Food and Health

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)

See an overview of the Healthy Ageing and Performance Nutrition research programme within Food for Health Ireland (FHI) at the University of Limerick  in the video below.

See University of Limerick Research Impact Case Study: Adding Years to Life and Life to Years (Prof. Phil Jakeman and Dr. Catherine Norton) 

Read Full Case Study here

Listen to podcast here

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
Dr. Manjula Hettiarachchi

Postgraduate Researchers

Arthur Lynch
Jennifer Higgins

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

Postgraduates from Food and Health group within PESS

Dr. Robert Davies (PhD 2018): Research Assistant, PESS, University of Limerick
Suzanne Seary (MSc 2015) : Clinical Dietitian, St James’ Hospital, Dublin
Dr. Will McCormack (PhD 2014) : R&D Carbery Foods
Dr. Catherine Norton (PhD 2014) : Lecturer Sport & Exercise Nutrition, PESS, University of Limerick
Dr. Peter Francis (PhD 2014) : Senior Lecturer, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
Dr. Clodagh Toomey (PhD 2014) : Lecturer in Physiotherapy, School of Allied Health, University of Limerick
Laura Keaskin (MSc 2013) : Clinical Dietician, Mater Hospital, Dublin
Patricia Shaw (MSc 2012) : Researcher, Oxford Brooks University, UK
Dr. Siobhan Leahy (PhD 2010) : Dean's Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Ageing and Health, ‎University of Limerick
Dr. Orla Power (MSc 2009) : EHS Research Funding Officer, University of Limerick

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