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APC Microbiome Ireland and University of Jiangnan sign co-operation agreement

APC Microbiome Ireland (APC), SFI Research Centre at University College Cork and Teagasc and the National Engineering Research Center for Functional Food (NERCFF) at the University of Jiangnan in China have announced a new academic cooperation agreement to foster deeper research collaborations and exchanges between both research centres.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Prof Wei Chen, President of Jiangnan University, and Prof Paul Ross, Director of APC Microbiome Ireland, at a ceremony during a virtual meeting on Friday, February 5th 2021.

Virtual MOU signing ceremony between APC Microbiome Ireland in UCC and the National Engineering Research Center for Functional Food at Jiangnan University in China

Virtual MOU signing ceremony between APC Microbiome Ireland in UCC and the National Engineering Research Center for Functional Food at Jiangnan University in China. Pictured left to right: Prof Wei Chen, President Jiangnan University, Prof Jianxin Zhao, Chief, Admission and Employment Office,  Jiangnan University, Dr Sally Cudmore, General Manager APC Microbiome Ireland, UCC, Prof Catherine Stanton, APC Principal Investigator in Teagasc, Prof Paul Ross, Director APC Microbiome Ireland, Prof John O’Halloran, interim President, University College Cork.

Premier food teaching & research programmes

Both Universities share a long tradition in food and microbiome science and represent the premier food teaching and research programmes in their respective countries. In 2018 University College Cork in Ireland and Jiangnan University in China signed a “parent” Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate co-operation between both Universities, particularly at the level of undergraduate teaching. This new MoU is a further reinforcement of that parent agreement, with the leading research centre in both organisations agreeing to encourage collaborative research programmes, co-operative learning programmes, staff and student exchanges and a visiting scholar programme.

Shared objectives

APC and NERCFF have a shared objective of conducting internationally renowned research, particularly in the areas of food science and the microbiome, in order to develop new food ingredients and dietary advice with the ultimate aim of improving human health. Collaboration between centres with complementary strengths is seen as key strategy to deliver this ambition. APC Microbiome Ireland is the largest and oldest microbiome research institute in the world and considerable expertise in the area of the human gut microbiome. APC researchers are recognised as global leaders in fields such as microbiome, functional foods, therapeutics, and health and collaborate with many l food and pharma corporations. The National Engineering Research Center of Functional Food is a unique national engineering technology center focuses on original innovation and demonstrative industrialization of engineering technology in the field of functional food. NERCFF researchers have a high output of patents and publications in food research and collaborate with domestic and international industry partners.

Prof John O’Halloran, Interim President University College Cork highlighted the exchange opportunities this new partnership will bring for students. “I really welcome the intense relationship that APC has built up with the NERCFF in Jiangnan University and this MOU will pave the way to enhance the real partnership between the Universities to allow for student/staff exchange, research grants and ventures and most importantly the development of academic collaborations leading to scientific breakthroughs.  It is my wish also that this will permeate our teaching programmes in the future in this area – many of which will be delivered in partnership between the two institutions.”

Prof Wei Chen, Director National Engineering Research Center for Functional Food, and President Jiangnan University reflected on the cooperation between both partners over the years. “Looking back on the course of cooperation with University College Cork and APC, we have achieved tangible results. These are gratifying and a demonstration of our cooperation to achieve a win-win result. The online signing of cooperation agreement between the two parties is very meaningful. We believe that both parties will continue to cooperate closely, create opportunities to solve problems by collaborating, and climb to the next level hand in hand! “

The collaboration is already bearing fruit. Several joint papers have been published between both research centres, particularly on the role of conjugated dietary fatty acids in health and disease, and how this can be mediated by the host’s gut microbiota.