Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD today (Monday 21st January 2008) announced that Beckman Coulter Inc, a worldwide provider of biomedical testing systems, with the support of IDA Ireland, is to launch an innovative four year collaborative research programme with NUI Galway in the field of Molecular Diagnostics.
Headquartered in Fullerton, California, Beckman Coulter is a leading manufacturer of biomedical testing instrument systems, tests and supplies that simplify and automate laboratory processes. The company's facility in Galway manufactures a wide range of chemistry, haematology and immunoassay reagent products used in conjunction with the company's diagnostic systems. Molecular Diagnostics is a major growth sector in the diagnostics industry and has a market potential of $2bn annually. It can provide rapid and sensitive alternatives to traditional microbiological tests and immunoassays by detecting molecules of DNA from bacteria, viruses and cancer cells in patient samples with 'sample-to-answer' results.
This investment represents the first collaborative research project undertaken by Beckman Coulter in Ireland. The collaboration will involve the creation of a research team of 10 Masters and PhD researchers based in NUI Galway and building on Intellectual Property already developed in the university.
Welcoming the ground breaking collaboration Minister Martin said "Government policy and IDA Ireland's strategy is working to establish Ireland as a world class strategic location for research and development in the fields of science and technology and to foster novel approaches to R&D through innovative investments and industry academic partnerships".
"IDA Ireland in supporting this complex industrial research programme between Beckman Coulter and NUI Galway is building on historic research in NUI Galway which was funded by Enterprise Ireland. NUI Galway's unrivalled reputation as a centre of excellence in the field of molecular biology diagnostics was a major factor in the decision by the company to proceed with this research collaboration. The high quality of the Beckman Coulter management team and its Galway workforce were critical considerations in attracting this next generation R&D investment to Galway. It is anticipated that success in this project potentially could lead to future manufacture of the company's Molecular Diagnostic assays in Galway" concluded the Minister.
Mike Whelan, Group Vice President of Beckman Coulter's High Sensitivity Testing group said "With these agreements, we will take a big step toward the launch our 'sample-to-result' molecular diagnostic system, including a differentiated menu of moderately complex tests that address urgent clinical decisions. The agreements give us access to intellectual property for the development of tests for infectious diseases including sepsis; hospital-acquired infections; and sexually transmitted diseases, such as Chlamydia and Neisseria."
Mr Whelan added, "The combination of NUI Galway technologies with ours gives us a glimpse of the next generation of molecular diagnostics. Our goal is that our simplified, automated solution will allow these time-consuming, complex, and labour-intensive tests to migrate into the routine hospital lab. So physicians will get diagnostic information within hours, instead of days or weeks, and be able to begin treating patients much sooner."
Welcoming this new partnership with Beckman Coulter, NUI Galway President, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh praised the work of the University s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and the Microbiology Department who are leading this research initiative. "The work of these departments harnesses the skills of leading edge researchers who are addressing some of the most challenging and important issues at the frontier of modern biomedical research – with the ultimate goal of changing the way patients are treated and healed. The research and technology development collaboration with Beckman Coulter will ultimately improve patient care and is a strong endorsement from industry of the quality and importance of the research being undertaken at NUI Galway."
Commenting on the announcement, Professor Terry Smith, Director of the NCBES, and Molecular Diagnostics Programme Director said "This is a very significant research collaboration for both NUI Galway and Beckman Coulter, in that it leverages the combined diagnostics test and instrumentation capabilities of both partners resulting in the development of break-through technologies for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in humans. These partnership agreements also validate the infectious disease molecular diagnostics test R&D being carried out at NUI Galway, highlighting our world-leadership in this area."