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

RCSI researchers awarded SFI grants as part of €10.8 million government investment

15 January 2019


Minister Breen announces funding for 20 SFI Starting Investigator Research Grant projects today

Two RCSI researchers have received funding as part of a Government investment of €10.8 million in research funding announced today.


Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD, has announced the investment for 20 projects through Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG). With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 PhD students.

Dr Sudipto Das, Principal Investigator and Honorary Lecturer, Department of Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, RCSI has been awarded a grant of €424,989 under the programme. Despite ongoing efforts, approximately 40% of patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis) fail to respond to standard-of-care biologic treatment. Dr Das and his team, through their research programme DETECT, will attempt to identify genes that could inform treatment approaches for patients with ulcerative colitis, ultimately leading to an overall improvement in well-being of patients.

Dr Gary Brennan, Research Lecturer and Principal Investigator at the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, RCSI and FutureNeuro has received a grant of €419,472. The funding will enable Dr Brennan and his team at FutureNeuro to study how gene regulation and protein generation could inform new treatments for epilepsy.

Speaking on the research grants, Professor Ray Stallings, Director of Research and Innovation, RCSI, said: "These grants will help us continue our mission of leading impactful research and exploring new treatments for chronic diseases including epilepsy and ulcerative colitis. I congratulate Dr Das and Dr Brennan on their achievement of securing funding, which is a testament to the high quality of their research, and I look forward to the results of their studies."

Also speaking of the awards, Minister Breen said: "I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland's economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements."

Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: "Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland's future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland's international research reputation and I wish each awardee every success."

The 20 research projects supported by the SFI SIRG programmes will be funded through ten research bodies, as follows: Trinity College Dublin (6); University College Dublin (3); RCSI (2); University College Cork (2); University of Limerick (1); Dublin City University (2); Tyndall National institute (1); National University of Ireland Galway (1), Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1) and Teagasc (1).