Three NUI Maynooth research groups have secured a major new investment of €1.2m from Science Foundation Ireland for biological and chemical sciences infrastructure that will enable enhanced research capability in the national priority area of therapeutics.
Professor Sean Doyle, Department of Biology, has secured funding for a Benchtop LC-MS/MS mass spectrometer that will significantly enhance proteomics research capability at NUI Maynooth.
Protein mass spectrometry is a cutting-edge technology, with applications in both applied and basic bioresearch. The SFI-funded quantitative mass spectrometer is a state of the art instrument and will be used to identify and quantify proteins in extremely complex biological mixtures, without significant pre-purification. In combination with existing mass spectrometry facilities at NUI Maynooth the instrument will further enable leading-edge research at NUI Maynooth in areas including: molecular microbiology, immunology, drug discovery, biomarker discovery, lung disease, host-pathogen interactions, and crop improvement.
This research aligns with the National Research Priorities particularly in Therapeutics and Diagnostics. In addition, ongoing proteomic research on crop pest interactions and pathogens align to the Food Sustainability priority area. In Ireland, NUI Maynooth is the only institution which will possess an instrument which will be integrated into such diverse research areas. The equipment offers a number of technical advantages over existing facilities including: i) an ability to identify, and quantify changes in amounts of, proteins in biological samples; ii) increased dynamic range; iii) increased sensitivity; and iv) increased mass accuracy.
The Institute of Immunology and Department of Biology, led by Professor Paul Moynagh has secured funding for an advanced imaging system which exploits advances in Terabyte computing, robotics and camera management to allow automated high speed recording and tracking of individual cells within the body.
The equipment is the first of its kind in Europe and will be particularly important for collaborations with industrial partners to precisely quantify how cells locate within organs and tissues during treatment. The equipment is part of the National Biophotonics Imaging Platform (NBIP), which was funded through PRTLI investment and coordinates national access to essential imaging facilities.
The new imaging system will be available to academic researchers in Ireland, collaborators in the Biopharmaceutical and cell therapy industries, and research partners at institutions outside Ireland, such as University College London and the University of Oxford. The technology will also help researchers to attract further industry partners to support and collaborate in both basic science and preclinical research. The imaging system is closely aligned to the government’s Therapeutics National Research Priority Area, as it is concerned with the preclinical development of new drugs, vaccines, and cell therapies, the validation of drug targets, and disease mechanisms.
Professor John Lowry, Department of Chemistry, has received funding for specialist equipment to monitor the functions of specific chemicals in neuronal signaling, drug actions and well defined behaviours. The technology is an important tool in the development of drugs to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia, and the contribution it has made to advancing drug discovery was recently acknowledged by an Eli Lilly President’s Award.
The establishment of this equipment suite at Maynooth will enable access to unique technologies for national and international academics and industrial scientists. The infrastructure will support ongoing excellent research output aligned with the national research priority areas, particularly therapeutics. This is allied to strong industry partnership and a commercialisation focus, proven through patented technologies and spin-out companies already delivered and in our pipeline. The facilities further support the broad neuroscience research activity at NUI Maynooth and those of our EU partners.