UCD Professor secures €2m in funding from ERC

UCD’s Director of Research and Innovation in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Professor Martin Albrecht, has been awarded a grant to the sum of €2 million after his successful application to the European Research Council (ERC).The grant will be put towards his continued research into finding safe and cost effective ways of synthesising drugs.The aim of Prof. Albrecht’s research is to cultivate a new catalytic system that will improve the catalytic activity levels of the commons metals, allowing for their potential use in drug production.Speaking to the University Observer, Prof. Albrecht described the research he has been conducting in UCD for the last five years. “As chemists we are interested in changing materials and getting materials with new properties. That could be drugs, materials for your cell phone, materials for synthetics. Any type really.”Elaborating specifically on the exact processes that they are researching, Albrecht commented, “Our research aims to develop catalysts that speed up transformations. That speed up changes of material’s properties.“If you have some raw materials and you want to make a pharmaceutical drug… in order to make those materials stick together, catalysis helps a lot because you can often put a couple of steps together and you can make challenging transformations under very challenging conditions and get loads of benefits ecologically and economically.”Albrecht believes this funding will help open new possibilities in their research and keep UCD’s chemistry students interacting with the latest discoveries in this field.“It will open up new avenues for us to explore. It will make resources available for a very exciting, topical field that is emerging globally and allow us to contribute to leading the field. And that is exciting on many levels, [such as] attracting students, attracting post doctoral students, and as well in conveying to students very topical lecture material.”Speaking in relation to the grant application process, Prof. Albrecht highlighted that only 7% of applications were successful. “It was a severe [application process] with very low success rate. I think there were 3,500 applications and 250 grants of that kind.”Over the next five years, Prof. Albrecht feels that this funding will be the crucial platform they need to keep UCD at the forefront of this specific area of research.“I think the fact that we got that money shows that the review panel recognised our approach as a solid rationale. So, we have a solid foundation and what we have done over the past five years, we have insights that will allow us to boost onto the next level with our research.”