I'm a dad of one, live with my wife in Cork and I'm a doctor/medical researcher. I love the outdoors, going for walks and hikes 🏞🛤🏕, watching extreme sports, inline hockey and going skiing 🎿🏒. Love sitting down watching a movie or a show and tucking into some snacks or some Mexican takeaway 🌮🌯!
I try to get outdoors as much as possible, even if its just to go to the beach or woods for a walk. I’m trying to climb all the big mountains in Killarney. I’ve gotten about 4 or 5 under my belt but I’ll keep pushing to get them all done!
I play inline hockey and have done since I was about 12 years old. It’s basically like ice hockey but on inline skates. It’s been great for me in terms of always keeping fit and having a fatastic bunch of friends. It’s also allowed me to travel around the world and I’ve played matches, tournaments and just for fun in places like Germany, Italy, Wales, Florida, Canada and California!
After my leaving cert I went to University College Cork and studied Zoology and after finishing that degree I went back and did Medicine as a graduate. In between I also worked in a few restaurants, bars and a bit of retail as well. I really enjoyed my college lives, made great friends and learned amazing life skills!
Now I’m a Dad and can’t wait to get my little girl on her first pair of ski and sliding down a mountain!
After graduating from Medicine in UCC I did my general medicine and surgical intern year in Cork. I had already made my mind up that I wanted to pursue a career in Paediatrics (medical care of children and babies), so I started on that training scheme.
Specifically, I am working to become a Neonatologist, which is a doctor who looks after newborn babies, and in particular the sick ones and the ones born prematurely.
As part of that I am doing a research project which is looking at the microbiome of preterm babies. The microbiome is the word we use for the full collection of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses etc.) that live in and on us. Scientists and doctors think that these microbes are involved in our health. Not just the bad diseases and conditions, but also for promoting health as well.
Preterm babies are particularly vulnerable because they are not fully mature when they are born, for example their immune system. They sometimes suffer from illnesses that we think are related to the bacteria that they acquire. I am doing work to try and figure out how we can help these babies to acquire normal bacteria and avoid them having these types of conditions.
My Typical Day
Usually my daughter wakes me up around 7am and asks "Is it morning yet?". I get up and make her breakfast with my wife. I grab a coffee and head to work usually arriving around 8:30. During the day, I mostly collect samples from babies that are taking part in my project. I have lunch with my friends in the afternoon. We work on various different projects together and come up with loads of ideas to try and make the care that we give the babies better. I usually go home around 5pm.
My job involves working on lots of different projects for newborn babies. We have projects that are looking at new way in how we care for babies, to using new technologies to give us more information about their health, to analysing samples from the babies (like poo or urine) to learn more about their bacteria.
I work as part of a team and we all have our own research that we carry out but we share the workload between us. Very few days are the same for me but a typical day might look like this.
After arriving in work I check to see if there are any babies that have been born overnight that could participate in a study or babies that will be born that day. If there are I then go and chat to the parents about the studies and see if they would like to participate. I then go back to the office and do some paperwork in relation to that and prepare everything that’s needed for the particular studies that the parents have consented to. That might involve attaching particular types of sensors to a baby in the NICU, or going to a delivery of a baby to record details about their brain oxygen levels after they are born.
In the mornings I usually try to prepare everything for my own project, on the premature baby’s microbiome. So I chat to the nurses looking after the babies and prepare sample collection containers for poo and urine samples from them. When the baby wets their nappy or poos we collect a small sample and freeze it. It gets sent to the lab in UCC later for sequencing of the bacterial DNA to tell us what microbes are actually in there.
I am also part of a team that records EEG on newborn babies. EEG stands for electro-encephalogram, and it tells us about a baby’s brain activity. It involves putting sticky sensors on the baby’s head, which detect the tiny amounts of electrical activity that happen as their neurons fire and send signals from one place to another in their brain. We look at it on a screen (it looks like a bunch of squiggly lines running across the screen) and it can tell us some important information about brain function, especially in sick babies.
I don’t have to clock in or out and to some degree I decide my own hours. I usually get to go home around 5pm, but sometimes I can leave a little bit early. Other times when it is very busy I might need to stay much later if I have an important deadline or if I am involved with a baby that is participating in a study.
Colaiste an Sprioaid Naoimh, Cork, University College Cork
I have a Bachelors degree in Zoology and a Medical Degree including Membership to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Cork, Dublin, Waterford
To be exact, I am a Paediatric Higher Specialist Trainee undertaking a PhD in Neonatology
What did you want to be after you left school?
I hadn't a clue
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Of course, isn't everyone at some point?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Foy Vance (Check him out he's Irish, and has worked with Ed Sheeran and Elton John!) with)
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
White water rafting in Canada
Tell us a joke.
Why do SCUBA divers fall backwards out of the boat? Because if they fell forwards they'd still be in the boat!