The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) is about people. It is about shared minds, shared resources and multidisciplinary teams. It is about the creation of an environment conducive to learning, research and innovation. With a cohort of microbiologists, immunologists, food scientists, gastroenterologists, psychiatrists and pharmacologists, the APC has a unique blend of clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists working together to understand the complex environment of the gastrointestinal tract and its microbial community. The scope of the research on host-microbe interactions has relevance to a range of inflammatory, infectious and other disorders within and beyond the gut, as well as to health maintenance. In addition, the intestinal microbiota represents a rich repository of biologically active material from which bioactives can be mined for novel drug discovery or for use as functional food ingredients.
The APC’s mission is to link Irish science with industry and society through excellence in research, education and outreach in gastrointestinal health. The APC is a Centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET) established in 2003 through funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). The APC has flourished into a 120 strong multidisciplinary research team with a variety of funding sources, with staff based in both University College Cork and the Teagasc Moorepark Food Research Centre. Six research themes are led by 23 Investigators, internationally recognised in their areas of expertise, who create an exceptional collaborative working environment. APC postgraduate and postdoctoral training is also central to the development of the scientific leaders of tomorrow. Stimulating an interest in, and understanding of science, is a key mission of the APC’s Education and Outreach programme which engages a wide range of stakeholders, including schools, patient groups and society.
The APC aims to deliver innovative research that establishes Ireland as a centre of excellence in GI health, to help the development of indigenous industry and to attract multinational companies to Ireland to instigate collaborative research programmes. The work of the APC is of tangible importance to several industries, including human health maintenance, agriculture, and animal husbandry, and is pitched at the interface of the food and pharmaceutical sectors. There are two very significant industry partners involved in the APC research programme – Alimentary Health Ltd., an Irish biotech company, and GlaxoSmithKline, a multinational pharmaceutical company, both of which collaborate in a very significant way, including having staff embedded in the APC research teams. The APC is also keen to embrace potential new industry collaborators, where research synergies and complementary strengths exist, and sees this as a means to develop Ireland’s industrial R&D base. Thus, the APC aspires to being an agent of change and a contributor to the development of a knowledge-based economy in Ireland.