From a young age, I have been fascinated by the human body and how its complex and diverse mechanisms work in concert to maintain homeostasis. Moreover, how these various mechanisms are influenced by an individual’s environment and how they differ in specific diseases and disorders. My passion for research fuels my desire to excel; I graduated top of a competitive undergraduate Biochemistry class at UCC and was awarded two Summer research bursaries in microbiota-gut-brain axis research.
Advancing my career, I am honoured to have the opportunity to complete a PhD in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience under the supervision of Prof. John Cryan and Dr Gerard Clarke. My PhD investigates the role of the gut microbiota and its metabolites in shaping myelination patterns during critical windows of early life. Indeed, the willingness, enthusiasm and support from staff and colleagues have not only enabled me to achieve my goals to date, but also allowed me to be involved in a variety of activities outside of the laboratory such as the CoMH student postgraduate committee. The skills I have developed during my studies have provided me with indispensable opportunities that help me understand, and hopefully, one day solve, the complex problems that face humanity. - Caoimhe Lynch
Edel Burton(School of Public Health)
Who am I?
Dia dhaoibh a chairde. My name is Edel Burton. I am a pharmacist and second year SPHeRE ( Structured Population and Health-services Research Education) PhD Scholar in the School of Public Health in UCC. I am one of six PhD scholars on the Health Research Board Collaborative Doctoral Programme in Chronic Disease Prevention.
What do I do ?
I am investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prehospital emergency care for those with suspected stroke/transient ischaemic attack (TIA) in Ireland. My PhD topic is health services research, so I will be doing secondary data analysis and also qualitative interviews.
Why do I enjoy it?
I very much enjoy working in a patient-centred field, working on research that aims to optimise patient care. I have the opportunity to work within a multidisciplinary team of researchers, healthcare professionals, policy makers and stroke survivors on a regular basis. In essence, I have always been motivated by helping others. Identifying a problem and striving to find a solution. Now I have the opportunity to work towards this goal each day.
Cristina Cuesta Martí (Anatomy and Neuroscience)
Cristina graduated from the double degree in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at the University Rovira Y Virgili (URV) of Tarragona (Spain) (BSc 2016-2021). Furthermore, she studied the free-elective modules (30 ECTS) at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) under an Erasmus+ Studies Program (09/2020-02/2021) with two distinction grades of the three modules taken. She started last October 2021 a MSc by Research (Medicine) in Neuroscience in the University College Cork after doing her internship in the APC Microbiome Ireland under Dr. Schellekens and Dr. Clarke supervision, from January 2021 to June 2021, in order to base her final degree project of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
She is transitioning to PhD in the same group and with the same supervisor and co-supervisor, respectively. Cristina did two more internships before. Her PhD aims to identify bacteria with positive health effects in subsequent animal and human studies, after an in vitro screening platform, and expedite the process to produce functional probiotics and psychobiotics. She has already designed an assay to identify novel bacterial strains which have a potent effect on the hypothalamic and hippocampal expression of the neuropeptidergic signalling system, involved in appetite and host metabolism.
Her first experience was as R&D trainee in the department of analysis and pharmacokinetics Reig Jofre Laboratory (Spain) from June 2019 to September 2019. She did also an internship in the department of oenological microbiology in VITEC – Wine Technology Park (Spain) from June 2020 to September 2020.
Michael Leary (School of Pharmacy)
I am a first year PhD student working within the pharmaceutics lab of the School of Pharmacy. My project is entitled “Interrogating the processing and formulation of biologicals using novel techniques to ensure safe and efficacious medicines”. RNA is the therapeutic agent of focus for my research. RNA drugs have huge potential but also have inherent stability challenges therefore my research aims to investigate the impact of a number of novel pharmaceutical processing techniques such as electrospraying and microfluidics on the stability and efficacy of RNA formulations. I enjoy working within the pharmaceutics lab as it gives me the opportunity to carry out my own laboratory research and utilise analytical techniques daily, which I enjoyed as an undergraduate. The staff and research students are also very approachable and helpful which creates a pleasant work environment.
Allison Mula (Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy)
My name is Allison Mula, and I am a PhD candidate in The School of Clinical Therapies’ Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Department. I am a member of the P4PLAY joint doctorate program, the first innovative trans-European Occupational Science doctoral training programme dedicated to play occupation, participation, policy and practice.
Occupational Science views play as a central occupation for children and believes that it is through play that children experience life, create who they are, and practice the things that they see in the world around them.
My research will explore how children, through play occupations, conceptualize, communicate, reinforce, and challenge, existing social discourses of gender. I intend to center the voice of the child and for this reason, I will be working directly with children in their environment of play.
I love this program because it encourages us to reevaluate our existing notions regarding the transaction that occurs between people and their environment, and appreciate the complex, multi-dimensional world that lies just beneath the surface of the things that people do every day.
"My name is Niamh Coffey and I am one of the clinical fellows in Restorative Dentistry based in the Cork University Dental School and Hospital in Wilton. I am currently carrying out a PhD into the area of periodontal disease and oral hygiene practices in adults with Cystic Fibrosis(CF). My study will form part of a larger study into the oral health of adults with CF and their microbiome. This is an area that is greatly lacking in research and so it is a very exciting project to be a part of. I work between the dental hospital and the adult CF unit in Cork University Hospital. Generally, I would see one patient a day in the CF unit; people attend this unit for regular appointments, usually every 3—6 months, and I carry out a dental examination, in between other reviews (physiotherapy, dietetics etc.). I collect data regarding their general health, dental hygiene practices etc and then carry out a clinical examination, recording their periodontal condition, caries level and presence or absence of other dental conditions. We work with a wonderful team in the CF unit; the specialist CF nurses are our first point of contact in the unit and they have been extremely helpful in enabling us to carry out our study. We have regular contact with the registrar and consultant and this interdisciplinary collaboration has enabled us to improve the quality and scope of our study.
I really enjoy the fact that this is a clinical, patient-focused PhD and one that will hopefully improve the quality of life of people with Cystic Fibrosis. We have worked with patient advocates from Cystic Fibrosis Ireland to ensure that we are addressing the issues people with Cystic Fibrosis may have regarding their dental health.
Another benefit of carrying out this PhD is that I have improved research skills in areas such as qualitative inquiry, data management, statistical analysis and systematic reviews due to postgraduate courses and training sessions run by UCC. There is great diversity in the work I am doing for my PhD-on any given day, I may be seeing patients, doing data analysis, writing articles, teaching students or doing training programs… sometimes all on the same day! But it is because of this diversity that no two days are the same and that, to me, is what makes the PhD path so interesting and rewarding."
Patricia Flynn (Anatomy and Neuroscience)
My name is Patricia Flynn, I am undertaking a PhD in the department of Anatomy and Neuroscience funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research and Musgrave under the supervision of Dr André Toulouse and Dr Collette Hand where I study the influence of the retinoic acid pathway in glioblastoma, a devastating brain tumour with a very poor prognosis.
It is an honour and a privilege to work and study in the College of Medicine and Health laboratories as I try to reveal the untapped potential of new treatments that are badly needed for glioblastoma patients. It takes a lot of people working together to bring these projects to life, I’m very proud to be a part of this team.
Medicine and Health
Coláiste an Leighis agus na Sláinte
3rd Floor, Erinville Hospital,
University College Cork,