The government has invested €4.8 million into a Trinity-led research hub looking into why some people are more susceptible to the coronavirus than others.
The government will be funding the partnership led by Prof Kingston Mills at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) and Prof Aideen Long at the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI) through Science Foundation Ireland.
In a press statement today, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said that he was “delighted” to establish the research partnership with Trinity.
“Science and research have never been more important as the world faces a global pandemic. We still have so much more to learn about this virus and this partnership will be key to addressing some of the key questions”, he said.
Harris added that the Trinity-led research would be “of national importance given the immense societal and economic impact of the current pandemic and will enable us to contribute solutions to the challenges we face”.
The €4.8 comes in addition to the €2.4 million committed by AIB back in April to establish a coronavirus research hub in Trinity. The research will seek to understand why some people are more susceptible to coronavirus than others in order to accelerate the process by which individuals can be identified as “immune”’ and therefore safe to return to work.
In a press statement, Prof Mill welcomed the development and said that the funding “has allowed the creation of a centre of excellence in the Immunology of COVID-19”.
The funding, he said, would allow Trinity’s researchers to “address key research questions designed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic” and that the research could help in the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
“The longer-term objective is to create a national research centre focused on the immunology of infection that will enable Ireland to be poised and better prepared, with the appropriately skilled and coordinated scientific and medical expertise, to deal with other infectious disease epidemics in the future”, Mill added.
In a tweet announcing the partnership, Provost Patrick Prendergast said that the “importance of fundamental science [was] never more obvious”.
Trinity will lead the project in collaboration with researchers at University of Limerick and University College Dublin, and will work in conjunction with international collaborators in America, the Netherlands, France, Hong Kong and the UK.