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'Pioneering' Irish professor named Researcher of the Year

Professor Fergus Shanahan has been described as a role model for his work in the field of gastroenterology.

Professor Fergus Shanahan with his award.
Professor Fergus Shanahan with his award.
Image: Jason Clarke Photography

A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR WHO has been described as ‘pioneering’ and a ‘role model’ has been named 2013′s Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Researcher of the Year.

Professor Fergus Shanahan, from University College Cork (UCC), was awarded the accolade at the SFI Science Summit in Athlone.

Professor Shanahan is one of the leading international experts in the area of gastrointestinal research, and was presented with the award by Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research & Innovation.

The award was given to the professor – who is the current director of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) an SFI funded Research Centre – in recognition of his significant contribution to understanding how intestinal bacteria influence both health and disease in the gut and beyond.

Sherlock described Professor Shanahan as “a truly remarkable individual and an example of the quality and potential that exists in Ireland’s research community”.

He has worked tirelessly to help put Ireland at the forefront of one of the most important biological research areas in the world right now. His unique pioneering spirit has shone through in his work on the application of the gut microbiota in the food, pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries. He is a true role model for future generations of Irish scientists and I congratulate him wholeheartedly on this award.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI, said that the professor has already been recognised worldwide as a leader in this field and it is important that his achievements are also acknowledged and valued in Ireland.

Professor Shanahan’s work involves the development of new therapies for debilitating gastrointestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

He is also working on exploring commercial opportunities in the pharma, biotech and functional food sectors.

SFI also presented a special award for the most impressive image captured as part of a research study in Ireland in 2013 to Rory Heffernan, a PhD Research student at University College Dublin (UCD).

His image, ‘A Nano-ravine’, shows the membranes used in nanofiltration, which is one of the last stages of the public water cleaning process.

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