UCC and Tyndall projects awarded by US-Ireland R&D Programme

16 Apr 2020
(l-r): Ms Lynne Miskelly, Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, Prof Mark Ferguson, Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Sandra Cruz-Pol, National Science Foundation, Ms. Jill Colquhoun, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Dr Ekaterina Nesterenko, Science Foundation Ireland, Ms. Sarah Scharf, National Institutes of Health, Dan Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States of America, Dr Rosemary Hamilton, Northern Ireland Co-Chair of US-Ireland R & D Partnership Steering Group, Mr Feargal Ó Móráin, Ireland Co-Chair of US-Ireland R & D Partnership Steering Group and Ms Gráinne Lennon, InterTradeIreland.

Projects in University College Cork and the Tyndall Institute have been awarded funding through a multi-million euro research and development partnership between the United States of America, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The two Cork-based projects make up half of four awards announced, which in total will support more than 40 research positions across 10 research institutions, for three to five years. 

The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative R&D amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions. 

Under the programme, Prof Thomas Walther of UCC will lead research to identify a first pharmacological treatment for cerebral malaria, a severe neurological disease syndrome with a high mortality rate, especially in children. This project is partnering with Queen’s University Belfast (NI) and New York University School of Medicine (US). The project has been awarded over €3m in funding. 

Dr Ivan O’Connell, MCCI Head of Precision Circuits in Tyndall National Institute, Connect SFI Research Centre-Funded Investigator, and previous SFI award winner, will lead a project to enable next generation integrated optoelectronics, to explore and develop energy-efficient, reconfigurable components for communication and sensing applications using nanomaterials. This project is partnering with Queen’s University Belfast (NI) and University of Utah (US). The award is valued at over €1.1m. 

The partner agencies in the Republic of Ireland are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). In Northern Ireland, the Health & Social Care R&D Division (HSC R&D), the Department for the Economy (DfE), and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) are partners. In the USA, it is facilitated by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). These organisations manage peer review and support US researchers through grants, on which the RoI and NI investigators are collaborators. 

Welcoming the announcement, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The continued success of the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme demonstrates the strong open relationship between our countries and highlights Ireland’s scientific standing internationally. I would like to congratulate all of the award recipients and their collaborators, who are forging innovation and discovery across the Atlantic, with the potential to greatly benefit our collective societies and economies.” 

The programme, which uses a ‘single-proposal, single-review’ approach, focuses on prioritised thematic areas, including sensors, telecommunications, energy and sustainability, health and agriculture. The Irish components of research projects in the area of health are jointly co-funded by SFI with the Health Research Board (HRB). Commenting on the awards, HRB Chief Executive, Dr Darrin Morrissey, said: “The HRB is committed to supporting highly innovative international research collaboration through the US-Ireland R&D Programme. These new awards have strong potential to create new knowledge and address major health challenges in society and demonstrate the high calibre of researchers we have in Ireland.” 

“This partnership creates research consortia that leverage investments by the three participating countries,” said Dr Roger Glass, Director of the NIH’s Fogarty International Center and Associate Director for International Research at NIH. “This not only advances cutting-edge science, but it also builds international collaboration in the best possible way.” 

In congratulating the researchers on these awards, Prof Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health in Northern Ireland and Director of Health and Social Care (HSC) Research and Development, said: “The US Ireland R&D Programme is important to HSC as it enables powerful international collaboration across Ireland and the US, producing world leading science and strengthening the global community to advance the health of our population.”  Trevor Cooper, Director of Higher Education in the Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland) said: “I welcome the announcement of these new awards under the US-Ireland R&D Partnership. They represent ground-breaking trans-Atlantic research which will help to drive forward the Executive’s goal of transforming Northern Ireland into an innovation economy.” 

Awards were also made to projects in University College Dublin, in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast and Jefferson University (US), and in National University of Ireland Galway, in partnership with Ulster University and Kansas State University (US).

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF