Brendan is an Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Physiology, and currently Head of School for the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU. His current research investigates skeletal muscle function and adaptation across the life course, with special interest in the synergy between nutrition and exercise interventions ranging from athletes to older adults. His research group performs human trials involving both acute and chronic interventions for outcomes around performance (physical and cognitive), recovery and adaptation, and have employed a wide range of experimental designs, and have been complimented by molecular analysis tools include transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Nutrients recently and presently under investigation include caffeine, creatine, omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol, leucine, protein hydrolysates, beetroot juice, and exogenous ketones.
Brendan 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 before moving to DCU. He is also currently a Visiting Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, FL USA, and a Principal Investigator at the National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology at DCU.
Outside of academia, through his sporting career as an inter-county Gaelic footballer with Sligo from 2003 to 2017, Brendan has had a lifelong association with sport, training and performance at all levels of competition from grassroots to elite level, and also practices in the field as a performance nutritionist with emphasis on field-based team sports, and endurance athletes.
Skeletal muscle metabolism, function, and adaptation in exercise, health and disease
My research revolves around function and adaptation in skeletal muscle, and the central role of skeletal muscle in whole body metabolism and performance. 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 including where declines in skeletal muscle function and size are a major threat to healthy ageing. My research therefore investigates skeletal muscle function and adaptation across the life course with special interest in the synergy between nutrition and exercise interventions in populations ranging from athletes to older adults.
Applied sports science and nutrition
My interest in applied sports science centres on nutrition and exercise 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.