Opportunity Knocks for Talented Health Researchers and Professionals

The Quadrangle, NUI Galway
Aug 16 2017 Posted: 09:28 IST

Health Research Board awards promising researchers including NUI Galway biostatistician whose work will start with interventions targeting heart disease and stroke 

The new HRB Emerging Investigator Awards announced this week by the Health Research Board, will enable researchers at the mid stage of their career to shift gear to become independent investigators. The HRB is investing €8.3 million through this scheme to support researchers who have demonstrated real promise as they take their first step to research independence.

Award recipients include Dr John Ferguson, a Senior Research Fellow in Biostatistics at the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway for his research in the area of population health research and public health, which studies determinants of health and disease with the goal of identifying interventions that promote health and reduce the burden of disease. 

Dr Ferguson’s research involves deciding on an appropriate intervention that mandates a prior forecast of the intervention’s effect on disease. The proposed project will develop methods for estimating the long-term effects on disease prevalence for any planned disease intervention. The methods will initially be developed for interventions targeting stroke, but will later be extended to several other diseases.

Speaking about the award, Dr John Ferguson said: “My research methods will allow more accurate predictions of the effect of population health interventions - for instance how a successful promotion of daily exercise might affect the prevalence and incidence of heart disease and stroke as well as better estimate risk factor burden. The HRB Emerging Investigator Award will help to develop my career as a researcher working on the joint interface between statistics, medicine and population health.”

According to Mairead O Driscoll, Interim CEO at the Health Research Board: “What set these successful individuals apart was their diversity and ability to multitask. Their challenge now is to build their research team, advance their research programmes, foster collaborations and leverage funding to build a sustainable research programme.  Everyone is well qualified for the challenge.”

The HRB will support these investigators for four years with a maximum of €800,000 including the investigators’ salary and support for research staff. Areas that will benefit from this investment include:

  • Health Economics
  • Biostatistics
  • Immunology
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology and Neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Health Services Research.

Successful individuals will be recognised as principle investigators in their institutions, As well as doing research that would ultimately improve people’s health, or positively influence policy or practice; they will also be expected to act as mentors and work well in collaboration with other disciplines.


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