Three NUI Galway Researchers Awarded SFI Funding for Health, Energy and Environmental Projects

Pictured at the announcement of Science Foundation Ireland’s Career Development Award Programme were l-r: Dr Gavin Collins, NUI Galway, Dr Dara Stanley, NUI Galway, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland,, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD and Dr Sharon Glynn, NUI Galway. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography
Apr 30 2018 Posted: 09:52 IST


Three NUI Galway researchers have been awarded funding for their projects, which will contribute to the advancement of research in the areas of energy, environment and health.


Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, announced an investment of €13.7 million in funding for 22 early career researchers with three NUI Galway researchers being awarded almost €1.5 million in total for their projects.   


The funding was awarded through Science Foundation Ireland’s ‘Career Development Award Programme’, which supports Ireland’s research talent pipeline by funding excellent researchers still in the early stages of their scientific career.


The three NUI Galway researchers awarded funding are:


  • Dr Sharon Glynn from the Lambe Institute for Translational Research at NUI Galway. Her research project aims to identify new ways of preventing and treating high grade aggressive breast and prostate cancer. Her project will focus on how ancient HERV-K viruses hidden in our DNA interact with iNOS, an enzyme involved in wound healing and immune regulation, and lead to the development of aggressive breast and prostate cancer. These cancers can be difficult to treat and cause up to 1,100 Irish deaths yearly. By better understanding how HERV-K and iNOS drive cancer, Dr Glynn will have the potential to identify new ways to prevent and treat these cancers. She will also investigate if whether HERV-K blood biomarkers can improve upon current testing for prostate cancer as currently only 40% of men with elevated PSA are found to have prostate cancer.


  • Dr Dara Stanley from Botany and Plant Science in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Her research project will study the effect of climate change and pesticide on pollinators and the sustainable growth of our crops. Bees, and other pollinators, are crucial for the production of at least 30% of our food. Global bee declines have led to concerns over the sustained crop production, with a number of potential causes highlighted. Little research has connected these causes of decline with the delivery of pollination services to crops. In this project Dr Stanley will combine field observations, lab manipulations and predictive modelling to address key knowledge gaps in how climate change and pesticide use can affect crop pollination, and predict how climate change and pesticide use may affect the sustainable pollination of our crops in the future.


  • Dr Gavin Collins from the College of Science and the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. His research investigates the microorganisms that are used to convert wastes to biofuels. Most bacteria require trace concentrations of metals, and special, proprietary blends of metals are actively dosed into the biotechnologies used for waste treatment in order to improve microbial activity and biofuels production. However, little is known about the microbiology of metal-microbe interactions. Dr Collins’s project will pursue fundamental Microbiology to explore the influence of trace-metals on the activity of individual microbial species, as well as on more complex groups, or biofilms, of microbes. He will also work with industrial partners to develop diagnostic tools, which may be used by biotechnology operators to optimise trace-metals dosing strategies.


Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “I welcome Science Foundation Ireland and the government’s commitment to supporting talented researchers in the early stages of their scientific career through this Ireland’s Career Development Award Programme. I would like to congratulate our three exceptional individuals at NUI Galway who are part of this announcement and look forward to the potential outcomes from their innovative research in advancing solutions to improve human health and sustain our planet.”


Announcing the awards, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD said: “The awards demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place in the universities across Ireland. The Science Foundation Ireland’s Career Development Awardees are the future leaders of research and innovation in Ireland. Through their promising work, they will continue to shape our research community, and generate positive impacts at a national and global scale. I believe that the important projects receiving funding today will advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.”




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