SFI awards €4.3 million funding for NUI Galway biomaterials research

Friday, 16 November 2007

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin T.D., has announced Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research investment awards amounting to €87 million across a number of groundbreaking industry-academic projects. Among the projects is the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), which was awarded just over €4.3 million from SFI with an additional €1.7 million to be provided by industrial partners. NFB is led by Professor Abhay Pandit of the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) at NUI Galway.

Biomaterials are synthetic materials which are placed within the body for therapeutic reasons. Their effectiveness can be greatly increased by combining them with therapeutic agents such as genes. NFB will develop new technologies to carry therapeutic genes and other agents to specific target sites. These will include coatings for medical devices, tissue repair scaffolds and also programmable nanospheres which carry a therapeutic agent to a specific location via the bloodstream. The new technology has applications linked to several important diseases, including cardiovascular disease, disc repair, spinal cord and nerve damage.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to develop critical mass in the area of next generation biomaterials. With the establishment of this strategic research cluster we are now poised to make substantial impact on the world stage for biomaterials research. We see this funding as seed money to establish a world-class centre of excellence in biomaterials research in the coming years," reports Professor Abhay Pandit of NUI Galway.

The network brings together leading researchers from national and international institutions. The team is competitive internationally by virtue of their broad expertise, their track record of collaboration, and the benefit of international collaborations with outstanding institutions and individuals. Industrial partnerships with a number of key companies in the medical device field have been established and will be critical to bringing materials developed in this project to market.

Speaking at the announcement of the funding allocation at SFI, Professor Frank Gannon, Director General SFI, said, "These research award recipients and the teams that they have assembled are of world-class calibre. I believe that the initiatives to be undertaken by SFI over the coming seven years will provide a cornerstone for Ireland s future economic development, with Centres for Science and Engineering Technology (CSETs) and Strategic Research Clusters (SRCs) playing a key role".

Professor Nicholas Canny, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway commented, "The award by SFI of the grant of €4.3m is a tribute both to the quality research record that Professor Abhay Pandit and his colleagues have established at NUI Galway for several years, and to the high-calibre collaborative network that Abhay has been able to forge because of his international scholarly reputation."

ENDS

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