Edel Meaney

Research Nurse based at the Clinical Research Centre.

Edel has been intrinsic in the development of the arthroscopy research programme over the last 10 years. She provides valuable support to the clinical fellows, research nurses and the patients who attend for arthroscopy, follow-up and clinical assessment.

Hazel Bergin

Research Nurse based at the Clinical Research Centre.

Hazel provides essential support for the arthroscopy research programme and the innovative RA clinical registry. She provides valuable support to the clinical fellows, research nurses and the patients who attend for arthroscopy, follow-up and clinical
assessment.

Dr. Kieran Murray

Kieran Murray graduated from UCD Medical School in 2010. He is a fourth year specialist registrar and has previously worked in Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, Beaumont Hospital and University College Hospital Galway. His main research interest is improving outcomes in inflammatory arthritis, through analysing biomarkers, infection risk and management in pregnancy.

Dr. Trudy McGarry

Trudy obtained her BSc in Biomedical Health and Disease from University College Dublin in 2011. In the same year, Trudy was awarded a Molecular Medicine Ireland PhD scholarship for their unique cross-institutional Clinical and Translation Research Scholars Programme (CTRSP). During her PhD, she completed a four month Industry internship with Quintiles Transnational as part of the Global Regulatory Affairs department, providing regulatory ‘Roadmaps’ for large Pharma, advising them on the most efficient strategy to file a new drug application in Europe, South America and Asia. Trudy’s PhD research, entitled ‘Synovial inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis is regulated by Toll-like Receptor 2-activated signalling pathways’, was carried out in St. Vincent’s University Hospital and was completed in November 2015. Since this time, she has worked as a Postdoctoral researcher within the Molecular Rheumatology Group and Center for Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases. At present, Trudy is the UCD Novartis Newman Postdoctoral Fellow and her research focuses on identifying the metabolic and cellular mechanisms that mediate inflammation in the joint. Her work is carried out in close collaboration with Industry partners including Janssen Pharmaceutics and Pfizer. She has received numerous travel grants to present her research within Europe and was awarded best oral presentation at both the MMI and New Horizons in Rheumatology national meetings. Trudy is the current Irish Country Lisiason Officer for EMEUNET (Emerging EULAR Network) and her role is to promote education and collaborative work among young clinicians and researchers in rheumatology and to liaise with other national representatives.

Prof Eamonn Molloy

Prof Eamonn Molloy

Prof Eamonn Molloy is a Founder and Director of The Centre. Prof Molloy is a Consultant Rheumatologist at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and an honorary Professor at University College Dublin. His special interest is in the field of Vasculitis, especially Giant Cell Arteritis and Large Vessel Vasculitis, potentially serious systemic rheumatic diseases that cause inflammation of the circulation. Prof. Molloy provides a state-of-the-art clinical service for these patients, in addition to patients with inflammatory, degenerative and crystal-induced arthritis. He is the principal investigator on a number of active clinical trials and has led a number of translational and interventional innovative studies aimed at delivering novel therapies in these complex conditions

Dr Anne-Barbara Mongey

Dr Anne-Barbara-Mongey is a Member of the Board of The Centre, a Consultant Rheumatologist at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and a Lecturer at University College Dublin. Her special interest is in the field of arthritis connective tissue diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, potentially serious systemic rheumatic diseases. Dr. Mongey provides a state-of-the-art clinical service for these patients. In addition, as Lecturer in UCD she is deeply involved in teaching, organising and delivering the medical curriculum.

Dr. Richard Conway

Richard Conway, MB PhD, is a rheumatologist and epidemiologist. He has research interests in rheumatoid arthritis, early arthritis, gout, medication-related adverse events, and in vasculitis, in particular giant cell arteritis. Richard has a particular methodological focus in the performance of systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses.

Pre-Clinical Proof of Concept Studies with Industry Partners

The Centre for Arthritis and Rheumatic diseases (SVUH, UCD) and Molecular Rheumatology (TCD) have developed a number of industry partnerships around drug discovery and translational research. These studies utilize the ex vivo whole tissue synovial explant model, sorted synovial cells and multiplex protein assays, transcriptomics and a systems biology approach to establish pre-clinical drug development studies of novel biotherapeutics and small molecular weight candidates.

Dr. Monika Biniecka

Monika was awarded a PhD in Endocrinology from Jagiellonian University in 2005. Since 2007 she is a postdoctoral scientist in the Centre for Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases, Dublin Academic Medical Centre in St Vincent’s University. She is also a visiting research fellow in the Department of Molecular Rheumatology, Trinity College Dublin. Her research projects were founded by Health Research Board Ireland and MSD Newman Fellowship. Monika has established a strong scientific track record in the field of inflammatory arthritis, specifically in the area of hypoxia, oxidative damage, mitochondrial dysfunction and angiogenesis. She has developed a number of in-vitro and in-vivo models using primary cell culture and human synovial tissue from patients with inflammatory arthritis. Outputs from her projects have been published in high impact journals and widely presented at international EULAR and ACR conferences.

Autoantibodies and Disease Pathogenesis

RA disability stems from structural damage of cartilage and bone due to erosions in synovial joints, if not treated early and aggressively. Treatment guidelines are based on clinical factors such as rheumatoid factor (RF), and more recently, presence of the autoantibodies anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPA), which may provide improved prediction of outcome in RA. The association with ACPA appears to be highly specific to RA, indeed these antibodies may be present before the onset of clinical arthritis, in some cases several years before, suggesting that autoimmunity precedes inflammation. Autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins are among the strongest risk factors for bone destruction. This implies a direct link between autoantibody response and structural bone damage in RA. In this study we propose to improve the early diagnosis and prognosis of RA patients by examining the role of ACPA positivity on immune cell function and synovial invasiveness. Specifically, we are stratifying pre-RA and RA patients using ACPA positivity, erosive status and immunopathology of synovial T and B cells in high-risk, poor outcome or good prognosis groups. Phenotype and functional characterisation of T cells and B cells isolated from the site of inflammation in ACPA+ vs ACPA- patients, and their reciprocal interactions and subsequent effect on synovial invasive mechanisms are being examined. Finally, a functional genomics and systems biology approach for disease onset, progression and response is being utilised. Combining clinical status, immunopathology, immune function and transcriptomics analysis from ACPA+ vs ACPA- patients will provide valuable insight into the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with RA at an earlier stage of disease than is currently possible and this will allow selection of treatment for specific patients based on a sound, scientific rationale.

Hypoxia, Metabolism and Inflammatory Arthritis

Mitochondrial respiration is the main source of metabolic energy in cells by generating adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) in an oxygen-dependent manner.  Environmental cues such as the availability of nutrients and oxygen are sensed by mTOR, AMPK and HIF-1α together with inflammatory cell activation signals to determine the outcome of cell activation and differentiation. We have previously demonstrated that efficiency of oxygen supply to the synovium is poor due to the highly dysregulated synovial microvasculature. This, along with the increased energy demands of activated infiltrating immune cells and inflamed resident cells, leads to an hypoxic microenvironment and mitochondrial dysfunction. This favours an increase in reactive oxygen species, leading to oxidative damage which further promotes inflammation. In this adverse microenvironment synovial cells adapt and rapidly produce ATP to maintain cell activation/function and switch their cell metabolism from a resting regulatory state to a highly metabolically active state. This allows them to produce essential building blocks to support their proliferation. Therefore, metabolic-reprogramming of synovial cells may provide novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of inflammatory arthritis.  However, the inflamed synovial tissue is composed of many different cell types including macrophages, T-and B-cells, dendritic cells, endothelial cells and synovial fibroblasts which through cell-cell interactions drive synovial invasiveness, thus making the understanding of these pathways very complex. Therefore, our research programme aims to define the metabolic profile and signalling pathways in specific cell types isolated from the joint and in ex vivo organotypic synovial explant tissue from patients with IA. We have demonstrated distinct metabolic profiles and transcriptional signatures in specific cell types isolated from the joint. Furthermore, we have identified distinct subsets within specific cell types that differ in their metabolic profile, an effect that impacts on whether the cell is pro-inflammatory or pro-resolution.  Finally, we have identified that these changes occur very early in disease and can even be present pre-disease onset. Our ongoing work examines the therapeutic potential of targeting metabolic pathways using in-vitro, ex-vivo and in-vivo models.

The Meath Foundation Partnership

In 2017, Prof. Ursula Fearon, of Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, formed a collaboration with Prof. Ronan Mullan with the implementation of a biopsy programme and wet lab tissue culture programme in Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. The newly refurbished Meath Foundation Research Laboratory has allowed for the establishment of an on-site translational molecular rheumatology research and bio-banking programme, with collaborative input from Mr John Quiglan, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Prof. Seamus Donnelly, Department of Respiratory Medicine and international institutes.

Prof Doug Veale

Douglas J. Veale is Director of Translational Research of the DAMC, Professor of Medicine and Consultant Rheumatologist at St Vincent’s University Hospital and a Principal Investigator at The Conway Institute for Biomedical and Biomolecular Research, University College Dublin (UCD). He is a Fellow of both the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (1997) and the Royal College, London (1999). Professor Veale graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1984 and obtained his MD by thesis from UCD in 1992. Professor Veale has established an international reputation in translational research with a research focus on angiogenesis, early arthritis, biopharmaceutical therapy, biomarkers and scleroderma. He has oversight on a research team of senior scientists, post-doctoral scientists, clinical research fellows and PhD students funded by peer-reviewed grants from The American Federation for Ageing Research, the European Union FP6 programme and Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), The Health Research Board of Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions and several industry partnership programmes.