New awards scheme launched for biomedical research

Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer will support work of scientists from four universities

The new innovation fund supported by Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer will initially support the work of five Irish scientists in four universites. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The new innovation fund supported by Science Foundation Ireland and Pfizer will initially support the work of five Irish scientists in four universites. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Science Foundation Ireland and drug giant Pfizer have agreed create an awards programme in support of biomedical research. The funds provided will support the work of five scientists from four Irish universities to help move research discoveries more quickly into use in improved patient treatments.

The Foundation is contributing €1.9 million to the initiative and Pfizer is contributing a “significant” unspecified amount according to a spokeswoman for the funding body.

Subjects under scientific study include a therapy for haemohilia, controlling the immune system to block formation of scarring of organs, improved treatments for motor neurone disease, new drugs to dampen down uncontrolled inflammation that triggers Crohn’s and psoriasis and a new therapy for skin diseases.

The SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award programme is backed by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The five recipients of the initial awards are based in Trinity College Dublin (two awards), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, NUI Maynooth and University College Dublin.

This type of collaboration had the potential to deliver significant break-throughs and could have a “real impact” on society, Minister of State forInnovation Damien English said.

Pfizer hoped it could “help accelerate the development” of therapeutics to help patients with unmet needs, said the company’s director of global biotherapeutics technologies, Dr William Finlay.

Pfizer employs abort 3,200 people at six sites in Ireland and has invested about €5.8 billion in Ireland since opening its first site here in 1969.