NWRC launches Northern Ireland’s first ‘Science Exchange’ project
North West Regional College (NWRC) has officially launched a new partnership with Ulster University that will allow students of Science to gain valuable experience in industry, researching and working on problem based projects.

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‘The Science Exchange’ which is funded by Connected NI, and was officially launched by the Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council Maoliosa McHugh at NWRC’s Strand Road Campus, is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and provides a unique opportunity for students and local business to participate in mutually beneficial projects.

The scheme will also provide advice and support to Life and Health Science companies, and companies with Life and Health Science problems or issues that require knowledge based creative solutions.

Based in Derry~Londonderry’s city centre, The Science Exchange will meet the requirements of local employers, provide work based learning and scholarships for students, and implement staff development for all parties.

Francine Moran, Lecturer in Science at NWRC and Project Manager of The Science Exchange explained that the scheme will initially target students enrolled on the college’s Foundation Degree in Medical and Applied Sciences and offer an additional research component.

She added: “These projects will have a strong innovation slant which will be of benefit to local business and provide an enriched experience for the students who undertake them.

“Industry involvement and the problem based nature of the projects is the cornerstone of the programme strengthening existing links with industry while creating partnerships.

“The programme will provide both short and long term benefits to the local and broader community. In addition to undertaking problem based projects of immediate benefit to local industry, students completing this programme will ultimately graduate having a greater understanding of the needs of the workplace.”

Dr Le Roy Dowey, Ulster University, and Project Manager of The Science Exchange said: ”The partnership approach towards the delivery of the Science Exchange project will help drive innovative solutions for companies and aid the development of the local knowledge based economy. Supporting confident career paths remains at the heart of what we do at Ulster University and this hands on opportunity for students will help create the relevant knowledge, skills and confidence to excel in professional life.“

Mayor of Derry and Strabane Maoliosa McHugh said: “I am to delighted launch The Science Exchange which will see students from the North West get the opportunity to develop further skill sets that will be at the forefront of advancements in industry. I wish the project managers Francine Moran at NWRC, and Le Roy Dowey at Ulster University and their teams all the success with The Science Exchange and I look forward to attending future events for industry and students alike in the new premises.”

The scheme is being supported by NWRC’s Business Support Centre, Connected NI, Invest NI, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

Magic thermal ink tells us when food is fresh

Every time we buy food, we’re given an indication of its freshness through a measure of time – a best-before date.

“Temperature is a more important indicator than time – whether that food has been transported and stored at the required freezing, or chilled, temperatures,” says the man who has led Nuprint for more than 20 years, Gavin Killeen. Nuprint, a labelling producer, has a new R&D project to create temperature-sensitive inks for food labels. The project is part of the ‘North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing,’ EU funded under the INTERREG programme.*

Owing to food warming up to ambient temperatures when it shouldn’t, the World Health Organisation found that 25% of food products in the US are beyond their best – before they hit the supermarket.

Gavin said, “Temperate-sensitive labels have been possible for some time, but it’s been cost-prohibitive. Food products are fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). We could use copper-etched circuit boards and RFID tags, but the cost is too high for FMCG. We need an inexpensive ink capable of carrying a charge or a circuit.”

 

He explained, “In the case of a frozen chicken, its label would be stamped with a thermochromic ink stating ‘Not Suitable for Human Consumption.’ That warning would only become visible if the chicken is exposed to ambient temperature for long enough, say it was left out of the freezer, or the refrigerator was shut off during transit.”

Presumably it isn’t good enough to have this label on bulk packaging, with several chickens inside, because a consumer won’t see that?

Gavin said, “It needs to be on individual food items. Therefore it may only be for expensive cuts of meat, maybe not a container of coleslaw. The question is, what are consumers prepared to pay for?”

Nuprint’s academic partner is the University of Glasgow. What is the scope of the research?

Gavin said, “We’ll have a fulltime PhD student researcher, with a few senior academics involved.

What’s your proposed timeline for a commercial outcome?

“I’m hopeful that in two or three years we’ll have something that can be marketed,” said Gavin.

He described some of the challenges they face. “It’s a classic chicken-and-egg; how do we get the price low if we don’t have high volume, but we can’t achieve the volume until we get the price down.”

Gavin continued, “The question is how to bring the technology onto flexible labels and packaging.”

The next phase for a longstanding Derry~Londonderry firm

Nuprint has been in business since 1984, and Gavin has led it into the future. “We’ve invested £2.5m over the past 18 months, bringing in new digital printing technology with variable data, new sleeve labelling technology, and other technology. We’ve also invested heavily in our staff. We work with global brands like Coca-Cola and local brands such as Linden, Willowbrook and Dunbia.”

I read Nuprint has a goal to expand to 50 staff this year; how are you doing against that target?

“We’re currently at 43 staff members and we’ve very committed to our people,” he said.

How does Northern Ireland rank when it comes to food, and food safety?

Gavin said, “Northern Ireland is second-to-none when it comes to food. Maybe we don’t sell ourselves as well as we could, when it comes to premium Northern Irish beef for instance. Other regions have perhaps sold themselves better, without having our high standard of quality. This means there’s a global opportunity for Northern Ireland’s food producers.”

*More about Interreg EU

Catalyst Inc is the lead partner in an €8.5m INTERREG EU funded project ‘North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing’ (NW CAM) that links Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland to deliver 15 research projects that are meeting industrial need within the Life and Health Science sector. The project has six industrial partners of which Nuprint is one.

Education alliance to benefit cross border education provision and opportunities

The North West Strategic Growth Partnership, in partnership with the Higher and Further Education and Training Institutions of the North West City Region, has announced a new agreement in education, training and innovation for the North West City region with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between education sector providers on both sides of the border.

The MoU is the result of years of successful collaborative working amongst the education sector providers – the Ulster University, Letterkenny Institute for Technology (LYIT), North West Regional College (NWRC) and Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB) – with the aim of improving access to higher and further level education and training to students living and studying in the North West City region.

The North West Strategic Growth Partnership is led by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council and supported by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) in conjunction with and supported by The Executive Office and The Irish Government.

The Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton T.D. was in attendance at today’s signing and endorsed this historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) saying, “Today’s announcement is a fantastic development for the North West region. This new partnership will greatly enhance collaboration between the education and training providers in key areas such as research, innovation and education and training.

“Brexit will pose a significant challenge to our higher and further education institutions. Through our Action Plan for Education, which aims to make Ireland’s education system the best in Europe within a decade, we are preparing our education and training providers to respond to this challenge. Talent drives the success of any region and strong hubs will be the engine of regional development. Today’s partnership is a very welcome development, which will have a really significant impact on the North West region.”

An Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Gerry McMonagle said the signing of the MoU was hugely significant for the region. He said: “The MoU builds on the excellent collaborative work previously undertaken between the partners to support regional growth through delivering on the higher and further education needs of the North West. It will allow the partners to work together as anchors of the economy of the region and contribute to the advancement of the North West City Region growth agenda that investments in higher and further education can achieve with added value for everyone.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Maolíosa McHugh said: “This is a significant event for education growth in our region and is in keeping with the objective set out by the North West Strategic Growth Partnership to promote cross cutting regional growth in the education sector. I am confident that the MoU will give the two governments the mechanism with which to engage with the education institutions to deliver on our shared further and higher educational ambitions and further enhance cross border co-operation.”

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice Chancellor of Ulster University said: “This landmark agreement demonstrates our shared vision to create a regional strategic alliance for the North West, that drives innovation and investment and delivers co-ordinated cross border third level education to the people of this region and beyond. In practical terms, this consolidates the excellent collaboration that is already operating informally and embeds this partnership working model across our regional network. Today’s agreement will allow for a more co-ordinated approach to student pathway and progression and marks a step change in our approach to delivery of quality education in the North West.”

Paul Hannigan, President of Letterkenny Institute of Technology said the alignment of a cross border further and higher education cluster in the North West City region is essential if the region is to grow and develop its education offering and maximise the emerging potential for those who wish to live, work and invest in this region.

He said: “The signing of the MoU between the education providers in the region is very significant and is testament to the huge amount of positive work that has been done behind the scenes to really look at how we can develop education, research and innovation foundations for the North West region. This alliance will allow us to design and deliver new courses and programmes that will support economic and social development and improve efficiency through shared staffing and facilities on a range of programmes, teaching and research. Key to this alliance is the positive impact it will have on our students and the way it will open up new opportunities for them as well as encourage and facilitate wider participation in education programmes.”

Leo Murphy, Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College said the MoU will contribute greatly to the outcomes of the Further and Higher Education Strategy in the City and Region. “Anything that facilitates student mobility and participation in education is to be welcomed and this MoU will go a long way towards assisting us in facilitating further cross border co-operation in teaching, learning and innovation.”

Anne McHugh, Chief Executive of Donegal Education Training Board said she is confident this alliance will provide effective progression pathways for students and graduates to higher education. “This is great news for the education sector in the North West and a really positive collaboration between education providers on both sides of the border. The MoU will assist us in achieving many of the strategic goals set out in our Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-19 to ensure active inclusion, integrated planning and funding and quality provision.”

Ulster University launches test centre to meet growing demands for nurses across the UK

Ulster University is continuing to support the vital transformation of Northern Ireland’s healthcare system by launching its new Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Competence Test Centre at Ulster University’s Magee campus, which aims to meet the growing demands for overseas nurses and midwives wishing to work in UK.

Nurses and midwives registered outside of the EU/EEA are required to undergo stringent procedures before they can practice in the UK. This involves successfully taking a two-part test of competence. The first part of the test is computer-based and can be taken anywhere in the world. If successful, applicants can then take the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) at a UK test centre.

Situated at the University’s Magee campus, as part of the School of Nursing, the new purpose-built, designated test centre will deliver the objective, structured clinical examination (OSCE), which tests applicants’ skills, knowledge and behaviours in a simulated practice environment.

The test centre at Ulster University is one of just three in the UK and the only centre in Northern Ireland. It joins similar centres in Oxford Brookes University and University of Northampton.

All non-EU/EEA registered nurses recruited directly by the Trusts will be required to go through the Test Centre at Magee before they can practice. With no waiting lists currently in place, Ulster University can bring our much-needed registered nurses recruited overseas through the centre immediately and ensure that they are all promptly allocated to clinical practice and patient care.

The new test centre, which has the potential to test 45 candidates per week will help to increase nursing capacity in UK, allowing a greater choice of location and shorter waiting times for overseas nurses and midwives wanting to sit the test.

The new Competence Test Centre facility at Magee Campus also serves the Independent Sector in enabling overseas nurses recruited to work in the Nursing Home sector to undertake the OSCE ‎in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the opening of the new test centre, Professor Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, stated:

“We are actively addressing the nursing staffing issue on a number of levels, including the recruitment of 622 overseas nurses by 2020. The new Nursing and Midwifery Council Competence Test Centre at Ulster University will ensure that any oversees nurses who apply to work within the trusts each year have gained professional registration and that they are fit to practice in the UK at the required standard.

“We recognise the invaluable contribution that nurses educated outside the EU and EEA make and the key role they play in the UK’s health and care workforce, but it is vital that they possess the correct skills and qualifications required.”

Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, also said:

“We are delighted that Ulster University is one of just three universities in the UK selected to offer such a vital service. This new test centre demonstrates the commitment of the University and the Department to strengthening and enhancing the healthcare workforce.

“Located at our Magee campus, the centre builds on our delivery of our nursing education provision and stratified medicine in the city. Alongside innovations such as our Physician Associate Course, our School of Nursing and our allied health profession courses, this test centre is a further opportunity to make a tangible impact on the pressing challenges and demands of our health service.

“Across our own skilled and committed nursing graduates and the nurses who will gain their registration through this centre, our Magee campus makes a valuable and rewarding contribution to nursing care.”

Lynn Fee, HSC International Recruitment Nursing Lead / Assistant Director of Nursing at Southern Health and Social Care Trust, also stated:

“The new test centre in Ulster University’s Magee campus is vital to ensure that the nurses educated outside the EU and EEA who wish to join our register can sit the test in a timely way, assisting overall in the direct intervention of healthcare workforce challenges in Northern Ireland.

“The current project to recruit overseas nurses for the HSC follows a regional approach. Nurses must pass through the NMC Competence Test Centre before they can practice and, once registered, are placed into the points of greatest need within the Healthcare System to best serve our community.”

For further information on Ulster University’s NMC competence test centre, visit https://www.ulster.ac.uk/faculties/life-and-health-sciences/nmc-competence-test-centre.

A STRABANE-based manufacturer is set to double its workforce in an ambitious £7 million expansion.

Strabane-based Fabplus has announced it is planning to more than double its workforce and turnover. Darren McGavigan (left), Fabplus is pictured with Alastair Hamilton and Des Gartland, Invest NI

Strabane-based Fabplus has announced it is planning to more than double its workforce and turnover. Darren McGavigan (left), Fabplus is pictured with Alastair Hamilton and Des Gartland, Invest NI


Fabplus, which provides provides prefabricated pipework for use in fire sprinkler systems, is set to create 83 new jobs as part of a three-year plan to increase business both at home and abroad.

Recruitment is already underway to fill the new positions, which include management and production staff and the roles, set to be in place by 2019, will generate £1.7million annually in additional salaries, bring total employment at the firm to 138 people.

The major investment further includes expansion of the firm’s factory space storage and R&D facilities on Orchard Road as well as the development of an in-house powder coating and pipe optimisation capability and implementation of a staff training plan.

Fablus director Darren McGavigan said the ambitious expansion plan is being carried out with a view to competing in the global market.

“Extending the factory by 48,000 sq ft will increase our production capacity and improve factory workflow. Adding breadth and depth to the management team will also introduce additional expertise into the business while implementing our innovative new processes will consolidate our market leading position with new and existing customers.”

Invest NI has offered £786,000 towards the expansion, including £187,590 of R&D support, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said the latest investment from Fabplus is a “significant boost” to the construction sector.

Fabplus is an established family business in Strabane which has experienced considerable growth over the last five years. The company has been working in partnership with Invest NI during this time and developed a strong competitive advantage in the UK marketplace.”

Fabplus wants to take advantage of growth opportunities in mainland Europe and Scandinavia and is utilising our help and expertise to invest in the resources, capabilities, training and R&D needed to help achieve its objective,” Mr Hamilton added.

The family business is a subsidiary of Mechanical Pipework Fabrication Limited (MPF), based in Lifford in the Republic of Ireland. Its equipment is installed in power stations, warehouses, retail buildings, hospitals, stadiums, apartment blocks and factories throughout Britain and the island of Ireland.

Ulster University one of eight UK universities in major data science partnership with the BBC.

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Ulster University has been announced as one of just eight UK universities to form a major five-year research partnership with BBC Research and Development to unlock the potential of data analysis in the media.

The Data Science Research Partnership will be at the forefront of machine learning in the media industry, helping create a more personal BBC that can inform, educate and entertain in new ways.

The partnership brings together industry experts from across the BBC and world-leading UK data scientists from Ulster University, with the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Surrey, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London, and University College London.

Ulster University will contribute its wealth of research and sectoral expertise from media and journalism, film and television to data analytics. The university’s advanced research into data driven journalism and viewer engagement will be of particular relevance to the partnership.

The partnership will also collaborate with media and technology organisations from across the UK, Europe and internationally on a range of projects. These will focus on the following four areas, all combining anonymised BBC data with cutting-edge algorithms and analytics. The aim is to create a body of research, insights and prototypes that can start making a real impact on the BBC and its audiences.

The research will assist with:

Understanding audiences: Use data to better understand what audiences want from the BBC, why they want it, and what impact these programmes or services have on them.

Understanding content: Explore what machine learning can teach the BBC about its programmes and services,and what it stands to gain from it.

Curation and personalisation: Create a more personal BBC, designing tools and algorithms to help programme makers with editorial and commissioning decisions.

Content of the future: Design future audience experiences, based on BBC R&D’s object-based broadcasting concept, and new forms of data journalism.

Alongside this will be a range of educational opportunities to help the BBC and its staff improve the skills they’ll need in a data-driven future. This will include the development of tailored courses ranging from entry-level to advanced, MSc Data Science apprenticeships, and secondments between the BBC and all the research partners, including Ulster University.

Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice Chancellor Ulster University said:

Ulster University continues to work at the forefront of data analytics, pioneering advances across multiple domains including health and medical research, financial technology, international finance, advanced manufacturing and energy and, media.

“With the launch of our Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory earlier this year, the first data analytics institute in Northern Ireland, Ulster University cemented its reputation as a global leader, a position which is now even further enhanced by this partnership with the BBC.

“Combined with our work in the broader creative industries and the development of industry-relevant courses, this partnership will see Ulster University play an integral role in shaping the future of broadcasting. It will ensure that one of the world’s biggest public service broadcast organisations can fully harness the power of data and computer systems with cognitive thought processes to deliver unrivalled audience experience.”

Matthew Postgate, the BBC’s Chief Technology and Product Officer, said:

“The BBC has always been at its best when it combines creativity with technology. As we reinvent the BBC, we can see the opportunities that data and machine learning are opening up for us, our creative talent and our audiences. This partnership will help us break new ground and ensure we continue giving audiences the very best in public service broadcasting well into the future.”

Samantha Chadwick, Head of Partnerships, BBC R&D, said:

“Machine learning is going to play an increasingly important role in the world. Together with our partners and funding bodies, we want to apply these advances in data science to the media industry, and to make a real difference to people’s lives. The partnership will also address the scarcity of data scientists in the UK, training a new generation of data scientists on real media problems, to create new audience experiences that don’t even exist yet.”

At the announcement Ulster University presented key aspects of ongoing research including work carried out through a recently formed Ulster University spinout, NeuroCONCISE. The firm develops technology that enables people to interact with technology and communicate by analysing brain waves. Although the research initially was developed for healthcare, Ulster University is now applying it to journalism and creative media as one method of predicting and understanding audience behaviour.

Ulster University is to establish a Centre for Personalised Medicine, Clinical Decision Making and Patient Safety which aims to dramatically improve clinical decision-making and tailored patient care in five priority disease areas.

Professor Tony Bjourson, Professor of Genomics at Ulster University

Professor Tony Bjourson, Professor of Genomics at Ulster University


The research project, which will be a cross-border collaboration between the academic, clinical and commercial sectors, will focus on heart disease, emergency surgery, acute kidney injury, diabetes and dementia.

The EU’s INTERREG VA programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, has offered Ulster University €8.6 million of funding for the Centre which will have an overall cost of €9.89 million. It is one of three Ulster University research projects to have secured funding as part of a recent €23 million SEUPB funding round.

The centre’s research will improve the health of tens of thousands of patients and help cut healthcare costs dramatically in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and internationally.

Personalised medicine, also known as precision or stratified medicine, is a move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the treatment and care of patients with a particular condition to one that uses new approaches, including genomics, to better diagnose and manage patients’ health and devise targeted therapies to treat their illnesses. This project will use research to deliver practical solutions to clinicians.

Professor Tony Bjourson, who is Professor of Genomics at Ulster University, will lead the project. He said:

Ulster University has a longstanding historyof world-leading medical and health-related teaching and research. This new Centre for Personalised Medicine, Clinical Decision Making and Patient Safety will add yet another dimension to the University’s work and standing in this important area.

Ulster invests £42m in research and innovation programmes each year. That research is often undertaken in partnership with commercial organisations ensuring it is relevant and applicable to real world problems. With the healthcare sector under immese pressure globally and the need for effective, tailored treatment options coupled with excellence of care, this INTERREG VA funded project will place Ulster University at the heart of the solution.”

The Centre’s research objectives include developing tools which will allow earlier diagnosis of dementia and therefore earlier clinical intervention and support, and also learning how to recognise acute kidney injury earlier to reduce mortality and hospital stay. It will also seek to improve the triage of patients with chest pain to allow more appropriate and rapid emergency referral, and look at how to help people better manage their diabetes.

Professor Bjourson added:

“Currently 30 per cent to 50 per cent of patients don’t respond to the treatment they are prescribed and this number is much higher for some diseases. Through this new Centre we will to improve the health of tens of thousands of people and at the same time develop more cost-effective healthcare not just here in Northern Ireland, but around the world. In addition we will be creating innovative products and new optimised care pathway tools and we‘re confident that this will attract investment that will contribute to economic growth.

“Translating the promises of personalised or stratified medicine discoveries from the lab to the clinic, where the rubber meets the road, is recognised as a major global challenge. The key strength of this project is that it is driving personalised medicine discoveries to the front line to help clinicians make better clinical decisions and improved treatment outcomes for us as patients.”

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer with the Special EU Programmes Body, said:

“This project is a unique EU funded cross-border partnership that has the potential to revolutionise patient treatment and care for serious medical conditions. It represents a significant leap forward with research that can help create a more efficient and effective health service in Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

“Research undertaken by these renowned health and life sciences organisations, involved in the project, will also make a positive contribution towards the European Union’s 2020 target of increasing investment in Research and Innovation activity.”

The research institutes and companies that will be partnering with Ulster University in the new Centre are the University of Highlands and Islands, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Donegal Clinic Research Academy, National University of Ireland Galway, Letterkenny University Hospital, the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre, Western Health and Social Care Trust, NHS Highlands Scotland, United Healthcare Group/Optum, Clinishare Ltd, Advanced Research Cryptography Ltd, Randox Laboratories Ltd and Northern Ireland Clinical Research Services Ltd.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Business , Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.

RESEARCHERS TO UNDERTAKE POPULATION-BASED GENOMIC STUDIES IN NORTHERN IRELAND AT C-TRIC.

Dr. Aaron Peace (CEO C-TRIC), Dr. Tony Bjourson (Ulster University) & Dr. Sean Ennis (Genomics Medicine Ireland)

Dr. Aaron Peace (CEO C-TRIC), Dr. Tony Bjourson (Ulster University) & Dr. Sean Ennis (Genomics Medicine Ireland)


Transformational Research Aims to Unlock Keys to Lifelong Disorders including MS and IBD
Irish life sciences company, Genomics Medicine Ireland, is to collaborate with the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC), Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) and Ulster University to undertake comprehensive, population scale genomic research studies in Northern Ireland.

The first two studies will focus on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), lifelong chronic diseases for which there is currently no known cause or cure. The studies are launching in the Western HSC Trust with roll out planned across Northern Ireland in early 2018.

People from across Northern Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are being invited to contact their healthcare professionals to learn how they can participate in the studies which aim to identify the genetic cause of these diseases and ultimately find better treatments, diagnoses and cures for these chronic conditions.

MS is one of the most prevalent diseases of the central nervous system and directly affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide and more than 4,500 people in Northern Ireland. IBD is chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders primarily affecting adults in the prime of their life. There are two major forms of IBD, Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC) affecting about 8,000 in Northern Ireland.

Volunteers participating in these studies will be contributing to important scientific research aimed at unlocking the mystery of the genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to MS and IBD. Researchers will combine advanced scientific technology in genomics, the study of all of a person’s genes, together with detailed clinical information to search for answers that one day might lead to the development of new therapeutics for more effective prevention and wellness.

The Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) is a unique facility promoting and facilitating translational and clinical research, the primary objective of which is to reduce both the time to market and the costs associated with research and development of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics. C-TRIC’s unique infrastructure and key support staff will help facilitate the clinical research and innovation of these studies.

Dr. Sean Ennis, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Genomics Medicine Ireland said, “We look forward to working closely with C-TRIC and Ulster University to develop better new means to optimise health and patient outcomes. The size and characteristics of the Northern Ireland population can powerfully advance scientific discovery as our researchers are able to pinpoint variations in DNA that are relevant to these diseases and useful for improving medicine. The resulting therapies to cure and prevent these diseases will benefit patients both Northern Ireland and around the world.”

Dr. Aaron Peace, CEO of C-TRIC and Director of Research and Development, Western Trust said: “C-TRIC and the Western Trust are delighted to be part of this exciting research collaboration with Ulster University. This is the largest genomics research study undertaken on the island of Ireland to date that has the potential to make a significant genetic contribution to new therapeutic opportunities for people with MS and IBD. C-TRIC, Northern Ireland’s healthcare innovation hub and award winning centre is proud to manage these sponsored studies for GMI.”

Professor Tony Bjourson, Director of Ulster University’s Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine who is leading the project in Northern Ireland said: “MS and IBD are severe, long-term diseases which dramatically impact a person’s ability to live a normal, active life. We know that genomics holds the key to many unanswered questions and Ulster University is one of the leading institutions focusing on this area of highly specialist, personalised approaches to medicine. The collection of genomic data among Northern Ireland’s population will help drive development of novel therapeutic drugs and diagnostics and ultimately we hope, will lead to more targeted treatments for these debilitating conditions.”

Genomics Medicine Ireland is currently undertaking genomic studies in the Republic of Ireland. The company is building Ireland’s first, purpose-built genomics sequencing laboratory to undertake world class research into major chronic diseases within oncology, neuroscience and immunology that affect hundreds of thousands of people on the island of Ireland and hundreds of millions worldwide.