Professor Orla Hardiman Named SFI Researcher of the Year Award 2022

The winners of the prestigious 2022 Science Foundation Ireland Awards were revealed at the annual SFI Science Summit, held in person for the first time in two years. Professor Orla Hardiman of Trinity College Dublin and PI at the ADAPT Centre took the top prize of Researcher of the Year for her “outstanding contribution” to our understanding of motor neurone disease and treatments. This was one of nine awards on the night. The event saw over 500 leading members of the Irish research community gather to celebrate the contribution researchers have made to our society and economy.

Speaking about the award, Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “I would like to congratulate Professor Orla Hardiman as the 2022 SFI Researcher of the Year. She has made an outstanding contribution to our understanding of, and the treatment and care of people with motor neurone disease. It is wonderful to acknowledge her achievements and the achievements of researchers across all in our Higher Education Institutions and the wider research ecosystem.”

Professor Hardiman is a clinician scientist and a world authority on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)/ Motor Neuron Disease (MND). ALS/MND. Professor Hardiman is a professor of neurology and the Head of the Academic Unit of Neurology at Trinity College Dublin and leads the SFI Precision ALS Spoke. She is a researcher at the FutureNeuro and ADAPT SFI Research Centres. She is the founder and director of the National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)/ Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Clinical and Research Programme, and the HSE National Clinical Lead for Neurology

Commenting on receiving the Award Professor Hardiman stated: “I am greatly honoured to receive this prestigious award, which is a reflection of the hugely talented individuals with whom I have had the privilege of supervising, mentoring and collaborating over the years. I am also aware of the enormous benefits of being in a position to engage in international collaborations with like-minded clinician scientists. Understanding the processes that drive neurodegeneration is the “final frontier” in neuroscience. As clinician scientists, we seek to unravel the complexity of neurodegenerative disease in humans, and our work in Ireland has focussed on how best to enable the successful translation of laboratory discoveries to new drugs for those with different subtypes of disease.”

“Our ultimate collective objective is to ensure that we provide the right drug for the right patient at the right time. I am particularly conscious of my privileged position as a female leader in science, and of the importance of mentoring from experience other younger women as they juggle careers, family life and research. I am enormously grateful to both SFI and the HRB in enabling my scientific career over the years, and of course to my husband Gerry and my children for their ongoing love and support.”