Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI Researcher receives funding to explore link between iron deficiency and schizophrenia under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme

28 May 2010

Prof David Cotter from RCSI Department of Psychiatry, based in the Education and Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital, has been awarded funding by Science Foundation Ireland to examine the proteins in the brain which are linked to iron deficiency in schizophrenia.

The project is one 47 cutting-edge research projects announced by The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe T.D., this week to receive €8.5 million under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme.

Pictured (L-R) are Oliver Schubert, Magdalena Hryniewiecka, Melaine Focking and Professor David Cotter, RCSI Psychiatry Department.

Commenting on his research project Prof David Cotter from RCSI Department of Psychiatry said: “Maternal iron deficiency is known to increase the risk of subsequent schizophrenia. Abnormal proteins levels of a particular type of cell known as oligodendroglia, are commonly found in schizophrenia, and these proteins are influenced by iron levels.”

“In this new research will assess proteins involved in iron regulation in the brain in schizophrenia. We will also identify in greater detail than ever before which oligodendroglial associated proteins are most affected in schizophrenia and determine the relationship of these changes in oligodendroglial proteins to iron regulating proteins in early life iron deficiency.”

The Science Foundation Ireland Research Frontiers Programme programme supports internationally-competitive, high-quality exploratory research in higher education across the science, maths and engineering disciplines.

Over 100 college researchers will carry out work in across a range of areas including cystic fibrosis, genetics, bacterial and viral infections, environmental monitoring, food safety, and streaming media over wireless networks.

Minister O’Keeffe said the research areas are “profoundly linked to our health and wellbeing and the researchers’ work will generate high-value downstream jobs”.