March 2013 press releases

Get out and about this Spring with Queen’s Open Learning

Queen’s University has just published its new Spring Open Learning prospectus and the programme is bursting with new opportunities for the months ahead.

In a new partnership with Belfast City Council, Queen’s Open Learning offers a conducted tour of one of the city’s much loved but hidden treasures in The Botanic Gardens: An Insight. The new course Bird Watching for Beginners involves field trips to Victoria Park, Belvoir Forest and Belfast Water Works as just some of the opportunities to learn about our woodland birds and their habitats.

For the energetic there are courses available in Irish Ceili Dancing or Golf for Beginners and Golf for Improvers which are designed for all standards of golfers and cover all aspects of the game from the very basics to the interpretation of the rules.

In preparation for the summer holidays an array of language courses ranging from Holiday French, Spanish for Beginners to Let’s Speak Italian are available. Literature courses, incliding Conflict in American Literature, World Literature: Desert Island Books and Russian Literature’s Cult Novel: The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov all promise to transport the mind to foreign shores.

Personal development courses include An introduction to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Spring Clean Your Life. There are also computing courses including Get Creative with the iPhone & iPad and arts courses painting and drawing.

Cathal McManus, Director of the Open Learning programme, said: “Spring is all about getting ourselves active and our Open Learning programme is always responding to how adult learners tell us they enjoy learning. Walking tours exploring the fascinating layers of history beneath the buildings and builders of North and East Belfast are exciting additions to this year’s programme.”

Undergraduate Course Director, Dr Tess Maginess, said: “The Open Learning Programme has always distinguished itself for its focus on important contemporary issues, drawing upon the latest research across a wide range of subjects in our teaching and making it accessible to people in Northern Ireland.

“The Open learning programme attracts thousands of participants each year. And people come from as far away as Dublin and Derry/Londonderry to take part. There are no entry qualifications, and enrolling is easy, as participants can join the programme by going online, phoning, writing or by calling in to the Open Learning Office. There are a wide range of concessions available.”

For the full online Open Learning prospectus visit:

Media inquiries to Queen's Communications Office on 02890973091 or

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UK’s largest poverty study shows one third of Northern Ireland households deprived

One third of households in Northern Ireland are deprived according to researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, who have conducted the largest and most authoritative study of poverty and deprivation to date in the UK. 

Researchers from the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's have found that one third of households in Northern Ireland do not have what the majority of people consider to be the basic necessities.

Those households lack three or more of 22 necessities covering food, clothing, housing and social activities.  Within those households over 115,000 adults and children (6.4 per cent of the population) are not properly fed by today’s standards. They also found that the proportion of families unable to heat their homes is at an all time high of 13 per cent compared to three per cent a decade ago.

The findings are the result of the Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) project which published its initial findings on the extent of impoverishment in Northern Ireland today. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), it involved a team of six UK universities.

Professor Mike Tomlinson, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen's said: "These findings present a bleak portrait of contemporary life for the bottom third of households in Northern Ireland.   This situation, serious as it is, is set to get worse as benefit levels fall in real terms, as real wages continue a three-year decline and living standards are further squeezed. The decline in living standards poses an enormous challenge to the Northern Ireland Executive and its programme Delivering Social Change."

Further findings about Northern Ireland from the study include:

Family Life

·         29 per cent of people have ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ skimped on food so that others in the household would have enough to eat

·         Eight per cent of families cannot afford to send their children on a school trip once a term

·         30 per cent of families cannot afford one weeks annual holiday away from home for their children

·         12 per cent of households cannot afford day trips with their family once a month

·         Six per cent of families cannot afford to have a computer and internet access for children to do their homework

·         15 per cent of families cannot afford to give their children pocket money  

Food Insecurity

·         Six per cent of households cannot afford a meal with meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every other day

·         Seven per cent of households are unable to afford fresh fruit and vegetables every day

·         Two per cent of households (over 14,000) cannot afford two meals a day   

Financial Insecurity

·         13 per cent of households are ‘a lot below’ the level of income which they say would keep them out of poverty and 17 per cent are ‘a little below’ the level 

·         18 per cent of households have a ‘constant struggle’ to keep up with bills

·         43 per cent of households could not afford to pay for an unexpected, but necessary bill of £500

·         A third of adults are unable to regularly save at least £20 a month for rainy days

·         28 per cent cannot afford to make regular payments into an occupational or private pension


·         13 per cent of households cannot afford to keep their home adequately warm

·         10 per cent live in a damp home 

·         Almost a fifth do not have enough money to keep their home in a decent state of decoration 

·         Eight per cent of families do not have enough space for every child of 10 or over of a different sex  to have their own bedroom

Trends since 2003 in Northern Ireland:

·         The number of households unable to heat their home is at a record high – now 13 per cent compared to three per cent in 2003

·         The number of households unable to afford damp-free homes has also risen since 2003 – from four per cent to 10 per cent

·         One in five households can’t keep their home in an adequate state of decoration – up from 11 per cent in 2003

·         A fifth of the population can no longer afford to spend a small amount of money on themselves each week compared to 15 per cent in 2003


The first results from the UK wide study will be broadcast on ITV at 7.30pm on Thursday, March 28 in a special Tonight programme on ‘Breadline Britain’.



Media inquiries to Claire O'Callaghan, Queen's Communications Office, on 02890975391 or

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Overweight and obese women at higher risk of adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes

Overweight and obese women are more likely to require specialist medical care during their pregnancy due to the increased risk of adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes, according to a new study carried out by a team from Queen’s University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Published today (Wednesday 27) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study, found that maternal obesity has significant health implications contributing to increased morbidity and mortality for both mother and baby.

This study categorised women according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) body mass index (BMI) classifications. The categories included women who were underweight (BMI <18.5), normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9), overweight (BMI 25-39), and three obese sub-categories including obese class I (BMI 30-34.9), obese class II (BMI 35-39.9) and obese class III (BMI >40). It looked at the impact of BMI on maternal and neonatal outcomes in 30,298 singleton pregnancies, from a referral unit in Northern Ireland, in the UK over an 8 year period (2004-2011). Within this cohort, 2.8 per cent of women were categorised as underweight, 52.5 per cent normal weight, 27.8 per cent overweight, 11 per cent obese class I, 3.9 per cent obese class II and 1.9 per cent obese class III.

Results showed that, when compared to normal weight women, women in the overweight and obese class I category had an increased risk of hypertensive disorders, gestational diabetes, induction of labour, caesarean section, post-partum haemorrhage and macrosomia (large birthweight baby), with all risks significantly increasing for obese class II and III women.

The study found that women in obese class III were four times more likely to develop gestational diabetes compared to normal weight women. Women in obese class III were identified to be at the most risk of additional adverse outcomes including having a preterm delivery, a newborn requiring neonatal admission, and stillbirth, which was three times more likely among these women.

In overweight and obese women there was also an increased likelihood of postnatal problems, such as unsuccessful breastfeeding, which has also been shown to increase the risk for long-term health implications for both mother and baby in relation to obesity.

Conversely, underweight women were at an increased risk of anaemia and were more likely to have a low birthweight baby, when compare to normal weight women.

Dr Valerie Holmes from the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast, and co-author of the study said: “This large-scale study clearly demonstrates that being overweight or obese during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes.

“By having obesity in sub-classifications, we were able to highlight the relationship between increasing BMI and the increasing risk of adverse outcomes, with women most at risk in obese class III requiring specialist medical care during pregnancy.”

Dr Dale Spence from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast, and co-author of the study highlighted: “We found that the majority of overweight women fall into the overweight or obese class I categories and while they are still at an increased risk of gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, they may not be offered the same level of specialist care under current guidelines.”

Mike March, BJOG Deputy-Editor-in-Chief, added:  “We know that maternal obesity has significant health implications including an increased risk of developing pregnancy-related disorders, poorer labour outcomes and adverse neonatal health. This study further shows the relationship between obesity and these adverse outcomes by linking rising BMI with the likelihood of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes associated with pregnancy. Further research is needed to optimise management for overweight and obese women during pregnancy.”


For more information please contact Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: +44(0)2890975384 or email


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Queen’s 'super solvents' voted ‘Most Important British Innovation of the 21st Century’

Research by scientists from Queen’s University Belfast on ionic liquid chemistry has been named the ‘Most Important British Innovation of the 21st Century’.

The work of staff in the Queen's University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre has been named as the innovation that will have the greatest impact in the coming Century.

QUILL fought off stiff competition from 11 other innovations from across the United Kingdom to win the vote which was part of the Science Museum’s Initiative on Great British past and future Innovations. This initiative was also sponsored, amongst others, by: Engineering UK, The Royal Society, British Science Association, Royal Academy of Engineering and Department for Business Innovation & Skills.

A team of nearly 100 scientists are exploring the potential of ionic liquids at Queen’s. Known as ‘super solvents’, they are salts that remain liquid at room temperature and do not form vapours. They can be used as non-polluting alternatives to conventional solvents and are revolutionising chemical processes by offering a much more environmentally friendly solution than traditional methods.

Professor Ken Seddon is Co-Director of QUILL. His seminal paper started the world-wide surge of interest in ionic liquids and it has now reached over 1000 citations. Speaking about their latest achievement, he said: “We are delighted to win as this shines a very public spotlight on how a team of chemists can dramatically improve the quality of the environment for everyone. Being named the most important British innovation of the 21st Century is recognition of the high calibre of research being undertaken at QUILL and throughout the University.”

Professor Jim Swindall, Co-Director of QUILL at Queen’s, said: “This is fantastic news for QUILL and for the University. This vote confirms that Queen’s work on ionic liquid chemistry will eventually have a bearing on most of our lives. The liquids dissolve almost everything, from elements such as sulfur and phosphorus (that traditionally require nasty solvents) to polymers, including biomass. They can even remove bacterial biofilms such as MRSA. They are already being used in a process to remove mercury from natural gas by Petronas in Malaysia. Others can be used as heat pumps, compression fluids, or lubricants - the list is limitless.”

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “I congratulate Queen’s University on winning this most prestigious of accolades. It is a great achievement for Professors Ken Sedden and Jim Swindall and the entire team at QUILL and it is a great day for Northern Ireland science. This recognition underlines the strength of research being undertaken by Queen’s and the impact this research has on the chemical and environmental industry around the world.”

Robin Swann, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Employment and Learning said: “The result of this public vote is terrific news for Northern Ireland as it demonstrates the importance of the research being undertaken at Queen’s. The fact that global energy giant Petronas is already using the technology in its plants demonstrates the value and global impact of the research at the University and I congratulate Queen’s on this significant achievement.”

Set up in 1999, QUILL is an industry/university cooperative research centre and is now a world leader in the creation of ionic liquids. Key industry partners include BASF, Chevron, Invista, Merck, Petronas, Proctor & Gamble and Shell.

For further information on QUILL visit:

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email

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Queen's academic helps answer 'West Lothian' question

A UK-wide commission involving a Queen’s University academic has concluded that decisions taken by the House of Commons with a separate and distinct effect for England should normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs for England. The recommendations have been made by the independent McKay Commission, appointed by the government to consider the consequences of devolution on law-making in the House which publishes its findings today.

Leading academic, Professor Yvonne Galligan from Queen’s School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, was appointed to the Commission last year. It was asked to make recommendations on how the Commons should deal with legislation affecting only part of the UK, following devolution to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Speaking about the evidence gathering process, Professor Galligan said: “We received an exceptionally broad range of views from a wide spectrum of persons and bodies in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Our recommendations are very much informed by these views. They present a way forward that we believe could command widespread acceptance. As a member of staff from Queen’s University Belfast, which is committed to contributing positively to public advancement and policy, I am privileged to have been asked along with the my fellow commission members to work on such an important question.  ”

Having taken extensive evidence on the state of English opinion (as well as views from devolved parts of the UK), the Commission’s main conclusions are:

• Evidence suggests that people in England feel unhappy with present arrangements, which take too little account of their grievances. A response is necessary.

• Decisions taken in the Commons which have a separate and distinct effect for England (or England-and-Wales) should normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs sitting for constituencies in England (or England-and-Wales).

• That principle should be clearly set out in a resolution of the House of Commons, and House procedure should be changed to encourage MPs to follow this approach.

• A range of procedural changes is suggested, all of which would allow the English voice to be heard.  Some of them involve committees on bills, with majorities reflecting the party balance in England (or England-and-Wales).  Others take the form of motions on the floor of the House.  They are not a single package but a menu from which choices can be made to suit the circumstances of a particular bill.

• A select committee on Devolution should be appointed, which would (among other things) assist the House to hold UK ministers to account for their responsibilities in connection with devolution and their relations with the devolved administrations.

Under the Commission’s recommendations, no MPs would be prevented from voting on any bill, and the right of the House as a whole to make final decisions would be preserved. However, there would also be scope for additional roles for MPs from England (or England-and-Wales). 

Sir William McKay, Chairman of The McKay Commission, said: “The more law-making in the UK has moved away from Westminster and towards the devolved legislatures, the more Westminster law-making has inevitably come to focus on England (or England-and-Wales).  But the processes for making law at Westminster have not significantly changed. Surveys have shown that people in England are unhappy about the existing arrangements, and support change.  There is a feeling that England is at a disadvantage, and that it’s not right that MPs representing the devolved nations should be able to vote on matters affecting England.

“The status quo clearly cannot be sustained. Our proposals retain the right of a UK-wide majority to make the final decisions where they believe UK interests or those of a part of the UK other than England should prevail. We expect that governments will prefer compromise to conflict.”

The Commission gathered evidence in all parts of the United Kingdom, and from a range of people including academics, politicians, officers of the House of Commons and of the devolved legislatures, commentators and members of the public.

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: 028 90 97 5384

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Paralympian McKillop to run in Powerade Queen’s 5K Race Around the River

Paralympian Michael McKillop will be among the runners taking place in the popular Powerade Queen’s 5k ‘Race Around the River’ on Wednesday evening (27 March 2013).

The Glengormley athlete, who won Gold in the T37 800m and 1500m events at the Paralympic Games in London in 2012, is returning to compete in the event which is a popular warm-up race ahead of the Belfast Marathon.

Speaking ahead of the event, Michael McKillop said: “The Queen’s 5k Race allows you to challenge your personal best on a fast and exciting course on the River Lagan. Last year was a great year for me personally as it gave me the opportunity to compete against some of the best middle distance runners in the province as I prepared for London 2012.”

The race, which begins at 7pm on Wednesday, and runs alongside the River Lagan, covers two laps around the King’s Bridge and Ormeau Bridge, with Queen’s Physical Education Centre (PEC) acting as the race HQ for pre and post race requirements.

Kevin Murray from organisers Queen’s Sport added: “We are delighted Michael McKillop is back again to compete in the Powerade Queen’s 5K Race Around the River as it is not often that so many people get the chance to compete in a race with a gold-medal winning paralympian. With several other race events across Northern Ireland having to be cancelled due to weather conditions in recent days, I would encourage those keen to assess their performance in the run up to the Belfast Marathon to come along and take part. We are accepting entries right up until the event and Michael’s participation will make an already enjoyable occasion even more special.”

This year’s race will also see some student rivalry as Queen’s Athletics Club competes against UUJ for a new Team Award.

James O’Hare, Captain of Queen’s Athletics Club, said: “We are hopeful that this year’s race will be the biggest yet with new awards and prizes in place for all competitors. We are also encouraging more students who live in the surrounding area of South Belfast to get involved and add to the excitement on the night.”

Connor McCready from Powerade, said:  “We are proud to continue our partnership with Queen’s Sport by supporting the Powerade Queen’s 5k Race and we are delighted with the ongoing success of this event.  This is one of a number of sporting initiatives we are working on, in partnership with Queen’s Sport and the University’s Development and Alumni Relations directorate. We are committed to developing the talent of the future, as well as the sports stars of today.  We recognise the 5K as an important community sporting event and hope the number of participants continues to grow.”

Race numbers and chips should be collected from Queen’s PEC from 3pm on race day with late entries received on the day from 3pm - 6.30pm sharp. Please note there is an additional charge for late entries.

For more information on the race, entry fees and the course visit

Media inquiries to Kevin Murray 07804249181 or visit the Queen’s Sport Website:

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Queen’s 'super solvents' shortlisted for most important British innovation of the 21st Century

Work by scientists from Queen’s University Belfast on ionic liquid chemistry is in the running to be named the most important British innovation of the 21st Century.

The work of staff in the Queen's University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre is up against 11 other innovations from across the United Kingdom battling it out in a public vote to find the one that will have the greatest impact in the coming century. The vote is part of the Science Museum’s Initiative on Great British past and future Innovations.

Queen’s work on ionic liquids is already helping to revolutionise chemical processes by offering a much more environmentally friendly solution. These salts remain liquid at room temperature and do not form vapours, and so can be used as non-polluting alternatives to conventional solvents. At QUILL, a team of nearly 100 scientists are exploring the potential of these green solvents and Fortune 100 energy giant Petronas is already using the technology in its plants. The mercury removal unit, using 15 tons of supported ionic liquid, was developed by a team led by Professor Ken Seddon, Co-Director of QUILL at Queen’s, and Dr John Holbrey also from QUILL, who were listed last year as the number one and two chemists in the UK based on citations of their work.

Professor Ken Seddon said: “Being shortlisted for the most important British innovation of the 21st century is recognition of the high calibre of research being undertaken at QUILL and throughout the University. We would encourage people to take a moment to vote for our research as its application will eventually have a bearing on most of our lives.”

Professor Jim Swindall, Co-Director of QUILL at Queen’s, said: “We don’t often like to blow our own trumpet in Northern Ireland, but there can be no doubt that Queen’s work on ionic liquid chemistry is one of the most important British innovations of the 21st Century. The liquids dissolve almost everything, from elements such as sulfur and phosphorus (that traditionally require nasty solvents) to polymers, including biomass. They can even remove bacterial biofilms such as MRSA. They are already being used in a process to remove mercury from natural gas by Petronas in Malaysia. Others can be used as heat pumps, compression fluids, or lubricants - the list is endless.”

Set up in 1999, QUILL is an industry/university cooperative research centre and is now a world leader in the creation of ionic liquids. Key industry partners include Merck, Petronas, Invista, Chevron, Proctor and Gamble and Shell.

Professor Seddon’s seminal paper which started the world-wide surge of interest in ionic liquids has now reached over 1000 citations.

To vote for ionic liquid chemistry as the most important British innovation of the 21st century visit:

The winner will be announced on Monday 25th March.

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email

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Queen’s scientist named Innovator of the Year

A Queen’s University scientist has won two national awards for his research on microneedles which deliver drugs without causing pain or bleeding.

Dr Ryan Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics at Queen's School of Pharmacy, has been named BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2013. He also won the Most Promising Innovator of the Year title. From Castleblayney in Co Monaghan, he will receive £15,000 to support his research and Queen’s School of Pharmacy will also receive £15,000.

Dr Donnelly won the awards for his work on microneedles which take the sting out of medicine delivery and monitoring. The tiny needles pierce the skin without pain or bleeding and are applied using a skin patch. They then swell, allowing controlled administration of even large medicines like insulin, as well as vaccines. They can also be used in minimally-invasive patient monitoring applications.

Earlier this year, Dr Donnelly was also named GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist for 2012. Speaking about his latest award Dr Donnelly said: “I am absolutely delighted to win both of these prestigious awards, especially considering the extremely high level of competition. My group’s microneedles research has attracted interest and substantial funding from some of the world’s biggest companies over a very wide range of applications. That we have come so far in only five years in this field is testament to the hard work and innovation of the members of my group.

“Our next step in moving towards commercialisation of this exciting research is to scale up production to industrial levels. We will do this over the next two years thanks to a £710,000 award from BBSRC that came through last month. The first patients will benefit from our microneedle technology in three to five years from now.

“The School of Pharmacy at Queen’s has a long and successful track record of innovation, taking our research from the laboratory to the patient. This history and experience has helped me to develop the impact of my research programme, making it relevant to the market and, ultimately, to patients.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "The UK is at the forefront of bioscience, thanks to the pioneering work of BBSRC and continued investment in our world-class research base. These awards recognise how we are fostering innovation and working closely with industry. This will ensure our cutting edge research brings benefits to the economy and society.”

The two competitions form part of BBSRC’s Fostering Innovation initiative. They encourage research in biosciences to cross the gap from academia to tangible economic and social benefits.

Further information on Dr Donnelly’s work is available online at

For more information contact Jane Veitch at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5310 email

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Queen’s science researchers have their day in Parliament

Two young scientists from Queen’s University Belfast have showcased their work at the Houses of Parliament in London as part of SET for Britain 2013.

Dr Gianluca Sarri, a newly appointed lecturer at Queen’s School of Mathematics and Physics and Roberto Caporali, an industrial research student at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, were chosen from hundreds of applicants to appear at the event in Westminster.

The Italian duo were among 180 early career researchers taking part in the SET for Britain event in the House of Commons which gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.

Dr Sarri’s research into the recent progress on ultra-intensity lasers technology and applications was entered into the Physics section of the event. Originally from Tuscany, Italy, Dr Sarri came to Queen’s as a PhD student and has recently been appointed Lecturer in Plasma Physics at the University.

Speaking about the experience Dr Sarri said: “SET for Britain is a unique opportunity to make my own research known to a wider audience, and to engage with politicians regarding the fundamental issue of scientific research and development in the UK. It is also a great chance to get a wider perspective on cutting edge research by sharing thoughts with other brilliant scientists and engineers from around the country.”

Roberto’s research was featured in the Engineering section. A PhD student at Queen’s Centre for the Theory and Application of Catalysis, Roberto is working with Johnson and Matthey, a world leading chemical company, to develop a new type of diesel oxidation catalyst – the most common type of catalytic converter for controlling diesel engine emissions and converting harmful components, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, into water ad carbon dioxide.

Roberto, who is originally from Salerno in Southern Italy, said: “When I started my PhD studies at Queen’s, I never would have imagined it would take me right to the heart of Parliament. It was a huge honour to present my research in such prestigious surroundings, to meet with other early career researchers and to speak MPs and policy makers from around the UK who have a real interest in scientific research and the latest developments in engineering.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: “This annual event is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.

“These early career engineers are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

The SET for Britain event took place in the House of Commons on Monday 18 March.

For more information contact Jane Veitch at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5310 email

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Tesco CEO launches Queen’s new £33m Global ‘Food-Fortress’
Prof Chris Elliott
Prof Chris Elliott

Tesco Chief Executive, Philip Clarke will today officially launch Queen’s new Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) which will improve global food safety through the establishment of an international ‘food-fortress’ in Belfast.

An investment of over £33m from Queen’s will see the Institute play a key role in national and global efforts to provide the world’s growing population with a sustainable, safe and secure supply of high quality food.

Staff in the new Institute will work alongside the food sector locally, and worldwide, to improve the integrity of the food chain and deliver best value and quality to the consumer.  The opening of the IGFS will also enable Queen’s to enhance the role it already plays in ensuring the local agri-food industry continues to be competitive in a growing global market.

Tesco is the largest customer for food producers on the island of Ireland buying £1 billion of foodstuffs each year. At today’s launch Tesco’s CEO Philip Clarke will address an audience of 250 invited guests in the University’s Riddel Hall on ‘Competing in a changing global food supply chain’. He will also meet representatives from leading food companies during a high-level roundtable discussion. Chaired by Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the new Institute, and Dr Clive Black, a leading retail analyst and Head of Research at Shore Capital, the industry summit is aimed at helping those present drive regional growth and competitiveness.

Mr Clarke will also officially open a new £2.5m laboratory today. Housing state-of-the-art equipment provided by Waters Corporation, the multinational technology company, it will be capable of undertaking unique forms of testing in order to provide early warning of food contamination and adulteration. With part finance from the European Regional Development Fund, Invest NI is supporting the laboratory instrumentation and some of the research activities within it.

Waters will formally announce that the new Institute is to become one of only five worldwide to be granted the status of a ‘Waters Centre of Innovation’. The company will also honour Professor Elliott individually for the significance of his research in mass spectrometry for global food safety and security.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Professor Elliott said: “As CEO of Tesco plc, Philip Clarke’s attendance at Queen’s today is testament to how significant this new Institute for Global Food Security is for the food sector, not just here in Northern Ireland, but worldwide. We want to build a ‘food-fortress’, ensuring everything we import is of the highest quality and that what we sell locally and internationally is also 100 per cent safe, nutritious and authentic.

“This new Institute will ensure that we can continue to recruit the best students into our food programmes, creating the food-leaders of the future who have been trained in one of the world’s best equipped research laboratories.”

Tesco’s CEO Philip Clarke said: “It’s an honour to have been asked to launch the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University. Northern Ireland can be proud that it is home to a world leading centre for the study of an issue which all of us in the food industry need to pay close attention to.”

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “Queen’s formed the UK’s first Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use in 2006, and since then we have quickly become internationally-recognised for our excellence in addressing complex food safety and quality issues. The opening of this new Institute today by Philip Clarke, Chief Executive of the world’s third largest retailer, is yet another example of the impact Queen’s research is having on the wider world, and how our research not only benefits the people and businesses of Northern Ireland but many more people the world over.”

The Institute is a cornerstone of Queen’s ambitious new Beyond fundraising campaign to raise £140 million over the next five years to support transformational projects. The Institute hopes to engage the support of leading local and international food producers, and the Waters Corporation is one such partner. Mike Harrington, Vice President, European & Asia Pacific Operations, Waters, said: “On behalf of Waters Corporation, I congratulate Queen’s University Belfast for leading the way in global food security. Through our continuing collaboration with Queen’s, we see a great opportunity to advance the analytical techniques of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry in support of food safety and security and, together, build a better future for generations to come.”

Currently the production and processing of food plays a critical role in the Northern Ireland economy, with the sector providing 85,000 jobs and generating sales of £5.2 billion each year.

Leading retail analyst and Head of Research at Shore Capital, Dr Clive Black said: “The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s is just so right for its time. Financial markets of all sorts – public equity, private equity, venture capital and wholesale lending - have been keenly alerted to the perils and opportunities posed by the integrity, quality and safety of food and its importance to business and industry performance. It has never been so important and for the Northern Ireland Agri-Food industry, the largest component of the regional economy, to be and be seen as world class in these respects, and we believe it is blessed in having a globally first rate scientific resource in the form of the new Institute on its door step in Belfast.”

Supporting today’s launch of the Institute for Global Food Security are Tesco, Shore Capital, Deloitte and Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA).

For further information on the Institute, visit

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)2890975384 or m07814 415451 or email


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Northern Ireland Centre at forefront of global cyber security research

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed a delegation of high level researchers and influential business people to the third annual World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit, in Belfast today.

The prestigious event is being hosted by Queen's University of Belfast's, Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) in the Northern Ireland Science Park.

The prestigious event is being hosted by Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at the Northern Ireland Science Park.

CSIT is the UK’s largest university centre for cyber security research, a rapidly growing and highly specialised area with vast global potential. In 2011, the Minister announced £4.4 million of Invest NI support for CSIT which includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

Arlene Foster said: “This event at Queen’s presents an opportunity to place Northern Ireland firmly on the international cyber security map.

“Globally, we are now more dependent than ever on our digital infrastructure, with connectivity seen as an essential part of our lives through the use of smartphones, laptops and tablets.

“Industry depends on safe and secure communications but with cybercrime now estimated to cost around USD $1 trillion per year, there remains a vast requirement to continually develop cyber security technology and enhance online privacy to protect individuals, businesses and the economy.

“At CSIT in Belfast, research specialists in data encryption, network security, wireless security and video analytics work with industry to solve some of the real world security challenges. Today’s event offers a major opportunity to showcase this expertise to an international audience and stimulate further collaboration that will deliver new and innovative cyber security solutions.”

Professor John McCanny of CSIT at Queen’s said: “Hosting the World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit at CSIT underlines the international importance of the research carried out here and our vision to establish a global innovation hub in cyber security. Invest NI’s support is allowing us to address the $60 billion market for cyber security technology and commercialise CSITs research in new innovative ways for a university Centre. Today, we have a unique opportunity to collaborate and share information in order to drive technology forward and provide tangible, effective solutions in areas from data security to intelligent analytics.”

For further information visit 

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email 

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Queen's medical student a cut above the rest in national competition
Jamie Clements receives his award from Mr Ian Ritchie, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
Jamie Clements receives his award from Mr Ian Ritchie, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

A Queen's University medical student has won a UK-wide surgical skills competition run by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd).

Third-year student Jamie Clements, from Lisburn, was crowned the winner of the Student Surgical Skills Competition after competing against 19 other finalists from across the UK at the Grand Final in Edinburgh.

The 21 year old, who studies at Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, demonstrated exceptional skills in surgical techniques such as knee arthroscopy, anatomy, cross infection control and laparoscopy.

Sponsored by Johnson and Johnson Medical Companies, Jamie's prize  is a two-day trip to their European Surgical Training Institute in Hamburg where he will get the opportunity to undertake further practical hands-on surgical skills training, as well as shadow and interact with delegates in a tailored programme designed specifically for him.

Jamie said: "I feel ecstatic and surprised to win. There were some new and difficult skills being tested at the Final that I had never experienced before, but I suppose everyone was in the same boat. I'm just overwhelmed that I won.

"The arthroscopy was the first station of the morning – I knew what arthroscopy was, but to actually get to do it was a great experience. I found the anatomy station very challenging - I’m very used to spot tests - in that you get a specimen and you tell them what it is - but when you have a consultant surgeon asking you what it is, it's a very different experience.

"I can't wait to go to the Johnson and Johnson Surgical Training Institute in Hamburg. The experience and training I will gain from such an opportunity is inestimable and an experience that not many people get. In terms of future career and building up my portfolio and CV, I'm certainly heading in the right direction for a career in surgery.

"I'm quite overcome by the amount of opportunities that are now available to me through this competition and affiliating with RCSEd. If I had known from the off what doors can be opened by becoming an Affiliate of RCSEd, I would have tried to become an affiliate of RCSEd earlier in my medical training.

"My thanks to the RCSEd Outreach Team and all those involved in organising the competition.

"It has been great to meet other medical students and share experiences of other medical courses at other universities. I've learnt so much from the experience which I will take back to Belfast with me. It has been amazing."

Professor Pascal McKeown is Director of the Centre for Medical Education at Queen's, which oversees the delivery of a world-class training system for future doctors. He said: "Jamie's success is testament to his hard work and aptitude for surgical skills, and also to the quality of teaching and clinical skills experience offered to medical students at Queen's. Our approach combines classroom-based learning with clinical teaching across all medical and surgical disciplines in teaching hospitals and general practices across Northern Ireland and at our purpose-built Clinical Skills Education Centre. I congratulate Jamie on his achievement and wish him well for the remainder of his studies at Queen's and for a promising career in medicine."

Explaining more about the competition, the President of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Mr Ian Ritchie said: "The RCSEd Student Surgical Skills Competition is a magnificent opportunity for medical students to join us at the College to showcase their surgical skills and gain valuable surgical experience they would not necessarily have received at medical school. It was fantastic to witness this generation of medical students' vibrant enthusiasm for surgery. 

"Jamie stood out by showing flair and dexterity when he undertook the surgical challenges set for him. I am confident - should he so choose – that he will have a promising career as surgeon. All the finalists of the competition were outstanding, and now that they are Affiliates with The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, we look forward to guiding and supporting these aspiring doctors, where we can, on their journey towards a rewarding career in surgery."

Mark Thomas, Director of Professional Education, Johnson & Johnson Medical Limited said: "Johnson and Johnson Medical Companies is delighted to partner with The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for the 2012/2013 Surgical Skills Competition.  We believe this unique event provides valuable practical experience to support the early skill development of the aspiring surgeons of tomorrow. Many congratulations to all the students who competed in the Grand Final. We look forward to welcoming the winner, Jamie Clements, to our European Surgical Institute in Hamburg to participate in a tailored surgical skills educational programme which we believe will be an inspirational learning experience in preparation for their future surgical career."

For more information please contact Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 or Aoife O’Sullivan, Marketing and Communications Officer, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh on +44 (0)131 527 1593


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Queen’s discovered comet visible in UK and Irish skies

Comet PANSTARRS imaged by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy

A comet discovered by a Queen’s University Belfast supported project will be visible in UK and Irish skies from tomorrow evening (Tuesday 12 March) onwards.

Comet PANSTARRS was discovered in June 2011, by a team including astronomers from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s, using the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii, when it was still 1.2 billion kilometres from the Sun.

The comet will be visible by eye low-down in the Western sky from roughly 6:45pm GMT onwards, after sunset. People away from city lights should be able to see the comet with its faint gossamer tails pointing away from the Sun for at least half an hour.

Dr Pedro Lacerda, the Michael West Research Fellow in Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre, said: "The coma at the head of the comet should be visible to the naked eye but to see the tail may require the use of binoculars. The most visible features will be its tail and bright coma. Those features originate in the nucleus of a comet, a solid lump of dirty ice which, heated by sunlight, sublimates and feeds the diffuse cloud of gas and dust that gives the comet its fuzzy appearance - the coma. Then, light and other particles from the sun push part of the coma away from the nucleus to form the tail which gives comets their spectacular appearance."

"Comets are important as frozen relics of the formation of our solar system. Before plunging into the inner solar system they spend most of their lives beyond Neptune at temperatures below negative 220 C. For that reason comets retain ices of the ingredients that were present when the planets were born and that are long gone from the surfaces of the much warmer asteroids, for example."

The comet will be brightest in March in the Western sky after sunset. As it moves away from the Sun and Earth, however, it will become too faint to see by eye by late March or early April. It will then disappear into space, not returning for many thousands of years.

Astronomers from Queen’s University use the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope to discover and study asteroids and comets in the Solar system, as well as the explosive death of stars in Supernovae. It surveys the sky every night with the largest civilian digital camera in the World. Since 2010 it has discovered tens of comets and hundreds of Supernovae and Near-Earth Asteroids.

For more information on the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s visit

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email

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Queen’s students INSPIRE the next generation of researchers

Queen's INSPIRE team: (Back L-R) Professor Stuart Elborn, Professor Pascal McKeown, Professor Patrick Johnston (Front L-R) David Carroll, Nathan Cantley, Professor Richard Kennedy and Jack Thompson

Queen’s University students and staff have been recognised by a UK wide initiative which is encouraging future doctors and dentists to pursue scientific research.

Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences has been awarded a grant as part of Academy of Medical Science’s £1million INSPIRE initiative.

Supported by the Wellcome Trust, INSPIRE aims to foster a research culture among clinicians entering the NHS.

The £10,000 grant will allow medical and dental students to present their research to world-class academics and researchers. It will also help develop a mentoring scheme to foster closer relationships between students and the exceptional researchers at Queen's, and further integrate teaching about research into the University’s medical and dental curriculum.

The Queen's INSPIRE team is led by medical students David Carroll from Newry, Nathan Cantley from Portadown and John Thompson from Londonderry, alongside staff at Queen's Centre for Medical Education, which oversees the delivery of a world-class training system for future doctors.

Professor Pascal McKeown, Director of the Centre for Medical Education, said: “Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences is home to some of the world's leading experts in conditions which affect thousands of people in Northern Ireland, including cancer, diabetes, sight loss and infectious diseases. The INSPIRE grant will foster stronger relationships between these experts and Queen's medical and dental students to help them become the leading-edge researchers of tomorrow.

"With the help of the INSPIRE grant, we hope that many of our current students will be encouraged to return to Queen's in the future to pursue and help transform healthcare in Northern Ireland and beyond.”

Third year Medical student David Carroll said, “This grant is a great opportunity to develop the students of today into the healthcare leaders and researchers of tomorrow. Ultimately, encouraging the best research will lead to the best healthcare for patients, and I look forward to being a part of that at Queen's.”

David, alongside fellow students Nathan and John, is working with the University to implement the INSPIRE grant through the newly formed Queen's University Academic Medicine Society (QUAMS).


Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke, Queen’s University Communications Office, +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email 

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New Queen’s studies show Shared Education promotes better community relations

Joanne Hughes

New research from Queen's University Belfast has found that cross-sectoral shared education promotes better community cohesion and reduces the likelihood of developing prejudiced attitudes towards other communities.

The research, which was conducted across two separate studies by Queen's University and the University of Oxford, found that school children who shared classes with children from schools from different sectors were more likely to have positive attitudes towards the 'other' community. It also found that children had increased numbers of friends from different backgrounds and lower levels of anxiety and prejudice attitudes towards those from other communities.

The first study compared 577 secondary level pupils who participated in Queen's Sharing Education Programme with a matched group of non-participating pupils. Currently in Northern Ireland, more than 10,000 school pupils from 150 schools across Northern Ireland are benefitting from Queen’s successful Sharing Education Programme which aims to find new ways of sharing education in order to create new curriculum-based educational opportunities and in doing so sustain contact among pupils from different communities to help promote understanding and reconciliation.

The second study analysed cross-community contact experienced by 3,565 pupils in a mix of 51 Catholic, Protestant and Integrated secondary level schools across Northern Ireland. The study tracked pupils’ experience of contact and their responses to the ‘other’ community as they moved through second level education.

Both studies were consistent in finding that:

• Increased opportunity for contact leads to increased reporting of friends from the other community.

• As the proportion of other group friendships increases, so too do the levels of positive attitudes towards the other group.

• Cross-community friendships are associated with lower levels of anxiety felt towards the other group and reduces the likelihood of developing prejudice attitudes.

Lead researcher, Joanne Hughes, from the School of Education at Queen's, said: "This research aimed to test one of the most enduring theories in the social sciences - that positive contact with a member of another group, often a group that we negatively stereotype, can improve prejudiced attitudes, not just towards the specific member, but also towards the group as a whole.

"Our studies found that attitudes towards the 'other' communities were greatly improved as a result of participation in Shared Education and that levels of inter-community anxiety and prejudice were reduced. Many people in Northern Ireland value their own schools as they are important symbols of community identity, but this research shows the value of the Sharing Education Programme in recognising this concern for identity while also maximising contact and therefore improving community relations.

"The signs are all favourable in respect of the possibilities for shared education. However, current policy, whilst advocating sharing, offers no imperative for schools to work together on an inter-sectoral basis. We believe that our evidence provides a rationale for incentivising inter-sectoral sharing. Not only do the findings resonate with the Northern Ireland Executive’s commitment to a more harmonious society and the Programme for Government commitments to shared education, but the relationship-building effects of the Sharing Education Programme can help make the commitment a reality."

For more information on the Centre for Shared Education visit

For media inquiries please contact Queen’s Communications Office on 02890973087 or

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Queen’s and Belfast combine to boost city’s cultural engagement

A major new initiative to boost Belfast’s cultural engagement with the public has been launched through the combining of two existing programmes at Queen’s University and Belfast City Council.

The very popular Literary Belfast project and Belfast Soundwalks will combine to enhance cultural engagement with citizens and tourists alike. In a unique twist this new initiative will engage the public through novel ways of disseminating creative writing and sonic arts associated with the city.

The Literary Belfast project ( already showcases the city’s exciting literary scene through an interactive website and locative media app developed in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s. While Belfast Soundwalks, led by Professor Pedro Rebelo from the Queen’s Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC), provides an open platform for communities and visitors to explore the city through sound. (

Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson said: "Belfast City Council is delighted to partner Queen's University in this important Creative Arts initiative. This is an exciting opportunity that will undoubtedly lead to a better visitor experience, not only for tourists to the city but also those who live in the city. This initiative builds upon past collaborations between the city council and Queen's and emphasises the importance of ‘town and gown’ working together for the common good of Belfast."

Commenting on the new collaboration Professor Rebelo said: “This is a major cultural boost for the city at a time when it needs it most and as we approach the beginning of the main tourist season. Through the appointment of Dr Sarah Bass, a recent SARC graduate, we will develop an effective strategy for delivering new content in association with the Belfast City Council’s Cultural Strategy and tourism priorities of building cultural tourism, developing tourism products, supporting the evening economy and delivering an authentic European city experience.”

This exciting new project has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the newly created Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, at Queen’s, directed by Professor John Thompson alongside consortium partners for BGP2, Newcastle University (through Cultural and Heritage Studies) and Durham University (through Durham Book Festival).

Media inquiries to the Communications Office, or telephone 028 9097 3087

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Queen’s astronomer offers insight into Russian meteor strike in BBC Horizon special

A leading Queen's astronomer is appearing on the BBC’s Horizon programme this weekend to explain what we know about the asteroid that hit Russia two weeks ago injuring more than 1000 people.

In The Truth About Meteors: A Horizon Special to be shown at 9pm on Sunday evening on BBC2, Professor Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre gives an insight into what happened in Russia and what we can do about such events in the future.

Professor Fitzsimmons is part of the European NEOShield team, who are currently studying the best way to deflect larger asteroids that may be on a collision course with earth. Speaking about the events in Russia, he said: "It was the largest asteroid strike on our planet for more than 100 years. When the asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, it took just 16 seconds to descend from 90km down to 15km above the ground.

“Most of the asteroid broke apart and vapourised in a catastrophic explosion at an altitude of 30km, releasing many times more energy than the nuclear bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War II. The resulting shockwave hit the ground a minute later, causing the 1400 reported injuries.

"Perhaps the shocking thing is how small this asteroid was to cause such an effect, only about 15 meters in diameter."

Coincidentally, Professor Fitzsimmons has just returned from working with the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii, a Queen's University supported project that discovers previously unknown asteroids that could hit our planet in the future.

He explained:  "Pan-STARRS 1 is designed to detect the larger asteroids that would cause significant damage should they enter our atmosphere. Although it sometimes spots smaller asteroids, no-one could have seen the Chelyabinsk impactor coming as it approached us from the direction of the Sun."

Professor Fitzsimmons is also one of the organisers of a Planetary Defense Conference to be held in the United States later this year.

The Truth About Meteors: A Horizon Special will be broadcast at 9pm on Sunday evening on BBC 2.

Further information about the work of Professor Fitzsimmons and his colleagues is available online at be

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email

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400 construction jobs supported as Queen’s announces new Centre build
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson; Gary Jebb; Norma Sinte & Prof Patrick Johnston, pictured before work begins on the new CEM site
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson; Gary Jebb; Norma Sinte & Prof Patrick Johnston, pictured before work begins on the new CEM site

Queen’s University today announced that it has appointed O’Hare & McGovern as the main contractor for its £32M Centre for Experimental Medicine (CEM).

At the peak of construction the building of the Centre will support 400 jobs in the sector, including O’Hare & McGovern staff and other construction-related jobs. Work begins on site this week and is due for completion in spring 2015.

More than 110 new jobs will also be created for scientists and allied professions when the Centre opens.

The new CEM is being built on Queen’s Institute of Health Sciences campus on Jubilee Road, Belfast, where a number of dedicated, high quality research centres focused on cancer, infectious disease, public health and population genetics are already based.

The facility, which will have an internal area of 9,000m², will provide accommodation for some 330 members of staff specialising in research into finding cures for eye disease and diabetes, and the development of a global programme to aid understanding of the genetics of complex chronic diseases. The work of the Centre is a focus of Queen’s ambitious £140M Beyond fundraising campaign which will provide philanthropic funding to support research of global significance and importance.
The four storey building will be co-located with the existing Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology to encourage joint working and discovery between researchers.

Speaking at the announcement, Gary Jebb, Queen’s Director of Estates, said: “O’Hare & McGovern is one of Northern Ireland’s leading construction firms, and as such, Queen’s is delighted to appoint it as lead contractor for our new Centre for Experimental Medicine. In the last year, the University has invested over £35M in building projects, creating over 700 construction-related jobs in the local economy, and we are proud that today’s announcement reinforces Queen’s continuing commitment to supporting the Northern Ireland economy and especially the local construction sector.”

Eamon O’Hare, Managing Director of O’Hare & McGovern, said: “The construction industry is currently a very difficult sector to be operating in. We are delighted to have been awarded this contract to continue our longstanding relationship with Queen’s. The new centre will offer world class facilities for the University with exceptional design, construction and engineering. This announcement will help to secure jobs and offers an impetus to the local construction industry.”

Professor Patrick Johnston, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences added: “This new Centre will be a key driver for change in a range of health and biotechnology activities in Northern Ireland and further afield. Today’s announcement that construction is due to begin is good news for everyone in Northern Ireland as we can all look forward to benefitting from improved diagnosis and treatments of debilitating diseases."

Other companies who will be working on the CEM build as part of the design team include: Ostick and Williams, Belfast, and Ashen and Allen, London (Architect and Lead Consultant); WYG, Belfast (Mechanical and Electrical Engineer); Albert Fry Associates, Belfast (Civil and Structural Engineer); Turner and Townsend, Belfast (Quantity Surveyor); Faithful and Gould, Belfast (CDMC Co-ordinator); and Delap and Waller, Antrim (BREEAM Assessor).

The CEM is being funded through a series of grants and philanthropic donations from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), The Atlantic Philanthropies, The Wellcome Trust, The Wolfson Foundation, The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, Insight Trust for the Visually Impaired and The Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation.

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke, Communications Officer. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 or email

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Queen’s alumni give £80K boost to students

An engineering project on the DeLorean electric car and a range of cultural events promoting Malaysian identity are just two of 19 student projects to have been awarded almost £40,000 from Queen’s University’s Annual Fund.

Queen’s Annual Fund raised over £84,000 last year from graduates, staff and friends of the University. Of this amount, £21,000 has been allocated to the University’s Scholarship Fund and £21,000 to Green Chemistry, a priority project in the Beyond fundraising campaign,  while the largest element, £42,000, is being used to enhance the student experience.

Speaking at the special dispersal ceremony, Natasha Sharma, Queen’s Annual Fund Manager, explained: “Through the Annual Fund our donors are making a tangible difference to the lives of current students. Awards ranging from £200 to £7,000 will greatly enrich the student experience of University and help develop the leaders of tomorrow.”

The colourful occasion was also used to launch the University’s next telephone campaign which is currently underway and which includes, for the first time, a dedicated campaign to raise funds for a new Queen’s Medical Fund to support Medical Education.

The Chair of Queen’s Annual Fund Committee, Professor Sean Gorman, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, presented representatives of this year’s successful projects with certificates and commented on the latest medical initiative: “Thanks to our graduates and donors, the Annual Fund gives a major financial boost to a wide variety of projects and makes an immediate impact on the quality of the Queen’s experience for our students.

 “Support for the new Medical Fund will enable students to undertake summer studentships in our leading research centres and to consider taking an intercalated degree, focused largely on research,” added Professor Gorman.

Over 1,000 graduates made a gift to Queen’s last year, 400 of whom were new donors. Regular telephone campaigns ensure that Queen’s alumni are offered the opportunity to support innovative projects which are part of the recently launched £140 million Beyond campaign which is aiming to increase and enhance the impact the University makes on society and the economy, locally and internationally.”

Media inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321;

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