Minister announces €13.6m INFANT investment

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20 September 2013 | 0

Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock today announced Government funding, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), of €7.6 million which will leverage a further investment of €6 million from 15 industry partners, for research at the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT), Cork. Ireland’s first centre for perinatal research will directly improve treatment and care for pregnant mothers and newborn babies.

The INFANT team, a group of doctors, scientists and engineers, are developing screening and diagnostic tests and methods of monitoring both pregnancy and newborns, identifying risk and enabling early treatment and intervention. Discoveries will quickly update clinical practice and the diagnosis of disease worldwide for the most common and serious complications in pregnancy and newborn babies.

Announcing the funding, Minister Sherlock said: "The investment in research in INFANT will address the largely unmet need for effective screening tests for the most common complications of pregnancy and the most significant problems for newborn babies. The focus on the creation of next generation devices aims to transform antenatal and neonatal healthcare and service delivery. Research at INFANT has the potential to change the delivery of healthcare services and improve the outcomes for the most vulnerable mothers and their babies.

 

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"This investment will position Ireland at the fore-front of this field and the potential for economic impact cannot be underestimated. A central part of this Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to ensure that scientific research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of our talented researchers into high quality jobs. The INFANT centre through this award from SFI will directly support 60 world-class research jobs. The commitment to fund INFANT also directly supports a number of the key areas of growth and focus as identified by this government in the National Research Prioritisation Exercise, namely: Medical Devices; Diagnostics; and Therapeutics – Synthesis, Formulation, Processing and Drug Delivery.

"The continued and on-going commitment of industry is also critical for long-term success and I commend companies such as Inspiration Healthcare, Newsweaver, Waters Corporation, Cara Wellness, LPA Logic Programming Associates Ltd, Kvikna Ltd, Incereb Ltd, IBM, EMC2, BrePco Pharma, MedSciNet, Dell and Alere International for engaging in the success of INFANT."

INFANT addresses a lack of predictive and diagnostic tests in perinatal care, to develop effective screening tests and facilitate novel treatments for the most common complications of pregnancy and the most significant problems for newborn babies in intensive care.

Prof Geraldine Boylan, director, INFANT said: "…approval of our application to SFI for funding for the INFANT centre has been a milestone in our research. This will enable us to support innovation in the area of perinatal care. The relevance and impact of INFANT will increase as we build new international collaborations to reinforce existing networks and industry partnerships, directly contributing to health systems and society in Ireland and worldwide."

Prof Louise Kenny, director of INFANT, said: "Prof Boylan and I have a shared vision and strategy for this area of perinatal research and a clear aim to improve the outcome for pregnant mums and newborn babies in Ireland and worldwide. Innovation in perinatal healthcare is vital and this is the primary focus of INFANT while crucially, fast-tracking these innovations to transform perinatal care."

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