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Three new SFI-funded projects in Genetics

Read more about the three new SFI-funded projects in Genetics

Nine research projects based in Trinity have secured over €14 million in funding from a €43 million investment from the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigators Programme. The investment, announced by the Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development, John Halligan, will fund 26 research projects in 10 Irish institutions.

Three of these SFI-funded projects, led by Frank Wellmer, Adrian Bracken, Jane Farrar and Peter Humphries, will be based in the Smurfit Institute of Genetics.

Wellmer, whose project will be co-funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, will develop new strains of pest-resistant crops. This work will generate genetic variants of the brassica family of plants, which includes important species of cauliflower and oilseed rape. Variations will occur in the genes for “trichomes”, hair-like projections that can defend against insect pests, which may contribute to sustainable agriculture in the future.

Bracken’s group’s research interests include the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of cancer and identifying targets for next-generation therapies. Their project will test new drugs for one of these targets, a cancer gene called EZH2 and develop diagnostic tests which will enable doctors to use specialised therapies tailored to a patient’s genes.

Prof Jane Farrar and Prof Peter Humphries will collaborate on a project exploring new therapies for genetic eye disorders. Farrar’s research focuses on the genetic factors contributing to these hereditary diseases and therapies which arise from the suppression of these genes.

Humphries’ research interests include the molecular and cellular basis of these diseases. This collaboration, drawing upon the skillsets of two leaders in genetic eye disease, will design therapies for eye disorders such as glaucoma and “age-related macular degeneration”.

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