SFI attracts leading bioscientist from US

3 Dec 2003

A top researcher has been recruited to Ireland from the US with funding of €3.2m from Science Foundation Ireland.

Prof John Atkins has been appointed as Ireland’s second SFI Research Professorship Fellow. Currently a research professor at the University of Utah, Prof Atkins will be based at the BioSciences Institute at UCC, where he served as a college lecturer in the early 1980s. He is also a former director of the SFI’s Biotechology division.

SFI will provide the funding over the course of five years to UCC to support Prof Atkins and his research team.

The SFI Fellows-Research Professorships programme is designed to assist Irish Research Bodies in attracting outstanding researchers (SFI Fellows) to their institutions from outside the State.

At UCC, Prof Atkins, a former colleague of James Watson, the Nobel Laureate for the discovery of DNA and one of the founders of modern molecular biology, will continue his work on the consequences for protein synthesis of non-standard genetic decoding and its implications for human disease. His research could impact on treatments for diseases such as cancer.

Commenting on the appointment, SFI director general, Dr William Harris, said: “SFI is privileged to appoint a researcher of Prof Atkins’ international stature. We have no doubt that his talent and commitment will enhance and strengthen not only the capability of the BioSciences Institute at UCC but also Ireland’s position as an increasingly renowned centre for research in the fields underpinning biotechnology.”

Prof GT Wrixon, president of UCC, added: “We regard Prof Atkins’ return to UCC as a landmark development for both the BioSciences Institute and the University community. The high regard with which he is held in UCC is based on direct experience while he was a full time faculty member of the Biochemistry Department, as well as on the excellent reputation he has achieved as a researcher of world class status. I anticipate that Prof Atkins’ contribution to the University’s research profile, and to that of the wider research community in Ireland, will be equally positive in the future.”

By Brian Skelly