Irish Research Council congratulates six ‘alumni’ on ERC funding success

Posted: 10 December, 2019

Five researchers recently supported by the Irish Research Council are amongst those announced by the European Research Council (ERC) today (10.12.19) as winners of its latest Consolidator Grant competition.  Two of the five researchers are recipients of IRC Laureate Awards.  A sixth researcher, in the Social Sciences and Humanities, will also benefit from an ERC Starting Grant.  In total, seven Ireland-based researchers have secured ERC Starting and Consolidator grants this year.

The ERC’s Consolidator Grants scheme is one of the most competitive and prestigious funding opportunities for experienced researchers across Europe.  This year, the ERC received 2,453 proposals for the scheme, with only 301 researchers selected for funding.  These include five researchers previously supported by the Irish Research Council, who are now building on that support by leveraging European funding:

  1. Professor Laoise McNamara from NUI Galway – who was last week named as the Irish Research Council’s ‘Researcher of the Year’ – will be funded for her work on developing mechanobiologically mimetic model systems for the study of bone disease.  This ERC project builds directly on Professor McNamara’s research supported by an IRC Consolidator Laureate Award granted in 2018.
  2. Dr Matthew Campbell, based at Trinity College Dublin, will receive funding to investigate the role of the inner retina in age-related macular degeneration.  In 2018, Dr Campbell received an IRC Consolidator Laureate Award for his project on the cerebrovascular nature of schizophrenia.
  3. Dr Redmond O’Connell, also of Trinity College Dublin, is to be funded to work on a neutrally-informed behavioural modelling framework for examining individual and group difference in perceptual decision making.
  4. Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, based at NUI Galway, was selected for funding to work on advanced cellular hierarchical tissue imitations.
  5. Dr Conor Buckley, based at Trinity College Dublin, will be funded to research personalised medicine for intervertebral disc regeneration.

These ERC Consolidator successes demonstrate the importance of the Irish Research Council in supporting and developing research excellence at all career stages.  IRC Consolidator Laureate Awards provided stepping stones for Professor McNamara and Dr Campbell’s ERC success.  Dr O’Connell, Dr Zeugolis, and Dr Buckley were all supported by the IRC at early career stage.

Dr Delia Ferri at Maynooth University was also selected for an ERC Consolidator Grant for her project on protecting the right to culture of persons with disabilities and enhancing cultural diversity through European Union law.

Each of these six researchers will receive in the region of €2 million from the ERC to build research teams that will engage in ground-breaking research in their fields.

Earlier this year, Dr Garrick Allen of Dublin City University won an ERC Starting Grant.  A recipient of an IRC New Foundations networking award in 2016, Dr Allen was awarded almost €1.5 million for his ERC project on what manuscripts say about the ways in which the New Testament was interpreted by the communities that produced them.

Commenting today, John Halligan TD, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, said: “I am delighted to see the success of these researchers in the ERC competitions, and I would like to congratulate each of the recipients.  At various stages in their career – and, indeed, right up to the present day – six of these researchers have benefited from the support of the Irish Research Council.  They have been able to build on that vital support to access these prestigious European funding opportunities. 

“Thanks to the success of Irish researchers in the latest round of ERC competitions, Ireland will benefit from over €13.5 million in research funding in the coming years.”

Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “It is hugely rewarding to see how the investment made by the Irish Research Council in these researchers has enabled them to compete internationally and to leverage large amounts of European funding.

“It is also exciting to see that there are humanities and social science researchers included amongst the Irish beneficiaries, as well as those from STEM backgrounds.  This is indicative of the strong focus the Irish Research Council places on supporting research across all disciplines.”

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