04 - 2011 press Releases

London 2012 volunteers race to Queen’s
LOCOG Director Chris Holmes with London 2012 volunteer hopefuls at Queen’s PEC
LOCOG Director Chris Holmes with London 2012 volunteer hopefuls at Queen’s PEC

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is at Queen’s for the latest stage in the volunteer selection process for London 2012.

Queen’s Physical Education Centre (PEC) is the official selection centre for Games Maker applicants in Northern Ireland. The interview programme was officially launched at the PEC today (Wednesday 20 April) by Chris Holmes, LOCOG Director of Paralympic Integration and nine-times Paralympic Swimming Gold medallist, alongside Mick Cory from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, and Wendy Osborne OBE, Chief Executive of Volunteer Now.

For five days until 28 April 2011 (excluding Bank Holidays), around 180 people a day are expected to be interviewed at the PEC for a range of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games volunteer roles based at Olympic and Paralympic venues across the UK.  

These interviews are the second stage in the process to be a London 2012 volunteer. In September 2010 the public were invited to apply to become part of the London 2012 Games Maker programme. 250,000 people applied and LOCOG is now selecting an estimated 100,000 people to attend a face-to-face interview for up to 70,000 Games time roles. It is estimated that 900 of these interviews will take place in Belfast.

The Belfast selection event is the third to launch outside of London. A further five selection events will take place in different parts of the UK before the end of August 2011. A dedicated interview centre at London’s ExCel Centre opened on 1 February 2011 and will remain active until March 2012.

Chris Holmes, LOCOG Director of Paralympic Integration said: “London 2012 volunteers will be representing the UK on a global stage. They will be the face of your Games – whether they are collecting your tickets or welcoming you at the airport. It’s vital we find the right people for these roles, and are delighted to bring the search to Belfast today. Games time volunteers are vital to the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – their contribution is invaluable. From the athletes to organisers, from the media to the public, we all rely on the volunteers to deliver successful sporting events. The Games Makers will make London 2012 the greatest show on earth.” 

100,000 people best suited to the 70,000 volunteer roles on offer will be invited over 14 months to take part in an interview. Interviewees will attend a selection event that comprises of meeting LOCOG staff recruiting for the volunteer roles, an exhibition about Olympic and Paralympic volunteering and a 30 minute interview. Where possible, applicants will be invited to attend the selection event nearest to them.

The Games Maker interviews in Belfast will be conducted by a team of 37 Selection Event Volunteers who are lending their time to help LOCOG select the best possible Games Maker team. The interviewers have relevant Human Resources and/or significant recruitment and voluntary sector experience. A number of Belfast students of Human Resources BA Hons and MA courses are also assisting with the interviews. All have completed comprehensive training led by LOCOG to ensure a positive, fair and enjoyable interview experience.

For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 100 or visit the website at www.london2012.com.

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Older people dance the years away at Queen’s

A senior citizens' dance troupe, aged between 75 and 102, will perform at Queen’s University tomorrow (Wednesday 20 April) at a special event to promote dancing among older people across Ireland.

The Arts Care Black Widows dance troupe will take to the floor during Generation Dance – a cross-border event organised by Queen’s and the University of Limerick to promote dancing in care for the elderly. Around 70 older people, care providers and policy makers will join dance instructors and university researchers to learn new dance moves and explore the links between dancing and health, wellbeing and independence in old age.

The event is organised by Anthropologist and former Ulster Salsa Champion Dr Jonathan Skinner from Queen’s School of History and Anthropology.

Dr Skinner said:  “Research has shown the social, mental and physical benefits of dancing for older people. It alleviates the feeling of isolation and quite literally helps take away the aches and pains associated with older age. This is something that healthcare providers and policy makers should bear in mind when planning for Northern Ireland’s ageing population.

“Our society is getting older, and in the next twenty years the number of over 50s in Northern Ireland will increase by more than 30 per cent. This presents huge challenges in terms of future health and social care provision. Generation Dance aims to inform decision makers of the benefits of dancing in counteracting decline in ageing, and encourage them to improve dance provision for senior citizens across Ireland. By helping older people maintain a better level of health, fitness and independence, regular dancing can make them less reliant on health and social care services.

“This event represents the next important step by Queen’s and the University of Limerick in establishing a cross-border research forum to identify the need for dance provision for elderly people. Ultimately, we hope to help older people across Ireland dance their way towards improved health and happiness.”

Generation Dance takes place from 10am-2pm on Wednesday 20 April at the Harty Room at Queen’s School of Music and Sonic Arts. The event is free and anyone who wants to attend should contact Dr Jonathan Skinner on 028 9097 3705 or email j.skinner@qub.ac.uk

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

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X marks spot for Queen’s Student and Graduate of the Year
Jonathan Hill, Vice President of the Queen’s Graduates’ Association, zoologist Jonathan Scott, and Peri Mullan from First Trust Bank
Jonathan Hill, Vice President of the Queen’s Graduates’ Association, zoologist Jonathan Scott, and Peri Mullan from First Trust Bank
It’s time to get voting in the Queen’s University Graduate and Student of the Year Awards - a competition which recognises outstanding achievements by Queen’s alumni and students.

Former students who have already scooped the Student of the Year Award, which was launched by the Queen’s Graduates’ Association in 1999 with the support of First Trust Bank, include Ulster rugby player David Humphreys.

Last year’s winner, Vincent Murray from Ballygowan, was responsible for leading a number of peace and reconciliation projects. He also completed innovative environmental projects, including his role in the development of the world-famous ‘My Ecosy’ patio heater’.

Vincent also contributed to the portfolio of activities which resulted in Queen’s becoming the Times Higher Education Entrepreneurial University of the Year in 2009. As a reward for his efforts he picked up a £500 prize and trophy.

The Graduate of the Year accolade went to pioneering surgeon, Dr Cecil Cyrus, who graduated from Queen’s in 1957. He was awarded the CMG, Companion of the Most Excellent Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in 2003. The Graduate of the Year award was further recognition of his brilliant career.

Other Graduate winners have included Jonathan Scott, one of Queen’s most eminent Zoology graduates (BSc 1972) and presenter of the BBC’s popular ‘Big Cat Diary’ series; Marion Gibson for her work in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami and Dr Nigel Hart and Dr Roger McMorrow for climbing Everest and saving the life of a fellow climber on the descent.

Peri Mullan, Branch Manager, University Road, First Trust Bank is delighted to support the Awards. She said: “We have been sponsoring the Awards since their conception and are very proud to be associated with such an important event in the Queen’s University calendar.  Our endorsement of these Awards recognises and celebrates the achievements of Queen's students and graduates who make such an invaluable contribution to life in Northern Ireland.”

Oonagh Ferrity, President of the Queen’s Graduate Association, believes that the awards can add value and bring great benefits to those who are successful. She said: “These awards recognise passion and drive in individuals. These are qualities that help people succeed in life and we are pleased that students and graduates can receive the recognition they deserve.”

The nominations process is open until Friday 27 May 2011 and anyone can submit an entry, not just graduates, staff and students, but families and friends.  

Official nomination forms are available from Queen’s University Development and Alumni Relations Office (Tel 028 9097 5289) or send an email to Adele McMahon (a.mcmahon@qub.ac.uk  giving the name, address and contact details for your nominee and reasons for their nomination.

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1 in 9 teenagers have experienced sexual grooming according to new survey

One in nine teenagers here have been subject to sexual grooming and three quarters of those were under the age of 16 at the time.  That is according to researchers at Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.

786 teenagers across Northern Ireland completed the 2010 Young Life and Times (YLT) survey, an annual survey of 16 year-olds undertaken by ARK, a joint initiative by Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.  The annual survey is aimed at giving an insight into lives of teenagers across Northern Ireland addressing a number of different areas.  It is the first time in Northern Ireland that the area of sexual grooming and exploitation amongst teenagers has been included in the study.

The key findings of the 2010 study include:

Sexual Grooming and Exploitation

  • One in nine respondents said that an adult had tried to groom them – three-quarters of respondents were under 16 years of age when this happened. In almost half of these cases the perpetrator was at least seven years older than the respondent.
  • One in 15 respondents said they had been given drugs or alcohol and were then taken advantage of sexually.  Again, two-thirds of respondents were under the age of 16 when this happened to them.
  • One in 20 respondents had been offered something in return for taking part in a sexual activity. 62 per cent of these respondents had not told anyone of authority that this had happened.
  • Over half were initially contacted on the street, through a friend or sibling or in a pub/club.  17 per cent were initially contacted online.


Caring responsibilities

  • Nine per cent of 16 year-olds had caring responsibility for someone. The greatest proportion these respondents spent between five and nine hours a week caring for someone.  40 per cent of young carers spent every day of the week looking after this person.



  • 26 per cent of respondents thought that the leisure time facilities in their area were good or very good.
  • Lack of free time and the cost of using facilities were the two most frequently named reasons by respondents that inhibit young people from taking part in leisure activities.
  • One of the main findings was also the discrepancy between the desire of 16 year-olds to use public spaces during their leisure time and the negative attitudes and experiences they face when doing so.
  • 56 per cent of respondents had been told to ‘move on’ when standing on the street with their friends – predominantly by residents.
  • 82 per cent had been treated with suspicion by shop owners.
  • 85 per cent of respondents felt that young people were judged negatively just because they are young, and 79 per cent felt that the media portrays young people mostly negatively.


Community Relations

  • 55 per cent of respondents felt that community relations in Northern Ireland were better now than five years ago, whilst only 39 per cent felt relations between Catholics and Protestants would be better in five years time. However, eight in ten respondents believe that religion will always make a difference to how people in Northern Ireland feel about each other.


Politics and current affairs

  • One-quarter of respondents felt that things have improved for young people with the Stormont government, whilst 15 per cent felt that things got worse. However, only 11 per cent of respondents were generally satisfied with how the Northern Ireland government is doing its job, compared to three per cent who were unsatisfied.
  • Only five per cent of respondents said that the current credit crunch had not affected them at all compared to 15 per cent in the 2009 YLT survey.


Young Life and Times Director, Dr Dirk Schubotz from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University said:  The 2010 YLT survey offers again interesting insights into the lives of 16 year-olds in Northern Ireland. For the first time here, the YLT survey addressed issues of sexual grooming and exploitation. The fact that a sizable proportion of respondents had been affected by grooming or attempts to take advantage of them sexually, mostly before they had reached the age of consent, reminds us about the vulnerability of young people.

“On a general level, the survey reflects how the effects of the economic crisis are now felt by the great majority of young people.  With regard to the Northern Ireland dimension, the data suggest the majority of young people recognise positive changes in Northern Ireland society; however, only about one in ten respondents are satisfied with the Northern Ireland government.

“There can be no doubt that the majority of 16 year-olds play a positive role in society.  However, the YLT survey evidence speaks volumes about the frustration of 16-year olds with how young people are portrayed in the media and how they are treated as young people when spending time in public places, places that should be as open and welcoming for them to use as for everyone else.

For more information and results tables on the 2010 YLT survey are available from the YLT website:  www.ark.ac.uk/ylt

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814422572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Derry student ‘banks’ top prize with Santander
Anne Kearney receives her award from Professor Shane O’Neill, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Luis Juste, Director of Santander Universities UK.
Anne Kearney receives her award from Professor Shane O’Neill, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Luis Juste, Director of Santander Universities UK.

A Derry girl has ‘banked’ top prize in a major competition to encourage more students to study Spanish.

The competition, organised by Queen’s University and Santander Universities, was won by Thornhill College student Anne Kearney, who has received a £1,000 scholarship to study Spanish at the University. Alongside her £1,000 prize, Anne also won £500 of book vouchers to support the teaching of Spanish at her school.

Joining Anne at a special awards ceremony at Queen’s last week, were runners up in the competition, Hannah Baker Millington from Belfast High School and Jacqueline Boyes from Wallace High School, Lisburn. They each received £500 and £250 of book vouchers for their schools.

All A2 Spanish students who applied for a place to study Spanish at Queen’s in 2011 were invited to enter the competition by writing an essay in Spanish. Judged by Dr Jesús Fernández and Ms María José Eguskiza from the Spanish Embassy in London, the competition was open to all those applying to study Spanish at single, major or joint honours degree level at Queen’s or through one of several integrated degree pathways, including Law with Spanish, International Business with Spanish, and Accounting with Spanish.

Dr Isabel Torres, Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Queen’s School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts, said: “We are delighted that Santander Universities agreed to sponsor this competition and scholarship prizes. Spanish has been taught here for over seventy years, and this competition will help us continue to attract the best students and build on Queen’s tradition of excellence in modern languages.

“We have a very strong relationship with schools across Northern Ireland and were delighted to be able to launch the scholarship competition here before extending it across the UK next year. The linguistic level of the entries was impressive, as was the breadth of topics covered - a very positive endorsement of the quality of language provision in our schools.”

Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Queen’s already has a close relationship with Santander Universities through the Santander Iberian Language Scholarship Programme. The Programme sponsors work experience placements for students in a Santander branch in Northern Ireland, after which the students have the opportunity to complete a 9-10 month internship with Santander in Spain, Portugal or Latin America.

Queen’s has been part of the Santander Universities network since 2008. In that time, the University has developed a rewarding and exciting partnership with the Bank, which directly benefits students and staff and enhances international research links.

Dr Torres continued: “These Entry Scholarships mark a new stage in the relationship between Santander and Queen’s. We are grateful to the bank for its ongoing support and I have no doubt our partnership will continue to go from strength to strength.  

Thanks to the commitment of Queen’s staff, world-class language-learning facilities, and links with international organisations like Santander, our courses provide students with exciting opportunities, not only to learn the language in the context of full intercultural competence, but also to develop a complete portfolio of employability skills.”

More than 900 universities in 4 continents are part of Santander Universities. The network is Santander’s commitment to Higher Education and thanks to this scheme the bank funds scholarships, grants, awards, entrepreneurial activities and special projects. Santander has committed £500 million to support Higher Education in the next five years.

Luis Juste, Director Santander Universities UK said: “Santander is proud of its strong relationship with Queen’s, and this scholarship scheme is another excellent example of how universities and businesses can work together to promote innovation in higher education.”

For more information about Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Queen’s visit www.qub.ac.uk/spanish-portuguese

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Press and PR Unit on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 or email anne-marie.clarke@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s named Northern Ireland’s ‘top employer for women’

Queen’s University has emerged as Northern Ireland’s top employer for women, and one of only two universities to feature in the UK’s top 50 workplaces for female staff.

Welcoming the University’s listing in the definitive Times Top 50 Employers for Women, Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said the accolade is further recognition of Queen’s role as a UK pioneer in promoting gender equality.

Professor Gregson said: “This accolade reflects the very positive work being undertaken across the University to attract, recruit and retain the most creative, talented, and capable women in higher education.

“We are committed to ensuring that women can develop their full personal and professional potential. The Times listing, coupled with our recent promotions exercise, which saw seven women among our 14 new professors, shows that we are well along the way to achieving this aim, and I congratulate all involved.”

The Times listing was managed by the workplace gender equality organisation Opportunity Now, whose Director Helen Wells, paid tribute to the University.

She said: “I firmly believe that creating workplaces which tap into the talents of all is an imperative. At Queen’s University Belfast this is clearly seen as a strategic issue, not purely a women’s issue.

“Queen’s should be congratulated for its commitment and tenacity in creating a work culture which is inclusive and diverse. Being one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women is testament to how seriously the University has worked to address the recruitment, retention and progression of women through its organisational structure.”

Director of Queen’s Gender Initiative Professor Yvonne Galligan said that the University has worked hard over the past decade to become a role model for equal opportunities practice.

She added: “I believe that our success in winning this award comes from our efforts to make the workplace a woman-friendly environment. We developed a mentoring scheme, paid particular attention to women’s recruitment and retention in the Science subjects, introduced a wide range of policies supporting women’s careers, and sought to change the culture. We are very proud to be recognised in this way.”

Since it was founded in 2000, Queen's Gender Initiative has also produced a stream of tangible results in relation to flexible working, enhanced childcare provision and the establishment of a central maternity fund.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit. Tel: 028 90 97 5031 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's researchers pioneer needle-free test for premature babies
Professor James McElnay
Professor James McElnay
Scientists at Queen’s have pioneered a new needle-free test to take the sting out of medicine testing in premature babies. The research will not only lead to greater accuracy in prescribing, but will also significantly reduce the trauma of such tests for newborn infants and their families.

In the first published research project worldwide on this new approach to testing medicines in children, the findings were announced in leading US medical journal Pediatrics.

The study, which involves the use of blood spots obtained from a simple heel-prick, took place in the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s.

The research was carried out by a team from the University’s School of Pharmacy in partnership with the Regional Neonatal Unit in the Royal Maternity Hospital. It was funded by the Health and Social Care Research and Development Office (HSC R&D) and Action Medical Research.

Principal Investigator, Queen’s Professor of Pharmacy Practice James McElnay said: “This type of testing will obviously reduce the discomfort of medicine testing in these vulnerable patients. What is even more important, however, is that it will ensure maximum accuracy in calculating the most appropriate dose of a medicine for a sick child.

“Some 80 per cent of infants in intensive care in hospitals receive medicines which have not been appropriately tested or licensed for use in such young patients, and the dosage is usually calculated based on licensed doses for adults or older children. Sizable blood samples are then required to measure the concentrations of the drug in the infant’s bloodstream.

“Our work opens up opportunities for using the same approach to study other medicines which are used in this manner in children, and we are currently studying a number of these.”

The Queen’s study involved the antibiotic metronidazole. The research team used single drops of blood collected on blotting paper from premature infants who were receiving the medicine as part of their routine care. The ‘spots’ were dried, analysed in the University’s School of Pharmacy, and the results used to develop dosage guidance for doctors.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford, 028 9097 5310, Mob 07815 871 997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Focus on your future with a part-time course at Queen’s
Queen’s has launched a range of part-time courses aimed at those people who want to gain a university qualification, but don’t have the time or resources to invest in full-time education.

Among the courses on offer is a new Masters in Counselling Practice. Aimed at teachers, school counsellors, social workers and health professionals the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy approved course, will help school-based counsellors work with young people to promote their health and emotional wellbeing.

Director of Education Martin Mulholland, from Queen’s School of Education, said: “What better way to meet the challenge of these difficult economic times than to grasp the initiative and upgrade your skills base? Part-time learning can open the door to new opportunities, improve your career prospects and increase your earning potential.

“If you are considering a new career path, or you want to enhance your chances of promotion, studying part-time is the ideal solution. Part-time learning can accommodate the busiest of lifestyles. We allow you to work at a pace that suits you, so you can balance your studies with your existing work and home life.

“We have over forty courses on offer and each one comes with the guarantee of excellence that distinguishes the world-class standard of teaching and facilities at Queen’s.”

Queen’s part-time learning offering includes undergraduate and postgraduate courses on a wide range of areas from Management, Human Resources and Education to Community Development and Work-Based Learning. This year sees the launch of two new postgraduate courses - the Masters in Counselling Practice and the Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing.

Speaking about the Masters in Counselling Practice, Course Co-ordinator Jean McMinn from Queen’s School of Education, said: “It is widely recognised that schools have a vital role to play in promoting the health, emotional wellbeing and social needs of young people. Schools have a significant influence on the behaviour, attitudes and development of their pupils and the role of teachers and school-based counsellors in this respect is becoming increasingly important.

“Queen's has two counselling courses directed toward supporting teachers and counsellors in an educational setting.  The introductory Certificate in Person-Centred Counselling supports teachers in their pastoral role, helping them to develop skills which allow more effective communication with children and young people, both in and outside the classroom.

“The new Masters in Counselling Practice, will be of particular interest to teachers and counsellors who wish to develop their knowledge and skills to work with young people in an educational setting. The course focuses on the Person Centred Approach to counselling, which works with the client to find a solution to their difficulty and uses specific skills, such as active listening and empathy, to help clients to feel valued and understood.

“Effective pastoral care and counselling services within schools can greatly enhance the development of young adults, empowering them to reach their full potential and supporting those who have difficulties at home or at school. This course allows participants to develop the skills necessary to do this.”

All the part-time courses will be showcased at an open day at Queen’s School of Education on 19 May and more information is available at www.qub.ac.uk/edu Course applications should be submitted before 31 May 2011.

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University launches ‘Election Doorstep Challenge!’

Queen’s University has today launched its ‘Election Doorstep Challenge,’ to encourage staff and students to ask Assembly election candidates how they and their Parties will protect jobs and investment in Higher Education.

Launching the Campaign, Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher said: “The Northern Ireland Assembly recently passed a budget in which £68m was cut from higher education. A cut of this scale, 30%, will have a devastating impact on the sector. It could mean hundreds of job losses, less inward investment, reduced student services and a second class university system in Northern Ireland.

“When the new Assembly meets after the May election the MLAs will face important decisions and we are already campaigning hard to ensure that they protect our ability to provide a high quality higher education experience for our students and continue to provide an important contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of Northern Ireland.

“The ‘Election Doorstep Challenge’ is an opportunity for staff, students and those interested in retaining high quality Higher Education in Northern Ireland to question Assembly election candidates canvassing their homes, about what they and their Parties will do to protect jobs and investment in higher education. The questions have been incorporated onto a pocket-sized card which also includes details of the potential consequences of a 30% cut in the higher education budget.

“A cut on this scale is unprecedented in the history of higher education in Northern Ireland, so it is up to us all to ensure that Political Parties and candidates take this issue seriously and are made fully aware of the importance of higher education.”

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs, 028 9097 3259 / 07813
015431 or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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Late diagnosis is major factor in hospital cancer deaths

Late cancer diagnosis in Northern Ireland contributes to hospital deaths despite patient’s preference to die at home according to a major report launched at Queen’s. 

The study conducted by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and funded by the Ulster Cancer Foundation found that while patients who die in hospital with cancer are very ill, late diagnosis of their cancer is a major factor in hospital cancer deaths here. This is the first ever study in Northern Ireland specifically investigating why cancer patients die in acute hospitals.  

Over half of patients recorded preferred to die at home, yet in Northern Ireland the majority (45 percent) of cancers deaths occurred in hospital and only a third of patients died at home (12.5 percent die in hospices and 8 percent in nursing/residential or care homes).  

Why Cancer Patients Die in Acute Hospitals
examined patient hospital records for 695 cancer patients who died in hospital in the last six months of 2007.  It investigated the time from diagnosis to death as well as the preferred place of death in comparison with actual place of death.

The report found the following:
  • Over a quarter of all deaths in Northern Ireland are due to cancer, accounting for approximately 4150 deaths per year.
  • The average age of patients who had cancer and died in hospital was 74 years.  The average time from diagnosis to death was 4 months with one third dying within one month of diagnosis.  
  • Cancer registry data shows that overall in 2007 one in eleven of all cancer patients died within one month of diagnosis, which points to a general problem of late diagnosis of cancers.
  • Most of the late diagnoses were cancers of the lung or digestive organs and were more likely to occur in older, non-partnered patients.
  • Almost forty per cent of patients who died in hospital, had specifically requested to return to their usual residence.  For three-quarters of cases, their condition deteriorated and a return to home was not possible.  There was a lack of a suitable bed for 12.4 percent and the necessary care package was not in place for 4.9 percent.  3 percent lacked the required family support.
  • The proportion of cancer patients dying at home has decreased significantly from 38.1 percent (1983-1992) to 32.1 per cent in 2003-2007, however more now die in nursing homes which in many cases is their home.
  • Cancer deaths occurring at home varied significantly across Local Government Districts and ranged from 24 percent in Newtownabbey to 46.9 per cent in Magherafelt.  There was a similar significant variability in the proportion of hospital deaths by Local Government District, which ranged from 36.3 per cent in Strabane to 62.9 per cent in Ballymoney.
  • A cancer death at home was more likely for males, patients that were partnered, patients from deprived backgrounds and younger patients.

The report also makes a number of recommendations, which include:
  • A major initiative to improve earlier recognition of cancer symptoms among both the public and healthcare professionals.
  • Nursing homes should be specifically targeted for training in early recognition of cancer symptoms and have strategies developed to enable residents with cancer to die in their preferred place of death.
  • For the approximate 20% of patients whose condition would have allowed a return to usual residence (to die in their place of preference), efforts should be enhanced to ensure facilities and resources in the community are available to support patients and their carers.  
  • Further work is recommended to study what helps to facilitate a home death for cancer patients nearing end of life.
  • The report highlights the importance of the recommendations made within the 2010 Palliative and End of Life Care Strategy for Northern Ireland (DHSSPS, 2010) and recommends that these should be included in training and in appropriate protocols for professionals who work with cancer patients.
Dr Anna Gavin, Director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, said: “The findings of this study are significant as they identify the good work that is ongoing in palliative care but also highlights areas in need of improvement.  The report highlights a need to address the problem of late diagnosis of cancer.  N. Ireland is one of 12 areas working in a major international benchmarking project to determine reasons for late cancer diagnosis with the aim of improving survival to this end and a population survey on cancer awareness is due to take place here in May/June.”

Roisin Foster, Chief Executive of the Ulster Cancer Foundation, said: “The Ulster Cancer Foundation is very pleased to have been able to fund this research by the NI Cancer Registry. Its findings have the potential to promote earlier diagnosis of cancer among older people.  It also points to improvements in community services that would enable more people have their final wish to die at home honoured.  This research was funded by donations from the Northern Ireland public.  Our supporters can be assured that their generosity is making a real difference now and in the future.”

For more information go to http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/nicr/

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 2890975391 / 07814422572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Blossom this spring with a short course at Queen’s
June Clawson, School of Education
June Clawson, School of Education

Now that spring has sprung why not take advantage of the longer evenings by taking up one of the new part-time courses on offer at Queen’s University.

With over 100 courses on offer; from computing to creative writing, law to leisure courses, finance to first aid; there is something for everyone looking to develop a new skill or brush up on an old one.

Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow and Open Learning Co-ordinator at Queen’s School of Education, said: “Our new spring courses are the perfect opportunity to get ready for summer.  With outdoor classes including Exploring Trees, Woods and Landscape around Belfast to Limestone Landscapes: One-day Taster Trip to the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark these are the perfect courses to get out and about enjoying the spring weather and learning about Northern Ireland’s landscapes.

For those wanting to travel further afield, Holiday French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are all available.  If you would like learn more about the country you’re visiting why not join some of the cultural studies classes including; Italy: Cultures and Traditions and La Dolce Vita: Italian Language, Lifestyle and Culture for the Keen Tourist.

For star gazers there are courses in The Night Sky and Selected Topics in Astronomy.  Or, for those hoping to indulge in their creative side Draw What You See, Introduction to Floral Art and Jewellery Design are always popular choices.  Alternatively there is Golf for Beginners, Irish Céili Dancing and Lunchtime Yoga De-Stress for those who feel like getting active.

"Queen’s Open Learning programme has something to suit everyone. People do not need to have any prior qualifications to participate. Our courses usually take place one day or evening every week and are ideal for anyone who wants to pursue a new hobby, learn more about a topic in which they have a particular interest, or advance their personal development.

Dr Maginess concluded: “With online registration at www.qub.ac.uk/edu/ol it has never been easier to sign up for our classes.  Many courses fill up quickly so we would encourage people to enrol early, online or by post.  Visit our website or telephone 028 9097 3323 / 3539 for more information.”

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

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Scientists discover a way to kill off tumours in cancer treatment breakthrough
Professor Tracy Robson
Professor Tracy Robson

Scientists from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast and Almac Discovery Ltd have developed a new treatment for cancer which rather than attacking tumours directly, prevents the growth of new blood vessels in tumours, starving them of oxygen and nutrients, thereby preventing their growth.

Targeting tumour blood vessels is not a new concept.  However, this drug attacks the blood vessels using an entirely different pathway and therefore could be useful for treating tumours which don’t respond to or which are resistant to current therapies of this type.

Professor Tracy Robson and her research team at Queen’s, in collaboration with researchers at Almac Discovery, developed a new drug to disrupt the tumour blood supply. They have demonstrated that this leads to highly effective inhibition of tumour growth in a number of models as reported this month in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.  Almac Discovery is developing the drug candidate and expects to start clinical trials within the next year.

Professor Tracy Robson from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s explains: “By understanding the anti-angiogenic potential of the natural protein, FKBPL, we have been able to develop small peptide-based drugs that could be delivered to prevent tumour growth by cutting off their blood supply.  This is highly effective in models of prostate and breast cancer. 

“However, this also has the potential for the treatment of any solid tumour and we’re excited about continuing to work with Almac Discovery as this drug enters clinical trials.”

Dr Stephen Barr, President and Managing Director of Almac Discovery said: “This is a first class example of a collaboration between a university and industry to produce a novel approach to cancer therapy that has a real chance of helping patients”.

The Almac Discovery / Queen’s University drug is currently undergoing preclinical development and may provide a first-in-class therapy for targeting tumour angiogenesis by an entirely different pathway to those agents currently approved.

For media enquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391, mob 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s students win Asidua Scholarship

Four Queen’s students have been awarded an IT and Engineering scholarship by Belfast based global IT services company Asidua.

During a recent award ceremony held at Asidua’s head office in Belfast, the worldwide IT and telecoms specialists announced that their 2010/2011 Scholarship Programme were awarded to five new local students - Emma Davidson, Victoria Potts, Alan Foster and  Christopher Kane from Queen’s University and Michael Telford, University of Ulster.

Now in its third year, the Asidua Scholarship Programme, which was launched in co-operation with both Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, aims to attract fresh talent into the IT sector by supporting new IT and Engineering students financially during their academic studies and professional careers.

The winners were formally welcomed to Asidua by Chief Operations Officer Angela Canavan and 2008/2009 Asidua scholarship winner Sean Carlin.

Sean Carlin, who is currently on his placement year, outlined the benefits of the Asidua scholarship programme to the gathered guests; “The Asidua Scholarship Programme has allowed me to experience a real working environment and has given me a great opportunity to develop all my skills and gain valuable experience.”  

Following the award ceremony, Emma Davidson said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded a place on Asidua's Scholarship Programme. This fantastic opportunity enables me to gain invaluable industrial experience which in turn will greatly benefit my studies at Queen's.” 

When asked about their initial impressions at Asidua, Queen’s University Computer Science student Alan Foster said: “It was clear from the start that the company’s atmosphere was both professional and welcoming.  Through talking to the current scholars and Asidua management team, it was obvious that all of my expectations were more than succeeded.” 

In congratulating the Queen’s scholarship winners, Dr Lillian Greenwood, Director of Education in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s said: ‘‘I wish to thank Asidua for offering students such prestigious and lucrative scholarships and we are delighted that four of our students have been selected this year.  The scholarships offer the students an unrivalled opportunity to gain invaluable experience throughout their degree, with what is a very progressive and forward thinking IT company.” 

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