News Archive 2022

Dr Olivia O’Leary awarded Science Foundation Ireland funding to identify the mechanisms through which microbiota in the gut influence brain function

19 May 2022
Dr Olivia O’Leary awarded Science Foundation Ireland funding

Dr. Olivia O’Leary, Senior Lecturer in Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, and Funded Investigator at APC Microbiome Ireland Research Institute, has been awarded research funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Frontiers for the Future Programme.  SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme funds highly innovative, collaborative research with the potential to deliver impact.

Dr O’Leary’s project will be conducted with collaborators, Professor John F. Cryan and Professor Yvonne Nolan who are both also in the Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience and APC Microbiome Ireland. The project will determine the mechanisms underlying gut microbial regulation of a brain process called adult hippocampal neurogenesis and whether this these mechanisms could have therapeutic implications for cognitive and stress-related brain disorders Accumulating evidence suggests that the microbes that live in the gut can influence brain function and behaviour.

Dr O’Leary and colleagues have previously demonstrated that gut microbes can alter neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells, in the hippocampus area of the adult brain.  Hippocampal neurogenesis plays a critical roles in the stress response, antidepressant action, and learning and memory.  This newly-funded project will determine precisely how the gut microbiota can induce effects on hippocampal neurogenesis, so that gut microbiota-based strategies can then be developed for the prevention and treatment of brain disorders characterized by hippocampal dysfunction including the stress-related disorder depression, and learning and memory disorders.

Further information

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News story: Dr Olivia O'Leary

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Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

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