OncoMark founder and Chief Scientific Officer Professor William Gallagher has been announced as winner of the prestigious 2019 Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Entrepreneurship Award at the annual SFI Science Summit held in Athlone.

A major focus of Professor Gallagher’s research at UCD is the identification and validation of candidate biomarkers of breast and other cancers, particularly those which guide treatment decision making. His research resulted in the establishment of OncoMark, a UCD spin-out company, currently headquartered at NovaUCD.

OncoMark focuses on the development and application of biomarker panels which address critical unmet needs for cancer patients. OncoMark's lead product, OncoMasTR, is a prognostic test for early-stage breast cancer that can reduce the number of breast cancer patients receiving unnecessary chemotherapy.

Following participation in a selection of large-scale European networks, OncoMark in 2015 secured €2.7 million through the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Programme Phase 2 and raised €2.1 million in 2017 from a number of VC firms, private investors and Enterprise Ireland to accelerate its product portfolio to market. This funding has enabled the commercialisation of the OncoMasTR assay, which received the CE mark in 2018 and has been validated using tumour tissue from several thousand breast cancer patients.

The OncoMasTR test is based on a panel of genetic 'drivers' of breast cancer. Professor William Gallagher said, "Fundamental to an ability to innovate is the existence of an environment where discovery research is possible and is valued. Such interactions have been critical in allowing us to bring forward novel ideas and findings from the lab bench towards clinical implementation. A recent collaboration with Professor Adrian Bracken's team from TCD led to the development of a new diagnostic assay, called OncoMasTR, which can be used to effectively spare early stage breast cancer patients from unnecessary chemotherapy.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said “Liam has an excellent track record in the successful commercialisation of research-generated intellectual property for the benefit of society and the economy. His leadership within OncoMark has been crucial to the company successfully completing clinical validation studies and securing CE-marking for the OncoMasTR test which has global market potential.”

Professor Gallagher was presented with the Award at the 2019 SFI Science Summit where 300 leading members of Ireland’s research community came together to celebrate the significant contributions made over the past year to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in Ireland.

Professor Gallagher also received the NovaUCD Innovation Award in 2011.