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Prof Luke O’Neill

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Arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis: On Inflamation and Ageing


Robert Boyle wrote on many topics.  One of the areas he was interested in was how to prolong life.  The aging process is a concern for all of us, not only because of impending mortality, but also because of the many diseases that afflict us as we grow older.  What do we understand about aging and how can we limit its damaging effects?  I will discuss current theories of aging in the context of inflammatory diseases, the burden of which increases as we age. These diseases include arthritis, Alzheimer's disease and atherosclerosis.  We are working on a protein, Nlrp3, which might mediate the damage in these diseases. I will discuss the possibility of devloping drugs to limit this target.  If we can prolong healthy life, what will this mean for society and who will be able to pay for such treatments?


Professor Luke O’Neill was appointed to the Chair of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin in 2008, where he leads the Inflammation Research Group.  He is also Academic Director of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. He has a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of London and carried out Post-Doctoral research at Cambridge, UK. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research, notably the Royal Irish Academy Medal for Biochemistry, The Irish Society for Immunology medal, the Royal Dublin Society/ Irish Times Boyle medal for Scientific Excellence and the Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year Award . He is a co-founder and director of Opsona Therapeutics, a drug development company working in the area of inflammatory diseases.  He has published over 220 papers and reviews on his research, in journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics and PNAS. He is on the editorial boards of several journals, including the board of reviewing editors for Science.


Session Chair Prof  Dervilla Donnelly is the Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry, University College, Dublin. She has led a multi-faceted career combining outstanding contributions in research and teaching with leadership in science policy and broader public service. She began lecturing in Organic Chemistry in UCD in 1956, where she established her research group in phytochemistry, the study of chemicals with biological activity derived from plants . She was appointed Professor of Phytochemistry in 1979.

Donnelly's commitment to European research saw her elected chairman of the European Science Research Council and vice-president of the European Science Foundation. She was the first woman president of the Royal Dublin Society and chairman of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the Custom House Docks Development Authority and the National Education Convention.



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