Pioneering Biotechnologist Dr Mark Rogers presented with Inaugural NovaUCD Innovation Award

Dr Hugh Brady, President of University College Dublin (UCD), has awarded Dr Mark Rogers of UCD’s Department of Zoology with the inaugural NovaUCD Innovation Award. This award was presented to Dr Rogers on May 31 2004 in recognition of his achievement in the development of a BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) or ‘mad cow disease’ test which to date has earned over EUR1.3 million in royalty income for UCD.

Dr Mark Rogers

The NovaUCD Innovation Award has been established to celebrate outstanding achievement in the successful commercialisation of intellectual property arising from UCD research. 

In 1993, UCD formed a joint venture company, Pharmapro Ltd, with a UK firm Proteus Molecular Design Ltd, now called Protherics plc, to develop commercial diagnostic tests and vaccines for animal diseases including bovine TB and the then emerging disease, BSE.

The research related to BSE was carried out in UCD by Dr Rogers. He had previously worked with American scientist and Nobel Laureate Professor Stanley Prusiner, who had identified the causative agent for BSE.

His research led to the development of the TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy) diagnostic technology, which was licensed to Enfer Scientific Ltd in 1996. Enfer subsequently developed a rapid test for BSE using this technology. During 1996 the UK government announced a link between BSE and the human disease, vCJD (variant Crutzfeld-Jacob Disease) that resulted in a surge of interest in BSE diagnostics.

The developed BSE test, which reduced the time for a BSE diagnosis from 14 days to 3.5 hours, was validated by the Irish Department of Agriculture in 1997. The test became commercially viable in 1999 when the European Commission validated it as one of three tests acceptable for use in the diagnosis of BSE in Europe. As a result, Enfer now sells almost one million BSE test-kits annually, one-third of them in Ireland, and UCD has earned over EUR1.3 million in royalty income to date.

In April of this year, the BSE test was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture for distribution within the USA in the wake of the US’s first recorded case of BSE at the end of 2003.

On presenting the NovaUCD Innovation Award 2004 to Dr Rogers, Dr Hugh Brady, President of UCD said, “This event is of wider significance in that it provides a timely demonstration of the growing importance of university research and innovation in the development of a knowledge-based economy in Ireland.” He added, “There is a growing recognition of the fact that universities are an important national resource and that investment in university research and innovation is fundamental to the successful attraction of high quality foreign investment, particularly R&D investment, and the generation of a high-tech indigenous sector.”

Dr Pat Frain, Director, NovaUCD, congratulated Dr Mark Rogers on winning the Award. “Dr Mark Rogers has received this award for the excellence of his research, which led to a commercial product that has helped in the diagnosis of BSE. The success of this project demonstrates the direct economic benefits that can be achieved from UCD’s commitment to research excellence, innovation and close collaboration with the industry and business community.”

Dr Frain added, “This is but one of the successes in innovation and technology transfer announced in recent months.  There are signs of renewed confidence in the investment community and UCD spinouts such as NTERA, BiancaMed and Celtic Catalysts have attracted around EUR10 million investment in the last two months.” 

Dr Mark Rogers has been an academic member of UCD’s Department of Zoology since 1991. Following his primary degree in TCD, Dr Rogers completed his PhD in Genetics in the University of Glasgow where he also completed post-doctoral studies. Dr Rogers also spent four years in the University of California, San Francisco completing post-doctoral studies on the molecular biology of Scrapie.


1 June 2004

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, NovaUCD, email:, tel: (01) 716 3712.

Editor’s Notes

Enfer Scientific, founded in 1991 is headquartered in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. It operates the world’s largest BSE screening laboratory at Newbridge Co. Kildare and employs up to 150 people.

The NovaUCD Innovation Award, has been designed by Colm Brennan, Sculptor of CAST Bronze Foundry. The award is a sculpture composed of a triangular form of polished Kilkenny limestone and a tapering spiral of bronze. The bronze spiral commences as a three-stepped path that resolves into a point as it ascends. The formal stone element represents existing knowledge while the dynamic spiral is a metaphor for research striving towards innovation.

NovaUCD is University College Dublin’s EUR10 million Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre. This purpose-built centre, which has been funded through a unique public-private partnership, nurtures new technology and knowledge-intensive enterprises. NovaUCD has over 40 incubation units and provides innovators and entrepreneurs with the necessary support and knowledge to take their ideas from proof of principle to commercial success.

Companies to recently locate at NovaUCD include Irish medical technology company, BiancaMed, e-learning companies, Cornerstone Knowledge International and (e)Learning Union, maritime services company, Maritime Management and the life-sciences company, Celtic Catalysts.