On July 7th, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Seán Sherlock, T.D. announced €23 million in new funding to help support 40 of Ireland’s most promising young research talent to become fully independent researchers. The funding is being awarded through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA) Programmes.
Four RCSI researchers were among those to be awarded funding. Two senior post-doctoral researchers from RCSI were recipients of the Starting Investigator Grants: Dr Eva Jimenez Mateos and Dr Tobias Engel. Both work in the epilepsy research laboratory in the Physiology Department at the RCSI and are mentored by Professor David Henshall. Both projects focus on molecules called microRNAs which work to control of protein levels in cells.
Career Development Awards were announced for two RCSI Senior Lecturers: Dr Annette Byrne, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, for a project on metastatic colorectal cancer; and Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics (MCT), for research into genetic biomarkers for epilepsy.
Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research said: “RCSI welcomes the announcement to provide major funding to four RCSI research projects through the Science Foundation Ireland Programmes. This is a fantastic achievement and underlines the cutting-edge and competitive research work performed at RCSI. The funding will enable the SIRG awardees to develop new research interests and establish themselves as independent researchers, while CDA awardees will have the opportunity to further develop and strengthen their independent research programmes. These awards reflect the immense hard-work and outstanding research and translational achievements being carried out by the awardees.”
A further 12 projects were also deemed scientifically excellent by the International Review Panel and are on a reserve list to be funded by SFI, if budgets permit later in the year. RCSI researchers on the reserve list were Drs Steven Kerrigan, Markus Rehm and Stephen Madden.
SFI’s Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) provides support for excellent postdoctoral researchers who wish to take steps towards a fully independent research career, while the Career Development Award (CDA) aims to support early and mid-career researchers who already hold a salaried, independent research post and who are looking to expand their research activities. Both programmes aim to support the development of young researchers with the potential to become excellent, fully independent research leaders in their chosen fields.
Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Seán Sherlock TD said: “Funding for researchers at the outset of their careers is an important element of the Government’s strategy for job creation in research and innovation under our Action Plan for Jobs. SFI’s funding schemes for early career researchers help ensure that excellent research with the potential for real economic and societal impact is properly supported in Ireland. Investment like this is important for Ireland’s developing international reputation for excellent research with impact. The 40 research projects being awarded by SFI today demonstrate the enormous talent and potential that exists among Ireland’s young researchers.”
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Both of the programmes under which funding is being announced today will help promising young researchers to create and develop impactful careers here in Ireland and in turn enable the pursuit of scientific research that has potential economic and societal impact. These programmes are also an important factor in ensuring that Ireland can succeed in persuading top young scientific talent from abroad to base their research efforts here in Ireland.”
Founded in 1784, RCSI’s mission is to develop healthcare leaders who make a difference worldwide. RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences organisation which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.
List of RCSI Funded Projects
SFI Research Scientist Total Award
Tobias Engel, RCSI
Novel treatments and diagnostics for epilepsy via the ATP-gated P2X7 receptor
Eva Jimenez-Mateos, RCSI
microRNA in the pathogenesis and prognosis of neonatal brain injury
2013 CDA Approved Awards
Annette Byrne, RCSI
ColoForetell: A Xenopatient Discovery Platform for the integrated Systems based Identification of Predictive Biomarkers for Targeted Therapies in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Gianpiero Cavalleri, RCSI
Genetic biomarkers for epilepsy predisposition and treatment
Reserve List CDA
Steven Kerrigan, RCSI
Endothelial dysfunction in severe blood stream infection
Markus Rehm RCSI
Improving melanoma treatment and prognosis by deciphering and exploiting an autophagy-dependent pathway towards apoptotic cell death
Reserve List SIRG
Stephen Madden, RCSI
The Molecular Characterisation of Ovarian Cancer