Taoiseach Opens €131 million Biomedical Sciences Facility at Trinity College Dublin

Posted on: 17 June 2011

New TCD Institute to support Enterprise, Innovation and Urban Renewal

The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute was officially opened today by Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, also attended the opening and delivered a keynote address.

The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute is a state-of-the-art research facility which redefines the scientific landscape in Ireland and will allow the country to take an international lead in the delivery of quality pharmaceutical and biotechnological programmes to support these industries and underpin job creation.

Built around the areas of immunology, cancer and medical devices and linked directly to both medical education and industrial collaboration, the Institute will contribute to the improvement of the physical health of Irish society. Through a combination of innovation and regeneration it will also underpin the longer-term economic health of the Irish economy.

The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute is the university’s most ambitious capital project to date and represents the second phase of TCD’s Pearse Corridor Development. It reflects the degree of research prioritisation that has taken place in Trinity over recent years from building up world class staff to creating scale of an internationally competitive dimension. It is continuing the expansion of its research and education capacity outside its historic walls as Trinity works with government and with industry to restore Ireland’s economic potential.

TCD Dean of Research, Dr David Lloyd, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD and TCD Provost, Dr John Hegarty.

The €131 million eleven storey development (35,000m²) creates a corridor of academic activity and public interaction along Pearse Street in Dublin’s city centre, providing new social spaces, commercial areas, and improved access to public transport.

The facility received €80 million in state funding  under the Higher Education Authority  Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), co-financed by the ERDF, and National Development Plan 2007-13 medical education funding, with the balance financed by the College*.

On the occasion of the official opening, Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed it, stating: “This Institute will help sustain Ireland’s position as an international leader in biomedical research. I am highly impressed by the enormous contribution Trinity’s bioscience researchers have already made to the improvement of human health and I am certain that this Institute will be at the heart of further groundbreaking discoveries, with national and global impacts.”

Ireland is home to nine of the top ten global companies in this sector and approximately 47,000 people are employed in indigenous and multinational companies in this area. Irish research in this domain is among the world’s best, with Trinity College Dublin researchers to the fore in key areas such as immunology and infection*.

The new facility will bring over 700 researchers together in one building with the common goal of addressing major challenges in health and disease through leading edge scientific research.

“Trinity researchers have led world-class research in biomedical sciences from developing the nicotine patch to identifying new genes for childhood eczema and increasing our understanding of major diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and arthritis. The University’s international rankings show its outputs are amongst the best in the world in immunology, neuroscience, microbiology and many other key fields.  Building on this impressive foundation, the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute will drive 21st century scientific research for the benefit of improved healthcare – ensuring the relevance of our research translates not only to patient benefit but to the creation of new ventures and enterprise in Ireland,” said TCD Dean of Research, Dr David Lloyd.

The new facility will consolidate and integrate pre-clinical bioscience research from across five schools: Medicine; Biochemistry and Immunology; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science; Chemistry and Engineering. The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute is structured around three interlinked research centres, the Centre for Study of Immunology; Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery and Centre for Medical Device Technologies.

Trinity’s scientists will collaborate in this multidisciplinary environment to push the boundaries of discovery, enabling the translation of this research into new products, innovation and enterprise.  In a departure from the traditional university model, the TCD researchers will also work alongside industry through provision of dedicated industry-academic collaborative and commercial laboratory space.  The building includes 3,000 m² of dedicated post-incubation wet laboratory as recommended by the Innovation Taskforce, providing the research-ready infrastructure necessary to facilitate the growth of both the indigenous biotechnology sector and the attraction of new foreign direct investment in this field.

In the year that Trinity celebrates the tercentenary of the foundation of the School of Medicine, it is appropriate that the new facility will house all undergraduate pre-clinical medical education and training activities. In total, almost 900 undergraduate students will have the unique opportunity of benefiting from the creation of a multidisciplinary educational environment embedded in a world-class research institute.

Training will form a key part of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and the institute will house a new HEA-supported graduate programme for PhD students in biomedical sciences, capitalising on the multidisciplinary environment, laboratory space and unique technologies provided in the building.

“The scale of this development is unlike anything undertaken in the history of Trinity or indeed in Ireland. It is a bold statement of Trinity’s confidence in the calibre of its academic staff in this area, and their capacity to build up a critical mass sufficient to compete with the best in the world and to help transform healthcare, education, and job creation. It has innovation at its core and I predict that it will generate enormous dividends to Irish society in terms of health, wealth and wisdom,” concluded Provost, Dr John Hegarty.

Statements of Endorsement from Industry:

The Irish BioIndustry Association welcomes the opening of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and believes that it is an essential component in developing Ireland as a knowledge based economy. There is now enormous potential for traditionally distinct disciplines, such as biopharma and ICT, to cultivate additional expertise and commercial outputs. Underpinning this potential is a need for advances in engineering and science that comes from engagement with academic groups that have technologies under development – technologies that we in the Irish BioIndustry Association believe will emerge from developments like the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. IdentiGEN and Opsona Therapeutics, both members of the Irish BioIndustry Association, are just two of the companies to have emerged from technologies developed in Trinity to date. We look forward to seeing many more companies emerge from the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in the years to come. This institute, together with these companies and their new technologies will become a cornerstone of Ireland’s future growth as a knowledge based economy.

Irish BioIndustry Association, Director Michael Gillen

*Trinity Biomedical Sciences – International Rankings:

Trinity’s biomedical sciences outputs are amongst the best in the world as is illustrated by the following international rankings:

– In neuroscience research Trinity College Dublin is in the top 0.01% internationally

– Immunology research carried out by TCD has placed Ireland third in the world

– In the field of microbiology TCD ranks within the top 20 institutions internationally

– In the field of molecular biology and genetics TCD ranks within the top 50 institutions in the world.*Funding

The balance of the €131m is financed by Trinity College Dublin through philanthropy and the delivery of commercial accommodation and is underpinned by financing from the European Investment Bank.

*Medical Education:

With the provision of funding from the Higher Education Authority / Department of Education & Skills (€17.225m Building & €4m Equipment)  arising from the Fottrell review of medical education, the Biomedical Sciences Institute will house the School of Medicine with all of its early stage medical education  and research. This is transformational as it will be the first time in recent history, that medical students will have an integrated home on campus and one which tightly links medical education to biomedical science.  The building will address the undergraduate medical needs as identified in the Fottrell report (2006) ‘Medical Education in Ireland: A New Direction – Report of the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training’.

About the Building:

The project began in 2005 and the planning process involved detailed discussion with the local community and Iarnród Éireann.

The project has been carried out under a design and construct contract between Trinity College and Walls developments.   RKD Architects designed the building.

A significant feature of the construction is the deep basement over 3 levels.  This had to be designed and built to withstand significant levels of ground water and to accommodate the future construction of an underground rail connector beneath the site.  The project required: 8,500 cubic metres of concrete, 2,500 tonnes of steel and enough floor finishes to cover 3 GAA pitches or 80 tennis courts.

Commercial and retail activities will form part of the development and the design includes provision for a major new public entrance to Pearse Station directly from Pearse Street. Preparatory work for the station entrance was carried out by Irish rail before construction commenced.

There are two glazed atria form the main building entrances for Trinity College – (west atrium) – and the Commercial Entrance – (east atrium) – respectively, with the central public concourse providing the new entrance to Pearse Street Railway Station and a significant ground floor retail shopping arcade fostering trade and interaction and providing key amenities for local residents and the College population.