Trinity teams secure prestigious SFI Research Infrastructure Programme awards

Two Trinity teams have secured prestigious SFI Research Infrastructure Programme awards to fund innovative, high-impact projects. These two awards feature among a total of six announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys.

Professor Mani Ramaswami represented a Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) team that secured one of the awards for its Ultra Low Noise Digital 3T MRI project, which will enable new programmes of research at three SFI Research Centres and permit participation in international consortia including Horizon 2020.

This new MRI scanner will allow Ireland to lead in neurodevelopmental research on infants and children, and in the areas of ADHD, depression, psychosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Rhodri Cusack, Thomas Mitchell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Trinity, chairs the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) MRI interest group and will implement the vision for the new state of the art MRI facility, connecting it with clinical and fundamental researchers in Ireland and in SFI centres such as INFANT.

The new MRI facility, which will utilise a state-of-the-art Siemens Prisma scanner, will also greatly enhance and add to related research in Trinity and the Global Brain Health Institute.

Professor Cusack will lead his team in studying how the brain and mind develop during an infant’s first year of life. They will learn how this development becomes disrupted in babies from the neonatal intensive care unit through collaborations with clinician-scientists including Professor Eleanor Molloy (Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital), Professor Adrienne Foran (Rotunda Hospital) and Professor Geraldine Boylan (INFANT Centre, UCC).

Professor Cusack said:

The new Siemens PRISMA scanner will allow for sensitive and fast imaging of brain function. For the first time, this will enable us to scan infants while they are awake and engaged, such as when they are watching a movie.

Critically, this will allow us to examine how more complex cognitive functions such as object recognition, attention, and memory develop in an infant’s first year.

Professor Kingston Mills’ team also secured one of the awards for its Next generation flow cytometry and single cell gene analysis project.

This cutting-edge infrastructure – the only one of its kind in a biomedical research Institute or a hospital site in Ireland – will significantly enhance Trinity’s cytometry suite capability, enabling rapid analysis for experimental and clinical samples.

Announcing the awards, Minister Humphreys, said:

“I am delighted to announce this significant funding through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. This investment will support national and European Open Science policies and enable Irish researchers to compete for Horizon 2020 research funding calls amongst others. The quality of research being undertaken in Ireland today is testament to the talented research community in Ireland delivering excellence in their fields. This talent combined with the infrastructure support by programmes such as this one maintains Ireland’s position as an attractive location for recruitment of world-leading scientists and engineers. Today’s announcement is a further demonstration of the Government’s commitment to Future Jobs Ireland which will prepare the country for challenges we will face both as an economy and a society.”

The SFI Research Infrastructure Programme provides research groups with cutting-edge infrastructure for the performance of high-quality, impactful and innovative research.

The programme ensures Irish researchers have the capacity to apply for international funding opportunities including the Horizon 2020 funding calls. Additionally, it facilitates inter-institutional sharing of national research infrastructure, especially for Institutes of Technology, as well as effective research partnership with industry through collaborative initiatives.

Commenting on the investment, DrCiarán Seoighe, Deputy Director Science Foundation Ireland said:

“The SFI Research Infrastructure Programme was developed to ultimately improve the quality of both basic and applied research in Ireland. To allow us to meet the evolving challenges both globally and domestically we must ensure that we are nurturing our research community and providing the cutting-edge infrastructure to allow their work to positively impact our economy, society and environment. Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support Irish researchers by providing them with facilities and equipment which enable them to keep exploring the frontiers of STEM research, and to progress their discoveries towards practical implementation.