September 2013 press releases

Queen’s University takes top honours at 25k Awards 2013

A Queen’s University Belfast team which is developing a range of novel medical diagnostic tests has been named the overall winner of the 25k Awards 2013.

In addition to being named overall winner Queen’s also won three out of the four individual categories on the night.

The prestigious annual 25k awards, which are sponsored by Bank of Ireland, are made under the NISP CONNECT entrepreneurship programme, which is based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

The Queen’s University team, ProAx-SiS, won the overall 25k award for the development of their test which will enable routine monitoring of patients with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, either within the clinic or at home.

ProAx-SiS has developed small molecule, peptide-based inhibitors (Protease-Tags), which serve both as a means to trap active proteases and to provide a visual readout of their presence in biological samples, with applications to protease biomarker identification.

Category winners in the Bank of Ireland UK sponsored 25k Awards, were:

  • Bio Tech: ProAx-SiS, Queen’s University, sponsored by Warner Chilcott.
  • Clean Tech: ADFerTech, Queen’s University, sponsored by Dow.
  • Software & Digital Media: Liopa, Queen’s University, sponsored by Intel.
  • Hi-Tech: Eye-C-3D, University of Ulster, sponsored by IBM.

The awards, were presented last night at a packed VIP gala ceremony in the iconic Titanic Belfast building, next to Northern Ireland Science Park in the city’s Titanic Quarter.

Scott Rutherford, Director of Research and Enterprise at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “We work closely with our partners in the region, including the NISP Connect team, to support the commercialisation of our world-leading research and to deliver impact within Northern Ireland and beyond.  Once again, I am delighted with the number of teams from Queen’s who secured places in the 2013 finals and to have secured our third winner in a row at these prestigious awards. It illustrates clearly that Queen’s has huge breadth and depth in its research base and I offer my warm congratulations to the ProAx-SiS team in securing the top honours”.

Steve Orr, Director of NISP CONNECT, said: “Congratulations to ProAx-SiS for an innovation which shows great commercial potential - this is an exciting time for the team, and for all the category winners and finalists.

“The £25k Awards offer a showcase for regional research talent to display world-class innovations, as well as providing a valuable training and development process as they move beyond the initial stages of business development.

“NISP CONNECT programmes are designed to inspire, encourage and nurture local technology entrepreneurs during conception, growth and improvement stages, and to continue that process to help them reach their goals.”

Ciaran McGivern, Head of Business Banking Northern Ireland, Bank of Ireland UK, added: “Developing innovative ideas that have market potential is at the core of Northern Ireland’s mission to create a more vibrant private sector.

“If we are to make this mission a reality we not only need academia and industry to collaborate but we need commerciality to be part of the equation - to ensure that ideas with real potential can be developed into success stories.

“Bank of Ireland UK is proud and delighted to support the NISP Connect 25k Awards again this year. We wish this year’s winner, ProAx-sis and all the finalists every success in the future and look forward to working with them all closely.”

Other finalists in the 25k Award included: Jenarron Therapeutics (University of Ulster); Digitease (University of Ulster), Inkintelligent (Queen’s University), Columbus (Queen’s University), Xpress LF (Queen’s University), Nite Rider (University of Ulster).

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

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Queen’s students win international Undergraduate Awards

Two Queen’s University Belfast students have been named category winners in the 2013 Undergraduate Awards, the only international, pan-discipline academic awards programme in the world.

The awards celebrate and support the world’s brightest and most innovative undergraduate students, by recognising their best coursework and projects.

Simon Gallaher from Helen’s Bay won in the Historical Studies category with an essay entitled, “Why was Klan violence effective as a means of conservative opposition to Reconstruction?” Amy Burnside from East Belfast won the Literature category with her essay, “An Examination of Gender Relations in James Joyce’s Ulysses”.

The essays were selected from almost 4000 submissions in more than 180 colleges and universities across the world. The winners in each category were selected by an international judging panel, made up of academics and industry experts. Winners will attend The UA Global Summit, taking place in Dublin in November . Professor Shane O’Neill, Dean of Faculty Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen’s said: “To be recognised as winners in the 2013 Undergraduate Awards is an outstanding achievement for both Simon and Amy. This is a highly prestigious international competition, and their selection as winners in the Historical Studies and Literature categories is testament to their outstanding scholarly talents. Their teachers at Queen’s are very proud of their achievements and we know that they will be excellent ambassadors for the University at the Summit for all the winners, to be held in Dublin in November.

The awards programme has been operating in Ireland since 2009 and globally since 2011 and encourages inter-disciplinary and international co-operation between students.

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Queen’s University acting Vice-Chancellor joins Senator George Mitchell to welcome the Class of 2014
Pictured are Acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Professor James McElnay, Class of 2014 student Marion Royston, Senator George Mitchell, and Class of 2014 student Sarah Johnson.
Pictured are Acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Professor James McElnay, Class of 2014 student Marion Royston, Senator George Mitchell, and Class of 2014 student Sarah Johnson.

Acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Professor James McElnay, joined Senator George Mitchell to welcome the 2014 Class of Scholars to the Mitchell Scholarship Program at Google headquarters in Dublin.

The Mitchell Scholarship Programme offers a national competitive scholarship sponsored by the US-Ireland Alliance.  It aims to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognising and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership, and a commitment to community and public service.

The acting Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s joined guests such as the Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn, film director Jim Sheridan, as well as politicians, US-Alliance Board members and several young technology entrepreneurs to welcome the class of 2014.

Welcoming the new class, Senator Mitchell spoke of the success and prominence of the relatively young programme as well as its important to the future of the relationship, to the US and especially to the island of Ireland.

Speaking about the event, acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: “We at Queen’s are delighted to welcome to the class of 2014 to the prestigious Mitchell Scholarship Programme.  A particularly warm welcome to Marion Royston and Sarah Johnson who join us at Queen’s University Belfast.  We, at Queen’s, are devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, research and facilities.  We are committed to shaping our future generation who are learning today and will be leading tomorrow.  The Mitchell Scholarship programme shares in our vision of creating and shaping the leaders of tomorrow and I wish each member of the class of 2014 the best.”

For further information on the Mitchell Scholarship Programme visit:

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

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Queen’s to host £7 million energy research centre

A new £7 million research centre to pioneer advances in sustainable energy technologies will be hosted by Queen’s University Belfast.

The Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE) is creating 15 new research posts and will focus on the development of highly innovative technologies for the sustainable energy sector. The Centre will be industry-led and draw upon the research capabilities of Queen’s, the University of Ulster and the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

CASE has been offered £5million of support from Invest NI, supporting industry led research in a key strategic sector for the Northern Ireland economy.

Sam McCloskey from Queen’s University Environmental Science and Technology Research Centre and CASE Centre Manager said: “Today’s turn out by industry at the CASE launch is testament to the fact that interest in research, development and innovation in energy is a key business focus. Our rationale is to support these companies to compete in the global sustainable energy market by funding industry led research and innovation in strategic renewable energy fields such as turbines, demand side management and energy from biomass.

“CASE will be the conduit that drives industry research, providing access to world class researchers and facilities thereby maximising the opportunities for proactive businesses taking first mover advantage.”

Speaking at the launch of the Centre, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “Invest Northern Ireland’s support for this new, industry led centre will fund advanced research into one of our most dynamic and global industry sectors.

“CASE will position Northern Ireland at the forefront of the global sustainable energy market, delivering benefits to the business community and the wider economy.

“Invest Northern Ireland’s wider support for Competence Centres aims to help turn great ideas into commercial realities. They bridge the gap between universities, research institutes and innovative businesses, representing a long-term strategic investment in Northern Ireland’s innovation capability.”

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091 or email:

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Queen’s student named UK Intern of the Year

A Queen’s University student has fought off competition from across the country to be named UK Intern of the Year by leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP.

Samantha Rogers, from Limavady, and a final year accounting student at Queen’s, fought off competition from 72 other penultimate year university students from across the UK to win the award.

Samantha, who completed a six week internship in the Belfast branch, was shortlisted as a regional finalist and was named the winner after delivering a stand out final presentation.

Speaking about her win Samantha said: "I am delighted to have won the intern of the year award - it is such an honour and I am very grateful to Grant Thornton. As President of the Accountancy Society at Queen’s and final year student I appreciate the importance of internships such as these and I am thankful to Queen’s for the opportunities afforded to me so far."

Mrs Danielle McConville, Lecturer in Accounting at Queen’s University Management School said: “Queen’s is committed to providing our students with much more than a degree. We encourage our students to take placements and summer internships so that they are workplace-ready when they graduate and liaise closely with employers to ensure such opportunities are available. Samantha is a shining example of the benefits of such internships and reflects Queen’s commitment to employability.”

Samantha’s internship manager at Grant Thornton, Padraic Little, said: "We have undoubtedly secured a really enthusiastic and driven trainee for the future here in Belfast. Samantha had a model internship with us, and we're extremely proud that she takes such a positive view of our firm back to her Queen’s University peers."

Partner and National Leadership Board member at Grant Thornton, Sacha Romanovitch, who judged the presentations, said: "The Summer Intern programme plays an important role in taking early opportunities to engage with and attract future employees. Interns get the chance to see what it’s like working with us, and we in turn get to find out if they are a good fit for our organisation. Last year, more than 80 per cent of our interns went on to become trainees with the firm – probably one of the reasons we were recently voted 'top placement and internship employer' by Grant Thornton is rated no.1 company on the site for under-graduate placements.”

Samantha will continue her final year of study at Queen’s University before joining the Belfast office within the audit department.

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email:

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Queen’s lecturers recognised at social work awards

Joe Duffy and David Hayes, lecturers in the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, have received a Northern Ireland Social Work Award.

Both received the Learning and Development Team award for an innovative teaching project which engages service users and carers in a meaningful way to assist first year social work students with their understanding of the complex and contested topic of social work values. The project involves small groups of students visiting service user and carer groups in their own community settings with a set of pre-agreed questions designed to prompt discussion of how values are translated into practice.

The awards were hosted by the Western Health and Social Care Trust, and organised in partnership with the Health and Social Care Board, the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and the local Health and Social Care Trusts. They promote and celebrate excellence in social work with awards being made in seven categories (four team awards and three individual awards) and an overall winner being selected from the seven award winners.

Results from an evaluation of the winning project were published in the international journal 'Ethics and Social Welfare' in 2012. As the following quotes evidence, the project had a positive impact on both students, in terms of their understanding of social work values, and the participating service user and carer groups in terms of enabling them to make a meaningful contribution to the education and practice of future social workers.

The project has been running since 2006 and has benefitted some 550 students and involved 14 different service user and carer groups. It is supported by annual funding from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council to facilitate service user and carer involvement in the social work curriculum.

Joe Duffy has developed this project internationally and has completed a DVD production in which service users and carers from Spain, Slovenia and Northern Ireland, in discussion with students, share their thoughts about social work values and how these are demonstrated in practice. Both lecturers have also transferred this model of learning into the next stage of the social work programme in order to help students with their understanding of empathy as a core social work skill. They are also involved in a longer term project evaluating the impact of service user and carer involvement in social work education on subsequent professional practice.

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091

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Hat trick as three Festivals collaborate
Tina and Ken from Tumble Circus, Kevin Gamble Director Féile an Phobail, Susan McCleary, Marketing Manager Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's and Mimi Turtle, Chair East Belfast Arts Festival
Tina and Ken from Tumble Circus, Kevin Gamble Director Féile an Phobail, Susan McCleary, Marketing Manager Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's and Mimi Turtle, Chair East Belfast Arts Festival

This year the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s will work alongside East Belfast Arts Festival and Féile an Phobail to co-present one of Festival’s key outdoor events representing the first time the three festivals have worked together. International, award winning Tumble Circuswill challenge our perceptions of what a circus is all about in their new performance Damn the Circus which runs on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October in Belmont Park in the East of the city and on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October in the Falls Park in West Belfast.

Tumble Circus reinvents the circus art form as a theatrically stylized and lively entertaining platform of storytelling. Described by the Irish Times as “turning the circus tradition upside down” this new show Damn the Circus is their story about how hard it is to make the dream of circus a reality. It is a show about circus poetry and annoying reality with all the usual circus delights such as trapeze, juggling and clowns - just not as you might expect and definitely targeting an older family market.

Representing the first time three Festivals have come together Richard Wakely, Director for Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, is excited about the collaboration. ”We are extremely lucky in Belfast to have a number of fantastic festivals all offering unique experiences for audiences throughout the city. This collaboration is recognition that as an arts community we all share the city and captures the opportunity to jointly provide arts for everyone.”

Kevin Gamble, Director of Féile an Phobail is looking forward to working alongside both Festivals: "Audiences in West Belfast have enjoyed the expanding programme that we have been delivering year on year and this partnership is another chance to provide something exciting for West Belfast audiences. To work alongside both these Festivals shows the unity that exists within the arts community and demonstrates how the city can work together to provide new and exciting experiences.”

Mimi Turtle, Chair of the East Belfast Arts Festival also recognises the importance of partnership within the arts: “As an arts festival we are at the early stages of development having just completed our second year. The artistic passion and appetite in the East of the city is growing rapidly and we relish the opportunity to work with these two festivals to bring another new experience to the East for our local audiences.“

The scale and diversity of this annual Festival programme would not be possible without the continuing and generous support of various public and private sponsors, including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the EU and the British Council. Plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 17 - 27 October at venues all over the city. To find out more and book tickets visit or call box office on 028 9097 1197.

Further information from: Cathy Law +44 (0)7876 358 842

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Queen’s expert calls for better treatment provision for children with autism

A Queen’s University autism expert is calling for more public spending on treatment for the 1 in 50 children in Northern Ireland who live with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Professor Karola Dillenburger from the Centre for Behavioural Analysis in Queen’s School of Education made the call as 200 experts from around the world arrive at the University to discuss the latest international developments in evidence based treatments for children with autism.

The third annual QUART conference (Queen’s University Autism Research and Treatment Forum) takes place at Queen’s today (Friday 20 September) and brings together researchers and practitioners, along with parents, carers and individuals with autism, to explore how behaviour analytic interventions can improve the everyday lives of children with autism. The event is open to the public.

Key speakers include Dr Lorri Unumb from US-based Autism Speaks – the world’s leading autism advocacy organisation. A lawyer and mother of three children, Dr Unumb was the chief architect of Ryan’s Law – named in honour of her autistic son - which reformed autism insurance law in South Carolina and served as a catalyst for similar reforms in over thirty other states. 34 US states now mandate by law that autism treatments must be covered by health insurance.

Professor Dillenburger feels Northern Ireland can learn from this approach, which has benefitted thousands of children across the USA by giving them access to the best possible treatment.

Professor Dillenburger said: “More than 16,000 families in Northern Ireland are directly affected by autism. The provision of evidence-based behaviour analysis-based intervention is vital in enabling these children to live fulfilled lives, and participate in the types of interactions that other families take for granted – such as going to school, forming friendships and playing with other children.

“While research from Queen’s and other leading research centres around the world has proven the benefits of behavioural interventions for these children, these interventions are not routinely and freely available to families in Northern Ireland

“Families living with autism face many challenges, not least of which is financial hardship due to the failure of public funding to provide ABA based interventions for autism. Parents who wish to access these kinds of individually tailored child centred, scientifically evaluated interventions for their children do so privately or through the support of local charities.

“Many countries, not least the USA, have legislated for the provision of scientific-based behaviour analytic treatments. In Northern Ireland, however, this level of support is not available. We have therefore developed the Simple Steps programme – a training resource that empowers parents and educates professionals in meeting the needs of children with autism. In the absence of widespread provision of scientifically validated treatments for our children, this resource will be invaluable in enabling children to overcome the challenges they face on a daily basis.”

The Simple Steps programme has now been adapted for use across Europe by the STAMPPP Project (Science and the Treatment of Autism: Multimedia Package for Parents and Professionals), with partners in Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, Spain, Germany and Norway.

The QUART Conference will explore the latest research supporting Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) as the most effective framework for treatment for autism. Outlining the case for ABA, Professor Dillenburger continued: “ABA is the application of the science of behaviour analysis to socially relevant behaviour. ABA treatments for autism are individually tailored, child-centred, and can produce remarkable results. The key to effective treatment for autism is to diagnose it as early as possible and provide early intensive behavioural intervention based on ABA. For the past four decades, ABA has provided effective treatment across the world. Aimed at enhancing people's lives in ways that they or their carers feel are important, ABA forms the scientific basis for a wide range of techniques to promote a full range of skills among people with autism. It can help break down barriers to learning that otherwise can isolate individuals diagnosed with autism, thus allowing them to reach their full potential and enhancing inclusion.”

The QUART Conference takes place at the Whitla Hall at Queen’s University from 9am-4pm. Admission is £20 for professionals and £10 for all others. For more information visit the Queen’s Centre for Behavioural Analysis website at

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 3091 or email

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Report highlights need for increased transition support for learning disabled young people

Learning disabled young people in Northern Ireland are not being supported adequately enough in their transition to adult life, according to a new research report being launched at Queen’s University tomorrow (Friday, 20 September).

Entitled Don’t Box Me In: Disability and Transitions to Young Adult Life, the report presents key findings about the transitional experiences of learning disabled young people moving into young adult life in Northern Ireland, and the delivery of support services aimed at meeting their needs.

It has been produced by Dr Berni Kelly from Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and the Barnardo’s Disabled Children and Young People’s Participation Project.     
Key recommendations from the report for policy and practice include the need for: 

  • co-ordinated prompt access to a keyworker in adult services;
  • more person-centred approaches to transition planning that promote the participation of disabled young people;
  • targeted support to address the emotional wellbeing of disabled young people in transition
  • increased opportunities for social inclusion and community participation for disabled young people.

The report forms part of the launch of The Disability Research Network. Hosted by Queen’s, the new Network will stimulate debate about disability issues and develop collaborative partnerships for future research, policy and practice initiatives between academics, policymakers, practitioners, community and voluntary sector organisations.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Dr Kelly said: “Transitions to young adult life can be a time of challenge and uncertainty for learning disabled young people and their families in Northern Ireland and this report highlights several areas in which their needs are not being fully met. The report contains valuable pointers to the types of increased support that will help them make the transition to adult life.

“It has direct relevance to the priorities of the DHSSPSNI, Health and Social Care Board and Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership given their current focus on disabled young people’s transitions, and plans to introduce new planning and information systems to improve transition support.

“The launch of The Disability Research Network heralds a unique opportunity for collaboration between disabled people, academics, policymakers, practitioners and community and voluntary sector organisations with an interest in disability issues. It will be of immense benefit to those who plan and develop services. To mark the launch of the Network, a seminar on disabled youth transitions will be held at Queen’s University Belfast . The fact that the event is fully booked, with a lengthy waiting list, signals the need for such a Network.”

Further information on the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work is available online at

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New £4M centre enables more patients to take part in clinical trials in Northern Ireland
Danny McAuley
Danny McAuley

A new £4M clinical research hub opening in Belfast today will enable more patients than ever before to take part in clinical trials in Northern Ireland.

Known as The Wellcome Trust-Wolfson Foundation Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility (NICRF), it will concentrate on four main research themes; cancer, nutrition and metabolism, vision science and respiratory research.

The facility will also benefit those with rare conditions, who, until now, have had to travel to England to participate in trials.

It is a joint venture between Queen’s University Belfast, The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, The University of Ulster and Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D), a division of the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Based in Belfast City Hospital, the NICRF has the infrastructure to support clinical trials from conception to completion. With dedicated staff, the NICRF now allows researchers to access a specialised area for clinical research, including equipment not available in the NHS. It contains ten clinical rooms, a blood processing facility and a diet kitchen for nutrition studies.

Researchers hope that hundreds of patients will be offered the chance to take part in clinical trials each year, leading to a major increase in numbers previously enrolled in research studies in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the launch today, Health Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, said: “This new state-of-the-art facility is an important element of Northern Ireland’s health research infrastructure and will enhance our ability to produce valuable, useable results.

“Across the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts, we have invested significantly, especially in the past five years, so that our professional staff can undertake research directly relevant to their patients and practice and can use the knowledge gained from that research.

“Research, development and innovation are essential for modern healthcare systems so we can advance the quality of our services, whether in disease prevention, diagnosis or treatment.  Research also provides vital knowledge that can improve the cost –effectiveness and value for money of our health services.”

A number of programmes are already underway. These include studies on asthma, cystic fibrosis and bronchietasis. Others are focusing on cardiovascular conditions including stroke and rare genetic conditions including Morquio syndrome.

Professor Danny McAuley from Queen’s Centre for Infection and Immunity, and acting director of NICRF, said: “Researchers throughout Northern Ireland are making some of the most important scientific discoveries in the world today. Until the NICRF there was no dedicated area with such an array of specialist equipment to support clinical research in Northern Ireland. Now, we will be able to translate laboratory discoveries into advances in patient care. We are tremendously grateful to the Wellcome Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and Health and Social Care Research and Development within the PHA for their vision and support in funding the facility which is already bringing real benefit to patients here.”

Aidan Kearney, a patient with Morquio syndrome, who has been one of the first to be treated in the new facility, said: “Already the NICRF is having a positive impact to my life. I now don’t have to go outside of Northern Ireland for my treatment and that means it takes much less time. I’m not tired from the travelling and I also now have the reassurance that the location and staff treating me will be the same every time. It has made a real difference to me.”

Welcoming the opening of the new facility, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, said: “This new state of the art facility represents a fantastic step forward in clinical research trials. It provides a base for our medical researchers to carry out their important and ground breaking work.”

Dr John Williams, Head of Clinical Activities at the Wellcome Trust, said: "Working with patients is a crucial part of the Wellcome Trust's mission to turn laboratory discoveries into improvements in human health. This new facility will act as a focus for clinical studies in Northern Ireland, providing core resources for internationally recognised research.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of The Wolfson Foundation, said: “The Wolfson Foundation's funding is focussed on excellence, and so we are delighted to be involved in this outstanding new facility. We hope that the research undertaken will be of significant benefit to patients in Northern Ireland - and beyond."

Colm Donaghy, Chief Executive, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, added: “Having this facility in Belfast City Hospital means we will see more patients enrolling in clinical trials. They will learn more about their diseases and as a result help to define how we go about treating them. The NICRF also provides new opportunities for the doctors, nurses and other health professionals, including physiotherapists and nutritionists, within Belfast Trust, to take part in training programmes, all of which will enhance their skills and further enhance our patients’ treatments and outcomes.”

Professor Hugh McKenna, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Ulster, said: “This facility is very much a collaborative venture and we look forward to working with our partners to produce research findings that have global impact.”

The facility will have four core staff as well as a Director and Deputy Director but more staff can be accommodated depending on the needs of the trial.

Professor Bernadette Hannigan, Director of HSC Research and Development, said: “People throughout Northern Ireland, including patients of our Health and Social Care Trusts, will benefit from the opportunity to take part in clinical research in the high quality, safe environment of this new Clinical Research Facility.”

Researchers who would like to use the NICRF or members of the public who would like to participate in research can contact 028 9504 0342. Further information is also available online at

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: 028 9097 5384 or email

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Northern Ireland’s brightest students win free education at Queen’s

Ten of Northern Ireland’s brightest and best young people have each won a free education at Queen’s, worth a total of almost £150,000, after being named the inaugural Queen’s Scholars.

As a Queen’s Scholar, the students, who are beginning their studies at the University later this month, will each have their annual tuition fees paid by the University for the duration of their undergraduate degree.

The awards are worth a total of almost £150K to the ten winning students, who were selected from 138 students nominated by 74 schools and colleges across Northern Ireland.
Each school or college was asked to nominate those pupils who could demonstrate exceptional achievements outside academic life, whether in sport, music and the arts, business and enterprise or through community work, with a particular focus on leadership, enterprise and social responsibility.

Prior to the winners being announced, a shortlist of 51 pupils attended a selection day at Queen’s where they were assessed on a range of competencies by a number of business leaders, including Queen’s Graduate of the Year and RTE Dragon’s Den star Ramona Nicholas.

The ten Queen’s Scholars are:

  • Connor Carville (Maghera), St Patrick’s College, Maghera, who will study Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
  • Mark Curran (Castlewellan), St Colman’s College, Newry, will study International Business with Spanish.
  • Aimee Donaldson (Lisburn), The Wallace High School, Lisburn, will study Common and Civil Law with French.
  • Bryony Gault (Limavady), Limavady Grammar School, will study English.
  • Katie Grant (Warrenpoint), St Louis Grammar School, Kilkeel, will study Law.
  • Aaron Hutton, (Carrickfergus) Carrickfergus Grammar School, will study Pharmacy.
  • Thomas Lee (Mullaghbrack), past-pupil of St Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh, will study Medicine.
  • Beth Malcomson (Newtownards), Bloomfield Collegiate School, will study Medicine.
  • Sam Mathers (Straid), Ballyclare High School, will study Architecture.
  • Sophia Turner (Glengormley), Dominican College, Belfast, will study Medicine.

Announcing the winners, Isabel Jennings, Director of Student Plus at Queen’s, said: “Each of the Queen’s Scholars has demonstrated exceptional leadership and enterprise skills and an outstanding commitment to social responsibility which, alongside their academic strengths, mark them out as the best and brightest young people Northern Ireland has to offer.

“I am delighted to welcome them to Queen’s. I am sure they will each make a valuable contribution to university life and embrace the many opportunities on offer here. A Queen’s degree is about much more than an education. We offer a complete student experience, and are among the top 15 universities in the UK for student satisfaction according to the National Student Survey.

“We are committed to supporting the ambitions of all our students and nurturing their talents, inside and outside the lecture hall, to ensure they realise their full potential. We look forward to supporting the Queen’s Scholars and all their fellow students, and inspiring them to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

The Queen’s Scholars will be at Queen’s today (Thursday 12 September) to meet University staff during the first of two Open Days, which will see 13,000 students from schools and colleges around Northern Ireland visit the campus to find out what’s on offer at Queen’s.

Anthony McGrath, Student Recruitment Officer at Queen’s, said: “The Queen’s Scholars awards are among the most prestigious available from any UK university. They are the latest addition to Queen’s annual undergraduate scholarship package, which is worth £300,000 per year, benefits approximately 200 students, and represents a crucial investment in Northern Ireland’s future prosperity.

“Queen’s is committed to investing in the delivery of an exceptional academic and non-academic student experience, leading to excellent career opportunities for our graduates. Our aim is to provide students with the life skills that will allow them to contribute to the Northern Ireland community, both professionally and culturally.  That is why our scholarships include awards for students across all disciplines.”

For more information on the Queen’s undergraduate scholarships visit

Media inquiries to the Communications Office at Queen’s University Belfast - Tel: Anne-Marie Clarke (Wednesday) 028 9097 5320; Jane Veitch (Thursday) 028 9097 5320; or email

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New research provides crucial insight into lives of children in care

The findings from one of the most comprehensive long-term studies ever undertaken into children in care will be revealed at Queen’s University Belfast today (Wednesday 11 September).

The Care Pathways and Outcomes Study is one of only a small number of studies worldwide that has taken a long-term comparative approach, providing vital information for practitioners. It followed a group of 374 children in care in Northern Ireland, over a 10 year period from 2000 to 2010.

The study’s findings have been published in a book entitled Comparing long-term placements for young children in care. The book reports on the most recent phase of the study, which involved interviews with 77 children aged 9-14 and their parents or carers in adoption, foster care, on residence order or living with their birth parents.

Commending the research team, Health and Social Services Minister Edwin Poots, said: “As Minister with responsibility for children and young people who are in the care system, I want to be assured that the quality of care provided for them is of the highest standard; that we are offering them the best chance of permanence and stability; that they are being enabled and facilitated to take part in decisions about their care and that they are being afforded the same opportunities as children and young people outside the care system.

“I want to congratulate the research team at Queen’s University for undertaking this important study. It is vital that we carefully consider the key messages emanating from such research to inform future policy and determine best practice on how to meet the long term needs of children in care.”

Dr Dominic McSherry, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, is the book’s lead author. He said: “This study reveals a number of crucial insights and patterns about the lives of young children in care. They are important signposts for the professionals involved in the sector, and for parents and guardians.

“For example, until now adoption was considered the gold standard in long-term care placements. One of our key findings, however, is that from the children’s perspective, it doesn’t appear to matter significantly what the placement is, be it fostering, adoption, kinship care, residence order or returning to birth parents. It is the longevity of placement that appears to be the most important factor in achieving positive outcomes for these children, so long as they enter long-term placements at an early age.”

Findings included in the book, relating to the group of 9-14 year olds and their parents and carers, are:

  • Within Northern Ireland, the Southern and Northern Health Trusts have the highest numbers of adoptions, the Western has the highest number of children in foster care and the South Eastern Trust, the highest levels of children returning home to their birth parents.
  •  Despite a positive level of openness between parents/carers and their children across placement types, adoptive parents and some foster and kinship carers found it difficult to talk to children about their birth families and past history. Birth parents also found it difficult to talk to their children about the past.
  • Many adoptive parents highlighted a sense of being isolated after the adoption order, without access to a formalised support mechanism.

  • Eight of the 77 children interviewed had been diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), and 5 of these were in the adopted group.

The new book Comparing long-term placements for young children in care is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland. Professor Bernie Hannigan, Director of Health and Social Care Research and Development, a division of the PHA, said: “While this study provides a positive contribution to the experiences and outcomes of looked-after children, it also focuses on those areas which require significant attention from policy makers; service managers and practitioners. It provides an evidence base for decision making in relation to the health and wellbeing of young children being looked after.”

The British Association for Adoption and fostering (BAAF) have published the book. Priscilla McLoughlin, Director of BAAF in Northern Ireland said: “BAAF is privileged to publish the Care Pathways and Outcomes Study. The study is hugely important because those who make decisions about looked-after children’s long-term care need to understand how the children fare in each of the long-term care placements. It is also crucial in that it follows a group of children in Northern Ireland and takes account of how our unique demographic, social and structural issues. Its longitudinal nature is also important, providing an opportunity to consider the long-term implications of care options for children and for their parents and carers.”

Comparing long-term placements for young children in care is priced £14.95 and is available from the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

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

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Queen’s academic chosen to deliver Award Lecture at British Science Festival

An academic from Queen’s University Belfast is one of only five academics from across the UK who have been asked to deliver an Award Lecture at the 2013 British Science Festival.

Dr Jonathan Houghton, from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, joins the ranks of previous award lecturers including particle physicist and TV presenter Professor Brian Cox, Professor Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, and space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.  

Dr Houghton will present his lecture at 2pm on Tuesday, 10 September at the Festival, which runs until the 12th of September.

Each year, five academics from across the UK are selected to take part in the Award Lecture series, with each lecture encompassing a different area of science.

Dr Houghton will deliver the Lyell Award Lecture, which focuses on the environmental sciences.  Entitled Blue seas research: predators and prey in an ever-changing system, his lecture will consider the growing pressures faced by marine systems today.  Complex issues including overfishing, pollution and climate change, seamlessly interweave to bring about wholesale shifts in marine communities over regional and global scales. The challenge facing marine scientists is not only to identify when such changes have occurred, but to do so before it is too late.

Dr Houghton will also look at how top predators can act as early warning systems or 'indicators' for biologists and unravel how such species locate their prey in a vast and ever-changing environment. Examples will be drawn from a wide -range of species found in British and Irish waters, and recent technological advances will be brought to light, to demonstrate how marine biologists gather data from marine predators that range thousands of kilometres from land, and down into the ocean depths.

Speaking ahead of his lecture, Dr Houghton, said: “Identifying and interpreting change in the marine environment is a major challenge for researchers. Many problems are hidden from view and occur far from land so I am delighted to have this opportunity to shed some light on some key issues that affect us all. The British Science Festival is a unique platform for sharing scientific findings with the public, and it is an honour to be selected to give the Award Lecture.”

The British Science Festival is one of Europe's largest celebrations of science, engineering and technology, with over 250 events, activities, exhibitions and trips taking place over a week in September, in a different location every year. Visit for further details.

Further information on Queen’s School of Biological Sciences is available at

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

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Research for Hillsborough Independent Panel shortlisted for national award
Professor Phil Scraton, School of Law
Professor Phil Scraton, School of Law

Research into the mass of documents disclosed to the Hillsborough Independent Panel, led by Professor Phil Scraton from Queen’s University Belfast, has been shortlisted for a national award – the Times Higher Education Research Project of the Year.

The research findings revealed serious flaws in the previous investigations, inquiries and inquests into the disaster, in which 96 men, women and children were killed at Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989. They brought an immediate response from Government, including an unequivocal apology from the Prime Minister to the bereaved and survivors for the ‘double injustice’ they had endured.

Professor of Criminology in the School of Law at Queen’s, Phil Scraton was primary author of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report. He is an established authority on Hillsborough, having researched and co-authored two previous reports and the book Hillsborough: The Truth. He was appointed to the Panel by the Home Secretary in 2010. Under his direction Queen’s was awarded Home Office funding to research, on the Panel’s behalf, documents disclosed by over 80 organisations.

On 12th September 2012, in closed session at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, Professor Scraton delivered the 153 key findings from the 395 page report to over 300 bereaved family members.

Since regarded as an exemplar in truth recovery, the findings have resulted in an unprecedented investigation into 2,000 police officers by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, a full criminal investigation, the quashing of the 96 inquest verdicts, the scheduling of new inquests, and a full review of all accident and emergency procedures.

Responding to the nomination, Professor Scraton, said: “It is the families of those who lost their lives and those have lived with the trauma of survival, who deserve the greatest credit for their remarkable courage, dignity and resilience in accessing the truth and challenging the myths of Hillsborough. This nomination reflects their persistence over two decades against considerable opposition. It is also recognition of the excellent, painstaking and challenging research conducted by the Queen’s research team and my colleagues on the Panel.”

Speaking about the nomination, Margaret Aspinall, Chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: “We were so pleased and proud to hear that Professor Phil Scraton has been nominated for the UK’s academic research project of the year. The work undertaken by Phil over the past 24 years and, more recently, in managing the Panel’s research and uncovering the truth of Hillsborough, has made a huge and positive contribution not only to the Hillsborough families and survivors, but also to the city of Liverpool, the people of Merseyside, the UK and indeed it has had global impact.”

Queen’s University has also been shortlisted in the Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers category at the Times Higher Education Awards for its International and Postgraduate Student Centre. The awards, which are being held in London in November, highlight the excellence and achievements of the UK’s higher education institutions.

Media inquiries to Communications Office, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: 028 90 97 3091.

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Armagh celebrates Celtic spirit and literature

Armagh’s importance as a major site for Celtic spirituality and literature is being celebrated in a special workshop course in the City’s Navan Centre.

The course, The Celtic Spirit and Literature will be taught by Rev Grace Clunie, Director of the Centre for Celtic spirituality and Dr Tess Maginess from the School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast.

The course is being offered as part of Queen’s Open Learning Programme.

Dr Maginess said: “We are really delighted to be running the course in the Navan Centre. Armagh has always been central to the development of the Celtic spirit and Literature. From the great community of scholars and culdees who made the Book of Armagh and convoyed their learning across Europe, to the South Armagh poets, to contemporary writers like Paul Muldoon and Darragh Carville. From the Poets’ Glen to Collegelands, the county is a rich and continuing well spring of fine literature.

“Nowhere is that Celtic spirit more manifest than in the work and being of the sadly departed Seamus Heaney. We will celebrate Seamus in Armagh and also the many other writers down through the centuries who voiced that spirit.”

Rev Grace Clunie, added: “The Celtic world view is deeply attached to a reverence for, and love of, local place, of townland and parish. It is an open spirit, valuing the small places, valuing hospitality, and the need too, for us to travel in our imagination, to embrace what is different from ourselves. We will look at what we can learn nowadays from that Celtic spirit and how that joy might enter our own lives.”

The course will be taught in an informal and participative way and all are welcome to attend. No qualifications are needed.

The ten-week course begins on Thursday 26 September and the workshops will take place from 2pm to 4pm. The cost is £64 and a concession rate of £40 is available for those on State Benefit, including State Pension. People can enrol online at or by contacting the Open Learning Programme office on 9097 3323/3539.

For further information contact the Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091.

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Study reveals new insight into how Cheetahs catch their prey

A new research study has revealed that the cheetah, the world’s fastest land animal, matches and may even anticipate the escape tactics of different prey when hunting, rather than just relying on its speed and agility, as previously thought.

The study, which has just been published in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters was carried out by a team of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration with other Institutions in the UK (University of Aberdeen, University of Swansea, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, University of Oxford), and elsewhere (North Carolina State University, The Lewis Foundation, South African National Parks, Earth and OCEAN Technologies, Kiel, Germany).

The research team used GPS and accelerometer data loggers deployed on cheetahs, along with traditional observation methods. The study was funded by a Royal Society International Joint Project grant, a NERC New Investigator award and the Lewis Foundation.

Explaining the team’s findings, lead researcher Dr Michael Scantlebury, from the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The more we understand, about the physiology and the hunting tactics of this charismatic animal, the more we are able to ensure its continuing existence”.

“Our study found that whilst cheetahs are capable of running at exceptionally high speeds, the common adage that they simply ‘outrun’ their prey does not explain how they are able to capture more agile animals. Previous research has highlighted their incredible speed and acceleration and their ability to turn after escaping prey. We have now shown that hunt tactics are prey-specific.

“In other words, we now know that rather than a simple maximum speed chase, cheetahs first accelerate towards their quarry before slowing down to mirror prey-specific escaping tactics. We suggest that cheetahs modulate their hunting speed to enable rapid turns, in a predator-prey arms race, where pace is pitted against agility. Basically, cheetahs have clear different chase strategies depending on prey species.”

The research suggests that cheetah chases comprise two primary phases, the first an initial rapid acceleration resulting in high speed to quickly catch up with prey, followed by a second, which is a prey-specific slowing period, five to eight seconds before the end of the chase, that enables the cheetah to match turns instigated by prey as the distance between them closes.

Dr Scantlebury added: “We have discovered that cheetahs first accelerate rapidly to get them close to the prey but then have to actively slow down to be able to match prey escape manoeuvres. It is like a deadly tango between the hunter and the hunted, with one mirroring the escape tactics of the other.”

“The time spent in the initial and second phase differs according to prey species, with some species such as ostriches, hares and steenbok attempting to escape by executing sudden changes in direction, whilst other species such as wildebeest, gemsbok and springbok attempt to run fast in a more or less straight line. It almost seems as if the amount of power or effort put into a chase is decided at the beginning of the chase depending on the prey species.”

Dr Gus Mills, from the Lewis Foundation, South Africa and Oxford University’s WildCRU said: “Modern technology has given us the opportunity to record and measure facets of animal behaviour we have never been able to do. However, too often this is used without the essential backup of simultaneously observing the animals in the wild to validate what is being measured. We have been fortunate to be able to do both.”

Prof Rory Wilson from Swansea University added: “One critical feature about the sports machine that is the cheetah is that we are not just talking about a dragster that achieves incredible speeds in a straight line. This beast has to corner magnificently as well. It’s a Formula One car, but with a small tank.”

The researchers also found that that there are clear differences between successful and non-successful hunts. Non-successful hunts involve less turning at the end of the chase, probably as the cheetah realised it was not going to catch up with the prey, and seemed to involve less energy than successful hunts of the same species.

Dr Scantlebury concluded: “One thing is certain, and that is that our previous concept of cheetah hunts being simple high speed, straight line dashes to catch prey is clearly wrong. They engage in a complex duel of speed, acceleration, braking and rapid turns with ground rules that vary from prey to prey. These exciting findings are an important foundation for ensuring the preservation of these magnificent animals and for future studies in this area.”

Biology Letters publishes short, highly-innovative, cutting-edge research articles and opinion pieces accessible to scientists from across the biological sciences. The Royal Society journal is characterised by stringent peer-review, rapid publication and broad dissemination of succinct high-quality research communications.

Media inquires to Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3091 or email

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International art check-in to Belfast

From Brazil to Bosnia, Australia to Austria in total 24 countries will be landing in Belfast for the 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s which was officially launched today (Thursday 5 September) at the George Best Belfast City Airport.  From 17 - 27 October over 70 different performances from all over the world will fill venues in all corners of the city as Ireland’s largest contemporary international arts festival takes off for its 51st year.

Launching the 2013 programme Festival Director Richard Wakely commented, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is one of only a handful of European arts festivals that can deliver such diversity boasting an eclectic mix of world-class Dance, Theatre, Classical Music, Jazz, Roots based Music, Visual Arts, Talks and Film. It is exciting to welcome the international arts community to Belfast and to see these performers share the billing with our finest local talent. Together they will deliver seven Irish premieres and three UK and Ireland premieres in this year’s line-up and with 95% of all our shows priced at £16 and under it is there to be enjoyed by everyone.”

Opening this year’s Festival on Thursday 17 October will be a first for the UK and Ireland as internationally acclaimed artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada – the Festival’s first artists in residence - reveals his huge land art portrait Wish. The transformation of eleven acres of land in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter into an anonymous portrait using cutting edge technology and revolutionary art practice will be a major talking point. Sharing the billing for opening day is world-renowned tenor José Carreras who will perform with leading Irish Soprano Celine Byrne at the Waterfront Hall.

2013 will witness the launch of a dedicated Music Club at The Elmwood Hall.  This Cabaret style venue will showcase a world of musical influences such as Jazz, Blues, Indie, Fado, Irish and more.  Carminho, Portugal's brightest new star will make her Irish debut as she opens the Music Club on 18th October and will be followed by names such as; New York’s Hem, Scandinavian new-wave jazz double act Girls in Airports and Oddarrang, Copenhagen Indie rock band Efterklang, stunning vocalist Iarla O’Lionáird and Steve Cooney, one of the most sought after acts on the traditional Irish Music scene - Dervish with guests The Henry Girls, and finally, cult American blues artist Eric Bibb.

This year’s theatre programme will deliver two Irish premieres that feature direct audience participation with Roger Bernat’s theatrical experiment in political theatre Pending Vote and the thrilling Bullet Catch from Rob Drummond which will finish its world tour as part of the Festival - both of these staged at The Lyric Theatre. Also at The Lyric the critically acclaimed Gare St Lazare Players Ireland will bring Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to Northern Ireland following performances at the Dublin Theatre Festival.  Local theatre features strongly with a diverse range of performances including a historical tale from Kabosh Theatre Company in Belfast by Moonlight at St George’s Church, tales from the Shankhill in Crimea Square and an international collaboration for Belfast theatre company Prime Cut in The Conquest of Happiness at T13 in the Titanic Quarter to name a few.

Belfast Festival will spread its wings this year as the Classical programme ventures into new and unusual venues around the city. For the first time St Gerard’s Church on the Antrim Road in North Belfast will open its doors to the arts with a performance by the one of the world’s finest vocal groups Ars Nova  Copenhagen whilst the Clonard Monastery will play host to La Serenissima’s performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  The Waterfront Hall will not only play host to the Festival Opening Concert but will also feature a welcome return for Sir James Galway who will perform a Musical Journey from Rodrigo to Tchaikovsky with the Ulster Orchestra. Queen’s University will provide the setting for The Royal String Quartet from Poland, Chinese American Flautist Sabrina Hu and Derry born Cahal Breslin and the highly acclaimed Brazilian group PianOrquestra. Festival favourites the Ulster Orchestra will bring Festival to a close at The Ulster Hall with The Swan Songs of Strauss – featuring the four last songs composed by Strauss before his death.

For 2013 the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s will feature a Weekend of Dance at The MAC with two UK and Ireland premieres. Memòries d’una Puça from Catalonia’s Sol Picó Cia De Danza is a striking contemporary dance work that reflects the economic and political struggles in Spain. Originating from Belgium is Victor an emotional and beautiful duet delivering an intimate portrait of a relationship.  Bringing dance into public spaces will be a newly commissioned piece from local dance group Maiden Voyage and choreographer Fearghus Ó’Conchúir as they present their piece in the Ulster Museum and The MAC Upper Gallery.

The family programme delivers for ‘big ones’ and ‘little ones’ with an installation in Botanic Gardens offering to transport the younger children away from technology and into an imaginary world of sound, light and movement with The Strange Travel of Seynor Tonet. Whilst a collaboration with East Belfast Arts Festival and the West Belfast Féile an Phobail will promote international, award winning Tumble Circus in their new show Damn the Circus which will take place in both Belmont Park and Falls Park and is an event geared for the older family market.

A series of thought provoking talks cover everything from best-selling author Simon Singh’s investigation of the mathematical aspects of The Simpsons to award-winning Guardian columnist Gary Younge’s interpretation of Martin Luther King. Plus, Mark Carruthers launches his new book of interviews - Alternative Ulsters, Jonathan Aitken discusses Margaret Thatcher, Bernard MacLaverty celebrates the publication of his new Collected Stories,   a poetry reading with the John Hewitt Society and Feargal  Mac Ionnrachtaigh reflects on the role of the Irish language for Republican former prisoners -  all presented in association with the Belfast Book Festival. Finally, Film Noir is celebrated at QFT in association with Cornerhouse as they present 12 classics including Double Indemnity, The Killers, The Last Seduction and The Big Sleep along with a focus on Swiss Film.

Ellvena Graham, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland said, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is firmly embedded in the heart of cultural life in Northern Ireland and has established a reputation for delivering world class, international artists and performances to local audiences.  But more than that, it’s about celebrating diversity and improving access to the arts across all communities with new venues for this year’s Festival in the North, South, East and West of the City. The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s is also an important contributor to the local economy, encouraging tourism and adding vitality to the City. We are proud to be part of the success and development of the Festival over the years and look forward to another unique and international Festival season.”

Bob Collins, Chair of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s adds a massive contribution to Northern Ireland’s cultural life and international reputation.  We are proud of our commitment to the festival over the last number of years because the investment of public money has enabled this defining festival to continue to aim higher than most, bringing the best and most sought-after arts, from home and abroad, within the reach of everyone.”

The scale and diversity of this annual Festival programme would not be possible without the continuing and generous support of various public and private sponsors, including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the EU and the British Council. Plus, the many venues, performers and partner organisations whose commitment and passion bring the arts to life for all to enjoy.

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s runs from 17 - 27 October at venues all over the city. To find out more and book tickets visit  or call  box office on 02890 971197.

Cathy Law Communications Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s,: 028 9097 1034 (reception) Mobile: +44 (0)7876 358 842

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Almac Discovery and Queen’s launch £13M cancer drug discovery partnership

A new £13 million partnership to accelerate cancer-focused drug discovery in Northern Ireland has been launched by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster MLA.

As part of the project, Queen’s and Almac Discovery have announced the scheduling of a phase one clinical trial for ovarian cancer, involving the first novel cancer drug fully developed in Northern Ireland.

Involving up to 60 ovarian cancer patients, the drug being trialled has been created as a result of an earlier collaboration between Almac Discovery and Professor Tracy Robson from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s.

Explaining about the trial, Professor Robson said: “This latest trial involves a new treatment for cancer known as ALM201, which rather than attacking tumours directly, prevents the growth of new blood vessels in tumours, starving them of oxygen and nutrients and thereby preventing their growth. It targets tumours by an entirely different pathway to those treatments currently approved.”

Alan Armstrong, CEO of Almac added: “Bringing new treatments to patients is a complex process. The announcement today of a new clinical trial, which is the result of a previous partnership between Almac and Queen’s School of Pharmacy, is a timely illustration of how collaboration between the University and industry is already creating novel approaches to cancer therapy which have a very real chance of helping patients.”

At today’s event, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, said: “This significant investment in research and development will enhance collaboration between academia and industry. This will ensure the investment is maximised, that research is effectively commercialised and that ultimately, enhanced treatment solutions are made available to cancer patients.

“The fact that Almac and Queen’s are engaged in such ground-breaking research here in Northern Ireland is something that we should be extremely proud of. It will reinforce our position as a leader in research and development for the health and life sciences sector.”

It was also announced today that a new CCRCB/Almac Discovery joint programme in Cancer Drug Discovery will bring researchers from Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) and scientists from Almac Discovery together to translate research discoveries into treatments for patients.

The two projects represent a total investment of £13M, with £7 million of support offered by Invest Northern Ireland, which includes part funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

As a result of the joint programme, 17 scientists from Almac Discovery have been seconded to Queen’s CCRCB in an industry led venture. The discovery team will work to identify parts of tumours which are susceptible to treatment by cancer drugs and to then develop the new drugs to target them.

The partnership will also enable new approaches to selecting those patients who will be most likely to respond to the new drugs, and to create the technologies needed to deliver the drugs directly to the tumour site in the patient.

The new discovery programme is being led by Professor Tim Harrison, Vice President of Discovery Chemistry with Almac Discovery. As part of this partnership, Professor Harrison has been appointed McClay Chair of Medicinal Chemistry at Queen’s for the next three years.

Commenting on the new partnership, he said: “While Almac Discovery and Queen’s have already been successfully collaborating for a number of years, this exciting new programme is bringing together for the first time, under one roof, some of our most talented scientists. As a result we expect to see an increase in both the breadth of drug targets we are able to identify and a subsequent increase in the development of potential therapeutics for patients.”

Further information on the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s can be found online at

Media inquiries to Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer, Queen’s University Belfast. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5384 or email

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Book of Condolence for Seamus Heaney open at Queen’s

A Book of Condolence to mark the contribution of the late Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, is now open at Queen’s University.

The Book of Condolence can be signed in the Welcome Centre in the University's Lanyon Building, from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Extending his condolences to Mr Heaney’s wife Marie and his three children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann, Queen’s Chancellor, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General, said: “Through a lifetime of creative genius of immense generosity and gentleness, Seamus Heaney, in a most unassuming way, gave immeasurably of himself to Queen’s.

“His association with Queen’s as undergraduate, lecturer, wise mentor, friend and most distinguished alumnus of Queen’s, uniquely enriched the life and learning of the University.

“Seamus himself said that poetry “can entrance you for a moment above the pool of your own consciousness and your own possibilities”.

“We have been entranced by his words, his wit, and above all by his wisdom and humanity. These are Seamus Heaney’s profound and enduring legacies to Queen’s University and to the world. We shall treasure his poetry and our memories, as much as we shall always miss his presence.

“It was a rare privilege for my wife Babli and myself to have known Seamus for long years.  Our deepest condolences go to Marie and their family.’’

Queen’s Pro-Chancellor, Sir David Fell, added: “As a poet, Seamus Heaney was a giant among his generation, but he never lost the ability to generate warmth and good humour at the personal level. People often spoke about his modesty upon meeting him, but there was nothing ordinary about his generosity of spirit, intellect and simple human kindness from which Queen’s University benefited enormously. We will miss him terribly and offer our sincere sympathy to Marie, their children and the wider Heaney family circle.”

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Queen’s University pays tribute to Seamus Heaney

Queen’s University Belfast has paid tribute to its former student, staff member and honorary graduate, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.

The University’s acting President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, said: “Queen’s University is deeply saddened by the news of Seamus Heaney’s death and extends sincere sympathy to his wife Marie, and their three children Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.

“Seamus was not only a former student, professor and honorary graduate of Queen’s, but also a true friend of the University. Generous with his scholarship and his time, his warmth, humour and brilliance will be sorely missed.

“He was selfless in his contribution to Queen’s. Whether giving his name to the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, crafting our University’s Centenary Stanza or contributing copies of his early works, Seamus asked for nothing in return.

“His contribution to the world of literature has introduced millions of people around the globe to the enjoyment of poetry and enhanced it for many more.

“As a truly inspirational citizen of Northern Ireland, he was the vanguard for a new generation of Irish poets, and at Queen’s we will ensure that his work continues to inspire many for generations to come.

“At Queen’s we have been truly privileged to have known Seamus as a student, staff member and Nobel Laureate and will miss him greatly.”

Professor Ciaran Carson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, added: “Seamus Heaney's death will leave a void in all our lives. But his words have become part of our lives, and he endures in them. There is no poet in Ireland who has not been influenced by his example, and is in his debt; but so is everyone who has been touched by his poetry, and they are innumerable.”

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091

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Belfast poet laureate features in Queen’s new Open Learning programme

Belfast’s first poet laureate Dr Sinead Morrissey will help celebrate the richness of contemporary writing in Northern Ireland during this year’s Open Learning programme at Queen’s University.

The award-winning poet will be joined by several local writers, including Graham Reid and Carlo Gebler, in a ten-week programme The Blackbird Bookclub. Running in September and January, it is just one of hundreds of short courses on offer in Queen’s new Open Learning brochure.

From painting to public speaking, walking to wine appreciation, counselling to ceili dancing, and astronomy to assertiveness, Open Learning at Queen’s offers everyone the chance to try something new and enjoy learning in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The latest round of courses begins at the end of September and online registration is open now at

Dr Cathal McManus, Open Learning Programme Co-ordinator at Queen’s School of Education, said: “At Queen’s we believe that learning should be lifelong and life-changing. Participation in education should be challenging, rewarding and, above all, enjoyable – and that’s exactly what’s on offer in this year’s Open Learning programme.

“Every year, we welcome thousands of people from across Northern Ireland who sign-up to pursue an existing interest or hobby, or to try something completely different. The courses are open to everyone, regardless of age or ability, and take place at locations across Northern Ireland. But many fill up quickly, so I would encourage people to enrol early online at  or phone 028 9097 3323 / 3539 for more information.”

Highlights include a new course on Irish Storytelling, which is sure to get chins wagging by encouraging students to switch off the TV and tell a tale; and A Tale of Two Churches, which takes students on a tour of two of the oldest churches in Belfast – St Mary’s Catholic Church on Chapel Lane and First Presbyterian Church on Rosemary Street – in order to discover the spirit of ecumenism in eighteenth century Belfast.

Award-winning director Allessandro Negrini will explore the role of film in Italian politics from the rise of Mussolini to the modern day, in O Bella Ciao: Italian cinema from Mussolini to Berlusconi, while Lights, Camera, Austen! will examine how the writings of Jane Austen have been adapted for TV and film, from casting and costumes to screenplay and location.

China and the World explores China’s unique civilisation and rich culture, helping students understand its emergence as one of the world’s ‘big players, while those with an interest closer to home can explore The Placenames and Surnames of Ulster, and discover the roots and meaning of the names we utter every day.
Those looking for a more practical course can discover crochet, knitting, painting or learn how to play guitar, violin or tin whistle; while anyone on a quest for personal development can avail of courses in stress reduction, anger management or public speaking.

Further details on course availability are available online at  

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke at Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 5320 email

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