Postgrad Opportunities

Here at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics we have a wide range of Postgraduate opportunities available. Our aim is to equip students with a high level of technical and clinical skills that is adaptable to all aspects of the pharmaceutical industry while also encourging academic research. 

 

Applications are open for students who would like to pursue a Masters or PhD within the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

 

Our list of research areas below will give you an overview of the research areas within the department.

 

Pharmacological and pathophysiological aspects of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

&  Obstetric complications and fetal neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Dr Cathal McCarthy 

Dr. Cathal McCarthy leads a translational obstetrics research group which investigates the signalling pathways causing pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus and the development of novel therapeutics to effectively treat these pregnancy complications. Pre-eclampsia (PE) and gestational diabetes (GDM) are two common complications of pregnancy and affect 15% of first time mothers. Both conditions share common pathophysiological features including mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, insulin resistance and widespread vascular endothelial dysfunction. My research group utilises a number of different approaches from cellular models, preclinical models and biological samples and applies various technologies to tease out the signalling mechanisms involved in these complications. This work is in collaboration with clinical colleagues in the  Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology CUMH.  The other main interest of the research group is elucidating the biological connection between placental mediators of obstetric complications and adverse fetal neurodevelopmental outcomes in collaboration with colleagues in the Dept. of Anatomy & Neuroscience in UCC.

 

I welcome enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers wishing to join the research group. If you have ideas for collaborations on existing work or would like to discuss your own research interests then there are a number of PhD studentships, Postdoctoral fellowships and other funding schemes available which I am more than happy to discuss this with you in the first instance by email  cmccarthy@ucc.ie

You can follow Dr McCarthy on Twitter @CMcCarthyLab  

Biochemical and Immunological aspects of Toxicity

Dr Frank van Pelt 

Dr Frank van Pelt's research spans various aspects of toxicology with an emphasis of the biochemical and immunological mechanisms underlying adverse drug reaction, biomarkers  and mechanisms of toxicity caused by chemicals and environmental pollutants. Most research projects are interdisciplinary, collaborative project with other departments in UCC and other institutions. Ecotoxicological and growth-promoting properties of wood ash. Toxicology and exotoxicology of biotoxins (algal toxins) Biochemical and immunological mechanisms adverse drug reactions. Immuno-modulation by environmental pollutants. Investigation of the toxicity caused combinatory exposure to solvents. Identification and validation of biomarkers for environmental exposure in terrestrial and aquatic organisms for risk assessment purposes.

Dr. van Pelt is a Registered Toxicologist in Ireland and a Eurotox Registered Toxicologist. He was Vice-president of the Irish Society of Toxicology 2005-2007 and President of the Irish Society of Toxicology 2007-2009

 

Dr van Pelt welcomes enquiries from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers. If you would like to discuss your own research interests there are a number of PhD studentships, Postdoctoral Fellowships and many other funding schemes available that we would be happy to discuss. You can contact Dr van Pelt by email f.vanpelt@ucc.ie 

Cancer cell signaling and its modification (therapeutic or environmental)

Dr Orla Barry 

Our laboratory focuses on the study of different families of serine/threonine kinases that play key roles in signalling mechanisms following activation of seven-transmembrane and tyrosine-kinase receptors. In particular our area of research focuses on the role of Paks, p38 MAPKs, and PKCs which exert a variety of cellular effects including changes in proliferation, malignant transformation, cell death and differentiation. Briefly, we have exploited the activation of PKC as a pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative agent in oesophageal cancer. In addition we have re-introduced p38delta MAPK into different cancers which lack this isoform including oesophageal, renal, prostate, lung and liver which has profound effects on cell proliferation and apoptosis. Finally, we have identified different Pak isoforms which are pro-apoptotic in oesophageal and renal cancer. An important aspect of our research is to elucidate the signalling pathways underlying the apoptotic effect of these kinases using both pharmacological and molecular strategies. In addition the use of athymic nude mice to study their effects is necessary to translate in vitro results to in vivo models of tumourigenesis in order to validate our experimental hypothesis in a physiological setting. 

 

I welcome enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers wishing to join the research group. If you have ideas for collaborations on existing work or would like to discuss your own research interests then there are a number of PhD studentships, Postdoctoral fellowships and other funding schemes available which I am more than happy to discuss this with you in the first instance by email O.Barry@ucc.ie

 

Vascular biology and functional foods

Professor David Kerins 

My research has focussed on aspects of vascular biology. Initially my attention was on the process of platelet activation in the setting of coronary thrombolysis (fibrinolysis). This indicated that in a human study that we initiated that platelet activation did indeed occur when patients received therapeutics t-PA. These observations were followed by a series of studies in an experimental model of coronary thrombosis that demonstrated the mechanisms and extent of platelet activation and explored mechanisms to limit the deleterious effects of such platelet activation.

Further studies examined the interaction between the fibrinolytic pathway and the renin-angiotensin system. They included the initial demonstration that the angiotensin IV receptor was biologically active in regulating the expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1). The role of the fibrinolytic pathway in organ regeneration and in the process of atherosclerosis were also the subject of many studies. Most recently these interests are applied in a study of the effects of functional food products on a variety of parameters that influence thrombosis and coagulation as part of the NationalFunctional Food Research Center grant at UCC. My role in this project is a lead investigator in the section on cardiovascular disease (working party 6d).

In addition to an interest in the basic science of vascular biology I have also developed a more clinically active interest in non-invasive cardiac imaging. This has resulted in studies to address the role of echocardiography and of magnetic resonance imaging in vascular disease. This is currently expressed in a joint study with colleagues from the Department of Rheumatology at Cork University Hospital in the evaluation of preclinical atherosclerosis in a patient population with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

I welcome enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities. If you have ideas for collaborations on existing work or would like to discuss your own research interests then I am more than happy to discuss this with you in the first instance by email d.kerins@ucc.ie

Neurobiology of Stress and Trauma / Brain-Gut Microbiome Axis

Dr Rachel Moloney 

Dr. Moloney's current research is focused on understanding the role of traumatic stress on brain circuitry and its impact on fear and social behaviours, particularly in the context of PTSD, anxiety and depression. Her lab focuses on stress neurobiology across the lifespan, utilizing cutting edge tools such as DREADDs to manipulate neuro-circuitry and to unravel these corticolimbic circuits. Dr. Moloney is also interested in the role of the brain-gut microbiome axis in stress-related illnesses as well as the impact of stress on pain sensitivity and spinal circuitry.

 I welcome enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers wishing to join the research group. If you have ideas for collaborations on existing work or would like to discuss your own research interests then there are a number of PhD studentships, Postdoctoral fellowships and other funding schemes available which I am more than happy to discuss this with you in the first instance by email rachelmoloney@ucc.ie

Signaling of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) & Modelling of ligand/receptor interaction

Professor Thomas Walther 

The international orientation of Prof. Thomas Walther’s research has increasingly gained in importance over the past years, especially in the fields of programs that combine basic and translational research in order to improve the prediction and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. He is consequently following the strategy of molecular investigation, followed by evaluation in animal models, and finally establishing proof of concept in humans aiming to find new therapeutic strategies.

 

Using these complex approaches, he is investigating the role of three different peptide systems (renin-angiotensin system, kallikrein-kinin system, natriuretic peptide system) in the aetiology of different diseases, mainly focused on cardiovascular pathophysiology in end-organs such as the brain or heart. Since identifying intense interactions of these systems, he is interested in finding out how an imbalance of cross-talk can influence the development of heart failure and vascular diseases. These investigations are especially focused on altered gene regulation, modified receptor/receptor interaction, and receptor mediated intracellular signalling.

 

Professor Walther’s main aims are to continue improving the understanding of the roles of these important signalling systems in cardiovascular disease and to identify pharmacological targets for new drugs. The ultimate aim is to improve patient outcome from cardiovascular conditions. Over the last ten years this research has resulted in over 110 papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals.

 

Professor Thomas Walther is currently on sabbatical and may be contacted at t.walther@ucc.ie

Pharmacological and pathophysiological aspects of cardiovascular biology

Lifestyle medicine and pharmacology in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Gerardene Meade - Murphy 

Cardiovascular disease represents the leading cause of mortality globally. Chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease can be characterized by a lag time from its onset in childhood and adolescence to its clinical manifestation in later life. This provides a window of opportunity for implementation of intervention strategies to reduce disease burden.

 

Dr. Meade-Murphy has a research background studying platelet function and their role in thrombosis, CVD and in cancer. Her current research interest focuses on the role of lifestyle strategies (lifestyle medicine) and pharmacology in reducing CVD risk and disease burden. For instance, adaptive lifestyle medicine and pharmacological treatment of CVD may modulate the heterogeneous profile and function of circulating platelets (through megakaryocytopoiesis and thrombopoiesis) and the level of thrombotic risk. Controlled regular physical activity and consumption of functional foods, such as micro-nutrients (e.g. magnesium) may also exert protective effects against cardiovascular diseases, in part due to altered phenotype and function of platelets and vascular cells. The impact of lifestyle medicine and the traditional pharmacotherapeutic approaches on cell, molecular and physiological changes may facilitate optimisation of treatment regimens to minimise thrombotic and CVD risk.

 

 

Dr. Meade-Murphy welcome enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers wishing to join the research group. If you would like to discuss such possibilities and your research interests, please contact me on Gerardene.meademurphy@ucc.ie

 

Stroke, Neurodegenerative disorders and Neuroprotection

Professor Christian Waeber 

Professor Waeber’s research is centred around the study of the effects of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P, a lipid mediator) signalling on the vasculature, the brain and the immune system. His studies have therapeutic implications for the management of stroke and other cardiovascular disorders. Prof Waeber’s team has performed extensive preclinical characterization of the effects of the S1P receptor modulator fingolimod (FTY720) on various rodent models of stroke (haemorrhagic stroke and ischemic stroke, modelled using filament occlusion of the proximal Middle Cerebral Artery, or distal occlusion of the MCA using a thromboembolic or electrocauterization model).  These studies specifically investigated the mechanisms of action of fingolimod in experimental stroke, with special emphasis on the role played by the immune system, and more specifically regulatory T lymphocytes (Tregs). Prof Waeber’s team is also involved in clinical stroke studies aimed at characterizing the temporal leukocyte profiles following stroke in order to understand the beneficial or deleterious effects of various lymphocytes population on recovery in stroke survivors. 

I welcome enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers wishing to join the research group. If you have ideas for collaborations on existing work or would like to discuss your own research interests then there are a number of PhD studentships, Postdoctoral fellowships and other funding schemes available which I am more than happy to discuss this with you in the first instance by email c.waeber@ucc.ie 

 

Identification and Development of Cardioprotective Agents for the Treatment of Cardiac Pathologies

Dr. Roisin Kelly-Laubscher

Dr. Roisin Kelly-Laubscher’s research focuses on the identification and development of cardioprotective agents for the treatment of cardiac pathologies. To do this she uses cellular and preclinical models of cardiac pathology including; myocardial infarction, drug induced cardiotoxicity and cardiac hypertrophy. Through her research she has identified ethanolamine as a novel cardioprotective agent in myocardial infarction. One aspect of her current research focuses on the delineation of the mechanisms of this protection. A better understanding of how ethanolamine protects the heart may lead to the identification of more specific drug targets. Another aspect of her current research centres on the identification of novel cardioprotective agents that can minimise the damage caused by anti-cancer drugs. More and more people are surviving cancer due to early detection methods and better treatment options. Unfortunately, many of the drugs used to treat cancer can also damage the heart and so there is a need for cardioprotective agents that can protect the heart during cancer treatment.

Dr Kelly-Laubscher welcomes enquires from students interested in discussing MSc or PhD opportunities and post-doctoral researchers wishing to join the research group. If you would like to discuss such possibilities, please contact me on roisinkelly@ucc.ie

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Cógaseolaíocht agus Teiripic

2nd Floor, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Cork

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