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Meet the Team


Therese McNamee


Therese is founder of DS Biome and mother of a child with Down Syndrome. She is especially excited about the possibilities afforded through this collaborative, engaged research. Therese is an R.N.I.D (Registered Nurse Intellectual Disabilities) and also has a B.Sc. in Health Science and a M.Sc. in Food and Nutrition.


Prof Paul Cotter

Principal Investigator


Paul is a microbiologist and Head of Food Biosciences at Teagasc and a Principal Investigator with the APC Microbiome Ireland. He also co-ordinates the EU H2020 Innovation Action relating to microbiomes. Cotter laboratory have been winners of the Irish Laboratory of the Year Awards many times over, including this year, where they won three awards at the 2021 Irish Laboratory Awards, including Academic or Research Laboratory of the Year, Bio Science Laboratory of the Year and Food Laboratory of the Year. 


Prof Fergus Shanahan

Principal Investigator


Fergus Shanahan MD, DSc, MRIA, is emeritus professor of medicine at University College Cork and was foundation director of the SFI-funded research centre APC Microbiome Ireland. A clinician-scientist with over forty years’ experience helping patients with chronic inflammatory bowel disease, he has received international awards for his contributions to medical science and the medical humanities.


Dr. Beatriz Gomez Sala 

    Research Officer


    Beatriz is a Research Officer working as a Project Manager in APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork

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    Dr. Fiona Crispie

    Principal Investigator

    Dr Fiona Crispie graduated with a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UCC in 2002.  In 2009, she was appointed to the Next Generation Sequencing Platform, in Teagasc Moorepark. The Platform, is recognised both nationally and internationally as a leading research platform.  In her role as a Senior Technologist, Fiona manages the Sequencing Platform, supervising staff and students working in the core. 


    Prof Paula O'Leary

    Academic Advisor

    Paula is a consultant clinical and laboratory Immunologist at CUH and is a Professor in Medicine at UCC. She is Dean at the UCC School of Medicine. Her interests include diagnosis and treatment of immune deficiency disorders, allergy, including food allergy and inflammatory disorders. As a mother to a boy with Down Syndrome, Paula also has a personal interest in promoting high quality research in this condition.


    Liam Ahern

      Inclusion Officer

      Liam is the Former President of Down Syndrome Ireland and currently the  Inclusion/Education officer with Down
      Syndrome Cork. A retired Principal of St Aidan's Community College in Cork, Liam is also the Director of the Cork Sports Partnership and Disability Sector Nominee on the Cork Education and Training Board.


      Laura Ahern

      Citizen Advisor

      Laura is currently working in the Mercy hospital Cork and serves with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Steering Group.  In addition to holding a Special Olympics gold medal for gymnastics, Laura brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the team as a representative and a voice for persons with Down Syndrome. 

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      Dr Pauline Frizelle 

      Speech, Language & Communication Advisor

      Pauline is a lecturer in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Formerly a Speech and Language Therapist, Pauline has extensive experience supporting the speech, language and communication needs of people with Down syndrome. She is committed to carrying out quality research and is involved in a number of projects promoting inclusive education; the use of key word signing, and the impact of music on communication in very young children with Down syndrome.  


      Prof Ivan Perry

      Academic Advisor

      Ivan Perry is professor of Public Health and dean of the School of Public Health at University College Cork. He is an epidemiologist with an international profile in public health nutrition. Since 2008, he has been principal investigator on the Health Research Board’s Centre for Health and Diet Research—one of Europe’s leading interdisciplinary centres of excellence in public health nutrition.


      Prof Deirdre Murray

        Academic Advisor

        Deirdre is a Consultant Paediatrician and Head of Department in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University College, Cork

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        Dr. Orla O'Sullivan

          Senior Computational Biologist

          Orla O’Sullivan is a Senior Computational Biologist in Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ireland and Principal Investigator with VistaMilk and APC Microbiome Ireland (Science foundation Ireland Research Centres). In 2019, she was awarded the highly prestigious SFI Early Career Researcher of the Year. Her research focuses on elucidating the microbiome from various environments including human gut and lung, soil, rumen and food.  Orla is currently involved in two H2020 projects with a focus on the microbiome in human health. 

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