Innate Immunity and Fertility: Towards Improved Prognostics

Infection and Immunity
Blue and Pink Lecture Hall, UMCU
Prof Cliona O'Farrelly

Cliona O’Farrelly, PhD FTCD,
Professor of Comparative Immunology
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

Short CV

Cliona O’Farrelly, is Professor of Comparative Immunology and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. A recipient of the Irish Research Scientists’ Association Gold Medal, the Graves Medal, the Conway Medal, the Isla Haliday Award, Cliona was awarded the Nature Mentoring Award in 2014. Having been President of the Irish Society of Immunology from 2000-2007 and on the Board of the Irish Cancer Society from 2006-2012, Cliona served on the Boards of the Royal Dublin Society and Trinity College Dublin from 2011-2016. She is now Secretary to Fellows at TCD. Cliona completed her undergraduate degree in Microbiology and PhD in Immunology at TCD before undertaking postdoctoral research in Dublin and the UK, and becoming Lecturer on Biology at Harvard University. While Director of the Research Laboratories at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin from 1993-2007, she was instrumental in developing one of the world’s first research programmes into human liver immunology. This continues to be a major research interest. She also has research interests in several species including bats, birds, dolphins and horses. She has published almost 200 papers, reviews and book chapters and has raised more than 10 million Euro in grant funding. She is passionate about science communication and education and has graduated 34 PhD students, 7 MD and 4 MCh students from her laboratory. She designed a new MSc Programme in Immunology at Trinity College Dublin which has graduated almost 100 students and spearheaded several novel initiatives for communicating science to the public.

The uterus, whether pregnant or not, is a site of diverse immunological activities.  In this organ, harmless foreign antigens of commensal and foetal origin require tolerance while at the same time, effective tumour and pathogen surveillance must be maintained while major tissue remodelling is regularly required. The Comparative Immunology Group (CIG) studies immunological activity in the reproductive tracts of humans and cattle with a view to understanding the immune processes required for fertility and uterine health. We have discovered, analysed and quantified several genes, molecules and mechanisms of the innate immune system that play important roles in reproductive immunology and are convinced that some of these could provide better screening tests for pathology and infertility.

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