Congratulations Dr Olivia O'Leary invited speaker, USA National Academies of Sciences: Frontiers in Microbiome-Gut-Brain Science meeting

19 Jun 2023
Dr Olivia O'Leary, invited speaker and research leader

Congratulations to Dr Olivia O’Leary, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and Funded Investigator in APC Microbiome Ireland, who was invited to the USA National Academies’ Board on Life Sciences spring meeting on May 23rd 2023, to present her research on gut microbiome regulation of brain function, and as invited research leader in a live webcast public discussion on Frontiers in Microbiome-Gut-Brain Science.

In her lecture at the National Academies meeting Dr O’Leary spoke about her research findings which demonstrate that the microbiome and neural signals from the gut can alter neurogenesis (the production of new brain cells) in the hippocampus area of the adult brain.  Adult hippocampal neurogenesis plays important roles in the stress response, antidepressant action, and learning and memory. Thus, interventions that regulate adult hippocampal neurogenesis, such as manipulation of the gut microbiome, may have therapeutic potential for both stress-related psychiatric disorders and cognitive brain disorders. 

At the National Academies’ Board on Life Sciences Discussions, Dr O’Leary was joined by other research leaders in the field including, Professor Rima Fathi Kaddurah-Daouk (Duke University), Professor Anumantha Kanthasamy (University of Georgia), Professor Eran Blacher (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Professor Todd Coleman (Stanford University). 

The discussions focused on the interplay between the brain and gut microbiome as it relates to trends in wearable technologies to measure and/or manipulate brain activity, and effects from environmental conditions on the microbiome-gut-brain axis. The discussion also explored existing successes and opportunities in this field, critical challenges and emerging areas that could enhance research and/or its applications, and the implications of this research on human health, ethics, defence and national security, and other relevant fields.

Dr O’Leary said that 'her invitation from the USA National Academies of Sciences to participate in this meeting recognises the calibre of her research programme in UCC', and that she was 'delighted for the opportunity to share her research and insights amongst global experts in the field, the public, and with the National Academies’ Board on Life Sciences.'

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, non-profit institutions in the USA that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the world. Their work helps shape sound policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine. The flagship peer-reviewed journal of the National Academy of Sciences is The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world's most cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals.

Further Information on the National Academies of Sciences can be found here:


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Photograph and news item B. Riedewald

Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

Anatamaíocht agus Néareolaíocht

Room 2.33, 2nd Floor, Western Gateway Building, University College, Cork, Ireland