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University College Dublin Announces New €2.2 Million Strategic Fund to Support Health-Related Researchers

Tuesday, 20 June, 2017 


University College Dublin (UCD) yesterday announced the first round of eight (8) awardees of a new strategic fund to support health-related researchers.

The objective of the UCD Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF), worth €2.2 million over five years, is to drive key research initiatives within the University’s research themes of Personalised & Translational Medicine and One Health.

Pictured (L-R) Professor William Gallagher (Director, UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research), Dr Conor McAloon, Associate Professor Orina Belton, Dr David Crosby, Associate Professor Margaret McGee, Dr. Conor Magee, Associate Professor Amanda McCann, Dr. Clodagh Kearney, Triona McCormack (Director of Research, University College Dublin).

The Fund aims to assist UCD researchers overcome systemic barriers to career and network development, ultimately unlocking future research potential within the University and beyond.

The Fund will support high-quality research in the biomedical and clinical sciences and is also available to directly support research or collaborations within the medical humanities field.

The Fund, with three separate schemes, has been established with funding from the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership in addition to matched funding from UCD.

The Clinical Primer Scheme will incentivise and support the early careers of medical and veterinary clinicians, practitioners, and individuals within the allied health services with the aim of unlocking a new clinical talent pool.

The Mid-Career Stimulus and Diversification Scheme will support excellent mid­career researchers who were previously highly productive, but whose activity has been impeded by external factors or suspended as a result of extended leave, or indeed a combination of the two.

The Networks of Excellence Scheme is aimed at promoting activities to develop and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, foster greater public engagement, and ultimately enable research translation.
The 8 awardees were announced yesterday at an event in the UCD Conway Institute, 4 in both the Clinical Primer Scheme and the Mid-Career Stimulus and Diversification Scheme are as follows;

Clinical Primer Scheme

Dr Conor Magee, Specialist Registrar Rheumatology, St James Hospital, who will undertake an MD research project on the development of biomarkers to predict the progression of psoriatic arthritis.

Dr David Crosby, Clinical Research Fellow and Specialist Registrar Obstetrics & Gynaecology, The National Maternity Hospital and Merrion Fertility Clinic, whose MD research project will focus on how the dysregulation of inflammatory pathways affects embryo implantation and pregnancy.

Dr Clodagh Kearney, Lecturer and Senior Clinician in Large Animal Surgery, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, who will utilise an equine model to develop innovative “One Health” treatments for arthritis.

Dr Conor McAloon, Assistant Professor and Clinician in Bovine Health Management, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, who will undertake a research project elucidating the role of the environment in bovine respiratory disease.

Mid-Career Stimulus and Diversification Scheme

Associate Professor Orina Belton, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science and UCD Conway Institute, whose research involves the development of optimum therapeutic strategies for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Associate Professor Amanda McCann, UCD School of Medicine and UCD Conway Institute, whose research focus involves evaluating the role of extracellular vesicles in triple negative breast cancer.

Professor Emma Teeling, UCD School of Biology & Environmental Science and UCD Conway Institute, whose research is focussed on utilising the bat as an animal model to elucidate the mechanisms of longer health spans, and the basis of novel immunity for disease tolerance 
Associate Professor Margaret McGee, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science and UCD Conway Institute, whose research is  focussed on the characterisation of extracellular cyclophilins during cancer growth and metastasis.

Professor William Gallagher, Director, UCD Conway Institute, and lead academic overseeing the Fund said, “The calibre of the awardees within the first round of these schemes is absolutely superb, representing a broad range of disciplines across the university. I will be excited to see their projects develop over the next couple of years, as they all undoubtedly generate highly impactful research.”

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research Impact and Innovation said, “I am delighted that the University has been awarded this prestigious funding, which will have a major impact on the UCD research community, enabling our researchers to overcome systemic barriers in career and network development.”