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February 2014

Top Queen’s student wins national award

A Queen’s student has beaten off stiff competition to win the UK Student Volunteer of the Year award at a glitzy award ceremony in London.

22-year-old Aidan Bannon from Belfast was announced as the winner by award organisers Student Hubs, part of the National Union of Students, at a gala celebration at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, last night.

Unfortunately, the fourth-year medical student was unable to attend the London ceremony but was presented with his award in Belfast by Wendy Osborne, CEO of local organisation Volunteer Now. She said it was in recognition of Aidan’s commitment to a wide variety of projects, including the Queen’s University Red Cross Society, which he founded. The society now boasts upwards of 60 members who, along with Aidan, have helped over 3,500 young people.

Aidan, who hopes to graduate in 2015, has also been involved in the student Volunteer Academy and spearheaded the Mind Your Mood campaign at Queen’s, which has engaged with 1,300 students this year, over 600 of whom attended a mental-health workshop.

At Queen’s University Red Cross, Aidan developed a three-month long community engagement project focusing on the personal development of young people aged 10-18 in Belfast.

The 22-year-old's achievements triumphed last night over a range of inspiring community projects around Britain and Northern Ireland including a scheme to support minors in custody and another aimed at inspiring young people through the performing arts.

The student medic, who is considering a career in paediatrics or public health, has previously won a number of awards including the UK Endsleigh Student of the Year award and the Belfast Community Impact Award.

Commenting on his latest accolade, Aidan said he was “delighted”.

He added: “It truly is an honour to represent student volunteers around the UK and to champion the excellent work they do. I hope the award encourages more students to volunteer and also raises the profile of Queen’s University Medical School as a hub of great volunteering and leadership opportunities. Community-based and charitable organisations are an important cornerstone of all areas of society and increased student engagement with them will undoubtedly help to diversify skill sets of students, generate fresh ideas and create valuable and valued relationships for all involved.”

Pro-Vice Chancellor at Queen’s, Tony Gallagher said: “Volunteering has become a key part of the student experience at Queen’s University and Aidan Bannon is one of our most inspirational volunteers. Aidan has already won a string of awards for his volunteering work and now adds the accolade of UK Student Volunteer of the Year. Aidan not only devotes a lot his time to volunteering, but has encouraged many others to sign up and help change lives. Queen’s University is very proud of Aidan’s success and the inspirational example he provides for other students and young people.”

Enterprise and Development Support Office at Queen’s Students’ Union, Lynne Weir, who nominated Aidan for the award, said it was “so well-deserved”.

She added: “I have worked with Aidan in the past and he has boundless energy. He’s an inspiration to students and staff alike about what’s possible.”

This week is Student Volunteer Week and saw Queen’s Students’ Union deliver a packed schedule of workshops and events to recognise the volunteering efforts of students and showcase opportunities available to them. Aidan Bannon said he would encourage anyone to take up volunteering.

“Volunteering will expand and increase your opportunities,” he said. “You can meet new people, develop your character and realise your own passion and ideas. My advice is to think carefully about what you are passionate about when getting involved.”

Find out more about the awards here: http://www.studentvolunteeringweek.org.uk/activities/student-volunteering-awards

For further information please contact Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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New invasive species breakthrough sparks interest around the world

A research breakthrough at Queen’s University Belfast has sparked interest among aquatic biologists, zoologists and ecologists around the world.

The joint research between Queen’s and several South African institutions centred on the behaviour of some of the “world’s worst” invasive species, including the large-mouth bass, an invasive fish which typically devastates invertebrate and other fish communities wherever it is introduced.

Previously, the search for general characteristics of invasive species had been elusive, but work carried out by Professor Jaimie Dick and post-doctoral researcher Mhairi Alexander, both from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s and Centre for Invasion Biology in Stellenbosch, South Africa, revealed that the ecological impacts of invasive species might be readily predicted from features of their behaviour.

The paper has been selected for F1000Prime, a group which identifies and recommends important articles in biology and medical research publications, as being of special significance in its field.

Using an ecological theory that relates the rate at which an organism consumes resources to the density of that resource - known as the ‘functional response curve’ – the researchers showed that damaging invaders have consistently higher curves than natives.

Professor Dick explained the technique: “We presented the invasive fish, and local native fish of the same type, with tadpole prey at increasing densities. The invader fish consumed the prey at more than three times the rate of the native fish. The prey populations are simply not able to tolerate this increased mortality, and often go extinct soon after the invaders arrive. The data show that the invaders are predictable in their impacts by relatively simple derivation of their functional response curves as compared to natives”.

Until now, the only reliable predictor of the impact of an invasive species has been its prior impacts elsewhere, but this was no use for invaders with no known impact history. Professor Dick continued: “We now have a method that allows us to understand the impacts of current invaders, but also to forecast the impacts of emerging and new invaders. We can also use the technique to predict how changing features of the environment, such as temperature, can increase or decrease the impacts of invaders. Our focus now is to examine if this technique works for a wide range of organisms. We are now testing the idea for other invasive fish, shrimps, wasps, and even plants, as they too can be measured as to their resource uptake rates, for example, with enriched nitrogen.”

“The more invasive species that are tested with our method around the world the more we can draw broad conclusions as to the reliability of the method, but all results so far are very promising,” Professor Dick added.

The findings, which were funded by the Leverhulme Trust, NERC and the Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch, have been enthusiastically welcomed by the international research community. Professor Dick has presented keynotes at conferences and workshops in Canada, US, Argentina, Germany, France, Belgium, South Africa and China.

The work has been published in the Royal Society Journal ‘Biology Letters’, which is available at: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/current

Media inquiries to Queen’s communications office at comms.office@qub.ac.uk or Tel. +44 (0)28 9097 3091

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Queen’s Open Day showcases further study opportunities for Graduates

Queen's University is hosting a Postgraduate Open Day on Thursday (27 February 2014).

Of interest to anyone taking the next step in their career, or to those considering a career change, the PG Open Day offers the perfect opportunity to find out about the full-time and part-time postgraduate courses available at Queen's.

Running from 11am to 3pm in both the Whitla Hall and International and Postgraduate Student Centre (IPSC), visitors will be able to meet staff and students and get an insight into what life as a postgraduate student is really like.

Also available on the day will be accommodation tours of Willow Walk-Queen’s dedicated postgraduate accommodation, and other areas of Queen’s campus, including sporting facilities and the award-winning McClay Library.

Talks on the day include advice on applying for funding, student finance, and life from a PG student’s perspective. Admission is free, and anyone interested in attending can find our further information and register online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/StudyatQueens/PostgraduateStudents/PostgraduateOpenDay27February2014/ 

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

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Queen’s psychologists reveal new insight into psychotic disorders experienced by ethnic minorities

Psychologists from Queen’s University Belfast have found that psychotic disorders are up to seven times more prevalent in people from an ethnic minority when they are living in a neighbourhood where there is a small ethnic minority population.

Dr Tania Bosqui from Queen’s School of Psychology, reviewed eight studies of people diagnosed with psychotic disorders in the UK and the Netherlands. She found that people from minority groups, who were living in areas with a low ethnic minority population density, were much more likely than the general population to be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

In neighbourhoods where there is a high density of ethnic minorities – where at least 65 per cent of the population belonged to an ethnic minority - there was little or no difference in psychosis rates between ethnic minority groups and the general population.

The research has been published in the Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Dr Bosqui said: “The research provides evidence that the local environment, rather than purely individual factors like genetics or childhood trauma, has an impact on a person’s risk of developing a psychotic illness. This is a shift away from traditional thinking on the causes of psychosis.

“The study identified what we call the ‘ethnic density effect’ – the lower the proportion of ethnic minorities in a neighbourhood, the higher the prevalence of psychotic illnesses among that minority population. This effect was found to be particularly strong in studies that looked at areas with a low proportion of own-group ethnic minorities. That is, where there is a small number of people from an individual’s own ethnic group, even though the community may be home to a larger number of people from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds.

“It is thought the results can be explained by exposure to racism. There is evidence of higher rates of racism in areas with a low proportion of ethnic minorities. It is therefore possible that in neighbourhoods where there is a larger ethnic minority population, people within minority ethnic groups are more protected from exposure to racism and therefore less at risk of developing a psychotic disorder.

“Another possible explanation is that people in neighbourhoods with a small number of ethnic minorities are more isolated from shared cultural and religious norms, which increases their social stress and therefore their risk of psychosis.

“Different levels of individual wealth or deprivation in a neighbourhood were not found to explain the differences in the prevalence of psychotic disorders.”

The number of people belonging to ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland is increasing. In 2001 just 0.8 per cent of the population belonged to ethnic minority groups, this more than doubled to 1.8 per cent in 2011. In 2011, 14 per cent of people in England belonged to ethnic minority groups.

Dr Bosqui continued: “As the ethnic minority population increases, so does the need to provide services to help prevent and treat psychotic illness among people within at-risk groups.

“In Northern Ireland, a number of voluntary organisations are working to improve the experiences of ethnic minorities, but our research highlights the need for a greater shift in mental health services for those from ethnic minority groups towards interventions at a neighbourhood level, rather than simply at an individual level.

“Providing access to culturally relevant support groups, for example, may have a positive effect. Local authorities should also act to promote greater social cohesion at a neighbourhood level, particularly in areas where ethnic minorities make up a smaller proportion of the population.”

The complete research findings can be found online at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-013-0773-0

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s celebrates engineering icon
Professor Michael McGarry from Queen’s and Jennifer Greitschus, Head of Exhibitions at Arup, prepare for the opening of the Traces of Peter Rice exhibition at the Naughton Gallery
Professor Michael McGarry from Queen’s and Jennifer Greitschus, Head of Exhibitions at Arup, prepare for the opening of the Traces of Peter Rice exhibition at the Naughton Gallery

The Dundalk-born engineer who played a key role in designing the famous ‘shells’ of the Sydney Opera House is being celebrated at Queen’s University Belfast.

Peter Rice, a Queen’s civil engineering graduate, is regarded as one of Ireland’s most distinguished structural engineers. To mark his career, the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s, along with Arup (the global consultancy of which Peter was a Director) is hosting the Traces of Peter Rice exhibition at the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s from Thursday 28 February until 28 March.


The exhibition showcases Rice’s work and explores design stories from his career, including his work on the world famous Pompidou Centre in France, the Full Moon Theatre - an amphitheatre which is lit entirely by the moon - and the Menil Gallery in Texas. The exhibition is supported by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Ireland’s Department of Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht, the Institution of Structural Engineers and Royal Society of Ulster Architects.


Alongside the exhibition, a series of workshops for secondary school pupils will explore engineering and imagination in the built environment, including an attempt to build a life-size bridge using only Meccano.
Professor Michael McGarry, from Queen’s School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering helped bring the exhibition to the University. He said: “Peter Rice was arguably the most significant structural engineer of his generation. Throughout the 1980s his firm were the structural engineers for the most important buildings of that decade. Peter died prematurely in 1992, and we at Queen’s are extremely proud to host this exhibition and surrounding programme of events in order to mark the achievement of one of our most distinguished civil engineering graduates.


“This is the first opportunity to bring Peter Rice's work to Belfast and celebrate his talent in the place where his remarkable career began. The international dimension to his work is obvious, and his story is a fine example of how a Queen’s degree can open doors worldwide. We hope this exhibition will inspire a new generation of engineers, architects and planners who will go on to make their mark on the built environment in Northern Ireland and around the world.”


Mr Tristram Carfrae, Global Buildings Practice Chair, Arup said: “Peter Rice had a profound effect on me. He taught me to always question the status quo; to consider using new materials; to use technology to explore ideas; and, most importantly, that the purpose of our designs is to improve other people’s lives.”


Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín said: “I am delighted my Department is able to support the Queens exhibition of Peter Rice’s work. I know there are also a series of workshops, discussions and practical exercises, around the exhibition, planned for local school children. Projects such as these are helping to inspire creative thinking and the next generation of scientists and engineers. It is also vital we use these opportunities to raise the expectations of children and young people from deprived areas, giving them the skills and the knowledge to transform their lives and those of their communities.”


Jimmy Deenihan TD, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, said: “I am pleased that my Department has been able to provide some part financial support for this exhibition, through the Government Policy on Architecture implementation programme. Famous the world over for his work on renowned buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Pyramide Inversée of the Louvre, Peter Rice was once described as “the James Joyce of structural engineering”. It was his daring and deep understanding of materials and structure that made such innovative buildings possible. I am delighted that his work is being highlighted to a wider audience through this wonderful exhibition.”


The exhibition is taking place from 28 February until 28 March in The Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University Belfast. Admission is free and further information on the ‘Traces of Peter Rice’ is available online at www.peterriceatqueens.com

For media inquiries please contact Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon – Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thur- Fri) at Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 5320/5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Cream of Munster Hurling to arrive in Belfast for Fitzgibbon Cup

Stars of last year’s All Ireland Hurling final, Shane O’Donnell, Tony Kelly and Conor Lehane, and Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald, are among the high profile hurlers who will feature in the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup at Queen’s GAA Festival this weekend.

An array of established and emerging stars are set to descend on Belfast this Friday and Saturday, when Queen’s GAA Festival will host over 550 hurlers and many more spectators at Upper Malone.

Fitzgibbon Cup holders UCC have named a squad that features Cork senior stars Conor Lehane, Seamus Harnedy and Clare’s All Ireland hat-trick hero Shane O’Donnell. They meet a CIT side in the semi-final at 4.30pm on Friday in a derby clash that includes Cork senior players Jamie Coughlan and Bill Cooper as well as Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer.

In the other Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon semi-final at 2.30pm on Friday, Limerick Institute, managed by Clare All Ireland winning manager Davy Fitzgerald, include 2013 Hurler and young hurler of the year Tony Kelly, and fellow Clare panellist Cathal McInerney in their squad. LIT meet a Waterford IT side that includes Jerome Maher and Jake Dillon of Waterford, and Eoin Murphy.

In what will be a busy weekend at Upper Malone, UCC also play Queen’s in an AIL Rugby game at 2.30pm, while elsewhere on the site Queen’s soccer team, who are pushing for promotion, play Bangor in the fifth round of the Irish Cup also at 2.30pm.

This year’s Fitzgibbon squads are peppered with minor and under21 stars from Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, Galway, Limerick and Clare in what looks to be a real feast of hurling. In the Irish Daily Mail Ryan Cup NUI Maynooth feature Clare All Ireland winning full back David McInerney, whilst opponents UUJ have in their squad well known Antrim u21 players Jackson McGreevey and Conor McCann. The other competitions also feature quality hurlers with Jason Flynn from Galway Roscommon scoring 4pts from play for Galway last week.

The Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup is the third successive third level finals weekend to have been held at Queen’s this month, with successful Ashbourne and Sigerson Cup events having reached their conclusions. Next up is Ladies Football’s O’Connor Cup on 21 and 22 March. Queen’s has become the first institution to host all four HE Gaelic Games finals in the one year and at the one venue. Speaking ahead of this weekend, Queen’s Head of Sport, Liz McLaughlin, said: “Queen’s recent £13m investment in its Upper Malone sports facility has reaped many benefits for our students and the wider community, and this weekend really serves to highlight these. From quality hurling to fantastic soccer and rugby action, and community events including our weekly Park Run and the launch of Seachtain na Gaeilge, there really is something on offer for all sports fans and families this weekend.”

This Full fixture details of Friday’s semi-finals and Saturday’s finals are available online at www.gaafestival.com Follow Queen’s GAA Festival on Twitter and Facebook @QUBGAAFestival.

Limited edition Queen’s GAA Festival jerseys are available to purchase online at www.gaafestival.com 

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy. Email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)28 9097 5384

 

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Attitudes towards same-sex relationships changing according to new survey

Attitudes towards same-sex relationships in Northern Ireland have softened over the past two decades, according to researchers at Queen’s University Belfast.

Interpreting data from the 2012 NI Life and Times Survey (NILT), which uses a random sample of 1,200 people living across Northern Ireland, the researchers found a growing tolerance of same-sex relationships among the people sampled.

The proportion of survey participants who believe that same-sex relations are “always wrong”, for example, dropped from 76 per cent in 1989 to 28 per cent in 2012.

The survey was carried out by ARK, a joint resource between Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. The survey records public attitudes to a wide range of social issues.

Researchers Siobhan McAlister and Nicola Carr, from Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, and youth worker Gail Neill, have been interpreting the trends from the NILT and will be discussing their findings at a public seminar at NICVA in Belfast on 25 February.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Nicola Carr, said: “Over half of the survey’s respondents expressed support for same-sex marriage, however, over one third disapproved of gay adoption and also to lesbians having access to fertility treatment on the same basis as heterosexual women. At least one in four people did not believe that a lesbian or gay parent or parents with a child constituted a ‘family’.

“The survey also found that, in general, females and those aged under 65 were more likely to report positive attitudes to same-sex relationships.”

Dr Siobhan McAlister said that in terms of parenting and family life, attitudes were found to have changed less. She added: “Respondents declaring a Protestant affiliation were more likely to report negative attitudes towards same-sex marriage than Catholics, or people declaring ‘no religion’. For example, while the majority of those who presented as having no religion (74 per cent) or as Catholic (66 per cent) supported same-sex marriage, less than half (45 per cent) of those defining as Protestant were in support of it.

“Beliefs about homosexuality were also found to be influential. People who viewed homosexuality as a ‘choice’ tended to hold more negative views than those who believed sexual orientation cannot be changed.”

The researchers also found that knowing someone who was gay or lesbian tended to promote more positive attitudes. Between 2005 and 2012, the percentage of people who knew someone who was lesbian or gay rose from 46 per cent to 70 per cent.

Support among respondents for gay marriage tended to decrease with age. While 74 per cent of the youngest age-group were supportive of gay marriage, this figure fell to 30 per cent in the oldest age-group.

On the issue of gay adoption, the research found some softening of attitudes. In 1989, 11 per cent of people surveyed thought that lesbians should be allowed to adopt a baby under the same conditions as heterosexual couples and 5 per cent believed this in relation to gay couples. In the most recent survey, the figures had risen to 40 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

Despite the softening of attitudes towards same-sex relationships, marriage and adoption, the NILT survey reveals that a preference for the ‘traditional’ heterosexual family remains.

The Queering the Family: Attitudes Towards Lesbian and Gay Relationships and Families in Northern Ireland seminar takes place at NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast, on February 25, from 12pm-1pm, with lunch afterwards. The seminar is free and everyone is welcome, but places should be booked at info@ark.ac.uk or by telephoning 028 7167 5513.

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

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Study reveals new ways deadly squirrelpox is transmitted to red squirrels


Native red squirrels have declined throughout Britain and Ireland for the last century due to a combination of habitat loss and the introduction of the North American eastern grey squirrel. But more recently its few remaining populations have been devastated by an insidious pox virus passed to them by the alien invaders.

A study by the biodiversity and conservation research centre Quercus at Queen’s University and published in the journal PLOS ONE, found the situation may be worse than previously thought as the disease appears to have multiple modes of potential transmission.

The project was part-funded by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) through the Natural Heritage Research Partnership (NHRP) with Quercus, Queen’s University Belfast and part-funded by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).

Invading grey squirrels, which harbour the disease but typically do not suffer symptoms, may pass the virus in their urine. The research team conducted experiments to examine the survival of the virus outside the body in the wider environment, showing that it persists best in warm dry conditions. This raises the possibility that infected grey squirrels could pass on the disease by uninfected squirrels coming into contact with their dried urine during spring and summer.

The virus was also found in the parasites of pox positive squirrels including fleas, mites and ticks, which are capable of carrying the disease between individuals or between the species. The study also examined the numbers of virus particles circulating in the systems of infected red squirrels which was some 50,000 times higher than those in infected grey squirrels. Red squirrels get so sick from the disease that they may exhibit diarrhoea which was also shown to contain high levels of virus potentially facilitating transmission between red squirrels once the disease has successfully jumped the species barrier.

Dr Neil Reid from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s, one of the lead authors on the paper, said “We already know that squirrelpox is fatal to red squirrels and their replacement by the invading grey squirrels is up to 25 times faster where the virus is present.”

“Our work suggests that the devastating effect of the disease may be down to the apparent ease with which it spreads via urine, parasites and faeces. Moreover, unlike many viruses which peak in winter our experiments suggest squirrelpox persists best in spring and summer when squirrels are more active and likely to encounter the disease.”

The study also looked at past levels of exposure, by testing squirrels for antibodies to the virus, and current levels of active infection by testing squirrels for the presence of the squirrelpox viral DNA.

“Most populations possessed both antibodies and active virus but levels varied considerably between forests. More importantly from a conservation perspective, some populations did not possess antibodies, so had not been exposed previously, but had high levels of active virus suggesting that disease had arrived only recently. Such populations were typically at interfaces between the species were the invading grey had only just colonised. This has allowed us to highlight specific populations of native red squirrels that are currently under threat and in need of protection.” Dr Reid added.

Limiting the contact between the species may provide a means by which to slow or prevent the spread of the disease to remaining isolated populations of red squirrels. In areas where the ranges of the two species overlap, measures to reduce encounter rates are considered essential.

For further information research in Quercus at Queen’s University Belfast visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/Quercus/

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5292 email: j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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Adoreboard wins major Silicon Valley award

A brand intelligence tech start-up company backed by Queen’s University Belfast has been crowned ‘best tech start-up’ at the ITLG Silicon Valley Global Technology Forum.

Adoreboard scooped the Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) University Challenge Award for best tech start-up with the most global commercial potential at the recent awards ceremony. The company beat off stiff competition from over 20 third level institutions from across the island of Ireland in a Dragons Den style pitching competition.

Last year another Queen’s spin-out company, Analytics Engines, won the Emerging Technology sector at the Awards.

The Adoreboard award was made as part of a two day technology forum, where a delegation from Silicon Valley, which included top executives from the global tech sector including CISCO, Intel, DELL, Disney and AOL, met with a shortlist of start-up companies from across the island of Ireland who pitched their innovative technology solutions to an investor panel.  

The data analytics software company, which extracts meaning from big data to help brands understand how people feel about them online, faced a panel of seasoned enterpreneurs and corporate leaders including Barry O’Sullivan Senior Vice-President of CISCO.

The award was presented to Adoreboard founder and CEO Chris Johnston by ITLG chairman and former chairman and CEO of Intel Corp., Craig Barrett. Speaking after picking up the award Chris Johnston described the accolade as “recognition of the worldwide commercial potential of Adoreboard.”

The Adoreboard leadership team includes Chief Scientific Officer Dr Gary McKeown from Queen’s University and Chief Technology Officer Dr Fergal Monaghan who previously worked at German software giant SAP. 

Adoreboard will now go forward to meet with investors in Silicon Valley at the next ITLG event on the West Coast, USA later this year. Dr. Paul Donachy who heads the Commercial Development Team in Queen’s University’s Research and Enterprise Directorate, said: “We are thrilled that Queen’s and Adoreboard won in this very competitive catergory, reflecting the predigree of tech start-ups supported by Queen’s. The ITLG award provides a significant opportunity for Adoreboard to now meet with investors in Silicon Valley later this year. For any start-up this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Cian Hughes ITLG Head of Operations commented: "We looked for a company that shows the best global opportunity for a very early stage company in the ITLG University Challenge, and having received entries from over 20 third level institutions all over Ireland, Adoreboard showed us that real potential."

Further information on adoreboard is available online at www.adoreboard.com/

Media inquiries to Communications Office, Queen’s University Belfast. Email j.rance@qub.ac.uk or T +44 (0)28 9097 5292.

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Queen’s University awarded over £400,000 to tackle prostate cancer

Researchers from Queen’s University have received more than £400k to develop new treatments for prostate cancer.

Two leading research projects at Queen’s University were awarded grants from Prostate Cancer UK, with support from the Movember Foundation through a competitive process because of their extremely high quality and relevance to men with prostate cancer.

Dr Rich Williams, lead researcher at Queen’s University, has received £384,126 to examine whether reducing the behaviour of a particular protein can lower the development of prostate cancer.

Dr Williams said: "We have previously observed that supressing the activity of the protein, Legumain in prostate cancer cells has a significant impact on many of the hallmarks of cancer. With this generous grant from Prostate Cancer UK we aim to develop a drug which can directly target the activity of Legumain and in turn impact tumour development. This is exciting as in time this may lead to a new treatment for men in the advanced stages of the disease."

Dr Anna Gavin, Principal Investigator and Director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry has received £54,574 to advance understanding of men’s experiences and physical and emotional wellbeing following prostate cancer treatment. This is a joint grant with the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency which has matched the funding awarded by Prostate Cancer UK.

Dr Gavin said: “More and more men are living with prostate cancer, yet the needs of this increasing population remain poorly understood. We will use information already collected from thousands of prostate cancer survivors to inform the development of interventions, support services and policies aimed at helping men live better after prostate cancer. ”

This follows the announcement last week that Queen’s University in partnership with the University of Manchester will form the first regional Movember Centre of Excellence in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK as part of the fight against prostate cancer. This will see an investment of £5 million over a five-year period across Belfast and Manchester. Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, said: “These significant investments into prostate cancer research means we can continue to bring forward discoveries including developing new drugs and treatments which will have real benefits to men with this disease.

 “We are delighted to be awarded these research grants to further our world-class research at Queen’s which continues to advance knowledge and change lives.”

Prostate Cancer UK has also announced a new campaign Men United v Prostate Cancer, which is calling on people across the country to sign for a new team – Men United, adding their weight to the new movement to fight the apathy and neglect surrounding one of the UK’s biggest man killers and beat the devastating ‘dads disease’ once and for all.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “Each year almost as many men are diagnosed with prostate cancer as women are diagnosed with breast cancer. But research into prostate cancer is badly underfunded, leaving tests and treatments trailing behind other common cancers.  Through funding ground breaking projects such as these, with the UK’s top research scientists, we hope to be able to drive forward the understanding, diagnosis and treatment for the disease so that more men can survive and have a better quality of life in the future.”

“Thanks to the support of the Movember Foundation, we have been able to rapidly accelerate our mission to find the answers to the many questions which still surround prostate cancer. While this provides a fantastic launch pad, we still need to dramatically increase awareness of the disease and support for the cause, if we are to truly deliver a better future for men. This is why through our new campaign - Men United V Prostate Cancer - we are calling on everyone, from all walks of life, to sign up and join us in the fight. Together we can and will beat prostate cancer.”

For media inquiries please contact Michelle Cassidy, Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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‘Countdown’ begins to Sigerson throw in this Friday at Queen’s GAA Festival

The Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup takes centre stage at Queen’s GAA Festival this weekend, with the finals acting as a trial for the GAA’s new clock and hooter system for the first time.

Approval is being sought at GAA Congress this weekend to extend the use of the countdown system for all football and hurling championship matches.

Among the teams experiencing the system for the first time will be those in the semi-finals of the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup. NUI Maynooth face University College Cork in the first semi-final at 3.30pm on Friday at Upper Malone, while University of Ulster Jordanstown take on a resurgent University College Dublin at 5.30pm.

The fiercely fought games feature a host of established inter county and All-Ireland medal winning players, including UUJ’s Jamie Clarke, Chrissie McKeague and Mattie Donnelly; Maynooth’s Paddy McBrearty and Michael Darragh Macauley; UCC’s Alan Cronin and Paul Guiney; and UCD’s Paul Mannion and Jack McCaffrey. Matches get underway on Friday and on Saturday the TG4 screened Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup Final throws in at 6.45pm. The Corn Na Mac Leinn Final will commence at 3.00pm, while the Trench Cup Final begins at 4.45pm.

It is the second tournament of Queen’s GAA Festival and follows a hugely successful Ashbourne Camogie tournament last weekend, where University of Limerick claimed the Ashbourne title over rivals DIT.

Friday at Upper Malone will also feature the final stages of the Irish Daily Mail Trench Cup, Corn na Mac Léinn and Corn Comhairle Ardoideachais with matches starting at 12.30pm.

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Queen’s University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: “The Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup weekend is a highlight in the intervarsity sporting calendar, not just for the 500 players who will be competing this weekend, and their supporters, but also for the many thousands of past players who still remember competing in the tournament as one of the best times in their lives. This weekend we are looking forward to a celebration of sporting excellence and achievement, alongside cross-community health and family events, and I would like to thank all our partners for their valuable support. I wish everyone an enjoyable few days at our magnificent sporting facilities at Upper Malone and hope they have time to discover more about our wonderful city of Belfast and return many times in the future.”

GAA President Liam O’Neill said: “The Sigerson Cup is among the most keenly contested in the GAA calendar and boasts a proud history to rival any of our competitions. The dedication and commitment of players participating in the various competitions should also be acknowledged and it is heartening to note that the competitions continue to grow from strength to strength. While the games naturally occupy centre stage there is so much more to the GAA having a healthy presence at this level of the educational sector.

"Best wishes to all associated with Queen's University Belfast who have put together what promises to be a memorable GAA Festival and I also want to thank the Irish Daily Mail for their continued support of our third level competitions."

Welcoming the football squads to Belfast, Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “The Sigerson Cup is one of the premier GAA titles within Higher Education GAA competitions. I am extremely proud that Belfast has had the opportunity to host all four of the major competitions, including the Ashbourne, O’Connor and Fitzgibbon Cup, as part of the Queen’s GAA Festival.  The Festival is a celebration of culture, sport and heritage and offers us the opportunity to showcase Queen’s, Belfast and its facilities to the wider GAA family. I would like to congratulate all those who have taken part as well as the coaching staff and supporters who came along to cheer them on.”

Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, welcomed the visiting Gaelic footballers to Belfast. He said: “It is great to have this level of talent here in our city for all to enjoy,” he said.  “Belfast is delighted to showcase the best of sport.”

Looking forward to the weekend, John Devaney, Chair of the Organising Committee for Queen’s GAA Festival, said: “Few competitions in the GAA calendar can generate the kind of passion and enthusiasm that you will find in Sigerson Cup. It has an illustrious history, and as hosts, Queen’s will certainly hope to add to the story this weekend. The GAA Festival is a unique challenge for any college and having hosted the first of four intervarsities last weekend, we are up and running. We hope that all players and supporters enjoy themselves and make the most of what should be a memorable weekend.”

Paul Henderson, Managing Director of the Irish Daily Mail, said: “The Irish Daily Mail is honoured to be sponsors of all GAA Higher Education Leagues and Championships for the third year running. We know how important commercial support is to one of the vital arteries of the national games and at The Irish Daily Mail we are delighted to lend our support both financially and more importantly in raising the profile of these players through our newspapers. We add this to our continued patronage of The GAA Croke Park Museum.

“The Irish Daily Mail has followed the progress of the Championships with previews of the competitions and big games, extended match reports, and The College Dugout, a colourful weekly column every Tuesday. This Monday there’ll be extensive reports and analysis from this week’s Irish Daily Mail GAA 3rd Level Championship Finals.”

Comhairle Árdoideachais chairman Ray O’Brien said: "I am looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic spectacle of Gaelic Football this weekend. While the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup may dominate the headlines, the Trench Cup, Corn na Mac Leinn and Corn Comhairle Ardoideachais will be keenly contested also. Queen’s University have put in a supreme effort to host our competitions and I believe their hard work will be rewarded with a quality festival of football. I wish them and all the participating teams the best of luck over the weekend."

Ulster GAA President Martin McAviney said: “I am pleased that Queen's University Belfast is playing host to the Sigerson Cup Finals for the third time in the past 10 years. I hope we can continue the tradition of Ulster success with UUJ GAA featuring in the final four. Teams from all over Ireland will be present to participate in a fantastic display of Gaelic football at Upper Malone over the weekend. I want to thank Queen’s GAA Club for both their innovation and hard work in organising the Sigerson Cup as part of the overall Queen's GAA Festival and offer my best wishes to all teams involved.”

Matthew McNeice, Chairman of the Queen’s Gaelic Football Club said: "It is always an honour for any University to host the Sigerson Cup, but this year is even more special as Queen’s is also hosting the Ashbourne, Fitzgibbon and O'Connor Cups in a bumper festival of GAA action. My thanks go to the University and its staff, our volunteers and in particular the Past Member's Union in creating this Festival. I would also like to wish all the participating teams good luck for the weekend and congratulate them on making it this far. Finally, I hope everyone enjoys all of the action and has a great weekend."

Further details on Queen’s GAA Festival and fixtures on the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup Weekend are available online at www.gaafestival.com Queen’s GAA Festival can be followed on Facebook and Twitter at @QUBGAAFestival

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: 028 9097 5384 or 0781 44 22 572.

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Managed honeybees linked to new diseases in wild bumblebees

Queen’s researchers have found that diseases commonly found in honeybees are now widespread in the wild bumblebee population according to a new study published in the journal Nature.

The team of researchers, including Dr Dino McMahon and Professor Robert Paxton from Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with Dr Matthias Fürst and Professor Mark Brown from Royal Holloway University of London and Professor Juliet Osborne at the University of Exeter say the research provides vital information for beekeepers across the world to ensure honeybee management also supports wild bee populations.

Professor Robert Paxton from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s said: “This is a very important finding for beekeepers, as controlling disease in honeybee hives is vital to stopping the spread of disease within and between bee species. Wild bees are in huge decline on a world-wide scale, however, if it is possible to identify and manage the diseases which are affecting wild bumblebee populations then there will be huge benefits to honeybees as well as to wild bees.”

This research assessed common honeybee diseases to determine if they could pass from honeybees to bumblebees.

It showed that deformed wing virus and the fungal parasite Nosema ceranae - both of which have major negative impacts on honeybee health - can infect worker bumblebees and, in the case of deformed wing virus, reduce their lifespan.

Honeybees and bumblebees were then collected from 26 sites across the UK and screened for the presence of the parasites. Both parasites were widespread in bumblebees and even more so in honeybees across the UK.

Dr Fürst from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway University explained: “One of the novel aspects of our study is that we show that deformed wing virus, which is one of the main causes of honeybee deaths worldwide, is not only broadly present in bumblebees, but is actually replicating inside them. This means that it is acting as a real disease; they are not just carriers.”

The researchers also looked at how the diseases spread and studied genetic similarities between deformed wing virus (DWV) in different pollinator populations. Three factors suggest that honeybees are spreading the parasites into wild bumblebees: honeybees have higher background levels of the virus and the fungus than bumblebees; bumblebee infection could be predicted by patterns of honeybee infection; and honeybees and bumblebees at the same sites shared genetic strains of DWV.

"Parasites are probably the major cause of honeybee losses,” said Professor Paxton. 

“Our novel data using high-resolution genetic markers have allowed us to trace individual strains of virus and show that their transfer between honey bees and bumble bees is on-going right now.”

While recent studies have provided anecdotal reports of the presence of honeybee parasites in other pollinators, this is the first study to determine the epidemiology of these parasites across the landscape. The results suggest an urgent need for management recommendations to reduce the threat of emerging diseases to our wild and managed bees.

Professor Mark Brown added: “National societies and agencies, both in the UK and globally, currently manage so-called honeybee diseases on the basis that they are a threat only to honeybees. While they are doing great work, our research shows that this premise is not true, and that the picture is much more complex. Policies to manage these diseases need to take into account threats to wild pollinators and be designed to reduce the impact of these diseases not just on managed honeybees, but on our wild bumblebees too.”

This study is part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative, joint-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust. It is managed under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership.

The full paper can be read at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7488/full/nature12977.html

For media inquiries please contact Michelle Cassidy at Queen’s Communication Office on 028 9097 5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Children’s services need to be more rigorously evaluated according to Queen’s academic

Children’s services in Northern Ireland need to be better informed by evidence, and more rigorously evaluated, so that public money is not wasted, according to a Queen’s University Belfast academic.

Ahead of the international Improving Children’s Lives conference at Queen's today (Thursday, 20 February), Dr Liam O’Hare said that, although Northern Ireland was among the global leaders in assessing the quality of services for children and young people, value for money was far from being guaranteed.

Using evidence showing real improvements in children’s lives would not only lead to better services, he argued, but would also ensure a better deal for the taxpayer.

Last year statutory bodies in Northern Ireland spent £2.5bn on education and £3.8bn on health services.

“A huge amount of public money is spent on services that are intended to improve the lives of children and their families, but not all services improve children’s lives,” commented Dr O’Hare. “A school may spend £10,000 buying tablet computers for pupils, but who’s to say that money wouldn’t be better spent on computer programming lessons for the pupils? The answer to the problem lies in the use of rigorous evidence to compare alternative approaches.”

He added: “It’s about promoting successful interventions and refining or even stopping projects that don’t deliver improved results for children and young people.”

The event is being organised by the Improving Children’s Lives initiative at Queen’s, which links together a number of world leading research centres, clusters and institutes across the University working with children and young people.

The theme of the conference is that social, health and educational services for young people are most effective when they are gathering evidence of real change in children’s lives, while recognising the internationally agreed rights children have to quality services. The conference also includes four keynote speakers, and these experts from England and the US will cover related issues from an international perspective.

Operations Manager for the Improving Children’s Lives initiative at Queen’s, Dr O’Hare pointed out: “Researchers in Northern Ireland are leading the way in Europe, and perhaps even the world, with regard to the rigorous evaluation of children’s services, but there is no room for complacency and lots of room for further improvement.”

Another theme of the conference is the importance of people working together across the community, voluntary and statutory sectors from a range of different perspectives.

Professor Paul Connolly, Head of School of Education and Chair of the Improving Children’s Lives Initiative at Queen’s said: “There needs to be more of a joined-up approach to addressing the needs of young people. Factors that affect children’s lives are complex and inter-linked.”

He continued: “For example, some issues may require the input of the police in conjunction with health-workers, teachers and NGOs, supported by the research evidence.

“That work has begun in Northern Ireland with the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership. The Improving Children’s Lives conference will hear from a wide range of practitioners and researchers, both locally and internationally, regarding the challenges associated with working across sectors to promote better outcomes for children and young people.”  

The conference entitled ‘Improving Children’s Lives: An International Interdisciplinary conference’ is taking place at Queen’s from February 20, until February 22.

The event is using the hastag #iclconference and it’s Twitter account is @iclconference  
Further information on the conference is available online at http://www.improvingchildrenslives.org/

Media inquiries to Judith Rance, Queen’s Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 5292 j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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Fun and games for everyone at Queen’s GAA Festival

 

Queen’s GAA Festival in Belfast is now in full swing and organisers are encouraging people to make the most of their Festival experience by enjoying the entertainment off the pitch.

With thousands of visitors due to flock to Belfast over the remaining three weekends of the Festival, the Festival programme extends off the pitch as Queen’s Students’ Union opens its doors to many post match events, allowing players and supporters alike to enjoy various social events.

The Festival continues at Queen’s Sport’s Upper Malone site this weekend with Gaelic Football’s Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup. At 3.30pm on Friday NUI Maynooth will take on University College Cork, while University of Ulster Jordanstown take on University College Dublin at 5.30pm. The final throws in at 6.45pm on Saturday evening.

Hurling’s Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup in next up from February 28 – March 1 and Ladies Football’s O’Connor Cup takes place from March 21 – 22.

Friday night sees a highlight in the Festival programme, with a performance from five-piece folk and traditional Belfast-based band The Rapparees, who will take to the stage of the Student’s Union. The local band is set to raise the roof, described as one of the most exciting and engaging bands to burst onto the Irish traditional music scene in decades, they have built a strong student following over the years since they attended university in Belfast.

Saturday morning sees free community health checks on offer in the Pavilion with talks on mental health and wellbeing on offer.

The fun continues next week when much loved local comedians Colin Murphy, Tim McGarry and Jake O’Kane take to the stage on February 27 for the Festival Comedy Night, as they guarantee the Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Weekend gets off to a side-splitting start.

Other events taking place include team celebration evenings as well as community initiatives supported by the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Belfast City Council and the Ulster GAA Council, including a Community Health Awareness Forum; Sporting Skills Experience; the official launch of Seachtain na Gaeilge; an AIL Rugby fixture between Queen’s University and University College Cork and a Female Youth Participation Workshops.

A limited edition official Festival jersey has also been designed to offer a lasting memory of this unique Festival. Players, supporters and GAA fans can pick up their merchandise online at www.gaaFestival.com, at Queen’s Physical Education Centre or over the weekends at Upper Malone.

Chair of the Organisation Committee, John Devaney spoke of the social aspect of the Festival, “Queen’s University is delighted to set the precedent by hosting all four major higher education Gaelic Games tournaments within one Festival. To ensure we can offer a balanced experience, however, we feel it’s important to host post match events so players can meet fellow competitors in a social aspect.

“The full Festival programme will ensure there is something that everyone can enjoy and we hope that players and supporters alike will come away having made the most of their time spent at the Festival and gained a full and enjoyable experience,” he concluded.

For further information on Queen’s GAA Festival and to purchase an official Festival jersey please visit www.gaaFestival.com

Media Enquiries: For further information please contact Lawrence Duffy, Michael Rafferty or Jen Higgins of Duffy Rafferty Communications on 028 9073 0880.

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Belfast Midwifery student shortlisted for National award

A student Midwife from Belfast has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award which recognises exceptional professional skills and potential.

Suzie Smyth, who is studying at Queen’s University, has been nominated for the 2013/14 Outstanding Student Midwife award under the UK’s only scholarships for Student Nurses and Midwives, run by Cavell Nurses’ Trust.

The finalists will be chosen later this month by a panel of eminent judges, comprising leading nurses and midwives, including Professor Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives. Suzie will be interviewed by the panel, alongside 28 other candidates.

Winners of the top awards will receive up to £2,000 to further their professional practice either in this country or internationally, in conjunction with their university.

Previous winners of the scholarships have used these opportunities to study and work in India and Africa and last year’s winner of the leadership award travelled to the Andes in Peru to help nurse families afflicted by poisoned water courses, a result of mining activity.

There are five award categories covering academic achievement, outstanding student midwife and nurse, leadership and community.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust was formed in 1917 with overwhelming public support following the execution of British nurse Edith Cavell during the First World War. The charity is urging people to support an online petition, calling for the inspirational nurse to be commemorated next year, the centenary of her death, on a special edition £2 coin, as part of the WW1 series of tributes. People can support the campaign via https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-british-treasury-issue-a-2-coin-with-the-face-of-edith-cavell-on-it

The charity, which helps hundreds of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who have fallen on hard times every year, is also running a Centenary Appeal to raise £3 million by next year and double the number of people it supports.  For further information about Cavell Nurses' Trust, please visit www.cavellnursestrust.org or call 01527 595999.

Media inquiries to Pam Beecham, Cavell Nurses’ Trust. Email: beechampa@aol.com

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Queen’s Dental Student ranked first in the UK

A Queen's University final year dental student has been ranked number one in the National Dental Foundation Training assessment procedure.

Leonard Maguire, from Dungannon, has been ranked first among more than 1200 final year dental students from across the UK's 16 Dental Schools and from Dental Schools in Europe who were assessed during this year's Foundation Training recruitment process.  Last year's highest ranking student in the UK was also another Queen's dental student, Conan Mackle, from Derry.

National recruitment to Dental Foundation training was introduced for Wales and England for all dental graduates in 2011 with Northern Ireland joining the process in 2012.  Students are assessed in their final year of study using professional, clinical and management scenarios and a Situational Judgment Test.   Students are then ranked according to their performance in these areas.

On top of this individual success, all of Queen's University's final year dental students performed well with half of the Queen's dental students ranked in the top 20 per cent.

Speaking about his success, Leonard said: "I am really pleased to have been ranked number one in the UK in the recent Dental Foundation Training recruitment process.  The teaching, training and continued support I received at Queen's means that I feel well equipped for the workplace.  The Employability Programme at the Centre for Dentistry has been invaluable in terms of encouraging development of my skills."

Speaking about the results, Queen's Acting President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: "This is fantastic news for Dentistry at Queen's.  The fact that Queen's dental students have been ranked top in the UK for the second year in a row is testimony to the high quality of education offered in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.  The performance of our final year dental students in the Dental Foundation Training selection process is evidence of the University's commitment to employability as a key component of the student experience."

Professor Donald Burden, Director of the Centre for Dentistry at Queen's, said: "We are delighted that for the second year in a row a Queen's dental student has been ranked first in the UK and that more than half our students are in the top twenty per cent.  These results reflect not only the hard work and commitment of our students but also the high quality of teaching delivered by the dental teaching team. The Centre for Dentistry's Employability Programme run by Lorna Dysart, Clinical Teaching Fellow, has also played a key role in this national success."

This achievement comes at an exciting time for Queen's Centre for Dentistry; the completion of the first and second phases of an ongoing multi-million pound refurbishment programme means that the Dental School's clinical training facilities are already among the best in the UK. The quality of clinical education and training provided at Queen's Dental School is also attracting high quality undergraduate students from across the world with 25 per cent of the most recent student intake comprising of international students.

For further information on the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/mdbs/

 

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 leads the way in UK fight against prostate cancer
Pictured L to R:  Patient Allister Murphy, Newtownabbey and Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s and Professor Joe O’Sullivan from Queen’s, chair of radiotherapy development and clinical lead for radiotherapy at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre.
Pictured L to R: Patient Allister Murphy, Newtownabbey and Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s and Professor Joe O’Sullivan from Queen’s, chair of radiotherapy development and clinical lead for radiotherapy at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre.

Queen’s University Belfast has announced it is to partner with the University of Manchester to form the first regional Movember Centre of Excellence in the fight against prostate cancer.

The radical development is in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK and the Movember Foundation and will see an investment of £5 million over a five-year period across Belfast and Manchester.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among males in the UK with 40,000 new diagnoses every year. Comprising an outstanding team of internationally recognised scientists from across different disciplines, the key focus of the Belfast-Manchester hub will be improving outcomes for men with advanced disease. The funding will ensure that lab breakthroughs are translated into clinical benefits as quickly as possible. The Belfast-Manchester nexus will also include the Manchester-based Christie NHS Foundation Trust, the largest single-site cancer centre in Europe. A second Centre of Excellence will be located in London and will also receive £5 million over five years.

The two Centres were selected after a rigorous, international peer-review process. To qualify for funding, lead scientists had to prove strong, international track records and their teams needed to demonstrate existing or planned cross-discipline collaborations between basic and clinical scientists.

Over the five-year programme, researchers in Belfast and Manchester will identify men at high risk of aggressive disease, and find which patients respond best to various treatment options – an approach often referred to as ‘personalised medicine’. Cancer specialists will also work on refining new and existing treatments such as radiotherapy to improve how well they work for advanced prostate cancer, including cancer that has spread to the bones. The Belfast-Manchester Centre will bring in expertise from outside of prostate cancer, using insights from the latest research into other cancers including melanoma, breast and lung.

Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, is one of two Scientific Co-Directors of the Centre, alongside Professor Richard Marais, Director of the CRUK Manchester Institute.

Prof Waugh said: “The Belfast-Manchester Centre of Excellence provides a rare opportunity to bring together an international team of experts in radiation, biomarker discovery, genetic modelling and tumour biology who will use their individual talents in a collective and focused manner to make significant discoveries to benefit and extend the lives of men with prostate cancer.

“The scale and duration of funding available through the programme enables clinicians and scientists to tackle major clinical problems and more importantly, the longer timeframe also enables the team to ensure that our scientific progress has a clear clinical line-of-sight, and that we can begin to apply this new knowledge into clinical practice – resulting in more immediate benefits for those affected.

“I am extremely excited about what we can achieve.”

Professor Joe O’Sullivan, chair of radiotherapy development and clinical lead for radiotherapy at the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre and Chair of the Uro-Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at the Belfast Trust will be one of two Clinical Co-Directors of the Centre.

Prof O’Sullivan said: “I am extremely excited about the prospect of working with a team of world class researchers and those who are bringing their expertise from outside prostate cancer research in to the field for the first time.

“Through this research programme we have the opportunity to increase the speed of clinical advances by taking a fresh approach to prostate cancer research involving state of the art technology and a genuine collaborative approach.”

Movember UK Country Manager Sarah Coghlan said the Centres of Excellence scheme was “one of the most significant and exciting milestones for the Movember Foundation and prostate cancer research in the UK”.

She continued: “We’re bringing the best in the research world together for a sustained period to have a real impact and to develop real understanding of how to fight this disease.

“These Movember Centres of Excellence are the first of their kind in the UK focussed on prostate cancer and they represent the Movember Foundation’s commitment to having an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. We salute every one of the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas in the UK. This wouldn’t be possible without them.”

In addition to the funding from Movember, the HSC R&D Division of the Public Health Agency has contributed an additional £500,000 to the Centre. It will be used to fund two key posts within the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre – a research radiographer and a post-doctoral research scientist.

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of the HSC R&D Division at the Public Health Agency said: “I am delighted that we will partner with Movember/Prostate Cancer UK to support the Belfast arm of this new Centre of Excellence in translational prostate cancer research.

“I believe this project has the potential to bring significant benefits to those living with prostate cancer in Northern Ireland and beyond. The Movember award recognises the strong track record in prostate cancer research in Belfast and Manchester, and this investment from HSC R&D Division will further enhance the already close working relationship between the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast.” Professor Richard Marais of the CRUK Manchester Institute, part of the University of Manchester, said: “We have established a unique collaboration that will bring together knowledge and insights from across different cancers and disciplines, which will enable us to tackle some of the complexities still surrounding this disease from a new perspective.

“Crucially, by working in partnership we also hope to increase the speed at which lab breakthroughs reach the man in the clinic and have a direct impact on patient outcomes.”

 For media inquiries please contact the Queen’s Communications Office on comms.office@qub.ac.uk or Tel. 028 9097 3091.

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Queen’s student awarded Seagate Technology Bursary

Queen’s physics student, Thomas Fyfe, who is from Ballymena, has been awarded the Seagate Technology Bursary.

This Bursary, which launched last year, is awarded to one student studying a MSci Physics at Queen’s with a value of over £7,000 over three years. In addition to the annual payments and book supplements offered by the scholarships, there is also the opportunity for real-life research and development experience through three paid summer internships with significantly enhanced career prospects after graduation.

Thomas is currently in his second year at Queen’s University studying for a Master’s degree in Physics and he has a particular interest in the field of Nanotechnology.

On receiving this bursary, Thomas said: “The Seagate bursary is a fantastic opportunity for me to work for a global leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of Hard Disc Drives. During my summer placements of 2014 and 2015 I hope to gain invaluable practical experience working as part of a team at the cutting edge of Hard Drive Technology. For me, the Seagate bursary will provide an excellent foundation for my future career as a Physicist.”

Professor Francis Keenan, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s emphasised the important partnership between academics and industry: “Queen’s University is committed to improving the employability of our graduates and the School of Mathematics and Physics are very grateful to Seagate for this bursary. Our links with Seagate are very important to us, and this award provides an opportunity for our undergraduates to work with one of the leading companies located in Northern Ireland.  I wish to congratulate Thomas on receiving this award.”

Damien Gallagher, Executive Director of Engineering from Seagate who presented Thomas with the award, affirmed his support for the scheme: “Seagate is delighted to continue our collaboration with the Physics Dept. at Queen’s. The future success of our industry-leading Springtown facility is dependent upon the supply of high calibre science and engineering graduates. I am sure that the 2014 recipient, Thomas Fyfe, will enjoy his association with Seagate and will develop skills to complement his studies at Queen's.” Thomas will continue to study for his Masters in Physics with his first summer internship starting this June at Seagate.

For further information please contact: Anne Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thur-Fri) Queen’s Communication Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's GAA Festival opens with Ashbourne Cup this weekend.

 

Queen’s historic GAA Festival gets under way this weekend with 16 higher level Camogie teams descending on Belfast to compete for the Ashbourne, Purcell and Fr Meachair Cups.

Featuring many of the elite players from the inter-county scene, the weekend promises an intensive schedule of top quality Camogie. The sporting action will be taking place at Queen’s Upper Malone facility, which recently underwent a £13 million redevelopment.   In the prestigious Ashbourne Cup Waterford IT are aiming for a record equaling sixth title in a row, a feat achieved only twice before by UCC in the 1920s and again in the 1970s. Hosts Queen’s will be among the favourites for the Purcell Cup, while UUJ will be seeking to retain the Ashbourne Shield.

Welcoming the Camogie players to Belfast, Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said: “The Ashbourne Cup is the curtain raiser to the four highly prestigious finals taking part in Belfast as part of Queen’s GAA Festival. Camogie is played by thousands of girls and women all over the world. We must ensure that women’s sport is given the full recognition it deserves. Too often in the past it has been overlooked.

“It is vital that we support and nurture the talents of both our female and male athletes. Elite competitions such as the Ashbourne Cup enable players to compete amongst the best of the best.  I would like to congratulate all of the players, coaches and supporters for making it to the final stages of the competition.”

Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, welcomed the visiting camogie players to Belfast. He said: “It is great to have this level of talent here in our city for all to enjoy. Belfast is delighted to showcase the best of sport.”

The Ashbourne Cup was established in 1914 as an intervarsity competition for university level Camogie players. Queen’s first took part in 1934 and this year marks the 80th anniversary of their involvement.

John Devaney, Chair of the Organising Committee for Queen’s GAA Festival, said: “The Ashbourne Cup weekend opens our ambitious GAA Festival at Queen's and we hope that this will be a weekend to remember for everyone involved. The Ashbourne Cup has a distinguished place in the history of Camogie and Queen's victory in 1991 remains an important achievement for the University.  We are hopeful of some home success in the coming days in the Purcell Cup. I have no doubt that the Ashbourne Cup weekend will set the scene for what will be the best intervarsity sporting event ever hosted here.”

Camogie Association President Aileen Lawlor said: “The Ashbourne weekend is always very competitive. It is held in very high esteem and is eagerly awaited in the Camogie 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. I wish all the players the very best this weekend and hope all our players, mentors and supporters take away some very special memories.”

The Ashbourne weekend features a programme of social events to cater for supporters from the participating institutions.

Shane D’Arcy President of Third Level Camogie said: "I am delighted that Comhairle Chamógaíochta Ard-Oideachas are going to be part of history, when the Ashbourne competition will open the Queen’s University GAA Festival this weekend. The Ashbourne competition is very special and we look forward to sporting and competitive games in keeping with Colleges’ Camogie tradition, as Queen’s play host to the elite players of Third level Camogie."

Further details on Queen’s GAA Festival and fixtures on the Ashbourne Weekend are available online at www.gaafestival.com

Queen’s GAA Festival can be followed on Facebook and Twitter at @QUBGAAFestival

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Polymer Processing Research Centre secures €1million grant as part of a European Consortium.
Joe Molloy, Technical Director with IPC polymers, Mark Billham, Research Fellow at the Polymer Precision Research Centre at Queen's University, Belfast and Dr Marion McAfee, of the Department of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, IT Sligo, demonstrate an artificial knee joint at the launch the €1million Bio-PolyTec EU FP7 research project. The project aims to progress the commercial availability of bioresorbable and drug-eluting medical implants.
Joe Molloy, Technical Director with IPC polymers, Mark Billham, Research Fellow at the Polymer Precision Research Centre at Queen's University, Belfast and Dr Marion McAfee, of the Department of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, IT Sligo, demonstrate an artificial knee joint at the launch the €1million Bio-PolyTec EU FP7 research project. The project aims to progress the commercial availability of bioresorbable and drug-eluting medical implants.

Researchers at Queen’s are collaborating on a €1 million EU funded project to pave the way for people to receive better and cheaper medical implants in a more timely manner.

The Queen’s team are based within the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) located in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The two-year initiative is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7) for Research and Technological Development. The project, termed ‘Bio-PolyTec’, targets greater use ofbioresorbable polymer materials rather than metals in implants, thereby bringing important benefits for patients and manufacturers.

Professor Fraser Buchanan, who leads the Queen’s team, said: “Bioresorbable polymers are set to play a major role in the future development of implantable medical devices. They are becoming established in a number of key applications ranging from orthopaedic to cardiovascular. Bioresorbable polymers have key advantages over traditional metal implants. They naturally breakdown into non-toxic by-products and are gradually replaced by the patient’s own tissue, leading to improved patient recovery.”

The materials are seeing increasing application in treatment of trauma and sports injuries, including internal bone fixation devices (screws, plates and pins) and reattachment of ruptured ligaments (suture anchors). Furthermore an innovative new product called ‘RegJoint’ is now produced by project partner Scaffdex, for the treatment of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis in the small joints of the hand and foot. Bioresorbable polymers can also incorporate drugs and bioactive additives, which are slowly released as they degrade, broadening applications to pharmaceutical therapies.

Dr Nicholas Dunne, Director of Queen’s PPRC, says that one of main obstacle to wider use of bioresorbable implants for medical applications has been challenges in their manufacture. With the project consortium now having access to the world-class facilities available within the PPRC there is an opportunity for theBio-PolyTec team to developnovel monitoring and control techniques which will speed up processing methods and significantly reduce scrap-rate of the costly material.

Mark Billham, PPRC Research Fellow on this project, has extensive industrial and collaborative research experience in many areas of polymer extrusion and polymer materials, and will be working in close cooperation with all industrial and academic project partners.

The project partners are from the UK, Finland, Germany and Ireland. They include academics at two universities, including Sligo Institute of Technology, who coordinate the project, and Tampere University, who originally founded the use of bioresorbable implants. Industrialists include biomaterial processors, device manufacturers and specialists in sensor technology.

The other partners in the initiative are:

  • IPC Polymers Ltd (Ireland), a manufacturer of polymer compounds for the medical industry
  • Scaffdex Oy (Finland), which makes bioresorbable tissue scaffolds for treatment of arthritic joints
  • Fos-Messtechnik GmbH (Germany), whichmanufacture sensors for the process industry, particularly optic sensors and related technologies
  • Plasma-Biotal Ltd (UK), who provide bio-active particles for orthopaedic implants.
  • Corbion Purac (Netherlands), a manufacturer of bioresorbable polymer

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091.

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Public invited to sneak preview of 'tomorrow's world' at Queen's green-energy showcase

Queen’s University is inviting members of the public to come and see the strides being made by local researchers into pioneering new green technologies, including the transformation of a vintage DeLorean car into an electric vehicle.

From gas harnessed from animal slurry to wave technology, the Energy For The Future showcase, which takes place tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 11 February), promises a fascinating window on tomorrow’s world.

On offer is a sneak preview of a Belfast-manufactured DeLorean car which is being transformed into an electrical vehicle by 2015 to coincide with the mythical future, as portrayed in the popular, fantasy Hollywood film Back To The Future. While the car itself is not ready to be displayed, images of work-in-progress will be included in a presentation.

The evening also includes a presentation on ‘smartparks’ – where electric cars can go to be recharged – and the fragmentation of the electricity network into smaller, power ‘islands’ whereby the impact of electrical faults can be minimised.

Taking place between 5.30 -7.30pm, in Queen’s Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, the event is free of charge and open to everyone but places are limited so advance booking is recommended.

Researchers will be on hand to answer questions about topical issues such as wind and tidal energy and alternatives to using fossil fuels for power.

The four speakers are: Dr Timothy Littler from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Dr Beatrice Smyth from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Professor Trevor Whittaker from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering; and Professor Christopher Hardacre from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Acting Vice Chancellor Professor James McElnay said the showcase was an opportunity to see technologies that would impact society, at both a local and international level.

“Some of these technologies will have a global effect,” he said. “It’s not just research that goes on behind closed doors – it’s research and development that will change the future shape of our world."

Scott Rutherford, Director of Research and Enterprise at Queen’s, added: “We often read headlines about ground breaking research that is taking place at Queen’s. By running a series of free events, such as this one, we offer members of our community an opportunity to hear more from the people behind the headlines and about their research. To learn about some of the projects within Queen’s of extraordinary diversity that are advancing and exchanging knowledge and delivering impact and benefit to Northern Ireland and the wider world.”

Dr Littler said the event would show the “tremendous synergy” between different research areas at Queen’s, adding that Northern Ireland was a “unique place” to develop power and energy solutions.

“For a start, Northern Ireland is a small place, so you can measure changes,” he said.

“Another thing is that the island of Ireland has a strong wind profile, so there is a lot of potential to maximise renewable power solutions.”

Chair of the event, Professor Tom Millar said it promised to “inform, educate and stimulate” the wider public about the exciting research that was taking place at Queen’s, including wave energy technology and the greening of chemical processes.

He added: “The really exciting thing about this is that there is such a range of research going on across many different teams and subjects, linking diverse academics within Queen’s who share the same aim – to come up with cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy.”

A question-and-answer session will take place from 7.15-7.30pm. Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be available from 5.30pm.

For media inquiries please contact Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3087 email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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'NICOLA' plans for Northern Ireland's "ageing revolution"
Pictured are Professor Ian Young, Principal Investigator of the NICOLA Project with Sarah Cuddy, NICOLA Nurse and a participant undergoing a health assessment
Pictured are Professor Ian Young, Principal Investigator of the NICOLA Project with Sarah Cuddy, NICOLA Nurse and a participant undergoing a health assessment

Queen’s has launched Northern Ireland’s largest ever public health research project.  NICOLA – the Northern Ireland Cohort for the Longitudinal Study of Ageing – is hoping to provide the basis for future Government policy by following the lives of 8,500 over 50s as they grow older.  

Officially announced by Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann, participants in the Queen’s University-led project, supported by groups such as the Public Health Agency and the Commissioner for Older People of Northern Ireland, will be randomly selected from across Northern Ireland over the next 18-months.  The findings will leave a lasting legacy for society by enabling policy makers to base Government strategy upon research.

Professor Ian Young, Principal Investigator of the NICOLA Project, said: “Northern Ireland is undergoing an ageing revolution.  Today there are more people aged under 16 than over 65.  By 2037 that will have completely reversed with predictions that there will be 122,000 more over 65s than under 16s.  That is an unprecedented change in our society and we need to start planning for it.

“For the first time, through the NICOLA study, Queen’s will give policy makers in Northern Ireland the same level of information as their counterparts in Great Britain and Ireland, and it will help shape at least ten major Government policies.  ‘NICOLA’ will help us change the way we live for the better and those participating in the study will leave a tangible legacy for future generations.”

NICOLA consists of three stages, an interview conducted in the home, a questionnaire and a health assessment which will take place at the new Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility at Belfast City Hospital.  The assessments, completed by registered nurses, will include blood pressure readings, brain function (thinking) tests, blood sample collection and a detailed eye examination using equipment not available elsewhere in Northern Ireland.  Follow-up interviews will be conducted every two years.

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said: “It is my privilege to help launch this important study today and to congratulate Professor Ian Young, Professor Frank Kee and their team for the work entailed in bringing it to this vital stage.  I wish you well as you work to gather your data and to see the results in future years.

“It will be exciting to see how the data that is captured by NICOLA will assist Government to identify and deal with the barriers to ageing with quality of life here in Northern Ireland.”

Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: “We must ensure ageing is a positive experience and not something to fear or be anxious about. The information obtained through this study will help us proceed on an evidenced based approach in the allocation of finite resources maximising independence, health and well-being at all stages of life.

“We are fortunate that more people are now living longer and, by sharing experience and skills across all walks of life, we ensure our strong sense of community which has sustained us in the past will continue to thrive.” 

Queen’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: “The NICOLA study is a fine example of how Queen’s research has a real and lasting impact on our society. The information gathered during the study will be vital in informing Government policy and ensuring that Northern Ireland is well equipped to meet the challenges of an ageing population. I commend Professor Ian Young and Professor Frank Kee from Queen’s Centre for Public Health for their extraordinary vision in leading this study, and on the positive impact it will have for generations to come.”

Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keating, said: “Between 1982 and 2062 it’s estimated that the proportion of over 50s will increase by 70 per cent to 45 per cent of the total population.  That’s an unprecedented demographic change that will have major ramifications for society.  Meeting the challenges and opportunities of this change means basing good policy on good research – information which Northern Ireland currently lacks.

“NICOLA provides an opportunity to ensure that we are prepared to meet the needs of an ageing population.  Apart from benefiting from a more detailed insight into their own health and wellbeing, people taking part in NICOLA will provide society with a treasure trove of data that will aid future generations.  This is an incredibly worthwhile initiative and I encourage everyone randomly selected to seriously consider getting involved.”

Over the next few weeks the first potential participants in NICOLA will be contacted by letter and then approached by representatives from Ipsos MORI, the leading market research company which Queen’s University has appointed to conduct the home interviews.  Everyone involved with NICOLA will carry ID clearly identifying their role with the project.

The 8,500 participants have been randomly selected from a database provided by Northern Ireland’s Health & Social Care Board.  Participation is entirely voluntary and all data collected by NICOLA will remain confidential.  Researchers will not have access to personal information.

It is expected that all participants will complete the home interview and health assessment by April 2015.  The first findings from the study are due in 2015. 

NICOLA is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies; the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); the Medical Research Council; Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D), a division of the Public Health Agency; the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI); and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).

For more information please email NICOLA@qub.ac.uk  or contact 028 9063 3078.

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For further information please contact Stakeholder Communications: Jonathan King: jonathan@stakeholdergroup.com 028 9033 9949 / 077646 27297 or Paddy McShane paddy@stakeholdergroup.com  028 9033 9949 / 07833 466808.

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Queen’s University cancer specialist’s drive to improve survival rates for every European citizen

Queen’s University Belfast’s world renowned cancer specialist, Professor Patrick Johnston, whose work has transformed cancer care in Northern Ireland, is now leading efforts to improve survival rates across Europe.

At the forefront of cancer research for the last twenty-five years, Professor Johnston’s leadership has seen cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland move from the bottom of the UK league table to near the top. His work over the last two years, alongside some of the world’s leading cancer experts and patient groups, will culminate in the launch of a European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights, significantly on World Cancer Day (4th February). 

The Bill of Rights, which will be launched at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and has the support of many MEPs, is the result of two years of work by the European Cancer Concord and Co-Chaired by Professor Johnston.  It aims to address the disparities that currently exist in cancer care from one European country to the next.

Leading the vital initiative, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University, Professor Patrick Johnston said: “In Northern Ireland we have seen the difference that a Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Programme can have on patient outcomes.  Previously Northern Ireland was sitting at the bottom of the UK table for cancer survival rates and thanks to pioneering work at Queen’s, in association with the Health Service, we’re now close to the top.  This Bill of Rights aims to set a standard that all European countries can aspire to, ensuring that all citizens are entitled to the optimum cancer care regardless of where in Europe they live.”

Professor Mark Lawler, also of Queen’s University Belfast and the ECC Project Lead on this initiative, said:  “Currently three people succumb to this deadly disease every minute throughout Europe.  With an ageing population, that number will increase to one person dying every ten seconds from cancer in just 25 years. We have to act now to reduce this frightening statistic.  It is critical that today, on World Cancer Day, we insist that it is the right of every European citizen to receive an optimal level of care.”

The Bill of Rights, which has also been published today in leading journals The Lancet Oncology and The Oncologist, is underpinned by three key principles: the right of every European citizen to receive accurate information and be involved in their own care; the right of every European citizen to access specialised cancer care underpinned by research and innovation; and the right of every European citizen to cost-effective health systems that ensure optimum cancer outcomes.

Professor Thierry Le Chevalier, Co-Chair ECC and Chair of the Institute of Thoracic Oncology, Institut Gustave Roussy, Paris, France, said:  “This equal partnership between patients and health care professionals which the ECC has created and is nurturing, provides a springboard for the change required to deliver improved outcomes for European citizens and societies.”

Ian Banks, Chair of the Patient Advocacy Committee of the European Cancer Organisation and President of the European Men’s Health Forum who has worked alongside Professors Johnston and Lawler on this initiative, said: “We already have a number of MEPs from across Europe supporting this initiative and we expect even more will sign up in Strasbourg to ensure that the Bill of Rights is a standard to which all European countries adhere to.   With support for the mandate, we aim to look and see how new approaches can be developed that will really make the difference to the cancer patient.”

Recent studies have shown that cancer survival varies greatly country by country. Eastern European countries including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia have the lowest survival rates in Europe.  Survival in these countries is below the European average particularly for good prognosis cancers like colon, rectum, lymphomas, and skin melanoma.  Nordic countries with the exception of Denmark, central European countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Netherlands, and some countries in southern Europe have the best survival rates in Europe for most cancers.

The Launch of the European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights takes places in the European Parliament in Strasbourg at 12pm GMT.

‌ Watch the Q in 60 seconds news report

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 GAA Festival set to welcome thousands to Belfast

One of the largest sporting events to take place in Northern Ireland this year has been officially launched at Belfast City Hall.

Queen’s GAA Festival, which runs from February 13 to March 22, is set to welcome over 12,000 people to the City, providing a major boost to the local economy, as well as the hospitality and culture sectors.

In addition to the action on the pitch, the festival atmosphere will spread throughout Belfast, with a packed programme of health-related and cross-community events, including music, comedy nights and talks with well-known sports personalities.

The action begins on February 13 -16 with Camogie’s Ashbourne Cup, and will continue on February 20 - 22 with Gaelic Football’s Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup, Hurling’s Irish Daily Mail Fitzgibbon Cup on February 27  – March 1, and Ladies Football’s O’Connor Cup on March 21 -22.

Queen’s is setting a precedent with the creation of the Festival, as no other university or college has ever hosted all four of the major higher education Gaelic Games tournaments in the same year.

The massive undertaking will see over 2,250 players battle it out at Queen’s world-class facility at Upper Malone in Belfast. Created as the result of a £13M redevelopment by the University, it allows all matches to be played on the one site.

Speaking at the launch of Queen’s GAA Festival, Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said, “Queen’s University have taken on a tremendous challenge in staging these four prestigious intervarsity competitions. The facilities at their disposal are world class and I am confident both players and spectators alike will be treated to an amazing experience. This festival proves once again that Belfast is one of the leading cities in hosting major sporting competitions.”

Sports Minister for Northern Ireland, Carál Ní Chulín added, “I am delighted to be able to welcome everyone to the Queen’s GAA Festival. The Festival is a celebration of culture, sport and heritage and offers us the opportunity to showcase Queen’s Belfast and its facilities to the wider GAA family. DCAL is one of the principal sponsors of this festival and I believe GAA in Ulster has never been stronger. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the organisation of the festival and wish all the teams and coaching staff every success in the coming competitions.”

Also speaking at the launch, 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 bring these four high profile sporting events to the University and to Belfast. Over the coming weeks we can look forward to a celebration of sporting excellence and achievement, alongside a packed programme of cross-community sporting, social and family events.

He continued, “I would like to thank all our partners for their valuable support and congratulate our students and staff on organising this unique Festival. Queen’s is once again leading the way, and a warm Queen’s welcome awaits the thousands of players, mentors and supporters who will be coming to Belfast over the coming weeks for our Festival.”

Speaking on behalf of the Queen’s teams participating in the event, Martin Lilly, Vice President of SU Clubs and Societies, said: “Queen’s students are honoured to be hosting these four prestigious competitions, and to have the support of all our sponsors. Our sporting facilities at Queen’s are the envy of universities across the UK and Ireland, and our Festival volunteers and club members will be proud ambassadors for Belfast as we welcome the many visitors to our City.”

Chair of the Organisation Committee, John Devaney spoke of the preparation for the event, “The challenge of hosting all four GAA intervarsities is an ambitious one, but with the enthusiasm of students, staff and past players, we have risen to the challenge.

“Queen's has a very strong reputation in Gaelic Games and sport in general, and we boast the very best of facilities.  We are certainly looking forward to creating a unique festival atmosphere on campus and in the City over the next few weeks.”

Looking forward to the festival, Eimear Callahan, Northern Ireland Tourist Board’s Campaigns Marketing Offer said, “The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is delighted to support the Queen’s GAA Festival as it makes its debut in Belfast providing a great opportunity to welcome people to Belfast for 4 sporting weekends and to showcase all the attractions, nightlife and shopping that Belfast has to offer”.

For further information on Queen’s GAA Festival please visit www.gaafestival.com or follow Queen’s GAA Festival on Twitter @QUBGAAFestival and www.facebook.com/QUBGAAFestival

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Queen’s starter for… University Challenge quarter finals

Queen’s University will appear in the quarter finals of University Challenge on Monday night.

The team will face Southampton University in the famous BBC2 quiz show at 8pm.

The team captain Joseph Greenwood, along with Suzanne Cobain, Gareth Gamble and Alexander Green, have already beaten Downing College Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen.

Joseph Greenwood, an Irish Theatre PhD student, said: “Appearing on University Challenge is an amazing and slightly surreal experience. It's probably the one programme I had wanted to appear on since childhood, so to get there was great.

“In the last round Gareth’s Victoria sponge answer really stood out, this time Suzanne Cobain really shone displaying her breadth of general knowledge.”

This is the second time Queen’s University has made the quarter finals. In 1997 they were knocked out by series winner Magdalen College, Oxford.

The 1981 team was more successful, winning the prestigious title.

Congratulating the team on reaching the quarter-finals, Queen’s Students’ Union President Niall McShane said: “Our University Challenge team has already made Queen’s proud. Everyone in the University will be keeping their fingers crossed for the team this week.”

For media inquiries, please contact Judith Rance, Queen’s University, j.rance@qub.ac.uk 028 9097 5292.

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