Dr Tomás Ryan wins 2020 Lister Institute Research Prize

Posted on: 10 August 2020

Dr Tomás Ryan has been awarded a highly prestigious 2020 Lister Institute Research Prize, becoming the first scientist in an Irish institution to secure the Lister Institute Preventive Medicine Prize Fellowship.

He will use the prize to pursue research into memory “engrams” to better understand if – and how – we may retrieve misplaced infant memories in adults.

Infantile amnesia is a focus of his work, which is the loss of memories formed in early childhood (prior to 2–4 years). Though infantile amnesia is likely the cost of crucial cognitive developmental processes, it is also a constraint on learning during early life. This research is focused on understanding the neurobiology of this form of apparent memory loss.

Dr Ryan said:

It’s an honour and privilege to receive this prestigious award. The freedom to pursue blue skies, fundamental research is at the core of the scientific enterprise, and is the starting point for all societal benefits in medicine, education, and industry. The support of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine will directly enhance the autonomy and impact of my research team. I look forward to working with the Lister Institute to contribute to the scientific community in Ireland and the UK.

The Hon Rory Guinness, a senior member of the Lister Institute’s Governing Body, and whose great-great grandfather, Edward Cecil Guinness, was a Chancellor of Trinity, added:

The award of a Fellowship to Dr Ryan is an immense and historic moment in the life of science in these islands. The original bequest to Joseph Lister was made by Edward Cecil Guinness. He understood the problems of insanitary conditions in the brewing process. He also had immense concern for the well-being of his fellow citizens. With amazing vision, he invested a large part of his fortune to pioneer medical research through the Lister Institute and in social housing through the Guinness Trust in the UK, and the Iveagh Trust in Dublin.

It is superb to see Dr Ryan’s laboratory supported in an institution that has long been supported by us. It is recognition that there are some world class scientists in Ireland, and we look forward to welcoming Tomás into the fabled Lister fellowship.

Dr Ryan is an Associate Professor in Trinity’s School of Biochemistry and Immunology and the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN). He is also Principal Investigator of a European Research Council-funded team that was established at Trinity in 2017, and is Chair of the European FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence. He has regularly featured in the media in recent months as an expert on aspects of COVID-19 in Ireland and associated government policies.

Dr Tomas Ryan (centre) and his team at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN).



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