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Minister Halligan announces €6.7 million joint research investment by Science Foundation Ireland and UK research council

Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, has today announced an investment of €6.7 million, supporting 14 research awards under a joint funding scheme between Science Foundation Ireland and the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The awards will support a total of 26 research positions in Irish institutions over a period of 3-4 years.

Researchers from the UK and Ireland will work together on research and technology development addressing key global challenges in biosciences for health, agriculture, food security, industrial biotechnology and bioenergy. Research areas being funded through the partnership include rapid bone graft synthesis; gut bacterial influences on the nutrition of Atlantic salmon; modelling the spread of tuberculosis in cattle in the UK and Ireland; a study of the genetic diversity of oats across the UK and Ireland and the influence of climate change on their ability to fight fungal infection.

Announcing the awards, Minister Halligan said: “I am very pleased to announce this significant investment in research and development by the BBSRC and Science Foundation Ireland, which will strengthen research links between Ireland and the UK. Connecting our scientific communities will enhance scientific and technological collaborations in both countries, maximising infrastructure and talent. These joint ventures can produce important scientific discoveries and innovations, while improving the overall scientific competitiveness of both countries internationally.” 

Discussing the partnership, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The international collaboration between the BBSRC and Science Foundation Ireland, along with the very high calibre of projects receiving funding, demonstrates our commitment to supporting excellent and impactful research.“ 

“Through the BBSRC-SFI partnership, we are promoting the crucial sharing of resources, knowledge and expertise among the international research community. This will empower researchers both here in Ireland and in the UK, and further builds on Ireland’s global reputation for research excellence.”


Notes for Editor:

About the BBSRC and Science Foundation Ireland Partnership

Since the establishment of the BBSRC-SFI partnership in October 2015, there have been three rounds of funding:

  • Under the first funding call there were three successful applications, supporting seven research positions, with a total value of €1.6m. (June 2016)
  • Under the second call there were seven successful applications, supporting 12 research positions, with a total value of €3.4m. (November 2016)
  • Under the third, and most recent funding call, four applications were successful, with a total value of €1.7m, supporting seven research positions. (March 2017)

Joint applications are processed according to the normal procedures of the BBSRC Responsive Mode Scheme, and if successful, the UK-based research groups are funded by BBSRC and the Republic of Ireland-based research groups are funded by SFI. The BBSRC will be the lead agency, and the partnership welcomes, encourages and supports research applications that cut across national boundaries involving collaborative teams led by researchers from the UK and Ireland. 

Science Foundation Ireland – BBSRC-SFI Joint Funding Scheme Awardees

Lead Irish Researcher

Irish Institution

Title of Research

Value of SFI Award including overhead: (€)

UK Institution

Lead U.K. Researcher*

Prof   Andrew Bowie

Trinity College Dublin

Innate immune signalling underpinning Klebsiella-host   interactions


Queen’s   University of Belfast

Prof Jose   Bengoechea

Dr Anne   Parle-McDermott

Dublin City University

Deciphering the function of the human Dihydrofolate reductase 2   gene


University   College London

Prof   Nicholas Greene

Dr Adrian   Bracken

Trinity College Dublin

Understanding the impact of divergent Sin3A/HDAC1 complex   assemblies in gene regulation


University of Leicester

Dr Shaun   Cowley

Dr Cormac   Murphy

University College Dublin

Investigation of Fengycin Mechanism Using Biological, Chemical   and Biophysical Tools


University of Durham

Dr Steven   Cobb

Dr Kanishka Nilaweera


The role of   hypothalamic neuropeptide network in regulating tissue sizes in response to   diet energy content and composition


University of Aberdeen

Prof John Speakman

Prof Stephen Gordon

University College Dublin

Tackling a   multi-host pathogen problem - phylodynamic analyses of the epidemiology of M.   bovis in Britain and Ireland


University of Glasgow

Prof Rowland Kao

Dr Paula Bourke

Dublin Institute of Technology

EnvironSafe: Cold   Plasma Innovations for Food Safety and Sustainability


Queens University   Belfast

Prof Brendan Gilmore

Dr Frank Wellmer

Trinity College Dublin

Characterization of   a novel Polycomb group protein complex and its effects on the plant epigenome


University of   Edinburgh

Dr Justin   Goodrich

Prof Jeremy Simpson

University College Dublin

Elucidating the   mechanisms and pathways of extracellular vesicle uptake and intercellular   stress response


Oxford Brookes

Dr David Carter

Dr Oliver Blacque

University College Dublin

Structure-function   relationships in the ciliary transition zone


University of Leeds

Prof Colin   Johnson

Prof Robert Lahue

National University of Ireland Galway

Mechanisms &   consequences of HDACs in the NCoR complex, in controlling the activity of   MutSb in trinucleotide repeat expansions


University of   Leicester

Prof John   Schwabe

Prof Fiona Doohan

University College Dublin

Oats for the   future: deciphering the potential of host resistance and RNAi to minimise   mycotoxin contamination under present and future climate scenarios


Cranfield University

Prof Naresh   Magan

Dr Philip McGinnity

University College Cork

A microbial basis   for Atlantic salmon energetics


University of Glasgow

Dr Martin   Llewellyn

Dr Manus Biggs

National University of Ireland Galway

Rapid Bone Graft   Synthesis Through Dual Piezoelectric/Nanomechanical Stimulation



University of Glasgow

Prof Matthew   Dalby

*Funded by   the BBSRC

 For further media information contact: 

Science Foundation Ireland Donna McCabe 01 607 3042 / 087 675 6845 

About Science Foundation Ireland 

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. 

Science Foundation Ireland has launched the #BelieveInScience campaign to promote the potential that science and discovery offer Ireland, today and in tomorrow’s world. The #BelieveInScience campaign will see Science Foundation Ireland work in partnership with the Irish research community to share a mutual passion for science with the public; to promote an understanding of the ability of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to create positive change in the world and to drive a sustainable economy in Ireland. Visit for more information. 

About the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is the lead funding agency for academic research and training in the biosciences at universities and institutes throughout the UK. It is one of seven Research Councils that work together as Research Councils UK (RCUK). BBSRC is funded by the Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Their vision is to lead world-class 21st century bioscience, promoting innovation in the bioeconomy and realising benefits for society within and beyond the UK.