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Obesity Group
Executive Summary
Prof. Donal O'Shea is a consultant endocrinologist and physician based in St Vincent’s University Hospital and St Columcilles Hospital. He is the principle investigator in a research group that currently focuses on the study of the health consequences of obesity.
 
Dr. Lydia Lynch, a Newman Scholar postdoctoral scientist is working on the immune system in obesity, focusing on the adaptive immune system and immune deficiencies in obesity. This work includes investigating the link between obesity and cancer, and why some obese people may be immune compromised. Dr. Lynch’s works also includes the identifying and exploring the local immune system and haematopoietic stem cells within the adipose tissue for obese and lean people. Omental adipose tissue, obtained from obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery and lean patients undergoing routine abdominal surgery, has revealed that the human omentum has a unique immune system, distinct from any other site in the body, which may hold huge theraputic potential for future anti-cancer treatment and adoptive immune therapy.
 
Dr. Jean O’Connell, an endocrinology specialist registrar, is working on a Ph.D. entitled ‘Adipocyte Size and Metablicolic Health’, funded by a Clinical Research Training Fellowship from the Health Research Board. The work focuses on why some severely obese people (approximately 20%) are protected from the harmful effects of obesity, with no evidence of obesity related co-morbidities, compared to the majority of obese patients which suffer from obesity related complications such as Type 2 Diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This work includes examining adipocyte size and number as a marker of metabolic health and examines the ‘overflow hypothesis’ which suggests that metabolically unhealthy obese patients have too few adipocytes, which are full to capacity and insulin resistant. This may cause overflow of lipids to other sites such as muscle and liver, potentially contributing to the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome.
 
Dr. Conall Dennedy, an endocrinology specialist registrar, has completed his MD entitled “Beta-3 Adrenoreceptor effects on Human Pregnant Myometrium”. He has just begun work on his Ph.D. entitled ‘Mesenchymal Stem Cell Differentiation in Obesity’, funded by Royal College of Physicians Ireland. Dr. Dennedy will also carry out some of his PhD in collaboration with Professor Timothy O’ Brien in REMEDI, University College Galway. Conall aims to determine the differentiation capacity of mesenchymal stem cells from omentum in patients with different metabolic profiles. Conall is also interested in investigating the effects cannibinoid receptors on adrenocortical steroidogenesis.
 
Ms. Anna Kwasnik is a research assistant in the obesity group. Anna completed her Masters in Endocrinology in University of Jagiellonian, Poland and joined the obesity group in 2007, where she has a keen interest in endocrine pathways in obesity, in particular insulin signalling and insulin resistance.
 
Prof. O'Shea is the lead clinician for a hospital-based multidisciplinary obesity service (based on the St Columcille's Hospital site) that includes provision of bariatric surgery. The study of this patient group will provide insight into the morbidity and mortality associated with obesity and may ultimately lead to improvements in patient care from a clinical practice perspective