Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to set up a research project into gastrointestinal diseases in Cork.

The €13.7m investment is a joint venture with UCC's Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, which was set up to investigate the means by which intestinal bacteria influence disease. GSK is aiming to identify new drugs for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

The project is being backed by IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland. GSK already employs 500 people at its plant in Cork, and another 1,100 in Waterford and Dublin. It is the second largest pharmaceutical group in the world after Pfizer.

Enterprise, Trade & Employment Minister Micheál Martin described the research project as 'a major breakthrough in the promotion of drug discovery research'.