Research News

MSCA announces €242M funding for 1,156 Postdoctoral Fellowships

  • 13 April, 2022


The European Commission will support a total of 1,156 experienced post-doctoral researchers under the 2021 MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme. The action provides support to excellent individual researchers to implement an original and personalised research project, while developing their skills through advanced training, international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral mobility.

A total of €242 million has been invested in the Fellows to work at top universities, research centres, private organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe and the rest of the world. The European Research Executive Agency (REA) received 8356 applications for this call.

The Commission will award €206 million to 1,025 researchers through European Postdoctoral Fellowships, allowing them to carry out their projects in the EU or countries associated to Horizon Europe. Some €36 million was earnmarked for Global Postdoctoral Fellowships, allowing 131 researchers to carry out research outside the EU or countries associated to Horizon Europe, mostly in the United States, China, Canada and Australia, before returning back to Europe.


Seven postdoctoral researchers at UCD were awarded MSCA Fellowships:


Fellow/Mentor: Dr James Little/Professor Emilie Pine (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)

CONFINED: Mapping Literary Representations of Coercive Confinement in Ireland, from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present

CONFINED will define how literary representations of coercive confinement contribute to Irish national memory. Starting with the rapid growth of Ireland’s carceral institutions in the mid-nineteenth century, the project will map the depiction of prisons, asylums, industrial schools, mother-and-baby homes, Magdalen laundries and direct provision centres across prose, poetry and theatre. CONFINED is supervised by Prof. Emilie Pine and will feature collaborations with the Museum of Literature Ireland and RTÉ. For updates on the project’s podcast, digital exhibition and online symposium, follow @Jamesjli.


Fellow/Mentor: Dr Shane O’Donnell/Professor Susi Geiger (UCD School of Sociology/UCD School of Business)

COMMONS: The patient-led commonification of healthcare? The case of DIY-Diabetes, an ethnographic study

For the past decade, collaborations in patient-led commons have produced a range of innovations that can help improve clinical outcomes and quality-of-life. However, these innovations sit outside of commercial and regulatory processes and create dilemmas for healthcare professionals, regulators and industry. Furthermore, the central role of technology in these patient innovator communities has raised questions about who can participate in and benefit from the innovations.

This project will examine how commons-based peer production is impacting healthcare ecosystem dynamics and the lived experience of people with diabetes (PwD). It will focus on communities of PwD who, collaborating online via open source knowledge exchange platforms, are increasingly empowered to create and modify diabetes technologies to better meet their medical needs.

Through in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and ethnographic observations, the project will shed light on how patient-led innovation is transforming the development and diffusion of healthcare technologies and the implications of this for equity in healthcare outcomes. The findings will assist decision-makers to determine what sort of collaborations or partnerships can be developed between the patient-led commons and established ecosystem players to address the needs of PwD and other chronic conditions.


Fellow/Mentor: Dr Mina Hosseini/Professor Imelda Maher (UCD Sutherland School of Law)

COMPHACRISIS: The enforcement of EU Competition Law in the pharmaceutical sector: Before, during, and after a health crisis (learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic)

This research asks what are the significant differences between normal, crisis and post-crisis EU competition law and policy in the pharmaceutical sector? Analysing the normal enforcement of competition law, evaluating the crisis enforcement of competition law, exploring the significant consequences of the crisis policies in the post-pandemic law, and designing an ‘Effective Health Crisis Competition Law Framework’ are specific objectives of COMPAHCRISIS.

The project involves a review of European Union competition law enforcement and three member states (Germany, Italy, and Ireland). It will be carried out in line with the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, under the supervision of Professor Imelda Maher at University College Dublin (UCD).


Fellow/Mentor: Dr Francesco Quatrini/Associate Professor Katherine O'Donnell (UCD School of Philosophy)

EuWoRD: European Women and Religious Dissent: The Advent of Modernity and the Democratic Public Sphere

At a time when fundamentalisms and populisms threaten basic human rights, the EuWoRD project aims to investigate the roots of European values such as egalitarianism and democracy, in order to contribute to popular and scholarly debates on these subjects in an informed way. Addressing the historical relationship between religion and ideas of modernity, the research will provide a better understanding of laypersons’ contribution to the development of ‘the Enlightenment,’ when democratic concepts gradually emerged as basic rights.

Blending social history, gender history, history of ideas and political philosophy methodologies, EuWoRD addresses particularly the history of a religious minority in seventeenth century Europe, the Dutch Collegiant movement, with the aim of revealing how the practice of enlightened concepts and the participation of women in free-discussion meetings co-created the development of enlightened values.

Due to its originality and interdisciplinarity, the EuWoRD project will have a major impact on several fields of study, as well as on the general public.


Fellow/Mentor: Dr Leticia Villalba Benito/Dr Gary Brennan (UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science)

MethylMiR, the microRNA-m6A epitranscriptome: Integrative analysis of its role in normal brain behaviour and the development of epilepsy

Evidence is emerging that persistent changes in gene expression regulation and post-transcriptional regulation underlies the process of epilepsy. This research builds on preliminary data which suggests that microRNAs (miRNA) – which have recently emerged as critical regulators of epileptogenesis – may be subjected to adenosine methylation (m6A) and that this process may also be disrupted in epilepsy, representing an unexplored layer of gene expression regulation likely to influence neuronal activity and seizures. The project will evaluate the effect of m6A on miRNA function, to understand how this influences normal brain behaviour and epileptogenesis. MethylmiR will build on work begun by the investigators through FutureNeuro, the SFI Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Disease.


Fellow/Mentor: Dr Helen Newsome/Professor Danielle Clarke (UCD School of English, Drama and Film)

THEQUEENSPOST, The Queens’ Post: The form, function, and power of Early Tudor queens' correspondence

This project provides the first large-scale analysis of the form, function, and power of early Tudor queens' correspondence. It investigates the letters of nine important early Tudor queens, including the wife of Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Henry VII's daughters Margaret Tudor and Mary Tudor Brandon, and the wives of Henry VIII: Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Katherine Howard, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Parr. Using an innovative, interdisciplinary methodology – employing methods from linguistics, literary studies, archival studies, material culture, gender studies, and diplomatic history – The Queens' Post will advance our understanding of the nature and power of royal women's voices and writings of the past, and reconsider the power and position queens held in early modern politics and diplomacy.


Fellow/Mentors: Dr Ikenna Ebuenyi/Professor Eilish McAuliffe, (UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems), and Dr Manasi Kumar

WAYSIDE, Wellbeing and Employability for Youths with Psychosocial Disabilities through Digital Technologies

Psychosocial disability (PD) refers to ‘disabilities that arise from barriers to social participation experienced by people who have or who are perceived to have mental health conditions or problems.’ According to the World Health Organization, mental, neurological and substance use disorders (MNS) account for more than 10 per cent of the global disease burden of PD and are responsible for one-in-five years lived with disability.

In low- and middle- income countries, more than 75 per cent of people with MNS receive no treatment at all for their disorder. In Kenya, unmet need for mental health services (MHS) is worse in young persons compared to adults. In recognition of the considerable need for inclusive mental health services, a recent interagency Government of Kenya Taskforce on Mental Health in 2021 declared mental ill-health in Kenyan society as a national public health emergency.

This research responds to that need and aligns with the WHO’s vision of a world where ‘all people achieve the highest standard of mental health and well-being’. The overall aim of the project is to develop and pilot a support framework for an inclusive mental health system using digital technologies to promote wellbeing, work, and employment for young persons with PD in Kenya.


Female applicants represent 43% of the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship awardees.

Most of the projects selected are in the fields of:

  • social sciences and humanities (24%)
  • life sciences (22%)
  • chemistry (14%)
  • environment and geosciences (12%)


The next call for MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships will open on 12 May 2022.

More information on how to apply can be found on the MSCA website.