Minister Halligan visits PMBRC/EIRC laboratories at heart of COVID-19 testing research

12/06/2020 - Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research & Development, John Halligan visited labs at the PMBRC where scientists are developing methods to increase the speed of Covid-19 testing.

Minister Halligan: ‘I want to congratulate Dr Lee Coffey on leading the project here in WIT along with colleagues in UHW and BIOENZ – This project has a broad range of molecular expertise that will help optimise and improve turnaround rates for COVID-19 testing.’

Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research & Development, John Halligan today (12 June 2020) visited PMBRC laboratoriess at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) where scientists are developing a way to increase the speed of Covid-19 testing.

Funding of €118,000 has been made available for the ‘Expanding Laboratory Tests for the COVID-19 Virus’ project through the joint Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and IDA initiative to tackle the scientific challenges posed by COVID-19.

The announcement was made as part of an investment of €1.4 million in 11 projects under the SFI-coordinated research and innovation response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team Effort

The ‘Expanding Laboratory Tests for the COVID-19 Virus’ project team of scientists from WIT’s Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biotechnology Research Centre (PMBRC) and Eco-Innovation Research Centre (EIRC) have teamed up with University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and WIT-spin out company BioEnz Technologies Ltd. to improve the speed of COVID-19 testing.

The team will be led by Dr Lee Coffey, a lead scientist in the PMBRC and founder of BioEnz Technologies, a biological solutions company.

Innovative Response

Minister Halligan said: ‘It is a tremendous indication of the calibre of work and research that is taking place in Waterford IT that it could play a role in helping to develop an innovative response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I want to congratulate Dr Lee Coffey on leading the project here in WIT along with colleagues in UHW and BIOENZ – This project has a broad range of molecular expertise that will help optimise and improve turnaround rates for COVID-19 testing.

World-Class Research

President of WIT, Prof Willie Donnelly also praised the work of the researchers ‘The WIT investment in the development of world class research in key areas biopharma, ICT and Advance Manufacturing has been key to the region’s economic development. I am immensely proud of the research community’s ability to apply their expertise to address Covid-19. This award is a validation not only of the academic research and innovation leadership but our commitment to supporting and protecting our community.

Dr Mark White, Vice President of Research at WIT added: ‘We are so proud to have such wide and varied research interests in WIT and that they are all making impactful contributions to this international Pandemic. The PMBRC’s successful proposal epitomises the engaging, creative and innovative approach we foster amongst our research community here in WIT. We thrive on the demands of finding novel solutions to societal, ecological and economical challenges with our regional and national enterprise partners. The PMBRC and the WIT research community will continue to tackle the many Covid-19 pandemic challenges using this collaborative approach.