Irish Research Council welcomes success of eight Ireland-based researchers in prestigious European Research Council grants scheme

Posted: 10 January, 2022

– Six of the eight Starting Grants awarded to women, with five of the eight grantees previously supported by the Irish Research Council –


The Irish Research Council (IRC) has welcomed the announcement today (10.01.22), that eight researchers based in Ireland have secured highly-competitive European Research Council (ERC) ‘Starting Grants’. The researchers, based in UCD, UCC, UL and Maynooth University, will share in total estimated funding of €12m.

The funding will enable the awardees to establish research teams to conduct cutting-edge research in their respective fields. The ERC grants will support new research in life sciences, materials engineering, social sciences and the humanities.

Bioethics in patent decision-making, gut health, eco-friendly electronics, and how substance abuse has been represented post-war are among the Ireland-based projects that have been selected by the ERC for funding, from over 4000 proposals.

In total, the ERC is making 397 awards to researchers across Europe and beyond, representing an investment under Horizon Europe of €619m.

Women in research are strongly represented in the outcome for Ireland this year, securing six of the eight grants. All four Social Science and Humanities grantees are women, with the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering awards shared between men and women.

Five of the eight awardees under the 2021 Starting Grant call have been previously supported by the IRC in the development of their research ideas and track record, including at postgraduate and postdoctoral level, and via research networking grants.

Welcoming the outcome of the call for Ireland, Dr Gráinne Walshe, Assistant Director of the Irish Research Council said, “European Research Council grants are among the most prestigious of any funding body worldwide and the eight awards announced today are evidence of the quality of individual researchers across all disciplines in the Irish research system. Half of the awards are in the social sciences and humanities, representing a tremendous boost for these disciplines and the associated grantees. We are delighted to have supported the majority of the successful awardees through our own funding schemes. The result today demonstrates that modest investment in researchers with exceptional promise at early-career stage lays the foundation for success in European funding further down the line. We congratulate all eight awardees and wish them well in their research.”

The Irish Research Council has joint responsibility with Science Foundation Ireland for promoting and supporting engagement by Irish researchers with the European Research Council. The IRC recently funded an ERC Social Sciences and Humanities National Contact Point, under a partnership with the Irish Universities Association, to support social science and humanities engagement, with the ERC.

Commenting on today’s outcome, Dr. Chiara Loda, the newly appointed Social Sciences and Humanities National Contact Point, said: “I am truly delighted with the ERC Starting Grant outcome this year, which reflects the excellence of Irish candidates, institutions and our research and innovation eco-system. In particular, the performances of the Social Science and Humanities candidates demonstrate the global leadership of Ireland in these disciplinary areas and the huge return of Irish Research Council funding across all disciplines. I am looking forward to continuing to support researchers, to capitalise on this moment and build on this streak of success.”




List of ERC Starting Grants awardees

Ailise BulfinUniversity College DublinInvestigating Fictional Representations of Child Sexual Abuse in Contemporary Culture: Myths and Understanding
Eoghan CunnaneUniversity of LimerickRepresentative, Reliable and Reproducible in vitro Models of the Human Testes
Sarah GuerinUniversity of LimerickPiezoelectric Biomolecules for lead-free, Reliable, Eco-Friendly Electronics
Piotr KowalskiUniversity College CorkSynthetic Circular RNA therapeutics for prevention of sepsis-associated organ failure
Alice MaugerUniversity College DublinDeciphering Irish Alcohol and Substance use: Post-war Representations and Accounts
Aisling McMahonMaynooth UniversityPatents, Bioethics and the Human Body: Reconceptualising Bioethics in Patent Decision-Making and the Governance Function of Patents
Lijuan QianUniversity College CorkEveryone's a Curator: Digitally Empowering Ethnic Minority Music Sustainability in China
Maria Rodriguez AburtoUniversity College CorkRadial Glia as Neurodevelopmental Mediators of Gut Microbiota Signals

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