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UCD-UCSF partnership wins NovaUCD Innovation Award for novel lung disease relief

Posted 31 March, 2023 

Professor Stefan Oscarson, UCD School of Chemistry and Professor Stephen Carrington, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine (retired), recipients of the 2023 NovaUCD Innovation Award

A research collaboration that developed a new drug to help those suffering with respiratory diseases to breathe more easily have won this year’s NovaUCD Innovation Award.

Professor (opens in a new window)Stefan Oscarson, UCD School of Chemistry, and Professor Stephen Carrington, who retired from the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in 2016, have received the 2023 award in recognition of their successful and longstanding research collaboration with Professor John Fahy, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).  

The focus of this collaboration was understanding why mucus in the lungs of people with respiratory diseases is thick, sticky and difficult to cough up and to develop new treatment strategies to remedy this.

The NovaUCD Innovation Award recognises excellence in innovation and successes achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research or other intellectual activity over a number of years.

The UCD-UCSF research collaboration led a patent for a novel mucolytic drug that could offer relief to patients with mucus-associated lung diseases, which include chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. 

Aer Therapeutics, a joint UCD-UCSF spin-out company founded by Professor Oscarson and Professor Fahy, has licensed the patented novel mucolytic drug in 2022 and recently secured $20 million in funding from the US National Institutes of Health to enable its preclinical development.

"It’s really exciting times for me now, when after more than 40 years of academic research involving drug and vaccine development, seeing an excellent and fun team effort leading to the possibility of a lead candidate going into human clinical trials,” said Professor Oscarson.

“It feels great to receive the NovaUCD Innovation Award with Steve as a recognition of this achievement."

A total of seven prizes were presented by (opens in a new window)Professor Mark Rogers, Acting UCD President at this year’s NovaUCD Innovation Awards, which highlight successes by the UCD community in areas of knowledge transfer, consultancy, and entrepreneurship.

Among this year’s awardees were the founders of DOCOsoft and seamlessCARE and the inventor of a vaccine candidate for Melioidosis, a potentially fatal tropical disease, which has been licensed to Poolbeg Pharma.

“The NovaUCD Innovation Awards are a key annual event at UCD recognising and highlighting successes achieved by our research, innovation and entrepreneurial communities across the University and I congratulate all those who have received awards," said Professor Mark Rogers, Acting UCD President.

"I would also like to take the opportunity of wishing them ongoing success in the future as they continue to deliver economic and societal impact through their commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurial and innovation activities.”

The recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award was Dr Joseph Sweeney, a research fellow in the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering.

He received this Award in recognition of disruptive biosensors which have been developed by him and his research team.

The biosensors have commercial applications in a number of industrial bioprocessing sectors to improve the efficiency, including green biorefineries, anaerobic digestion, food and drink processing, the fermentation sector and water and wastewater treatment.

Associate Professor Siobhán McClean, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award

The recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award was (opens in a new window)Associate Professor Siobhán McClean, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science.

In 2021 Poolbeg Pharma signed an exclusive licence agreement with UCD through NovaUCD, for a late preclinical stage vaccine candidate for Melioidosis, a potentially fatal tropical disease, invented by Associate Professor McClean and her team. There is no current approved vaccine available for Melioidosis.

“It is a pleasure to receive this Award on behalf of everyone who has worked on our vaccine candidates over the past few years," said Associate Professor McClean.

"I look forward to seeing our licensed Melioidosis vaccine candidate progress to human studies in the very near future.”

The recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award is seamlessCARE, a digital health start-up. seamlessCARE is focused on developing and rolling-out innovative assistive technologies to enhance communication and support the care of adults and children with complex needs such as autism, acquired brain injury, dementia, and intellectual disability.

The company was founded in 2021 by Dr Aviva Cohen, Ian Kennedy and Dr Çağrı Çubukçu as a spin-out from the UCD School Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Aidan O’Neill, CEO and Founder, DOCOsoft, recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD founder of the Year Award

The recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award is Aidan O’Neill, founder and CEO, DOCOsoft, an insurance technology company headquartered at NexusUCD. DOCOsoft is an innovative provider of claims management solutions for the global property and casualty (P&C) insurance and reinsurance markets.

The recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award is (opens in a new window)Dr Stephen Davis, UCD School of Archaeology, who has carried out 12 consultancy projects, through ConsultUCD, using ALS (Airborne Laser Scanning), also known as LiDAR analysis, for multiple County Councils across Ireland.

His work helped to identified many hundreds of potential archaeological features that might otherwise have been impacted, providing advance warning to road construction projects of potential impacts.

The recipient of the 2023 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award is Dr (opens in a new window)Eoin O'Cearbhaill, Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Dr O'Cearbhaill is co-Director of the UCD BE and ME Biomedical Engineering programmes and is also the Director of the UCD Centre for Biomedical Engineering and a funded investigator with the SFI Research Centres, Cúram, I-Form and Amber.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie