Latest News

Latest News

Music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have discovered that music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents with behavioural and emotional problems. In the largest ever study of its kind, the researchers in partnership with the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust, found that children who received music therapy had significantly improved self-esteem and significantly reduced depression compared with those who received treatment without music therapy. The study, which was funded by the Big Lottery fund, also found that those who received music therapy had improved communicative and interactive skills, compared to those who received usual care options alone. 251 children and young people were involved in the study which took place between March 2011 and May 2014. They were divided into two groups – 128 underwent the usual care options, while 123 were assigned to music therapy in addition to usual care. All were being treated for emotional, developmental or behavioural problems. Early findings suggest that the benefits are sustained in the long term. Professor Sam Porter of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University, who led the study, said: “This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs.” Dr Valerie Holmes, Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and co-researcher, added: “This is the largest study ever to be carried out looking at music therapy’s ability to help this very vulnerable group, and is further evidence of how Queen’s University is advancing knowledge and changing lives.” Ciara Reilly, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust, said: “Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomised controlled trial in a clinical setting. The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option. For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects.” The research team will now look at the data to establish how cost-effective music therapy is in relation to other treatments. The research findings will be presented at a conference in Riddel Hall at Queen’s University Belfast today (Thursday 23 October 2014). Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Senior Communications Officer, Queen’s University on 028 9097 5391 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Virtual e-Cancer hospitals could benefit thousands of patients

One of the UK and Ireland’s top experts in personalised medicine, Professor Mark Lawler from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast has highlighted how initiatives that promote the sharing of genetic data and the creation of virtual e-Cancer hospitals have the potential to benefit thousands of patients around the world. These ground-breaking initiatives will be discussed at a global event in San Diego today (Sunday 19 October). Professor Lawler will address members of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) on Cancer Core Europe, a visionary approach by 6 European Institutions to create virtual e-Cancer Hospitals, where data sharing between different centres can maximise success in diagnosing and treating cancer.  Creating a shared data resource significantly increases understanding of how cancer occurs, speeds up the completion of   successful clinical trials, thus facilitating more rapid and  effective therapies to be delivered for cancer patients. Also being discussed is the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) project that uses our knowledge of the genetics of cancer cells to drive innovative pan European clinical trials. Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics at Queen’s and EORTC ambassador, said: “Co-operation and data sharing is the key  to both of these initiatives – rather than   competing against each other as we may have done in the past, we are now competing against our common enemy … cancer .” “GA4GH is an international coalition, dedicated to improving human health by maximizing the potential of genomic medicine through effective and responsible data sharing.  It has the potential to revolutionise how we use genetic and clinical information and information technology to deliver benefit to patients with a wide range of diseases.” Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s, said: “Collaborating with global initiatives such as GA4GH and EORTC emphasise the international standing of Queen’s research efforts and allow both scientists and ultimately patients to benefit.” Queen’s University is a founding member of the GA4GH, which now has over 220 Alliance members from 30 countries, and Professor Lawler is a member of the GA4GH Clinical Working Group. Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, Professor Patrick Johnston, said: “We are proud to be a founding member of this unique alliance and to be making a significant contribution as it gains global recognition.  It aligns with two of our key strengths, cancer research and data analytics and has the potential to transform the global health landscape.” The GA4GH conference is part of the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics running until Wednesday. Ends Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on 02890973087 or comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s student named Study USA Student of the Year

Queen’s University Belfast Law student Cara Heaslip spent a year studying business at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Cara was named Student of the Year after achieving top academic marks and for an essay highlighting how her experience has helped further her employability. Speaking about the award, Cara who is originally from Crawfordsburn, said: “It is such an honour to receive this award and as I look back on my time in the US, I can genuinely say it was a life-changing experience. “I go into my final year at Queen’s with newfound skills – including both people and business skills -  both of which will help maximise my career prospects. They say the best teacher is experience and through Study USA I have learnt more than I could ever have imagined. “Thank you to Dr Farry and DEL for funding the programme over many years – and also thanks to the British Council and in particular, the Study USA team, for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an incredible experience." She was among 70 students from Northern Ireland to successfully graduate from the programme and was honoured at 20th anniversary celebrations at Titanic Belfast last Friday (October 17). Study USA, formerly known as the Business Education Initiative, is managed by British Council Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). Since its formation in 1994, the initiative has sent 1800 students from Northern Ireland to all four corners of the United States where they have successfully completed a year studying business at one of 140 institutions. To celebrate two decades of the programme, the anniversary celebrations brought together the programmes most recent graduates, alumni from each year of the programme and their employers, as well as welcoming Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry and guest speaker, Elizabeth Dibble Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in London. This year, the Student of the Year Award was sponsored by leading audit firm, KPMG Northern Ireland. Jon D’Arcy, Chairman of KPMG Northern Ireland said: “KPMG is delighted to sponsor the Study USA Student of the Year award especially as, over the years, a number of our people have participated in this programme as undergraduates.   “Study USA provides our young people with an invaluable opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone; to live and study in another country; learn new skills; get involved with community projects; and generally boost their employability.” For more information on British Council Northern Ireland or Study USA, visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org

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Queen’s in international ‘attosecond’ science breakthrough

Scientists from Queen’s University Belfast have been involved in a groundbreaking discovery in the area of experimental physics that has implications for understanding how radiotherapy kills cancer cells, among other things. Dr Jason Greenwood from Queen’s Centre for Plasma Physics collaborated with academics from Italy and Spain on the work on electrons, which has been published in the international journal Science. Using some of the shortest laser pulses in the world, the researchers used strobe lighting to track the ultra-fast movement of the electrons within a nanometer-sized molecule of amino acid. The resulting oscillations – lasting for 4,300 attoseconds (billion-billionths of a second) – amount to the fastest process ever observed in a biological structure. Dr Greenwood said: “Explaining how electrons move on the nanoscale is crucial for the understanding of a range of processes in matter as it is this charge which initiates many biological, chemical and electrical processes. For instance, the charge produced from the interaction of ionizing radiation with DNA and its subsequent ultra-fast movement can lead to damage of the DNA and cell death which is exploited in radiotherapy to treat cancer. This knowledge is therefore important for understanding the action of radiotherapy beams in cancer treatment. “Being able to describe how light interacts with electrons on these timescales could also lead to improvements in how light is converted into electricity in solar cells or faster microprocessors which use light rather than electrical signals for switching transistors. “This research will hopefully open up the emerging field of attosecond science which seeks to understand how ultrafast electrons play a key role in chemistry, biology and nanotechnology. This is very early research but this new field of ultrafast light-induced electronics is likely to have an impact in biology, chemistry and materials in the next five to ten years. Practical applications down the line may include improvements in cancer radiotherapy, highly efficient solar cells and much faster computer processors.” The research was carried out by Queen’s School of Mathematics and Physics in collaboration with the Politecnico Milano, the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid, University of Trieste and Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies IFN-CNR of Padua, Italy. The full paper can be read here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6207/336.abstract For more information contact Queen’s University communications officers Una Bradley (Mon-Wed) on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins to visit Queen’s

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins will be Guest of Honour at Queen’s University Belfast on Thursday evening (23rd October). President Higgins will launch Remembering, Forgiving and Forgetting, an event the following day, at which members of the public are being invited to discuss the balance between remembering, forgiving and forgetting the past. On Thursday evening at Riddel Hall at Queen’s, President Higgins will deliver a keynote address on the theme of Remembering, Forgiving and Forgetting. During the event, Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, newly appointed Leader of the Corrymeela Community, will also recite from his canon of work. The Remembering, Forgiving and Forgetting event on Friday (24th October), in The Great Hall at Queen’s, is organised by the University’s Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, and forms part of the University’s commitment to civic engagement through the Civic Conversations at Queen’s programme. Academics from the Institute are encouraging members of the public to register and join in the discussion on Remembering, Forgiving and Forgetting, which has been created in partnership with The Corrymeela Community, the Community Relations Council, Reconciliation Fund of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Compromise After Conflict Research Programme from the Leverhulme Trust. The free event includes speakers who have direct experience of these three themes from societies emerging out of conflict across the world, including Colin Parry OBE, founder of The Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace who will address forgiveness; Professor Thomas Brudholm, University of Copenhagen, a leading academic on the Holocaust, who will address remembering and Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, University of Free State, who served on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and who will address forgetting. The morning lectures will be chaired by Bronagh Hinds, from DemocraShe, a community development and peace group based in Belfast. In the afternoon, the BBC’s William Crawley will chair a panel discussion consisting of Jude Collins, journalist; Rev John Dunlop, former Moderator of Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Paul Gallagher, Victim and Survivor Group; Alistair Little, Beyond Walls Project; Dawn Purvis, Healing Through Remembering Project; and Jennifer McNern, Victim and Survivor Group. The event will close with some final reflections from Rev Lesley Carroll, a member of the Eames-Bradley Consultative Group on the Past, and Susan McEwan, from Corrymeela. Speaking ahead of the visit by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston said: “President Higgins is recognised around the world for his work in the promotion of peace and democracy. He has been a keen supporter of universities and their role in working towards the elimination of inequality and securing a prosperous and peaceful future for societies. We are therefore deeply honoured that he has agreed to join us at Queen’s to launch the second of our Civic Conversation events. “The Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice (ICTSJ), symbolises Queen’s commitment to supporting positive change in society and providing an arena in which our legacy issues can be openly discussed.” Professor John Brewer from Queen’s ICTSJ has organised the Remembering, forgiving and forgetting event. He added: “We are delighted President Higgins is joining us to launch our event. It is an important endorsement of our Civic Conversations at Queen’s programme and its importance for all those who wish to have their voices heard on legacy issues in a non-political and wholly civic arena. “When we come to realise that learning to live together is not automatic and does not follow naturally once violence has ended, managing the problems legacy issues cause becomes vital to stabilising our community and to progressing healing and reconciliation in society. At Queen’s we are proud that we can facilitate and encourage that process.” Remembering, Forgiving and Forgetting takes place on Friday, 24 October in The Great Hall at Queen’s University Belfast. The event is free and open to all with refreshments provided. Pre-registration is required and participants can register at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/isctsj/ Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 90 97 3091 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk  

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New research at Queen's into sexual services

New research by Queen’s University is the first time people involved in selling and buying sexual services have been directly approached in relation to prostitution policy in Northern Ireland and their views sought on the legal framework. Lead researcher Dr Susann Huschke, Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, said: “The issue of prostitution has received considerable interest in Northern Ireland over the last year, mainly due to the proposal within Lord Morrow’s Private Member’s Bill (Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill) to criminalise paying for sexual services. This study, commissioned by the Department of Justice, aims to fill some of the existing research gaps by conducting a mixed methods study of prostitution in Northern Ireland.” Welcoming the research report Justice Minister, David Ford said: “Next week the Assembly will consider Lord Morrow’s Bill. Lord Morrow and I share a determination to do all we can to address the misery of human trafficking and modern day slavery, and we have worked closely to agree on almost all of the Bill’s provisions. However, we differ over Clause 6 of the Bill, which, if adopted, will change the existing law from criminalising the purchase of sex from a prostitute subjected to force, to criminalising the purchase of sexual services in any circumstances. “My position is that I don’t believe that the complexities of prostitution can be adequately addressed in a single clause in a Bill. Instead, the law and policy surrounding the distinct issue of selling or purchasing sexual services should be considered separately, in detail, and with the benefit of properly informed research.” The Minister continued: “Earlier this year I commissioned Queen’s University to carry out research into prostitution in Northern Ireland and I have now received their final report. The research has established that the framework of prostitution in Northern Ireland is more complex and diverse than the picture generally painted. I have, however, seen no evidence to suggest that the change proposed by Lord Morrow would reduce the incidence of trafficking. Indeed the report contains evidence to suggest that criminalising the purchase of sex, as a single clause in this Bill, may create further risk and hardship for those individuals, particularly women, involved in prostitution.” The research found that: only 2% of sex workers who responded to the survey supported criminalising the purchase of sex; 61% of NI-based sex workers in the survey thought it would make them less safe; 85% believed that it would not reduce sex trafficking; only 16% of respondents to the client survey said it would make them stop paying for sex altogether. For more information download the report at http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/publications/publication-categories/pubs-criminal-justice/independent-research-into-prostitution-in-northern-ireland.htm  

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Fungal infections a worldwide catastophe according to Queen’s researchers

Fungal diseases which are killing 150 people every hour across the world have become a worldwide catastrophe, according to researchers at Queen’s University Belfast. They join researchers from several countries across the world in an effort led from University of Manchester in a global call for policy makers and health agencies to address the problem of fungal diseases which result in the death of 300 million people worldwide every year. Dr Ronan McMullan from Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Eileen Dorgan from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have been collaborating with GAFFI (Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections); an international organisation set up last year to highlight what doctors believe is a worldwide catastrophe that is growing year on year.  Researchers believe that the problem could be halted with widespread access to diagnostics, antifungal medicines, medical training and better patient awareness. Dr Ronan McMullan from the Centre for Infection and Immunity in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, said: “Among Ireland’s population fungal infections are estimated to affect around 117,000 people every year. The majority of these infections are recurrent vaginal candidiasis (‘thrush’) with an estimated 95,000 episodes per year. Although life-threatening infections among patients in ICU, as well as patients who have undergone transplantation or had leukaemia, are less common with just over 1,000 infections per year these are an important problem.” “The challenge in Ireland is mostly related to increasing awareness among both the public and doctors as well as developing and implementing cutting-edge diagnostic tests to enable these infections to be diagnosed and treated more promptly.” GAFFI’s founding President is Dr David Denning, Professor of Infectious Disease in Global Health at the University of Manchester. He said: “Fungal disease is the Trojan horse – the silent, unappreciated global catastrophe on an scale no one has grasped until recently. For example, after TB as many as 20 per cent of patients develop lung fungal infection, which slowly progresses to death over five years, unless arrested with treatment, an estimated burden of 1.2 million people worldwide. Severe asthma with fungal allergy could account for half of the 350,000 deaths from asthma each year, yet it is treatable with antifungal drugs. Blindness caused by fungal infection of the eye affects over 1 million adults and children globally yet the tools are not available for rapid diagnosis and treatment for millions of people. “Skin fungal infections affect a billion people worldwide. Fungal meningitis and pneumonia kills in excess of 1 million patients with AIDS every year, including many children, before treatment for HIV can begin to work. In its first year, GAFFI has drawn a roadmap for fighting fungal infections globally, for the first time.” In the last 12 months GAFFI has identified and estimated the burden of fungal disease in almost 40 countries, including both NI and RoI, successfully lobbied the World Health Organisation to include two life-saving drugs on the Essential Medicines List and convinced the World Medical Association to address governments across the world to improve diagnostics and treatments of fungal disease. Media inquiries to Queen’s Communications Office on comms.office@qub.ac.uk and 028 9097 3091.

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Queen’s University in research bid to save thousands of mothers’ and babies’ lives

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have been awarded a major, international grant to investigate if the perinatal condition of pre-eclampsia could be treated with cheap, everyday drugs. Lead researcher Dr Jeremy Yongxin Yu from Queen’s Centre for Experimental Medicine will use the $250,000 to test around 300 drugs – many of them in common usage – which are considered relatively safe to administer to pregnant women. If, as hoped, the two-year research project identifies an effective treatment for pre-eclampsia, it could save the lives of thousands of mothers and babies around the world. Dr Yu described full-blown eclampsia as a “health crisis” which kills 500,000 babies and 75,000 mothers each year, mostly in developing countries. In the UK, it is still responsible for the deaths of 1,000 babies each year. Mothers-to-be with diabetes are four times more likely to develop pre-eclampsia, which involves dangerously high blood pressure and damage to the placenta. There is no known cure, but if it can be diagnosed at the earlier, pre-eclampsia stage, babies can be delivered by emergency Caesarean section, although often prematurely. Dr Yu, from the Centre for Experimental Medicine in School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, at Queen’s, said: “The placenta has to grow a huge amount of blood vessels in a short space of time. What we medical researchers have noticed is that certain molecules promote this growth, while others inhibit it. In the case of women who develop pre-eclampsia, there are too many inhibiting molecules. Following on from my previous research, I now want to see if I can halt these inhibitors with drugs. It’s important these drugs be cheap and widely available – the purpose is to come up with a treatment that can be used all over the world. That way, we will not only be advancing knowledge but changing lives.” Co-researcher Professor Tim Lyons, also from the Centre for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s, said: “Pre-eclampsia can be fatal if not caught, but even when it is, there are long-term health effects: women who’ve had pre-eclampsia are at higher risk from developing kidney and cardiovascular disease later in life, as are their babies.” Honorary Professor of Endocrinology at Queen’s, David McCance said: “Pre-eclampsia can be a devastating complication of pregnancy. This grant offers an exciting research opportunity and is another example of Queen’s being an international research leader and how local talent can have a global impact.” The Queen’s research proposal was one of just 26 selected from over 500 applications from around the world to the Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development funding. The Saving Lives at Birth partnership, launched in 2011, includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the US Agency for International Development, the Government of Norway, and Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada). The Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development is a global call for innovative prevention and treatment ideas, approaches, and technologies that aim to reduce infant and maternal mortality around the time of birth. This project, which will monitor the effect of a variety of drugs on placenta cells, is part of Queen’s expanding research efforts in pre-eclampsia that are being conducted in collaboration with a range of local and international academics, clinicians and NGOs. Consultant obstetrician Alyson Hunter, from the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast, said: “The prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia remains a major challenge in obstetrics. Aspirin has been used with limited success in preventing pre-eclampsia but Dr Yu’s and Professor Lyons' research may discover another commonly used, cheap medication that may be much more effective and help save many lives worldwide.” A full list of Saving Lives at Birth award-winners can be found at http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/aug-1-2014-saving-lives-birth-grand-challenge-development-announces-round-4-award-nominees   For more information contact Queen’s University communications officers Una Bradley (Mon-Wed) on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5320 or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) on 00 44 (0)28 9097 5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University student volunteers recognised by UK Cabinet Office

Five Queen’s University Belfast students have been recognised by the UK Cabinet Office for their contribution to volunteering. One student has been honoured by the Prime Minister David Cameron with a Points of Light Award and four students have been selected as Young Social Action Ambassadors in recognition for volunteering excellence. Mogue Lawless, a fourth year Business Management student, was named the 123rd recipient of the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award. This award recognises outstanding individuals who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Mogue, who was last year named Queen’s Student Volunteer of the Year, has drawn on his personal experience of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to raise awareness of mental health problems. He set up an initiative called Start Talking, which uses art to promote the importance of keeping healthy in mind and body. He was nominated for the Points of Light Award by the Young Social Ambassadors network, a group of young people who have been selected by the UK Cabinet Office for their own contribution to volunteering. The UK-Wide network will help the government, in its programme Step Up To Serve, to find exceptional examples of volunteers from communities across the UK. Out of six Ambassadors chosen in Northern Ireland, four are from Queen’s University. They are: Fergal McFerran from Dunloy, Paul Loughran from Belfast, David Sands from Lisburn and Ryan Clarke from Newtownabbey. Professor David Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students at Queen’s, said: “This is an exceptional achievement for our student volunteers and I would like to congratulate all of those involved. These students are testimony to the fact that at Queen’s a degree is about much more than an education, it is a gateway to the world. Through the student experience at Queen’s there are many opportunities to get involved in volunteering and to make a very positive impact on society.” Speaking about his award, Mogue Lawless said: “I am delighted to have been honoured by the Prime Minister with a Points of Light Award. Through the excellent support services available at Queen’s I was able to get the help I needed as I battled with my OCD throughout my studies. I am now using my experience to help others with mental illness.” Speaking about his appointment, Fergal McFerran said: “As a Young Social Action Ambassador my role is to celebrate the incredible work that volunteers in Northern Ireland are doing on a day-to-day basis to improve their communities. Quite often those who dedicate themselves to improving society here go about their business unnoticed, we want to recognise their contributions in the hope that it inspires others to participate in community action too.” Announcing the Young Social Action Ambassadors, Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Step Up To Serve, said: “It is great to see so many fantastic volunteers from such a wide range of organisations taking part in this vital work. This is an exciting opportunity for them to be working alongside government and Step Up To Serve which will help to inspire more people to volunteer.” Wendy Osborne, CEO, Volunteer Now says: “I am delighted that the Young Social Action Ambassadors from Queens University are bringing the values of volunteering to the wider community through their own volunteering excellence. Having attended training in 10 Downing Street they are searching for inspirational people to record their stories. These case studies will be used by the Cabinet Office to showcase volunteering, used within reports and speeches as well as influencing policy development.  The Ambassadors will have the opportunity to reflect the dedication of so many volunteers who offer their time and make a vital contribution to the well being of society.” For further information on Queen’s University volunteering visit: http://www.qubsu.org/VolunteerSU/ Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan, Queen’s Communications Office on c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk or 028 9097 3091.

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Queen’s University researchers in bid to uncover the birth of Belfast’s docklands

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast are in a bid to uncover the birth of Belfast’s docklands in a new three-year research study. Dr Liz Thomas from the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (GAP) at Queen’s will undertake a unique new project this autumn, which aims to shed light on living in the 19th century dockland town, Sailortown, in Belfast. Beginning this project, Dr Thomas has appealed for anyone with any connection to Sailortown to come forward with their stories of the town or stories that may have been passed down through the generations about the people and the place. Dr Thomas said: “I have always been interested in every aspect of life related to the sea and docks, probably because my grandfather worked on the docks in Dublin and I really am interested in anyone who has any connection to Sailortown to tell me their stories no matter how mundane it may seem. “I would love to hear stories about the women in Sailortown and I would be delighted for people with any connection to Sailortown to get in touch with me if they would like to be part of the study and excavation. I am truly looking forward to working with this community and feel very privileged to have this opportunity to work with the people of Sailortown. “This dockland area is significant because it represents the origin of Belfast as a world maritime and industrial capital. It has an amazing and complex history and the British Academy has recognized the significance of this area and its people by funding my three-year fellowship.” Dr Thomas has been awarded a highly prestigious three-year British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to complete this project. Over 800 applications were submitted to the British Academy for the 2014 award, but only 45 were successful, of which only four of these awards were assigned to archaeology. This is the first time in 18 years Queen’s has hosted a recipient of this prestigious fellowship. Queen’s University Vice-Chancellor, Patrick Johnson said: “This award is an outstanding achievement, in a highly competitive field. Securing prestigious fellowships of this quality aligns perfectly with my Vision for a world-class international university.” Professor Audrey Horning, mentor to Dr Thomas on this project and Head of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s said: “This is a significant achievement for Liz, for GAP, and for Queen’s and the School (of GAP) are absolutely delighted.” From the 19th century, Sailortown residents were instrumental in the development of Belfast as one of the world’s first industrial capitals. From the late 1960s, redevelopment of this dockland site had begun. Alongside the redevelopment of this historic dockland site, the community who lived in Sailortown, mostly descended from a long lineage of those working in the docklands, were relocated to different homes spread across Belfast and apart from each other. However even after 40 years, the old Sailortown community spirit endures with the former residents reconvening weekly outside St Joseph’s Church, ‘The Chapel on the Quays’. The local community groups also supporting this project are the Sailortown Regeneration Group (SRG), Shared History Interpretative Project (SHIP) and Harbour Lights. The cross-generational and cross-community excavation is planned for next spring, and will be conducted over a two-week period. Dr Thomas and the Sailortown Regeneration Group are also investigating the possibilities of developing a permanent exhibition in a heritage-themed playground on the site following the excavation. For more information contact Queen’s Communications Officers Una Bradley (Mon-Wed) on 0044 (0)28 9097 5320 or Michelle Cassidy (Thurs-Fri) on 0044 (0)28 9097 5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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