Eleven Research Projects for NUI Galway in New €60 million Scientific Investment by Science Foundation Ireland

Research by (l-r) Dr Thomas Ritter, Professor Paul Murphy and Professor Kevin Sullivan are among 11 projects funded at NUI Galway.
Jan 28 2013 Posted: 15:51 GMT

Funding for eleven research projects, with a total value of over €6 million, has been announced for NUI Galway. The awards cover a range of research areas including biomedicine, bioengineering, bioenergy production, chemistry, and commercially valuable seaweeds.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, last Friday announced funding, totalling €60million, dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives around the country. Eleven projects, administered via Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigator Programme, have been awarded to NUI Galway.

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said: “A central part of this Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to ensure that this research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of researchers into good products and good jobs. By supporting these world-class researchers in their ground-breaking work we will ensure that we continue to maintain, attract and develop dynamic companies and create the quality jobs we need.”

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, commented: “As a research-led university, innovative research is at the heart of all that we do. Today’s announcement is further endorsement of the calibre of research underway on our campus.  This research will have far-reaching impact and will, ultimately, address some of the major health and scientific challenges facing society.  It will also further strengthen Ireland’s capacity as a knowledge economy.  I congratulate each of the researchers on their success in winning this support from SFI for their important work.”

Three examples of the research awards include:

Aiding cornea transplant success: With more than 100,000 procedures annually, cornea transplantation is the most frequent procedure of human tissue. However, long-term allograft survival is limited by immunological problems. Dr Thomas Ritter and his team will try to overcome this problem through novel cell and gene therapeutic approaches.

Using synthetic carbohydrate chemistry to benefit society: Sugary molecules or ‘glycosides’ are ubiquitous and relevant to many aspects of life and health. Professor Paul Murphy’s team will work on a method to produce complex sugars related to those found in nature. They will apply the method to the synthesis of sugars and modified sugars relevant in cancer, infection & immunology. The research is relevant for development of vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostics for health, including cancer, and in crop protection.

Understanding human cells to tackle cancer: One of the mysteries of cell reproduction, which underlies health and cancer, is how a cell moves its chromosomes into new cells when they divide. A special part of the chromosome called the centromere is responsible for this. Professor Kevin Sullivan will pursue new discoveries his team have made about how the centromere itself is reproduced which could help build anti-cancer drugs, but also provides new insight into how healthy cells work.

Speaking of the SFI Investigator announcement, Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock said: “Over the past decade, Ireland has invested heavily in R&D and the rewards are clearly visible. What is particularly heartening about today’s announcement is that much of this excellent research, which was selected competitively following international peer review, is being done in collaboration with companies who are seeking to find new products and services, including IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis.”


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