US sci-tech leaders with Irish roots awarded St Patrick’s Day medal

15 Mar 2023

From left: Paul Daugherty, Sethuraman Panchanathan, Leo Varadkar, Philip Nolan and Paul Whelton. Image: John Harrington

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar awarded Dr Paul K Whelton and Paul R Daugherty with the annual SFI medal that recognises excellence in research and innovation.

Two US-based leaders in science and technology have been awarded the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for their contributions to research and innovation.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presented the medals to Dr Paul K Whelton and Paul R Daugherty, who are both of Irish heritage, at a ceremony in Washington DC today (15 March).

The SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal is an annual award that recognises two US-based individuals – one for academia and the other for industry – for their role in supporting and engaging with the research ecosystem in Ireland and beyond.

“We pay tribute today to the enormous contribution made by STEM talent in the Irish diaspora in the US,” said Varadkar, who is on an official visit to Washington DC to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

“These important international collaborations continue to forge new opportunities for ground-breaking research, improving our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world and create a better future for all.”

Whelton, who was awarded the medal for academia, is a professor of global public health at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

A native of Cork, Whelton has led several high-profile research studies in the area of high blood pressure. He has authored more than 550 peer-reviewed publication and won many awards, including the American Heart Association Hypertension Council Excellence Award in 2018.

Upon receiving his medal, Whelton said that high blood pressure is a leading cause of death that takes the lives of 18m people around the world each year.

“My research in cardiovascular and renal disease epidemiology continues to push for new discovery and improved clinical outcomes for patients,” he said.

“I am very proud to be part of the Irish research diaspora community in the US and to support our transatlantic partnerships which enable us to further our knowledge and deliver truly excellent science with global benefits.”

Meanwhile, Daugherty is a group chief executive of technology and CTO at Accenture. With Irish roots tracing back to Donegal, he is the co-author of two books that focus on how emerging technologies are changing the way humans and businesses work.

He was a key leader in driving the 2017 launch of The Dock, Accenture’s flagship AI-focused R&D and global innovation hub in Dublin.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic