Dr. Sandra O’Neill

School of Nursing, DCU


Research Interest:Research in this area, led by Dr Sandra O’Neill, is focused upon understanding the mechanisms that occur in pathogen co-infections and the interactions between infectious and non-communicable diseases. In particular understanding how helminth infections increase the susceptibility to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and malariawhile preventing the initiation and perpetuation of autoimmunity. The major focus of our investigation is to identify novel helminth molecules or pathways that are involved in the suppression of Th1/Th17 pathways. These studies will enable scientist to further understand mechanisms of immune-modulation by helminth parasites during and identify molecules and/or pathways that could be exploited as novel therapeutics for autoimmune diseases. In addition, we wish to exploit these molecules as important diagnostic markers, novel vaccine candidates or as biomarkers in the control of helminth infection in human and animal populations.


  • Post-graduate diploma in Epidemiology, LSTHM, UK (current)
  • Post-graduate certificate in Teaching and Learning, DIT. (2006 –2007)
  • Ph.D. Studentship. Project title: “Fasciola hepatica: Immunodiagnosis and Immunology” This research was undertaken at DublinCityUniversity and National University of Ireland, Maynooth. (1995-1999)
  • B.Sc. (Hons) Applied Biology, BrunelUniversity, Middlesex, U.K. (1991-1995)
  • Registered General Nurse Certificate (1991), Mayday University HospitalUK.


Previous positions held:

  • Senior Lecturer in Biosciences, School of Nursing, Faculty of Science and Health, DublinCityUniversity, Dublin 9. (2004 – Present)
  • Lecturer in Biosciences, School of Nursing, Faculty of Science and Health, DublinCityUniversity, Dublin 9. (2000 – 2004)
  • Health Research Board Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at DublinCityUniversity and National University of Ireland, Maynooth.


Current Research Grants (Over 1.5 million in grant to date):

  • 2011-2014: Science Foundaiton Ireland, €171,000 Characterisation of CD4+ cells primed with a novel dendritic cell population
  • 2011-2014: Wellcome Trust, €198,000. Fasciola hepatica: a helminth model to identify novel anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
  • 2007-2011: PRTLI-4, €12,000,000 (Funding for 2 post-graduate students €220,000) Target-driven Therapeutics and Theranostics (T3)

Total Publications 29 (Book Chapters 3, Scientific Papers 19, Reviews 6, Average Impact factor 4.5)
3 relevant publications:

  • DowlingD, NooneCM, AdamsPN, VukmanKV, MolloySF, FordeJ, AsaoluS and O’NeillSM. (2010) Ascaris lumbricoides pseudocoelomic body fluid induces a partially activated dendritic cell phenotype with Th2 promoting ability in vivo. International Journal for Parasitology, in Press. Impact Factor 3.8.
  • Kirwan P, Jackson AL, Asaolu SO, Molloy SF, Abiona TC, Bruce MC, Ranford-Cartwright L, O’Neill SM and Holland CV (2010) Impact of repeated four-monthly anthelmintic treatment on Plasmodium infection in preschool children: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. BMC Infectious Diseases. Accepted for publication. Impact Factor 2.07.
  • Parkinson M, O’Neill SM, Dalton JP. (2007) Controlling fasciolosis in the Bolivian Altiplano. Trends in Parasitology. 23(6):238-9. Impact Factor 5.0