Fighting Irish, Fighting Cancer: University of Galway signs a cancer research agreement with the University of Notre Dame

Author: Emer Hennessy

Cancer researchers at the University of Galway and Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute have come together to establish the Biseach Initiative, a strategic cancer research collaboration, which aims to build on the ideas, talent, and infrastructure of both Universities for global cancer impact.

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Thousands of Notre Dame alumni and fans are visiting Ireland this week for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic between Notre Dame and US Navy. With a tagline of “Much more than a Game”, the event aims to strengthen existing relationships and form new ones between Ireland and the US. It is fitting then that this week Professor M. Sharon Stack, Director of the University of Notre Dame Harper Cancer Research Institute, and Professor Michael Kerin, Director of the Saolta-University of Galway Cancer Centre signed a memorandum of understanding at University of Galway to build interdisciplinary cancer research collaborations and strengthen links between both institutions through student and faculty exchange programmes.

To date there have been collaborative successes with joint Naughton Fellowships in the areas of bone metastasis and kidney cancer. Further research collaborations are planned with researchers in the Lambe Institute, Centre for Chromosome Biology, and the Apoptosis Research Centre at University of Galway. Notre Dame undergraduates are hosted annually by research academics in the Colleges of Science and Engineering, and Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, as part of the Study Abroad in Galway Programme. These students help to form a collaborative bridge between both institutions.

“ We know research cures cancer and we are stronger together. There is a wealth of scientific and clinical research expertise at the Harper Cancer Research Institute and University of Galway. The Biseach Initiative, enabled by the Notre Dame Kylemore Global Centre, harnesses the appetite for collaboration, to further translational cancer research and provide educational and development opportunities for our students and research leaders.” 
Professor M. Sharon Stack, Director, University of Notre Dame Harper Cancer Research Institute

The west and northwest of Ireland have some of the worst outcomes from cancer nationally. We aim to change this by developing a comprehensive, research-led cancer centre for our region. This research collaboration with the University of Notre Dame will allow us to make a real difference to cancer outcomes.”
Professor Michael Kerin
, Director, Saolta-University of Galway Cancer Centre

“The Kylemore Global Centre situated in the heart of Connemara is a place where the University of Notre Dame engages with the landscape and the wider Irish community in meaningful and authentic ways. Together with our local partners such as the University of Galway - we strive to provide multi-disciplinary programming for leaders, thinkers, and creators with a focus on advancing research, forming community, and nourishing collaborations such as the Biseach Initiative.”
Lisa Caulfield,
Director, University of Notre Dame Global Centre at Kylemore

The Biseach Initiative began in 2019 when a delegation from the Harper Cancer Research Institute visited University of Galway. Students and academics from both Universities have visited each other to develop the collaboration, supported by the University of Galway International Office and the Notre Dame Kylemore Abbey Global Centre. In 2021 both Universities hosted online research symposia, and this was followed up by a cancer research retreat at the Kylemore Global Centre in 2022.

Further Information:

  • Biseach Initiative

  • Study Abroad Programme

  • Kylemore Global Centre

  • University of Galway Cancer Centre

  • College Football Classic

Credit - Martina Regan Photography

Originally published by Emer Hennessy at on August 25, 2023.