NUI Galway receive substantial SFI Research Funding Awards

Thursday, 13 September 2007

NUI Galway was successful in securing four substantial SFI research grants announced recently in Dublin by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, T.D.

Professor Christopher Dainty, SFI Professor of Experimental Physics at NUI Galway was the largest award of €4.5million for research in applied optical techniques. Optics is concerned with lighting, displays such as TVs and computers, CDs and DVDs, healthcare and manufacturing but also human vision. This research will focus on improving diagnostic methods which would lead to early diagnosis of disease in the eye and prevention of blindness in old age.

As individuals live longer, and the overall population ages, problems of eye disease are becoming more severe, and the need for early detection of conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma becomes more important. Optical imaging, enhanced by a technique called "adaptive optics" -- invented by astronomers to obtain better images in telescopes -- will allow doctors to make earlier diagnoses of these and other diseases of the eye. Other research areas being investigated include optical storage systems, free-space optical communication systems and lithography.

Professor Dainty, on receipt of the award, said: "This renewal of our funding for the next five years reflects a vote of confidence by the international scientific community in our wide-ranging research programme. Reviewers praised our commitment to academic excellence and our focus on educating research leaders of the future".

Other NUI Galway recipients included Professor Matthew Dallas Griffin, based at the Mayo Clinic, USA; Dr Thomas Ritter from the Regenerative Medicine Institute; and Dr Stephen Rea, who received one of four President of Ireland Young Researcher Awards (PIYRA) 2007.

Professor Nicholas Canny, Vice President of Research at NUI Galway offered his congratulations to all of these recipients of SFI awards which have brought distinction to themselves and to NUI Galway. He added, "Their research will contribute to the enrichment of the community through the advancement of knowledge and the application of that knowledge to industry."

SFI, the national foundation for excellence in scientific research, invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies, and competitive enterprises. SFI has responsibility for investment of €1.4bn under the current National Development Plan and the Strategy for Science, Technology & Innovation up to the year 2013.

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