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DCU student wins prestigious awards to investigate the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on ageing

DCU student wins prestigious awards to investigate the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on ageing

DCU PhD student Darren Walsh has been awarded $92,000 to investigate how vitamin B12 and folic acid might affect our DNA during our lifetime. 

Darren already holds a Wellcome Trust-National Institute of Health Ph.D scholarship that is co-supervised by Professor Anne Parle-McDermott (DCU School of Biotechnology) and Dr. Lawrence Brody (NIH) supported by their respective research groups at DCU and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI-NIH) in Bethesda, MD. (US). Based on this preliminary work, Darren has been awarded funding from the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS-NIH), allowing for a thorough investigation of the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on ageing.

Darren hopes that this research

will uncover some of the poorly understood molecular mechanisms that drive the phenotypes which arise as a consequence of the interaction between various levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid. We know that deficient levels of these two micronutrients can cause an array of health complications however we don't fully understand why this happens. Our project aims to shed some light on this and hopefully further our understanding of these conditions.’

Professor Anne Parle-McDermott added:

“Although DNA sequencing costs have dropped significantly in recent years, we need to do an awful lot of sequencing to pick out any changes that might be driven by deficient micronutrient levels! This funding allows us to do a really thorough job, and Darren made this happen.

Dr. Lawrence Brody, National Human Genome Research Institute, said:

“Vitamin B12 deficiency affects millions of individuals worldwide. Darren has designed a project that looks at an old problem in a new and different way. It is gratifying that the Office of Dietary Supplements has recognised the importance of Darren’s work.” 

Darren is a previous winner of the Dr Michael O’Connell Memorial Award organised by the DCU School of Biotechnology.

15th January, 2020