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Prof David Conlon

University of Oxford

"With my ERC award, I can continue to explore the appearance of pseudorandomness in mathematics. It is a remarkable fact that random-like behaviour hides in even the simplest mathematical structures. For example, the Riemann hypothesis, arguably the most famous problem in mathematics, can be paraphrased as saying that the primes are spread in a random-like way through the natural numbers. My ERC-funded research focuses on exploring such phenomena."



Dr Niamh Nowlan

Imperial College London

"With my ERC award, I am investigating the role that movements before birth (known as fetal movements) play in development of the bones and joints. When a baby does not move enough in the womb, they are at increased risk of skeletal abnormalities, such as hip dysplasia which leads to unstable or dislocated hip joints. Our research is looking into why and how hip dysplasia is caused by reduced fetal movements, and whether we can develop prenatal treatments to promote normal bone and joint development."




Prof Stephen Hogan 

University College London

"With my ERC award, I perform laboratory-based experiments to investigate the role that atoms and molecules in highly excited quantum states play in the physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere of the Earth. In this work I exploit a unique set of chip-based devices which we have developed in my laboratory, to prepare cold trapped gases of these atoms and molecules in carefully selected excited states for studies of collisions and decay processes on timescales that have only recently become possible."




Prof Valerie O'Donnell

Cardiff University

"With my ERC award, I am studying the diversity of lipids (fats) in circulating mammalian cells, for example platelets. These are blood cells that are essential for clotting and innate immunity. We recently estimated that around 5,500 individual lipids are present in platelets and using informatics approaches developed in this project, we mapped how these change in healthy humans when activated to clot, and following ingestion of aspirin. The new methods are allowing us to uncover many additional lipids in blood cells, and we now are starting to examine the roles of some of these in vascular inflammation, a critical process underlying our major killer diseases that include atherosclerosis, diabetes and dementia."



Prof Angelos Michaelides

University College London

"With my two ERC awards, I have been able to study how the world functions at the molecular scale, helping to understand how molecules bond to surfaces, how water freezes and the forces that hold DNA together. In our current project my team is developing and applying computer simulation techniques to better understand the most important substance of all: water."




Prof Roisin Owens

Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de St. Etienne

"With my ERC award, I can/have/will enable research on the effects of the microbiome on the gut brain axis by developing an in vitro model of the gut brain axis. Although minimalist, this approach will allow us to understand basic interactions important for human health to avoid diseases such as wide and varied as colorectal cancer to autism spectrum disorder."





Prof Neil O'Connell

University of Bristol

"With my ERC award, I can pursue an ambitious research programme which aims to understand certain complex random structures and their symmetries. These structures arise in many branches of mathematics and physics, and real-world examples include crystals, bacterial colonies and communications networks. The ERC grant provides excellent support, enabling me to devote significant time to the research, to assemble a team of researchers and students, to participate in international collaborations and to organise focused scientific workshops."




Prof Aron Walsh

Imperial College London

"With my ERC award, I built a multidisciplinary and international research group in computational materials discovery. We have been developing tools to search for new compounds with low cost and high performance for applications including clean energy conversion and storage. Our research has helped to accelerate the development of organic-inorganic halide perovskite solar cells, which are the breakthrough solar energy materials of the 21st century."




Prof John P Dalton

Queen's University Belfast

"With my ERC award, I will develop new vaccine strategies to combat parasitic diseases of animals and humans. The project involves both innovative and discovery approaches in the search for novel vaccine molecules, and a translational element that will first bring these findings into a useful veterinary medicine application for the end-users, farmers and consumers. The breakthrough of this project, will be the opening of a new route towards the control of many other major pathogens of both animals and humans."




Prof John Laffey

Centre for Critical Illness and Injury Research 

"With my ERC award, my laboratory has been able to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of gene and stem cell based therapies for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a devastating syndrome that has a 40% mortality and for which there is no therapy. Our work has elucidated important mechanisms by which mesenchymal stem/stromal cells can reduce inflammation, enhance resolution and repair in the injured lung, while maintaining immune competence. These and subsequent studies by our group, have led to the funding of a clinical trial of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells for patients with ARDS.”



Dr Eileen Furlong

European Molecular Biology Laboratory

"With my ERC award, CisRegVar, my group combined our expertise in genomics, developmental biology and genome regulation with population genetics.  Embryonic development is incredible robust: despite segregating mutations and fluctuating environments, a fertilized egg has the remarkable capacity to form a precisely patterned embryo.  How such robustness is imparted within developmental processes has been a topic of debate for over fifty years.  CisRegVar discovered two mechanisms that buffer developmental regulation from potentially deleterious genetic variants."



Prof Wesley Browne

University of Groningen

"With my ERC award, I have pushed the frontier of our understanding of homogeneous oxidation catalysts through a multidisciplinary team of talented young scientists with a strong interction with industry and international colleagues."




Prof Dónal O'Carroll

University of Edinburgh

"With my ERC award, we study the male germ line; the cell lineage that gives rise to the sperm. We have identified molecular pathways that protect the genetic integrity of the germ cells from genomic parasites known as transposons ensuring high quality sperm production. We have isolated in mice, a novel population of spermatogonial stem cells that are critical for the regenerative capacity of the testis.  This ERC-funded work contributes to the basic understanding of spermatogenesis with important clinical translation potential."


Dr Mark Ahearne

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I will examine ways of regenerating corneal tissue using novel biomedical engineering technology. Corneal blindness is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide affecting millions of people. The overall aim of my ERC funded research is to develop new treatments for corneal blindness by examining corneal cells response to different environmental cues and combining this information with advanced manufacturing techniques to generate bio-material based ocular implants capable of inducing corneal repair and regeneration."



Prof Lorraine Brennan

University College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I aim to develop novel new strategies to assess what people eat. We are using a combination of emerging technologies such as metabolomics and data integration strategies to improve the accuracy of dietary assessment. This in turn will allow us to examine the relationship between diet and health."




Prof Mary Cannon

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

"With my ERC award, I will investigate the reasons why some young people experience psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices and others do not. Up to one fifth of young people report such experiences at some point in their lives. For most these symptoms are transitory, but for a minority they can be a sign of future mental health difficulties. This ERC award will result in new information which will help to identify which young people are most at risk for later mental health problems in adulthood and allow the development of innovative interventions."



Prof Eoin Casey

University College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I was able to catalyse my research carer particularly with respect to securing new grant funding"





Prof Gary Donohoe

National University of Ireland, Galway

"With my ERC award, I will help characterise how nature and nurture combine to determine our social abilities. The ability to think socially often referred to as a social cognition, is implicated in a range of mental health and neurodevelopment disorders. Better understanding problems with social cognition is a key requirement for allowing us to develop better treatments"



Prof David Hoey

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I have established a multidisciplinary, multinational research team that is working together to better understand how our skeleton senses and responds to the stresses and strains we put it under on a daily basis. Through the discovery of this fundamental knowledge we will be able to better design more effective therapies to enhance bone formation for people who suffer from debilitating bone loss diseases such as osteoporosis."




Prof Daniel Kelly

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC awards, I am developing novel tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting strategies to regenerate damaged and diseased musculoskeletal tissues. We have developed a range of porous extracellular matrix derived scaffolds, and shown that these biomaterials can be used to repair focal cartilage and bone defects. In addition, we have engineered strategies to rapidly isolate stem cells from joint tissues that can be used to enhance tissue regeneration. Finally, with a view to eventually treating musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis, we are developing novel bioprinting strategies to engineer scaled-up biological joint regeneration implants."




Prof Caitríona Lally

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I aim to develop new diagnostic tools for the identification of carotid artery disease. These methods are based on using novel magnetic resonance imaging modalities to identify early indicators of degeneration of structural components in the artery in a non-invasive way, with a particular focus on assessing the risk of carotid plaque rupture in vulnerable patients."





Prof Madeleine Lowery

University College Dublin

"With my ERC award, my research group are developing computational models to simulate neural activity in the brain and muscle during deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease. We will use these models to design ‘smarter’ systems for deep brain stimulation that can adapt automatically to control patient symptoms and side effects. We are also examining the changes in neural activity that occur in Parkinson’s disease by analyzing the activity of the neurons that control muscle function."



Prof Sarah McCormack

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I am developing a novel disruptive solar technology to enable increased efficiencies for solar electrical generation using plasmonically enhanced materials. Our optical option is versatile, easy to implement at an industrial level and will reduce renewable energy generation costs globally."




Dr Aidan McDonald

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I have recruited 5 new researchers in my lab - 2 postdoctoral fellows and 3 Ph.D. students. My ERC funding has also provided critical infrastructural support to my current group members (funded through the SFI AMBER centre amongst others). Most importantly, my ERC funding has accelerated my investigations towards a fundamental understanding of hydrocarbon activation, a process that is presently performed at great (unsustainable) energetic, financial and environmental cost."


Prof Jennifer C. McElwain

University College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I have been able to conduct truly blue skies research at the interface of botany and geology which explores how atmospheric change over the past 400 million years has influenced plant evolution. Our ERC team have developed cutting edge infrastructure to expose living plants to past atmospheric composition to better understand how the atmosphere itself evolved and was shaped by plant life."


Dr Maria McNamara

University College Cork

"With my ERC award, I have built a new research laboratory and a new research group that will grow into one of the biggest palaeontology groups in the UK and Ireland. I will have the equipment, tools and people to lead focussed research into the evolution of animal coloration and to explain how it is preserved in fossils."



Prof Valeria Nicolosi

Trinity College Dublin

"I was awarded 5 ERC awards, a StG, a Cog and 3 PoCs. Each one of them has had huge impact in the science I have been able to develop, in my career development. I have published more than 40 papers, and submitted 2 patent applications directly linked to these grants; I have also had the chance to licence the science developed within my ERC Stg and I have developed some key collaborations with large multinationals in the ICT, Energy and automotive sectors."




Prof Fergal O’Brien

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

"The ERC award has had a major impact on my career. The large scale of funding it provided and the freedom it allowed me to do exciting research over a 6 year period has been fantastic. As it’s such a prestigious award, it has also strengthened my reputation internationally which has allowed me to recruit great people and allowed our research to flourish and grow into new areas and attract additional significant research funding."


Dr Redmond O'Connell

Trinity College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I will uncover the neural processes that enable us to translate information gathered through the senses into appropriate action - a core cognitive ability known as ‘decision making’. These studies, which will utilize non-invasive human brain recordings, have the potential to yield a new set of biomarkers for pinpointing the origins of decision making deficits arising from brain disorder."






Dr Martin O'Halloran

National University of Ireland Galway

With my ERC award, I have established the Translational Medical Device Lab (, the first medical device lab in Ireland to be embedded within a large regional hospital (UCHG) and co-located with a Clinical Research Facility. Being based in a clinical environment gives us unique access to clinical expertise, both in terms of understanding the clinical need and in developing prototype devices that are suitable for early-stage pilot studies. No other medical device research facility in Ireland (and maybe even in Europe) has such experience and expertise available on their doorstep. Since opening in 2015, we have already contributed to 7 medical device patents, and have a number of exciting prototypes in development.”



Prof John Quinn

University College Cork

"With my ERC award, I have begun to explore a range of questions about the evolutionary ecology of cognition in wild bird populations; Why do individuals vary in their learning performance, and how does this influence their ability to adapt in a challenging environment? The grant has allowed me to expand my study population to include 400 nestboxes in Killarney National Park which it is hoped will become the focus of similar research for many decades to come."




Dr Thomas Reed

University College Cork

"With my ERC award, I have managed to get a successful research group at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at UCC off the ground and to launch an exciting and challenging programme of research into the genetics and ecology of fish populations in Ireland. We now have two ambitious experiments underway that would simply have been impossible without the support of the ERC grant. Our hope is that the results will drive this field of research into new and interesting directions and provide useful information to other target audiences such as fisheries managers and the aquaculture industry”.



Prof Emma Teeling

University College Dublin

"With my ERC award, I am uncovering the molecular basis of extended 'health-spans' by studying wild populations of bats that have exceptional longevity."



Dr William Whelan-Curtin

Cork Institute of Technology

With my ERC award, I am developing a new platform for optical datacommunications using nanophotonics. Cloud computing relies on vast numbers of computers and is severely constrained by power consumption issues. My team and I use the processing tools of the computer industry to nanostructure silicon and manipulate light on the micron scale. We create ultra-compact optical devices with low power consumption and cost that will ultimately facilitate a new generation of optical data-inks