December 2015

Happy Christmas to all our friends and colleagues

Thank you for your support over the last year and we look forward to working and meeting with you in 2016

Frank, Roisin, Eimear and Pauline x


1     CoE Away Day 2015

2     Knitting, Ping-Pong and Public Health.... it must be the UKCRC Annual Conference 2015

3     Academy of Medical Sciences and Medical Research Council Policy internship scheme

4     Belfast Science Café

5     Cancer Research UK Population Research Postdoctoral Fellowship

6     Public Reviewers Wanted

7     Publications

8     Conferences

9     Cancer Research UK Cancer Prevention Innovation Showcase Event


Picture ...  Belfast City Hall

CoE Away Day 2015

The 8th Annual CoE Away Day was held on the 27th of November at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co. Down.  Around 150 guests attended the event including special guests from St. Louise’s Comprehensive College, NICVA, Belfast Healthy Cities, West Belfast Partnership Board and the TEAM MED Study.  Our excellent facilitator Dr Hugh Campbell yet again delivered a weird and wonderful ice-breaker to get the group chatting with his version of human bingo.  The theme of communication was carried throughout the day with a competition to see who could write the best Tweet on their research.  The top three tweets were written by Ashlene Wright, Ilona McMullan and Vikki O’Neil who sportingly agreed to make a video related to their tweet, we were even treated to some singing by Ashlene.  Continuing with the theme of communication, the researchers were asked to produce research posters in the form of a cartoon storyboard.  Dr Aideen Maguire won the prize for best poster with her novel take on the Snakes and Ladders game.  With only two minutes to explain their research projects, the first year PhD students impressed the audience during Stand and Deliver and Blain Murphy was voted winner for his presentation on The AiMs Study.  Guest speakers Professor Charles Normand and Professor Falko Sniehotta delivered thought provoking interactive sessions on economic evaluation of public health interventions and prevention and treatment of obesity.  The day ended with a surprise presentation by mentalist David Meade on personal effectiveness and communication.  David amazed and entertained us with his powers of intuition – who knew that it was possible to guess that someone’s favourite celebrity was Richard Gere? Something to ponder over Christmas.........

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Knitting, Ping-Pong and Public Health.... it must be the UKCRC Annual Conference 2015


Hosted by the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, over fifty colleagues from the CoE attended the 6th annual UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence Conference on 19th and 20th November 2015 at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh.

This year’s conference was centred around the theme "collaborating for better public health and wellbeing" and the focus was very much on engagement and discussion throughout the various sessions.  Following this theme keynote presentations were focussed on policy and practice and pecha kecha style presentations were used for parallel sessions instead of the traditional scientific plenary format. A big hit (with delegates from Northern Ireland at least) was the creative space which provided a space to knit, play guitar and enjoy table tennis between sessions.

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Academy of Medical Sciences and Medical Research Council Policy Internship Scheme


Congratulations to Gretta Mohan who has been awarded a policy internship at the Academy of Medical Sciences in London. Gretta will begin her three-month placement in October 2016.

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Belfast Science Café


Four members of CoE, Christina Erwin, Emma Lawlor, Roisin Corr and Eimear Barrett have joined the organising team of the Belfast Science Café.  The Belfast Science Café brings scientists from all fields to present about their work in an informal and interesting way and CoE jointly hosted an event “Is Cancer Bad Luck?” with Belfast Science Café in November.  Christina and Emma helped to organise December’s Science Café in which Professor Francis Keenan, from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s, presented about the science in Science Fiction, explaining where the script writers got it right, and where they got it very, very wrong!  If you’re wondering, in the case of an alien invasion his weapon of choice would be the M41A Pulse Rifle from ‘Aliens’!

The Belfast Science Café also launched its very own book club in October (organised by Christina), which focusses on popular science literature.  So far the group has read  ‘Pieces of Light - the new 'science of memory’ by Charles Fernyhough, an interesting book about the science and stories of autobiographical memory and  ‘E=mc², a biography of the world’s most famous equation’ by David Bodanis.  They are looking forward to venturing into the complicated world of scientific ethics in January discussing 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot.

If you’re interested in attending future Science Cafés or joining a book club meeting, please like us on Facebook: ‘Belfast Science Café’ or follow us on Twitter: @Belfast_SciCafe to find out more!

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Cancer Research UK Population Research Postdoctoral Fellowship


Dr Úna Mc Menamin, Research Fellow in the Cancer Epidemiology and Health Services Research Group, has recently been awarded a prestigious 3-year Cancer Research UK Population Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the causes of upper gastrointestinal cancers, including oesophageal and stomach cancer. As part of the fellowship, data from large UK cohorts will be used to investigate the association between blood levels of sex hormones in both males and females, and the risk of oesophageal and stomach cancer.  Dr Mc Menamin will also be examining the influence of reproductive and menstrual factors, and whether taking anti-oestrogen medications (commonly used in the treatment of breast cancer) may have a role for upper gastrointestinal cancer risk also.

During her Fellowship, Dr Mc Menamin will travel to the Belgian Cancer Registry in Brussels, Belgium and the National Cancer Institute in Washington DC, USA to work with world-leading experts there.  The findings from this research will provide novel information on the causes of the unexplained sex disparity in oesophageal and stomach cancer incidence. This could ultimately lead to the development of future prevention strategies, particularly for those at high risk of developing these cancers.

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Cancer Research UK Cancer Prevention Innovation Showcase Event


In December 2015, researchers from CoE and the Centre for Public Health, Drs Roisin O’Neill and Charlene Treanor presented findings from their funded ‘Sandpit’ projects at a CRUK showcase event in London.  These projects were a result of CRUK’s first Cancer Prevention Innovation ‘Sandpit’ Workshop held in July 2014 which aimed to target cancer prevention in harder to reach groups.  Each project involved collaboration with researchers across the UK; Roisin’s project aimed to understand the health of young mothers using photo elicitation methods and, Charlene’s project aimed to understand the health of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) using ‘big data’ and qualitative methods.  The aim of the showcase event was to present the findings of funded projects, and gain advice from other experts and funders on how to develop the sandpit ideas and apply for future funding.  Professor Frank Kee, Dr Marie Cantwell and Dr Helen Coleman were also in attendance at this event.

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Morgan E, Halliday SR, Campbell GR, Cardwell CR, Patterson CC.  Vaccinations and childhood type 1 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Diabetologia. 2015 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]

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Public Reviewers Wanted


Are you a member of the public with an interest in public health research? Could you spare a few hours to help our communications group review our research. If you are interested please contact for more information.

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Six members (Jayne Woodside, Michelle McKinley, Charlotte Neville, Ciara Rooney, Lauren Holmes, Nicola Gallagher) of the Nutrition and Metabolism Group at the Centre of Excellence for Public Health attended the 12th FENS European Nutrition Conference in Berlin from 20th – 23rd October. The conference showcased recent research carried out across Europe in relation to nutrition and health throughout the lifecycle. The four day event involved a mixture of scientific presentations and debates organised as oral and poster communications. The attendees from the Centre of Excellence for Public Health presented their poster presentations during moderated poster sessions.

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