NUI Galway to become beacon for advanced imaging in biological sciences with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative investment

Dr Kerry Thompson, researcher in anatomy at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and Centre for Microscopy and Imaging.
Dec 03 2020 Posted: 10:06 GMT

Funding of $750,000 for cutting edge imaging research to expand knowledge and understanding of health and disease

A scientist at NUI Galway has been awarded more than $750,000 to radically expand microscopy training for scientists and researchers in academia and industry in Ireland.

The funding was confirmed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a philanthropy founded by Dr Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, that matches engineering with grant-making, impact investing and policy and advocacy work.

It is part of a $32 million philanthropic package to support biomedical imaging researchers and the development of technology to drive the discovery of cures, prevention or management of disease.

Dr Kerry Thompson, a researcher in anatomy at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine and Centre for Microscopy and Imaging, will use the funding to support accelerated learning and research in biological sciences.

“We use microscopy to visualise, measure and analyse the biological processes that underlie health and disease,” she said.

“There are hundreds of scientific roles that require specially trained microscopists and imaging scientists. One example is accelerated drug discovery which was used for the development of covid vaccines – it would not have been possible without imaging experts.

“The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative recognises how scientific imaging advances research. The invaluable funding we have secured places imaging scientists at the heart of ground-breaking research to accelerate discovery.”

Dr Thompson is one of 22 imaging scientists in 11 countries around the world who are being supported with CZI’s latest funding round, while NUI Galway is the only institution on the island of Ireland to have been supported by CZI.

The funding will support a new centre of excellence at NUI Galway offering STEM professionals, scientists and researchers cutting edge training in bio-imaging and analysis. 

“Microscopy is the linchpin of modern biological research,” Dr Thompson said.

“The funding will facilitate a paradigm shift in research in Ireland. It will elevate the role that imaging has at the frontline of discovery. The critical expertise and capabilities that we will be able to impart will be invaluable as we develop advanced training programmes to enhance technical aptitude.”

Professor Peter Dockery, Established Professor of Anatomy at NUI Galway, said securing such a significant funding award from the Zuckerbergs was an enormous achievement.

“Dr Thompson has played an instrumental role in the development of the core Centre for Microscopy and Imaging at NUI Galway which provides access to essential imaging technologies for the research community. The work and training that will take place in our university as a result of the funding will take the drive for higher standards and expertise to another level.”

Professor Tim O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Saolta University Healthcare Group, said: “Advanced microscopy is a fundamental component of modern biomedical discovery and this programme will accelerate research in this area.

“This will have benefits for multiple other research groups in NUI Galway and throughout the country. We are delighted to receive this prestigious award for Dr Thompson which is based on a long track record of advanced microscopy in the Discipline of Anatomy at NUI Galway.”


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