Rita Hickey – APC Faculty
Tel: +353 25 42227
Dr. Rita Hickey is a senior research officer in the Food Biosciences Dept. at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark. Rita was awarded a First class honours degree in Science from UCD and successfully completed her PhD research in Teagasc in 2003. She was subsequently employed as a Research Officer by the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre. Rita then worked for Abbott Diagnostics as a Process Specialist in Sligo before returning to Moorepark for her current role. Her main research interests focus on investigating the biological properties of sugars isolated from food sources. Rita is the lead PI on the FHI Infant Nutrition workpackage for Food for Health Ireland and was a funded PI on the SFI-funded Alimentary Glycobiology Research Cluster (AGRC). She currently collaborates with PIs from the APC. Close linkages exist between Dr. Hickey’s lab and Prof. Joshi’s lab for instance, with co-supervision of 5 Walsh fellow PhD students (3 of which have been awarded their PhDs). These collaborations were made possible through the AGRC and 3 DAFM funded projects. Also, a collaborative project has recently commenced with Prof. Douwe Van Sinderen’s group. A major area of interest is the effect of food derived oligosaccharides on host-microbial interactions in the gut. For instance, milk oligosaccharides can alter intestinal glycosylation, which in turn contributes to early immune development and maturation of the newborn intestinal tract. In the Hickey lab, strategies to increase the colonisation of infant-associated Bifidobacteria have been extensively investigated in recent years with promising results.