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Katherine Fitzgerald honored by the Science Foundation of Ireland

Immunology researcher receives St. Patrick’s Day Medal from Taoiseach Enda Kenny

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

March 17, 2015
  Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD
  Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD

The Science Foundation of Ireland has recognized Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, as a distinguished scientist who has made a significant contribution to the research ecosystem in Ireland.

On Monday, Dr. Fitzgerald, professor of medicine, received the St. Patrick’s Day Medal from Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“I am enormously grateful to receive the St. Patrick’s Day Medal,” Fitzgerald said. “I value the excellent training I received in Ireland, which laid the foundation on which I established my own career.”

The St. Patrick’s Day Medal is bestowed annually upon a distinguished Irish scientist, engineer or technology leader, living or working in the Unites States, who has assisted researchers in Irish academia or industry or who has made significant contributions to the research ecosystem in Ireland.

“I note the strength of ties that Professor Fitzgerald maintains with the Irish research community and the significant contributions she has made to immunology research in Ireland and I must commend her in this regard,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.

“Since moving to the United States almost 15 years ago, Professor Fitzgerald has broken new ground in immunology research and the study of infection diseases,” said Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief advisor to the Government of Ireland, adding that Fitzgerald continues to be a “champion of Irish research and an outstanding contributor to the field of immunology.”

Fitzgerald, a leader in immunology for her work to unravel the molecular basis of host defense and the inflammatory process, said that she’s grateful for the UMass Medical School and its strong commitment to fundamental basic research.

Research in the Fitzgerald lab focuses on uncovering the molecular basis of host defense and the inflammatory process with the ultimate goal of understanding how dysregulation of sensing, signaling and gene regulation in innate immunity underlie the pathogenesis of infectious, inflammatory and autoimmune disease in humans. Using an interdisciplinary approach and a highly collaborative style, she has made numerous novel discoveries including the identification of Toll-like receptor adapter molecules and uncovering new evidence for the importance of regulatory long-coding RNAs in innate immune cells.

Fitzgerald joined UMMS in 2002 after completing her postdoctoral studies at Trinity College Dublin where she studied the molecular basis of signal transduction in innate immunity and inflammatory pathways. Fitzgerald received her BS in 1995 from the University College Cork, Ireland, and her PhD in biochemistry in 1999 at Trinity College Dublin.

She is a recipient of a 2002 Wellcome Trust International Research Fellowship; 2003 International Cytokine Society Young Investigator Award; 2003 Milstein Young Investigator Award; 2014 American Association of Immunologists BD-Biosciences Investigator Award; the 2014 Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award from the American Society of Microbiology; and the Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research by the International Cytokine and Interferon Society.

In 1999 Fitzgerald received a Donegan Medal from the Irish Royal Academy of Medicine. She is also the recipient of the Irish Society of Immunology Public Lecture Award.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, recognized as a 2014 Milstein Award Laureate
UMMS Professor Katherine Fitzgerald receives 2014 Eli Lilly And Company-Elanco Research Award
Three UMMS scientists named in 2014 Thomson Reuters Report on most influential scientific minds