The Department of Molecular Rheumatology has recently been established lead by Professor Ursula Fearon who was appointed Chair of Molecular Rheumatology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin. The team currently comprises of 9 post-doctoral fellows, 3 PhD/MD students, Clinical Research Nurse Specialist, lab manager and research assistant.
Arthritis is a leading cause of joint deformity and disability that affects up to 15% of the population, 2% suffer from inflammatory (IA) forms such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). It is also associated with significant co-morbidity including atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
The main focus of the research is to investigate the key mechanisms involved in synovial invasion, immune cell dysfunction, metabolism and joint destruction. The group has developed a number of unique models using human tissue from patients with inflammatory arthritis which more closely reflect the in vivo joint environment. Using these ‘pre clinical proof of concept models’ the group also engage with industry partners to test their potential pipeline drugs.
Professor Ursula Fearon was appointed Professor of Molecular Rheumatology, School of Medicine, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin in December 2016. Professor Fearon’s research is a bench-to-beside translational approach, focusing on understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive disease pathogenesis; her team specifically examine components of joint inflammation at a cellular and molecular level to dissect the signalling and gene pathways that are disturbed in patients who have inflammatory arthritis and rheumatic diseases. She has developed several novel models for the study of innovative medicines in the field of rheumatology and immunology and has established strong collaborative research networks across Europe, USA and Singapore, and is active member of the Arthritis Research Coalition (ARC), Ireland. Professor Fearon has been awarded significant research funding from Arthritis-Ireland, Health Research Board, Science Foundation Ireland, IRCSET, European-ASPIRE, JU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and Maeve Binchy Funding for Arthritis Research, in addition to industry collaborative partnerships. She has an International reputation, has published extensively in high impact peer-reviewed journals, and her research has been awarded several National/International awards.
Angiogenesis; Cell signalling; Cell-migration; Cellular invasion; Cytokine signalling; Energy-metabolism; Hypoxia; Immunology, Immunotherapy; Mitochondrial function; Rheumatology and rheumatological disorders