An Irish immunology expert based in the US has received this year's Science Foundation Ireland St Patrick's Day Science Medal from the Taoiseach at an event in Washington DC.

Katherine Fitzgerald is Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has worked in the US for the past 15 years.

Her research has focused on infectious diseases and how the immune system protects humans from microbial challenges.

In particular, her work has helped to define a group of inflammatory activators that lead to diseases such as gout, asbestosis, and potentially Alzheimer's disease.

The medal aims to recognise the outstanding achievements of a US-based Irish scientist.

Prof Fitzgerald's research has amassed more than 16,000 citations - a measure of scientific success - and her work has been published in leading academic journals, including Science and Nature.

Also at the same event in Washington a new investment between US start-up Compact Imaging and the SFI research centre Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) was announced.

Compact Imaging has designed a small low-cost optical sensor for imaging and biometry that could be used in mobile personal health monitoring applications and biometric security.

IPIC also announced that it has struck a partnership with Stryker, a Michigan based medical technology company which has had a manufacturing and research and development presence in Ireland since 1998.

The collaboration will see Stryker staff work with IPIC researchers at the Tyndall National Institute in Cork on the use of photonics in next generation smart surgical tools.

Meanwhile, at the same event IBM and the INFANT Centre for foetal and neonatal research in Cork announced that they are to work on a remote healthcare monitoring project called LEANBH.

The pilot will see remote monitoring technology provided to expectant mothers to improve the detection and treatment of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, reducing the amount of time women will have to spend visiting hospital.