The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has awarded the necessary funding to create a new National Preclinical Imaging Centre. UCD is supporting the project, as well as RCSI and NUI Galway, and will receive slightly more than €2 million of the full €3.4 million funding. 

The imaging provided by the National Preclinical Imaging Centre (NPIC) will specifically be used in the research and development of diagnostics and treatments for human diseases. The centre will be the first of its kind in Ireland and it seeks to contribute to the international community’s research efforts in areas like cancer, dementia, tissue engineering, nanomedicine, and more. 

Annette Byrne, professor at RCSI and the Director of the new centre, shed light on the importance of medical imaging, describing how the NPIC’s technology “will allow the research community in Ireland to respond to future international research challenges, and will provide important support infrastructure for SFI Research Centres, Irish academic institutes and industry collaborators.” She went on to add that “[t]he Centre’s resources will allow us to work more collaboratively on research projects with clinicians and on training initiatives in radiology, which are critical elements of translating laboratory research findings to improvements in patient care in clinical settings.”

Besides the grant provided by the SFI, the Centre’s funding will come from industry donations and direct contributions from member institutions, including UCD’s individual pledge of around €645k. Access to the centre will be open to all researchers in the area, including those from other institutions, non-profits, and the private sector. 

Professor Orla Feely, UCD’s Vice-President for Research, Innovation, and Impact, expanded on the role this will play at the University, saying “UCD is delighted to be part of this significant development in national research infrastructure. As the host university to Precision Oncology Ireland and home to a number of medical and biomedical centres of research, including the UCD Conway Institute, we aim to stay at the forefront of pre-clinical research and personalised medicine, driving discoveries in diagnostics and treatments and innovation for better patient outcomes.”

The announcement is another funding success for the University, which has seen many in the past few weeks. The SFI recently funded two COVID-19 related projects based on campus. That same week, the European Innovation Council awarded €4.5 million for cell research to a NovaUCD incubated spin-out company

The Science Foundation Ireland is a government body, tasked with providing “investment in research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to assist the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland.”

The NPIC will have two locations, one in Dublin, and the other in Galway. 

Jack McGee – Reporter