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Prestigious Awards For Outstanding Young Microbiome Researchers

21 Apr 2020

Prestigious Awards For Outstanding Young Microbiome Researchers

Six talented researchers at APC Microbiome Ireland (APC) SFI Research Centre in University College Cork have been awarded  prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MCSA)  and Irish Research Council (IRC) postdoctoral fellowships this year.


Dr Kirsten Berding-Harold will continue her research with Prof John Cryan investigating the potential for a psychobiotic diet to improve subjective feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, as well as its potential to lower physiological responses to an acute stressor through manipulation of the microbiota composition.

Dr Jatin Nagpal will join Prof John Cryan’s group to study the mechanisms underlying microbiota-stress communication, specifically the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis, using larval zebrafish as model system. The project will employ microbiota-free zebrafish as well as a model of optogenetically-induced chronic early-life stress and couple that with modern methods of genomics and metabolomics.


Dr Eileen Ryan will develop her research on oxylipins, key chemical signals between bacteria and humans which are derived from fatty acids. Eileen has been an APEX fellow with Dr Susan Joyce since she returned to Ireland. Her research will contribute towards a molecular understanding of how microbe–host interactions influence human health.

Dr Ciaran Lee will explore the gut bacterium Bifidobacterium breve and how it interacts with human immune cells using a synthetic biology approach.    Kieran joined Dr. Ken Nally’s gut inflammation group in APC in 2019 where he has been investigating immune signaling in inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

Dr Maria Rodriguez Aburto will join Prof John Cryan’s group where she will explore how gut bacteria are involved in development of communication between blood vessels and brain cells, especially in early life when disruptions of the microbiome such as stress, antibiotics or delivery by c-section may hinder development of a healthy brain.

Dr Maria Esteban-Torres will research how microbes are transferred from mothers to infants which is key for the babies’ development and health.    Maria has previously held an IRC postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Douwe van Sinderen at APC and will take up her fellowship at the IATA-CSIC in Valencia and continue to collaborate with the APC.

The deadline for the next round of MSCA Individual fellowship applications is 9th September 2020.  Interested applicants should contact Saba Loftus

MSCA Photos courtesy Tomas Tyner, University College Cork

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