2019 President's Award for Innovation
Congratulations to NICB Associate Director and Tissue Engineering PI Dr. Finbarr O’Sullivan, who received the 2019 President's Award for Innovation in the Academic and Research Category (Monday, April 8th at DCU) for his pioneering cornea stem-cell regeneration research!
Pictured (l-r) Prof. Andy Way (DCU Adapt), Kevin Cogan, Prof. Brian MacCraith (President, DCU), Dr. Finbarr O'Sullivan (NICB)
Dr O’Sullivan’s research has focused on the development of cultured cornea-limbal stem cells to regenerate the cornea surface for the treatment of patients.
Maintaining clarity and integrity of the cornea - the eye’s outermost interface with the world - are essential for human vision, and corneal disease or injuries represent leading causes of blindness worldwide.
This highly innovative research programme, led by Dr. Finbarr O’Sullivan at the NICB, has developed the use of cultured cornea-limbal stem cells to regenerate the cornea surface of such patients. The work has been translated into successful clinical applications for a number of Irish patients.
The first cornea-limbal stem cell transplant in Ireland was performed on June 7th, 2016 at the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital. Patrick Godfrey of Co Tipperary underwent the procedure during an hour-long operation by Mr William Power, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH) Dublin, in an attempt to restore his deteriorating sight.
While this technique has been available in a number of other countries, until 2016 this was not a treatment option available in Ireland. The operation represents the culmination of a collaboration between researchers, scientists and clinicians in the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB) in Dublin City University (DCU), the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH) and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS), which is also the National Eye Bank.
Co-Lead NICB researcher on the project, Dr. Finbarr O’Sullivan said “As a researcher it is wonderful to see something you work at in the laboratory making it into the real world to improve someone’s life. This only came about due to the collaboration of effort between the three partners in developing the process.”
Speaking at this year’s President’s Awards for Innovation, the President of DCU Professor Brian MacCraith said: “DCU has a well-established reputation for innovation, based on our effective translation of knowledge created through research into outcomes that benefit society and the economy.
Today we celebrate excellence in Innovation as demonstrated by our students and our staff. The impact on people’s lives through such innovations is tremendous.
I congratulate our 2019 recipients on their wonderful success.”