MU biologist wins funding for obesity-related cancer research

Thursday, June 6, 2024 - 11:30

Dr Fearon Cassidy of Maynooth University’s Department of Biology has been named as one of 10 research fellows who will share €2.6 million in funding from DOROTHY, a postdoctoral programme focused on research into public health crises.

The researchers embark on a 36-month postdoctoral fellowship with an international phase of 18 months, hosted at a research institution outside Ireland, followed by a return phase of 18 months at home.

Dr Cassidy's project is: Targeting MAITs (a type of immune cell) as an Opportunity Beyond Weight Loss for Solving the Public Health Crisis of Obesity-associated Cancer – thinking outside the box by looking inside the adipose tissue.

Focused on the interrelation between obesity and cancer, the research will be split between Sweden’s Karolinksa Institutet, one of the world’s foremost medical universities, and Maynooth University, where she works in the Metabolic Immunology Lab under the supervision of Dr Andrew Hogan
DOROTHY was named after Dorothy Stopford Price, an Irish doctor who was key to the elimination of childhood tuberculosis in Ireland by introducing the BCG vaccine. It is an interdisciplinary fellowship programme, launched in 2021 by the Irish Research Council, the Health Research Board and the Environmental Protection Agency. It is co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

This is the second cohort of research fellows to receive DOROTHY funding and they will tackle public health crises from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, ranging across the sciences, humanities and engineering. Projects to receive funding in this cohort include novel treatments of airborne infections, microscopy practices and reproductive crises, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian refugee crisis on displaced women across the island of Ireland, as well as the global rise in depression and anxiety among young people.

Welcoming the announcement, Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, said: “The Irish Research Council is delighted to partner in the DOROTHY MSCA programme, supporting as it does early career researchers from a variety of disciplines to conduct and manage research projects that have strong relevance to public health crises.

"The programme aligns with the ambitions of Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy to strengthen multi- and trans- disciplinary research to deliver enhanced outcomes for citizens and society, and to develop the national and international talent needed to do so.”