Professor Seamas Donnelly‘s research activities represent a classical bench to bedside approach. The Donnelly group is part of the School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin and is based in the state of the art Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street in the heart of Dublin. We are a multidisciplinary research group working in the area of translational medicine with a focus on respiratory disease. Our aim is to develop novel therapies and gain new insights into disease which will directly benefit patients in the clinic. Details of our current research activities can be found here. Profiles of our current staff members and students can also be found here. Please feel free to get in contact with us for further information. Updates and news will appear below.

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Aoife and Andrew Undertake International Lab Placements


Ph.D. students Aoife McElroy and Andrew O’Neill recently undertook international lab placements as part of their Ph.D. studies.

Aoife travelled to the research lab of Dr. Nik Hirani at The University of Edinburgh to investigate autophagy regulation in clinical samples from patients suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

While Andrew travelled to the research lab of Professor George A. O’Toole at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, to further study Pseudomonas aerginosa host-pathogen interactions.

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2017 Christmas Dinner

2017 xmas dinner

A huge thanks to Aisling for organising a great group night out to celebrate Christmas 2017.

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New Paper Published in QJM Detailing How a Polymorphism in Toll-like Receptor 3 Promotes a Persistent Clinical Phenotype in Pulmonary Sarcoidosis

Congratulations to Michelle and all of the Donnelly Group on their new paper published in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. In this work, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) within the human toll-like receptor 3 gene (designated TLR3 L412F) was examined for its role in disease progression in pulmonary sarcoidosis.

This study highlights defective TLR3 function as a previously unidentified factor in persistent clinical disease and revealed that the TLR3 L412F SNP is a candidate biomarker for disease prognosis.

The publication can be found here:

QJM: An International Journal of Medicine is a leading general medical journal focusing on internal medicine, publishing peer-reviewed articles which promote medical science and practice.

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Ooi Siew-ting Wins Meath Foundation Award

Siew-Ting OOI

Congratulations to Ooi Siew-ting, who was awarded Meath Foundation Award for best research project by 2nd year medical students.

Under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Armstrong and Prof. Seamas Donnelly, Siew-ting examined the ability of IL-17A to modulate TLR3 function in lung fibroblasts from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and its ability to promotes disease progression.


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Lucy Awarded Best Oral Presentation at This Year’s Scientific Meeting of the Irish Thoracic Society

ITS Sat 08

Congratulations to Lucy Bergin, shown here receiving her prize for Best Oral Presentation at this year’s ITS conference from John Barron, Hospital Specialist at Boehringer Ingelheim (left), and Dr Jacqueline Rendall, Outgoing President of the Irish Thoracic Society (right).

Lucy’s award-winning presentation detailed her research into the role of IL-17A, and the related IL-17A G197A (rs2275913) promoter polymorphism, in the pathogenicity of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

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The Donnelly Group Take Part at This Year’s Scientific Meeting of the Irish Thoracic Society

Filtered Group Photo

This Year’s Scientific Meeting of the Irish Thoracic Society (ITS) took place on the 10th and 11th of November in the Limerick Strand Hotel. This meeting brings together healthcare professionals and research scientists, involved in the care of people with chronic or acute respiratory disease in Ireland.

Donnelly group members Mohammad Doroudian, Aoife McElroy, Andrew O’Neill and Lucy Bergin presented their research to the conference delegates at the conference, highlighting the various research focuses within our group:

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Mohammad’s presentation, titled “Aerosolized nanodrug delivery system to inhibit Macrophage migration inhibitory factor in order to treat lung cancer” detailed his work into the use of aerosolized nanoparticles as drug-delivery platforms to effectively target the lungs in pulmonary diseases.

Andrew’s presentation, titled “Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor enhances Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms, a potential novel therapeutic for Cystic Fibrosis Patients”, illustrated the emerging importance of MIF in bacterial infection. Some of this work was recently published in The FASEB Journal, which can be found here.

Lucy’s presentation was titled “Characterisation of the effect of interleukin-17A (IL-17A) on Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) function in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF): a candidate novel mechanism for disease progression

Aoife presented a poster, titled “Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) L412F as a candidate biomarker in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and its role in antibacterial and antiviral responses

Our sincere thanks to the organising committee for the excellent meeting.


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Congratulations to Dr. Michelle Armstrong, who was awarded an Associate Professorship in Clinical Medicine


Dr. Michelle Armstrong has now been promoted to the position of Assistant Professor in Clinical Medicine at Trinity College Dublin.

Pictured above is part of the lab celebration to mark this fantastic achievement and the group wishes Michelle every success in her future research endeavours.

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Aoife Presents at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Irish Society for Immunology at Trinity College Dublin

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Aoife McElroy, a third year Ph.D. student in the Donnelly group, attended this year’s Annual Meeting of the Irish Society for Immunology, which was held in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute between the 14th and 15th of September 2017.

This conference gathers immunologists from across Ireland to showcase their work in a highly interdisciplinary setting.

There, Aoife presented a poster detailing her work on the Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) L412F single nucleotide polymorphism as a causative factor in disease progression in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) during bacterial infection in TLR3-defective patients.

Thanks to the ISI organising committee for the excellent meeting!


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Welcome Back Lucy!

Lucy Bergin completed her undergraduate research project in the Donnelly group last year, characterising the effect of IL-17A on Toll-like receptor 3 function in disease progression in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), for which she was awarded Best Research Project in Molecular Medicine at Trinity College.

She has re-joined us as a Research Assistant and will continue to expand her work on the role of IL-17A in interstitial lung disease, while liaising with hospital staff and patients to generate a comprehensive biobank for research into lung diseases.

Welcome back Lucy!

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New Paper Published in The FASEB Journal Detailing the Role of MIF in Bacterial Biofilm Formation

Biofilm Graphic

Congratulations to Aisling and the team on their new paper published in The FASEB Journal. In this work, the cytokine MIF was shown to play a critical role in enhancing biofilm formation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. (The publication can be found here)

This enhanced biofilm formation was demonstrated to confer increased survival against a commonly used antibiotic, tobramycin. Moreover, targeting MIF with an inhibitor developed within our lab yielded promising results in a murine model of chronic P. aeruginosa infection.

This role for MIF in biofilm formation is particularly important in light of the global rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which now represents a major unmet clinical need and demonstrates that MIF represents a novel therapeutic target against biofilm forming bacteria.

The FASEB Journal is among the world’s most cited biology journals, which publishes international translational research covering all fields of biology and we are happy to have contributed to high impact European science.

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