• Director of Research
  • Head of the Pharmacology Section
  • Chair of the Athena SWAN committee
  • Course co-ordinator for BSc Pharmacology and Drug Discovery
  • Course co-ordinator for Science without Borders 

Maria obtained a BSc in human nutrition at Trinity College Dublin and a diploma in dietetics at Dublin Institute of Technology. She then undertook a PhD and post-doc position in Dermot Kelleher's lab at Trinity College investigating mechanisms of action of tumour necrosis factor alpha. She then moved to The Scripps Research Institute in California as an American Heart Association research fellow in Nigel Mackman's lab, studying gene regulation in inflammation.

From 1999-2006, Maria was a senior research scientist and deputy head of the Micronutrient Research Section at the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research Centre in Cambridge, working on the regulation of gene expression in inflammation and vascular disease and the role of cellular and dietary antioxidants in disease.

Research Interests

Current research interests are focused on the following areas:

  • Age-related disease and cellular antioxidants
  • Resolution of Inflammation – new targets and mechanisms of action
  • Dietary, plant and marine bioactives – mechanisms of action in inflammation and chronic disease
  • Novel therapeutics for cancer 


PhD positions

Click here for current PhD opportunities in PHA. But feel free to email me to discuss projects outside these areas and alternative sources of funding.

Selected publications

Anti-inflammatory effect of a cell-penetrating peptide targeting the Nrf2/Keap1 interaction.
R. Steel, J. Cowan, E. Payerne, M.A. O’Connell, M. Searcey,
ACS Med Chem Letts, 2012, 3, 407-410.
DOI: 10.1021/ml300041g

Vitamin D: potential in the prevention and treatment of lung cancer.
R. Norton, M.A. O’Connell,
Anticancer Res, 2012, 32, 211-221.

Lipopolysaccharide induced expression of NQO1 and HO-1 protects against excessive inflammatory responses
S.A. Rushworth, D.J. MacEwan and M.A. O’Connell,
J Immunol, 2008, 181, 6730–673.

Epigallocatechin activates heme oxygenase-1 expression via protein kinase Cd and Nrf2
R.M. Ogborne, S.A. Rushworth and M.A. O’Connell,
Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 2008, 373, 584-588.
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.06.068

Tumor necrosis factor a SNP haplotypes are associated with iron deficiency anemia in West African children
S.H. Atkinson, K. Rockett, P.A. Bejon, G. Morgan, G. Sirugo, M.A. O’Connell, N. Hanchard, D.P. Kwiatkowski and A.M. Prentice
Blood, 2008, 112, 4276-83.
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2008-06-162008

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