News in Brief


NUI Maynooth named Irish University of the Year
Simon Cantwell


NUI MAYNOOTH has been named the Irish University of the Year in the Sunday Times University Guide 2008. The university saw off competition from both UCD, and Trinity College Dublin (TCD).

NUI Maynooth, which is currently attended by 8,400 students, scored highly for research income obtained per academic with its 249 academics producing over @€32 million in research funding collectively. It also scored highly in relation to graduate employment as almost 100% of the university’s graduates find employment after they leave. It was also emphasised that NUI Maynooth contributed to society on a local, national and international level.

TCD finished top of the University league table for the sixth year running. Its success was based on attracting entrants who performed on a high academic level, its student/staff ratios and the calibre of research conducted within the university. However TCD was held to be behind other third-level institutes, such as UCD, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), in its post-graduate employment rates and completion of undergraduate degree rates.

UCD finished second in both the Irish University of the Year competition and the University league tables while Limerick IT won the Institute of Technology of the Year award for 2008.

TCD enable identification of intellectual disability genes
Siobhan Johnson

RESEARCH undertaken at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) could enable scientists to identify the genes that are linked to intellectual disabilities.

The researchers identified rare chromosomal aberrations which are associated with an assortment of developmental disorders in children. These aberrations in the human genome are believed to either cause such disorders or increase susceptibility for these disorders.

The findings could help scientists gain an understanding of the underlying causes of developmental abnormalities such as autism and could lead to the advancement of treatments.

The study, which was a collaboration of researchers from both the US and Europe, involved over 5,200 patients who were screened for sub-microscopic chromosomal mutations. Approximately 34 cases were identified as having similar mutations and had highly variable clinical features such as mild or moderate intellectual disability, growth retardation and autism.

The Autism Genetics Group in TCD, who conducted the research, incorporated the expertise of Clinical Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, Dr Louise Gallagher and Professor of Psychiatry, Michael Gill. The findings stemming from their research were published in the international scientific journal, New England Journal of Medicine.

Single mumps case diagnosed
Quinton O’Reilly

STUDENTS have been advised to ensure they are protected from the mumps virus after a suspected case was diagnosed on 25th September.

Director of Student Health Service, Dr Sarah Tighe, said that the case was only a suspected one and that emails sent to students was standard protocol. Notices about a possible mumps infection were put up to reduce the risk of infection and to avoid a possible mumps outbreak.

“We’re obliged to let students who may have had contact with the index case know so that they can take measures to protect themselves”, said Dr Tighe. “If students do have symptoms, we give them the information about the symptoms (and) that they should be isolated and be taken out of circulation (to avoid an outbreak)”.

The symptoms of mumps include swelling around the cheeks, swollen glands in the neck and generally feeling unwell. Complications can occur such as orchitis, which is the inflammation of the testicles in young males and mumps meningitis.