School of Health & Human Performance
Academic biographyBrendan holds a position as Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Physiology, and Deputy Head of School, in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University. His current research investigates the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle function and adaptation across the life course, with special interest in the synergy between nutrition and exercise interventions to optimise performance in athletes and older adults. He received his BSc Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick in 2003, MSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition from Loughborough University in 2004, and PhD from Dublin City University in 2008, before completing two years of post-doctoral training with Prof. Juleen Zierath’s Integrative Physiology group at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. His doctoral studies focussed on skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise, and in particular the continuity between acute molecular responses to individual bouts of exercise and adaptations induced by exercise training, whereas his post-doctoral training utilised animal models and in vitro cell systems to investigate the transcriptional regulation of skeletal muscle development and mechanisms of insulin resistance. He joined the faculty in the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy, and Sport Science at University College Dublin in 2011, where he spent five years, and retains a position as Visiting Associate Professor. He is currently a Visiting Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, FL USA. On the sporting front, he played inter-county Gaelic football with Sligo from 2003 to 2017, and consults as a performance nutritionist to elite team sport and endurance athletes.
Research interestsSkeletal muscle metabolism and adaptation in exercise, health and disease
My research revolves around the molecular mechanisms governing adaptation in skeletal muscle, and the central role of muscle in whole body metabolism. As the largest organ in the body, skeletal muscle typically accounts for ~40% of total body mass, and is a major player in energy balance at rest by contributing ~30% of the resting metabolic rate in adults. Skeletal muscle has a critical role in glycemic control and metabolic homeostasis by virtue of being the predominant site of glucose disposal under insulin-stimulated conditions. Importantly, insulin resistance at the level of skeletal muscle is the primary defect in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and linked to myriad of lifestyle-related chronic disease. My work examines the molecular mechanisms that underpin adaptation to exercise in health and disease, and the essential role of treatment of metabolic disease to which physical inactivity contributes. Recent contributions have described the continuity from signals activated by acute exercise towards transcriptional and translational processes responsible for adaptation to repeated exercise (i.e. training) in skeletal muscle. These signals include phosphorylation, acetylation and DNA hypomethylation events induced by exercise within contracting skeletal muscle. From a translational perspective, my interest focuses on the ability of the intensity or mode (e.g. resistance vs. endurance) of exercise to modulate these events in the context of healthy or diseased muscle (i.e. T2DM, sarcopenia), with a view optimising exercise prescription through targeted exercise interventions. In essence, using exercise as personalised medicine.
Applied sports science and nutrition
My interest in applied sports science centres on nutrition and training interventions to optimise athletic performance, and in particular in sports with high intensity and/or repeated sprint/maximal effort demands. Current projects include resisted sled sprinting, weight cutting in combat sports, and menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptive use, as well as nutrition supplementation and performance such including exogenous ketones, beetroot juice and caffeinated chewing gum.