Professor Dermot Kelleher delivers his Inaugural Lecture as Chair of Clinical Medicine at TCD

Posted on: 28 June 2007

Professor of Clinical Medicine, Dermot Kelleher delivered his inaugural lecture on the subject of Shall We Dance? -Dangerous Liaisons Between the Immune System and the Hepatitis C Virus on 27 June. In the course of his lecture, Professor Kelleher detailed the intimate relationship between the hepatitis C virus and the body’s immune system.

The immune system is capable of clearing the virus provided it attacks it sufficiently aggressively and in genetically resistant individuals. The immune response to the virus is choreographed by the HLA genes which control the way that the immune system sees an infection. The virus has evolved a number of mechanisms to keep the immune system at arm’s length, including the system whereby a viral protein captures and traps a key enzyme, protein kinase C, responsible for the movement of immune cells and for secretion.

This work builds on the basic research in Professor Kelleher’s laboratory, which identified the key mechanisms for migration of immune cells. The research described has potential implications for the development of vaccines and for drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C. Professor Kelleher’s programme in this area was supported by the Health Research Board, the European Union and the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI).

Professor Kelleher is currently Professor of Clinical Medicine at St James’s Hospital and Head of the Medical School. His research has been published in many international journals, including Nature Immunology, Nature Genetics, Journal of Experimental Medicine, The Journal of Biological Chemistry and Gastroenterology.

This year Professor Kelleher was made a Fellow of the American Gastroenterology Association. He is Honorary Secretary of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland. He is also incoming Chair of the Eurolife Consortium.