Roisin Loftus

New Biomedical Fellow: Roisin Loftus

Roisin Loftus was recently awarded the Irish Cancer Society 2019 biomedical research fellowship to advance obesity-associated cancer research in Ireland.

Roisin graduated with an honours degree in Molecular Medicine from Trinity College Dublin in 2013. Following her undergraduate degree, she successfully carried out a four year PhD in Biochemistry under the supervision of Dr David Finlay in the Trinity Biomedical Science Institute. The focus of Roisin’s PhD was to uncover the changes in cellular metabolism that occur following the activation of Natural Killer cells, an important immune cell in our body’s defence against cancer. This work resulted in five peer-reviewed publications in eminent scientific journals including Nature Immunology, Science Signalling and Nature Communications.

Since completing her PhD in 2017, Roisin has applied her knowledge and experience in Natural Killer cell metabolism to the field of cancer research, with a particular focus on obesity-associated cancers. Up to half of certain cancers are directly caused by obesity, and as a result, obesity is now set to overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of cancer worldwide.

Recent research has shown that obesity blocks the normal functions of Natural Killer cells, which may contribute to the increased risk of cancer in obesity. Therefore, the focus of Roisin’s fellowship is to investigate how the type of dietary fat we eat differentially shapes the function of Natural Killer cells. Roisin will undertake this research fellowship in Dr Lydia Lynch’s lab in Trinity College Dublin.

Due to the rising obesity rates in Ireland, there is a corresponding projected future increase in obesity-associated cancers. Roisin’s motivation for choosing this research project is to increase awareness about the risk of obesity on cancer progression in Ireland, and to contribute to the identification of novel therapies and/or dietary interventions that may reverse the negative effects of obesity on anti-cancer immune cells. The overall aim of this research is to help reduce the incidence of obesity-associated cancers in Ireland in the future.

Roisin would like to thank the Irish Cancer Society for funding this important research and all the volunteers and supporters for their contributions to help raise awareness about obesity-associated cancers.