A grant of up to €2.5 million has been awarded to Professor of Medical Molecular Genetics, Peter Humphries of the Ocular Genetics Unit, Smurfit Institute of Genetics and School of Genetics and Microbiology to enable him to continue his research into exploring and developing new avenues for the prevention of glaucoma – a leading cause of blindness if left untreated. The prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant was awarded for a period of five years.
Professor Humphries whose project is entitled 'Oculus: A radical approach to improved glaucoma treatment' said: "Glaucoma in its various forms is one of the most prevalent causes of global visual handicap – most of us will know someone with glaucoma. While pharmacological medications exist, a significant proportion of sufferers do not respond or become resistant to them. With ERC support, we will explore and develop new avenues for prevention of this hugely prevalent disease which figures indicate affects two in 100 people over the age of 40 in Ireland and the UK."
"It is an exceedingly great honour to have been given an ERC award and a testament to the dedication of the outstanding researchers with whom I have the privilege to work," he added. Professor Humphries is one of two researchers in Ireland who are among 302 top researchers awarded €680 million in EU funding by the European Research Council in the latest competition for its 'Advanced Grants'. With up to €2.5 million per project, the funding allows these scientists to pursue their most ground-breaking ideas at the frontiers of knowledge together with their own teams. The second recipient is Professor Kitchin from NUIM whose research project will analyse the creation of smart cities, using Dublin as one of his case studies.
Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "The ERC continues to identify the very best researchers. ERC funding is leading to an increasing number of scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, as well as more publications in recognised scientific journals. Promoting frontier research at the highest level is vital for Europe's competitiveness, and this is why we have proposed to increase the ERC budget as part of our Horizon 2020 programme."