Irish Research Council to invest €12 million in world-class frontier research



Posted: 11 April, 2019

An investment of €11.8 million in frontier research was announced today by Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D. The investment will fund 12 researchers under the Irish Research Council’s 2019 Advanced Laureate Awards Programme.

The 12 researchers receiving funding are at an advanced stage in their careers and will be supported to conduct ground-breaking, world-class research across a wide range of disciplines.  Their research areas range from new approaches to breast cancer treatment, to the development of 3-D printed batteries, to digitally mapping the full range of cultural activity, across languages and ethnic groups, in early modern Ireland.  Each awardee will receive a maximum of €1 million in funding, over a period of four years.

Supporting ‘blue-sky’ research

Commenting on today’s investment, Minister McHugh said: “The Irish Research Council Advanced Laureate Programme was specifically designed to address gaps in the Irish research and innovation landscape in the area of frontier basic research, as identified in Innovation 2020, Ireland’s five-year strategy for science and technology, research and development. Minister Halligan and I are delighted to launch this round of awards and to congratulate each of the awardees.

“Funding frontier research is vital in order for us to compete with our counterparts on the global stage, and to promote Ireland as an attractive location for world-class talent, both homegrown and international, in order to bring new knowledge, skills and innovations to our research institutions.”

Minister of State Halligan also welcomed today’s announcement:  “The projects that will be funded under the Advanced Laureate Programme have the potential to break new ground and enhance our understanding in a diverse range of areas.  They are great examples of why it is important to fund basic research. Supporting these exceptional researchers will help to strengthen Ireland’s knowledge base and enhance our international reputation,” he said.

Exceptional standard

Also commenting, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “The 12 researchers who will receive funding under the Advanced Laureate Awards Programme are all exceptional in their fields and have been selected following a rigorous and independent international peer-review process. 

“A total of 140 applications were received under this funding call. In addition to the 12 funded awards, a further 48 proposals were deemed to be excellent and fundable by the international panels of experts. This illustrates the high quality of researchers and the calibre of proposals being generated in frontier research in Ireland. The Council is committed to establishing regular calls under the Laureate awards to ensure that leading-edge, world-class research does not go unfunded.”

The overall gender breakdown of awardees was 75% male and 25% female.

“The gendered distribution of research grants at the advanced career stage is a very real issue, both in Ireland and internationally,” said Peter Brown.  “Although this outcome is similar to benchmarks such as the European Research Council Advanced Grant, no-one can be satisfied with the current imbalance. Ireland is now taking major steps to address the gender disparity in senior research and academic positions, as outlined in the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan. The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D., and the Department of Education and Skills have made gender equality a key policy priority moving forward.”

The Irish Research Council opened the first call under the Laureate Awards Programme in 2017, resulting in 36 awards with an associated investment of €18 million.

List of 12 Awardees



NameHigher Education InstitutionProject Title
Adrian BrackenTrinity College DublinUnderstanding the impact of divergent PRC2 complex assemblies on chromatin landscapes and gene regulation
Lorraine O'DriscollTrinity College DublinExtracellular vesicles in cancer’
John AtkinsUniversity College CorkCodes within THE CODE: Revealing hidden genetic information
Seamus MartinTrinity College DublinDeath receptors as integrators of cell stress-induced inflammation
Brendan DooleyUniversity College CorkExamining new sources for the European dimension of early modern news, integrating Ireland and elsewhere into the network of circulation, 1550-1700, to understand a forgotten but highly significant media landscape’
Christine CaseyTrinity College DublinSurface value: The agency and impact of craftmanship in the architecture of Britain and Ireland, 1680-1780’
Patricia PalmerNUI MaynoothMACMORRIS (Mapping Actors and Contexts: Modelling research in Renaissance Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth century)
Padraig O'MachainUniversity College CorkThe materiality of the late-medieval Gaelic vernacular manuscript (1100–1600): a study of inks and vellum in the Book of Uí Mhaine, the development of a materiality protocol from that study, and the refinement of that protocol through application to other Gaelic manuscripts from the same era
Colm O'DwyerUniversity College CorkBattery performance in technicolor – photonic material circuitry and 3D printed batteries for probing electrochemical energy storage mechanisms and cell performance
Stefano SanvitoTrinity College DublineMag: a computational platform for accelerated magnetic materials discovery
Michael ZaworotkoUniversity of LimerickSwitching adsorbent layered materials
Igor ShvetsTrinity College DublinNew concepts for superconducting tunnelling junctions