Orla Hardiman named 2022 SFI Researcher of the Year

Posted on: 22 November 2022

Trinity researchers won three of nine awards at the 2022 SFI Summit event to celebrate the best of Irish research.

Orla Hardiman named 2022 SFI Researcher of the Year

Trinity’s Professor of Neurology Orla Hardiman was named 2022 Researcher of the Year at the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland Awards at the annual SFI Science Summit this week. Hardiman is a clinician scientist and a world authority on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)/ Motor Neuron Disease (MND).  She heads the Academic Unit of Neurology at Trinity College Dublin and leads the SFI Precision ALS Spoke.

The event also saw Trinity’s Dr Claire Gillan named SFI Early-Career Researcher of the Year, and Michael Morris, Director of the AMBER research centre, win the SFI award for Best International Engagement.

Claire Gillan pictured in an office setting

Prof Claire Gillan

Dr Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity College Dublin

"Orla's world-leading research on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (ALS) has had a huge impact on the lives of so many people. Her generosity and dedication are hugely inspiring. Orla's research has placed Ireland at the centre of international research collaboration on ALS. I am absolutely delighted that she has been announced as the SFI Researcher of the Year. It comes only two weeks after she received the 2022 Provost Innovation Award.

"I also want to congratulate Claire Gillan, Associate Professor in Trinity’s School of Psychology, on winning SFI's Early Career Researcher of the Year award, and  

"The success of Orla, Claire and Michael illustrates the sheer breadth of outstanding research taking place across Trinity." 

Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland 

“I want to congratulate all the award recipients. The SFI Awards recognise exceptional achievements within our research community, and the ways in which research contributes to our wellbeing and our environmental, social and economic development and sustainability. These awards reflect the dedication and determination of our researchers as they work to discover new knowledge, to innovate, and to make the world a better place. The awardees are truly inspiring. 

“I would like to congratulate Prof Orla Hardiman as the 2022 SFI Researcher of the Year. She has made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of, and the treatment and care of people with motor neurone disease. It is wonderful to acknowledge her achievements and the achievements of researchers across all in our Higher Education Institutions and the wider research ecosystem.” 

Professor Orla Hardiman

“I am greatly honoured to receive this prestigious award, which is a reflection of the hugely talented individuals with whom I have had the privilege of supervising, mentoring and collaborating over the years. I am also aware of the enormous benefits of being in a position to engage in international collaborations with like-minded clinician scientists. Understanding the processes that drive neurodegeneration is the “final frontier” in neuroscience. As clinician scientists, we seek to unravel the complexity of neurodegenerative disease in humans, and our work in Ireland has focussed on how best to enable the successful translation of laboratory discoveries to new drugs for those with different subtypes of disease. Our ultimate collective objective is to ensure that we provide the right drug for the right patient at the right time. I am particularly conscious of my privileged position as a female leader in science, and of the importance of mentoring from experience other younger women as they juggle careers, family life and research. I am enormously grateful to both SFI and the HRB in enabling my scientific career over the years, and of course to my husband Gerry and my children for their ongoing love and support.”  

Dr Claire Gillan is an internationally renowned expert on mental illnesses, and was the first to show that patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have tendencies to form habits, a ground-breaking discovery in OCD that features in several undergraduate textbooks today. 

Michael Morris received his award in recognition of his long-standing association and engagement with international companies, researchers, and policy makers. Prof Morris is a professor of Surface and Interface Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin and the director of AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research, who has spearheaded the facility for the last 7 years. 




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