Infectious Disease

The Mission Statement of the Infectious Disease Research Cluster (IDRC) is
"To promote excellence in Infectious Disease research"
The Infectious Disease Research Cluster (IDRC) will focus on relevant social, agricultural, scientific, clinical and educational issues related to Infectious Diseases and to the health and economy of the country. The goal of the Cluster is to contribute to research, education and policy development related to Infectious Diseases by the development of appropriate diagnostics, treatments and surveillance for the prediction, prevention, detection and management of microbial pathogen-associated diseases of humans, animals and plants. The Cluster will achieve these goals through promoting interdisciplinary collaborative research. This work will positively impact on undergraduate and postgraduate education and training initiatives and promote public awareness of Infectious Diseases.
Background and Nature of Infectious Disease
Many microorganisms (virus, bacterium, parasite or fungus) have the potential to be associated with infectious disease. These pathogens can be transmitted via water, air, food, or blood. According to the World Health Organization, there are 175 infectious species that are considered as emerging pathogens and 75% of these are zoonotic (transmissible from animal to human).

Infectious diseases are the major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, in developing and industrialized countries alike. Over 1,500 people die every hour as the result of infectious disease. Despite dramatic advances in our understanding of the biology of microbial pathogens and the use of successful prevention and control efforts such as the introduction of antimicrobials, infectious diseases remain an important concern in public health, with over 13 million deaths each year.

In addition, while some previously epidemic infectious diseases have been controlled, new diseases emerge and old diseases re-emerge, sometimes in drug-resistant forms. There are many diseases for which no vaccine exists or for which antibiotics are only minimally effective, for example the increased prevalence of bacteria with resistance to multiple antibiotics has received widespread press coverage. Major advances in our understanding of infectious disease and of methods to control these infections are greatly needed.
Key Research Areas
The research focus of the Cluster includes the following areas:
  • Microbial Pathogenicity
  • Inflammation and immunity
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Molecular Diagnostics
  • Epidemiology

 Principle Investigators  
 Dr Tom.Barry
 Dr.Aoife Boyd
 Dr.Cyril Carroll
 Dr. Gerard Fleming
 Dr. Majella Maher
 Dr. Dearbhaile Morris
 Professor Martin Cormican
 Dr. Jakki Cooney
Dr. Conor O'Byrne
 Professor Terry Smith
News and Events
IDA announces support for collaboration between NUI Galway and Beckman Coulter Inc.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD recently announced that Beckman Coulter Inc, a worldwide provider of biomedical testing systems, with the support of IDA Ireland, is to launch an innovative four year collaborative research programme with NUI Galway in the field of Molecular Diagnostics.
Headquartered in Fullerton, California, Beckman Coulter is a leading manufacturer of biomedical testing instrument systems, tests and supplies that simplify and automate laboratory processes. The company's facility in Galway manufactures a wide range of chemistry, haematology and immunoassay reagent products used in conjunction with the company's diagnostic systems. Molecular Diagnostics is a major growth sector in the diagnostics industry and has a market potential of $2bn annually. It can provide rapid and sensitive alternatives to traditional microbiological tests and immunoassays by detecting molecules of DNA from bacteria, viruses and cancer cells in patient samples with 'sample-to-answer' results.

This investment represents the first collaborative research project undertaken by Beckman Coulter in Ireland. The collaboration will involve the creation of a research team of 10 Masters and PhD researchers based in NUI Galway and building on Intellectual Property already developed in the university.

Welcoming the ground breaking collaboration Minister Martin said "Government policy and IDA Ireland's strategy is working to establish Ireland as a world class strategic location for research and development in the fields of science and technology and to foster novel approaches to R&D through innovative investments and industry academic partnerships".

"IDA Ireland in supporting this complex industrial research programme between Beckman Coulter and NUI Galway is building on historic research in NUI Galway which was funded by Enterprise Ireland. NUI Galway's unrivalled reputation as a centre of excellence in the field of molecular biology diagnostics was a major factor in the decision by the company to proceed with this research collaboration. The high quality of the Beckman Coulter management team and its Galway workforce were critical considerations in attracting this next generation R&D investment to Galway. It is anticipated that success in this project potentially could lead to future manufacture of the company's Molecular Diagnostic assays in Galway" concluded the Minister.

Mike Whelan, Group Vice President of Beckman Coulter's High Sensitivity Testing group said "With these agreements, we will take a big step toward the launch our 'sample-to-result' molecular diagnostic system, including a differentiated menu of moderately complex tests that address urgent clinical decisions. The agreements give us access to intellectual property for the development of tests for infectious diseases including sepsis; hospital-acquired infections; and sexually transmitted diseases, such as Chlamydia and Neisseria."

Mr Whelan added, "The combination of NUI Galway technologies with ours gives us a glimpse of the next generation of molecular diagnostics. Our goal is that our simplified, automated solution will allow these time-consuming, complex, and labour-intensive tests to migrate into the routine hospital lab. So physicians will get diagnostic information within hours, instead of days or weeks, and be able to begin treating patients much sooner."

Welcoming this new partnership with Beckman Coulter, NUI Galway President, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh praised the work of the University s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) and the Microbiology Department who are leading this research initiative. "The work of these departments harnesses the skills of leading edge researchers who are addressing some of the most challenging and important issues at the frontier of modern biomedical research - with the ultimate goal of changing the way patients are treated and healed. The research and technology development collaboration with Beckman Coulter will ultimately improve patient care and is a strong endorsement from industry of the quality and importance of the research being undertaken at NUI Galway."

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Terry Smith, Director of the NCBES, and Molecular Diagnostics Programme Director said "This is a very significant research collaboration for both NUI Galway and Beckman Coulter, in that it leverages the combined diagnostics test and instrumentation capabilities of both partners resulting in the development of break-through technologies for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in humans. These partnership agreements also validate the infectious disease molecular diagnostics test R&D being carried out at NUI Galway, highlighting our world-leadership in this area."
21 January 2008 - Author: IDA Press Office
Gut and Microbe Interaction During Infection

Steering Group
Interim Steering Group

  • Dr. Aoife Boyd
  • Dr. Jackie Cooney
  • Professor Martin Cormican
  • Dr. Majella Maher
  • Dr. Dearbhaile Morris
  • Dr. Conor O?Byrne