Stephen was born in Derby, England to Irish parents who moved the family back to Mayo in the late 1970s. His roots mean he supports Derby County football club as well as the Mayo GAA football team. While supporting both teams has brought great joy (at times), their various ups and downs has taught Stephen the value of resilience, a useful lesson for the ups and downs of research. Stephen met his wife Beatriz in 1997 in Paris. After moving from France to the UK, they moved to Dublin in 2008 where they are settled with their teenage son. To get away from it all, the family can be found walking at the weekends in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains with their Sheltie sheepdog. Stephen was attracted to science from a young age, with a childhood interest in science fiction. If he hadn’t gone into a career in research, Stephen thinks he may have followed his father’s footsteps into carpentry…but he’d still be supporting Mayo and Derby County.
Stephen is a Professor of Infection Biology across the UCD Schools of Veterinary Medicine; Biomolecular and Biomedical Science; and Medicine. He is also a Fellow in UCD Conway Institute. He champions a One Health approach to research, an approach that seeks to integrate understanding of human, animals, and the environment. Stephen’s main research focus for almost 30 years has been tuberculosis (TB) in humans and animals. Tuberculosis is a devastating disease that still kills over 1.5 million people a year.
Stephen’s research aims to understand how the bacteria that cause TB make humans and animals sick, so that we can learn how to defeat them. The answer to this has to be encoded within the bacteria’s DNA, so Stephen and his team are focused on deciphering this code and translating it to reveal the Achilles heel of the bacteria. By revealing the inner workings of the bacteria Stephen and his team hope to accelerate the development of new vaccines and diagnostics to help reduce the prevalence of TB in humans and animals.
“Disclaimer: This fly-on-the-wall video was recorded while capturing audio conversions between artist and researcher / patient advocates about the selected objects. While not originally part of the exhibition concept, this unedited record of their interaction gives a flavour of the creative process in this project ”