02-2009 Press Releases

27/02/2009: Queen's joins national debate on human rights
27/02/2009: Skills scheme 'head start' for job-seeking graduates
27/02/2009: Report highlights despair of older people who care for adult children
26/02/2009: Fashion saves lives at Queen's
26/02/2009: Queen's students behind new soundtrack to Northern Ireland
25/02/2009: £1m innovation bridge between Queen's and China
25/02/2009: Blue Plaque commemorates Sir William Whitla
24/02/2009: Queen's Chancellor George Mitchell steps down after 10 years
">20/02/2009: Queen's raises curtain on Brian Friel Theatre "QTV

23/02/2009: Reduction in parasite infections ahead for India
23/02/2009: Enterprise for Life is the focus of joint Sino-British project
20/02/2009: Ireland in Europe: Irish Minister's perspective at Queen's
20/02/2009: International student agreement signed in Terengganu
19/02/2009: World expert on nuclear power visits Belfast
18/02/2009: Queen's University improves Malaysian Public Health
17/02/2009: King of Malaysia honoured by Queen's
17/02/2009: Prospects for IT graduates 'remain bright'
12/02/2009: Culture, comedy and craic in students' St Patrick's Day Festival
12/02/2009: Clinton aide marks President's Day at Queen's
12/02/2009: Darwin anniversary heralds new conservation research era for Northern Ireland
12/02/2009: King of Malaysia to be honoured by Queen's
10/02/2009: 'Come dine with me' says Phil Coulter
09/02/2009: Queen's students perform unique show
09/02/2009: Queen's energy partnership makes waves for UK
05/02/2008: Queen's student on song for 50,000 euros
05/02/2009: Queen's celebrates the life of Samuel Beckett
04/02/2009: Queen's study highlights need for licensed medicines for children
09/02/2009: Queen's-Barclays project helps students bank on financial know-how
03/02/2009: 2009 Honorary graduands announced
02/02/2009: Queen's scientists develop improved test to detect steroid abuse in cattle

Queen's joins national debate on human rights

Queen's University will join a live international debate on human rights tomorrow (Saturday 28 February) at a special event organised by Queen's School of Law and Amnesty International.

The conference will begin with a live-link to the Convention on Modern Liberty, a major event taking place in London. With the help of a big screen link, Queen's will join a national discussion with a panel of distinguished speakers from across the political spectrum to discuss The Crisis of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

This will be followed a series of debates on issues around liberty and human rights in Northern Ireland and abroad - from the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and dealing with the past, to the national identity register, to the human rights challenges facing Barack Obama's Presidency.

The conference will take place at the Peter Froggatt Centre at Queen's and admission costs £12 (£6 for students). For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/events_details.asp?ID=1109 
For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk , 07814 415 451.

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Skills scheme 'head start' for job-seeking graduates

The need for students to gain skills which will give them a head start in the fiercely competitive graduate job market is becoming increasingly more urgent, a leading Queen's academic has said.

Professor Tony Gallagher, Head of the University's School of Education, was speaking ahead of Queen's annual City and Guilds Award ceremony on Wednesday 4 March.

The awards are administered by the School’s Senior Awards Office, and Wednesday’s event will recognise the achievements of some 200 Queen’s students who gained workplace experience during the past academic year.

Professor Gallagher said: "Queen’s was one of the first universities in the UK to become involved in the City and Guilds scheme. It is an investment that has always yielded rich returns for our students, and never more so than now, in the face of an economic downturn when graduates looking for the first step on the career ladder need to ensure that they stand out from the crowd.

“This scheme enables them to acquire skills such as teamworking, good communication, creativity and leadership which, alongside their academic ability, will help them to do exactly that."

Wednesday’s ceremony will bring the total number of Queen’s students who have received City and Guilds Senior Awards to over 1,860. The scheme recognises competence and achievement through a combination of education, training and work-based experience, and provides a progressive vocational route to higher level qualifications.

The students will receive Licentiateship Diplomas for skills gained during work placements with a range of employers in the public and private sectors, including IT and engineering companies, financial institutions and charities.

The undergraduates will receive their awards in Aerospace Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering; Economics; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Environmental and Civil Engineering; Finance; Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition; Information Technology; Land Use and Environmental Management; Management; Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering; and Structural Engineering with Architecture.

Pro-Chancellor Ms Rotha Johnston will preside at the event and the guest speaker will be Professor Ken Mortimer from the City & Guilds of London Institute.

Two academic staff from further and higher education colleges in Northern Ireland will also receive awards under the Learning and Skills Development Agency's ‘Lecturers into Industry’ initiative funded by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). 

John Crow from North West Regional College and Jonathan Heggarty from Belfast Metropolitan College will be presented with membership level awards under the scheme.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Report highlights despair of older people who care for adult children

A report from the Changing Ageing Partnership (CAP) reveals a lack of support for older people who care for adult children with disabilities.

The research, by Dr Karola Dillenburger at Queen’s University Belfast, recommends that more should be done to enhance the development of life skills, such as personal care skills, domestic and social skills, or employability for disabled adults who are cared for by their parents. Early behavioural intervention that focuses on these kinds of skills is recommended to improve the choices available to adults with disabilities and their families.

The research suggests that the psychological health of older carers (average age approx 65 years) is at risk, with twice the level of stress than the general population. Despite their age, caring was a full-time job for 90 per cent of the older participants and physical care was required in 86 per cent of the cases.

Karola Dillenburger, Senior Lecturer in Inclusion and Special Educational Needs, Graduate School of Education at Queen’s said: ‘This research takes into account older carers experiences, whose greatest challenges (86 per cent) were lack of respite for sons or daughters with disabilities and dealing with their difficult behaviours.

‘79 per cent of the participants did not have a future care plan for their son or daughter. The report recommends that an advocate should be available from birth, to people with disabilities and their families, to help coordinate appropriate networks of support well in advance. I would urge policy makers to carefully consider this report and its recommendations.’

Caroline Kelly, a research participant who cares for her 31 year old son with a learning disability said: ‘This research records vividly all the despair and exhaustion we feel as older carers. It looks with heart breaking honesty through our eyes, reflects the love we have for our children, the sacrifices we make in our lives and relationships, the broken promises from those who are supposed to provide the services and our nightmares about the future for our children. We want the policy makers to read every word of this report, because this is our reality.’

Dr Una Lynch, CAP Research Manager said: ‘Dr Dillenburger’s study is a fine example of the CAP goal, to ensure that the voices of all older people, including the most isolated, are heard by policy makers and services providers. Research such as this provides a stark insight into the reality of older carer’s lives and a robust basis for future policy and service developments.’

The researcher, Karola Dillenburger and the research assistant, Lyn Mc Kerr, will present further findings and recommendations of the research at a research launch at the Institute of Governance at Queen’s University on Friday 27 February.

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Fashion saves lives at Queen's
Hot Docs and Frocks: Rehearsing the Remus Uomo and Posh Frocks section of SWOT fashion show are (l-r) Medicine and Dentistry students Wade Rebelo, Ballymena , Claire Neill, Portadown, Laura Andrews, Castlereagh Belfast and Peter Mallett, Derry.
Hot Docs and Frocks: Rehearsing the Remus Uomo and Posh Frocks section of SWOT fashion show are (l-r) Medicine and Dentistry students Wade Rebelo, Ballymena , Claire Neill, Portadown, Laura Andrews, Castlereagh Belfast and Peter Mallett, Derry.

Radio 1's Dr Mark Hamilton is returning to Queen's on Monday 9 March to host this year's annual SWOT Fashion Show. He will be joined on the catwalk by Emma-Louise Johnston.

This year's show features a special appearance by the Ulster Rugby Team wearing Douglas and the unveiling of the latest range from local eco-fashion label Curious Tales. Other catwalk highlights will include a performance of All that Jazz wearing shoes from Office and a Strictly Come Dancing section wearing Posh Frocks and Remus Uomo and children’s clothing from Okadi.

Other stores lending the students clothes are La Senza, Urban Outfitter, Liberty Blue, Levi, Cult, Jack Jones, Miss Selfridge, and many more top high street names.

Held in the Whitla Hall, the show is organised by the fourth year Medical and Dentistry student society Students Working Overseas Trust (SWOT). Medical students work overseas for a six week period at the end of their fourth year.

Dr Mark Hamilton believes the show is not just fun but vitally important: "This is one of the most rewarding things to do, and just by buying a ticket or posting in a donation, you have helped save a life. We all complain about the NHS and waiting times and it is so easy to forget how lucky we are. In parts of the world children die from a cut, and one dies every three seconds from poverty, hunger and preventable diseases."

Last year the show raised £25,000 for hospitals and medical centres in Kenya, Peru and Zimbabwe, where basic equipment, such as Vicryl, a synthetic suture thread for stitches, is a luxury.

Ensuring all the money raised is spent on third world care, the show is sponsored by Queen’s Annual Fund, who paid for the printing costs of tickets, posters and promotional activity, lighting and sound.

Shauna Hughes, Fundraising Manager, Queen’s Annual Fund, said: "The Queen’s Annual Fund raises money from graduates to fund projects that enhance the student experience. Queen’s graduates give generously and the Fund is delighted to support the fashion show and the work of the SWOT students."

If you wish to indulge your passion for fashion, tickets for the show, priced £20, are available from the Porters’ Desk in the Students’ Union, or by emailing swotfashionshow@live.co.uk.  The show begins at 7pm in the Whitla Hall at Queen’s.

For media enquiries please contact: Judith Rance, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5292, j.rance@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's students behind new soundtrack to Northern Ireland
John Shelly and the Creatures
John Shelly and the Creatures

A group of Queen's University students are celebrating after their music was chosen as the official sound of Northern Ireland.

John Shelly and the Creatures is the four-piece band behind the soundtrack for a new advert by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The band was formed in 2007 after all four members met while studying Music Technology at Queen's. Three of the four are now studying for Masters degrees in Sonic Arts at the University's Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC).

The ad, featuring the track Long May You Reign, will feature on TVs, cinema screens and radio airwaves around the country. The men behind the music are Phil d’Alton from Naas, Co. Kildare, Kevin Carlisle from Braniel in East Belfast, Ger Gormley from Castlederg, Co Tyrone and Dave Kennedy from Birr, Co. Offaly.

Dave Kennedy said: "We are absolutely thrilled that our music has been chosen to front this advertising campaign. Just two years after meeting at Queen’s, it is amazing to turn on the TV and hear one of our tracks.

“Our time at the School of Music and SARC has had a huge impact on how we listen to and write music. It introduced us to new types of software and recording techniques that have allowed us to experiment with sound in ways we wouldn’t otherwise have known about. This has had a huge influence on our music.

“We hope to release Long May You Reign as a single next month. After that the plan is to graduate from Queen’s, take over the music world and hopefully attract some more visitors to Northern Ireland in the process."

The band released their debut EP Big Day Out in June 2007 and have signed a deal with Big Life Music, the publisher behind bands like Snow Patrol, the Futureheads and Badly Drawn Boy.

Professor Michael Alcorn, Head of the School of Music and Sonic Arts, said: "The success of John Shelly and the Creatures is a real boost for the School and it demonstrates the importance of our unique composition, recording and performance programmes at Queen's.

“The School of Music and Sonic Arts, which was recently ranked as one of the top five music departments in the UK in terms of research, has recently expanded its performance programmes, which now encompass classical, popular, jazz, traditional, and experimental music performance. We hope that the success of John Shelly and the Creatures will be a real inspiration to current and future students in the School."

The School also hit the headlines last month when a video of a new musical instrument created by one if its students attracted over one million hits on YouTube. PhD student Peter Bennett made the video to demonstrate the BeatBearing - his electronic musical instrument that uses ball bearings to create different drum patterns.

Ruth Burns, Destination Marketing Manager at the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said: "The music by John Shelly and the Creatures was seen as the perfect fit for our new TV advertisement. The campaign aims to tell some of the unique stories that are waiting to be uncovered on a break to Northern Ireland and music plays a central role in bringing such experiences to life.

“Our Spring campaign also features press advertising, advertorials, radio, on-line activity and PR. With the development of a new look creative, the campaign will show a side of Northern Ireland that is confident, edgy and engaging."

For more information on the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen’s visit www.sarc.qub.ac.uk

For more information on John Shelly and the Creatures visit www.johnshellyandthecreatures.com

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£1m innovation bridge between Queen's and China
Prof Basheer and Dr Bai from Queen's University at Hanzhou Bay Bridge
Prof Basheer and Dr Bai from Queen's University at Hanzhou Bay Bridge

Queen's University Belfast has been awarded over £1 million to help build links with leading Chinese universities and institutions.

The new funding of £1.09m will encourage wealth creation by building science and innovation bridges with 17 world-class universities and high-tech businesses. Leading Chinese universities include Tsinghua University in Beijing, Zhejiang University and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province and Shanghai Jiaotong University in Shanghai.

Already, some technologies arising from Queen’s research have been tested in major construction projects, such as the Beijing National Olympic Stadium and the Hangzhou Bay Sea-Crossing Bridge.

The funding has been awarded to a team from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering by the Research Council UK (RCUK). It will be used to accelerate the development of research knowledge as well as strengthening current research links.

Queen’s University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Peter Gregson, praised the team on their achievement: “This represents another important building block in our internationalisation strategy and I wish the two Schools every success in building on this new opportunity.”

Over the last five years, both schools have established strong worldwide research links in energy and the built environment. This effort has received support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Queen’s University Belfast initiatives.

Principal Investigator, Professor George Irwin, said the additional funding will have benefits for both Queen’s University and universities throughout China; “With this further funding, Queen’s can work alongside its Chinese partners to bring a wealth of expertise, knowledge and skills in energy and the built environment. These are needed to support sustainable economic progress in China and to support technology innovation and academic exchanges with Chinese universities. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their great effort and support in securing this project.

“The Science Bridge project means research students will be able to establish strong links with Chinese Universities and institutions which will help facilitate technology innovation and knowledge transfer within both the UK and China.”

Trevor Newsom, Director of Research and Regional Services at Queen’s said: “Along with the award of the Science Bridge project, substantial support has been committed by the University to positively encourage research visits, visiting fellowships, research studentships and joint teaching and research programmes.

“Therefore, top students in leading Chinese universities can apply for postgraduate study at Queen’s and help to facilitate technology innovation and knowledge transfer through this Science Bridge project.”

A Queen’s University delegation, led by the Vice-Chancellor, will visit China later in the year to formally sign institutional collaborations and agreements with the Science Bridge partners.

The Science Bridge team members are Prof. Basheer and Dr Bai from the School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering, and Prof. Wang, Prof. Irwin, Dr Li and Dr Littler from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

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Blue Plaque commemorates Sir William Whitla
Lord Mayor Councillor Tom Hartley with Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Chair of the Ulster History Circle Doreen Corcoran at the plaque unveiling
Lord Mayor Councillor Tom Hartley with Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson and Chair of the Ulster History Circle Doreen Corcoran at the plaque unveiling

The Ulster History Circle's 100th Blue Plaque has been unveiled at Queen's University to commemorate the eminent physician and philanthropist, Sir William Whitla.

This morning's unveiling was performed by Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Tom Hartley. The event was sponsored by Belfast City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sir William Whitla, a former Pro-Chancellor and Professor of Materia Medica at Queen’s, was born in Monaghan in 1851. He studied medicine at the then Queen's College Belfast and in Dublin and Edinburgh. Between 1877 and 1882, when he became a consultant physician, he was Assistant Physician to the Belfast Charitable Society. From 1882 to 1918 he was Physician to the Belfast Royal Hospital and later the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Knighted in 1902, he was twice President of the Ulster Medical Society and President of the British Medical Association in 1909. He published a number of successful textbooks, which were translated into many languages and was appointed honorary physician to the king in Ireland in 1919. He died at Lennoxvale on 11 December 1933.

His gifts to his profession during his lifetime included the Good Samaritan stained glass window in the Royal Hospital, and a building for the Ulster Medical Society. On his death he left £10,000 to Methodist College. Much of his wealth was left to Queen’s. He also left Lennoxvale to the University as a residence for the vice-chancellor.

The Sir William Whitla Hall at Queen’s is one of the most important venues at the University, and has hosted hundreds of major cultural, social and historical events, including graduations, major international conferences and a visit by former American President Bill Clinton. Well-known figures who have received honorary degrees in the hall include former Irish premier Bertie Ahern, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, George Best, Joanna Lumley and Professor Frank Pantridge.

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Queen's Chancellor George Mitchell steps down after 10 years
Queen's Chancellor Senator George Mitchell, pictured with Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson ahead of the Mitchell Conference held in May 2008
Queen's Chancellor Senator George Mitchell, pictured with Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson ahead of the Mitchell Conference held in May 2008
Queen's University's Chancellor, Senator George Mitchell, is stepping down from the post after 10 years.

Senator Mitchell, who was appointed US Special Envoy to Middle East Peace by President Obama last month, said he was resigning with “deep and genuine regret”. His role as Special Envoy precludes him engaging in any outside activities.

The University said Senator Mitchell had been a tireless worker for Queen’s over the past decade. President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “George is an inspirational figure who has lived his life in public service. A towering figure in United States politics, he played a pivotal role in the Northern Ireland peace process when he was appointed Special Representative by President Clinton.

“He was appointed Chancellor in 1999, and during his time at Queen’s he has been much more than a figurehead. He has been actively involved in promoting Queen’s and this has seen the University secure its position as one of the UK’s leading research-intensive institutions, globally connected through strong international partnerships.

“His active support for our Foundation has helped secure funding which has been invested in staff, students and facilities. But more than anything, he has inspired the students of Queen’s with his message that their individual actions can help transform the world.”

Reflecting on his period as Chancellor, Senator Mitchell said: “The prospect of serving as Chancellor of Queen’s University offered a great opportunity for me to contribute to Northern Ireland’s future within an institution that plays a leadership role in its community and in the field of education.

“I have found this role to be both enriching and fulfilling. Above all - a point brought home to me when I shake the hands of tomorrow’s leaders as they cross the stage at graduation - it has been an honour and a privilege.”

Senator Mitchell officially steps down on 29 March 2009, and the process, to appoint his successor, is underway.

For media enquiries please contact: Lisa Mitchell, Senior Press Officer, +44 (0)28 9097 5384, Mob: 07814 422 572, lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's raises curtain on Brian Friel Theatre QTV News Story
Brian Friel and Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson from the opening of the Brian Friel Centre for Theatre Research at Queen’s University Belfast
Brian Friel and Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson at the opening of the Brian Friel Centre for Theatre Research at Queen’s University Belfast
Brian Friel
Brian Friel


Brian Friel will be honoured at Queen's today (Friday 20 February) when the University names a state-of-the-art theatre and research centre after the renowned playwright.

The Brian Friel Centre for Theatre Research includes a 120 seat studio theatre and will provide world-class facilities for the University's performing arts students. The playwright will be guest of honour at a special evening to mark the occasion, involving student performances of excerpts from some of his most famous plays, followed by a dinner in the University's Great Hall.

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "Brian Friel is Ireland's greatest living playwright and we are honoured that he has agreed to lend his name to this wonderful performance space.

"For generations to come, Queen's students will continue to be inspired by Brian's work and perform his plays in the theatre that bears his name, while the Brian Friel Centre for Theatre Research will provide a focus for cutting edge research into theatre practice, attracting post-graduate students from around the world.

"These facilities allow us to provide the best possible learning and research environment for our performing arts students, and will help enhance Queen's reputation for Drama Studies on the national and international stage."

Brian Friel said: "As an honorary graduate of Queen's, I have a long-standing relationship with the University, and I am delighted to receive this honour.

"For the last ten years, Queen's has successfully prepared students for careers in theatre and the performing arts. I hope the Brian Friel Theatre and Centre for Theatre Research will enhance the already excellent facilities available to Drama Studies students at Queen's, and help nurture their talent and develop the skills necessary to succeed on the stage and screen."

Today’s official opening will be followed tomorrow (Saturday 21 February) by the inaugural Brian Friel Lecture, which will be delivered by Irish playwright and novelist Thomas Kilroy, recipient of the Irish Times/ESB Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 , and a board member of the Field Day Theatre Company which Brian Friel founded with Stephen Rea in 1980. The lecture - Brian Friel and the Realist Tradition - is open to the public and will take place at 1pm in the new Brian Friel Theatre at 20 University Square. It will be followed by a panel discussion on The Stagecraft of Brian Friel.

Professor David Johnston, Head of the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts at Queen's said: "For over forty years Brian Friel's plays have brought Irish theatre to a global stage. His works, such as Translations, Dancing at Lughnasa and Philadelphia, Here I Come! are known and loved by theatre-goers around the world.

"Queen's is already a thriving centre for drama research and education, and its strong links with professional theatre are the envy of its peers. With world-class facilities and Brian Friel's name above the door, Queen's will continue to be one of the leading centres for drama studies in the UK, Ireland and beyond.

"The Brian Friel Centre for Theatre Research will allow us to prepare our students for careers in the performing arts, and reaffirm the University's commitment to the development of culture and arts in Northern Ireland.

"We extend our thanks to all who have supported this project, including Dr Ian Brick in memory of Katherine Brick nee McSorley, The Queen's University of Belfast Foundation, Friends of The Queen's University of Belfast, Inc. and Dr Michael and Mrs Ruth West. Their generosity has made this renaming - and the establishment of much-needed drama scholarships - possible."

For more information on Drama Studies at Queen's visit www.qub.ac.uk/drama 

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Reduction in parasite infections ahead for India
Experts from Queen's University are in India today to advise the country on how it can reduce parasitic infections which destroy plants and animals.

The biotechonology experts from the Belfast-based University are at the forefront of research into the infections which cost the world economy around $200 billion in lost crop production and $5.3 billion in animal health each year.

A delegation led by Dr Gerry Brennan from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s has been invited to Alagappa University in Tamil Nadu in southern India to share its expertise at the International Colloquium on Emerging Biotechnologies in Agriculture, Animal Health and Productivity which runs from today until Friday.

Dr Brennan has collaborated with Indian universities, including Alagappa, on research and teaching for almost 30 years. He will address the conference on the management of drug resistance in livestock.

He said: “India is now a world-leading nation in terms of social, technological and economic development, so it urgently needs to modernise and expand agricultural productivity, particularly in the livestock sector, to maximise self-sufficiency in food supply and to raise gross domestic product for a rapidly expanding and increasingly urbanised population.

“In response to this need, corporate farming enterprises in poultry, cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, dairy, meat and aquaculture production are developing rapidly and modern production methods are being used across India.

“The current field of research at Queen’s into veterinary and agricultural parasite control serves to showcase the application of biotechnology in modern agricultural practice.”

Alagappa University has recently established a Department of Animal Health Science and Management which aims to help India expand its agricultural development, especially in the livestock sector.

The conference aims to focus the attention of national policy-makers, academics and industry leaders in India on the new facility as well as providing a forum for Indian scientists to hear from overseas experts about biotechnology and livestock-based agriculture.

The Vice-Chancellor of Alagappa, Professor P Pamasamy, who was once a research fellow at Queen’s University, asked Dr Brennan to act as overseas organiser for the event.

Other Queen’s delegates addressing the conference include Professor Aaron Maule and Dr Ian Fairweather from the School of Biological Sciences and Professor Bob Hanna and Dr Colin Fleming from AFBI, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Enterprise for Life is the focus of joint Sino-British project
Students at Queen's University Belfast and Shenzhen University in China are to benefit from a new partnership focusing on entrepreneurship education and employability.

The universities have agreed to link up to deliver an Enterprise for Life programme which aims to help graduates become global citizens for the 21st century. The agreement is backed by the British Council.

Queen’s is one of the few universities in the world to teach entrepreneurship to students of all disciplines and the joint Sino-British project will be led by David Gibson from Queen’s University Management School.

David and other representatives from the School are travelling to Shenzhen later this week to work on the model with Chinese academics.

The programme will be built on the basis that enterprising skills are vitally important for all graduates, not just those studying business, and David hopes it will help them develop skills to boost the economy here in Northern Ireland and in Shenzhen.

David, the only recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship Award for enterprise education by the Higher Education Academy in the UK, is the author of a leading book on enterprise competencies called The EFactor. It is now used in over 100 universities, including Cambridge Universities, where it is a core text.

The initiative will bring together the education model he devised and the business practice expertise of Shenzhen. The city is considered the most competitive in China after Shanghai and the region is noted for its entrepreneurial activity and spectacular rate of economic growth.

David Gibson said: “This is an opportunity to build a truly international model further strengthening Queen’s position as a world-class university with international research and education models.

“The project will combine leading Chinese enterprise with the best of UK enterprise theory and teaching. It will build a sustainable model to develop globally entrepreneurial graduates capable of growing our economies from within.” The primary aims of the project are devising a curriculum model, an Enterprise for Life toolkit, teaching materials and mutually shared learning.

David explained: “In the competitive labour market, and more so in the globally competitive economic environment, new skills are required which are very distinct from the old ‘jobs for life’ skills of the past. This applies to starting a new commercial venture or being enterprising in an existing firm or organisation.

“While Northern Ireland and the Belfast metropolitan area has had modest success in attracting foreign direct investment, levels of entrepreneurial start-up have been rather weak.

“Through the project Shenzhen staff and students will gain further insight into Western models of business education while China’s rapidly expanding and highly entrepreneurial population offer great lessons for the West.”

The two universities have worked together since 1997 but their relationship is set to strengthen through the new collaboration.

Queen’s is one of six universities set to be funded by the British Council to work with Chinese universities but is the only one to be chosen for its entrepreneurship and employability model.

The project aims to build on the success of other international links which have seen the enterprise model introduced in India.

A delegation from Queen’s University visited the country last month to advise business leaders, politicians and academics in Kolkata how to create a more entrepreneurial society with the support of higher education.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit,+44 (0)28 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Ireland in Europe: Irish Minister's perspective at Queen's
The Irish Government's Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche TD, will share his views on Ireland's role in Europe at Queen's University next week (Monday 23 February).

In the aftermath of Ireland's rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon, and in light of the current economic crisis and impending European elections, Mr Roche will give an insight into Ireland’s position in the EU.

The public talk on Ireland, Europe and Lisbon will take place at 12pm in the Great Hall at Queen's. It has been organised jointly by the University’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy and the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work.

Katy Hayward, Lecturer in Sociology at Queen’s, said: "Ireland’s relationship with the EU has once again become the subject of urgent speculation in the Irish media. The economic crisis, the planned second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and recent opinion polls indicating waning support for EU membership among Irish voters, pose severe challenges to Dick Roche as Ireland’s Minister for European Affairs.

“Mr Roche’s visit to Queen’s is a unique and timely opportunity to hear the thoughts of the Minister at the heart of a debate that will reverberate across the island of Ireland and the EU."

The event will also see the re-launch of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at Queen’s, which acts as a forum for debate on Europe. Dr David Phinnemore, Senior Lecturer in European Integration, said: "The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence is an interdisciplinary forum which brings together academics and researchers from across the University to explore issues around European integration and the European Union.

“Originally established in 1998, Queen’s Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence is one of 17 such centres in the UK and Ireland. By re-launching the Centre we aim to promote greater discussion and debate on contemporary European issues and raise the profile of the European expertise that exist at Queen’s across a range of disciplines including politics, law, economics and sociology."

For more information on the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofPoliticsInternationalStudiesandPhilosophy/Research/ResearchCentres/CES/ For media enquiries please contact: Anne-Marie Watson, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 5320, a.watson@qub.ac.uk, 07814 415 451.

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International student agreement signed in Terengganu
A major agreement between Terengganu Advanced Institute (TATiUC) and Queen's University was today strengthened by the visit to TATiUC of a senior academic delegation from Queen's. This follows the conferment of an Honorary Degree on the King of Malaysia by Queen's earlier this week at the Istana Melawati, Putrajaya.

Queen’s already has a successful agreement with TATiUC which gives high performing students an opportunity to undertake a joint chemical engineering degree at Queen’s. Both institutions wish to develop this link creating a new common curriculum with TATiUC that will provide a basis for their students to also enter mechanical engineering and electrical engineering degree programmes and provide for progression to Masters level at Queen’s. This will allow students in those disciplines access to 20 four year Scholarships per annum supported by the State of Terengganu.

Leading the delegation from Queen’s is Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay who said: “I am delighted to be here today to see the wonderful facilities that our partner institution TATiUC has to offer. I have been particularly impressed by the quality and enthusiasm of the students who will come to study at the University in September 2009 and will spend four years in Northern Ireland, before leaving with a valuable Masters level qualification.

“I look forward to the new enhanced arrangements for Engineering being agreed between TATiUC and Queen’s. This agreement will broaden and extend opportunities to Mechanical and Electrical Engineering students from Terengganu to come to Queen’s.

“One of the University’s key priorities is to create partnerships with high-quality international universities and institutions; there is no better model than our relationship with TATiUC to exemplify the benefits of this approach.”

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Marketing and Communications, Queen’s University Belfast on 0044 (0)28 9097 5323 (w), 0044 (0)7813 015431 (m) or k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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World expert on nuclear power visits Belfast

A global expert on the development of nuclear power to sustain the planet for future generations is visiting Belfast next week.

Chairman of the International Nuclear Energy Academy and Past President of the European Nuclear Society Professor Bertrand Barré will be at Queen’s University on Tuesday to deliver the 8th Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture.

Entitled "Nuclear power, a tool of sustainable development", his talk will examine how humanity can double energy production while halving CO2 emissions by 2050. Professor Bertrand Barré is Scientific Advisor to the Chairperson of the AREVA group, which provides businesses around the world with solutions for CO2-free power generation and electricity transmission and distribution.

He is the latest in a series of distinguished speakers to deliver this prestigious lecture. Previous Crossland lecturers include the renowned manufacturing guru Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, and Dr Bernard Bulkin of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, former Chief Scientist of BP.

The Lecture series was established by Engineers Ireland in honour of Sir Bernard Crossland who is widely regarded as one of the most distinguished engineers in the UK and Ireland.

A former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Queen's, Sir Bernard was Head of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University from 1959 to 1982. He served as an Assessor in the King’s Cross Fire Investigation in 1988 and as Chairman of the Public Hearing into the Bilsthorpe Colliery Accident in 1994.

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Queen's University improves Malaysian Public Health
New Centre of Public Health in Malaysia: Professor Peter Gregson, VC of Queen's (seated) with the University of Malaya's VC, Professor Datuk Dr. Ghauth Jasmon; Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland and YB. Datuk Ir. Hj. Idris Haron, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Malaysia.
New Centre of Public Health in Malaysia: Professor Peter Gregson, VC of Queen's (seated) with the University of Malaya's VC, Professor Datuk Dr. Ghauth Jasmon; Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland and YB. Datuk Ir. Hj. Idris Haron, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Malaysia.

Queen's University and University of Malaya (UM) today announced the establishment of the Centre for Population Health in Malaysia.

This is the first Centre of its kind in improving the health of Malaysians.

Examining the communities in terms of their diet and disease, conducting research into the complex relationships between diet, living conditions, environment and health, providing assistance for the national cancer registry and other related research on population health will be among the core functions of the Centre.

The Centre allows Malaysia to have a modern medical database of its people and provides population health solutions in the future. In today’s challenging world, research and databases are critical in anticipating future health problems.

Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson said: “Queen’s is honoured to partner the University of Malaya in this major Centre. It is an international partnership that brings together complementary skills from Queen’s UK National Centre of Excellence in Public Health and builds on Queen’s links with the US National Cancer Institute.

“This initiative will see the development of a world-class Research Centre of Population Health in the University of Malaya. It will also capitalise upon Queen’s recognised expertise and experience in Public Health.”

Professor Datuk Dr. Ghauth Jasmon, Vice-Chancellor, UM, said, “This Centre is the future of Malaysian population health; we will improve Malaysian health through our research”. He also emphasized that the international collaboration with Queen’s allowed UM to have links with the UK Cancer Research Network and the United States National Cancer Institute.

Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, who was also present as part of a four day visit to Malaysia and Singapore said: “This is an excellent example of an international partnership which will bring significant health benefits to millions of people. I am particularly pleased to be here today to witness Northern Ireland’s expertise being shared on the global stage. It underlines the contribution of our universities’ world-class research to Northern Ireland and people around the world.”

Queen’s and UM’s international collaboration allows Malaysia to develop and share the experience of Queen’s in establishing and operating a successful medical registry.

Also attending the announcement of the Centre was YB. Datuk Ir. Hj. Idris Haron, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Malaysia.

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King of Malaysia honoured by Queen's

The King of Malaysia was today honoured by Queen’s University Belfast, when the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong was awarded an honorary degree by Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson at the Istana Melawati Putrajaya Palace, Kuala Lumpur.

The award ceremony was the highlight of a week long visit to Malaysia by Queen’s and is the first time in its 160 year history the University has conferred an honorary degree on a reigning monarch.

Queen’s University has honoured the King because of his support for higher education and the links his country has shared with Queen’s over the last 50 years.

Following the ceremony Professor Gregson said: “This is a truly momentous day for Queen’s University, and one that reinforces the special relationship between Malaysia and Northern Ireland. Queen’s welcomes the support the King gives to this special relationship and we are keen to further develop this bond for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Supporting Queen’s international strategy and attending the prestigious event, Northern Ireland Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey said: “It is through sharing skills and expertise at home and abroad that we can further develop successful partnerships for the greater good. I welcome the opportunity this gives to promote the international strategies of our local universities and I fully support the collaborations between them and universities in a wide range of countries, including Malaysia. Through such collaborations, important research breakthroughs are made and Queen’s University must be congratulated for sharing its knowledge and skills with like-minded institutions on the global stage.”

Watch the King receive his honorary doctorate.

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Marketing and Communications, Queen’s University Belfast on 0044 (0)28 9097 5323 (w), 0044 (0)7813 015431 (m) or k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Culture, comedy and craic in students' St Patrick's Day Festival

Top Northern Ireland comedian Kevin McAleer is to headline at the 4th Universities St. Patrick's Day Festival, which will run from 15 to 17 March.

The Festival, jointly hosted by Queen's University and the University of Ulster, features a wide-ranging programme of music, sports, film, visual art and spiritual events, as well as - for the first time - an Ulster-Scots concert.

Devised and directed by students at both universities, the three-day programme aims to celebrate the life of St Patrick and to bring together students and the community in south Belfast.

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McCormac said: "The St Patrick’s Day Festival, now in its fourth year, is a unique opportunity for members of the university community and the wider community to come together in a spirit of celebration. This year’s programme is particularly impressive and I congratulate the student leaders at both Queen’s and the University of Ulster for their vision and commitment in creating this major programme of spiritual and cultural events."

Professor Alastair Adair, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Ulster, said: "This Festival is a tangible demonstration of the co-operative and pro-active approach adopted by the two universities to help promote good community relations in south Belfast. It offers an exciting and wide-ranging programme of events and I am confident that both students and long term residents will find something to enjoy."

One of the organisers of the event, Queen’s Students’ Union Vice-President for Community Laura Hawthorne, said: "We have created the programme with input from students, staff and the community and we have worked hard to ensure that it offers something for everyone.

“We want to make sure that everyone enjoys St Patrick’s Day as much as possible, and we are reinforcing the message to students that the best way to enjoy themselves is by behaving responsibly and with consideration for others."

This message was echoed by Nora Duncan, President of University of Ulster Students’ Union, who said: "This Festival is all-inclusive. It is for students and their families, local residents, community groups and anyone who may be visiting Belfast during this time. Our aim is to make this an enjoyable and fun packed festival for all."

Programme details are available online at www.stpatricksfestivalbelfast.org

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Prospects for IT graduates 'remain bright'

Job prospects for local IT and computer science graduates remain bright, according to Dr Pat Corr, Director of Education in Queen's University's School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr Corr was speaking ahead of a career event on Wednesday (18 February) at which local and national IT employers will offer a range of employment and placement opportunities to students and graduates.

He said: "It would clearly be foolhardy to be complacent in the current economic climate, but it is encouraging to note that IT companies are still actively recruiting our graduates.

“The message we receive from employers is that there is still a shortage of well-qualified graduates in these areas. Indeed, recent studies have shown that those with degrees in engineering and IT earn higher salaries than many of their counterparts, and companies such as Liberty IT and Asidua have introduced lucrative and prestigious scholarships to attract the best students.

“We enjoy very productive relationships with local and national IT employers and Wednesday’s event will introduce three employers new to Northern Ireland, who set up here to take advantage of the excellent graduate calibre available locally."

Employers attending Wednesday’s event include AMT Sybex, APT, Asidua, Autonomy, Citi, Cybersource, Deloitte, First Derivatives, ICS Computing, Intune Networks, Kainos, Liberty IT, Microsoft, the Northern Ireland Civil Service, NYSE Euronext, Pocket Kings, Replify and SAP Research CEC.

It follows a similar function on Monday for engineering students and graduates which attracted some of the world’s best known employers. They included Bombardier, BAe Systems (formerly British Aerospace), the European Space Agency, Arup and Schlumberger, the world's leading supplier of technology, project management, and information solutions to the oil and gas industry.

Both events have been organised by Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills, on behalf of the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

For media enquiries please contact: Anne Langford, Corporate Affairs, +44 (0)28 9097 5310, Mob: 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Clinton aide marks President's Day at Queen's
Dr Ted Widmer
Dr Ted Widmer

Bill Clinton’s former foreign policy speechwriter will give a unique insight into America’s role in global affairs during a visit to Queen’s next week.

Dr Ted Widmer’s talk comes at a time when US foreign policy is under global scrutiny. Dr Widmer was a senior adviser to President Clinton and a former director of speech writing at the National Security Council from 1997-2001. He accompanied the former President on his visits to Northern Ireland in 1998 and 2000 and worked alongside him during his attempts to help broker the Northern Ireland peace process.

Dr Widmer’s talk on Ark of the Liberties: America and the World - the title of his new book - will take place on Wednesday 18 February to honour President’s Day and the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Dr Widmer said: "Against the backdrop of the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the ongoing turbulence in the Middle East, Barack Obama’s foreign policy decisions will be carefully analysed and scrutinised around the world.

“As the world’s attention focuses on the White House, there is no better time to examine America’s role in international affairs, the history of its foreign policy, and how the decisions of its Presidents - from Lincoln to Obama - have impacted on the rest of the world.

“American foreign policy has a long and contradictory history. Over the years, many Americans have believed that God supports the US in its global affairs, whether favouring it in battle or somehow approving the spread of freedom to other nations. This evangelical thought underlay many grand pronouncements of US foreign policy, from Manifest Destiny - the 19th century belief that the US was destined by God to spread across the entire North American continent - to the administration of George W Bush.

“At the same time, however, America has found more rational and realistic voices, such as Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama, to counter these grand aspirations. Bill Clinton took this realist approach to foreign policy, and this was evident in his work on the Northern Ireland peace process. Northern Ireland was extremely important to Clinton and all those who worked with him. Having visited Belfast twice with him, I am delighted to return to deliver Queen’s second President’s Day address."

Dr Widmer’s talk is co-sponsored by Queen’s School of History and Anthropology and the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy. History Professor Catherine Clinton is currently in Springfield, Illinois - Abraham Lincoln’s home town - to mark his 200th birthday. She will attend a special Lincoln birthday dinner today(Thursday 12 February), at which President Obama is expected to speak. Professor Clinton is the author of Mrs Lincoln, a biography of Lincoln’s wife Mary, the first presidential spouse to be called ‘First Lady’.

Professor Clinton said: "Abraham Lincoln is widely regarded as the greatest US President, and is best remembered for his role in the fight to end slavery. In the year that marks the bicentenary of his birth, the US now has its first African American President, whose election has captured the imagination and attention of people around the globe.

“Here at Queen's we are pleased to call attention to President’s Day with our second annual memorial address. It is also fitting that we have sponsored an exhibition about the fight against slavery in the UK entitled, Recovered Histories, which will be running in the University’s main library from 4-18 February.

“As the world’s attention focuses on the White House and Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy, there is no better time to look back at the factors that have shaped America’s role in the world and how elections and other domestic factors can shape international affairs." Dr Widmer’s talk will take place at 5.30pm on Wednesday 18 February in the Canada Room at Queen’s University. The talk is open to the public and admission is free. For more information visit www.qub.ac.uk/schools/History/NewsandEvents/SeminarProgrammes/AmericanHistoryColloquium

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Darwin anniversary heralds new conservation research era for Northern Ireland

On the bicentenary of the birth of eminent biologist today (Thursday) Charles Darwin a new £2m research contract has been launched to conserve and protect Northern Ireland’s natural heritage.

Queen’s University Belfast and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have teamed up to form the Natural Heritage Research Partnership (NHRP) which was awarded to the university following EU-wide tendering.

The project is being led by Quercus, Queen’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science.

Darwin’s thinking was crucial for our understanding of how species and their environment are related. The new partnership aims to further that understanding and provide scientific evidence on which to base governmental decisions about the conservation and protection of marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems including habitats and species of conservation concern.

Dr Neil Reid, Quercus Centre Manager, said: “Over the next 10 years our research will tackle important issues including the management of designated sites such as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs), the monitoring of rare species and the implications of climate change here on our own doorstep.

“Quercus has been enormously successful in attracting external funding to expand our work in the environmental sector. The Natural Heritage Research Partnership is our most valued collaboration - such a direct link between government and academia is rare.”

The research programme will include work on established conservation flagship species such as the Irish hare and red squirrel but will also focus on important habitats including marine protected areas, threatened coastal sand dunes and the Lough Neagh ecosystem.

Professor Ian Montgomery, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, added: “The work will break fresh ground within the relatively new discipline of environmental economics, which values ecosystem services in financial terms, for example, the value of natural habitats such as woodland or bog in carbon storage or the value of bees for crop pollination.”

Quercus has launched a new website: www.quercus.ac.uk, to provide more information about the partnership.

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King of Malaysia to be honoured by Queen's

The Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor Peter Gregson, is this week leading a University delegation to Kuala Lumpur, during which he will confer an honorary degree on the King of Malaysia.

Speaking in advance of the visit, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: "Malaysia holds a special place in the history of Queen’s, stretching back some 50 years. The acceptance of an honorary degree by the King is recognition of the high esteem in which Queen’s University is held in Malaysia. “Over 1,400 Queen’s graduates have made, and continue to make, a major contribution to Malaysian society - in business, in government and in the professions.

“Queen’s has major research links with Petronas, the National Petroleum Company of Malaysia, and the Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) in the area of green chemistry, particularly ionic liquids. In March last year Queen’s opened a new laboratory in our world-leading Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL), the first Petronas academic-based laboratory of its kind in Europe. This is providing a strong basis for further research collaborations covering catalysis and biofuels.

“Queen’s contribution to professional life in Malaysia focuses on the development of medical education at the University of Malaya. Next week we will announce a major health improvement initiative with the University of Malaya that will create a new Research Centre of Population Health linked with the Queen’s UK Centre of Excellence in Public Health.

“Our links with the Higher Education Sector continue to grow and our most recent collaboration, signed last month, is with the University of Kuala Lumpur. This agreement gives Malaysia’s brightest young engineers the chance to take advantage of the excellent teaching and research facilities at Queen’s.

"One of Queen’s key priorities is to create partnerships with high-quality international universities and institutions through which we can develop global centres of excellence in key areas of research. There is no better model than our relationship with Malaysia to exemplify the benefits of this approach."

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'Come dine with me' says Phil Coulter

Queen's University is offering hungry diners the chance to join Phil Coulter for lunch and a chat.

The music legend is among many of Northern Ireland's top personalities joining visitors to Queen's for a unique dining experience.

Leading musicians, writers, broadcasters and academics are taking part in Queen's 'Out to Lunch' initiative which features a series of interviews by BBC presenter William Crawley.

The event allows diners to enjoy a three-course lunch in the magnificent surroundings of the University's Great Hall while being entertained by discussion and performances.

A few tickets still remain for 'Out to Lunch' with Phil Coulter on 18 February.

Coulter studied music at Queen's and joined The Glee Club in the early 60s. The Glee Club ran monthly variety concerts featuring student performers in the old Union dining hall.  There will be a reunion of the Club at the event and Coulter is likely to sing a few songs from the era.

The current 'Out to Lunch' series follows the sell-out success of the programme launched last year by Queen's Welcome Centre Manager Lynn Corken.

She said: "The previous 'Out to Lunch' events have been a sell-out success and we are expecting the final three events to follow on from this.

"We are delighted that so many local personalities are taking part. The Out to Lunch event is unique as visitors do not have to be a student or academic- anyone can come along and dine with the guest speakers and performers.

"If you haven't visited Queen's University before this is a good opportunity to come and see our beautiful surroundings."

Out to Lunch continues on 11 March when Catherine Clinton, Professor of US History at Queen's and Peter Bowler, Professor of History of Science at Queen's, will be discussing the lives and works of President Abraham Lincoln as well as Charles Darwin.

Lincoln and Darwin were both born in 1809, so the afternoon is expected to include fascinating discussion in this, their bicentenary year.

Prof. Clinton is the author of more than two dozen books, including, most recently, Mrs. Lincoln: A Life. She is a member of a board of advisors for the U.S. Presidential Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and is working on a study of the Emancipation Proclamation among other projects relating to Lincoln.

Prof. Bowler has written a number of books on the development of evolution theory including Charles Darwin: The Man and his Influence.  He is interested in the debate over evolutionism and religion, the topic of his most recent book Monkey Trials and Gorilla Sermons.

The final afternoon of the series will take place on 25 March when diners have the chance to have lunch with Michael Longley, recently appointed to the prestigious post of Ireland Professor of Poetry. 

He will read from his work, discuss his life, his influences and his role as Professor of Poetry for Ireland.

Longley has been recognised as one of the finest poets in the English language for many years. He has won numerous major awards for his work and in 2001 was the recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

The 'Out to Lunch' events will take place from 12.30pm- 2.00pm. Tickets, priced £19.50, are available by contacting Queen's Welcome Centre, Lanyon Building on 028 9097 5252 or email queens.welcomecentre@qub.ac.uk

For media enquiries please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's students perform unique show

A showcase of student talent from across Queen's begins tomorrow at the University's Drama and Film Theatre Centre.

Students from disciplines such as Drama and Sonic Arts have joined forces to produce an exciting new performance piece which will run from Tuesday 10 February until Thursday 12 February.

The students have fused movement, text, light and sound to create the curious new show, which follows on from the success of earlier performances including How to Disappear, As Close As You Get To Being There and The Road Not Taken.

Director, Stevie Prickett, was one of the first students to graduate from Queen's unique MA Interdisciplinary Arts course last year.

He said: "This is an opportunity for students from different arts disciplines to come together, share skills and work with professional artists to create an original performance piece. It allows students access to additional performance opportunities and a chance to work in an interdisciplinary devising process.

"The piece explores what it is like to be in the moment just before something happens and is a collection of scenes looking at the emotional experience in that moment. The show blends the use of movement, text, sound and lighting to show moments from different stories linked by the theme and contains moments of joy, conflict, hope, humour and expectation."

Stevie is confident the show will be different to any other the audience will have seen. He said: "It is a unique and accessible new performance style where students from music and drama are involved in all aspects of the performance and creation of an exciting new physical show.

"It showcases the emerging new talents from the Drama and Sonic Arts courses and offers something for everyone. The show will intrigue and entertain the audience as it asks how it feels to be there just before it happens."

The performance is being presented by one of three CETLs (Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) established by Queen's.

The Centre aims to develop more practice-based work, more interaction with professional arts practitioners and more collaboration across the Creative and Performing Arts Disciplines.

Anna Newell, Artistic Director of the Centre for Excellence in the Creative and Performing Arts at Queen's, said: "While putting on this performance, the students are encouraged to use their imagination, think outside their normal sphere of thought, collaborate under pressure and generally cope with being thrown out of their comfort zone. Although Arts based, it helps them develop the skills necessary for any career path."

Tickets for the 8pm performances which run from Tuesday 10 Feb to Thursday 12 Feb (inclusive) are £7/5. An additional performance will be staged on Wednesday at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the QFT box office on 028 9097 1097 or can be purchased at the door before each performance.

For media enquiries please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 2576, press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's energy partnership makes waves for UK

The likelihood of the UK being able to produce widespread energy from wave-generated power has been given a vital boost.

Queen's University Belfast and Aquamarine Power Limited, a leading marine energy company, have agreed a new five year research partnership which will develop the next generation hydro-electric wave power converter.

Already the partnership has created the Oyster wave power device. It is designed to capture the energy found in amplified surge forces in nearshore waves.

The first prototype of Oyster, a hydro-electric wave power converter, is to be launched at sea for the first time this summer at the European Marine Energy Centre off the coast of Orkney.

The latest five-year deal will see Aquamarine work alongside the Environmental Engineering Research Centre at Queen's. The team from Aquamarine will model several devices in the state-of-the-art wave tanks in the Universitys Civil Engineering Department and at the Marine Biology Centre at Portaferry.

Led by Professor Trevor Whittaker from Queen's School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, the Wave Power Research Group is regarded as being among the best marine renewable energy groups in the world.

The team will monitor loading, survivability and how the devices interact with each other to guarantee continuous power output in all sea states.

The Partnership will also provide Aquamarine with access to a second, larger wave tank due to open at Queen's Portaferry facility. The tank is being part-funded through the University's Institute for a Sustainable World initiative.

The Portaferry facility will allow the team to test groups of wave power devices that can be deployed in large numbers to form off-shore power stations.

Professor Trevor Whittaker, Head of the Wave Power Research Centre and a world-renowned expert on wave power and coastal engineering said: "My team at Queens specialises in the application of fundamental research to industrial development, therefore I am very pleased to strengthen our links with Aquamarine Power, one of the worlds leaders in marine renewable energy.

"It provides focus for the work of our research students, giving them an opportunity to participate in cutting edge research that will benefit society and the environment for current and future generations."

Martin McAdam, Chief Executive of Aquamarine said: "I am delighted to announce Aquamarines continuing relationship with Queens University Belfasts world-leading team. Professor Trevor Whittaker is an award-winning expert in wave energy research. He and his group have tested and deployed more devices in their time than any other research facility in the world."

This agreement creates a fantastic opportunity on two fronts. Firstly it provides Aquamarine with access to the Universitys world-class wave power test facilities, enabling Aquamarine to continue to enhance the design of Oyster as a market leading technology, and as importantly, gives us access to the brightest PhD students in this field.

Queen's latest PhD graduate has recently joined Aquamarines staff. The Company is committed to continued investment in high quality post-graduate training. The Partnership will ensure the brightest PhD students at Queen's will have the opportunity to work with professionals at Aquamarine and ultimately join the Companys rapidly growing team of experts. The Company has doubled in size in the last six months alone with a quarter of its staff holding PhDs.

For media inquiries contact Lisa Mitchell, Senior Press Officer, Queens University Belfast. +44 (0)28 9097 5384, m0781 44 22 572 or email Lisa.mitchell@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's student on song for 50,000 euros
Queen's student Cliona Hagan who is representing Northern Ireland on RTE's All-Ireland Talent Show
Queen's student Cliona Hagan who is representing Northern Ireland on RTE's All-Ireland Talent Show

A Queen’s University music student coached by Opera singer Angela Feeney is well on her way to winning 50,000 euros.

Cliona Hagan, from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, 19, has stormed through the audition stages of RTÉ’s All-Ireland Talent Show.

She will now represent Northern Ireland, along with four other contenders, after seeing off a wealth of competition at auditions for the popular reality talent show.

Cliona has been training as a classical opera singer since she was nine. Now international opera singer and Queen’s University honorary graduate, Doctor Angela Feeney, is teaching Cliona how to make the most of her voice.

She said: “Cliona has a glorious voice of immense potential and is one of the best talents to emerge from Queen’s University. She has already gained a staggering 90 marks at her first year exam.

“She is a great achiever with three A-Levels under her belt and is completing a three year BMus in performance. The two days of auditions were very demanding and the variety of talent at the auditions was very impressive.”

Cliona said is looking forward to representing Northern Ireland and Queen’s University in the competition.

She said: “The whole process of the competition has been an amazing experience. It will be something I will be pleased to look back on in years to come. I am very pleased and proud to be one of the five contestants representing Northern Ireland.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of this competition. I didn’t enter many competitions before I auditioned for the All-Ireland Talent Show so to have the chance to perform in front of my family and friends and to so many people in Ireland is a great privilege.

“Being a student at Queen’s University has played a big part in me getting to this stage of the competition. Queen’s is a great university with so many wonderful facilities to help with your instrument. To be part of such a prestigious university is a real honour.

“My time at Queen’s has also given me the opportunity to meet a great singing teacher and friend, Dr. Angela Feeney. Angela has helped my voice progress immensely and has introduced me to new languages.”

Cliona’s next appearance will be televised on RTÉ One on Sunday March 8. After the performances the public will have a chance to vote for their favourite contestant to represent Northern Ireland at the live final.

During the live final the public will decide who the winner is of the All Ireland talent show and the 50,000 euros prize.

For media enquiries please contact: Emma Blee, Press & PR Unit, +44 (0)28 9097 2576 press.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's celebrates the life of Samuel Beckett
The late Sir John Gielgud in Beckett's Catastrophe
The late Sir John Gielgud in Beckett's Catastrophe
John Hurt in Krapps Last Tape
John Hurt in Krapps Last Tape

Queen's University is paying tribute to esteemed playwright and wordsmith Samuel Beckett with a short season of events and screenings.

The events are being organised by the University's Naughton Gallery and Queen's Film Theatre (QFT).

The season which marks the 20th anniversary of Beckett’s death, will be launched on Thursday (5 February) with an exhibition of Beckett’s Doodles, by Bill Prosser. He will also hold a lunchtime talk on 6 February with Professor Mary Bryden of University of Reading, on the significance of marginalia in Beckett’s work.

Prosser’s images are based on the figurative doodles from the margins of Human Wishes, an unfinished play written by Beckett between 1937 and 1940.

Prosser has worked as an illustrator for many years with clients ranging from The Times to American Express. His work has been exhibited widely and he is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Reading.

Anna McMullan, Professor of Drama Studies at Queen’s said: “Bill Prosser’s exhibition, Beckett’s Doodles, and this programme of events at the Naughton Gallery and Queen’s Film Theatre, explore Beckett’s visual imagination and the significance of his work from visual arts and media perspectives.”

Allistar MacLennan, one of Britain’s leading practitioners of live art, will make an actuation, Killskill, based on Beckett’s work. It will be on show in the Naughton Gallery from 5 February to 21 March.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s MacLennan made lengthy performances in Britain and America, of up to 144 hours each, generally dealing with political, social and cultural malfunction.

A panel discussion featuring Professor Everett Frost of New York University, Professor Anna McMullan of Queen’s Drama and Dr Des O’Raw of Queen’s Film Studies will take place on Saturday 7 February.

The discussion will focus on Beckett’s media, TV plays and experimental film. Jonathan Bignell of University of Reading will also speak on interpreting Beckett’s only screenplay, Film, at the event.

During Beckett Season the QFT will be screening Beckett on Film across six nights, including some of his most recognisable work such as Krapp’s Last Tape, Waiting for Godot and Endgame.

Shan McAnena Curator of Art at Queen’s said: “This exhibition and the accompanying screenings and events is an opportunity to consider Beckett's own ‘doodles’ as well as his seminal influence on contemporary art practice.”

Susan Picken QFT manager said: “This is a rare opportunity to see the work of one of Ireland’s greatest writers on the big screen.”

Admission to Bill Prosser's and Professor Mary Bryden's lunchtime talk on 6 February is free. The talk begins at 1pm (running until 2pm) in Room G09 in Queen's main Lanyon building.

Admission to the Naughton Gallery is free.
For more information on events at the Gallery visit www.naughton gallery.org. The QFT's programme can be found at www.queensfilmtheatre.com

For more information please contact Emma Blee, Press and PR Unit on 028 90 97 2576 or email press.office@qub.ac.uk  

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Queen's study highlights need for licensed medicines for children
Professor James McElnay
Professor James McElnay

A new study has shown there is an urgent need for more children to take part in clinical trials to make sure medicines can be licensed for their safe and effective use.

The study has been carried out by Professor James McElnay, a leading academic at Queen's University Belfast.

Professor of Pharmacy Practice as well as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates at Queen’s, Professor McElnay led a study which showed many people in Northern Ireland do not know medicines are being used outside their license to treat children.

The paper has been published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

A survey of 1,000 members of the public found that 86 per cent of respondents claimed that they had never heard or read about the unlicensed use of medicines in children.

Unlicensed medicine involves using medicines outside their license in terms of dose, the way in which they are administered or the age of the recipient.

At least one third of children in paediatric medical and surgical wards and up to 90 per cent of children in neonatal intensive care units are prescribed unlicensed medicines, according to previous European studies.

It is generally considered to be the role of the prescriber or the pharmacist to provide information to parents about the unlicensed use of medicines in their children without causing undue confusion or distress. But the study acknowledges that this can lead to a lack of trust which could influence the treatment negatively.

Views about the safety of children’s medicine

At the outset of the questionnaire, only 1.8 per cent of those involved felt the use of medicines in children was unsafe but after being told about unlicensed use of medicines the figure increased to over 62 per cent. 90 per cent of participants felt unlicensed medicines would increase the risk of side-effects.

Communication between the doctor and parents

92 per cent of participants felt parents should be informed about the use of unlicensed medicine in their child.

When asked what they would do if their children was prescribed such a medicine, 42 per cent said they would use the medicine but check the child carefully for side-effects, while 40 per cent indicated they would ask the doctor to change the medicine to one which has been fully tested and licensed for use in children. 18 per cent indicated they would simply accept that the doctor knew best.

Clinical trials in children

Many of those interviewed said they would be reluctant to involve a child in clinical trials which are necessary for medicines to gain a license. Only about four per cent said they would enter their own child into a trial if the child was in good health, while 42 per cent said they would agree if the child had a life-threatening condition and the medicine being tested was being used for that condition.

Professor McElnay said: “The situation regarding unlicensed use of medicines in children has received relatively little media attention and intuitively one would consider that children would be afforded more protection than adults regarding evidence based medicine.

“There is a lack of medicines available for children which have undergone the strict testing procedures which take place for adult medicines.

“This puts children at a disadvantage when compared to adults. There is a need for more clinical trials in children so that more licensed medicines are available.

“The relative lack of licensed medicines for use in children has been described as a breach of their basic human rights.

“Parents in some other countries get upset if their children are not included in clinical trials while in hospital, whereas in Northern Ireland there is sometimes a reluctance within parents to include their children in such trials.

“Further research needs to be carried out to explore some of these issues in more depth and I am leading a programme of research between the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s and neonatologists, paediatricians and pharmacists in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.”

Other academics involved include Tareq Mukattash, Dr Jeff Millership, Dr Paul Collier, all from the School of Pharmacy.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, Press and PR Unit, 028 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's-Barclays project helps students bank on financial know-how
Conor O’Kane, Debbie Forsey and Denise Murtagh of Queen’s with Mary Jo Lynch (second left), Area Director of Barclays in Northern Ireland, at the Money Plus launch.
Conor O’Kane, Debbie Forsey and Denise Murtagh of Queen’s with Mary Jo Lynch (second left), Area Director of Barclays in Northern Ireland, at the Money Plus launch.

As the credit crunch continues to bite, Queen’s students are set to profit from an innovative link-up with Barclays which will help them to make the most of their money.

Barclays is funding the Money Plus project through its Banking on Brighter Futures community investment programme which focuses in the UK on financial capability for young people.

The Queen’s project aims to teach first year undergraduates and Year 14 school pupils how to budget and manage their money effectively while in higher education. A team of student volunteers are currently being trained to help deliver the scheme which will be officially launched in September and managed by Students’ Union Debt Advisor Debbie Forsey and Societies and Enterprise Coordinator Denise Collins.

Debbie Forsey said: “For many students coming to university means that they will be financially independent for the first time. This can be a very daunting experience. Research has shown that financial hardship among students can affect their mental health, reduce academic performance and is one of the three major contributing factors to students dropping out from university.

We are very grateful for Barclays support of this scheme which will have a major role to play in helping students to deal effectively with the financial challenges of university life. It will also add value to the Queen’s experience for the student volunteers by teaching them a range of skills which will boost their employment prospects in the very competitive graduate job market”

Mary-Jo Lynch, Area Director for Barclays in Northern Ireland added: “Partnering with Queen’s to deliver a project that offers basic money skills and budgeting advice for young people is hugely important to us. We take our responsibilities seriously and are proud of our leading community investment programme which added up to £52.4 million in 2007. We are looking forward to working with Queen’s students in the coming year to make a real and lasting difference to the local community.”

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2009 Honorary graduands announced
Edna Longley
Edna Longley

Business leaders, literary figures and former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam are among those who are set to receive honorary degrees from Queen's University this year.

Former Indian president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who served from 2002 to 2007, will receive a doctorate for public service. He is a distinguished engineer and is considered a progressive mentor, innovator and visionary in India, believing in the power of science to resolve society’s problems. Popularly known as the “People’s President”, Dr Kalam has educated and inspired others as a scientist, teacher, researcher, statesman and poet.

West Belfast actress Geraldine Hughes, will receive a doctorate for services to the performing arts. She is best known as the female lead Marie in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa, acting alongside Sylvester Stallone. She has also appeared in ER and a number of New York stage productions.

Those who will be awarded doctorates for services to business and commerce include Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager of Bombardier Aerospace, Michael Smurfit, former Chairman of packaging company the Smurfitt Kappa Group, and Neville Isdell, Chairman of the Coca-Cola Company, who is from Northern Ireland.

A doctorate for public service also goes to Francis Campbell, from Newry, who was Policy Adviser and Private Secretary to Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister, and the first Catholic to hold the position of UK Ambassador to the Holy See.

Lord Chief Justice Brian Kerr, who graduated from Queen’s 40 years ago, will be recognised for distinction in public service and the legal profession. Sir Brian sat as an ad hoc judge in the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg and contributes significantly to Queen’s through the School of Law.

An honorary doctorate for services to broadcasting will be conferred on the BBC’s Africa correspondent Orla Guerin, who was born in Dublin. She has been based in areas all over the world, including Jerusalem, from where she reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has also reported from Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Moscow and the former Soviet Union.

Paralympic double world champion sprinter Jason Smyth, 21, from Derry, is also on the list of 2009 honorary graduates. The visually impaired athlete, who is also a regular competitor in sighted competitions and is ranked second in Ireland over 200 metres, is a strong contender for the 2012 Olympics.

Former Queen’s professor and author Edna Longley, one of the most influential critics on modern Irish and British poetry, and Alexander McCall Smith, the author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, who was a law lecturer at Queen’s during the 1970s, will receive doctorates for distinction in literature.

Distinguished theoretical chemist Professor Ruth Lynden-Bell, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and Professor Amos Smith, who has recently been awarded the Japanese equivalent of a Knighthood for his services to world chemistry, will both be honoured for their work.

Other academics who will have honorary degrees conferred on them are medieval historian Professor Emerita Dame Janet Nelson, anthropologist Professor Dame Marilyn Strathearn and geoscientist Professor Emertius Minze Stuvier.

The degrees will be awarded as follows:

DUniv Francis Campbell     for distinction in public service 
DUniv  Orla Guerin    for services to broadcasting  
DUniv  Geraldine Hughes    for services to the performing arts 
DSc (Econ)    Neville Isdell  for services to business and commerce   
DUniv  Dr APJ Abdul Kalam   for distinction in public service    
LLD  Lord Chief Justice Brian Kerr  for distinction in public service and the legal profession  
DSc   Professor Ruth Lynden-Bell  for distinction in chemistry 
DLit      Professor Edna Longley  for distinction in literature  
DLit  Alexander McCall Smith  for distinction in literature 
DMedSc  Dr Martin Murphy Jr   for services to medicine and for public service   
DLit   Professor Emerita Dame Janet Nelson  for distinction in medieval history 
DSc (Eng)   Michael Ryan CBE  for services to engineering, business and commerce 
DSc Professor Amos Smith   for distinction in organic chemistry   
DSc (Econ)  Michael Smurfit  for services to business and commerce 
DUniv  Jason Smyth  for distinction in sport  
DSSc   Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern  for distinction in anthropology and social sciences 
DSc     Professor Emeritus Minze Stuiver  for distinction in geosciences 

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Queen's scientists develop improved test to detect steroid abuse in cattle
Professor Chris Elliot
Professor Chris Elliot

Innovative new tests which can identify the illegal use of steroids in the European beef industry have been devised by scientists at Queen’s University Belfast.

The tests are cheaper, more accurate and more convenient in tracing the illegal drugs than conventional doping tests.

The study was led by Professor Chris Elliot, the Director of the Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use at Queen’s, and is published today (Monday) in the scientific journal Analytical Chemistry.

Professor Elliott and his team believe that despite a long-standing ban by the European Union on the use of growth-promoting agents in cattle, widespread abuse of steroids is still continuing and remains difficult to detect.

Scientists working in this field suspect that up to 10 per cent of European cattle are illegally treated with growth-enhancing chemicals, including anabolic steroids.

Fears about their safety have been raised through scientific studies which have shown a potential link between some steroids used in growth promotion and cancer.

As the European Union continues to tighten its regulations, those carrying out the doping have found ways of hiding their practices from regulators, so it is important to find methods to catch those who flout the laws.

The new testing method measures steroids indirectly based on chemical changes associated with growth and muscle development in steroid-fed cattle.

Using a commercial blood analyser commonly found in hospitals, the researchers measured 20 different chemical markers, including proteins and cholesterol, in cattle treated with and without the commonly used steroids testosterone and oestrogen over a 42-day study period.

The new test detected the presence of the steroids with a high accuracy rate - between 91 and 96 per cent.

Professor Elliot said: “In recent years, a trend of administration of very low dose cocktails of naturally occurring hormones has made conventional forms of analysis even more problematic.

“Even if minute traces of steroids can be detected, proving definitive illegal administration under these circumstances is close to impossible.

“The ability to detect evidence of such administrations using metabolic markers would be a major scientific advance.

“The cost per analysis in our tests is much lower, allowing a greater number of samples to be processed and those found to be suspect can be subjected to a high degree of scrutiny.”

The researchers also say the study could lead to on-site steroid testing with portable instruments.
Professor Elliot says that administrating a single steroid probably meant that a lower metabolic response was generated compared with what was achieved through cocktail hormone treatments that are being abused in Europe.

“It will be important to build a library of metabolic data from animals treated with a range of anabolic agents to get a more complete panel against which to test suspected cattle. This effort should be carried out on a pan-European level,” he added.

The research was funded by the European Commission and safefood organisation in Ireland.

For media enquiries please contact: Andrea Clements, press officer on 028 90 97 5391, Mob 07980 013 362, a.clements@qub.ac.uk

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