Principal Investigators

Prof. Gary Donohoe, Professor of Psychology & Director of NICOG

Gary DonohoeGary Donohoe was appointed to the school of psychology as professor of psychology in July 2013. Following the completion of his Doctoral training in Clinical Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, Gary undertook a research fellowship in the TCD neuropsychiatric genetics research, where he earned a PhD in Cognitive Genomics and began the cognitive genomics lab. He was appointed an assistant professor in TCD’s school of medicine in 2006, and associate professor in 2009, where he was responsible for the school of medicine psychology program until 2013. Gary’s research focuses on understanding the genetic and neural basis of cognitive deficits associated with psychosis, and the development of therapeutic programs for overcoming these deficits. Gary continues to lead the Cognitive Genetics and Cognitive Therapy (CogGene) group, members of which are based between the school of psychology NUIG and TCD, where he holds the position of adjunct Professor in the school of medicine and principal investigator in the Trinity College Institute for Neuroscience. Gary also continues to be clinically active in mental health service delivery.

Prof. Colm McDonald - Professor of Psychiatry & Co-Director of NICOG

Colm McDonald is Professor of Psychiatry at National University of Ireland, Galway and Consultant Psychiatrist, West Galway Mental Health Services. He also holds the post of visiting Professor at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. He completed his basic clinical training in Dublin and then moved to the Institute of Psychiatry in London, where he completed his clinical and research training and received his PhD.

He took up his professorial post in 2005 and has developed a clinical research program which focuses on investigating neurobiological and neuroimaging abnormalities associated with major psychotic and affective disorders. He is Director of the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory at NUI Galway. His research projects have been supported by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Health Research Board, Royal Society, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Mental Health Commission. He has authored over 150 original articles published in peer reviewed journals. 

Dr. Derek Morris - Lecturer in Biochemistry

Derek Morris graduated with a B.Sc. in Biotechnology from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 1998. In 2001, he completed his PhD in molecular genetics at the Department of Psychological Medicine, Cardiff University. He subsequently joined the Neuropsychiatric Genetics Research Group in TCD as a research fellow and was awarded a HRB Postdoctoral Career Development Research Fellowship in 2003. In 2006, Dr. Morris was appointed Lecturer in Molecular Psychiatry within the Dept. of Psychiatry in TCD and in 2013 moved to NUI Galway where he is now Lecturer in Biomedical Science.

Dr. Morris’ research interests are the development of novel methods for mapping genes for complex diseases and the application of high-throughput genomics technologies to the detection of risk genes for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He has extensive experience of genome-wide association studies and using SFI funding, set up TrinSeq, the first next-generation sequencing lab in Ireland in 2008. He is currently President of the Irish Society of Human Genetics. His contribution to the Cognitive Genetics Group is study design and the management of biosample resources and genetics data used for ongoing studies.

Dr. Dara M. Cannon – Lecturer in Anatomy

Dr. Dara M. Cannon is a lecturer in anatomy and research scientist at the National University of Ireland Galway, Co-Director of the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory, Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed academic journal 'Translational Neuroscience' and an organizing member of the 'Irish Diffusion Imaging Group'. Dr. Cannon's primary goal is to aid in improving our understanding of the biological underpinnings of mood and anxiety disorders by applying in vivo neuroimaging techniques to understand the human brain in particular during depression and anxiety.

Dr. Cannon's experience involves the neuroimaging modalities of positron emission tomography (PET) including mathematical modeling of PET data, and structural and diffusion-weighted (DTI) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The application of these technologies is being used to study receptor mapping in the human brain, bipolar disorder, the menstrual cycle, post-partum depression, temporal lobe epilepsy, brain-derived neurotropic factor as well as neurophysiological, clinical, cognitive, genetic and neuroanatomical contributions to mood disorders and psychosis. Validation of imaging findings is pursued using post-mortem microscopic contributions to the diffusion-weighted signal.

Dr. Brian Hallahan, MB, MD

Brian HallahanDr. Brian Hallahan is a senior lecturer in psychiatry at National University of Ireland, Galway and Consultant Psychiatrist, West Galway Mental Health Services. He completed his basic clinical training in Galway and then moved to Dublin. He engaged in research in Beaumont Hospital, which resulted in him attaining his MD degree. He subsequently worked in the Institute of Psychiatry in London focusing on neuroimaging research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and returned to Ireland to complete his higher training.

Dr. Brian Hallahan worked as a consultant psychiatrist in the Roscommon Mental Health Services before commencing his present post in 2012.Dr. Hallahan clinical research interests include structural neuroimaging of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorders. He has over 50 publications in peer reviewed journals and the Genio Trust and Stanley Treatment Trials have supported his research projects.


Dr. Ciara Egan

Ciara EganCiara Egan is a lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience at NUIG. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology in Maynooth University, and then went on to obtain her MSc in Foundations of Clinical Neuropsychology, and her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Bangor University. Her research interests focus on core cognitive processes (e.g. language, memory, attention) primarily using electrophysiological techniques, and eye-tracking/pupil dilation. She is also a keen proponent of open science and contributes to the creation of tools for increased methodological quality, replicability and reliability of electrophysiological research.

 Dr Tom Burke - Lecturer in Clinical Neuroscience

tom burkeDr. Tom Burke is a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer in Neuropsychology at NUIG. Tom received his PhD in Neuropsychology at Trinity College Dublin in 2016, after completing his BSc and MPsychSc in Psychology. He then completed his Clinical Psychology training at University College Dublin in 2019 and became a Visiting Research Fellow in neuropsychology and neuroimaging at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at University College Dublin. For his research he was awarded the PSI Division of Neuropsychology’s Early Carer Award in 2015; UCD’s Clinical Psychology Medal in 2019; and the PSI Early Career Award in 2019. Tom’s research interests relate to the cognitive neuropsychology and clinical neuroscience of movement disorders, psychiatric conditions, and neurodegenerative conditions, with particular interest in social cognition and executive function as well as the development of psychological supports for people and their caregivers.   


Current Post-docs

Dr. Sinéad King

Sinead King

Sinead is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics (NICOG), National University of Ireland, Galway and coordinates the immune response and social cognition in Schizophrenia (iRELATE) project. Sinead’s research interests focus on the impact of chronic stress on the immune system and the brain across multiple neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, with a current focus now in schizophrenia. Sinead uses a variety of investigative neuroimaging techniques in combination with blood work, cognitive tests and psycho-social measures of chronic stress. Sinead received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2019 from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Kings College London, supervised by Professor Allan Young. Sinead then went on to complete postdoctoral work at the School of Medicine, Stanford University where she further developed her expertise in clinical and neuroimaging research in the development of effective treatments for severe mental illness. During this time, Sinead also managed to develop her camping skills, climb many beautiful mountains and experience the wildlife in California.

Dr. Joan Fitzgerald

Joan FitzgeraldJoan originally graduated with a BSc from UCD and a higher diploma in manufacturing technology from TCD. After a long career in the pharmaceutical industry she returned to academia where she completed a higher diploma in Psychology (2014-2016) followed by a MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at the National University of Ireland, Galway (2016-2017). She commenced her PhD in January, 2018 in Cognitive Genetics in the Dept. of Biochemistry (NUIG) and is studying the genetics of resilience to cognitive decline in healthy ageing. Joan's research involves the use of bioinformatics to explore the relationship of genes to rates of change in cognitive processes over time.


Affiliate Members

John Kelly

John KellyJohn is currently a Personal Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in NUI, Galway. He has over 35 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, and the effects of prenatal antidepressant and methamphetamine administration on development in the offspring, as well as developing 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” published in 2010. He has helped in the development of a range of courses in Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including M.Sc. programmes in Neuropharmacology and Toxicology, B.Sc. in Pharmacology, and undergraduate programmes in Medicine and Nursing. He received the NUI Galway President’s award for teaching excellence in 2011.  

Declan McKernan

Declan Mckernan Declan is currently a lecturer in the discipline of Pharmacology & Therapeutics and is Course Director for the Msc in Neuropharmacology at NUIG. Declan graduated from the University of Limerick with a BSc in Industrial Biochemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry from University College, Cork. Declan then worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC before beginning at NUIG in 2011. Declan’s research interests include understanding the regulation of innate immune responses in the gut and the brain with particular focus on neurodegenerative and psychiatric illnesses.

Dr. David Mothersill 

David MothersillDavid is a past lecturer in Clinical Neurosciene at NUI Galway, he graduated from Trinity College in 2014 with a PhD in Neuroimaging Genetics.  Following this, he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on an SFI funded project examining social cognition in schizophrenia, based in Trinity College and NUI Galway. David started his lectureship in NUI Galway in August 2016, and acts as course coordinator on the newly launched MSc in Clinical Neuroscience. David's research is concerned with cognitive function in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, how this can be examined at the level of the brain using neuroimaging, and how deficits in cognitive function may be treated. David previously graduated from Trinity College with a BA (Hons) in Zoology and MSc in Neuroscience. He is also a registered member of the Organisation for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM).

Dr. Pilib Ó Broin

Pilib O'BrienPilib is a lecturer in Bioinformatics within the School of Mathematics, Statistics & Applied Mathematics. Prior to his appointment in 2015, he spent six years at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Since returning to Galway, he has helped establish two new MSc Programmes in Biomedical/Computational Genomics for which he currently serves as Programme Director. He is a Research Group Leader in the Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Cluster where his lab works on the development of statistical methods and computational tools for the analysis of genomic data, with a particular interest in the functional genomics of neurodevelopment disorders.


Dr. Sanbing Shen

Sanbing ShenDr. Sanbing Shen did a BSc (1983) on genetics in Hangzhou University, MSc (1986) on mammalian development in the Chinese Academy of Natural Sciences and PhD (1993) on developmental biology in the Hubrecht Laboratory. He was trained on artificial chromosomes in the MRC Human Genetics Unit, and on Neuroscience in the MRC Brain Metabolism Unit and Edinburgh University. He was appointed as a Lecturer in 2002, Senior Lecturer in 2008 and Reader in 2011 by the University of Aberdeen, and a Professor of Fundamental Stem Cell Biology by the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway in 2011. His current research has been focusing on modeling human genetic diseases in mice and in human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Key scientific achievements include (1) discovery of VPAC2 as a master switch of the circadian clock (Shen et al., 2000; Harmar et al., 2002), (2) the discovery of a novel protein kinase ULK4 as a risk factor of neurodevelopmental disorders (Lang et al, 2014), hydrocephalus (Liu et al., 2016a) and neural stem cells (Liu et al., 2016b), (3) discovery of the association of PAC1 with hydrocephalus (Lang et al., 2006; Liu et al., 2016), and (4) generation of Disc1tr mouse model for schizophrenia (Shen et al., 2008) which attracted major industrial funding to Scotland. In NUI Galway, Shen has led a stem cell research program, set up the iPSC technology in Ireland, and derived iPSCs from >50 donors including patients with Autism, Fragile X Syndrome, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Retinitis Pigmentosa, as well as Long QT Syndrome. They are currently characterizing the iPSCs for understanding disease pathology and mechanisms and for drug discovery.

Current PhD Candidates

 Genevieve McPhilemy

Genevieve McPhilemy  Genevieve completed her BSc in Biomedical Science at NUI Galway in October 2015 with a major in Human Anatomy. Following this, she worked as a part-time teaching assistant at the Department of Anatomy at NUI Galway before commencing her PhD at the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory in December 2015. Genevieve’s research combines magnetic resonance imaging techniques, genetic testing and cognitive analyses to examine how genetic factors may influence brain structure and function in bipolar disorder. Her doctoral training is supported by the Irish Research Council and the Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme of the College of Science at the National University of Ireland Galway.

Cerena Miravalles

Cerena MiravellesCerena completed her BA degree in Psychology at Seattle University (USA) in 2017. She further went on to complete her MSc degree in Clinical Neuroscience at the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2018. Prior to starting her PhD, Cerena worked as a Research Assistant in the Clinical Neuroimaging Lab and in the Clinical Research Facility in University Hospital Galway coordinating and managing the Psychiatry studies. She commenced her PhD in November 2019 in the Dept. of Psychiatry (NUIG) with her research investigating the relationship between the muscarinic-cholinergic system and mood and cognition in bipolar disorder.

Aodán Laighneach

Aodan laighneachAodán graduated with a B.Sc. in Biomedical Science from NUI Galway in November 2019, completing a major in Pharmacology. He started a Ph.D. in the department of Biochemistry in September 2019 under funding from the Irish Research Council’s government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme (GOIPG). Aodán’s current research aims to investigate the molecular validity of a dual hit model of schizophrenia based on prenatal infection and social isolation.

Emma Frawley

 Emma Frawley Emma graduated with an MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 2010. Since that time she has worked in clinical practice both in Ireland and the USA. In 2018 she began a PhD, as a Clinical Research Fellow, with the YOULEAD Youth Mental Health Leadership program at the School of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Galway. Her research focuses on cognitive remediation and social recovery in early psychosis and she is supervised by Prof. Gary Donohoe. 

Emma Corley 

Emma Corley Emma began her PhD in September 2019 in the School of Psychology under funding from the Irish Research Council. Emma's PhD interests focus on the influence of genes, early life experiences and the immune system on cognitive processes and the brain. Her research combines genetic and magnetic resonance imaging techniques to examine how biological and environmental factors influence cognition in schizophrenia. Prior to this, she completed her BA Degree and Higher Diploma in Psychology in NUI Galway. She recently graduated with an MSc in Clinical Neuroscience (2018-2019). 

Shane O'Connell

Shane O'ConnellShane graduated with a BSc in Genetics from University College Cork in 2018 before moving to Galway to pursue a Masters in Biomedical Genomics. After completing his research project under Dr. Pilib Ó Broin, Shane began his PhD in 2019 with supervision by Pilib and Dr. Dara Cannon. Shane is researching the use of convolutional neural networks to derive intermediate phenotypes from structural magnetic resonance imaging data of the brain for genome wide association studies of neuropsychiatric disorders, namely bipolar disorder. His work is funded by the SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science.

Jaqueline QuirkeJaqueline Quirke

Jacqueline completed her BSc in Psychology at Santa Clara University in 2017 (USA). In 2019, she moved to Ireland and completed the MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at NUI Galway in 2020. After working in the Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory as a teaching and research assistant for a year, she commenced her PhD in Anatomy in September 2021. Jacqueline’s research investigates how altered lateralization of processing and related network differences contribute to attentional and emotional deficits in bipolar disorder using fMRI and cognitive methods. Her research is supported by the Hardiman Research Scholarship at the National University of Ireland, Galway. 

Saahithh Redddi Patlola

Saahithh Redddi PatlolaI am Saahithh Redddi Patlola. I have completed under graduation (BSc) in Pharmacy from St. Mary’s College of Pharmacy ,India in 2017 and Masters in Toxicology from NUI Galway, 2019. I worked as a part-time Tutor and lab demonstrator for the MSc. Neuropharmacology and Toxicology for a semester in 2019.  I am currently working as Research Assistant in iRELATE project investigating the immune response in Schizophrenia. My research interests include fields of neuroinflammation, immunology, pharmacology and epigenetics.  




Current Research Assistants‌

Emmet Godfrey

Emmet GodfreyEmmet received his BSc in Psychology and MSc in Clinical Neuropsychology from the University of Groningen. Since then, he has been fortunate to be a volunteer with 50808 (Crisis Textline Ireland), ADHD Ireland, AWARE, and worked in collaboration with the University of Groningen in research. His main interests are in exploring novel ways of improving clinical outcomes, communicating research to people outside of research, and clinical developments in promoting recovery in early psychosis.

Talissa Walsh

Talissa WalshTalissa completed her BSc in Psychology at DCU and MSc in Clinical Psychology and Mental Health from the University of Sussex. Talissa has previously worked as a Rehabilitation Assistant at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland promoting independence and recovery. Her interests lie in the aetiology of mental health disorders, predictors of recovery, and the development of tailored psychosocial interventions.

Nicole Sylver

Nicole SylverNicole graduated with a first class honours BA Psychology degree from NUI Galway in 2017 and received the Martin McHugh Academic Prize for best final year performance. Following this, Nicole graduated with a distinction MSc Applied Psychology degree from Trinity College Dublin. Nicole went on to work as an Assistant Psychologist with St. Gabriel's Centre followed by the HSE. Nicole has worked as a Teaching Assistant with the NUI Galway School of Psychology since October 2020. In November 2021, Nicole took up the position of Research Assistant with the NUI Galway Student Counselling Service and School of Psychology under Professor Gary Donohoe. The purpose of this post is to ascertain and analyse data regarding NUI Galway Student Counselling Service use and associated outcomes. Nicole has also worked voluntarily with Childline and 50808 and is a member of the PSI EGG committee. 

Past Lecturers

  • Dr. Laurena Holleran

Past PhD Students

  • Dr Leila Nabulsi
  • Dr Theophilus Akudjedu
  • Dr Joanne Kenney
  • Dr Stefani O'Donoghue
  • Srinath Ambati
  • Dr Rachael Dillion
  • Dr Sinéad Kelly
  • Dr Donna Cosgrove
  • Dr David Mothersill
  • Dr Therese O'Donoghue
  • Dr Craig Chigwedere
  • Dr Jessica Holland
  • Dr. Donna Cosgrove
  • Dr. Guilia Tronchin
  • Dr. Laura Costello
  • Dr. Fiona Martyn

Past Post-docs

  • Dr Pablo Najt
  • Dr Niall Colgan
  • Dr April Hargreaves
  • Dr JingJing Zhao
  • Dr Emma Rose
  • Dr Maria Dauvermann
  • Dr Laura Whitton
  • Dr Karolina Rokita
  • Dr Lieve Desbonnet

Past Research Assistants‌

  • Ruan Kane
  • Akil Konkoth
  • Áine McNicolas