Three UCC academics receive prestigious European funding

Three UCC academics receive prestigious European funding

Professor Maria McNamara and Dr Andrey Shkoporov of University College Cork, who have received prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grants worth a combined €4.4m. Also awarded was Dr. Pádraig Cantillon–Murphy, (not pictured) who received a €2m grant. Picture Clare Keogh

THREE world-leading academics in science and engineering at University College Cork have received prestigious European funding worth a combined total of €6.4m.

These awards recognise high calibre researchers and it will support research into diverse topics such as animal evolution, how viruses impact gut bacteria, and ways to revolutionise surgery.

The receipt of the much sought-after European Research Council Consolidator Grants is a significant endorsement of the state-of-the-art scientific exploration underway at UCC, with funding being allocated to academics from the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science based across APC Microbiome Ireland, Environmental Research Institute, and the Tyndall National Institute.

Professor Maria McNamara received funding for €2,460,114. Based at UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Environmental Research Institute and the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience, Prof McNamara’s research aims to understand how key biomolecules such as melanin, keratin and collagen evolved in animals, and to understand how well these important biomolecules can be preserved in fossils.

Dr Andrey Shkoporov received funding for €1,999,988. His project will study how bacteriophages facilitate communication and exchange of genetic information in bacteria. The research will help to better understand the significance of this gene exchange for sustaining a healthy microbiome and microbial biodiversity on the one hand and spreading antimicrobial genes on the other. It will also inform new interventions that maintain, shape or restore microbiomes following infection, chronic disease or antibiotic treatment.

Dr. Pádraig Cantillon–Murphy based at Tyndall National Institute, UCC, who received a €2m ERC Consolidator grant.
Dr. Pádraig Cantillon–Murphy based at Tyndall National Institute, UCC, who received a €2m ERC Consolidator grant.

Dr. Pádraig Cantillon–Murphy received funding for €2m. Based at the Tyndall National Institute, he will lead a project to progress his research into revolutionising the future of surgery. His project, DEEP FIELD, aims to lay the foundations for the world's fastest, most accurate and robust, radiation-free navigation platform for image-guided surgery using magnetic tracking.

The significant grants have been welcomed by Interim UCC President Prof John O’Halloran who said, “This outstanding achievement by these cutting-edge researchers reflected their commitment to excellence in exploratory research. The new funding will enable them to build capacity in their specialist areas and to develop their ambitious research ideas.” 

Vice President for Research & Innovation Prof Anita Maguire paid tribute to the three UCC researchers. “The inclusion highlights the global competitiveness of their research and the exciting ideas they have presented. We look forward to very exciting results from their endeavours.” 

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