UL team awarded for ‘instrumental’ role during Covid-19 pandemic

17 Feb 2023

From back left to right: Dr Pádraig MacCarron, Ena Brophy, Dr David O’Sullivan, Dr Romina Gaburro and Dr James Sweeney. Front left to right: Prof Helena Lenihan, Prof Norelee Kennedy, Prof James Gleeson, Prof Kerstin Mey and Prof Norma Bargary. Image: Alan Place

The team’s statistical model provided visualisations and evidence that guided various Government decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A research group at the University of Limerick (UL) has been recognised for their central role in developing a statistical model during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team has received the President’s Research Excellence and Impact Award for Outstanding Collaboration. This award honours extraordinary accomplishments that have a significant global impact and recognises collaborations in research from all disciplines.

The researchers, led by Prof James Gleeson, helped generate a model that guided various Government decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This statistical model was used by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Government to make informed decisions on mobility restrictions, lockdowns and the pace of easing restrictions.

During the pandemic, Gleeson and the research group helped develop a population-based susceptible-exposed-infected-removed model within a matter of weeks.

Gleeson’s work was supported by a collaborative team from UL’s Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI), along with experts from other Irish institutions.

This statistical model provided visualisations and evidence that was directly used by the chief medical officer and other NPHET members when briefing the media and Ireland’s cabinet members.

Speaking on the award, Gleeson said it is a “privilege” to work with “such a talented group of colleagues” and to apply their skills to an issue of national importance.

“Collaborations are hugely important to all the research work we do, and with the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis it was crucial that we could call upon a wide network of existing links,” Gleeson said.

Congratulating the team, UL president Prof Kerstin Mey said it was “imperative” that Ireland’s reaction and decision-making was informed and knowledge-based during the Covid-19 pandemic, when we entered a period of “great uncertainty”.

“The collaborative approach taken during times of crises is what allows us to overcome the challenges we face, and the joint work undertaken by the MACSI team, led by Prof James Gleeson, is an exemplar of the impactful research ongoing at University of Limerick,” Mey said.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic