RCSI researchers awarded €2.5m in SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme

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Researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have been awarded €2.5 million to lead large-scale awards and projects as part of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Frontiers for the Future Programme announced today.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD has announced the successful RCSI recipients as part of the 71 grants valued at €53m to support research across 12 Higher Education Institutions through SFI.

RCSI SFI Frontiers for the Future Awards:

  • Professor Leonie Young and Professor Arnold Hill (Department of Surgery) will look at how potentially reversible genetic changes and activities are involved in the spread of breast cancer to the brain, with a view to informing new treatments and better outcomes for patients.
  • Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes (Clinical Microbiology) is co-PI (with Dr Mary Pryce, DCU) on a research award to develop a new class of medicines that kill bacteria in a completely new way by releasing doses of singlet oxygen to antibiotic-resistant infections, when activated by light.

The award funding stream supports innovative, collaborative excellent research programmes that have the potential to deliver economic and societal impact.

RCSI SFI Frontiers for the Future Projects:

  • Dr Triona Ni Chonghaile (Physiology and Medical Physics) will focus on a subtype of breast cancer called triple negative breast cancer to identify new therapeutic targets and understand their function in this subtype of breast cancer.
  • Dr Ingmar Schoen (School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences) will investigate how platelets in the blood behave in response to a growing blood clot to improve our understanding of clot formation and help to develop better diagnostics.
  • Professor Marc Devocelle (Chemistry) will explore the potential of Antimicrobial Peptide candidates for the development of novel antibiotics that may avoid resistance in bacteria.

The project funding stream supports high-risk, high-reward research projects to facilitate highly innovative and novel approaches to research.

Professor Fergal O’Brien, Director of Research and Innovation at RCSI, said: “RCSI’s success in the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme is a testament to the high-quality, focused health sciences research taking place at the university. Through this programme, our researchers will lead large-scale collaborative research and embark on novel projects that have the potential to bring about improvements in diagnostics and therapeutics for the benefit of human health.”

Commenting on the programme, Minister Harris said: “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 areas of high-risk, high-reward, which will help us build a better future for Ireland through discovery, innovation, and impact.”

“I am pleased to see the successful outcome of the new gender initiative that sees 45% of the research grants announced today led by female researchers. The funding will support researchers who are already carrying out excellent work in Ireland, as well as those in the early stages of their research careers who hold incredible potential.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “This was a highly competitive process and I’m delighted that we are able to fund 71 new research grants through the SFI Frontiers for the Future programme. These are highly skilled, talented, and dedicated researchers and it is crucial that we invest in their excellent ideas and research, to maintain and build on Ireland’s global standing in research, innovation, and discovery.”