Academic Supervisors

Prof. Walter Kolch

Director Systems Biology Ireland and Precision Oncology Ireland, School of Medicine, University College Dublin

Prof. Walter Kolch is Director of Systems Biology Ireland. He is also the Programme Coordinator for DevelopMed and Director of Precision Oncology Ireland. A leading international proponent of precision medicine, he is internationally recognised for his cutting-edge research using systems approaches to understand signalling networks and is ranked 2nd in the world in precision medicine, 6th in systems medicine, 23rd in signal transduction and 40th in proteomics (Google Scholar). His current interest is focusing on using computational modelling and omics approaches to analyse biological networks to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of cancer and other diseases in order to design new approaches to personalised diagnostics and treatment based on a systems level, molecular mechanistic understanding. Using mathematical and computational modelling to analyse the network structure of cell signalling, the aim is to predict responses to perturbations (such as drugs), define the most sensitive points for interference by drugs, and analyse the specificity of signalling and adaptation processes. For further information visit:

A DevelopMed Fellow who wishes to be supervised by Prof. Kolch may also be co-supervised by Dr. Melinda Halasz ( or Dr. Dirk Fey (

Prof. Jonathan Bond

UCD Brendan McGonnell Professor of Paediatric Molecular Haemato-Oncology, Systems Biology Ireland, University College Dublin

Jonathan Bond is the UCD Brendan McGonnell Professor of Paediatric Molecular Haemato-oncology and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin. He originally trained as a clinical haematologist in Ireland before pursuing a scientific research career in the UK (UCL Institute of Child Health, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and Imperial College London) and France (Institut Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris). His main research focus has been to try to understand transcriptional and epigenetic dysregulation in acute leukaemia.

Prof. Bond returned to Ireland in 2018 to lead a new collaborative paediatric leukaemia research programme between the National Children’s Cancer Service at CHI and Systems Biology Ireland at UCD. His group uses systems biology approaches to study the biology of paediatric blood cancers, with the ultimate aim of finding more precise and effective cures for children and adolescents with these diseases.

For more information see:

Dr. Róisín Dwyer

Associate Professor in Translational Science, National University of Ireland, Galway

Róisín Dwyer is Associate Professor in Translational Science at NUI Galway. Following her PhD at University College Dublin, Róisín completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic (USA), investigating novel approaches to breast cancer imaging and therapy. Upon her return to Ireland this was further advanced by harnessing the tumour-targeted migration of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs). Her research group focuses on stromal-epithelial communication in the breast tumour microenvironment. Understanding the mediators of this crosstalk, including extracellular vesicles (EVs), will facilitate harnessing the potential of MSCs and their secreted EVs as vehicles for targeted delivery of therapy to breast tumours. Róisín works with a multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians in the Lambe Institute for Translational Research, aiming to harness this knowledge for development of novel gene therapy approaches for advanced breast cancer.

For further information visit:

Prof. David Brayden

Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin

David Brayden is a Full Professor of Advanced Drug Delivery at UCD. As a pharmacologist with a PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK) and postdoctoral fellow experience at Stanford University (USA), he spent 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry at Elan Biotechnology Research before joining UCD.  His interests are in solving drug delivery problems using nanoparticles and permeation enhancers.  Cancer-derived epithelial cell lines from relevant tissues in the GI tract are key resources in tracking uptake and trafficking of drug-containing nanoparticles as effective cancer therapeutics.  David has supervised 20 PhD candidates to completion and has recent experience supervising Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions Individual Fellows and Co-Fund Fellows.  He is Ireland’s only Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (2017) and the Controlled Release Society (2012).  He has published over 200 peer reviewed papers and has over 6800 citations of his team’s research (Google Scholar). For further information visit: 

A DevelopMed Fellow who wishes to be supervised by Prof. Brayden will also be co-supervised by Prof. Jeremy Simpson. For further information about Prof. Simpson's research visit

Prof. Jeremy Simpson

Full Professor of Cell Biology, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin

Jeremy Simpson received his PhD from the University of Warwick, followed by more than nine years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the EMBL in Heidelberg. His laboratory studies the endomembrane system of mammalian cells, using a range of molecular techniques to understand how they are co-ordinated spatially and temporally. Of particular interest is gaining a deeper understanding of how synthetic nanoparticles traffic from the cell surface to organelles of the early secretory pathway, and exploring the use of these pathways for their potential as drug delivery routes. Jeremy’s laboratory applies modern fluorescence microscopy approaches, in particular automated high-throughput microscopy combined with RNA interference. He has authored over 110 peer reviewed publications, with more than 6,900 citations. For further information about Prof. Simpson's research visit

A DevelopMed Fellow who wishes to be supervised by Prof. Simpson will also be co-supervised by Prof. David Brayden. For further information about Prof. Brayden's research visit 

Dr. Sharon McKenna

Principal Investigator, Cancer Research, University College Cork

Dr Sharon McKenna is a Principal Investigator at CancerResearch@UCC and leads the Autophagy research group. She obtained her PhD at the Leukaemia Research Fund Laboratories, in the University of Wales, College of Medicine, UK in 1995. Following post-doctoral research at Cardiff and the Department of Biochemistry, UCC, Dr McKenna was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry, UCC in 1999 and from 2002 a Principal Investigator at the Cork Cancer Research Centre (CCRC).

Her team have been investigating how autophagy influences cancer biology and chemo-resistance. This group previously identified a group of genes associated with more drug sensitive oesophageal cancer cells These genes co-operate to add a ubiquitin like post-translational modification to target proteins. We have shown that this modification can influence autophagy in oesophageal cancer cells. In this project we want to identify the protein targets that are covalently modified and understand how this modification influences autophagy as this is both an inducible and reversible pathway in cancer.

For further information about Dr. McKenna’s research please visit: or:

Assoc. Prof. Cormac McCarthy

Associate Professor/Consultant Respiratory Physician, School of Medicine, University College Dublin and Education & Research Centre, St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Cormac McCarthy is a clinician scientist with a specific interest in the pathogenesis of rare lung diseases and interstitial lung disease. Prior to his appointments in UCD and SVUH in 2018, he was the National Institutes of Health Rare Lung Disease Scholar at the Rare Lung Disease Consortium in the United States, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a particular interest in innate immunity, exosomes, glycobiology of plasma proteins, cholesterol homeostasis in macrophages and lipidomics in the lung. His research uses translational and clinical approaches to better understand the pathogenesis of lung diseases (e.g. pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP)), as well as novel therapeutic targets and disease epidemiology; ultimately contributing to ongoing clinical trials.

His group investigates diffuse cystic lung diseases, particularly lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). He established a National Cystic Lung Disease Referral Centre for Ireland and a national registry of patients with LAM. His group is currently focused on determining the role of exosomes and immune cells in the development of the pre metastatic niche in LAM.

Further information: A DevelopMed Fellow who wishes to be supervised by Prof. McCarthy will also be co-supervised by Prof. Michael Keane (

Prof. Michael Keane

Dean of Medicine and Head of School, UCD School of Medicine; Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics, University College Dublin and Consultant Respiratory Physician, St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Professor Michael Keane graduated from UCD in 1989 and following initial clinical training in Dublin, moved to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine in 1995. He subsequently took up a faculty position at University of Michigan in 1998 and in 2000 moved to University of California, Los Angeles where he was Professor of Medicine and Programme Director for the UCLA Interstitial Lung Disease Center.

Professor Keane returned to UCD and St Vincent's University Hospital in 2007 where he is an SFI Principal Investigator at the UCD Conway Institute and SVHG Lead Clinical Coordinator for Lung Cancer services.  He is Chairman of the Medicine Division, Chair of the SVHG Medical Executive and a member of the hospital Board of Directors. He is Clinical Director of the UCD Clinical Research Centre and a member of the Molecular Medicine Ireland Board of Directors. His research interests centre on molecular investigation into, and treatment of, inflammatory lung diseases; particularly pulmonary fibrosis.

For more information see: A DevelopMed Fellow who wishes to be supervised by Prof. Keane will also be co-supervised by Prof. Cormac McCarthy (

Asst. Prof. Colm Ryan

Assistant Professor, UCD School of Computer Science and Group Leader, Systems Biology Ireland, University College Dublin

Colm J. Ryan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science in University College Dublin, a Group Leader in Systems Biology Ireland, and an Irish Research Council Laureate. He initially trained as a computer scientist in Trinity College Dublin and worked as a software developer for IBM before completing a PhD in Computational Biology at UCD. He has worked as a visiting scientist at the University of California, San Francisco and at the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

The Ryan lab is an interdisciplinary research group at Systems Biology Ireland that includes team members with primary degrees in Computer Science, Genetics, and Biochemistry. The group develop computational approaches to understand the connection between genotype and phenotype in cancer.  A particular focus is the development of approaches to understand and predict synthetic lethality in cancer - a phenomenon whereby mutation of one gene renders tumour cells especially sensitive to the perturbation of a second gene.

For more information see:

Dr. Eva Szegezdi

Research Lecturer in Cancer Biology at the Discipline of Biochemistry, National University of Ireland, Galway and head of Blood Cancer Network Ireland

Dr. Eva Szegezdi is a senior lecturer in biochemistry at the National University of Ireland, Galway. ES has over 20 years research experience in cell stress and death signalling in cancer. She is the director of the M.Sc. programme in Cancer Research, and co-ordinator of the Doctorate School in Integrative Genomics (EU-H2020-MSCA-COFUND) and the DISCOVER H2020-RISE programme. She also leads Blood Cancer Network Ireland, a nationwide research network for blood cancer research, focusing on pre-clinical research, biobanking, early-stage clinical trials and registry in blood cancers.

Research in her laboratory focuses on the molecular wiring of cancer cells and the tumour-microenvironment driving drug resistance at single cell level using genomic, biochemical and cell biology assays. A particular focus is how clonal heterogeneity drives drug resistance and how interactions between malignant cells and the tumour microenvironment evolve with disease progression underpinning drug resistance and leukemia relapse.

For further information visit:

Prof. William Gallagher

Professor of Cancer Biology, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and Deputy Director, Precision Oncology Ireland

Prof. Gallagher originally graduated from the Department of Biochemistry, UCD in 1993 with a 1st Class Joint Honours degree in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry. He has a PhD in Molecular Oncology from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Laboratories in Glasgow. He has trained in both Paris at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (currently Sanofi-Aventis) and Ireland, and has been a UCD faculty member since 2001. Prof. Gallagher has held roles as Director of the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research and Director of BREAST-PREDICT (first Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre), and is currently Deputy Director of Precision Oncology Ireland (an SFI Strategic Partnership Programme).

A major focus of Prof. Gallagher’s research is the identification and validation of candidate biomarkers of breast and other cancers, with particular emphasis on translation of omic datasets into clinically relevant assays. His team, which is embedded within the Cancer Biology and Therapeutics Lab (, is particularly interested in the potential offered by tissue-based spatial profiling, digital pathology and artificial intelligence.

For further information visit:

Prof. Afshin Samali

Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway

Afshin Samali is a Professor of Cancer Biology and Director of Apoptosis Research Centre at NUI Galway.  He received a PhD in Biochemistry from University College Cork and did postdoctoral training in Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. He joined the faculty at NUI Galway in 2000. He was awarded the NUI Galway University President’s award for Excellence in Research Supervision (2014) and for Excellence in Research –Established Researcher (2015). He was elected a member of Royal Irish Academy in 2020.

His research focuses on cellular response to stress in general, and he has made an impact in delineating how cells respond to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the consequences of activation of the Unfolded Protein Response.  In particular, his group are exploring how IRE1’s RNase activity regulates the hallmarks of cancer through post-transcriptional regulation of the XBP1 transcription factor, and also through selective degradation of other mRNAs and microRNAs.

For further information visit:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945425