The establishment of a dedicated institute for the study of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, has been announced by the University of Limerick today. The Midwest Institute for Infectious Diseases at UL has already secured seed funding of €3.5million in a philanthropic contribution from the JP McManus Pro-Am 2021.
The Midwest Institute for Infectious Diseases is being developed to harness core expertise, including medicine, health sciences, mathematics & statistics and life sciences, that exists at the University of Limerick. Research at the institute will inform future planning for the response to COVID-19 and potential future outbreaks of other notifiable diseases.
The new research institute will leverage these academic expert areas together with the support of the UL Hospitals Group and community health partners in the region.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents many challenges societally, individually, economically and politically. A sound scientific approach to better understand the extent of the virus is central to an informed, sustainable response to the management of the pandemic,” said Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President for Research at UL.
It is hoped that the institute will act as a regional testing and research centre for this and potential future viral outbreaks.
“Having a dedicated research institute for infectious diseases at UL allows us to put state of the art testing and research at the centre of a comprehensive understanding of viral disease in the Midwest region, and with this, an informed approach can be taken to detection, modelling and management of current and future viral outbreaks,“ she continued.
“The collective expertise that UL has brought together will ensure the Midwest has the information to tackle COVID-19 based on the best science and research. It will in the first instance build a state-of-the-art laboratory at UL’s Park Point site to allow our researchers, clinicians, policymakers and medical community to identify who has been infected and link these data with national programmes aimed at contact tracing and measuring immunity in the population.
Epidemics threaten us at regular intervals and the clear lesson from COVID-19 is that we need to stay prepared to tackle them with public health measures that are informed by the best science available,” said Dr Des Fitzgerald, UL President.
“The establishment of this institute at UL will lead to national health and economic benefits from real-time data capture and analysis to inform the wider societal and economic response to COVID-19, including for example informing the impact of a phased return to work. In parallel it will shape our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on people who have recovered from the disease,” continued Dr Fitzgerald.
Drawing on existing expertise across a range of disciplines including psychology, dietetics and physiotherapy, the institute will provide a focal point for the future development of an extended research programme at UL focusing on post COVID recovery.
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