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Dr Colm Cunningham

Neurodegeneration and CNS Inflammation

Dr Colm Cunningham
Research Lecturer/Wellcome Trust Fellow
Phone: +353-1- 8968528
Fax: +353-1- 8963183
Location: TCIN (Lloyd Building) Room 4.04 and Room 4.41 (Office);
Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute: Room 5.50, Extn 1853


View audio/video clip of Dr Cunningham talking about his research (mp4, 79.2MB)

My main research interests are in neurodegeneration and in brain inflammation. In particular, I am interested in how systemic insults such as infection, inflammation and injury interact with, and influence, ongoing neurodegeneration and associated brain inflammation. As a post-doctoral researcher I characterised the chronic inflammatory response to chronic CNS neurodegeneration in a number of neurodegenerative models including the ME7 model of prion disease, the G93A model of motor neuron disease and the optic nerve crush model of Wallerian degeneration. The tightly controlled nature of these chronic responses can be clearly distinguished from the acute CNS inflammation at the levels of cellular recruitment, activation and inflammatory mediator expression. I also have an ongoing interest in sickness behaviour responses induced by bacterial and viral infections/mimetics and our observation of an exaggeration of these responses in animals/persons with ongoing brain inflammation has brought 2 of my major interests together: Such responses in the aged or demented incorporate episodes of delirium, a phenomenon that remains unexplained and which now represents a major research interest for me. I was recently awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship to develop animal models of delirium during dementia and I maintain long-standing collaborations, with the department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford University and the CNS inflammation group in the University of Southampton, exploring some of these issues. Collectively, these avenues are aimed at moving towards defining the role of activated microglia in prion disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, while considering the impact of systemic infections on these neurodegenerative diseases. As an experimental approach, I believe in the need for the combined molecular, behavioural and neuropathological / neuroanatomical study of animal models of disease and CNS dysfunction.


Post Doctoral Fellows:
Éadaoin Griffin

Research Students:
Edel Hennessy,
Niamh McGarry,
Carol Murray (part time)

Research Assistant:
Carol Murray


The Wellcome Trust


Prof Hugh Perry, University of Southampton
Prof Clive Holmes, University of Southampton
Prof J Nicholas P. Rawlins, Oxford University
Dr David Bannerman, Oxford University
Prof Alasdair MacLullich, University of Edinburgh
Prof Daniel Davis, University College London



Last updated 19 June 2014 (Email).