September 2013

UCD Conway Institute Celebrates 10 Years of Research Excellence

Wed, 18 September 13 14:42

The UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

The Institute has been a highly effective driver of research productivity and excellence since its establishment,” said Professor Des Fitzgerald, UCD Vice-President for Research.

Through its intellectual and infrastructural capabilities, it has risen to the challenge of providing solutions to societal needs in the face of a rapidly changing economic and research horizon while maintaining research excellence, particularly in terms of supporting transdisciplinary approaches to ambitious research questions,” he said.

Over 700 PhD graduates and 350 postdoctoral researchers have been educated and trained to exacting international standards at the UCD Conway Institute. These highly-skilled individuals have taken up employment in the pharmaceutical, medical device and ICT industries as well as in public agencies and academia in Ireland and internationally.

The UCD Conway Institute’s research portfolio includes 3,275 peer reviewed research publications with the top 1% published in the most prestigious scientific journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. In addition UCD Conway Institute researchers currently have successful collaborations, leading to publications, with scientists from over 1,500 organisations in 70 countries.

Professor Des Higgins, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science and a UCD Conway Institute Fellow, recently broke the barrier of 100,000 total citations for his work on DNA sequence comparisons. This total makes him the most highly cited Irish scientist in the past decade and one of the most highly cited scientists worldwide.

The Institute is also at the forefront of training the next generation of scientists to use the power of computers within their research. In 2011, for the first time in its history, the Wellcome Trust awarded funding for an Irish PhD programme. The PhD programme in Computation & Infection Biology trains students to integrate computational methods in their research on infectious disease in humans and animals.

UCD Conway Institute researchers, who have developed strong collaborative links with industry, aim to translate their basic research into applications that will help clinicians to diagnose disease at an earlier stage and provide a profile of how the disease is likely to progress. Their research outputs include discovering new formulations for drug therapies and novel ways to provided targeted delivery of drugs within the human body.

The Clustal programme to align protein sequences from the research group of Professor Des Higgins is just one of a number of exciting innovations that has emerged from UCD Conway Institute in the past decade.

The UCD Conway Institute was established in 2003 to bring together chemists, biologists, computer scientists and clinicians to work together in multidisciplinary research teams. Research conducted in the UCD Conway Institute is focused on deciphering the underlying pathways that cause disease with the aim of developing the next-generation of diagnostics, prognostics and therapeutics. 

In the last decade UCD Conway Institute researchers, working in close collaboration with UCD’s technology transfer team at NovaUCD, have disclosed 108 inventions. In addition 139 patents have been filed, 21 licence agreements have been concluded and 7 UCD spin-out companies have been incorporated resulting from the outputs of UCD Conway Institute research programmes.

When the UCD Conway Institute was established its model of multidisciplinary and collaborative research was considered a radical vision of how scientific research should be carried out,” said Professor Walter Kolch, Director, UCD Conway Institute.

Today, it is the gold standard. As we enter the next phase in the life of the UCD Conway Institute, we will continue to build research excellence and sustain the vibrant environment that ignites discovery, drives innovation and impacts positively on society for generations.”

Professor Des Fitzgerald, UCD Vice-President for Research, has launched the publication Igniting Discovery as part of the 2013 UCD Conway Festival of Research & Innovation to mark the 10 year anniversary of the establishment of the UCD Conway Institute.

During this festival, in addition to presentations from leading academic and industry speakers, Dublin-born, Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, University of Cambridge, received the UCD Ulysses Medal, the highest honour that the University can bestow, and delivered the Ulysses Medal lecture entitled, Human Metabolic Disease: Lessons from Genetics.