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Two researchers at University of Limerick awarded HRB fellowships

Tue, 14 Jul 2020

Two researchers at University of Limerick have been awarded fellowships by the Health Research Board, it has been announced.

The HRB this Tuesday announced a €3.7 million investment in twelve new health research fellowships, with Dr Elaine Toomey and Dr Helen O’Leary from UL among the awardees.

Health data, biomarkers for the early detection of dementia, and the influence of the food industry on public health policy in Ireland are just some of the areas that will come under the microscope in the twelve projects.

Dr Annalisa Montesanti, Programme Manager, HRB said: “These postdoctoral awardees have come through a very competitive process and represent the very best of the new crop of health researchers working in the Irish health research system.

“The standard was so high that the international review panels for each fellowship scheme could have recommended more applications for funding if budget had been available.

“These are significant achievements in these researchers’ careers,” she added.

The awards were made under two postdoctoral training schemes, Applying Research into Policy and Practice Fellowships, and Clinician Scientist Fellowships.

“These form part of a structured award portfolio that the HRB has created. When combined, the suite of awards offer a very clear career pathway that develops and supports health researchers at every stage in their careers,” Dr Montesanti explained.

Dr Toomey was awarded funding of €249,518 under the Applying research into Policy and Practice Fellowships scheme, which is designed to support academic researchers on their journey from doctoral training to academic research leadership positions.

Her project is ‘Using Knowledge Translation to Enhance the Use of Evidence in Public Health Decision-making by Policymakers and Healthcare Managers in Ireland’.

She explained: “The use of evidence within public health decision-making and how to support and improve its use has not been previously explored within an Irish context. This project aims to enhance the use of evidence within public health decision-making in Ireland by developing recommendations to be applied within a national setting.”

Dr O’Leary was awarded funding of €219,603 under the Clinician Scientist Fellowships, which is designed to support health and care practitioners on their journey from doctoral training to research leadership, while balancing their clinical commitments.

Her project is ‘Exercise Therapy for Degenerative Meniscal Tears in the Primary Care - a Feasibility Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial’.

Dr O’Leary explained: “The overall aim of this project is to improve how people with degenerative meniscal tears are managed in the community setting by their GP, and to provide them with a good quality exercise programme. This could ultimately reduce the numbers referred to hospital orthopaedic clinics by their doctors.

“In preparation for carrying out a larger research study to test this theory, this project will run a smaller study to ensure treatment can be delivered as planned and it is acceptable to patients and GPs,” she added.

For more, see here.