An aerial picture of the UL campus
Friday, 22 March 2024

Two University of Limerick researchers have been awarded funding to work on projects aimed at driving innovation in the public sector.

Associate Professor Anna Chatzi, Department of Nursing Studies & Midwifery and Dr Jamie Wilson, Department of Mathematics & Statistics have received funding under the SFI’s Public Service Fellowship programme.

The novel programme offers academic researchers a unique opportunity to be temporarily seconded to Government departments and agencies to work on specific collaborative research projects.

The fellowships help to foster innovation and provide an evidence base for policy, through close collaboration and engagement within the public sector and academic research community.

Associate Professor Anna Chatzi will be working with the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) on the project ‘The effectiveness of regulatory recommendations on risk management of medicines safety issues and impact on healthcare practice in Ireland.’

The project aims to evaluate awareness, knowledge, preference for regulatory risk communications, as well as perspectives on factors relevant to behavioural change of healthcare professional groups.

Dr Jamie Wilson will be seconded to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) where he will be involved in the data analytics for chemical risk prioritisation project.

This project aims to make use of statistical tools and available chemical hazard databases to expand the FSAI’s risk ranking model and identify other potential chemical hazards which could be considered for inclusion as part of coordinating the enforcement of food safety legislation in Ireland.

Reacting to their awards Associate Professor Anna Chatzi said: “My expertise in quantitative human factors and safety research will see me work closely with the HPRA to optimise the safe and effective use of medicines through the provision of evidence-based recommendations to healthcare professionals and patients to minimise risk.”

Dr Jamie Wilson said: “With a wide array of chemicals in use in modern society, there is the potential for such contaminants to enter the food chain. The work done by FSAI in the sampling and analysis of products on the Irish market is therefore highly important to ensure that food is kept safe for public consumption. In this project, I will be supporting the agency’s in expanding the risk ranking model for chemical contaminants by mapping and collating multiple data sources and linking them to chemical risk.”

Fourteen projects overall have been announced representing a total grant funding in excess of €1.25 million.

Making the announcement, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD said: “I am delighted that this funding through the SFI (Science Foundation Ireland) Public Service Fellowship Programme spans 11 Government departments and agencies.

“Research plays a significant role in helping Government and Public Sector address national and global challenges, including climate change, health and well-being, food security, transport and digital transformation.

“This targeted immersion and integration of research expertise in our public service represents a win-win partnership for participating researchers and government entities alike, and fully aligns with departmental efforts to strengthen connectivity between the sectors.”

Welcoming the news, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Science for Society at SFI, said: “There is significant opportunity to promote innovation and advance evidence-based approaches within the public sector through meaningful engagement with the academic research community. The SFI Public Service Fellowship Programme facilitates connection between researchers and Government bodies to help enhance service delivery and inform policy making.

“Promoting those potentially transformative engagements enables researchers to apply their expertise to pressing public policy challenges, while developing their skills and accessing career development opportunities.”