We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. Read More Allow Cookies

News from the technological higher education sector

Irish Research Council to invest €12 million in world-class frontier research

Posted on: 11 Apr 2019

Irish Research Council to invest €12 million in world-class frontier research

An investment of €11.8 million in frontier research was announced today (11.04.19) by Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D. The investment will fund 12 researchers under the Irish Research Council’s 2019 Advanced Laureate Awards Programme. 

The 12 researchers receiving funding are at an advanced stage in their careers and will be supported to conduct ground-breaking, world-class research across a wide range of disciplines.  Their research areas range from new approaches to breast cancer treatment, to the development of 3-D printed batteries, to digitally mapping the full range of cultural activity, across languages and ethnic groups, in early modern Ireland.  Each awardee will receive a maximum of €1 million in funding, over a period of four years. 

Supporting ‘blue-sky’ research

Commenting on today’s investment, Minister McHugh said: “ The Irish Research Council Advanced Laureate Programme was specifically designed to address gaps in the Irish research and innovation landscape in the area of frontier basic research, as identified in Innovation 2020, Ireland’s five-year strategy for science and technology, research and development. Minister Halligan and I are delighted to launch this round of awards and to congratulate each of the awardees.

“Funding frontier research is vital in order for us to compete with our counterparts on the global stage, and to promote Ireland as an attractive location for world-class talent, both homegrown and international, in order to bring new knowledge, skills and innovations to our research institutions.”

Minister of State Halligan also welcomed today’s announcement:  “The projects that will be funded under the Advanced Laureate Programme have the potential to break new ground and enhance our understanding in a diverse range of areas.  They are great examples of why it is important to fund basic research. Supporting these exceptional researchers will help to strengthen Ireland’s knowledge base and enhance our international reputation,” he said.    

Exceptional standard

Also commenting, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, said: “The 12 researchers who will receive funding under the Advanced Laureate Awards Programme are all exceptional in their fields and have been selected following a rigorous and independent international peer-review process. 

“A total of 140 applications were received under this funding call. In addition to the 12 funded awards, a further 48 proposals were deemed to be excellent and fundable by the international panels of experts. This illustrates the high quality of researchers and the calibre of proposals being generated in frontier research in Ireland. The Council is committed to establishing regular calls under the Laureate awards to ensure that leading-edge, world-class research does not go unfunded.”

The overall gender breakdown of awardees was 75% male and 25% female.

“The gendered distribution of research grants at the advanced career stage is a very real issue, both in Ireland and internationally,” said Peter Brown.  “Although this outcome is similar to benchmarks such as the European Research Council Advanced Grant, no-one can be satisfied with the current imbalance. Ireland is now taking major steps to address the gender disparity in senior research and academic positions, as outlined in the Gender Equality Taskforce Action Plan. The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D., and the Department of Education and Skills have made gender equality a key policy priority moving forward.”

The Irish Research Council opened the first call under the Laureate Awards Programme in 2017, resulting in 36 awards with an associated investment of €18 million.

Further information on the Advanced Laureate Awards is available at here.


Contact: Niamh Breathnach / Martina Quinn Alice PR & Events. Email: media@alicepr.com/ Tel: 01-5582151 / 085-1461231 / 087-6522033

Notes to Editors

Successful Projects

The research projects receiving funding include:

  1. Adrian Bracken, Trinity College Dublin: ‘Understanding the impact of divergent PRC2 complex assemblies on chromatin landscapes and gene regulation’.
  2. Lorraine O'Driscoll, Trinity College Dublin: ‘Extracellular vesicles in cancer’.
  3. John Atkins, University College Cork: ‘Codes within THE CODE: Revealing hidden genetic information’.
  4. Seamus Martin, Trinity College Dublin: ‘Death receptors as integrators of cell stress-induced inflammation’.
  5. Brendan Dooley, University College Cork: ‘Examining new sources for the European dimension of early modern news, integrating Ireland and elsewhere into the network of circulation, 1550-1700, to understand a forgotten but highly significant media landscape’.
  6. Christine Casey, Trinity College Dublin: ‘Surface value: The agency and impact of craftmanship in the architecture of Britain and Ireland, 1680-1780’.
  7. Patricia Palmer, Maynooth University: ‘MACMORRIS (Mapping Actors and Contexts: Modelling research in Renaissance Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth century)’.
  8. Pádraig Ó Macháin, University College Cork: ‘The materiality of the late-medieval Gaelic vernacular manuscript (1100–1600): a study of inks and vellum in the Book of Uí Mhaine, the development of a materiality protocol from that study, and the refinement of that protocol through application to other Gaelic manuscripts from the same era’.
  9. Colm O'Dwyer, University College Cork: ‘Battery performance in technicolor – photonic material circuitry and 3D printed batteries for probing electrochemical energy storage mechanisms and cell performance’.
  10. Stefano Sanvito, Trinity College Dublin: ‘eMag: a computational platform for accelerated magnetic materials discovery’.
  11. Michael Zaworotko, University of Limerick: ‘Switching adsorbent layered materials’.
  12. Igor Shvets, Trinity College Dublin: ‘New concepts for superconducting tunnelling junctions’.

Laureate Awards for frontier basic research

The Irish Research Council Laureate Awards were launched in 2017 and aim to drive forward Ireland’s reputation and performance for ground-breaking research. Over recent years, Ireland fell behind international peer countries in relation to the level of investment in research designed to drive new discoveries and bring new understandings to the world around us.  The Laureate awards are designed to redress this deficit. The awards support Ireland-based researchers of any discipline to become world-leading in their field, in doing so enhancing Ireland’s reputation for cutting-edge knowledge and innovation. The awards are also designed to enhance the success of Ireland-based researchers in competing for prestigious grants from the European Research Council.


The overall gender breakdown of applications to the Advanced Laureate Award Programme was 71% male and 29% female, with awardees being 75% male and 25% female. This outcome is broadly in line with the ERC Advanced Grant 2018 results, where 80% awardees are male and 20% are female. As the ERC Working Group on Gender Balance notes, this mirrors the overall situation across Europe.

In Ireland, just 24% of professors in universities are female. The Gender Action Plan 2018-2020 launched by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., sets out a number of proactive measures to address this imbalance, including the requirement for all institutions to apply for a Bronze Athena SWAN award in order to be eligible for research funding.

About the Irish Research Council

The Council was formed in 2012, is an associated agency of the Department of Education and Skills and operates under the aegis of the Higher Education Authority.  The core function of the Council is to support excellent frontier research across all disciplines and all career stages.  The Council promotes diverse career opportunities for researchers by partnering with enterprise and employers.  The Council also has a particular role in supporting research with a societal focus and has established partnerships across government and civic society.  Further information: www.research.ie, @IrishResearch, #LoveIrishResearch.


You do not have member access to this group