Who We Are

The UCD Institute of Food and Health brings together UCD staff with active research programmes in the area of Food and Health into one centre of excellence. It is a multi-disciplinary, campus wide initiative,comprising 34 Principal Investigators (faculty) and their teams with multidisciplinary expertise in food and health research with major projects spread across four research thematic areas:

Since its inception in 2008, the Institute has firmly established itself as a leading player on the national and international food and health research landscape. In that time we have won over €60 million in research income and now rank 1st globally in terms of citations per paper and 5th on impact in the subject of Food Science and Technology (the tag Food Science and Technology  was used, which includes all publications in the area of food and health. Analysis from Thomson Reuters InCites, January 2015)

Central to the Institute's philosophy is the translation of its research for commercial, economic and societal impact. Utilising its scientific evidence as the basis for food and health policy is also a key objective.

Management Team

Prof Dolores O'Riordan, Director
School Of Agriculture & Food Science
Prof Patrick Wall, Deputy Director
School Of Public Hlth, Physio & Pop Science
Dr Geraldine Quinn
Operations Manager
Mrs Susan Caffrey
Advisory Board

Dr Pamela Byrne, Chair of the Advisory Board
CEO, Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Dr Byrne holds a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from University College, Cork (UCC); an MSc in Aquatic Resource Management from Kings College, University of London; a BSc in Zoology from UCC and a Higher Diploma in Environmental Law from the University of Aberystwyth in Wales.

Prior to taking up the position of CEO at the FSAI in March 2015, Dr Byrne held the role of Director of Regulatory Policy and Intelligence with Abbott Nutrition. Having previously held senior positions in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, she has extensive experience of the food regulatory environment, as well as expertise in risk assessment and food safety management at both national and international levels. During her time at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dr Byrne gained a deep knowledge of the food sector as an environmental toxicologist and risk assessor, and was instrumental in developing Ireland’s research and innovation policy programmes in relation to food and the bio-economy. Dr Byrne also worked in the Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation - Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn.


Dr Keith O'Neill
Director, Regulatory Policy and Intelligence, Abbott Nutrition

Dr. O’Neill is Director of Regulatory Policy and Intelligence at Abbott Nutrition. He joined Abbott from Enterprise Ireland where he was Director of Lifescience and Food Commercialisation for 6 years. He was previously Manager of the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), a medical devices research institute with a commercial focus, located at Dublin City University.

Prior to this, Dr. O’Neill spent 4 years at the renowned Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in the US, a multi-disciplinary biomedical research organisation which evolved from successful research collaborations among scientists in the MIT and Harvard communities. Here he managed collaborations with some of the most powerful international biomedical companies to develop new technologies and intellectual property for the life sciences market.


Mr Aidan Cotter
CEO, Bord Bia

Aidan Cotter was appointed Chief Executive of Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, in July 2004 and brings to the position a wealth of knowledge and experience in food marketing. Mr Cotter previously served in Bord Bia as Director of Operations for a number or years, and earlier gained extensive experience in the marketplace as the organisation's European Director, based in its London office, and prior to that in Dusseldorf.

Mr Cotter holds and MBA from Cranfield School of Management in the UK and has Masters degrees in Economic Science and Agricultural Economics from UCD. In September 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law from UCD.


Professor Jens Bleiel
CEO, Food for Health Ireland

Jens Bleiel became the Chief Executive Office for Food for Health Ireland in August 2009. Jens is a business economist by training. His past assignments have brought him from Germany (his home country) to the Netherlands and Argentina. After five years at a management consultancy in Germany, he joined Dutch company NUMICO, where he held several management and executive functions in the baby food branch (Cow & Gate, amongst other brands).  Jens subsequently joined the Dutch multinational, DSM, world market leader in vitamins and other food ingredients, where he built up its functional food business.


Other members 


Scientific Board

Professor Peter van Bladeren,  Chair of the Scientific Board
Vice-President Regulatory & Scientific Affairs at Nestlé

Peter van Bladeren is Vice-President Regulatory & Scientific Affairs at Nestlé. From 2002 to 2012, he was Vice-president for Science and Research and director of the Nestlé Research Centre, Lausanne with sites in St-Louis, Beijing and Tokyo.



Professor Wim Saris
Professor of Human Nutrition, Maastricht University

Wim H.M. Saris (1949) MD, PhD, Professor of Human Nutrition at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Science of the Maastricht University, The Netherlands. In 1992 he initiated the Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute NUTRIM and was the scientific director till 2005. From 2005 till 2014 he was part-time Corporate Scientist Human Nutrition at DSM, Nutritional Ingredients division.

He has served many national and international committees including EFSA and the European Technology Platform (ETP) initiative “Food for Life”. He is currently chairman of the EU Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) “ Healthy diet for a healthy life”.


Professor Marc Hendrickx
Professor of Food Technology, Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre

Marc Hendrickx is senior professor food technology at KU Leuven. He is head of the Laboratory of Food Technology, member of the board of LFoRCe (Leuven Food and Nutrition Research Center) and co-director of the InterUniversity Program in Food Technology (IUPFOOD).


Professor Roger Stephan
Director, Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, University of Zurich

‌Prof Stephan’s research focuses on foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistant microorganisms along the foodchain and their relevance to food safety. He is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the field and has been awarded with theWerder-Medaille, the Werder-Prize and he is honorary doctor of the University of Helsinki.


Professor Peter Fryer

Head of the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham
Peter Fryer is head of the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. He is the Director of the EPSRC EngD Centre in Formulation Engineering, which partners with a range of major formulation companies including Kraft, Unilever, P+G, PepsiCo, Johnson Matthey, Imerys and Rolls Royce.


Professor Diana Banati
Executive and Scientific Director of the International Life Sciences (ILSI) Europe

Professor Bánáti graduated in Food Science and Technology (M.Sc.) at the University of Horticulture and Food Industry, Budapest, and subsequently was award an M.A. and Ph.D. in food-science-related fields and law.
Professor Bánáti is universally regarded as an expert in food safety and policy, food legislation and consumer sciences and has served on several international scientific organisations including: FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, EFFoST, OECD, European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies of the European Commission.  She was Chair of the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Currently, she is the Executive and Scientific Director of the International Life Sciences (ILSI) Europe.


Professor Ian Givens
Professor of Food Chain Nutrition and Director of the Food Production and Quality Division, University of Reading

Professor Ian Givens is currently Professor of Food Chain Nutrition and Director of the Food Production and Quality Division in the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Reading. His research interests focus on food chain nutrition with emphasis on the relationship between consumption of animal-derived foods, nutrient supply and chronic disease outcome with particular emphasis on cardiometabolic disease and saturated, trans and n-3 fats. Current work focuses on dietary vitamin D, lipids and proteins in milk and dairy products and their influence on cardiovascular disease (CVD).


Professor John Mathers
Professor of Human Nutrition and Director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University

John Mathers is Professor of Human Nutrition and Director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre in the Institute of Cellular Medicine in Newcastle University, UK. He is a past President of the Nutrition Society and serves on several national committees including the BBSRC’s Bioscience for Health Strategy Panel and the Food Standards Agency’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes. John Mathers’ work includes studies from the molecular and cellular levels to large-scale human intervention trials. His current research includes the EU-funded Food4Me project in which he is leading a Proof of Principle study of the effectiveness of personalised nutrition approaches for effecting change in eating patterns.


Professor Chris Elliot
Professor of Food Safety and Director of the Institute for Global Food Security , Queen’s University Belfast

Chris is currently Professor of Food Safety and Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast. He has published around 300 peer review articles, many of them relating to the detection and control of agriculture, food and environmental related contaminants. His main research interests are in the development of innovative techniques to provide early warning of toxin threats across the agri- food chains. Protecting the integrity of the food supply chain from fraud is also a key research topic and Chris led the independent review of Britain’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal.