1. Final Activity Report Summary - MRBCI (MicroRNA Breast Cancer Initiative)
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Abstract: Overview of MicroRNA research at NUI Galway from 2006-2010 MicroRNAs (miR) are an emerging and fascinating area of modern genetics, biochemistry and cell biology. Their role in disease processes also suggests that they will be valuable as both diagnostic and prognostic markers as well as potential therapeutics. Prior to 2005 there was no microRNA research activity within NUI Galway. In 2006 support for the microRNA Breast Cancer Initiative was granted. This initiative had three principle investigators, Drs Fearnhead, Miller and Kerin associated with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at the National University of Ireland, Galway and University College Hospital Galway. Initial difficulties were encountered in recruiting qualified incoming fellows and identifying outgoing fellows has continued to be a problem. However, two incoming fellows have been recruited, 10 manuscripts have been published in peer reviewed journals and microRNA research has begun in several areas beyond breast cancer, including regenerative medicine.
The scope and magnitude of microRNA research now being carried out at NUI Galway is outlined below in detail. The diverse research areas, the transfer of knowledge activities, the dissemination of research and the emergence of key strategic collaborations are all evidence of the success of this transfer-of-knowledge grant; not only is NUI Galway now contributing significantly to miR research but NUI Galway researchers have established working relationships with international leaders in the field. This productivity and networking would not have been possible without the support from the Marie Curie Framework Programme.
As a direct result of this networking in 2011 NUI Galway will host the EMBL workshop on microRNAs that will include Dr Eric Miska and Dr Greg Hannon, two leaders of the field, as speakers. The transfer of knowledge supported by this award has also enhanced the undergraduate learning experience at NUI Galway by exposing science undergraduates to researchers who are actively investigating miR function and regulation, thus significantly aiding the educational mission of the University. Importantly, both incoming fellows have been "captured" as they found continued employment within NUI Galway at the conclusion of their fellowships. Thus the skills these researchers brought are now embedded in the University which continues to benefit from their commitment and experience. Indeed one of the incoming fellows is the key member of a group that has founded a "spin-off" company at NUI Galway to develop therapeutics in the area of regenerative medicine.
An additional benefit was that by bringing Dr Gupta to NUI Galway, we were also subsequently able to recruit her spouse, who is also an microRNA expert. He is now a faculty member and running an independent microRNA research programme within the Pathology Department of the School of Medicine at NUI Galway. In summary, in 2006 there was no microRNA research at NUI Galway but as 2010 ends there is now a critical mass of microRNA researchers spread through various faculties within the University. This is due, in large part, to the transfer of knowledge grant which acted as a "seed" around which these different activities have crystallised.
Groups engaged in microRNA research at NUI Galway in 2010 (date of establishment) Fearnhead group (Pharmacology): miR and cancer cell apoptosis (from 2006) Golden group (Mathematics): Bioinformatic approaches to investigating miR regulation (from 2006) Kerin group: Breast cancer and miR (Medicine); diagnosis, prognosis and treatment (from 2006) SantoCanale group (Medicine): miR and cell cycle regulation (from 2008) Howard group (Medicine): miR and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (from 2007) Samali group (Biochemistry): miRs and endoplasmic reticulum stress (from 2008) Spillane group (Botany): miRs and breast cancer (from 2010) Gupta Group (Pathology): miRs and regulation of ER stress (from 2010).
Subject Descriptors: Genetics; Cell biology; Immunology; Laboratory medicine
Subject Index Codes: Medicine, Health; Biotechnology; Life Sciences