• Head of the Pharmacology Section
  • Co-Chair of the Athena SWAN committee
  • Course co-ordinator for BSc Pharmacology and Drug Discovery
  • Course co-ordinator for MSci Pharmacology and Drug Discovery

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 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:

  • Natural products and age-related diseases
  • New targets for Inflammation and mechanisms of action
  • 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

Identification of selective protein-protein interaction inhibitors using efficient in silico peptide-directed ligand design. Beekman, A. M.Cominetti, M. M. D.Walpole, S. J.Prabhu, S.O'Connell, M. A.Angulo Alvarez, J. & Searcey, M., Chemical Science. 2019, 1016p. 4502-4508


A gold(III) pincer ligand scaffold for the synthesis of binuclear and bioconjugated complexes: synthesis and anticancer potential. Benoît, B.O'Connell, M. A.Waller, Z. A. E. & Bochmann, M. Chemistry - A European Journal. 2018, 2414p. 3613–3622.


Cardiovascular mechanisms of action of anthocyanins may be associated with the impact of microbial metabolites on heme oxygenase-1 in vascular smooth muscle cells. Warner, E. F.Rodriguez-Ramiro, I.O'Connell, M. A. & Kay, C. D. Molecules. 2018, 234, 898.


A translational synthetic biology platform for rapid access to gram-scale quantities of novel drug-like molecules. Reed, J.Stephenson, M. J., Miettinen, K., Brouwer, B., Leveau, A., Brett, P., Goss, R. J. M., Goossens, A., O'Connell, M. A. & Osbourn, A. Metabolic Engineering. 2017, 42p. 185–193. 


Flavonoid metabolites reduce tumor necorisis factor-alpha secretion to a greater extent than their precursos compounds in human THP-1 monocytes. Di Gesso, J.Kerr, J., Zhang, Q., Raheem, S., Krishna Yalamanchili, S., O'Hagan, D., Kay, C. & O'Connell, M.A. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2015, 596p. 1143–1154.

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