Ireland and EU to collaborate on research into public health crises

7 Jul 2021

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The multidisciplinary programme will see 25 researchers awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship.

A new research programme that will explore solutions to public health crises was announced yesterday (6 July) by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD.

Under the scheme, 25 researchers will be awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship, with a total value of €5.5m.

The EU-backed programme, led by a number of bodies including the Irish Research Council (IRC), will provide funding to allow researchers to work with a potential focus on the impact of Covid-19 from differing perspectives and disciplines.

The IRC will work on the scheme with the Health Research Board, the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission in several different locations and institutions.

IRC programme manager Dr Chiara Loda said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of the value of investing in research, and of the need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach when responding to public health crises. We hope to create a collaborative research initiative where scientists, policymakers and the population in general can learn from each other, bringing about creative and inclusive solutions to public health crises.”

The programme is named after Dorothy Stopford-Price, an Irish doctor who was a pioneer in eradicating tuberculosis in Ireland, and who is to be credited with promoting the use of the BCG vaccine here.

Speaking at the programme launch, Harris said: “It is fitting that the programme is named after Dorothy Stopford-Price, who played a monumental role in helping to prevent the spread of tuberculosis in Ireland.

“The Dorothy programme will support the next generation of researchers in Ireland who can help inform public health policy on a national and international stage,” he said.

Dr Annalisa Montesanti, programme manager at the Health Research Board, said that the initiative would bring together some of Ireland’s brightest minds.

“Health emergencies demand rapid responses based on best practice. The Dorothy programme will drive interdisciplinary research to inform and to strengthen Ireland’s preparedness for emerging health emergencies,” she said.

Loda urged researchers from all disciplines with an interest in public health to apply for the funding as soon as the first call opens later this year.

Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.