SFI announces €4.8m backing for Covid-19 immunology research at TCD

3 Jul 2020

From left: Prof Kingston Mills, TCD; Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI; Minister Simon Harris, TD; Prof Aideen Long and Prof Luke O’Neill, both TCD. Image: Jason Clarke

The Government, through SFI, has announced a €4.8m investment in a TCD-led research partnership to better understand Covid-19.

A research partnership at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) that is looking to learn more about Covid-19 has just received new financial backing. The Government, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), announced today (3 July) an investment of €4.8m in the TCD group.

It comes after AIB committed €2.4m in April to back the establishment of a Covid-19 research hub at TCD to urgently accelerate the college’s immunology project tackling the pandemic.

The project will be led by TCD and will include researchers from the University of Limerick and University College Dublin. International collaborators will also take part from the US, the Netherlands, France, Hong Kong and the UK.

Led by Prof Kingston Mills and Prof Aideen Long, the research will look to understand why some people are more susceptible to Covid-19 than others. The immunologists involved in this research hope to develop, validate and deploy rapid SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus) antibody testing in Ireland to identify previous infections in high-priority healthcare workers and in the general community.

In doing so, it will provide key data on the epidemiology of the infection in the Irish population and help identify those who may be safe to return to work. The project will also focus on the design of effective vaccines and novel treatment approaches.

Working towards a national research centre

“A better understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 will assist in the design of an effective Covid-19 vaccine, the best long-term approach for containing the virus and preventing a recurrence,” Mills said.

“The longer-term objective is to create a national research centre focused on the immunology of infection that will enable Ireland to be poised and better prepared, with the appropriately skilled and coordinated scientific and medical expertise, to deal with other infectious disease epidemics in the future.”

The newly appointed Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, also welcomed the news.

“I congratulate all the researchers and clinicians for coming together, with the support of SFI and philanthropic and private sector organisations,” he said.

“This is of national importance given the immense societal and economic impact of the current pandemic and will enable us to contribute solutions to the challenges we face.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic