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Minister Breen Announces Research Investment of €10.8 million in Next Generation of Research Talent by SFI

Posted on over 5 years ago by Laurentina Kennedy


Minister Breen Announces Research Investment of €10.8 million in Next Generation of Research Talent By SFI

Science Foundation Ireland invests in future research leaders in areas of health, energy, environment, materials and technology

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, today announced a government investment of €10.8 million in research funding for 20 projects through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG). With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 Ph.D. students.

Speaking of the awards, Minister Breen said: “I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world leader in scientific advancements.” 

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research reputation and I wish each awardee every success.”

The 20 research projects supported by the SFI SIRG programmes will be funded through ten research bodies, as follows: Trinity College Dublin (6); University College Dublin (3); University College Cork (2); University of Limerick (1); Dublin City University (2); Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (2); Tyndall National Institute (1); National University of Ireland Galway (1), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1) and Teagasc (1). Below is a summary of the projects receiving funding:

Health and Medical

Development of 3D-printed biomaterials for bone tissue regeneration (Dr. Meadhbh Brennan, TCD).

 Developing new cancer drugs to trick cancer cells into eliminating proteins, ultimately killing cancer (Dr. Gerard Brien, TCD).

 A study on the health of premature babies, exploring the development of therapies using a novel protective dietary antioxidant intervention (Dr. Fiona McDonald, UCC).

Investigation of cancer resistance to current treatments to inform the development of new therapies (Dr. Maria Prencipe, UCD).

An exploration of the suitability of thyroid hormones in measuring iodine deficiency during pregnancy and its impact on infant brain development (Dr. Aine Hennessy, UCC).

Study of how gene regulation and protein generation could inform new treatments of epilepsy (Dr. Gary Brennan, RCSI).

Development of new sensor materials with diagnostic and environmental monitoring applications (Dr. Joseph Byrne, NUIG).

Using novel computational methods in a highly efficient procedure to obtain pharmaceutical compounds for initial chemical design (Dr. Cristina Trujillo, TCD).

Identification of genes that could inform treatment approaches for patients of Ulcerative Colitis (Dr. Sudipto Das, RCSI).


 Development of tools to identify the most efficient cows in the national herd leading to benefits for producers, processors, and consumers nationally and internationally (Dr. Sinead McParland, Teagasc).

Energy and Environment

Investigating transformation of agri-waste into high value, low carbon products, potentially improving waste management and benefiting the Irish bioeconomy (Dr Amanda Sosa-Avendano, UCD).

Development of novel thermoelectric nanomaterials for manufacturing small wearable energy scavengers that can convert body heat into electricity, allowing for continuous portable charging (Dr Amir Pakdel, TCD).

The investigation of key geological questions, including melting ice-caps and formation of gold deposits, using a novel mineral-dating approach (Dr. Chris Mark, UCD).

Testing new ideas about how temperature regulates species distribution by revisiting the core principles of thermal ecology (Dr. Nicholas Payne, TCD).

Assessment of impacts of pollutants and novel materials in freshwater ecosystems to better understand them before they reach precarious levels (Dr. Konstantinos Gkrintzalis, DCU).

Manufacturing and Materials

Development of next-generation batteries that can enable electric vehicles to travel further on a single charge (Dr. Hugh Geaney, UL). 

ICT and Communications

A statistical imaging reconstruction method implemented in a new software tool for precision imaging of GEO satellites in Space, to enable tracking and viewing of objects orbiting the Earth (Dr. Rebeca Garcia Lopez, DIAS).

Use of new optical technologies to help sustain the growth of the internet, contributing to the delivery of services such as ultra-high definition video and virtual reality (Dr. Colm Browning, DCU).

Development of a solution to simplify the processes underpinning the calculation power of quantum computers (Dr. Gediminas Juska, Tyndall).

Development of a new paradigm for the coherent manipulation of quantum systems that will help generate energetically efficient quantum devices (Dr. Steve Campbell, TCD).

See the full list of awards here.