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UCD tops funding list in latest round of SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme

Posted 31 May, 2023

University College Dublin has topped the grant list of the latest round of SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme as fourteen of its research projects received funding.

In total, some €10 million has been awarded to projects partnered with UCD and projects were the University is the sole awardee.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, announced the latest round of funding through the SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme, which saw 62 grants valued at €42 million awarded.

This funding will support 197 research positions, including 68 postdoctoral positions, 87 PhD students and 37 Research Assistants and other positions.

The 14 UCD research projects awarded are:
  • Elizabeth Topp, National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) and Associate Professor Steven Ferguson, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering for 'Stable chemically modified mRNA vaccines.'
  • Professor Niamh Nowlan, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering for 'Developmentally inspired approaches to cartilage defect healing.'
  • Professor Sheila McBreen, UCD School of Physics, for 'Gamma-ray Investigation of the Full Transient Sky: A 6U CubeSat for the localisation of gamma-ray bursts in the multi-messenger era.'
  • Dr Antonio Benedetto, UCD School of Physics, for 'BIONIC - Tuning the properties of model and real biomembranes by organic electrolytes. An experimental comprehensive study of elasticity, mechano-elasticity and transport through active and passive channels.'
  • Dr Carol Aherne, UCD School of Medicine, for 'Targeting mucin-mediated mechanisms to protect the intestinal barrier.'
  • Dr Darrin Hulsey, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science, for 'VitaDevo: Angling for a New Model of Osteoimmunology-Environmental Developmental Genetics of Vitamin D in Atlantic Salmon.'
  • Professor Declan Gilheany, UCD School of Chemistry, for 'Small Nitrogen Bicycles: Constrained Molecular Geometry for Aza Bioisosteres, Encouraged Lewis Pairs and Pentavalent, Pentaco-ordinate Nitrogen.'
  • Professor Desmond Cox, UCD School of Medicine/Children’s Health Ireland and Carmen Regan, Children's Health Ireland, for 'The impact of E-cigarettes on Childhood Health Outcomes (ECHO) study.'
  • Dr Giacomo Severini, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, for 'ReHapt: Predictive modelling-based haptic cycling rehabilitation of stroke survivors.'
  • Associate Professor James Rice, UCD School of Physics, for 'Responsive plasmonics using biomaterials.'
  • Dr Jan Miletin and Dr Jana Semberova, UCD School of Medicine, for 'Individualized mask for infants requiring nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – tailored Mask (tMASK) feasibility study.'
  • Dr Melinda Halasz, UCD School of Medicine, and Cormac Owens, Children's Health Ireland, for 'Understanding and exploiting dysregulated mitochondrial metabolism and epigenetics for the therapy of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma.'
  • Associate Professor Susan Quinn, UCD School of Chemistry, for 'PhotoGene: Photoactive Nucleic Acid Probes Towards New Diagnostics and Therapeutics.'
  • Associate Professor Tommy Boland, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, for 'Neonatal Dietary Interventions to Reduce Enteric Methane Emissions (NeoDREMES).'

The complete list of awardees here.

The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme provides funding across two schemes, for those research projects deem “high-risk, high-reward” and those of a larger scale, aimed at allowing investigators to conduct “highly innovative, collaborative programmes”.

“These awards, supported under the SFI Frontiers for the Future programme, will enable research ideas to contribute new knowledge, solving problems faced by our society, while also providing a continuum of support from early career to established researchers, thus growing and retaining top talent in Ireland,” said Minister Harris.

“The SFI Frontiers for the Future programme takes important steps to address gender imbalance and to provide support and opportunity for emerging investigators who are returning to their research after a period of leave.”

Professor Philip Nolan, SFI Director General, added: “I am delighted that we are funding 62 new research grants through the SFI Frontiers for the Future programme.

“A key action of SFI’s strategy is to deliver 140 investigator grants every year to support excellent research and to attract top talent. The Frontiers for the Future programme is the primary mechanism to achieve this goal.

“It is vital that we invest in excellent and innovative research in Ireland. I would like to thank the Children’s Health Foundation and Geological Survey Ireland for collaborating on this programme with SFI, allowing us to fund projects which will have a significant impact in key areas.”

Two projects are fully funded by the Children’s Health Foundation, with two further projects co-funded by Children’s Health Foundation, and two other projects are co-funded with Geological Survey Ireland.

Hugh Kane, Interim Chief Executive, Children’s Health Foundation said: “Working with SFI, we are able to leverage the funds we raise to deliver larger grants for research into childhood diseases and to develop kinder and more gentle treatments for sick children.

Frontiers for the Future Programme plays a key role in enabling us to fund paediatric researchers in a highly innovative, collaborative manner with the potential to deliver impact whilst also providing opportunities for high-risk, high-reward research projects.”

Koen Verbruggen, Director, Geological Survey Ireland, added: “Both of the SFI-GSI projects funded this year will improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change in the past and what this might mean for our future.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie