Six 'strategic priority' research projects share €25m SFI funding

Posted 21 October, 2019

A national platform for comprehensive molecular analysis headed-up by Professor Walter Kolch, Director of Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) at University College Dublin is one of six new research projects to receive funding from Science Foundation Ireland under its Research Infrastructure Programme.

A leading international proponent of precision medicine, Professor Kolch from the UCD School of Medicine is working on new approaches to personalised diagnostics and treatment based on molecular mechanistic understanding.

The funding from SFI, as part of the Government's Future Jobs Ireland Initiative, is aimed at establishing Ireland as an international lead in this scientific area.

Announcing the awards Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys said each infrastructure project was in an area of strategic priority for the country.

“This talent combined with the support provided through programmes like this one maintains our reputation as a great place to do business and work,” she said.

“The successful projects are at the cutting edge of innovation and are helping us to achieve our goal of preparing now for tomorrow's world.”

SFI Deputy director, Dr Ciarán Seoighe, added: “To allow researchers to meet the evolving challenges both globally and domestically we must ensure that they have the cutting-edge infrastructure required for their research to positively impact our economy, society and environment.”

The SFI Research Infrastructure Programme aims to ensure Irish researchers have the capacity to apply for international funding opportunities, including Horizon 2020 funding calls.

Additionally, the programme eases inter-institutional sharing of national research infrastructure, especially for institutes of technology, as well as effective collaborations with industry.

The six projects set to share in the €25m are:

  • Dr Timothy McCarthy, Maynooth University - National Autonomous Technologies Data Platform (NATDaP) will provide valuable open Autonomous Technology data (including driverless vehicles, A.I., robotics and drones) from collaborating Higher Education Institutes across Ireland, which can be accessed by a much wider community, including researchers and industry collaborators.

  • Prof Kingston Mills, Trinity College Dublin - Next generation flow cytometry and single cell gene analysis – this cutting-edge infrastructure, the only of its kind in a biomedical research Institute or a hospital site in Ireland, will significantly enhance Trinity College Dublin’s cytometry suite capability, enabling rapid analysis for clinical samples.

  • Prof Mani Ramaswami, Trinity College Dublin - Ultra Low Noise Digital 3T MRI which will enable new programmes of research at three SFI Research Centres and permit participation in international consortia including Horizon 2020. This new MRI scanner will allow Ireland to lead in neurodevelopmental research on infants and children, and in the areas of ADHD, depression, psychosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Dr Graeme Maxwell, Tyndall National Institute - Tyndall 200mm FlexiFab - core (national) infrastructure upgrade which will enhance equipment to enable processing on 200mm (8 inch) wafers, a unique asset needed to drive future innovation in ICT research and industry in Ireland.

  • Mr. Michael Gillooly, Marine Institute - EirOOS Irish Ocean Observing System: A component of the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) will further scientific and technical research capacity in key areas such as sea level science, ocean circulation and carbon sequestration allowing us to understand the connection between Ireland and the Atlantic. This infrastructure will also increase opportunities to participate in European funded initiatives under Horizon 2020 and more.

  • Prof Walter Kolch, University College Dublin - A national platform for comprehensive molecular analysis (CMAP) underpinning chemistry, the bioeconomy, and precision oncology research: from molecules to microorganisms and humans. CMAP will not only enhance Ireland’s competitiveness to participate in and lead international research, it will also support research in five national priority areas, contributing to a more sustainable environment, better healthcare, and the creation of high-quality jobs.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations