01-2012 Press Releases

 

Queen’s appoints new Chief Executive of QUBIS

Queen’s University’s venture spin-out company, QUBIS, has appointed Frank Bryan as acting Chief Executive. Mr Bryan, who sits on the board of the Institute of Directors (UK), has served on the board of QUBIS as Non-Executive Director for the past three years.

Established in 1984 to commercialise Queen’s research and development activities, QUBIS is currently the leading company in the UK and Ireland for revenue generation created through its spin-out companies. The company is second only to the University of Cambridge for job creation through its spin-outs, with 1,123 higher value jobs created since its inception.

Mr Bryan graduated from Queen’s in 1984 with a BSc Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He is a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a Chartered Electrical Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He is currently Managing Director of Bryan Powercom Ltd, a company specialising in computer networking, fibre-optics and electrical contracting, and of Spectacular Lighting, which specialises in the adaptation of American technology to synchronise light shows to music. Mr Bryan is also a Governor of the Belfast Metropolitan College, a member of Halo, Northern Ireland’s first angel investor group and a founder member of MATRIX, Northern Ireland’s Science & Technology Strategy Panel.

Welcoming the appointment, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: “I am delighted Frank has accepted this interim appointment. Frank graduated from Queen’s in the same year QUBIS was launched, and in the intervening years both have achieved remarkable success.

“With Frank’s widespread experience of industry, his visionary qualities, and his passion for knowledge exchange, I am confident QUBIS will continue to bolster Northern Ireland’s global reputation as a place to invest and do business in.”

Speaking on his appointment, Frank Bryan said: “Having served on the Board of QUBIS for the past three years, I was delighted to have the opportunity to take on the Chief Executive role. The University’s academics are our knowledge generators, and by working in partnership with them and the University’s Research & Enterprise Directorate, QUBIS plays a vital role in facilitating the transition of great research and know-how from inside Queen’s to the market place.

“Never has the ability to create higher value jobs, and fresh revenue streams from export markets, been more essential for the Northern Ireland economy. QUBIS has an enviable track record in this arena and in recent times played a key part in Queen’s being named the Times Higher Education UK Entrepreneurial University of the Year. The opportunity to build a more successful future starts every day, and I look forward to working with my new colleagues in QUBIS and across the University to make that a reality.”

Last year QUBIS spin-outs generated revenue of £120 million, with 95 per cent of sales overseas. Recent additions to the QUBIS portfolio over the last 12 months include Tactility Factory, Xenosense II, PDC and Lewis Fertility Testing which markets a groundbreaking new test for male infertility.

Further information on QUBIS is available online at www.qubis.co.uk

For further information contact Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 / m0781 44 22 572 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Foster and Cable officially open £6million research centre for Northern Ireland
Pic L to R: Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sir Peter Gregson; Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable; NIACE Manager Dr Scott King and Minister of State, Rt. Hon. Hugo Swire MP at the opening of NIACE
Pic L to R: Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sir Peter Gregson; Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable; NIACE Manager Dr Scott King and Minister of State, Rt. Hon. Hugo Swire MP at the opening of NIACE
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and UK Business Secretary Vince Cable today officially opened The Northern Ireland Advanced Composites & Engineering Centre (NIACE) on Airport Road, Belfast.

Funding to build the £6million centre was announced in February last year and included financing from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) through the Strategic Investment Fund, Invest Northern Ireland and Bombardier Aerospace.

Queen’s University and the University of Ulster co-own and operate the 3,700 sq m facility which was inspired by the work of MATRIX, in particular from its Advanced Materials and Advanced Engineering sub-panels.

Arlene Foster said: "This new industry-led centre is about maximising the benefits of the knowledge and skills that already exist in advanced material and composite technologies in Northern Ireland, and enhancing those capabilities to ensure that we stay at the forefront of the global advanced engineering sector. Today’s official opening marks an important step in promoting the concept of collaboration that will help shape advanced materials engineering research in the coming years, and I am confident that this is the beginning of a very fruitful venture for all involved.”

Vince Cable said: “The Northern Ireland Advanced Composites & Engineering Centre is the latest addition to a valuable network of composites research facilities throughout the UK. Each of these centres has its own area of expertise but a common objective to bring together leading academics with dynamic companies and help them with the design and rapid manufacture of high-quality composite products.”

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry who attended the event, commented: “The new research centre highlights the strong collaboration between our universities and industry. Both Queen's University and the University of Ulster are demonstrating research excellence in a range of engineering, scientific and business disciplines. By working collectively with industry I believe this new centre will provide a strong foundation for sustained growth in the engineering and composites sectors.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, President and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast, said: “As an aerospace engineer by background, I am especially pleased to see the vision for this advanced composites and advanced materials manufacturing centre become a reality. It will enable leading academics to work alongside colleagues from Bombardier and other Northern Ireland manufacturers interested in the development and application of advanced composites.

“As part of the UK network of advanced manufacturing centres, Queen’s and its partners in NIACE will ensure Northern Ireland remains at the vanguard of advanced engineering and composites research – a further and very direct means of supporting economic growth in Northern Ireland. I congratulate all involved.”

Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast, said: “The NIACE centre is building on a legacy of engineering innovation in Northern Ireland, and we are looking forward to seeing our investment support pioneering collaborative research and development projects, which are vital if we are to develop new technologies and skills in our high value engineering and advanced manufacturing sector. This, in turn, will help Northern Ireland, and in particular our small and medium-sized companies, to move up the value chain, take advantage of new opportunities and compete on a global platform.”

Dr Scott King, NIACE Centre Manager, said: “This facility will provide the opportunity for different companies involved in advanced composites, materials and engineering within Northern Ireland to co-locate research activities and to engage in research that will bring about benefits to the sectors. There will be significant interaction between industrial and academic staff resulting in the rapid transfer of knowledge and skills and advancement of innovative technologies across a range of industries.”

Professor Richard Barnett, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ulster added: “This centre is a further example of how university research and business development can go hand-in-hand. New advanced engineering concepts are leading to local and international composite-based applications and product development across a wide range of company sectors, from transport to energy. This in turn is providing new opportunities for our STEM and business based undergraduate and postgraduate students. The centre is very much welcomed by the University of Ulster and reflects our vision to be an economic driver for the region.”

For media enquiries contact DETI Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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Queen’s scientists pioneer new concrete corrosion sensors

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have made a major breakthrough in developing sensors which dramatically improve the ability to spot early warning signs of corrosion in concrete.

The sensors, which are more resilient and much longer lasting than traditional corrosion sensors, will make monitoring the safety of structures such as bridges and vital coastal defences much more effective.

The research, which was carried out over a four-year period, was in conjunction with researchers at City University London, and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Dr Su Taylor from the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen’s University said: “Because the sensors can withstand long-term placement within concrete, unlike any equivalent sensors currently available, they can constantly monitor conditions, enabling a warning to be sent when conditions for corrosion threshold have been crossed. Thanks to an internet connection, the notification can be sent in the form of an email or text to the structure’s maintenance team.

“There is a trio of novel, robust probes at the heart of the team’s work: one that monitors temperature, one for humidity while the other senses chloride and pH levels. Changes in these factors indicate the onset of the potentially destructive corrosion. Within the probes are advanced optical sensors specifically designed and built for this project. These have been patented for potential commercial exploitation.”

Tong Sun, Professor of Sensor Engineering at City and Principal Investigator on the project, said: “Our design means several probes can be installed semi-permanently in a structure and then connected to a computer data logger, which will constantly collect readings. This can be left until the readings indicate conditions have changed enough to warrant a full investigation. Remedial work will be simpler, cheaper and more effective at this stage, rather than waiting until there is visible damage, such as parts of the concrete coming away.”

Traditional optical corrosion sensors have only a limited lifetime, usually of several weeks, because of the corrosive alkaline levels within concrete. The new sensors are expected to last for several years, with proper protection, even where pH levels are high.

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 422 572 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Research aims to improve effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer
Lead researcher at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Professor of Radiation Biology Kevin Prise
Lead researcher at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Professor of Radiation Biology Kevin Prise

A new three year research project aimed at improving the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment for men affected by prostate cancer is taking place at Queen’s.

With new and improved treatments needed for men with advanced prostate cancer, it is hoped the project will identify a new approach using radiotherapy, a commonly used treatment, to treat the disease more effectively.

Funded by a £99,273 PhD research grant awarded by The Prostate Cancer Charity, the project will first seek to understand how a man’s prostate cancer becomes resistant to radiotherapy. Following this, the researchers will test a combination of existing drug treatments alongside radiotherapy to overcome this resistance. It is hoped that the cancer will become more sensitive to radiotherapy and thereby improve the success of the treatment to stop the disease in its tracks.

Lead researcher at Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Professor of Radiation Biology Kevin Prise, said: “The use of radiotherapy to treat prostate cancer is currently restricted by the cancer’s ability to develop resistance to the treatment. Drugs exist which can help to ‘sensitise’ the cancer cells to radiotherapy, and in this study we will use these drugs in combination with radiotherapy to try and improve the success of prostate cancer treatment, using techniques that are already available.”

The grant has been awarded, as part of The Prostate Cancer Charity’s ongoing programme of investment in research to help tackle this disease. This year, the Charity has awarded over £2 million – its largest research investment to date – to institutions across the UK to improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

Dr Kate Holmes, Research Manager at The Prostate Cancer Charity said: “Radiotherapy has been used for a number of years to treat prostate cancer. In some cases, however, the tumour develops resistance and does not respond well to this treatment. We hope that this new research will be able to improve the success of radiotherapy, so that it can be used to kill more cancer cells and further delay the spread of the disease. We are looking forward to working closely with the team and eagerly await the results of the study.”

For further information contact the Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3087 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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US Ambassador calls on Northern Ireland students to be ‘Global Citizens’
The U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman called on Northern Ireland students to think as global citizens in an address at Queen’s University Belfast today.  He is pictured (centre) with (L-R) President of the Queen’s Students’ Union Jason O’Neill, the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of Queen’s, James O’Kane, the Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, and the Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry.
The U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman called on Northern Ireland students to think as global citizens in an address at Queen’s University Belfast today. He is pictured (centre) with (L-R) President of the Queen’s Students’ Union Jason O’Neill, the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of Queen’s, James O’Kane, the Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, and the Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry.

U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, Louis Susman, today called on Northern Ireland students to think as global citizens, emphasising the influence that young people have made around the world in building democracies.

In a keynote address to students, academics, and business leaders at Queen’s University Belfast, the Ambassador said that the need for young people to express their hopes and aspirations was “more important than ever”.

The Ambassador also stressed the importance of being global citizens and challenged students not just to think about the world and where they see their place in it, but to actively engage and help make a difference to society: “Our complex and interrelated world means that we all share an interest in overcoming the global challenges that face us”, he said.

Delighted to be welcoming the U.S. Ambassador back to Queen’s, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “At Queen’s we very aware of the importance of global citizenship and the need for our students to develop a skill-base to support their future career. This is reflected in our curriculum and the wider student experience which offers a range of international opportunities through our global partnerships, work placement and internship schemes, and student exchange programs.

“It is critical for Queen’s graduates to have the knowledge, skills and international experiences that will enable them to become future leaders in their chosen careers. Queen’s strong links with the United States underpin the outstanding opportunities available to our students, and they, in turn, are enriched by their experiences.”

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Belfast student crowned UK Universities Brightest Business Brain

A final-year student from Queen’s University Belfast has outshone more than 3,000 competitors to be crowned the UK’s Universities Brightest Business Brain.

David Galbraith, from east Belfast, a final year student in Computing Information Technology, topped the leaderboard to take the title and the £1,000 prize in the grand final at Cass Business School in London.

Launched in September, the competition saw more than 3,000 students register and take four online exercises designed to assess their competencies, traits and aptitudes, and identify their commercial awareness. The 60 highest scorers were invited to the Grand Final where their challenges including teamworking and communication exercises and a business case study.

A former pupil of Wellington College, David said: “The exercises ranged from having to construct a LEGO tower to taking part in a debate about positive action. They were undoubtedly challenging and I had to think on my feet, but I also found them quite good fun!

“Obviously I’m delighted to have won, and I’m very grateful to the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Enterprise SU at Queen’s for their support. The experience was really worthwhile. It not only opened up potential job opportunities for me after graduation, but also led to my acceptance by the Brightest Minds organisation, which is quite an honour.”

The competition was sponsored by a number of partners, including Target Events, Brightest Minds, Cass Business School, CIMA, National Grid and RBS.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford on 028 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Leading literary critic in the frame

A new portrait of leading Irish literary critic Professor Edna Longley, by acclaimed Antrim-based artist Jeffrey Morgan, has been unveiled at Queen’s.

Throughout a long teaching and research career spent almost entirely at Queen’s, Professor Longley has had a huge and enabling influence on the literary culture of Northern Ireland. Her critical works include Poetry in the Wars, Louis MacNeice: A Study, The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland, Poetry and Posterity (2000), and she is the editor of Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems (2008).

She was also a moving force behind the establishment of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s, and her contribution continues to this day. As Chair of the Centre’s Board, she continues to contribute to the support and encouragement of poetry and poets.

Speaking at the unveiling, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “The unveiling of this excellent portrait by Jeffrey Morgan will ensure that Edna’s image will have pride of place in Queen’s, whose reputation she has done so much to enhance.”

Funding for the impressive artwork was raised through the efforts of the School of English and Queen’s Gender Initiative.

Media inquiries to: Anne Langford on 028 9097 5310, mob. 07815 871997, a.langford@qub.ac.uk

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Public invited to join Queen’s astronomers for Jupiter Watch
Jupiter Watch at Queen's
Jupiter Watch at Queen's

Queen’s University is inviting members of the public to use its powerful telescopes to view Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, on Monday evening (16 January).

In association with the BBC, as part of Stargazing Live 2012, the free event takes place from 6pm to 9pm, in front of Queen’s landmark Lanyon building.

Professional astrophysicists from Queen's, and amateur astronomers from the Irish Astronomical Association, will be on hand to help locate the planet and explain what is being seen.

Visitors can expect to view the cloud tops of a planet 11 times the diameter of the Earth and 318 times as massive. Also visible will be Jupiter’s four largest moons - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

If inclement weather leads to the event being cancelled, a public lecture will be held by Dr. Chris Watson of Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre, entitled Jupiter around other stars, starting at 6:30pm.

Visitors will be led to the Larmor Lecture Theatre. Further information on the free event is available online at https://habu.pst.qub.ac.uk/groups/jupiterwatch/

For further information please contact: Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: 028 9097 5384, M: 0781 44 22 572 Email: lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Ground-breaking cancer research receives massive funding boost
Dr Sandra Van Schaeybroeck
Dr Sandra Van Schaeybroeck
Research into a ground-breaking treatment for bowel cancer at Queen’s University Belfast has received a massive funding boost from Cancer Research UK.

Dr Sandra Van Schaeybroeck, whose research aims to identify ways to increase survival from bowel cancer, has received a prestigious £688,000 Cancer Research UK Clinical Scientist Fellowship.

The award, which is one of only four fellowships awarded to UK clinical investigators, renews Dr Schaeybroeck’s current funding from the charity for another three years.   Her research aims to develop new treatment strategies to improve bowel cancer patients’ response to treatment and increase survival of particular groups of patients with bowel cancer.

Dr Van Schaeybroeck, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, said: “Bowel cancer affects more that 35,000 people a year in the UK.  A major barrier in the treatment of bowel cancer is drug resistance with more than half of patients not responding to standard chemotherapy treatment.  I’m specifically aiming to identify the molecular reasons this happens in cells with specific gene faults.  My ultimate goal is to increase survival in particular groups of patients with bowel cancer.

“I’m delighted to have received the renewal of the Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist Fellowship. It is a major recognition of my research so far and the world-class cancer research ongoing at Queen’s University.

Speaking about the selection process, Professor Philip Johnson, Chair of the clinical interview panel and a world leader in cancer trials at the University of Birmingham, said: “We saw oncologists, surgeons, haematologists, public health specialists and more. It was a tough decision, but we have found five great post-doc clinicians. These are people who see clinical problems that need solving, and then do research to find solutions. They have an exciting and rewarding career ahead of them.”

Dr David Scott, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Science Funding, said: “The doctors receiving this funding are carrying out world-class research to develop new ways to diagnose and treat patients more effectively. We hope this funding will be an important boost to develop new approaches which we hope will ultimately increase survival from cancer.”

The funding is part of a total three million pound funding pot awarded to the five UK researchers - an important investment from Cancer Research UK, with the aim of identifying the next generation of clinical research leaders in the UK.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Rigby - Cancer Research UK on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, 07050 264 059.
Claire O’Callaghan - Queen’s University Belfast on 02890975391 or 07814415451

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New Year Honours for Queen’s staff

Two members of staff have been honoured in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

David Gibson, Senior Teaching Fellow in Queen’s University Management School, has been awarded an OBE for services to higher education in Northern Ireland.

Dr Moira Stewart from the Centre for Medical Education has been honoured with an OBE for services to healthcare in Northern Ireland.

Also receiving honours were Dr Linda Margaret Caughley, Consultant Histopathologist, who has been awarded an MBE for voluntary service to the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and Honorary Professor at Queen's, State Pathologist Professor Jack Crane, who has received a CBE for services to Forensic Pathology.

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Queen’s academics launch new African enterprise directory
Dr Diane Holt, Queen’s University Management School (QUMS)
Dr Diane Holt, Queen’s University Management School (QUMS)

Queen’s University Management School (QUMS) academics have launched a new Directory to help increase innovation and enterprise within the 19 countries of Southern and Eastern Africa.

Led by Dr Diane Holt and Dr David Littlewood of QUMS, the Trickle Out Africa Directory considers the role and potential contribution of social and environmental enterprises to sustainable development and poverty alleviation within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) regions.

Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the TOA Directory is the first searchable guide of these types of organisations and will be used to guide future initiatives including training, trade links and enterprise development schemes.

TOA will mainly be targeted at those who represent or own a social, environmental enterprise, to NGOs with any commercial activity, to co-operative or membership associations that represent such organisations and to representatives of a donor/aid agency that support such bodies. Individual entrepreneurs selling green products or services also qualify.

Speaking during the launch, Alison Coutts, British Council Kenya Director hailed the unveiling of the Trickle Out Africa project, terming it a step in the right direction: “Trickle Out Africa is very timely for not only identifying viable enterprises that will impact positively on communities within the targeted regions, but also as a useful guide to future projects.”

Dr. Diane Holt, Principal Investigator, Queen's University Management School, noted that the creation of the Directory would also assist in the networking of the enterprises within the SADC and the EAC. She said: “The primary role of the project is to create a comprehensive directory, which will have crucial information on the types of business models, funding and business history for the benefit of the SADC and EAC regions. We hope that in some small way, the TOA project will help showcase the innovative, home- grown, truly transformative business models that form the bedrock of modern Kenya and other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.”

After completion of the project, organisations in the SADC and EAC will be able to correctly identify potential partners in other countries. Businesses in these regions will also be in a better position to identify potential suppliers and customers will also locate these firms.

Support and donor agencies will also be able to identify potential recipients of their initiatives, and those firms without a web presence will have the opportunity of having their details available on the web free of charge.

TOA is expected to last for the next 26 months. It will seek to evaluate these enterprises through survey and case study research, to measure, map and analyze their characteristics and identify their triple bottom line impact in economic as well as environmental and social terms.

More information can be found on the Project at http://trickleout.net 

Further information from the Communications and External Affairs. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email comms.office@qub.ac.uk

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Titanic centenary marked by new course at Queen’s

The extraordinary story of the Titanic will be the focus of a new centenary lecture series at Queen’s University in the new year.

In partnership with National Museums Northern Ireland, Queen’s Teaching Fellow, Cathal McManus, will focus on the Titanic Story, its history and legacy.

The course is part of Queen’s new Winter Open Learning programme which offers an exciting and varied selection of courses.

Speaking about the programme Cathal McManus said: “Great history is one theme, but the Open Learning programme also registers the importance of our own stories and our own family history. In Investigating Your Family Tree Gillian Hunt creates a practical guide through the maze of investigating your ancestors, while Robert Whan is also offering a one-day workshop on family history.

“The new year is all about new beginnings. The Open Learning Language programme includes lots of introductory courses in Italian, French, Spanish and German, to help learners create another voice and skill up in a relaxed atmosphere for holidays.”

For those interested in theatre, Rosie Pelan’s Playing Shakespeare courses have been proving very popular. Rosie is a trained actor with over 20 years’ professional experience, playing leading classical roles. In the new year, the focus will be on Othello.

The Open Learning programme includes active courses such as tango and ceili dancing, and practical help for those who want to take stock and re-orient their lives, with options including Achieve Your Goals and De-clutter your Life.

Building on a very successful autumn creative writing programme, a number of new courses in the area are now being offered in the new year and there are also plenty of other leisure courses to choose from including the ever popular Wine Appreciation.

For more information or to register visit www.qub.ac.uk/edu/ol

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 415 451 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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New society ‘Actuarially’ very interesting

The first society for actuaries and those with an interest in the profession is being launched in Northern Ireland.

The Society of Northern Ireland Actuaries (SONIA) will launch next month at Queen's University Management School at Riddel Hall, Belfast.

SONIA will be a society for actuarial professionals and those students undertaking the Queen's University Management School's (QUMS) Actuarial Science and Risk Management degree.

Speaking about the motivation for SONIA, Colin O’Hare, President of the Society and Programme Director for the actuarial science degree at Queen's, said: "The idea of establishing a society that includes professional actuaries and undergraduate students as its core membership has never been tried before in the United Kingdom. It not only offers employers the opportunity to engage with and learn from academics who are working at the cutting edge of actuarial research, but also provides an opportunity for students to develop the necessary business awareness skills that can sometimes be difficult to teach in the lecture theatre.

“Northern Ireland has a small but strong actuarial base, and with the establishment of the actuarial degree at Queen’s four years ago, now has the capacity to grow rapidly in the future. A further motivation for the development of SONIA is to provide an actuarial visibility for Northern Ireland as it develops as a centre of excellence in actuarial science and risk management across the UK.”

Funded by Invest NI, SONIA will offer a platform for local actuaries to provide their opinion on issues from pensions to investments and beyond. For students it will offer an unrivalled opportunity for networking, professional development, engagement with industry. It will allow students the opportunity to develop into more rounded professionals, while studying the theory such that on graduation they will be able to engage with the issues immediately.

Supported by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the inaugural event will take place at 5.30pm on 7th February. President of the actuarial profession, Jane Curtis, will speak on the new education strategy and the latest thinking on topics such as Enhanced Transfer Values.

Anyone seeking further information on SONIA should contact Colin O'Hare at QUMS on +44 (0) 28 9097 4671 or email k.toner@qub.ac.uk

Further information from Lisa McElroy, Senior Communications Officer. Tel: 028 90 97 5384 or email lisa.mcelroy@qub.ac.uk

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Barrett’s patients who smoke twice as likely to develop oesophageal cancer

Smoking doubles the risk of developing oesophageal cancer in people with Barrett’s Oesophagus, according to scientists at Queen’s University Belfast and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.

Affecting one in every 100 people in the UK, Barrett’s Oesophagus is a disorder in which the lining of the oesophagus is damaged by stomach acid and is changed to a lining similar to that of the stomach.

The research, published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, was carried out over 13 years and involved over 3000 Barrett’s patients. It found that those who smoked tobacco were twice as likely to develop cancer of the oesophagus, than those who did not.

Dr Helen Coleman from the Centre for Public Health in Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences led the study. She said: “We found that tobacco smoking emerged as the strongest lifestyle risk factor for cancer progression for patients with Barrett’s Oesophagus. The risk of developing this cancer doubled for those who were smoking tobacco. One of the most interesting observations was that someone who smoked less than one pack a day was still as likely to develop cancer as those who smoked many more.”

The study was the first of its kind worldwide in terms of size by taking a sample of over 3000 patients. Researchers were able to get information about smoking at the time a person was first diagnosed with Barrett’s Oesophagus to see how this influenced cancer risk years later. This is important for reducing bias known to be associated with asking patients about their smoking habits in the past.

Although these findings need to be confirmed in future studies, the study’s researchers suggest that tobacco smoking should be discouraged and smoking-cessation strategies considered in Barrett’s Oesophagus patients in order to reduce future cancer risk. 

For media inquiries please contact Claire O’Callaghan on 00 44 (0) 28 9097 5391 / 07814 415 451 or c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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