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Translational medicine at UCD receives €7.5m boost from Servier

Posted: 14 February 2007

A unique partnership between UCD Conway Institute and Servier Laboratories, a leading French pharmaceutical company, could lead to the development of new medicines to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. The five year collaborative venture, announced by the Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney, on February 12, will see Servier invest €7.5m in the establishment of the ‘UCD Servier Centre for Translational Medicine a Franco-Irish Collaboration - Bringing Science to Society’.

The Centre’s research programme will focus on biological molecules, examining how individual molecules contribute to the normal operation of our cells and organs, and how this is disrupted by disease. The knowledge gained will contribute to a more detailed understanding of the causes and effects of disease, leading to simpler and more reliable diagnostic tests, and in turn helping bring new and more effective treatments into clinical use.

“It is imperative that we bridge the gap between research and patient care. The establishment of the UCD Servier Centre for Translational Medicine will provide a direct link from the research laboratories to the health services,” said Minister Harney, describing the establishment of the Centre as a significant landmark in Irish medical research. “Initiatives such as the establishment of the Clinical Investigation Unit will hopefully have the same success and impact that the Heart Failure Unit in St. Vincent’s has had.”

Pictured at the announcement were: French Ambassador, Mr Frédéric Grasset, Dr Laurent Perret, Executive Director of Research & Development from Servier Paris, Dr Hugh Brady, President of UCD and Ms Mary Harney T.D., Minister for Health and Children.
Pictured at the announcement were: French Ambassador, Mr Frédéric Grasset, Dr Laurent Perret, Executive Director of Research & Development from Servier Paris, Dr Hugh Brady, President of UCD and Ms Mary Harney T.D., Minister for Health and Children.

The first phase of the Servier/UCD Translational Medicine programme will be to establish a blood pressure clinical research unit alongside the heart failure unit in St. Vincent’s University Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital to form the Chronic Cardiovascular Disease Unit (CCDU). This Unit is unique in linking primary care with the latest medical breakthroughs.  By bringing the latest therapies for cardiovascular disease from the scientific and pharmaceutical laboratories to the community, Ireland can reduce stroke and heart attack by over 50%.

The second phase, the Basic Research Programme, will explore the mechanisms of disease and biomarkers in several areas, specifically focusing on the cardiovascular diseases of hypertension, ischaemic cardiac failure and neurodegeneration.

The third phase will be the development of a Bioinformatics, Biomathematics and eHealth Programme, a groundbreaking shared Servier/UCD Conway Institute initiative. This initiative will address the complex challenges of analysing disease biomarkers and enable the development of these biomarkers for use in clinical trials.

“UCD has created a major health education and research complex between the new Health Sciences centre on the Belfield campus, the UCD Conway Institute and the university’s affiliated hospitals, the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the St. Vincent’s University Hospital Group,” explained Dr Hugh Brady, President of UCD. “The UCD Servier Centre for Translational Medicine is a unique initiative that will see scientists and clinicians working together to solve the mysteries of human disease.”

Translational research brings discoveries of bench research to practical applications in patients. The bench-to-bedside research approach seeks to substantially reduce the time from discovery to appropriate treatment by harnessing the information available on new technologies. “This investment will allow researchers in the UCD Conway Institute to bring science to society in a more efficient and timely manner which will ultimately lead to improved patient care,” said Prof Des Fitzgerald, Vice President for Research, UCD.

“This Franco-Irish collaboration marks the beginning of a strong investment in health research.  The data gathered in Dublin and the research carried out can be fed back into the international effort so that others working on similar diseases can benefit from and compare the findings with their own patient populations,” Dr Laurent Perret, Executive Director of Research and Development, Servier Laboratories said.

About Servier

Servier is the leading independent French pharmaceutical company and the second French pharmaceutical company worldwide. Servier is established in 140 countries, with 82% of Servier's sales achieved internationally. Consolidated turnover for the 2006 financial year: €3.3 billion, with a growth of 16.6%. Research and Development investment is close to 25% of Servier's turnover (mean for the past 5 years). Worldwide, Servier has a workforce of almost 20,000, including 2,600 in Research and Development. The Servier Clinical Support Unit in Gidy (France) is the largest unit in Europe producing drugs for clinical trials. All told, 670 million boxes of drugs were produced by Servier's production sites in 2006. In October 2006, Minister Micheal Martin announced the €184 million expansion by Servier in Ireland.

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