Areas of Expertise

Areas of Expertise

Within our School we also have a thriving research community who lead internationally recognised research. 

The School creates opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students to undertake research up to Ph.D./Professional Doctorate. Our research makes significant contributions to knowledge, service delivery and policy in the Health and Social Sciences sectors.

Our multi- and inter-disciplinary research focuses on child and family health and wellness in particular child and family experiences and adjustment to illness and disability.

Some of the main themes of our research to date have focused on the following:

  • Child and family health care communication
  • Child and family shared self-management
  • Children's palliative care
  • Children with life-limiting neurodevelopmental disabilities
  • Children living with such conditions as epilepsy, diabetes, cancer
  • Children's play and therapeutic recreation
  • Child clinical deterioration and paediatric early warning systems
  • Child centred and family focused service provision

We engage with a range of organisations and services in the health and social care sectors to enhance the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of children and their families including identifying effective interventions to enable them to live well.

For further information on current and recent research projects, and prospects for collaboration in Children and Family Research, please contact Professor Veronica Lambert or Dr Gemma Kiernan

Our research on health systems focuses on how societies collectively meet health and social care needs.  Our priorities include:

  • Informatics and eHealth with a particular research interest in concepts and terminology for delivery of integrated health and social care. Visit  the website here.
  • Evidence-based practice, especially systematic reviews for the Cochrane Collaboration. Cochrane Ireland is hosted at our School
  • Research relating to professional competence in Nursing - "Procompnurse". Visit the website here.
  • Nurse education research - eCoNNECT project. Visit the website here.
  • Nursing group of SNPCH are expert advisers in the MEDIAL - Mobilty in Europe for DIgitAl Learning (a 2-year funded Erasmus+ programme led by Hanse Institut Oldenburg, Germany).

For further information on current research, recent projects, and prospects for collaboration in Health Systems Research, please contact Professor Anthony Staines.

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Our research develops, examines and validates models of human disease, specifically for cancer, viral or immunological illness. It integrates patient sample analyses with state-of-the-art laboratory techniques to generate new treatment hypotheses for evaluation in human studies and clinical trials.

In virology, the focus is on increasing our understanding of human immune responses to viral infection, to design safer, more effective therapies and vaccines, including for Influenza, Human Parainfluenza Virus (HPIV), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Rhino Virus (RV).

We have funding from the Wellcome Trust, Health Research Board and Irish Research Council to investigate the role of anti-viral immune responses in the development or exacerbations of secondary conditions such as bacterial super-infections, asthma and autoimmune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis. Understanding these mechanisms will enable us to design better therapeutic strategies to combat both the infections themselves and their associated syndromes.

In the cancer field, Dr Buchanan has an interest in understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms that lead to the development of castrate resistant prostate cancer. This work has involved a translational bedside to bench approach using prostate cancer patient samples from which to generate new targets of investigation. One current target includes the calcium channel CaV1.3, which was found to be significantly upregulated in prostate cancer patients. It is known that CaV1.3 can be targeted using existing drugs and is hoped that by understanding its role in prostate cancer these existing drugs can be repurposed to improve patient survival.

The Translation Bioscience laboratory found within the School of Nursing and Human Science houses both Dr Johnson and Dr Buchanan. This self-contained state of the art facility includes a number of key pieces of research equipment. This includes work for cell biology such as tissue culture and cell isolation, Molecular biology equipment for example western blot, PCR and FACS and also electrophysiology techniques such as patch clamp and calcium imaging.

For further information on current research, recent projects, and prospects for collaboration in Translational Biomedical Sciences, please contact Dr Patricia Johnson or Dr Paul Buchanan.

The understanding of health systems change in Europe needs to grasp, besides macro-level processes, the social relations of the people who work in and use healthcare services. At the School of Nursing and Human Sciences we adopt a broad-ranging but also fine-grained view of the challenges globalisation poses to health services in Europe by using anthropological lenses to examine:

  • Health care privatisation
  • The mobility of health care workers and health care seekers
  • European governance
  • Collective responses

The assumptions behind these studies is that living well with illness is a function of the fair distribution of access to health care services and of social rewards for care work in the society, and linked with questions of social justice and ethical issues in healthcare.

Dr Sabina Stan specialises in anthropological approaches to transnational migrant health care practices in the EU, healthcare reform and informal healthcare practices in Central and Eastern Europe. She has developed several international research projects in:

  • Informatisation of Eastern European healthcare services.
  • Managerialism in health care in Canada and Europe.
  • European east-west migration.
  • Transnational collective action responses to health care migration and privatisation.

Dr Mel Duffy is a founding member of the EROSS – Expressions, Research, Orientations: Sexuality Studies, a cross-faculty research group for DCU academics exploring developments and disparities in sexual cultures, sexual identities and gender role formation across the life span. Areas of investigation include all sexualities from cultural, ethical, historical, health and social foundations of sexuality.

For further information on current research, recent projects, and prospects for collaboration in Society, Health and Sexuality, please contact Dr Sabina Stan or Dr Mel Duffy.

With an estimated 44 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2013, and the number projected to rise to 135 million by 2050, the challenges of finding a cure, developing better treatments, and providing suitable supports, are among the most pressing public health concerns of our time.

In Ireland, there are around 42,000 people with dementia, a number expected to rise to around 140,000 by 2041. This could push the annual cost of dementia from €1.69 billion to over €5 billion at current prices. Life expectancy in Ireland is also rising – 83 years for women and 79 for men, both higher than the EU average. In addition, the number of older people is projected to double to 1 million by 2031.

Our research emphasises ‘ageing in place’ and ‘living well with dementia’ through an integrated approach to health and social care. A number of our projects take community development approaches to knowledge generation, blurring the boundaries between research and practice in an outcomes-driven approach, which provides practical advice to policy makers and service providers.

The projects in which the School of Nursing and Human Sciences is a partner are:

  • Dem@care – a project for the timely diagnosis, assessment, maintenance and promotion of self-independence of people with dementia.
  • Dementia Elevator - preparing communities and health systems to respond to people with dementia in a way that reduces excess disability.
  • Actifcare – a European dementia research project that aims to analyse the pathways to care for people with dementia and their families, to better understand the reasons for inequalities.
  • In-mindd – an initiative for long-term brain health and preventing or at least delaying the onset of dementia by combining social innovation, multifactorial modelling and clinical expertise.
  • Posadem – a pan-European Erasmus project focused on developing a multidisciplinary Masters programme in dementia.
  • CAPTAIN (Coach Assistant via Projected and Tangible Interface) - CAPTAIN transforms the living environment to support independent living for older adults.
  • The National Dementia Registry Project - Developing a protype of a National Dementia registry for Ireland.

For further information on current research, recent projects, and prospects for collaborationin Dementia and Positive Ageing Research, please contact Dr Kate Irving.

Transforming Dialogues in Mental Health and Psychotherapy

Society is complex and characterised by continuous change and development, which impacts the mental health and well-being of our community. The mental health and psychotherapy team researches creative, innovative and transformative responses for those experiencing mental health or psychological distress. Team members regularly contribute to media discussion and provide specialist consultancy to public and voluntary agencies. A broad range of disciplines, service user and voluntary bodies, national and international partnerships contribute to our research expertise in:

  • Understanding discourses across the lifespan in mental health, psychotherapy and disability.
  • Uncovering the dynamics of interrelationship between interest groups in these areas.
  • Transforming relationships and infrastructures through participatory methodologies and service/practice development. Outcomes relate to an increasing transformation in how local mental health services around Ireland respond to policy directives and change traditional methods of service provision.
  • Understanding how trauma (psychological, emotional, physical and sexual) is represented in mental health / psychological presentations such as suicidality, PTSD, interpersonal conflict, substance misuse, psychosis.
  • Improving therapeutic, social and political responses to psychological / mental distress.
  • Promoting awareness and understanding and reducing stigma surrounding mental ill-health.

Dr Líam Mac Gabhann has established an unfolding story in mental health research relating to particular challenges, such as Dual Diagnosis and Systemic Discrimination. He has also led a sustained programme of service and community development underpinned by Open Dialogue and Trialogical approaches to change. Líam is regularly consulted to offer perspective on diverse dialogue and consequences for mental health practice, most recently he featured in the three-part TG4 documentary about the history of Asylums in Ireland -  Ar Intinn Eile (An Irish State of Mind).

Paddy McGowan was pivotal in developing the service user movement in Ireland, forming the Irish Advocacy Network in 1999, and through his work within DCU and HSE he has led the developments in increasing capacity and impact of service users and family members in how mental health services are designed and delivered in Ireland. Paddy is regularly called upon by national media and TV documentaries to provide ‘Expertise by Experience’.

Dr Evelyn Gordon leads research in suicide and suicidal behaviour. This research includes identifying effective and acceptable suicide prevention, intervention and postvention responses, promoting the voice of the suicidal person in developing response initiatives, enhancing understanding of the suicidal process, trajectory and person. See for project samples and related publications.

Dr McElvaney leads research in Child Sexual Abuse. She is PI for the Irish cohort study ‘Uncovering pathways and processes of child sexual abuse disclosures in youth’ in a collaboration with Canadian researchers funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the study ‘What helps children tell?’ funded by the British Association for the Study of Child Abuse and Neglect.

For further information on current research, recent projects, and prospects for collaboration in Transforming Dialogues in Mental Health and Psychotherapy, please contact Dr Liam Mac Gabhann or Dr Evelyn Gordon.

  • Global Health – the world wide health community, beliefs, practices, trends, mobility and borders
  • Inclusion Health among marginalised populations and communities; Health Equity and Health Action – migrant health, homeless health, traveller health,
  • The health and social integration of our University community and our surrounding neighbourhoods
  • Physical and mental health issues across the lifespan
  • Community health promotion – play, exercise, nutrition
  • Population health – trends and demographics
  • Biological influences on Community Health – from cellular to global
  • Centre for eIntegrated Healthcare - The role and uses of technology in maintaining health and social wellbeing and in facilitating integrated healthcare
  • Socio-political issues and health systems that influence health and healthcare
  • Participatory and inclusive practices in Community Health education, practice and research

For further information on current research, recent projects, and prospects for collaboration in Community Health, please contact Dr Briege Casey.

A full list of all SNPCH staff and their research profiles can be found here