Irish diaspora leaders honoured with SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal
Prof William C. Campbell and Vincent T. Roche recognised for outstanding contributions to academia and industry
16 March 2021 | 0
The Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St Patrick’s Day Science Medal has been awarded to Prof William C. Campbell, a recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine, and Vincent T. Roche, president and CEO of Analog Devices (ADI).
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin presented the medals during a celebratory virtual event to mark the occasion of St Patrick’s Day and US-Ireland relations.
Now in its eighth year, the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal is awarded annually to US-based scientists, engineers or technology leaders with strong Irish connections, as chosen by an independent selection committee, to recognise their significant contributions to academia and industry and their roles in supporting and engaging with the research ecosystem in Ireland.
Recipient of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Academia, Prof William C. Campbell was born in Derry and raised in Ramellton, Co.Donegal. He was educated at Campbell College Belfast and Trinity College Dublin, after which a Fulbright Travel Grant brought him to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, US, where he undertook a PhD on liver fluke. Prof Campbell is a Research Fellow Emeritus with Drew University, Madison, New Jersey in the US.
“I am profoundly grateful and honoured to accept the 2021 SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal – an honour that is exceptional both in its rarity and in its conception,” said Prof Campbell. “It recognises scientific work that is carried out far beyond the recipient’s homeland, and at the same time it celebrates the indissoluble ties that bind the distant worker to his or her native shore. I learned about parasitic diseases, first in Belfast, then in Dublin, and then in my adopted home in America.
“Through it all, my roots in Ireland were never forgotten. I have had the good fortune to work both in industry and in academia, and to be associated with colleagues who made my work far more valuable than anything I could have done alone. It is my hope that US-Ireland partnerships continue to prosper for the benefit of science, both now and in the future.”
River blindness is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite that ultimately leads to blindness, which is prevalent in Africa and in parts of Central and South America. Prof Campbell’s work in the development of ivermectin, a medication used to treat parasite infestations, helped lower the incidence of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis and led to his joint Nobel Prize, shared with Japanese scientist, Prof Satoshi Ōmura.
Prof Campbell’s work provided the basis for the decision by Merck to distribute that cure free to millions of people in what became one of the first and foremost examples of a public/private partnership in international health. Ivermectin is currently being investigated as a treatment for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Recipient of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Industry, Vincent T. Roche is considered a leader in the field of semiconductors. Originally from Wexford, Roche earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the then NIHE Limerick in 1982, before going on to join Analog Devices in the late 1980s. In 2017, Roche received an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Limerick. Throughout his career, Roche has been inspired and driven by an acute awareness of the profound impact semiconductor technology has across so many dimensions of our lives.
Welcoming the award, Roche, said: “I am deeply honoured to accept the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Industry. Ireland has been critical to ADI’s R&D and operational success ever since we established our first site in Limerick in 1976, just over a decade after our company’s founding. Many of ADI’s cutting-edge technology innovations are the result of the rich collaboration between our US and Irish operations, as well as our long-term relationship with Ireland’s excellent academic institutions, research centres, and the larger business ecosystem. I am proud of our strong partnership with Ireland and I look forward to many more decades of joint growth and advancement.”
ADI is a world leader in high performance analog, mixed-signal, and digital signal processing (DSP) integrated circuits (ICs) for the industrial, automotive, communications, healthcare and consumer markets. ADI has long-established links with the Irish research community, in particular with the universities and research institutions in Cork (UCC and Tyndall, originally NMRC) and Limerick (UL and LIT). ADI invests directly in projects in the Irish research ecosystem and serves as a key partner in national strategic research programmes such as the SFI Research Centres, as well as Enterprise Ireland and IDA-funded centres.
Congratulating the recipients, Prof Mark Ferguson, director general, SFI and chief scientific adviser to the government of Ireland, said: “The SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal recognises the global reach and influence of the Irish scientific and technology diaspora. I am delighted to congratulate both William and Vincent on the outstanding research, leadership and innovation they have achieved throughout their careers. The incredible achievements and diversity of our Irish research diaspora continue to advance Ireland’s society and economy through excellent ground-breaking research and technology, generating new insights and creating new opportunities for both countries, academic communities and industry.”