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 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.  


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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, Corporate Communications and SFI’s International team. In addition, Ciarán deputises for the Director General as required.

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 worked 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.


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Dr. Abigail Ruth Freeman

Director of Science for Society

Dr Abigail Ruth Freeman was appointed Director of Strategy and Communications in 2013, and following department restructure in 2018, became Director of Science for Society. Prior to her current appointment Ruth has held a series of positions at Science Foundation Ireland, including Director of Innovation, Communications & Education and Director of Programmes, Enterprise and International Affairs, with responsibility for overseeing all Science Foundation Ireland research funding programmes and management of funded awards, as well as the Foundation’s activities in conjunction with industry and international partners. Ruth joined Science Foundation Ireland as a Scientific Programme Manager in November 2006. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ruth worked as a researcher at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). She holds PhD and Bachelor degrees in Genetics from TCD, where she was awarded a Trinity scholarship, the Eli Lilly Chemistry Prize and the Roberts prize for Biology. Ruth’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.



Dr. Siobhan Roche

Director of Science for the Economy

Dr. Siobhan Roche was appointed SFI Director of Science for the Economy in 2018.

Siobhan will be responsible for developing and implementing SFI’s strategies on competitive funding programmes, working closely with industry partners, including large and small, multinational and indigenous companies, academic researchers and other external stakeholders, on collaborations and the co-funding of programmes.

Siobhan has been working with SFI for a number of years, most recently as Head of Post Award and SFI Research Centres. Previous to this role, Siobhan was Head of Partnerships and Scientific Programme Manager with SFI.

Siobhan brings experience as a research scientist from both the private sector, where she worked with US-based Exelixis Inc. and a former Irish human genome start-up company, Hibergen Inc., and academia where she was a Research Fellow and Group Leader at Trinity College Dublin and St Patrick’s Hospital. Within these roles, she focused on the application of genetics and genomics technology to deciphering the biological causes of illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders. Siobhan has authored publications in leading, peer-reviewed journals and holds a number of international patents.

Siobhan holds a B.A. Mod in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin and a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley (USA).



Mr. Donal Keane, B.Comm FCA

Chief Operations Officer

Mr Donal Keane was appointed as Chief Operations Officer at Science Foundation Ireland on 1 November 2005. He has responsibility for Financial Control, Financial Management of Grants, Information Systems, IT Networks, Data Protection/GDPR and liaison with the Internal Audit Coordinator with respect to internal audits and external grant audits. Donal joined SFI from IADT Dun Laoghaire, where he held the position of Secretary/Financial Controller from 1997 to 2005. Prior to that Donal held senior management positions at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, GE Capital and Wang Finance in both Dublin and Toronto, Canada. Donal has also been a member of the European Science Foundation (Strasbourg) and BBSRC (now part of UKRI) Audit Committees in recent years. Donal holds a Batchelor of Commerce degree from University College Dublin and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.