Pharmacology & Therapeutics-research degrees: M.Sc. and Ph.D.


The Discipline is actively engaged in a dynamic research programme which encompasses the areas of neuroscience and neuropharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs on the nervous system), immunopharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs on the immune system), inflammation, cancer biology and endocrinology. The Discipline has extensive research links and collaborations with other leading national and international research centres.  Researchers within Pharmacology and Therapeutics play lead roles within NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research, the Galway Neuroscience Centre, REMEDI and CÚRAM.

The research activities of the Discipline are funded by a variety of competitive sources.

Staff Research Interests

Prof. Laurence Egan

Molecular mechanisms of intestinal injury, repair and carcinogenesis; focus on biological functions of transcription factor NF-kappaB; identification and characterization of novel therapeutic targets for inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and radiation injury to the intestinal tract.

Investigation of the mechanism of action of antidepressants and the development of novel targets using animal models; the effects of antidepressants on modulating immune responses; development of non-animal alternatives for toxicological assessment of drugs.

Dr Aideen Ryan

Dr Ryans’ lab focuses on understanding the immune/stromal cell contexture of the colon tumour microenvironment using in vitro, ex vivo, 3D methodologies, pre-clinical models and primary patient samples

Her research programme includes:

  1. Investigation of Tumour-stromal cell interactions and subsequent effects on immune cell infiltration
  2. Role of Programmed Death-Ligand 1 (PD-L1) in tumour cell immune evasion in the colon cancer microenvironment
  3. Influence of stromal cell activation and glycosylation on immune cell infiltration in colon tumours
  4. Sensitizing the tumour microenvironment to immunotherapeutic targeting

 Prof. Eilís Dowd

The development and validation of novel cell and gene therapies for Parkinson’s disease. For example, using viruses to deliver therapeutic gene products to the brain, and transplantation of dopaminergic neurons derived from stem cells.

Prof. David Finn

Neurochemical, neuroendocrine and molecular mechanisms underlying pain, anxiety and depression. Neuropharmacology of cannabinoid and opioid receptors. Imidazoline binding sites, brain monoamines and the stress response. Neuroimmune mechanisms of relevance to pain, inflammation and mood disorders.

Dr. Howard Fearnhead

The cell and molecular biology of programmed cell deaths in cancer cells and other in vitro model systems.

Prof. John Kelly

Professor John Kelly has over 40 years in pharmacological and toxicological research, 8 of which have been spent in industry. Current areas of research include the mechanisms of action of antidepressants using preclinical models, the effects of prenatal antidepressant and methamphetamine administration on development in the offspring, as well as development of novel preclinical models of schizophrenia. This research has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed publications, and the textbook “Principles of CNS drug development: from test tube to patient” was published in 2010.

Dr. Declan McKernan

  • Innate immunity: the genetic, epigenetic and biochemical regulation of pattern recognition receptors such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs).
  • Epigenetics: the role of DNA methylation and histone modification in innate immunity and chronic inflammatory disease.
  • Neuroinflammation: the role of the innate immune system (TLRs) in neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Brain-gut interaction: the role of the innate immune system in brain-gut communication.
  • Psychiatric & affective disorders: the role of the innate immune system in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.