UCD partnering in Ireland’s first national preclinical imaging centre
Ireland's first national preclinical imaging centre (NPIC) will provide enhanced research data to inform new clinical trials and improve patient outcomes. It is being established through a €3.4 million award from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under their research infrastructure programme.
The Centre’s imaging infrastructure will support the development of new therapeutics and diagnostics in human disease areas including cancer, neurology, dementia, psychiatry, cardiology, medical devices, diabetes, tissue engineering, nanomedicine and inflammatory disease.
MRI diffusion tensor imaging reveals white matter changes in the brain across genotypes. Image courtesy of Dr Jeffrey Glennon, UCD Conway Institute
It is being established and co-funded by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, University College Dublin (UCD), and CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway). The Centre will be led by Professor Annette Byrne (RSCI) in partnership with Professor William Gallagher (UCD) and Professor Abhay Pandit (CÚRAM, NUI Galway).
The Centre will provide a national pre-clinical imaging resource open to all academic, industry and not-for-profit researchers, and will have locations in Dublin (RCSI, UCD) and Galway (NUI Galway). NPIC establishes a national pre-clinical magnetic resonance (MR) facility, a national high-field preclinical MR / chemical imaging platform and incorporates a high-resolution micro-computed tomography (CT) and Optical Imaging laboratory.
UCD will receive €2.01 million of the award funding and have committed to complementing this with an additional €645,558 in co-funding. This will support equipment purchase, refurbishment and technical support.
“The National Preclinical Imaging Centre’s high resolution imaging technologies will allow the research community in Ireland to respond to future international research challenges and will provide important support infrastructure for SFI Research Centres, Irish academic institutes and industry collaborators,” commented Director of NPIC, Professor Annette Byrne, Head of the RCSI Precision Cancer Medicine Group, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics and Centre for Systems Medicine at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“The Centre’s resources will allow us to work more collaboratively on research projects with clinicians and on training initiatives in radiology, which are critical elements of translating laboratory research finding to improvements in patient care in clinical settings,” Prof. Byrne said.
Professor Annette Byrne, NPIC Director (bottom, right); NPIC Associate Directors, Professors William Gallagher (left) and Abhay Pandit (top, right).
“This infrastructural funding provided by SFI, which is complemented by financial support from each of our partner institutions, along with in-kind contributions from industry, will provide an unparalleled national resource for advancing in vivo imaging. Our research in the area of precision oncology will benefit considerably from being able to image non-invasively tumour growth and spread, leading to improved understanding of disease and associated therapeutic options,” said Professor William Gallagher, Associate Director of NPIC, Director, UCD Conway Institute and Deputy Director, Precision Oncology Ireland.
“I am delighted to see the establishment of NPIC as it will provide a significant boost to our existing capabilities across academic, industry and clinical networks allowing us to further progress medical device research and its clinical application in each of our disease target areas,” commented Professor Abhay Pandit, Associate Director of NPIC and Scientific Director at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway.
Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD, Professor Orla Feely said: "UCD is delighted to be part of this significant development in national research infrastructure. As the host university to Precision Oncology Ireland and home to a number of medical and biomedical centres of research, including the UCD Conway Institute, we aim to stay at the forefront of pre-clinical research and personalised medicine, driving discoveries in diagnostics and treatments and innovation for better patient outcomes."
The SFI Award is co-funded by all three Universities (RCSI, UCD and NUI Galway) and the application was supported by a diverse number of academic, not-for-profit and industry collaborators across the island of Ireland including Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, Technical University Dublin, Cancer Trials Ireland, Queens University Belfast, Pfizer, Roche, M2i Ltd and Boston Scientific.