Dr. Kelly is Associate Professor in Physiology and has been a PI at the Department for 15 yrs. She was awarded a B.A. (Mod) in Physiology and Trinity College gold medal in 1995 and completed her PhD in Neuroscience in 1998. Dr Kelly is a neuroscientist who is primarily interested in the biological mechanisms underlying learning and memory. She works at the interface of exercise physiology and neuroscience and aims to understand the mechanisms by which exercise can enhance brain function in healthy subjects and potentially protect against cognitive decline as a result of age or neuroinflammation. She is an internationally-recognised expert in her field whose work has been funded by Irish and international funding bodies. Her current projects assess how exercise programmes of differing durations and intensities may differentially regulate short-term and long-term mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Dr. Kelly was Head of Physiology from 2010 to 2016 and was awarded the Provost’s Teaching Award in 2011 in recognition of her teaching skills.
Our research focuses on the following topics
- how upregulation of discrete intracellular signaling pathways and processes including synaptogenesis and neurogenesis may underlie learning and memory
- how these neuroplastic processes are enhanced by exercise and enrichment, leading to enhanced cognitive function
- how these neuroplastic processes are downregulated in normal ageing and in models of neuroinflammation and Alzheimer’s disease
- how we may use exercise and enrichment to protect against the decline in cognitive function associated with such neurodegeneration
- identification of cognitive and blood-borne markers of mild brain injury that may aid in the management of sports–related concussion.
Current and previous research funding has been obtained from the following sources:
- Trinity College Dublin
- Health Research Board (HRB), Ireland
- Science Foundation Ireland
- Irish Research Council CAPES – Science Without Borders (Ministry of Education, Brazil)