UCC graduate honoured with SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal

15 Mar 2023
  • Dr Paul K. Whelton was recognised for outstanding achievements in his research studies on blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD presented the award at event in Washington DC.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD has presented the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Academia to UCC graduate Dr Paul K. Whelton, Professor of Global Public Health at Tulane University, New Orleans, recognising his outstanding contributions to research and innovation.

The SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal is awarded to distinguished US-based science, engineering or technology leaders with strong Irish connections. It highlights and honours their role in supporting and engaging with the research ecosystem in Ireland and beyond.

A graduate of UCC School of Medicine Class of 1970, Dr Paul K. Whelton, is Show Chwan Professor of Global Public Health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in New Orleans, and President of the World Hypertension League.

A native of Cork City, Dr Whelton has served as the principal investigator for a number of high-profile research studies that have informed the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of high blood pressure. He has authored over 550 peer-reviewed publications, and has received numerous awards, including the 2018 American Heart Association Hypertension Council Excellence Award.

Dr Whelton said: "I am deeply honoured to accept the 2023 SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for my work in the area of high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of death, taking the lives of 18 million people globally each year. My research in cardiovascular and renal disease epidemiology continues to push for new discovery and improved clinical outcomes for patients. I am very proud to be part of the Irish research diaspora community in the US and to support our Transatlantic partnerships which enable us to further our knowledge, and deliver truly excellent science with global benefits."

At the celebratory event in Washington DC, Mr Paul R. Daugherty, Group Chief Executive - Technology and Chief Technology Officer at Accenture, was awarded the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Industry.

Commending the recipients, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said: "Irish research is driving transformational discovery and innovation that is aiding our response to global challenges, particularly in the areas of climate change, digitalisation and health. As set out in Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy ‘Impact 2030’, the Irish Government is committed to strengthening Ireland’s position as a global innovation leader."

"We pay tribute today to the enormous contribution made by STEM talent in the Irish diaspora in the USA. These important international collaborations continue to forge new opportunities for ground-breaking research, improving our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world and create a better future for all."

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, SFI, said: "I am delighted to congratulate both Dr Paul Whelton and Mr Paul Daugherty on receiving the prestigious SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal. Their achievements highlight the far-reaching talent of the Irish diaspora in the areas of science, engineering and technology, which will no doubt inspire future generations. They have each had enormous influence in improving societal and economic wellbeing. We honour and recognise them today, as we celebrate US-Ireland research collaborations that create significant value to both countries, across academic communities and industry."

UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said: "I warmly congratulate Dr Whelton on this prestigious award. We are very proud that our UCC alumnus should be recognised by An Taoiseach through awarding him the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal. Dr Whelton represents all the great attributes of a UCC alum as a global citizen making the world a better place for patients."

Professor Helen Whelton, Head of the College of Medicine and Health at UCC, paid tribute to Dr Paul Whelton: "We are extremely proud of the impact he has had on inspiring others and of the impact his research has had on primary and secondary disease prevention. Throughout his career, Paul has maintained contact with UCC and has been a very generous supporter of the School of Public Health. We are immensely proud of our alumnus and of Paul's contribution to health research; he is a very worthy recipient of this award."

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