February 2015 Press Releases

Queen’s student wins prestigious FameLab Northern Ireland competition

A medical student from Queen’s University Belfast has been announced as the winner of the revered Famelab Northern Ireland science competition.

Emer Maguire, who is currently studying for a Masters in Clinical Anatomy at Queen’s, was one of nine young scientists who gathered at Belfast’s Black Box venue last night to take part in the competition, which aims to discover charismatic scientists who inspire people to see the world from a new perspective. The participants, from across Northern Ireland, each gave three-minute presentations on topics ranging from the power to eat grass, to golden jellyfish and bad blood.

With such a competitive field it proved a difficult task for the FameLab judges, but the panel took the unanimous decision to award Emer the title for her talk on the science of kissing and why we smooch, focusing on immune systems, saliva and chemical cocktails.

She will now head to the FameLab UK final in April, which will include an intensive two-day communication masterclass.

Speaking after the competition, Emer, from Strabane, who also works as a Speech and Language Therapist, said: “I’m still in shock. I can’t believe I’ve actually won, but I’m absolutely delighted and can’t wait to see where FameLab takes me. Tonight has been an unbelievable, but really enjoyable experience. When I walked into the Black Box this evening my initial reaction was to turn and run as I was ridiculously nervous, but once I got onto the stage I was fine and raring to go.”

Professor David Jones, Pro Vice Chancellor for Education and Students at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “At Queen’s we are committed to providing high quality education and developing talented students with a willingness to explore new ideas, advance knowledge and benefit society.

“Emer is a student with charisma and drive and I would like to congratulate her on winning this prestigious award. She is a talented scientist and outstanding communicator who has a big future ahead of her.” 

Organised by British Council Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Cheltenham Science Festival and the inaugural Northern Ireland Science Festival, FameLab Northern Ireland helps scientists acquire valuable skills to communicate their work to a non-scientific audience and the media.

FameLab is an initiative of Cheltenham Festivals started in 2005, and has quickly grown into arguably the world’s leading science communication competition. A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global with more than 5500 young scientists and engineers having participated from over 30 different countries.

You can watch Emer’s presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppLMEgaj9eA

The event was part of the NI Science Festival which runs until this Sunday, March 1. For more information visit http://www.nisciencefestival.com.

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk or 028 9097 5384.



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Queen’s spin-out Titan IC named among UK’s most exciting start-ups

A pioneering cyber security business developed as a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast has been named as one of the UK’s 12 "most exciting" technology start-ups and has pitched their business at Number 10 Downing Street.

Titan IC Systems – a spin-out business of Queen’s University’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) – is a world leader in developing silicon technology for faster and safer internet data processing.

Titan was selected to take part in Pitch 10, which launched last year as an initiative “to shine a spotlight on the breadth of innovation in the UK” and to help connect early-stage growth businesses with prospective partners. 

The companies chosen for this year’s Pitch 10, produced in association with Tech City UK and Tech Nation, were selected by a panel of industry experts including Eileen Burbidge of Passion Capital, Gerard Grech of Tech City UK, and Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, co-founder of Lastminute.com.

The pitches took place at Number 10 last Friday, 20 February, with businesses taking part in  a roundtable session to discuss TechNation and the tech clusters hosted by Gerard Grech, TechCity UK CEO and Daniel Korski, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister. Each company gave a three-minute pitch to an audience of VCs, investors and corporate representatives.

Godfrey Gaston, CEO of Titan IC, said: "With the Pitch 10 invite, it is great to see that cyber security is being considered as exciting and innovative from a UK-wide perspective, and that Titan IC and the strength of the work being done in CSIT is being recognised”.

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk or 028 9097 5384.

Notes to editors:

Titan IC Systems (www.titanicsystems.com) is based in the ECIT building in Titanic Quarter Belfast.  The company was formed in 2007 as a spin-out of cutting-edge research in silicon technology for faster and safer internet data processing in Queen’s University’s Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology Centre (ECIT) by Dr Gaston and other members of the research team, Professor Sakir Sezer and Dr Dwayne Burns. Titan IC is supported by Invest NI through the European Regional Development Funds. 


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Queen’s researchers in bid to develop world’s fastest super computers

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast are creating ground-breaking computer software which has the potential to develop some of the world’s fastest super computers.

The software, developed by researchers in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s, will increase the ability of supercomputers to process masses of data at higher speeds than ever before.

The breakthrough, which comes as part of a major research project between the University of Manchester and the STFC Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, has the potential to combat major global issues including climate change and life threatening diseases by simulating detailed models of natural events and then processing new levels of data at greater speed than ever before.

By simulating detailed models of natural phenomena such as ocean currents, the blood flow of a human body and global weather patterns, scientists could use the information they produce to help address some of the big global challenges including sustainable energy, the rise in global temperatures and worldwide epidemics.

The Scalable, Energy-Efficient, Resilient and Transparent Software Adaptation (SERT) project has just been awarded almost £1million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The project’s Principal Investigator, Professor Dimitrios Nikolopoulos from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This new software which is known as Exascale computing means that complex computing simulations which would take thousands of years on a desktop computer will be completed in a matter of hours. This research has the potential to give us insights into how to combat some of the biggest issues facing humanity at the moment.  It is such an exciting project to be a part of and is further evidence of how Queen’s researchers are advancing knowledge and changing lives.”

Professor Jack Dongarra, from the University of Manchester, said:  “This project sheds valuable insight on how to use many core based systems effectively, proving major benefits for a wide range of scientific endeavours that depend on large-scale simulations.”

Queen’s University is one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities, and has recently been placed in the top ten in the UK for research intensity in the recent Research Excellence Framework assessment exercise.

The SERT project is due to start in March 2015. It will be funded by EPSRC under the Software for the Future II programme, and the project will partner with the Numerical Analysis Group (NAG), Cluster Vision and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk or 02890975384

Notes to Editors

Professor Dimitrios Nikolopoulos is available for interview. Interview bids to Andrew Kennedy Queen’s Communications Office.

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Queen’s medical student wins international Innovator Award

A medical student from Queen’s University Belfast has received a prestigious international innovation award for creating an online tool to boost knowledge and benefit society.

David Carroll, who is currently on placement at Daisy Hill Hospital, a Queen’s University teaching hospital in Newry, has received the SPARC Innovator Award for developing the Open Access Button, an online tool to improve access to expensive research documents. 

The Open Access Button increases access for members of the public, students and academics to publicly funded academic documents which normally require payment to use, or have access restrictions.  

The SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Innovator Award, which has previously been won by Harvard University and the World Bank, recognises individuals, institutions, or groups that challenge the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public.

David, from Camlough, who developed the tool with a friend from London, said: “The Open Access Button connects users with freely accessible copies of the research articles they need, and tracks how often people are denied access to research because of cost barriers.

“If the Open Access Button helps users get access to research, they can then make progress with their work. If not, the data and stories collected by the Button will be used for advocacy to make progress to a system in which everyone can access academic research. In one year, the tool has tracked over 12,000 instances of users hitting pay walls, many with powerful stories of why those people needed access to the research publications.” 

Congratulating David on his award, Professor Pascal McKeown, Director of the Centre for Medical Education at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “At Queen’s we are committed to providing high quality education that develops talented students with a willingness to explore new ideas, advance knowledge and change lives.

“David is clearly a student with outstanding passion, commitment, and a drive to succeed. The innovative online tool he has created will help to improve access to important publications and make a real and lasting difference to society.”

Medical Director for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Dr John Simpson, said: “As both Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area are Queens University Hospitals, we are fully committed to fostering the development of medical students and are absolutely delighted that one of our undergraduates has been recognised for this inspiring invention.

“Research and development is crucial to the provision of safe, high quality care and we are totally committed to ensuring continuous improvement so that patients in the Southern Trust get the very best treatments. Access to the latest academic studies is central to continuous improvement, so not only does the Open Access Button benefit students but it will also help all of us working in health and social care in ensuring that we are up to date with the latest developments.” 

For more information on the Open Access Button: https://openaccessbutton.org/about 

For more information on Open Access: http://sparc.arl.org/issues/open-access

For further information on the SPARC Innovator Award: http://www.sparc.arl.org/initiatives/innovator/former 

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, at Queen’s University Communications Office, call 028 9097 5384 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's University helping Japan counter cyber security attacks

Queen's University Belfast is partnering with a top Japanese research institute to help reduce the threat of cyber-attacks.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s, a UK Cyber Security Academic Centre of Excellence, has signed a ‘Memoranda of Understanding’ with the Network Security Laboratory of the Japanese National Institute of Communications and Technology (NICT).

The agreement will see the institutions work in partnership on ground-breaking ideas and technologies to protect computers and data from cyber-attacks.

The partnership between Queen’s, Lancaster University, Imperial College London, and the NICT, the sole Japanese national laboratory dedicated to information and communications technology research, was brokered through the Science and Innovation Network (SIN).

Commenting on the agreement, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston, said: “This cyber security collaboration is the latest example of our growing reputation as a powerhouse of world-class research, promoting innovation, advancing knowledge and supporting the needs of society.”

Dr Godfrey Gaston, Director of Operations at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s, said: "The threat to our cyber security respects no borders and is truly global in its reach. This is an exciting opportunity for us to work with Japan’s premier Cybersecurity Research Institute and reflects CSIT's growing reputation as a global innovation hub for cyber security research."

Further evidence of Queen’s commitment to leading research can be seen in its recent placement in the top ten in the UK for research intensity in the Research Excellence Framework assessment exercise. In this exercise, 93% of the research conducted by CSIT academics was adjudged to be world-leading or internationally excellent.

Dr Gaston, along with colleagues from Lancaster University and Imperial College London, attended the signing in Tokyo.

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, at Queen's University Communications Office, call 028 9097 5384 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk


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Queen’s Vice-Chancellor receives prestigious accolade

Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston, has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RSCI).

Founded in 1784, the RSCI is a world renowned medical institution, providing extensive education and training in the healthcare professions for students in Ireland.

The award, the highest distinction the RSCI bestows, was presented to Professor Johnston in recognition of his contribution to cancer research. A globally-recognised cancer specialist over the last 20 years, Professor Johnston, from Derry, has also led the development of a world-leading Institute of Health Sciences at Queen’s University.

His research has resulted in a number of prestigious landmark publications, over 20 patents and almost £100 million in grants being secured from research and philanthropic bodies.

Professor Johnston was presented with the award by RCSI President, Declan J Magee, at a conferring ceremony at RCSI in Dublin, on February 7, 2015.

Commenting on the distinguished accolade, Professor Johnston said: “I am delighted to have received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. It is a privilege to have received this honour and to have had my contribution to cancer research recognised in this way.”

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, at Queen’s University Communications Office, call 028 9097 5384 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Get a taste for science at Queen’s as part of first ever NI Science Festival

Queen’s University is hosting a range of vibrant and educational science events as part of this year’s first ever NI Science Festival programme.

The inaugural 11-day Science Festival starts on 19 February and will offer a range of workshops, talks and activities for young people, parents and schools focusing on the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

A number of academics and staff from Queen’s are involved in the Science Festival and lots of venues across the Queen’s campus and in Belfast will be used for a diverse range of events including:


Celebrating Science at Queen’s

When: Thursday 19 February

Where: Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road

An open day giving visitors a taste of the world-leading scientific research we carry out here at Queen’s, from nanotechnology and aerospace engineering to robots and treatment of diabetes. Four scientists from the University will give short presentations on their work and our researchers will be on hand throughout the day to answer questions you may have. The day is open to all members of the public and no booking is required.

To see all the events for the day, please look through the Celebrating Science programme.

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=112


Electrifying Taster Days

When: Thursday 19 – Friday 20 February

Where: School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Ashby Building, Stranmillis Road & ECS1, Elmwood Avenue

The School is opening its doors for two days and giving secondary school students the opportunity to get a feel for its degrees and find out about its work in areas such as cyber security and connected health. Recommended for Year 13 students, the Taster Days will also give students a flavour of the range of careers that a degree from the School can offer.

Further info: www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=171 


The Art and Science of Sound

When: Saturday 21 February (11am - 5pm)

Where: Sonic Arts Research Centre, Cloreen Park

The Sonic Arts Research Centre will open its doors on 21st February from 11am - 5pm as part of a large sound and science showcase entitled “The Art and Science of Sound”. There will be dedicated listening, recording and sound exploration workshops. Other activities include sound installations, ad hoc performances, robots, and demo tables.

Pre-registration for workshops is required

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=119



Science Superheroes

When: Saturday 21 February

Where: W5, Odyssey Complex, Queens Quay

As part of Bodyworks at W5, Queen’s University Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology will be offering a variety of activities and fun lab experiments such as extracting DNA from a strawberry and making some toothpaste for elephants.

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=114


Archaeological Burials, Bones and Bodies

When: Sunday 22 February

Where, The Black Box, Hill Street

Archaeologists from Queen’s will explain some of the methods they use and what information can be gleaned from the bodies they encounter. Including plastic skeletons and a skeleton jigsaw for the younger members of the audience, we will also look at the differences between males and females and between the skeletons of babies, children and adults.

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=168


The Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture: Alligator, Sex and Scars – Unexpected Scientific Discoveries and their Commercial Exploitation

When: Wednesday 25 February (6pm-7.30pm)

Where: Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road

This year’s speaker is Professor Mark Ferguson, the Chief Scientific Advisor for Ireland & Director General for Science Foundation Ireland. Professor Ferguson will talk about how unexpected discoveries open up new scientific and commercial opportunities. This lecture will appeal to a wide audience, and is not limited to those with a passion for engineering!

Free admission, but registration required

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=173


Forensics Workshop for Teachers

When: Wednesday 25 February

Where: Queen’s main campus, University Road

This forensics workshop is being run by the Association for Science Education for Continuing Personal Development purposes. It will cover DNA, film chromatography, fingerprints, footprints in the sand, comparing paint samples, fibre analysis and blood typing.

Strictly limited to 20 places. Registration of interest required

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=219


Into The Future We Go

When: Thursday 26 February

Where: School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, ECS1, Elmwood Avenue

QUB engineering students have converted a DeLorean into an electric car, and invite secondary school pupils along to learn the science behind the project, test their own design skills and  - above all - try out the car!

Ideal for students in Years 11 and 12, especially those studying Physics

Further info:http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=172


Sun Watch at Queen’s

When: Saturday 28 February (11.30am - 4.30pm)

Where: Queen’s main campus, University Road

At the front of the Lanyon Building, near the War Memorial, a series of telescopes will enable members of the public to see sun spots, prominences and other features of the Sun, with the help of Queen’s astronomers. There will also several talks, including one on how to safely view the upcoming solar eclipse.

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=174



When: Saturday 28 February & Sunday 1 March

Where: Queen’s Film Theatre, University Square

Queen’s gaming society, Dragonslayers, will host a big-screen gaming tournament as well as screenings of documentaries and classic films such as the 1982 cult classic Tron.

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=162


I’m a Psychologist, Get Me Out Of Here

When: Saturday 28 February

Where: School of Psychology, Queen’s main campus, University Road

This interactive workshop lets young people investigate and understand how their minds work. They will learn about the science of emotion, memory and communication by undertaking experiments with the help of Queen’s researchers.

Further info: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/event.php?e=166 


Open Learning Laboratory (OPAL) Roadshow

When: Monday 23 - Friday 27 February

Where: Secondary schools in the Greater Belfast area

The School of Education, as a partner in the OPAL (Open Learning Laboratory) project, is hosting an OPAL Roadshow for the Northern Ireland Science Festival. Working with the Field Studies Council we will visit schools to carry out OPAL surveys with Key Stage 3 groups during the week of 23rd to 27th February.


Find out more about these events at: http://www.nisciencefestival.com/


Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, at Queen’s University Communications Office, call 028 9097 5384 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk


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Executive Director of Food at Marks & Spencer delivers IGFS annual lecture

Steve Rowe, Executive Director of Food at Marks & Spencer, was keynote speaker at the annual lecture of Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS), delivered to a packed audience in Riddel Hall on Thursday 5 February. 

Now in its second year, the lecture aims to highlight the world-class research being conducted at the Institute. 

Opening the event which was attended by over 130 academics, industry leaders and local food suppliers, Queen’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston welcomed Mr Rowe and spoke about the University’s vision for the future. Referring to the world-leading research conducted at Queen’s, Professor Johnston also acknowledged and congratulated Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the IGFS and his team on the recent Research Evaluation Framework (REF2014) results.

Aptly named ‘Adventures in Integrity’, Mr Rowe’s lecture addressed the main issues of concern currently facing the food industry. He explained the measures being undertaken by Marks and Spencer to ensure the integrity and quality of the food sold in their stores, the need to act responsibly toward suppliers and customers, and the use of innovation to carve a niche in a very competitive market.

“It’s no coincidence that integrity is one of Marks & Spencer’s four guiding values. It’s also no coincidence that I’m talking about it here today at the Institute for Global Food Security,” said Mr Rowe.

In a well-received lecture, Steve reflected on Marks and Spencer’s presence in Northern Ireland, opening their first store in the late 1960s and now employing 2,500 staff in 20 stores province-wide and spending in excess of £100 million every year with local suppliers.

He also praised Professor Elliott on the Institute’s REF2014 achievements, where the results confirmed Queen’s as one of the top ranked UK universities for Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science research.

Present on behalf of the Agri-Food Strategy Board, Owen Brennan from Devenish Nutrition,highlighted the work which the Institute had carried out in developing the Food Fortress strategy for Northern Ireland.

Outlining a vision for a sustainable, profitable and integrated agri-food supply chain, Mr Brennan said: “We have developed a ‘best in class’ animal feed traceability and assurance scheme, which will benefit agriculture as whole. Independent testing and analysis is the core driver of this service. Over 99% of the feed tonnage produced in Northern Ireland is now covered by the Food Fortress initiative. In turn, this will give local agriculture a competitive advantage moving forward.”

In the final part of the evening, Professor Chris Elliott spoke about how the Institute wanted to build on its recent success in the rankings to deliver benefits for all. He said: “Our objectives are to make a real difference when it comes to addressing the challenge of feeding the extra two billion people that will make up the world’s population in just thirty years’ time.

“There is also the challenge of enhancing and communicating the role which diet can play in delivering lifelong health benefits.”

Turning to the local sector, Professor Elliott continued: “The fundamental challenge facing agriculture in Northern Ireland is that of developing a sustainable future against the backdrop of markets that are becoming truly international. As a consequence, we must produce food of greater quality.

“In addition, the farming and food industries must become more consumer-focussed.”

The evening was compered by Queen’s graduate and supporter, BBC reporter, Mark Simpson (BA Modern History, 1989) and closed with a small presentation to Steve Rowe.

For further information on the Institute for Global Food Security visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/InstituteforGlobalFoodSecurity/ 

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Queen’s University Belfast plays leading role in construction of the world’s biggest solar telescope

Queen’s University Belfast and Belfast business Andor Technology are playing a leading role in the construction of the world’s biggest and most revolutionary solar telescope.

Queen’s University is leading a consortium of eight UK universities and associated businesses to build the cameras for the $344 million super-telescope, which will be situated in Hawaii.

The Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), which will be launched in 2019, is being constructed by the US National Solar Observatory on Haleakala mountain in Maui, Hawaii. With a four-metre diameter primary mirror, the telescope will be able to pick up unprecedented detail on the surface of the Sun – the equivalent of being able to examine a £1 coin from 100 kms away.

It is hoped that DKIST will address fundamental questions at the core of contemporary solar physics. It will do this via high-speed (sub-second timescales) spectroscopic and magnetic measurements of the solar photosphere, chromosphere and corona. DKIST is funded by the US National Science Foundation with £2.5m of funding provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, Principal Investigator of the UK consortium, said: “The Sun is the most important astronomical object for humankind with solar activity driving space weather and having profound effects on global climate and technology-based communications. To understand solar activity we need to observe and model the physical processes in the solar atmosphere on their intrinsic spatial and temporal scales so that, among other questions, we can reliably forecast this activity in space.

“Scientific discoveries demand technological innovation and play a major role in economic growth. DKIST will be a revolutionary instrument for ground-based solar physics, which is a growth area in the UK. It will be in a position to explore key questions regarding solar magnetic field generation and dissipation, solar variability, atmospheric structure and dynamics. Our consortium will deliver key equipment that will allow DKIST to achieve these scientific goals and it’s another example of how Queen’s research impacts on society, both locally and internationally.”

DKIST Director, Dr Thomas Rimmele said: “We are excited to have the UK consortium on board as partners. DKIST will be the world's most powerful solar telescope. The scientific and technological expertise represented by the Queen's University Belfast-led consortium is a great asset to the project.”

Dr Donal Denvir, Technical Director at Andor Technology, said: “Andor will play a central role in the design and manufacture of state-of-the-art detectors for this high-profile, solar-physics initiative. The technology will provide an innovative combination of high-performance specifications that simply do not exist today, a solution that will prove enabling not only for next-generation solar studies, but for the wider professional astronomy community and beyond.”

The consortium of UK institutes in DKIST is led by Queen's University Belfast and includes Armagh Observatory, Northumbria University, University College London, and the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, St. Andrews and Warwick. The consortium will partner with Belfast company and Queen’s University spinout Andor Technology and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The consortium will oversee the development and delivery of the cameras, and take the lead in supporting the UK solar physics community in their use of DKIST by providing a set of processing tools for DKIST data, synthetic observations to validate diagnostic approaches, and support for developing observing proposals.

For more information contact the Queen’s University Communications Office on 0044 (0)28 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or 0044 (0)28 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Northern Ireland MEPs praise impact of cancer research at Queen’s

Northern Ireland MEPs, Diane Dodds and Jim Nicholson, were at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s University today to see first-hand the ground-breaking research taking place and hear how it is improving patient care.

The visit was organised one year after an initiative led by Queen’s resulted in the signing of the European Cancer Patient’s Bill of Rights in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Bill was signed by all three Northern Ireland MEPs, including Martina Anderson.

The three Northern Ireland MEPs have pledged to work together with researchers from Queen’s to maximise opportunities to advance cancer research and cancer care at European level.

Professor Patrick Johnston, Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, said: “We are delighted to welcome our European representatives to Queen’s and greatly appreciate the cross party support for a Northern Ireland led initiative that is impacting on the lives of cancer patients. It also gives us the opportunity to showcase the excellent cancer research we are doing here at Queen’s.”

During their visit, the MEPs heard from Professor David Waugh, Director of the CCRCB at Queen’s University Belfast, who outlined how Belfast has become a leader in bringing discovery science from ‘research to reality’. He said: “Everything we do here in CCRCB is patient focussed. If it doesn’t have a line of sight to the patient, we don’t do it. Born in Belfast, Led by Belfast is increasingly our mantra and we are driving a Precision Cancer Medicine Programme that converts our best research to new diagnostics and medicines for the benefit of patients.”

Over 300 researchers are developing new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer at Queen’s, reflecting the University’s vision to conduct leading edge research, focussed on the needs of society.

Commenting on the visit, Diane Dodds MEP, said: “Many of the researchers we met today showed a real passion for their work, and this will undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for Northern Ireland patients.”

Jim Nicholson MEP said: “The quality of the science and the patient centred vision means that the research performed here will make a real difference for patients, both locally and globally.”

Expressing her support for the research, Martina Anderson MEP, said: “The leadership that Queen’s has shown in addressing cancer inequalities and in performing life-saving research is inspiring.”

One of the lead architects of the European Cancer Patients Bill of Rights launched last year is Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics at Queen's University Belfast and Chair of the Research Working Group of the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine. He said: “Cancer knows no boundaries, it affects all members of our society. It is extremely gratifying that we can all come together united by a single aim: to confront our common enemy… cancer.”

For further information on the work taking place at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforCancerResearchCellBiology/

Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on comms.office@qub.ac.uk or 02890973087.


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Powerade Queen’s 5k Road Race receives Championship Status for 2015

At the recent launch of the annual Powerade Queen’s 5k ‘Race Around the River’ which will take place on Wednesday 25 March 2015 at 7pm, it was announced that this year’s race has been awarded Northern Ireland and Ulster championship status for 2015.  The already popular road race, which is organised by Queen’s Athletics Club and Queen’s Sport, covers a fast and unique course beside the River Lagan consisting of two laps around the King’s Bridge and Ormeau Bridge, with the Physical Education Centre (PEC) acting as the race HQ for pre and post-race requirements.

John Allen, General Secretary of Athletics Northern Ireland, said: "I am delighted that such high calibre events such as the Powerade Queen’s 5k Road Race will host the prestigious 2015 Northern Ireland and Ulster Road Race Championships. Over the past number of years the Championships have grown in stature with titles sought after by both individual athletes and clubs. Each of these races caters to a large number of club athletes and fun runners from all parts of Ireland and further afield and I am sure this year's event will be no exception".

There are robust guidelines in place in relation to awarding championship status to any road race. These cover factors such as accurate distance measurement, adequate stewarding and policing, provision of toilets, first aid, water and refreshments and the general quality of the course and event organisation. Championship status can only be awarded to one event in each distance category per year, being chosen as a Championship host is evidence of the confidence Athletics Northern Ireland has in the commitment of the event organisers involved and the quality of each race.

Neil Johnston, Captain of Queen’s Athletics Club said “We encourage those interested in taking part to enrol early as the first 500 entries will be guaranteed the specially branded Queen’s 5k T-shirt.  We are also encouraging more students, local recreational runners and parkrun enthusiasts who live in the surrounding area of South Belfast to get involved and challenge themselves over 5K”

Neil added “This year’s race will also bring some added student rivalry with Queen’s Clubs and Societies competing for a new team prize that will be awarded to the fastest team of four across Male and Female student categories”.

Stephen Cassidy, Senior Key Account Manager from Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland “We are proud to continue our partnership with Queen’s Sport by supporting the Powerade Queen’s 5k Road 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 Development Office and we are committed to developing the talent of the future, as well as the sports stars of today.  We recognise the Powerade Queen’s 5K Road Race as an important community sporting event and hope the number of participants continues to grow.

For more information on the race, entry fees and the course visit www.queenssport5k.com

For further information please contact: Kevin Murray k.murray@qub.ac.uk 07804249181 or visit the Queen’s Sport Website: www.queenssport.com

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Community impact made by NI students celebrated at Queen’s

University students who are making a positive impact on their communities are being celebrated at Queen’s University today.

The Science Shop, which is now in its 26th year, is celebrating the community impact of university students from Queen’s and Ulster University who link their knowledge and skills to the needs of their communities.

Students have the opportunity to use the knowledge they have gained during their degrees to carry out a research project for a community group which can help the group improve their services, boost the lives of local people and support the wider community. In return the students have the chance to gain experience and help make a positive change. Every year Queen’s and Ulster University each make a prize fund of £1,000 available to share among the students who complete projects with the best community impact.

This year’s winner of the Queen’s University Science Shop Award is postgraduate student Alison Toogood who is studying childhood adversity in the school of psychology. She worked with Newry and Mourne Young Carers group to help young people caring for their family members feel more in control of their situation. Her research made recommendations about the kinds of support that the group might provide to help young carers develop coping skills.

The runner up from Queen’s is postgraduate biology student, Geoff Newall, who worked with the Belfast Hills Partnership to identify the range of solitary bees in the Belfast Hills. The research recommended that Belfast Hills Partnership focus on conserving habitat rather than individual species.

Ulster University first place went to joint award winners Jennifer Clifford and Lauren Stewart. Psychology graduate Jennifer worked with The Rainbow Project to explore the experiences of and providing an interpretive analysis of Transition of Transwomen. Lauren, a Public Relations graduate, worked with Action Cancer to investigate the use of social media technologies in health care communications. 

Commenting on the achievements, Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Academic Planning, Staffing and External Relations at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The Science Shop provides our students with opportunities to apply their knowledge and learning in real-life settings, and provides community groups with access to the expertise of the university. This important link is a demonstration of Queen’s commitment to making a positive impact on society.

“Our students gain a better understanding of the challenges facing communities within our society and encourages them to understand the social impact of academic work. The Science Shop is also a fine example of cooperation between Queen’s and Ulster: both universities, and the community groups with whom we have worked this year, are extremely proud of our quarter century of successful public engagement.”

Professor Denise McAlister, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Ulster University, said: “On behalf of Ulster University I congratulate both Jennifer and Lauren on their award winning Science Shop successes. For over 25 years Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast have worked in partnership to deliver the Science Shop which inspires students and delivers real impact for community and voluntary sectors in Northern Ireland. Jennifer and Lauren carefully used their expert research skills and shared their ideas, knowledge and results to benefit both Action Cancer and The Rainbow Project, who in turn are using that expertise to shape and inform their service, policies and strategies. Today we proudly celebrate not only their wins but the immense achievements of all involve.”

Over the past 26 years the Science Shop has delivered over 2,500 projects and worked with nearly 700 community groups including sports clubs, youth groups and recycling centres.

The joint community resource is funded by the Department for Employment and Learning through their Higher Education Innovation Fund.

For more information on Queen’s University’s Science Shop visit: http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/ScienceShop

For more information on Ulster University’s Science Shop visit: http://ulster.scienceshop.org/home/default.asp  

Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, at Queen’s University Communications Office, call 028 9097 5384 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Dubai Healthcare City partners Queen’s University to develop new university in Middle East

Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), the world’s largest healthcare free zone, and Queen’s University Belfast, one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities, today announced their partnership to develop the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBR-UMHS) and its College of Medicine.

Queen’s will assist in the development of the MBR-UMHS and the College of Medicine, including curriculum development, recruitment and selection of staff, and student selection and admissions.

The College of Medicine is expected to open for applications in Autumn 2015 with the first cohort of medical students to be welcomed in September 2016.

Leading up to the launch, Dubai Healthcare City and Queen’s University will focus on course development, recruitment of high quality academic and professional service staff and the provision of the necessary infrastructure.

Dubai Healthcare City will work closely with Queen’s to devise and implement a strategy that addresses the healthcare education, training and research needs of Dubai and other regional communities.

Her Excellency Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg, Vice-Chairperson, Dubai Healthcare City Authority, said: “The current healthcare demands in the UAE and the region are unprecedented, and provision of quality medical education is a key part to meet these needs. Our partnership with Queen’s University Belfast provides an opportunity to expand access to medical education and reach the desired solutions. We are confident that our joint role will extend its reach beyond the campus of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.”

Marwan Abedin, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Healthcare City, said: “The Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences’ objective is to advance healthcare in the UAE by developing human capacity, graduating medical professionals to the highest level of skills and expertise and fostering world-class research. The strategic partnership with Queen’s University will help deliver on our mission.”

Professor Patrick Johnston, President and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast, said: “I am both delighted and excited about today’s announcement, in which Queen’s University Belfast will partner Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) to develop the new University of Medicine and Health Sciences, including the College of Medicine. We see this as part of a long-term partnership and collaboration in education and research, with mutually beneficial outcomes for both partners.

“It is an extremely important project, where our longstanding experience in this field will make a major contribution, as an international partner, to deliver a project that addresses the healthcare education, training and research needs of Dubai and other regional communities.”

While in Dubai to support Northern Ireland companies at Arab Health, Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment said: “The promotion of the quality of Northern Ireland’s higher education capability is high on the agenda of the Northern Ireland Executive’s strategy and through our growing links developed by Invest Northern Ireland’s local team in Dubai, with the United Arab Emirates, I am delighted that Queen’s has been chosen as a partner for Dubai’s new University of Medicine and Health Sciences.  This relationship emerged from a visit to Northern Ireland by Dubai Businesswomen’s Council last May.  I’m especially pleased that we have been able to make this announcement while I’m here at Arab Health where so many innovative Northern Ireland companies are exhibiting.”

Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif, Managing Director – Education, Dubai Healthcare City, said: “With the target opening in mind, we will be working closely with Queen’s University Belfast to develop a detailed project plan to achieve our goals and maintain momentum ahead of the first intake of students in September 2016.  This project timeline will detail the key faculty appointments and critical stages in student recruitment and curriculum planning and delivery.”

Mr James O’Kane, Queen’s University’s Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, and Project Lead said: “Queen’s University very much welcomes the opportunity to establish a partnership with Dubai Healthcare City to develop and launch the new University of Medicine and Health Sciences. This partnership will be based on the provision of expert advice and guidance on a comprehensive range of academic, professional and governance matters relating to the development of the new University. It will also have a particular focus in providing advice to develop a world-class education and research programme in the College of Medicine.

Professor Graham McGeown, Queen’s University’s Deputy Head of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and Academic Lead said: “The agreed model supports a long-term partnership across education and research in the health sciences. As international partner, Queen’s will advise on and facilitate the development of capability and building of capacity, and act as an advocate for the MD programme.”

For media enquiries, please contact: Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs, Queen’s University Belfast, +44 (0)28 9097 3259 (office), +44 (0)7813 015431 cell, k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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