University of Galway academics earn prestigious awards from European Research Council

From left, Dr Eoin McEvoy, credit Aengus McMahon, and Dr James Gahan, credit Melanie Burford.
Sep 05 2023 Posted: 12:13 IST

Two University of Galway academic researchers have secured prestigious grant awards from the European Research Council to pursue scientific research on evolution and breast cancer. 

Dr Eoin McEvoy, an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Dr James Gahan, who takes up an Associate Professorship in chromosome biology in 2024. 

The scientists are among eight academics and researchers based in Ireland to be approved for an ERC Starting Grant 2023 and among 400 across Europe. ERC Starting Grants are awarded over a five year period. 

These awards are part of the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and designed to support excellent Principal Investigators who have demonstrated the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their research proposal and are at a stage in their career when they are starting their own independent research team or programme.

Dr James Gahan is currently a Research fellow at the University of Oxford and based at the Michael Sars Centre at the University of Bergen in Norway as a visiting researcher. He takes up an Associate Professor role in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and Centre for Chromosome Biology at University of Galway in April 2024 when the ERC Starting Grant commences.

Dr Gahan said: “My research focuses on the very earliest stages of animal evolution, namely how organisms went from being single celled to being composed of many different types of cells with different functions. To study this I work on choanoflagellates, which are small marine organisms, and the closest living relatives to animals. The ERC starting grant is a huge moment for my research and career and will allow me to build a team working on these questions with the resources to do truly excellent science.”

Dr Eoin McEvoy is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering, whose research work under the ERC Starting Grant will focus on uncovering why tumour growth is sensitive to physical pressure and overcoming related drug resistance.

Dr McEvoy said: “Breast cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer-related death in Irish women. This project will develop a new way to diagnose and treat cancer by analysing the physical forces that contribute to tumour growth and drug resistance. By creating computer models and analysing tissue from cancer patients, our team will develop a better understanding of how physical pressure can both prevent tumour progression and reduce drug efficacy. Ultimately, the project aims to create a personalised healthcare tool to predict cancer and treatment outcomes, leading to more effective patient-specific diagnosis and treatment.”


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