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

Professor Mark W.J. Ferguson commenced as Director General of Science Foundation Ireland in January 2012 and as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland in October 2012. Professor Ferguson is Chair of the European Commission Pilot Advisory Board for the European Innovation Council and is a founding member of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative. He was Chair of the eHealth Ireland Committee, (2015 – 2017), a member of the EU High Level Expert Group on Horizon 2020 Impact (2017) and has been involved in a number of international reviews of R&D systems, including Hungary, Denmark and Canada.  Previously he was Professor in Life Sciences at the University of Manchester (since 1984) and co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Renovo Group plc (1998-2011).   

He is the recipient of numerous international research awards including the 2002 European Science Prize (jointly), and is the author of 329 research papers and book chapters, 61 patent families and author / editor of 8 books. He has contributed to a number of scientific films, documentaries, TV and radio programmes and held offices in 16 international scientific societies, including President of the European Tissue Repair Society.  He has wide ranging research interests in cellular and molecular mechanisms in scarring and wound healing, developmental mechanisms in normal and cleft palate formation, alligator and crocodile biology including temperature dependent sex determination.

Mark graduated from the Queens University of Belfast with degrees in Dentistry (BDS 1st class honours), Anatomy and Embryology (BSc 1st class honours, PhD) and Medical Sciences (DMedSc), holds Fellowships from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in Ireland (FFD), and Edinburgh (FDS), Fellowship of the Irish Academy of Engineering 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.

Ms Bernie Cullinan

CEO Pragma Advisory

Ms. Bernie Cullinan is CEO of Pragma Advisory, a company providing strategic and operational advisory solutions for companies in the SME sector in a broad range of domains. Bernie is also a director of Crest Solutions Limited, Crest Solutions (T.S) UK Limited and Each&Other. 

Bernie has held C-level positions in a number of Irish technology companies and continues to be active in this sector.  In these roles, Bernie has played a key role in driving growth and shareholder value in the US, UK and Ireland.  Bernie is a past Chairman of the Irish Software Association. 

Bernie has a BComm from UCD, an MBA from UCD and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Bernie is a past President of CIMA and is a member of the DCU Educational Trust.

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.

Ms Mary Doyle

Deputy Secretary, Department of Education and Skills

Ms. Doyle took up her current role in the Department of Education and Skills in June 2012 where she leads the Higher Education Division in the Department.  She has worked in the Departments of the Taoiseach, Health, and was Director General in the Office/Department of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.  She has been a member of the National Economic and Social Council and the National Statistics Board and a Forum Member of the Economic and Social Research Institute.  She holds a degree in European Studies from the University of Limerick and a Masters in Public Service Management from Trinity/Irish Management Institute.

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.

Mr Dermot Mulligan

Assistant Secretary General/Head of Innovation and Investment in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Dermot is Assistant Secretary General/Head of the Innovation and Investment Division of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. He reports to the Secretary General of the Department and the Minister and his areas of  responsibility include formulation and implementation of Government policy on Science, Technology and Innovation, Enterprise development, North/South Trade and Business Development programmes and Ireland’s involvement in a range of international research and technology programmes involving the European Union and the European Space Agency. He has previously worked in a range of Government Departments including the Departments of Health, Finance and Education & Skills. He holds a first degree in Law and an M.Sc. (Economics) in Policy Studies from Trinity College Dublin and an MBA from the University of Warwick.

Mr Barry O'Sullivan

CEO Altocloud

Barry O'Sullivan is CEO of Altocloud, a software company with a mission of improving customer engagement experiences for ecommerce and inside sales. Prior to Altocloud, he was Senior Vice President at Cisco Systems and has been General Manager of several multi-billion dollar divisions including Collaboration, Unified Communications and Voice over IP, which he led from number six to the number one market share position worldwide. At Cisco, he was responsible for an R&D budget of on excess of $1 billion and a global team of 4,000 engineers.

O'Sullivan has spent most of his career in Silicon Valley, joining Cisco in 2002, having previously been General Manager of Nortel's contact centre software business. He is also co-founder of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, a group of top Irish American technology executives. He also serves on the board of Cope Galway, a charitable organization focused on reducing isolation and homelessness. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from University College Cork and a master's degree in computer science from the University of Limerick, as well as a master's degree in business administration from Santa Clara University, California. Married with four children, he divides his time between Palo Alto, California and Galway, Ireland.

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.

  • Advising and assisting the Director General and senior management of the Foundation in formulating and achieving the Foundation’s mission
  • Providing for the preparation, implementation, and review of strategies and operational plans that promote the undertaking of basic research of the highest international standards in Ireland—particularly in areas that are related to Ireland’s economic competitiveness.
  • Ensuring SFI compliance with corporate governance requirements for State bodies.
  • Approving annual and multi-annual budgets for the Foundation and ensuring appropriate accountability for the disbursement and management of these budgets.
  • Establishing the organisational structures and resources required to enable the Foundation to undertake its functions efficiently and effectively.
  • Providing annual and ongoing review of the results, impacts, and organisational effectiveness of the Foundation.