UCC professor receives €5.6m SFI grant for gut inflammation research

25 Jan 2022

From left: UCC Prof Helen Whelton, APC’s Prof Paul Ross, UCC Prof Subrata Ghosh, UCC President Prof John O’Halloran and UCC Prof Paula O’Leary. Image: Gerard McCarthy Photography

The SFI grant will provide Prof Subrata Ghosh with a new laboratory at APC Microbiome Ireland to research methods to treat gut disorders like Crohn’s disease.

A world-leading expert in gut inflammation has received €5.6m through a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Professorship Award to establish a new laboratory in University College Cork (UCC).

Prof Subrata Ghosh is a leader in research on disorders such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and IBD, which affect 40,000 people in Ireland and 10m globally every year. Ghosh has been selected to lead a new project at APC Microbiome Ireland, the SFI research institute dedicated to microbiome science based at UCC.

The Augment project will look into microbiome research relating to gut inflammation, to see how it can be influenced by precision medicine to deal with critical health challenges. The grant will provide Ghosh with a science research lab, equipment and 13 personnel.

“Chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer are major causes of disability and death in Ireland and in the world. Current treatments are limited by their efficacy ceiling and adverse effects,” Ghosh said. “Increasing the efficacy of currently used targeted therapies and minimising adverse events through modulation of the gut microbiome may have a major impact on the life of the sufferers and address the economic burden of expensive therapies that prove to be ineffective.”

Ghosh is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK and a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the highest honours bestowed for leadership in life sciences and health research in those countries. He joined UCC last year, attracted by world-class research in microbes and food carried out at APC Microbiome Ireland.

UCC president Prof John O’Halloran said: “This SFI Professorship Award by Prof Ghosh is vital in furthering our understanding of the interconnection between our digestive tract and a disease that impacts so many. This success will advance both our research capacity and success in patient outcomes.”

Dean of the School of Medicine in UCC, Prof Paula O’Leary, said this precision-based research will speed up the availability of new patient-specific solutions for inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

“Personalised treatment strategies in medicine mark one of the major advances that will influence medical practice in coming years.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic