Feb 01 2017 Posted: 12:05 GMT
  • €945,000 funding over four years through Horizon 2020 programme
  • Industry-academia research consortium will enhance intersectoral and transnational cooperation

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway is one of the partners involved in a new international industry-academia consortium. The 3D-NEONET consortium aims to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions for cancer and eye disease through enhanced intersectoral and transnational research cooperation.

The consortium is bringing together a unique group of microbiologists, cancer biologists, chemists, material scientists, mechanical engineers, ocular pharmacologists, geneticists and toxicologists from nine academic and nine non-academic partner organisations in seven countries.

Through staff exchanges of periods ranging from one month to one year, participants will learn new skills, share knowledge and have the opportunity to work on joint research and innovation projects in oncology and ophthalmology in academic and commercial institutions across Europe. The aim is to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions for oncology and ophthalmology.

The Drug Discovery and Delivery Network for Oncology and Eye Therapeutics (3D-NEONET) consortium has been awarded €945,000, over four years, under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (MSCA-RISE).

Dr Breandán Kennedy, Associate Professor in the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and a Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute will lead the 3D-NEO-NET consortium. Dr Kennedy said: “Through 3D-NEONET, we will address key challenges facing research and innovation in Europe today. University graduates can struggle to transit smoothly into industry employment; research SMEs may have limited capacity to capitalise on new technology or find suitably experienced staff; and there is often unnecessary duplication of resources across Europe due to individual institutions working in isolation.”

He added: “This programme is a fantastic opportunity to enhance career development, facilitate knowledge sharing and enable new skills acquisition. Ultimately, this will form a sustainable network of academics and SMEs who can collectively overcome obstacles in the development of therapeutics for oncology and ophthalmology.”

Spanish consortium partner ZeClinics will exchange staff with QUB and CÚRAM at NUI Galway, providing these two academic partners with tools and expertise to test in vivo efficacy and safety of their drug delivery systems.

Dr Javier Terriente, CSO, ZeClinics, said: “The goal of all 3D-NEONET institutions is to have an impact on people’s health. This initiative will allow sharing knowledge and bridging experts from areas and sectors that otherwise would never meet. We are eager to share our experience in drug discovery with top students in the ocular and oncology fields. For ZeClinics students, it will be great to learn from the best minds in these relevant therapeutic areas.”

Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, NUI Galway, said: “Our goal at CÚRAM is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. We are delighted to be part of this consortium and we hope that the continued sharing of expertise and knowledge will lead to efficient translation of research results that benefit the patient as well as upskilling Irish researchers involved in developing the next generation of medical devices.”

Over the next four years, the proposed programme of work will include multiple staff exchange interactions among the 18 partners.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said: “This new pan-European ophthalmic and oncology research consortium, which UCS is leading, will not only provide individual researchers with skills that can improve their career prospects, both in and outside academia, but will also boost research and innovation capacity and output among participating universities and industry partners, and ultimately impact Europe's economy and society.”

Professor Feely added: “It is very encouraging to see the involvement by UCD researchers from across so many disciplines in the College of Science, College of Health and Agricultural Sciences and College of Engineering and Architecture in this new consortium.”

ENDS

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