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Professor Denis Barry


Web: Research Support System Profile
Email: debarry@tcd.ie
Tel: +353 1 896 1793

Dr Barry completed his PhD in developmental neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork (UCC). He subsequently undertook a postdoctoral research position in the Department of Pathology in Columbia University, New York, researching genetic metabolic disorders affecting brain development, in particular Zellweger Syndrome. Dr Barry was then appointed as a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases in UCD, where his research focused on identifying candidate biomolecules that block HIV-1 infection. This was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Conway Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science in UCD, researching the underlying causes of arteriosclerosis and related immunological disorders. From here, Dr Barry took a position as a lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC, where he returned to neuroscience research. He subsequently moved to his current position as assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy, TCD.

Dr Barry's present research at TCD mainly focuses on central nervous system (CNS) development. He is particularly interested in the lineages and functions of neural precursor cells, and is currently investigating their roles in axon tract formation and degeneration. In particular, proteoglycans are showing much potential in identifying subsets of neural cells that are responsible for mediating white matter tract formation and for determining the fates of multipotent stem cells. Likewise, the restoration potentials of transplanted neural stem cells conditioned to act as tissue bridges across lesion sites in CNS injury culture models are revealing exciting new avenues of investigation. It is hoped that this research will contribute to the understanding of regeneration potentials of neural precursor cells after axon tract damage during spinal cord injury and other types of trauma leading to CNS disconnection. Moreover, Dr. Barry’s interest in the developmental origins of brain cells is forming the basis for new lines of investigation, including linking dietary influences, such as the ketone diet, to neural stem cell functions during pregnancy, and using state of the art imaging platforms such as 3DISCO to understand the roles these cells play is establishing white matter tracts related to sensory and motor modalities.

Complementing his teaching portfolio, Dr Barry has developed a high-output medical education research program within the Department of Anatomy. In particular, he is investigating the benefits and pit-falls of digital learning aids, such as social media and video hosting platforms in anatomy education. By assessing student opinion on the effectiveness of video based learning in their understanding of anatomy, its use as a response tool for student queries regarding anatomical concepts will be more clearly realised. His article, entitled ‘Anatomy education for the YouTube generation’ was recently highlighted as one of the top ten papers of the decade, by the journal Anatomical Sciences Education. Dr Barry is also gauging the opinions of clinicians on what forms of anatomy should be preferentially taught to undergraduate medical students, thereby actively responding to changing curricular trends, with the goals of maintaining the top-tier standards of anatomy education at TCD.

Dr Barry maintains productive collaborative research links with investigators at Trinity College Dublin, Westfield State University Massachusetts, the University of Limerick, University College Cork and University College Dublin.