University to play a key role in three of five new research centres announced this week

Professor Abhay Pandit, NUI Galway, pictured showing the latest aerosol technology for drug delivery to Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI. The aerosol allows drugs to be nebulised into a fine particle mist that can be absorbed through the lungs while maintaining drug integrity.

Professor Abhay Pandit, NUI Galway, pictured showing the latest aerosol technology for drug delivery to Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of SFI. The aerosol allows drugs to be nebulised into a fine particle mist that can be absorbed through the lungs while maintaining drug integrity.

A new world-class medical device research centre is to be established at NUI Galway as part of a €245 million national investment in science and technology announced this week. The funding will see five new Science Foundation Ireland research centres established around the country, with NUI Galway playing a key role in three of these.

A total of €155 million of Exchequer funding will be invested in the new world class research centres of scale. The new funding will be delivered through Science Foundation Ireland’s Research Centres Programme, coupled with more than €90 million in cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners. The funding, announced this week by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation, Richard Bruton, and the Minster for Skills, Research, and Innovation, Damien English, will be provided over the next six years with a mid-term review.

Among the facilities to be established under the programme is CÚRAM, The Centre for Research in Medical Devices, a new national research centre which will be based at NUI Galway. The prime objective for CÚRAM will be to develop innovative implantable medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs.

NUI Galway’s Professor Abhay Pandit, currently director of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials, will be the director of CÚRAM. Three co-directors will bring a depth and breadth of expertise to the new research centre — Professor Lokesh Joshi, vice-president of research and Stokes professor of glycosciences and director of AGRC at NUI Galway; Professor Tim O’Brien, director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI ) and professor of medicine at NUI Galway; and Professor David Brayden, professor of drug delivery at UCD.

CÚRAM will design and create implantable smart medical devices, designed and manufactured to deliver therapeutic agents, such as drugs, exactly where needed, using the very latest research from biomaterials, stem cells, and drug delivery. Devices will be developed with strong clinical collaborations and with industry partners and hospital groups to enable rapid translation to the clinic.

CÚRAM will also sustain and permanently strengthen Ireland’s standing as a major global hub for medical device sector research and development. The centre will bring together researchers from NUI Galway, UCD, DCU, UL, UCC, and RCSI, and almost 40 industry partners, including indigenous Irish companies and multinationals, and support product development and the creation of new spin-out companies.

Key roles for Galway in national geoscience and software research

NUI Galway also forms part of the new Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG ). This centre will focus on unlocking Ireland’s natural resources and providing solutions to resource security problems by securing supplies of energy, minerals, and safe water. iCRAG will also develop new techniques for predicting the location and nature of resources and link them to improved methods for optimising the production of resources throughout Ireland.

iCRAG’s initial research is built around key sectors in the geosciences, notably raw materials, marine geoscience, groundwater, and hydrocarbons. Emphasis is also placed on increasing the public understanding of geoscience in Ireland and its role in the economy. NUI Galway earth and ocean sciences researchers in the School of Natural Sciences will contribute to all aspects of iCRAG research.

NUI Galway’s professor of earth and ocean sciences, Peter Croot, is a co-PI in iCRAG and will lead research in marine geosciences in cooperation with colleagues from UCC, Maynooth, TCD, DIAS, and the iCRAG host institute, UCD.

The university will also play a key role in the newly announced Lero Software Research Centre. This centre’s research mission is to replicate the success of traditional software engineering in the context of large-scale, highly interconnected, evolving, and continuously available systems, in which the boundary between design-time and runtime is disappearing.

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing, a technology centre at NUI Galway, and its industry partners will develop new methods to modernise our approach to handle large datasets in the oil and gas sector.

“This is a wonderful endorsement of NUI Galway’s consistent approach to supporting selected priority areas of research, particularly in the area of biomedical science,” NUI Galway president Dr Jim Browne said of this week’s announcement. “I congratulate my colleagues on securing this very significant research investment, as a result of which I look forward to the emergence of further dynamic and productive partnerships between NUI Galway researchers and industrial partners in the areas of biomedical science, geosciences, and software engineering.”

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