Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Infection, Immunity & Inflammation

The Infection and Immunity cluster at RCSI combines studies in the mechanisms of immunity to infection and the role of the immune system in inflammation (both chronic and acute) and autoimmune diseases such as Systemic Lupus Erythrematosus (SLE), with a particular emphasis on the role of the innate immune system in disease.

Emphasis is also placed on the role of the infecting agent in the pathogenesis of disease in terms of its virulence capability in the host environment. Together with basic science research in Molecular Cell Biology and Cellular Immunology, the cluster is involved in Clinical Research to deliver a truly translational approach to understanding the mechanisms underlying the cause and spread disease.

Research in Infection and Immunity spans departmental boundaries at RCSI and draws together investigators from the St. Stephen's Green campus, Beaumont Hospital and Connolly Hospital. Many of its investigators are based in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics and the Education and Research Centre, Beaumont, but collaborations within the College extend widely and include the Departments of Pharmacy, Chemistry, Tropical Health and Respiratory Medicine.

Research covers three major areas:

  • Innate Immunity and its role in Autoimmune and Inflammatory disease Research in this area focuses on the role innate immune mechanisms that recognize viral infections play in the initiation and pathology of the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythrematosus and other inflammatory disorders such as Herpes Simplex Keratitis (HSK). In this context we study the basic mechanisms that are involved and how our understanding of them can be translated into real-world applications, including immunotherapies and diagnostic approaches (and how they can be exploited to target cancer).
  • Microbial pathogenesis and antimicrobial resistance Research in this area focuses specifically in the prevalence, epidemiology, pathogenesis and molecular characteristics of antibiotic resistant organisms that cause hospital infections such as Staphylococcus aureus, (including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), S. epidermidis and enterobacteriaceae that produce extended spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL). We are investigating novel decontamination methods and their impact on reducing hospital infections and we are also working closely with the Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry to develop agents with new modes of action effective against antimicrobial-resistant organisms.
  • Host response to microbial infection Research in this area has important implications for understanding the molecular mechanisms through which the host responds to invadingicroorgamisms. Research focuses on the cardiovascular response to infection and how infection weakens bone and induces bone loss. The goal of this research is to translate our findings to real life disease and use this information to identify novel drug targets rather than over-rely on antibiotics to treat infections.