Irish Government saw him work with over 500 artists from China and Ireland, and he has toured his award-winning work, throughout Europe, the UK and South America.

Speaking about his new role, Richard said: “Being appointed Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is both an honour and a privilege. The Festival is respected and acknowledged globally as offering a world-class mix of arts and entertainment and also holds a very special place in the history of Belfast and its people.
“My mission is to continue to bring the world’s best performers, known and unknown, to the stages of Belfast, to challenge preconceptions about the arts, create compelling new experiences, and, to ensure Festival can increasingly open its arms to audiences at home and across the world. I also want to take this opportunity to welcome Susan McCleary, who joins us from the Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey as Marketing Manager.”

Congratulating Richard on his new appointment, Queen’s University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “Richard is one of the most creative, driven and well-respected individuals working on the international arts scene, and we welcome him as the new Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s. Festival makes a substantial contribution, not only to arts and culture in Northern Ireland, but also economically and socially to the city of Belfast, generating around £5million each year.”

In recent years, Richard has also worked as an arts management consultant to the Lyric Theatre in Belfast and the Lyceum and Traverse Theatres in Edinburgh. His next production is the world premiere of Egg Charade at the 2013 Dublin Dance Festival in May 2013 for Aoife McAtamney (Ireland) and Nina Vallon (Germany). A Queen’s graduate, his past engagements also include curating and producing stage programmes for Cork and Liverpool during their time as European Capital of Culture.

Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland, said: "We are delighted to welcome Richard to his new role as Festival Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s. Richard’s significant profile and experience in the international arts scene will be a further boost to this already vibrant and thriving Festival, which we are proud to support.”

Roísín McDonough Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added: “The Arts Council welcome the appointment of Richard as the new Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.  His creativity, extensive knowledge and significant experience with international arts, will bring a further rich dimension to one of Northern Ireland’s premier festivals.  I wish Richard every success in his new role.”    

For media inquiries please contact Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications.Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3259 or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s appoints CERN Director as Honorary Professor
Professor Steve Myers
Professor Steve Myers

Queen’s University has appointed the Director of Accelerators and Technology at CERN, Dr Steve Myers, as an Honorary Professor.

Professor Myers, who is also a Queen’s graduate, has been appointed Honorary Professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  He will visit the University twice a year giving presentations to undergraduates and masters classes and will advise on research opportunities and will contribute to the University’s strategic research plans.

Professor Myers, as Director of Accelerators and Technology at CERN, currently has one of the most prominent engineering positions in the world with complete charge of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

He has been at the forefront of engineering that has enabled many of the advances in physics over the last 20 years.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the American Physical Society and the European Physical Society, and the recipient of Honorary Doctorates from the University of Geneva and Queen’s University.  In 2012 he received the EPS Edison Volta Prize for outstanding achievements in physics.

Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “An outstanding leader in the most challenging engineering endeavours, Professor Myers is a renowned international figure in engineering and physics.  He is unquestionably one of the leading engineers in the world helping physicists probe the nature of reality.  We are honoured to appoint him as an Honorary Professor at Queen’s and are confident that his successes and expertise will inspire and inform students and staff in engineering and the sciences across the University.”

Speaking about his appointment, Professor Steve Myers said: “I am delighted to return to my alma mater, Queen’s University, as an Honorary Professor.  Queen’s, as one of the UK’s leading research universities, gave me as a student the platform and opportunity to go on and make a contribution to global science.  I hope that through my experience and expertise I can inspire and inform the next generation of engineers and scientists.”

Professor Myers’ appointment comes ahead of his lecture at Queen’s this week as part of the Large Hadron Collider exhibition taking place at the University.  Professor Myers will discuss his role in the world’s largest science experiment at his lecture on Thursday.

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 415 451 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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New report reveals 70,000 people living with cancer in Northern Ireland today
Dr Anna Gavin from Queen's NI Cancer Registry, Professor Sir Peter Gregson Vice-Chancellor of Queen's and Helen Monteverde General Manager of NI Macmillan Cancer Support at the launch of the new report which reveals 70,000 people are living with cancer in Northern Ireland today.
Dr Anna Gavin from Queen's NI Cancer Registry, Professor Sir Peter Gregson Vice-Chancellor of Queen's and Helen Monteverde General Manager of NI Macmillan Cancer Support at the launch of the new report which reveals 70,000 people are living with cancer in Northern Ireland today.

Some 70,000 people in Northern Ireland are living with a diagnosis of cancer made within the last 18 years (69,377 people as of 31st December 2010), according to a report being launched today by Queen’s University’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, in association with Macmillan Cancer Support.

Living with and beyond cancer provides the first ever detailed picture of cancer prevalence in Northern Ireland, which is defined as the number of living people who have ever had a cancer diagnosis.

The report reveals that the number of people living with cancer in Northern Ireland has risen by 3.5 per cent annually since 1993.
Excluding the rarely fatal Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC), the number of people who are living in Northern Ireland following a diagnosis made within the last 18 years was 45,265.

The report also analyses the change in prevalence over time. It noted that the number of male cancer survivors (excluding NMSC) increased by 6.2 per cent per year between 2002 and 2010, while for females it was 3.2 per cent per year.

Most common prevalence

The cancer that most people are living with is NMSC due to its high incidence and excellent survival rates. After this, prostate cancer is the most prevalent among men (6,646 persons) while 11,393 women are living in Northern Ireland having had a diagnosis of breast cancer. Lung cancer, which is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, is only the ninth most prevalent cancer due to its poor survival rate.

The greatest percentage increase in ten year prevalence between 2002 and 2010 was among male prostate and oesophageal cancer patients, both of which saw the number of survivors more than double over the eight year period. Among females the greatest percentage increase was for uterine and kidney cancers.

Prevalence trends

  • Ten year prevalence of cervical cancer is increasing among women, rising from 550 survivors in 2002 to 695 survivors in 2010 
  • Ten year prevalence of female breast cancer is increasing, rising from 6,304 female survivors in 2002 to 8,216 in 2010 
  • Ten year prevalence of uterine cancer is increasing among women, rising from 845 survivors in 2002 to 1,391 in 2010. 
  • Ten year prevalence of prostate cancer is increasing rapidly, rising from 2,707 survivors in 2002 to 5,976 survivors in 2010.Improved treatments, an ageing population and  increased diagnosis of cases followed the increased use of PSA are factors.

 

Most common cause of cancer death

The report highlights that lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death between 2006-2010, with an average of 887 people dying from the disease in each of those years, out of a total of 1,030 cases diagnosed per year.

For breast cancer during the same time period, there was an average of 1,155 breast cancers diagnosed each year, with an average of 301 people dying. Survival from breast cancer is rated very good, with 94.9 per cent of women diagnosed in 2001-2005 surviving one year, and five-year relative survival for female patients standing at 81.3 per cent.

Speaking about the report, Dr Anna Gavin, Director of Queen’s University’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, said: “This report lets us see that cancer is no longer a death sentence for everyone who receives a diagnosis. There are many people in Northern Ireland with cancer who live their normal lifespan. Importantly the information in this report will help those working to improve services for those living with cancer.

“The increases in cancer prevalence can be attributed to several factors, including an increasing numbers of cancers diagnosed as the population ages, the increasing rise in lifestyle-related risk factors including obesity, and also changes in diagnostic procedures for example the rise in diagnosis of prostate cancer due to PSA testing. In addition, improvements in survival related to treatment advances and screening and also reductions in the number of deaths from other diseases such as heart disease have also contributed to the increase in the number of cancer survivors.”

Heather Monteverde, general manager of NI Macmillan Cancer Support said: ““Cancer remains a major public health issue in Northern Ireland but the cancer story is changing.  It used to be the case that either people were cured of their cancer or they died, often very quickly.  With the number of cancer survivors increasing, we now know that many people need more support after treatment to meet their ongoing needs and to live with cancer as a long term illness.”

A report on the care of ovarian and cervical cancer patients diagnosed in Northern Ireland 2010, with comparisons to 1996 and 2001 will also be launched by Queen’s Northern Ireland Cancer Registry today. This highlights late diagnosis as a problem with ovarian cancer and poor uptake of cervical screening as a risk factor for cervical cancer, a preventable disease, young women are also encouraged to take up the offer of the cervical cancer vaccine against HPV.

The report on ovarian cancer, funded by Guidelines and Audit Implementation Network (GAIN) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) it will allow Northern Ireland to provide local data for the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership which includes eleven other countries examining reasons for cancer survival differences.

Both reports are available online ‘Living with and Beyond Cancer: A report on cancer prevalence in Northern Ireland 2010’ is available from http://go.qub.ac.uk/h2bbc
while ‘Care of ovarian and cervical cancer patients diagnosed in Northern Ireland 2010’ is available from http://go.qub.ac.uk/j2bbc
 

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer, Queen’s University Tel: 028 9097 5384 lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk or Stewart Finn, Campaigns and Communications Officer, Macmillan. M07977 864 121

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CSIT donation supports Belfast CoderDojo

Staff at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s are supporting the next generation of software and electronic researchers and engineers by donating funds collected from attendees at its recent annual World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit.

The donation will be used to purchase new Lego® Mindstorms® NXT equipment, further enhancing the software and electronic engineering learning opportunities for children attending the CoderDojo. The LEGO Mindstorm series of kits contain software and hardware to create small, customizable and programmable robots.

Speaking after donating the money David Crozier, Technical Marketing Manager at CSIT, said: “CSIT, its member companies and the global cyber security industry depend on a steady stream of bright, enthusiastic, practically minded researchers and engineers to support this rapidly growing and strategically important industry.”

“The work that CoderDojo Belfast is doing in stimulating the innovative and inquisitive instincts in young people on our doorstep here in the Titanic Quarter is amazing. I was keen that we would highlight that work and seek donations from our global industry partners while we had them in Belfast for our recent World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit to grow it further.”

“I would like to specifically highlight the support of CSIT advisor Mark Crosbie, Head of Information Security, EMEA at Facebook, Editor of thinkbricks.net and member of the LEGO Mindstorms Community Partner (MCP) program who leveraged support from Lego HQ in Denmark to match donations given by summit attendees.”

Commenting on the donation Peter Doherty from Belfast Metropolitan College, who founded CoderDojo Belfast, said: “CoderDojo is a great opportunity for young people to learn valuable programming & IT skills which are in high demand in the current job market.

“CoderDojo is a free computing club which is run by Belfast Metropolitan College along with volunteer industry mentors and support from various local, national and international organisations.  The donations from CSIT and Lego will enable us to further explore the area of robotics and programming and engage with a younger audience in fun and exciting ways.”

For further information on CoderDojo Belfast please visit www.coderdojobelfast.com or follow on twitter – @CoderDojoBMC.

For further information on CSIT, its member companies and annual summit please visit www.csit.qub.ac.uk of follow on twitter @csit_qub.

Media inquiries to David Crozier on 028 9097 1754 or d.crozier@qub.ac.uk

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‘Big Bang’ machine comes to Belfast

The world’s largest science experiment, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and the man behind the Higgs particle theory, are coming to Belfast as part of a week-long public exhibition hosted by Queen’s University.

Over the May bank holiday weekend and for the rest of the week Queen’s is inviting members of the public to walk through a full-size replica of a section of the LHC tunnel as well as having the chance to meet physicists involved in answering some of the biggest mysteries of the universe by re-creating conditions just after the Big Bang.  Visitors will also be able to get hands-on with a number of interactive exhibits collectively creating a feel for what it's like to be a particle physicist working on the world’s most powerful atom smasher.

Developed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the week-long exhibition will also feature a lecture from Physicist Professor Peter Higgs, the man behind the Higgs Boson, and Queen’s graduate Dr Steve Myers, who is Director for Accelerators and Technology at CERN, the organisation that built and operates the LHC in Switzerland.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Myers said: “As a Queen’s graduate I’m delighted to return to the University for such a special event.  For many people it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the real life application of physics and science in such a setting.  Queen’s is one of the UK’s leading research universities and it gave me the skillset, foundation and opportunity to go on and become a key part of the world’s largest science experiment, so I am honoured not only to return but to also share the platform with Professor Peter Higgs.”

Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s, said: “This is the first time a major exhibition on the work on the LHC has come to Northern Ireland.  It is a unique opportunity for members of the public, young and old, to get an insight into what takes place in the Large Hadron Collider and to meet those physicists and scientists who are having a huge impact around the world.  Queen’s graduates have gone on to work at CERN as well as other major scientific organisations like NASA and the European Space Agency. This is an opportunity for potential students and the public alike to see how Queen’s and physics is having a real impact and where a career in the subject could take them.”

STFC Chief Executive Professor John Womersley said: "This visit by the life-sized model of the LHC to Belfast is a wonderful way to remind the people of Northern Ireland of just how big a part Northern Irish scientists, researchers and engineers have contributed to the work at CERN that recreates the conditions that existed just milliseconds after the Big Bang.

"The visit is also a great way to recognise the work of Queen’s in producing very successful physics graduates. Graduates such as Steve Myers, the man who leads the department at CERN with the responsibility to make the LHC work. Steve is currently leading the team that is undertaking the major maintenance and upgrade work of the LHC to enable it to run at twice the energy when it turns back on in 2015."

For further information on the exhibition and how to get involved visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofMathematicsandPhysics/

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 415 451 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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CSIT donation supports Belfast CoderDojo

Staff at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s are supporting the next generation of software and electronic researchers and engineers by donating funds collected from attendees at its recent annual World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit.

The donation will be used to purchase new Lego® Mindstorms® NXT equipment, further enhancing the software and electronic engineering learning opportunities for children attending the CoderDojo. The LEGO Mindstorm series of kits contain software and hardware to create small, customizable and programmable robots.

Speaking after donating the money David Crozier, Technical Marketing Manager at CSIT, said: “CSIT, its member companies and the global cyber security industry depend on a steady stream of bright, enthusiastic, practically minded researchers and engineers to support this rapidly growing and strategically important industry.”

“The work that CoderDojo Belfast is doing in stimulating the innovative and inquisitive instincts in young people on our doorstep here in the Titanic Quarter is amazing. I was keen that we would highlight that work and seek donations from our global industry partners while we had them in Belfast for our recent World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit to grow it further.”

“I would like to specifically highlight the support of CSIT advisor Mark Crosbie, Head of Information Security, EMEA at Facebook, Editor of thinkbricks.net and member of the LEGO Mindstorms Community Partner (MCP) program who leveraged support from Lego HQ in Denmark to match donations given by summit attendees.”

Commenting on the donation Peter Doherty from Belfast Metropolitan College, who founded CoderDojo Belfast, said: “CoderDojo is a great opportunity for young people to learn valuable programming & IT skills which are in high demand in the current job market.

“CoderDojo is a free computing club which is run by Belfast Metropolitan College along with volunteer industry mentors and support from various local, national and international organisations.  The donations from CSIT and Lego will enable us to further explore the area of robotics and programming and engage with a younger audience in fun and exciting ways.”

For further information on CoderDojo Belfast please visit www.coderdojobelfast.com or follow on twitter – @CoderDojoBMC.

For further information on CSIT, its member companies and annual summit please visit www.csit.qub.ac.uk of follow on twitter @csit_qub.

Media inquiries to David Crozier on 028 9097 1754 or d.crozier@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's receives Bill & Melinda Gates grants

Queen’s University has been announced as a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Scientists at the University’s Institute for Global Food Security have been awarded grants to pursue two Innovative global health and development research projects aimed at tackling tropical diseases.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. The Queen’s projects are among the Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To receive funding Queen’s, and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10 winners, demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, neglected tropical diseases and communications. Applications for the next Round will be accepted starting September 2013.

The Queen’s Grand Challenges Explorations winners are striving to develop new approaches to help poor and underprivileged people who suffer from the impact of neglected tropical diseases. These diseases are prevalent in developing countries, where they condemn the poorest people on the planet to a lifetime of poverty and ill health. The Grand Challenges Explorations grants will help Queen’s scientists to develop new methods of disease detection and treatment. 

Dr Paul McVeigh’s project aims to develop new ways to diagnose Lymphatic Filariasis, a tropical disease affecting more than 120 million people in 73 developing countries. The condition is caused by a parasitic worm and is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.  The worms live in the body’s lymphatic  system, leading to severe disfigurement of the limbs, chronic pain and disability. Very little research has been carried out into the condition and current diagnostic tests are limited and often involve a painful method of collecting samples from patients. Dr McVeigh’s team will use the $100,000 awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to investigate the usefulness of MicroRNAs – molecules found in blood, saliva, urine and breastmilk – as indicators of the presence of the infection. This has the potential to lead to the development of faster, more reliable, non-invasive diagnostic tests.

Dr Johnathan Dalzell will lead a $100,000 project to develop food crops containing drugs to treat neglected tropical diseases such as elephantiasis and trypanosomiasis. When humans eat the crop, the drug will circulate in their blood and be passed to blood-borne parasites and blood-feeding insects like mosquitoes, killing them and helping control the diseases that they spread, such as malaria and the many tick-borne diseases that can have a devastating impact on people and livestock. As well as generating an entirely new way of simultaneously treating tropical diseases and the insects that carry them, this approach would also lead to huge financial savings in terms of drug discovery costs, and the storage and delivery of medicines on a global scale.

The Queen’s Grand Challenges Explorations winners are based at the Institute for Global Food Security, a £33 million centre established to improve global food safety and play a key role in national and global efforts to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable, safe and secure supply of high quality food. The Institute is preparing to host the Second Food Integrity and Traceability Conference in April 2014, which will showcase the latest developments in delivering safe and authentic food to consumers around the world.

Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Institute at Queen’s, said: “The Institute for Global Food Security is committed to research that aims to improve the safety of food worldwide. This is central to our efforts to build a global ‘food fortress’, ensuring that people around the globe – whether in developed or developing countries - have access to safe and authentic food. The food borne and tropical diseases that our Grand Challenges Explorations winners are researching affect millions of people across the developing world. By tackling these diseases, and the scourge of parasites, we can have a real impact on the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

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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Leading Queen’s scientist recognised with international cancer award

Leading Queen’s University scientist, Professor Patrick Johnston, has been named as recipient of the 2013 Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize.

The award recognizes Professor Johnston’s pioneering work in translating discovery science for the benefit of cancer patients. His determination and leadership in establishing a Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Programme in Northern Ireland is testament to his dedication to improving both clinical outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients.

This year's Pinedo Prize of $50,000 will be presented at the Society for Translational Oncology’s Fourth Annual meeting, to be hosted by the VU University Medical Center Cancer Center Amsterdam (VUmc CCA) at the ING House in Amsterdam on the 1st of October, 2013. Prof. Johnston will deliver the keynote lecture at the meeting which will be published by The Oncologist, STO's official journal.

In 2012, the success of Professor Johnston’s overarching vision was recognised when he was honoured to accept a Diamond Jubilee Queen’s Anniversary Prize awarded by Her Majesty, The Queen, for The Queen’s University Belfast-led Comprehensive Cancer Centre and its achievement in reducing cancer mortality rates over the last decade. This significant improvement in cancer outcomes, underpinned by best quality care and innovative research, is a direct result of Professor Johnston’s philosophy of placing the cancer patient at the centre of the cancer care and research agenda.

Speaking about the award, Professor Johnston said: “I am delighted and humbled to have been awarded The Pinedo Prize. It is a great honour to have my work and that of my research team recognised by the international cancer research community in this way.”

Queen’s University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “Queen’s is bringing some of the finest minds in clinical and scientific research together to take medical translational research to new levels. It is developing a new £175M Institute of Health Sciences. This is happening under the leadership of Professor Patrick Johnston who has devoted his life to improving the lives of others. The Society’s award is testimony to his foresight and commitment and is recognition of the work he is undertaking on a global scale.”

Professor Johnston’s research has focused on understanding the cellular signaling pathways in gastrointestinal tumors (with a particular emphasis on colorectal cancer), and using this information as a foundation to identify novel prognostics and diagnostic biomarkers, and molecular targets to rationalize and improve patient care. His many significant papers on both cytotoxic and targeted therapies have expanded knowledge of the treatment of colorectal cancer and provided new insights on mechanisms of drug resistance.

“Professor Johnston is a unique physician-scientist and leader in the cancer field”, commented Dr. Bruce Chabner, editor-in-chief of The Oncologist. "He fulfills the traditional tripartite image of excellence in research, patient care, and teaching, but adds the extra measure of organisational skill and personal passion in his leadership of the remarkable medical centre at Queen’s University Belfast.”

Professor Johnston currently sits on the Cancer Research UK Scientific Executive Board. His other professional roles include being a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Strategy Board and Chair of the MRC Translational Research Group. He is a Founder and Director of Almac Diagnostics. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Oncology Scientific Program Committee, Chair of the International Academy for Advanced Oncology, Japan, and Board Member of Medical Schools Council UK. As a Senior Editor for The Oncologist, Co-Editor of The Oncologist European Edition, and Co-Chairman of the Society for Translational Oncology, Prof. Johnston advocates for ways to speed the discovery and translation of important new treatments in the field of cancer medicine to the practice of global oncology.

The Pinedo Cancer Care Prize honors Professor H.M. (Bob) Pinedo, founder of the VU University Medical Center (VUmc) Cancer Center Amsterdam (CCA), who weds world-class cancer research with a devotion to his patients and their families.
 
Media inquiries to Communications Office or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk. Tel: 028 9097 3091

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Royal Irish Academy honours Queen's academics
(l-r) Professor Peter Gray, Professor Christine Maggs, Professor Sally Wheeler and Professor Christopher Hardacre.
(l-r) Professor Peter Gray, Professor Christine Maggs, Professor Sally Wheeler and Professor Christopher Hardacre.

Four academics from Queen’s University will today be admitted into the Royal Irish Academy, the highest academic honour in Ireland.
 
Professors Peter Gray, Christopher Hardacre, Christine Maggs and Sally Wheeler have been honoured for their world-class contribution to science and the humanities. Election to membership of the Royal Irish Academy is public recognition of academic excellence.
 
Peter Gray is Professor of Modern Irish History and Head of the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s. He specialises in the history of British–Irish relations in the nineteenth century, and has published a number of important books on the Irish Famine. His most recent full-length monograph is The making of the Irish poor law 1815–1843 (Manchester University Press, 2009).
 
Christopher Hardacre is Head of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. He is distinguished for his innovative research in catalysis and on ionic liquids. He has won a Royal Society of Chemistry ‘Teamwork in Innovation’ award for his ionic liquids research; he has been awarded the inaugural Andrew Medal (2013) by the Institute of Chemical Engineers for his applied catalysis research.
 
Christine Maggs is Head of the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s. She is an international authority on the biology and systematics of marine algae, with a specialist interest and expertise in aquatic invasive algae and plants. She is author of more than 120 scientific papers, monographs and contributions to books and is president-elect of the British Phycological Society.
 
Sally Wheeler is Head of the School of Law at Queen’s and is a renowned scholar in commercial law. She pioneered socio-legal studies well beyond her area of expertise; is a world leader in her own scholarship on contract law, directors' duties, and corporations; was long-standing chair of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and is an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.
 
Also amongst those admitted today were: Susan Denham, Chief Justice; Nuala O’Loan, former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman; and Michael McElroy, who was one of Al Gore’s advisers on climate change.

The Academy is an all-island institution.Those elected are entitled to use the designation ‘MRIA’ after their name. There are 474 Members of the Academy including: Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, TK Whittaker (public servant) Mary McAleese (President of Ireland 1997-2011), Frances Ruane (DG of ESRI), Maurice Manning (NUI Chancellor), Patrick Honohan (Governor of the Central Bank), and writer and cartographer Tim Robinson.

For further information please contact Queen’s Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5384

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