Congratulations to Lorraine (McElroy) O’Driscoll, from Smithboro, who is one of six successful applicants from Trinity College for the Irish Research Council (IRC) Advanced Laureate Awards programme announced today (April 11, 2019) by Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development, John Halligan. There were 12 successful applicants for the programme. The IRC Advanced Laureate Awards scheme was launched in 2018 to support exceptional researchers in conducting frontier basic (blue-sky) research that pushes the boundaries of our current knowledge. All six Trinity researchers receiving funding are at an advanced stage in their careers and will be supported to conduct ground-breaking, world-class research across a wide range of disciplines. Each awardee will receive up to €1 million in funding over a period of up to four years.
Their research areas range from the development of novel methods to discover new magnetic material, to new approaches to the early diagnosis of cancer by examining tiny particles released into the bloodstream by cancer cells, to the creation of a bottom-up history of architecture in Ireland and Britain in the 1700s focusing on craftspeople rather than architects and patrons.
Lorraine, a Professor in Pharmacology, will receive funding for her project EVIC, which will examine extracellular vesicles (EVs) — tiny particles that are released from cancer cells into the bloodstream. Her team will study how these particles can be used for the early diagnosis of cancer and as indicators of the optimum anti-cancer drugs for a patient. Their research has also shown that EVs from cancer cells may play a role in the spread of cancer throughout the body and in making cancer cells not respond to treatment. EVIC will investigate a new way of stopping, or at least limiting, this happening. But not all EVs are bad! EVIC will also engineer EVs from safe healthy cells to help transport drugs directly to cancer cells, so as to be of benefit at lowest possible doses with fewest side-effects.
In addition to the 12 nationally funded awards, a further 48 proposals, 11 of which are from Trinity, were deemed to be fundable by the international panels of experts.