Colm Ryan Awarded Prestigious Biomedical Fellowship by Wellcome Trust

Written by: William Fitzmaurice
Written on: Tuesday, 17 June, 2014

(L-R) Dr John Williams, Wellcome Trust; Dr Colm J Ryan, UCD; Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general of Science Foundation Ireland and Dr Roger Blake, Wellcome Trust

Dr Colm J. Ryan has been awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship worth €300,000 over four years to work in Systems Biology Ireland at University College Dublin. Dr Ryan will be the first recipient of this prestigious award, funded under the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership, to be hosted in an Irish laboratory.

Dr Ryan’s research aims to improve our understanding of synthetic lethality treatments in cancer therapeutics.  These novel treatments aim to kill tumour cells without harming other cells in the body by identifying and targeting genes whose function is only essential for survival in the presence of a specific cancer-associated mutation. Dr Ryan’s work will focus on understanding the effect of genetic differences in individuals on their responsiveness to these promising treatments.

Dr Ryan completed a PhD in Bioinformatics in UCD in 2012 and is currently the ICON Newman Fellow in Genomics in the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Sciences. His primary research host during the Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship will be Prof. Walter Kolch, Director of Systems Biology Ireland in UCD, and he will also spend time working with Prof. Alan Ashworth at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. This Fellowship therefore facilitates the meeting of minds from multiple disciplines and multiple institutes to address a problem of immediate clinical importance.

Prof. Kolch welcomed the announcement: “This Fellowship is a great achievement. We are delighted to be the first Irish institution to host a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow under the SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership, and SBI is very pleased to welcome Colm to our research team. This prestigious award is a recognition of the value of systems biology approaches to cancer therapy, and will significantly enhance our research on the development of new and improved drug combinations for cancer treatment.” 

Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said “Providing funding opportunities, such as the Sir Henry Wellcome Research Fellowship, for promising young researchers is an important investment we must continue to make. The SFI partnership with the Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Board leverages the funding of each partner and provides an effective and efficient mechanism for progressing excellent research with impact, in the biomedical sector. Moreover, Dr Colm Ryan competed successfully for this award against candidates from the UK and Ireland, illustrating the international quality of Irish science - I congratulate him.  SFI will continue to build relationships and partnerships which facilitate the support of excellent science with impact, which in turn will enhance Ireland’s international reputation and provide economic and societal benefits."

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for the most promising newly qualified postdoctoral researchers to make an early start in developing their independent research careers, working in the best laboratories in the UK, Ireland and overseas.

Further information

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships
SFI-HRB-Wellcome Trust Biomedical Research Partnership
Dr Colm J. Ryan