Analysis Platform to support POI research

Published 31st July 2020


A pioneering national Comprehensive Molecular Analysis Platform (CMAP), funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under their Research Infrastructure Programme, will underpin research in chemistry, the bioeconomy, and precision oncology. 

The CMAP platform has been awarded €2.7 million by SFI, and incorporates all 9 Irish Universities, 5 SFI Centres, 6 Institutes of Technology, 6 Irish Charities and >20 companies, creating critical mass and enhancing Ireland’s competitiveness to participate in and lead international research. 

This technology will support scientists characterising food ingredients, developing new drugs, identifying environmental contaminants, and designing new diagnostic tools and therapies that enable personalised treatments of cancer patients. It is open to academic, industry and not-for-profit researchers, and will be situated within UCD, at locations including the UCD Conway Institute, Systems Biology Ireland, the UCD School of Chemistry, and the Daedalus Building.

The need for precise molecular characterisation and quantitation has become an essential research capacity across many sectors, and CMAP will provide the cutting-edge research infrastructure to enable this, particularly through the use of Mass Spectrometry. Initially used for the analysis of small molecules, chemicals and metabolites, this highly accurate technique can now be applied in the identification and quantification of much larger structures, including peptides and carbohydrates.

"The unique selling point of CMAP is its capability to comprehensively deliver, integrate and functionally interpret omics and deep molecular analysis data”, said Lead Investigator on the award, Prof. Walter Kolch, Director of Systems Biology Ireland and Precision Oncology Ireland, based at University College Dublin.

“CMAP will allow us to meet evolving research challenges, and enhance our appeal to industry partners, as it will be the only technology platform in Ireland that offers integrated and comprehensive molecular analysis in the omics and chemical space", Prof. Kolch added.

CMAP feeds into 5 national priority areas supporting strategic sectors, such as chemistry, bioeconomy, synthetic biology, food and health, and precision medicine, supporting discovery and innovation in research from molecules to microorganisms and humans. 

Access to state-of the-art CMAP infrastructure and support will be open to the research team within POI, boosting their research capabilities and encouraging a more collaborative approach nationally. The involvement of research institutes on a national level facilitates inter-institutional sharing of this crucial research infrastructure, allowing the optimum use of these resources, as well as sharing of technical expertise and analysis pipelines.

CMAP further details:

CMAP will supply essential infrastructure to five SFI Research Centres (Beacon Bioeconomy Centre, Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC), CURAM, APC Microbiome, INFANT). CMAP further supports Precision Oncology Ireland, a major strategic partnership programme supported by SFI; Systems Biology Ireland (SBI), a major previous SFI investment; the EI funded Food for Health Ireland (FHI) centre; the Conway Institute, Ireland’s largest biomedical institute, which has provided advanced technology services to UCD and Ireland for >10 years; several EU and other large-scale grants; and the INSTRUCT Advanced Community.

The equipment funded includes:

  • Two high resolution mass spectrometers (MS) for protein identification and quantitation; 
  • A MALDI-ToF MS for high throughput identification of microorganisms and molecules from bio-based resources, animal and human samples; 
  • Two Quadrupole MS for analysis of products from chemical synthesis and high resolution structure elucidation; 
  • A Liquid Chromatography MS for the identification and quantitation of metabolites and nutritional ingredients; 
  •  An automated Immunoprecipitation (IP) system for the elucidation of protein-protein interactions
  • A Computing Facility for the associated data analysis.