A new strategic alliance between ICON and University College Dublin (UCD) reflects a shared vision to transform scientific research, teaching, training and innovation in Ireland, the partners say.  

The global provider of outsourced development services, which is based in the Irish capital, has established the ICON Newman Fellowship in Genomics as one component of the partnership.

This is a two-year post-doctoral fellowship based at the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science and at the College’s Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory.

The first recipient of the fellowship is Colm Ryan, a software developer with a PhD in bioinformatics, who will conduct research into the control of gene expression by inherited variants, focusing on cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

ICON will also become a lead benefactor of the new UCD Science Centre, a 67,000 sq m building that will house Ireland’s largest science community.

Enhancing drug development

In addition, ICON and UCD will work collaboratively on ways to enhance drug development.

This programme has “the potential to include tailored teaching programmes and internships in clinical research that will be available in Ireland and internationally through some of UCD’s university partners”, the partners note.

Model collaboration

UCD president Dr Hugh Brady described the strategic partnership with ICON as “a model for industry-academia collaborations”.

The company’s commitment to invest in both capital infrastructure and emerging research talent “demonstrates their visionary leadership and places ICON in that exceptional group of leaders who appreciate that world-class facilities are fundamental for Irish universities to compete globally”, Brady commented.  

For ICON, it is “important that we continue to develop our scientific capabilities and build a pool of talent that can support our growth plans” – which includes consolidating ties between industry and academia, said chief executive officer Ciaran Murray.

As Ireland’s largest third-level institution and one of Europe’s foremost research universities, University College Dublin is “at the leading edge of scientific knowledge and discovery in Ireland and shares ICON’s commitment to innovation”, Murray added.