Prof. Fergus Shanahan

IMMUNOMET Principal Investigator
Department of Medicine, University College Cork & Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork


Professor Fergus Shanahan received an honours medical degree from the National University of Ireland, Dublin in 1977. After internship and medical residency at the Mater Hospital, Dublin he did fellowships in clinical immunology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada (1981-1983) and in gastroenterology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (1983-1985). He was awarded Fellowships from each of four Colleges of Physicians (Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada and the USA). After finishing his training in gastroenterology at UCLA he was appointed Assistant Professor and subsequently Associate Professor of Medicine at the UCLA Centre for Health Sciences. In 1993 he took up his appointment as Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine, University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Cork and consultant physician/ gastroenterologist, Cork University Hospital. He is currently Director of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre UCC, a research centre funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry, and Director of the Biosciences Institute, UCC.

Prof. Paul O’Toole

IMMUNOMET Project Coordinator
Department of Microbiology, University College Cork


Professor Paul O’Toole graduated with BA (Mod) Microbiology (1984) and PhD (1987) from Trinity College Dublin, in microbial molecular genetics. He has extensive experience in bacterial genetics and gut microbiology, having spent 14 years outside Ireland working in Univ. Lund (Sweden), Univ. Victoria (Canada), Massey University (New Zealand), and GlaxoSmithKline (Philadelphia).Since 2002, he has led the Lactobacillus genomics programme at UCC, where he is a Senior Lecturer in Genetics at the Department of Microbiology, and the co-ordinator of the B.Sc. Genetics degree. As well as co-ordinating IMMUNOMET, he is a member of the International Co-ordination Board of the MetaHIT consortium, which is an EU-supported FP7 project for metagenomic analysis of healthy, obese and diabetic adults in Europe. His research programme in bacterial genomics at UCC is funded by Dept. Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.


Prof. Paul Ross

Moorepark Food Research Centre, Fermoy, Co. Cork


Professor Ross is the Head of the Teagasc Food Research Programme (Moorepark/Ashtown Food Centres) and has supervised the completion of 21 M.Sc. and 48 Ph.D. theses. He is an author of 450 Research, Technical Papers and Book Chapters and 15 Patents. Prof Ross has been awarded “The William C. Haines Dairy Science Award” (2007), a “Lifescience & Food Commercialisation Award” by Enterprise Ireland (2008), the International Dairy Federation’s Elie Metchnikoff Prize in Microbiology (2010) and was elected a member of The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) in May 2010 in recognition of his academic achievement. More recently Paul Ross was awarded the Teagasc Gold Medal award for his outstanding contribution to the Agri-Food sector (2011). Prof Ross’ research interests are in the Food and Health area with a particular focus on antimicrobials and anti-infectives (applied and fundamental aspects), gut flora and gut health (how food programmes – human health – including probiotics), bacteriophage (phage therapy and phage hardening) and human, animal and gut pathogens.

Prof. Colin Hill

Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork


Professor Hill has a Ph.D. in molecular microbiology and is Professor of Microbial Food Safety in the School of Microbiology at University College Cork, Ireland. He trained in University College Cork, the University of Groningen before spending two years as a post-doc in NC State with Todd Klaenhammer. His main research interests are in infectious disease, particularly in defining the mechanisms of virulence of foodborne pathogens and in developing strategies to prevent and limit the consequences of microbial infections in the gastrointestinal tract. He is also a Principal Investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in Cork, a large research centre devoted to the study of the role of the gut microbiota in health and disease.  In 2005 Prof. Hill was awarded a D.Sc by the National University of Ireland in recognition of his contributions to research. In 2009 he was elected to the Royal Irish Academy and in 2010 he was a joint recipient of the Metchnikoff Prize in Microbiology and was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology.  He has published more than 380 peer-reviewed papers and holds 14 patents. He is president of ISAPP since 2012.

Prof. Catherine Stanton

Moorepark Food Research Centre, Fermoy, Co. Cork


Catherine Stanton graduated with B.Sc (Hons) in Nutrition/Food Chemistry in 1983 and with M.Sc in Nutrition in 1986, both from University College, Cork. She did her PhD at Bournemouth University, UK in Biochemistry, graduating in 1988. After her PhD, she joined Johnson & Johnson UK, and later took a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Medicine, Wake Forest, University Medical Centre, Winston-Salem, NC, USA for 4 years, working on post-translational modifications of vitamin K dependent proteins, involved in blood clotting. In 1994, she joined Teagasc and over the past 14 years has built up the research programme on functional dairy foods. Her research interests include probiotics, microbial biogenic metabolite production, bioactive lipids, CLA/bioactive peptides and the nutritional aspects of dairy/functional foods. Prof. Stanton is an author of over 100 peer-reviewed papers. She is a Principal Investigator with the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre and on the IMMUNOMET project, with responsibilities for the lipid assays and metabolomics.

Prof. Helen Roche

Conway Institute, University College Dublin


Helen Roche’s academic background is in Human Nutriton & Molecular Medicine, she was recently appointed Associate Professor of Nutrigenomics based at the Conway Institute, UCD, Ireland within the Food & Health Theme. She is also a SFI Principal Investigator. Prior to that as Wellcome Trust Fellow & Senior Lecturer in Molecular Nutrition at TCD, Dr Roche established the first Nutrigenomics research group in Ireland, at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at TCD. Nutrigenomics uses state-of-the-art ‘omoics’ technologies to investigate the interaction between Nutrition and the Human Genome and gain a greater understanding of the molecular effects of nutrition on health.

Dr. Eibhlis O’Connor

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick


Eibhlís O’Connor is a registered Human Nutritionist and Lecturer in Human Nutrition in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick where she is Course Director of the BSc. Food Science and Health degree programme and member of the Health Research Institute. She has a BSc and PhD in Nutritional Sciences from University College Cork (UCC). Her research interests include the role of novel, vitamin-K dependent proteins (VKDPs) in health and disease, and specifically those involved in bone metabolism, cognition, glucose regulation and cardiovascular health.

Eibhlís is a Faculty Member of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, (APC) Microbiome Ireland, UCC – she has a keen interest in how diet can modulate the gut microbiota and thus impact health and is involved in the design and coordination of numerous ongoing dietary intervention studies in collaboration with APC colleagues. Her role as task leader in ImmunoMET is in the design and coordination of dietary interventions to modulate the gut microbiota and influence metabolic health in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Eibhlís is also the lead Principal Investigator and coordinator on the DAFM-funded FIBREMET project which aims to characterize the effect of dietary fibres on the gut microbiota and metabollic health in inflammatory bowel disease.

Previously, Eibhlís lead an Irish Heart foundation funded study assessing the role of novel VKDP as biomarkers of vascular calcification and arterial plaque phenotype in ‘at risk’ cardiovascular patients. She also led a US Allen Foundation-funded project analysing dietary and microbiota-derived vitamin K and its relationship with inflammation and cognition in older individuals. Other roles include leading the UL/UCC contribution to the MaNuEL (Malnutrition in the Elderly) Knowledge Hub, and acting as National Coordinator of the Irish contribution (including UCD) to this pan-European Joint Action as part of the ‘Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ initiative.

Dr. Francis M. Finucane

Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Galway
University Hospitals & National University of Ireland, Galway


Francis Finucane is a consultant endocrinologist at Galway University Hospitals and an honorary senior lecturer in medicine at NUI Galway.  Prior to this, he was awarded an MD from the University of Dublin (TCD) for research on the mechanistic basis for type 2 diabetes in young people.  Thereafter, he completed an MRC-funded post-doctoral career development fellowship at the Institute of Metabolic Science in Cambridge, UK, where he led a randomised controlled trial of a structured lifestyle modification programme to reduce metabolic risk in older people.  This was the first study to show that exercise reduces liver fat content in humans. Since returning to Ireland in 2010, Dr. Finucane has established a regional bariatric service for patients with severe and complicated obesity.  He chairs the regional Diabetes Service Implementation Group for the West of Ireland and is a member of the National Clinical Advisory Group for Diabetes.  He is the clinical lead for endocrinology at Galway University Hospitals and is a principal investigator on a major international trial of a novel drug therapy for obesity.  His expertise in the area of type 2 diabetes mellitus pathogenesis and treatment is directly relevant to this research programme and the proposed collaboration.


 Dr. Conall Strain


Dr. Jessica Ralston

Jessica joined the Food for Health Ireland Glycaemic Management team as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in 2015. She holds a BSc in Human Kinetics and received her PhD in Human Health and Nutritional Science from the University of Guelph in Canada. Her current research with FHI examines the ability of novel dairy bioactives to regulate inflammation and glucose metabolism in adipose tissue.

 Dr. Tam Tran

Tam graduated with a B.Sc. in Biotechnology from Vietnam National University, Hanoi and with a PhD in Genomic and Bioinformatic from Aix-Marseille University, France. She joined Prof. Paul O’Toole lab as a postdoctoral researcher in January 2017. Her main research interests are the IMMUNOMET metagenomics project and the association between diabetes and the gut human microbiome.