NUI Galway to Lead €13 Million SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science

Mar 29 2019 Posted: 13:55 GMT

NUI Galway will lead a new €13 million SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science. The new Centre will train a generation of 100 highly skilled PhD graduates to harness the collective potential of genomics and data science to have transformative scientific, economic and societal impacts.

Announced recently by Minister Heather Humphreys TD Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD and Science Foundation Ireland, the Centre will be led by NUI Galway and will involve partners from UCD, TCD, RCSI and UCC. 

A genome is an organisms complete set of DNA or genetic material and it contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. Genomics is the branch of science that studies genomes to see how they direct the growth and function of cells and organisms and it is a key area of fundamental science with real-world impacts in areas from human health to agriculture and food production. In recent years the field of genomics has undergone a revolution, driven by new technologies that generate data on an enormous scale. In order to make sense of the large and complex datasets arising from analysis of genomes we require highly trained data scientists, who can turn this data into useful information that can increase scientific understanding and enable us to harness the power of genomics to drive innovation and create real-world solutions.

Professor Cathal Seoighe, Stokes Professor of Bioinformatics, and Director of the SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics and Data Science, NUI Galway, said: “Genomes are at the heart of all living things. In combination with modern data science techniques, genomics has the capacity both to reveal deep biological insights and to transform applications of the life sciences from health to food and agriculture.” 

One of the main areas where genomics is having a real world impact is the study of how mutations and abnormalities in our genome causes diseases such as cancer – this is the main research focus of Dr Eva Szegezdi, lecturer in biochemistry at NUI Galway and one of the 6 lead scientists in the centre. Dr Szegezdi said she is, “working to understand how cancer cells can alter their genome to become resistant to chemotherapy and to find ways to exploit mutations in cancer cells to develop new therapies that only kill the cancer cells.”

Genomics has impacts across a broad range of sectors, including human health, industrial biotechnology, food science and agriculture. In health, genomics is already beginning to be used to diagnose rare genetic disorders. It can also predict the risk of common, complex disorders, in which lifestyle plays a role, raising the possibility of interventions targeted towards at-risk individuals. New cancer therapies now target specific genomic mutations found in cancer cells. Genomics is also used to guide improvements in agricultural crops, enabling disease resistance and improving yields. Genomics-guided animal breeding has resulted in large gains in productivity, with further improvements possible. 

For more information about the Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science, email and visit:


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