Taoiseach Honours Stripe Founders and Duke University Professor with Prestigious SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal
Tech Founders Patrick and John Collison, and Donald McDonnell, PhD, Glaxo-Wellcome Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology at Duke University, NC, recognised for contributions to academia and industry
Washington D.C. - 16th March 2022: Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, has presented the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St Patrick’s Day Science Medal to John and Patrick Collison, two of Ireland’s most distinguished entrepreneurs who founded the $95bn-valued company Stripe. The award was also presented to Prof Donald McDonnell, Associate Director for Translational Research for the Duke Cancer Institute and Glaxo-Wellcome Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology at Duke University, School of Medicine in North Carolina, for his work in the development of new treatments for breast and prostate cancers.
During a celebratory event in Washington D.C., to mark the occasion of St Patrick’s Day and US-Ireland relations, Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, said: “On behalf of the Government of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, I am delighted to present the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal to Professor Donald McDonnell and to John and Patrick Collison, for their outstanding contributions to science and technology. We are deeply proud of their inspirational achievements and the societal and economic impacts they have made on the global stage.
This prestigious prize recognises the critical importance of US-Ireland relations, particularly in the areas of research, development and innovation. Through these enduring Transatlantic links, we are creating new opportunities and furthering knowledge with the potential to address societal needs and economic challenges, as well as nurturing future talent in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.”
Welcoming the announcement of the recipients, Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Donald, John and Patrick on the outstanding research, innovation and leadership they have demonstrated throughout their careers. They are a shining example of the global reach and influence of the Irish scientific and technology diaspora. We are very proud to recognise their achievements today with the awarding of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal.”
Recipient of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Academia, Prof Donald McDonnell, is one of the world’s leading experts in the treatment of cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer, that respond to hormones. His work has led to the discovery of several drugs that are currently being evaluated in the clinic and to the identification of tumour markers to personalise and target treatment. A winner of both the Irish Young Scientist competition and the European Young Scientist competition in 1978, Prof McDonnell obtained a degree in Biochemistry from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 1983, before moving to Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, where in 1987 he obtained his PhD.
He spent time in industry with Smith-Kline Pharmaceuticals, and as Director and Head of Molecular Biology at Ligand Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, before moving to Duke University, North Carolina.
Speaking of the award, Prof McDonnell said: “I am deeply honoured to accept the 2022 SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for my research, as well as leadership in the education sector in Ireland and the USA. Having worked between industry and academia, I am keenly aware of the important role of mentorship and the opportunities for learning on both sides that it presents. Similarly, through our US-Ireland partnerships, I believe we can capitalise on shared insights and collaborate beyond borders to deliver truly excellent science with global benefits.”
John and Patrick Collison are the recipients of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Industry. As teenagers, they founded, built and sold their first company, Auctomatic, for $5 million. In 2009, they wrote the first lines of code for Stripe which is now a financial infrastructure platform for businesses. From the world's largest enterprises to the most ambitious startups, millions of companies use Stripe to accept payments, grow their revenue, and accelerate new business opportunities. Headquartered in San Francisco and Dublin, Stripe is one of the most valuable privately-owned companies globally. The company currently employs over 500 people at its Dublin HQ and plans to hire over 1,000 more people in Ireland – a key engineering hub for the company – in the coming years. Stripe CEO Patrick Collison was also the overall winner of the Young Scientist Exhibition in 2005.
In 2020, as the global pandemic began, the Collisons founded the Fast Grants programme to accelerate COVID-19 research. In 2021, they were founding donors for the Arc Institute, a non-profit research organisation with a mission to accelerate scientific progress, understand the root causes of disease and narrow the gap between discoveries and impact on patients.
At an event in Washington D.C. to receive this prestigious Medal, Stripe President, John Collison, said: “Patrick and I are honoured to accept this award. With all the talent and ambition in Ireland, we’re convinced that many more young people will pursue a career in technology, and we can't wait to see what problems they will solve. We will continue to do our bit, including through our partnership with the University of Limerick. The overwhelmingly positive response to the Immersive Software Engineering course—and other projects like Fast Grants and the Arc Institute—have proved that we have a long runway ahead of us in terms of the investments we will continue to make in science, in technology and in Ireland's potential."