University secures five research awards under Frontiers for the Future

Monday, 27 May 2024

University of Galway

Researchers at University of Galway have secured five major grant awards totalling almost €6 million to advance scientific and medical breakthroughs.

The awards have been made under Science Foundation Ireland’s Frontiers for the Future programme, focusing on protein-based treatments; wind turbine technology; methane recovery; air quality; and diabetes.

The projects are:

  • Professor Alan Ryder – Awarded €1.23 million

Downstream Protein Analysis - Polarized Emission Spectroscopy (Dpa-Pes)

Making protein-based treatments like vaccines, antibodies and insulin - safely and in large volumes - poses many challenges, one of which is accurately measuring protein size, purity and stability during manufacturing. Proteins are inherently sensitive and are easily damaged, reducing their therapeutic effectiveness and the biggest issues are when protein shape or size changes. Professor Ryder’s research will develop fast, inexpensive, non-destructive and non-contact, light-based techniques for measuring proteins during manufacturing. This novel Dpa-PES measurement methodology exploits aspects of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and optics to better measure protein quality via their interaction with polarised light, ultimately leading to better quality medicines.

  • Professor Sean Leen – Awarded €1.3 million

Tailored Manufacturing For Safe, Sustainable Offshore Wind Turbine Support Structure Materials (Transforrm)

This project proposes to use a combination of laboratory testing and computer modelling to improve manufacturing processes for high temperature rolling and welding of steels for more sustainable, safe, design of support structures for larger offshore wind turbines. Computer models will be developed to determine the effect of the rolling and welding processes on through-thickness non-uniformity of mechanical properties, especially cracking due to fatigue. The models will be verified by experimental testing. Digital tools will be developed using these models and applied to design case studies for fixed and floating offshore wind turbine structures, to demonstrate the sustainability benefits

  • Guangxue Wu – Awarded €911,903; and co-funded by SFI and the Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland (SEAI)

Alleviation Mechanisms And Microbial Interactions Induced By Conductive Materials In Sulphate-Stressed Anaerobic Digestion Ecosystems

Methane recovery from waste reduces the dependence on fossil fuel energy, fulfilling UN Sustainable Development Goals. In this project - by combining advanced techniques from microbiology, engineering, and chemistry - underlying microbial mechanisms and interactions for methane production will be investigated with the dosage of conductive materials for alleviating sulphate inhibition. The outputs will provide knowledge for developing novel methane recovery biotechnologies from waste to protect ecosystem and conserve natural resources.

  • Jurgita Ovadnevaite - Awarded €1.2 million

Fingerprinting Climate Change And Air Pollutant Culprits (Epic-Air)

Atmospheric aerosol particles contribute to more than 8 million premature deaths per year around the world due to their important role in climate change and air quality. It is crucial to understand the sources of these particles, as well as to assess their impacts on human health and climate. This project will deploy a sophisticated online instrumentation and develop new methods to allow the concurrent assessment of particle health and climate impacts. The project will use models to evaluate how toxic particles affect climate change and how climate change impacts the properties of the particles.

  • Cynthia Coleman and Pilib Ó Broin - Awarded €1.3 million

Midios: Microrna In Diabetic Osteopathy

Type 2 diabetes can lead to unusual changes in bones, where higher bone density surprisingly results in more fractures. These fractures heal slowly, limit mobility, and extend hospital stays. The Midios team is working on a new therapy to address bone issues caused by type 2 diabetes. This collaborative project involves experts from various fields, including cell and molecular biology, biomedical engineering, computational biology, and clinical medicine. They will study adult stem cells in the bone to understand the changes diabetes causes and how these changes affect bone strength. The goal is to develop treatments that counteract the impact of diabetes on bones, ultimately improving the quality of life for people with type 2 diabetes.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Patrick O’Donovan T.D., said: “These awards support the development of world-class research in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The projects and higher education institutions are focusing on will help deliver solutions to some of the major challenges facing society, including in healthcare, the environment and technology.”

Professor Jim Livesey, Vice-President Research and Innovation at University of Galway, said: “Each individual researcher is to be congratulated for having the excellence of their research recognised in this way. We are intensely proud of their achievement and look forward to the results of the research. Moreover, the University is delighted at this support from SFI for researchers in two of our key strategic areas. Galway is committing significant resources to work in biomedical science and to sustainability and these awards will amplify the scale and scope of those investments.”

 Dr Ruth Freeman, Director, Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The SFI Frontiers for the Future awards provide opportunities for independent investigators to conduct highly innovative, original research on important questions. I would like to thank SEAI for collaborating on this programme with SFI, supporting vital research in the area of sustainability.”


Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office , NUI Galway
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