Trinity Innovation Awards 2017 – Celebrating Innovative Research
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin were acknowledged for their innovative research and entrepreneurship at the Trinity Innovation Awards 2017 special awards ceremony last night [November 27th, 2017]. The highest accolade, the Provost Innovation Award went to Professor of Biochemistry, Luke O’Neill for his outstanding contribution to innovation throughout his career.
Professor O’Neill’s academic track record has seen the publication of his research in some of the highest impact peer-reviewed journals such as Nature, Science, Cell and PNAS. He has consistently translated this academic success into patents, licences, industry collaborations and start-ups. This includes the formation of two campus companies, Inflazome Ltd. and Opsona Therapeutics Ltd, both focused on developing new drug therapies for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, parkinsons, alzheimers, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Congratulating him on the award, Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast said: “I am delighted to be presenting this award tonight to Professor Luke O’Neill. Through his innovative research and the commercialisation around it, he is making a real difference in society, by developing new drug therapies and improving the lives of people with diseases such as arthritis, cancer, parkinson’s disease among others. Trinity academics have consistently achieved excellence in discovery and innovation, and Luke is one of our great exemplars in that field.”
The new Director of Trinity Research and Innovation, Leonard Hobbs said: “Over the past 30 years Trinity campus companies have raised more than €200 million in private investment; enabled the direct creation of more than 3,000 jobs and have delivered over €1.2 billion in exports. All of tonight’s prize winners of the Trinity Innovation Awards have played an active part in this. We are proud of this contribution to society and the economy, and aim to build on it further by leading innovation at Trinity.”
Professor O’Neill was joined by eight other Innovation Award winners at the special ceremony. They included Professors Linda Doyle, Rose Anne Kenny and Dr Sabina Brennan who won awards for innovative research of significant societal impact.
Professor of Engineering and Arts, Linda Doyle was acknowledged for her outstanding contribution to the success of the SFI Centre CONNECT, the Future Networks and Communications research centre at Trinity, and the roll-out of the Ireland-wide ‘Pervasive Nation’ project, a, wireless network infrastructure dedicated to the Internet-of-Things.
Professor of Medical Gerontology Rose Anne Kenny was awarded for her outstanding contribution to The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and its significant influence on policy. She was also acknowledged for her involvement in Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing for patients and researchers at St James’s Hospital which opened last year.
Dr Sabina Brennan, Principal Investigator in E-Health at the SFI ADAPT Centre at Trinity was awarded for her contribution as an effective science communicator, having created more than 30 short films that offer practical advice on brain health, addressing people’s fear about memory loss. FreeDem films – supported by GENIO, have been licensed to several organisations including Alzheimer’s Societies.
Other winners included Professor in Genetics Jane Farrar and Adjunct Professor Frank Boland who were both recognised for their innovative research that has had significant socio- economic and commercial impact.
Professor Farrar is co-founder of Genable Technologies ltd a campus company focused on ophthalmological research for the development of gene-based medicines. It was acquired by Spark Therapeutics in 2015 placing Irish ophthalmology research on the global map.
Google acquired the virtual reality technology ‘Thrive’ developed by engineers led by Professor Frank Boland and went on to recruit the team of postgraduate engineers that developed the technology. It is the biggest commercial licence ever negotiated by Trinity to date.
Recognising up and coming entrepreneurial academics, Dr Matthew Campbell, Research Fellow at the School of Genetics & Microbiology and Dr Parvaneh Mokarian, Senior research fellow at the School of Chemistry and the SFI Centre, AMBER, were awarded prizes in the ‘ones-2-watch’category’. Dr Mokarian is founder of a pipeline campus company Papelli Systems which has designed an anti-reflective solution for optical surfaces using nano-structuring. She is lead coordinator of major Horizon 2020 funded €8 million programme SunPilot. Dr Matt Campbell through his research in genetics, is the founder of the campus company, Junction Therapeutics, a company harnessing a novel platform technology for neurological conditions.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Fellow Emeritus, Professor Tim Foster at the School of Genetics and Microbiology who has engaged in innovative research since the early 1990s with particular focus on the genetics of the Staphylococcal aureus developing multiple licences in the field of vaccines, both for human and veterinary applications. His research has led to products on the market, notably, the Equine Strangle Vaccine (MSD) and various research tools. His work on Staphylococcal aureus has led to the identification and subsequent high value license of an antigenic vaccine component. This is currently under development with GSK, with a Phase I clinical trial completed.