Maynooth researcher awarded SFI and Pfizer Inc funding

Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 00:00

A Maynooth University researcher has been awarded funding to develop new drugs that may help treat some currently incurable inflammatory diseases.

Professor Paul Moynagh, Head of Maynooth University Department of Biology has been awarded a portion of the €1.9 million fund made available by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Pfizer which aims to encourage new biotherapeutic research in Ireland.

Prof Moynagh is researching uncontrolled inflammation causes diseases like Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said “Innovative partnerships between industry and academia are crucial if we are to continue to share knowledge that could lead to the development of new medical breakthroughs. This collaboration with Pfizer will enable the blending of expertise from five leading Irish academic researchers with Pfizer’s drug discovery and development capabilities and could help deliver significant, accelerated advances in critical areas of biomedical research.”

Director of Global Biotherapeutics Technologies at Pfizer, Dr. William Finlay, said his company recognises that key to delivering potential therapies for patients is collaborating with other innovators in the health ecosystem in unique ways.

“By establishing and fostering partnerships with academic thought leaders through SFI, it is hoped that we can help to accelerate the development of innovative biotherapeutic concepts for patients with unmet medical needs,” he said.

Other recipients of the SFI-Pfizer Biotherapeutics Innovation Award are as follows:

Professor James O’Donnell, Trinity College Dublin - Professor O’Donnell’s research focuses on the discovery of a therapy for Haemophilia A, an inherited disease which results in uncontrolled bleeding. It is hoped that the therapy will improve patients’ quality of life and improve disease management.

Professor Padraic Fallon, Trinity College Dublin - Professor Fallon is seeking to develop a therapy that will modify the immune response to prevent fibrosis or scarring of organs after an immune attack, which can occur from diseases including asthma, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, and liver cirrhosis.

Professor Jochen Prehn, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland - Motor Neurone Disease is a devastating and fatal neurological condition with no cure. Professor Prehn’s research is focused on developing a new therapy that it is hoped will increase patients’ lifespan and motor function, leading to an increase in quality of life.   

Professor Martin Steinhoff, University College Dublin - Professor Steinhoff’s research focuses on severe skin diseases caused by inflammation, for which he hopes to develop a new therapy that targets the immune response.

The award is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation (DJEI).