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

RCSI Researcher Awarded Major SFI Funding

19 July 2006

Dr. Caroline Jefferies, Senior Lecturer in Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics (MCT), RCSI, was one of ten recipients of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Principal Investigator Career Advancement (PICA) awards announced on Wednesday the 12th of July last by Mr. Michael Ahern T.D, Minister for Trade and Commerce.


Dr. Caroline Jefferies, MCT, RCSI. Dr. Jeffries was one of ten recipients of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Principal Investigator Career Advancement (PICA) awards announced recently.

The SFI PICA provides assistance to academics undertaking research following maternity, adoptive, carers or parental leave. Under the scheme, 10 researchers will receive a total of €4.3 million in funding over a three-year period.

A total of 46 applications were received in response to the PICA call in 2005. SFI selected the 10 successful applicants following a rigorous international peer review process. SFI Chairperson Dr Pat Fottrell said “the key criterion in the selection process was scientific excellence and innovation. Applicants were judged at the highest level comparable to the SFI Principal Investigator programme”.

Caroline was invited to address the ceremony, which was hosted by the SFI, on the impact her research would have on understanding the role of viral infection in autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

Dr. Jefferies’ research aims to characterize the role that viral activation of the innate immune system plays in diseases such as Lupus.


Pictured L to R : Dr. Pat Fottrell, Chairperson, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI); Dr Caroline Jefferies, MCT, RCSI; Mr. Michael Ahern, TD., Minister for Trade and Commerce; and Professor David Croke, MCT, RCSI.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus) is a chronic, multisystem autoimmune disease affecting 1 in 200 of the Irish population, mainly women. It is hoped that the information gained during the course of this project will provide researchers and clinicians with the essential knowledge to provide more effective therapies for the treatment of chronic and debilitating autoimmune diseases such as Lupus.