UCD Covid-19 Response

The UCD Community is rising to the challenge posed by the global pandemic

Stroke, brain inflammation and other neurological symptoms – what is the Covid-19 connection?

Lead Researcher: Dr Nicola FletcherUCD School of Veterinary Medicine


Infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, can often result in neurological symptoms. As many as 30-50% of patients with Covid-19 will develop a variety of neurological symptoms and these may be severe in some cases, causing stroke or encephalitis – inflammation of the brain – in some people. But we are not sure why. Science Foundation Ireland will fund research to use human brain tissue and models of the brain grown in the laboratory, to explore this question. The results will provide information needed by clinicians and public health experts to understand Covid-19-related neurological disease and develop treatment strategies.

What is the issue?

If a person has Covid-19, they may experience neurological symptoms such as a stroke or brain inflammation, and we don’t fully understand why.

What will the research project do?

This project at University College Dublin will use human brain tissue and state-of-the-art models of the human brain to investigate whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus can directly infect the brain and the mechanisms by which neurological symptoms arise.

What will the impact be?

These data will provide information that is urgently needed by clinicians and public health experts to understand the significance of Covid-19-related neurological disease and treatment strategies.

Dr Nicola Fletcher said: “This exciting project will allow us to unpick the mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 interacts with the human brain to cause neurological disease. Using 3D models of the human brain, we will examine in detail the nature of Covid-19 associated neurological changes, which will inform the design of treatment strategies to improve clinical outcomes.”


Project Team 

Lead Applicant: Dr Nicola Fletcher


Dr Dimitri Scholz, UCD

Dr. Damir Janigro, Flocel

Dr. Virginie Gautier, UCD

Dr. Connor Bamford, Queen's University Belfast

Dr. Keith Rochfort, DCU

Prof. Colin Doherty, St James Hospital