Establishment of McClay Foundation Marks New Era for Northern Ireland

September 2, 2009

  • Major plans in place for joint research plan with Queen’s University on personalized medicine in oncology.
  • Inaugural McClay Foundation Lecture to be delivered at Second International Cancer Symposium.

2nd September 2009

Speaking today Sir Allen McClay, Chairman of the Almac Group, formally announced the establishment of the McClay Foundation, a charitable trust, one of the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. The Foundation aims to advance the use of diagnostic tools and drugs in the prevention, control and cure of disease; support and encourage research and innovation in the field of healthcare and allied technologies; increase capacity of all people and specifically those in the developing world to access the latest benefits in healthcare, and to generate and promote employment opportunities for the people of Northern Ireland.

Sir Allen McClay said: “I have long recognized the strengths that both industry and academia contribute to the ongoing fight against cancer and many other illnesses. The McClay Foundation will fund projects which harness the energies of these two sectors to advance diagnosis and treatments for the prevention, control and cure of disease. By funding such projects we will improve the lives of many people who today have limited access to suitable treatments. This is a new era for Northern Ireland and will ensure the region becomes internationally recognized for its excellence in medical research.”

The inaugural McClay Foundation Lecture will be delivered at the Queen’s University’s Second International Cancer Symposium on Cancer Biology to be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland on the 2nd September. The lecture will be delivered by Professor Alan Ashworth, from the Institute of Cancer Research, London who will discuss ‘Synthetic Lethal Strategies for Exploiting DNA Repair Defects in Cancer’. The McClay Foundation lecture, set to become an annual event, marks the contribution to the pharmaceutical industry of the Chairman and founder of Almac, Sir Allen McClay.

Almac’s central role in the symposium is part of a strengthening relationship with the Queen’s University of Belfast. In addition the McClay Foundation, Queen’s University and Invest NI are currently finalizing proposals for a ‘Strategic Research Collaboration in Drug Discovery and Synthetic Organic Chemistry’ which will see the establishment of a dedicated five-year research plan for the advancement of personalized medication in Oncology. The initiative aims to create a synergy built on Almac’s and Queen’s University’s recognized world-leading expertise in oncology, drug discovery and organic chemistry.

Professor Dennis McCance, Scientific Director of the Queen’s University Center for Cancer Research & Cell Biology said: “CCRCB at Queen’s and Almac have built a close relationship over the years in cancer research and this partnership is now embarking on a major new collaboration which will identify new targets for drug development. This partnership will have a major impact on cancer treatment for the people of Northern Ireland and will instigate a new era of University and industry collaboration.”

Tracy Meharg, Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, Invest NI added: “Almac has established a global reputation for research excellence in the life sciences sector and in particular, the development of personalized medicine in oncology. At the heart of Almac’s success lies a commitment to R&D and strong partnerships with local academia. Invest NI has forged a positive and fruitful relationship with the Almac Group and we look forward to building upon this as the company moves into a new era of growth.”

Sir Allen added: “In an era which has seen rising drug development costs and lower levels of innovation, I am confident that increased levels of collaboration across industry and academia can deliver improved healthcare solutions to those in the developed and developing world. I look forward to working with colleagues at Almac, Queen’s University and Invest NI to oversee the delivery of this plan.”

The McClay Foundation and Sir Allen McClay will now be the sole shareholders of the Almac Group. The Group’s commerical operations are not affected by the establishment of the Foundation and the Board of Directors of the Almac Group and the Trustees of the McClay Foundation will operate as separate, independent entities. The McClay Trust, which has already donated some £20m to charitable causes, including £10m to the new Queen’s University Library, will now fall under the auspices of the McClay Foundation.



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