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Sinead Corr - Research Page

Research Activities – Professor S. Corr, Assistant Professor in Microbiology

Host-Microbe Interface & Gut Immunity

Postdoctoral Position Available in Dr. Sinéad Corr Lab

Dr Sinéad Corr, PhD
Phone: +353-1-896 1195

Research Interests

Overview Our research interests lie at the host-microbe interface within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This work focusses on understanding the molecular mechanisms which govern the interplay that occurs between pathogenic bacteria, the microbiota and the host organism, namely the epithelial barrier and innate immunity. The subsequent maintenance of health or development of disease is of particular interest. Gastroenteritis, including bacterial infectious diseases, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, while inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) affect over 2 million people in Europe. Our work hopes to characterize the host mechanisms which mediate gut health in response to infectious and resident microbes and to determine how microbes can alter this intestinal homeostasis giving rise to disease. This will enable strategic manipulation of intestinal epithelial defences or probiotic treatment strategies with the ultimate goal of reducing the severity of intestinal infectious and inflammatory diseases.

Key Themes:

•  Intestinal epithelial barrier
Molecular mechanisms governing gut homeostasis and disease.

•  Microbiota
Microbiota-Host-Epithelium Interaction
Anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activity of probiotics.

•  Bacterial Gastroenteritis
Microbial determinants of infection.
Innate Immunity to infection.

Intestinal epithelial barrier The epithelial cells lining the GI tract form a barrier between the body and the luminal environment which not only contains nutrients and commensal microbiota, but also potentially harmful microorganisms and toxins. This epithelial barrier is pivotal to intestinal health or disease, with loss of barrier integrity or “leaky gut” being implicated in a range of diseases including infectious enterocolitis and IBD. Epithelial cells express pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) which orchestrate mucosal defences during infection and respond to gut commensals to maintain intestinal wellbeing. As a result, the GI epithelium is a crucial site of immune regulation and the integrity of this barrier determines health or development of disease. The functional integrity of this barrier depends on a coordinated regulation of a number of factors including the mucus layer, intercellular TJ, antimicrobial defences and host immune responses. Our work hopes to further our understanding of the mechanisms which control the functional integrity of the gut epithelial barrier.


Intestinal Occludin Corr. et al 2013


3D image of ZO-1 in intestinal epithelium. Corr et al 2013

Microbiota The gut microbiota presents a significant barrier that must be overcome for a pathogen to initiate an infection or inflammatory onslaught. The relationship between the host and its microbiota is largely a beneficial one, with members of the microbiota being instrumental to human physiology and wellbeing. Microbial presence and activity influences the function of intestinal defences, and has a key role in improving digestive function, in the reduction of chronic inflammation, and in hastening recovery from intestinal disease. However this relationship can become detrimental due to disturbances including alterations in diet and antibiotic use, and the resulting microbial dysbiosis has been linked to infection, IBD, diabetes and obesity. Our research focusses on the host-microbiota dialogue, investigating the signalling interactions between the host and its microbiota which mediate immune-inflammatory responses. We hope to decipher to what extent the microbiota can modulate the intestinal epithelial barrier and inflammation, and how members of the microbiota can be used to directly inhibit infection by bacterial pathogens.


Mice infected with luciferase-tagged Listeria. Corr et al 2007








Bacterial Gastroenteritis Work to date has focussed on understanding the intestinal phase of infection with gut pathogens, specifically Listeria monocytogenes   and   Salmonella Typhimurium. We are interested in the characterization of new bacterial virulence factors involved in bacterial entry into host cells and cell-to-cell spread, and in deciphering the host mechanisms to combat infection, playing a critical role in the outcome of infectious disease. Furthermore, the strategies evolved by bacteria to subvert these host defence mechanisms and immune responses enabling spread within the host in a research focus.

Luciferase-tagged Listeria. Bron et al 2006

TEM of intestinal M-cell. Corr et al 2006

  • Research Personnel

Postdoctoral Research Fellows:
Dr Siobhán Smith

Postgraduate Students:
Daniel Johnston
Michelle Williams

  • Collaborators

Prof. Luke O'Neill, School of Biochemistry & Immunology, Trinity College, Ireland.

Prof. Padraic Fallon, School of Medicine, Trinity College, Ireland.

Prof. Fergus Shanahan, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork, Ireland.

Prof. Colin Hill, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork, Ireland.

Prof. Pascale Cossart, Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Institut Pasteur, France.

Prof. Olivier Dussurget, Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Institut Pasteur, France.

Prof. Kate Fitzgerald, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA.

Prof. Satya Dandekar, Dept. of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Davis, USA.

  • Financial Support

Science Foundation Ireland Starting Investigator Research Grant

  • Interested in working with us?

We are always interested in recruiting talented people to the lab and in supporting applications for personal PhD and postdoctoral fellowships. For further information please contact Sinéad ( )


Last updated 26 January 2017 by Microbiology (Email).