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School of Medicine eBulletin

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December 2020


Message from Prof Michael Gill, Head of School

Prof Michael Gill

Dear alumni, colleagues and friends,

I am delighted to introduce our latest eBulletin as we reach the end of a difficult year. I would like to extend a special note of appreciation to our students who have risen to the challenges of online learning and flexible training. Their adaptability and resilience is a testament to their calibre of our student body. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the School of Medicine staff and associated colleagues, we have managed to complete the first semester of teaching for our students, taking a blended learning approach and with our clinical year students on placements supported by our amazing health service partners across the city and beyond. Our researchers have reacted rapidly to the circumstances, developing new ways to investigate Covid-19 and its many consequences on individuals and society. Unfortunately, the pandemic continues at this time, but there is hope on the horizon, and we will look forward to 2021 with renewed energy and commitment. I hope you will find the eBulletin interesting and inspiring, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and to wish you and your families the very best for Christmas and the New Year.


"Psychiatrist in the Chair" by Brendan Kelly and Muiris Houston is the official biography of Anthony Clare, the best-known psychiatrist of his generation and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin. Clare's BBC Radio 4 show, 'In the Psychiatrist’s Chair', which ran from 1982 to 2001, brought him international fame and changed the nature of broadcast interviews forever. Famous interviewees included Stephen Fry, Anthony Hopkins, Spike Milligan, Maya Angelou and Jimmy Savile. Clare made unique contributions to the demystification and practice of psychiatry, most notably through his classic book 'Psychiatry in Dissent: Controversial Issues in Thought and Practice' (1976). This book, the first, official biography of this much-loved figure, examines the man behind these achievements: the debater and the doctor, the writer and the broadcaster, the public figure and the family man.
It is available here:

Advancing ageing research with TILDA

NIH research grants
TILDA has secured two National Institute of Health grants, to work alongside peer ageing studies and academic colleagues in Northern Ireland, the UK and the US to advance ageing research. The first study will investigate causes of Alzheimer’s and dementia-related disease, gathering data on the symptoms, diagnoses and experiences of older adults to help improve cognitive health outcomes. The second study seeks to understand how social circumstances and life adversity impact the epigenome and affect health and ageing in later life.


Dr Anne-Marie Baird

Congratulations to Dr Anne-Marie Baird, who was elected president of Lung Cancer Europe (LuCE) in May.

LuCE is a non-profit umbrella organisation, which advocates for improvements in early detection, treatment, and care; as well a working towards making lung cancer an EU health care priority.



Recent News and Events

Prof Kumlesh Dev and Prof Lina Zgaga

Update on School’s First Athena SWAN Bronze Award Application

The School of Medicine is working towards its first Athena SWAN Bronze submission in 2021. Extensive consultations have been completed with staff, via an online survey and in focus groups, and these provided critical data for the application. The self-assessment team (SAT) led by Athena SWAN School Champions Professor Kumlesh Dev and Professor Lina Zgaga is currently finalising the self-assessment process based on the data relating to staff, students, recruitment, promotions, flexible working and school culture. The outstanding tasks will involve benchmarking against comparable institutions and finally a creation of a purposeful Action Plan that can tackle the gender equality challenges that were uncovered.


Prof Padraic Fallon

School of Medicine immunologist in top 1% in the world.

Padraic Fallon, Professor of Translational Immunology in Clinical Medicine, is among the top 1% of the most cited researchers in the world according to the Clarivate 2020 Highly Cited Researchers listing. This is third year in row Prof Fallon is ranked in top 1% cited scientists in immunology. Prof Fallon research is based in Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute.

Dr Irina Kinchin

Dr Irina Kinchin Announced as a Top New Health Researcher in Ireland

Project title: Measures of well-being for use in economic evaluation: valuing and assessing health outcomes in Ireland (Awarded: €244,455). Read on ...




HRB-funded study shows that immune cell mobility markers are important in predicting survival and treatment response in oesophageal cancer

A paper recently published in Cancers by Dr Margaret Dunne's team from the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute shows that several molecules found in blood which direct immune cell movement are linked with survival and response to pre-surgical treatment, in a cohort of patients with oesophageal cancer. This study highlights the importance of immune cell movement in supporting an effective immune response to cancer and will inform ongoing studies in the field of immunotherapy which aim to enhance the anti-cancer immune response.

Twitter link to paper

Paper open access link

Drs. Frédérique Vallières & Ann Nolan

Colleagues from the Trinity Centre for Global Health (Drs. Frédérique Vallières & Ann Nolan) and Maynooth University (Dr. Philip Hyland) have published the first study to estimate the prevalence of sexual violence in the Republic of Ireland since the landmark ‘Sexual Assault and Violence in Ireland’ (SAVI) report was first conducted in 2002. Currently in press in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the study found that 15% of Irish adults have been raped at some point in their life, and 1-in-3 have experienced some form of sexual violence, with women significantly more likely than men to have experienced sexual violence. The study also found that people who had been raped or sexually harassed were more likely to be suffering from a range of mental health problems in adulthood including Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depression, and Generalized Anxiety. Results were shared on the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th), receiving considerable media converge and support from community groups, including the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Link to Examiner Piece:


Jack Banks

Jack Banks final year PhD student awarded the Researcher of the Year by FutureNeuro

Jack Banks, PhD Researcher in the Academic Unit of Neurology, was recently awarded Researcher of the Year by FutureNeuro, SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases. Jack's research is examining the needs and wants of people with epilepsy, their carers and clinicians with regard to their care. Since the onset of CoVID-19, face to face appointments now only take place in exceptional circumstances, with the vast majority of patients now communicating with their healthcare providers through email, patient portals, telephone and video calls. Since the onset of the pandemic Jack has worked with the Epilepsy Services in St.James's and Beaumont Hospitals in Dublin to assess how digital changes have been perceived by stakeholders and how eHealth can be best utilised going forward.

Serena Foo

Career Column in Nature

Serena Foo, PhD student supervised by Prof. Ursula Fearon, in the department of Molecular Rheumatology, writes about the challenges of staying motivated during the COVID-19 lockdown and the importance of encouraging colleagues during the pandemic. Read here for the full article in Nature.”

Alyssa Kramer

Student in the Spotlight

Hi everyone, we are the first Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine Student Society in the country, founded this year by fourth year med Alyssa Kramer. Our mission is to educate members about Lifestyle and Integrative Medicine, focusing on nutrition, exercise and mental health, and to empower students to adopt healthy behaviours that affect quality of life. Check out our socials to learn more about us:

Instagram/Twitter: @tcdlifestylemed


European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) Annual Conference November 2020

There were a number of oral and poster presentations from the Discipline of Radiation Therapy at this year’s annual ESTRO conference, which took place online.

Asst. Prof. Elizabeth Forde was an invited speaker on the topic of the quantification and management of toxicity following radiotherapy to the head and neck. She also presented a poster related to part of her PhD work, demonstrating the impact of parotid gland contouring variability on radiomic feature values.
Elizabeth has also recently represented the ESTRO FALCON group where she acted as a tutor for the head and neck organ at risk delineation workshop, again as part of ESTRO 2020. In addition, she has taught on the FALCON for the thoracic organ at risk workshop.

Dr. Anita O’Donovan provided an overview of the challenges in treating older adults with cancer, as part of a symposium on challenging cancers.
She was also a member of faculty of the inaugural pre-meeting course on Research for RTTs.

Asst. Prof. Sarah Barrett presented a poster on time trend analysis of target volume auto-contouring in locally advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer over the course of radiation therapy treatment.

Dr. Michelle Leech, Head of Discipline of Radiation Therapy, was awarded the Emmanuel van der Schueren Award at ESTRO 2020 in recognition of her scientific work and contributions within ESTRO in the field of education and promotion of radiation oncology as a discipline. Michelle is only the second Irish person to receive this award and provided a lecture entitled: “What’s in a name?”

Assistant Professor Anita O'Donovan

European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Preceptorship November 2020

Anita O’Donovan, Assistant Professor, Discipline of Radiation Therapy, participated as a member of faculty in the inaugural Preceptorship on Cancer Care in Elderly Patients: What All Oncologists Need to Know. This course focused on a multidisciplinary approach in managing older adults with cancer, standards of care and future perspectives.

Dr Michelle Leech

Trinity’s European Researchers Night-START 2020 (Start Talking about Research Today) -27th November

Dr. Michelle Leech, Head of Discipline and Asst. Prof. Claire Poole, Discipline of Radiation Therapy hosted a webinar on the Public Patient Involvement in their research ‘Empowering European Patients in Radiation Oncology’ (E-PRO), funded by EIT Health. It was an opportunity for the research team at Trinity and their European partners at the European Cancer Patient Coalition to inform patients and the citizens across Europe on how they can get involved in Research. The webinar was recorded and will shortly be available on the Discipline of Radiation Therapy website.

Maria Mahmood

Non-technical domains of surgical professionalism - Are we practicing what we preach?"
MCh researcher looking into "Surgical Professionalism", with a special focus on non-operative aspects of surgical practice. I have conducted a detailed, reflective survey at Tallaght University Hospital with intriguing results that will spike interest in the School of Medicine. Informed by the survey, a simulation-based ACE exam is being conducted this December at the Trinity Center for Learning Development, Tallaght.

The Online Education Committee (OLEC) was established in May 2020. We aim to promote and advance high quality online education throughout the School of Medicine. Our website provides resources for staff, as well as highlighting examples of online teaching currently taking place across the School. We hosted a training day on the use of online teaching tools, a recording of which is available on our website. To contact the online education committee email Dr Forde on

Professor Cliona Ni Cheallaigh

Emerging Infectious Diseases – a new module for final year medical students
The Emerging Infectious Diseases module was developed for final year medical students in September 2020 by Professor Cliona Ni Cheallaigh. The aim of this module was to ensure that graduating students are prepared and confident to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19, and other emerging infectious diseases, when they enter the workforce. This online module lasts 1 week and includes pre-recorded lectures, self-directed learning and live interactive seminars. 83 final year medical students have completed this module so far and the feedback has been very positive. Thank you to all the TCD and HSE staff for their ongoing support and contributions to this new module.

New Appointments

Dr Sarah Barry

Dr Sarah Barry to take over as Director of the Centre for Health Policy and Management in 2021

Dr Sarah Barry, PhD, MA, BD, Bacc Phil is Assistant Professor of Health Services Management at the Centre for Health Policy and Management and Co-Director (from January 2021) of the HRB-funded national SPHeRE PhD Programme. She is also currently the Course Director of the MSc in Health Services Management. Read more...



SPHeRE Programme PhD scholars adapt to life under COVID-19

Eight SPHere Programme PhD students are based in the Centre for Health Policy and Management at various stages of their research and have all had to adapt to life under COVID-19. The two most recent SPHeRE cohorts have seen major disruptions to their mode of learning, with weekly in-person teaching having moved online. An important feature of the SPHeRE Programme is the social connection between peers within and across cohorts which has also been curtailed without shared lunches, social gatherings and in-person peer-learning days. But one cohort did manage to go away together for a few nights over the summer for socially distanced interaction and fun! Read on...

Prof Steve Thomas

New Edward Kennedy Chair of Health Policy and Management

After a thorough international search, a new Edward Kennedy Chair of Health Policy and Management has been selected and appointed. We are delighted to announce that the choice is our Centre Director, Professor Steve Thomas! Steve comes to the position with an impressive record in research, leadership, post-graduate teaching and supervision and providing evidence for policy change nationally and internationally. With his recent Research Leader Award from the Health Research Board, Steve's substantial contribution to Irish health research and policy making is set to continue.

Prof Steve Thomas starting five-year RESTORE project

The RESTORE project (Towards Dynamic Resilience in Health System Performance and Reform) under the leadership of Prof Steve Thomas, Trinity College Dublin is exploring the tensions between shocks, health system resilience and the achievement of health reform. It is a five-year Research Leader Award funded by the HRB which has just started in November 2020 with two new staff members, Dr. Padraic Fleming and Catherine O'Donoghue.

Prof Charles Normand

Professor Charles Normand reappointed to the HRB Board

Emeritus Professor in the Centre for Health Policy and Management, Charles Normand has been reappointed by the Minister for Health as a board member for the Health Research Board, to serve a new five-year term. The ten-member Board oversees the work of the HRB.


Dr Bridget Johnston

Dr Bridget Johnston starting HRB ARPP project in January 2021

Dr Bridget Johnston, Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Policy and Management has been awarded an ARPP (Applying Research into Policy and Practice) Fellowship from the HRB which commences in January 2021. Her study will look at Progressing Sláintecare delivery from proposal to implementation: Insights from palliative care in Ireland.


CLIC-Care project: Exploring the global impact of COVID-19 on care partners of people with brain health challenges:

Over 80% of individuals living with brain health challenges such as dementia, intellectual disability and enduring mental or neurological illness predominantly depend primarily on family carers. Covid-19 has significantly increased the burden on carers of people due to restrictions in external support and respite care. To investigate this, a SoM team, led by Professors Iracema Leroi and Brian Lawlor, from the Global Brain Health Institute, have with the support of Trinity COVID-Response Fund, launched the CLIC-Care study. Embedded within the larger CLIC Survey (Coping with Loneliness, Social Isolation and Covid-19), led by Professor Roger O’Sullivan (Institute of Public Health; Ulster), CLIC-Care is a global survey examining the impact of care burden, loneliness and social isolation in relation to COVID-19 restrictions. The survey closed on November 15, 2020, having garnered >20,000 responses from nearly 100 countries, including >5200 carers. This represents one of the most extensive studies on care partners of people with brain health challenges. Results are now being analysed; however, early results suggest that over 50% of carer respondents found care burden grater during COVID-19 compared to before. Alzheimer Society Ireland has found carers in crisis, with lack of support, extra workloads, exhaustion, and constant anxiety, loneliness and social isolation, all of which morbidity and mortality and undermine efforts to combat the virus as negative emotions lower immunity.

Researchers from the Discipline of Physiotherapy, Dr Cuisle Forde and Dr Emer Barrett and Dr Jason Wyse from the Discipline of Statistics and Information Systems in Trinity College Dublin have released preliminary results from their second national survey examining physical activity during COVID-19 restrictions. This work investigated whether people’s physical activity levels and behaviours were impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions and examined the main barriers and motivators to exercise during this time. The first survey, results of which were reported by several national media outlets, was carried out during the initial nationwide restrictions in May 2020. The second survey was carried out during recent level 5 restrictions in November 2020.

TILDA Reports
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, TILDA has released nine key reports to support planners and providers of health services managing the national response. Researchers analysed the TILDA dataset for prevalence of multimorbidity, medication usage and frailty associated with greater severity of COVID-19 infection, rates of healthcare utilisation, internet usage among older people and more. Read TILDA’s COVID-19 related reports here.

Advancing ageing research with TILDAHRB-funded COVID-19 projects

TILDA secured funding for two projects under the HRB’s Rapid Response Funding Scheme. One examines biological samples in the TILDA cohort to establish who has been infected by COVID-19 and determine the risk factors and consequences for developing the virus in older adults in Ireland. The second surveys TILDA participasnts on their experience of the pandemic and lockdown – data collection has concluded and first results are due in early 2021. Discover our COVID research projects here


2020 Beneficiaries
- Pulmonary function assessment devices for COVID-19 survivors, TUH
- Exercise Equipment for Intra-Dialytic Patients, TUH
- Coombe Care
- Rehabilitation equipment for the National Burns Unit, SJH

Med Day 2020
This year Med Day is continuing the long tradition of raising money for projects in our teaching hospitals. The beneficiaries this year are as deserving as ever and Med Day have had to get creative to ensure these hospitals that have worked tirelessly these past nine months are supported in the same way they've supported us. So far, we've run a number of successful online events. This holiday season, we're selling festive personalised eCards that include a message from our beneficiaries and also we're holding a raffle, with the top prize being a Raymond Weil watch worth €1,300.
Raffle tickets can be purchased through this link: