Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI success in SFI Investigators Programme

13 October 2017

Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD has announced an investment of €43 million in 26 research projects through the SFI Investigators Programme. Among those successfully funded was RCSI who was awarded €1.07m for research into the treatment of chronic intestinal diseases.

Minister Halligan said: “This funding recognises some of Ireland’s top researchers and enables them to advance vital research areas in Ireland including health, technology, agriculture and energy. I am confident that the teams being supported will generate important new scientific breakthroughs.”

Director of Research and Innovation at RCSI, Professor Ray Stallings, welcomed the announcement saying: “RCSI’s success in the SFI Investigators Programme is recognition of the high quality, impactful and innovative research taking place at RCSI. This funding will enable Dr Stephen Keely and others in RCSI to carry out research that will ultimately lead to new and innovative treatments for chronic intestinal diseases.”

The funding will enable Dr Keely to carry out a research project entitled ‘Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical targeting of the farnesoid X receptor for treatment of chronic intestinal diseases’. Diarrhoeal diseases are chronic and debilitating conditions that impact the lives of many people. Since current options for prevention and treatment are often ineffective, these diseases are a huge burden to society in terms of healthcare and lost hours of work. The research team, led by Dr Keely, in collaboration with reseachers at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Institute, Johns Hopkins University, and Imperial College London, will develop new pharmaceutical and nutraceutical approaches to activate the farnesoid X receptor (FXR), an intestinal protein that controls cellular processes involved in disease pathogenesis. Through developing these new, complimentary, therapies this project aims to deliver improved health and quality of life for many thousands of Irish people, while also creating new opportunities for commercial development.

 Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI; Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD; and Dr Stephen Keely, Associate Director in the Department of Molecular Medicine, RCSI.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI; Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD; and Dr Stephen Keely, Associate Director in the Department of Molecular Medicine, RCSI.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added, “The Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme funds outstanding individuals performing excellent, impactful research. The standard of applications for the SFI Investigators Programme was exceptionally high. I have the highest expectations for the projects funded, and look forward to seeing the benefits to Ireland’s society and economy.”

Under the Science Foundation Ireland Investigators Programme, 26 research projects will be funded through 10 research bodies, as follows: Dublin City University (2), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1), National University of Ireland Galway (2), National University of Ireland Maynooth (2), Trinity College Dublin (9), University College Cork (3), University College Dublin (3), University of Limerick (2), Teagasc (1) and RCSI (1).