Vet School PhD Student Wins First Prize at Graduate Symposium

Congratulations to Dagmara Niedziela who won first prize for her talk at the College of Health and Agricultural Sciences Graduate Research Student Symposium on 14 March.  (Dagmara is pictured receiving her prize from Professor Cecily Kelleher, College Principal)  Dagmara's talk was entitled 'Immune response to bovine-adapted Staphylococcus aureus is dependent on bacterial genotype,' and it focused on the outcomes of the in vivo trial her project group conducted with two different S. aureus strains.  They found that one strain caused clinical mastitis, while the other caused mild and subclinical mastitis. Mastitis caused by the subclinical strain was also not detectable with composite milk somatic cell count.  Dagmara also looked at gene expression of milk somatic cells extracted from the cows during the challenge and found specific patterns of gene expression in groups infected with each strain.

Dagmara's research project 'Strain-specific virulence of Staphylococcus aureus' is supervised by Assoc Professor Nola Leonard here in UCD and Dr Orla Keane in Teagasc.  Her project aims to determine differences between immune response of dairy cattle to various genotypes of bovine-adapted S. aureus strains. Mastitis is an important disease for the dairy industry in Ireland, since it is associated with significant economic losses. Mastitis caused by S. aureus is especially problematic, since it is often chronic, difficult to detect and treat. Learning more about how S. aureus interacts with the host will enable better detection and treatment of this disease in the future.

Dagmara obtained a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dublin Institute of Technology and an MSc in Food Science and Nutrition from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, as a part of an Erasmus Mundus exchange programme. Based on her academic achievements, Dagmara received an academic scholarship for the duration of the Masters programme.  She is currently in the final year of a PhD in Infection Biology in UCD. Her current research involves cell culture studies of host-pathogen interactions between S. aureus and bovine cells, which were followed by an in vivo infection in dairy cattle and finally, bioinformatics analysis of milk somatic cell RNA sequencing data. Recently, Dagmara co-authored a paper on the use of antibiotics with reconstituted basement membranes in cell culture (Journal of Microbiological Methods, 2017). She was also on the organizing committee for UCD Computational and Molecular Biology symposium in 2017.