Jul 6, 2021

Harris Announces Funding for New Research on Public Health Crises

The DOROTHY programme is named after Dorothy Stopford-Price, an Irish doctor who helped promote vaccine use against tuberculosis.

Jennifer Ní ChiaraAssistant Editor

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has announced funding for a new research programme that will explore solutions to public health crises.

The DOROTHY programme, which will be run by the Irish Research Council (IRC) in tandem with the Health Research Board and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will be co-funded for five years by the European Commission under the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions pillar.

The programme is named in honour of Dorothy Stopford-Price, an Irish doctor who played a key role in eradicating tuberculosis in Ireland and promoting vaccine use.


Some 25 researchers will be awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship culminating in a total value of €5.5 million, which will enable them to work in both Irish and overseas research institutions.

The scheme will aim to “promote effective international cooperation across multiple disciplines and will create innovative research networks, with a potential focus on the impact of Covid-19 from differing perspectives”.

In a press statement, Harris said: “The DOROTHY programme will support the next generation of researchers in Ireland who can help inform public health policy on a national and international stage.”

He added: “As we strive to recover globally from the pandemic, I am looking forward to the roll-out of this programme and the opportunities it will present to examine public health from a variety of different perspectives.”

Dr Chiara Loda, the IRC programme manager added in a press statement: “The Irish Research Council is delighted to be partnering with the Health Research Board and the Environmental Protection Agency on the DOROTHY programme. We encourage researchers from all disciplines with an interest in public health to apply to this new fund when the first call opens later this year.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the value of investing in research, and of the need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach when responding to public health crises”, she said, “We hope to create a collaborative research initiative where scientists, policymakers and the population in general can learn from each other, bringing about creative and inclusive solutions to public health crises.”

Dr Annalisa Montesanti, the Programme Manager at the Health Research Board, added: “Health emergencies demand rapid responses based on best practice. The DOROTHY programme will drive interdisciplinary research to inform and to strengthen Ireland’s preparedness for emerging health emergencies.”

Laura Burke, the EPA’s director general also welcomed the collaborative partnership, saying that “it will facilitate multi-disciplinary, integrated and timely research to support knowledge to action on these pressing environmental changes”.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach announced €40 million in funding for researchers north and and south of the border, as part of the Shared Island Fund.

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