10-2012 Press Releases

 

Queen’s Scientist is named Emerging Scientist 2012
Dr Ryan Donnelly, is presented with the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist Award by GlaxoSmithKline Vice President Jo Craig
Dr Ryan Donnelly, is presented with the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist Award by GlaxoSmithKline Vice President Jo Craig

Queen’s University scientist, Dr Ryan Donnelly, has been named the 2012 GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist for his research on microneedle-based systems which deliver drugs without causing pain or bleeding.

Dr Donnelly, Reader in Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s, beat off competition from around the world to scoop the award for his work which has taken the sting out of medicine delivery and monitoring.

The award is presented annually to scientists from across the globe who have demonstrated a substantial advancement in the application of scientific knowledge within the pharmaceutical sciences through published work over the last five years. The winner is chosen by a Panel of Senior Staff from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and work is judged on scientific quality and the actual or future applicability to industrial practice.

Dr Donnelly was presented with the accolade by GSK Vice President Jo Craig and delivered his award lecture at the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences UKPharmSci 2012 conference, which was held in Nottingham.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduates, Professor James McElnay, said: “This award is further recognition of the quality and impact of Dr Donnelly’s work.  It demonstrates the high regard with which the ground-breaking research being conducted at Queen’s is held on both a national and global level.

“Dr Donnelly’s research on microneedle-based systems has the potential to change the future of drug delivery and monitoring.  I am pleased to congratulate him on his award as the GlaxoSmithKline Emerging Scientist of 2012.”

Speaking about his research, Dr Donnelly said “If you look at a microneedle patch with the naked eye, you can see that it is slightly rough. If you run your finger across it, it feels like Velcro. However, when properly applied, the microneedles puncture the outer layer of the skin without causing pain or bleeding. These tiny needles then swell, allowing controlled administration of even large medicines like insulin, as well as vaccines. Skin fluid can also be collected and we believe that analysis of this fluid will enable frequent, accurate, pain-free monitoring of the levels of medicines in the body. This application could prove to be particularly important in enhancing medical care for premature babies”.

Speaking about his award, he said “This award is a nice recognition of the hard work my Group has put in over the past few years. We have secured a number of significant grants from BBSRC, EPSRC, The Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and Action Medical Research and have contributed numerous publications to the microneedle field, including the first textbook on the subject, published this year by Wiley. Our microneedles technology is attracting considerable interest from industry, with a number of co-development projects already underway in a wide range of fields of use.”

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

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Queen’s student makes the cut in national surgical skills competition

A Queen’s medical student will represent Northern Ireland in a UK-wide Student Surgical Skills Competition, after winning the Northern Ireland regional heat of the contest.

Jamie Clements from Lisburn made it through to the final of the nationwide Surgical Skills Competition after competing against 15 fellow students from Queen’s School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science at the regional heat of the competition, by demonstrating a range of surgical skills, from suturing and knot-tying to anatomical tests.

Organised by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), the Student Surgical Skills Competition sees medical students from across the UK competing in regional heats to be in with a chance of making it through to the grand final in Edinburgh on 9 March 2013. The overall winner will win a trip to sponsors’ Johnson and Johnson Medical Companies’ European Surgical Training Institute in Hamburg later in the year.

Commenting on making it through to the grand final of the competition, Jamie said: “I was honestly surprised when I was announced as the winner of the Northern Irish heat. My colleagues showed great aptitude and capacity, so to have triumphed in such a competitive heat felt really rewarding.  Now I just can’t wait to compete against the other finalists and test myself with new skills and challenges.

“I thought the heat was enjoyable, but at times quite demanding. I found myself tackling a new technique at almost every station, and the challenge of employing that technique whilst processing relatively fresh instruction proved quite difficult. It was a very new experience though and one I would recommend to any medical student with an interest in surgery.

“I think the affiliation with the RCSEd and competing in the final later in this academic year will certainly broaden my understanding of surgery as a profession, and offer me the greatest chance to develop some of the core skills required in this very competitive field of practice. The experience and training I might obtain from such an opportunity is inestimable. It is very rare for a medical student to be faced with this prospect and I intend to do my best to make it a reality.”

Explaining more about the competition, RCSEd Regional Surgical Adviser and Consultant Breast Surgeon at Belfast City Hospital, Mr Stuart McIntosh said: “The surgical skills competition gave a group of medical students a unique opportunity to hone and show off their surgical skills, and hopefully provided some insight and inspiration towards a career in surgery. It was refreshing to see the energy and enthusiasm that the group as a whole displayed.

“The standard of technical (and non-technical) skills that the students showed was high, but Jamie just edged out the other students in a close contest. I am pleased to see a worthy winner go forward from the Northern Ireland heat to the Grand Final, and I hope that Jamie goes on to do well in Edinburgh. Personally, I was delighted to see the success of the contest, as I feel that the regional heat in Northern Ireland demonstrates the commitment of the RCSEd to surgical training and education in the region.”

For Further information about the Student Surgical Skills Competition, visit www.rcsed.ac.uk.

Media inquiries to the Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320 email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s University author of Hillsborough report says impact is ‘unprecedented’
Professor Phil Scraton
Professor Phil Scraton

‘As I finished delivering the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s Report to over 300 bereaved family members gathered in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral I realised the significance of what we had achieved – they stood and applauded the Panel for several minutes’, states Professor Phil Scraton from the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast.

Appointed by the Home Secretary, Professor Scraton led the Queen’s University-based research for the Panel, and was the primary author of the Panel’s 395 page report on the 1989 disaster.

He will deliver his first public talk since the report’s publication at a sold-out event at the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s this evening (Monday 29 October). It will be followed on 21 November with a second talk at St George’s Hall, Liverpool – his home city.

Over two decades Professor Scraton has researched the disaster which claimed the lives of 96 men, women and children following an inescapable crush at Hillsborough Stadium, concluding that the events that followed the report’s publication on 12 September, have been unprecedented in British judicial history.

He said: “Throughout the decade of investigations and inquiries that followed the disaster, responsibility for the events of 15 April 1989 and the institutional malpractice that followed was established by my earlier research but not formally or publicly recognised. Yet the reputations of those who died and survived were vilified amid police allegations of drunkenness, violence, criminal and abusive behaviour.

“The Panel’s report finally exposed those institutional failures at all levels and unveiled the truth about the disaster – something that the bereaved families, the survivors and the people of Merseyside have campaigned for since 1989. It shows that the stadium was unsafe, the tragedy was foreseeable, the medical evidence was unreliable, there was an orchestrated campaign by the police to deflect blame to the fans, the inquests were flawed and statements by police and ambulance officers were reviewed and altered.

“The Report exonerated the dead and the survivors and its impact was immediate and profound. Responding in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister offered a ‘profound’ apology to the families and survivors for the failures in the investigations and for the unfounded allegations that had been left unchallenged for so long.

“In the weeks that have followed the report’s publication, the in-depth analysis of the 450,000 documents disclosed during the Panel’s two-and-a-half year research, led to the Independent Police Complaints Commission establishing an unprecedented investigation into police conduct following the disaster. To deal with the full scope of the investigation, involving hundreds of police officers, the IPPC will require a specialist team of investigators and considerable extra funding.

“The Director of Public Prosecutions has agreed to review the documents to consider the potential of criminal prosecutions against individuals or corporate bodies. This ranges from the potential to bring manslaughter charges to perverting the course of justice and perjury.

“And the Attorney General has applied to the High Court to quash the inquest verdicts of accidental death and hold new inquests. The findings were debated for over five hours in the House of Commons on 22 October, and the Health Secretary stated he had initiated a review of the all health agencies involved including the work of the pathologists.”

According to Professor Scraton, because of the complexity and scope of the investigations now under way, the intention will be to ensure co-ordination, possibly through the appointment of a lead investigator. The families’ legal teams led by Lord Falconer and Michael Mansfield have been established to focus on the potential of criminal prosecutions, new inquests and civil proceedings to establish liability for the suffering and trauma endured by the bereaved as a consequence of failed investigations.

Professor Scraton was appointed to the Hillsborough Independent Panel by the Home Secretary in January 2010. Over the last 20 years, he has researched and published extensively on the disaster, its context and aftermath. He is the author of two previous reports on Hillsborough and the highly-acclaimed book Hillsborough: The Truth.

The Panel’s 395 page report was launched to bereaved families first at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral on 12 September 2012 and can be found online at http://hillsborough.independent.gov.uk

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5391 email c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s unveils portrait of former Chancellor Senator George J Mitchell
Senator George J Mitchell, former Chancellor of Queen's (1999-2009)

A portrait of Senator George J Mitchell, Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast from 1999 to 2009, and former Special Advisor to President William J. Clinton on Ireland, was unveiled in New York last night (Thursday, 25 October) at the Residence of British Consul General, Mr Danny Lopez.

A reception to celebrate the unveiling was jointly hosted by the Consul General and by Sir David Fell, Pro-Chancellor of Queen’s and Chair of the University’s Senate. The occasion was attended by Senator Mitchell, GBE and The Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers, MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the portrait artist James Hanley (Dublin).

Speaking at the reception, Sir David talked of the University’s deep sense of gratitude for Senator Mitchell’s lengthy association with Queen’s and with Northern Ireland. He said: “Senator Mitchell served Queen’s with great distinction during his ten years as Chancellor. Rightly lauded around the world for his efforts in peace negotiations, he was – and still remains – a consummate diplomat.

“We are deeply indebted to Senator Mitchell for doing so much to put Queen’s on the map, nationally and internationally, during a time when Northern Ireland was emerging from a most difficult time in its history.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt. Hon Theresa Villiers spoke of the tireless efforts of Senator Mitchell during the negotiations that produced the historic Belfast Agreement. She said: “Senator Mitchell won admiration from across all sections of community in Northern Ireland for his skill and dedication in chairing the Northern Ireland political talks that led to the landmark 1998 Belfast Agreement.  

“Crucially, too, it was Senator Mitchell who in 1996 set out the principles of non-violence and democracy that were to be the fundamental basis of those negotiations.   His tireless work helped deliver the political stability Northern Ireland enjoys today.  Northern Ireland is indebted to him for the huge contribution he made to ensuring that we have a peaceful Northern Ireland that look towards a confident future.”

Among the 70 guests at the reception were US members of the University’s Foundation Board, alumni and friends of Queen’s and current students in the US on the US-NI Mentorship Scheme established by Declan Kelly during his time as Special Envoy in Northern Ireland.

For his service in Northern Ireland Senator Mitchell received numerous awards and honours, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the US government; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize.

Media inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321; m07703460600 or email g.power@qub.ac.uk

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Queen’s hosts information event for BRCA gene mutation carriers
BRCA
BRCA

Cancer researchers from Queen’s University are hosting an information day tomorrow (Friday, 26 October) for patients who are BRCA gene mutation carriers, and for those who want to find out more about hereditary cancers.

Held in conjunction with BRCA Link NI, the event is open to both men and women affected by the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer in carriers.  Approximately five per cent of all breast cancers are due to changes in these genes.

Speaking ahead of the event, Gareth Irwin, a clinical research fellow in Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, said: “The BRCA genes, when working correctly, reduce the risk of breast tumours forming by making a protein that regulates the growth and division of cells in the breast. If the BRCA gene is mutated, however, the protein that it makes is unable to regulate cell division, leaving breast cells susceptible to the growth of cancer.

“Female BRCA1 carriers have a 70-85 per cent risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime and a 40-50 per cent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. Males with BRCA1 mutation also have an increased risk of breast cancer.

"Female BRCA2 carriers have a 50-80 per cent risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime and a 10-20 per cent lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. These faulty genes have a 50 per cent chance of being passed on to children of a carrier, male or female."

Dr Jennifer Quinn, a Breast Cancer Campaign research fellow in Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, said “At our BRCA link NI meeting we will be highlighting a unique collaboration between patients who are BRCA gene mutation carriers, their families, Queen’s researchers and Belfast Trust doctors, nurses, psychologists and geneticists. I would encourage anyone who has concerns about their own health, or those of a friend or family member, to come along.”

Hazel Carson from BRCA Link NI, a BRCA1 carrier, added: “We are keen to highlight the good work that is taking place in Northern Ireland with regards to research into and treatment of BRCA carriers and their families, however, we would be keen to see improvements in how we ensure people here get the optimum treatment and appropriate counselling for them and their families.”

Anyone interested in attending the third annual BRCA Link NI meeting can come along to Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast at 2pm on Friday, 26 October, 2012.
 
Further information is available online at www.brcani.co.uk

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: 028 90 97 3091.

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£140 million to provide ultimate student experience at Queen's
Former President of Ireland Professor Mary McAleese
Former President of Ireland Professor Mary McAleese

 Watch the Q in 60 seconds coverage of this story  

Former President of Ireland Professor Mary McAleese will today officially open Queen’s University’s Riddel Hall campus, which has been transformed into a 21st century portal for the economic development of businesses across the island of Ireland.

Riddel Hall, which was endowed to the University by Eliza and Isabella Riddel almost 100 years ago, is also the venue for the launch of an ambitious £140m fundraising campaign by Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson. The campaign is dedicated to helping Queen’s provide the ultimate student experience and address some of the greatest challenges facing society today.

Professor Gregson will announce that the campaign has got off to the best possible start with the University having secured £17½ million from individual donors, businesses, Foundations and Trusts.

Making the announcement Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “It was the generosity of the Riddel sisters that enabled Riddel to be built 100 years ago. And it’s that same spirit of philanthropy that has enabled Queen’s to redevelop Riddel into a new Northern Ireland portal for business.

“The new fundraising campaign is an ambitious goal to raise £140m to provide the ultimate student experience and to invest in those areas in which we globally excel. It is a campaign that will allow Queen’s to continue to make its disproportionate contribution to the success of Northern Ireland. From cybersecurity to the humanities, and from food science to medicine, Queen’s impact and influence on society is exceptional.

“Earlier this year the quality of research at our Institute of Health Sciences was recognised with the award of a Diamond Jubilee Queen’s Anniversary Prize.  A prize that was secured thanks to the work at Queen’s which has seen cancer survival rates in Northern Ireland move from the bottom of the UK league table to the top. Patients in Northern Ireland are now accessing some of the best cancer care that is available anywhere in the world.

“And not forgetting our students, Queen’s exists to provide a life-changing experience for them and they will be the big winners from this campaign. It will allow us to provide additional internships affording students real-life work experiences; grow our sporting academies that allow them to develop their leadership skills; and to increase the number of scholarships providing access to opportunities that some students may never get.

“But most importantly the life-changing experience at Queen’s must enable the students of today to become the global citizens of tomorrow and this campaign will help them on that journey.”

Media inquiries to Kevin Mulhern, Head of Communications and External Affairs, telephone 028 9097 3259 / m 07813 015431 or email k.mulhern@qub.ac.uk

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'Jedi' Jim launches battle for Queen’s Apprentice 2012 title

‘Jedi’ Jim Eastwood is at Queen’s today (Wednesday 17 October) to launch the final stages of this year’s QUB Apprentice competition, organised by Queen’s Students’ Union.

Eight finalists will battle it out for this year’s QUB Apprentice title and a top prize of having their tuition fees paid for one year (up to the value of £3,465), £300 of high street vouchers and a two-week placement with Deloitte.

Over the next five weeks, the finalists will face a series of tasks, with one being ‘fired’ each week until the final on 21 November, which will be judged by Jim, who was a finalist in BBC’s The Apprentice in 2011.

Other well known personalities acting as judges along the way, and ‘firing’ candidates each week, will be Basil McCrea MLA; John Blisard, owner of Belfast restaurant Boojum; world-leading entrepreneurship educator and Queen’s University Management School Lecturer David Gibson and Isabel Jennings, Director of Student Plus at Queen’s.

Speaking about the competition, Jim said: “The weekly tasks will test the candidates’ negotiation, creativity, product design, communication and team work skills like never before. Just like those who face Lord Sugar in the Boardroom, each of these candidates will have to remain focussed, stay motivated, and pull out all the stops if they want to make an impression and hear the words, ‘You’re Hired’.”

The final eight candidates are:

  • Judith Alexander from Markethill
  • Philip Barr from Banbridge
  • John Carroll from Newry
  • Tony Houston from Strabane
  • Paul Loughran from Dunmurry
  • Siobhan McAuley from Newry
  • Sean McNally from Kilmore, Co. Down 
  • Louise Welsby from Richill

Aidan Hughes, Vice-President of Queen’s Students’ Union, said: “One of the most important challenges facing students in today’s competitive job market is employment and employability. Initiatives like the QUB Apprentice give students a chance to improve their skills and gain vital experience that will help them stay ahead of the competition and stand-out to potential employers.”

Owen McMeel from Moneyglass was crowned the winner of the QUB Apprentice 2011 and went on to be named Queen’s Student of the Year. Over the next five weeks, he will report from behind the scenes on candidates’ moments of genius, and their biggest blunders.

Owen said: “It really is hard to believe it is one year since I was awaiting the brief on the first task in the QUB Apprentice, but what a year it has been. I am in no doubt that my participation in the competition provided me with a platform to learn and develop skills that led me to success, both in the QUB Apprentice and in other local and international competitions.

“The competition puts candidates in situations where they have to adapt and think fast. These are skills employers want, and the QUB Apprentice is giving candidates the opportunity to develop them. My only regret is that I can’t do it all over again this year.”

Apprentice fans can follow Owen McMeel’s competition updates at thequbapprentice on Facebook, on Twitter @mcmeel1 or #qubapprentice2012, and on YouTube at YourQUBSU.

Media inquiries to Claire O’Callaghan at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5391 or email c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk

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Ministerial Advisory Group calls on public to have say on shared education
Professor Paul Connolly
Professor Paul Connolly

A Ministerial Advisory Group is calling on people across Northern Ireland to have their say on the future of shared education here.

Chaired by Professor Paul Connolly from the School of Education at Queen’s University, and including Dawn Purvis and P.J. O’Grady, the independent group has been set up by the Minister for Education, John O’Dowd, to advise him on the advancement of shared education.

From today (Monday 15 October) until 9 November, parents, pupils and anyone else with an interest in the future of education in Northern Ireland can have their say on the issue by submitting their views to the group.

Professor Connolly said: “Promoting shared education is a key commitment in the Programme for Government. The Ministerial Advisory Group is considering the best way to advance shared education to ensure that it provides for the education together of children and young people in Northern Ireland, and meets the needs of all learners regardless of their background or circumstances.

“We are calling on the public to help inform our advice to the Minister by sending us their views and suggestions on how this can be achieved. Responses should be sent, in writing, to the Ministerial Advisory Group on or before 9 November. Further information on how to do this can be found on our website at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/mag

“Following our consultation with parents, pupils and other key stakeholders, we will formulate and submit our report to the Minister on 1st February 2013. Our aim is to formulate a way forward for the delivery of quality education to all our children in a way that fosters equality, good relations and community cohesion. The issue of shared education is crucial to the future of our society, and now is the opportune time for anyone with a view on this to join the debate.”

In developing its advice for the Minister, the group must take account of a number of factors, including the preferences of learners and their parents, the effectiveness and value-for-money of existing approaches, best practice in education here and around the world, any barriers to the future of shared education, and how shared education might address issues such as ethos and identity.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Office on 028 9097 3091/3087 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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New Queen’s spin-out company to manufacture TARDIS-like nanomaterials
Professor Stuart James
Professor Stuart James

Greatly increasing the storage capacity of gas tanks is just one of the applications being made possible because of a revolutionary TARDIS-like nanomaterial being manufactured by MOF Technologies, a new Queen’s spin-out company.

A cylinder filled with this material, known as MOFs or Metal-Organic Frameworks, can store much more gas than an empty cylinder of the same size, but until now MOF manufacturing techniques have been limited as they are costly, slow and require large quantities of solvents which can be toxic and harmful to the environment.

Now, a new technique devised by the company allows the simple, environmentally friendly production of these incredible materials, which have the potential to revolutionise applications including hazardous gas storage, natural gas vehicles, carbon capture and drug delivery.

MOFs have the highest surface-area of any known substance and a sugar-lump sized piece of MOF material can have the same surface area as a football pitch.
Professor Stuart James in Queen’s School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering has patented a novel technique for the synthesis of MOFs, allowing affordable, large-scale deployment of these ground-breaking materials.

The new Queen’s technology is environmentally friendly, rapid and highly scalable and has resulted in the formation of MOF Technologies through Queen’s spin-out arm QUBIS. Seed funding has been provided by both QUBIS and NetScientific, which specialises in commercialising technologies developed within university laboratories.

Explaining about the vast potential for the new technique Professor James said: “The enormous internal surface-areas of MOFs allow them to soak up large amounts of gas, just like a sponge soaks up water. Once the gas is adsorbed into the material it takes up far less space than it would otherwise at the same pressure.”

CEO of MOF Technologies, Tom Robinson added: “The potential for this technology is huge. Academia has known for some time about the incredible properties of MOFs and hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on their development, in labs around the world. We can now manufacture these materials in a scalable and environmentally-friendly way, unlocking their potential to transform the transport, gas storage and medical industries in the years to come.”

MOF Technologies is also hoping to exploit opportunities in global carbon capture, hazardous gas storage, natural gas processing and hydrocarbon separations.

Frank Bryan, interim CEO of QUBIS added “QUBIS was delighted to partner with NetScientific in the creation of our latest Queen’s University spin-out.  We exist to support acclaimed Queen’s academics, like Professor James, in commercialising their cutting edge research and we are confident this will be the latest in a long line of successes.  It was therefore particularly rewarding to see MOF Technologies win this year’s NISP Connect £25K Award which recognised the company as having the greatest potential for commercial success.”

Further information on the technology is available online at www.moftechnologies.com/ and further information on QUBIS is available online at www.qubis.co.uk/

Media inquiries to Communications Office. Tel: +44(0)28 9097 5384 or 07814 415 451 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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Entrepreneurship still vital to help established businesses grow
Hanadi Jabado
Hanadi Jabado

Entrepreneurship isn’t just for new businesses – it is essential to help established companies stay ahead of the competition. That’s according to a global business expert who will speak at Queen’s University next week (Monday 15 October).

Ms Hanadi Jabado, Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Cambridge, believes all businesses, old and new, need to keep thinking like entrepreneurs. She said: “Established businesses can fall in to a pattern of running ‘business as usual’, or even worse, focusing on fire fighting problems, but continuing to innovate is key to ensuring a company grows.”

Ms Jabado will share her insights into entrepreneurial success at next week’s InterTradeIreland Innovation Lecture at Queen’s. The lecture is free to attend and will take place at 6.00pm in Riddel Hall, Stranmillis Road, on Monday 15 October.

At the lecture, entitled Rejuvenate Your Business Through Entrepreneurship, Ms Jabado will address the benefits of nurturing entrepreneurial behaviour, and the associated challenges of managing entrepreneurial employees.

The lecture is part of the InterTradeIreland All-Island Innovation Programme, which is delivered in partnership with Queen’s University, University College Dublin, NUI Galway and University College Cork. The programme aims to promote and encourage innovation across the island through a series of free innovation lectures, seminars and masterclasses held throughout the year to share international best practice in areas of innovation.

The founder of businesses in several industries, including education, online retail and property, Ms Jabado works with companies around the world, showing them how to reinvigorate their business practices through nurturing entrepreneurial flair. She performs Board reviews for a city-based consultancy, helping private companies and government and voluntary organisations maximise their effectiveness.

Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher welcomed the opportunity for the University to host such a prestigious event. He said: “The All-Island Innovation Programme provides a great opportunity for the local business community to hear directly from a world-renowned expert in the business development. The topic of this lecture is of particular importance as local businesses urgently seek to find new and innovative ways to develop and grow.”

Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director at InterTradeIreland, said, “Nurturing the role of the entrepreneurial individual within existing businesses is vital to driving innovation which is critical to the future of both economies, North and South. Ms Jabado’s lecture will provide useful insights for businesses on the pivotal role innovation plays in securing a company’s future success.”

All are welcome to register to attend and the event is free of charge. Register online at http://go.qub.ac.uk/HanadiJabado.

Media inquiries to Anne-Marie Clarke or Michelle Cassidy at Queen’s University Communications Office on +44 (0)28 9097 5320/5310 email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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EU farming subsidies ‘can end up in pockets of supermarkets’

Subsidies to European farmers can end up in the pockets of processors, supermarkets, input suppliers, landowners and bureaucracies and raise the cost of farming rather than improving its competitiveness. That’s the view of Professor David Harvey, who is delivering the 2012 Gibson Public Lecture at Queen’s tomorrow evening (10th October). Professor Harvey is Editor in Chief of The Journal of Agricultural Economics and Professor of Agricultural Economics at Newcastle University.

At present the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) accounts for some 47 per cent of the EU budget and cutting subsidies could reduce the cost of the CAP by 50 per cent.
As one of the UK’s leading commentators on the CAP, Professor Harvey will speak about future support for farming from public finances, and argue that agricultural support payments raise the costs of farming and don’t help increase farmers’ income. He also believes that European farmers, their supply chains, bureaucrats and politicians have become addicted to EU farming subsidies and as a result have become inefficient.

Speaking about the event, Professor George Hutchinson, Director of the Gibson Institute based in Queen’s School of Biological Sciences said: “I would encourage everyone interested in the future of farming and food production in Northern Ireland to attend this event. Professor Harvey is one of Europe’s foremost experts in this area and some vitally important issues will be addressed. It is important that a wide variety of stakeholders participate.”

A response to Professor Harvey’s claim will be given by Mr Ian Marshall, Deputy President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

The 2012 Gibson Lecture ‘Competition and farming: A politicial economy of agriculture’ will take place on Wednesday, 10 October at 6.00pm in Lecture Theatre One, Medical Biology Centre (MBC), Lisburn Road, Belfast. Admission is free and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

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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GENIE makes important diabetes discovery

Queen’s academics are among a team of international researchers to have discovered two genes that increase the risk of developing diabetes-associated kidney disease. 
 
Kidney disease is a common and serious complication of diabetes and it is associated with a greatly increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Globally, diabetic kidney disease is now the leading cause of kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplant, but up to now scientists and clinicians were aware that some patients developed kidney disease but not why this happened.

In the largest study of its kind, the investigators recruited 4,750 patients with diabetic kidney disease and almost 7,000 patients with long-standing diabetes but without kidney disease.
 
Professor Peter Maxwell of Queen’s University, one of the principal investigators on the study, commented: “Currently available drugs cannot cure the kidney failure but may slow its progression. Knowing which patients are most at risk of kidney complications will be helpful in managing their diabetes.”
 
Researchers analysed over two million DNA markers per person and found that changes associated with two genes (AFF3 and ERBB4) increased the risk of kidney disease. Findings were published in the journal PLoS Genetics

This ‘GENIE consortium’, led by researchers from Queen’s; University College Dublin; Harvard University and the University of Helsinki, is supported by the US-Ireland R&D Partnership with funding from the Health and Social Care R&D Division of the Public Health Agency, Science Foundation Ireland and the US National Institutes of Health.
 
Professor Bernie Hannigan, Director of HSC R&D congratulated the researchers on their success, saying: “This research consortium is tremendously productive. Their dedicated work will immediately benefit patient management and in the longer term can lead to new treatments with both health and economic impacts. Such international research collaboration can result in gains for all partners involved.”
 
Professor Catherine Godson, lead investigator of the UCD group observed: “These new research findings are very important as they help accelerate development of new and effective therapies”.  
 
For media enquiries, please contact the Communications Office on 028 9097 5384

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New Queen’s plasma jet gives ‘cold’ shoulder to superbugs

 Scientists at Queen’s have developed a new technique which has the potential to kill off hospital superbugs like C. difficile and MRSA.

As revealed in the most recent edition of leading journal PloS One, the novel method uses a cold plasma jet to rapidly penetrate dense bacterial structures known as biofilms which bind bacteria together and make them resistant to conventional chemical approaches.

The new approach developed by scientists in the School of Mathematics and Physics and the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s passes electrical currents through flowing gas mixtures to create a wide variety of reactive species. These then effectively penetrate biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA and rapidly kill the bacteria within.

Currently antibiotics and disinfectants are used to target bugs in hospitals like C. difficile and MRSA. Effective in killing individual bacteria, they are often ineffective against complex organised communities of bacteria.

Professor Bill Graham, from the Centre for Plasma Physics at Queen’s, said: “When bacteria congregate on surfaces they produce a kind of glue which joins them together in complex communities, known as biofilms. Instead of individual bacteria, they form a resistant film or layer and bind themselves together. This often makes it impossible for antibiotics to penetrate through and kill the bacteria deep within this protective layer. Bacteria growing like this, as is often seen with superbugs in hospitals, are often more than 1000 times more tolerant to antimicrobial agents like antibiotics and disinfectants compared to free-floating bacteria.

“The technique we’ve used, known as a cold plasma jet, creates a number of agents which rapidly kill bacteria, even within mature biofilms.  Not only does it attack the bacteria but this synergistic approach attacks the biofilm structure killing the bacteria deep within.”

Dr Brendan Gilmore, from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s, said: “In the present study we have looked at Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes a number of serious infections in patients with chronic lung disease like cystic fibrosis, wounds and hospital acquired infections.  It is particularly harmful to hospital patients with compromised immune systems.  Other applications could include MRSA and other drug resistance superbugs like C. difficile and its spores. We are currently investigating these and some types of viruses.

“This approach has the potential to control hospital superbugs.  These ‘cold’ plasmas could be used widely in hospitals, surgeries and in the community as hand held devices for rapid decontamination of surfaces, including the skin, or be incorporated into bigger devices for decontamination of larger areas.  Their ability to rapidly decontaminate surfaces has the potential to curb the spread of harmful bacteria, including multidrug resistant bacteria such as MRSA.”

The paper can be viewed online at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0044289 

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

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Mollusc missing link revealed in 3D

A scientist from Queen’s is among a team of researchers to have discovered a rare fossil called Kulindroplax. It is the missing link between two mollusc groups and is revealed in a 3D computer model in research published today (Wednesday 3 October) in the journal Nature.

Dr Julia Sigwart from Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, along with researchers from Imperial College London, the Universities of Oxford, Leicester and Yale, have unearthed the worm-like partly shelled Kulindroplax, which they have modelled in a 3D computer animation.

Dr Sigwart, from Queen’s, said: “Kulidroplax is a fossil creature unlike any living animal. We think its nearest relatives are the chitons, which are still alive today and which include more than 10 species living in Britain and Ireland. We do a lot of research on living chitons in the Queen's University Marine Laboratory, to understand what life may have been like for their fossil ancestors, and what how future climate change may affect them.”

Dr Mark Sutton, lead author from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, said: “Most people don’t realise that molluscs, which have been around for hundreds of millions of years, are an extremely rich and diverse branch of life on Earth. Just as tracing a long lost uncle is important for developing a more complete family tree, unearthing this extremely rare and ancient Kulindroplax fossil is helping us to understand the relationship between two mollusc groups, which is also helping us to understand how molluscs have evolved on Earth.”

For over 20 years, scientists have debated the evolutionary relationship between two groups of molluscs called the aplacophorans, which are carnivorous, worm-like, sea-living creatures, and the chitons, which are molluscs that have shell plates for armour and live in the sea or seashore – both still live in Earth’s oceans today.

The researchers in today’s study analysed the 3D model of Kulindroplax and discovered that it had the worm-like body of the aplacophorans, but was partly shelled like the chitons. This combination of both features confirmed to the team that that aplacophorans and chitons are closely related. Furthermore, the researchers believe that their 3D fossil is the missing link that shows how the worm-like aplacophorans evolved from chiton-like ancestors by losing their shells, providing fresh insight into the mollusc evolutionary tree.

The researchers discovered the Kulindroplax fossil, which is the size of a small caterpillar, in a deposit called the Herefordshire Lagerstätte. This deposit was formed when a cloud of volcanic ash settled through the Siluian seas and entombed a range of species, including Kulindroplax, as almost perfectly preserved fossils.

In order to develop their 3D animation, the team cut the Kulindroplax fossil into 1300 slices, taking digital images of each one, which were fed into a computer. The researchers in the study say this method provides unprecedented detail from the fossils, enabling them to analyse features that have been previously unseen.

Media inquiries to Queen’s University Communications Officer on +44(0)28 9097 5320/5310 or email comms.officer@qub.ac.uk

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