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IIBN London & SFI: Looking Small, Thinking Big – How Bacterial Viruses Can Change Medicine As We Know It

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Date/Time
Date(s) - 24/05/2017
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location
Embassy of Ireland

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Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) are partnering together to deliver an evening of insight into the world of bacterial viruses – the most abundant entities on earth. 

Bacterial viruses, or phage, were discovered exactly 100 years ago this year.  At first they were hailed as the solution to bacterial infection – self-replicating nano-machines which rapidly destroy their target bacteria.  However, the discovery of broad spectrum antibiotics essentially put a stop to phage as medicines, except in the East where they continue to be used to this day.  With the advent of antibiotic resistance we are turning to phage as potential solutions for infectious disease, an ongoing scourge which claims over 10 million lives annually.  Prof Colin Hill will deliver a talk focused on the research performed at the University College Cork-based SFI Research Centre – APC Microbiome Institute, which is working together with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to exploit phage to investigate and treat chronic disease.  Prof Hill will be joined by Dr Louise Jopling who leads immunology-focused collaborations at the Johnson and Johnson Innovation Centre in London.  Together, they will have an interactive discussion moderated by Dr Ruth Freeman, Science Foundation Ireland Director of Strategy and Communications on the impact of this industry/academic collaboration and  how it may shape future therapeutics.

Panel Bio’s:

Dr Abigail Ruth Freeman was appointed as Director of Strategy and Communications at SFI  in 2013. 
Prior to her current appointment Dr Freeman has held a series of positions at Science Foundation Ireland.  Most recently she was the Director of Programmes, Enterprise and International Affairs, with responsibility for overseeing all SFI research funding programmes and management of funded awards, as well as the Foundation’s activities in conjunction with industry and international partners.  Prior to this, Dr Freeman held roles as both Director of Enterprise and International Affairs and Head of Industry-Research Development.  Dr Freeman joined SFI as a Scientific Programme Manager in November 2006.
Prior to joining SFI Dr Freeman was working as a researcher at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).  She holds PhD and Bachelor degrees in Genetics from TCD.   During her time there as a student she was awarded a Trinity scholarship, the Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize and the Roberts prize for Biology.  Dr Freeman’s PhD research, on population genetics in hybrid zones, was funded by a prestigious studentship from the Wellcome Trust and was carried out at TCD and ILRI, Nairobi.  She was a founding member of the Trinity Research Staff Association; the first Irish association representing contract researchers.

Colin Hill has a Ph.D in molecular microbiology and is Professor of Microbial Food Safety in the School of Microbiology at University College Cork, Ireland. He has been an SFI Principal Investigator since 2002 (renewed in 2006 and 2010). He is also a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute. His main interests are in infectious disease, particularly in defining the mechanisms of virulence of foodborne pathogens and in developing strategies to prevent and limit the consequences of microbial infections in the gastrointestinal tract. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers and holds 13 patents in this area (ISI H factor of 61, Google H factor of 78). In 2005 Prof. Hill was awarded a D.Sc by the National University of Ireland in recognition of his contributions to research.  In 2009 he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy, the highest honour for an Irish academic.  In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology and together with his colleagues Prof. Gerald Fitzgerald, Prof. Paul Ross and Dr Catherine Stanton he was awarded the Metchnikoff Prize in Microbiology.  He has been President of ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics) since 2012.

Louise Jopling, Ph.D. leads immunology-focused collaborations out of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center located in London. Louise is responsible for identifying the best external innovation opportunities and value-generating partnerships to further develop the organization’s industry-leading portfolio of Immunology investments. In this role, she works to advance the Immunology Therapeutic Area strategy while building a strong scientific reputation and network of experts in London and the broader European innovation community. 

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