CÚRAM, the €49 million Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Research in Medical Devices, was launched in 2015 and is now a global hub for MedTech.
The National University of Ireland Galway-based centre which brings together researchers, clinicians and industry, is currently overseeing 77 projects at various stages of development.
“We are developing ‘smart’ next-generation medical devices and implants to help people live with chronic illnesses,” explains Dr Sarah Gundy, CÚRAM’S Public Engagement Project Officer.
“CÚRAM came about because of the need for clinicians, industry and researchers to collaborate in developing these medical devices which will eventually create jobs.”
Under Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest-ever research and innovation programme, investigators have secured over €24 million, specifically allocated to CÚRAM for their work on 29 different EU-funded projects, involving 68 partners in industry.
Among the areas of focus are hypertension, diabetes, chronic pain and cancer diagnostics and treatment. In a world-first, Professor Afshin Samali is leading a treatment strategy to address relapse in patients with triple-negative breast cancer. In another first, Dr Karen Doyle is investigating novel strategies to protect brain tissue from damage due to stroke.
Dr Martin O’Halloran is the only Irish scientist to be awarded European Research Council top-up funding to develop a novel hydrogel to treat chronic pain while CÚRAM co-director, Professor Tim O’Brien’s work on pioneering a new cell therapy treatment for diabetic patients, is at the clinical stage.
CÚRAM employs over 200 people, creating a repository of expertise. Financial assistance from the EU isn’t just about funding research but also goes to support a skilled workforce.
“We couldn’t make these researchers better prepared for their careers without that extra funding from the EU which is devoted to their skills development,” adds Dr Gundy.