€5.6m investment for new SFI strategic research cluster

25 Jun 2009

The Government of Ireland has sanctioned a €5.6m investment to create a strategic science research cluster that will make Ireland a key player in emerging fields such as oncology.

Under the leadership of well-known Consultant Medical Oncologist Professor John Crown, with Dublin City University as lead academic institution, theStrategic Research Cluster (SRC) in Molecular Therapeutics for Cancer will assemble and build a fully integrated national translational cancer drug discovery and development programme that will significantly benefit cancer patients in Ireland.

Professor Crown’s team comprises co-principal investigators Professor Joe Duffy, St Vincent’s University Hospital/University College Dublin; Professor William Gallagher, University College Dublin; Professor William Watson, University College Dublin; and Dr Judith Harmey, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

In addition, Trinity College Dublin/St James’s Hospital are a partnership institution and Irish Co-operative Oncology Research Group. The SRC’s Industry Partners are GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck Sharpe & Dohme, Novartis, Roche, Amgen, Erigal, Caliper Life Science, AntiCancer Inc.

“This SRC has genuine potential to make Ireland a leading centre for cancer drug discovery and development,” explained the Minister for State for Science and Technology, Conor Lenihan TD.

“Today marks the latest declaration from Government that it believes in science, and greatly values the top-class collaborative research being conducted in this country.”

SFI’s SRC programme aims to link scientists and engineers in partnerships across academia and industry to address crucial research questions, foster the development of new and existing Irish-based technology companies, and to grow partnerships with industry that will enhance the competitiveness of Ireland’s economy.

“We have witnessed fundamental change and enormous progress in the area of cancer drug treatment in recent years,” said Professor Crown.

“The very significant funding provided by Government through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) will foster greater and more focused collaboration between existing high-quality cancer research units in this country. We would like to acknowledge the support of our industrial partners in this process and believe that the award will encourage further investment in biomedical research in Ireland,” Crown added.

The SRC is a deliberate step to bring together the clinical and pharmaceutical worlds through the definition of research that is mutually important, explained Director General of the SFI, Professor Frank Gannon.

“The Irish Government, through the Health Research Board, as well as SFI, is reinforcing efforts in this area of translational research. In a research context, the exchange and sharing of knowledge in a cluster format provides the best possible chances of success,” Gannon explained.

“Collaborative activity remains a key priority of SFI’s overall strategy as it expands its research programmes, while maintaining an acute awareness of enterprise needs and commercial potential,” Gannon added.

By John Kennedy

Pictured from left: Orlaith Gavan of Pfizer; Professor John Crown; Minister for Science, Technology & Innovation, Conor Lenihan TD; Professor Frank Gannon, director general, SFI

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