5th September 2023: Seven Irish-based researchers have been awarded prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Call grants, totalling over €10.6 million.

The awards span Physical Sciences and Engineering (3), Life Sciences (2) and Social Sciences and Humanities (2).

The successful awardees are based University College Cork, University of Galway, University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

Subject areas covered by these ambitious, blue-sky projects include bacterial biology, evolutionary biology, cancer research, planetary science and history, i.e.:   

  • Dr Hilary Browne (UCC): Research will focus on understanding spore-forming gut bacteria biology in the targeting of pathogens;
  • Dr Donal Hassett (UCC): Research will delve deep into colonial veterancy of empire ex-soldiers during interwar times;
  • Dr James Gahan (University of Galway): Research will centre on the origins of cell differentiation and developmental gene regulation in animals;
  • Dr Eoin McEvoy (University of Galway): Research will focus on cancer research, specifically, personalised mechanobiological models to predict tumour growth and anti-cancer drug penetration;
  • Dr Fiona Freeman (UCD): Research will design and test a biomimetic testing platform for drug discovery and therapeutic innovations in cancer;
  • Dr Jennifer Keating (UCD): Research will explore the connected history of population, environmental change, capital and conflict in Russian Eurasia from the 1860s to the 1920s;
  • Dr Luca Matra (TCD): Research will look to the skies to explore exoplanets and belts of exocomets around nearby stars.

Ireland has now surpassed €93 million in ERC awards since the beginning of Horizon Europe, marking a successful representation at this stage of the framework.

Dr Maria Nash, ERC National Delegate and National Contact Point and Senior SFI International Executive, said: “The continued success of Ireland-based researchers in ERC is wonderful news; in particular, it is encouraging that our early-career researchers are succeeding in the one of the world’s most prestigious research competitions across a wide range of subject areas. These awards will greatly help the grantees launch their own independent research careers in the pursuit of excellent science. I hope that these successes encourage more of our talented research cohort to apply to future competitions.