The pioneering team from the Cork Cancer Research Centre were presented with the top Pfizer UCC Innovation Through Teamwork award at a ceremony in UCC this week.
The team devised a new form of cancer treatment which involves delivering a powerful electrical pulse directly to the site of a tumour. The impact of the electrical pulse makes the tumour temporarily porous, allowing it absorb up to 1,000 times the amount of chemotherapy medication normally delivered to a tumour.
“This novel approach to cancer treatment enables clinicians to harness a patient’s own immune system response, greatly improving his or her chances of a cancer-free future,” a team spokesman said.
Five entries were shortlisted, with the runner’s-up prize going to EMIGRE — a project which examined contemporary Irish emigration trends.
The project team studied peoples’ reasons for leaving Ireland, tracked and represented their experiences abroad, and assessed their attitudes about returning to Ireland in the future.
The audience picked the third prize winner, a project which studied brain injuries which occur during birth.
This team, which had members in Ireland, Canada and the US, developed a device which can quickly identify the severity of the injury at birth, allowing a clinical team to determine the best treatment.
The awards scheme was designed to foster an environment where industry and academia can partner to inspire innovative thinking with the potential to impact on society.
Research and Innovation Minister Seán Sherlock hailed all who entered the awards scheme, and said the partnership between the pharma giant and UCC will strengthen Ireland’s position as a world-class research and innovation hub.
Dr Liam Tully, director of Pfizer’s Global Process Development Centre, said his company is passionate about research and development.
“Working in partnership with UCC, we are committed to highlighting the importance of teamwork and the benefits that a collaboration between industry and academia can bring to clinicians and their patients.”
The entries were judged by an independent panel, including Julie O’Neill, Alexion Pharma International, Deirdre Glenn, Enterprise Ireland and Leonard Hobbs from Intel Ireland.