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Latest News

Queen's students win prestigious IT scholarships

Five leading IT and engineering students from Queen’s University Belfast have been awarded prestigious scholarships worth up to £25,000.  Queen’s students Alan Ferguson, Ciarán Mulholland, David Ball, Michael Purdy and Michael Seeds, have joined the renowned Asidua Scholarship programme which aims to attract fresh talent into the Northern Ireland IT sector. Set up by Belfast IT software and telecoms services provider, Asidua, the programme gives students the opportunity to work alongside the company’s professional staff during paid summer and year out placements. Since its launch, 34 leading IT and Engineering students have been placed on the programme; each securing a package of support worth up to £25,000. Ann Doris, Senior Careers & Placement Advisor at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “We are delighted that Asidua continues to recruit and financially support top IT and Engineering talent from Queen's University into the IT sector through their Scholarship Programme. It enables our students to gain industry relevant experience and grow into young professionals from the start of their academic career.” One of the successful students, Alan Ferguson, who is currently studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Queen's University Belfast, said: “I want to learn and expand my skills through my time spent on my summer and industrial placements. In particular I hope to learn more about software development from working on real projects as well as getting to learn from talented professionals in a real world environment. In the future I hope the Asidua Scholarship Programme helps me improve my skill set along with honing my existing skills.” The five Queen’s students will continue with their first year studies at the university, returning this summer to begin their first industrial placement with Asidua, which is run by the Civica Group company. Please direct media enquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 5384 or andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s student wins international dentistry prize

A student from Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded the most prestigious student research prize in dentistry. Laura Graham, a fourth year dental student at Queen’s, won first prize in the Junior Researcher section of the Hatton Awards, held at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.   Laura, from Portglenone, gave a presentation on ‘The role of p63 and BRCA1 in Oropharyngeal Cancer”. The judges awarded her the top prize for her subject knowledge and the quality of her research. Laura’s presentation was based on research she carried out within the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queen’s, under the supervision of Dr Jacqueline James, Dr Simon McDade and Dr Stephen McQuaid. Please direct media enquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 5384 or andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s leads international research programme in Precision Cancer Medicine

Queen’s University Belfast is leading a major new international initiative into modern cancer care medicine which was announced today in Washington D.C. Researchers from Queen’s University’s world-class Centrefor Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) in partnership with researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Washington are working together to deliver a £2.5M 4 year PhD programme in Precision Cancer Medicine. Precision Cancer Medicine  utilises our increased biological understanding of  cancer to drive a more selective approach, ensuring patients receive therapeutically effective treatment based on their genetic make-up, while avoiding treatment-related side effects. CCRCB has established an innovative Academia-Industry-Healthcare Precision Cancer Medicine  pipeline that is delivering new diagnostics and new therapies for cancer patients.    The innovative Doctoral Training Programme in Precision Cancer Medicine will initially provide 12 Queen’s students with an unrivalled opportunity to perform cutting edge research at a world renowned cancer institution, positioning them as future leaders in an area that is revolutionising how we deliver 21st century medicine to cancer patients. Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston said: "It is extremely exciting to be announcing this initiative here in Washington. It provides significant opportunities for students to be exposed to state-of-the-art technologies and receive quality mentorship from researchers both at the NCI and at Queen’s and it is further evidence of how Queen’s researchers are continuing to advance knowledge and change lives at a global level." Dr Stephen Chanock, Chief, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, NCI said: "We welcome this opportunity for Northern Ireland students to come to the National Institutes of Health. They will join with fellow graduate students from many parts of the world in an academic milieu that will encourage research excellence."   In this Doctoral Training Programme, PhD students will not only acquire specialist research skills, but will also be exposed to entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership training, as part of a collaboration between the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences,  the Queen’s University Management School and the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s. "This cross faculty, interdisciplinary PhD Programme is an excellent example of the type of modern postgraduate degree that we are now offering to students attending Queen’s." saidProfessor Margaret Topping, Dean of Queen’s Graduate School. Professor David Waugh, Director, CCRCB said: "Doctoral training is a key component of our Precision Cancer Medicine Programme. Partnering with researchers at the NCI not only enhances the student experience, but also provides significant opportunities for future research collaborations with CCRCB scientists." Professor Mark Lawler, Associate Director of Postgraduate Studies at CCRCB and chief architect of the programme said: "This vibrant Doctoral Training Programme actively encourages excellence with impact, delivering a cadre of innovative, business-aware and socially responsible scientists who will compete successfully in the evolving global research and bio-industry communities. It provides Northern Ireland students with a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to further their careers at a world famous cancer institution and deliver research with global impact." For further information please contact Queen’s Communications Office on +442890975320 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk 

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Goodbye to sunburn thanks to Queen’s sunburn indicator

Sunbathers could soon tell when to take shelter in the shade thanks to an early warning sunburn indicator, developed by Queen’s University Belfast. Researchers at Queen’s have developed a strip of plastic, containing ‘smart’ ink, which turns colourless from an initial blue colour just before exposure to too much ultraviolet light from the sun,  prompting you to move into the shade before you burn. The plastic strip, worn as a bracelet, changes colour at a speed that depends on the wearer’s skin type and can be worn at the same time as sun lotion, allowing users to enjoy the sun while avoiding unnecessary risks. It is just one of a number of novel products based on ‘photocatalysis’, including antibacterial plastic films and water purifying bags, which has received a national award . The technology was developed by Dr David Hazafy from Queen’s University’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, who has been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise fellowship, which gives academics £85,000 each to develop their research into viable commercial products. Dr Hazafy’s spin-out company, SunCatalyst Laboratories, uses photocatalysts which work by harvesting energy from ambient sunlight to drive useful chemical reactions, such as destroying bacteria or pollutants and changing the colour of dyes. Dr Hazafy, from the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University, said: “The sunburn indicator works by using a photocatalyst and a redox dye in which the former absorbs the ultraviolet light and uses its energy to drive the change in the colour of the dye . The sunlight, or the total UV component,  is collected throughout the day so the user is aware of the total dose of the harmful irradiation received by the band and warned when it nears the level which causes sunburn. “Based on a metal oxide photocatalyst, this simple and inexpensive sunburn indicator should warn people when they are receiving too much of the UV component of sunlight, and prompt them to seek shade,” said Dr Hazafy. In another of our photocatalyst-based technologies , the light-driven antibacterial plastic films could be used in a range of materials including hospital curtains, flooring, tiles and glass, to create a more sterile, safer environment. Speaking about the Fellowship Dr Hazafy, said: “The Royal Academy of Engineering is a great opportunity to receive funding for 12 months, as well as mentoring and training to develop business skills. It is hoped that the products will be put forward for trials within the next year.” SunCatalyst Laboratories is also utilising Dr Hazafy’s expertise in the application of photocatalysts to provide an independent testing service to the growing photocatalyst industry, helping a wide range of interested industries (in health-care, household cleaning products, food packaging and even clothes manufacturers)  to get their own photocatalysts innovations to market. Media inquiries to Elaine Fitzsimons on e.fitzsimons@qub.ac.uk or (028) 9097 5310.

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NI senior business executives gain Queen’s qualifications

Twenty-five senior executives from Northern Ireland’s growing Manufacturing Sector successfully have completed the ‘Leaders in Industry’ programme at Queen’s University Belfast.  This highly innovative programme was funded by the Department of Employment and Learning and was designed and delivered by the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s, in partnership with the European Business School in Frankfurt. The intensive programme was custom-designed to build leadership capacity in the manufacturing sector and to equip those involved with the skills to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Anne Clydesdale, Director of the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University, said: “These individuals have worked extremely hard since December 2014. They have completed an intensive series of modules that involved a blend of classroom activity, self-directed study, executive coaching, field work and in-house project delivery. Already they are reporting the positive impact the programme is having within their organisations”. Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, who presented the executives with their certificates, said: “Skills are widely accepted as a key driver in how Northern Ireland can achieve our economic goals in the modern knowledge based economy. My Department has therefore been working hard to improve the skills of leaders and managers in micro businesses, small to medium businesses and social economy enterprises. Developing the skills and talents of the workforce is central to enabling Northern Ireland’s businesses to develop and grow, to improve our collective prosperity and indeed meet the needs of the local economy. “The Leaders in Industry Programme represents a dynamic means of developing the leadership skills of middle to senior executives in various sectors. I would commend the sectors, the participants involved and the WJ Clinton Leadership Institute for the success of the programme.” Please direct media enquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 5384 or andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk

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Distraction and its impact on why some of us confuse our right from our left

Queen’s University research has provided us with novel insights as to why some of us confuse right from left. When asked to take a right turn, have you ever struggled to know which direction to take? For many telling left from right is second nature, but a significant proportion of the population are challenged telling their right from their left. In terms of healthcare, some of the most tragic errors in medicine have been when surgery was performed on the wrong-side: operating on the wrong side of the brain or removing the wrong kidney. Such wrong-sided errors are not confined to the operating theatre or healthcare, in fact they may only represent the tip of right-left error iceberg. New research from Queen’s University Belfast has demonstrated the degree of impact that distraction has on our ability to correctly discriminate right from left.  The Queen’s study, Sorry I meant the patient’s left side: impact of distraction on right/left discrimination, published in the journal Medical Education, highlights how even the background noise of a busy medical ward can lead to certain individuals having greater difficulty in discriminating right from left. Conducted by researchers from the Centre for Medical Education and the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast, the study examined the impact of disruptions on the ability of medical students to correctly discriminate right from left.  Dr Gerry Gormley, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University, lead supervisor of the study, said: “Distinguishing right from left is actually a complex neuropsychological process.  Healthcare environments are busy, dynamic and complex places to work in. Doctors are often subject to numerous distractions; receiving telephone calls, heart monitors bleeping, taking questions – the clinical environment can be very distracting." “Even the background noise of a ward environment is enough to throw some medical students off when making right-left judgements. Asking them a series of questions while they were trying to distinguish right from left had an even greater impact.  Interestingly, some students who thought they were good at distinguishing right from left, when objectively measured, often were not." Dr Gormley explained that whilst systems, checks and balances are in place in healthcare to anticipate and minimise such errors, when they do occur – often human error is at the root of the cause. He said: "It is widely considered that error is an inherent characteristic of human behaviour – sometimes we simply just get things wrong. “Now that we have this objective evidence, we have the opportunity to address these issues in health profession training and practice. At Queen’s we have a strong training programme of patient safety and human factor training in our curriculum. We often draw upon the aviation industry which has a long-established record of setting systems in place to reduce such types of errors occurring. For example, during the phases of a flight, pilots must refrain from all non-essential conversations to avoid unnecessary distractions. Such ‘cockpit’ rules can lend themselves well to healthcare in certain situations.” The abstract of the publication is available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/medu.12658/abstract Media inquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on (028) 9097 5384; or andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s researcher lands major prize in UK Parliament competition

An astrophysics researcher from Queen’s University Belfast has won a major prize at the UK House of Commons. Elena Andra Muntean, a Research Fellow in the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s, was awarded Silver in the SET for Britain poster competition for the excellence of her physics research. Elena presented her work, which looks at dust and ice, and the birthplace of new molecules in interstellar and interplanetary space as a result of low-energy ion irradiation, to dozens of politicians and a panel of expert judges. Up against 29 other shortlisted researchers’ work, she came out second, winning a prize of £2,000. Elena said: “I am so pleased that the research we do at Queens University of Belfast was highly appreciated at this competition in the House of Commons and really look forward to taking my success back to my research group.” SET for Britain aims to help politicians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base and rewards some of the strongest scientific and engineering research being undertaken in the UK. Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, from the Astrophysics Centre at Queen’s University Belfast,  said: “This is a tremendous achievement. It is recognition of Elena's dedication and enthusiasm in setting up her investigations on the link between the original interstellar ices that went into forming the Solar system, and what we see on distant bodies beyond the planet Neptune.” Please direct media enquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office, on 028 9097 5384 or andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University in £38m bid to secure Smart Cities and the Internet of Things

A major investment of up to £38 million is set to establish Queen’s University Belfast as a world-leading research and innovation hub for cyber security for Smart Cities and the Internet of Things. The funding, which has been awarded as part of a major expansion of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s, was announced at the first day of the annual World Cyber Summit. The £38 million expansion aims to enhance security in highly virtualised environments and connected devices, and to prevent personal information theft and fraud from laptops, smart phones and cloud storage. Building on the many successes achieved by CSIT since it was established in 2009, the plans for expansion comes as security experts and government policy makers from around the world gather for the 5th World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit. The two-day event, held at CSIT in Belfast, is bringing together leading industry experts to discuss how to combat future threats to global cyber security. The select group of experts will share current trends in cyber security, look at security threats likely to emerge in the years ahead and agree on an international strategy for developing research that will safeguard the ‘Internet of tomorrow'. Responding to the pioneering aims of the summit, CSIT has been awarded £5million funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK, along with £9 million core funding from Queen’s, to continue its growth as a UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre - combining research with industry to achieve economic success. The centre will build on its industry and academic partnerships worldwide, increasing the projected level of investment in its research to £38 million in the next five years. CSIT will use this investment to drive forward its own research programmes, support the creation of more businesses and jobs, and provide skills and training for the UK cyber security industry, including the creation of a nine-month pre-accelerator program for cyber security entrepreneurs. The Centre plans to recruit 25 additional staff across engineering, research and commercial disciplines. Speaking during the summit, Professor John McCanny, from the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “We are delighted to announce this investment at the World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit, an event which is helping to make the Internet of Tomorrow a safe and secure platform for the next phase of the human journey. This funding recognises how over the last five years we have successfully blended world class research and innovation to deliver economic impact nationally, internationally and regionally. “In line with the goals of this global summit, the investment will allow us to further accelerate new value creation in this sector, drive business venture creation through our new pre-accelerator programme and build capacity for the industry by providing it with high calibre Masters and PhDs graduates.” Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said; “Strong economies are science economies, they invest in the science and engineering research that is needed to drive innovation and growth. The potential benefits of the virtual world and the opportunities that interconnected devices offer, for instance in our abilities to monitoring health, energy and maintain security are vast. However, we need to be able to operate in a resilient and secure environment that can cope with challenge of criminal and external threats. This funding will help arm the UK with the skilled people and techniques it needs to prosper as a nation.” Kevin Baughan, Innovate UK’s Director of Technology and Innovation said; “CSIT has delivered significant UK economic growth through our original joint investment with EPSRC, contributing to over 950 new jobs in the Belfast cyber security cluster.  By extending funding for a further five years, we underline our support for their commitment to raise the commercialisation bar even higher. This will help companies of all sizes grow through leveraging the excellent UK science base in cyber security" The 5th World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit, running from 19-20 March, will include speakers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the UK Cabinet Office, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Allstate, Symantec, Citi, Paladin Capital Group, Chemring Technology Solutions, RSCI Cyberpsychology Research Centre, Cylab, BAE Systems, RSA and Rapid7. Find out more about the event at: http://www.csit.qub.ac.uk/Belfast2015   Please direct media enquiries to Andrew Kennedy, Queen’s Communications Office on 028 9097 5384 or andrew.kennedy@qub.ac.uk

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Sharp rise in UK adults living with cystic fibrosis, predicts Queen’s-led task force

The number of people living with cystic fibrosis into adulthood in the UK is expected to increase dramatically – by as much as 80 per cent – by 2025, according to a Europe-wide survey, the UK end of which was led by Queen’s University Belfast. People living with cystic fibrosis have previously had low life expectancy, but improvements in treatments in the last three decades have led to an increase in survival with almost all children now living to around 40 years. In countries where reliable data exists, the average rise in the number of adults with CF is expected to be around 75 per cent over the next decade. In the first study of its kind, published in the European Respiratory Journal today (19 March 2015), researchers from Belfast and Paris have provided forecasts for the number of adults living with the disease in 34 different European countries by the year 2025. Within the six European countries with the most reliable data, the Netherlands and the UK were expected to see the largest rises (96.1 per cent and 79.3 per cent respectively). Lead UK author on the study, Professor Stuart Elborn, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The estimations we have made show very positive news for cystic fibrosis patients as the average survival age is increasing. We are now concerned that there are insufficient specialist centres to provide optimal care to adults with the disease. It is crucial that we take note of these early predictions – which are conservative in nature and the likelihood is that the real figures will be higher – and adapt the NHS to this change.” Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Patrick Johnston said: “Although this is good news in one sense, these figures pose a major challenge to healthcare providers in that adult cystic fibrosis services will need to be developed quickly and effectively to meet demand. Queen’s was recently ranked amongst the Top 10 institutions in the UK for research intensity based on the results of 2014 Research Excellence Framework. This study is yet another example of how Queen’s researchers are continuing to advance knowledge and change lives.” The researchers divided the countries into four groups based on the availability of data, and where no data existed, on the economic state of the country. Using these measurements, predictions were made to estimate the levels of adults with cystic fibrosis by the year 2025. The results showed that in the 16 countries where reliable data exists, the number of adults with cystic fibrosis is expected to increase by approximately 75 per cent. Researchers expect similar increases in North America and Australia although these areas were not included in this study. Download a graph showing the predicted percentage increases in the 16 countries. Many cystic fibrosis centres are focused on paediatric care therefore if trends continue as predicted, adults living with the disease may not be able to access the specialist care they need. The research is part of a joint task force between the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the European Cystic Fibrosis Society (ECFS). The members of the task force are now calling on healthcare professionals and policymakers to be aware of these expected increases and to develop adult services to meet this demand. For further information contact the Communications Office at Queen’s University Belfast on 0044 (0)28 9097 5320 (Mon-Wed) or 0044 (0)28 9097 5310 (Thurs-Fri) or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk To view the paper visit the European Respiratory Journal website.

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Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Paul McGinley and Helena Morrissey CBE among Queen’s 2015 honorary graduates

President of the Royal Academy of Engineering Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, and leading business woman Helena Morrissey are to receive honorary degrees from Queen’s University Belfast later this year. Gold medal winning Paralympian Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans, will be honoured for distinction in sport.  They are among 14 people from the worlds of business, sport, academia, politics and the arts being honoured by the University in 2015. Distinguished names from the fields of business and commerce are also being recognised for their services. They include; Chairwoman of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead CBE, and Vice Chairman of Operations for KPMG Shaun T Kelly, a key supporter of Queen’s City Scholarship programme. Thomas Lynch,  Director of Icon, one of the world's largest clinical research organisations, a former President of Queen’s Students’ Union and Chair of the Queen’s Foundation Board, is being recognised for services to business and commerce, as well as his service to the University. Being recognised for exceptional services to education are Professor Louise Richardson, the first female Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, and Zhao Qun, President of the China Medical University, which has a long standing partnership with Queen’s that has led to the development of the China Queen’s College in Shenyang. Queen's awards honorary degrees to individuals who have achieved high distinction or given significant service in one or more fields of public or professional life, and who serve as ambassadors for the University and Northern Ireland around the world. The full list of honorary degrees to be awarded is as follows: Professor Dame Ann Dowling,  DScEng for services to engineering Charlotte Evans MBE,  DUniv for distinction in sport Kelly Gallagher MBE, DUniv for distinction in sport Rona Fairhead CBE, DScEcon for services to business and commerce Professor Stephen Furber CBE, DScEng for services to engineering Shaun T Kelly, DScEcon for services to business and commerce Thomas Lynch, DScEcon for services to business and commerce and to the University Professor Sir Alex Markham, DMedSc, for services to science and medicine Paul McGinley, DUniv for distinction in sport Dr Françoise Meunier, DMedSc for services to science and medicine Helena Morrissey CBE, DScEcon for services to business and commerce Michael P O’Boyle, LLD for distinction in public service Professor Louise Richardson, DSSc for services to education President Zhao Qun, LLD for services to education Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Senior Communications Officer, Queen’s University Belfast, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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