Pharmacology & Therapeutics-research degrees: M.Sc. and Ph.D.


The Department is actively engaged in a vigorous research programme which is centred around the areas of neuropharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs on the central nervous system), immunopharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs on the immune system), and signalling in vertebrate development. The Department has research links with other national and international centres, including the Departments of Biochemistry and Physiology, the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NUI Galway), the Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Pennsylvania, and H/S Lundbeck, Denmark.

The research activities of the Department are funded from a variety of competitive sources.

Staff Research Interests

Prof. Laurence Egan

Molecular mechanisms of intestinal injury, repair and carcinogenesis; focus on biological functions of transcription factor NF-kappaB; identification and characterization of novel therapeutic targets for inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and radiation injury to the intestinal tract.

Investigation of the mechanism of action of antidepressants and the development of novel targets using animal models; the effects of antidepressants on modulating immune responses; development of nonanimal alternatives for toxicological assessment of drugs.

Dr Aideen Ryan

Dr Ryans’ lab focusses on understanding the immune/stromal cell contexture of the colon tumour microenvironment using in vitro, ex vivo, 3D methodologies, pre-clinical models and primary patient samples

Her research programme includes:

(1) Investigation of Tumour-stromal cell interactions and subsequent effects on immune cell infiltration
(2) Role of Programmed Death-Ligand 1 (PD-L1) in tumour cell immune evasion in the colon cancer microenvironment
(3) Influence of stromal cell activation and glycosylation on immune cell infiltration in colon tumours
(4) Sensitizing the tumour microenvironment to immunotherapeutic targeting 

Dr Robert Munn

Circuit-level coding of learning and memory in hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. Using the TS65DN mouse model of Down Syndrome to study hippocampal dysfunction and pharmacological rescue of function. Use of the TS65DN model to study coding changes in learning and memory in Alzheimer's disease. Interaction of gustatory hormones such as Leptin and Ghrelin with the hippocampal/entorhinal system.


Dr. Eilís Dowd

The development and validation of novel cell and gene therapies for Parkinson’s disease. For example, using viruses to deliver therapeutic gene products to the brain, and transplantation of dopaminergic neurons derived from stem cells.

Prof. David Finn

Neurochemical, neuroendocrine and molecular mechanisms underlying pain, anxiety and depression. Neuropharmacology of cannabinoid and opioid receptors. Imidazoline binding sites, brain monoamines and the stress response. Neuroimmune mechanisms of relevance to pain, inflammation and mood disorders.

Dr. Howard Fearnhead

The cell and molecular biology of programmed cell deaths in cancer cells and other in vitro model systems.

Dr. Declan McKernan

  • Innate immunity: the genetic, epigenetic and biochemical regulation of pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs).
  • Epigenetics: the role of DNA methylation and histone modification in innate immunity and chronic inflammatory disease.
  • Neuroinflammation: the role of the innate immune system (TLRs) in neurodegerative diseases.
  • Brain-gut interaction: the role of the innate immune system in brain-gut communication.
  • Psychiatric & affective disorders: the role of the innate immune system in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.