SFI to fund neuroscience cluster project at UCD

23 Feb 2004

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is to provide €7.7m to UCD’s Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research to fund research into brain diseases including Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and depression.

The project will involve researchers from the Conway Institute, Trinity College Dublin and the Neuroscience Discovery Group of Wyeth Research. Wyeth, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, is currently investment over €1bn in a new biopharmaceuticals manufacturing facility at Grange Castle in Dublin.

The cluster will be known as the Applied Neurotherapeutics Research Group and will be led Prof Ciaran Regan of UCD. Other members will include Prof Peter Humphries, TCD; Dr William O’Connor, UCD; and Dr Keith Murphy, UCD.

The investment is part of an ongoing effort to attract and support substantial involvement from industry in research initiatives in Ireland that are likely to generate therapeutically valuable research results and other related research outcomes.

In making the announcement, Dr Bill Harris, director general of SFI, said the grant “would make it possible for major advances to occur. In this case, we are providing support that will allow researchers with a range of skills in neurological science to work together so that their combined knowledge can lead to potentially useful treatments. We also are confident that this team has the ability to produce intellectual property using leading edge novel approaches, licensing agreements and new ideas that can strengthen Ireland’s entire biotechnology sector. We are especially excited by the strong engagement of Wyeth, given the quality and significance of its new investment at Grange Castle.”

Prof Ciaran Regan added: “The incidence of psychiatric and neurological diseases continues to escalate, but many of the therapies used to treat them are largely ineffective and take weeks, if not months, to benefit the patient. With this significant commitment from SFI and the support of Wyeth, we can tackle a new area of brain research and, hopefully, improve upon current medications and even identify potential new therapies for these diseases.”

The Wyeth Neuroscience Discovery Group, which is be led by Dr Menelas Pangalos, will provide financial support to the project as well as technology and guidance in the drug development process.

By Brian Skelly