SFI Board Members

Prof J. Peter Clinch

Chairman of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland

Professor Peter Clinch was appointed Chairman of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland in August 2019. He was previously Chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Ireland where he served as a senior independent adviser to Government on competitiveness, trade and economic policy. Peter has advised, or worked on behalf of, amongst others, the World Bank, OECD, and several national governments and/or their agencies. He is regularly consulted on economic and business strategy by leading national and international organisations and has made significant contributions to a broad range of policy domains at national and European level.

Peter has been appointed to positions of responsibility by four governments of different politics, including holding the position of chief policy adviser to the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) where he served Cabinet Committees on Economic Renewal, Climate Change and Energy Security, and Science, Technology and Innovation. His experience working in partnership with senior civil servants, and with industry, includes high-level negotiations with the global CEOs/Presidents of Intel, Coca Cola, IBM, BNY Mellon, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, HP, Pfizer and others. Peter was a member of Irish Government delegations to the European Council, the UN General Assembly, Davos World Economic Forum, Asia-Europe Meetings, a series of overseas trade missions, as well as the Prime Ministerial delegations to meet Heads of States, including US President Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Between 2011 and 2014, Peter was Vice-President of University College Dublin with special responsibility for innovation, enterprise development and corporate partnerships. He currently holds the Jean Monnet Chair of Public Policy at UCD, has served on several commercial and non-profit Boards, and is an Affiliate Faculty member of the competitiveness program at the Institute for Strategy at Harvard Business School. Peter has authored over 200 publications and papers on various aspects of sustainable economic development. He has held Visiting Positions, or has been an invited speaker, at, amongst others, the University of California, Berkeley and San Diego, Said Business School at Oxford University, Cambridge University, the University of Southern California, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Peter holds first-class BA and MA degrees in economics, a PhD, a Diploma in Environmental Impact Assessment and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School. In 2017, he was conferred with a Fellowship of the Academy of Social Sciences for distinguished research and contributions to policy.

Contact: chairman@sfi.ie

Prof Mark Ferguson

Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland

Prof. Mark W.J. Ferguson commenced as Director General of SFI in January 2012 and as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland in October 2012. Prof Ferguson is Chair of the European Commission Pilot Advisory Board for the European Innovation Council, a member of the Governing Boards of the Global Research Council and of the European Commission Joint Research Centre and is a founding member of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative. He served on the EU High Level Group on the impact of H2020 and chaired international committees reviewing the Research and Innovation systems of Denmark, Hungary and Canada. Recently Mark has served in Ireland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. as a member of NPHET. Previously, a Professor and Dean of Biological Sciences at The University of Manchester, he was co-founder and CEO of Renovo Group Plc. Prof Ferguson is the recipient of numerous international research prizes and awards, including the 2002 European Science Prize (jointly), author of 329 papers and book chapters, 61 patent families, author/editor of eight books, supervised 77 PhD students and has been awarded over £70 million in competitive research grants and approximately £100 million in start-up company equity funding. Prof Ferguson graduated from Queens University of Belfast with degrees in Dentistry (BDS 1st class honours), Anatomy and Embryology (BSc 1st class honours, PhD) and Medical Sciences (DMedSc), and holds Fellowships from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in Ireland (FFD), and Edinburgh (FDS) and is a Founding Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci). He is a member or Fellow of a number of learned Societies and was made a “Commander of the British Empire” (CBE) by the Queen in 1999 for services to Health and Life Sciences. 

Ms Máire Geoghegan-Quinn

Former EU Commisioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn served as the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science from 2010-2014. As Commissioner she established the ‘Innovation Union’ initiative; progressed the European Research Area; and delivered the largest ever research framework programme, Horizon 2020, with a 30% budget increase (€80 billion in total for research and innovation). She had political responsibility for two directorates general – the Director General for Research and Innovation and the Joint Research Council.

Máire previously served as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Galway West constituency (1975–1997); and held several Ministerial positions including: Minister for the Gaeltacht (1979–1981), becoming the first female Cabinet Minister since the foundation of the Irish State; Minister for European Affairs (1987–1991); and Minister for Justice (1993–1994). She holds a Degree of Doctor of Laws from NUIG, a degree of Doctor of Science from UCD (both honoris causa); and the Légion d’honneur among other awards. She is a Member of the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) Alumni Network and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Prof Sir Tom Blundell, FRS, FMedSci

Director of Research and Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry, University of Cambridge


Tom leads an active research team focusing on molecular and structural biology of growth factors, receptor activation, signal transduction and DNA repair, important in cancer, tuberculosis and familial diseases. He has published 549 research papers, including 30 in Nature.


Co-founder Astex Therapeutics in 1999, an oncology company that has eight drugs in clinical trials and that was sold for $886 million in 2013 as Astex Pharma to Otsuka. He was on the Board of Celltech (1996 to 2006), a consultant for Pfizer (1981 to 1990; 2014-), Science Advisory Boards of UCB (2006 - ), SKB (1997 -2000 ) Syntaxin (2009 - ), Isogenica (2008- )  He has developed new approaches and software for modelling proteins and structure-guided, fragment-based drug discovery.


Tom Blundell is Director of Research and Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, where he was Sir William Dunn Professor (1996 - 2009), and Chair of School of Biological Sciences (2003 – 2009). He has previously held teaching and research positions in the Universities of London, Sussex and Oxford.

Roles in Public Bodies, Royal Commissions and Charities

A member of PM Margaret Thatcher’s Advisory Council on Science & Technology, ACOST (1988-1990), Founding CEO of BBSRC, 1991-1996 (Chair from 2009), Chair of Royal Commission on Environment (1998-2005), Deputy Chair, Institute of Cancer Research since 2008 & President of UK Science Council since 2011.


Knighted in 1997. Member several academies: Royal Society (1984) EMBO (1984); Academia Europaea (1993); Indian National Science Academy (1995); Academy Medical Sciences (1999) & The World Academy of Sciences, TWAS (2008).

1987 Gold Medal, Institute Biotechnology; 1987 Krebs Medal, FEBS; 1988 Ciba Medal; 1988 Feldberg Prize Biology & Medicine; 1996 Gold Medal, Society Chemical Industry; 1998 Pfizer European Prize Innovation; 1998 Bernal Medal, Royal Society;  2013 Biochemical Society Award; 2014 Cambridge Philosophical Society Prize.

Fellow, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge; Honorary Fellow: Brasenose & Linacre Colleges, Oxford; & Birkbeck College; Honorary Doctorates from 16 Universities


Spending time with family, walking, international travel, modern jazz and opera. Some of this is recorded in Desert Island Discs in 2006.

Mr Aidan Donnelly

MD Advest Management ltd / Chairman NORA

Aidan W. Donnelly, is the M.D. of Advest Management Ltd a private equity fund management company. In addition he is Chairman of NORA, the Irish government agency responsible for Ireland's National Oil Reserves and has a number of interests in renewable and environmental start-up companies.  Aidan has extensive experience in the development and management of technology-oriented multinationals in Ireland such as Xerox (Europe) Ltd. Quantum Peripheral Products Ltd, Puritan Bennett, Cabletron Systems, Betdaq (Global Betting Exchange Ltd.) and most recently, ServeCentric Ltd.  For over 12 years, Aidan also served in the Irish army, holding the rank of Captain in the Army Ordnance Corp. He earned a M.B.A. (UCG), M.I.E. (UCD) and a B.Sc. (UCG). He is a Chartered Director (C.Dir.) with the IOD.

Prof Liam Madden

Corporate Vice President Xilinx, Inc.

Liam Madden is senior vice president of engineering at Xilinx. He leads a world-wide organization of over 500 R&D professionals, including teams in Dublin and Cork. Mr. Madden has spent more than 30 years in the US semiconductor industry where he has contributed to a range of industry leading products and technologies. Based in Silicon Valley, he has worked with established companies and start-ups, including a leadership role in a successful IPO. Mr. Madden has extensive experience incubating novel technologies, most recently commercializing the industry’s first 3-D stacked computer chip which was based on seven years of Xilinx engineering research. He holds five patents in semiconductor technology and is a regular keynote speaker at international conferences. He graduated with a BE from UCD, an M.Eng. from Cornell University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Ireland (FIEI). In June 2013, he was appointed an Adjunct Professor of Electrical, Electronic and Communication Engineering at UCD.

Ms Grainne McAleese

Head of Finance for UDG Healthcare plc

Grainne McAleese is a senior business leader with experience working internationally at Executive Committee level in financial and leadership roles, primarily in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Ms. McAleese is currently Head of Finance for UDG Healthcare plc, a global Irish-headquartered company providing innovative outsourced services to healthcare companies. Prior to UDG Healthcare, she worked as General Manager for Ireland and Vice President, Finance with Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a rare disease US biotech company. At Alexion, she was responsible for overseeing Irish operations and winning capital investments of over $600 million across two sites in Ireland.

Ms. McAleese previously spent 10 years working with Elan Corporation, plc in the United States and Ireland in various corporate, strategic and group finance roles, and most recently as Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer. In this role, she managed financial, transactional and financing activities of the company, including the IPO of Prothena Corporation, plc and the company sale to Perrigo Company, plc.

Ms. McAleese is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland, a Certified Public Accountant in the United States, and holds a Bachelors and a Masters degree from Dublin City University.

Mr Brendan Harte

Senior Vice President of Finance in ICON Plc

Brendan Harte, FCA is a Senior Vice President of Finance in ICON Plc, a Irish founded global clinical research organization with approx. 15,000 employees. He joined ICON in 2008 and has served in a number of global roles on the senior management team, with a focus on leading change initiatives, strategic restructuring of the business model and supporting the drive for growth and increased shareholder value. In his current role he heads the team charged with the successful on-boarding and global integration of new business lines acquired by ICON. In previous roles he developed and led large, multi-disciplinary teams responsible for areas such as Financial Reporting, Corporate Accounting, Taxation, Statutory Compliance, and Investigator Payments. Prior to joining ICON he worked in leadership roles with Hewlett Packard Financial Services, Accenture, and Meridian Vat Reclaim. Mr Harte is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Dr Ann Leen

Professor Pediatrics Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Ann Leen is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine and an immunologist with more than 20 years of experience in developing and testing novel T cell therapies for the treatment of viral infections and cancer. She has characterized the immune response to a range of viruses and non-viral tumor-associated antigens, and has devised and clinically implemented immunotherapeutic strategies to treat viral infections and cancer including (myeloma, lymphoma, leukemia, pancreatic cancer and COVID). She is currently the principal investigator (PI) on 5 investigator-initiated Investigational New Drug (IND) studies and over the past 10 years has served as PI on >10 clinical trials using “first in man” cell therapies for patients. She has co-founded two companies based on her T cell therapies – Allovir and Marker Therapeutics and serves as the Chief Scientific Officer of AlloVir. Dr. Leen is a senior or co-author on >100 peer-reviewed publications and a named inventor on 14 issued patents. She has also reviewed manuscripts for various journals and served as a grant peer reviewer for both national and international funding agencies. Dr. Leen holds a Ph.D. in Immunology from the CRC Institute for Cancer Studies in Birmingham, UK and a BSc in biochemistry from the University of College Cork in Ireland.

Clíona Murphy

Vice President Research & Development, PepsiCo

Cliona Murphy is Vice-President R&D, Global Quality Assurance, PepsiCo.  In this role she is responsible for the quality policies & standards developed and deployed across the entire PepsiCo portfolio and for verifying and assuring compliance against them.  Cliona is chair of PepsiCo Ireland’s STEM Council and leads PepsiCo’s Million Women Mentor programme across the world. 

Cliona joined PepsiCo in 1997 and has worked in a variety of R&D and Supply Chain leadership roles across the PepsiCo system in Europe, UK, China, Asia and Ireland.

Cliona is a Chartered Engineer with a Degree in Engineering from Trinity College Dublin, and an MSc in Food, Nutrition & Health from University College Dublin.  She is a member of Trinity College Dublin’s Provost’s Council and previously served as a member of the Teagasc Authority.    

All Board members have collective responsibility to:

  • establish the strategic direction of the Agency, within the framework of the SFI legislation and the resources it is allocated
  • review the strategic direction of the Agency and major plans of action;
  • set the ethical tone of the Agency, not only by the Boards own actions but also in overseeing senior management and staff to ensure good standards of governance;
  • direct, support and evaluate the Director General to ensure that the Agency complies with all statutory and administrative requirements for the use of public funds;
  • oversee and assure the Agency’s system of internal financial control, operations compliance and risk management