State of the art research facilities unveiled at Waterford Indtitute of Technology Vision Research Centre

On Friday last, February 20, Mr Paudie Coffey TD, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, officially opened two state-of-the-art laboratories at Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) €4 million Vision Research Centre, which houses the Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG).

The Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) was established in 2002 by Mr Stephen Beatty with the support of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and substantial funding from Fighting Blindness.

The new labs will support the MPRG’s ambition to generate viable industry for the south east by developing more efficient methods of harvesting lutein, a nutrient essential for optimal vision and protection against the leading cause of sight loss in the western world – age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

According to Prof John Nolan, Principal Investigator of MPRG, “The global demand for lutein is growing rapidly as people begin to understand the importance of this nutrient for eye health and general wellbeing. With the aid of our new and specialised world-class laboratories, and funding from the European Research Council (ERC), we are investigating efficient ways to generate and obtain lutein from natural sources. This is important because we are currently dependent on the marigold flower, which is highly seasonal and country dependent. If this project is successful we will greatly advance science in this area and generate opportunity for major industry in Ireland.”

Opening the new labs, Minister Coffey said, “I want to congratulate Prof John Nolan and his team in WIT. For over twelve years, the MPRG has been at the cutting edge of eye nutrition research worldwide and the group’s most recent research publications underlines the huge asset the MPRG is for this country and Waterford more specifically.”

The Howard Laboratory (Analytical chemical laboratory) and the Darwin Laboratory (Biotechnology Laboratory) are the latest additions to the Vision Research Centre which houses the MPRG. The construction of both laboratories was supported by the Howard Foundation, England, Nutrasight Consultancy Ltd (Waterford Company) and the Waterford Institute of Technology.

Commenting at the launch, Dr Alan Howard, Chairman of the Trustees of the Howard Foundation, England said, “The Howard Foundation is delighted to support financially the building of the Howard Laboratory at Carriganore House. It will be a great advantage to have the study of macular pigments in one location and it will help maintain the tremendous growth taking place in this important and valuable area of research”.

Fighting Blindness has been a long time supporter of the  Macular Pigment Research Group , which has established itself as one of the leading research centres studying macular pigment in the world, and welcomes the news of this substantial investment in vision research in Ireland.

Please click here for more information about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or contact the Fighting Blindness office on 01 6789 004 or for a copy of our AMD brochure.