The opening of Ulster University’s new School of Medicine at Magee is gathering pace with the hiring of three new team members.

The School, which will welcome its first intake of students this August, recently appointed Dr Lysa Owen as Senior Lecturer in Clinical Skills, Jason Murray as Technical Services Coordinator, and Claire McDaid as School Administrative Officer.

Recruitment is also underway for a Director of Education.

Speaking about the appointments, Professor Louise Dubras, Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine said: “Lysa joins us from the new Graduate Entry Medical School in Scotland at the Universities of St. Andrews and Dundee and will bring a wealth of experience to bear in her role as Senior Lecturer in Clinical Skills.

“I am also delighted to welcome two existing members of the Ulster University network to join our growing team at the School of Medicine. Claire and Jason’s institutional knowledge of Ulster University, the student body and the North West area will serve our new students and staff excellently.”

Ulster University Medical School. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

Ulster University’s School of Health Sciences undergraduate programmes are set to relocate to Magee from September 2022, bringing more than 800 students to the Derry campus.

Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University, said the Magee campus would best support the NHS’s emphasis on the development of multi-disciplinary teams, and provide rich opportunities for interprofessional learning.

She added: “Now, more than ever, in the context of a health service that continues to face sustained challenge in tackling COVID-19, we are acutely aware of the vital contribution of our allied health professionals.”

The programmes will be delivered alongside UU’s new Paramedic teaching provision and Graduate Entry School of Medicine, which are both recruiting students for the start of the 2021 academic year.

UU’s award-winning School of Nursing, ranked 7th in the UK, has operated in the city for 20 years. The Magee campus also runs one of only three Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) competency test centres in the UK, established to increase nursing capacity and help alleviate pressures in the health sector.

In the relocation plans, postgraduate Health Sciences teaching will move to UU’s Belfast campus. The School of Health Sciences will remain at Jordanstown for the 2021/22 academic year.

Students from Ulster University’s Magee campus have been reflecting on how the Derry and Strabane City Deal will benefit their studies and future careers.

Ulster University Magee Campus

The £250m investment package, which reached a key milestone last month with the signing of its Heads of Terms agreement, includes the delivery of the School of Medicine at Magee, the creation of a Health Research Institute (HRI) and the expansion of the C-TRIC research facility at Altnagelvin hospital through a pioneering health innovation project called THRIVE.

THRIVE, a partnership between the Western Health & Social Care Trust, Ulster University and Derry City and Strabane District Council, will see the team of personalised medicine researchers grow at the expanded C-TRIC/THRIVE building, based at Altnagelvin and into the new HRI/THRIVE building, located beside the new School of Medicine.

Ulster University has released a series of videos asking students what the City Deal will mean for them. For second year Personalised Medicine student Sarah McCloskey, the deal will help the region fulfil its highest potential and “see what we can become”. Watch video

An Ulster University Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert is working on pioneering new technology which could help people communicate after serious brain injuries.

Professor Damien Coyle aims to develop AI technology that can be used in new forms of wearable neurotechnologies. These devices, which measure signals from the brain and allow their wearer to interact with technology without movement, could help those unable to communicate following a serious injury or illness.

Professor Coyle, Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre at Ulster University’s Magee campus, has received UK government investment for the research. He is leading a national trial in partnership with 17 hospitals to evaluate AI-enabled neurotechnology for consciousness assessment in prolonged disorders of consciousness following severe brain injury.

The AI R&D planned will be thoroughly trialed in the lab and with end-users of the technology, including patients and clinicians. The AI will be deployed in ‘wearables’ developed in partnership with NeuroCONCISE Ltd, an Ulster University spinout.

The Derry City and Strabane District Council area has officially become the first Zero Waste City in the UK and Ireland.


The European designation sees the Council area join a network of communities across the continent sharing learning and experiences of reducing waste generation while improving recycling rates and the quality of the resources captured.

The new status comes amid a deepening collaboration with local campaigning group Zero Waste North West, and marks the latest stage of the City and District’s adoption of a Circular Economy/Zero Waste Strategy.

The Strategy aims to keep resources and products in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value for the local economy, before recovering and regenerating them at the end of their life cycle.

For more on Council’s Waste and Recycling Services visit derrystrabane.com/recycling. Full details on Council’s Circular Economy strategy can be viewed at derrystrabane.com/circulareconomy.

A US-based research scientist and biotechnology entrepreneur with Donegal roots has donated $100,000 to support three students through their four-year degrees at Ulster University’s School of Medicine.

Massachusetts-based Dr Susan K Whoriskey, whose great-grandfather, John Whoriskey, was from Creeslough in Co Donegal, made the donation via the Irish American Partnership.

Dr Whoriskey has worked with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna since it was a start-up, and was involved in the founding of several top biotech companies. She has also been Entrepreneur in Residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Medical Education Scholarships at Ulster University offer financial assistance to a number of eligible students who are successful in obtaining a place on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme, commencing in August 2021. The Scholarships are aimed at students who have, and/or continue to experience challenges, and where finances present a barrier to accessing a medical education.

More information about the scholarships, including eligibility criteria and key milestones, can be found at www.ulster.ac.uk/medicine.

Local social prescribing firm Elemental has been named Best Small Tech Company of the Year at the 2020 Digital DNA Awards.

The Derry-based ‘tech for good’ company helps connect individuals, families and their carers with community-based programmes, services and interventions to make a positive impact on their lives.

Elemental Co-founders/CEOs Leeann Monk-Özgül and Jennifer Neff were also highly commended in the Founder of the Year category at the awards, which celebrate Northern Ireland’s best technology businesses and people.

This year’s awards were held online and featured more than 300 entries from over 160 companies.

“Myself, Jennifer and the entire team at Elemental are on cloud nine after winning the Digital DNA Small Tech of the Year award,” said Leeann Monk-Özgül.

“The calibre of finalists in each category of the Digital DNA awards is testament to how much the tech sector is thriving here and how much talent we have on our doorstep.”

A leading Magee-based Ulster University researcher will develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that could help people to communicate following serious brain injuries, thanks to a £20million government investment announced today.Professor Damien Coyle of Ulster University’s Magee campus has been awarded the prestigious Turing AI Acceleration Fellowship. The Fellowships will give 15 of the UK’s top AI researchers the resources to work with industry to bring their innovations to benefit multiple sectors.

Professor Damien Coyle who is currently Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) at Ulster University’s Magee campus, said:“Everyone’s brain is different and many factors influence brain states so brainwaves are extremely complex and change and evolve from minute to minute and day to day. This presents an excellent challenge for AI in detecting specific brains states. “The AI R&D planned for this fellowship will be thoroughly trialed not only in the lab but also with end-users of the technology – patients and clinicians who can really benefit. The AI will be deployed in wearables developed in partnership with NeuroCONCISE Ltd, an Ulster University spinout. “New AI developed for neurotechnology during the fellowship will be translated across other sectors and industry led-data analytics challenges so the fellowship will impact widely within the city and region, Northern Ireland, the UK and beyond.”

The ISRC, where Professor Coyle is based will feature in the Derry and Strabane City Deal through the Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory (CARL). Its objective is to help NI industry across a broad range of sectors from health to financial technology to become world-leading in their use of Artificial Intelligence. The ISRC is already home to the Dr George Moore Chair in Data Analytics, a world-class academic position made possible with the philanthropic support of Mrs Angela Moore. This funding injection is another endorsement of Derry – Londonderry as a place where AI and Innovation thrives.

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway said:“The UK is the birthplace of artificial intelligence and we therefore have a duty to equip the next generation of Alan Turings, like Ulster University’s Professor Damien Coyle, with the tools that will keep the UK at the forefront of this remarkable technological innovation.“Northern Ireland is a hotbed for innovation and the inspiring AI project we are backing today could assist those who have experienced a serious illness or injury to communicate, transforming how they live, while cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.”


Ulster University’s new School of Medicine at Magee is now recruiting future doctors after progressing through the next steps of the General Medical Council’s rigorous quality assurance process.

With support from the Executive, ring-fenced funding combined with the GMC’s recent review of the University’s readiness, allows the school to recruit staff and students for a September 2021 opening.

Professor Louise Dubras, Ulster University.

Ulster University’s new School of Medicine based on the Magee campus is now recruiting Northern Ireland’s future doctors following a successful progression through the next steps of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) rigorous quality assurance process for new medical schools.  

With support from the Executive, ring-fenced funding was announced last month, combined with the GMC’s recent review of the University’s state of readiness, enables Ulster University to recruit staff and students for a  September 2021 opening. Ulster University’s School of Medicine will select students who have already completed an undergraduate degree and provide them with four years of innovative, intensive, practical medical education. The School will offer a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) medical degree programme that is unique in Northern Ireland.   

In 2018, The Department of Health commissioned a Review of Medical School Places which recommended that Northern Ireland needs 100 more medical students a year to meet the increasing demand for doctors. Currently, approximately 40% of medical graduates in Northern Ireland tend to stay and live within 10 miles of Queen’s University Belfast after graduation, according to the GMC. The new School of Medicine at Magee will address departmental recommendations by providing access to medical education in the North West, positioning the Derry~Londonderry City region as an attractive place to study and work. It further builds on Ulster University’s capacity to deliver life-changing education and research, supporting the health and well-being agenda in Northern Ireland.   

Students will benefit from access to clinical placements across the full range of general practice, medical and surgical specialities with primary care-based experience from week one. This will enable students to develop knowledge and appreciation of the interconnectivity between primary, secondary, social and community-based healthcare.  

Foundation Dean of the School of Medicine, Professor Louise Dubras who will lead the Gradate Entry degree programme commented: “As a GP working in the city myself, I am continually reflecting on the role of the doctor and the doctor-patient journey.  COVID-19 has emphasised that a career as a doctor requires a commitment to lifelong learning and adapting to life’s modern challenges.   

“The MBBS programme at Ulster’s School of Medicine will provide students with the professional skills, knowledge and relevant clinical experience necessary to be a twenty first century doctor. Working closely with our partner medical School St George’s University of London and alongside globally acclaimed visiting professors, our medical provision, rooted in the heart of Derry-Londonderry on our Magee campus, will provide the much-needed doctors required for the North West.  

“The School of Medicine on our Magee campus will attract students to study, work and live in the North West and will be a catalyst in the innovation corridor to be established as part of the City Deal. We look forward to taking the next steps and to welcoming our first medical students ready to embark upon such a rewarding and vital career path with us.”  

The Graduate Entry programme offered at Ulster’s School of Medicine is open to anyone with a minimum of a 2:1 honours degree in any subject:  Applicants are required to sit the GAMSAT entrance exam in September 2020 or March 2021 at the location most convenient for them, with the Magee campus recently added as a  test centre on the island of Ireland. Those successful in the GAMSAT will be invited to Multiple Mini interviews which have to be passed, along with an Enhanced Disclosure from Access NI or other relevant authority before offers can be made. The University will work with key partners to establish a scholarship fund to support students, details will be announced early next year.  

 The University has already received hundreds of enquiries from the North West, across the island of Ireland and the UK who are keen to find out more about the School of Medicine and the MBBS Medicine programme of study. For more information, visit ulster.ac.uk/medicine 

All new medical school applications must complete a GMC multi-stage approval process. Now that this milestone has been passed, work will continue with an ongoing programme of checks and visits over the coming months and years to make sure that the medical school remains satisfactory and passes all GMC quality assurance requirements. Once all of these stages have been completed, and subject to the approval of GMC Council, the school will be added to the list of institutions able to award its own primary medical qualifications in 2025. 

Five new entrepreneurs and start-ups have each received £10,000 from Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, as part of the first Catalyst North West Co-Founders programme.

The funding will help the winning teams pursue their technology, engineering and science ideas and contribute to the thriving innovation ecosystem growing in the North West region.

Although based at Catalyst Innovation Centre at Fort George in Derry, the Co-Founders cohort completed a part-time online programme one night a week for 16 weeks.

The five ideas which have secured funding include technology for medical student training, an innovative development for cat’s eyes on the road, a digital platform for golf caddies, a social fintech solution and a digital platform for exercise and wellbeing.

Catalyst at Fort George opened in 2014 and is fully occupied by 32 companies and 250 people working in the innovation and knowledge economy.

Find out more about The Co-Founders programme at www.co-founders.co.