Current Newman Fellows

Newman Fellows are appointed on an ongoing basis, as funding becomes available.  Current Newman Fellows include:

Dr Helen Rea

Rosacea is a common, chronic recurrent, cutaneous (skin) disorder. It primarily affects people of northern and western European descent, and is often referred to as the “curse of the Celts” and can be an upsetting and difficult condition to live with.  Indeed, a survey of over 500 people with rosacea performed by the National Rosacea Society, 42% reported feeling sad or depressed by the appearance of their skin. The exact development of rosacea is poorly understood.

Dr Helen Rea is using her fellowship to explore the development of E.T.R rosacea, one of four distinct subtypes of rosacea recognized by the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee. Dr Rea is mentored by Prof Brian Kirby and based in the UCD Charles Institute of Dermatology.

Dr Rea’s fellowship is supported by Galderma, who specialise in the research, development and marketing of dermatological treatments

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects over 18,000 people in Ireland and most commonly affects young adults, leading to considerable physical and psychosocial disability. Specifically, Ulcerative colitis (UC), a subset of IBD, has an incidence of approximately 14 per 100,000 patients with peak incidence between 20 and 30 years of age. With the Dansac Laker Newman Fellowship, Dr Rowan is exploring factors associated with quality of life for patients before and after surgical treatment for intractable UC and familial adenomatous polyposis.

Dr Rowan is mentored by Dr Glen Doherty and based in the Centre for Colorectal Disease in St Vincent’s University Hospital.  Her fellowship is supported by Dansac Ltd and Laker Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Dr Seamus McGuinness

Ireland has the fourth highest youth suicide rate in the EU and ranks as the leading cause of death in those under the age of 25. Considering that 25% of major mental illness presents before this age, mental illness remains a significant risk factor for suicidal acts. It is recognised that there is a dearth of studies internationally that can address and examine suicidality in psychiatric patients.

Dr Seamus McGuinness has undertaken an active inter-disciplinary research programme in the field of suicide studies and will lead quantitative clinical data analysis of carefully defined clinical psychiatric groups and a unique inter-disciplinary qualitative community study with one at-risk group. During his Fellowship, Dr McGuinness has opportunities to interface with local and national policy makers in suicide prevention. Dr McGuinness’ research project will develop a science/art research collaboration with minority and at-risk groups. Dr McGuinness is mentored by Prof Kevin Malone and based in St Vincent’s University Hospital and the UCD School of Medicine.

Dr McGuinness’ fellowship was established with the support of the Craig Dobbin Endowment Fund.

Dr Nonnie McNicholas

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system characterised by inflammation and neurodegeneration. MS is the most common disabling, non-traumatic, neurological condition affecting young adults. The cause of multiple sclerosis remains unknown. It is widely assumed that there is interplay between genetic and environmental factors combining to result in the development of MS, although the relative importance of each of these factors continues to generate debate.

Dr McNicholas’ work is a case-control observational study on new MS cases recruited from the MS clinic in St. Vincent’s University Hospital. The MS clinic in St. Vincent’s is the largest MS specialist clinic in Ireland. A primary aim of this study is to examine the potential impact of smoking history, body mass index, previous Epstein-Barr virus exposure, preceding Herpes Zoster infection and serum vitamin D levels on the risk of developing MS in a case-control population of 100 new cases of clinically definite MS against age sex matched controls. Dr Mc Nicholas will measure Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS (BICAMS) cognitive screen in the study and control populations to identify early differences in cognitive processing in MS patients versus controls. Due to the complexity of MS, Dr Mc Nicholas’ study of predisposing factors for the development of MS requires a stable population with a high prevalence of the disease. Ireland is recognised internationally as a high risk area for the development of MS with specific geographical regions having been studied in Ireland previously. The high rates of MS in Ireland make it an ideal place for Dr Mc Nicholas to carry out research into the potential environmental agents implicated in the development of the disease.

Dr McNicholas is mentored by Dr Chris McGuigan and based in the Department of Neurology at St Vincent’s University Hospital. Dr McNicholas’s Newman Fellowship is supported by Biogen Idec Ireland Ltd. Biogen Idec is the oldest independent biotechnology company in the world.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are commonly known as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Approximately 15,000 people are living with IBD in Ireland. Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis cause an ulceration of the digestive tract.

One of the common treatments for IBD includes using anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) therapy. However, loss of response occurs in up to 50% of patients who initially respond to treatment (70-80% of the total number of patients).

The main aims of Dr Margaret Walsh’s research include defining the immune mechanisms underlying the loss of response to anti-TNF drugs in IBD, to focus on preventing the breakthrough of mediated inflammation as a cause of treatment failure and to devise novel therapeutic strategies to restore lost response to TNF inhibitors.

Dr Walsh is based in the UCD School of Medicine and the Centre for Colorectal Disease at St Vincent’s University Hospital and mentored by Prof Glen Doherty.  Her fellowship is generously funded by AbbVie Ireland who is a global pharmaceutical company who focus on addressing some of the world’s most serious health challenges.

Dr Candice Low

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1% of the population of the developed world. The most common manifestation is joint pain however it is a truly systemic disease affecting multiple organs and associated with increased morbidity and mortality. A wide range of novel treatment options have become available for rheumatoid arthritis in recent times. There remains little evidence to guide which particular treatment is best for an individual patient. This represents a critical unmet need with consequent increased suffering for patients and increased cost to the healthcare system. Dr Low’s research is aimed at identifying predictors of response in rheumatoid arthritis for the anti-CD20 drug rituximab. From a clinical viewpoint she will assess patient clinical features and characteristics which predict response, including clinical examination findings, patient reported outcomes, laboratory investigations, and radiographic findings. Utilising the existing research structures present in the clinical research centre in St. Vincent’s University Hospital Dr Low will perform arthroscopic procedures in order to obtain synovial tissue samples to assess for cellular and cytokine features predictive of rituximab response. Finally blood samples will be obtained from patients at the time of arthroscopy and during clinical follow-up to assess for potential biomarkers to predict treatment response. Dr Low is supervised by Professor Douglas Veale and is based at UCD School of Medicine and the Education and Research Centre in St Vincent’s University Hospital.

Dr Low’s fellowship is supported by the Centre for Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases (CARD).  CARD is located at Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services in Harold’s Cross.

Dr Mei Yap

Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS) is a phase of Multiple Sclerosis developed by about 65% of MS sufferers approximately 15 years after diagnosis. It is characterised by a gradual progression of the condition and an incomplete recovery from relapses. Dr Yap’s Fellowship will study SPMS through a pilot study of the effects of high-dose simvastatin, high-dose Vitamin D, fingolimod and placebo on cerebrospinal neurofilament levels in SPMS patients. Dr Yap has identified a significant area of unmet need in therapy for patients with SPMS to reduce the rate of progressive disability and cognitive loss. Dr Yap is supervised by Dr Glen Doherty and based in the St Vincent’s University Hospital Education & Research Centre.

Dr Yap’s Fellowship is supported by Novartis. Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies.

Colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ireland with around 2,400 cases each year. Colorectal cancer screening aims to detect both cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions and over time will reduce the mortality rates of those who are living with the disease.

In 2012, the National Cancer Screening Service rolled out a colorectal cancer screening programme (BowelScreen) for those aged 60-74 years of age. BowelScreen completed the first screening round in December 2015 and is among the first to complete a first round of screening using FIT (Faecal immunochemical testing), is a home test kit.

National screening programmes offer the opportunity to study a wide variety of outcomes associated with colorectal cancer screening including but not limited to the primary screening tool, endoscopy, pathology and surgery.

Dr O’Reilly will examine the quality of modern colonoscopies with the help of BowelScreen data. She will also determine what factors influence patients to participate in the BowelScreen Programme.

Dr O’Reilly is mentored by Professor Hugh Mulcahy and she is based in the Education and Research Centre of St Vincent’s University Hospital.

This research is funded by Boston Scientific who produce the most effective materials and solutions in the world of medicine.

Dr Trudy McGarry

Arthritis is a leading cause of disability that affects up to 15% of the population and it the most common cause of pain in Irish society. Two percent of the population suffers from inflammatory arthritis (IA) such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). IA causes joint damage and disability and is associated with co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, malignancy and metabolic disorders. It is estimated that the cost of treating IA patients in Ireland is approximately €20,000 per patient/year. Current medicines don’t work for all patients and may cause infection; therefore, more cost effective treatments are needed.

Activation of inflammation in our cells is a key mechanism by which our body fights infection. However, if uncontrolled, the inflammatory cells don’t switch off and this can contribute to development of autoimmune diseases (RA and PsA). In the joints of IA patients many new blood vessels grow, allowing immune cells from the blood to invade the joint, leading to low oxygen levels (hypoxia), which is associated with increased joint inflammation and destruction of cartilage and bone. This hypoxic environment of the joint leads to a dramatic change in the metabolic activity of synovial cells, due to their increased demand for energy. Thus synovial cells adapt by changing their metabolic profile to one that can more rapidly produce energy, which allows them to maintain cell activation and function. Therefore if we can develop therapies that can switch synovial cells to a normal metabolic profile, we may be able to suppress inflammation.

The aim of Dr McGarry’s research is to focus on identifying the metabolic and cellular mechanisms that mediate inflammation in the joint, and to test the potential of targeting these pathways. This approach will assist in the identification of new disease markers, drug targets, and drug candidates for the treatment of patients with IA.

Dr McGarry is supervised by Professor Douglas Veale and based at UCD School of Medicine and the Education and Research Centre in St Vincent’s University Hospital.

Dr McGarry’s fellowship is supported by Novartis. Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies.

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a rare chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by a formation of painful abscesses in hair follicles. HS is believed to be a multifactorial disease caused by genetic and environmental factors; however, the development and pathogenesis of HS are poorly understood. Recent studies has indicated a crucial role of immune dysregulation in development of HS lesion and the role of IL-17 and IL-1 inflammasome pathways in HS pathogenesis. Furthermore, recent study has reported increased frequencies of B cells and plasma cells in the HS lesions; however, the role of B cells in HS pathogenesis remained unclear.

Dr Jana Musilova is investigating the mechanisms of inflammasome activation and expression of interleukin (IL)-1 in HS patient samples. Dr. Musilova will also study the effects of IL-1 inhibitors on the expression of other proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and IL-17 in HS patients. Furthermore, Dr. Musilova will characterise the activity of B cells and plasma cells in skin and peripheral blood from HS patients. This study will investigate the key immunological components and immunological pathways in HS and may help identify new biological targets for treatment of HS.

Dr Musilova is mentored by Professor Brian Kirby, Consultant Dermatologist, and based in the Education Research Centre in St Vincent’s University Hospital.  She is supported by AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company with focus and capabilities to address some of the world’s greatest health challenges.

Dr Stephen Duff is using his fellowship to investigate novel biomarkers of Acute Kidney Injury.  He is focusing on the development of new markers for doctors to diagnose kidney injury and as early as possible in critically ill patients and in patients after having major surgery. Currently these conditions are very hard to treat as they are detected by doctors often after the main injury has occurred. These new markers will allow the treatment of these illnesses earlier and will help develop new treatments. Using a well-established collection of samples from patients with acute kidney injury, Stephen will measure the presence of proteins that will inform about the health of the kidney.  New ways that tell us earlier and more reliably, if a patient’s kidneys are failing will be identified.  This will mean that doctors will have better read outs and can more accurately predict how patients will do. This programme builds on existing strengths in Acute kidney injury, in biobanking and in biomarker discovery, analysis and validation.

Dr Duff is mentored by Dr Peter Doran, Director of Research, St Vincent’s University Hospital, and based in the UCD School of Medicine and the UCD Clinical Research Centre.  This Fellowship is supported by Abbott Diagnostics, the global healthcare company that conducts innovative research and manufactures products for human health through every life stage.

To get involved in the Newman Fellowship Programme please contact:
Liz McFeely
Newman Fellowship Programme Coordinator
Tel: +353 1 7161287
Email: liz.mcfeely@ucdfoundation.ie