I’m a PhD student in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, researching the underlying causes of autoimmune diseases such as MS by focusing on the regulation and function of T cells in autoimmunity.
MS is the most common progressive and disabling neurological condition in young adults where the average age of onset is 18 to 35. Autoimmune diseases such as MS arise when specialised immune cells such as T cells attack their host and cause inflammation. In MS the myelin coating surrounding neurons is damaged by cells from the immune system. This damage prevents the signals being sent along the neurons in the brain and spinal chord, resulting in progressive disability. My research uses an EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis) model of brain inflammation to understand the role of various types of T cells in the disease.
I am very passionate about my research and its importance in understanding diseases and the difference that can make to human health.
In addition to my research, I also has an avid interest in music be it listening, performing or writing. I’m lead vocals in the band Take the Money and Run and I also sing in the Trinity Choir.
What brought you to research?
As I was picking my subjects for secondary school I decided to leave out science, I imagined it would solely consist of blowing up liquids and sheep’s heart dissections. My mum talked me out of my ridiculous notions, I have her to thank for my career path. My mum is a nurse and we really enjoy discussing each other’s work with a shared interest in medicine and biology. I adored biology and chemistry in school so it seemed only natural to pursue a science degree in university and Trinity College was the ideal choice. After two years of general science I choose Biochemistry with Immunology as my undergraduate degree as I felt immunology was the root to understanding a lot of medical conditions and diseases and inevitably drug therapy, I wanted to be a part of that world.
I had never thought about doing a PhD until my final year project on KIR genes and psoriasis when I realised research was something I thoroughly enjoyed, I had found my niche. I was delighted when I was accepted into the PRTLI Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms Underlying Inflammatory Processes PhD programme. I choose Professor Kingston Mills’ lab as my new home for the next four years. I really enjoy working on cellular immunology and autoimmunity and I find my research challenging and incredibly rewarding.