Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Ulster


The extent of population structure within Ireland is largely unknown, as is the impact of historical migrations. Here we illustrate fine-scale genetic structure across Ireland that follows geographic boundaries and present evidence of admixture events into Ireland. Utilising the ‘Irish DNA Atlas’, a cohort (n = 194) of Irish individuals with four generations of ancestry linked to specific regions in Ireland, in combination with 2,039 individuals from the Peoples of the British Isles dataset, we show that the Irish population can be divided in 10 distinct geographically stratified genetic clusters; seven of ‘Gaelic’ Irish ancestry, and three of shared Irish-British ancestry. In addition we observe a major genetic barrier to the north of Ireland in Ulster. Using a reference of 6,760 European individuals and two ancient Irish genomes, we demonstrate high levels of North-West French-like and West Norwegian-like ancestry within Ireland. We show that that our ‘Gaelic’ Irish clusters present homogenous levels of ancient Irish ancestries. We additionally detect admixture events that provide evidence of Norse-Viking gene flow into Ireland, and reflect the Ulster Plantations. Our work informs both on Irish history, as well as the study of Mendelian and complex disease genetics involving populations of Irish ancestry.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, British Isles, Northern Ireland, Irish language, Irish people, Ulster


Mental well-being is an important indicator of current, but also the future health of adolescents. The 14-item Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) has been well validated in adults world-wide, but less work has been undertaken to examine the psychometric validity and internal consistency of WEMWBS scores in adolescents. In particular, little research has examined scores on the short 7-item version of the WEMWBS. The present study used two large samples of school children in Scotland and Northern Ireland and found that for both forms of the WEMWBS, scores were psychometrically valid, internally consistent, factor saturated, and measurement invariant by country. Using the WEMWBS full form, males reported significantly higher scores than females, and Northern Irish adolescents reported significantly higher scores than their Scottish counterparts. Last, the lowest overall levels of well-being were observed among Scottish females.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Psychometrics, England, Ireland, Scotland, Irish people, Ulster, Scots language


After qualifying as a children’s nurse at the end of 1990, Brian McGowan worked as a staff nurse in paediatric intensive care before moving on to work in burns and reconstructive surgery. He developed the clinical educator post in Belfast, Northern Ireland and, after a brief stint as a research nurse, was appointed as a lecturer at Ulster University in 2001. He and his wife Fiona have two children, Jack and Sarah.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belfast, Ulster, Northern Ireland national football team, University of Ulster


Northern Ireland has developed significant experience in specific punishment injuries due to its unique civil unrest. Simple gunshot wound (GSW) injuries have begun to evolve into more complex injuries.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Injuries, Wound, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belfast, Ulster


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein (AIP) founder mutation R304* (or p.R304*; NM_003977.3:c.910C>T, p.Arg304Ter) identified in Northern Ireland (NI) predisposes to acromegaly/gigantism; its population health impact remains unexplored. We measured R304* carrier frequency in 936 Mid Ulster, 1000 Greater Belfast (both in NI) and 2094 Republic of Ireland (ROI) volunteers and in 116 acromegaly/gigantism patients. Carrier frequencies were 0.0064 in Mid Ulster (95%CI = 0.0027-0.013; P = 0.0005 vs. ROI), 0.001 in Greater Belfast (0.00011-0.0047) and zero in ROI (0-0.0014). R304* prevalence was elevated in acromegaly/gigantism patients in NI (11/87, 12.6%, P < 0.05), but not in ROI (2/29, 6.8%) vs. non-Irish patients (0-2.41%). Haploblock conservation supported a common ancestor for all the 18 identified Irish pedigrees (81 carriers, 30 affected). Time to most recent common ancestor (tMRCA) was 2550 (1275-5000) years. tMRCA-based simulations predicted 432 (90-5175) current carriers, including 86 affected (18-1035) for 20% penetrance. In conclusion, R304* is frequent in Mid Ulster, resulting in numerous acromegaly/gigantism cases. tMRCA is consistent with historical/folklore accounts of Irish giants. Forward simulations predict many undetected carriers; geographically-targeted population screening improves asymptomatic carrier identification, complementing clinical testing of patients/relatives. We generated disease awareness locally, necessary for early diagnosis and improved outcomes of AIP-related disease. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belfast, Irish language, Ulster, Sinn Féin


Fiona McFarland, the North of Ireland Veterinary Association’s (NIVA’s) public relations officer, reports on a successful first year for the Young Vet Network in Northern Ireland.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Public relations, Northern Ireland, Northern Europe, Belfast, Ulster



Menopause is part of the ageing process for all women. However, the experience of menopause is different for each person. To recognize and manage the menopause properly, healthcare professionals need to be well informed and should have access to the necessary resources. The purpose of this survey was to ascertain whether an educational need and a resource need exist among healthcare professionals in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. One hundred and eight surveys were completed by healthcare professionals. From the responses, it is clearly evident that the desire for more education and the establishment of a local specialist clinic exists.

Concepts: Education, United Kingdom, Natural resource, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Ulster, Derry, County Donegal


This paper explores the extent to which Charles Lucas can be described as a typical patriot in mid-eighteenth century Ireland. The political ideas and practices of Irish patriots of the mid-eighteenth century belong to broad spectrum including opposition MPs, anti-Catholic rhetoricians and questioners of the usefulness of the penal laws, economic pamphleteers and individuals interested in recovering Ireland’s history and antiquities. Lucas was significant in that he sometimes inhabited all of these political and cultural guises, but also mobilised the Dublin public in political campaigns and was striking in his voluminous output in newspapers and pamphlets.

Concepts: Economics, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Ireland, Dublin, Irish language, Irish people, Ulster


We investigated whether “hidden” (or unobserved) social networks were evident in a 2011 physical activity behavior change intervention in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Results showed evidence of unobserved social networks in the intervention and illustrated how the network evolved over short periods and affected behavior. Behavior change interventions should account for the interaction among participants (i.e., social networks) and how such interactions affect intervention outcome. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 20, 2015: e1-e4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302399).

Concepts: Sociology, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Belfast, Ulster, Northern Ireland national football team