Nov 21 2008 Posted: 00:00 GMT
NUI Galway and the University of Ulster, have received a grant of over £1.3 million for the establishment of a research collaboration in the area of functional biomaterials. The cutting edge research will be led by Professor Brian Meenan at the University of Ulster and Professor Abhay Pandit at NUI Galway, with the funding coming from the Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning, under its Cross Border R&D Funding Programme. Professor Pandit is Director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), which is part of NUI Galway's National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES). 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 cells, proteins and genes. The new technology has applications linked to several important diseases, including cardiovascular disease, disc repair, bone repair, spinal cord and nerve damage. According to Professor Pandit: "Through collaboration with the established biomaterials group at the University of Ulster, we can continue to grow the network and our research capability. We are now in a position to make a substantial impact on the world stage for biomaterials research and are tackling scientific challenges in the areas of medical devices, nanotechnology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine". Professor Meenan added: "This major award from the Cross Border R&D Funding Programme will establish a critical mass for research in functional biomaterials across the island. New and existing staff at the University of Ulster, working directly with colleagues at NUI Galway, will establish an internationally leading research base in this strategically important area with the aim of contributing to relevant aspects of economic and social development in the North and the South". Welcoming the research awards, Professor Richard Barnett, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster, said: "This funding for the University of Ulster-led research represents an endorsement and recognition of the international calibre of the research capacity at the University. The projects also mark a milestone in our relations with our academic partners in the Republic of Ireland. Together, we will bring to bear on these important research themes the most powerful analytical minds on the island". Dr James J. Browne, President of NUI Galway, added: "I am delighted to see our long standing fruitful co-operation with the University of Ulster is further enhanced by this award. It will facilitate deeper co-operation between the team in the University of Ulster and NUI Galway's recently established, Science Foundation Ireland funded, functional biomaterials group led by Professor Abhay Pandit. I congratulate all of those involved in winning this award and wish them well with their ongoing research". Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, commented on the announcement stating: "NUI Galway strongly supports this partnership with the University of Ulster and looks forward to further developing a collaborative approach to this critically relevant area of research. This research award is a welcome testament to the strength of functional biomaterial research ongoing in NUI Galway through the NFB." A total of £7.7 million has been awarded through the Cross Border R&D Funding Programme, which will contribute to the development of an all-island research infrastructure through meaningful, targeted collaboration with leading research teams in the Republic of Ireland.