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News & Events

Minister Sherlock announces €12.3m to secure, support and strengthen most promising young scientific talent

“Further development of our scientific human capital essential to deliver for Irish enterprise needs” – Sherlock

20th April 2012

In a further drive to progress Ireland’s science research agenda, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Séan Sherlock TD, has today (Friday) announced Government funding of €12.3 million for early-career scientific researchers to carry out pioneering work in Ireland.

The funding will be provided over the next four years through the Government’s science agency, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), through its ‘Starting Investigator Research Grant’ (SIRG) programme. The SFI funding will support a total of 44 researchers and postgraduate students working in areas of relevance to Irish enterprise that include energy, nanomaterials, electricity, cancer research, marine ecology, tissue engineering, cystic fibrosis and immunology amongst others.

Announcing the investment, Minister Sherlock said: “Whilst in recent years we have developed an internationally recognised credible research base here in Ireland it is still essential that we continue to provide for our future economic growth and job creation by establishing a competitive advantage for Irish enterprise through our scientific excellence.”

“We as a Government are determined to ensure that the very best young scientific talent is given compelling reasons to either stay in Ireland or to locate from abroad to conduct top-class research here.

“I am delighted to see that this round of SIRG awards also marks the first co-funding arrangement with the international Marie Curie COFUND scheme, which aims to expand national research programmes and encourage greater transnational mobility. Such a partnership exemplifies the increasingly collaborative and international nature of research activity in Ireland today”, Minister Sherlock added.

Welcoming Minister Sherlock’s announcement, Dr Stephen Simpson, Director of Life Sciences at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The SIRG programme illustrates a strong and sustained commitment to nurturing the leading researchers of tomorrow. A dedicated ‘early intervention’ scheme such as this helps to pave the way for progression towards commercialisation of ideas at a later stage in the researchers’ careers.”

The award recipients are based in the following 9 Higher Education Institutions:

Cork Institute of Technology; Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; NUI Galway; Trinity College Dublin; Tyndall National Institute, Cork, NUI Maynooth; National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training; University College Dublin; University College Cork .

Today’s announcement took place in Tyndall National Institute, Cork.

Photographs to follow.


For further information, please contact:

Alva O’Cleirigh, SFI. Tel: +353 1 607 3249 / +353 87 9152553 / Email: Alva.O'Cleirigh@sfi.ie / Twitter: twitter.com/scienceirel

Roisin McCann, Press Officer, Dept. of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation +353 1 6312222/ +353 87 2594144

Note for Editors:

Science Foundation Ireland Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) 2012 - Full List of Recipients and Institutions [Funding is for 22 awards recipients + 1 postgraduate student per award]


New Investigator

Research Area

Research Title


Dr. Ian O'Driscoll

Optoelectronics, semiconductors

Ultrashort pulse generation in InAs quantum dots


Dr. Nicola Agostinetti

Seismic imaging, geothermal energy

Seismic imaging and monitoring of the upper crust: exploring the potential low-enthalpy geothermal resources of Ireland


Dr. Manus Biggs

Neuroscience, biomaterials

Engineering neuroelectrodes for deep brain stimulation through biomimetic conducting polymers


Dr. Cindy Smith

Marine ecology, microbiology

Molecular Microbial Ecology of Ammonia Oxidation in Coastal Bay Sediments


Dr. Kristin K. Nicodemus

Schizophrenia, systems biology

Systems biology approach to elucidate the genetic architecture of schizophrenia: synthesis of genomics, structural/functional magnetic resonance imaging and cognition.


Dr. Shane Bergin

Nanomaterials, graphene

Surface Energetics of Low Dimensional Nanostructures


Dr. Mark Ahearne

Tissue engineering, corneal replacement

Development of a Novel Stem Cell based Approach for Corneal Tissue Engineering


Dr. Ivana Savic

Thermoelectrics, modelling

Thermoelectric properties odf complex bulk materials from first principles


Dr. Robert J. Young

Nanomaterials, quantum memory

Quantum dot molecules for single-photon memory


Dr. Eoghan McGarrigle

Glycoscience, organic chemistry

Towards the Development of 21st Century Synthetic Methods for Glycoscience: Catalyst-Controlled Stereoselective Glycosylation


Dr. Judith Coppinger

Therapeutics, cystic fibrosis

Characterisation of Hsp90 trafficking pathways in Cystic Fibrosis.


David Croucher

Breast cancer, systems biology

Crosstalk between ErbB2 and breast cancer associated receptor tyrosine kinases in resistance to ErbB2 targeted therapies


Dr. Jonathan Bones

Proteomics, bioprocessing

A Multi-Omics Investigation to Decipher the Role of Altered Bioprocessing on the Quality of Therapeutic Proteins – Is the Product Really the Process?


Dr. Sinead Corr

Immunology, inflammation

Exploration of the role of microRNA (miR)-21 in gut homeostasis and disease.


Dr. Jian Zhao

Signal processing, optical communications

Digital Signal Processing based Optical Communication Systems


Dr. Peter Ossieur

Photonic systems, energy efficiency

Towards Green Photonic Ultra High-Speed Transceivers


Dr. Plamen Stamenov

Spintronics, magnetic materials

Development of High-Field, Real-Time Point Contact Andreev Reflection Techniques and Studies of Spin Polarisation and Propagation in Novel Materials


Dr. Bryan Hennelly

Spectroscopy, cancer diagnosis/blood analysis

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy and Optical Tweezers for Diagnosis of Cancer and for Multicomponent Blood Analysis


Dr. Run Long

Photovoltaics, modelling

Excitation energy and charge transfer dynamics in new light harvesting photovoltaic materials from theoretical simulation


Dr. Marcus J. Claesson

Inflammation, bowel disease

Molecular diagnostics and metatranscriptomics of colonic bacteria in inflammatory bowel disease


Dr. Martin O'Halloran

Microwave imaging, breast cancer

Microwave Imaging for the Detection and Classification of Early-Stage Breast Cancer


Dr. Damien Thompson

Regenerative medicine, protein engineering

Engineering Multivalent Proteins for Regenerative Medicine (EMPoRiuM)