Research in the Discipline of Anatomy


Reproductive Biology

Professor Peter Dockery is interested in research on Structure-Function of the Human Endometrium, Cellular effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on reproductive tissues and the Feto-maternal interface.

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Cardiovascular Biology

Alexander Black is involved in research on the morphology of cardiac valves, in particular the mitral valve, in both normal and diseased states. Existing collaborations include researchers within Zoology, NUIG; Tissue Engineering Group, Anatomy, UCD; Dept of Surgery, RCSI; The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh; Dept. of Tissue Engineering & Textile Implants, Helmholtz Institute, RWTH Aachen University, Germany.  

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Skin and Extracellular Matrix Biology

Dr Fabio Quondamatteo carries out research on the extracellular matrix.  His research interest is mainly focused on the role of extracellular matrix components including, basement membranes and their cellular receptors as well as signalling pathways related to cell-matrix interactions (mainly RhoGTPases).

A fundamental part of his work also involves study of skin structure in various conditions, currently mainly focusing on histological and ultrastructural changes in diabetic skin and on their relevance for the impaired healing ability in diabetes mellitus. A large part of his research activity is also devoted to the study of phenotypic changes in mutant mice, in cooperation with molecular/cell biologists from highly rated international institutions located in Germany, Norway, UK, Denmark, and Italy. Here he provides strong histological expertise and support, particularly in electron microscopy, in which his combined long standing histological expertise, medical background and knowledge of tissue biology, and, in particular of the extracellular matrix, is a decided advantage.

In his research, he combines a well-established gross anatomical, histological and embryological background with a modern cell biological vision of the anatomical research field. In this context, he places particular emphasis on the application of anatomical knowledge and cell biology oriented basic science to the understanding of medical problems.

Further interests include: ROS, Normal and pathologic development, Toxicology relevant enzymes, Glycobiology, and application of gross anatomical expertise to clinically relevant problems.

Over the past years he has supervised and graduated a number of research students for their doctoral thesis at the University of Göttingen (medical/dental students) and also various type of research students at the Anatomy Discipline of NUI Galway (summer students, research assistant program and/or postgraduate thesis), which he currently does on an ongoing basis.

The methods used in his research include studies at the light microscopic and ultrastructural level (Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopy) using, in addition to routine histology, also immunohistochemistry, lectin histochemistry, and gene expression analysis.  

Matrix Biology Ireland

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Cancer Cell Biology

Our genomes are under constant threat of damage from sources both inside and outside the body. These sources include UV light, radiation and chemicals. If the DNA in our genomes is damaged this can lead to mutations and rearrangements which contribute to the development of tumour cells and the progression of cancer. Cells have evolved mechanisms to combat DNA damage and this is known as the DNA damage response.

Dr Helen Dodson is generally interested in how cells respond to DNA damage and how DNA damage impacts on cell division. One of the most upstream components of the DNA damage response pathway is the histone variant H2AX, this is phosphorylated in response to DNA double strand breaks which are one of the most deleterious forms of DNA damage. H2AX in turn recruits and retains damage response proteins and DNA repair enzymes to the site of damage.

Dr Dodson and her group are interested in understanding more about the biology of this important protein H2AX, and in particular they investigating the expression, abundance and distribution of H2AX in a range of cell types including breast and prostate cell lines and also stem cells. This work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Andrew Flaus, Centre for Chromosome Biology, School of Natural Sciences, NUIG. 

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Spinal Cord Injury

Almost 1,200 people living in Ireland have sustained a severe injury to their spinal cord.  40% of patients may not see any recovery from paralysis due to the extent of scarring in the spinal cord.  The use of biomaterial scaffolds, stem cells and/or gene therapy may offer the potential to grow new spinal cord tissue through the scar, to remake nerve connections and restore some degree of function in injured patients. 

Dr Siobhan McMahon is interested in developing in vitro and ex vivo models of spinal cord injury to mimic the scarring process within injured spinal cord.  The use of biodegradable polymer scaffolds for the treatment of spinal cord injury has been a focus of investigation in collaboration with colleagues in the Mayo Clinic, Rochester and the Network for Excellence in Functional Biomaterials (NFB) at NUI Galway. These scaffolds provide channels through which nerve cells can grow out of the healthy surrounding tissue and through the damaged area.  Ongoing projects include stem cell and gene therapy approaches to investigate axonal regeneration within injured spinal cord. 

National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science 

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In anatomy we study the living human brain using brain scans such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and apply this to better understand psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and psychosis.

This work is carried out in the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory (link to and the Center for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics (link to

Dara M Cannon (link to IRIS) co-directs the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory and is a principle investigator with the Center for Neuroimaging Cognition and Genomics (NICOG).

To find out more, to volunteer to be scanned, or as a student interested in getting involved in research please visit the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratorywebsite and use the form on the ‘contact us’ page.  

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National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science


Environmental Research

Dr Yvonne Lang is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to carry our a feasibility study assessing the use of diatoms as bio-indicators and potential decontaminants of polymeric nanomaterials.

Polymeric nanomaterials (NMs) are increasingly being investigated for applications in biomedical science yet there is a paucity of information on the influence and fate of such materials, and their degradation products, on the environment. It is imperative that a defined strategy to evaluate the safety of such materials is created. This project proposes the use of axenic diatom cultures as a tool to assess the presence of polymeric NMs in water, to evaluate water quality in wastewater treatment prior to discharge into natural water environments to ensure an absence of polymeric NMs, and to decontaminate waters of polymeric NM pollutants.

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Environment Protection Agency

Research Opportunities

Prospective research students can apply for scholarships and current funded opportunities listed here


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