Food and Health

Food and Health in PESS

Food and Health is a cross-faculty entity at the University of Limerick. It is identified as an ‘emerging interdisciplinary research area’ within UL’s Strategic Plan. Research Activity in Food and Health is aligned  with the “Lifestyle and Health” theme of the Health Research Institute, the 4i Research Centre ( and the “UL Beo” initiative.  The Food and Health research area is led by a number of interdisciplinary Principal Investigators at the University of Limerick and substantially supported by ~9 post-doc/RA and ~6 post-grad researchers with a medium term, cumulative research income of ~€5m to 2017. Infrastructure is gradually expanding to meet the requirement(s) of this interdisciplinary research activity. Food and Health at UL seeks to generate and evaluate functional foods that improve physiological function to confer a health benefit or performance advantage. At the University of Limerick (UL) we develop functional foods through identification, analysis and optimisation of their bioactive properties in vitro and in vivo. Evidence-based, robust scientific data is generated to underpin and substantiate any physiological functional claims of foods in specific target populations. 

Within PESS, Healthy Aging and Performance Nutrition (HAPN) is a key focus of Food and Health research. We are adopting a “cell to society” approach to answer basic questions with societal impact including the interaction between novel nutrients and physical activity in the maintenance of health, specifically skeletal muscle (sarcopenia, metabolism) and bone (osteopenia) health; and research in clinical populations (Crohn’s, Diabetes, Obesity). This includes investigation of the regulation of tissue metabolism using in vitro and human models and exploration of nutrient/physical activity-induced change in anthropometric phenotype identified by body composition analysis ( This research effort is supported by project grant funding from, Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership awards, Food for Health Ireland programme awards (, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and the Marine (FIRM projects), National Dairy Council research awards ( and individual private partnerships with industry leaders (Carbery Food Ingredients Ltd., Dairygold). 

Current research projects in Food and Health in PESS

Principal investigators, post-doctoral and other research staff specialising in exercise science, biochemistry, cell biology, nutrition and dietetics support a lively post-graduate research community house in modern, well-equipped laboratories. Current research projects are investigating;

Skeletal muscle growth and repair

  • Skeletal metabolism and bone turnover
  • Change in body mass, whole body and segmental body composition in healthy adults, athletes and selected disease states (i.e. sarcopenia, osteopenia, inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Recovery from endurance exercise
  • Nutritional support to high intensity interval training (HIIT)


Key contacts in Food for Health within PESS

Prof Phil Jakeman 

Dr Brian Carson
+353(0)61 234943
Dr Catherine Norton
+ 353 61 234780. 
Dr Matthew Herring
+353 61 234762


Principal investigators;
Professor Phil Jakeman                   
Dr Brian Carson     
Dr. Catherine Norton
Dr. Matthew Herring   

Postdoctoral Researchers

Research Assistants

Hilkka Kontro


Postgraduate Researchers

Arthur Lynch
Jennifer Higgins
Tom Aird
Marta Kozior 


For information on Grant Funding (last 5 years) awarded to Food and Health researchers within PESS click here



Recent Postgraduates from Food and Health group within PESS

Suzanne Seary (MSc 2015) : Clinical Dietitian, St James’ Hospital, Dublin
Will McCormack (PhD 2014) :R&D Carbery Foods
Catherine Norton (PhD 2014) : Dietition to Munster Rugby
Peter Francis (PhD 2014) : Senior Lecturer, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
Clodagh Toomey (PhD 2014) : Research Fellow, University of Calgary, Canada
Laura Keaskin (MSc 2013) : Clinical Dietician, Mater Hospital, Dublin
Patricia Shaw (MSc 2012) : Researcher, Oxford Brooks University, UK
Siobhan Leahy (PhD 2010) : Postdoctoral researcher, Trinity College, Dublin
Orla Power (MSc 2009) : Postdoctoral researcher, University of Limerick



PESS Research Scholarship

There will be one PESS Postgraduate Scholarships awarded in 2017, with scholarships commencing in September 2017. 

Recent publications from the Food and Health group within PESS (click on link)