Prof Mark Ferguson

Director General

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 a founding member of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative,  was Chair of the eHealth Ireland Committee, (2015 – 2017) and 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 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 327 research papers and book chapters, 60 patent families and author / editor of 8 books.

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) 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.


Emer O’Driscoll, Executive Assistant: + 353 (0) 1 607 3259

Dr. Ciarán Seoighe

Deputy Director General

Dr. Ciarán Seoighe joined Science Foundation Ireland as Deputy Director General in January 2018. In his role Ciarán is responsible for organisational strategy, research policy, performance improvement and evaluation, in addition to deputising for the Director General.

Ciarán joined Science Foundation Ireland after nearly two decades in management consulting with Accenture. Ciarán holds a BA (Mod) in Natural Science and PhD in Quantum Physics from Trinity College Dublin. In his time with Accenture, in both Ireland and South Africa, Ciarán has had the opportunity to work closely with some of the world’s largest and most successful organisations. He has a wealth of experience across a variety of sectors executing large scale transformation, business re-engineering, strategic and change initiatives.


✆ Michelle Maxwell, Executive Assistant: +353 1 607 3050

Mr. Donal Keane, B.Comm FCA

Chief Operations Officer

Mr Donal Keane was appointed Chief Operations Officer at SFI with effect from 1 November 2005, with responsibility for Grants, IT, Finance, HR and Facilities. 

Keane joined SFI from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology where he held the position of Secretary/Financial Controller from 1997 to 2005.  Prior to that Keane held senior management positions at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, GE Capital and Wang Finance in both Dublin and Toronto, Canada.  His professional training was undertaken at Coopers & Lybrand from 1978 to 1982.

Donal Keane holds a B.Comm degree from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.


Margie McCarthy, CEng FIEI

Interim Director of Innovation and Education

Margie McCarthy was appointed as Interim Director of Innovation and Education in 2018.

Prior to her current appointment Margie was Head of Education and Public Engagement with responsibility for developing and overseeing all SFI led education and public engagement investment and activity.  This  spans building researcher-led engagement activity, the SFI Discover Programme and directly managed schemes including Science Week, Smart Futures, Broadcast investment and SFI Discover Primary Science and Maths.  Margie joined SFI in 2014. Margie serves on a number of national education and skills steering committees and is an active spokesperson for SFI. 

Prior to joining SFI, Margie held the role of Membership Director with Engineers Ireland, the professional body for engineering in Ireland.  She is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland.  During her almost ten years with this organisation, Margie led a range of briefs from regulatory matters and competence framework development, to recruitment and marketing, to life-long professional skills development and STEM engagement programmes. Before joining Engineers Ireland she worked as a consultant engineer on structural and environmental engineering projects including airport, water, wastewater and flooding alleviation design.  She has a licentiate in stage performance and has applied this to her extensive work in stakeholder engagement.


Mary Kerrigan + 353 1 607 3299


Dr. Darrin Morrissey

Director of Programmes and Investments

Dr. Darrin Morrissey was appointed SFI Director of Programmes in 2014 and as Director of Programmes and Investments in 2018. In his role Darrin is responsible for overseeing all SFI research funding programmes and management of funded awards.

Darrin joined SFI from GSK where, as Business Improvement Director, he was responsible for the strategy deployment and business transformation at the GSK-owned dermatology manufacturing business Stiefel.

Darrin originally joined GSK in 2007 as Head of Oncology for Ireland and led the establishment of GSK’s oncology business and the launch of its oncology and haematology therapeutics portfolio. During his time with GSK Darrin also held the role of Global Oncology Marketing Director with responsibility for developing launch strategy for melanoma therapy assets.

Prior to his time with GSK, Darrin worked across a number of pharmaceutical and biotech companies – including Sanofi-aventis, Eli Lilly & Tibotec-Virco – in a variety of commercial and research roles.

Darrin qualified with a BSc in Microbiology and he holds a PhD from University College Cork. His PhD research focused on the molecular mechanisms that underlie cancer metastasis. He also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UCC, where he managed ‘first-in-human’ clinical trials of probiotic bacteria-containing food products.

Darrin also holds a Diploma in Advanced Management Practice awarded by National University of Ireland Galway.


Niamh Bradley +353 1 607 3228

Dr. Ruth Freeman

Director of Innovation, Communications and Education

Dr Abigail Ruth Freeman was appointed as Director of Strategy and Communications in 2013 and as Director of Innovation, Communications and Education in 2018.

Prior to her current appointment Dr Freeman has held a series of positions at Science Foundation Ireland.  Most recently she was the Director of Programmes, Enterprise and International Affairs, with responsibility for overseeing all SFI research funding programmes and management of funded awards, as well as the Foundation’s activities in conjunction with industry and international partners.  Prior to this, Dr Freeman held roles as both Director of Enterprise and International Affairs and Head of Industry-Research Development.  Dr Freeman joined SFI as a Scientific Programme Manager in November 2006.

Prior to joining SFI Dr Freeman was working as a researcher at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).  She holds PhD and Bachelor degrees in Genetics from TCD.   During her time there as a student she was awarded a Trinity scholarship, the Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize and the Roberts prize for Biology.  Dr Freeman’s PhD research, on population genetics in hybrid zones, was funded by a prestigious studentship from the Wellcome Trust and was carried out at TCD and ILRI, Nairobi.


Niamh Bradley +353 1 607 3228