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The Pulse Edition 5

An introduction to our new PVC Stuart....

Most of you will already know me following my return to the faculty. I am looking forward to the new role and leading the faculty through the challenging and exciting times ahead of us.

Northern Ireland is facing a challenging spell in the midst of a major political frameshift, We need to focus on the opportunities  and continue to build on the exciting developments, in particular, the recent Regional City Deal. Prospects of the City Deal include pioneering aspects of data science  digital health which will range from biological data in our laboratories right through to patient data which help us to understand cause and treatment for diseases.

In my first few months, I have witnessed the high calibre of innovation driven from the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences which impacts on the healthcare and food and agri sector. We have a number of thought leaders based in Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences who are working to make a difference and impact on improving the health and agricultural economy within Northern Ireland.

In the coming editions of the Pulse, I will be broadcasting a series of videos to highlight key topics relative to all staff within the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life sciences. In this edition I will discuss the City Deal, all things digital and the opportunities that we as a faculty can address to improve health and agri food, not just in NI but globally.

Making the Headlines

School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
Queen’s University Belfast officially opens the Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence

Queen’s University Belfast have officially opened the Precision Medicine Centre of Excellence (PMC), which will radically change the landscape of modern medicine in Northern Ireland and beyond.

The PMC is a new laboratory based at Queen’s University Belfast campus, boasting state-of-the-art technology, which will bring together high-throughput genomics, artificial intelligence and big data analytics in a fully integrated fashion.

Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez said, “No longer a ‘one size fits all’, we have seen a major shift towards precision medicine in recent years, focusing on tailored treatment for patients."

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Professor Tim Curtis
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
Researchers discover ground-breaking way to treat major sight-threatening diseases of the eye

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have discovered a new way of treating major diseases of the eye caused by the abnormal growth of new blood vessels.

The research recently publish in US journal JCI Insight was funded by the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI).

The study shows that a specific protein found within the body called ‘CAMKII’, acts to co-ordinate the different signals that cause new blood vessel growth.

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School of Biological Sciences
Life in the gingerbread house: how fish need jellies more than we thought

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have coined jellyfish, ‘the gingerbread house’, conveying their newly discovered role in providing both food and shelter to fish.

Jellyfish have long been described as ‘arguably the most important predators in the seas’, competing with adult fish for food, or by preying on eggs and larvae to reduce survivorship and recruitment of fish stocks.  Certainly such mechanisms are at play, but a recent study led by Queen’s and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal suggests they might be counterbalanced by other traits rendering jellyfish much more beneficial to marine life than previously thought.

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School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
Release of the cancer incidence and survival statistics for Northern Ireland 2012-2017

The Queen’s University N. Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR) released the number of new cancer cases diagnosed (incidence) in Northern Ireland in 2017.

This release provides details of the number of cancer cases diagnosed each year along with incidence rates from 1993 to 2017 for all cancers combined and for a wide range of cancer types. The number of cases and rates for a range of geographic areas is also available. Survival trends for a range of cancer types and prevalence (the number of people alive) for these cancers is also provided.

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Recent Achievements

School of Medicine, Heath and Sciences
Queen's researchers recognised as most influential researchers who study diabetes complications

Congratulations to Queen’s University research experts who were named in the UK’s top 25 most influential researchers who study diabetes complications.

The four Queen’s University researchers are all based within the Centre for Public Health;

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School of Biological Sciences
Royal Society of Biology Accreditation

A number of degree courses at the School of Biological Sciences and IGFS have been granted the prestigious status of being formally accredited by the Royal Society of Biology.

The degree courses, which will be accredited for five years, are:


  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry
  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry with Professional Studies
  • BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences
  • BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences with Professional Studies
  • BSc (Hons) Marine Biology
  • BSc (Hons) Marine Biology with Professional Studies
  • BSc (Hons) Microbiology
  • BSc (Hons) Microbiology with Professional Studies
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology with Professional Studies

Read full article

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School of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
New Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme Director appointed

Congratulations to Professor Danny McAuley has been appointed as the new Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme Director.

The EME Programme is a Medical Research Council (MRC) and NIHR partnership. The Programme funds ambitious studies evaluating interventions with potential to make a step-change in the promotion of health, treatment of disease and improvement of rehabilitation or long-term care. Within these studies, the EME Programme supports research into the mechanisms of diseases and treatments.

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School of Nursing and Midwifery
Advancing Simulation training in Children’s Nursing

Queen’s University Belfast is the first University in the UK using the new Laerdal SimBaby.

SimBaby is a tetherless human patient simulator and is designed to help healthcare providers to effectively recognise and respond to critically ill paediatric patients. The SimBaby simulator represents a 9-month old paediatric patient and provides a highly realistic manikin that allows learners to practice early assessment, diagnosis and treatment to help paediatric outcomes. It incorporates a number of new features such as checking ‘Capillary Refill Time’ (CRT), testing ‘Pupil Light Reflex’ and ‘Quality Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation’ (QCPR) Technology - for effective monitoring and improvement of CPR performance.

The Children and Young People’s nursing team within the School of Nursing and Midwifery have long been associated with establishing the use of high-fidelity simulation in their educational programmes. Within the current portfolio of courses, the resources are used collaboratively in both uni-professional and inter-professional platforms, by students in years two and three of the undergraduate programme alongside medical students in their fourth year, child health module.  Additionally, our baby simulator has provided great opportunities for learning and assessment within our post-registration critical care module. This enthusiastic team have been invited to showcase this creative work both at local, regional and internationally. Pedagogical research around the use of these technologies has also enhanced and embedded this form of facilitated learning in conjunction with the dedication and commitment of staff to its development within programmes of study.

Through the use of SimBaby, students have had the opportunity to develop the professional knowledge, skills and attributes required of them within their programme or modules. With the introduction of the updated tetherless SimBaby and new SimJunior simulators, our students will now have the exciting prospect of learning new skills and developing existing skills to augment their clinical practice and enhance their readiness for professional registration and beyond.

What people are saying:

Conor, a 4th year medical student: “It was challenging and rewarding …. we should do more of this

Layla, a 3rd year nursing student: “SimBaby is a fantastic learning opportunity that gives us the experience of situations in a realistic and safe environment. Multidisciplinary scenarios give us the chance for team working across the medical spectrum”.

Professor Donna Fitzsimons, Head of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University: “I am delighted that our expert Children and Young People’s nursing team are leading the way with such innovative multidisciplinary technology. SimBaby will help all our medical, nursing and pharmacy students to prepare for clinical practice in a true-to-life simulated environment. This will enhance the safety of their practice and improve their clinical decision-making. The SimBaby investment is part of the QUB education strategy that prioritises our student experience and produces capable, confident practitioners that make a tangible difference to the quality of patient experience and outcomes. ”

For more information contact Kevin Campbell 

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Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Staff Awards

Congratulations to the faculty staff members who have received various awards/prizes. Click here for full award details



Sir Tim Smit
Institute of Global Food Security
The Institute for Global Food Security Annual Lecture 2019

We are honoured to welcome Sir Tim Smit KBE, Executive Co-Chair Eden Project International and Executive Vice Chair and Co-Founder Eden Project to deliver the annual lecture; talk entitled Some Open Minds Need to be Closed for Repair - the Battle Between the Consumer and the Citizen in All of Us.

He will also engage with the audience following the panel discussion. The evening will be chaired by prominent NI journalist, Mark Simpson.

A buffet of locally sourced produce will be served at 5pm prior to the main event. We welcome and invite you to attend what will be a stimulation, enjoyable and much anticipated event.

To confirm your attendance please register email

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Crowd talking to qub academic staff
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Faculty research networking event in Jordan

MHLS has long-standing links in research with a number of Jordanian Universities and the Faculty Dean of Internationalisation, Colin McCoy, coordinated a major research networking event in Jordan in January to build on this reputation and establish new areas of collaboration. Twelve academics from across MHLS and two staff from Research & Enterprise travelled to Amman to take part in the event entitled “Queen’s University Belfast – Jordan Research Symposium in Healthcare, Pharma and Agri-Food: Towards collaboration in Pharmacy, Food and Medicine.”

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Stuart Elborn and Stanley Hawkins
School of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
The Northern Ireland Multiple Sclerosis Research Network 4th annual open evening

The Northern Ireland Multiple Sclerosis Research Network held their 4th annual open evening on Monday 25th March at the Wellcome Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine. Over 70 guests attended including people with Multiple Sclerosis and their supporters.

Presentations were given from Professor Denise Fitzgerald on ‘Update on MS research in Northern Ireland’, Professor Alasdair Coles on ‘Imagining the treatment of MS in 2030’ and Dr. Richard Nicholas on ‘The UK MS Register: where is it going?’

There was then a very interesting Q&A session with the guests and visiting and local scientists and clinicians.

This was a very successful evening and guests had the opportunity to receive information from The Dublin Brain Bank, MS Society Ireland, Action MS and the NI MS Society.

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Inaugural Lecture 800 533
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
Faculty Inaugural Lectures

Congratulations to Professor Gerry Gormley, Centre for Medical Education, Professor Bronagh Blackwood and Professor Tim Curtis, The Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, who held inaugural lectures in March and April 2019.

Professor Gerry Gormley – ‘Learning by performing in the theatre of simulation’

Professor Bronagh Blackwood – ‘Caring in critical illness: from bedside care to research’

Professor Tim Curtis - 'Tackling diabetic eye disease by going with the flow'




Staff Updates

Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
€8.84m investment in cross-border health research trials to benefit people’s health and wellbeing

People from both sides of the border will benefit from 11 health intervention research trials thanks to a Cross-Border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN) Project delivered by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Health Research Board in the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

CHITIN aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and seeks to help shape future research for those living in Northern Ireland and the border regions of Ireland (Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, and Louth) through cross border research collaborations.

Queen’s University is leading on four CHITIN trials:

  • Anticipatory Care Planning (ACP), led by Professor Kevin Brazil – a personalised care plan intervention for older people at risk of functional decline
  • PolyPrime – an intervention to seek to improve medicines management in older people living at home, led by Professor Carmel Hughes
  • BRAIN-Diabetes – a lifestyle intervention for healthy neurocognitive ageing in Diabetes for older people, led by Professor Peter Passmore
  • Ten Top Tips for a healthy Pregnancy – Led by Dr Michelle McKinley, this research will encourage women with overweight or obesity to develop positive lifestyle habits during pregnancy and beyond.

CHITIN has received €8.84m in funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

To find out more on CHITIN visit the website, Twitter @CHITINProject or Youtube

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Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Faculty launch Technician Commitment Website

The faculty is pleased to announce the launch of the MHLS Technician Commitment website. The website highlights the support to our technicians, identifying training opportunities and events as well as highlighting the great work carried out across the faculty. 

Click here to view the website

Staff Reminder image 800 533
Staff Reminder
Staff Survey

We've had a great initial response to the 2019 Staff Survey – thanks to all of our staff who have taken the time out to take part and have their say. If you haven’t completed the Survey yet, don’t worry - there’s still plenty of time before it closes at 5.00pm on Thursday 18 April.

If you have deleted your unique Survey link or can’t locate your original email, please click here to request a replacement link.


In memory of
Dr Eilish Donnelly

Staff in the Centre of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and the wider Faculty send their condolences to the family and friends of their late colleague and friend, Dr Eilish Donnelly, who died suddenly on Monday 8 April 2019.




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