Image of nature landscape with glass sphere inverting image, title called new perspective

Ten new DOROTHY European Fellowships to tackle major public health threats

Posted: 5 June, 2024

The DOROTHY programme which launched in 2021, has confirmed its second cohort of research fellows. A total of €2.6 million is being invested in funding for ten fellows.

The researchers will embark on a 36-month postdoctoral fellowship with a focus on public health crises. Among the research being funded are projects examining the interrelation between obesity and cancer, novel treatments of airborne infections, microscopy practices and reproductive crises, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian refugee crisis on displaced women across the island of Ireland, as well as the global rise in depression and anxiety among young people. The fellows will tackle public health crises from a variety of disciplinary perspectives ranging across the sciences, humanities and engineering.

The DOROTHY programme is a postdoctoral research programme co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). Three Irish funding agencies, the Irish Research Council (IRC), the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have collaborated to create this interdisciplinary fellowship programme. The complementary expertise of the three agencies – namely funding excellence in pan-disciplinary research (IRC), health perspectives (HRB) and environmental policies (EPA) is key to DOROTHY’s scope and ambitions.

Challenges to public health include human resources for health, health financing, conflict and humanitarian crises, mental health, poverty, climate change, child health, reproductive health, and the global ‘infodemic’. As the COVID 19 pandemic showed, a situation becomes a public health crisis or emergency when its scale, timing, or unpredictability can lead to health consequences which have the potential to overwhelm society and our health system. To this end, evidence-based research and addressing ‘knowledge gaps’ are the basis of successful public health interventions. These new DOROTHY fellows, along with the current cohort, will examine ways in which we can address these complex challenges from a variety of perspectives.

Fellowships will have an international outgoing phase of 18 months, hosted at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Research Performing Organisation (RPO) outside Ireland, followed by a return phase of 18 months to a HEI/RPO within Ireland.

Along with the fellows from the first cohort, the new DOROTHY researchers will examine ways in which varying public health crises can be addressed. During their fellowships, the awardees will conduct innovative, cross-disciplinary research, as well as participating in programme-wide training events. Reaching out beyond traditional disciplinary lines, allowing for an effective approach to the multifaceted nature of public health crises, DOROTHY will be underpinned by multidisciplinary cooperation leading to development of a cohort of experts able to tackle public health crises from multiple perspectives.

Welcoming the announcement, Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, said:

The Irish Research Council is delighted to partner in the DOROTHY MSCA programme, supporting as it does early career researchers from a variety of disciplines to conduct and manage research projects that have strong relevance to public health crises. The programme aligns with the ambitions of Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy to strengthen multi- and trans- disciplinary research to deliver enhanced outcomes for citizens and society, and to develop the national and international talent needed to do so.

Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board said;

“The HRB is committed to building strong research capacity to support an effective response to public health emergencies. Through this partnership the HRB is delivering on our commitment to develop future leaders, create solutions to societal challenges and deliver research to inform policy and practice around public health crises.

Welcoming the announcement Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA Office of Evidence and Assessment, said:

 “Our health and the quality of our environment are intrinsically linked. Environmental degradation and climate change have multiple direct and indirect impacts on public health and wellbeing and must be tackled in an integrated way. The EPA is delighted to again partner with the IRC and HRB on this prestigious fellowship programme to support innovative interdisciplinary research to address public health challenges”.

The successful projects awarded in the second DOROTHY COFUND cohort are:

  • Targeting MAITs (a type of immune cell) as an Opportunity Beyond Weight Loss for Solving the Public Health Crisis of Obesity-associated Cancer – thinking outside the box by looking inside the adipose tissue, Dr Fearon Cassidy, Maynooth University and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Protection of the human digestive system from micro(nano)plastic contamination, Dr Xiaohui Lin, University College Dublin and Ghent University, Belgium
  • Antimicrobial photocatalytic coatings on sustainable construction materials carriers, Dr Gurbir Kaur, Trinity College Dublin and Universidad de Navarra, Spain
  • Novel ionically conductive biomaterial scaffolds for cardiovascular tissue engineering, Dr Aleksandra Serafin, University of Limerick and University of Oxford, UK
  • A cross-border comparison of care strategies that women refugees and asylum seekers employ for survival during converging public health crises in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Dr Amanda Lubit, Dublin City University and Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany
  • Harnessing groups for health in response to public health crises: Insights from the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Aoife Marie Foran, University of Limerick and University of Queensland, Australia
  • Violence as Contagious: Historicising Anglophone Narratives of Violence, Health, and Disease, 1800s to the Present, Dr Sophie Franklin, University College Dublin and University of Reading, UK
  • A Mixed-method study on the relAtionship between poRnography and attItudes towards aGgression and viOLence among aDolescents [MARIGOLD], Dr Sandra Sanmartín Feijóo, University of Galway and University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Youth Mental Health: A Public Health Crisis in need of Investigation, Dr Niamh Dooley, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and King’s College London, UK
  • Imaging/Imagining Reproductive Crisis: time-lapse microscopy, animation and fertility discourse, Dr Rebecca Close, University College Cork and Institute for the History of Science, Spain


Along with the fellows from the first cohort, the new DOROTHY researchers will examine ways in which varying public health crises can be addressed

 For further information on the MSCA DOROTHY COFUND programme please see the list of the awardees below and the link to the DOROTHY website.

List of MSCA DOROTHY Fellowship awards


Data Protection Notice

Please read our updated Data Protection Notice.

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy page

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.