The School of Pharmacy achieved a superb outcome in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The School had 15% of its research classified in the highest 4* category (world-leading research), 40% was graded as internationally excellent' (3*) and a further 40% was recognised as of international quality (2*) .
Work on blocking transmission of the AIDS virus, combating life-threatening infections and the discovery of a human gene that can alter tumour radiosensitivity and cell growth are just some of the very real benefits for patients from the world-class research carried out in Queen's School of Pharmacy.
The School conducts research on the discovery, delivery and utilisation of drugs in order to achieve real benefits for patients worldwide.
Pharmacy has received research grants of nearly £3 million pounds for its contribution to the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A large team of researchers are working on new ways of delivering innovative mucosal vaccines and microbicides - agents that can block transmission of the AIDS virus particularly to protect women at risk in the developing world.
The School has also discovered a novel human gene that when modulated can alter tumour radiosensitivity and cell growth. It is just one aspect of work in the Gene Therapy/Radiation Biology Programme that is centred on 'Experimental Therapeutics' in relation to cancer, including strategies for enhancing radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This research will ultimately identify targets that could help maximize the sensitivity of tumour cells to radio and chemotherapy.
Life-threatening infections arising from medical devices and implants are also being tackled through the use of next-generation polymeric materials that have built-in activity against bacteria. The School plays a leading role in research of direct relevance to community and clinical pharmacy, for example, through its collaborative studies in Northern Ireland and the USA on drug use in the elderly and in children.
The School's focus on the use of medicines in children and its comparative studies in Northern Ireland and the USA on the use of drugs in nursing homes also plays a leading role in research of direct relevance to community and clinical pharmacy.
The School has grown rapidly in recent years as a result of its world-class reputation. Its standing in the pharmaceutical industry has also helped attract leading industry partners.
These partnerships have led to the creation of cutting-edge facilities, including a new pharmaceutical science research centre established with the help of major donations from Sir Allen McClay, the founder of Galen Holdings and Almac Sciences. A new drug discovery research unit has recently been funded by Dr. John King, formerly executive chair of Warner Chilcott plc. The strong research base in the School, which has delivered for the local and international pharmaceutical sector, and the Northern Ireland economy, over many years, will continue to flourish following the latest RAE results.
Commenting on the outcome of RAE 2008, Head of School, Professor Sean Gorman said: "This result is recognition of the tremendous contribution our staff are making to the fight against disease. With our new investment in drug discovery, and the recruitment of several leading researchers from around the world, we are well-placed to remain in the vanguard of pharmaceutical research in the UK, which itself is recognised as amongst the best in the world".