UL GEMS And UHL Research Wins At Irish Society Of Clinical Microbiologists

Dr Ciara O’Connor, MD candidate at University of Limerick’s  Graduate Entry Medical School, has been awarded the Irish Society of Clinical Microbiologists prize for best Oral Presentation at a meeting held in Dublin on 27th Feb 2016.

Dr O’Connor, who is supervised by Prof Colum Dunne (GEMS Director of Research) and Dr Nuala O’Connell (Consultant Microbiologist and Adjunct Clinical Senior Lecturer at GEMS), presented two studies focused on the clinical challenges posed by multidrug-resistant bacteria: “A report of the first outbreak of New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM) – 1 carbapenemase producing Enterobacteriaceae in Ireland” and “Irrepressible carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in the Mid-West of Ireland? A retrospective epidemiological and microbiological review of 140 isolates from 2009 to 2015”.

Dr O’Connor has also recently published a report describing the incidence of a multidrug-resistant bacterial outbreak and its successful management, with a focus on patient outcomes.

This can be found here: http://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(15)00031-6/abstract and

The Photograph shows (left to right): Prof HGM Niesters, UMC Groingen Holland, Dr Ciara O’Connor (GEMS and University Hospital Limerick) and Dr Susan Knowles, President of the Irish Society of Medical Microbiologists.

UL Study Finds Irish Mothers Struggle To Recognise Overweight Or Obesity In Their Children

A University of Limerick study has found that mothers of overweight and obese children struggle to recognize their child as overweight or obese.

The study reported on 7,655 mothers and their nine year old children using data from the national longitudinal study of children, Growing Up in Ireland. Study co-author, Professor Ailish Hannigan, highlighted that “while three quarters of overweight mothers and 60% of obese mothers in the study recognised themselves as overweight or obese, mothers of overweight or obese children were much less likely to recognise this in their child.” Just 1 in 6 mothers of obese children classified their child as moderately or very overweight.

“Interestingly, overweight or obese mothers with accurate perceptions of their own weight were more likely to correctly classify their overweight or obese child”, said study co-author, Dr. Helen Purtill. The public health significance of the study was highlighted by Dr. Kieran Dowd, Centre for Physical Activity and Health Research, University of Limerick “If mothers, who are the primary caregivers in the majority of Irish homes, are unable to identify their child as overweight or obese, it is unlikely that they will react or intervene to change this. This may result in continued weight gain throughout the remainder of childhood and adolescence into adulthood”.

“Open and honest discussions between health professionals and parents about the child’s weight status should be encouraged”, said study co-author Professor Clodagh O’Gorman, “together with practical strategies for helping the family maintain a healthy weight. Importantly, weight control measures aimed at children should be family-based and include all family members.”

The research, which was published in the international journal Archives of Disease in Childhood was conducted by a multidisciplinary research team at the University of Limerick composed of Dr Kieran Dowd (Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences), Mr Robert Kirwan (Graduate Entry Medical School), Professor Ailish Hannigan (Graduate Entry Medical School), Dr. Helen Purtill (Department of Mathematics and Statistics), and Professor Clodagh O’Gorman (Graduate Entry Medical School).

UL Orientation Welcomes over 2,600 International Students

The University of Limerick (UL) will welcome over 2,600 international students over 2015/16.  This is a record number for UL and they pride themselves in offering the warmest welcome and the best student support in Ireland.  They welcome their new arrivals at Shannon airport which is only 30 minutes from the campus.  Students are paired with a Irish student through our growing buddy programme. This year the buddy programme paired 225 Buddy volunteers with 699 new International Students. To help their students settle in and meet other students they organised a series of events during the International Orientation Welcome Programme.

Orientation was held over one week and every day was filled with events for international students. Events held were Coffee Mornings, Many Workshops, Treasure Hunt on Campus, Traditional Irish Music Session in Stables Bar, Trip to Limerick Milk Market, Trip to the Burren, Campus 5k run and an International Student Welcome Dinner.

 

International Students Airport Pick up, September 2015

 

Pizza Party, UL Orientation Week, September 2015

5k Campus Run, UL Orientation Week, September 2015

International Student Photoshoot, UL Orientation Week, September 2015#

 

International Student Orientation Guides on UL Campus, September 2015

 

A host of additional events are organised by the University throughout this semester which include a Roller Disco, Pizza Party, Diwali Celebrations, and Trips Around Ireland to name but a few.

UL GEMS signs MOU with leading US Medical School

(L-R) Professor Javier Escobar, Associate Dean for Global Health (Rutgers), Emmeline Searson GEMS International, Professor Paul McCutcheon UL Vice President, Eugene Griffin, Limerick City & County Council, Professor Vicente Gracias, Medical School Dean (Rutgers),Christy O’Connor, Limerick City & County Council, Professor Michael Larvin Head of the GEMS and Sharon Nolan GEMS
(L-R) Professor Javier Escobar, Associate Dean for Global Health (Rutgers), Emmeline Searson GEMS International, Professor Paul McCutcheon UL Vice President, Eugene Griffin, Limerick City & County Council, Professor Vicente Gracias, Medical School Dean (Rutgers),Christy O’Connor, Limerick City & County Council, Professor Michael Larvin Head of the GEMS and Sharon Nolan GEMS

The University of Limerick has signed a Memorandum of Understanding between its Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) and one of North America’s leading comprehensive medical schools, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey and part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  The agreement will facilitate the exchange of undergraduate and postgraduate students studying Medicine between both institutions. It will open up opportunities for UL medical students to study overseas as part of their programme at GEMS.  It is also hoped to develop research collaboration.

There is an added dimension to this new agreement as Limerick and New Brunswick are sister cities, linked by direct flights daily between Newark and Shannon airports. This agreement is particularly important for the city of Limerick as it builds on relationships initiated through Limerick City and County Council and the City of New Brunswick. Key in the development of the emerging relationship were Eugene Griffin at Limerick City & County Council, and Professor Bill Shannon, UL GEMS Director of International Liaison.

The agreement was signed on behalf of UL by Professor Paul McCutcheon, Vice-President Academic & Registrar,  he commented:  “The University is moving forward later this year with its new five year Strategic Plan, ‘Broadening Horizons’, one of the aims of which is to further strengthen the institution’s international profile.  This MOU presents exciting opportunities for co-operation, not only of benefit to both medical schools, but also for wider collaboration between our Universities.”

The MOU was signed during an official visit to UL by leading faculty at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, including Professor Javier Escobar, Associate Dean for Global Health and Professor Vicente Gracias, Medical School Dean and Chief Executive for the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital group.  Commenting on this new agreement, Professor Michael Larvin, Head of the GEMS, said, ‘We are delighted to have concluded this new agreement with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers University.  We are all looking forward to developing the relationship between both institutions, and to realising the significant opportunities this offers both our students and research staff.’

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 20 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centres and institutes including The Cardiovascular Institute, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels on its campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.

UL Team to partake in Paramedics World Championships

The UL GEMS Paramedic Team - Mark Dixon, Alan West and Noel Carmody
The UL GEMS Paramedic Team – Mark Dixon, Alan West and Noel Carmody

In preparation for the second intake of Paramedic Studies Practitioner Entry candidates at UL (September 2015), a team of three Emergency Medical Educators from the Graduate Entry Medical School will be the sole and first Irish representatives in Rallye Rejviz 2015 the Paramedic World Championships. Competing against over 100 emergency rescue teams from 20 countries including the USA, New Zealand, Japan. Germany and the United Kingdom our crew with over 60 years experience between them, will match their skills amongst the best teams in the world.

The event, which commences today in Knouty, in the Czech Republic requires teams to address 24 unknown patient scenarios over a 50KM circuit, all to be completed in a straight 24hour endurance shift. Previous tests of knowledge and stamina have included mass accidents, terrorist activity, recreational injuries, industrial accidents, road traffic collisions and an array of patients with medical conditions.

Mark Dixon, Team Member and Paramedic Studies Course Lead said this week:

‘We need to ensure our Paramedic Studies’ students have the best possible learning experience during their course in UL. This means not only the best and most up to date programme but also that our tutors are regularly tested to ensure we can offer the highest standard of education—what better way than to measure ourselves against the global leaders in emergency care’

 

UL Study Finds Irish Mothers Struggle To Recognise Overweight Or Obesity In Their Children

A University of Limerick study has found that mothers of overweight and obese children struggle to recognize their child as overweight or obese.

The study reported on 7,655 mothers and their nine year old children using data from the national longitudinal study of children, Growing Up in Ireland. Study co-author, Professor Ailish Hannigan, highlighted that “while three quarters of overweight mothers and 60% of obese mothers in the study recognised themselves as overweight or obese, mothers of overweight or obese children were much less likely to recognise this in their child.” Just 1 in 6 mothers of obese children classified their child as moderately or very overweight.

“Interestingly, overweight or obese mothers with accurate perceptions of their own weight were more likely to correctly classify their overweight or obese child”, said study co-author, Dr. Helen Purtill. The public health significance of the study was highlighted by Dr. Kieran Dowd, Centre for Physical Activity and Health Research, University of Limerick “If mothers, who are the primary caregivers in the majority of Irish homes, are unable to identify their child as overweight or obese, it is unlikely that they will react or intervene to change this. This may result in continued weight gain throughout the remainder of childhood and adolescence into adulthood”.

“Open and honest discussions between health professionals and parents about the child’s weight status should be encouraged”, said study co-author Professor Clodagh O’Gorman, “together with practical strategies for helping the family maintain a healthy weight. Importantly, weight control measures aimed at children should be family-based and include all family members.”

The research, which was published in the international journal Archives of Disease in Childhood was conducted by a multidisciplinary research team at the University of Limerick composed of Dr Kieran Dowd (Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences), Mr Robert Kirwan (Graduate Entry Medical School), Professor Ailish Hannigan (Graduate Entry Medical School), Dr. Helen Purtill (Department of Mathematics and Statistics), and Professor Clodagh O’Gorman (Graduate Entry Medical School).

US Ambassador to Ireland visits UL

US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley and Professor Don Barry, UL President at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance

The University of Limerick welcomed newly appointed US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley and his wife Dena. The Ambassador and Mrs O’Malley were greeted by Professor Don Barry, UL President and enjoyed a visit to the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. The visit began several days of celebrations through the Irish World Academy’s ‘Convocation’, which took place on campus and in Limerick city.

Students of the Irish World Academy gave a special performance and the Ambassador was greeted by the Academy’s Director, Dr Sandra Joyce. The Ambassador praised the relationships between Ireland and the US. He said; “There is no doubt that the bond between the two countries is wonderful and we should do everything we can to nurture that bond, because it is the basis for a number of very good things. Simply the cultural exchanges are one, what I am seeing here, I met 20 students from the US that are studying music and dance here, that is a wonderful thing that is good for both countries.”

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance is the centre of academic and performance excellence housed at the University of Limerick, Ireland. It attracts academics and practitioners from around the globe and has come to find its true home on the banks of the river Shannon. The Irish World Academy offers a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in music, dance and related subject areas. Its research is at the forefront of these fields of enquiry worldwide. Founded in 1994 on the appointment of Professor  Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin as first Chair of Music at the University of Limerick, it  occupies a central position  in  artistic  and  scholarly  research  and  education  in  Ireland  and  internationally. Since that time, the Academy has seen over 2,500 students representing 45 countries graduate from its postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.  

UL welcomes largest cohort of international students in its history

03.09.14 UL International Students. Picture: Alan Place.

 

The University of Limerick welcomes the largest cohort of International Students in its history with 2,500 students representing over 100 countries attending the University.

Officially welcoming the students to UL, Professor Don Barry, President said: “UL is proud of its long tradition in welcoming visiting students to Limerick. We have one of the largest Erasmus exchange programmes in Ireland; we have been welcoming study abroad students for the past 20 years and have made many academic links and partnerships with universities right across the globe.”

Among the international students visiting UL this year are those taking part in Study Abroad programmes, Erasmus and International Exchange programmes and full-time degree students.

UL also welcomes 150 Brazilian students taking part in the Science without Borders programme. Josephine Page added: “I think the reason we excel in this area is because so many of our students are encouraged to partake in international study themselves and so we welcome international students as we’d like our students to be welcomed abroad.  30 % of UL undergraduate students spend a semester abroad, this is through Erasmus, non-EU exchange or Cooperative Education.”

UL has links with over 400 universities in 38 countries and welcomes over 2,500 international students each year.  International students currently account for 13.5% of the total student number and this continues to increase year-on-year. 1 in 3 undergraduate students at UL spend a semester overseas – last year saw almost 600 UL students travel abroad on study or work placements making it the largest and most successful Erasmus programme in Ireland. In a recent International Student Barometer™ survey, UL was voted as the number one university in providing the Best Student Experience, Best Student Support and Warmest Welcome in Ireland.   Across the four surveyed categories of ‘Living’, ‘Support’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Learning’, UL was voted as having the best overall Living Experience in Ireland and the 5th in the world.

UL also scored first out of 238 institutions world-wide in the categories of ‘Social Activities’, ‘Opportunities to experience Irish Culture’, ‘Social Facilities’, ‘Accommodation Office’ and ‘Clubs & Societies’. We have a number of supports in place for international students including a dedicated international student support officer, study support centres, language training, a Buddy Programme and a generous number of scholarships available.

UL leads major European partnership to address environmental impact of alumina production

A major European partnership BRAVO co-ordinated by the University of Limerick seeks to address the environmental challenges of alumina production waste.BRAVO which stands for “Bauxite Residue and Aluminium Valorisation Operations” is one of the largest commitments of its kind with over 30 partner members including large Industry, SMEs, leading Universities and Institutes throughout Ireland and the EU.

Co-ordinator, Dr Lisa O’Donoghue, Department of Design and Manufacturing Technology, UL explains: “Alumina processing creates a waste by-product called bauxite residue (red mud) which is normally landfilled. It is estimated that globally there is currently over 2.7 billion tonnes of bauxite residue stored in landfill and this is estimated to increase by 120 million tonnes annually. There is  however a huge potential to re-use this material as a valuable raw material for other industries such as cement, ceramics and electronics. This partnership has been setup to address a serious environmental issue while also providing the opportunity to generate spin-off industries in the alternative supply of key materials for the European market.”

Ireland houses one of Europe’s largest alumina refineries in Co. Limerick with an annual production capacity of 1,990,000 tonnes of alumina and employment of approx. 450 people. The refinery produces approximately 1 million tonnes of bauxite residue annually which is currently stored in a 180 ha engineered impoundment, making BRAVO a highly relevant partnership for state of the art bauxite residue management and the opportunity to turn this waste in a potential resource.
Dr Jonathan Derham, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said; “The extraction and processing of primary and secondary minerals are essential aspects of our economy, societal health and our wellbeing. There are environmental challenges associated with the minerals industry, not least of which being the finite resource available on our planet.  We have to maximise the utility of minerals through their value chain and mitigate any environmental burden associated with the minerals cycle: only in this way will we approach the necessary conditions for sustainability.  The BRAVO partners take on this challenge for the aluminium cycle and I am really confident in their potential for success.”

BRAVO is a six year commitment to meet an important objective of boosting the innovation capacity by using waste residue as a potential source of critical high value raw materials. The waste residue has been found to contain fractions of these high value materials which have been identify by the EU as under a potential supply risk as these materials are usually imported to Europe. BRAVO will work with its 31 partners to foster international co-operation to undertake this challenge as well as promote socially acceptable and environmentally responsible technologies.
BRAVO partners include: University of Limerick (Co-ordinators), Ceinnmat (Spain), International Aluminium Institute (UK),  Rusal (Ireland),  Ecocem (France), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), Tecnicas Reunidas (Spain), Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (Spain), Aidico (Spain), Votechnik (Ireland), Geonardo (Hungary), Tecnalia (Spain), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), Fraunhofer (Germany), Loser Chemie (Germany), National Technical University of Athens (Greece), BRGM (France), Environment Protection Agency (Ireland), Acciona (Spain), University of Hull (UK), Sintef (Norway), Enval (UK), Hydro Aluminium (Norway), TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Germany), UC Rusal Engineering and Technology Centre LLC (Russia), Euromine (Belgium), Alteo Gardanne (France), National Agency for New technologies, Energy and Sustainable development (Italy), European Aluminum Association, Universita di Napoli (Italy), and Rio Tinto ( France).

UL early career researchers awarded over €1.85 million in SFI funding

Career Development Award recipient, Dr Pat Kiely, University of Limerick
Career Development Award recipient, Dr Pat Kiely, University of Limerick
Four University of Limerick researchers have been awarded in excess of €1.85 million in funding by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) as part of today’s €23 million funding announcement by Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock. The UL research awards included Career Development Awards to Dr Pat Kiely, Dr Sarah Hudson and Dr Christophe Silien and a Starting Investigator Research Grant to Dr Stephen Dooley.
Dr Mary Shire, Vice President Research, UL welcomed the announcement; “The Career Development Awards and Starting Investigator Research Grants programmes from Science Foundation Ireland are essential in supporting the next generation of world-class researchers in Ireland. Programmes like these enable our best researchers to pursue their work to make a real impact for society.”
The research activities supported through these grants are in the vital fields of cancer, alternative energy, nanoscience and drug delivery.
Career Development Award recipient, Dr Pat Kiely is undertaking research into colon cancer. Dr Kiely explains; “Approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer every year in Ireland and it is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland.”

Dr Kiely’s research is focused on a protein called RACK1, he explains: “RACK1 is present in all cells and its role is similar to that of a conductor of an orchestra. When the conductor does not work properly, things go wrong, leading to the development of cancer. The work here is designed to reveal RACK1 function as a potential prognostic marker and therapeutic target in colon cancer and establish inhibitory peptides with novel therapeutic prospects as anti-cancer drugs.”
Dr Kiely’s research is a unique collaboration between bioscientists, engineers and medics. Dr Kiely explains; “will be based in the Department of Life Sciences, MSSI and Stokes Institute where we will use state of the art microscopy and novel cell monitoring platforms to advance our understanding of colon cancer. The project will also help forge stronger links between UL and clinicians based in University Hospital Limerick.”
University of Limerick – SFI Career Development Award Winners
Dr Christophe Silien, Nonlinear optical micro-spectroscopy for multiplex susoension immunoassay. Department of Physics and Energy, University of Limerick.
Dr Sarah Hudson, Bio-availing of Antimicrobial Resources. Dr Hudson is a researcher with the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre, (SSPC), University of Limerick.
Dr Pat Kiely, Targeting RACKI as a dynamic cog downstream of growth factor. Dr Kiely’s research is based in the Department of Life Sciences, MSSI and Stokes Institute at the University of Limerick and will help forge stronger links between UL and clinicians based in University Hospital Limerick.
University of Limerick SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant Winner
Dr Stephen Dooley, Realistic Reaction Kinetics Models for the Production of Platform Chemicals and Designer Fuel, Carbolea – research group for advanced biomass strategies and technologies, University of Limerick.