Science Foundation Ireland awards Tulane research pioneer with prestigious St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal

Internationally renowned Tulane University cardiovascular health researcher Dr. Paul K. Whelton has been awarded the prestigious Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the head of the government of Ireland.

The SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal is awarded annually to two distinguished U.S.-based science, engineering or technology leaders with strong Irish connections for their outstanding contributions to research and innovation. It highlights and honors their role in supporting and engaging with the research ecosystem in Ireland and beyond. 

Whelton, the Show Chwan Professor of Global Public Health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, was awarded the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Academia. Paul R. Daugherty, group chief executive - technology and chief technology officer at Accenture, was awarded the SFI St Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Industry.

"As one of the world’s leading authorities on hypertension, Dr. Whelton has had a profound impact both at our university and globally."

Michael A. Fitts

 “On behalf of the Government of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, I am delighted to award the SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal to Dr. Paul K. Whelton and Mr. Paul R. Daugherty,” Varadkar said. “The Medal recognizes their outstanding leadership in their respective fields, particularly in the areas of hypertension research and emerging technologies in artificial intelligence. We are deeply proud of their achievements.” 

Whelton is president of the World Hypertension League. A native of Cork City, Ireland, he has served as the principal investigator for many high-profile research studies that have informed the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. 

“As a former dean of Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, a longtime Tulane professor and one of the world’s leading authorities on hypertension, Dr. Whelton has had a profound impact both at our university and globally,” Tulane President Michael A. Fitts said. “We are grateful for the insight his work has provided on this vital health condition and are proud of this tremendous honor bestowed on him by his native country.”

Whelton holds degrees from University College Cork, the National University of Ireland and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has authored over 550 peer-reviewed publications and has received numerous awards, including the 2018 American Heart Association Hypertension Council Excellence Award.
 “I am deeply honored to accept the 2023 SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for my work in the area of high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of death, taking the lives of 18 million people globally each year,” Whelton said. “My research in cardiovascular and renal disease epidemiology continues to push for new discovery and improved clinical outcomes for patients. I am very proud to be part of the Irish research diaspora community in the U.S. and to support our transatlantic partnerships, which enable us to further our knowledge and deliver truly excellent science with global benefits. I am very lucky to be able to work with outstanding colleagues at Tulane and to be based in a university that aspires to excellence in research, education and in clinical and public health practice.”   

SFI Director General Philip Nolan said that both honorees’ achievements highlight the far-reaching talent of the Irish diaspora in the areas of science, engineering and technology.

“They have each had enormous influence in improving societal and economic wellbeing,” Nolan said. “We honor and recognize them today, as we celebrate U.S.-Ireland research collaborations that create significant value to both countries, across academic communities and industry.”  

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and to the growth of the economy.