NUI Galway Among Researchers Awarded €8.5m for Research Projects

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Three NUI Galway researchers were among the recipients of the €8.5 million for 47 cutting-edge research projects announced today by Batt O'Keeffe T.D., Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. Dr Patrick McGarry and Dr Mark Bruzzi from Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, and Dr Peter Crowley from the School of Chemistry were awarded €539,500 for research projects which will create new jobs for the smart economy. Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Lecturer Dr McGarry's research, 'An experimental and computational investigation of the effect of strain rate on stress fibre remodelling, nuclear deformation and gene expression in cells', examines the effects of continuously changing forces within our bodies on the shape of our cells. This collaborative project also involves other researchers from the Regenerative Medicine Institute at NUI Galway and UCD and is of interest to the medical device sector in the region. Dr Mark Bruzzi's project, 'Deformation and Fracture of Small Nitinol Structures', investigates the fundamental behaviour of nitinol through the use of both experimental testing and analytical methods. Quantifying how nitinol fundamentally behaves will allow the design and development of better and safer medical devices in Ireland. NUI Galway Chemistry Lecturer, Dr Crowley's research, 'Protein Probes: From Self-Assembly to In Vivo Trafficking', focuses on proteins which are large molecules that enable cells to grow and divide. This project will develop new tools to stick proteins together and develop our knowledge of how proteins get inside cells. The research will contribute to progress in the area of therapeutics. Minister O'Keeffe said the research areas are "profoundly linked to our health and wellbeing and the researchers' work will generate high-value downstream jobs". "The €8.5 million investment will create jobs and training opportunities for 105 researchers, mainly PhD students, and their work will in turn generate new jobs down the line which will have significant implications for our well-being as a nation," said Minister O'Keeffe. The 47 research projects are being funded under Science Foundation Ireland's Research Frontiers Programme. The programme supports internationally-competitive, high-quality exploratory research in higher education across the science, maths and engineering disciplines. "By helping researchers at a relatively early stage in their work, the programme is targeting our most promising scientists in building their research teams and track records and enhancing our competitiveness," said Minister O'Keeffe. Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Professor Frank Gannon, said: "The Government's goal of becoming a hub for international research is further advanced by this Research Frontiers Programme investment. "Ireland's performance in the fields of scientific and engineering research is directly linked to our future competitiveness and our quest for a measurable transformation to the smart economy. Last year, the Research Frontiers Programme resulted in many notable outcomes such as 88 collaborations with 83 companies, 715 academic collaborations, and 537 scientific papers. "The programme has contributed to Ireland's rapid ascent in the ranking of scientific output, rising from 36th place in 2003 to recently breaking into the top 20. Ireland has joined countries such as Finland, Germany and the US in the scientific output stakes," Professor Gannon concluded.
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