€5m awarded to UCC researchers’ projects for studies on antibiotic resistance and language analysis

16 Nov 2023
Photo (L-R): UCC CASCADE Researchers, Dr James O'Sullivan, Dr Rosane Minghim and Dr Órla Murphy. Photo credit: Max Bell (UCC).
  • CASCADE awarded €2.8m to explore how meaning is expressed in language in diverse contexts.
  • CLEAR secures €2.7m funding to overcome bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

University College Cork (UCC) researchers’ projects have been awarded a combined €5.5m for separate projects that will find novel solutions to overcome bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and train early-stage researchers to identify and interrogate how meaning is expressed in language in diverse contexts.

The projects have been awarded funding under the HORIZON Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA) Doctoral Networks programme. The programme implements doctoral programmes through partnerships of organisations from different sectors across Europe, to train highly skilled doctoral students.

How language and meaning changes over time

CASCADE (Computational Analysis of Semantic Change Across Different Environments) will emphasise the importance of computational linguistics and humanities scholarship as skills that bring value and competitive edge to organisations concerned with semantically aware information retrieval and text analytics.

The network’s researchers will use innovative techniques from machine learning and natural language processing to examine a series of textual datasets from domains such as literature and history, focusing on topics such as how language and meaning change over time.

CASCADE has been awarded over €2,800,000 in funding, comprising €2,192,270 from the HORIZON-MCSA scheme and £615,451 from UK Research and Innovation (URKI). The project will fund ten postgraduate students to pursue doctorates in the participating Universities - University College Cork, University of Sheffield, KU Leuven, University of Helsinki and Saarland University.

The international collaboration will be led by Dr James O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities at University College Cork. The UCC research team will also include Dr Órla Murphy, Head of the School of English and Digital Humanities at UCC, and Dr Rosane Minghim, School of Computer Science and Information Technology.

"Scholars have been using computers to analyse textual materials for a good six of seven decades at this stage, but we are entering a new era right now. Recent advances in areas like natural language processing and machine learning are radically transforming the ways in which we can explore and understand different forms of cultural expression. CASCADE will provide an opportunity for a new generation of researchers to be active participants in that transformation," said Dr O’Sullivan.

Overcoming bacterial resistance to antibiotics

Antibiotics targeting the bacterial cell envelope are the most widely used antibiotics in the world, but resistance to these superior antibiotics is becoming highly prevalent and antibiotic-resistant bacteria represent one of the greatest threats to human health.

Professor Colin Hill, Principal Investigator at APC Microbiome Ireland, a world leading SFI funded research centre based at University College Cork, leads UCC’s participation in the CLEAR (Cell Envelope Anti-bacterials) project which brings together world-leading researchers, clinicians and small and midsize business partners to train a new generation of European scientists in finding novel solutions for targeting the cell envelope of bacteria, with the aim of bringing novel antimicrobial solutions to the market.

CLEAR has been awarded €2,706,616 in funding from the HORIZON-MCSA scheme, with €286,488 allocated to UCC, and will fund early career researchers in the participating Universities – University College Cork, Copenhagen University, University of Tubingen, University of Amsterdam, the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, and the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research.

Professor Colin Hill said: "The rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria presents a major problem to health systems globally. The World Health Organisation has predicted that by 2050 there will be up to ten million deaths annually because of infections with these antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’. The CLEAR project will investigate innovative approaches to target the cell envelope of these superbugs and develop novel therapeutics to help to address this global crisis."

Professor John F. Cryan, UCC Vice President for Research and Innovation said: "Congratulations to Professor Colin Hill, Dr James O’Sullivan and colleagues in receiving funding awards through the HORIZON Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Doctoral Networks programme. This programme is important in the careers of early-stage researchers at UCC by providing research training to highly skilled doctoral candidates and enhancing their innovation capacity through exposure to academic and non-academic sectors."

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF