Allergan Innovation Award Winner Has a Sweet Solution for Heart Disease

Eoin Corcoran, a PhD candidate in Dublin City University’s School of Biotechnology, has been announced as the winner of the DCU Allergan Innovation Award for 2018/19. The award will provide Eoin with a bursary of €5,000 to further his research into the role of stem cells and a process called glycosylation in the development of heart disease.

Complex sugar chains coat the surface of all our cells like a thick frosting on a cake, and when these sugars are added to key proteins in stem cells, this process is known as glycosylation. Eoin’s research will increase understanding of how this sugar coating interacts with the stem cell and causes it to change to a specialised cell-type that contributes to the development of artery-hardening diseases such as atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and hypertension.

Glycosylation is a new frontier in the quest to identify potential pharmaceutical treatments for heart disease. Under the guidance of Principal Investigator, Professor Paul Cahill, Eoin is examining whether particular sugars in the coating cause the cell to change, and if removing or altering individual sugars can prevent the cell mutating in a way that causes heart disease. Ultimately, Eoin hopes to identify a sugar which can be targeted through the development of a new drug to prevent the onset of heart disease.

Speaking at the announcement of the award, Eoin stated:

“It is an honour to be selected for this award which will enable me to significantly expand the depth of my research. The kits, re-agents and chemicals that I am using to mutate the cell DNA and remove one sugar at a time can be quite expensive. With this funding, I will be able to purchase more of the supplies that I need and to carry out more mutations, more quickly.”


Speaking at the award presentation, Professor Paul Cahill, Research Convenor in DCU’s School of Biotechnology and Eoin’s supervisor commented:

“The funding provided by the Allergan Innovation Award is invaluable for an early career researcher like Eoin to complement his core research funding. It will enable him to be more aggressive and innovative in his approach in an effort to translate his research into a therapy for cardio-vascular disease.”


The Allergan Innovation Award Programme was launched by Allergan in March 2017 to mark 40 successful years of business in Ireland. DCU is one of six Higher Education Institutions that Allergan is partnering with in Ireland to provide funding to accomplished scholars who wish to advance innovative research studies in the field of life sciences.

The award was presented to Eoin by Dr Francis Bates, Vice President Global Solid Oral Dosage Manufacturing at Allergan, and the Plant General Manager at the manufacturing facility at Clonshaugh in Dublin. Speaking at the award presentation, Francis said:

“We are delighted that the Allergan Innovation Award Programme will allow students, such as Eoin, to further advance their exciting research in the field of Life Sciences. For a company such as Allergan, innovation is truly the lifeblood of our industry, so we hope that this Innovation Award will inspire more students who wish to establish themselves within this field. Collaborating with a prestigious university, such as DCU, is an exciting initiative for all involved, and we look forward to the positive results and experiences it will bring for students and our industry.”