Posted: 00:00 IST
"Today's investment establishing Systems Biology Ireland is clear evidence of the Government's ongoing commitment to further enhancing Ireland's scientific base to aid our economic recovery." the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Conor Lenihan T.D. said today (Tuesday, September 15th 2009). Minister Lenihan was announcing Government funding of €14.8million to be provided over the next 5 years for the establishment of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Systems Biology Ireland research centre, which is being led by University College Dublin and supported by researchers in NUI Galway.
The Systems Biology SFI CSET will involve 69 highly skilled personnel working on the research programme including researchers at the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), the School of Medicine, and the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway.
Professor Tim O'Brien, Director of REMEDI at NUI Galway commented: "The partnership between NUI Galway and UCD in systems biology with a focus on mesenchymal stem cells will facilitate REMEDI's translational goals in bringing novel regenerative therapies to the clinic".
Systems Biology is a powerful new way to use the strength of computers and mathematics to understand biology. It seeks to unravel the complexities of cells through the use of models that predict biological behaviour. The research being undertaken will enable quicker and better treatments of a range of medical conditions, including various cancers, and should allow for better therapies to be delivered more effectively to patients. The new research centre is also being supported through the significant contribution of industry partners who include Ark Therapeutics, Hewlett Packard, Servier, Agilent Technologies, Siemens Ireland and Protagen AG. The Systems Biology SFI CSET will involve 69 highly skilled personnel working on the research programme.
Making the announcement, Minister Lenihan added: "I am very excited by the potential economic and societal benefits likely to accrue to Ireland from the research being undertaken by the Systems Biology SFI CSET. It is one of the critical emerging areas in the Life Sciences worldwide. Ireland is now very well placed to become a world leader in this field given the very strong foundation we have here in the pharmaceutical and IT sectors. It should greatly assist the IDA to attract further high-end Foreign Direct investment and also allow Irish SMEs to grow. This centre, with its deep-rooted academic – industry partnership, encapsulates the essence of what our Smart Economy should and can be. "
The Director of the new SFI CSET, Professor Kolch, outlined the potential of systems biology to speed up research and help target therapies to particular patient types by saying: "Systems biology takes a holistic view of the organism. It looks at the processes rather than the single components of a cell or a gene. Our research is unique in that we work with stem cells but the outcomes of our research will feed into a global effort to provide better therapies for cancer patients. Our work will help speed up the experimentation process, thereby reducing by years the time it takes to develop a new drug therapy."
Welcoming the announcement of the new SFI CSET, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Frank Gannon said: "As the pipeline for new therapeutic drugs becomes constricted it is recognised that a fresh approach to understanding disease is timely. The convergence of computer modelling and the study of the biological system brings new challenges and opportunities. This latest SFI CSET will add to the skill-base that is required for the pharmaceutical companies of the future in Ireland."
Systems Biology Ireland is working with a range of industry partners to develop new technologies for biomedical research and will continue to develop the links with industry to harness the State s investment in the programme.
"Life sciences customers will ultimately better understand the disease processes and will be able to develop new therapeutic treatments from the Systems Biology Ireland's research program," said David Medina, Executive Lead, Worldwide Life Sciences and Pharma Segment, HP. "As a result of HP and SBI s collaboration, vast amounts of data can now be affordably collected, stored, analyzed and applied from different sources on HP Extreme Data Storage technology."
Dr. Laurent Perret, Président du Comité Scientifique du Groupe de Recherches Servier, Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier, said "Servier Laboratories has had a long and productive association with Ireland, with two manufacturing plants and several research programmes in translational medicine. Systems Biology Ireland provides a further opportunity for Servier to engage in leading-edge research in Ireland and for us to work together to address unmet medical needs using an extraordinarily powerful technology".
"Ark Therapeutics is strategically involved in this Irish Government-funded research programme as it believes it will bring about the generation of new biological therapeutics by moving science from the reductive process of the 20th century to a systems approach of the 21st", said John Martin, CSO of Ark Therapeutics.