Siobhain O’ Mahony
Siobhain O’ Mahony graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Neuroscience from University College cork. She then went on to complete a Masters in Neuropharmacology in the National University of Ireland, Galway. Siobhain worked in the Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology in the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, which was funded by a Marie Curie Fellowship. Siobhain obtained a Ph.D. from the department of Psychiatry, UCC. She continued her research on adverse early life events and the development of pain-related disorders during a post-doctoral post in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Biosciences Institute, UCC. She then took up a post-doctoral position with GlaxoSmithKline validating lead compounds targeting visceral pain in models of irritable bowel syndrome.
In 2008 Siobhain was appointed as Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at UCC. Siobhain’s main research areas assess outcomes of adverse events during the first 1000 days of life in particular the disruption of the developing gut microbiota through events such as antibiotic usage or stressful situations. Since taking up her current post Siobhain has graduated 3 PhD students and 1 MD student. She has a H-index of 23 and has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers and 4 book chapters. Her research is currently funded by Industry collaborators and the Irish Health Research Board.
Research Interests-Understanding the interaction of stress, gut microbiota and the brain-gut axis
Siobhain’s main research interest lies in the miscommunication within the brain-gut axis and how the bacteria within the gut (microbiota) can play a role. A dysfunction in the signaling systems within this axis can result in life-long debilitating disorders with a significant decrease in quality of life. The gastrointestinal microbiota confer many health promoting functions on the body and brain and colonisation with the appropriate “good” bacteria is essential to a healthy brain-gut-microbiome axis. Stress during pregnancy and early life stress in both rodent and patient studies has been associated with alterations in this axis and can both impact on the colonisation of the gut. Early life is the most dynamic stage of gastrointestinal colonisation when important host-microbe relationships are forged. The gastrointestinal bacterial community is responsible for important functions within the body including development of the immune system, pain modulatory system and protection of the gut. During pregnancy and early life a number of factors may interfere with the appropriate colonisation of the infant gut rendering an individual susceptible to the development of disorders that are associated with an altered gut microbiota. Siobhain studies the implications in adulthood that may result from an interruption of colonisation of the gut.
She is also interested in gender-related differences in pain perception and the role of gut bacteria in these differences. Her research group is based in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience and the APC Microbiome Centre (faculty member) in the Biosciences Institute and the Western Gateway Building.
Contact details: E-mail: SOMahony@ucc.ie