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DIT researchers win SFI Investigator Programme funding

Posted: 29 April, 2015

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD has announced over €30 million of research funding for 23 major research projects. The funding will be delivered by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Investigators Programme.

Pictured at the announcement, Lead PI Dr PJ Cullen (centre right) and co-PI Dr. Paula Bourke (centre left) with PlasmaGrain project team members Dr V Milosavljevic, Ms Lu Han, Ms Dana Ziuzina, Ms Caitlin Heslin, Dr Nn Misra, Dr Carmen Buenoferrer, De Daniela Boehm, Mr Shashi Pankaj

The Programme will provide funding over a four to five year period, for 23 research projects involving over 100 researchers. Funding for each project will range from €500,000 to €2.3 million.

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said, “This funding provides assistance to individual researchers to advance their investigations and address key research questions in sectors such as energy, medicine, food and nutrition, technology and agriculture. It allows researchers to further their careers and build partnerships with leading industry partners who also benefit from access to some of the leading academic talent on this island. The Investigators Programme is an important contributor to Ireland’s credentials as a research leader in a number of sectors.

DIT colleagues Dr. P. J. Cullen and Dr. Paula Bourke from the School of Food Science and Environmental Health, are among the successful researchers to receive funding  for their project “Cold plasma decontamination of cereal grains (PlasmaGrain).”  This proposal addresses an identified need to develop advanced process technologies, which are a green alternative to fumigants for a sustainable grain industry. A pre-competitive prototype will be developed by the project to preserve cereal grain of high quality.

The SFI Investigators Programme supports excellent scientific research that has the potential to impact Ireland’s society and economy. The 23 projects were selected by competitive peer review involving 400 international scientists after a call for proposals across a number of thematic areas of national and international importance. The awards include research in areas such as materials science, data management, medicine and pharmaceuticals, food and nutrition, agriculture and veterinary research and have links to 40 companies.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland added, “The SFI Investigators Programme provides important support to researchers in Ireland, creating employment opportunities and allowing them to leverage State funding to access additional funding streams, such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme. Their research focuses on areas such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, animal breeding and disease prevention, ICT and data storage, as well as bioenergy among other topics. These are areas that will make a difference to both Ireland’s economy and society.  All of the successful projects have been peer reviewed by international experts to ensure scientific excellence and we have funded every project deemed to be of the highest standard internationally.”

The full press release is available on the SFI website here