Spirit of The APC

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Spirit of the APC

Introduction:

The following document outlines the fundamental principles which underpinned the foundation of the APC in 2003, which have shaped the more recent APC Microbiome Institute, and which influence our constant striving for excellence.  It is not a comprehensive reference document on policy; rather, it is intended as an overview to flag the defining features of the APC.

Mission statement:

Linking Irish science with industry to drive excellence in research, education and outreach in gastrointestinal health.

The APC has a role in contributing to the development of a knowledge-based economy in Ireland. This is manifest at various levels including partnerships with indigenous and multinational industry, the creation of a research environment that can bring Irish ideas and Irish science to a global marketplace, and the promotion of an awareness and appreciation of the sciences in society.

Philosophy of Identity

The membership of the APC is not intended to be exclusive. It is open to those who are willing to collaborate and contribute to research on host-microbiome interactions within the gut and who will respect our rules on IP and industry alliance, and are therefore invited to join the APC Faculty. Thus, membership is not limited to those who are directly funded from SFI, and includes scientists funded from other sources but who can benefit from the shared environment and resources of the Institute.

Centrifugal influence

The vision and ambition of the APC Microbiome Institute stretches well beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines. The scope of our research is broad and requires collaboration with the best scientific groups around the world. International student exchange and visiting scientist and fellow programmes with academic groups and industry are central to promoting the type of environment we strive to maintain at the APC.  This also implies continued growth and expansion of critical mass, resources and facilities.

Trans-disciplinary research

Our research is at the interface of the food, pharmaceutical and diagnostic industry sectors. It is also at the host-environment interface. Progress at the interface of seemingly disparate fields of endeavour requires modern scientific strategies involving ‘hybrid’ scientists who think across the boundaries of traditional research disciplines such as immunology, gastroenterology, microbiology or cell biology and who are comfortable working in teams.  Supporting multidisciplinary, bench-to-bedside research is a fundamental tenet of the APC.

Centre-behaviour – shared minds, shared space, shared equipment

The APC operates on the basis that the whole must always be greater than the sum of the parts. Preference is given to collaborative research projects and educational sessions that are plenary in nature.  Activities that span traditional academic departments and promote cross-departmental and cross-disciplinary boundaries are promoted.

Education and Outreach – a responsibility for all

The promotion of science awareness and understanding within society is viewed to be as important as our core research programmes. Furthermore, we regard this as a responsibility of every member of the APC without exception. Novel, imaginative educational initiatives are particularly encouraged.

Efficient learning and productive work environment

The APC takes the view that the emphasis of education should be on learning rather than teaching and considers trans-disciplinary research to be a powerful learning tool for our students. For the post-doctoral and senior scientists, we aspire to making the APC an attractive place to work and an environment that is productive and conducive to career development. Most of all, we wish the scientific and educational endeavour to be enjoyable.

Relationship with industry

Terms such as commercial or ‘applied’ vs. ‘basic’ or ‘pure’ science have no place within the APC; the only descriptor that we aspire to is excellence.  The foundation of the APC is based on partnership with industry. Interactions with industry partners will continue to evolve and grow. With industry involvement comes opportunity but also obligations for our scientists. This includes adherence to IP agreements and IP capture policies. Potential risks of industry-academe relationships are acknowledged and may occasionally include conflicts of interest. APC policy on potential conflicts of interest at any level consists of a ‘declare and manage’ strategy.

Agent of change

Achieving a knowledge-based economy will require change in many sectors of our society. The APC can lead by example and must show how industry-academe relationships can be successful at multiple different levels. In addition to financial support, scientists need a research-friendly environment, security, and career opportunities. This has not always been the case within our academic institutions and the APC will try to take a leading and changing role in this respect.

Interview with Fergus Shanahan, Director APC

Please go to the password-protected APC Intranet (contact Sally Cudmore for password) for the following APC policies:

APC policy and prceedures regarding potential conflicts of interest

APC policy on travelling expenses

APC staff policy booket

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