Dec 2015:: Medical student graduates with MRes. Congratulations to Samara Fleville who graduated with a Masters in Research. Samara is studying Medicine but took an extra year out during her degree to do an intercalated MRes and did her laboratory project on CNS remyelination with us. Pictured (L-R) Dr. Yvonne Dombrowksi, Ms Samara Fleville, Dr. Denise Fitzgerald, Prof. Dame Ingrid Allen.

Oct 2015:: Information session with Mid Down MS Support Group.
Dr Denise Fitzgerald recently met with members of the Mid Down MS Support Group to talk about the work of her MS Research group at QUB. Denise (left) is pictured with Josie Byrne and Stephen Savage from the Support Group.




September 2015:: Site move
The Fitzgerald group is currently moving to the purpose-built, Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine on the Health Sciences Campus, designed to enhance its internationally recognised excellence in education and research. This new building will accommodate researchers working in a range of research areas and will be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. In the meantime however there's a lot of packing up of our lab to do!
You can read more about the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine here


May 2015:: Open Evening On Tuesday 19th May a very successful open evening was held in CII to highlight the work of the The Fitzgerald group and their research into Multiple Sclerosis. Thirty five people attended and listened to presentations from Prof. Stuart Elborn, Dr. Denise Fitzgerald, Dr Gavin McDonnel and Jill Moffat. There was a tour of the lab with demonstrations of four different experimental procedures by members of the Group. A cheque was  presented to Dr. Fitzgerald by the Antrim Borough MS support group on the evening to assist with ongoing research. Feedback from guests on the evening and since has been excellent with offers of assistance in further research.


March 2015:: UNISTEM Belfast - FItzgerald group participate in Europe-wide event for school students. Scientists from the Centre for Experimental Medicine and the Centre for Infection and Immunity were involved in UNISTEM BELFAST 2015, a pan-European educational event solely dedicated to the dissemination of stem cell science and research.  UNISTEM 2015 happened simultaneously in 46 European Universities and was attended by over 250 Secondary Schools and more than 20,000 students across Europe. UNISTEM Belfast Organising Committee formed by Dr Reinhold Medina (QUB), Aideen Johnson (W5 Science Discovery Centre), and Danielle Nicholson (REDDSTAR) arranged this special event for A/AS level students from schools in Northern Ireland. UNISTEM Belfast 2015 entitled ‘The long and fascinating journey of stem cell research’ took place at W5 on Friday 13 March. Speakers included Dr Denise Fitzgerald, Prof Danny McAuley, and Dr Melissa McCullough.

Oct 2014:: Prestigious Early Career Fellowship awarded to postdoctoral researcher Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski. The Leverhulme Trust awarded their prestigious Early Career Fellowship to Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Denise Fitzgerald’s group in the Centre for Infection and Immunity. Yvonne will work on inflammasomes in brain repair during her three-year Fellowship. This is a rare and outstanding achievement that is only awarded to the brightest and most promising early-stage researchers. Well done Yvonne - we are all delighted to have you on board for another three years!

Sep 2014:: Poster prize for postdoctoral researcher at Irish Society of Immunology Annual Conference. Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski was awarded first prize for the best research poster in this year’s Irish Society of Immunology meeting. She presented her work on regulatory T cells in brain repair at the conference in Dublin and was selectd from over 75 posters from all over Ireland. Well done Dr. D!

Aug 2014:: Research of PhD student Eimear Linehan published in Aging Cell
This work was carried out primarily by Eimear Linehan in our lab with support from our collaborators in Trinity College Dublin (Fallon lab). The study identified that the ability of immune cells to clear debris after damage has occured becomes impaired with advancing age. Eimear went on to discover that this is largely due to the local environment that the cell is in and is not an inherent defect in the cell itself. She also discovered that this defect can be reversed by exposing the 'old' cells to a 'young' enviroment. This raises the possibility that this defect that occurs with age could be reversed to promote the natural reparative functions of the immune system. In the case of Multiple Sclerosis, this is relevant to the clearance of myelin debris (Eimear did some experiments with this debris), a process that is very important to the eventual repair of myelin after a relapse.

Read more here:
or get the full version here:


Jul 2014:: Fitzgerald group identifies new protein involved in brain inflammation. With collaborators from Nottingham and Philadelphia, the team studied the role of a protein called IRF3 in the development of an MS-like disease in an experimental model called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The team discovered that the absence of this protein makes immune cells far less inflammatory suggesting that when it is present, the cells may be tipped towards causing inflammation in the central nervous system, similar to MS. This paper was published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Read more here:
or get the full version here:

July 2014: PhD student awarded 1st place at annual REMERGE symposium.
Thomas O’Hagan, a 2nd year PhD student in The Fitzgerald Lab, presented a poster and gave a short oral presentation titled “The role of soluble factors secreted from Treg cells in central nervous system myelination” at the ‘REMERGE’regenerative medicine symposium and was awarded 1st place.

May 2014:Medical student secures MRes Fellowship
Samara Fleville was awarded a fellowship from the Pathological Society to undertake her intercalated master’s project in the Fitzgerald Lab entitled 'Can our adaptive immune system help repair the brain?'.

April 2014: Medical student receives summer scholarship
Samara Fleville was awarded a summer studentship from the Pathological Society to undertake research on inflammasomes in remyelination in the Fitzgerald group. Samara previously successfulyl completed a summer studentship with us last year and this award will allow her develop her research skills - welcome back Samara!

March 2014: School’s Celebration of Excellence: Postdoctoral Award
Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski was awarded the 2014 Postdoctoral prize of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences in this year’s Annual Celebration of Excellence. This is a fantastic achievement as Yvonne was selected from all Postdoctoral Fellows across the School. Congratulations Yvonne - a very well deserved award!

May 2014: PhD student awarded 2nd place at The Centre for Infection and Immunity PhD student symposium.
Thomas O’Hagan, a 2nd year PhD student in The Fitzgerald Lab, gave a talk titled "Investigating the role of CD4+ T cells in CNS remyelination"  at the  Centre for Infection and Immunity PhD student symposium and was awarded 2nd prize for best overall talks - well done Thomas!!

March 2014: Postdoctoral fellow to meet Nobel Prize Laureates
Postdoctoral fellow of the Fitzgerald group, Dr Yvonne Dombrowski, has been selected as a UK representative to participate in the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to be held from 29 June to 4 July 2014, in Lindau, Germany. This is a prestigious award, bestowed on the most promising young scientists from around the world. Yvonne is looking very much looking forward to meeting 34 Nobel Prize laureates personally and to share the unique atmosphere of the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.


February 2014: BNS travel grant awarded to Postdoc
Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Fitzgerald lab, was awarded a travel grant from the British Neuropathological Society (BNS) to attend their annual meeting in London. Yvonne will give a talk about “Toxin-mediated FoxP3 cell depletion: Impact on remyelination?”


Nov 2013: Dr. Eimear Linehan successfully passes PhD viva

Dr. Eimear Linehan has become our 2nd PhD student to successfully complete her PhD studies in the Fitzgerald lab. Eimear defended her thesis entitled 'Impact of Ageing on Macrophage Function' in Nov 2013 and passed with flying colours. We are all very proud of her hard work and wish her all the very best in her future career as a postdoctoral fellow.

Oct 2013: Dr Andrew Young successfully passes PhD examination

Our first PhD student from the Fitzgerald lab has completed his studies and passed with flying colours! Dr. Andrew Young completed his viva voca examination of his thesis entitled 'The regulation of T cell responses by interleukin 27: Implications for autoimmune disease' in Oct 2013. We are all very proud of his hard work and wish him all the best in his future career.

October 2013: Eimear Linehan and Dr Yvonne Dombrowski attended the SMDBS Postdoc Society Meeting in Riddel Hall in Belfast and presented posters of their work on remyelination.

October 2013 Travel Awards to Postdoctoral Fellow and PhD Student: Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski and Mr. Thomas O’Hagan, a 2ndyear PhD student, were each awarded a travel grant from the British Society of Immunology to attend their annual meeting in Liverpool from 2nd to 5th December 2013. Yvonne will present a poster of her work on FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in remyelination in Liverpool in Dec 2013 with additional support from the Infection and Immunity Translational Research Group. Thomas will present a poster on the characterisation of IL-27-polarised IL-10+ CD4+ T cells.

Sep 2013, Irish Society of Immunology Annual Meeting: Eimear Linehan, 3rd year PhD student, and Dr Yvonne Dombrowski, postdoctoral fellow, attended the Annual Meeting of the Joint Irish Society of Immunology and Ulster Immunology Group in Dublin. Eimear presented a poster entitled “Ageing impairs peritoneal but not bone marrow-derived macrophage phagocytosis” and Yvonne gave a talk entitled “Toxin mediated FoxP3+ cell depletion: Impact on remyelination?”.

Sep 2013 Members of Cii volunteer at MS Society  'Living with MS' event , Titanic Belfast: Dr. Matt Twigg, Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski, Dr. Shaun Spence, Dr. Denise Fitzgerald and Dr. Emma Doran (taking the picture), of the Centre for Infection and Immunity volunteered at this year’s “Living with MS” meeting at Titanic Belfast. This was a fantastic event and a great opportunity to interact with patients, carers and members of the Northern Ireland branch of the MS Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

July 2013: PhD student awarded a travel grant from the British Neuropathological Society.

Thomas O’Hagan, a 1st year PhD student in The Fitzgerald Lab, was awarded a travel grant by the British Neuropathological Society to attend their summer school onRecent advances in neuropathology & applied neurobiology.’ The summer school was attended by leading neurologists and neuropathologists and featured talks and discussion on topics such as autoimmunity, multiple sclerosis and experimental techniques for studying central nervous system disease. 

May 2013: 'Most Innovative Research Programme' Award

Dr. Fitzgerald was recently awarded ‘Most Innovative Research Programme 2013’ in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science at QUB. This award recognises research excellence that adopts innovative and cutting-edge approaches and was selected from over 125 Principal Investigators in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science.

May 2013: BNS grant awarded for research on neuropathological consequences of regulatory T cell depletion

Dr. Yvonne Dombrowski, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Fitzgerald lab, was awarded a grant from the British Neuropathological Society (BNS) entitled “Identifying neuropathological mechanisms underlying paralysis following Treg depletion”. The research supported by this grant will contribute to the understanding of the role of regulatory T cells in demyelinating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.


May 2013: PhD student receives British Society for Immunology Travel Award.

Eimear Linehan, 3rd year PhD student, has received a British Society for Immunology Travel Award in order to attend the International Congress of Immunology in Milan, August 2013. Eimear's abstract has been accepted and she will present a poster of her work entitled "Ageing impairs macrophage phagocytosis: impact of altered cellular microenvironment?".


Sep 2012:: Research of PhD student Andrew Young published in Cutting Edge section of Journal of Immunology
This work was carried out by Andrew Young, Eimear Linehan and Angela MClurg in the Fitzgerald lab with support from our collaborators in Trinity College Dublin (Fallon lab) and  the University of Pennsylvania (Hunter lab). The study identified a new pathway to control the production of an inflammatory protein that has been recently identified as a potential culprit in inflammation and demyelination in the CNS. Read more here:


June 2012:: BBSRC awards £425,000 grant to Fitzgerald group for research into myelin repair
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Reseach Council (BBSRC) has awarded a New Investigator research grant to Dr. Denise Fitzgerald worth £425,000 over 3 years. Current MS therapeutics aim to reduce future attacks however there are no existing therapies that are directed at repairing the damage that occurs during these attacks. The goal of the research programme in the Fitzgerald lab that will be supported by the BBSRC grant is to identify new therapeutic targets in the process of remyelination (myelin repair) so that a new generation of MS therapies can be developed. This will also have major relevance to other central nervous system demyelinating conditions such Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), Transverse Myelitis (TM) and Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO).
Press release:

Mar 2012:: PhD Student's research on ageing macrophages wins prize

The Fitzgerald lab attended the Infection and Immunity Translational Research Group (I&I - TRG) 2012 Away Day at Stormont.  This was hosted by Mr John McCallister MLA - member of  the Health Committee in the Northern Ireland Assembly. The day focussed on "Bridging the gap between translational medicine and policy" and was a great success with many interesting talks and debate. Eimear  Linehan was awarded First Prize for her poster on ageing macrophages and won herself a brand new iPod Nano.

Feb 2012:: PhD Studentship starting Oct 2012

We have an exciting project to start in October 2012 "Investigating the role of CD4+ T cells in CNS remyelination".  Deadline is the 24th of February.  For more information and to apply, see the project details at

November 2011:: BSI Annual Congress

Three PhD students from the Fitzgerald lab recently attended the British Society of Immunology Annual Congress.

Eimear presented her poster entitled "Ageing impairs the ability of macrophages to phagocytose myelin debris". Rachel also presented a poster which was entitled "A novel model to investigate T cell – oligodendrocyte precursor cell interactions".

Andrew gave a talk in the Autoimmune Disease session on his work investigating IL-27 mediated suppression of GM-CSF in T cells (shown in picture to the left).  Andrew will also be presenting this work in a poster at the "Th17 Cells in Health and Disease" Keystone Symposium at the Keystone Resort, Colorado, in February.


October 2011:: PhD Student prize for best poster

Eimear Linehan, a 2nd year PhD student presented a poster at this year's HRB annual research day.  She won the prize for the best poster which was entitled "Ageing impairs the phagocytic capacity of macrophages: implications for CNS repair".

August 2011:: PhD Student awarded presentation prize 

Andrew Young, now in the third and final year of his PhD, presented his research in a poster at this years Irish Society of Immunology meeting in Galway.  He was chosen for an oral presentation and was awarded €100 as runner up for the Best Student Presentation Prize.

Eimear Linehan and Rachel Hassan from the Fitzgerald lab with Patricia Gordon, Director MS Society NI, and Tom Mallon, Fundraising Manager

May 2011:: Fitzgerald lab group fundraise for MS Society with Cake Break

The group held a Cake Break to raise money for the MS Society.  Thanks to the generosity of many people in CII who both baked and donated, and visitors from other centres - including Pharmacy, The Centre for Vision & Vascular Science and The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology - we managed to raise an impressive £477.92 in just 2 hours! Much appreciation to all that supported the event. 

Rachel Hassan was presented with a cheque for £500 at The MS Society NI Open Day

April 2011:: PhD student awarded Travel Grant by MS Society NI

This year, the Northern Ireland MS Society launched the Stanley Hamilton Travel Award, in memory of Stanley Hamilton, a long standing member of the Antrim Branch Committee.  £500 was awarded to Rachel Hassan, a first year PhD student in the Fitzgerald lab.  This will allow her to travel to the lab of Prof. Peter Calabresi at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA in order to learn new techniques which will aid her PhD studies.


Lab Group Members