TCD researcher receives President of Ireland Young Researcher Awards 2007

Posted on: 25 January 2007

Dr James O’Donnell, Department of Haematology, TCD is the first Clinician Scientist to be presented the President of Ireland Young Researcher Awards (PIYRA) by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). The awards were announced by President Mary McAleese at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin.

The award is SFI’s most prestigious honour and recognises outstanding engineers and scientists from Ireland and abroad who, early in their careers, have already demonstrated exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of knowledge.

Commenting on the awards, President Mary McAleese said, “Attracting the best international scientific talent to Ireland and harnessing the cream of Irish researchers is essential to establishing Ireland at the forefront of science and engineering research.”
The PIYRA was launched three years ago by SFI with the support of the President to highlight the critical roles played by innovative Young Investigators in developing contemporary research and education programmes for Ireland.

The three award recipients will receive almost €1 million each to conduct their research projects in Ireland over the next five years.

Dr O’Donnell’s research will study the Von Willebrand factor (VWF) which plays a central role in normal blood clotting and also serves as a carrier molecule for pro-coagulant factor VIII. A deficiency of VWF causes the commonest inherited bleeding tendency (von Willebrand disease), while elevated levels of VWF are associated with increased thrombosis. Dr O’Donnell aims to improve our understanding of the role of VWF in common vascular diseases. This work could have important implications for the design and development of future therapeutic agents.

Micheál Martin, TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, commenting on the announcement said, “The PIYRA award programme reflects our commitment to providing a world-class research environment. The global demand for emerging top-tier science and engineering researchers is huge with universities aggressively pursuing future stars of the sector. I am delighted that these three grants have been awarded to truly outstanding recipients who will be a real asset to the scientific community in Ireland.”

Professor Mark Keane, Director General of SFI, said the award recipients were selected on the basis of exceptional accomplishments early in their careers. He added: “The aim of the PIYRA is to support the most creative young scientists and this year’s applicants were of an exceptionally high standard.”

The other two PIYRA award winners are Dr Emma Teeling, UCD and Dr Oliver Blacque, UCD.

President mcaleese and dr james o'donnell

Dr James O’Donnell, Department of Haematology, TCD with President Mary McAleese