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Lifetime Scholarly Contribution Recognised by RIA

Professor Fergus Shanahan, Director, APC Microbiome Institute, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at University College Cork has been awarded a Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal along with Professor Louis Cullen, TCD.

The medals, which are sponsored by the Higher Education Authority, are awarded to individuals who have made a demonstrable and internationally recognised, outstanding scholarly contribution in their fields.

More than anyone, Professor Shanahan put Ireland on the world stage for microbiome science in what has become one of the fastest developing areas of biology on a par with the human genome. Almost two decades ago, he predicted the importance of the microbiome to the food and pharmaceutical industries, and under his guidance the APC Microbiome Institute has been a magnet for foreign direct investment, doubling taxpayers’ research investment, including nine international companies that would never have had a footprint in Ireland were it not for the existence of the APC.

Fergus’ personal research interests are in mucosal immunology, mining the gut microbiome for approaches to treat inflammatory bowel disease and most things that influence the human experience. In 2013, Science Foundation Ireland named him as its Researcher of the Year. Over the past four decades he has published pivotal contributions to basic science, translational medical science, and the medical humanities. His output includes over 500 peer-reviewed articles in addition to books, reviews and editorials. He has also contributed several impactful papers in the medical humanities, including an award winning essay on ‘Waiting’. Fergus’ international recognition includes multiple invited lectureships such as the prestigious Grossman lectureship/medal from the American Gastroenterological Association and the McKenna prize, the highest award from the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

Both medallists thanked the Academy and the HEA for the recognition of their work. Guests at the ceremony included the Japanese and Canadian Ambassadors to Ireland, members of the Irish higher education system, funding agencies, members of the Royal Irish Academy and friends and family of the medallists.

The Royal Irish Academy Gold Medals were established in 2005 to acclaim Ireland’s foremost thinkers in the humanities, social sciences, physical & mathematical sciences, life sciences, engineering sciences and the environment & geosciences. They are awarded to two outstanding academics each year and are recognised as a truly national expression of celebration for scholarly achievement. Each medal is a testament to a lifetime of passionate commitment to the highest standards in scholarship and they are a well-deserved recognition of academic excellence. The medals identify and recognise inspirational figures in order to celebrate the achievements of higher education in Ireland and to inspire future generations.