Professor Helen Roche appointed as Director, UCD Conway Institute


Professor Helen Roche has been appointed as Director of UCD Conway Institute beginning 01 April 2021. With an academic background in human nutrition & molecular medicine, Helen Roche is a Full Professor of Nutrigenomics at the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy, Sports Science, Ireland since February 2017.

Professor Helen Roche appointed as Director, UCD Conway InstituteProfessor Roche has an outstanding track record in research; leading and co-leading several national and international research programmes. Her professorial appointment bridges disciplines based at the UCD Conway Institute and the UCD Institute of Food & Health. Early in her career, Professor Roche established the first nutrigenomics research group in Ireland during her tenure at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Trinity College Dublin.

While it is widely recognised that food and nutrition play an important role in health and disease, the cellular and molecular effects are not fully understood. Nutrigenomics uses state-of-the-art 'omics' technologies to investigate the interaction between nutrition and the human genome to better understand the molecular effects of nutrition status on health.

The potential scope of research within the context of nutrigenomics is enormous. Many of Professor Roche’s research projects focus on precision nutrition; identifying and understanding the molecular basis of responsiveness and efficacy of more targeted lifestyle interventions in population sub-groups. This area is highly topical and, indeed, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched a significant research initiative specifically focused on precision nutrition.

The Roche research team explore different aspects of the interactions between food related nutritional stressors, metabolism and inflammation within the context of obesity related insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which also has relevance to obesity related cancers.

Professor Roche is a Fellow of the International Union of Nutritional Science and serves on national and international boards including the RCSI Hospital Group Board and the UK Nutrition Research Partnership for health and disease. Previously, Helen chaired the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Healthy Life Healthy Diet Joint Programming Initiative.

Congratulating Professor Roche on her appointment, Professor Andrew Deeks, UCD President said,
“(Helen) is an outstanding research leader with a strong and exciting vision for the Institute and I wish her the very best in her new role.”

Professor Deeks also recognised the work done by Professor Liam Gallagher over his tenure saying,
“My thanks to Professor Liam Gallagher, who will conclude his term as Director at the end of the month. He has done a wonderful job in leading the Institute, particularly over the past year when it has been to the forefront in addressing the research challenges associated with COVID-19.”