Lecturer in Medicine

Mary McMenamin

Mary McMenamin


At Trinity I undertake tutorials for first-year Medicine students (BM Part 1) in Histology. Histology is a major component of the Organisation of the Body (OB) course. This is one of four courses covered and examined in the 1st year. At Department Level I organise and examine Histology teaching and contribute to its teaching across all 3 terms for Medicine students and Biomedical Sciences Students. I also teach and supervise projects and extended essays for third-year Medicine Students and Biomedical Sciences Students.


My research interest is gene therapy in the brain. I have been part of an ongoing programme of research in the Laboratory of Professor Matthew Wood exploring mechanisms for gene delivery to the brain for therapeutic purposes. A prime focus of the earlier work was the investigation of neuropathological damage, in particular the immune response, elicited by viral vectors following delivery to the brain. The newer viral vectors developed for gene delivery are much less toxic and are now widely used for intra cerebral delivery. However, despite this, potential limitations remain as direct injection into the brain is not ideal for all gene therapeutics for the nervous system and delivery via the blood stream would be more appropriate. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) however provides a significant obstacle to such delivery. While many vectors have been investigated for drug delivery across the BBB, naturally occurring nanoparticles (extracellular vesicles) have recently been demonstrated to have promise as delivery vehicles as they have an endogenous role in cell-cell communication and this attribute can be exploited for therapeutic delivery. Their minimal inherent toxicity, stability and amenability to modification potentially makes them ideal vectors. Recent research has identified mechanisms to improve uptake and tissue targeting in particular to the brain. Several neurodegenerative diseases could benefit from such targeted gene delivery.

Selected Publications

with Papadakis M., et al., ‘Tsc1 (hamartin) confers neuroprotection against ischemia by inducing autophagy’, Nat Med. 19 (3) (2013), 351-7

with Li D. et al., ‘Targeted neuronal nitric oxide synthase transgene delivery into stellate neurons reverses impaired intracellular calcium transients in prehypertensive rats’, Hypertension 61(1) (2013), 202-7

with Chang T., ‘Immunization against GAD65 induces brainstem GABAergic neuronal loss’, Plos One 8 (2013), 72921

with Chang T., ‘Neuronal surface and glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies in Nonparaneoplastic stiff person syndrome’, JAMA Neurol. 1;70(9) (2013), 1140-9

McMenamin M.M., ‘Translational Benefits of Gene Therapy to date’, Clinical Oncology and Cancer Research 8 (2011); 10-15

McMenamin M.M. and Wood M.J.A., ‘Progress and prospects: Immunobiology of gene therapy for neurodegenerative disease: prospects and risks’, Gene Therapy 17 (2010), 448-458

Dr McMenamin