Professor John V. Reynolds, Consultant Surgeon, President of IrSPEN

Professor Reynolds is Professor of Clinical Surgery at St. James’s Hospital and Trinity College Dublin. He is the National Lead for oesophageal and gastric cancer. He is Cancer Lead at St. James’s Hospital and the Trinity School of Medicine, and a Principal Investigator in the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute.  He has formerly held Fellowship positions with the University of Pennsylvania and Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.  He was a Senior Lecturer at St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds (1994-6).

Professor Reynolds has obtained numerous research awards and has published widely in cancer research, with over 320 publications and approximately €5m research grant income. His clinical interest is in diseases of the oesophagus and stomach. His research interest is in five areas: (1) pathogenesis of Barrett’s oesophagus and progression; (2) prediction of response and resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy; (3) obesity, altered metabolism, and cancer; (4) malnutrition and peri-operative nutrition. (5) exercise and cancer.

Dr Daren Heyland, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.

Dr Daren Heyland is a Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario Canada. He is trained in Internal Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Clinical Epidemiology. He currently serves as the Director of the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit at the Kingston General Hospital which functions as a methods center for multicenter clinical research (See He is the principal investigator on a number of large scale, multicenter clinical nutrition research projects. Overall, Dr. Heyland has published approximately 450 peer-reviewed papers, raised more than $120 million in external grant support and given more than 350 international presentations.

Prof. Luc Van Loon, Professor of Nutrition and Exercise, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Professor van Loon was appointed Professor of Nutrition and Exercise at Maastricht University in The Netherlands in 2010. He also serves as a visiting Professor at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium and the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia.  Luc has an international research standing in the area of skeletal muscle metabolism, has published well over 450 peer-reviewed articles (more than 20.000 citations) achieving an H-index of 86. Current research in his laboratory focuses on the skeletal muscle adaptive response to physical (in)activity, and the impact of nutritional and pharmacological interventions to modulate metabolism in both health and disease. The latter are investigated on a whole-body, tissue, and cellular level, with skeletal muscle as the main tissue of interest. He is active in various media to translate research findings to the general public, highlighting the impact of nutrition and physical activity to support performance and health.

Muscle as the target for interventions in enhancing outcomes – what does it take?

Dr Alex Miras, Imperial College London

Alex Miras is Professor of Endocrinology at Ulster University. His clinical and research work focus solely on Obesity and type 2 diabetes. He has contributed to the clinical management and research in Obesity over the last 12 years, through his work at a high throughput Obesity Centre. The specialist interests of his research Group are the mechanisms of action of interventions for obesity, focusing on pharmacotherapy, medical devices and obesity surgery.


The impact of new medications for obesity on muscle mass in obesity

Dr. Alan C. Spector, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Florida State University

Dr. Alan C. Spector received his Ph.D. in Psychology at Florida State University in 1984 under the tutelage of Dr. James C. Smith.  He did his postdoctoral training with Dr. Harvey Grill at the University of Pennsylvania.  His research program, which has received funding from the NIH since 1988, focuses on the use of psychophysical and behavioral techniques coupled with manipulations of the nervous system to help understand the neural basis of taste and the controls of ingestive behavior.  In 1990 he accepted a faculty position at the University of Florida where he eventually attained the rank of Professor.  While there, along with Dr. Barry Ache, he helped establish the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste for which he served as Assistant Director.  In 2007, he moved to the Florida State University where he holds the rank of Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience.  He is a prior recipient of the Ajinomoto Award from the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS), the Hoebel Creativity Award from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), and a Research Career Development Award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Dr. Spector has been a member of several NIH study sections over the years and is served as President of the SSIB and AChemS. 



Translational Analysis of Meal Patterns, Food Selection, and Relative Macronutrient Intake after Gastric Bypass

Professor Rocco Barazzoni, President ESPEN

Rocco Barazzoni, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, director of the Postgraduate School of Sports medicine, consultant in Internal Medicine and coordinator for the Obesity Outpatient Unit at Trieste University Hospital. His previous posts include Assistant Professor of Medicine and Research Fellow at Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota. He is the current Chairman of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN). He also co-chairs of the ESPEN Special Interest Group on Obesity, and is president-elect of the Italian Obesity Society (SIO). He has participated in the Editorial Boards of several journals including Diabetes. His research focuses on nutritional and hormonal regulation of energy metabolism and related mechanisms in both clinical and experimental models in the settings of obesity, its metabolic complications and malnutrition. Professor Barazzoni has published more than 170 papers (h-index=45, average IF=4.62) in international peer-reviewed journals, including original research as well as editorials and guidelines.


Stepping up – how the ESPEN community is shaping the future of medical nutrition

Erin Stella Sullivan RD PhD, IRC EPS Postdoctoral Fellow Research Dietitian (Oncology)

Erin Stella Sullivan is a Registered Dietitian at the Clinical Nutrition & Oncology Research Group, in the School of Food & Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork. In 2020, she completed her PhD entitled “Malnutrition & Altered Body Composition in Oncology: Prevalence, Aetiology, Consequences & Potential Therapies”, during which she worked closely with IrSPEN to conduct national survey of cancer patients’ experience of nutritional care. She is a member of the IrSPEN Working Group on Cancer, the INDI Cancer Nutrition Network and the EU Thematic Network on Integrated Nutrition Care in Cancer. In 2021, under the mentorship of Dr. Aoife Ryan, Erin was awarded an Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Irish Research Council, in collaboration with Nualtra Ltd., to investigate the impact of early access to dietitian-led multimodal nutrition care in ambulatory cancer care. She is particularly interested in advanced nutrition and body composition assessment methods, and their application in early identification of nutrition risk.


Cancer and the nutritional care gap in Ireland – can we do better?

Clare Twomey, Senior Dietitian, Cork University Hospital

Clare Twomey is a Senior Critical Care Dietitian in Cork University Hospital. She qualified from TCD/Kevin Street and developed an interest in Critical Care and Nutritional support immediately, working in Teaching Hospitals in Cork & Dublin. 

She worked a Research Dietitian with renowned Prof Jeejeebhoy in Toronto looking at novel nutritional assessment markers and received an M.Sc from University College Cork based on this work. 

She has worked in Critical Care for more than 20 years and is passionate about continuously improving quality of nutritional care to ICU patients. 

She lives in the beautiful city of Cork with her family and 2 miniature schnauzers. 

Dr Werd Al-Najim, Clinical Nutritionist and a Research Fellow, UCD

Dr Werd Al-Najim holds a BSc in Nutrition Science from Kingston University/UK and a PhD from Imperial College London/UK where she investigated changes in eating behaviour and food preferences after obesity treatments. She moved to Dublin in 2016 where she completed her post-doctoral training at the Metabolic Medicine Group investigating how the gut talks to the brain and was involved in the establishment of the Obesity Clinical Research Programme within the  University College Dublin Diabetes Complications Research Centre. She is currently a Research Fellow at UCD and an EU Research Project Manager for the IMI SOPHIA study.


Rethinking the role of nutrition support in obesity care when patients have substantial weight loss

Lisa Shanahan, Clinical Specialist Dietitian, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital

Lisa Shanahan is a Clinical Specialist Dietitian in Critical Care at the Mater University Hospital Dublin. She has been working in critical care for over 15 years. She leads the ICU Dietitians Network Ireland, a forum for sharing information and supporting dietitians working in critical care nationally. She has a strong interest in including research in her clinical role and has lead her critical care unit’s involvement in the International Nutrition Surveys and more recently in joint research projects between Monash University, Australia and UCD’s Critical Care Trial Network in research on Post ICU Nutrition Status in COVID patients and NUTRIENT, a study of nutrition practices in and post ICU. Her work includes a keen focus on optimising recovery from critical illness and she is a lead member of the Mater Critical Care Health and Social Professional Team. 


Prof Alessandro Laviano, Professor of Internal Medicine, Sapienza University, Rome

Alessandro Laviano, MD, is associate professor of Internal Medicine at the Department of Clinical Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. He works at the Clinical Nutrition Unit of the Sapienza University Hospital in Rome, Italy. Also, Dr. Laviano holds a position of Visiting Research Professor at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA. He is an Expert Reviewer for the Framework Programs of the European Commission, Bruxelles. Dr Laviano received his MD degree at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, where he also completed the residency programmes in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. In the period 1994-1995, Dr. Laviano worked as a research fellow in the Surgical Metabolism Laboratory at the Department of Surgery, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse, NY, USA. Dr. Laviano joined the Faculty of the Medical School at Sapienza University in 1998, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007.

Dr. Laviano’s main research interests are: regulation of food intake under physiological and pathological conditions, disease-associated anorexia and cachexia, hyperphagia and obesity, impact and treatment of hospital malnutrition. In particular, Dr. Laviano has been studying the role of brain activity in the pathogenesis of cancer anorexia and cachexia, and the potential benefit deriving from the integration of a pharmacologic and nutritional approach to cancer patients

In the period 2010-14, Dr. Laviano has been the chairman of the Educational and Clinical Practice Committee of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN). He is currently the Coordinator of the Supervisory Board of the ESPEN project, nutritionDay. In the period 2005-2009, Dr. Laviano served as European Co-Editor of Nutrition. In the period 2011-2013, Dr. Laviano served as First Editor of British Journal of Nutrition. He is currently: Editor in Chief of Nutrition; Associate Editor of Clinical Nutrition; Associate Editor of Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle; Section Editor of Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism; and Section Editor of Elsevier’s Reference Modules. Dr. Laviano’s studies have been funded by private and public institutions, including the Italian Ministry of Scientific Research. Dr. Laviano has a total of more than 180 publications in international peer reviewed journals.


The clock ticks faster in cancer: implications and future focus

Ms. Carmel O’Hanlon, Clinical Specialist Dietitian, Beaumont Hospital

• Carmel is working as a clinical dietitian for over 25 years, and is a Clinical Specialist Dietitian in Beaumont Hospital General Intensive Care Unit.

• Board member of IrSPEN (Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism) and an Honorary member of INDI (Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute).

• Project Lead for NCEC National Clinical Guideline No. 22 on ‘Nutrition screening and use of oral nutrition support for adults in the acute care setting’.



Dr. Cara Dunne, Consultant Gastroenterologist St James’s Hospital and CHI, IrSPEN Director

• Dr Cara Dunne graduated with an honors degree in Biochemistry from UCD in 1996 and went on to study medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and graduated with honors in 2004.
• She did her early training in Beaumont hospital and through the gastroenterology Spr training scheme went on to work in Beaumont, St Vincent’s, St James’s and the Mater.
• She was awarded her PhD by NUI in 2013 in “Mitochondrial Instability in Stage II Colorectal Cancer Functional Validation of Prognostic markers Involved in Early Staged Colorectal Cancer”
• Since 2017 she has worked as a consultant gastroenterologist at St James’s. Since 2019 she joint appointed to Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin and St James’s Hospital to develop a transition and adolescent program for young people with chronic intestinal failure on home parenteral nutrition and patients with IBD.  Her research interests are inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns Disease) and complex nutrition. She is a member of the ISG, ECCO and ESPEN and a director of IrSPEN. She is chair of the nutrition subgroup for the National Program for Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Details Coming Soon.

Niamh Rice, IrSPEN Director; Executive Director of the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA)

Niamh Rice is a director and founding member of IrSPEN and an independent consultant specialising in nutrition and medical affairs.  In January 2021, she was appointed Executive Director of the European Nutrition for Health Alliance (ENHA), which aims to ensure that all EU citizens at risk of nutritional problems due to ageing or disease benefit from optimal nutritional care.  Qualified in Nutrition and Dietetics, Niamh has over 25 years’ experience working in senior scientific, general management and global director positions within nutrition companies in Ireland, UK and Netherlands.  Within IrSPEN, Niamh has directed strategy and communications and has actively campaigned for improved standards of nutritional care, applying her knowledge of business strategy and health economics to underpin IrSPEN’s advocacy and campaigning efforts. Her work on developing a national costing for malnutrition was published in 2012, and she has also written or contributed to several clinical papers, expert reports, government submissions, reviews and business case submissions on behalf of non-governmental agencies and professional groups.  As chair of IrSPEN’s programmes and communication committee, Niamh has also worked on initiatives aimed at gaining a better understanding of the needs of patients who experience nutritional problems, including patients receiving home nutrition support and patients with cancer.  In the last few years, Niamh has served on national advisory committees on nutrition and hydration for both HIQA and the HSE, developing the budget impact analysis to support new clinical guidelines for nutrition screening of patients in acute care settings in Ireland, launched December 2020.

Dr Karen Boland, Consultant Gastroenterologist, IrSPEN Director

Karen graduated with an honours degree from the School of Medicine at RCSI in 2007 and is currently appointed as a Consultant Gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital with an interest in inflammatory bowel disease and clinical nutrition.  She completed an advanced fellowship in microbiome analysis, diet analysis and inflammatory bowel disease at Mount Sinai Hospital Toronto.  Her current research interests include therapeutic drug monitoring in IBD, microbiome analysis and the impact of diet and exercise programmes on outcomes in moderate to severe IBD.  Karen is a member of the board of IRSPEN and chair of their Scientific Committee. 

Professor Carel Le Roux, IrSPEN Director

Professor Carel le Roux graduated from medical school in Pretoria South Africa, completed his specialist training in metabolic medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospitals and the Hammersmith Hospitals. He obtained his PhD from Imperial College London where he later took up a faculty position. He moved to University College Dublin for the Chair in Experimental Pathology and he is now a Director of the Metabolic Medicine Group. He also holds the position of Professor of Metabolic Medicine at Ulster University. He currently coordinates an Innovative Medicine Initiative project on obesity. He previously received a President of Ireland Young Researcher Award, Irish Research Council Laurate Award, Clinician Scientist Award from the National Institute Health Research in the UK, and a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellowship for his work on how the gut talks to the brain.


Professor Clare Corish, University College Dublin

Professor Clare Corish is a dietitian and academic who leads the UCD CORU-approved MSc in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics programme. Much of her research focuses on nutrition in older adults and she has led or participated in many national and European projects to provide the evidence for best practice in screening and managing poor nutrition in older people. Professor Corish has also developed education programmes for GPs and other healthcare professionals on this topic. Furthermore, she has contributed to Government nutrition policy for older adults nationally with the Department of Health, the HSE and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and, internationally, with the European Federation of Associations of Dietitians (EFAD), the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) and the US National Institutes of Health. She is a member of the Editorial board of the US Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the US Association for Nutrition journal, Nutrition Today and the Australian journal Nutrition and Dietetics as well as being peer reviewer for many high impact nutrition journals. She is an active member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and the Nutrition Society holding several leadership roles in the past including INDI president and chair of the Nutrition Society Irish Section and has positively contributed to research and practice to enhance the health of older people nationally and internationally over many years.