Minister Humphreys, Patient Panel Make POI Launch Special Occasion
More than 90 scientists, cancer patients, academic, charity and industry representatives gathered on Tuesday, November 26, to launch the new Precision Oncology Ireland research programme at University College Dublin.
Minister of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, was in attendance to say a few words in celebration and cut the ribbon.
“I am delighted to announce this significant step forward for cancer research in Ireland,” Humphreys said.
“Precision Oncology Ireland is a significant investment, not only from Government, but also from the charity and industry partners in the programme, testimony to their conviction that this initiative will lead to the development of new cancer treatments and make a difference for future cancer patients and their families in our country. I look forward to seeing the impact that this research programme will have in the future,” she said.
Minister Humphreys address was preceded by a keynote talk from Dr. Cormac Owens from Children’s Health Ireland, as well as an overview on the programme from Professor Walter Kolch. Kolch is the director of Systems Biology Ireland and, now, Precision Oncology Ireland.
“In Precision Oncology Ireland, we will use cutting-edge technologies to generate unique genetic and molecular profiles for each patient’s cancer,” Kolch said. “Our key competitive advantage lies in the innovative computational methods we use to make sense of these profiles, and decipher what drives each individual cancer. The results of this programme will be better diagnostics, personalised cancer treatment and faster drug discovery and development.”
Many in attendance commented on the powerful stories from the evening’s “Patient Perspectives” panel of cancer patients, survivors and family members. The panel featured Sheila Murphy, an oesophageal cancer survivor; Edel Cannon, a metastatic breast cancer patient; Ramon Whelan, a testicular cancer survivor, Dr. Alan Pearson, the parent of a child with neuroblastoma, and Jan Rynne a CLL patient, all of whom volunteered to discuss their experiences with cancer and the importance of research initiatives such as Precision Oncology Ireland in future treatment of the disease.
The afternoon presentations were followed by a reception and photo session of all the representative groups and organisations.
Precision Oncology Ireland is an €11.9 million research collaboration in the field of precision oncology, supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Strategic Partnership Programme. It is a consortium of five Irish universities, six Irish cancer research charities, and 10 companies aiming to develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for the personalised treatment of cancer. It will be based out if Systems Biology Ireland at University College Dublin and will include 53 researchers and staff across the 5 partner Universities.