€53.7 Million in Research Grants for Projects on Health and Climate

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76 grants valued at €53.7 million for Projects on Health and Climate, to support frontiers research across 10 higher education institutions, through Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has been announced.

The research supported will investigate areas such as:

  • childhood ADHD
  • future coastal sea levels
  • native honeybees
  • new-generation batteries
  • antiviral drugs to treat COVID-19 infections,
  • safety-critical software
  • the link between obesity and cancer
  • futureproofing crops to withstand flooding

In line with SFI’s gender strategy, the programme seeks to provide opportunities to address gender imbalance and to provide support for investigators returning to research after a period of leave:

  • 42% of the research grants supported will be led by female researchers
  • 32% by emerging investigators early in their research careers

The programme is run in collaboration with Geological Survey Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), who are co-funding a number of the grants.

“Congratulations to all the researchers who have received funding today as part of the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme. I am delighted to support this programme which funds individual-led research, with an emphasis on fundamental research at the cutting edge of science and engineering which will help us build a better future for Ireland through discovery, innovation, and impact.

“Not only will these grants support research in important areas for Irish society, they will also fund the support 216 people in varying research positions across 10 Higher Education Institutes to further develop their research careers. We are investing in talent. I would like to offer my thanks to the Higher Education Institutions for their support in delivering this programme again this year.”

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General of SFI said:

“After the success of the first SFI Future Frontiers Programme in 2020, I am delighted to see 76 research grants awarded. The research programmes are wonderfully diverse, but they have one thing in common: they ask fundamental questions and will lead to important scientific breakthroughs, with important applications in areas such as climate action, biodiversity, human and animal health and digital transformation, with real and lasting benefits to our society and economy. The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme is a key element of SFI’s new strategy – Shaping Our Future providing support for excellent research.

“It is really encouraging to see that 42% of the research grants are led by female researchers for the second year running. SFI is committed to addressing the gender imbalance evident in areas of Irish research and this is another example of that commitment in action.”

Research Grants for Projects on Health and Climate

Predicting sea levels – Dr Niamh Cahill

Dr Niamh Cahill at Maynooth University will develop state-of-the-art software to better understand and predict changes in Irish sea levels with a view to improve Ireland’s costal defence strategies and reduce the impact of extreme sea-level changes. Co-funded by Geological Survey Ireland.

Next-generation batteries – Prof Valeria Nicolosi

Prof Valeria Nicolosi at Trinity College Dublin seeks to develop the next generation of batteries beyond lithium-ion technology. By using novel materials, this project may overcome the scarcity and distribution issues associated with the use of lithium and cobalt. Co-funded by SEAI.

Treating blood-clotting disorders – Prof James O’Donnell

Prof James O’Donnell, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, will investigate how the body controls the levels of a critical component involved in blood clotting. This research will guide the identification of more effective ways to treat people with inherited blood-clotting disorders.

ADHD treatment prediction – Dr Robert Whelan and Prof Jane McGrath

Dr Robert Whelan and Prof Jane McGrath at Trinity College Dublin will research how to predict when standard treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might not be effective. It is hoped that this work will allow children with ADHD to access faster and better relief from symptoms.

Survival of native honey bee subspecies – Dr Grace McCormack

Dr Grace McCormack at NUI Galway will study a native honey-bee subspecies, which had previously been thought to be nearly extinct. This work seeks to understand how they have survived and adapted to the challenges caused by humans and will aid in their conservation.

’Factory in a box’ – Prof Vivek Ranade

Prof Vivek Ranade, University of Limerick, will develop new insights, devices, and methods to enable on-demand, personalised manufacture in a compact ‘factory in a box’.

New materials for LED displays – Dr Suzanne Martin

Dr Suzanne Martin, Technological University Dublin, will develop new transparent materials, suitable for use with light-emitting diode (LED) displays, capable of efficiently reducing both light pollution and energy costs, while maintaining visibility.

Better treatments for COVID-19 – Prof Isabel Rozas

Prof Isabel Rozas, Trinity College Dublin, seeks to build upon existing knowledge of anti-viral drugs to develop new and better drug treatments for COVID-19. If successful, this work could provide better ways to improve the health and wellbeing of patients with COVID-19.

Safety in AI devices – Dr Rosemary Monahan and Prof Barak Pearlmutter

Dr Rosemary Monahan and Prof Barak Pearlmutter at Maynooth University will develop new approaches to address the need for a scalable solution to ensure safety in AI-based automated devices, such as driverless cars.

More resilient agricultural plants – Dr Tancredi Caruso and Dr Jonathan Yearsley

Dr Tancredi Caruso and Dr Jonathan Yearsley at University College Dublin will carry out research to better understand how microbes in the soil support the ability of plants to resist extreme weather events, with a view to improving the resilience of agriculturally-important plants.

Energy-reducing software – Dr Alexey Lastovetsky

Dr Alexey Lastovetsky at University College Dublin will develop software that can reduce the significant energy needs associated with the ubiquitous use of computing in daily life, without compromising functionality and performance. Co-funded by SEAI.

DNA treatments for genetic disorders – Dr Patrick Harrison

Dr Patrick Harrison at University College Cork will work to build on recent advances in the correction of errors in DNA, to expand its usefulness for treating a wider range of genetic disorders, including Cystic Fibrosis.

Full list of projects

See the full list of projects and awards in the document below.

Image: None

Full ist of SFI Frontiers for the Future projects and awards

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