New lab-on-a-chip centre to be built in DCU

Credit: DCU

A new lab-on-a-chip centre at Dublin City University is to be built and will be known as the Fraunhofer Project Centre (FPC). The centre is to be co-funded by the German research institution and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

This includes €2.5m from SFI, as well an additional €2.5m to be matched by Fraunhofer over the next five years.

When speaking in relation to the significant funding the new centre will receive Professor Jens Ducrée, director of the new FPC said, “While 5 million sounds like a lot of money, it is spread across a range of individual projects; it also needs to be considered that the FPC covers the rather costly stage of taking technologies from their proof-of-concept stage, as a typical outcome of academic research, to industrialisation.”

In a certain way microfluidic Lab-on-a-Chip systems represent the equivalent to modern electronic gadgets such as mobile phones. While computing power has emerged from a few select large-scale facilities into our chest pockets, Lab-on-a-Chip systems take the detection of biomolecules testing from bulky and expensive equipment located in centralised laboratories to compact and portable devices.

These devices can, for example, assist the nurse at the bedside of the patient, the GP or vet in his office, and even empower the citizen at home, e.g. to monitor a disease, advise drug dosage or even check his food and drinking water.

This partnership with the renowned Fraunhofer IPT will amplify the transformative impact of DCU’s expertise in the application of microfluidics to the life sciences. “Impact and transformation, both societal and economic, are central to our research vision and the mutual benefits of this new collaboration will deliver impact that transcends geographical boundaries,” said Professor Ducrée.

The aim of the FPC will be to focus on contract and collaborative research, and projects addressing cost-efficient design, development and manufacture of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip designs.

In collaboration with industry and academia, the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Embedded Bioanalytical Systems at Dublin City University will develop “fit-for-industry” solutions for decentralised “point-of-use” testing for application in areas such as medicine, the life sciences, drug development and production, agriculture and environmental monitoring.

Amy Lawlor

Image Credit: DCU