Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI researcher wins SFI Best Reported Impact Award at Science Foundation Ireland 2018 Science Awards

12 November 2018

Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri has won a Best Reported Impact Award at the 2018 Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Awards, announced at the SFI Science Summit in Dublin today. The SFI Best Reported Impact Award recognises the potential impact of an SFI researcher’s award and their commitment to maximising the impact of their research.

Professor Cavalleri received the award for his work on genetic biomarkers for epilepsy predisposition and treatment. Professor Cavalleri is Associate Professor of Human Genetics, Deputy Director of the FutureNeuro SFI Research Centre and Director of the Human Genetic Variation Research Group at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, RCSI.

Professor Cavalleri was one of two recipients to receive the award with Professor Jane Farrar, from the School of Genetics and Microbiology, Trinity College Dublin, also being recognised.

SFI funding allowed Professor Cavalleri and his team to build the Irish DNA Atlas using DNA samples from the Irish population to better understand patterns of genetic variation within the population. This data will enable researchers to better decipher disease-causing genetic variation and reveal underlying genetic causes for epilepsy and other disease types.

Professor Cavalleri's paper presenting the first genetic map of the people of Ireland received global media coverage and was in the 99% percentile for online discussion (Altmetric) of over 300,000 research articles of a similar age. The paper ranked third for the most read of over 24,000 papers published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Commenting on the award, Professor Cavalleri said: “I would like to thank SFI for the opportunity they provide, and my research team for their hard work. I am honoured to receive this award. The learnings from this project can help guide the effective integration of genomics in to the Irish healthcare system and can also provide the basis for a public genome project in Ireland, to help us better understand the genetic component of disease in Ireland and regions of the globe with strong Irish ancestry, in particular the UK, North America and Australia.”

Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research and Innovation, RCSI, said: “Leading impactful research to address key Irish and international health challenges is the central focus of our research here at RCSI. Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri’s research into genetic biomarkers for epilepsy has enormous potential impact for improving health outcomes for people with epilepsy. I congratulate Professor Cavalleri on the SFI Best Reported Impact Award and I commend his commitment to maximising the impact of his research.”

Acknowledging the award winners, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms Heather Humphreys TD, said: “I am pleased to see the outstanding work of the Irish research community acknowledged through these SFI Science Awards. The recipients are among Ireland’s top researchers and the awards recognise the contribution they are making in a number of areas including industry collaborations, entrepreneurship, communication and public engagement. I would like to congratulate each awardee on their tremendous achievements, their discoveries will bring economic growth and societal development in Ireland.”

Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark Ferguson, also congratulated the award winners, saying “every year the Science Foundation Ireland Awards provide an opportunity to highlight some of the excellent impacts and achievements of our research community. I want to congratulate the winners on their dedication and the contribution they are making to Ireland’s economy and society.

"I am confident that their success will be a source of inspiration to their peers and, more importantly, to the next generation of researchers in Ireland. At Science Foundation Ireland we very pleased to see the superb quality of research that our funding enables, and are proud that Irish research continues to be impactful and world-leading”.