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Enabling Clinical and Translational Research

Clinical & Translational Research Scholars Program

Research Projects

Research projects will be available in NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University College Dublin. Potential research project supervisors are listed here with details of their research interests. This list is intended to give candidates examples of the areas of research that will be available to MMI Scholars during laboratory rotations in Year 1 and when the PhD project is selected towards the end of Year 1.

Please note that Principal Investigators and areas of research listed here are for guidance. Some projects listed here may not be available and others may be included at the time of project selection.

Research Centres at each institution and hospital-linked Clinical Research Facilities

Trinity College Dublin NUI Galway University College Cork University College Dublin


NUI Galway

Principal Investigator Research Interests
Prof. Frank Barry Isolation, characterization and therapeutic application of adult stem cells from bone marrow; cardiovascular and arthritic diseases; use of MSCs for the delivery of specific therapeutic genes; proteomics and mass spectrometry for the identification of surface molecules on cells
Dr. Donald Black Clinical Research; Trialynx, Inc.; cardiovascular disease including atherosclerosis and dyslipidemia; Medical diagnostics; Molecular imaging; Pediatrics.
Dr Dara M. Cannon Translational neuroscience and biological psychiatry using in vivo neuroimaging: structural MRI and diffusion MR imaging, molecular receptor PET imaging, advanced image analysis and genotype-imaging studies. Applications include mood and anxiety disorders, depression, panic and bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis. MRI and cell-based imaging in post-mortem human brain.
Prof. Martin Cormican Clinical Microbiology; prevention, diagnosis and management of infectious disease; MRSA; antibiotic resistance; Salmonella Reference Laboratory
Dr. Mark da Costa Cardiothoracic Surgery
Dr. Seán Dinneen Endocrinology (Diabetes): diabetic foot disease
Prof. Peter Dockery Neurobiology;Cellular interactions in the developing and ageing nervous system; Development and repair of the Spinal Cord; Human Reproduction; Structure-Function of the Human Endometrium; Cellular effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on reproductive tissues; Feto-maternal interfaceAnatomy, Human Reproduction, Neurobiology
Dr. Paul Donnellan Medical Oncology; Extensive-Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer; Clinical Trials; national breast cancer trials; radiation oncology
Dr. Eilis Dowd The development and validation of novel cell and gene therapies for Parkinson’s disease; using viruses to deliver therapeutic gene products to the brain; transplantation of dopaminergic neurons derived from human embryos, xenodonors or stem cells
Prof. Fidelma Dunne Endocrinology; pregnancy and diabetes; ATLANTIC DIP programme which is a prospective study to examine the outcome of pregnancy in diabetic women
Prof. Laurence Egan Molecular mechanisms of intestinal injury, repair and carcinogenesis; focus on biological functions of transcription factor NF-kappaB; identification and characterization of novel therapeutic targets for inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and radiation injury to the intestinal tract; Clinical Research
Dr. Howard Fearnhead Biochemical and molecular basis of apoptotic cell death; Neurological Disorders, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer with the aim of developing new therapies for these disease
Dr. David Finn Neurochemical, neuroendocrine and molecular mechanisms underlying pain, anxiety and depression. Neuropharmacology of cannabinoid and opioid receptors. Imidazoline binding sites, brain monoamines and the stress response. Neuroimmune mechanisms of relevance to pain, inflammation and mood disorders
Dr. Francis Finucane Endocrinology
Prof. Richard Flavin Molecular mechanisms of breast cancer; breast cancer progression and heterogeneity; evaluation of different stages of the disease from early precursor lesions through in situ tumours to invasive disease and metastasis
Prof. Frank Giles Clinical Research; therapy for patients suffering from treatment-resistant or refractory cancer; development of novel drugs, immunotherapies, and other highly targeted approaches, including cancer-directed viruses
Dr Adrienne Gorman Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of cell death and survival; using in vitro cell culture models; targeting cell survival pathways in cancer, particularly breast cancer; targeting pro-survival neurotrophin signal transduction pathways in breast cancer; development of novel neurotrophin variants.
Prof. Matt Griffin Immunology of Acute Kidney Injury; Immunological Properties of Mesenchymal Stem Cells; Immunomodulatory Effects of Vitamin D; Pathogenesis of Kidney Transplant Fibrosis; Clinical Outcomes of Kidney Transplantation; Polyomavirus-associated Nephropathy
Prof. Lokesh Joshi Glycosciences and Bioengineering to discover and develop novel molecules, processes and biomaterials and relevant technologies for biotherapeutic and biodiagnostic purposes; Post-translational modifications and recombinant protein engineering; protein and peptide therapeutics; glycosensors, glycosignatures, and glycomimetics.
Dr. John Kelly Investigation of the mechanism of action of antidepressants and the development of novel targets using animal models; the effects of antidepressants on modulating immune responses; development of nonanimal alternatives for toxicological assessment of drugs
Prof. Michael Kerin Gene Expression Profiling investigating the metastatic potential of early breast cancer using a combined gene expression microarray and real-time quantitative PCR approach; Gene Therapy investigating the potential of human MSCs as vectors for therapeutic gene delivery to breast tumours; Population Genetics to identify common genes that predispose to breast cancerSurgery; Breast cancer
Dr. Leo Kevin Effects of sepsis on myocardial performance and on mitochondrial bioenergetics, volatile anaesthetic agents and sidlenafil in the Foeto-Placental Circulation
Dr. Thomas Kropmans Postgraduate medical education and continuing professional development; application of information and communication technologies to support evidence practice in both hospital and community based health care
Prof. John Laffey
Hypercapnic acidosis; gene and stem cell therapies in the setting of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome; effects of sepsis on myocardial performance and on mitochondrial bioenergetics, effects of volatile anaesthetic agents and of sidlenafil in the Foeto-Placental Circulation; provision of effective analgesia for acute pain
Dr. John Lynch Genetics of epilepsy predisposition; pharmacogenetics of anti-epileptic drug response; genetics of Parkinson’s disease; psychosocial impact of epilepsy
Dr. Karl McCullagh Muscular Dystrophy; Proteins associated with the dystrophin protein complex; Cell signalling and regulation of skeletal muscle fibre types; Growth and regeneration of muscle
Prof. Colm McDonald Clinical research in psychiatry; Aetiopathogenesis of psychotic illness; Mapping of brain abnormalities associated with psychotic and affective disorders; The relationship of such brain abnormalities to genetic and environmental risk factors; effect of psychotropic medications; Endophenotypic markers of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; Neurobiological abnormalities associated with psychotic and affective disorders.
Dr. Dearbháile Morris Antimicrobial resistance, Environment & Health and Water Quality
Prof. John Morrison Myometrial physiology; Pre-term labour; Pre-natal diagnosis and high-risk obstetrics; volatile anaesthetic agents in the Foeto-Placental Circulation
Prof. Andrew Murphy General Practice; chronic disease management and professional practice in the community; Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring, Secondary Prevention of Heart Disease in General Practice; antibiotic resistance
Dr. Mary Murphy Adult stem cells for tissue regeneration in cartilage repair and osteoarthritis; Biology of vascular derived stem cells in atherosclerosis; Cardiomyogenic differentiation of adult stem cells; Effect of electroactive particles
Prof. Tim O’Brien REMEDI; gene delivery and stem cell biology to promote organ regeneration and repair; ischaemic cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis; targeted expression of nitric oxide gene isoforms in the diseased vessel site and the use of endothelial progenitor cells as a gene delivery system; pathogenesis of diabetic vascular disease including the role of endothelial progenitor cell dysfunction
Prof. Michael O'Dwyer
Development of new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of leukaemia and multiple myeloma; Cdc7 inhibition in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and myeloma; BH3 mimetics and TRAIL as apoptosis inducing agents in leukaemia; clinical trials and translation
Prof. W.J.M. van der Putten General Application of Physics and Technology in Medicine; Radiobiological modelling of radiotherapy; Optimisation in Diagnostic Radiology; Risk and Safety with medical devices
Dr. Fabio Quondamatteo Study of the cell biological role of basement membrane and extracellular matrix components in vivo; Glycoscience;Cell biological aspects of normal and pathological development; Clinical Anatomy;development of therapeutic devices for neuromuscular stimulationsAnatomy
Dr. Donal Reddan Chronic Kidney Disease and Cardiovascular risk; Contrast induced acute Kidney Injury; Anemia of Chronic Kidney Disease
Dr. Thomas Ritter Cellular immunology, cornea transplantation and gene therapy, specifically researching Mesenchymal stem cells as an immunosuppressive agent in transplantation and Novel therapeutica approaches for the induction of tolerance in cornea transplantation
Dr Michelle Roche Neuroscience: Investigating neurochemical and neuroimmune mechanisms underlying pain and psychiatric disorders such as depression. Evaluate the impact of stress on physiological and pathophysiological functioning. Identify and evaluate novel therapeutics targets for these disorders.
Prof. Corrado Santocanale DNA replication and cell cycle progression; developing novel therapeutic strategies and molecular biomarkers to follow drug action in cancer patients; molecular characterization of Cdc7 kinase and of its substrates and defining the mechanism of action of emerging Cdc7 inhibitors
Dr. Faisal Sharif Vascular biology and Gene Eluting Stents; translational medicine focusing on cardiovascular clinical trials for medical devices and basic science outputs; myocardial regeneration
Dr. Kilian Walsh Prostate cancer diagnostics, Kidney cancer interventional outcomes, stress incontinence diagnostics and surgical outcomes
Prof. Antony Wheatley Liver regeneration and the innate immune system: The liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate following injury or surgery and there is strong evidence to suggest that the innate immune system may play a role in the mechanism. Aspects of study could involve in-vivo microscopy of the liver or wall of the gastrointestinal tract; gut permeability; cytokine analysis
Prof. Rob Woods
Relationships between the conformations of carbohydrate molecules and biological recognition and activity, particularly the mechanisms involved in carbohydrate recognition in immunological events; computational techniques of molecular dynamics and free energy perturbation simulations; examinations of bacterial antigen-antibody interactions, as well as carbohydrate-lectin interactions

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Trinity College Dublin

Principal Investigator Research Interests
Dr Aiden Corvin Genomics of psychosis, psychiatric disorders and cognition; targeting molecular mechanisms for therapeutics in psychiatry/cognitio
Prof. Padraic Fallon Immunological mechanisms of suppression of inflammatory diseases; study of genetic versus environmental predisposition to inflammatory disease; use of mouse transgenics to dissect immune function
Prof. Thomas Frodl Neuroimaging: investigation of mood disorders, dementia, and schizophrenia with functional and structural imaging techniques; use of imaging to identify markers for the prediction of treatment response and for therapy success; genetic effects on function and structure in imaging; neurobiological underpinnings of psychiatric diseases
Prof. Michael Gill Relationships between phenotype and genotype in three key neuropsychiatric disorders: Psychoses, Autism and ADHD; gene hunting, functional genomics; translation of genetic findings into clinical relevance; understanding gene function as a prelude to new treatments
Dr Steven G. Gray/ Prof. Kenneth J. O'Byrne
Identification of biomarkers and novel therapeutics for the treatment of lung cancer and thoracic malignancy; circulating tumor cells and cancer stem cells; mechanisms of resistance to platinum based therapy; epigenetic mechanisms underpinning resistance to chemotherapy
Prof. Alan Irvine Genetic and clinical studies on eczema and atopic dermatitis
Prof. Joseph Keane Translating improved understanding of pulmonary immunology into new treatments, tests and vaccines for tuberculosis. Cellular and clinical immunology.

Dr Aideen Long

Molecular mechanisms of the inflammatory response: T lymphocyte migration – protein Kinase C (PKC): cytoskeletal interactions; genome-wide siRNA screen of T lymphocyte migration; effect of bile acids on PKC signalling in colonic and oesophageal cells
Dr Ross McManus
Genomics of coeliac disease; gene expression in sepsis; genomics of inflammatory bowel disease
Dr Jim Meaney High resolution whole body structural imaging for cardiovascular disease and cancer; functional imaging of tumours with high-resolution 3T MRI compared to PET-CT scanning; imaging of atherosclerosis with high- resolution 3T MRI
Professor James O'Donnell
Defining the role of coagulation glycoproteins in haemostasis. thrombosis, and vascular biology;
Understanding the interface between coagulation, inflammation and cancer biology; 
Development of novel modified coagulation proteins with therapeutic applications.
Prof. John O’Leary Cancer stem cell biology; tumour transcriptomics; miRNA / naturally occurring anti-sense molecules
Dr Jacintha O'Sullivan Translational colorectal cancer and oesophageal research. The role of nuclear and mitochondrial instability events in driving disease progression in GI cancers and in regulating treatment responses in these malignancies.
Prof. John Reynolds Upper gastrointestinal cancer surgery: molecular predictors of sensitivity and resistance to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in oesophageal adenocarcinoma; gastrointestinal mucosal immunology; cellular and molecular studies in Barrett’s oesophagus.
Professor Orla Sheils Functional genomics in human cancer- emphasis on non-coding RNA dysregulation
Prof. Yuri Volkov Biomedical applications of nanotechnologies; cell adhesion and migration in inflammation and cancer; intracellular signalling and cytoskeletal dynamics; live cell and molecular imaging

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University College Cork

Principal Investigator Research Interests
Prof. David Kerins
Platelet function and vascular disease
Prof. Noel Caplice Stem cells and cardiovascular disease
Dr John Cryan Molecular basis of stress induced effects on the brain
Prof Timothy Dinan Stress biology, neuro gastroenterology
Dr Liam Fanning Molecular diversity of Hepatitis C, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B Viruse and how this impacts on disease outcome
Prof Gerald Fitzgerald / Dr Paul O'Toole Components of the human gut microbiota and their contribution to intestinal health
Prof Jonathan Hourihane The effect of antenatal and post natal body composition on metabolic status and metabolic risk factors in children aged 2 and 5 years old
Prof Edward Johns  Neuro-humoral control of the kidney and the impact on blood pressure control
Prof Louise Kenny Use of metabolomic technology to search and validate early pregnancy biomarkers of adverse pregnancy outcome. Vascular physiology/biology based programme using a variety of animal models and ex vivo human tissue to search and characterize novel therapeutic targets for preeclampsia.
Prof Rosemary O’Connor Understanding and overcoming resistance to therapies that target tyrosine kinase pathways in cancer
Prof Ivan Perry Metabolism and disease with a focus on CVD and Diabetes including biomarkers of lipid metabolism and inflammation
Prof Eamonn Quigley  Host-microbiota interactions in gastrointestinal disorders.
Dr Anne Moore / Dr Conor O'Mahony The application of Micro needles in diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
Dr Declan Soden Cancer Gene Therapy for Lung Cancer

Prof Helen Whelton / Dr Cian Ó Mathúna

Development of in-situ models for clinical testing of innovations in oral health care products. Collaboration with the Microelectronics Applications Integration Group, Tyndall National Institute

Dr Geraldine Boylan/Dr Deirdre Murray/Prof Louise Kenny Validation of early placental and serum biomarkers in neonatal brain injury
Dr Deirdre Murray/Dr Mairead Kiely Cardio-metabolic phenotyping in toddlers: body composition and metabolic profiles at 2 years
Professor Michael Prentice The application of bioengineered bacterial microcompartments to the therapy and diagnosis of  disease
Professor Julia Kennedy Drug absorption in post gastrectomy or oesophagectomy patients
Dr Yvonne Nolan
/Dr Aideen Sullivan
Neuroinflammation in Parkinson's Disease

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University College Dublin

Principal Investigator Research Interests
Prof. Dolores Cahill Biomarker Discovery and Validation/Qualification, Development of Diagnostic Assays. Technology developments towards improved interaction screening, e.g. nanoparticles, proteins, etc
Dr Paul Crossey The role of insulin-like growth factors and their binding proteins in disorders of growth and metabolism
Prof. Catherine Godson Novel mediators of inflammation and repair in diabetic complications
Prof. Pat Guiry Synthetic chemistry; asymmetric catalysis, medicinal chemistry, total synthesis, natural product isolation, purification and biological evaluation.
Prof. Michael Keane Vascular remodeling - mesenchymal and progenitor cells in lung injury
Prof. Ulla Knaus Innate and mucosal immunity; Regulation of inflammation activation; Novel NADPH oxidases in health and disease
Dr Patrick Mallon HIV and bone mineral density, anti-retroviral adipose tissue toxicity
Prof. Ken McDonald Active clinical programme in area of ventricular dysfunction (4000 patient data base) with linked laboratory work investigating mechanisms, markers and possible novel therapeutic approaches to ventricular dysfunction.
Prof. Paul Mc Loughlin Hypoxia-mediated inflammation, pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodelling
Dr Louise Rainford Dose Investigation and Optimisation of Practice in Diagnostic Imaging: Interventional , Mammography, RNI and CT examinations. Visualisation, segmentation and quantification studies: Ultrasound Images for Foetal Abnormalities ; MR Imaging of HIV associated Lipodystrophy; MR Imaging of rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis
Prof. Kieran Sheahan Prognostic & predictive markers in colorectal cancer; Familial gastrointestinal cancer. Application of Immunohistochemical & Molecular Genetic Techniques in Pathology. The pathobiology of inflammatory bowel disease
Dr Albert Smolenski Identification and characterization of new molecules of functional importance in regulating platelet function
Prof. Douglas Veale Inflammatory mediators as targets for development of novel Biopharmaceuticals using Image analysis assessment.
Prof. R William Watson Cancer target identification and biomarker discovery

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Research Centres

Research Centres at each institution and hospital-linked Clinical Research Facilities are listed below.

National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES)

NUI Galway, Regenerative Medicine Institute

NUI Galway Clinical Research Facility

Dublin Centre for Clinical Research (DCCR)

TCD Institute of Molecular Medicine

UCC Biosciences Institute

UCC Clinical Research Facility

UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular & Biomedical Research

UCD Clinical Research Centre


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