Ken Nally


  • 1995 B.Sc (hons) in Biochemistry, National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)
  • 2002 Ph.D, Depts of Medicine & Microbiology, University College Cork (UCC)

Dr. Ken Nally is a Lecturer in the School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and is a Funded Investigator in the APC. Dr. Nally has a BSc. in Biochemistry from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) and a PhD in Microbiology from UCC. He has spent the last 10 years working in the area of Inflammation discovery research initially as a postdoctoral fellow after obtaining a Career Development Fellowship (HRB, 2003 – 2006) and thereafter as a group leader in the APC. Between 2006-2012, Dr. Nally directed a 5 year research collaboration between the APC and the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline Ltd. (GSK) in the areas Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) early drug discovery research, inflammation, leukocyte trafficking, miRNA and epigenetic regulation of inflammatory gene expression. Dr. Nally was  awarded an SFI Career Development Award grant (2014) to expand his research activities in these areas. His research group takes a functional genomics approach to discover the fundamental mechanisms underpinning host-microbe interactions, cell death induced by Th1 inflammatory cytokines, cross-talk between inflammatory and oncogenic (RTK) signaling pathways and epigenetic regulation of inflammatory, anti-microbial and cell death gene expression.

Research Interests

Host-Microbe Interaction, Inflammation, and Cancer Biology

  1. Host-Microbe interactions in health and inflammatory disease
  2. Immunopathology in inflammatory disease and cancer
  3. Mechanisms underpinning cross-talk and synergism between inflammatory signalling pathways
  4. Specific focus on Interferon (IFN) and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) signalling pathways
  5. Crosstalk between inflammatory and oncogenic signalling pathways
  6. Epigenetic mechanisms underpinning regulation of inflammatory, anti-viral and oncogenic gene expression
  7. Functional genomics analysis of inflammatory, cell survival and cell death pathways
  8. Discovery of cancer cell intrinsic tumour suppressor mechanisms underpinning immune-mediated suppression of cancer

Ken’s research interests are in the areas of Host-Microbe Interaction, Inflammation and Cancer Biology. His group is exploring the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning the role of the immune system in host recognition of microbes, chronic inflammatory diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), type I diabetes and colon cancer. In terms of IBD and colon cancer, his research group is particularly interested in how the relative sensitivity and resistance of intestinal epithelial cells and colon cancer cells to immune-mediated apoptosis contributes to disease pathogenesis and response to therapeutic interventions. The molecular mechanisms – signal transduction, transcriptional regulation and epigenetic – underpinning the regulation of gene expression in response to inflammatory stimuli in immune, non-immune cells and cancer cells and how this contributes to disease pathogenesis is the main focus of our research. Specifically, they have an interest in understanding how the synergistic interactions between IFN-gamma and other inflammatory stimuli such as LPS, IL-1beta and TNF-alpha both in terms of their overall effect on inflammatory gene expression and also cell fate decisions contribute to pathogenesis in diseases such as IBD, type I diabetes and other inflammatory conditions.  It is well appreciated that in IBD and type I diabetes, pro-inflammatory cytokines (IFN-gamma, IL-1beta and TNF-alpha) induce the death of epithelial cells thereby compromising the function of the gut and the pancreas respectively. Currently, in the context of collaborations with academic and pharmaceutical groups they are investigating the possible roles of microRNAs and epigenetic modifiers such as chromatin modifying enzymes – histone methyltransferases and histone demethylases – in regulating inflammatory gene expression and cell fate decisions in response to these  and other stimuli. they use a combination of in vitro cell and molecular biology based approaches, functional genomics approaches, in vivo based animal models of inflammation, inflammation linked colon cancer and human biopsy tissue to investigate basic mechanisms of disease with a focus on inflammatory bowel disease. In addition they use these various systems for drug target identification, drug target validation studies and for pre-clinical profiling of novel drug candidates for efficacy in the setting of chronic intestinal inflammation. They also have ongoing active research projects in the areas of host microbe interactions with a particular interest in the mechanisms underpinning interaction of host cells with gut commensal bacteria.



Professional Activity

  • Science Foundation Ireland Career Development Award, SFI, Ireland, 2014
  • Health Research Board Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, HRB, Ireland, 2003
  • Herbert W. Rand Scholarship, MBL, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA, 2003.
  • Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Scientist of the Year, 2008

Career Profile

  • 2002-2003        Wellcome Trust Post-doctoral scientist, Department of Medicine, UCC
  • 2003-2006        Health Research Board of Ireland (HRB) Post-Doctoral Fellowship, UCC
  • 2006-2011        Senior Scientist & Project Leader, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC) – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Collaboration, UCC
  • 2007-present   Funded Investigator, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC
  • 2012-present   Lecturer, School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC



Ken Nally

Contact Details:


Principal Investigators

APC Microbiome Ireland

Biosciences Building, University College Cork, Ireland,