State invests €19m in SFI-funded biomedical R&D institute

29 Nov 2010

The Government has invested €19m in Science Foundation Ireland’s new Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), which has just opened a new research facility at DCU.

“Since its establishment five years ago as a SFI Centre for Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), BDI has made a major contribution towards transforming healthcare in Ireland and beyond, through the conversion of diagnostic research into frontline clinical use,” the Minister for Science and Innovation Conor Lenihan, said today.

“The principles of early diagnosis, appropriate intervention and ongoing monitoring of patients have been central to BDI’s modus operandi, and the institute has been addressing each of these head-on in a high-speed, low-cost fashion. Ultimately, this will contribute to successful treatment of major illnesses, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease to the benefit of Irish citizens.”

The allocation of €19m for BDI in Government funding over the next five years is matched with a contribution of €5m from BDI’s industry partners Ortho, Clinical Diagnostics, Analog Devices, Becton Dickinson, Millipore, Biosurfit and Alere.

“This injection of significant funding from the Government and industry partners will enable this high-performing institute to continue and expand its activities.

Next-generation medical research

“The new research facility, fully funded by DCU, represents a state-of-the-art focal point for excellence on our shores. It is a superb testament to the success already recorded by the institute and signifies its enormous potential for next-generation medical research in Ireland,” Lenihan said.

In congratulating Prof Michael Berndt, director of BDI and his team at DCU, Lenihan also acknowledged the institute’s partnering academic institutions – NUI Galway, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Tyndall National Institute and Trinity College Dublin.

Berndt commented on the announcement. “This funding will enable us to focus our collective expertise in innovative diagnostic research to address some of the biggest challenges in human disease. Our partnership of five Irish universities and six industrial partners will focus on significant diagnostic challenges facing society. Specifically, we will address unmet diagnostic needs in the key disease areas of oncology, cardiovascular and infectious diseases.”

He said the new BDI research facility supports the integration ethos of the BDI. “Our collective effort in these areas will establish Ireland as a leader in transforming healthcare through innovation in diagnostics.”

DCU president, Prof Brian MacCraith, said: “This is one of our flagship research institutes and given DCU’s ethos as a university of enterprise, the impressive academic-industry partnership assembled is particularly important.

“Moreover, the focus on clinical translation in the next phase of BDI is a measure of the maturity of the BDI’s expertise,” MacCraith said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years