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Full NameDr Sinead O'Donnell

Clinical Microbiology

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

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Research Fields
  • genetics, genomics and molecular biology
  • infectious disease and the immune system
  • preventive medicine/behavioural change interventions
Postgrad Medical Specialties
  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Anaesthetics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • General Practice
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine
Medical Subspecialties
  • Cardiology
  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Haematology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Rheumatology
  • Vascular Medicine
My Work

The theme of our departmental research is “Infection and Host Response”.
The Dept of Clinical Microbiology is based in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin which is instumental in supporting our collaborative approach to clinically impactful research. Our combined expertise includes basic scientists, clinician scientists and clinical microbiologists, many of us have dual hospital and academic appointments. We investigate and identify novel ways to prevent and treat healthcare-associated infections (HAI). This is important as HAI are increasingly caused by antibiotic-resistant (AMR) bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridiodes difficile and Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE). We also investigate chronic infections involving bacterial biofilms such as device-related infections and infections in the setting of cystic fibrosis and diabetes.
Our multidisciplinary translational research programme addresses the societal challenge of infection and AMR covering surveillance, epidemiology, infection prevention and control as well as pathogenic mechanisms of infection. These studies underpin the advancement of innovative healthcare solutions including novel decontamination methods, better diagnostic tools and new medicines and interventions. In addition, our research also informs healthcare policy to shape clinical practices leading to improved patient safety and clinical outcomes.

Potential Projects

Project 1: Development and evaluation of the feasibility of harnessing next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques on-site in outbreak investigation and control in the clinical setting. To date clinical microbiology laboratories have relied on traditional, labour intensive, time consuming, culture dependent techniques to direct infection prevention and control (IPC) interventions. While sequencing techniques are becoming increasingly routine in outbreak investigation, this analysis is often carried out in external reference laboratories, and frequently abroad. The disadvantage of this approach is that results rarely direct IPC actions and outbreak management in real-time. The aim would be to develop NGS strategies (metagenomics, targeted and whole genome) that fit in the workflow of a clinical laboratory. Once established the utility of the data generated in directing IPC interventions will be evaluated in the clinical setting.

Project 2: Investigation of the role of RNA sequencing by long read sequencing in investigating the role of infection in chronic disease processes. As long read sequencing platforms develop and evolve the potential to sequence RNA directly from specimens has emerged. The aim of the project would be to develop infection models to investigate alterations in gene expression in both the host and the pathogen during an infection. This data would have the potential to identify alternative, possibly non-antimicrobial targets for management of infection and a better understanding of the role of infection and the mediators involved in the progression of chronic disease.

Emerging Supervisor

Prof. Fidelma Fitzpatrick
Prof. Catherine Greene