Dorothy research programme explores solutions to public health crises

Female scientific researcher
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EU-backed programme will fund 25 prestigious international research fellowships



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7 July 2021 | 0

Funding for a new research programme aimed at creating solutions to public health crises has been announced.

The Dorothy programme, led by the Irish Research Council in collaboration with the Health Research Board (HRB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and co-funded by the European Union, will break down barriers between different academic disciplines by driving collaboration between researchers.

The programme is named after Dorothy Stopford-Price, an Irish doctor who was a pioneer in eradicating tuberculosis in Ireland, and who is to be credited with being the key figure in promoting the merits and use of the BCG vaccine here.




Under the scheme, 25 researchers will be awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship, with a total value of €5.5 million, which will allow them to work in both Irish and overseas research institutions.

The programme will 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 including the arts, humanities, education, political economy, environmental studies, engineering, and immunology.

“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,” said Irish Research Council programme manager Dr Chiara Loda. “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. These are significant, complex and multi-faceted phenomena that require approaches of the same type and magnitude.”

Following a competitive process, the programme was successful under the European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) pillar and will be co-funded by the Commission for a period of five years. The application to the Commission for funding was ranked as the second-highest programme of its kind in Europe.

Dr Annalisa Montesanti, programme manager at the Health Research Board, said: “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. It is designed to bring together the best minds in research, industry, public health, and policy, to work together to ensure that research and evidence are available in advance to help inform decision making and practice in relation to events like the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Laura Burke, director general, Environmental Protection Agency, said: “A good-quality, well-protected environment has significant health and wellbeing benefits. Research has shown that access to clean green and blue spaces in our environment is good for both our physical and mental health. However, there are risks to our environment and our health from climate disruption, emerging pollutants of concern, and degraded ecosystems. The Environmental Protection Agency welcomes this collaborative partnership that will facilitate multi-disciplinary, integrated and timely research to support knowledge to action on these pressing environmental challenges.”

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