10 - 2011 Press Releases

Queen’s success at student awards

Five students from Queen’s University have been recognized for their academic excellence by President Mary McAleese at the Undergraduate Awards Ceremony 2011 in Dublin Castle.

The Undergraduate Awards aim to inspire, support and celebrate the ideas of undergraduates whilst promoting innovation and independent thinking both within and outside of coursework.

Out of the 2,381 submissions, 237 students were shortlisted and 23 were selected as the winner in their category.  28 students from Queen’s University were shortlisted making up 12% of the shortlisted candidates.

Alan Russell, from Belfast, won the Ancient & Classical Studies category for his essay entitled ‘Discuss the causes and effectiveness of the persecution of Diocletian and his pagan successors’.  Having graduated from Ancient & Modern History with first class honours, Alan is currently doing a Masters in Ancient History at Queen’s and hopes to go on to do a PhD next year.  Alan was also awarded the Mary Gardiner Prize, given each year to the Ancient History student who achieves the greatest distinction in the final examinations.

Dominic Henry of Aghagallon, Co. Armagh, won the International Relations & Politics category for his discussion on the quote ‘Realism is simply no longer realistic.’ Dominic is currently in his final year of a BA Joint Honours degree in Modern History and Politics at Queen’s and intends to continue on to do postgraduate study in his chosen subject, International Relations.

Jonathan Mitchell from Ballymena, Co. Antrim, won the Social Studies category for his essay entitled ‘Race, Nation and Belonging in Ireland’.  A previous Joint Honours student in Politics and Sociology at Queen’s, Jonathan is currently undertaking a Master’s degree in Contemporary European Philosophy at University College Dublin.
Nathan Moore of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, won the Medical Sciences category for his essay entitled ‘Modulation of Neuropeptide Y’s proatherogenic effects by dietary carotenoids or therapeutic intervention in vitro’.  Awarded a full scholarship to Eton College at the age of 16, Nathan went on to apply to Queen’s University Belfast.  After 3rd year medicine Nathan, embarked on an intercalated degree in Cardiovascular Science where he went on to present his research project at the Scottish Cardiovascular Forum in Glasgow and won the Young Investigator Poster Prize.

Vincent McAllister from Portglenone, Co. Antrim, won the Physical Sciences category for his essay entitled ‘A Fieldwalking Survey of Site 12 Ballynease-Macpeake, Co. Derry’.  After initially training as an architectural technician, Vincent decided to re-direct his career path in the direction of his true passion and enrolled in a BSc in Archaeology and Palaeoecology which he attained with First Class honours, going on to win the Kerr Prize for best overall performance at the final year examinations.

All five students received their awards from President Mary McAleese at Dublin Castle on Friday 28 October.
For media inquiries please contact Queen’s Communications Office on 00 44 (0) 2890975391 or Sasha de Marigny at the Undergraduate Awards on +353 (0)1 5432193 or sasha@undergraduateawards.com

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Scientists prove regular aspirin intake halves cancer risk

Scientists including those from Queen’s University have discovered that taking regular aspirin halves the risk of developing hereditary cancers.

Hereditary cancers are those which develop as a result of a gene fault inherited from a parent.  Bowel and womb cancers are the most common forms of hereditary cancers.  Fifty thousand people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel and womb cancers every year; 10 per cent of these cancers are thought to be hereditary.

The decade-long study, which involved scientists and clinicians from 43 centres in 16 countries and was funded by Cancer Research UK, followed nearly 1,000 patients, in some cases for over 10 years.   The study found that those who had been taking a regular dose of aspirin had 50 per cent fewer incidences of hereditary cancer compared with those who were not taking aspirin.

The research focused on people with Lynch syndrome which is an inherited genetic disorder that causes cancer by affecting genes responsible for detecting and repairing damage in the DNA. Around 50 per cent of those with Lynch syndrome develop cancer, mainly in the bowel and womb.   The study looked at all cancers related to the syndrome, and found that almost 30 per cent of the patients not taking aspirin had developed a cancer compared to around 15 per cent of those taking the aspirin.

Those who had taken aspirin still developed the same number of polyps, which are thought to be precursors of cancer, as those who did not take aspirin but they did not go on to develop cancer.  It suggests that aspirin could possibly be causing these cells to destruct before they turn cancerous.

Over 1,000 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer in Northern Ireland last year; 400 of these died from the disease.  Ten per cent of bowel cancer cases are hereditary and by taking aspirin regularly the number of those dying from the hereditary form of the disease could be halved.

Professor Patrick Morrison from Queen’s University in Belfast, who led the Northern Ireland part of the study, said: “The results of this study, which has been ongoing for over a decade, proves that the regular intake of aspirin over a prolonged period halves the risk of developing hereditary cancers.  The effects of aspirin in the first five years of the study were not clear but in those who took aspirin for between five and ten years the results were very clear.”

 “This is a huge breakthrough in terms of cancer prevention.  For those who have a history of hereditary cancers in their family, like bowel and womb cancers, this will be welcome news.  Not only does it show we can reduce cancer rates and ultimately deaths, it opens up other avenues for further cancer prevention research.  We aim now to go forward with another trial to assess the most effective dosage of aspirin for hereditary cancer prevention and to look at the use of aspirin in the general population as a way of reducing the risk of bowel cancer.

“For anyone considering taking aspirin I would recommend discussing this with your GP first as aspirin is known to bring with it a risk of stomach complaints, including ulcers.”

The research was published in today's The Lancet Online.
For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s ready to play its part in boosting local knowledge economy
Queen’s has welcomed the NISP Connect “NI Knowledge Economy Index: Baseline Report”, which was published today.

Commenting on the report, Queen’s Director of Research and Enterprise, Scott Rutherford said: “While the report recognises that more needs to be done in driving forward a knowledge based economy within Northern Ireland, it also highlights the essential role that universities have to play in this challenge.

“The data contained in the report clearly illustrates that proportionally Northern Ireland universities generate a higher amount of income through intellectual property, business and community services and collaborative R&D, than any other region of the UK.

“Queen’s already plays a crucial role in the local economy and each year contributes £700m in direct and indirect benefits. Through QUBIS, the University has created 55 new spin-off companies, with over £116m annual turnover and over 1,000 high-value jobs. And earlier this year the University demonstrated its commercial strengths when Flish, an enterprising Queen’s team who have developed an innovative new antenna which could make satellite dishes a thing of the past, won the top prize at the NISP CONNECT £25K Awards.

“This report clearly outlines the measures through which Northern Ireland can begin to monitor the development of a knowledge economy and highlights the critical role of the local universities in delivering social and economic impact. It is through an appropriately funded higher education sector and increased collaboration between universities and businesses that will be an important catalyst in making this happen.”

For media inquiries please contact Queen’s Communications Office on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 3091

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Queen’s graduates share secrets of ‘Success and the City’
High-flying Queen’s graduates, working in financial sectors around the world, will be in Belfast today to share the secrets of their success with aspiring students from the Queen’s University Management School.

This year’s event - ‘What it takes to succeed in global finance’ – will provide Queen’s students with a unique insight into how to make it big in the ‘cut-throat’ financial sector.  It will also allow students, through one-to-one sessions with some of the world’s leading business people, to get practical advice on how they can gain a competitive edge in the graduate jobs market.

Offering support will be New York based financier Declan Breslin, who graduated from Queen’s University in 1998 with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Finance.  Declan joined Lehman Brothers in 2003 where he led the European Prime Brokerage Client Service Team, facing off to some of the largest hedge funds in the world.  He worked with them through their bankruptcy and joined Nomura Securities in 2008.

Also sharing the secrets of their success will be Queen’s graduates Carole Machell who is currently Chief Operating Officer of Barclays Corporate and a member of the Operating Committee of Barclays Capital; and award-winning financier Brian Conlon who graduated from Queen’s with a BSc Accounting degree in 1987. He is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of First Derivatives, having established the company with a starting capital of just £5,000 in 1996. And in 2010 Brian was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year award.

All the guest speakers will provide an insight into the factors that led to their successful careers, and give advice and guidance on the job-related skills and abilities required to succeed in the corporate financial world.

Most of those attending will be Management students and the evening will chaired by Professor Donal McKillop, Head of Financial Services at Queen’s University Management School.

Following the main panel event, 30 attendees will be given the opportunity to network personally with a panel member of their choice to find out how they developed their career to get where they are today.

Students will also have the chance to get some insider hints and tips on living and working in London.

Jean Stirrup, Head of Careers, Employability and Skills, said: “The City Event, which was a great success last year, provides a unique opportunity for Queen’s students to learn from high-achievers who will share their experience of working in the financial world.

 “The marketplace for graduates is truly global, and our distinguished panel is well-placed to give valuable, strategic advice on how to succeed in a challenging environment anywhere in the world.”

The ‘City Event’ will take place in the Great Hall, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University at 6.00 pm on Monday 24 October. Admission is free.

For more information about the event email Adele McMahon at a.mcmahon@qub.ac.uk

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

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Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's 'top in UK'

Queen’s University’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering has confirmed its position as a world leader in research, outranking Oxford and Cambridge to take the UK’s number one spot for research citations per academic paper.

Queen’s emerged as the leading institution in the UK in the survey by Thomson Reuters, which was based on the number of references to papers by Queen’s chemists between January 2001 and April 2011 in more than 500 academic journals.

The accolade caps an exceptional year for the School, which recently confirmed its position as a world-class centre of research after being placed in the Global Top 100 in the QS University World Rankings.

And it follows the rankings earlier this year of Professor Ken Seddon and Dr John Holbrey as the top two of only four UK chemists in the Times Higher Education listing of the world’s 100 Top Chemists of the Past Decade.

Welcoming the news, the Head of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Professor Chris Hardacre, said: “These are outstanding results which recognise the excellence of the School’s staff, and the University’s commitment to invest in disciplines which advance scientific knowledge and underpin future prosperity.

“We operate in a global higher education environment and in challenging economic times, and it is vital that we ensure that our work is recognised internationally.

“Thirty per cent of the School’s students come from outside the UK, and our academics lead the way in working with international partners in academia and industry. These collaborations in the areas of Green Chemistry and Catalysis range from partnerships including with the Malaysian Fortune 500 company Petronas, Johnson Matthey, Givaudan, Proctor and Gamble, Shell and General Electric through our research centres QUILL and CenTACat.

“In addition, our strong links with the Forensic Science service have allowed us to become world-leading in detecting drugs of abuse, while our Medicinal Chemistry Group is developing libraries for drug identification and recently secured a major new contract with Almac and Invest NI.”

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

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EU job opportunities on offer to Northern Ireland students
Minister for Europe, the Rt Hon David Lidington MP, is encouraging Northern Ireland students to consider a career in the European Union Civil Service.

Mr Lidington, on a visit to Queen’s University Belfast, highlighted the benefits of a career in Brussels and why the UK Government is encouraging students in Northern Ireland to consider employment opportunities in EU institutions.

During the visit, the Minister hosted a discussion with Queen’s students and staff, careers teachers and sixth form students and local politicians about the exciting and challenging opportunities to be gained from working in the EU. The Minister also took time to meet with students from Queen’s School of Modern Languages who have expressed an interest in working in the EU.

Opening the discussion the Minister for Europe said: “I am very pleased to have this opportunity to encourage students in Northern Ireland to consider a career in the EU Civil Service. The EU needs outstanding generalist civil servants from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, as well as specialists such as lawyers, economists, auditors, interpreters and statisticians. These are careers packed from the outset with interesting, challenging work that really makes a difference: shaping the policies, creating the legislation and negotiating the solutions which make the headlines across Europe every day.”

Welcoming the Minister to Queen’s, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for students across Northern Ireland, to hear directly from the Minister for Europe about the exciting careers that are available in EU institutions.  The distinctive choice of degrees involving a modern language at Queen’s places our students in a strong position when seeking to secure these sought after posts. 

“Working overseas offers a life-changing experience and I would encourage all young people to seriously consider this opportunity. Internationalisation is a key objective of the University and remains one of the highest priorities in our Corporate Plan.  I am also pleased that the Minister for Europe has taken time out of his busy schedule to come to Northern Ireland and tell us first-hand about the benefits of such careers.”

Speaking on careers in the EU, Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry said: “I am pleased to support this event and its rationale to encourage students to consider a career in the EU Civil Service and, to hear about education and employment opportunities throughout Europe. It is important that NI students and graduates are informed about these varied and challenging opportunities available as well as the skills and abilities needed to secure a job in the EU. Working in Europe provides the opportunity to broaden your outlook, widen your horizons and gather invaluable expertise from other European countries.  I am sure many students here today will have definitely been inspired to think about applying for the next EU competition.”

Also taking part in the discussion were Huw Davies from the European Personnel Selection Office, Maurice Maxwell, Head of the European Commission Office in Belfast and Dr David Phinnemore, Senior Lecturer in European Integration at Queen’s. Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Employment and Learning were also in attendance.

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs, Queen’s University Belfast, telephone 0044 (0)28 9097 3259 / 0044 (0)7813 015431 or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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National recognition for local innovation – Queen’s-Cherry on ‘top’ of UK
From left) Gerry McNally, Director, Polymer Processing Research Centre, Queen’s University; Alan Clarke, Extrusion Manager, PPRC; Stefan Cherry, Development Director ,Cherry Plastics Group; Justyna Grabowska, Dr Paul Beaney, Technical Manager Cherry Plastics Group; Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business
From left) Gerry McNally, Director, Polymer Processing Research Centre, Queen’s University; Alan Clarke, Extrusion Manager, PPRC; Stefan Cherry, Development Director ,Cherry Plastics Group; Justyna Grabowska, Dr Paul Beaney, Technical Manager Cherry Plastics Group; Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business
A Queen’s University partnership with Dungannon-based company Cherry Plastics Group, which led to its recycling division becoming one of the UK’s 10 largest plastic reprocessors, has been named the top Knowledge Transfer Partnership in the UK. The project was part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the Technology Strategy Board.

The news, announced by Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable, was described by Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson as an exemplar of ”Northern Ireland’s track record of innovation which impacts directly on business”.

As a result of the winning collaboration, the Cherry Plastics Group workforce has risen from 20 to over 60. Turnover has risen from £2.5 million to £13.5 million during the project and research and development spend has increased from zero to £200,000 per annum.
The company now leads an EU project which could fundamentally change the technology associated with plastics reprocessing and has set up an in-house design facility to focus on ongoing research and development.

Congratulating the winners Dr Cable said: “Innovation isn't always an easy concept to grasp, but when we learn about practical examples of knowledge transfer, we can appreciate what it means in the real world. So congratulations to this year's Knowledge Transfer Partnership winners, Queen’s University Belfast, Cherry Pipes of Dungannon, and their associates, Paul Beaney and Justyna Grabowska. Through working with the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen's on recycling materials for use in its drainage systems, Cherry Pipes has become one of the UK's largest plastics recycling companies.”

Commenting on the award, the Vice-Chancellor said: “This latest KTP success further illustrates the business impact of knowledge transfer activity which translates academic expertise into wealth creation.  KTPs bring together the key elements which underpin research and development and lead to economic prosperity, and their impact on local business has been immense. 

“Businesses are increasingly aware of the value of such collaboration with Queen’s and the rewards it can bring. As the top participating university in the KTP scheme in the UK, Queen’s has helped more than 300 companies to innovate through accessing and embedding new technology and expertise.”

Stefan Cherry, Development Director with Cherry Plastics Group, said the KTP project had “surpassed expectations”.

“The project started in 2006 with three main objectives – setting up a quality management system, gaining third party certification on our twin wall drainage system and setting up in-house testing and analysis facilities. We thought it would be a great achievement if we could achieve even two of these; we had no comprehension of the journey we were about to embark upon with the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen’s. The KTP partnership has transformed our business. The growth of the company and the subsequent achievements have been outstanding."

The project was carried out from 2006 until 2010 by KTP Associates Paul Beaney and Justyna Grabowska, under the supervision of Gerry McNally and Alan Clarke in the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
This is the second time in three years that a Queen’s KTP partnership has won a national award.  In 2009 the University’s collaboration with Macrete Ireland Ltd was awarded a UK-wide prize for engineering excellence.  This project led to the development of an innovative ‘flat pack’ concrete arch system to ensure a structurally efficient bridge system, which is now in use throughout Europe and the United States.

Carol Keery, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “This award is a tremendous achievement for Cherry Plastics Group and underlines the value of commercial creativity and of sharing expert knowledge to achieve business growth. It is vital that local companies embrace innovation and a culture of continuous improvement to remain competitive in challenging economic conditions.”

Debbie Buckley-Golder, Head of Knowledge Exchange at the Technology Strategy Board, said: “We are delighted that the 2011 KTP National Award has been given to Queen's University Belfast, Cherry Plastics Group and their KTP Associates, Paul Beaney and Justyna Grabowska.  The results of their work show the value of partnerships with higher education institutions.  KTPs help get the best minds working to solve problems, respond to challenges, spark creativity and improve competitiveness, productivity and performance."

Media enquiries to Anne Langford, Press and PR Unit on 028 9097 5310 or email a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Almost half of adults affected by dementia
Forty-five per cent of adults in Northern Ireland know someone with dementia, and almost half of us believe that people with dementia are not treated like thinking human beings.  That is according to new research by Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.

More than 1,200 adults took part in the 2010 Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) Survey which aimed to explore attitudes and knowledge of dementia here.  This annual survey is conducted by ARK, a joint research initiative between Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.  The findings from this research will be highlighted at a seminar on Tuesday 18 October.

The key findings of the 2010 study include:
  • 45 per cent of respondents know someone with dementia
  • Nearly half of respondents agreed that once someone is diagnosed with dementia they are not treated like a thinking human being
  • Nearly all respondents (90%) would describe someone with dementia for a long time as confused, and few would say they were happy (7%)
  • Most NILT respondents (83%) agreed that there comes a time when all you can do for someone with dementia is keep them clean, healthy and safe
  • A similar proportion (87%) thought that people with dementia should be involved in activities in the community.
There are approximately 19,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland.  This is estimated to be 60,000 by 2051 which is the fastest expected rate of increase in the UK.

Dr Paula Devine, Research Director at ARK at the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University, said: “The results tell us that there is greater need for clear, accessible information that gives the public an accurate understanding about dementia and how it impacts on the person with dementia.  At the same time, the views of people with dementia are vital to understanding their needs as well as ensuring that there is also an increase in the expectation that higher quality of life can be achieved by, and for, people with dementia.”

Maria McManus, Director of the Northern Ireland office of the Dementia Services Development Centre and a co-author of the report, said: “The views reflected by the survey confirm much of what needs to be challenged about attitudes, care and services for people with dementia and the need to address this in public policies and research, as well as in practice through the provision of services.”

The research findings are available in a report Dementia: public knowledge and attitudes which can be found online at www.ark.ac.uk

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

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Queen’s graduate wins top UK Engineering Award
Christopher McElroy (right) is congratulated on his award by Professor Roger Woods and Dr Karen Rafferty from Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Queen’s
Christopher McElroy (right) is congratulated on his award by Professor Roger Woods and Dr Karen Rafferty from Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Queen’s
A Queen’s graduate has won a top UK Engineering Award for a project undertaken as part of his degree.  Christopher McElroy, who is from Craigavon and graduated in July from Queen’s, has won the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) Gerald David Memorial Prize for his final year project.

The competition is open to students across the UK who gained entry to their degrees with a vocational qualification.  Chris’s project involved developing software for marine vehicles.
Chris was supervised in his project by Dr Wasif Naeem, from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who entered him for the competition.

Dr Naeem said: “Throughout the project, Chris had demonstrated determination through personal interest, dedication and enthusiasm. This award is a testimony to Chris’s hard work and I hope it will encourage more students with vocational qualifications to pursue higher education. A very well deserved award indeed.”

Chris said: "I am delighted to have received this award. Five years ago, during my HNC in Portadown I never would have imagined that I would end my academic career with a 1st class honours and a UK award. It is a real honour to have been awarded the Gerald David Memorial Prize, which I think highlights the fact that students who come from a vocational background can excel at degree level. I would also like to thank everyone who supported me throughout my entire academic career, because without them I would not be where I am today."

Chris, who is a past pupil of Southern Regional College in Portadown, is now working as an Electrical Engineer for NIE.  His prize consists of a cheque for £750 and two years free membership of the IET.

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

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Queen’s hails its Nobel prizewinning partners
Queen’s astrophysicists have been among the first to congratulate two of their global partners on the award of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

Professor Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University and Professor Adam Reiss of Johns Hopkins University have been honoured for their discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe. They are active collaborators with the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s and are working on novel joint projects with Queen’s staff. 

Both Nobel Laureates work on supernovae, the explosive death of stars which have created all elements in the periodic table heavier than hydrogen and helium.

Professor Stephen Smartt, Director of the University’s Astrophysics Research Centre, said: “In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that the Universe was expanding and 70 years later Brian and Adam pioneered a remarkable project to show that this expansion rate was accelerating. The Universe seems to be full of mysterious dark energy whose nature is not understood at all. 

“I’m thrilled that Brian and Adam’s contribution has been recognised at the very highest level in science. They were trailblazers in supernovae studies and it’s a privilege to work with them.”

Congratulating the Nobel Laureates, the Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Professor Tom Millar, said: “The work of Professor Riess and Professor Schmidt has broken new boundaries in our understanding of the universe. It is a privilege for Queen’s physicists to work in partnership with such outstanding international scientists, and recognition of the quality of our own research in this area.”

Professor Riess has co-authored three science papers with Queen’s astrophysicists and works jointly with Queen’s on the Pan-STARRS project. 

Professor Schmidt has authored seven papers with Dr Justyn Maund and Dr Rubina Kotak of Queen’s and is now working closely with the Astrophysics Research Centre on the next generation of supernova projects in the Southern Hemisphere.  His team at the Australian National University in Canberra has joined forces with Queen’s to spearhead the largest search for exotic explosions in the universe ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford on 028 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Almost half of cancer survivors have ill health in later years

Forty-five per cent of cancer survivors in Northern Ireland suffer from physical and mental health problems years after their treatment has finished, according to new research from Macmillan Cancer Support and Queen’s University Belfast.

The report, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, also found cancer survivors and their carers are more likely to access health services than the general population.

The research highlighted that so-called “late effects” of cancer and its treatment can include nerve damage, lymphoedema, extreme tiredness, memory problems and severe depression.

The report also found that 40 per cent of cancer survivors say they have unmet health care and social care needs. Caregivers were also just as likely to report poor physical and mental health as cancer survivors.

The study found people who have had a cancer diagnosis reported more visits to their GP, more visits to the hospital, and more illnesses than the general population, often years following treatment.

With the number of people being diagnosed with cancer set to double by 2030, Macmillan says the report provides further evidence that action must now be taken to transform how health care is delivered.

Macmillan’s General Manager in Northern Ireland, Heather Monteverde, said: “Patients are living longer following their cancer diagnosis due to earlier detection, screening and better treatment.

“However, this report clearly shows that many cancer survivors continue to have poorer health often many years after completion of treatment. The fact that 40 per cent say they have unmet needs has significant implications for the future design and provision of cancer services across Northern Ireland.

“Of particular concern are issues around the health of carers who have also reported very similar levels of poor physical and mental health. The number of people living with cancer is growing every year so it is essential changes are made now to avoid serious problems in the future.”

Dr Olinda Santin, from Queen’s University Belfast, said: “While the majority of cancer survivors make a good recovery from their cancer, there are number of patients and their carers who may require additional support.

“There is a need for further research and service development to identify and support those groups of cancer survivors and caregivers who are affected by poorer health and well-being and who have unmet needs or experience late effects of their treatment.”

The report found cancer survivors reported lower health and wellbeing scores than those who hadn’t had cancer. They scored lower in areas including physical function, physical limitations, mental health and social functioning.

A quarter of cancer survivors said they believed there was a need for better co-ordinated care, while just over a fifth (21 per cent) said they needed more support to manage their anxiety about their cancer returning.

The report also found that 25 per cent of carers spend more than 22 hours per week providing care, often many years after treatment has finished.

Building on similar research elsewhere in the UK by Macmillan, the report shows people often experience serious health problems years after the end of their cancer treatment.

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

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Queen's host premier European sporting event

Queen’s University will host AFL Europe’s premier event the EuroCup at the Queen’s Sports Ground at Malone tomorrow (Saturday).

The first time the event has been held in Northern Ireland General Manager, Ben MacCormack, described why it is so good the Queen's are bringing the event it Belfast: "It is the perfect opportunity for locals with an interest in Aussie Rules to get out and watch countries from all across Europe battle it out for the annual EuroCup.

“We are excited this event is being hosted in the picturesque Belfast on the lush green fields of Queen’s University – at Dub Lane, Upper Malone. With the upcoming International Rules Series between Ireland and Australia this is your chance to see and hear the game up close and personal.”

The EuroCup will see 18 men’s teams and 2 women’s teams battle it out to be called the king and queens of Europe for the next 12 months. Croatia is current holders of the cup and will again prove tough opposition. After Ireland's recent and stunning win of the International Cup in Australia they too will be keen to impress on home soil. Squads like Russia, Iceland and Cataluña add unique interest. The Irish women won the inaugural women’s cup last year and will look to also follow up their win in Australia with a strong performance.

“AFL Europe are expecting a big crowd that will come and enjoy an amazing spectacle of high marks, speed, strength and amazing skill. Do yourself a favor and get down to Queen’s Sports Ground - Dub Lane, Upper Malone for this rare event in your own backyard” MacCormack added.

For further information: Ben MacCormack Tel: +44 (0) 7 952 873 813 Email: ben.maccormack@afleurope.org

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Queen’s students help rebuild lives of Congo’s child soldiers
Paul O’Callaghan
Paul O’Callaghan
Two postgraduate students from Queen’s University have completed the first phase of a pioneering trip to assist in the treatment of psychological distress among child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Paul O’Callaghan and John McMullen spent the summer months in the heart of the vast African country providing psychological support and treatment to children who had suffered one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

Paul O’Callaghan, formerly a secondary school teacher and now a third year student on the Doctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology, said: “These children have been caught on both sides of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are, at the same time, both perpetrators and victims of the violence that still plagues this mineral-rich yet materially-poor country in central Africa.

“Many child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are forcibly abducted and then ordered to commit heinous crimes. They are subjected to brutal (and even cannibalistic) rituals, hard labour, cruel training regimes and torture. As a result, many exhibit severe psychological and emotional distress.

“Most struggle to cope with the transition to ‘normal’ life and some are haunted at night by the faces of those they have killed. Our five-week group-based intervention taught relaxation and mental imagery techniques and encouraged the children through art and individual psychotherapy to deal in the present with the horrors of their past.

“Our study highlighted the fact that, far from being a ‘lost generation’ or ‘victims of a stolen childhood’, child soldiers have incredible inner strength and resilience. Simple psychological techniques can be of great assistance in reducing their intensely disturbing nightmares and emotional distress that some face on a daily or nightly basis.”

Due to the challenging nature of this project, the research team sought advice from Dr Alastair Black, Psychotherapist and Head of Psychological Therapies at Futures (NI), who has significant experience working with children suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. Dr Ciarán Shannon, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, also provided valuable clinical support.

Dr Black explains that a number of studies have found that “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for children with PTSD can be extremely effective. Each patient is different but we have found that goal setting and coping skills training can significantly improve the lives of sufferers.

"Studies like this are an important way for clinicians to not only help these children, but for us also to gain a better insight into how to help children suffering here – whether that be as a result of the Troubles or due to other traumatic experiences.”

The two Queen’s University postgraduate students have previously spent time in the world’s first primary school set up specifically to assist child soldiers in northern Uganda.  While there, they measured levels of post-traumatic stress, explaining the symptoms of trauma to the children and offering psychological therapy to the most traumatised.

John McMullen expressed his thanks to Dr Harry Rafferty and Mr John Eakin, for providing academic support from Queen’s University and also for the financial support provided by local businesses, schools, family and friends whose donations enabled them to purchase vocational materials for the children.

The work undertaken in Uganda has played a crucial role in the group’s success in Congo where the United Nations reports that in the past seven years 31,000 children have been demobilized – many of them returning to their villages, traumatised, uneducated and isolated from their communities.

Dr Rafferty of Queen’s University Belfast said: “A particular strength of this intervention is that it can be conducted with groups of children rather than individuals, and in the ordinary school system using the teaching or counselling staff who are already in the school. It is therefore likely to be an accessible and cost-efficient way of helping children who have suffered terribly as a result of war in their country.”

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

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Queen’s appoints internationally successful festival director
Mark Prescott newly appointed Director of the Ulster Bank Festival at Queen's
Mark Prescott newly appointed Director of the Ulster Bank Festival at Queen's

The former Head of Cultural Campaigns at the Mayor’s Office in London has been appointed as the new Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

Mark Prescott, who has over 15 years experience in the culture and arts sector, joins at an exciting time, with this year’s Festival beginning on 14 October.

Born in Spain and brought up in Scotland, Mark is a Clore Leadership Scheme Fellow. He studied music at Royal Holloway University of London and most recently was a director of an agency providing artistic, creative and strategic advice to a variety of clients across the cultural and commercial sectors.

His role in the Mayor’s Office at the Greater London Authority saw him work across the capital’s cultural and creative sectors devising and directing a series of multi- disciplinary festivals and initiatives. Before his appointment to the Mayor’s office, he worked with IMG artists and UBS advising on their global cultural programme and delivering projects in China, Asia and Europe.

Speaking about his appointment Mark said: “This is an exciting time to be taking over as Director of the Festival, which begins within days. It has a rich and diverse history and, as it approaches its 50th anniversary next year, it continues, with the help of the University, Ulster Bank and other partners, to showcase the very best home-grown and international arts talent to the people of Belfast and beyond.

“I am also aware of the important role that the arts play in Northern Ireland and I hope to add, in some small way, to their cultural and social significance.”

Welcoming the new appointment, Queen’s University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher said: “The Festival is very fortunate to secure someone with Mark’s internationally recognised standing in the world of culture and arts. He hits the ground running with this year’s Festival beginning on 14th October and his extensive knowledge of the sector will undoubtedly be valued by those who experience the 49th Festival.

“Queen’s contribution to the artistic life of Northern Ireland is embedded across society and this appointment further strengthens our commitment to playing a leading role in the cultural development of the region.”

Richard Donnan, Managing Director, Retail Markets, Ulster Bank, said: "We would like to welcome Mark to his new role as Festival Director of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s.  Mark brings with him an impressive collection of international artistic and creative experiences that can only contribute to what already is an outstanding Festival that we are proud to support."

For media inquiries please contact Festival PR Manager Esther Haller-Clarke on 07830513296 or festival.press@qub.ac.uk / esther@typeabconsultancy.com

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Conference to explore how local businesses can grow through Innovation

Innovation is the best way for local businesses to grow in these uncertain economic times.

That is the key message that Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, will deliver at Queen’s University Belfast to the InterTradeIreland All-Island Innovation Conference.

The InterTradeIreland conference, entitled Building Capability for Innovation, takes place over two days, 4-5 October, and is organised by the External Affairs Office at Queen’s.

Professor Kanter will deliver two keynote addresses to local business owners, business managers, public sector strategists, and academics at the conference.

Professor Kanter has been repeatedly named on lists of the "50 most powerful women in the world" (The Times), and the "50 most influential business thinkers in the world" (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research).  Her book The Change Masters was named one of the most influential business books of the 20th century by the Financial Times.

Professor Kanter specialises in strategy, innovation and leadership for change, and has worked with leaders of major corporations, governments, and businesses of all sizes, providing them with strategic and practical insight. 

Professor Kanter’s first keynote address will outline the common traps that businesses fall into when trying to innovate, and will outline the strategies that prove effective in helping business to succeed in introducing innovation in their business.  The second keynote address will focus on practical suggestions that business leaders can adopt to develop an environment in their workplace in which innovation will be supported and can flourish. The lessons Professor Kanter will share are drawn from wide-ranging business experience and academic research and are transferable to other countries, including Ireland.

InterTradeIreland’s Strategy and Policy Director, Aidan Gough, said “It is no longer good enough to view innovation as a technology process.  For the ambitious firm achieving sustainable growth, innovation is at the very core of its business growth strategy. Internal capabilities are no longer sufficient to gain and sustain competitive advantage as companies must draw on external resources and expertise across the island and beyond to be successful. This conference will enable companies to benefit from international best practice in innovation to help drive change and growth in their business.”

A number of other business and academic leaders will also speak at the conference to share their expertise and insight into how innovation has helped their own businesses to succeed.

Business leaders who will  address the conference on the first day include Rosemary Stalker, Operations Director at McMullen Architectural Systems; Seamus Connolly MBE, CEO of Fast Engineering Ltd; Ivan Coulter, CEO Sigmoid; and Sean McNulty, MD of Innovator. As well as each delivering a presentation, these business leaders will also engage in a round table discussion chaired by Terence Brannigan, Chairman of the CBI Northern Ireland.

On the second day of the conference, after Professor Kanter’s address,  leading  academics from Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin and NUI Galway will draw upon their research to explore the conditions required for innovation to work, and the consequences of innovation in the business environment.

The conference is part of the InterTradeIreland All-Island Innovation Programme which aims to promote and encourage innovation across the island of Ireland. It brings international expertise in innovation to Queen’s University Belfast, NUI Galway and University College Dublin. Best international practice is shared with business leaders, students, academics, knowledge transfer professionals and policy makers in each region via innovation lectures, seminars and master classes. This Programme is organised by InterTradeIreland, Queen’s University Belfast, NovaUCD and the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change at NUI Galway.

Delighted that Queen’s University is to host the third All-Island Innovation Conference, Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations at Queen’s University said: “In this current economic climate, it is more important than ever that our  local businesses  harness  innovation to achieve growth. Universities too must play their part in working with industry partners to provide access to relevant University research work and to share and exchange knowledge with them through a range of initiatives and programmes available, such as the InterTradeIreland Innovation Programme. 

"Collaboration and partnership can play a major role in achieving the economic renewal that we need on the island of Ireland.”

To register to attend the conference, go to http://go.qub.ac.uk/InnovationConference2011

All are welcome and the conference is free to attend.

For further information contact Richard Walker, External Affairs Office, r.walker@qub.ac.uk, 028 9097 2598 and the Queen’s University Management School

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