Cork, Ireland, January 2022 – €5.6 million in funding has been awarded to Prof Subrata Ghosh, a global leader in research into Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, to establish a world-leading research lab at University College Cork (UCC), through a prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme award.

Prof Ghosh will lead the new AUGMENT project at UCC’s APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre, to investigate precision medicine in relation to gut inflammation and the microbiome. This will contribute to furthering research in IBD, Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which affect 40,000 people in Ireland and ten million people globally every year.

The grant will resource a science research lab, and equipment, as well as 13 personnel, to investigate the nascent area of the microbiome in relation to gut inflammation and how it can be influenced by precision medicine to address critical health challenges.

Prof Ghosh is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the highest honours bestowed for leadership in life sciences and health research in those countries. Attracted to UCC from the University of Birmingham (UK) because of the world-class research in microbes and food carried out at APC Microbiome Ireland and Teagasc, Prof Ghosh says that many of the important clues to what causes Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, both currently incurable, are emerging from their research.

 “Chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer are major causes of disability and death in Ireland and in the world. Current treatments are limited by their efficacy ceiling and adverse effects” commented Prof Ghosh. “Increasing the efficacy of currently used targeted therapies and minimising adverse events through modulation of the gut microbiome may have a major impact on the life of the sufferers and address the economic burden of expensive therapies that prove to be ineffective. This SFI Research Professorship award aims to work with those affected by chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer to find novel solutions that enhance the efficacy of current drugs and minimise harmful side effects by understanding the role of the gut microbiome in mediating the action of drugs.”

University College Cork President, Prof John O’Halloran, commented: “There is a world-class research community at UCC working on research on our microbiome. This SFI Professorship Award by Professor Ghosh is vital in furthering our understanding of the interconnection between our digestive tract and a disease that impacts so many. This success will advance both our research capacity and success in patient outcomes.”

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at SFI said, “Recruiting world-leading scientific talent to Ireland is a key priority for SFI in partnership with our higher education institutions. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Prof Subrata Ghosh and wish him every success with his research programme. His appointment will further enhance both UCC’s and Ireland’s reputation as a location for world-class microbiome research.”

APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre Director, Prof Paul Ross, commented: “APC are absolutely delighted to attract such an internationally renowned clinical researcher as Prof Ghosh in the area of Gastroenterology and in particular in gut inflammation. This is in line with one of the main goals of our recently launched strategic plan - which is to build critical mass in clinical sciences which relate to investigating the role of the human gut microbiome in health and disease.”

Prof Paula O’Leary, Dean of the School of Medicine UCC, commented: "Personalised treatment strategies in medicine mark one of the major advances that will influence medical practice in coming years. This SFI professorship and precision-medicine-based research led by Prof Ghosh will help advance and speed up the availability of new patient-specific solutions for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as other inflammatory disorders."  

Prof Helen Whelton, Head of College of Medicine and Health at UCC concluded “This is great news for patients and the public as the SFI award will facilitate the development of new knowledge and the translation of scientific advances in microbiome research to treatment and care for patients. We are delighted that through this award, SFI have recognised Prof Ghosh and his outstanding research track record. We look forward to a very productive relationship between Prof Ghosh and our researchers in APC Microbiome Ireland here at UCC.”