Latest News

Latest News

Queen’s University in bid to increase European cancer survival to 70 per cent by 2035

To mark World Cancer Day, scientists at Queen’s are launching a Europe-wide initiative, ‘Vision 70:35’, to increase cancer survival to 70 per cent by 2035.  Led by Professor Mark Lawler, from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast and Vice President European Cancer Concord (ECC), the initiative is in collaboration with the European Cancer Patient Coalition and other European partners.  Speaking ahead of the launch, Professor Lawler said: "Vision 70:35 emphasises the scale of our ambition to improve cancer survival rates by an additional 20% over the next 20 years.  We believe that this target is achievable, provided we share best practice and promote innovation and research across European nations and regions.  It is further evidence of Queen’s University’s commitment to advancing knowledge and changing lives. We are actively addressing issues such as early diagnosis, equal access and the role of precision cancer medicine to achieve our 70:35 target” Margaret Grayson, Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumer Forum said: "Vision 70:35 is a patient focused initiative.  It provides hope for our cancer patients and their loved ones, and emphasises how research can play a big part in improving cancer outcomes."   Professor Peter Selby, University of Leeds and President ECC, said: “Our Vision 70:35 can deliver, but only if we work together. ECC is partnering with many pan European Organisations including the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO), the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM)   in order to achieve this ambitious target.” Professor Patrick Johnston, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This 70:35 Vision represents a significant opportunity to drive a European-wide initiative that champions the role of innovation and research in providing the best level of cancer care.  I am delighted that Queen’s is continuing to provide leadership in an ambitious strategy that has the potential to deliver real benefits for all European citizens.” Vision 70:35 is the key implementation phase of the European Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights, a Queen’s University-led initiative which was launched in the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2014.   In order to emphasise how working together can help improve cancer outcomes, a series of handshakes will be performed between partner organisations on World Cancer Day, starting in London, passing through Brussels and a number of other European capital cities and culminating in a symbolic joining of hands by MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Professor Lawler will symbolically shake hands in Brussels with Professor Dominique de Valeriola, Director of the Institute Jules Bordet, Brussels, Belgium and President, Organisation of European Cancer Institutes. Ends Media inquiries to Claire Kelly, Communications Officer for Research, Queen’s University Belfast, c.m.kelly@qub.ac.uk and 02890975391.

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First for Northern Ireland: Queen’s Professor appointed to Court of Arbitration for Sports

A Queen’s Professor has been appointed as an arbitrator to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Known as the international court of justice for sport, Professor Jack Anderson, from Queen’s School of Law, is the first person based in Northern Ireland to be appointed to the organisation in its 20 year history. The organisation is often referred to as the world’s supreme court of justice for sport and CAS arbitrators hear disputes referred from all the main global sporting bodies, including FIFA, the IAAF and the International Olympic Committee. Professor Anderson is recognised globally as an expert in the study of match-fixing in sport having worked with Interpol, FIFA, FIFPro, World Rugby. He is a member of a United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Expert group on combatting match fixing in sport, and his work on sports law is cited frequently in sports arbitration awards globally and in sports-related judicial proceedings. He is also the editor-in-chief of the International Sports Law Journal, the leading periodical in the area. Speaking about this appointment, Professor Anderson, said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed as arbitrator to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. I look forward to bringing my experience as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and Queen’s to this role, and likewise, in ensuring that my experience of CAS, as a globally leading institution, informs my teaching and work with my students.” The current CAS arbitration panel consists of former Supreme Court judges, senior barristers, former Olympians, leading experts in the fields of sports medicine and administration and those with an international reputation in the field of sports dispute resolution and law. Professor Anderson took up his role in January, 2016. Media inquiries to Communications Office, Queen’s University Belfast, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3091 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University in new European partnership to fight against invasive species

The rapid spread of invasive species across Europe, which currently threatens native plants and animals at a cost of €12 billion each year, is to face a major new barrier. Leading scientists at Queen’s, the Institute of Technology, Sligo (project-lead) and Dublin-based INVAS Biosecurity, have announced a new partnership after securing €320,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for new research towards controlling, preventing and eventually eradicating such alien species. The funding comes as EU member states await the publication of a list of up to 50 priority species that governments will be compelled to take steps to manage and eradicate. The new funding will allow the world-leading researchers at Queen’s, and their partners, to further develop the scientific evidence which is helping inform the crucial new list. Invasive Alien Species represent a major threat to native plants, animals and habitats, and currently costs some €261 million on the island of Ireland per year and £1.7 billion in Great Britain. The EPA funding follows a major report by Queen’s, IT Sligo and Inland Fisheries Ireland which was published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 2015. The report highlighted the Top 20 Issues that are critical to the global management of invasive species and reinforced Ireland’s position at the forefront of international efforts to control them. Speaking about their next step in the battle against the invaders, Professor Jaimie Dick, from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Invasive species are non-native animals and plants that are introduced into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment. “New EU regulations came into force in January 2015 to address these species and their threat to biodiversity, the economy and human health. Since then, the EU has been considering risk assessments and scientific evidence – which includes Queen’s research – to draw up a list of ‘species of concern’, which will be published in the near future. “Member states will be obliged to eradicate, or at the very least contain, each of the species on that list. But in order to do so, they will need to know the best ways to detect, control and eliminate each species. Queen’s world-leading research already plays a key role in informing guidance and best-practice in this area. This latest funding from the EPA will enable us to continue this work, in partnership with IT Sligo and INVAS Biosecurity, to develop evidence-based approaches to predict and prevent incursions by invasive species, and to eradicate those that are already causing havoc around Europe.” Dr Frances Lucy from IT Sligo said: “We are very grateful to the EPA for providing this funding from their 2015 Sustainability Research Call and IT Sligo recognises this support in our role as the project leader.” Dr Joe Caffrey from INVAS Biosecurity said: “This funding provides a great opportunity for applied invasive species scientists from our three institutions to conduct collaborative and ground-breaking research, the results from which will be applied to solve serious real-life problems for our environment and economy.” End Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke (Mon-Wed) or Michelle Cassidy (Thur-Fri) at Queen’s University Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 Email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Scientists Sequence First Ancient Irish Human Genomes

A team of archaeologists from Queen’s University and geneticists from Trinity College Dublin have sequenced the first genomes from ancient Irish humans, and the information buried within is already answering pivotal questions about the origins of Ireland’s people and their culture. The team sequenced the genome of an early farmer woman, who lived near Belfast some 5,200 years ago, and those of three men from a later period, around 4,000 years ago in the Bronze Age, after the introduction of metalworking. Their landmark results are published today in international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Ireland has intriguing genetics.  It lies at the edge of many European genetic gradients with world maxima for the variants that code for lactose tolerance, the western European Y chromosome type, and several important genetic diseases including one of excessive iron retention, called haemochromatosis.  However, the origins of this heritage are unknown. The only way to discover our genetic past is to sequence genomes directly from ancient people, by embarking on a type of genetic time travel. Migration has been a hot topic in archaeology. Opinion has been divided on whether the great transitions in the British Isles, from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one based on agriculture and later from stone to metal use, were due to local adoption of new ways or whether these influences were derived from influxes of new people.  These ancient Irish genomes each show unequivocal evidence for massive migration. The early farmer has a majority ancestry originating ultimately in the Middle East, where agriculture was invented. The Bronze Age genomes are different again with about a third of their ancestry coming from ancient sources in the Pontic Steppe.  Dan Bradley, Professor of Population Genetics in Trinity College Dublin and who led the study, said: “There was a great wave of genome change that swept into Europe from above the Black Sea into Bronze Age Europe and we now know it washed all the way to the shores of its most westerly island and this degree of genetic change invites the possibility of other associated changes, perhaps even the introduction of language ancestral to western Celtic tongues.”  Dr Eileen Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Osteoarchaeology at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “It is clear that this project has demonstrated what a powerful tool ancient DNA analysis can provide in answering questions which have long perplexed academics regarding the origins of the Irish.” Whereas the early farmer had black hair, brown eyes and more resembled southern Europeans, the genetic variants circulating in the three Bronze Age men from Rathlin Island had the most common Irish Y chromosome type, blue eye alleles and the most important variant for the genetic disease, haemochromatosis.  The latter C282Y mutation is so frequent in people of Irish descent that it is sometimes referred to as a Celtic disease. This discovery therefore marks the first identification of an important disease variant in prehistory. “Genetic affinity is strongest between the Bronze Age genomes and modern Irish, Scottish and Welsh, suggesting establishment of central attributes of the insular Celtic genome some 4,000 years ago,” added PhD Researcher in Genetics at Trinity, Lara Cassidy. Media inquiries to the Queen’s University Communications Office on 02890973087 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk      

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