A pharmaceutical research centre in Co Cork is to receive €50m in funding from the Government and private industry.

The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre is to be given €36m through Science Foundation Ireland, with a further investment of €14m coming from industry.

It will enable 109 researchers to be employed at the centre over the next six years.

As part of the investment, the University College Cork-based facility been designated as a national centre for food and medicine research excellence.

The centre’s work is focused on the microbes that live in the human stomach, which it is hoped can be used to better understand the immune system and general health.

SFI hopes its investment will help fund "world-class research into how bacteria in the human gut impacts on population health", which will in turn lead to the development of medicines and new foods.

The funding was announced by Ministers Sean Sherlock and Simon Coveney, who said it would help put Ireland at the fore of a rapidly emerging industry.

Professor Fergus Shanahan, director of the APC said that the genetic messages contained in microbes "promise even greater advances for human health" than the decoding of the human genetic code.

The APC is one of seven hubs identified earlier this year by Science Foundation Ireland for financial support as part of the largest ever State and industry co-funded research investment totalling €300m.