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New University of Limerick projects part of North South research programme 

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North South Research Programme – A series of research projects being led by University of Limerick will tackle cancer, youth justice, mental health, climate change and other issues.

New University of Limerick projects part of North South research programme 

Noth South research programme university

“UL welcomes the announcement of these important awards and is delighted to be leading and involved in various projects,” said UL Vice President, Norelee Kennedy.

Funding for a series of research projects being led by University of Limerick that will tackle cancer, youth justice, mental health, climate change and other issues has just been announced.


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The projects led by UL are funded through the North South Research Programme, a collaborative scheme under the Government’s Shared Island Fund.

Several research projects are being led at the University of Limerick. These include Stable Lives Safer Streets, led by Dr Catherine Naughton, REPPP, School of Law, UL, in partnership with Dr Colm Walsh, The Violence Prevention Lab, QUB and CES. The project will look at youth justice, community and youth work, trauma studies and community safety.

Dr Naughton explained, “The hope is that by better understanding the complexities around youth crime and how we can best intervene, will enable the young people who offend to reach their potential while ensuring safer communities.  Our methods can then be used as a model for other complex social problems.”

eHealth-Hub is an all-island Research Hub for Federated Analysis of Cancer Data, led by Professor Aedin Culhane Professor of Cancer Genomics, University of Limerick, in partnership with Professor Mark Lawler Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Digital Health Queen’s University Belfast. It seeks to harmonise cancer data on the island of Ireland to a health global standard.

“Cancer is the leading cause of death on the island of Ireland. The pandemic has halted or reversed advances in cancer outcomes. A lack of infrastructure to share digital health data is severely limiting cross-border cancer research, hindering our understanding of the full impact of COVID-19 on cancer outcomes on the island. Government reports say it is negatively impacting their ability to develop evidence-based policy,” explained Professor Aedin Culhane.

“The eHealth-Hub will train researchers in real-world health data science and best practice in software development, developing infrastructure and software tools that can map all-island health data to a standard format.”

Another University of Limerick North South Research Programme project, DelHPIre (Delirium Health Professionals Ireland) will improve prevention, recognition and management of delirium across the island of Ireland through the co-design of an interdisciplinary digital resource for undergraduate healthcare students. It is being run by a consortium from UL and Queen’s University Belfast, led by Professor Alice Coffey, Professor of Nursing at UL.

Professor Coffey explained, “Delirium is a confused mental state which can occur suddenly with illness or a change in environment. This condition is common in older adults, especially those with dementia and is commonly experienced in hospitals. It is important that health professionals recognise this condition early in order to treat the condition appropriately.

“Therefore student health professionals need to be taught about the prevention and management of delirium. Our project aims to involve the students, clinical professionals and representatives of patients and family in the creation of a digital learning resource for students of all health professions which will teach them about recognition, prevention and treatment for delirium in different care settings.”

OXI-SMART Novel and Smart Optical Catheters for the Early Assessment of Hypoxic Tumours in Clinical Oncology is led by Professor Elfed Lewis of UL’s Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering, with Professor Kevin Prise of QUB.

Professor Lewis explained, “Advances in medical imaging have enabled direct visualisation of tumours within the prostate gland. Therefore, a method that can directly detect the oxygen concentration within the body of a tumour would provide a major scientific advance that may enable real time adaptation of radiation dose to optimise treatment.

“The proposed optical fibre sensor relies on optical detection of the blood oxygenation level in the immediate vicinity of the tumour. The technology of the proposed project provides a unique and highly novel solution to the problem of monitoring and verifying tumour hypoxia levels.”

Finally, FINIFOR: A Forested Island, led by Dr John Garvey of UL’s Kemmy Business School with Professor George Hutchinson of QUB, looks at large scale native broadleaf tree planting on the island of Ireland, that provides us with the best near-term action that can reduce our carbon emissions and restore a more natural wildlife-friendly countryside.

UL is also a partner on the Atlantic Innovation Corridor, a collaboration led by National University of Ireland Galway, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology and Ulster University and the All-Island Cancer Research Institute – a collaboration led by University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast.

“UL welcomes the announcement of these important awards and is delighted to be leading and involved in various projects across all three strands,” UL Vice President and Research Professor, Norelee Kennedy said of the University of Limerick North South research projects.

“The projects awarded today add to UL’s strategic ambitions in research across a range of areas including cancer data analysis and youth justice and support our collaborative approach to research through engagement with colleagues across the island of Ireland. The North-South scheme is a key enabler of collaborative research between individuals, teams and institutions on the island of Ireland to realise significant economic and social benefit.”

The awards range in value from €200,000 over two years to €4 million over four years. The fund is administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

The announcement was made today by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister Simon Harris with funding awarded to 62 collaborative research projects between academics and institutions in Ireland and in Northern Ireland to the rune of €37.3m.

For more information on the North South Research Programme, go HERE 

For more education stories, go HERE 

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