Irish health researchers secure highest ever annual EU funding
Irish health researchers have secured just over €29.2 million from the first round of funding in Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Representing 3.27% of the entire available budget, this phenomenal success marks the largest Irish annual drawdown over any of the nine Framework Programmes to date.
The funding is spread across 23 projects involving 36 individual researchers, with Irish researchers leading or coordinating on three of these projects. The planned research will tackle a range of vitally important issues ranging from cancer, Crohn’s disease and migraine, to mental health, active healthy living, and greener pharmaceuticals. The funding was equally split across higher education institutions and industry.
The three coordinators who have been funded are:
- Caitriona O’Driscoll, University College Cork, Gene-Gut: This project centres on oral delivery of encapsulated RNA nanotherapeutics for targeted treatment of ileal Crohn's disease. It aims to transform treatment of the disease by developing a first-in-class oral RNA-based therapy, tackling inflammation locally in the intestinal tissue, while avoiding systemic side effects. With nine partners in total from across Europe, the project will bring €2.2 million to Ireland and has a total funding allocation of €4.6 million.
- Myraid Consulting, Inspire: This project is developing novel inhaled bioengineered extracellular vesicle RNA-based advanced therapeutics, delivered by tailored aerosol delivery technology for the treatment of lung cancer. It will pioneer the use of genetically modified vesicles (MSC-EVs) with a proprietary surface engineering technology to further enhance delivery through the mucus barrier and into the targeted lung cells. The project has nine partners in total with five from Ireland, and will bring €8.7 million to Ireland out of a total funding allocation of €12.8 million.
- Ronan Cahill, University College Dublin (Mater Hospital), Classica: This project involves validating artificial intelligence (AI) in classifying cancer in real-time surgery. It will clinically validate the use of AI-driven imaging and decision support in real-time cancer surgery. With 11 partners in total including from Denmark, US, Netherlands, Austria, and France, the project will bring €1.8 million to Ireland from a total funding allocation of €6 million.
Commenting on the success, Director of Research Strategy and Funding at the Health Research Board (HRB) Teresa Maguire said: “This is a fantastic result for Irish health research, well-deserved given the quality of the proposals and the potential benefits they can deliver for health and healthcare. The HRB is committed to promoting European and international collaboration in programmes like Horizon Europe, and we are delighted to have supported many of these successful Irish researchers in their applications in our role as National Contact Point for Horizon Europe Health.”
The HRB itself has secured funding as a partner in a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) on mobilising and professionalising transnationally the skills and services of the Health National Contact Point Community – with a view to identifying and sharing good practices and raising the general standard of support to funding programme applicants.
For more details of the projects that secured funding in the first funding round of Horizon Europe (2021), please click to download the overview table.