TBSI Creates 119 Jobs as Researchers Tackle Global Challenges

Posted on: 27 June 2014

First TBSI progress report reveals:

o   Links with 76 companies undertaking ground-breaking research

o   €36m raised in interdisciplinary research funding

o   Strong ties with UCD’s Conway Institute under Innovation Alliance

The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) has created 119 jobs over the past two years, and partnered with 76 companies to undertake world-class research that is helping to tackle some of society’s most significant health challenges.

The figures emerged today [Friday] at an event to launch TBSI’s first progress report, held in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Ireland’s research funding body.

TBSI is a key outcome of Trinity’s Innovation Alliance with University College Dublin. It was supported by the Government’s Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) which is administered by the Higher Education Authority.

Trinity’s Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, said TBSI’s breakthrough work has been enhancing patient care and pushing the boundaries of biomedical science since it opened in 2011.

‘TBSI brings together an interdisciplinary mix of talent from across Trinity, carrying out world-class research in drug discovery, immunology, and medical device technologies. The work of Trinity researchers in these areas has placed Ireland among the world’s leading places for biomedical science. The scientific breakthroughs achieved in TBSI are having a profound impact on patient care, and creating value for Ireland and society generally,’ said Dr Prendergast.

Dean of Research at Trinity College, Professor Vinny Cahill, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, Professor Mark Ferguson and Director of the TBSI, Professor Luke O'Neill

Among the key highlights of TBSI’s work so far are:

  • 119 new research jobs in TBSI, mainly at post-doctoral level, and funded by non-Exchequer    sources, including industry collaborations, the European Union’s FP7 research programme, and the Wellcome Trust;
  • 76 companies working with researchers to develop new products in biomedicine;
  • €36 million raised for interdisciplinary research; and,
  • Three spin-out companies involved in drug discovery and development, and cancer treatment – Opsona Therapeutics, Trino Therapeutics and TriMod.

The Director of TBSI, Professor Luke O’Neill, said TBSI is creating societal, economic, educational and scientific value for Ireland.

‘TBSI is the largest strategic alignment of research in Trinity’s history, creating, for the first time, research activity in biomedical sciences on an internationally competitive scale. We are performing outstanding scientific research, integrating with our colleagues in St James’ Hospital, that will ultimately give rise to better patient care in cancer, inflammatory and infectious diseases, and neurological disorders. TBSI is characterised by

interdisciplinary research, generating over 50 publications, and scientific discoveries which, in partnership with industry, are tackling significant health challenges,’ he said.

Trinity’s Dean of Research, Professor Vinny Cahill, said: ‘TBSI is an excellent example of the kind of scientific and economic impact that can be achieved when we match great researchers with great facilities, and support them with investment drawn from public and private sources.’

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, said: ‘TBSI has carved out a reputation for world-class research, helping to position Ireland as a leader in biomedical sciences. As Ireland’s investment agency for scientific, technology, engineering and mathematics research, SFI is proud to have supported many important early and advanced-stage research projects in TBSI, and we look forward to helping to realise further breakthroughs that can improve patient care, transform lives, and create economic and employment impact.’

Nature, the world-renowned scientific journal, has published seven articles about breakthroughs by TBSI researchers, including work on inflammatory diseases and membrane proteins. TBSI, stretching across 21,000 square metres of space on Dublin’s Pearse Street, is home to 65 principal investigators working in laboratories specialising in biochemistry and immunology, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, bioengineering, chemistry, and medicine. More than 500 researchers are active in TBSI which houses state-of-the-art equipment worth €10 million.

Eoin Cummins, Lecturer in Physiology in UCD’s Conway Institute, said: ‘The Conway Institute in UCD has several collaborative ties with TBSI under the Innovation Alliance – the Government programme, linking UCD and Trinity, to support internationally competitive research. We look forward to further joint research activities between the two institutions.’

Link to TBSI progress report http://www.tcd.ie/biosciences/assets/pdf/tbsi_progress_report.pdf.

About innovation in Trinity:

Trinity’s credentials in science and innovation are strong:

o   Since 2009, Trinity has averaged seven new spin-out companies annually and almost one-quarter of all Irish spin-out companies now stem from this campus;

o   Trinity collaborates with eight of the top 10 information communications technology exporters in Ireland, and partners with eight of the top 10 medical device companies;

o   According to Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators, in terms of research impact as measured by citations, Trinity ranks among the world’s top 1% of research institutions in 17 STEM and social sciences fields, including immunology, materials science, and molecular biology and genetics;

o   Trinity’s researchers have made major contributions to global society. Trinity’s mathematics gave us quaternions which underpin modern spaceflight while our chemists developed the world’s first commercial nicotine patch, in collaboration with Elan Pharmaceuticals;

o   Trinity’s technologies are available for licensing in growth areas such as aviation, connected health, gaming and telecoms, new materials, and medical devices and therapies; and,

o   In 2008, Trinity created Science Gallery on our Dublin campus, attracting almost 1.5 million people to unique exhibitions, from living art experiments to materials science and from the future of the human race to the future of play.