Current Newman Fellows

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

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 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.

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.

About 2,200 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in Ireland each year and it ranks as the fourth most common cancer. Unfortunately, more Irish men and women die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Lung cancer cases can be divided into two types; small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Most lung cancers are of the non-small cell type. NSCLC’s can be further divided into Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Large cell carcinoma. There are many mutations that happen in lung cells that are currently being examined by scientific researchers. These mutations can contribute to the development of lung cancer. Two proteins can become involved in cancerous mutations, Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (Alk). Dr Crisetti aims to determine the frequency of EGFR and Alk mutations in an Irish population, and correlate this with clinical outcome, cancer stage and smoking status. This translational medicine project aims to use exosome biology to identify potential biomarkers to allow the potential development of targeted therapies defined by the patient’s tumour profile. The ultimate aim is to improve patient care. Dr Crisetti is mentored by Professor Michael Keane and based at the UCD Conway Institute of Bimolecular and Biomedical Research.

About 2,200 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in Ireland each year and it ranks as the fourth most common cancer. Unfortunately, more Irish men and women die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Lung cancer cases can be divided into two types; small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Most lung cancers are of the non-small cell type. NSCLC’s can be further divided into Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Large cell carcinoma. There are many mutations that happen in lung cells that are currently being examined by scientific researchers. These mutations can contribute to the development of lung cancer. Two proteins can become involved in cancerous mutations, Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (Alk). Dr Jouida aims to determine the frequency of EGFR and Alk mutations in an Irish population, and correlate this with clinical outcome, cancer stage and smoking status. This translational medicine project aims to use exosome biology to identify potential biomarkers to allow the potential development of targeted therapies defined by the patient’s tumour profile. The ultimate aim is to improve patient care. Dr Jouida is mentored by Professor Michael Keane and based at the UCD Conway Institute of Bimolecular and Biomedical Research.

Primary progressive multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological condition resulting in progressive problems with mobility, bladder control etc. Up until recently there were no treatments available to slow this progression. Until now.  A new infused therapy is now licensed, Ocrelizumab. In addition to monitoring how people respond to this treatment with MRI scans and clinical examinations Dr Gaughan’s Fellowship will investigate the benefit of monitoring the levels of certain proteins (neurofilaments) in blood and spinal fluid (CSF) which may give a better idea of who is responding to the treatment. Little is known about the se neurofilaments in progressive MS and therefore we aim to analyse their levels in people with primary progressive MS who are not on any treatment and then see if the change after treatment is started.  Dr Gaughan is mentored by Prof Chris McGuigan and is based in the UCD School of .

Dr Christine Shan has been awarded the Kerry Group Newman Fellowship in Food Safety.  In recent years, EU-China trade relations have grown very fast and agriculture has become an important sector for EU imports from, and exports to, China. However, many trade barriers relating to safety issues, standardisation and traceability (including fraud) in agri-food products persist and hamper trade predictability.  Dr Shan’s research will seek to address food safety standards, food authentication and consumer confidence issues with a view to facilitate mutual trade in agri-food inputs, human food ingredients and finished products. Mutual recognition of policies and controls can only be achieved if they are based on the same scientific approaches. By having regulators, scientists and industry in both jurisdictions working closer together, it is hoped that end to end supply chain security will be strengthened and consumer confidence will be enhanced.  Dr Shan will be mentored by Professor Pat Wall and will be based in the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science.

Dr Daniel Hurley received his PhD in Computational Infection Biology from UCD in 2018.  Since then, he has been working as a bioinformatician/molecular microbiologist in the UCD Centre for Food Safety.  There he was working on strategies to characterise the bacterial communities of production environments.

Dr Hurley’s Fellowship intends to extend and deepen the ongoing collaboration that exists between the UCD-Centre for Food Safety and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.  His research will seek to explore the application of bespoke bioinformatics workflows, developed at UCD-CFS, for risk assessment in the context of the National regulator. Based on the determination of bacterial genome sequences from isolates of importance to human health, genetic markers will be identified and assessed for their potential to contribute to foodborne human infections. These will include, but are not limited to, genes encoding resistance to antimicrobial compounds including biocides as well as known virulence factors. From a public health perspective, this project constitutes a unique opportunity to contribute to the control of the emergence of foodborne pathogens from diverse sources including clinical, environmental, foodborne and veterinary.

Dr Ciara Egan received her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians Ireland in 2011.  She went on to take up the position of SHO (Senior House Officer) at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore and St James’s Hospital, Dublin.  Most recently, she was Specialist Registrar at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. Dr Egan began training in endoscopy in July 2015. To date, she has completed 600 gastroscopies and 400 colonoscopies. She has experience in PEG, tube insertion, polypectomy, band ligation for oesophageal varices and GAVE and stricture dilatation.

Dr Egan’s Newman Fellowship will see her trial the ability of testing for markers of blood or inflammation in the stool to select patients most likely to require further investigation and a camera test.  She will aim to collect a blood sample from those considered at higher risk based on their stool test to explore if there are markers in their blood that may help in the diagnosis of bowel diseases.

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