2015 Press Releases

UCC researchers scoop SFI national award

3 Nov 2015
Professor Geraldine Boylan and Professor Louise Kenny Image: Jason Clarke photography

In a double first this week, not one but two UCC researchers scooped the joint title of Science Foundation Ireland  (SFI) Researcher of the Year at the annual SFI Summit.

The winners were Professor Louise Kenny and Professor Geraldine Boylan who have been close friends and colleagues for nearly a decade. For the last two years they have co-directed INFANT, Ireland's first and only perinatal research centre.

Accepting their award, Professor  Boylan and Professor  Kenny said: “We are delighted to receive this award.  Every single day, somewhere in the world over 800 young women die as a direct result of pregnancy or childbirth, and in the same 24 hour period over 15,000 babies will be stillborn or will die within days of birth. Many millions more who survive will live with long-term disability. Perinatal  research has lagged behind other research areas both in terms of investment and consequently in terms of progress. The support of Science Foundation Ireland, University College Cork, and the Irish government is helping our outstanding team at INFANT to reverse this trend.  It is hugely satisfying to see the results of our work making a difference to real women and babies’ lives on a daily basis."

Geraldine Boylan is a scientist, Professor of Neonatal Physiology and a world-leading expert in newborn brain function. Her pioneering work in this area has been instrumental in developing the first ever medical device for automated seizure detection in newborns.  She is currently leading an international clinical trial of this device which as been funded by a Strategic Translational Award from  the Wellcome Trust. 

Professor Louise Kenny is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist.  She has a long standing clinical and research interest in disorders of pregnancy and is a world-leading expert in pre-eclampsia, a major killer of pregnant women.  Professor Kenny has developed an early pregnancy screening test for this condition which is currently the focus of a large in a multi-centre FP7 funded trial.  Earlier this year Professor Kenny became the first Irish researcher to win a major award from the American Heart Association for her work on screening for pre-eclampsia. 

Both professors are passionate about attracting women to science and  hope that their success will  inspire young women contemplating a career in science or medicine to follow their lead. 

In 2013, Professor Fergus Shanahan, of the APC Microbiome Institute at UCC was named Researcher of the Year by the SFI. 

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