Trinity’s Prof Orla Hardiman wins the 2023 HRB Impact Award

10 Feb 2023

Prof Orla Hardiman holding the HRB Impact Award. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Hardiman received awards from Trinity and Science Foundation Ireland last year, recognising her contributions to motor neurone disease research.

Prof Orla Hardiman of Trinity College Dublin has once again been recognised for her research into neurodegenerative conditions.

The neurology professor has been presented with the Impact Award by the Health Research Board (HRB), in acknowledgement of her “exceptional contribution to research”.

The Impact Award celebrates people whose research improves health policy and leads to meaningful change for people’s health and care.

Presenting the award, HRB CEO Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll said she “can’t think of a better example of that than Prof Hardiman”.

“Throughout her career Prof Hardiman has put her patients and their families first,” O’Driscoll said. “This has been the main driver for her research and her contribution to advancing professional practice.

“Her ability to deliver is not just down to her innovative ideas, clinical excellence or her ability to advocate, but because she is guided always by the impact that her work has on patients.”

Hardiman is a leading authority on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other forms of motor neurone disease (MND). MND occurs when specialist nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord stop working properly.

She has a long history working with the HRB, having been continuously funded by the organisation since 2007 for research projects.

She is a researcher at the SFI research centres FutureNeuro and Adapt. She also founded and leads the national ALS clinical and research programme and is the HSE national clinical lead for neurology.

Last November, Hardiman was named Researcher of the Year by Science Foundation Ireland for her contributions in understanding motor neurone disease and treatments.

Earlier the same month, she received the top prize at Trinity’s Innovation Awards at the university’s annual ceremony.

“In my clinical career I have tried to improve both the lot of people with chronic neurologic disease and to enhance clinical services for those with ALS/MND and related disorders,” Hardiman said.

“I am aware that professional success never occurs in isolation, and I am very fortunate to have been motivated by the many exceptionally bright students and trainees with whom I have worked throughout my professional life, all of whom have shaped my research career and outlook.

“It remains a great privilege to be able to support the wide range of cutting-edge scientific projects within our research group, of which I am very proud,” she added.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic