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Latest News

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales launches Queen’s University’s first Global Research Institute

The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), the first of four Global Research Institutes to be unveiled at Queen’s, was launched at a special event in the Northern Ireland Science Park today.  His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales received a tour and saw the world leading research taking place in ECIT before unveiling a plaque to officially launch the Global Research Institute. Global Research Institutes are the University’s flagships for interdisciplinary research in areas of major societal challenge. ECIT’s unique innovation model, strong links with industry around the globe and its track record for attracting and creating high value jobs in the technology sector are factors which secured its elevation to Global Research Institute status within Queen’s. It is made up of three world leading Centres: the award winning UK national Innovation & Knowledge Centre for cyber security, The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT); The Centre for Wireless Innovation which is redefining communications for a smarter world and The Centre for Data Science and Scalable Computing which is addressing the information explosion. Queen’s University’s Chancellor, Dr Thomas J Moran, said: “Our research mission is to be distinguished by our academic strengths and recognised globally for the social, economic and cultural benefit we deliver through our research.  Having His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales launch ECIT as a Global Research Institute is an honour and one befitting the occasion.” President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor Patrick Johnston, said: “Our Global Research Institutes bring together a critical mass of excellent researchers from a wide range of disciplines in world-class facilities to tackle some of the greatest global issues of our age.  Our work in Cyber Security, which is one of the key tenets of ECIT, was recognised by Her Majesty the Queen earlier this year with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize.  Through our Global Research Institutes, the four central pillars to our research at Queen’s, we are committed to advancing knowledge and changing lives.” Professor John McCanny, Director of The Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology at Queen’s said: “Our world has become increasingly digitised, affecting how we communicate, manage our finances, access healthcare and even interact with household devices.  With more of our information held digitally and connected across multiple devices, significant new challenges are emerging: how can we detect and prevent information theft, fraud and attacks?  How can we secure, process and transmit the information created by citizens, enterprise and government? And how can we accelerate the global adoption of resulting technical innovations to deliver economic impact?  Through our Global Research Institute we are committed to tackling these major challenges of our time.” In addition to ECIT, the Queen’s other Global Research Institutes are: The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice; The Institute for Global Food Security and the Institute for Health Sciences. For further information on ECIT visit: www.ecit.qub.ac.uk/

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Director of Europe's €5 Billion Innovative Medicines Initiative visits Queen's

Speaking ahead of his visit, Dr Meulien, said: “IMI is a unique partnership between the European Union and industry which is working to improve and accelerate the entire medicines development process. We are facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in health research, including universities, pharmaceutical and other companies, patient organisations, and medicines regulators. “Programmes such as the €50 Million Inhaled Antibiotics in Bronchiectasis and Cystic Fibrosis Programme, recently funded by IMI and led here in Belfast by Prof Stuart Elborn, Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, highlights the excellence of the science at the University and its potential for translation into new drugs that will improve patient lives.” In an event hosted by the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Dr Meulien met with key leaders in academia, the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, research policy makers and research funders. Professor Chris Elliott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at Queen’s, said: “It is extremely important to have influential European leaders like Dr Meulien coming to Queen’s. It emphasises the quality of our research and the scale of our ambition to achieve global impact.” “Dr Meulien’s visit is very timely, coming as it does when we as a society are considering our relationship with the European Union (EU),” said Professor Mark Lawler, from Queen’s, who recently authored a paper on the benefits of the EU for cancer patients and cancer researchers in the leading cancer journal Lancet Oncology. He added: “Collaborative programmes between academia and industry such as those supported by IMI are game changers, providing a scale of funding and combined expertise that can lead to better treatments for patients.” Colette Goldrick, Director of The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (APBI), Northern Ireland and NHS Partnerships, said: “From an industry perspective, Dr Meulien’s visit is extremely important. It is critical for both patients and the local economy that a vibrant academia-industry interaction underpins better patient care and the enhancement of the biopharmaceutical and diagnostics sectors in Northern Ireland.”

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Queen's University receives Royal award for strengthening cyber security

Queen’s Chancellor Mr Tom Moran and Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston along with the Head of Cyber Security, Professor John McCanny are at Buckingham Palace today (25 February 2016) to receive a national honour from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, for the University's work in protecting the online activity of billions of internet users around the world. The Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s – a major hub for research and innovation in electronic engineering and cyber security – will receive a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.  Based at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies, with 90 staff, is one of Europe’s largest university cyber security research centres. It has developed breakthrough innovations, including novel technology to 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. CSIT is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK and Invest Northern Ireland. Receiving the award at Buckingham Palace, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston said: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is one of the most prestigious honours in higher education and recognition of CSIT which has put Northern Ireland firmly on the map as a lead player for cyber security.  “Cyber security is a major global challenge, with cyber crime increasing at an alarming rate. 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 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. "CSIT has also been a critical factor in securing almost 1,200 cyber security related jobs in Northern Ireland, injecting around £40 million per year into our economy. It is helping to meet the demand for well-qualified graduates to fill these jobs through its postgraduate courses.  Its Masters in Cyber Security which is underpinned by the Centre’s world-class research, and the CSIT Doctoral Training Centre, attracts PhD students from around the world. "The Centre is a great example of the global impact of Queen’s world leading research.” Professor John McCanny, Head of Cyber Security at CSIT, said: “CSIT’s unique strength lies in its approach to the innovation and commercialisation of 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 new business opportunities and the creation of new companies.  “CSIT prides itself on two pillars of excellence – in its world-leading research, and its unique model for commercialising that research. Links with global companies including IBM, Intel, Infosys, Allstate, BAE Systems, Thales, Euronext and Equiniti, 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. "Our strength in this area was recognised by the UK Government in January 2016 when it announced that CSIT, in partnership with Cyber London, will lead the Early Stage Accelerator Programme to support cyber security start-ups in developing innovative technical solutions to keep the UK safe from cyber attacks. This programme will offer start-ups advice on how to develop their products and services and bring them to market." 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 close to 1,200 new cyber security related jobs through spinout activity, indigenous business scale-up and Foreign Direct Investment. CSIT also plays a vital role in building the capacity and capability of local companies through the provision of high quality masters and PhD graduates.” CSIT will host the World Cyber Security Summit in March – an annual event which brings together the international research community, industry leaders and government policy makers in Belfast to discuss cyber security challenges.  For more information visit www.csit.qub.ac.uk End Media inquiries to Michelle Cassidy (Thursday-Friday) or Anne-Marie Clarke (Monday-Wednesday) at Queen’s University Communications Office. Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5310 Email: comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen's scientists develop first perfume which smells better the more you sweat

  Researchers in the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre have developed a unique new perfume delivery system which releases more of its aroma when it comes into contact with moisture, meaning a person smells nicer when their sweat levels increase. This innovative perfume system has been created by tagging a raw fragrance onto an ionic liquid (salt in the form of liquid) which has no smell. The ‘perfumed ionic liquid’ releases its aroma when it comes into contact with water, allowing more of the perfume’s scent to be released onto a person’s skin. In addition, the perfume system also has the ability to remove the bad odours that come from sweat.  The ‘thiol’ compounds that are responsible for the malodour of sweat are attracted to the ionic liquid, attaching themselves to it and losing their potency. The breakthrough could have major commercial possibilities, potentially providing a new way to develop products for the huge personal care market. QUILL researchers are currently working with a perfume development company to identify a number of product ideas that could eventually be sold in shops. Project leader, Dr Nimal Gunaratne, from the Queen's University Belfast Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) Research Centre, said: “This is an exciting breakthrough that uses newly discovered ionic liquid systems to release material in a controlled manner. Not only does it have great commercial potential, and could be used in perfumes and cosmetic creams, but it could also be used in others area of science, such as the slow release of certain substances of interest.”    “This innovative development demonstrates the drive of researchers at Queen’s to advancing knowledge and achieving excellence for the benefit of society as a whole.” The research was carried out by corresponding author Dr Nimal Gunaratne, Professor Ken Seddon and Dr Peter Nockemann, from the Queen's University QUILL Research Centre.  Read the full research article  

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RICS recognition for Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine

The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queen's has won both the prestigious Project of the Year award and Design Trough Innovation accolade at the 2016 RICS Northern Ireland awards. The Project of the Year award and The Design through Innovation award, which recognises the use of outstanding innovation in designing a project, were presented to Turner & Townsend for their work on behalf of Queen's at the RICS event in Belfast. The WWIEM is an interdisciplinary research facility, the latest phase in the development of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's and has been designed to enhance its internationally recognised excellence in research. It includes biomedical research laboratories, secondary laboratory space, office accommodation and cold storage. Commenting on the awards, Damien Toner, Queen's Director of Estates, said: "This landmark project underpins the University’s world class ambition and represents a strategically important addition to the estate portfolio. The open and free-flow design of the building offers a positive change in the working environment, which enhances the development of cross-disciplinary collaborations and interactions between peer research groups." Specific innovations within the building, include laboratories and offices being organised around a central atrium, providing excellent visual links through the building and encouraging collaboration between Queen's scientists. Innovative technology has also been used in an inventive and visionary way. The building’s major services have been strategically moved to the perimeter, external to the labs, allowing total adaptability in future layouts. In addition, the extensive use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) allowed for intricate design detailing and major fabrication off site, which was a key element of the delivery strategy, reducing waste significantly. In praising the design, the judges said: “This is a high-quality building housing laboratories, offices and meeting rooms for this international research organisation. The innovative nature of the building, means it has been designed on an ‘inside-out’ basis, conducive to collaborative working. The building is finished to a very high standard.” Colm Lavery, Director at Turner & Townsend Belfast, added: “We are delighted that this project has won these awards and are very proud of our role in the Institute and of the relationship we were able to cultivate with Queen’s University Belfast while doing it. The Institute is a great testament to the role Queen’s place on research and innovation and Turner & Townsend along with the wider design team are proud to have assisted in its delivery.”

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Justice Minister addresses international cyber summit

Justice Minister, David Ford has highlighted work ongoing through the Organised Crime Task Force to tackle cyber crime.     Speaking at the World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit, hosted by Queen’s University’s Centre for Secure Information Technology (CSIT), David Ford said:  “As chair of the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) I am very much aware that a growing concern for both businesses and individuals has been the rise in cyber crime.  “In 2014 the OCTF established a cyber crime sub group to help bring a unified law enforcement approach to the fight against this rapidly escalating, rapidly expanding problem.  CSIT was a founder member of both the original group, and a later established industry based group, and have provided a valuable contribution to the work of both.” Continuing the Minister said: “For the PSNI, National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies, cyber has become a significant and ever growing priority area.  The PSNI e-crime centre has been taking forward valuable work in prevention as well as crime detection.  This has included the introduction of a reporting portal for businesses as well as a range of awareness raising initiatives for the public in conjunction with Get Safe Online. “The approaches from online criminals have unfortunately become more sophisticated in recent years and we need to respond to this.  We all, as individuals, as consumers, as business owners, as those involved in law enforcement, need organisations such as CSIT, and all those experts represented here today, to be working, often behind the scenes, to help us to outflank would-be criminals and also to train those who will continue the fight.” Professor John McCanny, Principal Investigator in the Centre for Secure Information Technologies at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Queen’s University, as a UK leading centre for Cyber Security, was recently recognised at Buckingham Palace with a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize.  The annual Cyber Summit has now become an internationally renowned meeting of world leading experts in this field to come together to tackle the greatest challenges to our online safety.  The UK has the most advanced digital economy in the world worth around 12.4% of GDP and growing fast.  We are all now highly dependent on the internet whether at home, work, in our vehicles or in the control systems and things that carry out a multitude of autonomous tasks for us. Cyber security is now a core technology requirement for all of these. This, our 6th annual Summit, will help inform our research to develop the next generation of cyber security technologies.”

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First Minister and former Taoiseach headline Queen’s Spring Festival of Events 2016

Free to attend, the addresses form part of the annual Spring Festival of Events organised by the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, at Queen's. First Minster Arlene Foster will deliver the fourth annual Harri Holkeri Lecture on the subject of Women, Leadership and Peace-building on Monday 23 May at Riddel Hall, Belfast. Uniquely placed to reflect on this theme, Mrs Foster, a Queen’s Law graduate, is the first woman to lead her party and the first female First Minister of Northern Ireland. The Harri Holkeri lecture series was established in 2013 to celebrate the late Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri’s contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. The closing lecture in this year’s Festival, will be a lecture from former Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern, entitled; Reflections on Peace in a Changed Ireland, on Tuesday 31 May in Riddel Hall. An Honorary Graduate of Queen’s, Mr Ahern has dedicated his time to conflict resolution since leaving Government in 2008 and is actively involved with many groups around the world. He was first elected to the Dáil in 1977 and became Taoiseach in June 1997. He was re-elected in 2002 and again in 2007. Director of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s, Professor Hastings Donnan, said: “The Institute has shown itself a leader in opening out academic-practitioner debate and in providing a space for frank conversations on building peace in our society. We are therefore delighted to welcome the First Minister and former Taoiseach as guest lecturers in this year’s Spring Festival. Holkeri’s aim of transforming conflict and promoting social justice in Northern Ireland, and across the globe, is shared by the Institute and we look forward to our guest speakers’ reflections on how this is being taken forward.” Other highlights of this year’s Spring Festival include Four Directions: Colours for Cultural Justice - A Journey of Aboriginal Art. The exhibition celebrates the work of acclaimed Stolen Generations Aboriginal artist, Heather Kamarra Shearer and traces Heather’s work through art as a public voice for justice, trauma and healing and the importance of family relationships in reconciliation. Queen’s Film Theatre will also screen The Image of the Enemy, a documentary of Palestinian and Israeli voices, human voices with diverging and converging opinions and distinct experiences of conflict and coexistence. The First Minister’s lecture will take place in Riddel Hall on Monday 23 May at 5pm followed by a question and answer session, facilitated by Yvette Shapiro, Journalist and Broadcaster. The former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s lecture will take place in Riddel Hall on Tuesday 31 May from 5pm followed by question and answer session facilitated by Jim Fitzpatrick, Journalist and Broadcaster. All events in the Festival are free and open to the public but registration is required. For the full programme of events and how to register visit www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/isctsj/Events/

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Queen's astronomers’ starring role in first movie of the Universe

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is currently being built in the Chilean Andes. The 3.2 billion pixels telescope will be used by an international team of astronomers to take images of the sky that each cover over 40 times the area of the moon, building up a survey of the entire visible sky in just three nights. Billions of galaxies, stars and solar system objects will be seen for the first time and monitored over ten years in what will be the first motion picture of our Universe, being dubbed the ‘greatest movie ever made’. The Science and Technology Facilities Council today (Thursday 19 May) confirmed that Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre will play a leading role in the UK’s participation in the LSST project. Professor Stephen Smartt, Director of Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre, said: “Experts from Queen’s will lead the UK effort to find distant supernovae – exploding death stars – which hold the key to understanding the origin of the chemical elements of the periodic table and the size and geometry of the Universe. “We will also lead the search for asteroids and comets, including potentially hazardous asteroids that may pose a threat to Earth. We will also use LSST to search for new and distant planets that lie beyond Pluto, over 4 billion kilometres away from Earth. “Queen’s has received significant funding from the Science and Technologies Facilities Council for this project, which is testament to our world-class research capabilities in this area. Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre is renowned globally for its expertise in looking at the time variable sky. We have been using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii for many years to discover things that flash, explode or move quickly across the sky. The LSST will define our surveys of the sky for the next twenty years and we are delighted to be part of the discoveries it will make.” Steven Kahn, the LSST Director said: “I am delighted that STFC is supporting UK participation in LSST. It is great to see UK astronomers engaging in preparation for LSST, and we look forward to seeing our collaboration develop over the coming years. LSST will be one of the foremost astronomy projects in the next decades and the UK astronomical community will contribute strongly to its success. The telescope is being built in the Chilean Andes. Conditions there are some of the driest on Earth, making it the ideal position for observing.” The telescope will achieve first light in 2020 and its main sky survey will begin in 2022. When it starts operating, t will generate one of the largest scientific datasets in the World. It will form an overall view of the Universe: billions of objects will be imaged in six colours, spanning a volume of the Universe that is larger than any previously explored. The unique feature of the LSST is that each of its images covers a large area of sky to a depth that captures faint objects, and the speed at which it takes these images.  

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Parental mental illness under discussion at Queen's

That’s according to experts who will meet at Queen's University on Monday 16 May, to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. Dr Anne Grant, Lecturer in Mental Health from Queen’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and Mary Donaghy, NI, Think Family Lead will be joined by international experts to explore how to promote optimal support for parents who have mental illness, their children and families within health and social services.  Northern Ireland is leading the way in UK family mental health care through the Think Family NI initiative, which introduces initiatives to promote a whole family approach in delivery of  health and social care  services. The Queen’s event will bring together those involved in that initiative, alongside leading mental health professionals from Australia, Finland and Norway to discuss how best to support families. Dr Anne Grant, said: “As a result of improved support and treatment, individuals with mental illness are more likely than previously to take on a parenting role. But parental responsibilities may affect their mental health and recovery, and conversely parents’ illness may impact on children’s development. For that reason, a focus on family relationships is crucial for all those involved in health and social care. “Over one third of all adults with mental health problems in the UK are parents, and the majority of those are mothers. It is estimated that more than 20 per cent of children live with at least one parent with a mental illness. Up to 50 per cent of these children will experience some psychological disorder during childhood or adolescence and 10-14 per cent will be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder at some point during their lives. “There is increasing evidence that family focused practice improves outcomes for both parents, their children and adult family members, and this event aims to explore what we are doing well, what we can do better, and what we can learn from other parts of the world in order to provide the best possible support for families living with mental health problems.” Speakers at the event will include: Dr Anne Grant, Lecturer in mental health, Queen's Dr Mary Donaghy, Think Family NI Lead, Health and Social Care Board Dr Adrian Falkov, specialist child and adolescent psychiatrist in Sydney, Australia, and author of The Family Model Handbook, which informs health and social care professionals’ family focused practice around the world. Professor Tytti Solantaus, child psychiatrist, therapist and researcher at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland. Dr Brente Weimand, mental health professional and researcher from Akershus University Hospital in Oslo, Norway. Fionnuala McAndrew, Director of Social Care and Children, Health and Social Care Board. ‘Health and social care professionals’ family focused practice with parents who have mental illness, their children and families’ will take place at Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast on Monday 16 May 2016 from 12.15pm-4.45pm. For more information about Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s visit http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofNursingandMidwifery/ End

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Big Data can save lives, says leading Queen's University cancer expert

Professor Mark Lawler, from Queen's University’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology is corresponding author of a paper published today in the prestigious international journal Nature Medicine. The paper highlights the potential of ‘big data’ to unlock the secrets inside cancer cells and enable the development of more effective personalised treatments. Professor Lawler is also Co-Chair of the Cancer Task Team of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), which was established in 2013 to create a common framework for the responsible, voluntary and secure sharing of patients’ clinical and genomic data. GA4GH is a partnership between scientists, clinicians, patients and the IT and Life Sciences industry involving more than 400 organisations in over 40 countries, and has published today’s paper as a blueprint to enable the sharing of patient data to improve patient outcomes. Professor Lawler said: “The term ‘big data’ refers to huge amounts of information that can be analysed by high-performance computers to reveal patterns, trends and associations. In medical terms, this includes clinical and genomic data that is derived from patients during, for example, diagnostic testing and treatment.” Professor Lillian Siu from Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the University of Toronto, who is joint lead author on this study said: “With the development of new technologies that have enabled the rapid and affordable profiling of cancer tumours, there has been an explosion of clinical and genomic data. Hospitals, laboratories and research facilities around the world hold huge amounts of this data from cancer patients. But this information is currently held in isolated ‘silos’ that don’t talk to each other. It is this lack of information sharing that threatens the advancement of tailored patient care.” According to Professor Lawler: “Cancer is an incredibly complex disease, and it is constantly changing. Each person’s cancer is different. The key to staying ahead in the fight against cancer is to properly understand how the disease evolves. We need to look at the big picture and identify patterns between groups of patients, whose information currently resides in different databases and institutions. To do this, we must break down the ‘data silos’ that Professor Siu refers to and ensure that genetic and clinical information is shared. “The aim is to create a type of ‘cancer genomic internet’. Imagine if we could create a searchable cancer database that allowed doctors to match patients from different parts of the world with suitable clinical trials. This genetic matchmaking approach would allow us to develop personalised treatments for each individual’s cancer, precisely targeting rogue cells and improving outcomes for patients. “This data sharing presents logistical, technical and ethical challenges. Our paper highlights these challenges and proposes potential solutions to allow the sharing of data in a timely, responsible and effective manner. We hope this blueprint will be adopted by researchers around the world and enable a unified global approach to unlocking the value of data for enhanced patient care.” The paper, entitled ‘Facilitating a culture of responsible and effective sharing of cancer genome data’ is published in Nature Medicine, Volume 22, Number 5, pp 464-471 May 2016. Professor Lawler is funded by the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK. For more information on cancer research at Queen’s University, visit the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology website at www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforCancerResearchCellBiology End

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