ITS Research Award under the HRCI/HRB Joint Funding Scheme 2020.

A project from the research laboratory of Professor Joseph Keane to study ways of correcting the defective immunity seen in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis, is the recipient of the ITS Award through the Health Research Charities Ireland and the Health Research Board (HRCI/HRB) Joint Funding Scheme 2020. It is one of 10 successful projects that will be celebrated at an event with the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, today, 11th December 2020.

For 20 years the research group based at Trinity College Duboin/St James’s has been studying the immune basis of pneumonia in people infected with drug resistant bacteria, like tuberculosis, for which antibiotics are not working. They are addressing the same challenge by studying the lungs of persons with COVD-19. This grant will address infection on cystic fibrosis.  In this new award, the group will collaborate with Professor Ed McKone’s Group (St Vincent’s University Hospital / UCD). The research questions to be answered concern the important cystic fibrosis problem of persisting infection with bacteria that do not respond well to antibiotics. These include Mycobacterium abscessus and pseudomonas infection, which are a massive challenge for person’s living with cystic fibrosis.

This group emerged as winners after a rigorous international peer review, run by the Irish Thoracic Society followed by an external joint panel review run by HRCI and the HRB. The award supports the ITS mission of facilitating high quality research that will benefit patients (adult and paediatric) and contribute to knowledge around the causes, diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions. These include asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, interstitial lung disease, sarcoidosis, sleep disorders and lung cancer.  It also aligns with the ITS strategy of supporting the education of doctors as clinician scientists.  Such activity will underpin the development of the Trinity/St James’s Campus as a so called ‘Academic Medical Centre’. Dr Mary O’Sullivan and Dr Seonadh O’Leary, are co-applicants on the award and they train young scientists to address questions of clinical importance.

This award represents a collaboration with St Vincent’s University Hospital/UCD. Professor Ed McKone is a world leader in cystic fibrosis research, and he did the initial work which generated the rationale for this proposal. The external reviewers recognised St Vincent’s as a cystic fibrosis centre of excellence, and commented that breakthroughs from this research might also be applied to other pulmonary conditions, including COVID-19.

This is the 6th successful project co-funded by the Irish Thoracic Society through the scheme since 2013.

The award is supported by an unrestricted grant from GlaxoSmithKline Ireland.