School of Biotechnology

The SoBT at 40

Leagan Gaeilge Anseo

Dublin City University (DCU*; formerly NIHE Dublin) celebrated its first 40 years of operation in November 2020. Throughout these years, the School of Biotechnology^ has been a dynamic unit within the university's science faculty. It provided NIHE's first PhD graduates in 1985 and its first BSc Biotechnology graduates in 1986. The School's innovations and successes in research and teaching have continued up to the present day.

This webpage records some key events and achievements during our first four decades.
It details the School's immense contribution to DCU's development, and to the flourishing of the life sciences and of science-based industry in Ireland.
The School's core strength has always been its people: their talent, quality and dedication continue to drive our growth and development into our fifth decade.
Many have contributed to this story, but particular mention is due to Keith Rochfort (who constructed this webpage) and to Pádraig Walsh (who recorded the School's 1980-1997 history).

Assoc. Prof. Ciarán Fagan 

(*known as the National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE) 1980-89; granted autonomous university status under the Dublin City University Act of 1989)
(^known as the School of Biological Sciences 1980-1998)


Cheiliúraigh Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath (OCBÁC*) a céad 40 blian ar an bhfód i mí Shamhna 2020.
I rith na blianta seo, bhí Scoil na Biteicneolaíochta^ in haonad bríomhar i nDámh Eolaíochta na hollscoile.
Sholáthraigh sí a céad céimithe PhD do NIHE i 1985 agus a céad céimithe BSc i mBiteicneolaíocht i 1986.
Lean an Scoil le nuálaíocht agus rathúlacht i dtaighde agus i múinteoireacht go dtí an am faoi láthair.

Sa leathanach idirlíne seo, déantar taifead ar roinnt de na príomh-eachtraí agus gaiscí i rith ár gcéad daichead blian.
Tugtar sonraí ar ionchur ollmhór na Scoile d'fhorbairt OCBÁC, agus d'fhás maith na neolaíochtaí beatha agus do thionscal na heolaíochta in Éirinn.
Neart a foirne a bhí ina príomh-láidreacht don Scoil riamh: is iad a mbua, ardchaighdeán agus dúthracht a spreagfaidh lenár fás agus forbairt sna blianta atá romhainn.
Is iomaí duine a chuir cloch leis an gcarn seo, ach is cóir tagairt faoi leith a dhéanamh do Keith Rochfort (a thóg an leathanach idirlíne seo) agus do Phádraig Walsh (a bhailigh stair na Scoile 1980-1997).

Ollamh Comhlách Ciarán Ó'Fágáin

(*darb ainm An Foras Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachais (NIHE) BÁC 1980-89; bronnadh stádas ollscoile uathrialaitheach air faoin Acht um Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath 1989.)
(^faoin teideal Scoil na nEolaíochtaí Bitheolaíochta 1980-1998)


1980 - 1989

(L-R) John Hume, former President of DCU Danny O'Hare and Jean Kennedy Smith

1980

President:

Dr. Daniel O' Hare (1980-1999)

1980

Head of School: 

Dr. Owen Ward (1980 - 1986)

National Institute for Higher Education Dublin

1980

Event/Milestone

National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE) Dublin enrolls is first students on its Glasnevin campus. Foundation of the School of Biological Sciences

1980

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

Recombinant DNA biochemistry and DNA sequencing earn Nobel recognition (Chemistry)

The NIHE in 1982: View from Collins Ave. of the Henry Grattan building

1982

The NIHE as viewed from Collins Avenue, with the Henry Grattan building seen in the background

1983

Biotechnology Industry in Ireland

The first recombinant biopharma plant in Ireland opens: Schering-Plough, Brinny, Inishannon, Co. Cork

1984

Event/Milestone

The first graduates from BSc Analytical Science programme graduate (a programme delivered jointly with the School of Chemical Sciences).

1984

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

The Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine is awarded for the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies.

1985

Event/Milestone

NIHE's first two PhD graduations come from the School of Biological Sciences.

These are the first Doctoral graduates in Ireland outside the University sector. 

1985

Publication Metrics

Publication of the School's first peer-reviewed research paper:

Ryan EM & Ward OP. (1985) Study of the effect of beta-1,3-glucanase from Basidiomycete QM-806 on yeast extract production. Biotech Lett 7: 409-412. DOI: 10.1007/BF01166213

1986 Graduates

1986

Event/Milestone

The first 14 graduates from BSc. in Biotechnology graduate.

The first five graduates from research MSc projects.

Chairman's Medal awarded to Siobhán Bergin.

1987

Head of School

Prof. Martin Clynes (1987-1989)

1987

Event/Milestone

The National Cell and Tissue Culture Centre established as one of three Bio Research Ireland-sponsored laboratories

1987

National Research Funds

BioResearch Ireland established to commercialise ideas and expertise of Irish colleges and research institutions.

Inaugeration

1989

Event/Milestone

The NIHE gains autonomous university status under the Dublin City University Act (No. 15 of 1989), signed into law by Uachtarán na hÉireann on 11 June 1989.

"2.—(1) The National Institute for Higher Education, Dublin, shall by virtue of this section become and be a university and shall be known in the Irish language as Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath and in the English language as Dublin City University and shall perform the functions assigned to it by the Act of 1980 as amended by this Act."

The Original DCU Logo

1989

Event/Milestone

The first DCU logo is commissioned.

1990 - 1999

1990

Head of School

Prof. Richard O'Kennedy (1990 - 1999)

National Cell and Tissue Culture Centre

1991

Event/Milestone

The Albert College Extension is completed, providing additional laboratory and teaching space.

The National Cell and Tissue Culture Centre moves to purpose-built laboratories in new Hamilton research building.

1992

Publication Metrics

The number of non-self citations of School publications exceeds 1,000.

1993

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

The invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and oligonucleotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis is awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry

1994

Milestone/Event

City Biologic, a School-based campus company established by Dr. Brid Quilty and Mr. Robert Lawson, begins operations.

Launch of taught MSc. in Biological Sciences

1994

Publication Metrics

The School's total number of published papers exceeds 100.

The number of non-self citations of School publications exceeds 2,500.

1995

Milestone/Event

The School celebrates its 50th PhD graduate.

The cumulative number of graduates from BSc in Biotechnology exceeds 300.

1996

Milestone/Event

The Orla Benson Award for Postgraduate Research is established.

Stabilising Protein Function

1997

Publication Metrics

Publication of 'Stabilizing Protein Function' by Ciarán Ó Fágáin

1998

Event/Milestone

School of Biological Sciences changes its title to School of Biotechnology.

Chancellor's medal awarded to PhD graduate Anthony J. Killard

1998

Publication Metrics

The School's total number of published papers exceeds 200.

1999

Event/Milestone

The School completes its move to the new Lonsdale building

NCSR Logo

1999

National Research Funds

Higher Education Authority PRTLI 1: Establishment of National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) & other DCU research centers

2000 - 2009

2001

Head of School

Prof. Richard O' Kennedy (2000 - 2001)

2000

Director General

Prof. Albert Pratt (2000-2001)

2000

Event/Milestone

The School celebrates its 100th PhD graduation from the School.

The cumulative number of graduates from BSc in Biotechnology exceeds 500.

Chancellor's Medal awarded to Edward T Mee.

2000

Publication Metrics

The number of non-self citations of School publications exceeds 10,000.

SFI Logo

2000

National Research Funds

Foundation of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) 

2001

Event/Milestone

Prof Richard O’Kennedy is awarded the Royal Irish Academy Biochemistry Medal and Fellowship of the Institute of Biology of Ireland.

2001

Publication Metrics

Dr. Brid Quilty edited “Abstracts from the Eleventh Irish Environmental Researchers' Colloquium: Water and Our Environment, Dublin City University, January 2001.” Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 101B, no. 3, 2001, pp. 255–271.

2001

President

Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski (2001 - 2009)

Head of School

Dr. Brid Quilty (2001 - 2004)

2001

Biotechnology in Ireland

World's largest recombinant biopharma facility begins construction: Wyeth, Grange Castle, Dublin 22

IRCSET Logo

2001

National Research Funds

Establishment of Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) 

2002

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

The development of mass and of nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometric techniques for the study of biological macromolecules is awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry.

DCU logo

2002

Event/Milestone

DCU commissions a new logo to represent it

ICNT

2003

Event/Milestone

The establishment of International Centre for Neurotherapeutics (ICNT) within DCU

2003

Publication Metrics

The School's total number of published papers exceeds 300.

2003

Event/Milestone

Launch of taught MSc course in Bioinformatics (with School of Computing as partner)

NICB

2003

National Research Funds

Higher Education Authority PRTLI 3: Establishment of National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology (NICB)

2005

Head of School

Prof. Ian Marison (2005 - 2010)

2006

Event/Milestone

Launch of taught MSc course in Biomedical Diagnostics

Trends in Biotechnology

2006

Publication Metrics

Article co-authored by Dr. Ciarán Ó Fágáin is featured on front cover of 'Trends in Biotechnology'

2006

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

The discovery of RNA interference and of gene silencing by double-stranded RNA earns the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Launch of T3

2007

Event/Milestone

Launch of PRTLI Cycle 4-funded 'Targeted Therapeutics and Theranostics' Structured PhD Programme (T3) with ICNT.

2007

Event/Milestone

Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award presented to PhD graduate Barry J Ryan.

T3 Logo

2007

National Research Funds

Higher Education Authority PRTLI 4: Establishment of Targeted Therapeutics & Theranostics (T3) structured PhD programme with International Centre for Neurotherapeutics (ICNT)

2008

Event/Milestone

The first 20 graduates from BSc in Genetics & Cell Biology graduate.

2008

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

The discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) earns the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

2009

The School celebrates its 200th PhD graduation.

Inauguration of the School's Annual Research Day.

2009

Publication Metrics

The number of non-self citations of School publications exceeds 20,000.

2009

Alumni Wall Awardees

Dr. Ena Prosser

2010 - 2019

2010

Event/Milestone

Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award presented to PhD graduate Noeleen J Loughran.

Launch of MSc in Bioprocess Engineering with Trinity College Dublin as partner.

2010

Publication Metrics

The School's total number of published papers exceeds 500.

DCU Graduation: President says universities must focus on developing 'citizens of the world'

2010

President

Prof. Brian MacCraith (2010 - 2020)

2010

Head of School

Prof. Ian Marison (2010)

2010

Alumni Wall Awardees

Ger Brophy

Donal O' Shea

NRF

2010

National Research Funds

Higher Education Authority PRTLI 5: Establishment of National Bioanalytical Research Facility (NRF), and structured PhD 'BioAnalysis and Therapeutics' (BioAT) programme with NUI Maynooth and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

 

2011

Head of School

Dr. Michael O'Connell (2011)

BioAT

2011

Event/Milestone

Launch of PRTLI Cycle 5-funded BioAnalysis and Therapeutics Structured PhD Programme (BioAT) with RCSI, NUI Maynooth (members with DCU of the 3U Partnership) and IT Tallaght to recruit 29 graduates. 

2011

Event/Milestone

Chancellor’s Medal (Postgraduate) awarded to Paul Conroy.

2011

Alumni Wall Awardees

John Jordan

Protein Chromatography

2011

Publication Metrics

Publication of 'Protein Chromatography', edited by Dr. Dermot Walls & Dr. Sinéad T Loughran and featuring chapters by several School staff members.

2011

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded for the discovery of innate immunity and dendritic cells.

2012

Head of School

Dr. Ciarán Fagan (2012 - 2014)

MicroRNAs

2012

Publication Metrics

'MicroRNAs as Tools in Biopharmaceutical Production' book is edited by Dr. Niall Barron, and featuring chapters by School and NICB staff members

3U Partnership Logo

2012

Event/Milestone

Launch of 3U Partnership, a major collaboration between NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University (DCU) and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), on 26 June.

2012

Biotechnology in Ireland

Amgen expands its Dún Laoghaire facility.

IRC Logo

2012

National Research Funds

Irish Research Council established as successor to IRCSET & IRCHSS

2012

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

Nobel prize in Chemistry awarded for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.

2013

Event/Milestone

Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award presented to Sean Fitzgerald

Membrane Filtration

2013

Publication Metrics

Publication of 'Membrane Filtration' by Dr. Greg Foley.

ACS Cover

2013

Publication Metrics

Paper co-authored by Dr. Bríd Quilty is featured on front cover of ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 1: (4) 393-402.

2013

Alumni Wall Awardees

Marian Corcoran

2013

Biotechnology Industry in Ireland

Alexion establishes its global supply chain and operations headquarters in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Prof. Richard O' Kennedy inducted to the Royal Irish Academy

2014

Event/Milestone

Prof Richard O’Kennedy is elected to Membership of the Royal Irish Academy

2014

Event/Milestone

Prof. Martin Clynes received a Nature Lifetime Achievement Award in Postgraduate Supervision.

2014

Event/Milestone

The Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Awards presented to Valerie Fitzgerald and Sarah Gilgunn.

2015

Head of School

Dr. Sandra O'Neill

Michael O'Connell Memorial Medal

2015

Event/Milestone

First presentation of the Dr. Michael O'Connell Memorial Award to the top graduating student in the BSc Genetics & Cell Biology.

Water Is Life Journal Cover

2015

Publication Metrics

Dr. Bríd Quilty co-authors two chapters in book: 'Water is Life, Progress to secure safe water provision in rural Uganda'.

DCU Logo 2 V2

2016

Event/Milestone

DCU commissions a new logo for the university

2016

Event/Milestone

The School celebrates its 300th PhD graduation from the School.

Chancellor's Medal presented to PhD graduate Sarah Gilgunn.

2016

Event/Milestone

Completion of the DCU Incorporation programme on 30 Sept: Church of Ireland College of Education, Mater Dei Institute of Education and St Patrick's College, Drumcondra fully integrated on the Drumcondra and All Hallows DCU campuses.

 

2016

Biotechnology in Ireland

BMS constructs biologics manufacturing plant in Cruiserath, Dublin 15. Shire announces major biotechnology investment in Dunboyne, Co. Meath.

2017

Event/Milestone

Expansion of INTRA to 30 credits for Year 3 Biotechnology and Genetics and Cell Biology.

Introduction of choice between Biopharma and Life Science streams for Year 4 students.

Cumulative number of graduates from BSc in Biotechnology exceeds 1,000.

Protein Chromatography Second Edition

2017

Publication Metrics

Publication of 'Protein Chromatography' (2nd ed), edited by Dr. Dermot Walls and Dr. Sinéad T Loughran, featuring chapters by several School staff members.

2017

Alumni Wall Awardees

John McGrath

2017

Biotechnology in Ireland

Almac Group establishes its European campus in Dundalk, Co. Louth.

2017

Chief Technical Officer

Mr. Graham Dodrill (2017 - Present)

Emma Harper

2018

Event/Milestone

The Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award is presented to Emma Harper.

10th Research Day

2018

Event/Milestone

The School's 10th School Research Day is held. 

Invent Awards

2018

Event/Milestone

On 19 April, the Applied Bioprocessing Laboratory is presented with the '2017 DCU Invent Award for Industrial Engagement'.

Presidents Award

2018

Event/Milestone

The President's Award for Engagement (Student Category: Special Merit) is awarded to the Biological Research Society for its outreach work on the Ballymun Aisling project.

Grad Ireland

2018

Event/Milestone

The School's MSc in Bioprocess Engineering wins best taught course award at Grad Ireland dinner on 26 November.

2018

Head of School

Prof. Anne Parle-McDermott (2018 - 2020)

2018

Alumni Wall Awardees

Sinéad McCluskey

2018

Biotechnology in Ireland

MSD Biotech to construct new plant in Swords, Co. Dublin.

WuXi Biologics announces new single-use technology facility in Dundalk, Co. Louth.

2018

Publication Metrics

The School's total number of published papers exceeds 900.
 

BQ Book

2018

Publication Metrics

Publication of 'Degradation of fat using bioaugmentation: Optimization of a bioaugmentation product' by Dr. Markella Tzirita, Dr. Seraphim Papanikolaou, and Dr. Brid Quilty.

Diagnostics

2018

Publication Metrics

Front cover image of article by Dr. Caroline Murphy and Dr. Aoife Crawley (R O’Kennedy lab) on July issue of Diagnostics (DOI: 10.3390/diagnostics8020039).

 

Immunoassays

2018

Publication Metrics

Publication of 'Immunoassays: Development, Applications & Future Trends' by Prof. Richard O'Kennedy and Dr. Caroline Murphy in May.

2018

Key Tools and Breakthroughs

Directed evolution of enzymes and phage display of peptides and antibodies recognized by Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

2018

Event/Milestone

First student intake to taught MSc in Diagnostics and Precision Medicine (in succession to MSc in Biomedical Diagnostics).

MBF

2019

Event/Milestone

The official opening of the 'Microbial Bioprocessing Facility' on 29 May

Jenny Lawler

2019

Event/Milestone

Dr. Jenny Lawler wins 'Young Leader of the Year' at the at the Irish Lab Awards on 7 March.

Invent Commercialization Awards

2019

Event/Milestone

On 20 March, Invent Commercialization Awards went to Greg Foley and Brian Freeland (Innovation Partnership), and to Paul Leonard (Start-Up).

Alan Costello

2019

Event/Milestone

The Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award is presented to Alan Costello.

2019

Event/Milestone

The cumulative number of graduates from BSc in Genetics and Cell Biology exceeds 300.

Blood Brain Barrier

2019

Publication Metrics

A chapter by Dr. Phil Cummins and Dr. Keith Rochfort is published in Springer Protocols: Blood-Brain Barrier.

2019

Alumni Wall Awardees

Fergus Byrne

IES

2019

Event/Milestone

Dr. Keith Rochfort is awarded the O'Donnell Medal for best presentation at the Irish Endocrine Society's 43rd Annual Meeting

KG

2019

National Research Funds

An award of €424,000 was made to Assistant Professor Konstantinos Gkrintzalis for his ground-breaking research project utilizing the fact-finding capabilities of the little known water flea to gather information on the levels of pollutants in freshwater areas is the largest Award made under SFI “Starting Investigator Research Grant” (SIRG)

The aim is to develop an advanced detection system to indicate the presence of toxins in the water before they reach irreversible levels. 

This pioneering research was featured on RTE Six-One News on 6thApril 2019.

 

Richard O Kennedy Awards 2019

2019

Event/Milestone

Prof. Christine Loscher wins the Faculty of Science and Health 'Richard O'Kennedy Award'

Mr. David Cunningham wins the Faculty of Science and Health 'Best Person in a Supporting Role'

Dr. Keith Rochfort wins the Faculty of Science and Health 'Emerging Investigator Award'

2020 - Present

Prof Daire Keogh

2020

President

Prof. Daire Keogh (2020 - Present)

DCU 40

2020

Event/Milestone

DCU celebrates its 40th birthday.

COVID-19

2020

Event/Milestone

DCU closes on 12 March as part of public health measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Classes continue remotely.

Enfer

2020

Event/Milestone

School postgraduate volunteers work in the COVID-19 PCR testing at Enfer labs in Naas, Co. Kildare.

PA RK

2020

Event/Milestone

President's Innovation Award, Academic and Research Category: Dr. Caroline Murphy and Prof. Richard O’Kennedy ‘Biosafety for Environmental contaminants using Novel Sensors’ which aims to develop on-site, portable antibody-based sensors for the detection of harmful algal toxins in drinking water.

Pa JC

2020

Event/Milestone

President's Impact Award: Prof. John Crown, Thomas Baldwin Chair for Translation Medicine, National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology and the School of Biotechnology.

Molecular Ecology Resources

2020

Publication Metrics

Wiley Publishing recognizes the paper “The application of CRISPR‐Cas for single species identification from environmental DNA” by M WIlliams et al. (A Parle-McDermott lab) as a Top Downloaded Paper in 2018-2019 and one of the most-read articles in the Molecular Ecology Resources journal (vol 19: pp. 1106-1114. DOI 10.1111/1755-0998.13045). The paper had been featured on the journal cover when published in Sept 2019.

2020

Publication Metrics

The number of non-self citations of School publications exceeds 29,000. 

Nutraceuticals

2020

Publication Metrics

Dr. Bríd Quilty is co-author of two chapters in Nutraceutical Fatty Acids from Oleaginous Microalgae: A Human Health Perspective.

Concussion

2020

Publication Metrics

Dr. Keith Rochfort's collaborative study on concussion in the Ladies Gaelic Football Association is featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Peil Magazine in a piece entitled: 'Concussion in LGFA - We Need Info'.

OGRA 2020

2020

Event/Milestone

The Faculty Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award is presented to Molly Ann Williams and Berta Capella Roca

COVID-19 Funding Awardees

2020

National Research Funds

School researchers are awarded national funding towards research into COVID-19

Prof. Paul Cahill, Prof. Christine Loscher, and Dr. Dermot Walls receive SFI Rapid Response Funding to investigate the use of tailored extracellular vesicles as therapeutic strategy against COVID-19 infection.

Dr. Paul Leonard receives funding to validate and test the diagnostic assays used to detect viral infection in the populations.

Dr. Keith Rochfort receives SFI Rapid Response Funding to work with UCD on profiling the influence of COVID-19 infection on the central nervous system.    

Dr. Brian Freeland

2020

Event/Milestone

Dr. Brian Freeland wins the Faculty of Science and Health 'Emerging Investigator Award'