Minister for Education and Science Launches Molecular Medicine Ireland

Posted on: 18 April 2008

TCD helps strengthen Ireland’s profile in health research and announce fellowship programme to train clinician scientists through Molecular Medicine Ireland

The Provost of Trinity College Dublin and the Presidents of NUIG, UCC, UCD, and the Registrar of RCSI have established a charitable company to coordinate their health research activities. The company, Molecular Medicine Ireland, which will strengthen Ireland’s profile in health research by combining and building on the biomedical research strengths of each institution was launched by the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD on 17 April last.

Molecular Medicine Ireland will 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 the health of people in Ireland.

Funded by the Government’s Higher Education Authority Programme 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 TCD, UCD and the RCSI.   

Dr Mike Kamarck, Chair of Molecular Medicine Ireland and Executive Vice President of Wyeth said that the new organisation 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 said.

Welcoming the formation of Molecular Medicine Ireland, Minister Hanafin praised the foresight of the heads of the five institutions in taking this 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”, said Minister Hanafin.

 “Molecular Medicine Ireland had taken the initiative, with its member institutions, to train tomorrow’s leaders in health research,” explained Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive of Molecular Medicine Ireland. With funding of €10m awarded by the Higher Education Authority, Molecular Medicine Ireland has put a fellowship programme 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 programme organised nationally by Molecular Medicine Ireland while undertaking his or her doctorate.  Over 70 medical graduates applied under the programme 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 successful TCD fellows and their subject areas are as follows:
David Prichard –  Ursodeoxycholic Acid – a Molecular Modulator of the Inflammation-Cancer Sequence in the Oesophagus?

Fionnuala Ní Áinle – To characterise the functional effects of glycan variation on the anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects of activated protein C

Jane Sanders–  Brain structure, function and connectivity in autism

Niall Conlon – The association of variations in the immune response with the development of idiopathic bronchiectasis.