€13.6m Govt-industry funding to steer pregnancy and perinatal R&D at Cork INFANT centre

20 Sep 2013

The Irish Government is teaming up with 15 industry partners in the biomedical and neonatal sphere to leverage a €13.6m R&D investment that will be pumped into the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) in Cork, Minister Seán Sherlock, TD, has announced this morning. This funding will help sustain 60 research jobs at the centre, where the team carries out screening and diagnostic tests and methods of monitoring both pregnancy and newborns.

The ultimate goal of the funding for Ireland’s first centre for perinatal research is to directly improve treatment and care of pregnant women and newborn babies.  

The INFANT Centre itself is based at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH). Professors Louise Kenny and Geraldine Boylan direct the centre.

Sherlock, Minister of State for Research and Innovation, said Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) will leverage the Government funding, which comes to the tune of €7.6m. The remaining €6m investment will come from 15 industry partners.

These industry partners encompass Inspiration Healthcare, Newsweaver, Waters Corporation, Cara Wellness, LPA Logic Programming Associates, Kvikna, Incereb, IBM, EMC2, BrePco Pharma, MedSciNet, Dell and Alere International.

The INFANT team, a group of doctors, scientists and engineers, are developing screening and diagnostic tests and methods of monitoring both pregnancy and newborns, identifying risk and enabling early treatment and intervention.

Their discoveries will quickly update clinical practice and the diagnosis of disease worldwide for the most common and serious complications in pregnancy and newborn babies.

Kenny is professor of Obstetrics at University College Cork (UCC) and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at CUMH.

Boylan is professor of neonatal physiology at UCC and a clinical scientist at CUMH.

Both have managed to build an international reputation over the past seven years, resulting in the creation of INFANT.

Sherlock said the continued and ongoing commitment of industry is critical for long-term success, especially in the health-tech and wellness space.

“The investment in research in INFANT will address the largely unmet need for effective screening tests for the most common complications of pregnancy and the most significant problems for newborn babies,” he said.

The focus on the creation of next-generation devices, explained Sherlock, will aim to transform antenatal and neonatal healthcare and service delivery.

“Research at INFANT has the potential to change the delivery of healthcare services and improve the outcomes for the most vulnerable mothers and their babies.”

Pregnancy monitoring image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic