UCD Conway Institute marks 10 years of biomedical research: spawns more than 1,000 scientists

12 Sep 2013

Prof Walter Kolch, director, UCD Conway Institute, and PhD students from the institute: Anna Sanders, Natalia Volinsky, Paul Lavin and Mattia Bramini

Since it opened in 2003, the UCD Conway Institute has been working to nurture scientists of the future to work in the area of biomolecular and biomedical research. Today it is marking its 10th anniversary.

The UCD Conway Institute was established to bring together chemists, biologists, computer scientists and clinicians to work in multidisciplinary research teams.

Research carried out at the institute homes in on deciphering the underlying pathways that cause disease, with the aim of developing the next generation of diagnostics, prognostics and therapeutics.  

Future Human

According to UCD, the institute in the past decade has helped educate more than 700 PhD graduates and 350 post-doctoral researchers, who have since gone on to take up employment in the pharmaceutical, medical device and ICT industries – both in Ireland and further afield.

As well as this, the institute has helped spawn more than 100 inventions in the biomedical space.

Getting cited

UCD said today that Prof Des Higgins, from the university’s School of Medicine and Medical Science, also a UCD Conway Institute Fellow, recently broke the barrier of 100,000 total citations for his work on DNA sequence comparisons.

This total makes him the most highly cited Irish scientist in the past decade, UCD said.

“We know our software and methods are widely used in molecular biology laboratories around the world and counting citations is one way we can prove it,” said Higgins today.  

He said such citations help maintain the high visibility of the laboratory and the institute, especially when it publishes new methods.

The Clustal programme to align protein sequences from the research group led by Higgins is just one of a number of innovations that has emerged from UCD Conway Institute in the past decade.

Tech transfer

And, in terms of technology transfer in the past decade, UCD Conway Institute researchers have worked with the team at NovaUCD to disclose 108 inventions.

Prof Walter Kolch, director, UCD Conway Institute, said when the institute was set up, its model of multidisciplinary and collaborative research was considered a “radical vision” of how scientific research should be carried out.

“Today, it is the gold standard. As we enter the next phase in the life of the UCD Conway Institute, we will continue to build research excellence and sustain the vibrant environment that ignites discovery, drives innovation and impacts positively on society for generations,” he said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic