NUI Galway awarded €19m in funding for Regenerative Medicine Institute - Initial

Monday, 12 January 2004

NUI Galway has been awarded €15m in funding over the next five years from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to fund a new centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET). Additional funding of €4 million will be contributed to the research programme by REMEDI partners. These include a number of Irish and multinational companies in the healthcare sector, in particular Medtronic (Galway) and ChondroGene (Toronto).

This major round of funding will be used to develop a new world-class Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), which will specialise in basic and applied research in regenerative medicine to develop new therapies for human diseases that are currently incurable.

In welcoming this announcement, the President of NUI Galway, Dr. Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh said "This award underlines the commitment of NUI Galway to achieving the highest international standing in research. REMEDI is the second CSET that NUI Galway has been awarded recently. The university was awarded €12million by SFI in May 2003 to support the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), a CSET which will spearhead research into the second generation of Web Technology. Indeed, NUI Galway is the only Irish university to be awarded two CSETs and to have been successful in all rounds of HEA PRTLI funding over the past four years."

Regenerative medicine is an emerging field where cells and genes are used to replace tissues and organs that have been affected by disease. The central research platforms on which REMEDI will initially concentrate are gene therapy and adult stem cell research. The team also includes clinicians in University College Hospital Galway (UCHG), who will lead the translation of research advances into clinical practice.

Professor Tim O'Brien, a leading figure in gene therapy research who was recruited from the prestigious Mayo Clinic in the US to the Chair of Medicine at NUI Galway in 2001 will direct the new institute. Commenting on the funding for REMEDI he said, "This funding is testament to the strength of our research capabilities at NUI Galway. REMEDI and its academic and industrial partners will play a key role in an area of research with immense potential for the development of new therapies for human diseases that are currently incurable. It also presents a unique opportunity for Ireland to be at the forefront of the development of regenerative medicine technology that is highly relevant to the future of the healthcare industry, a significant element of Ireland's economic development."

Dr Frank Barry a leading figure in adult stem cell research at Osiris Therapeutics, in Baltimore, Maryland, will join the REMEDI team. There will be approximately 30 research staff working with Professor O'Brien and Dr Barry.

REMEDI will be located in the newly built National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway, the only centre in the country that contains a state-of-the-art facility for gene therapy research.

Professor Terry Smith, Director of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at NUI Galway said, "In addition to being of major strategic importance to Ireland, this is a major boost for our research initiatives at NUI Galway and we look forward to working with Professor O'Brien and Dr Barry in bringing this exciting initiative to fruition. Regenerative medicine is one of the new and emerging medicines and this funding is vital in bringing our research from the laboratory into clinical practice. This opportunity enables us to capitalise on the close links we have developed with the healthcare sector and with clinicians at University College Hospital, Galway, all of whom will be critical to the success of this institute."

All SFI funding is awarded following a rigorous review process led by international experts. In the case of the CSET Awards, the experts assessed the application's level of research quality, collaboration, intellectual breadth, flexibility in responding to new research opportunities and integration of research and education. Each CSET underwent a review that included the experts' assessment of written proposals and oral research presentations to a strategic review panel of government and industry leaders in Ireland and a stringent review by the experts at each location.

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