The Genomic Medicine Research Group is focused on using genetic knowledge and cutting-edge technologies to improve our understanding of human disease, with a view to enhancing diagnosis and treatment of complex disorders. Our team of researchers are particularly interested in the role of epigenetics, the function of microRNAs and investigation of genetic mutations which contribute to development of disease. Using a variety of in vitro, in vivo and in silico approaches, a number of overlapping projects in our group are carrying out ground-breaking research into various disease areas, including cancer, eye disease, cardiovascular disease and mental health.
Our work utilises state-of-the-art equipment available in the Genomics Core Facility Unit, including instrumentation for flow cytometry, imaging, PCR, sequencing and methylation analysis. We use several unique in vitro and in vivo disease models for our research, and techniques routinely employed in our research include CRISPR/Cas gene editing, gene silencing, DNA methylation analysis and reporter assays. Our cell biology laboratory work is complemented by bioinformatics expertise within the group to perform genome-wide association studies and other analyses of publicly available datasets.
Together, the group members have several strategic national and international research collaborations across academia, healthcare and industry, with an exciting track record of research outputs and conference presentations across the globe. Genomic research is absolutely crucial in the drive towards personalized medicine and tailored treatment for disease and the Genomic Medicine Research Group at Ulster are proud to be making a valuable contribution to this effort. Through our work we aim to facilitate translational medical research from laboratory to clinic, thereby helping to fulfil the great promise of genomic medicine.
Biomedical Science at Ulster University has an outstanding record of success in research, having been awarded the highest possible rating in RAE1996 and 2001, and ranked first place in terms of research power in RAE2008. In REF2014, we were judged to be among the top five universities in terms of research power (out of 92 UK submissions) with 100% four star rating for our research environment.
Biomedical Sciences research activities are currently organized within distinct Research Groups: Diabetes, Food & Health (through Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)), Genomic Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences & Practice, Stratified Medicine and Vision Science.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration between the research groups is strongly encouraged and is widespread with research into, for instance, anti-diabetic and antioncogenic aspects of nutrition, the genomics of vitamin receptors, visual deterioration or cancer, imaging of neovascularisation. Our research investigates the interaction between cardiovascular disease and vision and the impact of health and disease, diet, diabetes on dementia, hypertension, vascular and inflammatory disease, to name a few.
In practice, the research groups collaborate both internally and internationally on a range of prioritized multi-disciplinary themes in: ageing, drug discovery and delivery, personalized medicine and genomic medicine. There is also opportunity to undertake research in a number of multi-disciplinary research areas, which combine cutting edge Biomedical Sciences research with psychology, computing and engineering and computational biology. The BMSRI has strong collaborations with regional and global pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies and many of our graduates and postgraduates gain employment in the pharma, diagnostics and health care sectors as well as academia.
The BMSRI offers a "state-of-the-art" research environment for high profile researchers to undertake internationally agenda setting research in strategically prioritized areas of biomedicine. This research environment earned Biomedical Sciences at Ulster a No. 1 ranking in RAE2008, and was again rated as 100% "world-leading" in REF2014. Our research is carried out in well-equipped laboratories allowing the latest methods to be applied to individual projects. Our entire infrastructure is managed as Core Facility Units (CFUs) with equipment and laboratories dedicated to: advanced molecular bioimaging/microscopy, bioinformatics, cell biology, chemical analysis, genomics, proteomics/metabolomics (include Mass Spectrometry & NMR analysis), transgenics, physiology and pharmacology.
The BMSRI research infrastructure also includes centralized resources for: high throughput drug screening in vitro assays, clinical research & human intervention studies/ trials; the use and storage of mammalian cells and tissues; and in vivo studies in Animal reporter gene models and animal models that replicate human disease. The BMSRI uses its estate of equipment, specialist laboratories, infrastructure and internationally recognized biomedical expertise to offer clinical & translational services to Academic Researchers and Industrial Business partners. The BMSRI routinely engages in collaborative research with some of the world's leading pharmaceutical and biomedical companies and through the support of Ulster's Office of Innovation, the University has established a track record of success in the commercialization of its research outcomes.
The expansion of biomedical research during the last 10 years and more has led to the construction of the £14.5M Centre for Molecular Biosciences (CMB) at the Coleraine campus. This expansion in research infrastructure later led to the creation of a number of "virtual" centres of excellence which are housed within the CMB building, i.e., the Centre for Functional Genomics (CFG), the FEI Centre for Advanced Bioimaging (CFAI) and the Centre for Nutrition & Bone Health whose overall aim is to develop a new "all-Ireland" expert research capability focused on nutrition and bone health, particularly targeted at identifying strategies to prevent osteoporosis.