Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin TD opens €35 million biomedical research fa

Monday, 4 October 2004

"Research – central to our economic progress"- Hanafin

The Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, TD, today (October 4th 2004) opened a new €35 million biomedical research centre at NUI Galway which has the potential to revolutionise patient treatment, eliminate the need for organ transplant and improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide. The National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) brings together a team of over 150 researchers who will also focus on developing treatments for diseases which are currently incurable.

Speaking at the opening of the NCBES, Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, TD said, "It is an honour for me to be present for the opening of this facility which firmly places NUI Galway and Ireland at the frontier of international biomedical research. We look forward to the impact that this research will have on future generations around the globe.

Ireland must remain internationally competitive and the development of world-class research across a range of disciplines in Irish universities is vital for us to fulfil this ambition. Scientific education and research is central to our economic progress".

Commenting on the research ongoing at the new facility, Professor Terry Smith, Director of the NCBES said, "We are very excited about the development of this new facility and the extent of the research being undertaken here. The facility brings together a broad team of researchers from the disciplines of science, engineering and medicine, who will work together to develop new techniques which will revolutionise current processes. The NCBES is unique in Ireland and will work closely in collaboration with local industry involved in the biomedical field and with University College Hospital, Galway (UCHG).

Through its interdisciplinary approach, the NCBES has established an international reputation for its research and is working with other similar institutes in Europe and the US to ensure that rapid advances are made in this exciting area of biomedical research."

One of the specific areas of research currently ongoing is the development of materials that will minimise rejection of stents in the human body. Stents are implanted in the body for a variety of heart and other operations. The research involves the development of SMART materials, so called because they adapt to their environment in the human body by reacting to the body's temperature.

The development of SMART materials is unique to an Irish university and involves the use of sophisticated modelling techniques. The material is inserted into the body as a fluid which then becomes a gel. A coating of the smart material on the stent also facilitates effective drug-release control. The main advantage of the use of these biomaterials is that they are biodegradable and can also be removed if necessary.

Other research projects ongoing at the centre include tissue engineering which is a new field of biomedicine that unites science, engineering and medicine, to restore or replace tissues and organs that have been damaged by disease or injury.

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