Update on MMI Clinician Scientist Fellow Alumnus – Dr Fionnuala Ní Áinle

Fionnuala-NiAinle-web The MMI Clinician Scientist Fellowship Programme (CSFP) is a structured 3-year PhD programme for medical graduates with the objective of developing the next generation of clinician scientists.

Dr Fionnuala Ní Áinle graduated from the MMI CSFP fellowship training programme in December 2011 with her thesis entitled ‘Generation and Characterisation of Activated Protein C variants with Altered Functional Properties and Enhanced Therapeutic Potential’.

Since completion of MMI CSFP Dr Ní Áinle was appointed to the post of Consultant Haematologist in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital Dublin and Rotunda Hospital Dublin in 2012. She has established a translational research group based at the UCD Conway Institute where she holds an associate clinical fellowship and is a principal investigator.

Here Dr Ní Áinle updates us on her career

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I received my medical degree from Trinity College, Dublin, in 2000 and then underwent specialist training in haematology and subsequently haemostasis, thrombosis and obstetric haematology.

I was very fortunate to have been awarded a position on the MMI CSFP in 2008 to undertake a PhD under the excellent supervision of Professor James O’Donnell and Dr Roger Preston in Trinity College Dublin. Professor O’Donnell has recently launched (and directs) the world-class Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI (http://www.rcsi.ie/ICVB). This tremendous opportunity enabled me to develop a research programme closely aligned with my clinical interests following graduation.

I was appointed Consultant Haematologist in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH) and Rotunda Maternity Hospital, Dublin in 2012, where I am privileged to treat people affected with blood clots and pregnant mothers with haematological disorders. I am deeply committed to blood clot prevention and treatment and am Principal Investigator for a HRB-funded international Randomized Controlled Trial (Highlow) addressing optimal prevention strategies during pregnancy in women at very high risk of blood clots.

My translational research interests explore the role of blood coagulation and extracellular vesicles in the aetiology, management and therapy of clinical disorders, particularly disorders of thrombosis and haemostasis. The training that I received during the MMI CSFP enabled me to establish a translational research group based at the University College Dublin (UCD) Conway Institute where I hold an Associate Clinical Fellowship and am a Principal Investigator. Along with my very talented colleague and friend, UCD Associate Professor Patricia Maguire, I co-direct the SPHERE Research Group, Conway Institute, UCD. SPHERE was launched in September 2015 at an international meeting on thrombosis (www.vtedublin.org) which I organized along with my MMUH colleague Dr Tomás Breslin. The launch of SPHERE was welcomed by then Minister for Health Dr Leo Varadkar in his address to conference delegates. SPHERE brings together clinical and academic collaborators nationally and internationally, harnessing unique tools to diagnose and understand a host of inflammatory-based diseases, including thrombotic disorders. The acronym SPHERE describes the state-of the art translational interests of the group: “Systemic inflammatory disorders: role of blood Particles, Haemostatic factors and ExtRacEllular vesicles”. Since its launch, the SPHERE team has generated a wealth of recent outputs, including publications and oral presentations at international meetings.

Since my graduation from the MMI CSFP, and thanks to the training given to me by my supervisors and by the programme, I have been awarded several competitive research funding awards worth over €1,000,000, including prestigious awards from the Health Research Board of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.  I have published in the top journals of my field, including Blood and the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

I am, and will always be, deeply grateful to MMI, my PhD supervisors and the PRTLI Cycle 4-funded CSFP for having provided me with the invaluable opportunity to develop my clinical and translational research interests and strive to deliver results that will improve and protect the health of our patients.

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For more information on Dr Ní Áinle’s research carried out as part of MMI CSFP please see a profile here.

For more information on MMI Clinician Scientist Fellowship Programme training and other MMI clinician scientist fellows please visit http://www.molecularmedicineireland.ie/csfp