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University of Ulster To Establish Norbrook Chair in Pharmaceutical Science

20 March 2011

An internationally-renowned pharmaceuticals company is partnering with the University of Ulster to establish an endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Science with a £1 million donation.

The donation will establish the Norbrook Laboratories Professorship within the new Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University’s Coleraine campus and will directly contribute to the University’s Biomedical Sciences Research Institute which is ranked in the top two in the UK in the most recent national Research Assessment Exercise.

The partnership with the Newry-based pharmaceuticals firm, founded by The Rt Hon. The Lord Ballyedmond, will focus on important commercial aspects of drug formulation, delivery, metabolism and detection and will enable a further strategic expansion of the University of Ulster’s Biomedical Sciences base.

Professor Tony Bjourson, Director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, said: “We are very honoured to have received such a generous donation and that Norbrook Laboratories are supporting the University’s activities in Biomedical Sciences, and, in particular, pharmaceutical science research.

“We are extremely excited about the impact of this important partnership with such a highly successful global company. The donation will directly fund a prestigious Norbrook Chair in Pharmaceutical Science. We are now actively seeking to recruit a high-calibre pharmaceutical Professor with an established outstanding international track record in research who will further enhance our research team.

“Developing any drug for a particular disease is an important first step, but understanding how a drug is formulated, how stable it is, and the actual way to deliver that drug, is just as critical for the pharmaceutical industry and the end-user. This donation represents genuine recognition by Norbrook of the pharmaceutical science research strategy that we are pursuing in Coleraine.

“It reinforces our publicly stated commitment to better connect our highly regarded research endeavours and outputs at Ulster with the priority needs of the pharmaceutical sector. A key focus in Biomedical Sciences is the translation of our research into useful products and services that positively impact on economic development and are of societal benefit and this donation strongly supports that ethos. We look forward to the prestigious appointment of the Norbrook Chair in Pharmaceutical Science at the University of Ulster, and promotion of this important academic-industry partnership.

Professor The Hon. James Haughey, Director, Norbrook and Visiting Professor at the University of Ulster, said that the partnership was an important step for pharmaceutical sciences not just in Northern Ireland but globally.

Professor Haughey said: "We have a large research department in Norbrook were we employ a substantial number of scientists, some internationally recognised for their novel research.  I am pleased that Norbrook, a company with which I am associated, has agreed to finance the establishment of a chair in pharmacy.

"This area of science is most important for the development of new drugs to support industry within in Northern Ireland as well as internationally.  Furthermore it will provide support to students qualifying in Pharmacy and the Chair will create a larger reservoir of knowledge for the Government, the Health Service and the public in general.

"I am most impressed with the quality and ability of the students and staff at the University of Ulster and I readily support our company’s decision to contribute to the creation of a Chair in Pharmacy. I look forward with great hope and believe we will find the appropriate candidate who will further the expertise and experience of this Faculty. ”

Biomedical Sciences Ulster has performed strongly in the last three UK wide Research Assessment Exercises – the UK universities’ research quality benchmarking survey.

This strong research base is coupled with an excellent suite of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a range of key disciplines. With a strategic focus on research-led teaching and development of important scientific and transferable skills, Biomedical Sciences Ulster continues to pursue its mission to produce top class graduates for the rapidly expanding national and international bio-industry sector.

Professor Neville McClenaghan, Head of School of Biomedical Sciences, added: “We are delighted to publicly announce and acknowledge the very significant commitment and support we have received from Norbrook, and our shared vision for developments in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster.

“Over the past years, Norbrook have been working closely with our team to drive forward a number of novel and exciting initiatives. This partnership will have a major impact for Northern Ireland not only through research achievements, but through future creation of additional high-value jobs, and flexible, knowledgeable and highly-skilled graduates, collectively directly enabling expansion of this important sector in our province.”

The importance of this relationship should not be understated, particularly given the urgent global need for new innovative treatments for human and animal health, offering a direct impact on growth of our local economy.”