Three Irish academics awarded EU grants to commercialise research

27 Jul 2023

Dimitrios Zeugolis. Image: UCD

Daniel Kelly, Martin O’Halloran and Dimitrios Zeugolis have bagged €150,000 each in ERC proof-of-concept funding to further their biomedical research.

Three academics based in Ireland are among a batch of 66 new grantees of European awards that help researchers explore the commercial and societal potential of their research findings.

Daniel Kelly of Trinity College Dublin, Martin O’Halloran of the University of Galway and Dimitrios Zeugolis of University College Dublin (UCD) have each been awarded €150,000 from the European Research Council (ERC) through the Horizon Europe programme.

Kelly was awarded for his project on melt electrowriting of multilayered scaffolds for osteochondral defect repair, known as MEMS. Meanwhile, O’Halloran will explore opportunities stemming from NeuroProtect, a novel therapy to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

O’Halloran is also co-founder of Galway-based Luminate Medical, a recent Start-up of the Week that is developing novel medical devices that aim to eliminate the side-effects of cancer treatments.

Zeugolis, who is a full professor at the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, was awarded the ERC grant for Decellularised Extracellular Carpets for the Innovative Production of Human Engineered Replicates, or DECIPHER.

The project will build on an earlier ERC Consolidator Award he received in 2019 to investigate the fundamentals of macromolecular crowding in cell culture systems.

Along with a team based in his lab in UCD, Zeugolis has been exploring the power of macromolecular crowding in eukaryotic cell culture. He hopes to use the findings in the fields of cell culture technologies, medical devices and regenerative medicine.

“This new programme has been designed to demonstrate feasibility in addressing real-life challenges in an economically viable, social-responsible, equitable and sustainable manner,” he said after the announcement today (27 July).

He added that the grants have the potential to “increase the international competitiveness” of European-based biomedical industries, creating “new employment and revenue”.

Among the 90 previous awardees announced in January were also three Irish recipients: Sarah McCormack and David Finlay from Trinity and Gary Donohoe from the University of Galway.

“These grants are set to help ERC grantees take results from their curiosity-led research towards market,” ERC president Prof Maria Leptin said at the time. “We need to keep investing in such research: it truly feeds commercial or social innovation. Europe needs more of it!”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic