Prof Robert Forster
Professor Robert Forster, pictured, has recieved funding under the SFI Frontiers Awards Scheme.

Two Faculty researchers awarded SFI Frontiers awards funding

Two faculty of Science and Health researchers have secured awards worth in excess of €1.6 million in the latest Science Foundation Ireland Frontiers for the Futures awards.

Professor Robert Forster and Associate Professor Kieran Nolan will be leading projects worth €604,718 and  €1,039,309 in the field of ‘electroceuticals’ and ‘green chemistry’ respectively.

The news comes as part of a wider announcement the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris made today.

There will be a total of 62 grants valued at €42 million to support research across 13 Higher Education Institutions through Science Foundation Ireland’s Frontiers for the Future Programme.

John Doyle, DCU Vice President for Research said:

“This funding from Science Foundation Ireland for four separate projects is important recognition of cutting-edge research from Dublin City University in a range of fields.

“New materials, new technologies, and new health interventions are research needs where DCU can bring world leading expertise and a critical mass of researchers. Congratulations are due to all of our colleagues who received these awards.”

“The SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme provides opportunities for independent investigators to conduct highly innovative, collaborative research with the potential to deliver impact. Crucially, researchers have the time and space to conduct research and prioritise scientific process.”

Professor Robert Forster 

Associate Professor Robert Forster
Professor Robert Forster has received just over €1 million from the SFI Frontiers programme for a project that aims to harness the power of electricity, through 'electroceuticals', to provide new disease treatments. (Credit: Kyran O'Brien)

Prof Robert Forster is leading the “WIREFREE ELECTROCEUTICALS; 3d Electrical and Electrochemical Stimulation of Cells” project.

This wireless 3D electrostimulation platform can provide new treatment options for diverse medical conditions from tremor and pain control to anticancer treatments.

The nervous system is like the complex web of wires that delivers broadband into our homes. When something gets misconnected, diseases arise including epileptic seizures, Parkinson’s tremor, chronic pain, diabetic neuropathy, and hypertension.

Electrodes can be inserted to correct the communication issues, but they must be connected by wires to a power supply making the devices large and requiring recharging. Wirefree ‘Electroceuticals’ will remove the need for these wires allowing the electrical stimulus to be delivered wirelessly. In the future, our health will rely on electricity, not blockbuster drugs.

Associate Professor Kieran Nolan 

Kieran Nolan
Associate Professor Kieran Nolan has received funding of just over €600,000 from the SFI frontiers programme to develop more stable enzymes that can be reused and help to make drug manufacturing more seamless as well as cheaper, greener and safer. (Credit: Kyran O'Brien)

Assistant Prof Kieran Nolan is co-lead of the “Green Chemistry Biocatalysis (Genesis” project. This aims to make enzymes more stable, and available for repeated use. That means a more efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly drug manufacturing process.

The project will also seek to develop ‘flow chemistry’ technology, where seamless step changes can be made in the manufacturing of drugs, thus reducing costs, and the financial risks associated with bringing a new drug to market.

It is also envisaged that this project, which involves strong collaborations between DCU and the Technology University Dublin, will see the development of a new green biocatalysis centre that will underpin Ireland’s emerging bio-based economy.