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RIA author William C. Campbell wins 2021 SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal

16 March 2021

This prestigious prize highlights the enduring strength of US-Ireland relations.

Today, 16 March, An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD, has presented the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St Patrick’s Day Science Medals to Professor William C. Campbell and Mr Vincent T. Roche. Campbell was a recepient, together with Professor Satoshi Ōmura, of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He is Ireland's only Nobel Prize winner for Medicine. Roche is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Analog Devices, Inc., and a leader in the field of semiconductors.

The SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal is awarded annually to US-based scientists and industry leaders with strong Irish connections. Speaking at the virtual event, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:

“On behalf of the Government of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, I am delighted to present the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal to both Professor Campbell and Mr Roche, whose contributions have made immense societal and economic impact and changed the lives of millions of people. We are deeply proud of their inspirational achievements and leadership. This prestigious prize highlights the enduring strength and profound connectivity of US-Ireland relations, which despite significant global challenges continue to grow from strength to strength. It is important that we both recognise our scientific heritage and look to the future. By placing research, development and innovation firmly at the heart of our economy, we can create new knowledge, better respond to societal needs and economic challenges, improve education, and increase the quality of our lives.” 

During his speech, Professor William C. Campbell said:

“I am profoundly grateful and honoured to accept the 2021 SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal - an honour that is exceptional both in its rarity and in its conception. It recognizes scientific work that is carried out far beyond the recipient’s homeland, and at the same time it celebrates the indissoluble ties that bind the distant worker to his or her native shore. I learned about parasitic diseases, first in Belfast, then in Dublin, and then in my adopted home in America. Through it all, my roots in Ireland were never forgotten. I have had the good fortune to work both in industry and in academia, and to be associated with colleagues who made my work far more valuable than anything I could have done alone. It is my hope that US-Ireland partnerships continue to prosper for the benefit of science, both now and in the future.”   

From Ramelton, County Donegal, William C. Campbell played roles in the discovery and development of several new treatments against parasitic worms. In June 2020, the Royal Irish Academy, in partnership with the RDS, published Campbell's memoir Catching the Worm, in which he provides provides a snapshot of growing up in Ireland before and during World War II, as well as insights into science, the arts, teaching, family and what really matters in life. The book was written with scientist-turned-writer Claire O'Connell and it was released on 28 June to mark Campbell's 90th birthday. Find out more about Catching the Worm.

The full article on the awarding of the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medals can be found on the SFI website.

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