l to r: Provost Patrick Prendergast, Prof. Aideen Long, Prof. Luke O’Neill, Minister Simon Harris, Prof. Kingston Mills, AIB CEO Colin Hunt, pictured in TBSI’s Immunology Lab
Trinity College Dublin has welcomed the Government’s €4.8M investment into a collaborative partnership at the university researching the immune response to COVID-19.
The investment is being made by Government through Science Foundation Ireland with further funding from the private sector. In April, AIB committed €2.4 million to back the establishment of the AIB COVID-19 Research Hub in Trinity to urgently accelerate the college’s immunology project tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The collaboration brings together a strong multi- and inter-disciplinary approach, combining the leading expertise of Trinity College Dublin, with other national and international collaborators. The partnership is led by Prof Kingston Mills and Prof Aideen Long at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI), Trinity College Dublin.
The research will seek to understand why some people are more susceptible to Covid-19 than others. The immunologists will develop, validate and deploy rapid anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing in Ireland to identify previous SARS-CoV-2 infection in high priority healthcare workers and in the general community.
This will provide key data on epidemiology of the infection in the Irish population and allow identification of individuals that are ‘immune’ and therefore safe to return to work. The project will also focus on the design of effective vaccines and novel treatment approaches.
Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said
I am delighted to be announcing the establishment of this important COVID-19 research partnership led by Trinity College Dublin, a world-leading academic institution in immunology.
“Science and research have never been more important as the world faces a global pandemic. We still have so much more to learn about this virus and this partnership will be key to addressing some of the key questions.
“I congratulate all the researchers and clinicians for coming together, with the support of Science Foundation Ireland and philanthropic and private sector organisations. This is of national importance given the immense societal and economic impact of the current pandemic and will enable us to contribute solutions to the challenges we face.
Prof. Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology and Academic Director of Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, said:
The funding of this research project by SFI and AIB has allowed the creation of a centre of excellence in the Immunology of COVID-19 where leading immunologists and clinicians at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, together with other partners, address key research questions designed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. A better understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 will assist in the design of an effective COVID-19 vaccine, the best long-term approach for containing the virus and preventing a recurrence. The longer-term objective is to create a national research centre focused on the immunology of infection that will enable Ireland to be poised and better prepared, with the appropriately skilled and coordinated scientific and medical expertise, to deal with other infectious disease epidemics in the future.
The project is led by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with researchers at University of Limerick and University College Dublin. It is supported by Allied Irish Bank (AIB) through the Trinity Foundation. International collaborators include leading researchers in USA, the Netherlands, France, Hong Kong and UK.
List of main collaborating researchers:
· Prof. Kingston Mills, TCD Professor of Experimental Immunology, Academic Director Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin
· Prof. Aideen Long, TCD Professor in Molecular Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine and Director, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute
· Prof. Luke O’Neill, Chair of Biochemistry, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin
· Prof. Andrew Bowie, Professor of Innate Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and Associate Dean of Research, Trinity College Dublin
· Prof. Cliona O’Farrelly, Chair of Comparative Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, and co-chair of the Expert Advisory Group Research Sub-group of NPHET
· Prof. Ed Lavelle, Professor in Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology and Head of School of Biochemistry and Immunology
· Prof. Lydia Lynch, Professor in Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin
· Dr Nigel Stevenson, Assistant Professor of Viral Immunology, Trinity College Dublin
· Prof. Seamus Martin, Smurfit Professor of Medical Genetics, Dept. of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin
· Prof. Padraic Fallon, Professor of Translational Immunology, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin
· Prof. Niall Conlon, Consultant Immunologist and Head of Department, Department of Immunology, Central Pathology Laboratory, St, James’s Hospital
· Prof. Colm Bergin, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin and Department of GU Medicine and Infectious Diseases, St. James’s Hospital, and co-chair of the Expert Advisory Group Research Sub-group of NPHET
· Prof. Joseph Keane, Professor of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin
· Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St James’s Hospital
· Prof. Ross McManus, Professor in Molecular Medicine, Trinity Translational Medicine Institute, Trinity Centre, St James’s Hospital
· Prof. Rose Anne Kenny, Director, Trinity Ageing Research Centre (TARC), Trinity College Dublin