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THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER HAS ONCE AGAIN BEEN RANKED AS THE TOP UNIVERSITY FOR STUDYING PHARMACY, ACCORDING TO THE GUARDIAN LEAGUE TABLE 2016. QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PHARMACY RANKS AS NUMBER 2.


Furthermore to their consistently high ranking, the Ulster University has lately announced two pieces of research with a global effect.


Just this month the University has secured almost half a million pounds of research funding to explore the benefits of taking folic acid in later pregnancy.


With the benefits of taking folic acid supplements prior to and in early pregnancy already well documented, Ulster University researchers will now examine the potential long-term effect on brain function and psychological development among children whose mothers continued to take the supplement during their second and third trimester.


The new project will also look at how these effects may be passed on, in addition to the information contained in the genes, and will incorporate research from the fields of psychology and computing as well as nutrition and genetics.


The funding is part of an exclusive £3 million UK-wide initiative established by the UK Research Councils for eight projects at just six UK universities, which will look at the effects of early life experiences on long term health. Professor Colum Walsh from Ulster


University says, "This funding will now enable Ulster University's world- leading researchers to investigate the possible long-term benefits of folic acid on brain function and psychological development among children. It will also allow them to investigate how these benefits may be passed on in an extra layer of information known as epigenetics.


"This study not only marks an exciting step forward in folic acid research and genetics, it underlines Ulster University's influential and global position at the forefront of research in this field."


Just last month, a revolutionary new smartphone app, developed by scientists at Ulster University in collaboration with Utah State University in the US, has been shown to potentially hold the key to preventing the onset of Alzheimer's disease.


Unveiled at the world's largest convention for Alzheimer's research in Washington DC, the Gray Matters smartphone app encourages individuals to set lifestyle goals, ranging from exercise and nutrition to stress management and brain stimulation - all of which are known to have an impact on the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease.


The app provides daily facts on the link between healthy lifestyle behaviours and improved cognitive wellbeing. Through the app, users can track their lifestyle across a range of areas, including diet, physical activity, mental well-being and social engagement.


PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AUTHORITY REPORT


The Professional Standards Authority’s report was last month (August) laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly, UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly Government.


Professor Colum Walsh


It also provides visual progress reports to help individuals be more aware of their general health and encourage healthy behavioural change.


Professor Maria Norton, from Utah State University's Family, Consumer and Human Development Department says, "The incidence of Alzheimer's disease is increasing worldwide. With no known cure, it is imperative that people understand modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and take steps to protect their brain health in their younger years.


"The primary outcomes of the Gray Matters study are increases in intrinsic motivation for, and actual achieved changes in, health-related behaviours, with accompanying reductions in subjective memory complaints. Secondary outcomes of interest are physical and cognitive health indicators including body mass index, blood pressure, blood-based biomarkers, and cognitive test scores."


Take Heart, Take Part this Summer


FORMER MISS NORTHERN IRELAND LOUISA-JANE AND HER TWO CHILDREN ARIANNA AND CHARLOTTE HELPED LOCAL CHARITY, NORTHERN IRELAND CHEST HEART & STROKE LAUNCH THEIR LATEST HEART CAMPAIGN WITH A ‘TICKER TEA PARTY’; JUST ONE WAY THAT THE CHARITY IS URGING THE PUBLIC TO GET INVOLVED THIS SUMMER TO RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS.


Current statistics show that approximately 2,000 people die from heart attack each year in Northern Ireland yet survival rates could be improved by as much as 50% if people access treatment within one hour of the onset of symptoms.


For a pack or to register your support, please contact fundraising takeheart@nichs.org.uk or visit our website today at www.nichs.org.uk/takeheart or call 028 9031 0184.


The Authority reports that the regulators have generally continued to fulfill their statutory functions and are focused on public protection.


All of the regulators are performing well or adequately against most of the 24 Standards of Good Regulation.


Three of the regulators have met all 24 of the Standards of Good Regulation.


All regulators are more engaged with patients, registrants and the wider debate on public protection.


The Authority has noted several improvements made by the regulators since last year’s report and details of those are set out in the individual section of the report for each regulator.


They have identified continuing concerns about the performance of some regulators regarding their fitness to practise functions. These include:


•Two of the regulators did not meet the Standard requiring them to ensure that their fitness to practise process is transparent, fair, proportionate and focused on public protection.


•Three of the regulators did not meet the Standard that requires them to ensure their fitness to practise cases are progressed without undue delay.


•Three of the regulators did not meet the Standard that requires them to ensure that all fitness to practise decisions are well reasoned, protect the public and maintain confidence in regulated professions.


The Authority will be following up their findings and will expect the regulators to demonstrate to them in next year’s review that they have remedied their performance in the areas highlighted in the report.


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