Researchers across different fields have been named awardees of the latest round of European Research Council (ERC) funding under its Consolidator Grant awards. Among them are six researchers based in Ireland, who have secured a total of €12m.

Of the six successful applicants, three are based at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), two at NUI Galway (NUIG) and one at Maynooth University.

This brings the total ERC funding awarded to researchers based in Ireland to €123m under the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme. Among 2019’s recipients is NUI Galway’s Prof Laoise McNamara who was recently named Irish Research Council Researcher of the Year.

The six awardees are:

Conor Buckley, TCD
Buckley’s Integrate project deals with personalised medicine for intervertebral disc regeneration that will integrate profiling, predictive modelling and gene-activated biomaterials.

Matthew Campbell, TCD
Campbell’s Retina Rhythm project will investigate the role of the inner retina in age-related macular degeneration.

Delia Ferri, Maynooth University
Ferri’s Dancing project is aiming to protect the right to culture of persons with disabilities and enhance cultural diversity through EU law.

Laoise McNamara, NUIG
McNamara’s Memetic project is developing a mechanobiological mimetic model system for bone disease.

Redmond O’Connell, TCD
O’Connell’s IndDecision project is developing a neurally informed behavioural modelling framework for examining individual and group difference in perceptual decision making.

Dimitrios Zeugolis, NUIG
Zeugolis’ Achieve project is aiming to develop advanced cellular hierarchical tissue imitations.

A competitive process
Four of the six awards were made in the life sciences, physical sciences and engineering domains, and all four of these recipients are investigators in SFI research centres.
Speaking of her funding, McNamara said: “This funding will enable my group to continue to conduct frontier research at the interface between engineering and biology.

“It will ensure that we can attract and train top-class PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, who will contribute to Irish research and industry in the longer term. We will develop advanced models to increase scientific understanding of bone disease, with the ultimate goal of improving the success rates of therapies for osteoporosis.”

Overall, the ERC has distributed €600m under the latest Consolidator Grant fund with only 301 of the 2,453 applicants across the continent receiving funding. Nearly a third (31pc) of grants were awarded to women. By a considerable distance, German nationals working across Europe received the most amount of funding with 55 awardees, followed by French (33), Dutch (28) and Italians (23).

Colm Gorey

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