Athlone Institute of Technology
Athlone, Ireland

Athlone Institute of Technology is a higher education institution in the midlands of Ireland. Established in 1970 as Athlone Regional Technical College, it has expanded in size, scope, and influence over the period. Its focus in the early years was on providing training in a broad spectrum of occupations ranging from craft to professional level, notably in engineering and science, but also in commercial, linguistic, and other specialities. This has evolved considerably, and at present the institute caters for an educational spectrum that stretches from craft and apprentice training through to doctoral studies and post-doctoral research.The college operated under the management of County Westmeath Vocational Education Committee until 1993, when legislative changes established it as a self-governing entity. Five years later it underwent a name change by statutory order to Athlone Institute of Technology. The Higher Education and Training Awards Council granted the institute delegated authority in 2004 to develop, design, and validate its own courses, to conduct examinations, and to confer its own academic awards up to and including Level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications .The student population in Athlone is characterised by a high proportion of learners from overseas. This number is split approximately evenly between European and non-European students, although within that there are large variations. China remains the largest source of international students. Recent agreements signed with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have impacted on the numbers coming from the Middle East.In the years since 2000, AIT has secured more than €23 million in research funding. This has been obtained from a broad range of national and international funding agencies, including the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions , Science Foundation Ireland , Health Research Board , the Technological Sector Research programme, as well as Enterprise Ireland’s Applied Research Enhancement Programme.Among the new purpose-built facilities introduced are the hospitality, tourism and leisure studies building , nursing and health science building , midlands innovation and research centre , engineering and informatics building , and postgraduate research hub . Wikipedia.

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Major I.,Athlone Institute of Technology | Fuenmayor E.,Athlone Institute of Technology | McConville C.,University of Birmingham
Current Pharmaceutical Design | Year: 2016

Non-degradable polymers have an important function in medicine. Solid dosage forms for longer term implantation require to be constructed from materials that will not degrade or erode over time and also offer the utmost biocompatibility and biostability. This review details the three most important non-degradable polymers for the production of solid dosage forms – silicone elastomer, ethylene vinyl acetate and thermoplastic polyurethane. The hydrophobic, thermoset silicone elastomer is utilised in the production of a broad range of devices, from urinary catheter tubing for the prevention of biofilm to intravaginal rings used to prevent HIV transmission. Ethylene vinyl acetate, a hydrophobic thermoplastic, is the material of choice of two of the world’s leading forms of contraception-Nuvaring® and Implanon®. Thermoplastic polyurethane has such a diverse range of building blocks that this one polymer can be hydrophilic or hydrophobic. Yet, in spite of this versatility, it is only now finding utility in commercialised drug delivery systems. Separately then one polymer has a unique ability that differentiates it from the others and can be applied in a specific drug delivery application; but collectively these polymers provide a rich palette of material and drug delivery options to empower formulation scientists in meeting even the most demanding of unmet clinical needs. Therefore, these polymers have had a long history in controlled release, from the very beginning even, and it is pertinent that this review examines briefly this history while also detailing the state-of-the-art academic studies and inventions exploiting these materials. The paper also outlines the different production methods required to manufacture these solid dosage forms as many of the processes are uncommon to the wider pharmaceutical industry. © 2016 Bentham Science Publishers.

Lordan S.,Athlone Institute of Technology | Kennedy J.E.,Athlone Institute of Technology | Higginbotham C.L.,Athlone Institute of Technology
Journal of Applied Toxicology | Year: 2011

The term 'nanoclay' generically refers to the natural clay mineral, montmorillonite, with silica and alumina as the dominant constituents. The incorporation of nanoclays into polymeric systems dramatically enhances their barrier properties as well as their thermal and mechanical resistance. Consequently, nanoclays are employed in a wide range of industrial applications with recent studies reporting potential use in the modulation of drug release. With the increase in manufacturing of nanoclay-containing products, information on the toxicological and health effects of nanoclay exposure is warranted. Thus, the objective of the present study was to evaluate the cytotoxicity of two different nanoclays: the unmodified nanoclay, Cloisite Na+®, and the organically modified nanoclay, Cloisite 93A®, in human hepatoma HepG2 cells. Following 24 h exposure the nanoclays significantly decreased cell viability. Cloisite Na+ induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation which coincided with increased cell membrane damage, whilst ROS generation did not play a role in Cloisite 93A-induced cell death. Neither of the nanoclays induced caspase-3/7 activation. Moreover, in the cell culture medium the nanoclays aggregated differently and this appeared to have an effect on their mechanisms of toxicity. Taken together, our data demonstrate that nanoclays are highly cytotoxic and as a result pose a possible risk to human health. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Van Hout M.C.,Waterford Institute of Technology | Brennan R.,Athlone Institute of Technology
Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy | Year: 2011

The synthetic cathinone derivative club drug 'mephedrone' [4-methylmethcathinone (4MMC)] has been recognized in the EMCDDA early warning system since 2008 [EMCDDA (2010a). 'Article 5 of the Council Decision' council decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances. Official Journal, L 127. Retrieved from 32005D0387:EN:HTML] and is currently under legislative control in Ireland. Research on this drug remains scant, and primarily UK based. This exploratory research aimed to present a 'consumptive snapshot' of this emerging drug in the Irish drug scene, with specific focus on mephedrone user experiences, social situatedness of use and risk discourses. Twenty two in-depth interviews were undertaken with young Irish people aged 1835 years, who had used mephedrone in the 6 months prior to fieldwork. The resulting narratives were phenomenologically and thematically analysed; and identified unique mephedrone user decision-making processes, particular drug effects and outcomes, socially contextualized mephedrone use and user harm reducing strategies grounded in prior illicit and poly drug taking careers. The research supports UK-based findings, which suggested the presence of drug displacement patterns between licit and illicit, with Irish mephedrone user preferences centralized in mephedrone availability, competitive pricing and general lack of quality illicit stimulants in the street trade. Policy makers and drug educational specialists are dealing with rapid metamorphoses and re-branding of cathinone derivatives circumventing legislation amid widespread internet availability. Copyright © 2011 Informa UK Ltd.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: DS-04-2015 | Award Amount: 4.69M | Year: 2016

PROTECTIVE is designed to improve an organisations ongoing awareness of the risk posed to its business by cyber security attacks. PROTECTIVE makes two key contributions to achieve this enhanced situational awareness. Firstly it increases the computer security incident response teams (CSIRT) threat awareness through improved security monitoring and increased sharing of threat intelligence between organisations within a community. Secondly it ranks critical alerts based on the potential damage the attack can inflict on the threatened assets and hence to the organisations business. High impact alerts that target important hosts will have a higher priority than other alerts. Through the combination of these two measures organisations are better prepared to handle incoming attacks, malware outbreaks and other security problems and to guide the development of the prevention and remediation processes. The PROTECTIVE system is designed to provide solutions for public domain CSIRTs and SMEs who both have needs outside the mainstream of cyber security solution provision. Public CSIRTs needs arise in part because commercial tools do not address their unique requirements. This has created a shortfall, clearly articulated by ENISA, of tools with the required analytical and visualisation capabilities to enable public CSIRTs provide optimised services to their constituency. SMEs also are vulnerable to cybercrime as they have limited resources to protect themselves and often a limited understanding of what needs to be done. Two pilots will be conducted to evaluate and validate the PROTECTIVE outcomes with CSIRTs from 3 National Research and Educational Networks (NRENs) and with SMEs via a managed security service provider (MSSP). The PROTECTIVE consortium is constituted of 3 NRENs, 3 academic and four commercial partners from 8 countries so as to maximise the technical and commercial impact of the outputs and the dissemination and uptake of the results.

Lordan S.,Athlone Institute of Technology | Higginbotham C.L.,Athlone Institute of Technology
Cell Biology International | Year: 2012

Nanoparticle cytotoxicity testing based on in vitro methods frequently lack consistency. Even the inclusion of the commonly employed growth supplement, FCS (fetal calf serum), generates variable results. Thus, our object was to investigate the effect of FCS concentration on the cytotoxic behaviour of the unmodified nanoclay, Cloisite® Na +. Human monocytic U937 cells in medium supplemented with 5% FCS, 2.5% FCS or serum-free medium were treated with 1 mg/ml Cloisite Na +. Cell growth in 2.5% FCS was significantly inhibited by Cloisite Na + within 48 h, whereas little effect was seen with a supplement of 5% FCS. Without serum, cell growth was inhibited and Cloisite Na + had a detrimental effect on these cells. In media supplemented with FCS, the nanoclays agglomerated together to form large bundles, whereas they were evenly dispersed throughout the medium in the absence of serum. Clay particles, therefore, have cytotoxic properties that may be linked to their dispersion pattern. These adverse effects seem to be masked by 5% FCS. Serum supplementation is an important consideration in the toxicological assessments of nanomaterials on cells, which needs to be addressed in the standardization of in vitro testing methods. © The Author(s) Journal compilation © 2012 Portland Press Limited.

McDonnell-Naughton M.,Athlone Institute of Technology
Irish medical journal | Year: 2012

A population based case control study was conducted to examine alcohol consumption and maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of SIDS in an Irish population. Each SIDS case (n = 287) was compared with control infants (n = 832) matched for date and place of birth for infants born from 1994 to 2001. Conditional logistic regression was used to investigate differences between Cases and Controls establishing Odds Ratio's (OR) and 95% Confidence Intervals (CI). Mothers who smoked were 3 times more likely to have a SIDS Case, and a dose response effect was apparent, with mothers smoking 1-10 cigarettes/day OR 2.93 (CI 1.50-5.71), and those smoking > 10 cigarettes/day OR 4.36 (CI 2.50-7.61). More Case mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy than Control mothers and, within drinkers, the amount of alcohol consumed was also greater (p < 0.05). A dose response with frequency of drinking was apparent. The adjusted odds ratio for those consuming alcohol in all three trimesters was 3.59 (CI:1.40-9.20). Both of these risk factors are modifiable and need to be incorporated into antenatal education from a SIDS point of view.

Rowan N.J.,Athlone Institute of Technology
International Journal of Microbiology | Year: 2011

This timely review primarily addresses important but presently undefined microbial risks to public health and to the natural environment. It specifically focuses on current knowledge, future outlooks and offers some potential alleviation strategies that may reduce or eliminate the risk of problematic microbes in their viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state and Cryptosporidium oocysts in the aquatic environment. As emphasis is placed on water quality, particularly surrounding efficacy of decontamination at the wastewater treatment plant level, this review also touches upon other related emerging issues, namely, the fate and potential ecotoxicological impact of untreated antibiotics and other pharmaceutically active compounds in water. Deciphering best published data has elucidated gaps between science and policy that will help stakeholders work towards the European Union's Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC), which provides an ambitious legislative framework for water quality improvements within its region and seeks to restore all water bodies to "good ecological status" by 2015. Future effective risk-based assessment and management, post definition of the plethora of dynamic inter-related factors governing the occurrence, persistence and/or control of these presently undefined hazards in water will also demand exploiting and harnessing tangential advances in allied disciplines such as mathematical and computer modeling that will permit efficient data generation and transparent reporting to be undertaken by well-balanced consortia of stakeholders. © 2011 Neil J. Rowan.

Izunobi J.U.,Athlone Institute of Technology | Higginbotham C.L.,Athlone Institute of Technology
Journal of Chemical Education | Year: 2011

The measurement and analysis of molecular weight and molecular weight distribution remain matters of fundamental importance for the characterization and physical properties of polymers. Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) is the most routinely usedmethod for themolecular weight determination of polymers whereas matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is a fast-emerging absolute, and therefore accurate, technique. Although NMR spectroscopy is one of the most powerful tools available for polymer microstructure characterization, among others, its utility in the molecular weight analysis of polymers is somewhat underappreciated. It is a reliable and more readily available teaching tool in comparison to other known techniques, such as GPC and MALDI-TOF MS, for the molecular weight determination of polymers. Demonstrated herein are the simplicity, reproducibility, and convenience of 1H NMR spectroscopy in the analysis of polymer number-average molecular weight (M n), using α-methoxy-ω-aminopolyethylene glycol (MPEG-NH 2) and α-methoxy-polyethylene glycol-block-poly-ε-(benzyloxycarbonyl)-L- lysine (MPEG-b-PLL(Z)) as model homopolymer and block copolymer, respectively. The molecular weight data from 1H NMR analysis are compared to those from GPC and MALDI-TOFMS. Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.

Flynn R.,Athlone Institute of Technology | Jones E.,National University of Ireland
Speech Communication | Year: 2012

This paper proposes a method to reduce the bandwidth requirements for a distributed speech recognition (DSR) system, with minimal impact on recognition performance. Bandwidth reduction is achieved by applying a wavelet decomposition to feature vectors extracted from speech using an auditory-based front-end. The resulting vectors undergo vector quantisation and are then combined in pairs for transmission over a statistically modeled channel that is subject to packet burst loss. Recognition performance is evaluated in the presence of both background noise and packet loss. When there is no packet loss, results show that the proposed method can reduce the bandwidth required to 50% of the bandwidth required for the system in which the proposed method is not used, without compromising recognition performance. The bandwidth can be further reduced to 25% of the baseline for a slight decrease in recognition performance. Furthermore, in the presence of packet loss, the proposed method for bandwidth reduction, when combined with a suitable redundancy scheme, gives a 29% reduction in bandwidth, when compared to the recognition performance of an established packet loss mitigation technique. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IOF | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IOF | Award Amount: 371.17K | Year: 2012

Bone has a remarkable capacity to heal. However, in some instances the amount of bone which is needed to heal exceeds its healing capacity. These cases arise following accidents, infection or surgery to remove cancerous tissue and they result in the need to perform approximately 600,000 surgical bone grafting procedures annually. These procedures have inherent disadvantages and so there is an urgent clinical need to develop a tissue engineering alternative to bone grafting. In this study an osteoconductive/osteoinductive nanoscaffold will be designed to retain growth factors with proven osteogenic potential within their structure. As such, relatively low doses of these expensive molecules can be retained at the bone defect site. The technology developed in this study has enormous potential to reduce the overall burden placed on patients and on European healthcare systems by reducing the costs involved in using Growth Factors in a variety of applications. To perform this work the Fellow will move from Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland to join a leading orthopaedic research group at one of Harvard Universitys teaching hospitals where he will be trained in nanotoxicity testing, detection of growth factor release, cell loading and orthopaedic preclinical models. The Fellow has extensive knowledge in the field of biomaterials and orthopaedic research having trained at the AO Research Institute, Davos, Switzerland. However this fellowship will allow him to develop his knowledge in the field of biocompatibility testing. Knowledge developed in this area will be transferred back to Europe during the return phase of the fellowship. This knowledge will allow the Fellow to further refine the research carried out at Harvard. The goal of this research is to develop translational solutions to clinical problems. Indeed, the chance to work at Harvard would be hugely beneficial in developing direct links to clinicians at one of the worlds most prestigious Universities.

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