What role does diet play in relation to inflammation? How can physical activity manage your symptoms? Why is sleep important for your immune system?

These are just some of the questions which will be addressed during this online symposium about inflammatory arthritis, featuring a panel of expert speakers. In addition to these key issues, the event will also look at why patients' knowledge of their disease and their diagnosis matters, and consider future developments in patient-focused research.

The symposium will be chaired by Prof Ursula Fearon, chair of molecular rheumatology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute and by Prof Douglas Veale, consultant rheumatologist, St Vincent's University Hospital.

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3.00-3.05 Welcome - Prof Ursula Fearon, TCD

3.05-3.10 Welcome - Gráinne O’Leary, Arthritis Ireland

3.10-3.25 Knowledge of disease, diagnosis, adherence and impact of research in patients with inflammatory arthritis - Dr Mary Canavan, TCD

3.25-3.55 If you don’t snooze you lose, sleep and its importance for proper immune function - Dr Annie Curtis, RCSI

3.55-4.25 Diet and inflammation – facts v fiction - Prof Helen Roche, UCD

4.25-4.55 Harnessing exercise to manage symptoms and enhance well-being in inflammatory arthritis - Dr Fiona Wilson, TCD

4.55-5.10 Future patient-focused research - Dr Viviana Marzaioli, UCD

Close Prof Ursula Fearon

Speaker biographies

Prof Ursula Fearon
is head of molecular rheumatology, School of Medicine, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin. Prof Fearon’s research is a bench-to-beside translational approach, focusing on understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive disease pathogenesis, with a focus on rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Her group focuses on identifying biomarkers that will predict disease onset, progression and response, in addition to  development of new therapeutic targets for patients who don’t respond to current medications. She has established strong collaborative research networks, has been awarded significant research funding, published extensively in high impact peer-reviewed journals, and received several national/international awards.


Dr Mary Canavan obtained her PhD in immunology in 2012 from Dublin City University. Her first postdoctoral position was in the rheumatology department, St Vincent's University Hospital, where she examined the role of hypoxia and metabolic dysfunction in rheumatoid arthritis. Subsequently, she was awarded an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Enterprise Fellowship with Prof Ursula Fearon in Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Recently in 2019, she was awarded a research fellowship from the American Association of Immunologists to examine the role of dendritic cells in synovial inflammation. She is an active member of the European Rheumatology Network – EMEUNET, previously on the leadership committee. Mary is associate editor for translational research BMC Rheumatology.


Dr Annie Curtis is an associate professor at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Her research focuses on the role of the molecular clock (also known as body clock) on the immune system, in particular the inflammatory response. We are experiencing an epidemic of chronic inflammatory disease, such as diabetes, arthritis, obesity and cancer. With a fantastic team of postdocs and PhD students, her laboratory investigates whether disruption of our body clocks, due to our 24/7 lifestyle and erratic eating and sleeping patterns, is causing chronic inflammation and contributing to this epidemic of chronic inflammatory diseases.


Prof Helen Roche is full professor of nutrigenomics at the UCD Conway Institute & the UCD Institute of Food & Health, University College Dublin. Helen Roche's background is in human nutrition, dietetics and molecular nutrition. Her team focus on the impact of diet on metabolism and inflammation, obesity, T2D, NAFLD and obesity-related cancer. Nutrigenomics uses state-of-the-art 'omics' to investigate the molecular effects of diet on health. Diet and nutrition play a critical role in health and disease, however the mechanistic basis is not fully understood. A recent Science Foundation Ireland Frontiers Investigator Award entitled ‘Diet, Immune Training and Metabolism' will determine the impact of diet and metabolism on innate immune responses in obesity and NAFLD. She is PI in a number of multidisciplinary programmes, ‘ImmunoMet’ addresses interactions between nutritional status, metabolic health and the gut microbiome, in collaboration with Microbiome Ireland. She is PI in Precision Oncology Ireland examining the nature of the dietary environment and obesity to promote cancer risk. Prof Roche chaired the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Healthy Life Healthy Diet Joint Programming Initiative (HDHLJPI) 2015-2018.

Dr Fiona Wilson is a chartered physiotherapist and an associate professor in the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, where she is head of the discipline of physiotherapy. She has over 30 years of experience in clinical physiotherapy, teaching and research. Her research focuses on the role of exercise in pain and injury with a specific emphasis on back pain. She has published widely on the role of exercise and physical activity in managing pain and improving well-being in inflammatory arthritis. Combining her clinical experience and research findings she has a passion for designing exercise and activity programmes that can make a meaningful contribution to improving the life of people with arthritis.



Dr Viviana Marzaioli was awarded her PhD in the area of Molecular Medicine in 2011 from UCD.  She undertook her first postdoctoral position at the IAF, Munich, followed by a senior postdoctoral position at the CRI INSERM, Paris, investigating monocyte-derived dendritic cells differentiation and development. In 2017 she was appointed a research fellow in molecular rheumatology in Trinity College Dublin, studying dendritic cell development in rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. In 2019, she received the UCB Pharma Newman Fellowship in the EULAR Centre of Excellence Centre for Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases. Her research focuses on investigating the molecular mechanism involved in monocytes and monocyte-derived dendritic cells development in inflammatory arthritis.  


Prof Douglas Veale is a consultant rheumatologist at the St Vincent’s University Hospital, Bone and Joint Unit and a researcher in the Centre for Arthritis and Rheumatic Disease designated a European (EULAR) Centre of Excellence in Rheumatology. Prof Veale has established an international reputation in clinical and translational research with a research focus on early inflammatory (rheumatoid and psoriatic) arthritis and connective tissue diseases, new treatments and biomarkers for activity and response to therapy. He has published extensively in high impact peer-reviewed journals on patient focused research, and received significant national and international funding. 

Grainne OLearyGráinne O’Leary is chief executive of Arthritis Ireland, where she is leading the strategy of the charity to be one of the leading patient centric health charities in Ireland, and has worked in the organisation since 2004. Gráinne developed and implemented Arthritis Ireland’s suite of patient support services, including the innovative Stanford University self-management programme, a national helpline and a national physical activity programme in partnership with the Irish Society for Chartered Physiotherapists.

Booking for this event has now closed.