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New €60M Scientific Investment in Prioritised Areas – Minister Bruton, Minister Sherlock

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, today announced funding, totalling €60million, dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives.

New €60M Scientific Investment in Prioritised Areas – Minister Bruton, Minister Sherlock

25th January 2013

- Government funding will support 250 researcher positions across 85 pioneering research projects to further accelerate Ireland’s recovery through innovation-

- Projects funded through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation via Science Foundation Ireland over a wide range of disciplines e.g.

·         applied mathematical modelling for industry and engineering;

·         research into new anti-viral strategies to combat Hepatitis C; and

·         computer-assisted neurosurgery.

25th January 2013

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD and the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, today [Friday] announced funding, totalling €60million, dedicated to 85 pioneering research initiatives. Administered via Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Investigator Programme, the 85 research projects will directly support 250 researchers through to 2018. In time this investment will also indirectly support further research initiatives and many more researchers by leveraging significant additional funding from other sources including competitive European research calls.

The top-class projects focus on a range of national research priority areas identified by Government as key for developing new commercial products and services from scientific research, including ICT, health/life sciences, energy and manufacturing competitiveness. The projects being funded have links to 36 companies thus far and the potential for creating jobs is a critical factor.

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said:

“A central part of this Government’s plan for jobs and growth is to ensure that this research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of researchers into good products and good jobs. That is why we have implemented a series of reforming measures as part of Action Plan for Jobs 2012, including

·         Research Prioritisation – investing public money in those areas that are most likely to yield commercial success and grow Jobs.

·         A one-stop-shop for commercialising research – through a new Technology Transfer Centre

·         New research centres - funding centres of scale and excellence which will forge alliances between industry and research together.

Today’s announcement that Government is investing a further €60million in 85 new research projects supporting 250 researchers will build on Ireland’s existing research strengths. Approximately 50% of IDA’s company announcements last year had links with Science Foundation Ireland funded researchers. By supporting these world-class researchers in their ground-breaking work we will ensure that we continue to maintain, attract and develop dynamic companies and create the quality jobs we need.”

Speaking of the SFI Investigator announcement Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock said,

“Over the past decade, Ireland has invested heavily in R&D and the rewards are clearly visible. What is particularly heartening about today’s announcement is that much of this excellent research, which was selected competitively following international peer review, is being done in collaboration with companies who are seeking to find new products and services, including IBM Ireland, Intel Ireland, HP, EMC and Bord Gáis.  

I want to strongly commend SFI on leading on delivery of Government’s Research Prioritisation objectives. I have no doubt that today’s Investigators awards announcement of the over 80 oriented basic research projects will deliver real economic and societal impacts for Ireland.

Today is yet another visible signal regarding delivery of Government’s Research Prioritisation objectives. I want to congratulate the successful recipients across a diversity of scientific disciplines who have stepped up to the mark and demonstrated the relevance of their research excellence to our enterprise and societal development. It shows that important disciplines such as mathematics have a vital role to play and that Research Prioritisation does not exclude them.”  

The individual research projects funded, range in size and scale from approximately €200,000 to €2.7milllion over the next 5 years and cover a broad range of scientific topics including:

·         Computer-assisted neurosurgery

·         Animation

·         Inflammatory diseases

·         Mathematics for enterprise, science and technology

·         Hepatitis C

·         Advanced materials and manufacturing

·         ICT

·         Tissue engineering

·         Chemistry

·         Biofilms

·         Microbiology

·         Carbon sequestration

·         Farm waste for Bioenergy

·         Genetics

·         Disease susceptibility & treatment

·         Algae & seaweed

SFIs Investigator Programme is designed to support the development of world class research and human capital in the areas of science, engineering and mathematics that demonstrably support and underpin enterprise competitiveness and societal development in Ireland.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI, said,

“These 85 funded research projects were selected from 419 applications following rigorous competitive peer review and ranking by eminent international scientists. This 20% success rate is comparable to international funding success rates for example that of the National Institutes of Health, USA at 18%.” 

The investigations cover a broad range of topics including: mathematical modelling of complex industrial, engineering and scientific problems, understanding, treating and potentially preventing diseases such as diabetes, hepatitis C, cancer, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory disorders, to next generation communications systems, to advanced novel manufacturing technologies, to space science detecting gamma-ray busts using novel instruments built by Irish based companies which are also applicable in medical imaging. Each project has great potential to impact positively on Ireland’s future: both economically and societally.”

The SFI Investigator Programme 2012 call comprised two streams: projects and awards, the main difference between them being the size and scale of the awards. This year the two streams are merged and a separate programme (SIRG – the Starting Investigator Research Grant) expanded to accept applications from young talented researchers.

A follow up 2013 SFI Investigator Programme will be launched next week, on 29th January 2013 which will include an open call and a thematic call funded jointly between SFI and Teagasc, entitled “Future Agri-Foods”.


For further information or media queries please contact:

Aidan McLaughlin, Fleishman-Hillard, 085 749 0484 or aidan.mclaughlin@fleishmaneurope.com

Alva O’Cleirigh, SFI, 087 915 2553 or alva.ocleirigh@sfi.ie 

Roisin McCann, Dept. of Jobs, Enterprise and Innivation 087 2594144
Notes to Editors:

Under the SFI Investigator Programme (2012 call) - 85 research projects are being funded through 13 Research Bodies as follows:

Trinity College Dublin (29), University College Dublin (14), NUI Galway (11), University College Cork (9); NUI Maynooth (5), Tyndall National Institute (3), University of Limerick (3), Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (3) Dublin City University (3), Institute Technology Tallaght (2), Dublin Institute Technology (1), Institute Technology Sligo (1), and Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1).

The 85 awards are a combination of 33 large-scale Investigator (IvP) Awards over 5 years (€46.4m in total at an average award value of €1.4m each) and 52 smaller Investigator projects over 3 years (€14.4m in total at an average award value of €270k each).

Some examples of Investigator Awards and Projects being funded : 

Professor Stephen O’Brien, University of Limerick

Applied mathematical modelling applied to enterprise, science and technology (MACSI)

Mathematics is the invisible glue which binds our technology together. Mathematics is involved with most technologies: Weather prediction, climate change, flood prevention; electricity, water supply, sewage treatment; roads, buildings; airline scheduling, supermarket restocking. The award continues the development of the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI), a collaboration of Irish mathematicians and enterprise partners, which foster new collaborative research, in particular on problems that arise in industry.

 Mathematical modellers perceive themselves as being scientists as well as mathematicians and are interested in other disciplines apart from mathematics. Without this philosophy, most modern technology would not exist: airplanes would not fly, man would not have reached the moon, and there would be no radar imaging nor scientific weather forecasts. Modern mathematical models help to quantitatively explain how ultrasound works, how diseases spread, how bubbles move in a pint of stout, how quickly spilt fuel on an airport runway percolates through the underlying soil, how wet paint drips from a ceiling, how the prices of options change. There are even mathematical models for the dynamics of marriage.


Professor Cliona O’Farrelly, Trinity College Dublin

Is Natural Resistance to Hepatitis C in an Irish Cohort Associated with JAK/STAT Resistance to HCV Targeting? Towards New Anti-Viral Strategies

The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) blocks the function of the body’s immune cells responsible for destroying the virus.   We have discovered one way that the virus is able to do this.  There is a genetic variation in individuals, who are naturally resistant to Hepatitis C infection that protects them from the blocking effects of the virus.  Working with Irish women who received Hepatitis C contaminated injections but resisted infection, we aim to identify the specific features of their immune systems responsible for avoiding Hepatitis C infection. Understanding how the “super” immune systems of these women naturally resist Hepatitis C has the potential to reproduce this beneficial effect in new vaccines and therapies.


Professor Michael Gilchrist, University College Dublin

Characterising Mechanical Properties of Brain Tissue using Novel Micro Indentation Tests

This project is relevant for future advance in the area of computer-assisted neurosurgery.  It has implications for the designing of devices that can substitute motor, sensory or cognitive impairments and help develop better neurosurgical instruments.  It is also relevant for the engineering and design of accident investigation reconstructions.  Current work in this area is based on assuming that the make-up of brain tissue is identical across both the grey matter, containing the cell bodies of the brain, and the white matter, containing the nerves.  In fact, this is not the case. This project aims to develop novel test procedures that will characterise these differences in brain tissue across time, and will provide new data that will be accurate at very small scales down to the millimetre.


Dr. Emma Creagh, Trinity College Dublin

Identification & Functional Characterisation of Novel Inflammatory Mediators

Inflammation is the body’s primary response to infection and injury. This project focuses on an important inflammatory activator which can switch on inflammation.  In some cases the hyper-activation of this inflammatory activator can lead to inappropriate activation of inflammation, resulting in many of the inflammatory diseases that exist today.  Our preliminary results have revealed new proteins that bind to this inflammatory activator and have the potential to switch it on or off.  The research objective is to confirm these novel binding proteins and identify their role during inflammation. Understanding how our body controls the switching-on and off of inflammatory activators is critical to developing new treatments and drugs to alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory disease.

List of Awardees

First NameSurnameResearch BodyResearch TitleTotal Award*
JohnAtkins (UCC)Using ribosome profiling to study translation initiation/elongation and facilitate optimization of protein synthesis381,032
PavelBaranov (UCC)Development of computational resources for the analysis of Genome Wide Information on Protein Synthesis (GWIPS).1,616,824
WernerBlau (TCD)Systematic Bottom-Up Assembly of Nanocarbon Based Photonic Materials597,214
JohnBoland (TCD)Atom Level Engineering of Material-on-Insulator Devices and Sensors2,481,498
DermotBrabazon (DCU)Laser processing for fabrication of advanced liquid chromatographic systems814,992
ThomasBrazil (UCD)Green Power Amplifier Technologies for Future Wideband Reconfigurable Wireless Communication Systems (GrePATech)984,565
DermotBrougham (DCU)Long-circulating Magnetic Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications through Mimetic Surface Chemistry199,000
JimBuckley (UL)Establishing best practice in Software Architecture Consistency Processes276,377
MiguelBustamante (UCD)Genesis and Development of Extreme Events in Fluids285,211
GeraldineButler (UCD)Post-genomic analysis of biofilm and virulence characteristics of the pathogenic yeast, Candida parapsilosis.1,362,601
MartinCaffrey (TCD)Membrane Structural and Functional Biology.  Tackling communicable and non-communicable diseases at the membrane level.2,478,511
JensCarlsson (UCC)Taxonomy and connectivity of animal species at the Moytirra hydrothermal vent field: developing methods for assessing ecological impacts of mineral extraction in the deep-sea194,498
GianpieroCavalleri (RCSI)The identification and characterisation of genomic signatures of hypoxia induced natural selection381,150
DavidChew (TCD)Microanalysis of detrital apatite: a new provenance proxy in sedimentary systems279,826
DavidClarke (UCC)Characterizaton of choA, a gene encoding a novel cholesterol-degrading activity in the human gut microbiome244,360
PaulaColavita (TCD)Understanding lipid/carbon interactions for the rational design of biomaterials306,216
StephenConnon (TCD)Anhydrides as nucleophiles in new catalytic asymmetric processes: development, scope expansion and application in drug development1,404,834
JohnCostello (DCU)Stagnation Layers in Laser Ablation Based Analytical Techniques816,950
EmmaCreagh (TCD)Identification & Functional Characterisation of Novel Inflammatory Mediators.210,169
BernieCreaven (ITT)Novel Dual SOD/CAT mimics: New Therapeutic Strategy for Oxidative Stress Related Diseases?203,300
KennethDawson (UCD)Biological Identity of Nanoparticles Dispersed in Biological Media1,758,794
EithneDempsey (ITT)Implementation of Gold Quantitation Immuno-Electrochemistry (AURO-QUANT)353,600
KevinDevine (TCD)Cell wall metabolism in Gram positive bacteria: investigating its regulation and exploiting its therapeutic potential.1,240,385
GaryDonohoe (TCD)Characterising the neural basis of social cognition deficits in schizophrenia using imaging genetics284,650
SeanDoyle (NUIM)A Vaccination Strategy Against Aspergillus fumigatus Infection.358,497
KenDuffy (NUIM)Quantitative analysis of immune cell fate: stochastic competition and censorship228,820
LaurenceEgan (NUIG)Molecular Regulation of the Tumor Microenvironment in Colon Cancer Metastasis281,760
RachelEvans (TCD)High-Efficiency Conjugated Polymer-Inorganic Hybrids as Luminescent Solar Concentrators for Photovoltaics325,371
StephenFahy (TNI)Ultrafast energy dissipation in semimetals and semiconductors: Simulation based on first-principles electronic structure theory1,299,545
MarioFares (TCD)Understanding the role of molecular chaperones in robustness and functional innovation371,358
DavidFinlay (TCD)Characterising the role of mammalian Target Of Rapamcyin Complex 1 (mTORC1)/Srebp1c signaling in directing the differentiation and function of T cell subsets.261,606
GarryFleming (TCD)DENTAL glass-ionomer restoratives: Development of an Enhanced Novel Tailored Aesthetic Ligand based glass-ionomer restorative309,617
NialFriel (UCD)Advances for the probabilistic analysis of network data289,240
MichaelGilchrist (UCD)Characterising Mechanical Properties of Brain Tissue using Novel Micro Indentation Tests315,007
MartinGlavin (NUIG)Breast Cancer detection and classification using Ultra Wideband Radar Tomography243,900
DavidGregg (TCD)Data-centric ultra-low power embedded computing563,120
DarrenGriffith (RCSI)Novel Strategy for Overcoming Chemoresistance and Toxicity Associated with Platinum Anti-cancer Compounds192,029
YuriiGun'ko (TCD)Chiral inorganic nanomaterials808,460
Anne MarieHealy (TCD)Co-processing of active pharmaceutical ingredients with functional excipients to prevent unintentional generation of amorphous phase188,919
Mary FrancesHeaney (NUIM)"Clickable" Azobenzenes, New Molecular Glues for Generation of Photoresponsive Biomolecular Scaffolds capable of Answering Biological Questions215,339
KatherineHowell (UCD)Elucidating the the potential therapuetic role of Erythropoietin in the treatment of Emphysema348,343
SuziJarvis (UCD)Nanoscale aqueous-substrate interfaces1,233,925
LeighJones (NUIG)The Strategic Construction of Magnetic Coolant Materials179,675
AlanJones(DIAS)IRECCSEM: Evaluating Ireland's potential for onshore carbon sequestration and storage using electromagnetics278,616
Daniel JKelly (TCD)A tissue engineered biological joint replacement prosthesis for the treatment of degenerative joint disease1,715,936
AmirKhan (TCD)Molecular Aspects of Immune Evasion and Subversion of Membrane Trafficking by Pathogens1,204,672
VojislavKrstic (TCD)Next-generation III-V Quasi-1D Nanowires for Advanced Future Information-Processing Circuitry362,475
EdLavelle (TCD)Modulation of innate and adaptive immunity by particulate adjuvants for improved parenteral and mucosal vaccination1,797,268
JamesLunney (TCD)Pulsed laser deposition of thin films at atmospheric pressure252,595
FionaLyng (DIT)Identification of clinically important, high risk oral lesions using Raman spectroscopy193,700
SheilaMcBreen (UCD)Advances in gamma-ray Space Science using Silicon Photomultipliers247,382
RachelMcDonnell (TCD)Cartoon Motion: Stylised facial animation from motion capture272,270
PatrickMcGarry (NUIG)Active changes in artery structure and contractility in response to stenting226,094
GerardMcGlacken (UCC)The Direct Arylation of Pyrones, Coumarins, Pyridones and Quinolones377,092
JohnMcInerney (UCC)Pulsed semiconductor lasers for metrology and remote sensing: synchronisation and stabilisation dynamics205,270
PaulMcLoughlin (UCD)The role of the bone morphogenetic antagonist gremlin in the pathogenesis of chronic hypoxic lung disease1,308,097
RachelMcLoughlin (TCD)Understanding cellular immunity to Staphylococcus aureus is required for novel anti-S. aureus vaccine design384,042
TaraMcMorrow (UCD)Molecular mechanisms of cilia loss in mammalian epithelial cells319,180
GraceMorgan (UCD)Nano-Assembly of Functional Magnetic and Magneto-Optical Materials320,651
DerekMorris (TCD)Gene discovery in schizophrenia using family-based sequencing methods355,395
PaulMoynagh(NUIM)Defining the roles and mechanisms of action of Pellino proteins in immunity and inflammatory diseases2,042,513
PaulMurphy (NUIG)Glycoside & glycoconjugate synthesis through development and application of chelation induced anomerization1,009,646
YvonneNolan (UCC)The nuclear receptor TLX as a cell intrinsic regulator underlying inflammation and stress-induced changes in hippocampal neurogenesis: relevance to cognitive disorders1,082,494
StephenO'Brien (UL)Applied mathematical modelling applied to enterprise, science and technology  (MACSI)2,759,414
DavidO'Connell (UCD)Novel affinity matrices for purification of biotherapeutics262,288
ClionaO'Farrelly (TCD)Is Natural Resistance to Hepatitis C in an Irish Cohort Associated with JAK/STAT Resistance to HCV Targeting?  Towards New Anti-Viral Strategies1,742,265
LukeO'Neill (TCD)Novel regulators of the Nlrp3 inflammasome and IL-1beta: prospects for novel therpeutics and diagnostics for inflammatory diseases2,385,259
ManiRamaswami (TCD)Translational control of neuronal mRNAs: its mechanisms, and roles in memory and neurodegeneration.1,430,253
FernandoRhen (UL)Nanostructured alloy for high-energy-efficient fuel cells174,880
JamesRice (UCD)Patterned nanomaterial’s using ferroelectric lithography for enhanced optical imaging       241,175
ThomasRitter (NUIG)Novel therapeutic approaches to improve corneal allograft survival by cell and gene therapy and insights into the mechanism of action1,303,013
JamesRohan (TNI)Nanomaterials design and fabrication for Energy Storage241,926
RobertRyan (UCC)Elucidation of the regulatory role of bacterial cell-cell signalling in persistent infection of the cystic fibrosis lung by Burkholderia cenocepacia282,352
CorradoSantocanale (NUIG)Cdc7 regulation of Claspin stability and its effect on cell cycle checkpoint function 292,484
IgorShvets (TCD)Science of p-type transparent conducting oxides: materials towards transparent electronics1,924,402
Johannes KlaasSlingerland (NUIM)Topological Order and Fault Tolerant Quantum Computation719,693
DagmarStengel (NUIG)Iodine in commercially valuable Irish seaweeds: variability, pathways, and implications for industrial applications244,782
NathanStevenson (UCC)Automated assessment of brain maturation in the preterm infant using EEG145,697
KevinSullivan (NUIG)Structure and assembly of vertebrate kinetochore-associated chromatin387,900
NicolasTouzet (ITS)Physiology and molecular biology of microalgae for the biorefining of valuable metabolites379,845
PaulTownsend (TNI)Next Generation Photonic Access and Data Communication Systems2,570,493
WenxinWang (NUIG)Development and Delivery of Nonviral S/MAR Minicircles for Long-term Type VII Collagen Gene expression for the Treatment of Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa267,291
GraemeWatson (TCD)Understanding the role of interfaces in solid oxide fuel cell efficiency: Optimising materials through predictive computer simulation905,910
LeonieYoung (RCSI)SRC-1 mediation of cancer cell reprogramming in endocrine resistant breast cancer681,543
XinminZhan (NUIG)Green Farm: Development of On-Farm Co-Digestion of the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste and Animal Manure for Bioenergy Production and Resource Recycling361,010

*Subject to final agreement with Awardee/Research Body; inclusive of approx. 30% overhead payment to Research Body


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