The Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials is a dynamic group of research scientists based at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science at the University of Ireland Galway. While NFB’s core service centres on academic research and development within the University, much of our work facilitates the development of collaborations with the medical device industry both nationally and internationally through technology transfer initiatives. While the NFB was initially established in 2003, the centre was incorporated into a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) in 2007 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish collaborative partnerships with national and international universities and industries. This has placed biomaterial based research at NFB in a global context and underpins the Irish Governments’ stance on establishing Ireland as a competitive knowledge-based economy in a realistic manner. The SRC programme is centred and coordinated by NUIG and is directed by Prof. Abhay Pandit, a senior academic with over 20 years experience in industrial and academic biomaterials research.

A number of industrial partners are already involved in the consortium. The SRC facilitates the introduction of other industrial partners on an ongoing basis and therefore this group is likely to grow considerably within the next three years as more platforms emerge and develop. Collaborations between industrial and academic partners in this setting are committed to develop innovative biomedical based platforms and bring biomaterial inspired technologies to the bedside.

Critical Mass in Biomaterials Development

In Galway, NFB maintains close links with the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), the National Cell and Gene Vector Laboratory, and the National Diagnostics Centre to develop cutting-edge biomaterials based platforms. Biomaterials, which may be natural, synthetic or a combination of both, are placed within the body for therapeutic reasons. Their effectiveness can be greatly increased by combining them with therapeutic agents such as genes, growth factors and other biomolecules. The overall objective of the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) is to bring a critical mass of expertise together on a single platform to develop the next generation of biomaterials.

NFB is continuously developing new technologies to deliver therapeutic genes and other biomolecules to target specific sites within the body. These include coatings for medical devices, tissue repair scaffolds and also programmable nanospheres which carry therapeutic agents to a specific location via the bloodstream. These technological platforms have applications linked to cardiovascular disease, intervertebral disc degeneration, spinal cord and peripheral nerve damage, epidermolysis bullosa, osteochondral defects, wound healing, hernia and thoracic wall defects, staple line reinforcement and adipose tissue regeneration.
NFB is a partnership involving scientists, clinicians, and engineers in national and internationally based academic centres and welcomes participation from the medical device industry on an ongoing basis.

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