Water is essential for life and the chemicals and organisms in it can have positive or negative effects for our health. Much of the improvement in health in the twentieth century was due to improved sanitation and the mass suply of potable drinking water. Billions worlwide remain without adequate water supply and sanitation. Although in Ireland we have a relative abundance of fresh water and generally good sanitation in urban areas, there are concerns regarding water quaklity and sanitation in rural areas and a growing concern regarding then frequency and impact of antibiotics and ither medicines in our water supply. Researchers at CHE are working towards improved waater quality both local and global levels.

Sub-theme Leader:

Prof. Cormican is leader of the Environment and Health priority thematic area. He is a Professor of Bacteriology, Clinical Vice-Dean of NUI Galway’s Medical School, and also works as a Consultant Microbiologist with University College Hospital, Galway.

Click here to listen to an interview with Professor Martin Cormican on our Itunes podcast channel:
Ryan Institute Podcast Channel


Dr. Florence Abram is the director of the Functional Environmental Microbiology laboratory, which focuses primarily on microbial adaptation to ecological niches. Her expertise lies in the application of proteomics and metaproteomics to investigate microbial behaviour within their natural ecosystem.

Dr. Barry is the principal investigator of the Molecular Diagnostics Research Group (MDRG) at NUI Galway, which has 20 years experience and an international track record of achievement in the development and application of molecular diagnostics tests for microbial species detection in the clinical, food and environmental sectors. The MDRG has developed a suite of platform technologies, based on proprietary nucleic acid sequence targets, for the detection and identification of bacteria and fungi. The research group has also successfully worked with commercial partners to develop molecular diagnostic products for infectious diseases based on these technologies.

Research interests in the area of environment and health include the bioavailability, mobility, biomonitoring, and toxicity of metal contaminants in the environment. Current research includes biogeochemical investigation on elevated concentrations of metals from natural and anthropogenic sources in drinking water supplies. Dr. Morrison established and manages the Chemical Monitoring Facility at the Ryan Institute, NUIG.

Some Current Projects

Project Title: Feasibility study assessing use of diatoms as bio-indicators and potential decontaminants of polymeric nanomaterials

Partners: Yvonne Lang (Post-Doctorate researcher)

100 word abstract: 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.