Science Foundation Ireland 2020 Science Awards recognise key leaders in the Irish Research Community. The SFI Industry Partnership Award celebrates a collaboration between an academic research group and industry.
Professor Fergal O’Brien, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, AMBER Deputy Director, received the prestigious award from the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, at the annual SFI Science Summit. for his long standing collaboration with Integra LifeSciences.
Integra’s longstanding engagement with RCSI began in 2005 as a collaborator on a SFI President of Ireland Young Researcher Award received by Fergal. Integra supplied his group with type-1 collagen which has subsequently formed the basis of over 60 high impact publications with more than 40 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers benefitting from the partnership - developing and characterizing biomaterials for a myriad of applications. An engagement in the area of peripheral nerve repair began in 2015 with Integra fully funding an exploratory study coordinated through the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research (AMBER) focused on the development of a new regenerative biomaterial. Since 2017, the collaboration has grown to a >€1million AMBER co-funded spoke project led by Prof Fergal O’Brien (RCSI) and Prof Conor Buckley (TCD) as PIs. This SFI AMBER project has successfully developed two unique peripheral nerve repair technologies, both of which have proven highly effective in repairing damaged nerves in pre-clinical trials. These technologies have been protected by three patent filings and transferred to the company under appropriate commercialisation agreements. The AMBER researchers and business development team, supported by the Innovation Team in RCSI and Technology Transfer Office at TCD has worked to rapidly accelerate the development and translation of these biomaterials, helping Integra remain at the cutting edge of nerve repair treatments for the benefit of patients and society.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, congratulated Prof. O’Brien and 10 additional award winners, saying:
“I am delighted to congratulate this year’s award winners on their inspiring success and dedication. The Science Foundation Ireland Awards recognise the expansive contribution that scientists make to our society and economy through innovative breakthroughs, industry collaborations, entrepreneurship, public engagement, and mentorship of the next generation”.