UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN: The winners of the prestigious 2021 Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Awards have been revealed today by Professor Mark Ferguson, SFI Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, at the annual SFI Science Summit.
The Summit has taken place virtually for the second year running, allowing members of Ireland’s research community to come together online to discuss challenges and celebrate the significant contributions made over the past year to science, technology, engineering and maths.
UCD’s Professor William Gallagher was named SFI Researcher of the Year and Dr Dara Stanley was named SFI Early Career Researcher of the Year, Director of UCD Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, Professor Helen Roche was awarded the SFI Mentorship Award and postdoctoral researcher Dr Aileen Doran was awarded SFI Science Image of the Year.
Acknowledging the award winners Professor Ferguson said: “The annual SFI Science Awards is an opportunity to recognise some of the very best outputs and achievements of our research community. I want to congratulate the award winners on their significant achievements, as well as their dedication and determination, in what has been another eventful and challenging year for our research community. 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.
“I would particularly like to congratulate Professor William Gallagher as our 2021 SFI Researcher of the Year. At Science Foundation Ireland we very pleased to see the superb quality of research that our funding enables. By working closely together, the Irish research community continues to be impactful, inspirational and world-leading.”
UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, Professor Orla Feely said: “We are immensely proud of all our winners in this year’s SFI Awards. We recognise the prestige and significance of this awards scheme in marking our researchers’ outstanding contributions to scientific progress and discovery, and are delighted to have their exceptional achievements celebrated in this way.
“Professor William Gallagher is a highly deserving recipient of the SFI Researcher of the Year award, based on his many outstanding achievements in the field of cancer research that reflect a rounded academic career of the highest quality.”
Commenting on receiving the award Professor Gallagher said: “I am greatly honoured to receive this prestigious award. I am indebted to the various members of my research group, both past and present, along with other colleagues in academia and industry across the world that I have had the great pleasure to collaborate with.
“One in two people in Ireland will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. Indeed, practically every family in the country is being or has been affected in some way by this complex collection of diseases, including my own. Our cancer research work has been focused on taking new discoveries from the laboratory bench and bringing them closer to clinical implementation.
“I would like to especially acknowledge the patients which have contributed their precious clinical samples for analysis, SFI and other funders, UCD for providing a rich environment for research and innovation and my family, particularly my wife Catherine, for their tireless support.”
SFI Researcher of the Year 2021
Professor William Gallagher is a Full Professor of Cancer Biology at UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Conway Fellow, UCD Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research and Deputy Director of Precision Oncology Ireland, a large-scale SFI Strategic Partnership Programme involving five academic institutions, six cancer charities (including the Irish Cancer Society) and eight industry partners. He is currently leading OPTi-PREDICT, an SFI Investigator Programme focused on identification and validation of prognostic biomarkers for early-stage breast and prostate cancer.
From 2016 to 2021, Professor Gallagher was Director of the UCD Conway Institute, one of Ireland’s largest biomedical research facilities. From 2013 to 2019, he was Director of BREAST-PREDICT, the first funded Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre (CCRC) – a country-wide €7.5 million funded CCRC, involving six academic institutions and Cancer Trials Ireland.
From 2009 to 2014, Professor Gallagher was also co-PI and deputy co-ordinator of a major SFI-funded Strategic Research Cluster, Molecular Therapeutics of Cancer. He has co-ordinated three Marie Curie Industry Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPPs) projects under FP7, namely TARGET-MELANOMA, FAST-PATH and SYS-MEL. He was also co-ordinator of a large-scale, multi-million euro FP7 collaborative project, RATHER.
Professor Gallagher has received numerous awards for his research and innovation achievements in the oncology arena, including the NovaUCD 2011 Innovation Award, the inaugural Irish Association for Cancer Research Medal in 2017 and the SFI Entrepreneurship Award in 2019.
He has filed and been awarded multiple patents and has acted as consultant for a wide variety of industrial parties within the biomedical sphere. He has co-founded two molecular diagnostics companies, OncoMark Ltd and OncoAssure Ltd, the former being acquired earlier this year by a multinational molecular diagnostics company that aims to launch the signature OncoMasTR test in-clinic within the next 2 years.
Currently, Professor Gallagher is a primary driving force behind the All-Island Cancer Research Institute (AICRI) (see video), which is creating an overarching framework for cancer research across the entire island of Ireland (@AICRIproject on Twitter).
Find details of all SFI Awards 2021 winners here.