November 2015 Press Releases

Queen’s University Belfast leads the way in UK bid to save lives of people suffering respiratory failure

A potentially revolutionary new technology – that could saves thousands of lives in Intensive Care Units around the world – is being trialled in a UK study co-led by Queen’s University.

Covering 1,120 critically ill patients in 40 different sites in Britain and Northern Ireland over five years, the research project will test a new strategy designed to minimise damage to the lungs caused by mechanical ventilation – commonly referred to as ‘ventilators’. The study will be one of the largest clinical trials in the world, to date, involving patients with respiratory failure.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has funded the £2.1 million research which will be jointly led by Queen’s and Belfast Health and Social Services Trust.

Respiratory failure is common in the UK; about 100,000 people each year require the assistance of ventilators in ICUs and up to 40 per cent of these patients die. The number of deaths exceeds that from road traffic accidents or from prostate cancer and leukaemia combined.

Although there is evidence that ventilators save lives, they can also be associated with damage to the lungs, because of the mechanical pressure exerted on the organs.

Now, a new type of technology called ‘extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal’, which aims to facilitate a gentler type of ventilation, offers the hope that more lives could be saved, but only a clinical trial, such as the one being co-led by Queen’s, will provide definitive results.

Professor Danny McAuley, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at the Centre for Infection and Immunity at Queen’s University Belfast, explained: “A mechanical ventilator acts like bellows as air is forced into the lungs under pressure. If the pressure is too high, this can cause lasting damage. But we are hoping that this new technology will help us ventilate the lungs more gently. That is because these new devices have been designed to help remove carbon dioxide from the patient’s blood – in a process quite similar to kidney dialysis – which is one of the main functions of the lungs.

“The new technology involves a catheter being inserted into the patient’s vein. Blood from the patient then passes through a device where it is ‘washed’ to remove carbon dioxide before being returned to the patient. By temporarily removing some of this function from the lungs, it means they do not have to do as much work as usual, and so a gentler ventilation may be sufficient, easing the pressure on them.”

Dr James McNamee, from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said: “In our study, there will be two groups of people admitted to ICUs with respiratory failure. One will receive the best level of care within current NHS guidelines while the other group will have the additional, new treatment to artificially remove the carbon dioxide from their blood. At the end, we should know whether the new technology can impact on mortality rates.

“We can also begin to look at the long-term survival and quality of life for patients treated with this technology, as well as the cost implications. The fact is, even patients who survive respiratory failure often suffer long-term health problems. As well as impacting on quality of life, these knock-on problems are a significant drain on resources in the NHS so anything we can do to improve outcomes would be a win-win situation.”

The extracorporeal CO2 removal device to be used in the study, called the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System, is manufactured by US-based ALung Technologies. Peter DeComo, Chief Executive Officer of ALung said: “We are honoured to have been chosen by the study team as the technology partner for this very important project. This study promises to provide the most robust evidence yet regarding the impact of minimally invasive extracorporeal CO2 removal technology to reduce mortality through facilitation of an ‘ultraprotective’ ventilation strategy. We thank Professor McAuley and his team for their efforts to organise this landmark study and look forward to its commencement.”

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of the Public Health Agency’s Health and Social Care R&D Division in Northern Ireland, which has provided long-term support to help this team secure the award said: “I am delighted that Northern Ireland will lead this UK-wide research study that has the potential to improve the management of patients in critical care worldwide. The prestigious National Institute for Health Research offers the opportunity for local researchers like Professor McAuley and his team to bring major research income to Northern Ireland, to support this type of study. The results of this study will be of interest at an international level and will highlight the capability of Northern Ireland researchers to lead globally significant healthcare research”.

For further information contact Queen’s University Belfast Communications Officer Una Bradley (Mon-Thurs) on 0044 (0)2890 975384 or Alternatively, contact Acting Senior Communications Officer Claire Kelly on 0044 (0)2890 5391 or

Further information is also available on the NIHR website

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Royal recognition for Queen’s University in its fight to strengthen cyber security

Queen’s University Belfast is being honoured by Her Majesty the Queen for its work in strengthening global cyber security and protecting the online activity of billions of internet users around the world.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s – a major hub for research and innovation in cyber security - is being awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. The award comes two days after the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced plans to double funding to fight cybercrime in the effort to protect the UK from online attacks.

Based at the Northern Ireland Science Park, in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, CSIT, with 90 people, is one of the UK’s largest university cyber security research centres. It has developed breakthrough innovations, including novel technology which will be integrated into Apps to improve security for online financial transactions; anti-counterfeit technology to prevent internet fraud; and new processors to deliver filtered internet to homes and businesses, stripping out viruses, malware and malicious content.

Welcoming the announcement, Queen’s University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “Cyber security is now a major global challenge, with cyber crime increasing at an alarming rate. Earlier this week, the UK Government warned of the threat of cyber attacks on vital online infrastructure, such as that which supports hospitals, banks and air traffic control systems. The need for strong and resilient cyber security technologies has never been greater. CSIT is home to some of the world’s foremost cyber security experts. It is, and will continue to be, at the forefront of efforts to protect the UK from cyber attacks and to maintain the public’s trust that their online privacy and data is kept safe.

“Since its inception five years ago, CSIT has pioneered research, development and collaboration to protect people and business and drive economic development. The Centre has had a positive impact on the security of billions of internet users around the globe and we are delighted that has been recognised by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. I congratulate all those involved.

“CSIT prides itself on two pillars of excellence – in its world-leading research, and its unique model for commercialising that research. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which assessed the quality of research in the UK’s higher education institutions, rated 93 per cent of CSIT’s research as world leading or internationally excellent.

“Alongside that research excellence, links with global companies including IBM, Intel, Infosys, Allstate, BAE Systems and Thales, provide valuable routes to market for CSIT’s technological innovations. Strong relationships with local companies also allow SMEs unrivalled access to engineering and research expertise, enabling them to grow their business internationally.

“CSIT has been a critical factor in securing almost 1,000 cyber security related jobs in Northern Ireland, injecting around £38 million per year into our economy. The Centre has helped put Northern Ireland firmly on the map as a lead region for cyber security – an achievement that further highlights the far reaching impact of University research.”

Professor John McCanny, Principal Investigator at CSIT, said: “CSIT’s unique strength lies in its approach to the innovation and commercialisation of Queen’s ground breaking research. It overlays an excellent academic research environment with an infrastructure that is more common in high-technology companies, creating a unique team of researchers, innovators and engineers that accelerates the translation of research into business. As a result, CSIT and Northern Ireland are fast becoming a global innovation hub for cyber security.”

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said: “I congratulate Queen’s University Belfast on being honoured by Her Majesty the Queen for its work in strengthening global cyber security and protecting the online activity of billions of internet users around the world.  CSIT has been a critical factor in establishing Northern Ireland as the UK’s leading cyber security cluster by promoting 950 new cyber security related jobs and additionally building capacity for industry by providing it with high quality masters and PhD graduates. ”

CSIT is also meeting the increase in demand for cyber security education through its postgraduate courses, including a Masters in Cyber Security which is informed by the Centre’s world-class research in the areas of data, network, media and physical security. It also hosts the World Cyber Security Summit – an annual event which brings together the international research community, industry leaders and government policy makers in Belfast to discuss cyber security challenges. 

CSIT is among the recipients announced at a special ceremony at St James’ Palace in London this evening.  The Queen’s Anniversary Prize will be presented at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in February.

For more information visit


Media inquiries to Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) or Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) at Queen’s University Communications Office Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 Email: 

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New treatment for underlying cause of cystic fibrosis has received EU approval

Researchers at Queen’s University, as part of an international research team which trialled a combination of two drugs - Lumafactor and Ivacaftor, which can improve lung function and reduce hospital treatments for cystic fibrosis sufferers, has received EU approval.

ORKAMBI® (lumacaftor/ivacaftor), is the first medicine to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) in people ages 12 and older who have two copies of the F508del mutation. 

Professor Stuart Elborn, M.D., Dean, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, and a lead Principal Investigator for the Phase 3 TRAFFIC study said: “The combination of lumacaftor and ivacaftor represents a step-change in the management of cystic fibrosis for these patients because it addresses the underlying cause of the disease. By doing so, it has shown meaningful and sustained benefits.

“For people with cystic fibrosis, the disease is a lifelong battle that becomes progressively more serious with repeated hospitalization due to lung infections. Until now, people with two copies of the F508del mutation have only had treatments for the symptoms and complications of the disease.

“The combination of lumacaftor and ivacaftor represents a step-change in the management of cystic fibrosis for these patients because it addresses the underlying cause of the disease. By doing so, it has shown meaningful and sustained benefits.”

Today’s approval is based on previously announced data from two 24-week global Phase 3 studies, TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT, and additional interim 24-week data from the subsequent extension study, PROGRESS, in people ages 12 and older who have two copies of the F508del mutation and were already being treated with standard-of-care medicines.

In the TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT studies, which enrolled more than 1,100 patients, those treated with the combination of lumacaftor and ivacaftor experienced significant improvements in lung function. Patients also experienced improvements in body mass index (BMI) and reductions in pulmonary exacerbations (acute lung infections) including those requiring hospitalizations and intravenous antibiotic use. Interim data from PROGRESS showed that these improvements were sustained through 48 total weeks of treatment (24 weeks in TRAFFIC/TRANSPORT + 24 weeks in PROGRESS).

In addition, the pattern and magnitude of response observed after the initiation of combination treatment across all patients who received placebo in TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT and subsequently received a combination regimen in PROGRESS were similar to those seen among patients who received a combination regimen in TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT.

The combination of lumacaftor and ivacaftor was generally well tolerated in all three studies. In TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT, the most common adverse events included shortness of breath and/or chest tightness, upper respiratory tract infection (common cold) and gastrointestinal symptoms (including nausea, diarrhea, or gas). In the extension study, the safety and tolerability results, including the type and frequency of adverse events and serious adverse events, were consistent with those observed in TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT, and no new safety concerns were identified. Over 48 weeks, the most common adverse events were infective pulmonary exacerbation, cough and increased sputum. The incidence of serious adverse events during PROGRESS was generally similar to TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT.

For media inquiries please contact Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) or Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) at Queen’s University Communications Office Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 Email: 

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Queen’s Centre for Children’s Rights marks International Children’s Day

The Centre for Children’s Rights, based in the School of Education at Queen’s University will be presenting a new video and accompanying booklet about child sexual exploitation and abuse entitled, “Tell someone you trust” to mark International Children's Day on Friday 20 November, 2015 (tomorrow).

Researchers from the Centre, in collaboration with a group of young people, and a group of children aged 9 -13 years, worked together to produce these child-friendly materials on behalf of the Council of Europe. The video explains what sexual abuse and exploitation are and how the Council of Europe is working to protect children’s rights through the Lanzarote Convention.

The Council of Europe launched the materials on ‘The European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse’, Wednesday 18 November, 2015. They will be used to educate children across the 47 countries of the Council of Europe in schools and through the work of other major national and international agencies working to prevent sexual abuse, such as Interpol.

Regina Jensdottir, Director of the Children’s Rights Unit in the Council of Europe has commended the collaboration with Queen’s and said:  “When I introduce the video, I am particularly proud to say that it has been made for children by children.”

Professor Laura Lundy, Director of The Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s who led the project, said:  “Our experience at the Centre for Children’s Rights tells us that, in order to produce ‘child-friendly’ material, we need to involve children in authorship.

“Sexual abuse and exploitation is a sensitive topic and the Lanzarote Convention is a detailed legal document. That made it even more important to take children’s advice on how to explain these issues to other children in ways that are  appropriate, accurate and engaging.”

Researcher on the project Michelle Templeton, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s, said: “This project is an excellent example of participation that demonstrates how adults, young people and children can all work together to share relevant information in a way that may help improve children’s lives.”

The event will also showcase some of the recent projects carried out by other researchers in the Centre, who also employ participatory methods with children in their work.

For further information about the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s visit: and to watch the video go to:

For more information contact Queen's Communications Office on: or (028) 90973087

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NSPCC NI and Queen’s University hold seminar in Belfast to promote research showing a whole system approach to better mental health will help protect children in care

NSPCC NI and Queen’s University are holding a seminar at Queen’s on Wednesday 18 November which will focus on the health and well- being of Looked After Children and Young People (LACYP).

Specialists from a range of organisations, including Queen’s University, VOYPIC and LAC Therapeutic Services in Northern Ireland will come together to highlight  the high needs of this group of young people which are not currently receiving enough attention.

Dr Dominic McSherry, a psychologist at Queen’s who is speaking at the event said: “It is estimated that there are around 2,800 looked after children and young people in Northern Ireland.  Earlier in the year, Queen’s University published a report entitled Mind your Health – the physical and mental health of looked after children and young people in Northern Ireland, which highlights the health challenges faced by these children and young people, how these are currently being addressed, and what improvements might be made.

“These children and young people receive limited attention in health services research, even though their poor health potentially impacts on a whole range of outcomes, including educational and economic achievement, quality of life, and future parenting. Furthermore, health problems can place significant strain on placements and lead to placement breakdowns.”

Neil Anderson, Head of Services for NSPCC Northern Ireland, commented: “We know that around 40 to 50% of children in care in Northern Ireland have a diagnosable mental health disorder – four times higher than in the general child population. Despite this, supporting their emotional wellbeing is not always prioritised and we are calling for urgent action to support these most vulnerable of young people and ensuring that all looked after children receive a robust assessment of their mental health at the outset..  The NSPCC research report “Achieving Emotional Wellbeing for Looked After Children” report in England and Wales has also highlighted how agencies can better improve work at a local level by taking a whole system approach.”

Both reports from Queen’s and the NSPCC highlight the need  to ensure meeting the emotional and mental health  of these young people with an emphasis on early intervention, prevention and provision of proactive services. They call for Governments to prioritise the mental and emotional well-being of looked after children in both assessment and commissioning of services. Additionally, attention was drawn to the importance of improving support for foster carers to enable them to meet young people’s emotional and behavioural needs.

The research from Queen’s University identified some positive factors which are currently helping to meet the children’s health needs, including: priority status for LACYP in their referral to particular services, professional co-operation, placement stability, well supported foster placements and support services from statutory and voluntary organisations.

Over the last four years in the Western Trust area NSPCC has been delivering a successful programme known as the Face to Face service.  The service supports young people who are in or on the edge of care. 

Speaking about the service, Sharon Breslin, Service Centre Manager for NSPCC in Foyle added:  “Over the last four years the NSPCC’s Face to Face service has been supporting children and young people in Foyle who are in or on the edge of care.  Face to Face aims to find solutions to issues that are affecting their life, impacting on their emotional wellbeing, or placing them at risk.  New research evaluating the service shows that in Foyle, 55 per cent of children showed a reliable improvement in levels of wellbeing at the end of the service.

“We’re so pleased to see that Face to Face has been shown to have a positive impact on the lives of children in care. Our evaluation has identified that there is a gap in services meeting the emotional needs of children in care and those on the edge of care. It has also shown the potential to support children with approaches such as Face to Face. Services like this to support emotional needs should be easily accessible and available to all children.

“Seventy-three per cent of children and young people said that Face to Face had helped them to solve the immediate concern that was affecting their emotional wellbeing. Face to Face workers talk to children and young people about the things they would like to change in their life. They help them work out what needs to happen to make things better, both now and in the future.”

In conclusion, Louise Bazalgette, Programme Manager and speaker at the event said:  “Too many children in care attract support only once their mental health needs have put their placement at risk of breakdown. We need to move toward an early intervention approach whereby we understand young people’s emotional and behavioural needs from the start, and support their carers to provide them with stable, responsive care.”

The seminar is timely as both pieces of research come at a time when the DHSSPS are publishing a new strategic overview of services for looked after children, building on the work undertaken with Care Matters.


For further information contact Julie Watts at NSPCC Northern Ireland on 07920 531480 or Katherine Fox on 028 2044 1573 or email

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Queen’s University Belfast lead research milestone in helping predict solar flares

An international team of researchers, led by Queen’s University, has devised a high-precision method of examining magnetic fields in the Sun’s atmosphere, representing a significant leap forward in the investigation of solar flares and potentially catastrophic ‘space weather’.

Solar flares are massive explosions of energy in the Sun’s atmosphere. Experts have warned that even a single ‘monster’ solar flare could cause up to $2 trillion worth of damage on Earth, including the loss of satellites and electricity grids, as well the potential knock-on dangers to human life and health. A key goal of the $300 million Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), which will be the largest solar telescope in the world when construction is finished in 2019 on the Pacific island of Maui, is the measurement of magnetic fields in the outer regions of the Sun’s atmosphere.

The technique pioneered by the Queen’s-led team, published today in the journal Nature Physics, will feed into the DKIST project, as well as allowing greater advance warning of potentially devastating space storms. The new techniqueallows changes in the Sun’s magnetic fields, which drive the initiation of solar flares, to be monitored up to ten times faster than previous methods.

The Queen’s-led team, which spans academics from universities in Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the USA, harnessed data from both NASA’s premier space-based telescope (the Solar Dynamics Observatory), and the ROSA multi-camera system, which was designed at Queen’s University Belfast, using detectors made by Northern Ireland company Andor Technology.

Lead researcher Dr David Jess from Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre said: “Continual outbursts from our Sun, in the form of solar flares and associated space weather, represent the potentially destructive nature of our nearest star. Our new techniques demonstrate a novel way of probing the Sun’s outermost magnetic fields, providing scientists worldwide with a new approach to examine, and ultimately understand, the precursors responsible for destructive space weather.

“Queen’s is increasingly becoming a major player on the astrophysics global stage. This work highlights the strong international links we have with other leading academic institutes from around the world, and provides yet another example of how Queen’s research is at the forefront of scientific discovery.”

The paper, entitled ‘Solar Coronal Magnetic Fields Derived Using Seismology Techniques Applied to Omnipresent Sunspot Waves’, can be read at:

Specific research results include:

(1)   The datasets used provided unprecedented images of all layers of the Sun’s tenuous atmosphere, allowing the team to piece the jigsaw puzzle together of how magnetic fields permeate the dynamic atmosphere. Images captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and STEREO spacecrafts provided million-degree vantage points of how these magnetic fields stretch far out into the Sun’s corona (the region of the Sun’s atmosphere visible during total solar eclipses)

(2)   Waves propagated along magnetic fields, similar to how sound waves travel through the air on Earth. The speed at which these waves can travel is governed by the characteristics of the Sun’s atmosphere, including its temperature and the strength of its magnetic field. The waves were found to propagate with speeds approaching half a million (500,000) mph, and when coupled with temperatures of around 1,000,000 degrees in the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the researchers were able to determine the magnetic field strengths to a high degree of precision

(3)   The strength of the magnetic fields decreases by a factor of 100 as they travel from the surface of the Sun out into the tenuous, hot corona. While the magnetic fields have decreased in strength, they still possess immense energy that can twist and shear, ultimately releasing huge blasts towards Earth in the form of solar flares. The team’s methods provide a much faster way of examining magnetic field changes in the lead up to solar flares, which can ultimately be used to provide advanced warning against such violent space weather

For further information, contact Queen’s University Communications Officer Una Bradley (Mon-Thurs) on Tel. 0044 (0)28 9097 5384 or email Alternatively, contact acting Senior Communications Officer Claire Kelly on Tel. 0044 (0)28 9097 5391 or email




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Queen’s University Belfast scores a world first with invention of ‘porous liquid’

Scientists at Queen’s University have made a major breakthrough by making a porous liquid – with the potential for a massive range of new technologies including ‘carbon capture’.

Researchers in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s, along with colleagues at the University of Liverpool, UK, and other, international partners, have invented the new liquid and found that it can dissolve unusually large amounts of gas, which are absorbed into the ‘holes’ in the liquid. The results of their research are published today in the journal Nature.

The three-year research project could pave the way for many more efficient and greener chemical processes, including ultimately the procedure known as carbon capture - trapping carbon dioxide from major sources, for example a fossil-fuel power plant, and storing it to prevent its entry into the atmosphere.

Professor Stuart James of Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering said: “Materials which contain permanent holes, or pores, are technologically important. They are used for manufacturing a range of products from plastic bottles to petrol. However, until recently, these porous materials have been solids. What we have done is to design a special liquid from the ‘bottom-up’ – we designed the shapes of the molecules which make up the liquid so that the liquid could not fill up all the space. Because of the empty holes we then had in the liquid, we found that it was able to dissolve unusually large amounts of gas. These first experiments are what is needed to understand this new type of material, and the results point to interesting long-term applications which rely on dissolution of gases.

“A few more years’ research will be needed, but if we can find applications for these porous liquids they could result in new or improved chemical processes. At the very least, we have managed to demonstrate a very new principle – that by creating holes in liquids we can dramatically increase the amount of gas they can dissolve. These remarkable properties suggest interesting applications in the long term.”

Queen’s University Belfast led the research which also involved the University of Liverpool and universities in France, Germany and Argentina. The study was mainly funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Engineering Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).

To read an excerpt from the full article once the embargo lifts, see

For more information, contact the Queen’s University Communications Officer Una Bradley (Mon-Thurs) on 0044 (0)28 9097 5384 or email Alternatively, contact Acting Senior Communications Officer Claire Kelly on (0)28 907 5391 or email

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Rising research stars shine at Queen’s University

Members of the public are invited to Queen’s University (Wednesday 11 November) to meet an inspiring new generation of researchers.

The free event will showcase 32 talented women and men in the early stages of their research careers, working on projects that have local and global impact. Each of them are profiled in a new publication, ‘The DNA of Innovation, Volume V: New Voices, New Impact’ which will be launched at the event.

Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “Today’s event introduces an inspiring new generation who are adding to the success of Queen’s world-leading research. While in the early stages of their careers, these talented researchers are already engaged in work that is of global importance. They come from more than a dozen countries and work across international boundaries and academic disciplines on projects that have the potential to change lives.

“Their research is improving our understanding of cancer and other diseases. They are driving forward advances in global food security and information technology, exploring new approaches to the teaching of science, and contributing to the debate about contemporary world issues such as financial crises and conflict resolution. I look forward to seeing their careers advance as they help find the answers to some of our greatest problems.”

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, said: “There is no doubt that an ever increasing importance and prestige is being attached to the tangible benefits and impacts derived from academic research. I commend this latest publication from Queen’s which focuses on the contributions of these exceptional men and women, all of whom are in the early stages of their research careers.

“Like many of their peers right across the research base in Northern Ireland, these researchers are all deeply engaged in work which is not only strategically important in an international context, but which also demonstrates significant benefits to both society and the local economy here; be it through drug, medicine and healthcare innovations, aerospace and engineering developments, advances in relation to food science and security, or influencing reform of public policy, law, equality and human rights.”

Scott Rutherford, Director of Research and Enterprise at Queen’s, and whose team has managed the event and new publication, said: “We often read the headlines about the ground-breaking research that is taking place at Queen’s, which is changing the lives of people around the world. This is a great opportunity to meet some of the early career researchers behind the headlines whose work is advancing knowledge and changing lives.”

The researchers featured in ‘New Voices, New Impact’ include:

  • Dr Gareth Conway from Queen’s School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences who has developed the antenna technology for a ‘digital bandage’ that checks a patient’s vital signs every two minutes and has the potential to revolutionise routine patient care.
  • Dr Vicky Coyle from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, who is to lead the UK arm of an international study to look at how physical activity for patients with colon cancer might improve outcomes and survival.
  • Dr David Jess from the Astrophysics Research Centre, who is building a new solar imaging system to understand how energy is released from the sun. He is also working with industry to apply his research to public health.
  • Dr Iosif Kovras from the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, who is a leading voice on the post-2008 economic crisis and its political and legal, as well as economic consequences.
  • Dr Malgorzata Swadzba-Kwasny from Queen’s Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) who is using ‘green chemistry’ to turn industrial waste into usable materials.

The ‘New Voices, New Impact’ showcase is part of a series of events aimed at highlighting Queen’s impact on society. The event is free and open to the public, taking place in the Whitla Hall at Queen’s University, 4 - 7pm on Wednesday 11 November.  Short presentations will be given at 5.15-5.50pm. For further information visit:

Those interested in postgraduate research at Queen’s can find out more about the opportunities on offer at a Postgraduate Research Information Evening on Wednesday 25 November, 6-8pm at the Great Hall at Queen’s. To register for the event visit

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thu-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 Email:

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Queen’s University astrophysicists reaching for the stars with UK’s top fellowships

Two young researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have won the UK’s two most prestigious fellowships for physical scientists in the same year, copperfastening Queen’s international reputation for world-leading research in astrophysics.

Dr Neale Gibson and Dr Kate Maguire were awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship respectively, and both chose to bring their posts to Queen’s – out of all the UK’s universities. Their total funding is close to £1million, which will all be spent here in the Northern Ireland economy.

The awards will allow the pair, who are both graduates of Queen’s but who have also carried out post-doctoral research at Oxford University and the European Southern Observatory (which hosts the Very Large Telescope in Chile) to continue their pioneering research into exoplanets and supernovae.

Currently, Dr Gibson is working on the atmospheric composition of “hot-Jupiters” – the biggest, brightest and most inhospitable planets. With next-generation telescopes he hopes to be able to do the same for “Earth-like” planets, and begin the hunt for habitable worlds outside the Solar System.

Dr Maguire’s research focuses on a particular type of exploding star that can be seen to great distances in the universe. Measurement of these supernovae are the best way to measure distances to high precision in the universe; they are key to understanding the mysterious 'dark energy' that makes up greater than 70 per cent of the mass-energy of the universe but the origin of which is still unexplained. 

Professor Stephen Smartt, of Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Mathematics and Physics said: “It is a tremendous boost to Queen’s research to have winners of the two most prestigious fellowship schemes in the UK for physical scientists bring their fellowships here. These are highly competitive positions, with the best young scientists from around the world applying every year. The winners of these awards are regarded as the brightest and best scientists around and it is a pleasure to have Kate and Neale chose to host their fellowships at Queen’s. They could have chosen anywhere in the UK, but recognised the high-quality research environment in astrophysics that Queen’s has now built. They will play a key role in making us more internationally competitive with the aim of attracting more international funding and international students to Belfast.”

To learn more about postgraduate research at Queen’s, including details of upcoming open days at Queen’s new Graduate School, please visit:

For further information contact the Queen’s University Communications Office on Tel. 028 9097 5384 or email

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