New medical research initiative hits Ireland
calendar_month 01 Mar 2011, 00:00
Irish Universities have joined forces to create Molecular Medicine Ireland, a charitable company coordinating health research activities. QS Top Universities reports on yet another reason why undergraduate students should consider studying abroad in Ireland.The Presidents of University College Cork, NUI Galway, University College Dublin, the Provost of Trinity College and the Registrar of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, have announced the establishment of a charitable company to coordinate their health research activities.

The company, Molecular Medicine Ireland, will strengthen Ireland's profile in health research by combining and building on the biomedical research strengths of each institution. According to Professor David Kerins, Head of the School of Medicine at UCC the aims of Molecular Medicine Ireland are to accelerate the translation of recent rapid advances in science into new ways of understanding disease and new diagnostics, drugs and devices, to treat illness and protect public health of people. These aims are shared by the School of Medicine, UCC.

The formation of Molecular Medicine Ireland was funded by the Government's Higher Education Authority (HEA) under the Program for Research in Third Level Institutions Cycle 4. Molecular Medicine Ireland replaces the Dublin Molecular Medicine Centre, which, since 2002, has coordinated the biomedical research activities of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Dr Mike Kamarck, Chair of the new company and Executive Vice President of Wyeth, said the new organization was built on the considerable strengths of the member institutions in medical research: 'Molecular Medicine Ireland creates a critical mass of expertise and infrastructure in medical research. It sends a strong message that this country is a good place in which to do research,' he added. Mary Hanafin, Minister for Education and Science, who launched the company, praised the foresight of the heads of the five institutions in taking such an important step towards developing a world-class system in health research in Ireland. 'Molecular Medicine Ireland will assist the institutions build a sustainable system of world class teams in biomedical research, which is a key goal of Government science and technology policy,' she said.

Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive of Molecular Medicine Ireland said the company had taken the initiative, with its member institutions, to train tomorrow's leaders in health research. With funding of '10m awarded by the Higher Education Authority, Molecular Medicine Ireland has put a fellowship program in place to train medical graduates as clinician scientists. Clinician scientists are trained in both the clinical care of patients and in the biological sciences that are revolutionising the practice of medicine. Each of the newly appointed fellows will undertake a PhD in one of the five member institutions and will also participate in a shared career development program organized nationally by Molecular Medicine Ireland while undertaking his or her doctorate. Over 70 medical graduates applied under the program and the first 19 fellows were recently selected through a rigorous process led by Molecular Medicine Ireland and will begin their studies next July.

The two UCC Fellows are Doctors John O'Sullivan and James Ryan. The Clinician Scientist Fellowship Program (CSFP) will cover a number of disease areas including various cancers, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, and diabetes. The fellows will utilise advanced research technologies in genomics, proteomics and medical imaging to investigate disease at the molecular level, while bringing their own specialist medical knowledge to bear in ensuring relevance to the problems seen in the clinic.

The Fellows will come together for part of their training, developing their experiences beyond any single laboratory or institution. This national element to the CSFP, coordinated by the Molecular Medicine Ireland Directorate, will comprise a structured taught course curriculum, delivered by experts in biomedical research and also providing important ancillary professional skills. These courses will be complemented by annual meetings of Fellows and their supervisors that enable review of progress of individuals and the program as a whole, as well as social networking. The program is being developed by an Education Committee that includes representatives from each institution. UCC will be represented on the board of Molecular Medicine Ireland by Professor Peter Kennedy. Vice-President for Research at UCC and by Professor Kerins.

NB: The above information is a press release disseminated by the University College Cork Communications Office.