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Meet Trinity's most Highly Cited Researchers in 2018

Every year, Clarivate Analytics publishes a list of the most highly-cited researchers around the world. In 2018, a record number of Trinity's researchers appeared on this prestigious list. Many of these researchers were listed in the ‘Cross-Field’ category, a clear demonstration of the influence their work has beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. The researchers listed in the Cross-Field category are Professor Andrew Bowie, Professor Yvonne Buckley, Professor Aiden Corvin, and Professor Michael Gill. Professor Jonathan Coleman appears on the list twice in the Chemistry and Materials Science categories. Dr Clare Kelly made the list in the Neuroscience & Behaviour category, while Professor Padraic Fallon and Professor Luke O’Neill were both included for Immunology.

Research Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries

Andrew Bowie is a Professor of Innate Immunology in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, and is currently also an Associate Dean of Research. Showing the power of curiosity driven research, Andrew took a really simple question and ran with it: how do human cells detect viruses, or, how do we sort self from non-self? Our bodies sense the presence of viral DNA, turning on an immune response which is supposed to happen. But sometimes these sensors get switched on in the absence of infection which can cause all kinds of illnesses. Back in 2010, Andrew and his team discovered that IFI16 is a DNA sensor. The main focus of Andrew’s work at the moment is understanding how these sensing pathways are wired and regulated, and why they get turned on inappropriately. These discoveries and high-impact papers are the output of a team of outstanding PhD students and postdocs working with Andrew on fundamental questions in innate immunology.

Professor Yvonne Buckley from the School of Natural Sciences was also recognised in the Cross-Field category for her work across Plant & Animal Science and Environment/Ecology. Yvonne’s research has applications in conservation, agriculture and pest management, and her highly cited papers cover topics such as the ecology of grasslands and their responses to global change, plant life histories, insect pests and conservation. Her paper, ‘Predicting species distributions for conservation decisions’ outlines how an important modelling tool for predicting where species occur and may move to with climate change can be used to inform conservation actions. Yvonne works with a number of large, international collaborative team science projects such as the grasslands project NutNet (@NutNetGlobal), and the plant demography database project COMPADRE (@compadreDB). Her paper, ‘Fast–slow continuum and reproductive strategies structure plant life-history variation worldwide’, uses the COMPADRE plant matrix database to describe variation in schedules of development, survival and reproduction in plant species worldwide. Yvonne also leads the global plant population dynamics project Plantpopnet @plantpopnet.

Prof Aiden Corvin, the head of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine appeared in the Cross-Field category. Aiden is interested in understanding the genetic basis of mental illness, particularly serious mental conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Along with Michael Gill and other Irish colleagues, he collected one of the largest cohorts of these patients in the world and made a significant contribution in showing that genes that regulate the function of synapses and immune genes are involved in both disorders. The game changer came a decade ago when Aiden and like-minded colleagues around the world pooled their resources to create a much larger sample to accelerate this gene discovery. Showing the power of international collaboration, the most recent analysis from this study identified even more risk genes. Along with Ben Neale at MIT, Aiden also studies whether brain diseases are related to each other. This launched a 4 year project that examined genetic data from more than a million people! They found that psychiatric disorders (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD) share a lot of the same risk genes which tells us that there are common biological processes involved. Aiden is now working on using genome sequencing methods for more definitive analysis of genetic variation. This offers real promise greater understanding of mental disorders and the development of new therapies.

Professor Michael Gill who is head of the School of Medicine was also named on the list in the Cross-Field category. Michael leads the Neuropsychiatric Genetics Research Group which conducts ongoing Phenotypic and Genomic investigations into Autism, Psychosis and ADHD. The goal of this research is to identify and investigate the function of genetic variation contributing to disease risk so we can have a better understanding of disease biology. This will help to develop better methods of diagnosis, and establish new therapeutic approaches. Michael's group is involved in large collaborative genomics studies and has been part of several significant discoveries published in journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics, Archives of General Psychiatry and the British and American Journals of Psychiatry.


Professor Jonathan Coleman from the School of Physics appeared on the list twice in the categories of Chemistry and Materials Science. His most highly cited work relates to his research on graphene. Graphene is incredibly strong and flexible and has all sorts of wonderful properties, and can conduct electricity and heat. But in order to be really useful it has to be produced in massive quantities without any defects. With the team at AMBER, an SFI-funded research centre hosted at Trinity, Jonathan helped develop a way to produce defect-free graphene in large quantities, and published those findings in Nature. Jonathan is also a deputy leader on one of the work packages that make up the Graphene Flagship, a €1 billion project which is one of Europe's biggest ever research initiatives.

Neuroscience & Behaviour

Dr Clare Kelly who is an Ussher Assistant Professor of Functional Neuroimaging appeared on the list for Neuroscience & Behavior. Clare's research uses cutting-edge brain imaging techniques (functional magnetic resonance imagine – fMRI) to examine the links between how children and adolescents behave, think, and react to their worlds and how their brains are organised. The ultimate goals of Clare's work are to better understand brain and behavioural development and to identify patterns of brain function and behaviour that either increase or decrease vulnerability to mental health difficulties during childhood and adolescence. In particular, her work has focused on functional connectomics, a network-based technique that measures patterns of synchronised changes in the fMRI signal, to provide a comprehensive, non-invasive map of brain circuitry. The singular strength of functional connectomics is that it requires only around 5 minutes of data, acquired while participants are simply resting. This approach has energised the neuroimaging community. One of Clare's studies explored the utility and power of functional connectomics. Another study, one of her most highly cited, looked at how competition between functional brain networks mediates behavioral variability. Clare has also made key contributions to the first grass-roots neuroimaging open resource-sharing effort, The 1000 Functional Connectomes Project. This effort contributed to a shift in the ethos of the neuroimaging field towards Open Science.


Professor of Translational Immunology Padraic Fallon appeared on the list in the Immunology category. Immunology is a particular strength at Trinity with three of our researchers in that area appearing on the Highly Cited Researchers list in 2018. Padraic leads a translational immunology group and carries out fundamental research to discover new therapies to treat diseases such as asthma, eczema, and IBD. One of the central questions of his work is to find out why inflammation has gone wrong in modern living. Pathogen infections - or worms - trained our immune system and that humans are now too clean could actually be working against us. Padraic is interested in trying to find a way to stop allergic reactions before they start rather than treating the inflammation once a reaction has already begun. His team had a major breakthrough recently when they found that a particular molecule functions as a trigger for inflammation. You can read more about that discovery here as well.

Chair of Biochemistry, Professor Luke O'Neill was also named on the list in the area of Immunology. Luke has been instrumental in establishing Trinity's international reputation as a leader in the area of Immunology. You can read more about his research journey here. Luke leads the Inflammation Research Group. His work looks at the molecular basis of inflammation, in particular innate immunity, toll-like receptors, inflammasomes and metabolic reprogramming in macrophage activation. Inflammation can sometimes go rogue and cause a whole range of difficult to treat inflammatory diseases and his findings are helping in the effort to develop new anti-inflammatory medicines. Some of Luke's most recent work, in collaboration with researchers in Ireland, the UK, USA, and Germany, has appeared in Nature. Luke has also co-founded several companies to develop new therapies, including Inflazome and Sitryx. Luke has also produced a TV documentary on Erwin Schrodinger's time in Dublin and he was nominated for an Irish Book Award for his book Humanology.