RCSI appoints new director to drive research and strengthen clinical and industry partnerships

Professor Fergal O’Brien commences role as Director of Research and Innovation at RCSI this month

RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) has appointed Professor Fergal O’Brien as its new Director of Research and Innovation. Under Professor O’Brien’s leadership, RCSI’s research community will advance its efforts to deliver scientific breakthroughs, innovations and insights that enhance patient treatment and care globally.

Professor O’Brien’s appointment follows a period of significant growth in RCSI’s research capability, competitiveness and impact. RCSI’s field-weighted citation impact is the highest in Ireland and twice the world average, indicating the growing impact of RCSI researchers on the international health sciences landscape.

Welcoming the appointment, Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI CEO, said: “Professor O’Brien brings proven leadership and management experience from his role as Deputy Director of Research and Innovation at RCSI since 2013, which included responsibility for research strategy across the entire institution. This experience, coupled with his track record as a highly cited researcher and spin-out company founder, places him in a unique position to transform research operations and further develop a culture of innovation and impact in RCSI.

“His ambitious, enthusiastic and progressive approach will support the continued success of RCSI’s research activities and further evolve RCSI’s research and industry partnerships locally, nationally and internationally.”

Following a degree in mechanical engineering and a PhD in bone bioengineering, Professor O’Brien was a Fulbright Scholar in tissue engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School.

He is currently Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine and is the founding head of the Tissue Engineering Research Group in RCSI. He is also Deputy Director of AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for advanced materials and bioengineering.

Since his faculty appointment in 2003, he has published over 200 journal articles in leading peer-reviewed international journals and filed numerous patents, resulting in the successful translation of technologies from his labs to the clinic.  He is dedicated to postgraduate training and has supervised 40 doctoral students to completion as well as mentoring over 50 postdoctoral fellows during his career to date.

Professor O’Brien commented: “I am honoured to be tasked with driving RCSI’s ambitious research agenda. Our small size and sole focus on health sciences, together with our overseas campuses ensures a unique dynamic environment for interdisciplinary translational research.

“Our ties with our clinicians and hospitals present the opportunity to deepen engagement between basic scientists, clinicians and our industry partners, which, as well as leading to high impact research, helps facilitate translation of scientific breakthroughs for the benefit of human health. Bringing this to the next level in the future, I hope to see increased patient and public involvement in our research so that patient-informed research will inform improved treatments and diagnostics.”

RCSI is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2019) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education.

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