April 2016 | Aibreán 2016

UCD Clinician Scientist & Alumni Receive Innovation Awards

Thu, 28 April 16 16:45

Professor Martin Steinhoff (UCD Professor of Dermatology and Director of the UCD Charles Institute) has been awarded one of three recipients of the 2016 SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award which were announced on 13th April 2016 by Science Foundation Ireland. Two UCD Alumni, Professor Leonie Yong and Prof Arnie Hill, were among the other three award recipients.

This prestigious funding award provides qualified academic researchers with an opportunity to deliver important potential discoveries for patients of unmet needs in the areas of immunology, oncology, cardiovascular and rare diseases. Awards were made to researchers from only three Irish academic institutions including the Royal College Surgeons (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC) and University College Dublin (UCD).

Professor Martin Steinhoff (MD, PhD) leads a translational research team attempting to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying skin inflammation and associated chronic itch, for which there remains a significant unmet clinical need. His team hopes to generate targeting molecules that will block the activation of key players involved in chronic itch and pain.

Prof Steinhoff and his team will have the unique opportunity to work with the Pfizer Global Biotherapeutics Technology (GBT) group, at Grangecastle in Dublin, as well as Pfizer’s R&D innovation engine, the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation, focusing on the application of cutting edge technologies for next generation protein therapies.

Placing the award in context, Professor Steinhoff noted,

Science Foundation Ireland has early recognised the huge potential of strong academic industry partnerships. My group is very happy to partner for a second time with Pfizer, a world-wide key player in innovative drug development, to develop new innovative drugs in a medical field with a significant unmet medical need, which will hopefully help hundreds of million people with chronic pain or itch.

We are delighted to congratulate the other recipients of the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award who include Dr Anne Moore (University College Cork), Prof Leonie Young and Prof Arnold Hill from Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland. Prof Young (PhD, UCD 1997), Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at RCSI, was previously a Research Fellow at the UCD Conway Institute. UCD Alumnus Prof Hill (MB BCh BAO, UCD 1988 ; MMedSc, UCD 1990 and MCh, UCD1996) is Professor of Surgery and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Speaking at the SFI Award announcement, Mr Damien English, TD, Minister for Research, Skills and Innovation, said,

The collaboration between Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer is an excellent example of how government, industry and academia can work together and share knowledge that could lead to the development of new medical breakthroughs not only for Irish patients but for patients worldwide. The Government continues to encourage and welcome programmes that offer opportunities in research and development in Ireland. Innovative partnerships and meaningful collaboration between industry and academia like this also help to build Ireland's reputation internationally as a location for excellent scientific research.

Commenting at the announcement, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said,

We are delighted to continue this successful partnership with Pfizer to support innovative research and development that could help deliver significant advances in critical areas of medical need. The success of the award programme is a reflection of the quality and relevance of academic scientific research in Ireland – excellence and impact.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Paul Duffy, Vice President, Biopharmaceutical Operations and External Supply, Pfizer said,

Pfizer are delighted with the continued collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland. As an organisation we are focused on delivering innovative therapies that significantly improve patients' lives and investment in early stage research is critical to achieving this. Collaborations between industry and academia remain key in helping to expedite the translation of scientific discoveries into breakthrough therapies that matter for patients in need.

Related information & Links

Picture: Professor Martin Steinhoff, UCD Charles Institute (2nd Left)
Picture and original article by Science Foundation Ireland.