Trinity scientists win SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Awards

Trinity researchers, Dr Lydia Lynch and Dr Tomás Ryan, received prestigious SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Awards at a special ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin today.

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, honoured the recipients, of which there were five in total (Trinity was the only institution with two recipients). The awards represent a combined investment of €7 million, and will also support the additional recruitment of 15 research positions.

Pictured at the awards ceremony (l to r) are: Professor John Laffey, Dr Claire McCoy, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, President Michael D. Higgins, Dr Christina Kiel, Dr Tomás Ryan and Dr Lydia Lynch. Picture by Jason Clarke.

Dr Lydia Lynch, recruited from Harvard University, is researching novel therapeutics for obesity-related diseases at Trinity.

Dr Lynch said: “I am delighted to receive this prestigious President of Ireland Award from Science Foundation Ireland, which has allowed me to set up a state-of-the-art research programme in Ireland. This means I can continue to perform the research that was established in Harvard and train the next generation of young scientists in this frontier field of immunometabolism.”

Dr Tomás Ryan, recruited from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), researches the storage of memories in the brain, which has potential implications on the identification and retrieval of lost memories in cases of amnesia.

Dr Ryan said: “This award enables me and my research team to engage in ambitious, blue skies research and experimentally address the most fundamental questions about the nature of memory storage in the brain. It has allowed me to recruit international researchers to Ireland, and to form a group that will compete globally in this highly exciting field. We intend to discover new insights into how memory works and make significant contributions to our understanding of the brain.”

The other SFI President of Ireland Future Research Leader Award winners were Dr Claire McCoy (Royal College of Surgeons, RCSI), Professor John Laffey (National University of Ireland Galway, NUI Galway), and Dr Christina Kiel (University College Dublin, UCD).

President Higgins has been a long-standing advocate of inclusive citizenship and creativity, highlighting not only the positive contribution of science to society, but also the links between the creativity of artists and the innovation of scientists. He has also stressed the importance of placing scientific research in a clear social, cultural and ethical context, saying that the benefits of scientific advances should be spread as widely as possible.

Congratulating the awardees, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award is designed to attract to Ireland outstanding new and emerging research talent. In supporting these talented and innovative individuals, we are delighted to recognise early career researchers who have already displayed exceptional leadership potential at the frontiers of knowledge.”

“The development of leadership skills in these researchers early in their careers is vital to ensure research and innovation in Ireland continues to progress. Our investment highlights the importance that Science Foundation Ireland places on supporting all stages of academic careers, and on the attraction and retention of star researchers.”