Two Trinity professors nominated for a US-Ireland research innovation award

Research on gene therapy for fighting blindness and providing nutritional and social support to elderly both nominated

Professor Jane Farrar from Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology and Professor Sabina Brennan, a research assistant from Trinity’s Institute of Neuroscience, have been nominated for a US-Ireland Research Innovation award. Both professors are shortlisted in the Higher Education Institution category.

The awards are a joint initiative between the Royal Irish Academy and the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, with award ideas originating in Irish organisations that make a social and economic impact through research innovation in meeting market needs. The awards are presented in three categories: an Irish higher education institution or research institution with links to the US corporate sector in Ireland, an Irish start-up with US links and the corporate award for innovation in the Irish operations of a US company.

Professor Farrar was nominated for developing gene therapies for treating inherited blindness. Farrar’s development of Genable Technologies was acquired by Spark Therapeutics Inc, a global leader in gene therapy based in the United States.

Speaking to Trinity News, Professor Farrar said: “We were really delighted to be shortlisted in the HEI category for an Innovation Award this year. We are delighted that Spark Therapeutics, the global leader in gene therapy, in 2016 acquired Genable Technologies, a Trinity company established to expedite development of gene therapies for dominantly inherited docular disorders.”

Professor Brennan’s research focuses on understanding dementia risk and protective factors to establish how a decline in cognitive function might be prevented or delayed. ReLAte is a mealtime service that tries to tackle social isolation and malnutrition in older adults. The research was funded by Home Instead Senior Care Inc., a US care provider, to investigate the relationship-based nutritional intervention in older adults living at alone.

Professor Brennan told Trinity News that: “It is a great honour to be shortlisted for the US-Ireland Research Innovation awards. The fact that two of projects from Trinity College Dublin have been nominated is a testament to Trinity’s commitment to innovation and research for impact”. She continued: “The RelAte project was delivered by an amazing team of researchers at Trinity College and the research could not have happened without funding from US company Home Instead Senior Care Inc. or without the wonderful participants who gave so freely of their time.”

Dr Goron Elliott of Trinity Research and Innovation said: “Trinity is focused on developing industry partnerships with our talented researchers and excellent infrastructure to create economic and societal benefits – we are delighted to have two US-Ireland collaborations represented.”

Sarah Meehan

Sarah is a 2nd year German and Economics student.