Trinity’s newest research centre will find out in early May whether they will receive funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), after a round of interviews and applications that will determine the future of the ambitious immunology institution.
Trinity is currently seeking funding from the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), to establish the INNATE Inflammation and Immunology Research Centre in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI).
In an email to The University Times, Prof Andrew Bowie, the Head of Immunology in Trinity, confirmed that the centre has a “final interview” on March 1st, and should receive SFI’s final decision in early May.
Bowie declined to comment further, due to the sensitive information involved in the application, which is still being considered by SFI.
SFI funding would not only see the creation of the centre but also the refurbishment of a space in TBSI in which it will be housed.
The new centre will follow a similar model to that of other Trinity research institutes, collaborating with industry and integrating researchers from other Irish universities, including University College Dublin (UCD) and Maynooth University. The centre will specialise in research on the immune system and inflammation, a bodily reaction at the centre of many diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, cancer and bowel disease.
One of the key members of the new centre is expert in immunology Prof Luke O’Neill. O’Neill was recently granted a lab by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Stevenage, England where he will act as Trinity supervisor to two Trinity PhD students, whom GSK will fund to work with their scientists, researching immunology and inflammatory diseases. Elected as a Fellow in 2016 to the prestigious Royal Society, O’Neill is one of Trinity’s most successful researchers, and has attracted millions in researching funding over the years.
At a meeting of Trinity’s Finance Committee in December, the committee noted that the INNATE proposal has the potential to generate a number of “financial and strategic benefits” for Trinity. The establishment of the centre will also include refurbishment costs for a space in TBSI, with the committee noting that the costs for the space should come from Trinity’s funding contribution to the centre. Rental costs for any additional space will be met, however, by INNATE.
The committee also noted that the Faculty of Health Sciences should make a contribution to the refurbishment of the space. If the bid for funding from SFI is successful, the finance committee requested that INNATE would re-engage with the Faculty of Health Science in order to try and secure additional financial support. However if the application is unsuccessful it was was agreed that no refurbishment of TBSI would take place.
SFI currently provides funds for three research centres in Trinity: the Centre for Future Networks and Communications research (CONNECT), the Centre for Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research (AMBER) and ADAPT, which specialises in digital technology. In February, Trinity received €2 million in funding from SFI for the development of the College’s infrastructure, and numerous principal investigators and Trinity staff rely on funding from the organisation to complete their research. In 2015/16, 46 per cent of total research funding in Trinity came from SFI.