22/09/2004

Queen's open new £4.3m research institute

A £4.3 million research institute which will help develop advanced medical plastics has been officially opened at Queen's University today.

The Medical Polymers Research Institute (MPRI), located within the Ashby building, will bring together researchers from the Schools of Chemical and Mechanical Engineering and the School of Pharmacy's McClay Research Centre to develop new materials for medical devices, such as plastic ventilator tubes, catheters, implants and prostheses.

The new institute was officially opened by Queen's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, who said the link between pharmaceutical scientists and engineers was a "unique selling point" for the institute.

"It will be essential for the development of new bioactive materials and will build on the vast experience of world-class scientists from both disciplines," Professor Gregson said.

"This institute is an excellent example of Queen's commitment to high-quality research which both boosts local economic development and contributes to the well-being of the wider community."

The Institute's Director, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Raymond Murphy, said the new state-of-the-art research facility will carry out leading edge, industrially relevant and market leading fundamental and applied research on medical polymers for both medical devices and advanced medical packaging systems.

"The Institute will provide a research facility to support the rapidly growing healthcare sector in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which has one of the highest concentrations of medical devices companies in the world," Professor Murphy said.

"It will allow these industries to further exploit the high technology, value-added sector of a world market that is currently worth £11 billion per annum, with an annual growth rate of between 10 and 15 per cent."

The MPRI is one of 18 Research and Technological Development (RTD) Centres of Excellence - the original funding decisions were announced by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment in 2003.

Funding for the Institute came from the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (PEACE II), administered by Invest Northern Ireland.

(MB/GMCG)

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